Jesus Never Changes Print


Wednesday, July 23, 2008 2:10 PM

By  John Burnell  [“Saved by Grace” Testimony-setting the captives free]


JESUS NEVER CHANGES  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever !


I have spent many years sharing my testimony, in churches, Meetings, and one on one, but unless a person has been in the presence of our  Savoir, The Lord Jesus Christ, I can only attempt here to share some of my experience. Here in a letter it is hard, but I will attempt to briefly relate my first experience with the  Risen Savior, then more. 


I was an Agnostic, Atheist, depending on the day. My mother, brother, sister and many had tried to share the salvation message with me, but I didn’t want to hear, ever.  Even as a child I used to hide behind the chair or couch when my mother tried reading anything relating to Jesus, or the Bible, my hands over my ears saying, "NO! I don’t want to hear it!"   I am talking about a 6 year old kid, here. So bound by the devil, even back then.   Don't ever tell me prayer doesn't work or HE doesn't hear today.  I know better, as many do.


I could go into numerous situations involving myself, but will try here to be brief but also try to relate a bit of my testimony. When I do, you must look to Him...not me....I am only a delivery boy...He is the Savior...look only to Him.


I was spared death several times in Vietnam, and one special time in Nov. 1968, I was leading a Machine Gun crew, when we were ambushed by North Vietnamese regulars. I was in a volunteer position, the way I wanted it back then. Something in me felt like a fish in water...I needed the excitement, the violence, being so full of hate, anger, and not even knowing why. We were ambushed early that morning Nov. 13, 1968  and there was a gas pipeline along a road where helicopters could re-fuel, and it was pumped place to place through those pipes. I had returned fire from several enemy soldiers, and had shot several laying behind the pipe, and in that act shot 12 to 15 bullet holes through the pipeline. We had been in an Armored personal carrier, and took a RPG rocket through the side of the vehicle, severely injuring one of my crew members. The vehicle ran off the road and we ran over the pipeline which by now was shooting gasoline 20 to 30 feet in the air under pressure, 15 feet off the road. Our vehicle stopped over the pipeline and it was raining gas over the vehicle from the bullet holes in the pipe, and over us as we continued to shoot back.


We were cut off 200 yards ahead of the rest of the men and it was myself and two others facing the enemy alone. The gas quit maybe 5 minutes, after someone down the road somehow shut off the gas flowing through the pipe.  After maybe 45 minutes we finally pushed the enemy back, after a helicopter was shot down almost on top of us, trying to help get the enemy off our position.  When we crawled up the embankment and later began talking to others who had watched this from a distance, not being able to get up to us to help, they told me a story I actually got angry with them when I heard. There was the gas and a flare...a road type flare you see after an accident on the highway today. It must have gone off after I had thrown it at a soldier (them being so close) and landed under the vehicle, as the vehicle came to a stop over the pipe. The others told me they watched for 5 minutes the flare burning right under our vehicle.  They could see it plain as a candle they said, us and the vehicle soaked with gasoline, waiting for the explosion, and waiting to see all  of us go up in flames in one blast.

They watched, watched, and watched some more
, then it suddenly went out like someone blew out a candle. I have a photo taken two weeks later and the ground was still black where the gasoline has soaked in the ground, hundreds of gallons. You all understand what happens when a flame and gas meet....but it went out after all that time steady burning, but never igniting the gas.  I got mad but there is no way we could have known that flare was under us burning, or them warning us. That was one time, but I related  this, as when I got home I found out something. My mother, home in bed, late one evening was awakened by the Holy Spirit and told to intercede NOW, for your son. We figured back later years (do to the time difference in Michigan and Vietnam), and the time was right on the money.


My mother spent time in prayer that night, right at the time it was going on,  and the Lord answered, although here I was, never even caring about Him or even really believing in Him. Like I say, there was a lot more about it,  but I will jump ahead to my real encounter back in the late Fall of 1978. 

I  mention this story only, as like I said earlier, Pray, intercede, lay yourself on His alter, He will hear.. Don't give up.. for your needs, and others who are lost.. My whole life is a testimony to answered prayer, and His mercy as are many others.  All the crew today I had is dead, except me.  I  was able recently, to find another soldier I had served with, for about seven months before I came home, who also led a gun crew. We had not talked for over 30 years. His first words to me were these exactly. Now remember its been 30 plus years since I saw him, or even talked to him.  He said....... "I thought you would either be dead, in prison, or a hit man for the Mafia".. that is the way he remembered me after all that time. Sad testimony I would say, but that was me back then.


