Reformed Baptist Fellowship

I Was A Teenage Reformed Baptist

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on January 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I have a remarkable story to share with you.   It is my own story.   November of 2010 will mark the 33rd anniversary of my new life in Christ.  I am the tenth born out of eleven children.  I was born in an agnostic home where the word of God had no place.  The name of  Jesus was only spoken in curse.  I never went to church, I never prayed.  The only thing that I knew of the Bible was what I had seen in movies like the Ten Commandments.  I did not know what apostles were, I had never heard of Epistles, I did not know if  Moses was alive before or after Jesus.   I was a kid who basically lived out on my own.  I was out on the streets at all hours.  I got drunk for the first time when I was 12.  I was deep into pornography.  I loved violent and depraved films.  How was I to be reached?

When I was 14 I began listening to the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar.   It got me interested in who Jesus might have been.   At this time there was  a girl named Karen who was at my bus stop.  She was radically different from anyone I had met.  She was meek and modest.   She carried a bible with her to school.  I began to ask her some questions about  the bible and Jesus.  She soon invited me to a bible study to be held at the home of her new pastor.  I agreed to go.  At this meeting for the first time I was around a group of ‘Christian’ kids.  To me they were a group of  little nerds and nerdlings.  They were not like me (thank God!).  They were not profane.  They did not listen to my music or watch my movies (I loved Scorsese and  Coppola, they loved Disney).  The pastor I met (George McDearmon) was also very different from me.  He was a football guy, I was a baseball guy.  I liked the Beatles and Jim Croce, he thought Tennessee Ernie Ford was cool.  At any rate, I was invited to church.  The first sermon I ever heard was on circumcision.  We sat in old wooden pews.  We sang ancient hymns with ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ in them.  He preached for about an hour.  He sweated a good bit.  He was kind of loud.  It was a completely alien experience.

But I went back.  This group of  Baptists in upstate NY began to show love to me.  They prayed for me.  They shared their faith with me.  This pastor did not seek to become like me.  He was who he was.  He was faithful to God and he was faithful to my soul.  In time, faith came by hearing.  God saved me.  The church did not save me.  The pastor did not save me. The girl at my bus stop did not save me.  The glory goes to God.

I was soon baptized.  I joined the church.  I began to read my bible. I began to witness to others.  I soon had a growing desire to preach.

Some people today fear that my testimony is impossible.  How could such a group be used to reach me?  How could doctrinally rich preaching, formal worship, and such ‘non-cool’ people reach this rebel?  Because the exceeding power is not of  man but of God.  Because salvation is His work.   Yes, God uses means.  But he doesn’t always use the means that we think.   The preached word, loving saints,  holy lives, and vital prayer were God’s tools 33 years ago. I think they still are today.

Jim Savastio, Pastor
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
  1. Thank you, Pastor Savastio. I had never heard your testimony.

  2. What a wonderful testimony of God’s free and sovereign grace! Pastor Savistio said it best, “The church did not save me. The pastor did not save me. The girl at my bus stop did not save me. The glory goes to God.”

  3. I was reading this in the library last evening across from your office, and I couldn’t help but think, “Behold, he’s in an elders’ meeting!” Seriously, praising God for His work of grace in your life! And thankful for 1 Cor. 1:21! “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe”

  4. Hmmm…so you were a “Gentile’s Gentile.” I guess you could say I grew up among “Samaritans” (PCUSA- “they aren’t REALLY Presbyterian…”). And then there are the “Pharisees” who grew up in solidly Reformed churches. And all alike are under sin and need the grace of God!

  5. Amen, Pastor Savastio! And these same tools were also present in the first church. Acts 2: 42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” May OUR churches “continue steadfastly” in these things so that those that come among us may know that God is there in our midst.

  6. Some people today fear that my testimony is impossible.  How could such a group be used to reach me?  How could doctrinally rich preaching, formal worship, and such ‘non-cool’ people reach this rebel?  Because the exceeding power is not of  man but of God.  Because salvation is His work. 

    Amen Jim. Salvation is surely the work of the Lord alone and hence all praises belongs to Him. It is not our attempts to assimilate with the aesthetics of unbelievers that saves them, but in sharing the Good Word to them and in the hearing of it, are they saved.

    No one can stop the transformation brought on by the Word of God upon a man that has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Not even Jonah, when he unwillingly shared God’s word to the people of Nineveh. For he knew the power of God’s Word to convict men regenerated by the Holy Spirit, would lead them to repentance. He knew nothing could separate Nineveh from the Love of God — not even his prejudices toward the Ninevehites (though inexcusable, abominable and liable for judgment) … which is what led him to run in the first place. Jonah was quite a character!

  7. As the son of the pastor in this “story” and now one of the flock watched over by the lost teenage rebel-turned-pastor in this “story”, I can only praise God for His mercy in all our lives and give thanks for using both men as influences in my life to preserve me thus far. God’s ways are so beyond our ways. It is enjoyable to think on the fact that the preaching the Spirit moved my father to deliver 33 years ago was used in Pastor Savastio’s life and those same unchanging truths he now preaches faithfully to Pastor McDearmon’s grandchildren.

    I am thankful to be a witness to the fact that both men in this “story” remain faithful to preaching the Word, loving saints, living holy lives and committing to vital prayer. I pray God continues to use and preserve them both!

  8. Thanks for this, Jim. It seems that a simple sling and stone with God can take down more than state-of-the-art ministry without Him.

  9. Funny,35 years ago a Junior high friend invited me to an “old fashioned” church that shared the Gospel the same way. It worked then, I believe it still does. No rock-n-roll or lights, just Jesus and His love.

  10. Yeah, yeah. Next you will be telling us that the preacher actually wore a tie, and you were still converted. Really, brother, there’s only so much the Holy Spirit can accomplish . . .

  11. Jeremy nice tongue in check

    The babyboomer – hippy – we want it our way – Jesus better rock – don’t preach to me – don’t make me feel guilty – we just want to have fun generation has been the ruin of American evangelicalism. But, I have much hope for the next generation. You know, the ones who watch Conan O’Brien even though he wears a tie 😉

  12. They no longer watch Conan. The other guys wear ties too. 🙂

  13. What a remarkably relevant testimony. I can only echo Greg’s last statement. Both men sustained by God’s grace.

  14. Christ has sworn to build His church. The Great Architect has ordained the only means – PREACHING! Modifications of that method may visibly fill buildings, but not with the glory that generates from above. A glory rooted in His Word, attested by the Holy Spirit; a glory that persists.

  15. What a great article! I have printed it for future reference on how to write a testimony. We need to be remeinded often that it is God’s work, and not fall into the trap of thinking we save people.

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