Testimony given at AKC's Summer Barbeque Party 2009/08/30 (Hayato Fukui Translating)
My name is Trey Rowzie and I'm from the United States. My home town is in the state of Louisiana which is between of Texas and where the Mississippi River ends. I work at Kyoto International University in Kyotanabe and I've been in Japan for over seven years now. Tonight, Pastor Joseph has given me the privilege to tell you about a life-changing event in my life.
In the summer of 1993, I found myself in an unusual place; everything seemed to be working in my favor. Somehow, I had been able to land a great job that was beyond my credentials. I was dating a beautiful and charming young lady, who for some reason adored me. And I was living cheaply in a big house with a pleasant group of housemates. Although life seemed pretty good, something just wasn't right; It was me.
Earlier that year, my friends introduced to a man named Bill was renting out rooms in his house. Bill was friendly and we had a common interest in computers. At first, I was reluctant to move in with Bill because he and his housemates were Christians. But it seemed like the best opportunity for me at the time. Well, when five bachelors live in the same house, you quickly discover how they're put together. I had lived with housemates before but there was something different about these guys: they didn't fight with one another; they didn't steal or lie to each other; they almost always were in a good mood; and they always talked about the most uncomfortable topics of "God", "Jesus", and the "Bible".
Since I'm American, I'm often asked in Japan if I was raised as a Christian. And I can say that I held to a Christian culture but not to a Christian belief. What I mean is that we would regularly attend church services and even follow some special customs in our home (such as celebrating Christmas and Easter), but the actual teachings of the Bible did not greatly affect my day-to-day life or thinking.
My childhood understanding was God is perfect and rewards those who do good and punished those who do bad. So, I tried in my own way to be perfect and do only good deeds. But the harder I tried to be perfect, the more I failed; it was hopeless. So, as a teenager and young adulthood, I stopped trying to be "good" and turned to pleasing myself instead. The list of my sins are too long and shameful to explain in detail here but to give you a general idea: I was a drunkard and a womanizer, foulmouthed and an lair, an idolater and a hater of God. I was self-centered, self-seeking, proud, conceited, lazy, vain, envious, unforgiving, and full of rage. Although these things would lead to a series of personal disasters, even these would not really stop me for doing wrong. Those times were very strange to me now. All that I did, even if it was dangerous or illegal, I somehow felt comfortable in doing it.
But as much as I hated God and saw Him as a vengeful, punishing judge, I was drawn to these Christians housemates. I was seeing those Christians live out a life that I knew I should be living but somehow couldn't. I was shamed to see that they treated each other (and me) with more love and respect than I had for my girlfriend, the woman I claimed to love. They had an intimacy with God that I couldn't even fathom. They also could say "no" to doing the same bad things that I was attracted to do. But when you asked them how they did all this, they would give an incomprehensible answer; "It's not me; it's Christ living though me."
So, I begin privately reading the Bible for myself. It didn't make much sense at first and I tried to secretly ask questions to my housemates about what I was reading. One of the housemates, Konan, asked if he could help me understand. I soon turned into a pest with my many questions, but Konan would try to patiently answer every one. After few months, I had read enough of the Bible and asked enough questions to have a general understanding. I learned that...
- God is holy. But since the first man, Adam, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)
- For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (Isaiah 64:6)
- Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom 5:12)
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:8-10)
- If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." (Rom 10:9-11)
- "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom 10:13)
After learning this, I couldn't walk away and return to my old life but I was fearful and needed some prove that I should believe this. There is a story of a man in the Bible with a similar problem. Have you heard of the phrase "Doubting Thomas?" Thomas was one of Jesus' disciples and was told that Jesus, who he saw die, is now alive again. Although this exactly what Jesus had been teaching him, Thomas just couldn't believe it and need proof. Later Jesus came to him and offered His nail pierced hands as proof and Thomas believed. After I read this story in Book of John, I confessed to God that I was doubting like Thomas and I needed proof. God heard my prayer and proved Himself to me (although not in the same physical way as Thomas). And soon I turned to Him and believed.
And what about that ugly list of sins that mentioned before? God forgave me and I felt the burden of my guilt removed! And He was gracious to free me from many of those sins as soon as I turned to Him. To be honest, I'm in no way a perfect man. I still have troubles, I'm still tempted, often weak, and on occasion still fall in to sin. But it is at these times that I can call on God and He faithful to rescue me. So, when people ask me how I live the life I do it I honestly say, "It's not me; it's Christ living though me."
Remember: "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."
Thank you for your time.