Editor’s Note: This testimony was penned by Erlita Renner in December 2010. Erlita went home to be with her Lord and Savior on February 23, 2021. She so valued her childhood salvation experience — and it happened all because someone in her neighborhood reached out to her. She lived a life thereafter that radiated God’s love as she freely shared with others the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
I am thinking of the evening in December long ago when Jesus first spoke to me. I had been going to Glenwood Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a neighbor who lived across the street from me. Her mom and dad and their two daughters went to church every Sunday morning, and they also invited me to go with them for Sunday School. I loved Sunday School, and to this day, I remember the lady who stood in front of our class telling us the stories of Jesus. She would often cry, and I knew that she really was in love with Jesus even though I didn’t know much about the Bible. That lady taught me the love of Jesus.
On that December evening, my aunt had come from Texas for Christmas. She announced that she would like our family to go to church that evening. I asked her, “Can we go to my church? Because the lady who tells the stories every Sunday told me there will be a Christmas tree inside the church, and they will be giving bags of fruit and candy to the people who come. I would really like to go there!”
So my mother, my Aunt Marie, and my brother and sister and I went to church that night. I neglected to tell you that this was in the 1930s during the war when sugar was rationed. It was a big deal to get candy and, particularly, bubble gum. That’s why candy was such a treat!
I remember sitting on the back row and listening to the preacher speak. When he gave the invitation for people to come forward who felt led to receive Jesus Christ as Lord, I was impelled to go. My heart was beating rapidly, and I knew in my heart that the message he had preached was for me. I was young, and this was the first time I remembered an invitation like this. I was sitting by my precious mother, and I told her, “I want to go forward and receive Jesus.” She told me that I wasn’t old enough to understand. I was so disappointed because I felt that I was supposed to go and receive Jesus.
When we arrived back home that evening, my aunt took me back in the bedroom and told me that I didn’t have to be in church to be saved and she knew that the Lord had spoken to me that night.
She prayed with me and I asked Jesus into my heart.
A few years later, I went forward during an invitation and made my decision public and also made the decision to be water baptized. I will never forget that. Immediately, I wanted to tell my mother and all my friends of my decision — I wanted them to share my joy! I was later baptized in that church, and I grew up in that church. I heard message after message and was nourished with the Word of God by my pastor and Sunday School teachers.
When my parents divorced, I became even more committed to the church. I sensed that the people there really served God. Later, I moved to Texas to be with the aunt that prayed for me to receive Jesus as my Lord. She taught me how to serve in my church even though I was a child. I watched her take covered dishes to the Women’s Missionary Union, and I helped clear the tables just to be a helper. Later I made Bible-study tracts for our Training Union, which had a weekly Bible study that we used the tracts for every week. I had a huge desire to learn everything I could about the Bible.
When I returned home from Texas, I went back to my church and I worshiped there every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I was also there for all the church functions. That church became my home, and the people there taught me truths from the Bible that have helped me all through my life.
I met a young man in our youth group, whom I later married. Our 54-year marriage was a very good one, and the Lord blessed us with three wonderful children — Ronda, Rick, and Lori. I had the family that I had dreamed of. My children became committed believers. Now my grandchildren are having children and teaching them about the love of Jesus. They, too, are following God! What a blessing!
As life goes on, I am still learning truths from God’s Word and am growing closer to Him. Recently when I was reading my Bible, a scripture spoke to me. It said that God watched as I was being formed in my mother’s womb and that He wrote down in His Book His special plan for me (see Psalm 139:15,16). These verses are amazing! God has plans for us even before we are born!
God is still speaking to me after all these years, and I continually learn new truths every time I read my Bible. After my husband went to Heaven, I often asked myself, What do I do now? I miss my husband so much, but I know God has my plan written in His Book. I am working at RENNER Ministries calling and ministering to our partners, and I have done that for many years — since the late 1980s! It is a great honor to do this. I’m always so thrilled when I get to pray with people and tell them of God’s love for them.
God’s Word is a comfort to me. One of my gifts is the gift of helps. I love it when I get to minister to someone in need — perhaps it’s just a friend that needs someone to care. We can always look into God’s Word and pray when we don’t have answers. I get to do that! Isn’t that great?
I always know that God listens when we pray. This gives me fellowship with Him, comfort when I’m sad, and gladness when I’m happy. We have a wonderful God who cares about all of our needs and He loves to speak to us. I’m so grateful that He called me out when I was a young child. And He still speaks to me and gives me direction and satisfaction! I will always be grateful for the people at Glenwood Baptist Church who reached out to our community through a Christmas tree and a bag of candy and fruit. They were looking for a way to reach people like me and I am a recipient of that outreach!
Erlita Renner — mother of Ronda Renner Roush, Rick Renner, and Lori Renner Stout