The Hand of God Upon
(The Gene Russell Story)
Jesus Did It!
By: Gene Russell
My sister and I were born in a little mining town in Arizona. I was born in November of 1941. My parents went to a Baptist church, and I remember my first awareness of God from a very young age. One day I was in the back seat of our car, a little more than three years old. On seeing the pastor, I kept telling my mother, “That’s Jesus, that’s Jesus.” They had talked about Jesus in the Sunday school, and in my little three-year-old mind there was an awareness that here was a man who was godly, and I knew that the Spirit of God was in him. It’s interesting that I have had little children do the same thing towards me. I think little children can recognize the Spirit of God and be very aware of His dealings early in life. How important it is that we set the right kind of examples, so children see Christ in us, instead of our own nature or something worse.
My mother was spiritually born again when she was 18, only a year before my sister was born and a couple of years before I was born. My father attended the church, but never made a profession of faith. He had gone through a difficult childhood. My grandfather was a murderer and a drunk, a gambler, and a wife beater. I know that my father wanted the things that church represented, but he had that demonic curse that comes down from father to son when someone in the family opens the door for the devil to come in. I was told by a pastor after he had died, because I hadn’t seen my father for the last twelve years of his life, that he had confessed Christ on his death bed. We’ll find out in Heaven whether that was true. I knew that was probably the only way he would come in because he turned away from God when I was 12 years old. I saw the terrible consequences of what happened when my father turned away, and that’s what made me want to go in the opposite direction and to embrace the Lord. I was born again in 1953, at the age of 12.
What drove my father away from God were the lusts of the flesh. My father bought a house, and he had all that he wanted really before him, in terms of a good family life. We lived in a good community, but when a certain school teacher moved in across the street who was young and more beautiful than my mother, the lusts of the flesh came out in him and he turned away from the Lord. In fact, in that small town there were such powerful revivals in those years of the early 1950’s that I can remember seeing hardened sinners going forward in church, weeping because they were convicted of their sins. Lives were dramatically changed, but I can also remember sitting in the church pews with my father, feeling the resistance in him. It’s almost as if you could hear the enemy talking to him, and he was listening.
I was dealt with very powerfully as we sat in those revivals from when I was eight years old, until I finally gave my heart to the Lord when I was 12. I was very keenly aware, even by the time I was ten years old, that if I didn’t accept Jesus, and if I died at that young age, I would go to Hell. I knew that I was accountable for myself and that I was a sinner. I had heard and clearly understood the gospel by that age, and I knew I was responsible for what I had heard. But I never lived a stable Christian life in my youth. Looking back I know why that is, and I can honestly say God has shown me such incredible mercy. A part of that, I believe, is because God shows great mercy to those who have much to overcome.
There was such demonic oppression in our family that as a child I was having horrible nightmares. I didn’t know that it was demons, but because of that demonic oppression, I had a difficult time walking a straight walk. I didn’t comprehend the ferociousness of the battle. When a person in the family, and the head of the family in particular, opens the door to Satan, he allows demonic oppression upon the whole of the family. When my father committed adultery with the women next door and threw my mother out...he became very abusive and tried to kill her on a couple of occasions...we had to flee and go to California. It ruined my mother’s life; it ruined my sister’s life, and neither of them have ever been church members since.
One of those painful things of my life is to see my mother and sister alienated from God. My mother married another non-believer, and although he has been very kind and good to her, he is still a non-believer. She has never been back in fellowship, yet she loved the Lord when she was young. When her family was still together she served God in the church, and she made sure that we were there every Sunday without fail. Then to see her fall away and for over forty years not to darken a church door has been one of the most painful things that I can express. When you know the Lord and you want to fellowship with your own family members, yet they have turned so adamantly away that they will curse you if you mention the name of the Lord and tell you to keep your religious stuff to yourself, oh how painful that is.
My sister was married and divorced three times by the time she was 22 years old. She had been pregnant every time. Only one of those children lived, the others were miscarried. Because she had witnessed such brutality by my father toward my mother, she was so fouled up inside in terms of what love means. She had so much hatred and bitterness in her heart towards my father because she came home from school and saw my mother begging for her life with my father holding a shotgun at her face and threatening to kill her. It just unwired my sister. She hated men on one hand, yet she craved love. She wanted love and acceptance. Although she said that she gave her heart to the Lord the same day I did, it was not a solid commitment.
