My Testimony – How I Became A Christian
My name is Kent Owen, and this is my testimony. I spent most of my early childhood playing Nintendo, drawing pictures, and stuff like that. I was raised in the Silverhill First Baptist Church and stayed there until I was about 11 years old. During that time, I can honestly say that I learned very little about God. My parents made me go to Sunday school, bible schools in the summer, and even choir practices. I hated it all, and I would have rather been at home playing games or drawing on a piece of paper.
My Second Church
When I was about 12 years old, my family changed to a nearby church in Silverhill, the Covenant Church. I was a little more involved at that church. I ran the sound system there, and a girl (also a classmate) invited me to the Wednesday night bible studies. I didn’t get a lot out of it, but it was a lot more that I ever got before. I remember the youth group talking about Marylin Manson, Montell Williams, and other teenager related stuff during the bible studies. Meanwhile, I did actually pray to God about once a month or two, just to update Him on my life as if He didn’t know what was going on with me.
I was taken to a church where there was a “magic show”. It was basically a magician doing tricks in the front of the church, and at the end, a guy came out to ask people if they wanted to “be saved”. Surprisingly, I’d been going to church for 13 years, but that was the first time I heard about salvation. I stood up like they asked everyone to who wanted to be saved and went to a back room and repeated a prayer with an older deacon. During the Wednesday night bible studies, the youth pastors talked about Hell and baptism. I decided that, in order to avoid hell, I needed to be baptized. I talked to the pastor, and at age 14, and was baptized on October 18, 1998, a day after my birthday. I do admit, I didn’t understand it besides what the youth pastor said. Months later, for the first time, I decided to read the bible. I read from Genesis 1 to Genesis 18 in about 3 hours time. I didn’t pick it up again.
High school is where things changed. Once, when I was still 14, I went to a Pentecostal church after a football game with my sister and got freaked out. They hit people when they prayed, and some of them were rolling on the floor shaking. That was a turn off. When I was 17 years old, working in Winn-Dixie, I wasn’t going to church much due to my work schedule, plus a pastor change at the Covenant Church. I met the son of a pastor who talked to me about God. He encouraged me to read the book of John, so I did. I also remember thinking, “everyone says WWJD and asks ‘what would Jesus do’ but I don’t even know what Jesus DID do; so how could I know what He would do? As I read the first few chapters, I didn’t understand most of it, but something about it touched me.
My friend, who I worked with at Winn-Dixie and was partners in ROTC with, invited me to a church that I went with on a retreat to Florida.
What happened on that vacation in 2002 changed my life. The church that I was with was the Robertsdale Pentecostal Holiness Church and a group came with them called Master’s Commission from Mobile. There was a lot of game playing as you would expect from a youth group, but at night time, they had a prayer service. They had praise & worship, preaching, and then the guys from master’s commission gave their testimonies. I had never heard people talk the way they did about God before. It seemed like most of them had troubled backgrounds, but came to know Jesus and were changed afterwards. Later, they said that they wanted everyone to just walk around the room to somewhere and pray however they wanted. I had no idea what to say, so I just stood there. I said, “God, I don’t know what it is that you want me to do, but I want to make myself do it”, thinking like I do when I workout; I don’t really want to exercise, but I make myself. One of the youth pastors who was standing 30 feet away looked at me when I finished saying that, though he couldn’t hear me. He walked to me, grabbed me by the arms, and said, “Don’t quit praying. Never quit praying. Don’t let Satan in.” and said something in “tongues”, “ra la ba ba setae, ra la ba ba setae” or whatever. Surprisingly, It didn’t freak me out. He walked away and within 1 minute something weird happened.
I started breathing fast like I was running. I thought, oh man, I better sit down. When I did, my strength just left me. It felt like the blood from my head ran down to my feet and back up again. I just sat there for 30 minutes with my body zapped. I closed my eyes and saw myself in a dark cave. I felt very angry and I didn’t know why. It’s all I could see and all I could feel. It was like day dreaming, but real. After the 30 minutes, I looked around and was brought back to reality. The angry feeling went away, I felt really happy, and it felt good, like when I laugh for a really long time and every part of my body tingles. I fell from the chair onto my hands and knees. Gravity increased. I just kept saying, “What the crap is going on!? What the crap is going on!?” Several people passed by saying, “This is the Holy Spirit cleaning you up”. I tried to push myself up several times, but gravity was too heavy. After 3 hours, the feeling left. I ate a lot of food, and went to bed thinking, “God is real… God is real…”
The next night, I expected the same thing. I stood and prayed, “pierce me, God”, not really understanding what I was saying. As I stood and prayed, I felt like I was going to throw up. After 10-15 seconds, the feeling passed, gravity increased again, and the happy feeling came back. I remember very clearly being on my knees and looking up above me to see a blurry face of light. Once again, it was like a day dream, but real. The face was God. This time around, I looked up and saw people standing around praying alone. I took 2 or 3 people by the shoulders and led them to one place together. I was on my face again for another hour or so to look up and notice that everyone was all piled in together. At the end of the night, I was hungry again and ate until I was uncomfortable.
The next night, now back at home at the RPHC, the same thing happened. Week after week, the same thing happened while praying. I had about 10 or so of these supernatural experiences all in that period of time within the span of about 2 or 3 months. Each time it lasted for about 3 hours. The unique thing about each of these experiences is that each time it happened, something inside of me knew 100% that it was a God encounter. I physically felt forgiven. Something about me was changed, and I don’t just mean my mind, I mean it felt like something about me was altered. I haven’t experienced anything like that since. What it did to me was first convince me that God most definitely is real and that Jesus is the way. I told myself from then on that I’d get into the bible to find out the truth behind what happened. Now, no one can convince me that God is not real. They’d be better off trying to convince me that I don’t have a father.