I was on the wrong path, but God showed me the way

My name is Richard Hill, and this is my story:

As far back as I can remember the Lord was watching over me and protecting me. One day as a child of 4 or 5 years old, I was riding in the back seat of the car which in those days did not have safety locks.   My parents were riding in the front seat, and my mother turned to speak to me. To her horror I was not there!  Realizing that I had fallen out of a moving car, my parents frantically turned the car around and began to look for me on the highway. To their relief they found me alive. I had landed on a narrow patch of grass along the side oft he road before
rolling down a 20 foot embankment.   Had I hit anywhere else, I would have been killed.   Two years later, I underwent tonsil surgery.  The doctor mistakenly gave me too much anesthesia, and I was pronounced dead and sent to the hospital morgue.  The attendant at the morgue suspected something was not right and placed a mirror under my nose.  She detected breathing and immediately called the doctor.  I was returned to the loving arms of my mother. As a teenager, I went with two of my buddies for a joyride.  We were passing every car in sight. The driver lost control and in some strange turn of events, we ended up going backward at about 35 miles per hour.  The car landed between a telephone pole and a deep coal pit with its back wheels suspended slightly above the ground.  God was truly watching over me and helping me although I did not realize it at this time.

I didn’t go to church often as a child, but my parents made sure that I attended Sunday School quite faithfully at the Evangelical and Reformed Church.  Upon graduation from high school in 1954, I immediately joined the Air Force.  In addition to my military job, I worked a civilian job so I could support my wife and children.  I was taught by my parents that if you have a job, you should do it right, so I worked very hard at both jobs. I was too busy to think about my relationship with God.

One day the Master Sergeant who lived across the street from us invited us to attend church with him and his wife.  We decided to attend.  It was a small church with only 5 couples in the congregation.  My church attendance was interrupted, however, when I was sent to Vietnam.   In Vietnam I was nearly killed when shrapnel blasted through the building as I was inspecting flight safety equipment.  At that time, I still did not know God was looking after me and protecting me.

After my service in Vietnam I returned to the States and began attending the same little church as I had before. The Master Sergeant and I volunteered to sweep the church floors on Saturdays. One day the minister found cigarette butts on the church grounds and
assumed that I had tossed them there.  I hadn’t done such a thing and told him the truth, but I felt he did not believe me.  I was so ashamed over the incident that I quit going to church for many years.

In December of 2000 through a series of events and rough times, my marriage ended in divorce. I knew God was not pleased with the things I was doing, and I felt guilt about my sins. I asked the Lord to help me in my new marriage to my high school sweetheart Joan. I began attending Joan’s church which was the Church of Christ. When I found out that we did not agree with what the church was teaching, my wife and I began looking for a new church. We went to various churches and questioned the ministers about the beliefs of the churches. I found out that the national headquarters of many of the churches made the decisions, regardless of what the Bible had to say.

Around 2006, as I was looking through the Yellow Pages of the phone book for a church to attend, I saw the Bloomsburg Baptist Church listed.  The listing described the church as an “independent” church. Being an independent church, it was free of the rule of any group. Joan and I visited the church services, and I spoke with the pastor. I found that he believed and preached what the Bible said. I liked the preaching, because I could follow along in my Bible as the pastor spoke. As I listened to the Word of God, I began to hunger for more.  I wanted to know for certain that my sins were forgiven!    I wanted to be saved!  (Note: salvation, saved, and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin.  This is God’s requirement for a person to have everlasting life.)

On a Sunday night during prayer request time, I stood to my feet at my pew and said to the congregation, “Pray for me. I am not saved, but I want to be saved.”  The people in the church began praying earnestly for my salvation. At the end of each service, our pastor invited anyone who wanted to be saved to come to the front of the church where a counselor would be waiting to pray and open the Bible to share verses regarding salvation.   One Sunday, I responded to this invitation.  I heard the verses and prayed, but returned to my seat unsaved.  I knew that in my heart I was not ready to repent. Jesus said in Luke  13:3  “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Repentance is a turning from one’s own way and turning to God’s way.  In my heart I was holding back. I continued to ask God to speak to my heart and help me to come to repentance.

Then in April 2010, Evangelist Bud Hunter came to our church for meetings.   Each night he preached about repentance and salvation. On the last night of the meetings, April 28, 2010, as the invitation to come to Christ was given, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. I was ready to surrender my heart and life to the Creator of the universe who died for my sins.  I went to the front of the church and there trusted Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Immediately, I knew my sins were all forgiven.  I had peace and joy in my heart!  I wanted to tell people what happened to me.  I told my wife, Joan, who was very happy for me.  I then called my son, who is a Bible preaching minister.  He, too, was very glad for me.

In May 2010 I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I had cancer surgery in November and two days later more surgery was needed to save my life.   I was in critical condition. The doctors asked Joan to come to the hospital, because I was dying. Many prayers were made for me that day and night.   Miraculously, I survived.  For some reason, known only to Him, the Lord extended my life.

Recently (February 2012), I was told that my cancer has spread and I may have only  two months to live.  I know that the Lord is in control.  I know that if I should die, I will be immediately in the presence of the Lord, because He has forgiven me and promised me a home in Heaven.  I thank the Lord every day for all His blessings to me.  He has given me a wonderful wife. She has been such a blessing to me.  I thank God for loving me and drawing me to Himself to save me, even though I had turned Him away for so many years.  I had been on the wrong path, but God showed me the way.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6