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I was not raised in church. I can remember visiting the Baptist Church occasionally while growing up, but I hated the inconvenience of having to get up on the weekend! As it worked out, my parents got offended by something trivial and quit going altogether. Of course, I didn't shed any tears over that! However, i was in a very loving and good family, just not in church.
I began playing drums at an early age with my neighbor, who played guitar. We practiced together and "cut our teeth" in the music world. Later, I began to perform in rock bands at any location that would have us. I worked department store promotions, battle of the bands, later moving into one night stands at fraternity and sorority parties. My aspirations were to be a famous drummer travelling full time and I thought I was well on my way. I auditioned and was selected for a show band out of Columbus, Ohio. We traveled the country and played mostly state fairs and conventions. I forfeited my college education for this lifestyle.
My next move was to form a similar band of my own. We traveled, playing mostly night clubs, supper clubs, hotels and motels throughout the US. Although I looked as though I drank and used drugs, I never did due to the fact that I saw so much drunken atrocities in the clubs I worked. I declared I would never bog down with such garbage. My focus was on making money in show business and I had no time for anything that would impair my thinking or possibly destroy my plans. It was now a business, not just for fun.
As time progressed, I was offered a management position with a small theme park in Benton, Kentucky. The park owner's wife was a born again, Spirit filled Christian. During my years out of church, I became very callous to the Gospel. I can remember people witnessing to me with tracts and I was so mean, I would tear them up in front of them and throw the remains on the ground. (Little did I know that the Lord would eventually lead me into a tract ministry where I would meet my "old self" many times over. Praise the Lord!). It was my opinion that those who went to church did so as a "crutch". In other words, I felt they were not "real" men or women, but emotionally crippled and needed religion or God as something to lean on. I believed that there was no God. Yes, I had slid so far that I openly confessed Atheism! No heaven, no hell; when a person died, they just went back to the earth, nothing more, nothing less. Thank God for His mercy!
Nevertheless, it was here at the theme park that I began to seek the Lord. The park owner's wife, Jan Sill was witnessing to me and I was watching her life. I could argue with religion, but i could not argue with a changed life. Her life exemplified Jesus so much that I knew what she found was real!
Because of my life's ups and downs, I began experiencing severe attacks of fear and anxiety. It was getting very bad. I found myself afraid I would get sick, or someone would break in at night. I slept with a loaded snub-nosed 38 special under my pillow every evening. I carried a shaving kit bag full of medicine everywhere I went in case I got sick. What a life!
Jan and Walter moved to California and left me with the park. I began attending a singles Bible class at a Baptist church in Paducah, Kentucky, still unsaved. I had not yet accepted the Lord into my life, but I was close. The group was challenged to read "The taste of New Wine" by Keith Miller in order to discuss it at the meetings.
Now, the Lord was in this without my knowledge. You must understand that I hated to read! Throughout school I did my book reports from cliffs notes or classic comics. I had never read a book cover to cover, yet, in my mobile home on the park grounds one evening, I began to read this book. I could not put it down! I read it in its entirety on that evening.
In this book, I was challenged to pray this prayer: "Lord, if you are real, help me to want to want to know you..." I figured I could do that, so I slid off my bed, knelt down and prayed that prayer. Little did I know what the Lord would do with my meager effort to find Him!
This was the beginning! Soon thereafter, I felt within myself that I had been born again. The Lord impressed on me to find the book "How to be born Again" by Billy Graham so I would understand what happened. Please understand that I knew nothing of Billy Graham, nor did I know that there was a book out there with this title! It took me some effort to find this book. I had to go to a bookstore on a college campus in the neighboring town called Murray, Kentucky. I found it, read it, and understood my salvation by his simple explanation of the Scriptures.
Daily, I became more hungry for the Word of God. I could not get enough. Every time a church door was open, I was in it. I just wanted to know more about my Savior Jesus.
My hunger led me to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, where I was immersed in the Power of God. Again, the Lord used my dear friends Walt and Jan. I was visiting with them when Jan and I went to a Charismatic prayer meeting in someone's home in the San Bernardino Mountains. They prayed over me for the Holy Spirit baptism. I can remember thinking in the midst of the prayer that I wished they would hurry and take their hands off of me. Not being ugly or rude, but they wanted me to speak in tongues, and they were determined. Although I did not speak in tongues at that moment, I did receive what I was after... an anointing like I had never had before, the mighty Holy Spirit!
As Jan and I walked home, this sentence came to me: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will never pass away." Jan told me that it was a prophecy after receiving the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! Confirmation of my baptism! I remembered that in Acts, when they received the Holy Ghost, they spoke with tongues and prophesied! It wasn't long after that experience that I received the gift of tongues. I soon felt the call of God to preach.
Since I obeyed God's call to evangelism, He has taken me to Africa, Central America, Mexico, India, Pakistan and the Caribbean to preach and teach His Word. My burden is for the third world countries and the suffering church. It is my desire to teach the Word of faith to hungry hearts and break down the walls of religion that have bound people through deception for ages.
The Lord has given me an international prison ministry where He enables me to reach the incarcerated here in Florida, as well as the other countries He takes me to.
I operate by faith. The Lord speaks to my heart as to where I am to go; I take Him at His Word, act upon it and go. He has never failed me. Where He guides, He provides.
Pastor Chuck Kennedy