My name is Tony Morin. I'm 27 years old and live and work in Grants Pass OR, having grown up in California. My older brother and I had a loving family, and were raised with the same good morals that every parent tries to instill in their children, but Christ was never mentioned, and the Bible never read. We weren't Christians so far as I could see we were just "good people."
Having been an atheist my whole life (although I did attend quite a few youth group activities with friends, yet as a non-believer still), my life suddenly changed in the summer of 1995 (right around my high-school graduation) when my older brother Sean became a Christian. I had always followed him, so it was when I accepted Christ myself. He sat me down and made me acknowledge that I believed Jesus was the Son of God, and that he died and rose again to pay for my sins. Although I didn't quite understand what I was getting into, I did genuinely accept the message. He gave me my first Bible, and shortly after, I purchased a Strong's Concordance.
I never did attend any church, but instead I just studied the Bible in the comfort of my own home. I think I was too scared. Youth groups even as an atheist were still pretty cool, but church, no way. I remember I did enter a church one time back in those days, and my friend warned me, "If anyone asks if you know Jesus, SAY YES!!" That was interpreted in my mind, "church people are not satisfied with you unless you believe exactly what they believe."
I was scared they were going to lock the doors behind me and force me to believe all these things, and to add to the dilemma, I saw a question on a survey once, asking for denomination, and there were about 40 or so choices! So now, there's 40 different "clubs" that all want to get me to believe like they do, and all 40 of them think that they're right and everyone else is wrong, and these are the theologians and professors, and Bible scholars; really, who am I to know the truth?!
So I studied at home, no pastor leading me a certain way, no Bible studies to control my thinking, just the pure and simple Word of God, and a lot of questions! I was already finding things that didn't seem to match up with the teaching of mainstream Christianity, but again I thought, Who am I to know truth? - I must be confused. So my life went on, studying here and there, noticing changes in me along the way, the sanctification process already kicking in.
But when I moved up here to Oregon, everything changed! It was Spring of 2001. I had a small apartment in town, next door to some Seventh- Day Adventists, a young couple with whom I made friends. They lent out some videos for me to watch dealing with Evolution vs. Creation. I was hooked! The speaker made everything so plain, together with so much convincing evidence.
Being a marathon video watcher, I burned through the whole 7 tape set (each tape being about 2-3 hours), in about 3 days. That was my first major change in belief. God, I believe, was using this to prepare me for some pretty rapid and major changes yet to come.
My friend then gave me a tape dealing with the mark of the beast, along with some other teachings by Adventist speakers. When I showed an interest, and an acceptance, he turned me on to BLTV. I didn't have cable, so all I could pick up were about 3 channels, all a bit fuzzy, except for this one, which never caught my eye before. It came in crystal clear! So again, I was hooked! And without a program guide, I didn't want to miss anything good, so I just watched it ALL the time. What a blessing, I learned so much!! - and in such a short time
The best part of all I wasn't scared. I could learn as much as I wanted without feeling any obligation to join anything. It was safe. So I continued watching. All the teachings fit what the Bible said, even the "weird" ones, like Sabbath observance. All the questions I had growing up were answered.
Everything I found just simply reading the Bible all fit with what I was now learning. Truth, for the first time, was not only plain, and easy to see, but was now something that I could find for myself. The Bible, for the most part, is not hard to understand - just read the thing. We make it hard to understand when we feel we have to choose among everyone else's interpretations of it. Just read it; it was written for the common person to understand. If it says something so very plainly, then that's what it says, even if half the world thinks otherwise.
So after a couple months of being convinced that this church had something right about it all, I told my neighbors I wanted to join them for church. How fun! My first day at church, and I knew more about the beliefs of the church than some people who'd been attending for 50 years! I was welcomed with open arms, and never felt pushed into anything. In fact, I was ready for baptism before I even showed up to church, and yet, no one even mentioned it for like 6 months. I like that, not being pushed into any decisions. I was finally baptized into Christ, and His body of believers, in November of 2001.
I've been attending the Grants Pass Seventh-Day Adventist church faithfully since, and am now heavily involved with the church, being or having been, a youth leader, deacon, public relations representative, pathfinders councilor, music coordinator, choir member, and at times, TV cameraman, videotaping a small part of the KBLN line up for people to watch from the safety and comfort of their homes, just as I did. May those dear people watching be blessed, as I have been.