« Last post by dancarawan on June 04, 2012, 05:11:53 PM »
Jack Daniels Carawan Jr.
Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Pastor, Student, Saved by Grace
Iíve written and told my testimony so many times that itís hard to know where to start. Itís hard to know how much to share and how much to withhold depending on the audience. I suppose in a case like this, the obvious is to share the whole enchilada. I will try to divide this up into the pertinent time intervals as they relate to the story. Here goes!
When I was very young, I used to open up the family Bible which sat on the coffee table and look at the magnificent pictures inside. There were black and white master pieces of famous art. I can remember Samson pushing apart the pillars in the Philistine temple. Of course I didnít know back then what the pictures were all about and no one in my family did either. There was a picture of an angel that fascinated me. One time I asked my mother or my sister to "read a story to me out of this book" but they were busy.
I can remember lying in bed at night at the age of 13, crying because I was lonely in my heart. I knew that there must be more to life than what I was seeing and learning about. I had this unquenched desire for someone or something that would validate my life. I didnít understand it and I couldnít explain it. You see I did not know anything about God or church or the Bible. I had never been to church and my parents (although they were good and righteous people) did not talk about God. I was not abused or ill treated. I was lonely for something or someone.
I went to a Christian summer camp and I was totally out of place and confused. One night early in the week, they gathered all of the boys around a campfire. I remember that the leaders were really excited about a book that they were giving us. It was titled "Good News For Modern Man". They asked all of the boys to turn to John 3:16. Since I had never been taught anything about a Bible I raised my hand innocently (and somewhat distraught) and said; "I didnít get that book, I only got this one", raising up the paper back New Testament. Some of the boys snickered and one of the counselors found the place for me and handed the Bible back. I never heard a word they said that night due to my embarrassment. I kept that Bible in the top drawer of my dresser for a couple of years until I was encouraged to read it by my 9th Grade English teacher. Her tenderness and awareness of my searching led me to ask Christ into my heart. I was on the phone one night to her (Janice Mims) and told her that I was ready to ask Jesus into my heart. She reminded me of what to say and asked if I had any questions (she had already answered them after class, at her own peril). My mother called out to me to get in the shower and get ready for school the next day. I said good-bye and climbed into the shower. I confessed my sins and asked Jesus into my heart. It was a very emotional experience for me. I know that it is not like that for everyone but God must have known that I needed that. I cried and washed as God washed away my sins. That was 10pm on Oct. 10th 1972.
Babe in Christ
I followed Jesus with the zeal of every new believer. I was a Jesus Freak! I went to Jesus Fest 73 in Penn. I was mentored by Chuck Harrison (now a Pastor in Va.) and I was involved in B.A.S.I.C. (Brothers and Sisters in Christ). I read my Bible, joined 1st Baptist Church of Norfolk where my English teachers husband, Rev. Paul Mims was Pastor. I received my calling to be a Pastor in the 1st year of my salvation. I met Alicia Biggs there and later married her.
But High School can take its toll on a young Christian and I was no exception. I got involved in drugs and alcohol, like many do. I was very active sexually. My neighborhood friends rode Harleys and my closest buds drove custom vans. The scene in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", where the main characters spill out of the side of a van along with excessive amounts of marijuana smoke was like a page out of my life. I married Alicia and we had a beautiful son "Christopher Ryan Carawan". The problems that we faced in our marriage were the typical ones that most couples face, money, commitment, time, jobs, immaturityÖ Our marriage didnít survive and we later divorced. We never made Christ the "Center" of our marriage. We both knew Him but we were not sold out for Him. After the nightmare of divorce and all that it does to a person, I was bitter, drugged out and, anxious to take it out on every woman I could. I bought my first Harley and began selling Pot. I later began to sell Coke for a little while and made deliveries from my Harley. I carried a Glock in my vest, a .25 in my boot, a boot knife in the other, a switchblade in my pocket and a butterfly knife in my back pocket. I was armed and dangerous (mostly to myself!). I worked for several companies and did a descent job but I was never satisfied. This miserable state of affairs went on for some time. I lived in an apartment a block off the beach in Ocean View (Norfolk, Va.). There I met some great people, mostly Navy wives as the husbands were on extended overseas duty. Later I lived with a woman for a while there in O.V., that didnít work either. I was searching for my heart and not finding it. That was about the time I went to work for Boddie-Noell, more commonly recognized as "Hardeeís" restaurants. I was a "Fast Track" manager and met Ellen Hardy there. Ellen was one of the corporate trainers. We fell in love and began a long distance relationship because at that time she lived in Rocky Mount NC. After about a year, we got married and were living in Roanoke, Va. Moving away from all of the influences on my life in Norfolk was a great move. I began to clean up my act for the sake of our marriage as God gently worked on my heart. Little did I know that God was working on Ellenís heart too! She was a born-again Christian who was not walking with the Lord either. The thing is neither of us had talked to one another about Jesus!
God Gets My Attention
Ellen and I were talking about having a baby. She felt as if something were missing in her life and thought that it was a baby. I said that if we had a baby, it would change everything. It would be a good change, but it would change. My son Chris was living with his mom and so this was a difficult venture for me. I missed him and loved him and now we were looking at having a child of our own. This is where Ellen and I look back and see Godís hand in our lives, moving us closer to Him and to each other. We got pregnant and then had a miscarriage. This was of course a heart breaking matter, each of us secretly wondering if God were punishing us for our lifestyles. Ellen became pregnant again and once again miscarried. The third miscarriage resulted in a mishap in the operating room during the DNC. The doctor had punctured her uterine wall and of necessity had to call in a specialist. Mean while, I was unaware of what was going on but I was panicked over the extreme length of time this was all taking. I was praying and promising hard to God. The concern was a possibility of punctured bowl. They in essence, removed and examined all of her bowel and then replaced it and sowed her up. Due to this operation, Ellen was laid up recovering for 8 weeks. Many months later, Ellen shared with me that God had revealed to her that it was not a baby missing in her life, it was Him.
Separately, we both prayed to God that if He would grant us this child, we would raise that child in a Christian home. We were committed to being committed to God. So we now have a beautiful daughter by the name of Kayla. She has the most incredible copper/red hair and hazel eyes. She is eight years old now and she loves God. It is true that God wants to grant us the desires of our hearts. If we seek Him earnestly, we will find Him. If we donít want anything to do with Him, He will grant that to us also.
Sold Out Jesus Freak
In seeking God with our whole hearts we have found peace, joy, satisfaction and completeness. God has used us in the church and He has used us in the community as His witnesses. We are sold out, on fire, committed, dedicated, died in the wool, born again, evangelical, conservative, fundamental, Southern Baptists.
Vocation And Education
When we made the decision to commit our lives to Christ completely I also gave into the calling to serve Him vocationally full time. But God has a wonderful sense of timing and humor. I had made Him wait for years and so now it was His turn! I begged and pleaded, I petitioned and asked others to petition on my behalf for Him to free me from secular employment and enter into a seminary. He closed the door on every institute of higher education that I sought until I tried Liberty University. God made everything fall into place, from books, to car, to mileage, to job. Jesus has been so very good to us. He meets our needs in every way and we love Him. I am the Associate Pastor of CommUNITY Church in Salem VA.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us to be able to spend eternity with Him in heaven. We have the freedom to accept this precious gift of eternal life which is only available through the shed blood of Jesus, or we can reject Him. Rejecting Jesus is the only unpardonable sin. What will you do with Jesus?