When you don't have the Lord, you don't know how to love and relate to people in a proper fashion
My father was married ten times in life. I don’t know how many times my sister has been married. I know of at least six, which is a testimony to the fact that she knows nothing about what real love means. When I phoned to inform her that our father had died, she cursed my father violently, cursed me and hung up. My sister was gifted. She could have been a scientist, a mathematician, or a doctor. She had that kind of intelligence, but her emotions ruined her life. When you don’t have the Lord, you don’t know how to love and relate to people in a proper fashion, so there is always manipulation going on. That was why the relationship between my sister and mother has also been difficult.
My sister is currently married to a man who is worth millions. I think my sister has improved her lot in life, at least financially, by all the men she has married, divorced and taken money from. Yet she is one of the most unhappy women you could ever meet, because first, a father and a head of a family did not follow after God. He opened the door for the devil to come in, and when the devil gets in he doesn’t leave without a fight. He must be driven out by the power of God, and unless there is a willing heart that wants to embrace the things of God, you remain a captive. I believe that God will honor the word that I and my whole household will be saved, and my relatives will come in (Acts 16:31), but oh what a tragedy to have no life with God on the earth, but only a fire escape from Hell at your last days. God help us.
When I was about 19, God dealt with me again. It was my dream to go to UCLA, which was a famous university. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or do, but I wanted the opportunity to go to that particular university, and I got to UCLA. In my first semester I went to a Baptist student conference, and out of the blue, I got a letter from a seminary in Kansas offering me a scholarship to come and study. Someone had contact with that seminary and had said that this young man is called to the ministry. I didn’t have the deepest kind of commitment to doing God’s work, and I rejected that. I was already being influenced by the world in my university career, and I wrote them a letter saying that I really didn’t believe that the church has all the answers anymore. I went on through the university, and I got my bachelor and masters degrees from UCLA.
I was a part of the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship, and I enjoyed contact with other Christians. But what I want to suggest is that if a young person sees that God is calling them, that they take the yoke and they trust God fully for all of the consequences of their lives, because while I was able to go on and succeed at the university and finally get a Ph.D. and become an English professor, I had no idea that I was walking deeper into darkness every day. Eventually I fell away from the Lord, and for ten years I didn’t go near a church. All that time was wasted. I didn’t understand when I was sucking up all the intellectual rubbish, that the devil was setting me up to destroy my life, to destroy the call of God if he could, and to short-circuit all of God’s plans for me.
I became a successful college professor, but I had started smoking dope with the other intellectuals, and I became a marijuana head. In fact, I lost my profession because I dropped out of teaching. I stopped teaching thinking that I was so good and had such great credentials that I could always get back in. Lo and behold, after two years away from teaching, my career was dead, so I had to suffer for 20 years in manual labor before God would resurrect my teaching career. I had to struggle a great deal in life, but mostly it was because I did not take the call of God seriously enough. As I have said, I think that God has been very merciful to me, partly because of my ignorance and the things in life I had to overcome.
I married after I finished my masters degree. I taught for a year at Arizona State University. Then I went to the fifth ranked graduate institution in America to earn my Ph.D. Then I went to Europe and taught in Spain on a prestigious fellowship for a year and then came back to America. But by that time my marriage had fallen apart. I had married a Christian girl because her mother was the best Christian in the church. She was very beautiful, and I was working on the false assumption that a daughter must be like her mother. In my spirit I knew it wasn’t right, but I disobeyed my spirit. I was not filled with the Holy Spirit, and I really didn’t know what the witness of God meant that fully. God tried to dissuade me, but I felt that once I had made a commitment I had to carry through with it. Well, I had five and a half years of living hell. The very thing I wanted to avoid, having seen divorce in my parents, I reaped. That was also one of the key reasons why I walked away from God, because I was so disappointed and hurt by the destruction of that first marriage.
I walked away from God for ten years.
