Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Appendix A: Donald Mitchell's Testimony

Appendix A

Donald Mitchell’s Testimony

He will lift you up.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord,
and He will lift you up.

James 4:10 (NKJV)

Let me share with you how I became a Christian so you’ll know where I’m coming from with regard to encouraging you to become a Christian as well. My great grandmother Edith Foster read the Bible every day so there was a long commitment to the Lord in our family. As a youngster, my mother regularly took me to Sunday school. It was my least favorite activity; sleeping was much preferred. I did enjoy listening to sermons, but it was frowned on to take youngsters to the adult services where the sermons were given.
If I pretended to be asleep, Mom would sometimes let me stay home on Sundays. I was pretty good at pretending, and I soon was the biggest backslider in my Sunday school grade. Fortunately, it was an evangelical church so my classmates were always cooking up schemes to get me to attend again. Because of my high opinion of myself, I would always return if invited to play my clarinet for the congregation.
By the time I turned thirteen, I was pretty full of myself. There wasn’t much room for God in there alongside my exaggerated opinion of myself. One day while my family was away for a drive, I felt really sick. By the time they got home, I was delirious. Within an hour I was in the hospital where I would stay for two weeks as I barely survived a bad case of double pneumonia.
My physician, Dr. Helmsley, was an observant Christian and worried about my soul because my life was in jeopardy. He talked to me about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit twice a day when he stopped by to check on me. After I recovered, he took my Mom and me to a tent revival meeting.
Having recovered from the illness, I soon pushed God out of my life again. During the next year, I was, instead, very caught up in athletics. When I was in ninth grade, I desperately wanted to make a contribution to our junior high track team, which had a remote chance of winning the big meet. Our coach, Mr. Layman, told each of us exactly what had to be accomplished for the team to win. I was determined to do my part. I had to come in first!
But that wasn’t likely to happen. Based on past performances, there were at least two people who could out leap me in the standing broad jump, my main event. To make such a jump you stand on a slightly raised, forward-tilted board and spring outward as far as you can into a sand-filled pit. After two of the three jumping rounds, I knew it was hopeless. I was in sixth place and four of the competitors’ jumps were longer than I had ever gone before. I also didn’t like the board we were using.
Remembering that we should call on God when we need help, I thought of praying … but what I wanted was so trivial in God’s terms that I didn’t think it was worthy of prayer. So I decided to make God an offer instead: “Dear God, help me win this event, and I’m yours forever.” After all, if He came through, any doubts I had about God would be dispelled.
I got onto the broad-jump board and felt very calm. I did my routine and took off into the air. Suddenly, I felt light as a feather with a large, gentle hand lifting under me. I was dropped softly at the end of the pit. I had outleaped everyone, and gone more than six inches past my best jump ever. I couldn’t believe it. Then I remembered my promise to God, thanked Him, repented my sins, accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and ran off to tell everyone on the team.
Even more remarkable, I was the only person on the team who performed up to the plan. Knowing what had to be done had probably given us performance anxiety, and people underperformed because they didn’t believe they could do what the team needed. I also suspect that God wanted to make a point with me that I needed Him.
After a few days, I started to think that perhaps I’d just developed a new broad-jump technique and God didn’t have a role at all. God soon dispelled that thought by making sure that my jumps for the rest of my life were much shorter than I had jumped when He lifted me up.
Since then, God has been speaking to me on a regular basis. I’ve learned to pay attention and act promptly. When I pursue my own ideas, things don’t go so well. When I follow His orders, things work out great. That’s my secret to high performance, and I just wanted to share it with you so you could benefit, too. He knows the answers, even when you and I don’t … which is most of the time.
As a management consultant, the Holy Spirit has often filled me with knowledge about what the consequences of one path would be compared to another for my clients. Naturally, I always recommended what the Holy Spirit directed me to. Clients often told me that they were impressed by how certain I was of my conclusions and of how persuasive I could be in describing the advantages of whatever recommendations were made. Once again, the explanatory words came from the Holy Spirit, rather than from me.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable in my earlier days sharing my faith with clients, and I wrongly gave many people the impression that I was the author of the solutions rather than merely the transmitter. I apologize to God and to my clients for missing many wonderful witnessing opportunities.
I didn’t always listen as well as I should in making decisions that primarily affected me, but God would always do something to get my attention. Here’s an example. I made an investment for which I hoped to reduce my taxes in addition to making some money. I didn’t have a good feeling from the Holy Spirit at the time, and I shouldn’t have invested.
Later, my tax return was audited concerning that investment. It turned out I was in the wrong for the deductions I had taken. Anticipating a big tax bill plus penalties and interest, you can imagine my pleasant surprise when the revised tax return showed me owing no additional money to the government even though I had lost on the audit issues. I knew that result was a gift from God, and I was overwhelmed by His wisdom and power in protecting me. Praise God for His mercy!
I rededicated my life to Jesus in 1995 and I have enjoyed great peace since then. I have also done a lot better in being obedient to the Holy Spirit in all aspects of my life and to what the Bible tells us to do. Many blessings have been mine since then.
Having been told by God to start the 400 Year Project (demonstrating how everyone in the world could make improvements twenty times faster than normal) in 1995, I continued to receive instructions. In 2005, for example, God told me to start explaining to people how to live their lives by gaining more joy from what they already have.
In the summer of 2006, I began to see how the 400 Year Project could be brought to a successful conclusion (as I reported in Adventures of an Optimist, Mitchell and Company Press, 2007). Realizing that perhaps I had devoted too much of my attention to this one challenge, I began to seek ways to rebalance my life. One of those rebalancing methods was to spend more time communing with God through prayer, Scriptural studies, attending church services and Bible studies, and listening more to the still, small voice within.
For several years I had been enjoying the devotionals sent to me daily over the Internet by evangelist Bill Keller. One of those devotionals speared me like an arrow that summer. The evangelist reminded his readers that our responsibility as believers is to share our faith with others through our example and sharing the Gospel message from the Bible. Not feeling well equipped to do more than try to be a good example, I began to pray about what else I should be doing.
The next day, my answer came: I was to launch a global contest to locate the most effective ways that souls were being saved and be sure that information was shared widely. This sharing would be a blessing for those who wished to fulfill the Great Commission to spread the Good News of Jesus as commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV):

