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No Other Explanation Than God’s Grace

In an issue of Christianity Today, Glenn Pearson shares the story of his journey to faith:

You’re probably familiar with the popular arcade game called Whac-A-Mole, where mechanical moles randomly pop out of their holes while you try whacking them with a mallet before they retreat. I grew up in a “reverse Whac-A-Mole” world, feeling like the only mole in a family of mallets.

All the men in my family had significant issues. When I was 12, my dad left our family. He withheld both financial and emotional support, and he rejected or mocked conventional displays of affection. In Matthew 7:9, Jesus asks, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Well, I have someone I can nominate.

But my dad wasn’t the only disaster in our family. When my grandfather was in his 60s, he decided he had cancer, so one day he jumped in front of a speeding train at a railroad crossing. His was not our family’s sole suicide. My brother suffered from schizophrenia and manic depression. After spending most of the last 20 years of his life in and out of mental hospitals, he hanged himself. My mother’s side didn’t escape dysfunction either. Her father had an emotional breakdown and spent several months in a hospital for indigents. There wasn’t a healthy man anywhere in sight.

Religion played almost no role in my family. But deep down I knew that something was wrong in my life, which led me to dabble in occult practices like astrology, séances, and white magic.

During my sophomore year of college, I stumbled into a campus Christian meeting and heard the gospel for the first time. As the presenter spoke, the Holy Spirit burned two realizations into my heart: that this “new thing” was 100 percent true, and that I would be a part of it. That night, even though I knew almost nothing about the theology of salvation, I brushed aside my intellectual skepticism and eagerly made a commitment to Jesus.

Over the next few months, I became increasingly involved with a couple of campus Christian groups. I was impressed by how “together” the members seemed and by the quality of their relationships. I also began applying my intellectual curiosity to questions surrounding the Bible’s reliability. I discovered far more support for the intellectual integrity of the Christian faith than I had ever supposed.

Years ago, I visited a counselor hoping to piece together the complexities of my background. After hearing parts of my story, he commented, “There is no explanation for you. In my professional opinion, someone with your background should be unemployable, divorced three times, abusive, an alcoholic, or some other kind of addict. The fact that you’re none of these things is a testimony to God’s incredible grace.”

In recent years, I’ve established one-on-one mentoring relationships with about two dozen younger men. I just try to understand their circumstances, communicate that I’m on their side, and point them to practical insights rooted in Scripture and tempered by real-life experience. Essentially, I’m offering these men something I never had. It’s just one way God continually uses what could have been a curse on my life to bring blessing to others

Editor’s Note: Glenn E. Pearson spent 19 years as executive vice president of the Georgia Hospital Association. He and his wife currently live outside Los Angeles.

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