Sometimes its hard to tell what people really want.
This is not the case with Buddy & Judy Luster. Their lives are sold out to Christ.
Last Sunday, they shared their testimony with us & it was a treat. Read along & rejoice at God’s work with us.
Hello, my name is Judy and I was born in Memphis, TN into a loving, Christian home. Our life was centered around our local Southern Baptist Church, local school and my father’s business all within walking distance. I learned to be a good Christian meant that I didn’t smoke or drink or go with boys who did. I walked the church aisle early in life asking Jesus to save me and was baptized. The problems came when I went away to college. When I looked inside for a reason to continue being a good moral person, I was left with, “If my mother ever found out I did that, she would kill me!” There was no belief, faith or personal relationship there, just legalistic religion.
Despair set in as I laid aside the religion of my childhood and began to search for God. In returning home to attend Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), I ran into an old high school friend who invited me to an evening talk by a woman from California. She shared that in her doubt she had prayed, “God, if you are there, please make yourself known to me.” That night I prayed this same prayer and the next morning I woke up with a peace and freedom from the heaviness that I had not had before. From there God began to lead me to other born again Christians who desired to live lives that were sold out to Christ.
This took place during the Jesus Movement. As the hippie movement for end to war and free love was spreading, the Holy Spirit was also moving bringing many to Christ. As a result new churches and gatherings began to form for these new believers. I was attending a Sunday night meeting for college students in a home and hearing stories of radical Christian living. I began to see a picture of what the New Testament church might have looked like. There I met a young man…
I too was raised in Memphis, born into a Methodist family. I was baptized as an infant, joined the church at the age of 8, and taught about early Methodist history. However, there was little emphasis on God’s word, and I have no memory of anyone sharing the gospel or speaking of the reality of knowing God personally.
I always believed there was a God and that he was the One with whom everyone would have to give an account. My teen years were characterized by smoking, drinking and partying. During high school, I attended Young Life camp where I was moved by the gospel. I truly wanted to change and resolved to live life differently but, unfortunately, my resolve apart from God’s power was not enough.
At the University of Tennessee Martin, I became an engineering student and pledged a fraternity. I studied hard during the week and partied even harder on the weekends. I was satisfied with my sinful life, was definitely not seeking God, and at one point I just wanted God to leave me alone.
Back in Memphis a friend took me to a Sunday night meeting of students and ex-hippies. These were regular, ordinary folks like me; but unlike me they were excited about knowing Christ and were not ashamed to identify with him. They spoke boldly and naturally about Jesus and acted as if they actually knew him. God opened my heart that night as the leader shared about Christ. He shared that there was no “middle ground” when it came to Jesus. I realized that I was trying to live with one foot on each side of the fence. In that living room, I said “YES” to Him and began a life changing journey. I began to understand the grace of God and his unconditional love for me. No longer trying to “clean up” in order to be accepted by God, I began to experience his forgiveness and power at work in my life. He began to transform me; old desires and sinful habits started to fall away.
Looking back, I am amazed by His love for me. I am amazed that He would come after one who was not seeking him but was in actuality running as hard as he could in the opposite direction. And I am convinced that I would not love Him now were it not for the fact that he loved me first.
We were just two singles loving the Lord when He brought us together miraculously, but that’s another story for another day. We believed that God had called each of us to serve Him and found that we had a common passion for Him and for His people. In marrying we desired to see the advance of his Kingdom and to demonstrate the love that He has for his bride, the church. Our commitment to His church has always been a focal point of our life. We have sought to be involved in and to nurture Christ centered, gospel preaching churches.
God led us from Tennessee to Ohio where Buddy attended seminary to prepare for ministry. We were involved in ministry and in helping plant a church there. Later Buddy took an engineering job and served as a lay elder. This was an excellent place to raise our four children surrounded by other Christian families working together to live gospel centered lives. Life moved on.
Over our 46 years of marriage, we have lived in Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Ohio, China, Ohio, Tennessee, which is why this testimony could be much longer!
Some years ago, we were first introduced to Sovereign Grace Churches when our oldest daughter join a church in Maryland. We visited. We were amazed at the worship, commitment to keeping the gospel as the main thing and we were intrigued with the church life.
In 2005, Buddy’s job transferred him from Ohio to Chattanooga. At that time three of our children lived in Knoxville and attended Cornerstone Church. So for 6 years we drove to Knoxville to be part of that church. Sundays were great but we weren’t not about share life with other believers during the week.
Now with Trinity Grace Church here in Athens, we have loved worshipping with you! Thank you for welcoming us so warmly!
To God be the glory in His Church….