Having entered into a real relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ on June 3, 1980, I had asked God to help me and guide me. I believe that He helped me through my high school years and providentially guided me to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa, where I majored in Computer Science and minored in Mathematics from 1984 to 1989.
As a freshman in college, I attended a Bible study in Rob Nickel’s dorm room across the hall from my dorm room. Rob had just given his life to Jesus and had invited the Maranatha Campus Ministries pastor (Franco Gennaro) to host the Bible study. Although I had grown up in a denominational church and had a real relationship with Christ, I was hearing the Word of God in a powerful way. Perhaps it was more powerful because of the exemplary lifestyle of the teacher, or perhaps it was the way the Word was being relevantly shared, or perhaps my heart was at a place to receive in a greater way than ever before. I was hungry to learn more of the Bible and I had many questions that would often be postponed until the next week’s session (or later).
Soon afterwards, I visited the church that Rob attended and where Pastor Franco was the pastor. At Maranatha church, I met many other young people my age that were excited about God and living for Jesus. They didn’t just read their Bible and pray once in a while; they read their Bible and prayed everyday. I was amazed at their passion for the Lord and their dedication to serve Him, yet I did not think that I could be like them.
Starting the new year of 1985, I purposed to dedicate more time to God. I joined Maranatha and was baptized in water by immersion in February, and then baptized in the Holy Spirit in March, and became a more effective witness and servant for Jesus. My life was changing everyday. I started to grow exponentially spiritually, as I would spend at least one hour a day in prayer and another hour a day studying the Bible (often 3 hours studying the Scriptures) everyday for the next 4 years. I was witnessing all the time and encouraging everyone I knew to come to church with me. Soon I was recognized as a leader within the church and had responsibilities for a “home group” and was also teaching foundational truths to new believers in a class at church.
With zeal to serve God and the church, I desired to further my spiritual growth by working towards “Christian Worker Status” within Maranatha Campus Ministries. I already enjoyed studying and learning in a disciplined way, and now I could get credit for some focused studies. Although I was not intending to become a “full-time” pastor or Christian Worker, I was interested in enhancing my knowledge and spiritual life to be more effective in my witness and service for God and to be recognized as having attained a certain level of spiritual proficiency.
Christian Worker Status required one to write a short essay summarizing some audio-tapes of prominent preachers and the topics within Bob Weiner’s workbooks, Bible Studies for a Firm Foundation and Bible Studies on the Overcoming Life. I was in no rush, so I slowly and thoroughly studied, learned, and wrote on these topics from 1986 till 1989. Since the Maranatha denomination (founded by Bob Weiner) dissolved in late 1989, with each church becoming autonomous and self-governing, Christian Worker Status was no longer an entity to be obtained. Yet, the spiritual growth that came from this work has been immeasurable and self-rewarding!
Douglas E. Woolley