Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
This summer, I have asked some people to share stories about people in their lives who were instrumental in leading them to Jesus or helping them grow in their faith. Today’s Pulse article is written by Becky Derby.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
It was my senior year of high school - 1985. I was in the midst of what would today be diagnosed as clinical depression when my parents told me that we would be moving from my rural community of North Smithfield, RI, to Tolland, CT, the following year. I was beside myself. I was going to college in the fall, less than 20 miles from where I grew up. But, because of my parents’ move, when I came home from college, I would be in a strange place and a strange house. I wouldn’t know my way around, and I wouldn't know anyone. I was devastated and scared.
My best friend was worried about me. She saw me spiraling into a completely different person. Lisa reached out to one of our high school gym teachers, Gerry Caito. I “happened” to have Mr. Caito for study hall. One day, he pulled me aside just to talk. He asked me how things were going, and then he proceeded to tell me about his life. He told me about raising his two daughters. They were just a couple of years younger than me. His wife had died of cancer when his youngest was only two years old. He was a single dad who worked two jobs to care for his kids and his mother-in-law, who lived with him. He told me about all the bad decisions he had made early on after his wife died, but that his life was turned around when he put his faith in Jesus. His personal testimony touched me.
A few days later, another one of my gym teachers, Jim Frost, pulled me out of study hall to talk. First, he asked me if I believed in God as we sat on the piled-high mats in the gym stairwell. When I said yes, he asked me why. I told him that I couldn’t explain it, but I just knew that something had created our world. Next, he asked me if I believed that the Bible was the word of God. Although I didn’t know much about it, I knew it was sacred. Then he asked me if I died tonight, would I be in heaven? Again, I said yes. When he asked me why, he was genuinely perplexed by my answer. I told him that “God is supposed to forgive everybody.” Then Jim Frost shared the gospel with me, pointing me to John 3:16. I immediately felt angry and defensive. I said, “You mean to tell me that if Adolf Hitler accepted Jesus on his death bed, he would be in heaven right now? But a sweet, old, Jewish man who lived his whole life taking care of his family would be in hell?” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yes.” I told him that this idea completely went against everything I believed God to be. This couldn’t possibly be true.
I went home that day with a nagging feeling I had never experienced before. I told my mom about my conversations with Mr. Caito and Mr. Frost and asked her if she had a Bible I could read. She handed me her Good News Bible, and I was shocked to discover that what Mr. Frost had shared with me was true!
I started going to Bible studies at my gym teachers’ homes. They included me in their families. I would go to their houses for dinner and to hang out. I wasn’t the only one either. Other classmates of mine would also be there.
Although I wasn’t ready then and wouldn’t be ready to accept Jesus for another ten years, these two teachers forever changed my life. They put their careers on the line to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with countless teens and others. Mr. Caito always joked around, saying he was a “dumb jock.” He didn’t have scripture memorized, but he knew what Jesus had done in his life. He would say that Mr. Frost was the brains of the operation by sharing scripture. Two men with two very different approaches, but God has used them mightily to impact His kingdom. I will never forget them and what God did for me through them.
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