Salvation Testimony and Call to Ministry of Pastor Daniel Pero
I was born into a Catholic home and was christened as an infant. I made my first communion and confirmation; and as I grew, I felt I probably might go to Heaven when I died. I thank God for my parents who hauled me to mass every week while I was growing up; for it was there I learned about God, the Ten Commandments, Heaven, Hell, and the necessity of trying to “be good”. Due greatly to the love of my mother and her prayers to God for me, I lived beyond my teen years!
God began working in my life.
Back in 1972, a man came into my neighborhood and tried to share the Gospel with me and several close mates. He questioned us concerning eternal life and shared John 3:16 with us. We all thought he was a bit funny and laughed him off, but something he said began to niggle at my conscience straight away. “Where would I go when I died?” That fella never came back to our neighborhood to my knowledge, but God used him to plant a seed in my heart.
Some time later, a near neighbor told me that there was only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, so why confess our sins to a priest? That suited me fine, so I stopped going to confession. The summer of 1976, at 16 years old, I earned my full driver’s license. I skipped out of mass one day and took the family car for a drive, leaving them back at the church. As I turned on the radio expecting to hear some music, I heard instead a well-known American evangelist, Billy Graham, preaching the Gospel. For the first time in my life, I heard you must be born again and that God knows all our sins. I spun the car around and headed back to mass!
Due to a disrespect for my father’s counsel and a love for wrong friends, I was involved in over a dozen serious vehicle accidents before age 18. It wasn’t that I was a bad driver. In fact, I was never ticketed for an accident! It was just that I was not willing to part with my drunken or stoned friends even with my parents’ counsel to avoid such “cronies”. God was sparing my life, but I grew fearful that I may be killed before I made my last act of contrition.
I needed to get away from the crowd with whom I was running.
After graduation, I joined the United States Navy. I sailed around the Mediterranean and visited multiple countries in Europe. Little did I know how God would use that two-year investment in my life. After a transfer, I joined a ship in San Diego, California. While stationed there, I had reconstructive surgery done on my jaw. My teeth had to be wired shut. As a result, I had to give up many of my vices; including smoking and drinking. I also had a good bit of free time for reflection. I mulled over the state of my life. I was in the Navy, but I was beginning to love the drink. Something I swore I would never do, since my father had had such a difficult time handling alcohol. His actions were the source of so much strife and heartache in and around our family. Yet . . . there I was . . .sliding down the same slippery slope.
God intervened again!
While I was in the queue awaiting my first real haircut at Great Lakes Naval Base, a man from a group called the Gideons was handing out little New Testaments. I took one and stowed it away in my sea bag as a possible ‘good luck charm’, thinking maybe I might refer to it later if my ship ever went into combat. I figured I might need God then. One day in the hospital, I found that little Bible and randomly opened it to look around therein. I turned to this passage:
I suddenly realized that I had sinned at least 489 times, and that I must be right at the brink of the end of God’s mercy! Had He not spared my life already so many times in 19 years?!! I feared my end was near.
After my recovery, I was able to get around again. I started finding Gospel tracts on buses or in phone booths or someone would hand one to me. I read one that really got to me called, “This Is Your Life.” I began to fear that I may not live to see my 20th birthday. When we crossed the International Dateline en-route to the Philippines on 11 August 1980, we immediately leapt into the 12th day of August (thus missing my birthday on the 11th). My superstitious background had me paranoid; yet I still did not turn to Christ.
God did not give up.
Our ship arrived in the Philippines, and there the Lord allowed me to help train a new man on board. During his training, this guy started telling me Bible verses; and how you could know for sure where you were going when you died. This contradicted what I had learned from my religion, but soon I was under deep conviction.
God turned up the heat… in the Bering Strait of Alaska, no less!
I was hearing these verses and more like them from my trainee, PJ. They made me realize I was in desperate need of God’s forgiveness. He also told me about I John 1:9 and Romans 10:9-10. I knew I needed to make a decision to trust Christ as my personal Saviour, but I was afraid that I could not live up to His standards. The sudden death of my father made me realize how fragile life really is. I took some time off for his funeral, but when I returned to the Philippines, I was broken.
I decided to live a better life, so I quit smoking and carousing; and started doing ‘the best I could’.
After two weeks or so, I was getting bored; so a shipmate and myself began making our way to shore on liberty. In a most unusual way, God got a hold of my heart before I left the ship that afternoon.
On 18 December 1981 at about 5 in the afternoon, God led PJ to intercept my trajectory. He probably had no way of knowing the effect his precise question would have on my life, when he asked me the following: “Hey, Dan. Where do think you will go, if your Jeepney flips over tonight and you die?” I was stunned. My time had indeed caught up with me.
The penny finally dropped!
The seed God had planted in my life through so many encounters with His Word, brushes with near death, and finally this Irish American who knew the Lord himself and was diligent to share with me, crescendoed to a climax. What would I do?! I decided right then and there to put my full faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I turned my back on my friends and my future, as I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to save my soul right there in the passageway of that ship! And He did. I was saved!
My shipmate, who was headed off on liberty with me, was confused; and PJ was skeptical. But I was saved and went that night instead with PJ to my first of a multitude of Bible studies. I was a brand new Christian. For those who knew me before then, I can only plead your forgiveness for my selfishness and any pain I caused.
After two years of discipleship, I left the Navy and went off to Bible university. It was there I met my wife, Sharon. After graduation, we visited Bolivia, South America, as part of my school requirements to receive a degree. While there, I realized I needed more training in the local church. I decided to follow an invitation to become youth director at our home church back in Michigan.
Giving the Gospel to my family became my priority; but after a while, God burdened me for Roman Catholics who know about Christ, yet may not know Him personally. After contacting Baptist World Mission and completing their application form, I received an invitation to begin praying about the possibility of assisting in a church-planting work in Ireland. At a mission conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we met an Irish man and his wife (whose parents worked in Ireland). Through them, we received an invitation to “come over and help”. When we visited, we decided these were the people with whom we should begin working. So we did! Having been here now for many years, we look forward to God’s continued work on the Island; praying especially for an Irish pastor to be called to lead the church in the future.
Everyone is born into a family that has a belief system, even if they are atheists. But every man, woman, and child must make a decision concerning what they will do with the resurrected Christ; Who not only made the world and all things therein (Colossians 1:14-18) but also came into the world to save us from eternal separation from God in Hell. (John 1:1-13)
A favourite Bible passage of mine is: