I grew up in Coldwater, https://villageofcoldwater.com/ a small town in Mercer County Ohio https://en.wikipedia.org./wiki/
My Parents were raised Catholic; Mom in Coldwater, currently “The Coldwater Cluster” www.coldwatercluster.org/node/
Besides my daily chores at home my first job was as a bicycle newspaper carrier for the Dayton Daily News. My next job was helping my Dad at the Mercer County Chronicle, Coldwater’s weekly newspaper https://www.
My first adult job was nice, got paid well ($3.31 per. hr. minimum was only $1.90) but I was laid off after three weeks. Next I was able to find a job in St. Henry at the Beckman & Gast Cannery for $1.90 per hour canning green beans and tomatoes https://beckmangast.com. I also learned to be a professional tomato planter (for one day), sitting on top of what looks like a plow with maybe twelve seats we would place the plant in the metal fingers out in the hot sun for six – eight hours. (Yes, I must confess I did plant one upside down to maintain my sanity and sense of humor). I worked there for fourteen months and at age nineteen decided, under God’s tugging, to join the Navy. In February 1976 I joined the delayed entry program and was set to go to boot camp in October.
During this break I worked part time with Dad at Bock Printing and Office Supply in Celina. I had money saved up and a motorcycle so my brother and I, third oldest, took our bikes to Florida. We had a great-safe time seeing the beaches, riding and seeing Disney World.
I completed my bootcamp at the only US Navy Camp. It is located in the Great Lakes. https://
After “A” School I was stationed in Norfolk VA awaiting the completion and commissioning of the Aircraft Carrier the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower https://www.eisenhower.navy.
My shipmates and I saw many great ports or sites; St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands was the first, others include: In Italy – Naples, Rome, Capri, the Vatican, the Coliseum, Venice, Florence and Pisa https://www.tripadvisor.com/
Just being on the ship was a joy in and of itself; the friendships, the solitude of being alone especially on the flight deck at night (when allowed) and enjoying the flight operations https://www.youtube.com/watch?
My last year of service is when I was having a great time after all this traveling, we were in port at Norfolk and I was jogging to get in shape and working on my abs like “Rocky”. I had to start out slow on my jogging but I worked up to about an hour a day and I was feeling great, I remember telling God that “I really liked this and wouldn’t mind doing it my whole life” shortly after this I was given the job of collecting and keeping the accounts of the officer’s Mess. On the first week my leg started to hurt, the corpsman said just massage it. The second week it hurt worse I didn’t jog as much the corpsman said use a whirlpool. At the end of the third week I could hardly walk, my leg was all swelled up I went to my last Rock Concert – ACDC & Bad Company – afterwards, on the way to a bus stop, a policeman outside asked if I was OK I said “Yes”. Finally the corpsman had the Doctor look at my leg and He immediately put me in the hospital (like an old boot camp building). Needless to say I was taken off the ship and put on limited duty until I recovered.
During my limited duty and the rest of my enlistment I served at the Little Creek Amphibious Base in Virginia https://www.military.com/base-
A thank you to my patient navy Navigators Bible study group www.navigators.org. I learned a lot with them as we studied God’s word. But times have changed I see where Bono of U2 and Eugene Peterson, who wrote the Message “Bible” www.thebereancall.org/content/
I visited two churches after my conversion or I should say my return to Christ. One friend took me to The Rock Church of Virginia Beach www.rockchurch.org a charismatic Church. A second took me to a large Baptist church which I cannot remember the name of, they were both quit a different group of sincere Christians. I also attended both Catholic and Protestant services on base until I made my final break from Catholicism.
While serving at the https://www.military.com/base-
I received a great send off from my Little Creek duty station crew upon the last day of my full four years of service, I did enjoy my tour but it seemed like it would never end.
Some of my early jobs upon my return home included painting rooms at the local nursing home in Coldwater - Briarwood Manor, working at Mercer County Elks Golf Course https://mercercountyelksgc.com/
For fifteen years I served and attended Grace Missionary Church www.grace-mc.org in Celina. There I was baptized and met and married my wife Victoria in 1985. I was blessed with her, her three young sons and our daughter and son. I taught in Sunday school, did Youth Camps in Ludlow Falls www.ludlowfallscamp.org and sang in the choir. I also enjoyed playing volleyball and softball. We also served as the Church Custodians for nine years from 1986-1995. I used my VA benefits to attend a bible college from January 1986 – May 1992. I graduated from Summit Christian College in Fort Wayne Indiana currently known as Taylor University https://taylor.edu/ and formerly https://fw.taylor.edu/engage/
Other Churches we attended include: North Park Community Church in Lima www.northparklima.org, Adrian Rogers – Love Worth Finding TV Ministry www.lwf.org - watched on channel 44 Lima, Montezuma Methodist Church www.grandlakechurch.org, at the time, pastored by Matt Burden who videoed and put together my testimony being used on my website www.thekeysofhheaven.com - Thanks Matt, Calvary Christian Fellowship of St. Marys https://www.facebook.com/
Jesus: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). Moses spoke to Israel: “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God … For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire … But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul … When thou art in tribulation … if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto His voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee …” (Deuteronomy 4:23, 24, 29-31). Don’t quit when you encounter the conviction of God the Holy Spirit, He is doing it out of love and mercy to show you the way to forgiveness and how to escape God’s judgment.
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment that we should believe on the name of His son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. And he that keepth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us” (1 John 3:22-24).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
But have everlasting life.” John 3:16
James MacDonald has a good message on
John 3:16 though he may be a Calvinist – “Before Creation,
God chose those who would be saved and granted this unearned grace solely based
on His sovereign good pleasure.”
(see: About - Beliefs on Salvation)
Adrian Rogers of Love Worth Finding www.lwf.org speaks briefly, on youtube, about Calvinism, 2-3 minutes each, https://www.youtube.com/watch?
If you have read all this, Thank You and May God Bless You,
A special Thank You to Tom Eversman for all your work,
Our Love & Prayers to All,
<Thank You Jesus for being The Way, The Truth and The Life>
Gary & Victoria Westgerdes