Hello, My name is Tommy Richards, and in 1997 I became a born again believer in God through a very powerful and unexpected experience.
I'm not a professional writer so please bear with me as I try to put into words an experience that was truly beyond words.
Before I had this "born again" experience, I had gradually become a very cynical and bitter young man. Filled with anger, regrets and I also had a terrible case of anxiety. I was a big fan of heavy metal music most of my life and I associated myself completely with a lot of their dark and depressing lyrics. The terrible case of anxiety I had caused me to constantly self-medicate in an attempt to take that away and try to soothe my mind. I remember I couldn't sleep at night without a large glass of wine and 2 Tylenol PMs and that even stopped helping me after a while. I was also a chain smoker of cigarettes and severely addicted to them and could not quit no matter what. I had given up trying.
Today, I'm free from all those negative feelings and the need of ANY substances for anxiety or sleeplessness. That's because Jesus Christ healed me instantly when I was saved. It's been over 21 years now. And this is why I am who I am today and have a lot of faith in God.
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word." ~Psalm 119:67 (NASB)
"My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in." — Proverbs 3:11, 12
I believed in Jesus and God from a very young age without anyone telling me about Him. When I was born, my mother wanted to name me "Christian", even though she was not a Christian at all. Matter of fact, she was quite the opposite. For example; When I was a young child she had me use a ouija board with her to try and contact the spirits of deceased people (which activity is forbidden by God). She also left my father when I was around one year old and she then lived a single lifestyle with many boyfriends over the years. Because of her poor choices I grew up very poor, hungry, without proper care and education. I only saw my father a few times my whole life.
When I was 3, my mother brought me to Fire Island where we stayed with some of her friends. She then went out partying one night and had left me with a few of her friend's kids who were a few years older and bigger than I was. They began terrorizing me. I'm guessing I called on God for help? Because I vaguely remember seeing a man with an unkempt beard. And I told my mother that "Jesus appeared to me..." Did Jesus REALLY appear to me? Or perhaps I had a vision. But from that age, I believed Jesus was real.
Then when I was around 7, I told my mother I wanted to learn about God. She spoke with her sister and her sister suggested I go to the Catholic church down the street, which I did. I was baptized there soon after and signed up for catechism classes and received my confirmation when I was around 13.
From ages 13-19, more and more, I found myself hanging out with the wrong kinds of people and that continued until I signed up for the Navy at age 19. When I was 20, I left for boot camp and that is when I prayed for a dream of Jesus three nights in a row. On the third night I received a powerful vision/dream of Jesus the Messiah. I describe the dream here.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1993 is when I made the horrible error of agreeing with a woman I was engaged to, to have an abortion due to our trust and relationship failing. Before we went through with it, I called my mother for advice. She told me on the phone, "if I would have done my life over I would have done it." In other words, she would have aborted ME! And I was so deep in darkness that I STILL went through with agreeing with this woman to get the abortion.
And immediately after, I was CURSED. And yet I had no idea why.
Suddenly, I could no longer eat, sleep or function properly. I had been working as a collection agent, which the business I worked for picked me and 2 others out of over 50 applicants. And I was the only one who endured on the job. My boss called me a natural. But after the abortion I couldn't concentrate on my job anymore.
At that time I received a call from my father saying I could work at a major New York newspaper through the union. It was a good opportunity to make good money and move back home where I was born and raised, so I did. But I was extremely spiritually sick.
When I got to New York things proceeded to get worse. I began going to Rave parties all over New York and my physical, mental and spiritual condition continued to rapidly deteriorate due to the lifestyle and lack of eating properly.
Then in 1996, I became the lead singer of a band. We had about 10 original songs.
Several months later when I was coming to my wits end, I remember suddenly realizing something I never thought of before, musicians Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain were all 27 years old when they died.. And here I was, 27 years old and the reality of death hit me like never before. And it terrified me. I was about 6 feet tall and weighed only around 145 lbs (very thin). I could hardly get myself to eat, or sleep and I could hardly bring myself to go to work anymore. This all due to terrible anxiety. I didn't want to talk to anyone either because I had already learned people generally had nothing of value to say. All I wanted was to get rid of this feeling I had. This dark feeling within me that seemed to follow me everywhere. Every once in a while I thought I had shaken it. Then all of a sudden, there it was a little worse than before. It was like an energy. A painful in the soul energy that I could feel in my whole body, even my finger tips. Some people call it "anxiety". But now looking back, I know I was just cursed from sinning against God.
