Victory For Troubled Youth
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My Salvation Story
Ralph (R.E.) Stokes
I was born in 1950 to Godly saved parents who took their marriage vows seriously and lived together “until death they did depart.” Church was the first place I ever went outside the home because I was born at home and my parents ALWAYS went to church. Southern Baptist Churches is where we went, and back then, many of them were pretty straight on salvation and preached Heaven and Hell as they really are. I’m saying, I should have gotten saved in my youth. My parents did the best they could to make sure we knew Jesus Christ. I fooled everyone but God into believing I was saved. But, I wasn’t.
In 1970 my wife and I got married and began raising our family. We went to church…some times. Since I knew only Southern Baptist churches (and she knew none) that’s where we went. In my youth and after marriage I would often “rededicate” my life to Jesus Christ because often there was a pricking at my heart, but as the Ethiopian eunuch, I needed “some man to guide me” and none did. I was never once asked, “Are you saved?” Some time in 1978 the Lord showed me that the King James Bible is his book and I began looking for a church that believed that Book.
During that time we visited our first Independent Baptist Church. I won’t give the name of the church, because it turned out that the pastor there did NOT really believe the King James Bible because he thought some verses ought not to be in the Bible. (the last few verses in Mark 16, for example). And, though we joined the church, he never asked me if I was saved. In 1981 we heard of Dave Reese and Open Bible College where the only text book was the King James Bible. That was at Victory Baptist Church in Millbrook, AL, and at the time we were living in Deltona, Florida.
In December of 1981 we drove up to Victory Baptist Church to visit Dave Reese and the Bible College. When we got there, Dave Reese was in the hospital (in Wetumpka, AL) having had his gall bladder removed, and was able to see us. After introductions, his first question to me was: Are you saved? The Spirit of the Living God spoke to my heart immediately bearing witness to me that I was NOT saved! What a terrible feeling!! LOST! Then Dave Reese proceeded to show me the faith OF Jesus Christ (in Galatians 3:22, and other places) and the Spirit of God told me “that the faith you don’t have, and must have in order to be saved”.
I started Bible College in January of 1982, but the Spirit of God would not leave me alone. Everything I heard was “you’re lost”, “you’re lost”. Finally, on the last Sunday night in January that year, I could take it no longer. The Holy Ghost convinced me that if I did not get saved that night that by morning I would be dead and in hell! Somewhere around 9:00 that night I trusted Jesus Christ to save me, and he did! I don’t recall exactly what I prayed, but I know the moment that I was suddenly freed from the burden of sin and the blood of Jesus Christ washed me clean!