This page is dedicated to the personal recollections of Christadelphians the world over, Past and present, who have kindly offered to share their accounts of how they came to a knowledge of the truth and baptised.
My Name is Sister Leah Schmidt, I live in Iowa, in the USA.
This is the story of how God, in his infinite grace and mercy guided me to the truth.
My mother started studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) when I was 5 years old. We had just moved to Iowa and she didn’t know anyone. When a JW came to our home to preach, my mother connected with what they were teaching. It took my father a couple of years to join her. Today, he is and elder and they both have spent countless hours going door to door. I remember having one birthday, when I turned 6 years old. After that, all holidays, birthdays, standing for the pledge of allegiance was replaced with telling people about the kingdom of God and going door to door and to many meetings.
I was very loyal and obedient up until my teenage years. I have a social personality, so that didn’t help. I didn’t get along with my mother so I moved out of my parents’ home at 16.
I had my daughter, Autumn when I was 19 years and my son Quinn at age 23, out of wedlock with their father. Life was hard. I agonized over my decisions and regretted my situation. I finally found a decent job, and parted ways from my children’s father. I met a humble, yet successful man, we were married in 2000 and we moved to a small town. I went back to school, got my degree and focused on my career. I was determined to be successful (by the worlds’ estimation) and to amend the past. I finally landed a regional leadership position for a large Catholic hospital system. There I found great joy in the encouragement to pray at work and to talk about Jesus Christ’s influence in our jobs. I was shocked they didn’t require me to be Catholic. It took me back to a time in my life I had put up on a shelf for so many years. I hadn’t prayed in a long time, I had thanked God (in my thoughts) many times for all the blessings in my life, sadly, that was the extent of my effort.
Then on May 2nd 2017 I got the call that shattered our family’s life. My son, Quinn was tragically killed by a distracted motorist, at only 22 years of age. My 25 year old daughter, Autumn called me with the news. As parents we know death is inescapable; hearing, facing and accepting your child’s mortality is nothing you could ever prepare for. Not only do you bear the pain of their absence, but the deepest, darkest agony came from knowing how my son would feel over the loss of his life. Quinn and I had recently discussed life and death and he told me he loved life and didn’t want to ever think about dying. I replay this conversation in my head and it brings me to my knees in sadness. He was ‘good’ at life. He knew how to treat people, he lifted others up, he was intuitive, smart, quick to laugh, creative, healthy, talented, hard-working and engaged! He was enthralled by creation. He knew there was a higher power and infinite design to the amazing beauty of the world around him. He was often mesmerized by the power of God’s earth and awesome splendour while I was busy focusing on status and wealth. I missed so many opportunities to share a mutual love for our Heavenly Father. I would give my life to Quinn to have his back in a blink of an eye, but it doesn’t work that way. How helpless and painful this new reality is day to day.
In crippling, all consuming, debilitating grief, I immediately turned back to the JW’s, clinging to my parents and going to back to Kingdom Hall meetings. I remember the first meeting, and I couldn’t believe how it was exactly the same as when I was young. I had been gone for 30 years and it was exactly the same! That realization left a deep ache in my stomach. I couldn’t tell if it was because I was so resistant to being obedient, like I just couldn’t listen to God’s direction and my parents and that I was going to fail him and everyone…again? Is this why my son had died because I was so far out of fellowship with God and had been given every chance to be saved and to save my family? I tried very hard to comply and to read and to study the material that was coming at me from every direction.
The ridiculous truth is I thought I knew what the Bible said. That is how ignorant I was. As a young person I truly believed we were always reading scriptures, and memorizing the books of the Bible, and doing family bible study and answering questions at the meetings from the Watchtower. Reflecting back on it now, we spent most of the time on the material JW produced that referred to verses in the Bible.
However, I knew some truths. I knew my son was unaware of his situation and that he had lost consciousness in death. I knew that Jesus was to return and that Armageddon could be impending and that Jehovah would set up his kingdom on earth someday. Since this is the part I cared about I started reading the book of Revelation. I started looking at end times, reading, listening and downloading anything I could find about Christ’s return. I listened to Seventh Day Adventist and Christadelphian material when it started to pop up online, while I was attending JW meetings and studying weekly. I took notes, I cross-referenced bibles, I went non-stop. I prayed, for help, wailed and cried to God in pain. Miraculously, my job with the Catholic system was eliminated, enabling me to sit in my house for 3 months reading and listening watching and studying and most of all crying to my God.
The Christadelphian videos slowly became my exclusive source of information. I had a check list or better described “a process of elimination” that I used to guide me.
* God has a name, an all-important name, I had known it to be Jehovah, but came to understand it as Yahweh.
*Yahweh has a plan for the earth . His original purpose will be restored, his creation will stand forever.
