Hello - My name is Tim and I live just north of Atlanta GA.
My testimony is very much like others I have read here. I've been a "christian" for the past 26 years - having accepted Christ at 14 at a southern baptist church. I've attended baptist churches for quite a while until about 7 years ago - I now attend a Church of God church (the one based in Anderson, IN).
I have always had trouble with the concept of Hell, but always accepted it as fact, cause, "the bible says so". I have also always felt guilty and thought of myself as a lesser Christian because I feared trying to lead people to Christ. I believed that if I did it wrong, then people would be going to hell because of my actions.
My father was diagnosed with cancer about 14 years ago. It started as prostrate cancer and then spread to his spine and kidneys. During that time, both of his younger brothers died from heart failure. I did not feel right at all trying to evangelize to him during that time and he died 4 years ago without hearing from me how to get to heaven.
Now, I have always been very active in my church - I love videography and work a lot with the media ministry of my church, drama, etc. However, since my dad died, I have dealt with a lot of depression about where he "ended up" I could not believe that the God and savior I serve would send him to the hell I was taught exists. The peace that I had was shattered and I could not see how I could ever get it back. I stopped reading the bible and praying because I did not want to hear God tell me that most of my family was in eternal torment. I dreaded doing the work I used to love for my church. But I struggled through it anyway, because that is what I thought a servant should do.
Just when I felt my depression was lessening, I was hit with the death of my sister last month. There was little doubt that she was not a christian. When I first heard the news, my first thought that I said to my wife - "I refuse to believe that all these people I love are in hell right now." I was asked to lead a small service for her funeral. I really had an incredibly hard time trying to come up with words to say - I didn't want to say she was in heaven, and of course, couldn't mention hell at that time. I think God gave me just the right words to say and for some reason was assured that I would see her again.
After the funeral, I finally prayed out loud for God to give me the facts. I remembered distinctly the Faith under fire episode with Gary Amirault. I was a big fan of Lee Stroebel and read all of his books and I remember thinking that Gary was fooling himself at the time. I mean the bible is pretty clear there is a hell, right?
A few weeks ago, I got on my computer and felt God telling me to visit tentmaker.org. I've been reading everything I can and this has been a huge help.
I still have some ways to go - I have years of stuff to go through. But already I have seen a huge change in my life. I have a different view on my work at church and I am seeing the bible again in a whole new light.
Sorry to ramble on, but I really wanted to express how I felt. Thanks for the forum