I walked away from God for ten years. It is a very painful time in life when you don’t recognize how far in the darkness you are and then you keep going. Because I was so oppressed, I was spiritually anxious, and I went into Hinduism. I started looking for what I thought was the light, but when you are that far into the enemy’s deception you don’t even know where the light is. So I started going to yogis, practicing yoga and learning how to relax. I wound up bowing down before little black idols in India, breaking all the commandments except murder. It took a miracle of God to bring me out of this.
“Gene, I have kept you as long as I can. If you take one more step in this direction, I will let you go forever.”
God let me go to the end of my rope, where I had a personal encounter with Satan one night on a riverbank in Nebraska, after coming back from India. God gave me an ultimatum, and though He has never spoken to me in an audible voice, when God wants you to know something you will get the message very clearly. In my heart that night I knew He was telling me, “Gene, I have kept you as long as I can. If you take one more step in this direction, I will let you go forever.” I knew that was the end.
Praise God that there were people praying for me, and this is one of my miraculous stories in coming back to God and being filled with the Holy Spirit. When I began to teach at the University of Nebraska after I came back from Spain, I taught the American novel course, and there was a Christian woman in that class who began to pray for me. She would witness to me, and she would come in and say, “Mr. Russell, I don’t really think the things you are talking about are from God,” because I would talk about all the things of eastern meditation in class at times. She took my name and told my situation to her ladies’ prayer group, and every week for four years they prayed for me while I was in the depths of darkness. I can remember wandering around India as a seeker, going to a darkened hole to meditate, but God wouldn’t let me go because those people were praying. I know that the night I had the personal encounter with Satan, there was an intercessor praying for me, or I wouldn’t have made it through.
I visited one church where the pastor had been a Baptist minister at one time, but he got filled with the Holy Spirit, so they threw him out. This was in the early 70’s, and he had a very successful church. I can remember how, as a student in my university days, I had laughed at the Pentecostals. One of the young men who was a Pentecostal kept trying to tell me that there was more, and I just said, “Well, I’m happy with what I have.”
If you’re happy with what you have, maybe you’re afraid of the light, or maybe you’re flirting with the darkness, and there are a lot of questions you need to answer. Time is short, and we are accountable for everything we do. So I wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit until I was 37 years old.
At this church, at the end of the praise and worship, they had a time of turning around and greeting everybody around them. That lasted maybe two or three minutes, and they turned back and started to sing another charismatic chorus. I felt a hand on my left elbow; I turned around, and there was the lady who had been praying for me for four years. She said, “Why Mr. Russell, did you finally get your head straightened out?” I laughed and said, “Yes. I did.” She said, “I’d like you to meet the women who have been praying for you all this time.” That’s one of the wonderful blessings that people who pray get. One day God will show them the fruit of their prayers. I love those women and will never forget them for what they did, because they probably saved my soul. I went to their prayer meeting the following week and met all five of them. What a wonder, what a wonder. That was the beginning for me of really walking with God.
After being filled with the Holy Spirit and coming back into fellowship, I was so filled with remorse for the wasted time. So filled with remorse for bowing down to false gods and involving myself in everything that God tries to spare us from. I had indulged in astrology, palmistry, idolatry, witchcraft, and every kind of occult thing because I had a spiritual hunger. I wanted to know the truth, but I was so blinded that I couldn’t find it. When I came back, I was so filled with remorse for that, and I wanted to walk so closely with God; for the first five years of my return with the Lord, I had a supernatural walk with God. I could hear His voice, and I never doubted Him because I knew what He had done for me. His Word became alive to me, and it just leapt off the pages of the Bible. I wanted to go back to a Bible College to fill my spirit back up with the Word of God. I had the intimacy with God that I had always desired, and I had a faith that I thought could never be broken.
But, wherever God works, the enemy works, and it was at the Bible school I once again fell for the counterfeit. There was a beautiful woman again, and I had fallen in love with her parents first because her parents were my classmates, and they were so godly. It looked like I was going to have the thing I had always desired in life...a godly family and an extended family of godly people. All of her brothers and sisters were really committed and full of Christians. But it wasn’t right and you can’t make right what God hasn’t made right. Again I lacked instant obedience to the Lord, and I tried to insist on my way. If you insist on your way you are breaking one of the commandments that Paul gave in his epistle to Titus. If you want to be an overseer, one of the first qualifications is that you must not be self-willed. ‘For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God; not self-willed...’ Titus 1:7 (KJV). Even in one area of your life, if you are self-willed, you can undercut all that God wants to do.
