JAMES ATHERTON'S TESTIMONY
I was born in Baltimore, Maryland on may 13th 1982. We lived in a small neighborhood outside of Annapolis called Herald Harbor. Herald Harbor is where I first learned about the Lord. We would attend church at Warren Willner’s home. When I was nine we moved to Northfield, Vermont and attended services at the Fishermen Ministry.
At age 15 I started to negate the importance of the Lord and started doing my own thing. I began to drink and do drugs a lot. That lifestyle continued for many years even though I recognized I was on the wrong road. The truth is I was enjoying the wrong road. When I graduated high school I attended Norwich University and dropped out after the first year. After that I got a job in the granite industry in Barre, VT. I continued to enjoy the lifestyle I had chosen, work hard and spend my money on what I would call “having fun”. Through this my Mom would bring me the truth and I would agree that she was right, even though I knew she was right it wasn’t important enough for me to change.
In 2008 I took a job in Pennsylvania where I continued the so called “good life”. While in PA I began to drink even more as the gentleman I worked with would visit the bar everyday after work so I did too. After working in PA for 2 years the company I worked for transferred me to Georgia where I took over running their quarry and saw plant. It was a job that required me to be there at sunrise most days and leave after sunset. Both the quarry and the saw plant ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While working there I would go to a place called Whitney’s Cafe. Nice name for a bar. While at Whitney’s I met a girl named Rosemary (who became my wife in 2012).
Working at the quarry became very stressful and I began to have issues like not being able to breathe. I started to become very scared you could say. I knew the only one who could truly help was the Lord, so I called my Uncle Steve (a minister in the Fishermen Ministry) and told him what was going on. At that point I decided I needed to turn my life back over to the Lord. I quit my job at the quarry, which Rosemary (who was my girlfriend at that time) thought was the stupidest thing I could have done. She began asking questions like how are we going to pay the mortgage, internet, tv, and power bill. The only answer I could give her was I know I had to get away from the quarry and the Lord is far bigger than any bill we have. The important thing for me right now is to focus on the Lord and know He is able to provide what I am in need of. I went for an interview at a local automotive parts store and was offered a job. I believe it was the next day while talking with my uncle he suggested I should come out to the minister’s conference, it was in a week.
So I took the last five hundred dollars I had and bought a plane ticket to Texas for the conference. I don’t think Rosemary could have been more upset. I heard things like “you were just offered a job and now you are going to leave for ten days”, or “you didn’t even talk to me first”. I told her “I know this is what I need to do, so I have made my decision”. I went to the parts store and let them know I would be leaving for ten days and that I would understand if they had to fill the position.
While I was in Texas I was baptized with the Holy Spirit. When I returned home I was blessed to learn the parts store held the position for me so I came home to a job. Over the next year or so there was a lot of things that came to pass that were a testimony to Rose about how good the Lord is. Through that Rose began to see the importance of her having a personal relationship with the Lord, so the following year at the conference she accepted the Lord as her Savior and was baptized. It was a wonderful thing to see happen.
The great thing about the Lord is he doesn’t require more from you then you can handle at that time. That said some things needed to be addressed, the biggest one being Rose and I were still living together unmarried. I had a choice to make, separate myself and become platonic with Rose or ask her to be my wife. I chose the latter and we were married in the spring of 2012.
Shortly after our marriage Rose became pregnant and we gave birth to a daughter in late January of 2013. Rose and I decided she should quit her job and stay at home with our child. Now the issue became how are we going to financially afford this decision since I made less in a month at the parts store than in a week at the quarry. The truth is on paper we couldn’t afford it, but we don’t live by paper but by faith! We knew her staying home was the right choice now we had to choose to trust the Lord for our provision. The whole time I worked at the parts store it would seem there was no way to pay the bills every month but the Lord was faithful and every month we were able to pay our bills on time. The key in all of that was to not look at the situation but to look to the Lord trusting that He is well able to provide what we have need of.
I believe it was August of 2012 when my discipler suggested I should open a garage to work on vehicles. My first thought was that he was crazy, I live in a town where I don’t know many people, I live in the county not the city, and there are already quite a few shops here. Nonetheless I was obedient and got a business license. That business was blessed mightily and was one way the Lord provided for us. Had I not been obedient and trusted the Lord I believe we wouldn’t have been able to pay all our bills.
In August of 2013 I put in an application with a steel manufacturing company and was hired in the beginning of September. Since then a lot has happened, we have decided to move to Texas when our house sells. The reason for wanting to move to Texas is two fold, I know being in Texas will bring accountability in the Lord that I need in order to move forward in the Lord, and I have been called to go on the road and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no better place to prepare for that calling than to be around fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
If there is anything someone could take from reading this it would be how much Grace and Mercy the Lord has extended to me even when I had turned my back on Him.