Wayne Almlie
My Personal testimony

Do you believe it's possible to be baptized, to be given the Scriptures as a child, to go to Sunday school, to do all the memory work, be confirmed and made a member of the church in good standing and still be lost, to be a stranger to Jesus Christ. That's my story.

Let me start at the beginning. I was born January 4th 1954 at 6:02 AM in Hillsboro, North Dakota to Marcus and Mary Lou Almlie. On April 25th of that same year I was baptized at the Shelly Lutheran Parsonage in Shelly Minnesota.  My parents were faithful in fulfilling their baptismal promises, to bring me up in the faith. They brought me regularly to church and Sunday School and on March 12 1962 gave me my first bible. I believed; I had the faith of a child. As we grow, God gives us more and more light, as David says in the Psalms, the Lord is my light.  God gives us light in stages and I started to fall behind, I was exerting my will more and more.

In the eighth grade I started confirmation classes.  By this time we had moved to Hendrum Mn. The pastor I grew up with, Pastor Anhalt, was an evangelist at heart. He had such a burden to see people saved. Over the years he had developed a close association with the LEM, The Lutheran Evangelistic Movement, and most every year a summer youth team would come, or a bus load of kids would travel to Minneapolis to the LEM midwinter youth conference, and in early February he would have an LEM evangelist come in to do a week of meetings at the church. 

I don't remember for sure why I went, it may have been a requirement for confirmation or it may have just been that mom said we had to go. I went and the speaker was Sterling Johnson, and that’s about all I remember except that God spoke to me during that week and shed some more light on me, and I came to the realization that there was another step God wanted me to take. He wanted my life; he wanted to be Lord. I know there was already sin and rebellion in my life, that I had probably broken most if not all the commandments, but it was in ignorance. But at this point in my life I defiantly told God, No!  I was going to live my life my way.  I was living out the principle of Heb 10:26-27

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment. NASU

I had received the knowledge of the truth; I knew that I was a sinner. I knew that Jesus was the only sacrifice for sin, and I knew that if I died my eternal destiny was Hell. I was not deceived.  I remember being fully aware of all three of those facts. But I rejected Him anyway, I looked at the cost, my friends, the popularity that I sought, the hopeful gratification of my lust, and I decided it was too much.

Now I didn't drop out of church, I continued going to confirmation, to Sunday school, continued memorizing scripture, the 10 commandments and their meanings, and the Apostles creed and its meanings, and on June 1st 1969 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hendrum, Minnesota I was confirmed.

I clearly remember the last meeting with my pastor before confirmation; he was talking about the connection between baptism and confirmation. How when we were baptized our parents and sponsors spoke for us, but now after being instructed in the faith we would speak for ourselves. Then he talked about Judgment Day and how sad it would be for him to find out how many people he had confirmed and shepherded who had only been giving lip service and weren't really saved. Many he feared, when they would stand before Jesus, He would tell them, "I never knew you." 

As I said, there I was baptized, confirmed, and a member of the church in good standing, I knew the scriptures and the way of salvation, but I was lost. I had never met the real Jesus, at least not on his terms.  I knew that if I died, that Hell would be my destiny, not heaven. I was one who said latter Lord, not now; I want to have some fun first. And in the meantime I hoped that nothing bad would happen to me.

The rest of the story is that God never gave up on me. I kept hanging around church, mostly because that’s where all the cute girls were. And that kept me exposed to the word of God. In my junior year there was a revival that broke out amongst the youth in my little hometown. Four boys got saved and just started getting together for fellowship and prayer, but soon the group doubled and then it doubled again, then I and other unbelievers started showing up, just out of curiosity just to see what was going on. In the spring time they set up a meeting place down by the river, with a log pulpit and they would have meetings there and sing songs by a campfire and use the log pulpit to take turns sharing and giving testimonies.

 In the meantime, I was hanging out with both groups. I was hanging with the cool kids, drinking and partying. And I was going to a lot of the fellowship times with the Christians as well. By the time my junior year ended and the summer started, I was seeing the emptiness of my life. Also I was seeing the power that the group had on me. When I was with my friends, I would do what ever they would do. As some of the group started getting into drugs, I saw that if I was not careful, I could really mess up my life.

In August of that summer, the Christian youth organized an outreach event in the Perly Hall, Which was the town six miles to the south of Hendrum. I road up with a friend, we had a couple beers on the way. I don't remember a lot about the meeting, except there was some singing, the Lutheran Pastor from Perly, Pastor Halverson gave a short message, and several of the Christian youth gave their testimonies. God had been working on me since eighth grade and I was ready, I was under conviction, Pastor Halverson gave an altar call, but I didn't go up, I continued to resist. My friend and I drove back to Hendrum, we had a couple more beers and I went home.

But the battle wasn't over, I was like Nebuchadnezzar, “his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him”. I lay in bed wrestling with God for several hours. I just couldn't fall asleep. I was aware of my sinful condition. I was a lawbreaker, who deserved Hell. I was a liar, a thief and an adulterer at heart. I was lost, but I also knew that Jesus came to save lost people. Finally about two in the morning, I got out of bed, got on my knees and prayed. I was done running; I was ready to have Jesus take his rightful place as Lord of my life. I surrendered; did I understand fully what that meant? Did I understand what it meant to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him? Probably not fully, but I did understand that if He was Lord, I was not. 

Now I had a real advantage, I grew up with a pastor who preached the Word, who preached the need for a personal relationship with Christ. Who preached sin, righteousness and judgment? I was not saved, but I was not deceived either. I was lost and I knew I was lost and I knew if I died, Hell would be my eternal destiny. But what about the average person who sits in the pews of the churches across our country today? I don't think they are getting that message. They are sitting there hearing a feel good message, that never touches their real need, and many of them are lost but they don't know it.