When I came home I wanted to go back into the service, back to the war, because it was the only time in my life, up until then, I felt alive. But I had a wife and small son, and even in my "care only for John " ways I decided to look for civilian work. I was bored, angry, and always hostile inside. I hated almost everyone , liked no one but myself, loved violence, always had thoughts about killing I couldn't shake, but deep down, looking back, I know I didn't even like me. I had always believed in ghosts, spirits, back then and had had several experiences, in that regard. Voices, and more I won't go into, here, now.  I actually began to search that life out, the occult, deep down not knowing I was being pulled, closer to the Savior, who I didn't even believe in or care about. Had it not been for the prayers of many people, I believe I would be dead and in hell tonight as I write this. I decided to commit suicide, "Who cares?  


I will be a spirit or ghost, whatever, but on the day I had planned it for, I received a phone call, early that morning as I sat on the floor...yep, Mom again.. "Are you ok?" she asked...I shook out of it for a time.. I always wanted to just take my head and toss it....the crazy thoughts driving me...ever since I could remember as a kid. The Lord again had used mom to try to pull me toward Him.. and spare me. I swore so much, people  around me even cringed, and said things about God that to this day I won't relate, to anyone again,  it was so vile. Even some hard core people around me stopped talking, hearing that ranting and stared. I began working investigation for an Insurance Company in Detroit and began hanging with the wrong people. I had good close friends who were members of the Mafia, and liked that association, the money the power, as I was always drawn to that. No time here to go into depth, but I left that work and began another job in 1973.

I went to church once, ONLY because my grandfather and mother had asked me.  Out of respect for my grandfather I went, that was the only reason.  During the sermon, I began feeling funny, and angry, violent, and actually stood up during the service yelling, look out...let me out...and almost crawling over people to get out. I went outside, sitting on the hood of my car smoking cigarettes visible to all inside through the windows waiting for them to come out.


I told them never again...don't ever ask me again. I  understood well later in years, why the reaction that day. One other earlier time dating a girl  in high school even before the service, I went looking for a guy that had said some wrong things (I believed at the time) and went right into a Sunday church service, (knowing he would be there)  and began yelling, at him to come outside. I told the usher when he said something..."I am not talking to you."  Of course, I was, shall I say, escorted out of the place. I ONLY tell you these things now, hope that you can see I was lost and didn't care a thing about this Jesus or anything related with Him, only me. But I was driven, searching for what I needed, but couldn't find it, and that drove me crazy. I wanted peace, but didn't understand it...I needed something...the thoughts...the anger, driving me...I wanted out of this life.


Again, understand I just wanted to share only a bit about me back then and hope you will see, this...>> His love for a person lost who hated even the mention of His name. In all my swearing back then, cussing, I never used His name...Jesus...Deep Inside...not knowing why...I hated Him so much...I was afraid of that Name.


I will get to the main part now as I don't want this to be too long, for readers here. I came home one night late. The place I lived at that time was in the country, remote, quiet, no lights, very dark. I pulled in the driveway under some large oak trees and sat there. The porch light was on, as my wife left it on for me never knowing when, or if I would be home. For some reason I sat there....not understanding why...something felt funny,... different in the yard. My thoughts went back to Vietnam, the same feeling, something wrong, you can't put your finger on it but something here doesn't feel right. I sat for maybe 3 minutes and then got out.


I stood looking across the yard, dark, but I could see forms in the dim light from the moon. Bushes, trees, I stood listening looking. That eerie feeling, like someone is there...watching out of the quiet that night, no wind, no sounds. I began slowly walking toward the porch, watching looking, wishing I had the gun I normally carried with me, something isn't right here.  I remember putting my left foot on the first, of three steps....then I knew why...HE WAS THERE. (as I write this tonight I still remember so vividly, and actually choke and shiver like one out on the ice in winter)...Had you been there you would understand, you would...believe me, you would.  It was like Paul in the book of Acts on the "Road to Damascus" As I stood there on the porch He was there...a foot away.......I can't even put into WORDS what it feels like to be pulled inside out.....actually feeling dirty, filthy, I can't in words tell you here or even in person, that feeling...only to tell you I still shake remembering me facing Him back then in my condition. I remember ramming through the front door, my wife was on the phone talking to her sister (who later came to know the Lord and she remembered very vividly that night). She heard me yelling..."He is out there!!!",  and my wife not knowing what to do stood there, phone in hand. I ran behind the kitchen table trying to hide, almost in a fetal position, against the back wall, feet pulled up...shaking like I had been out in a snow storm for hours. 


