The Testimony of Debbie Boutwell
A Great and Sovereign God!
I was raised in a little country Missionary Baptist church. I made a fake profession of faith when I was 14, actually didn’t think it fake at the time, just did what I had seen everyone else do when they “got saved.” I walked the aisle and shook the preacher's hand and said what I was supposed to say….”I want to be saved”. The preacher said, “ we’ve been waiting for you”. And evidently, they had, according to the slurs and innuendos shot my way, I should have “made a move” at least two years earlier. Well, I made it and was still lost as a goose . I know now that it was not “my” time to call upon the Lord, but I made them happy!
Well, after living a very sinful life as a church member and organist/pianist for 7 or 8 years, it came “my” time to call on the Lord for salvation. I very much got under old-fashioned conviction of the Holy Spirit. Honestly, it’s like I ran into Him every time I turned around. After I rehashed my “salvation” experience at age 14, I realized that I never even talked to God that day! But now, faith was “busting at the seams.” I was convinced that God was wooing me into His kingdom and He promised that if ANYONE came to Him that He would in no way cast them out. Well, I took Him at His word. I came to Him and He took me in. My life has been one long process of absolutely falling in love with the God of the universe! I am 50 years old now and I can truly say, like the old song, the longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows!
I grew up being taught eternal torment . I questioned it as much as I thought I could and once felt like I had an answer from God about it. And, at that time in my understanding, it was fairly enlightening. I simply asked God, “if you are a God of love, why did you create most people to go to hell?” His reply to me was, ”I did the same thing you did. I created billions of people and you just happened to create three. “ It’s like He asked me, “did you know when you had your three children, for sure, that any of them would spend eternity with Me?” Well, according to my theology, my answer was no. So, I felt like I didn’t have much of a complaint anymore. It actually made me feel closer to God because it made me see Him in a light that I could understand…He desired a family……just like I did!
That answer satisfied me for several years, but about 4 years ago, I became extremely grieved for lost people. I was more than just confused why God would come up with such a plan. I realized that I actually believed that most of humanity would be going to a literal, burning, hell, with no hope of getting out. This revelation came after the death of both of my parents, eight months apart; and, after watching the movie called “The Perfect Storm,” in which the "death issue" really stood out. So, I got on a website that gave the numbers of evangelized people in the world. According to this site, from the six billion people of the earth, 31% were affiliated with the Christian religion. 21% of these were Roman Catholic (who did not believe in being born again, so that left them out). That left the other 10% that might possibly go to heaven, and this number even included Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. It didn’t look good.
I bought books and videos on intercessory prayer for family members that were lost and sunk myself into them. I tried praying detailed prayers for each one that I was concerned about, attempting to bring down the strongholds that kept them from the knowledge of God. Well, as I prayed for my family, I begin to consider all the people I was NOT praying for! I could have prayed constantly if it had been possible and still not prayed for everybody that needed to be saved. The job was just too big for me to do. It made me sick to think of anyone being burned forever with absolutely no hope of an end to it. I cried at Bible study, I cried at church, I cried at home…I was a mess.
Then, thank God, I happened to read an article on “Beliefnet”, entitled, “Will Everyone Go to Heaven?” It was an interview with Bishop Carlton Pearson from Tulsa OK. He had started preaching the gospel of inclusion, better known as Universal Reconciliation. Can you imagine how I felt to see such an article? This was sweet music to my ears! I read the article and went to a conference on inclusion at Bishop Pearson’s church in Tulsa, OK. There, my husband and I met Dr. Harold Lovelace and found out that he lives only about 2 hours away. He has been so faithful to help and teach and lead us as we would have questions to arise coming from the eternal torment teaching.
As a result of this soul searching journey, I am more in love with the Lord now, than ever, including all the people He created. I know now that Jesus was the propitiation not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world. The first Adam was the problem and the last Adam was the solution. And, this scenario was orchestrated and played out under the loving eye of our great sovereign God.
We have been set free from the law of sin and death. We are free to love each other as Christ loved us, no racism, no prejudice, no holier than thou…. God’s judgments are more real to me now than ever before. They just happen to make sense now because I know they are designed to bring us all to the end of ourselves
That is my testimony so far. I look forward to the rest...Debbie Boutwell