Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Heritage….My Testimony! Seeing God’s hand in my life

Psalms 16:5-6
5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Born : August 17, 1961 Daytona Beach Florida

Father – Allen L Wingate Sr Entertainer/Rock n Roll (Allen Page) 1957-1963
Evangelist / Pastor 1965 – 1993 Nine (9) Children - Eight (8) living
Mother – Joann Wingate

My father, Allen Wingte Sr (AKA – Allen Page) played in the clubs in Daytona, Cocoa Beach (Space coast) and Memphis, Tennessee where he recorded on Moon Records and had reasonable success for the time period. One of the first time God’s hand was evident to be working in my fathers life, looking back, and ultimately mine was when a day or so before he was slated to be promoted to a nationwide audience on Dick Clarks ‘American Bandstand, the Payola Scandal, in which disc jockeys accepted cash and gifts in exchange for airplay, broke. American Bandstand was removed from the airwaves, for a period of three years and Dick Clark investigated and testified to Senate subcommittees in 1960. Not having the opportunity to be promoted nationwide (and ultimately worldwide) caused us to return to the Space Coast area to continue his music career until about 1963. How do I see God’s hand in this, for my life? God knew what plan he had for dealing with my parents and if my father had been able to achieve nationwide fame & money, it would have been next to impossible for him to be willing to give up such acclaim.

It was not uncommon for the children (five boys at the time) to be taken to the venues that he played in and be there until the show ended many times until 5:00 a.m. in the morning.. There was heavy drinking, smoking, drugs, women and all the evil influences that go along with the entertainment industry life. This is the way we were being raised. My parents then had a sixth child, a girl (finally) Mary Lisa in 1962. She became my fathers pride and joy and he had big plans for her in the entertainment industry, singing, movies, etc..

Until God came on the scene! A close friend and fellow musician, Billy Brown, got saved and began to preach the gospel after only a few months time. Billy was a former entertainer (rock-a-billy/country music), RCA record label artist, who’s promoter became Gene Autry, after RCA decided to drop his contract. Billy began to do evangelistic work and God began to work in his ministry. It was through his ministry and the hand of God that my father got gloriously saved. In the summer of 1963, my little sister, Mary Lisa died on Daytona Beach at three (3) months 10 days old. I was almost three (3) years old. God used the death of the most precious thing that Dad worshipped, his baby girl.

God began to deal with both mom and dad, showing them that they did not have control of their own life and had them come in contact with other individuals that they knew whose lives had been changed by the power of God. Mom got saved first then about six weeks later dad got saved and our lives changed forever. Dad quit the entertainment industry and ultimately began to travel with Billy Brown, both traveling for the Lord, strictly by faith without any assistance of a missionary board, head quarters support or regular offerings from any local congregation.

God began showing Billy and Dad truth of the gospel. Whatever God showed them in his word, they preached it. When God showed them the truth on sanctification, faith, healing or unity and one church, the Church of God, they preached it. From 1963 to about 1968 the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ was preached in various parts of the United States while only living and trusting God through Faith.

Commonly I have heard it told how they left home with a full tank of gas, $5.00 in their pocket and milk and bread at home for the family and trusting God to provide the money to send back to the families (as there were three, Billy’s, Tommy Browns and the Wingate family) for food, needed items and bills. I have heard of many miracles that God wrought because of their faith (and have seen many with my own eyes). Deaf ears opened, crooked eyes straightened out, blind eyes opened, arthritic legs/knees healed, wheel chair bound individuals stand up and walk that had not walked in 5-10 years, appendicitis healed. I saw God raise my father up at a camp meeting in Manassas, Virgina from a heart attack / stroke one night, to preaching a 1 ½ - 2 hour message the following night. It was this kind of faith and trust in God that has given me such a GREAT HERITAGE.

God directed for our family to move to Valdosta, Georgia where Bro. Wingate became the pastor and God used various contacts to bring us around the Church of God, holding the Seventh-seal message of Justification, Sanctification and Unity of God’s people giving the call to all believers to Come Out from all false religion. Through God’s leading we ended up moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1970, where God led Brother Wingate to do full time evangelistic work (again) and travel all over the United States, Canada and Mexico holding revivals and meetings.

While in Ohio, at the age of 11, I came down with Rheumatic fever. Dad (and Mom) were very aware of the extreme danger that I was facing. Dad had Rheumatic Fever at a young age and again shortly after being saved. They asked me if I wanted to go to the doctor or trust in God. From an early age, I had been taught (and led by example) to trust in God. He had healed my brother Allen of deafness, Tommy of Appendicitis and raised Dad up from Rheumatic fever again, shortly after being saved. Trusting in God for all things was a large part of the heritage that God gave me as a young child. I became extremely sick with fevers in the 105 degree range. Mom and Dad getting me up out of bed with me crying/screaming from the pain and fever, putting me in the tub full of ice water to try to keep my temperature down while praying, believing God would heal me, quoting many scriptures of God’s promises……. knowing that Gods word is true ……healing is promised if we will ask, with faith believing.