Babbling, I couldn't tell her...she said later I kept saying..."HE is here!"..."He is out there!"..."It's Him". then I ran, crawled, to the bed and pulled the covers over my head hoping to get away from it all. I  woke in the morning...still shaken not wanting to talk about it.  HE IS way....can't be...NO!!  My thoughts were going crazy the next morning, but I didn't want to talk about it. I felt ashamed that anything, or anyone could make me react like that.

Another story that happened to me was that my family got me to go to a meeting in Lansing, Michigan the following Spring. I was still running..."don't talk about Him!" I told people...stay away from me about this Jesus, but all the time my head was driving me crazy...Once I got to the meeting I told others, "I won't go are all crazy, a bunch of kooks and whatever you are doing, "QUIT!!!"(their prayers). Realize that at the time I didn't know a thing about the Bible and didn't care and actually told people all the time that a bunch of Jewish homosexual winos wrote the thing. I finally went inside the meeting in Lansing after much coercion from the family. 

I still have a tape my mother made of the service.  She was sitting in a chair just ahead of me and you can hear me mumbling, complaining, talking, coughing, as the Full Gospel preacher, spoke. The theme of his sermon...Mark Chapter 5 ..the Madman of Gadera. The demon possessed man. How fitting. I have to this day never heard a whole sermon on that subject by itself. How fitting for me that night.


During that sermon I tried to stand up and wanted to run, or leave and go outside, "Why did I let them talk me into this?" but I felt almost glued to the floor and I began to finally listen.  Each word seemed to pound deep into me, but I felt a peace come over me that I had never felt before, almost a light feeling.. then real conviction, the same as I had felt back that night on my porch. When the invitation was given to those who wanted to receive Jesus as their Lord, I stared down and sat there and then felt myself stand up, only after I felt, what to me felt like a finger poke hard on my right shoulder, yet no one was there.  


I pushed past several people in seats and began walking toward the front of the building. My mother, brother, sister and others, came over crying hanging on me, as I tried to make it to the front. That same night I was delivered of demons, and spent a long time on the floor(slain in the Spirit), and had during that time witnessed a glimpse of His hand (saw it from the elbow down suspended over me) and then felt it reach down into my chest with jerks as if someone was actually reaching down through me and jerking me up by my spine.


I received Jesus as my Lord  April 9, 1979, around 9pm. Later on when I was Baptised and  the Pastor asked if I had anything to say, I said this to those there watching. "I FINALLY found the RIGHT road"


The other roads I was on before that...... I was going too fast to see the exit signs.


I have been brief in this and in this letter, because it's difficult to actually relate things as they happened, as I could if in person. But I hope I did in some way show how foolish it is to live a life without Jesus. I wasted many years.

I never had any idea of His purpose for me after that night, but over time the Lord called me into Ministry, and to this day, I cry like a baby when I see people come to Jesus.  I have dealt with many types of people over the years, and I can relate to them, as I was there once, they are where I was...lost.  The Lord has used me in ways I never imagined, and see many  delivered as I was, and I am never happier than when I can lead another to Him. 


My  desire is to see people realize that without Jesus, life is a void. People searching, like I was but never finding what they are looking for. It's not there in things, or money, or positions, or friends, only Jesus can fill that void. I had one more encounter with Him one night in 1995 for around 10 minutes...but this time it was so different...I belonged to a difference that night was, compared to our first meeting on my porch years earlier.  What He shared and what I felt that  hear the word  PEACE...that word in no way describes what it feels like to be in the same room with Him a few feet away. We have no word in the English language to really describe what that feels like. I know now but in words can never relate that feeling to someone else. But you are so drawn to Him...I told others I wish I could have stayed in that room and in that feeling from then on. Someday those of you that know Him will understand it...experience it...I for one cannot wait.

Today you can tell me all you like...He isn't alive, He isn't real...but you would be just as I was back then, now, wouldn't you? Foolish, very wrong and lost.


I found out He IS real, He IS alive...and He still answers prayer, He still delivers, and satan is a liar.

I look forward to the day satan will bow before Him and we can hear those words......Jesus is Lord from his mouth.


Follow Him and you will never be this life...nor in the life to come.


** [Each one of us that have come to Christ, the loving saviour, have a story to tell but one thing remains that we follow the lamb where ever He goes in Spirit and in truth doing His will in faith in His word. Testimonies show His compassion and His great loving desire to save from sin and destruction and His word, by faith keeps us following the right path, His path tightly anchored to the vine, lead of His Spirit to be Holy, Righteous, and Perfect as He is walking in faith. We cannot live on testimonies alone for the word of God, His truth, keeps us in Christ as we hide it in our hearts having more and more of Jesus Christ. For the knowledge of the Father and the Son, in the inner man, is eternal life-“His peace”] **

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