Having grown up in the northeastern part of the U.S., I was exposed to many diverse cultures. I was raised in a Protestant family in a predominately Catholic neighborhood. As a boy growing up, I always had an interest in God and a heart that was soft towards Him. Most of my friends were Catholic, but some were Jewish and others were Protestants like myself. All of us believed in God. Often I pondered this question: If there was only one God, why were there so many different kinds of believers? Even the advertisements on the city buses said, “Attend the church of your choice.”
At the age of five, I opened my heart to the Lord, and he came into my being as my Lord and Savior. Because I lacked the proper teaching and shepherding in the Word, the seed of life within lay dormant. Eventually I turned to philosophy and the counterculture of the age. But God did not stop loving me; eventually He turned me back to Himself when I was 20 years old. This was during a time when the Lord, as a result of the turmoil in our society also captured many young people.
For approximately two years I tried to walk with the Lord in the context of traditional religion. Still the matter of divisions among Christians bothered me. Eventually I became so discouraged by my own failure to fulfill the Christian standard that I told the Lord, “If this is all You have for me, I’ll go back into the world.” But God’s mercy still prevailed as He worked in me “both the willing and the working for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). In July of 1974 I took a trip to Atlanta to visit an old friend of mine who happened to be meeting with the local church there. What I witnessed for the first time was a group of Christians meeting in the genuine oneness of Christ. It answered my own deep longing and as I later discovered in John 17, Christ’s longing: “that they may be one even as We are.” Christ had brought me to a place where members of His Body were willing to drop personal differences for the sake of the testimony of Christ in that city. Finally, I was at peace because the Lord within me was at peace! There really is only one God, one Body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Spirit (Ephesians 4). I thank the Lord for bringing me to the local church and keeping me for all these years.