Seeing Jesus give people new life is always worth celebrating, and that’s why we’re dedicating a whole weekend to hearing stories of resurrection and watching individuals proclaim their new life in Christ through baptism. Check out Billy’s story below, and watch him get #dunked July 30!
Two years ago, I was volunteering at an assisted living home when I met Larry Monahan, who was visiting a friend. He invited me to Grace, and I’ve been coming here ever since.
I grew up in Ocean City, Maryland where I worked on head boats and drove cruise boats in the evenings from when I was 11 to 15 years old. I don’t remember much about going to church, but somehow I knew Jesus was special. I got married and had a son. I owned a trash removal company in PG County, but then at the age of 47, on February 13, 2010, I had a severe stroke and couldn’t work anymore. The doctors told my family that I would always be bedridden in a nursing home. Then they found I had kidney disease, so I needed dialysis. I lost 55 pounds. Determined to rehabilitate, I learned how to walk, talk and swallow again and was released on full disability in one year and two months. Since I had the stroke at a young age, I was awarded disability insurance and medications for the rest of my life.
I moved into a community and started volunteering in the dining room at Lighthouse, and that’s when I met Larry Monahan. Larry asked me if I had a church and if I’d like to go to Grace. He picked me up the next Sunday. I fell in love with Grace, and Larry has picked me up every Sunday since. I love the worship music and sermons. I’ve also met very nice gentlemen and enjoyed talking about God at the Men of Grace Breakfasts.
Like I said, I always knew God was special, but I didn’t really understand who he was. I thought that God must be punishing me with the stroke and kidney disease.
Then after waiting for a kidney transplant for seven years, I got a call that a kidney was available and that I had to get to the hospital immediately to get it. I can’t drive, so I called all of my contacts, but it was 5 o’clock in the morning, and no one answered, so I missed the opportunity to get the new kidney.
Because I have a rare blood type, B negative, I worried that it could be another seven years before I might get another chance. I became really depressed and suicidal, so I cried out to God.
Miraculously, seven days later, I got another call for a new kidney! It was 5 am the Saturday of one of the Men of Grace Breakfasts. So I called Rick Garner to tell him I wouldn’t be able to come cook for the breakfast because I was going to get a new kidney. He offered me a ride. I didn’t want to make him late for the breakfast, so I called all my contacts first, but again, no one answered their phones. So, I called Rick back, and he took me to the hospital. AND he still made it back to Men’s Breakfast on time!
I got to the hospital at 6 am and waited until 5 pm to see a doctor. When he finally came in, he said he had good news! I wasn’t only going to get one kidney, I was getting two! I started crying. Finally, my long wait was going to come to an end. The operation went smoothly, and I didn’t even need any pain medication. God had heard my cry.
My operation was on Saturday. Everything was fine on Sunday. My blood pressure was stable. I should have been able to go home three days after surgery, but then things took a turn. I was watching the Super Bowl when Tom Brady threw the last touchdown pass to win the game, so I turned over and went to bed. At 1 am, my blood pressure went sky high – I blame Tom Brady for that! It took another day to get it under control. I think God was teaching me that he was in control…I left the hospital on February 13, 2017. Exactly seven years after my stroke. I don’t think that was a coincidence. God had gotten my attention!
So that’s how I came to trust Christ. Like I said, I knew he was someone special, but I always had questions and I was a hard man to convince. But when I cried out to God after missing the opportunity to get the kidney transplant, he answered me in such a miraculous way in every detail – from Rick taking me to getting not one, but two kidneys, to being released exactly seven years to the day after my stroke – I knew He loved ME! I still didn’t have answers to all my questions, but it didn’t matter, I was overwhelmed by God’s love for me!
Since February 13, I’ve been living out my new life in Christ! I used to feel anxious about things, especially my health. But now that I know how much God loves me, instead of feeling anxious, I put my trust in Him, knowing that He has the best in mind for me.
I also just got good news that my body is accepting my new kidneys just fine.
I’m grateful that Jesus died on the cross for me and gave me new life through his resurrection. I want to get baptized to let everyone know what He has done for me and to declare my identity in Christ!
Baptism at Grace
During all worship gatherings on Baptism Weekends, we celebrate the very reason we exist as a church: Christ’s mission to make disciples, baptizing and teaching in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20). We share testimonies of how Jesus changes lives now and for eternity. And the best part… we baptize with a joy that’s out of this world!