I'VE BEEN A WITNESS OF THE LOVE OF GOD

The Personal Testimony Of Sandra Bramlitt

As I look back on the past thirty nine years of my life, I am amazed by the things that MY God has done to bring me to himself.

I was born on December 28th, 1954, to my parents J. D. and Wanda Stegall in Lepanto, Arkansas. I was the middle child and the oldest of four girls.

When I think back to my earliest remembrance of spiritual things, I was in the second grade, when my brother came home from church and told us he had made a profession of faith. I remember telling God that I wanted to know what being saved was. Little did I know that God was going to let me know what it was. So, at the tender age of eight years old, my Father in Heaven began to lovingly, patiently draw me to himself.

All my life until I was 33 years of age, I thought that I wanted God because I was such a good girl but, I realize now that the only reason I ever searched for God, was because of His love, grace, longsuffering and patience in drawing me to himself.

You see in my lifetime, I have had three different times that I came to realize that there was more to salvation than what I had. Each time the devil would slip me a counterfeit salvation and because of my ignorance of true salvation I would do what I was told to do and called it salvation, not knowing that it was O. K. to wait on God for real salvation. Now , you may say that it was bad for God to allow me to do that, but God is good. He makes no mistakes and he knew he was a good enough God, that he was perfectly able to take care of me and lead me along in life until I came to true salvation.

At the age of eleven or twelve I was going to church regularly because God had worked in me a desire to go to church. We had a revival at our church and I had heard from some of the children that if you wanted to be saved you went down the aisle, took the preacher by the hand, and said yes to all his questions (Do you want to be saved? Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe he can save you?) I wanted to be saved, so I did what I knew to do at the time. This was the first time the devil thought he had won in my life.

Time went on, I kept going to church until the summer before I would be a senior in high school. I had gotten pretty religious for a young person by this time. One of my friends had made a profession of faith and surrendered to the ministry. He was going to go to different schools and give his testimony and he asked several of us to go with him. Of course, being so religious, we had to say yes. Immediately, I knew something else about salvation; you had to have a testimony. I began to plan out my testimony. There wasn't much there except saying yes to some questions.

I was invited to go to a youth meeting that summer. At that meeting I was told there had to be some ingredients in your salvation, like faith and repentance. I don't remember much that was said except at the end, the Bible teacher said if you weren't sure you were saved, to say the prayer she said and you would be saved. I didn't know anything about having faith. I came to the conclusion that I was lost. I said the prayer and thought I got saved. The devil laughed, but MY God smiled and drew me on.

I went to the church where my friends went and we went to different schools to give our testimonies.

In January of my senior year I met my husband to be, Troy Bramlitt. We were married in the fall. We went to church some, but I soon found myself too busy and went to church less and less. After all, once you're saved, you're always saved aren't you? Why did I wonder if I was really saved and if I was, why wasn't I still in church?

Time went on, my son and oldest daughter were born. I began to realize the responsibility of a parent to take their children to church so they can learn about God. Soon after this I started going to church faithfully. I taught Sunday School and took my children to church every time the doors were open. It was at this church that I met a zealous man of God and he taught us many things about God. I began to try to be all the things I was learning a saved woman was supposed to be. There was no way I could measure up to what I thought a saved woman was.

I am a strong willed woman and I had great difficulty trying to be submissive to my husband. It truly has been the grace of God that has kept our marriage together, through all these years. You see, people thought because I was in church regularly that I had to be the wife that I was supposed to be. I was and still am far from being the wife that God and I both want me to be. Thank God, he is able to do far beyond what we can expect or hope for him to work in our lives.

In the summer of 1983 Troy and I had a little girl that was born ill and died three days later. During this time I really needed God and he comforted me. I didn't get mad at God for letting my baby die, so boy, I really had to be saved, right? WRONG, (What I didn't realize was that salvation is not what we do or don't do, but what a Righteous and Holy God chooses to do to a wicked human being, in this case, me.) This time in our lives was a time that God used to draw Troy and me closer together.

The following year God gave Troy and me, twin girls. God knew if he had only given us one, it would not have been able to take all the love we had stored-up after losing our little girl. (I guess that's why God, the Father, gave Jesus each one to make up his bride (the church) because he has so much love to give to each child he saves.)

During the time that we lost our little girl, the church I was going to came to the decision that it was time for our pastor to leave. This resulted in our pastor leaving and some of us leaving with him. We formed a church and continued learning more about God.

The next spring my sister-in-law took her own life. I have never been faced with a more difficult situation in my life. Before I knew it, I became mad at her for doing it, mad at God for letting her do it, and mad at myself for not being able to help her somehow. I found myself in a most confused state about God and this thing we call life. Now, I know truly God's grace is sufficient in all our needs whether we are saved at the time or not.

Shortly after this, we had our spring revival and I really needed something. Bro. Mike Williams preached our revival and gave his testimony. In it he told how when he was lost and didn't know it, he got so tired of being a hypocrite in church. Boy, immediately I knew that's how I felt, such a hypocrite about being a "Christian." I had my pastor come to my house and we talked. He had me to get down on my knees and pray, but nothing happened. He could not help me and I was in trouble. I studied my Bible and tried to find God. I knew I was lost. I knew I needed God, but once again I failed to wait on God for a finished work. Once again I thought that I had gotten saved. The devil laughed, but God smiled, knowing the time was getting closer.

