|Steve Burch's Testimony
On November 9th, 1979 at around 4:30 p.m. I drove down to Trinity United Methodist Church where I was the Coordinator of Youth Ministries. The church was having a Rummage sale and Bazaar that included a dinner that was being served by the UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship). I had not done any dope that afternoon so I was straight and that was good because I really needed to help the teens with the dinner. All seemed to be going good and we were bringing in a good amount of money for the teens. Around 6:15 to 6:45 I noticed that Dan and Pat Hoober, a couple that lived in the same apartment building that I lived in, had come in with their Grandmother. Their grandmother, I found out, went to Trinity and they were just coming to the dinner to be with her. I was glad to serve them and when I brought them their plates, Pat stopped me and said "Hi!" I said hi back. It was neat that they had decided to come to the church. I felt that Trinity was doing good to have them there, after all, Dan and Pat went to that new young peoples church "Colorado Springs Christian Center." Pat then looked square in my eyes and said "Steve, I have a word from the Lord for you!". I didn't know what in the world she was talking about but, because she went to that church I figured that she had something interesting to say. I ask her what the word was and she said that she wanted to check it out with her husband, Dan, first. She ask when I would be getting off from working at Trinity. I said that it would be probably around 9:00 or 9:30. She then ask if I would stop by after I got off because she wanted to share the word from the Lord with me. I was a little bit apprehensive but said "Sure, OK, thanks" and went about my duties. After the dinner was over and the teens and I had cleaned up, I left the church and started home. I almost lit up a dubie and remembered that I had promised Dan and Pat that I would stop by. I tucked the joint in my billfold and figured that I'd just light up after I stopped by. I knew it would only take a few minutes, and after all I wanted them to know that I was certainly a good Christian. I always kept my word.
When I got to their door I knocked. Dan was in the living room and when he saw me he smiled like I had never seen him smile before. He called out to the other room "Pat, Steve's here." Dan then said, "Come on in" and picked up his Bible. At this point Pat walked out and put on a huge grin and picked up her Bible and said "Hi Steve, Come on in. Let's go in the kitchen! I put on a big (forced) grin and as I walked in to the kitchen sandwiched between Dan and Pat said, "OK! Their table was against the back corner of the kitchen. There were three chairs around the table, two on the ends and one on the other side of the table. Dan pointed to the third chair and said, "Why don't you sit their Steve." Dan sat to my right and Pat sat to my left. Pat proceeded to say, "Let's pray first!" and then held out her hand to me. Dan held out his hand to me also and although it was a little bit unusual for me, I followed in kind. I didn't want them to feel that I was not as much of a Christian as they thought they were. Dan prayed. I can't say that I remember much of his prayer except that he directly ask God to be in our midst right then. I was starting to feel a little trapped, but I wasn't going to let them know this. I was definitely interested in what this word from the Lord was. I had never heard anyone talk about something like that before. I suspected that it was more than what I had experienced before in my searching eastern religion and other stuff, but I was anxious. Dan said: "Go ahead Pat". Then Pat said, "The Spirit of the Lord would say unto you Steve that today is the Day of Salvation. Tomorrow is too late! I remember my mind attempting to assimilate what Pat had just said. What did she say? Today is the day? Tomorrow is too late? Oh man, I don't want to deal with this!! I have to deal with this. I can't leave without dealing with this. But wait, I am a Christian, what is she talking about. No? Am I a Christian? I know that my life is a paradox. I know that I am living two lives. I know that she is right! No wait!