For a couple of years I was so wounded I didn't even want to see people.
The consequence was that just being in an emotional attachment opened the door for me to be severely wounded spiritually because that family situation blew up in my face. Her parents turned on me as did the lady, and I walked away wounded like I had never been in life. I had always been able to instantly forgive, and I had always been resilient, but I never knew that you could have your spirit sliced open and ripped in half. For a couple of years I was so wounded I didn’t even want to see people. I virtually became a hermit. I couldn’t find work, and I was literally starving. I can remember walking the streets looking for scraps from the garbage cans. I went to the school because children would throw away their sandwiches or their fruit, and I would find it and eat it. So I went through some very bitter, hard times. I think God allowed me to suffer, so that I would never lose compassion for those who are down and out. I would really understand what it means to be homeless, what it means to be out of work and not be able to find work. The good news is that God doesn’t leave you there when you are seriously seeking Him.
Step by step, year by year, God brought me back into a place of stability, even though I went through enormous amounts of rejection, because by this time I was a middle aged man who had nothing. Do you think that most women who are young and are looking for a mate are going to look for an older man who has nothing? Who looks weird because he has a Ph.D. but he can ’t even earn a living? Yet God finally brought a woman who saw something beyond the natural. This was after being single, after my first divorce, for 23 years. God brought to me a woman who could see the good hand of God upon my life. She saw the call and believed in me. We met because we were both doing volunteer work at a Vietnamese Baptist church. She had a call to missions, and I’ve always had one because I started doing missions work to Mexico when I was in college, and in fact, after we were married the first missions trip we took was to Mexico for a week.
I married Gail in 1994, and during the first seven years of our lives together, God took us in missions work through five countries of the world. He re-established my teaching career, because overseas they recognized the value of all the education I had. So I could teach in Indonesia, China, and Taiwan. When I came to New Zealand I could at least teach English as a second language to Chinese students. Now I’m approaching retirement age, but I still have all the building skills that God has given me through the years. So I know that God is not through with me, but I think that if anyone reads this or hears this testimony and is young and wants success in life, if you want God’s blessing in life, there is only one way. It is the Bible way. It is building on a solid foundation. Paul said that he laid the foundation of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). You have to lay that foundation in your life, and everything you build on it must be built consistently, carefully, and steadily. When that happens you won’t see instant success, and instant success can be one of the greatest curses, but if you persevere in doing things God’s way, the consequences at the end of your life will be great. You’re going to have riches and treasures that you cannot possibly even anticipate.
I know that because I have made an effort, the fact of the missions work we have done...even though I have never been in a pulpit ministry since I was filled with the Holy Spirit some 27 years ago...I know that I have been back on track with God. God has blessed me enormously just by letting me speak His truth to people in different parts of the world. I will take those riches any day.
If this testimony helps someone, that’s the purpose of it. Young people have to follow God’s way, and there are no short cuts. If you have to suffer, take it like a good soldier because promotion will come if you persevere. God is going to reward you greatly if you make a commitment to Jesus and never turn to one side or another, regardless of the cost.
ACCEPT THE HAND OF GOD UPON YOUR LIFE
1) Have Faith In God – ‘By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek after him’ (Hebrews 11:5-6).
2) Turn Away From Your Sins And Walk In The Light Of God – ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret’ (Ephesians 5:8-12). ‘Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God’ (Romans 8:8).
3) Call Upon Jesus As Your Lord and Savior – ‘He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). ‘Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13).
4) Find A Good Bible Believing Church To Attend – ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship’ (Acts 2:42). ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25).
5) Pray And Intercede For Those Around You – ‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all goodness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
6) Study The Word Of God – ‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
7) Share This Good News With Others – Jesus said, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him’ (Mark 8:39). He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16).
BE FAITHFUL TO JESUS
If you would like to contact Gene Russell, you may do so with this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to read my wife's born again testimony, you may do so by clicking on the following link: The Gail Russell Story
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
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JESUS DID IT! - or - JESUS DID IT!
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God; to be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life.
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