Not too long after this, our pastor found out it was time for him to leave our church, but assured us that God would send us the pastor we needed to lead us on.

He was right. After a short while there was a man of God, by the name of Terry Owen that came to be our pastor. Our church services began to be centered around salvation.

Brother Terry devoted his life to telling us all he knew and had experienced about God. He was the first man I ever saw that, God showed him his sin and then God loved him anyway. (Somehow I had the impression that if I admitted to God how bad I was that God would surely kill me.) By Brother Terry being honest about his sin, it gave me hope that maybe that same God could and would love me. Brother Terry showed us the good times he had with God, but also the reality of God dealing with him about sin. This was a real and living God that you could talk to and that would talk back to you. The God of the Bible.

Once again God stirred a desire in me to learn more about him. But this time, I thought I was alright as far as salvation. I just needed to grow and learn about God.

So as Brother Terry led us in our journey, one by one, members of the church (Grace Baptist Church) began to find out they were lost and got saved. I was thinking "I must have been the only one already saved when Brother Terry came."(Boy, was I blind.)

Brother Terry always went to Mississippi Delta Camp Meeting, so we started going also. This is a ministry of Brother Charles Shipman and Calvary Baptist Church in West Helena, Arkansas. We had heard Brother Terry had gone there when he was lost and the people prayed for him until he got saved. (Thank God for a place where people will love you.)

The first couple of times I went I really enjoyed going. In the fall of 1988, I went and in that meeting a man of God stood up and told us he was lost. Man, it was like God had stuck a piece of dynamite under me and it had went off. I was trying to convince myself and others that I was alright, But things would not settle down. It was time for God to put a stop to all the counterfeits in my life. There was no going back or settling for anything less than real salvation.

When Brother Terry got home from the meeting, he called to check on me. I tried to tell him I was fine. He knew I wasn't but he didn't pressure me. He just told me if I ever wanted to look at my salvation he would be glad for me to tell him about it.

Brother Terry had been telling us how it was alright to look at your salvation. If you looked at your experience you could tell if you were really saved or find out you were lost and God could save you. Either way, you would be better off after looking at it.

I decided I would go and talk to Brother Terry. When I went to him, I told him about my last experience of what I thought was salvation. As we talked, I found out in my last experience, that I knew I was lost in my head. In my head I knew I needed God, but there never was a time when I rested in what God had done for me. So I was never changed, but just thought I was and called it salvation.

Once again God gave me the grace to look at my experience, and see that it was not what salvation is. This time God was not going to let me settle for anything short of salvation.

During the months I was lost, I found out many things. I found out, I was a wicked human being and once I saw how wicked I was, I could not believe there was anything the God of this universe could do to love me. But MY God is the Champion of Love. Although most people today think that it is a terrible thing to be lost, I want people to know, that when you find yourself lost and agree with God that you are, you're opening the door of the greatest love anyone can ever experience. NO ONE CAN LOVE YOU LIKE CHRIST!

During this time of being lost, I also found out the importance of having a man of God, that will tell you the truth about yourself and about God. I'll never forget the day God told me that if I needed help about spiritual things, that Brother Terry would be the one to help me. I've never yet gone to him when God didn't help me. It wasn't always what I wanted to hear, but it was always what I needed.

I realized I was lost in August of 1988. It was March of 1989 that my God brought me to the place in my life that I realized that, whatever God desired to do with me, he was justified in doing it.

Our meeting began on Monday night. Every night I went with the hope of getting saved and left still lost until Friday night. The service was good and as it came to an end I found myself realizing that I had a heart of stone and lost hope of getting saved and as hard as I tried I couldn't change my heart.

Earlier that week, God had showed me that I couldn't quit trying to get saved and what I needed was to know I could rest in what Christ did, But I couldn't.

Brother Terry told Brother Tim Tutor to sing a song. Brother Tim began to sing, 'Oh, Love of God,' and as Brother Tim sang, God began to melt my heart. He was there loving me with a love that would melt my heart of stone. All I knew to do was to cry. I thought about going to the alter, but I didn't. I told God I needed some help. The next thing I knew Brother Terry was there asking me what was going on. I told him all I knew was that I just couldn't quit trying to help God save me. It was like, I finally admitted my unbelief in God being able to save me. Brother Terry told me, "Sandra, you know it's time." While Brother Terry was saying that, God was saying, "It's O.K. Sandra, you can rest now." I believed him and rested. It was all over. Although I tried to keep trying to cry, there was nothing to cry about. Brother Terry asked me what was going on and I told him, "Nothing is going on."It was quiet in my soul. We went in the other room and talked for awhile. I really don't remember what we talked about, I just remember the peace and quietness, where there had been grief, struggle, and unbelief.

When we went back in the room Brother Tim sang, 'The Search is Over.' As he sang, I found myself in the alter at the feet of my Lord, who saved me and my heart was singing, 'It is well with my soul.'

Since that time, God has taught me a lot about myself and more of his great love.

It's my desire for people to know that God is real and that he loves us even though we are sinful. The greatest thing in my life is that I've been a witness of God's great love and salvation as he has worked it in me. It's been my desire that God would continue to work in me and help me to share the reality of God with other people.