At this time of my life drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana ceased to give me any relief. Family, friends, no one could help soothe my troubled mind and soul.
Finally, I even tried going to a psychologist as a last resort (who was falling asleep as I poured out my problems on him). I believe that was the smartest thing I did because at that point I realized he couldn't help me. And if this professional who makes a living helping people couldn't help me, I figured I was beyond help. I remember thinking, "I just got to get away for a while, from everyone. Just disappear."
I went home and with nowhere to go or no one to turn to. It was then that my mind and heart began to turn towards God for help. I began to realize that He was my only hope. Some friends then dropped by and this one guy whose mind was so destroyed by drugs and mental problems that he could hardly talk, suddenly began telling me all his problems. His best friend died in his arms after a motorcycle accident. His grandmother, who he was very close to, died on the steps of the Catholic church. Then finally his father had recently passed away. He then began telling me of strange things that happened to him. Dreams he had and strange coincidences. He began telling me about a man down the block who was doing witchcraft against him. He really felt that he knew this guy was tormenting him through witchcraft.
His story pushed me over the edge and I broke down crying and asking "Where is there help?" I was so screwed up and so were all my friends (and so was the whole world!).
It was later that day that I remembered a cassette tape my mother had given me about 10 years earlier. I had never listened to it, yet I had kept it through the NAVY and several other big moves. "The tape!!" I thought and I began to desperately look through my huge collection of tapes for it. Several times over the past ten years I would come across that tape while looking for another tape and would think, "This has something to do with God." My mother gave me that tape ten years ago when according to her she had some kind of experience with Jesus Christ and she was going to some "born again" church and trying to convince all her friends to go (The name of the church was/is called The Upper Room Tabernacle in Deer Park, Long Island). She got the tape from someone at the church and she lent it to me to try to win my soul or something. But I wouldn't listen to it. I told her I would but I didn't. Not for ten years.
So finally I found the tape and I put it in player and listened to it and it was a testimony of someone who was much worse than me. He was a former heroin addict, satanic priest and wound up being left for dead by his fellow cultists. But he then mentions Jesus in it, and the blood He shed and he says at the end, "Just give Christ a chance." Through this, through those words I began to have a powerful experience with Jesus that has not stopped for over 21 years now (as of 2018). At that point I realized that Christ was the answer, to everything. I began to cry out again for help, but now I knew I had someone to cry to. I felt like I was crying directly at the feet of Christ who I know was there with me in the room. I didn't see Him but I knew He was there. I told Him I was sick of my life, the way I was living, the drugs, the circles, the regrets, the misery.
Then, Later that night, God allowed me to see where I was spiritually. And that I was a sinner on my way to an eternal hell. The Bible calls what I experienced "terror" and "dread" (1)(2). This terror and dread caused me to cry out to God even more strenuously.
I then accidentally kicked over a glass of red wine that was left in the middle of my floor in my bedroom and it spilled on a white faux-leather NIV bible my mother had bought for me and sent to me while I was in the Navy. I picked it up and began cleaning the dark red wine off the white HOLY BIBLE and the terrifying, sorrowful and yet beautiful conviction of the Holy Spirit fell upon me. I began crying and I opened up the Bible right to these words, and when I read them I felt the eternal Almighty God speak right to me. He said to me,
“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.
But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
“Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me,
since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.
Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” ~Proverbs 1:22-33
While reading these verses I trembled with terror and chills went through my entire being. I pleaded with God to spare my life and have mercy on my soul. This is when the Lord showed me true misery, I all of a sudden felt
the terrors of hell incredibly more clearly than ever before. At the same time I felt
the awesome holiness of God and I felt the disgust and shame of the
sins I had committed and I knew where they would take me without God's intervention.
At first I was shocked that God would send me to hell. I always thought that place was reserved for the worst of the worst. Like Adolf Hitler and people like him. I even said, "what did I ever do that was so bad?" And in that instant I remembered the abortion I had taken part in about 4 years earlier. I felt the wrath of God towards this sin in particular and I felt the condemnation of not only my own self but I sensed the condemnation of the whole world. It was so powerful that I felt I couldn't endure it. It was so incredible that it felt like I couldn't undure the revelation of this truth.
