Hello. This is the testimony of Roland Henderson. While not a detailed account of my life, this will give a brief look at why I chose to follow Christ Jesus. I turned 68 in July of 2017, and look back with an array of emotions. Good and bad. Good because I know I am heaven-bound. Bad because I wasted so many years running from and rebelling against God. This is a testimony of His mercy and forgiveness and faithfulness despite my own behavior. My prayer is you’ll allow Him to do the same thing for you. No matter how terrible you feel your sins are. No matter what doubts you have. Come as you are. He’ll meet you this instant. Just like you are right now. No need to try to figure it out. God’s already worked it out.
My mom and dad started taking my two older sisters and me to a Foursquare church when I was 12 years old. It didn’t take long before the preacher Billy Adams’ sermons began to work on me through the Holy Spirit. I was being called by God.
I remember the feeling. It was a strange feeling of excitement and severe dread all at the same time. Excitement about making contact with Jesus Christ the Son of The Living God and all that came with it, and the feeling of inexpressible shear DREAD of what it could mean to ignore this gentle wooing in my heart and mind. I was only 12 and, well, I was just a kid. It was all so overwhelming. At last I went forward one Sunday night to the altar and got down on bended knee and said the sinner’s prayer. “Lord please forgive me for all my sins and come into my heart and be the Lord of my life. I accept your free gift of salvation and ask that you write my name in your Book of Life.” or something to that effect. Ahhh, I DID IT. I became a Christian. I was born again. Everything was cool now. I and the Lord are together now, and I leaned and looked into the future with expectant joy and excitement. Where would I end up? How would all this play out over time? I’d almost surely become the next Billy Graham. No doubt about that. YaaaHooo. I was on my way to heaven and was determined to bring as many people with me as possible. I was special. I had special gifts and abilities. Look out world! Here we go. Good ol’ Jesus and me.
This lasted about 2 weeks, I recall. The grinding dreadful reality of serving the Lord and living in this world all at the same time became a complete crushing paradox. One minute I was saying praise the Lord, and the next I was cussing and smoking pot and drinking and acting like a devil with my buddies. It was tearing me in two. I was NEVER going to make it. I thought I was doomed, my dear reader. But God is faithful. He never gives up on you. He never quits. He’s the God of the second chance. This Christian thing was going to be a HUGE problem. After about two weeks I figured I’d have to throw in the towel and just do my own thing and hope to God He’d be okay with it.
Deciding to do my own thing was the perfect choice of the devil. Precisely what He wanted me to do. Do my own thing. Church and the bible and Christians were just not fitting into my plans and lifestyle.
When I turned 13 I ended up in Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall for being “incorrigible”. My dad had the Long Beach Police Department haul me off. They sent me to a place called Camp Kilpatrick, where I served 14 months. Now I was “in the system” and stayed in the system until I turned 25. I served about four-and-a-half years in places like the California Youth Authority’s Preston School of Industry, the most notorious youth prison in America, Youth Training School in Chino California, and many county jails, fire camps, and detention centers. I even made a stop at the Metropolitan State Hospital mental institution at one point to detox off of heroin.
Finally, in May of 1971 I was paroled and back on the street again. All this time I had moments with the Lord. Calling me. Wooing me. Gently nudging me to come back to Him. Sometimes I’d go to church and try to start over. But each and every time I’d slide right back into Roland’s way - the road of self indulgence, self will, the fool’s path to perdition. How and why God allowed this mercy on this side of eternity I’ll never really know. But He did. God is faithful. God is patient. God is surely not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to know Him. Down through the years I was married and divorced three times. I worked in the auto salvage business as a buyer/negotiator. Early 1990’s I went into the real estate seminar business and mortgage brokerage business. Did well and am still in it today. It took a life altering event to get my attention. That happened in the summer of 2004.
I was diagnosed with a stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. It broke my back and my hip and had me in misery for over 2 years, many operations and tons of chemo and radiation. God healed me of it and after a few weeks of “serving the Lord,” I went back to my old drinking, gambling, and reckless, selfish, foolish life. In 2015 I got news I had a stage ll rectal cancer. God healed me from that. It was at about this point I started to seriously consider my ways and where I was headed. In 2016 I got word I had a 3.8 centimeter cancer on my liver. God healed me from that as well. Pastor Mike Maiolo from Mission Viejo Christian Church prayed for me. I am still a work in progress as they say and I still slip with a foul word here and there but I know that I am walking with Christ, and my account is settled with God before whom we will all stand to give account of our lives one day. Receiving Christ is just the simplest thing. I advise that you not try to figure it all out and get every little detail of your imperfect life all lined up and in perfect order. Come to Christ just as you are right now, weak and feeble and full of doubt and questions and why for and how come and what if. Come just as you are. God is waiting for you and so am I. And so are all the great folks at Mission Viejo Christian Church along with Pastor Mike. My prayer is that you’ll surrender and yield to that quiet voice you hear inside. I’ll meet you over there one day dear brother or sister. In the meantime, please email me with the slightest question. I am here for you. All the way.
Most Heartily Yours in Christ