Growing up in a strong, loving home in rural Virginia, my youth was very secure. My family faithfully attended a small, mainline protestant church where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. As an early teenager, however, I became immersed in the “party lifestyle”. Although from the outside I looked normal and responsible, obtaining good grades and being active in all kinds of activities in school, athletics and being a responsible family member on the farm, my lifestyle was anything but honoring to God and I grew further away from any connection to God.
In college my party lifestyle intensified and any relationship with God was nonexistent. I grew more selfish, only interested in myself, having fun and graduating from college to have a successful career. During this time, I noticed a change in my older sister’s lifestyle as she married, had children and became “religious”.
After college and working I continued on the self-indulgent lifestyle. Immediately before finishing college I had met and begun dating Dee, now my wife of almost 37 years. Soon after marriage we moved to St. Louis. Both of us had good careers, but began to notice something was missing in our life and there was a void that new marriage, careers and location was not filling. We pondered the things that my sister, her husband and others had shared with us and began searching. Not long after, a local Pastor (from a church my sister had found for us to attend) shared with me in a way I could understand for the first time who Jesus really was and that it was a personal relationship with Him and not religion or works which saves us. I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.
I was born again.
Since that time I have had the joy of being the father of six children, three now married, and eight grandchildren. Dee and I have the blessing of being active and serving in our local church. My faith in Jesus Christ has been increasing for almost 37 years. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful wife, children, and church family.
I know of many situations where God has not always blessed Christians with a life free from pain and suffering.
A little more than six years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV throat and neck cancer. After a very intense period of surgery, chemo and radiation I believe God has healed me through medicine and gifted medical staff. The trial of cancer was a serious wakeup call and has strengthened my faith and the understanding for others going through various trials as scripture indicates we all will. Additionally, since my cancer we have experienced several trials with some of our children, including one daughter who currently has cancer.
Tom’s life Bible verse:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15