The whole spiritual realm was opened up to me. Satan, demons, angels, heaven, hell, the sinful condition of mankind, and of course, God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ.
Days went by and I remained glued to the Bible and prayer and God preached the gospel to me through His Word.
The New International Version Bible I owned had footnotes for many of the prophecies Christ fulfilled from the Older Testament/Covenant and I looked up every one and saw Christ clearly through the Old Testament Scriptures and it filled me with faith.
The last night before I got saved I had been reading the book of Revelation when I got to the verse, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." Revelation 3:20 NIV. When I read that verse I broke down weeping, and praying to God and telling Him THAT'S ALL I WANT. I knew Christ was literally knocking on the door of my heart. And Its beautiful to recount to this day.
The next morning very early, I snapped out of sleep and I felt the Holy Spirit all around me. I then felt a powerful leading to turn on the TV. I really had no idea why. What could be on TV that I would want to see right now? But I couldn't resist this guidance from God. I turned the TV on and began changing the channel. I even remember going counter-clockwise as it was an old fashioned TV.
I then saw a man's face taking up the whole screen and I stopped and let go of the TV dial. And The first words out of his mouth were, "If you have never accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart I want you to say this prayer with me.." I began saying the sinner's prayer and I knew that this moment was ordained by God for the day I received Christ as my Lord and Savior.
He said, "repeat after me..", "My Lord and my God, have mercy on my soul, a sinner.." And I repeated and the conviction of a lifetime of sin fell upon me and I wept loudly confessing I was a sinner.. I knew I was a dirty filthy sinner who was separated from a Most Holy GOD.
But he continued, "I believe Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins" And I repeated knowing full well it was the truth. That Jesus died for ME personally! And when I repeated that part of the prayer I felt the very heavy weight of sin lifted off of my soul and I felt cleaner than a newborn baby. It was beautiful..
But the prayer continued,
The man on TV said, "I open up the door of my heart and I invite you into my heart Lord Jesus"
-And after reading Revelation 3:20 the night before and knowing Jesus was knocking on the door of MY heart.-
I repeated that last part of the prayer with powerful faith and I felt God Almighty enter into my body. And I felt demons cast out. I was instantly delivered from every and all spiritual bondage and had no more anxiety, depression, substance dependency. I had no more anger, no more regrets, no more sadness. But my heart was FILLED with praise to the living God!
I had truly become BORN AGAIN by being washed clean of sin in the blood of Jesus and then Baptized in the Holy Spirit immediately after.
Since that day it's been quite a journey trying to find the church of God. I thought I found it one time but it turned out to be a counterfeit. To this day I am not sure if I have ever met a truly born again person like myself. Hopefully, prayerfully that will end. Don't get me wrong, in the past I have thought people I spoke with were saved. But I can't really verify if they truly were. Many have fallen away from the Lord when not being part of the cult or "church" they once belonged to. Until God has me joined to His true body as described in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 2, where a group of people edify me by Christ within them, and I them, then I will continue seeking God through studying His Word, through prayer, and through loving Him (being obedient to His Word) with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.
And maybe God will start a church (a real church, not like the lukewarm cults that fill the united States of America) through me one day.
I know true peace from God comes from being in His perfect will.
May God bless all of you that read this testimony of God's saving power through Christ. I pray God opens your heart to receive free salvation through the blood of Jesus and through God's Spirit He sends to all those who become born again. Invite the Lord into your heart. Ask Him for the peace, power and the sound mind God promises in His Word. Its free and its to all those who ask.
-Yours in Christ, Tommy Richards
May God the Father bless you all, in Jesus's holy Name, Amen.
You can be saved!
if you have never repented of your sins and been saved and feel the desire to do so now please say this prayer. This is how I was powerfully saved 20 years ago!
Say, "My Lord and my God, Have mercy on my soul, a sinner, I believe Jesus the Messiah died on the cross and shed His precious blood for the forgiveness of all my sins. I believe God raised Jesus from the dead and Jesus is now on the right hand of God and can hear my prayer at this moment and wants to live through me and give me power to keep His Word. I open up the door of my heart and I invite You into my heart Lord Jesus. Please be my Lord and Savior in every aspect of my life. Thank you God for saving my soul and I vow to serve you with all my heart which is the first and greatest commandment. Amen"