Matthew Harding and his family.
Matthew Harding and his family.

Lately, Matthew Harding and I have become good friends ever since I interviewed him for this article. We have talked about many interesting topics and recently he gave me permission to share his testimony on my website. I find it amazing!

My family followed the cult leader, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He said that he could walk through walls and fly. Wow!

Mom and Dad said I would learn how to walk through walls and fly too. I’d be like a super hero … well actually, I was told that I was a god and that I just needed to become enlightened to that fact.

This was pretty exciting news to a young boy, and the importance of it was critical for me because it might save me from Lance Lombardo and Vinnie. They were two older kids in Middle School who had marked me as one to be destroyed. Their exact words were, “We’re gonna kill you!”, and I believed them. I spent a lot of time between classes looking over my shoulder, being chased through the halls, and avoiding the bathrooms.

It wasn’t until I came across the Satanic Bible that things started to change. When word got out that I was a Satanist, even the bullies thought it better to leave me alone.

I look back now and see all the confusion, fear, vain imaginations and pride that I had succumbed to, and it rends my heart as I look at the lost youth of today.

I remember when I was about seven or eight years old standing in the basement of our house and feeling so overwhelmed with thoughts of “Who am I?”, “Who is God?”, “Is there a God?”, “Is He just a force like in Star Wars or is He a personal God that I can know?” The yearning to know these things was extremely powerful.

A few years later I was again in the basement when I tuned into the ending of a Christian television program. An old woman sat alone in the dark waiting with wide eyes. There were noises outside, and ominous music playing in the background. A thief broke in. Then to my complete surprise, the old woman shared with the thief how she loved him, and that Jesus loved him, and she told him to take what ever he wanted.

This was different from anything I had ever seen before. At the end of the program they shared some scripture references and told the viewers to find a Bible and look them up. I thought I had seen a Bible in our home, but I also knew that my parents didn’t like what was in those pages. So I snuck up stairs, closed the door to the den, and tried in vain to find the references spoken of on television. I just couldn’t figure out what the numbers meant.

It would be about ten years before I would open a Bible again. Instead, the lies of the prince of this world, the vain imaginations of a deceived young man, coupled with drugs and alcohol finally brought me to the ledge of a tenth floor window. I was only eighteen.

Preparing to jump, I looked down the road and saw my cousin and roommate coming my way. I thought it would be a terrible thing to kill myself right before their eyes. So I went back inside and waited for them to pass. Thankfully, they came up to my room, and my cousin, suspicious of the way I looked, intervened and invited me to live with their family that summer. If I had jumped that day, I would have found myself in Hell.

Earlier that year, a young woman read to me from the Bible, trying to reach me with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I stared dumbly through drunken eyes, and only wished to get away.

My addictions grew and my burden of sin weighed greatly upon me. I was lying and cheating my way through college. And I was a thief … even stealing a car. Then when I was a Junior, something unusual happened. I sat alone in a coffee shop, caressing the drugs in my pocket, wondering if there was more to this life, and feeling so very sad.

A stranger approached the table, and told me that there was no sin too great, and that God could forgive me. The stranger walked away. I felt a surge of hope. I took the drugs and threw them in the garbage right there in the coffee shop. It was a work of mercy on God’s part, in that, my addiction lost most of its stranglehold upon me, even though I did not yet know Him.

The next year, as a Senior, I was giving my new age testimony to a young lady, telling her that all paths will, in the end, lead to Heaven. Kind of like a pyramid with the base being the religions and philosophies of this world, all leading upwards and knowingly or unknowingly arriving at the same place, the heavenly point.

She started to cry. She said that I and all her friends and family who did not know Jesus Christ as their Savior were going to Hell. I was shocked and I thought it would be only too kind of myself to steer her clear of such a narrow way of thinking.

Then she invited me to go tobogganing. I accepted, only to find out she hadn’t said the word “tobogganing” but “to-bible-study.” I went. The preacher said that Jesus Christ was the only way to Heaven, and neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

I was so angry that I wanted to attack him and rip his throat out. I considered myself a ‘hippy man’, priding myself in letting all believe whatever they wanted … it did not matter. Yet, why was I so extremely angry at this teaching if it did not really matter. I could not shake the idea that Hell just might be real and that I might be headed for it.

A few weeks later, while walking on campus, an old man who I had never seen before and never saw again, approached me and handed me a Bible. He was a Gideon (or maybe an angel). I began reading the Word of God for the first time. Troubled by these born again Christians and their narrow way, but unsettled by the gospel I was hearing, I asked God to show me if it was actually true.

The Word suddenly came alive. I began in the book of John, and as I read about Jesus Christ I started to think that perhaps I was in fact Jesus returning to the earth. Terrible! I know. As I kept sinning, and reading God’s Word, I saw how utterly foolish I was, how depraved, and how in need of a Savior.

After some weeks of reading the Bible every day, the light shown in the darkness of my heart. I understood the Gospel enough to respond as a child might. I repented, trusted, believed and confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was twenty two.

For the first time in my life, I was on the true path, the only path, to understanding who God is … who I am … and what He would have man to do. I was amazed to find out why the rainbow was in the sky, and that Adam and Eve were real people who lived less than 6,000 years ago, that evolution was a lie, that Heaven was a real place and that God was preparing a place for me there … and that He loves me. Amazing!!!

Up until then, I had been trying to enter into the magical worlds that I had read of in fantasy novels and the writings of Eckankar for years. I was already scheduled to go on a new age drug pilgrimage in Thailand to aid in this respect. But I was consuming the Word of God in giant size bites, purposefully reading the New Testament over and over, and I could see that my former paths were in direct opposition to God and His ways.

And so began an incredible journey to Thailand, traveling about the countryside visiting true and false missionaries and being attacked, strangled, and miraculously saved by God. But those are stories for another day.

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