For the next two to three hours I talked, reasoned, argued, and agreed with Dan and Pat. I didnt want to agree with them that they were right, but I knew that they were. I knew that they were right! For the next two to three hours, arguing with them, I knew that I was going to have to make the decision to give my life away to Jesus Christ. It became more and more clear to me with every argument that I threw up, Dan and Pat had every answer to every question. I could tell that they were not from the Christian stock and heritage that I was from. After all I grew up the son of a Methodist Minister. When I was 12 years old I joined the Methodist church. I remember crying outside the church that Saturday morning when my friends were all in the church membership class. I remembered telling my dad that I wanted to join the church too. I remembered knowing that I wanted to be in the church family. I remembered, but I also knew that I was not at peace with God. I did not know him as my Master, or even as my Lord. I now understood that there was something more than what I allowed people to see of me to show what or who I was. I knew that my past was not one that my father would approve. I knew that I was not a Christian, especially not with this relationship thing that Dan and Pat were talking about. I realized that I couldn't go through this life alone, and I was alone. I understood that most of the people that I knew, and felt I was helping, saw the person that I wanted them to see. They didn't really see me. I was a liar, a cheat, and a deviate, basically not worth even a little of what they thought I was. I knew that I needed to say, "Yes" to God and turn my life over to Him. Yet I fought for almost three hours. I wanted to get up and run and yet I wanted, even more, to give up. Finally I could think of no more excuses. I could think of no more questions to ask that would give me a way out. Finally I asked what I needed to do to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Pat said, "Just lift up your hands and tell Him that you are a sinner and are worthy only of Hell. Then ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin. Tell Him that you understand and believe that He died on the cross of Calvary for you and that you accept His sacrifice. Ask him to come and live in your heart, and become the Lord of your life." All this I did at that point. The release and feeling of being free that came upon me was beyond any high that I had ever been on. I truly felt that a burden had been lifted from me that threatened to weigh me down and push me into the ground. I was free from all the 29 years of sin, guilt, shame, fear, and pain. I reveled in this new freedom for the next two to three hours. Dan and Pat were there with me to answer all of the new questions that I had. I knew, without question, what God wanted me to be and do. I knew that there were some terrible habits and sins that I was in. I ask Dan and Pat what I should do about these things and they both said that we should pray and ask God to deliver me from the bondage and weight of these sins. Right there and then I prayed and asked God to deliver me from the drug addiction, the alcoholism and from the cigarette habit. I also asked that God deliver me from all desire and physical repercussion from the lifestyle that I had been bent upon for the previous 9 years. It felt strange to know with complete certainty and confidence that I was free from those habits, from those weights, but I knew. I knew! I was as light as air, yet I was as fresh as a spring morning after a rain. I did not know tiredness for all the time that I was there. Just before I left to go around the balcony to my apartment Pat looked up at me again and said, "Steve, know what?" I said "No what? I looked at the time when you ask Jesus into your heart. It was one minute to midnight!! Then she smiled and said "Happy Birthday!"
When I got home I pulled out my billfold and took out the joint. It seemed foreign to me. Like an unwanted enemy. I promptly threw it in the toilet, walked into my room, opened up my top dresser drawer, pulled out the 2-finger lid that I had there and dumped it in the toilet. Watching it swirl around as it was flushed away felt good. I went into the kitchen and pulled out the two bottles of wine and 5 cans of Budweiser from the icebox and dumped it down the kitchen sink. I pulled out the bottle of Benedictine liquor from the cabinet shelf and dumped it down the sink. I had a case, minus one pack, of cigarettes on the cabinet shelf. I pulled it out and opened up each pack-dumping the cigarettes down the toilet one at a time. I pulled out the pack from my pocket and did the same. Then I looked outside the front window for a few moments and realized that the whole world was a new place. The same, but new. I then went to bed somewhere around 3:30 am on Saturday, November 10th 1979.
Being completely refreshed from sleeping more sound and peaceful than I could remember, I awoke at 7:00 on Saturday morning. I showered, shaved, and was making breakfast when I heard a knock at the front door. I went to the door and opened it. There was no one there but I did see this girl go into the apartment down stairs across the way from me. I looked down and had another surprise. There at the door was a box of homemade cookies with a note on it that said "Happy Re-Birthday." I smiled and was almost out of control with joy at the thought that I was a new creation. I was clean! I was a Christian! I opened the box of cookies and thought of the person that gave them to me. Her name was Jossie Brown. I had met her once before in a real awkward time. (One day around a month earlier I had started doing laundry, in the apartment laundry room, and then went out for the day forgetting that I had laundry to do. When I came back to the apartment at somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m., I remembered that my laundry was in the washer. Instead of going directly up to my apartment I stopped to quickly put the one load in the dryer and another load in the washer. When I got to the laundry room I was totally aghast and embarrassed at what I saw there. Jossie Brown had taken all of my laundry, washed it and was in the process of folding it. She had gotten to my underwear and I quickly thanked her and took over. