Personal Testimony of Jeremy Wichert

Spring, 2009

Dear Friends,

I wish that I could be with you to share my story with you personally, but unfortunately, this will have to do. I am going to start at the very beginning of my story, in case some of you may not know much of what I am going to tell you. I hope that this will be an encouragement to many of you, but I am also praying that the Lord will use this to challenge hearts that need to experience salvation that only Christ can bring.

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” - 1 John 3:6-10, ESV

When I was born, my dad was the pastor of a church in lower Michigan. As I grew up, I soon realized what it was like to “be in ministry.” Church was a huge part of our lives. Plans were made around church activities and we were always doing something church related. Church was always a good thing. My whole family enjoyed being at church and loved the people. With dad-for-a-pastor, and a pastor-for-a-dad, spiritual things were often discussed in the home. When I was five years old, our family was going to go to Oklahoma to visit my grandparents. For the first time, we were going to fly. My parents wanted to make sure that I knew for sure that I was saved, since I had never made a profession of salvation. We sat in the living room and they shared the gospel with me and I told them that I would like to accept Jesus into my heart. I have looked back on that day for years as that day that I got saved.

As I grew up, I was an average kid. I knew that my parents expected me to “be a good boy,” so I tried to make sure that I was. I never did anything really bad, and generally tried to behave. Looking back now, I can see that much of the “little things” that I struggled with – being kind to others, telling the truth, and so on – were symptoms of a heart condition of which I was completely unaware.

In high school, a good friend of mine introduced me to the biggest struggle of my life. In his basement after school one day before a soccer game, he showed me a pornographic magazine. This first look ignited passions and desires in my flesh that were so strong they literally controlled my life for the next several years. Throughout the rest of my high school years I was controlled by and in bondage to my own lusts. James 1:14-15 says: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” The lust of my heart was the driving force of my life.

These passions and desires only grew stronger, and as I began attending Northland Baptist Bible College, things did not improve. I looked for opportunities to indulge in my sinful passions, and I was unable to control my flesh. I was “caught” several times in my sin during high school and college, but I always lied and deceived and was able to convince my parents and others around me that I was back on the right track. In my heart, I always knew that I was far from being right with my parents, much less with God. In college I continued to put on a good front before men. I was selected to travel with a Northland sponsored team my freshman and sophomore years. We traveled to several churches during the school year and then went for several weeks during the summer. I really enjoyed the ministry opportunity that God had given me. After all, a pastor’s kid should be “in the ministry,” right? I met Beth my freshman year. She played the piano for our traveling group. Eventually, we began to get interested in each other. Between my junior and senior years, we were married at Beth’s home church in Murfreesboro, TN. Yet, still in my heart, sin thrived. Marriage did not take away the desire to fulfill the lust of the flesh. I took every opportunity that I could find to satisfy my sinful desires. The internet as well as TV/DVD pornography began to fill my need for filth. As with all sin, I began to crave more and more. I needed new highs and new levels of excitement. I began to use the phone to try to get satisfaction. This led me to more depths of sin that I never thought that I would commit.

While at Northland, Beth and I lived in a small 8-family apartment building. I was going to finish my schooling and then we were going to head out West to work in a church and eventually plant a church – all of this was planned while sin was ruling my life. At Northland, I was a security officer and had access to a set of keys for all of the buildings at Northland, including the building we lived in. I began to use our neighbor’s phones to fulfill my lusts. I figured that I would not get caught. However, one day a police car arrived on campus and my boss, the head of security, called me into a meeting. Some of the Northland administration were present as well as the police officer. They questioned me as to my involvement with the phone abuse. I denied any involvement, but finally buckled when threatened with a polygraph test – a lie detector. This incident led to my dismissal from Northland about three weeks before I was to graduate. We moved to Brighton, Michigan and attended my home church, where my dad still pastors, for 8-9 months. I was hoping to return to finish my schooling the next year.

In October, I received a letter from a lawyer in Green Bay, WI who wanted to represent me when I went to court. This was a shock to me since the police told me that they were not pressing charges. Northland and the neighbors that I had wronged also expressed a spirit of forgiveness toward me. I called to find out what I was being charged with and then began to try to find out what I needed to do next. I found a Christian lawyer who took my case and we headed off to court in mid-January. I was anticipating a fine, but not jail since the D.A. was not asking for any time. However, the judge decided that I was to serve 90 days. I was going to finish at Northland, but that was going to have to be put on hold. I went to the Marinette County Jail and spent the loneliest three months of my life. I got many encouraging letters from Beth, my family, and many friends – almost all of them encouraging me to stay strong in the Lord. I still was not able to get victory over my lust. Although (surprisingly) pornography was not allowed in the jail, I was every bit as much addicted to it when I was released as I was when I went in.

Life continued on. I got a job at a sawmill, and I finished at Northland – graduated with a degree in Pastoral Studies. Still, sin gripped me. I was always trying to sneak a look here and there…trying to satisfy my desires. Several times Beth caught me in moral failure and I would always “repent” and try to do better. Early this past February, Beth discovered more filth and called our pastor. He came to our house and met with me on February 12. After a long discussion, I told him that I did not know how to get lasting victory over my sin. He began to take me to the Scriptures and explain to me, again, how to live the victorious Christian life. I told him that it did not work for me. I explained that I had tried all the things that different people had recommended only to end up frustrated and no less in bondage than before. At that, he began to take me to passages that describe the life of the believer – 1 John; 1 Cor. 2:10-3:3; Rom. 8:1-17; Heb. 4:12, 12:1-11. He challenged me to really pray through these passages and said that we needed to meet again the next week. About three weeks passed and because of sickness and other circumstances, we did not meet. He called me Saturday, March 7th to ask if he could stop by and talk. I told him that I had done nothing concerning the passages that he had left with me and I told him that I would call him when I was ready to talk to him. I did not go to church the next morning. Monday came and I went to work. I was glad to go since things had been pretty awkward in our home over the weekend.

My job as a sawyer requires me to be in a cab all day long by myself. As I was working that day, I began to think of the verses that our pastor had shared with me. Since I was sure that I had been saved, I started trying to convince God that I was saved. I continued to offer excuses in my mind as the Holy Spirit would bring verse after verse to my remembrance. Finally, I came to the place where God’s Word convinced me that my experience was not aligned with the Scripture’s description of the believer’s life. I knew that according to the Word of God, I was not a believer. This was a hard realization for me. After all, I grew up a pastor’s kid, went to Christian school, Awana, Northland… I stood there sawing and realized that either I was right, or God’s Word was right. When I came home that night I told Beth of the struggle that had been going on in my heart and asked her if she would like to pray with me because I knew that I needed Christ. I knew that I did not have a real relationship with God. I knew that I was of my father – the devil. We went into our bedroom and she prayed first. I then told the Lord that I knew that I had trusted in myself and the words that I said that day when I was five for my salvation. I confessed that I knew that it was only through Him that I could be right with God. I knew that I needed His righteousness to be placed to my account. I asked him to become my Savior. James 1:18 sums up my experience so well! It says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

This is just the beginning of a new life for me. I am so thankful that God is a longsuffering God. It has been encouraging to experience the real joy of knowing Christ and his power in my life. For the first time there is a real and deep hunger for the Word, and a joy in Christ! I know that Satan has not given up on me, and that my struggle with sin is far from being over, but I am so thankful for God’s indwelling Spirit and the power to overcome sin. I would ask you to pray for me as I continue my journey with Christ as my captain.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV

In Christ (Praise the Lord!),

Jeremy Wichert

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