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely He hath borne our griefs (Hebrew: sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (Hebrew: pains) yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed.

Through much prayer, fasting and laying on of hands by men of God that had faith, God raised me up. I thank God for his faithfulness. There is much more that I could expound upon on this subject of God being faithful and showing his goodness to me and my family. God raising me up from Chorea, also known as St. Vitus Dance, while blessing me with the ability to pass all of my school courses with high marks.

In 1975, the spirit of God, directed Bro. Wingate to move our family and establish the congregation of the Church of God in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. I can testify to God providing for our families needs, through my parents believing and trusting in God in a real way, that cannot be explained any other way. The fact that we moved to Florida with eight children and a congregation comprised of six adults and sixteen children (of which eight was our family), shows the faith and trust that my parents had in God. Until the congregation grew to such size to be able to provide income to support our family, God’s hand was seen each day to provide for our needs. We knew the real meaning of the verse from 1 Timothy 6:6&8, Vs 6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. Vs 8, And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Raising up the congregation, only with the grace and direction of God, showed me the moving of Gods hand in my life for many years.

In 1993,God took my father home to be with him and his reward. This was after a life of faithfulness, service and living and dying the way he preached, by faith. He was only fifty-six (56) years old.

This was the single most earth shaking time in my life. I could not understand how this man, of ‘great faith’, who’s life by 100% example as he taught, preached and lived his Life, could be taken away at such a young age. This shook me to my core and I later came to understand that my faith, trust and strength was more in this man, my father, than what it should have been in and that is my heavenly father, GOD.

It was during this time that God blessed me to write several songs. I had tried previously to write songs but had failed in my endeavors, but God gave me words and tunes that blessed me personally and I believe were sent to give me encouragement through this time of shaking in my life. Looking back in retrospect, I don’t believe I ever really got planted and grounded with God and struggled for a real relationship and experience and ultimately this led to me giving up on myself. I knew that God did not fail me. The church did not fail me. My pastor did not fail me. I failed to do what I needed to do to establish and keep a real relationship with my savior and king and to lean on his strength when the toughest times would come against me spiritually.

To many people looking on within the church, I appeared a rock in my family. One of only two Wingate children that had been faithful for many years in the work of the Church of God in New Smyrna Beach. This was attested to by many saints and ministers in multiple meetings, camp meetings and fellowship meetings, but within myself I found that I was struggling to keep an experience and I did not seek God’s face in the hardest times and leaned on my own understanding and wisdom which failed me. My strength spiritually, had been mostly gained from my father’s great faith but when he was gone, I did not have the proper personal relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ, thereby I was unable to stand.

This led me to give up my experience openly and backslide. This was only a short time after God had mercy on my life when I developed congestive heart failure and I was able to come through a open-heart, double valve replacement surgery with no complications and an extremely short recovery time.

For several years prior, my personal family life and marriage began falling apart. Not being in the spiritual condition that I needed to be in and following God’s direction fully and my wife rejecting counsel concerning friends and influences, destroyed fully what relationship we had including trust, through terrible circumstance, ultimately killing any love we ever had for one another. Believing that my open backslidden condition would be for a ‘short’ time until my marriage issue was resolved and I could be ‘clear’ to obey God without the strife and sin that was ever before me in the home and in my own life, I reasoned that I would soon be back in the fold of God’s people, saved. This did not happen! My wife of nineteen years, filed for divorce and it was finalized within a short time. I was devastated that I could allow sin to control my personal life but also the lives of those that I influenced the most, my children. But without Gods control, sin and SATAN will always control.

I began to partake of worldly pleasures as I reasoned that I might as well try to have some fun and not just be miserable in my sin. After I was unsaved for a period of about a year I met the woman who eventual became my wife, Candy, for the first time. Through some unusual circumstances, we met and over a period of time we grew to love one another. I personally believe that this was God’s ‘permissive will’ (not his perfect will) to allow me to find a good woman to love and one that would help me re-build some self-esteem and respect back to my life which ultimately is what I needed (along with faith!) to believe that I could seek God’s face again.

I made it as clear to her as I could, that some day, if God had mercy on me, to deal with me, that I would get saved. I explained the doctrinal teachings of the Church of God and how getting saved, would affect our relationship. She said she understood what that would mean, but I know that she really didn’t and did not know what that change really meant to us, our home life, social life and relationship.

