Chuck Johnson is a member of Northbrook Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, where Wayne Dickard is pastor. His testimony will sound very familiar because you have most likely heard it before from people you know. The important thing here is that it's a "lived out" testimony of a faithful Christian who is willing to share the Good News of Jesus. Someone around you is watching and needs to see a difference in your life — his or her life depends on it.
I was born again on September 23, 2006. It was forty-two days before my forty-seventh birthday. I was taken to church as a child and I hated it. When I was old enough to choose for myself, I didn't go back. For years friends and family would say, "You need to get back in church." I appreciated the concern but I didn't want to hear it. I believed in God and He was supposed to know everything, so I didn't need to hang out in church with a bunch of people I would otherwise ignore.
I cussed every other word, drank liquor regularly, smoked dope, and snorted and swallowed anything else I could get my hands on — this I was good at. I didn't need Jesus because my wife and daughter were saved, and I was going to heaven on the "family plan."
Sharon and I were married on August 25, 1979. It was the first time I'd been in church in years and the last until my daughters were baptized in March 2001. I look at it now and wonder why she would marry a man like me. It had to be a part of God's plan — I just thought it was my charm and wit.
After eighteen years at Coca-Cola and four years at Budweiser, my back was shot, my knees were in terrible shape, and my shoulders ached. I had to find another job. I found one in Spartanburg, South Carolina. My family was not happy about moving from Lenoir, North Carolina, where friends and family were, but I knew that I had to move on. A year and a half later, the company I worked for closed down. There were no decent jobs out there for a broken-down, old Bud man, so I opened my own fabrication shop. After a rough start, it slowly but surely grew and became profitable.
During this time I was able to meet and become friends with one of my heroes, Mike Duvall. He is one of the greatest dirt track racers in history. I was a little uneasy around him at first because he had become very religious (at age 47) and I just didn't hang out with people like that. He was a wild man in his day, and now he could pass for a preacher.
We hit it off right away. After being around him every weekend, racing all over the Southeast, something started to happen to me I couldn't understand. By watching Mike handle himself in the rough-and-tumble world of dirt track racing, where beer and fistfights were the norm, I saw a man that lived for the Lord … always. All of his friends that had raced with him for years didn't come around anymore. He did everything by himself. He gave all the glory to the Lord. He never pressured me about God. He just lived it.
Soon, I started asking questions, and he always took the time to patiently answer them. He later told me he knew the Lord was working on me and that I was one that could not be pushed, so he just let the Lord do the work. Why was I being so blessed with a great family that loved me? Why was my business doing so well? Why would such a famous and godly man like Mike Duvall befriend someone like me? Let me tell you, I was mixed up.
One night after a race, we arrived back at the shop at one o'clock in the morning, and Mike and I talked about the Lord until 2:30. I asked lots of questions of him, and he answered all of them the best he could. The one that was the knockout punch to me was when I said to him, "I'm a good guy. I've settled down. I don't bother anyone. I don't steal. I don't hurt anybody. God knows everything, so why would I need to go to church?"
Mike looked me straight in the eye and said, "If you don't get saved, you're going to hell."
The next morning I got up and started going to church. I think my family thought I was up to no good, but I could tell they were excited. I was nervous that the people at church wouldn't be quite as excited about me being there. I thought the roof might fall in. To my surprise, they welcomed me in. My family had already joined the church some time back, and if I did this "getting saved thing" they would let me join.
A few months later, coming home after another race, Mike told me that the preacher would be coming by to see me soon. I didn't think much of it, but the following Saturday, there was a knock at the door and I knew it was Wayne Dickard. He had paint all over him from working at the church. He apologized for his appearance but he said he was in his study and the Lord told him he needed to go see Chuck right then. I told him I had been expecting him. In the living room of my home he led me in the sinner's prayer, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The next day I joined the church to the shock of all my friends and family. My mother and father were able to see me baptized on October 8, 2006. I think they had given up hope of seeing that happen before they died. God put me in the places I needed to be and put the people around me that I needed to be around. There are many more people that were involved, too many to mention here. But He never gave up on me.
I like to use a line that Mike uses every time he gives his testimony: "If God will save a sinner like me, He will save anyone." Can you believe I now teach Sunday School? Praise the Lord!
Many of you are now learning to share your faith. Keep it up! It will be one of the most important things you ever do, because someday the Lord will lead someone right into your path who needs to know right then and there how to have eternal life. God bless you as you prepare.