Tim Swofford: I was blessed to be born into a Christian home. My family attended church 3 times a week my entire life. I went to
church camp my entire life. I raised my children in church and always taught them that GOD loves them so much he sent HIS only Son to give HIS life for our sins. I come from 3 generation of Baptist ministers. I was baptized when I was 10. The truth is while I was taking my children to church every Sunday I was living the life of a devout sinner. I broke several commandments regularly. My twenties & thirties I was not living a Christian life. I started attending church again, but I was going through the “Christian motions”. At that point my job brought me to Memphis (16 years ago). With no family and no friends I got Christian lazy. I thought that holding door and being nice was living a Christian life.
Since we started visiting GCC GOD has enriched our lives beyond belief. Our relationship with each other and Jesus
grows stronger every day. I have been listening to GOD’s message differently than I ever have. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my life and have come to understand that my life without Jesus at the center is meaningless. I believe Jesus is my Savior and I want him to come into my heart and walk with me every day. I need GOD’S love, forgiveness for my sins and redemption. I need the outward expression of my inward commitment through baptism. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
I am now reading this every morning.
Mandy Swofford: Growing up, Catholicism was present in our household. We attended a Catholic church regularly, but for some unforeseen reason we stopped attending church when I was pretty young. After that we didn’t really discuss religion as a family unit. When my extended family came over, we would bless each meal in the Catholic way, but outside of these gatherings prayer wasn’t a focus.
God has always been there - in my mind. I knew God was there, but I didn’t really know what that meant. There were always some conflicting ideas present and none of my friends or teammates really discussed if they were religious nor did they express their religious backgrounds. There were also conflicting thoughts of God, Jesus, and religion in my household and so I sort of always felt compelled to ignore it or push my thoughts of Him aside because I was afraid to discuss my curiosity, that I’d get picked on for even thinking about God. Needless to say, my young adult and adult life certainly weren’t replicative of Christian values.
In high school, I dated a boy who was Mormon and he and his family were very devout in their faith. I attended church with them regularly and participated in many of the routine practices as well as the events put on by the church. After some time, I went through the meetings with a set of missionaries and eventually agreed to get baptised. Looking back, I agreed to this for many of the wrong reasons.
Fast forward many years and I met Tim shortly after moving to the Memphis area. Tim’s family attended church regularly… his brother was even a Southern Baptist pastor. During my first visit to South Carolina, I met his family… and I mean his ENTIRE family. As our stay included a Sunday, we made plans to attend his brother’s church for Sunday morning service. I was open to going but didn’t really know what it would end up being like or if I would get anything out of it. However, when I walked into his church, I felt a great feeling wash over me. I even felt tears start to prick my eyes. It was certainly a weird feeling at the time!
Over the years, Tim and I have discussed God and Jesus, religion, Christianity, and going to church. In recent years, I feel like God started working on me harder and more frequently. I started to feel a stronger pull to a church, but didn’t really bring it up as much as I should have. Tim and I started, more and more, to see Jesus working in everyday life.
Jesus then brought RaLynda into our lives. After many weeks of hanging out together, the topic of her church came up in conversation. I probably asked a couple questions and then we moved on. But my curiosity, and Jesus’ pull to Him, kept this topic in my mind. I started asking RaLynda questions about the church, their beliefs, etc. After many conversations that grew in length, and many “you should come!” statements, Tim and I decided to attend our first service at GCC in May of 2019. When I first walked into the sanctuary, I experienced that same great feeling (from the church in South Carolina) wash over me and I just knew this was right. We attended the next week also and that same feeling “happened”, and I just knew that we would continue attending. Every week, the sermon was always captivating, intriguing, and relevant. Jesus kept working in my heart and conversations with RaLynda continued. We started a weekly bible study so that I could become more familiar with what it meant to be a Christian and the ways our glorious Jesus loves us and works for us. Each week, everything was just “right”.
When Jesus saved me it ended up just being a simple conversation. I had started praying and talking with Him but I struggled with the question “Does God know you?”. Then one morning in September 2021, when my ears were open, He put it in my heart that He does know me and that we’re building a relationship together… and I was sure at that point that I was saved. To be honest, I was pretty elated to have heard Him. As I grow in my faith, and know now that Jesus has saved me, I am continually seeking God and His word through Jesus, and more knowledge about what it means to be a Christian. He has passed to me comfort in discussing my beliefs with others and discussing Christianity in general.