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The contest winners were Jubilee Worship Center in Hobart, Indiana, and Step by Step Ministries in Porter, Indiana. You can read their stories and learn amazingly effective ways to help lost people choose to gain Salvation in Witnessing Made Easy: Yes, You Can Make a Difference (Jubilee Worship Center Step by Step Press, 2010) by Bishop Dale P. Combs, Lisa Combs, Jim Barbarossa, Carla Barbarossa, and me. Six of the many other worthy ideas and practices from the contest for leading more unsaved people to Him are described in a second book, Ways You Can Witness: How the Lost Are Found (Salvation Press, 2010) by Cherie Hill, Roger de Brabant, Drew Dickens, Gael Torcise, Wendy Lobos, Herpha Jane Obod, Gisele Umugiraneza, and me.
Let me tell you just one more thing about my life with Jesus. When my daughter was about a year old, I suffered what resembled a stroke that caused me to start to become paralyzed. As I could feel my face’s muscles freezing, I immediately prayed to Jesus to stop the paralysis and He did. I was left with a lot of pain and numbness on the left side of my body and was very weak for over a year.
That pain continued for the next twenty-two years until, on November 8, 2009, I asked two of my pastors during a communion service to pray to Jesus that the remaining pain be removed. During the prayer, the pain started leaving immediately and was totally gone within a half hour. As I felt the pain leaving me, traveling inch by inch down my body, I was overcome with gratitude and fell on my knees in thanks. Glory be to God! Praise Him always! His miracles and mercy never end. I am so happy and honored to be His witness to you.

Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

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