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my inconsiderateness and amazed at what she had done. She was kind of nice looking, even with the towel that she had in her hair from washing it.) I wondered why she had left the cookies but was too happy about my new relationship with the Lord that I had just come to know to spend much time thinking about it. During that day I went on what Dan and Pat called a "witch hunt." This consisted of looking at my belongings, books, records, tapes, and what ever I had to see if it was something that would be right to keep or throw away. I collected two big boxes of books, tapes, and records that I planned on burning. Dan mentioned that there was a Coffee House that CSCC "Colorado Springs Christian Center" had every Saturday night. I went with them that night and was amazed at the number of nice, caring, loving people that there were there. Towards the end of the evening, someone ask if I had ever been baptized. I remembered my parents telling me about when I was a baby and they had me baptized by being sprinkled by water in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I knew that they were not talking about that kind of a baptism. I ask them what they meant and what baptism was. After being told and understanding what baptism does for a Christians walk I was ask if I wanted to be baptized that night? I excitedly said, "Yes I would. What do I need to do?" One of the elders of the church, Bennie Bell, walked me to a room behind the meeting auditorium and showed me the robes that they had just for baptisms. I quickly got into a robe and was led into the auditorium and up onto the stage. I thought it was neat they had a big tank of water built into the stage and was more than ready to get in. Dan Hoober baptized me. There was someone who gave a Prophecy over me that went something to the effect that God had called me to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That after a little while I would be ready to go out and minister to those that He was going to send me to. It was another elation to me when I went under the water and then was lifted out again. I knew that by that act I entered into the death and resurrection along with Jesus Christ. I knew that, just like the Children of Israel on the other side of the Red Sea were free from the bondage of the Egyptians, I was free from the bondage of my Old man, my sin nature. We had both gone through the water and had come out alive and both of our oppressors had died in the water. I am alive and I knew that Jesus loved me. After the Coffee House ended, I went home and just spent time thinking about what had happened in the last day. I seemed like it had been more like a lifetime, I remembered the way that I had been just one day before and was amazed at the changes that God had made in my life. Later that night I was laying in bed thinking about that entire God had done and about all that he had for me. I had been told about something called being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Now I knew that water baptism was being immersed in water and that when I went through the water I was free from the old man. The old nature that I was born with in this world, when the father of this world was my lord. I was told that baptism in the Holy Spirit would enable me and give me power to be a witness with a boldness far surpassing my self. I was told that the baptism in the Holy Spirit would give me a prayer language so that when I didn't know what to ask God for or how to pray to God, I could use this prayer language and that God's Holy Spirit, that was resident in me, would utter the requests and prayers that it new that I needed. It was enough for me to know that God wanted me to be baptized in his Holy Spirit. All else was bonus. Being baptized in his Holy Spirit was bonus, but I wanted it. That morning, November 11th 1979 at somewhere around 2:30 to 3:00 in the morning I ask God to baptize me in his Holy Spirit. I then waited and wondered, what should I look for? How should I know that I am baptized in His Holy Spirit? I remembered hearing people praying in their prayer language and it sounded like baby talk to me. I thought, "OK God, take over my vocal cords, I submit them to you, go ahead, do it!" I felt that something had happened but I wasn't sure because I was told that there would be the sign of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was told that the sign would be the prayer language. I then thought, "well OK, I don't know if this is the right thing to do or not but I am going to try and talk my self and say something that sounds like baby talk." I started to say some baby talk kind of words and it seemed contrived at first, but pretty soon I realized that I was talking fluently. I seemed to just somehow know crazy words to say. They seemed to come out of my mouth almost effortlessly. I was saying the words, but I was not inventing them. They seemed to just be there in my mind and on my tongue when I was ready to say them. When I realized that my heart gave a leap of joy and my whole being seemed to be released in a complete joy. I cried and laughed and cried again, all for joy, all for the love of my Lord, for my God, for my Provider. Jesus Christ had visited me first in knowledge of him, second in relationship and freedom in his forgiveness, and now third in his Holy Spirit that seemed to totally overwhelm me. I felt totally immersed in the love of God. I felt at peace with myself and with everything that had ever happened to me and by me. I was forgiven. I was loved. I was Free. I was immersed in the essence of the Creator of all things, the Author of life, the beginning and the end. I was not deserving of anything that had happened to me. God loved me and made a way for me, even me, to know him and to know the freedom of being without guilt. The guilt, Jesus bore for me on the cross made me free.
I memorized a poem that I heard by a man by the name of e. e. comings. I used small letters in his name because that is how he signed his name on his free form poetry. The poem started like this:
i thank the GOD for most, this amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of life
and of love and of the gay great happenings illimitably earth.