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Salvation Stories 4: David Petterson: Personal Testimony – “My 9/11 and 911”

Salvation Stories Day 4 – David Petterson: Personal Testimony – “My 9/11 and 911”

If you were alive on September 11, 2001, you remember the horror and sense of despair that followed the abominable acts of terrorism perpetrated against the United States of America. Symbols of our nation’s prosperity and security were attacked and toppled, and, more significantly, thousands were senselessly slain. Hundreds of frantic 911 calls were made in the wake of that fateful morning’s tragedies. 

Twenty years earlier, on the same day, similar feelings of horror and despair gripped me as I thought of what awaited me after this life. I knew I was a sinner and that judgment for my sins meant eternal separation from God. But not until that day did I realize how serious and hopeless my situation was. The Lord swept away whatever security I thought I had, and I knew I desperately needed God’s salvation. It was time for my 911 call. I cried out to the Lord, not knowing what I should do next.

I voiced my concerns to my sister, and she helpfully instructed me to speak with my father, who had been a Christian since 1961. For the first time in my short life, I finally admitted to someone that I was, indeed, not saved, and I wanted to be saved right then. My father wisely took me to the Scriptures and began to read verses I had heard before. Just before praying, he read one final verse, John 3:16, which reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The word “perish” certainly hit home. I was perishing and needed rescuing. But I didn’t know what to do. 

Dad prayed and I exited the bedroom, feeling more lost than when I entered. I remember walking through the living room on the way to the staircase, a few sets of siblings’ eyes making contact with mine. They silently seemed to be asking me, “Are you saved now?” I had done what many others had done in the past—meet with a Christian father who read the Bible and prayed with them. In others’ conversion stories, this seemed to work, but it didn’t work for me. I remained unsaved, feeling more hopeless than ever. It was then that the lines of John 3:16 came back into my mind. Undoubtedly with the help of the Holy Spirit, I was able to discern that the Lord Jesus’ words in the verse included a promise. He promised that whoever believed in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life. Taking this promise for myself, I simply believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and received His gift of eternal life, a gift secured by His death on the cross for my sins.

That was September 11, 1981. The Lord saved me as a boy of eight, before I had real opportunities to experience the seductive pleasures and pressures of this world. As I have grown older and become more aware of the weakness of my own flesh and the deceitfulness of my heart, I often wonder where I would be today if God had not saved me that Friday afternoon. I am thankful that He rescued me not only from what I was but from what I might have been. 

Everyone needs a 9/11 moment when you realize you are not safe and you don’t have what it takes to save yourself. Our sins have separated us from God and will separate us from Him forever. No amount of good works, however honorable, can rescue us from the consequences of our sins. And everyone needs to make a 911 call to the Lord Jesus, for He alone is the Savior of sinners. He will answer your call, and He promises that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.

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