I believe this is part of the hand of God that he used to start me back on the road to returning to him. Even though we both began to seek much pleasure in sin, for a season, and even though we both could have allowed ourselves to get caught up in some extremely wicked things that could have destroyed us both and our life together, I believe God was faithful to me to allow us to put the brakes on some things and not just give into every sinful pleasure that ‘felt good!’

There are many other examples of faith, which is my great heritage and one that I am asking God to allow me to be an example of (to the believer) in a real way. I have witnessed so much personally that God used, for me to use, in my journey back to him.

It was shortly after our home was decimated by the hurricanes in 2004 that God used an unusual event, in my life that caused me to seek getting to a location that I could get around the gospel to begin rebuilding my faith through hearing the preaching of the word of God. This event was such nature that I have only told two individuals about it as it is extremely personal and humbling that God would do this for me to shake me spiritually. I will not explain this further, as it was and is very personal, but God was and continues to be faithful!

It was through this that too, my wife and I decided that it would be better for us (physically and mentally) to leave the state of Florida. I then began to send out resumes and contact companies outside the state of Florida. In my doing so, I desired to be near a congregation of the Church of God because I wanted to be in a location where if (when) God began to work with me that I would be able to go and get the faith that I needed to be able to make a positive move. My desire also was to be able to listen and gain confidence in that pastor and congregation. All of the localities that I sent resumes to and in all my job searches were within 50-75 miles (+/-) of cities that I believed to have Church of God congregations, throughout the United States.

It was a short period of time that I was contacted by a firm in Memphis, Tennessee. They made me an offer and we put our home up for sale. This was in September, 2006. I then went to Tennessee to get established in the position and flying back and forth every 4 -6 weeks for a week at a time.

I was in Tennessee for a while, when I contacted Bro. Jennings in Forrest City, Arkansas. I spoke to him at great length concerning my desire. For various reasons I did not (or was unable to) attend as often as I would have liked.

In late winter (’06) and early spring (’07). I began to get depressed at not being with my family and with our home not selling. I came home over Memorial Day weekend (2007) and God provided, in a unusual manner, which enabled me to come back to the area. I believe this was God working in my life preparing me for what was to come.

Sometime in early fall 2007, I received a phone call from Bro. Carlos Gonzalez from Plant City, FL. I had known Bro. Carlos when we both were young boys. I did not even know that he lived within 10-12 miles from my home, in Lakeland, Florida. In mid-February 2007, I visited the congregation of the Church of God, in Plant City, for the first time. I believe that I was open and honest with Bro. Carlos and the congregation here as to what my intentions were and what I knew that I needed. One year, almost to the day that God began his work in my behalf for my return to Florida, God saved me at an altar of prayer! He worked with me, dug around and prepared my heart and gave me the faith that I could trust in him to save me and KEEP ME!

On May 25, 2008 God gloriously saved me! Now over two (2) years later, I give God praise and Glory, that I am still saved, sanctified and have complete victory over sin and Satan! I have found that I have unity & fellowship with ALL the saved that God has allowed me to come in contact that are walking in the ‘light of God’. 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another,’
Pray for me that I continue to walk in all light that God sheds upon my path and that I ever stay in the center of his will.

Saints of God please receive admonition.
Please don’t ever take someone coming around the Gospel for a period of time and not going to the altar as a rejection of the Gospel. Please don’t ever stop holding a burden for a soul because they look or act hard on the outside. We never know what God is doing on the inside. Breaking up the stony heart and preparing it for the planted seed to take root, building faith in that individual for them to really believe that God can and will do what he has promised. How do I know? He did it for me!

God has been better to me than anyone I know. I know that many may feel that way but you are not going to take that away from me….!

I have so many stories of the goodness of God and how he led me to the place and the experience that I hold today. It came down to honesty of heart before God, seeking his face, hearing the word of God, gaining faith to be saved and ultimately confessing my sin and forsaking my way to follow God's way.
His way is above our way and his thoughts above our thought!

I ask myself, “Am I continually honest with God in my experience and relationship with him?” I can say yes and AMEN to that 100% and I know it is only God who has helped me to keep it just that way! As a message admonished us, “Brethren, pray FOR ME”……that I stay in the center of His will, that God continue to work with me on the work He wants me to do, now and in the future all for the building up of the Kingdom of God, seeking the Lost …..and dying! Pray for me…that I remain true and faithful…. trusting God with faith unwavering….

This is my testimony of the workings of the hand of God.
This is my heritage........

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