I believed in God, but I did not have a relationship with Him. “I didn’t have time for all of that.” Don’t get me wrong; I knew God was someone to be respected… My mother would get on to us anytime we used the Lord’s name in vain, or said something “sacrilegious”, and everyone knew that if you swore to God it was a big deal, but I had absolutely no concept of a relationship with Him. By time I was about 21, I had made allot of mistakes, and of course, you guessed it; I was still making them… But my older brother came to live with me, because he had lost his job in Alaska. While staying with me, he observed the way that I was living and my complete hypocrisy involving my so called Christianity.
I remember one day in particular, my brother burst out in frustration as he told me very confrontationally, “You’re not saved! And you better get it right or you’re going to hell!” Well, I wasn’t going to just take that lying down. I tried to throw a few Bible verses I knew at him. The problem was, my brother really knew his Bible, and for every verse I could remember, he could remember that many more. I vehemently argued that I wasn’t that bad of a person. I was enraged at him for condemning me. I thought “He had no right!” and he was wrong! But to be quite honest, the reason I got so mad was because deep down I knew he was right. I argued passionately for my defense, but for every excuse I had, he would shoot out another Bible verse to shut me down. I wanted to be able to defend myself and find out just what did the Bible say about it, so I started to read the Bible, partly hoping to find something I could validate my views to my brother with, and shut him up… But as I read through John, Acts, Romans, 1/2 Corinthians… I couldn’t put the book down. As I read, I realized just how wrong I really was, and I needed Jesus Christ in my life. I don’t remember the exact occurrence really, but when I was 21 I asked Christ to save me (about 15 times or more [I was confused a little]).
I wish I could say that after I got saved everything was smooth sailing, but the truth is it wasn’t. I was so excited about my faith, I just wanted to share it with everyone I knew. I knew God wanted me to share my gift, and I wanted so badly to share the word with others. In my heart I desired to be a pastor, but I felt I was not worthy. But I didn’t let that keep me from sharing my faith. I would talk to all my friends and family about Jesus. The problem was no one wanted to hear it; not even my own wife. Over the first six and half years of my Christian life I only led two people to Christ (with help), and my wife was still not saved. I became discouraged and burnt out, and I began to “backslide”…
Then circumstances occurred, and our church got a new pastor. At first I was on guard with this guy. I didn’t know what to expect. He looked like a shady character to be honest. But I had no idea just how much this pastor would make a difference in my life. He came to my house one day, and talked to me. It really impressed me, because I knew he had a job on top of his pastorate, and the last thing in the world I thought he would do, is take time out of his schedule to drive all the way into Mount Vernon to come talk to me… Over the next few months, this pastor (Vic Cline) started to challenge me to grow in Christ. I took his challenge and ran with it. God began to work inside of me, and I started to get excited about my faith again (glory and praise to Jesus Christ). People around me began to notice the change, including my family. Then a friend of mine that I had witnessed to for years came to Christ, and one by one my wife, and all my children ACCEPTED CHRIST! (PRAISE THE LORD!!!). I was on cloud nine! What a blessing! I had never seen God work like this before. He was using me!
That fall, our pastor announced he was going to start a door to door evangelism ministry. I was chomping at the bit to get in. I remember asking him every couple of weeks or so, when he was going to start the class. Something, or better said, “Someone” inside of me said this is what I was called to do. Once I started the classes, I took to it like a duck to water. I began memorizing specific verses for soul winning and practiced with the same passion I felt about sharing God’s word. Then I began to share the gospel with everyone I had a chance to. My wife’s friends, relatives, and complete strangers… Within the first year I had personally lead over thirty people to Christ, and I had helped to lead over 20 more people to Christ! I remember feeling like God was calling me to do something more. I talked to my pastor about bible college and ministry things, but I hadn’t told him that I felt called to the ministry. One day I asked my pastor, how do you really know that you are called to be a pastor. He told me, other than the internal pull he felt, he knew when the other people in his church began to tell him they saw it. I felt the call on my life, but I was afraid to ask others what they thought, because I feared what they thought. I determined I was going to go to college, and let the Lord determine the outcome. If He really wanted me to be a pastor, then He would make it happen.
One morning at our Men’s prayer meeting, when the prayer request were being taken, I asked the men to pray for me, because I was going to start school, and I knew it would be stressful, both financially and time wise. Everyone around the table got real quiet. One of our Elders asked, “You mean Bible college…?” I said, “Yes.” You could of heard a pen drop… I thought for sure everyone there was doubting that it was the right thing to do. The tension was killing me and I couldn’t stand it, so I asked our Elder, “What’s the deal? Why did you all get quiet? Do you think I’m making a mistake or something?” I remember he said, “No, I was thinking about how I could shift money around to help you pay for your college. I want helping you to be one of my crowns when I stand before the Lord.” I felt goose bumps go up my neck, and then one by one the men around the table each told me they all knew it was coming. The Lord used that occasion to confirm to me that I truly did have a call on my life to pastor.
Over the last few years, God has reshaped my life, and today I am honored to serve Him and the people of Skagit Baptist Church as their Pastor.
What a wonderful and mighty God we serve,
Pastor Pat Towell