*Jesus is God’s son, the trinity (I didn’t understand it for long time) but always knew this was false
*Believers must be involved in non-commercialized preaching of the truth, respecting rules of headship
*Have to accept that God is right for demanding death, a sleep-like state until resurrection.
*Believers will care and shepherd one another with guidance and loving kindness. Be like Christ.
I had a major hurdle to ahead of me. The belief of a super-natural Satan used to be on this list. The first time I came across the notion that Christadelphians didn’t support the idea of angelic/Satanic being, I was frightened and I stopped looking at the material for a while. When you spend a lifetime thinking the Satan will possess your mind – this has an unmistakable stronghold on anyone. I underestimated its power until I let God through the help of the Christadelphians unravel it.
I had spent a lot of time in the book of Job, as I felt maybe I could find the answers to why this horrible unbelievable tragedy had come upon me through the life and trials of Job.
I watched the six part study on the book of Job by Brother John Pople. It transformed my thinking. I was blown away about how much sense it made.
I learned about who Jesus really was, and who are faithful followers through Brother Bryan Styles study on Peter, and the book of Joel and the book of Ecclesiastes (all is vanity under the sun). This helped me “let go” of some of my hopes and dreams I so desperately clung to in this flawed life.
I was totally gripped and all-consumed by these teachings. And there are countless other ones. I try to watch every video that is posted. Everything I thought I knew, completely and utterly paled in comparison to these rich, in-depth studies while at the same time my spirit was lifted. The hope and the promise was always the theme or the backdrop of every exhortation. The focus never shifted from the hope of Israel, the ultimate reconciliation from sin and death and Christ’s salvation of his Father’s plan.
I have to give special consideration to Brother Jim Dillingham’s studies. His influence, writings and videos; a 38-part series on Visions of the Kingdom Age advanced my faith and ability to “see” the beautifully complex and sometimes hidden perfection that lies in God’s creation, and mostly in His word. Prophecy and difficult passages, rituals, dreams and symbols were revealed leaving no trace of doubt when delving into Brother Jim’s studies. He takes the challenging structure, and wording of the Bible and walks you through it. His gift is surely providential and so blessed am I to have found this proof to help develop my broken and self-delusional interpretations of many scriptures.
I am so far from where I need to be in terms of knowledge and understanding. I have a lot of work to do. I have a project much like the work Noah undertook in building his and his families’ ark of salvation. Much to learn about the life, the walk, and the mind of Christ. Much to learn about grace and how I can be a part of God’s plan and His will while maintaining the right attitude and setting an example to help others.
As a brother had lovingly relayed to me on the first anniversary of my son’s passing that Quinn’s parting gift to me and to our family was the TRUTH.
I long to embrace my beloved son and never let him go. With God’s loving merciful grace I can now pray that this will come true when our King Jesus Christ returns.
I have many others to thank on this narrow path. The Rockford Ecclesia (3 hours from my home) has been my rock. Brother Jeff and his wife, Sister Crys Maney helped me on my path to repentance and baptism on Dec 23rd 2017. They have graciously come to my home and frequently build me up, by showing love to me and guide me in the grace I must extend to others. I travel for work so I stop and visit Ecclesia’s and brethren in the towns where they reside. They have all lovingly welcomed me. I have Sister Carole Bates in NZ who has guided me by phone and email. And lovingly let me cry on her shoulder. I most recently met a new Brother, John Effingham who also lives in isolation, yet he cares for me and shepherds me as well.
The gratitude I feel exceeds anything else that I have in my life – it is the knowledge of Jesus Christ’s work truth that really does set you free. To know I am on the right path to greater wisdom to learn the priceless value of reverence and fear of God and desperately not wanting to miss out on what He has in store for all of us here on earth. To help others come to this realization. What a gift!
The scripture I adore the most in the entirety of God’s word is 1 Corinthians 2:9 “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined all the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (needs to consider the context. Paul is quoting Isaiah 64. The next verse in Corinthians tells us “But God has revealed them unto us…..” Most of us can see, hear and feel the colossal magnitude of life; the solar system, countless variety of animal life, the mighty oceans, the majestic mountains, the wonder and the mystery of how the brain and the body really work. It goes on and on…how can the world today be so delusional in limiting God’s power by ignoring him and consigning to this life only being a mere 70 years or by strength maybe 80…no way is this our Almighty God’s final plan!
I KNOW God’s righteousness now, His RIGHTNESS. His perfect justice, His unfaltering love for us. He wants us to talk to Him to love Him and come to know Him. Only by cleaving onto him will we be able to continue to survive the ruins of grief and despair that eventually and inevitably comes in this life in the last days of our short lives.
We have so much to look forward to and I cannot wait for His appointed time! Love and Peace to all my brethren. I love all of you with Christ’s example in mind, you are all in my prayers every single day.
Sister Leah Schmidt
Reproduced here with kind permission of Sis Leah Schmidt