Day 26 – David McMichael, Sr.: Personal Testimony
I was born in 1955 and lived in Pennsauken, New Jersey, with my parents and three siblings. We were raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. I became an altar boy, serving in many functions of church service. I loved my parents very much and I’m sure they thought they were doing what was best for our Christian education. We never read the Bible; it was frowned upon in those days. We did recite the same prayer for our meals, which I can still quote today.
When we turned 18, our parents gave us the option of attending church. I chose not to go and filled my weekends with other activities, some of which involved unhealthy habits. I never had a fear of dying or of going to the place called hell, a place I felt was reserved for very bad people. I did the best I could and just figured I would be in heaven one day.
I graduated high school in 1973, and started a full-time job at the local GM auto dealer, which was, ironically, across the highway from a place called Pennsauken Gospel Hall. I was living out the old gospel hymn, Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
We formed a softball team at the dealership and played after work one or two evenings a week. Eileen Parker, the telephone operator/cashier, came to the game and brought her friend, Linda Draper. Linda caught my attention from the outfield. When the inning was over (which took forever), I ran over to introduce myself to Eileen’s pretty friend. We started to see one another quite regularly.
I had no idea the blessing that the God of heaven was bringing me into. “The goodness of God leadeth to repentance” (Romans 2:4, KJV). This was the spring or summer of 1976; I was 21 years old and Linda was 18. Linda’s father was sick in the hospital at the time with terminal lung cancer. He was sent home and I was able to meet him. That was the last time I saw him alive. He passed away in November 1976. I attended the funeral and heard my very first gospel message, delivered by Linda’s brother-in-law, Gene Higgins.
The many funerals I served assisting the priest were completely different than what I observed. Mr. Higgins explained how Bob Draper was saved during his life on earth and was now in the presence of his Savior, Jesus Christ. I never heard anything like that before.
Linda attended a gospel service every Sunday night, and every night in a gospel tent for a month each summer. She was not saved at that time. We were married on April 28, 1979, in the Church of all Faiths in Medford, NJ. We purchased a home around the corner from my parents in Pennsauken. We had Dave Jr., our first of seven children, on April 11, 1980. I believe the responsibility of being a mom and her knowledge of the Bible spoke to Linda’s soul greatly, and one night in bed while listening to the radio she heard the words of a song, “A soul that is afraid of dying.” She realized that was exactly what she felt and she turned to Isaiah 44:22: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” She received Jesus Christ as her Savior the evening of July 20, 1980.
Linda began to regularly attend church services and Sunday School at Pennsauken Gospel Hall. I would attend gospel meetings occasionally, and one evening when my brother-in-law spoke, I remember feeling the conviction of sin.
It was not until our second child, Jill, was born in January 1982 that I felt I was not being a very good husband or father, as Linda took our children to church while I stayed home. I started going to the gospel services on a regular basis but still struggled to let go of the faith I grew up in.
I was now working for my best friend, Billy Kamps, in the construction industry. One night while working the late shift on a very large boiler under maintenance, we were working to replace all the fire brick. The brick layers were inside and I was handing the bricks through a doorway while lying on a large active steam line. As clear as a bell, I heard a voice ask me what would happen if this pipe exploded—where would I be? The man who was never afraid was now terrified of death and honestly trying to answer that question. I had no peace of mind about it all and my Catholic background was not helping me.
I had noticed a big change in Linda. She would tell me how she was saved, but it seemed too easy to me—no works required, only faith! After another gospel meeting, Gene asked to come over so we could talk. I told him he was not leaving until I understood salvation. We read some Bible verses together. The one that stood out to me was Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” He asked me where I would be if I died that night, to which I answered, according to that Book, that I would be in hell. This terrified me. I remember staring off, thinking of the words of these verses (Ephesians 2:8-9) and how I was trying to believe hard enough to be saved, making it my effort rather than accepting the free gift of God.
I realized that night that because I had sinned, God had the right to judge me and send me to hell. Yet His Word tells us that Christ died for our sins—even mine! I remember looking off and seeing Christ on that cross instead of me, taking on the punishment for my sin. I would have to be a fool not to trust Him. That moment, by faith, I trusted in the work He accomplished on the cross personally for me. What joy filled my heart and soul at that moment. Gene repeated his question once again, but this time I knew the answer—I would be in heaven! He asked me how I knew this and I told him, “Christ died for me!” I was saved on April 26, 1983. What a joy it was to tell Linda, who was waiting at the top of the stairs, that I would be with her in heaven for sure.