Darrell Velegol’s Christian testimony

 

It took me about 12 years - from the time I was born until seventh grade - to realize that
everything could be engineered. When I was in grade school, I learned as much as I could
about math and science. And somewhere at about age 12, my Dad showed me how to use
the Newton-Raphson method to compute roots to algebraic equations. He taught me some
of the fundamentals of fluid dynamics and heat transfer. But it took me another 12 years
- with some painful schooling - to realize that I could not engineer everything. During that
time God used various people in my life to build my trust in the Bible, to draw me toward
a relationship with Jesus Christ, and then to make a commitment to doing things Jesus' way.

I was raised in a church-going home in Weirton, West Virginia. Our family had four kids;
I was the youngest. We were a close family, but I had no idea about "the gospel message".
I thought I could get to heaven by trying harder and being a "good person". Now I must say,
although I didn't know it at the time, someone did have a great influence on my life when I
was young - my Grandpap. I can still recall him lighting up as he talked about the Bible.
And while I dismissed most of what he said because he was not a "man of science", without
my knowing it he had in fact planted a seed of faith in me.

By the time I finished my first year of college I had essentially dismissed the Christian
faith. My courses in physics and chemistry and engineering emphasized to me that science
had all the answers, and I didn't need the "mythology" of religion. If we could engineer
anything, where did God fit in? Near the end of my degree program, I started dating a young
lady, and we dated for several years. Eventually we got engaged to be married, and life was
going great. Until 1994. My engagement broke off, and I felt a deep despair in my life. And my
view of God changed when that relationship broke off. For the first time I realized something
that I could not engineer: a perfect relationship. I didn’t have control over people and their
feelings. And so without knowing why, I trusted that there is a God who does have control, and
I started reading the Bible to get me through that difficult time. I didn't yet understand that God
wanted a personal relationship with me, but the Bible gave me comfort and got me through.

A few months later, while working on my PhD program, I was flying to Utah to a national
chemistry conference. I sat in the front section of the airplane, and as the door was closing,
an elderly woman boarded, making quite a ruffle since she required a walker. Later in the flight
she began talking with me in a very slow and unpolished voice. And I was a bit annoyed talking
with her … until she started quoting from the Bible: "Do you not know? Have you not heard? …
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They
will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint." How could she remember all those verses!
And then she said, "Many people are happy to talk about god or the lord, but they're afraid to
say the name JESUS." And she looked right at me. This woman - who I still keep in contact
with - showed me the importance of memorizing Bible verses, and got me thinking not just about
God, but about Jesus Christ.

A few years later, I met another person who challenged me. She drew me out of my stale
relationship of facts and theories about Christianity into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We were having dinner one evening, and I was boasting proudly that one of my strengths was
"knowing
when people were doing right and wrong." She was not impressed! She asked me,
"Well who doesn't know when they're doing something wrong? But the question is, how do we
show that person the grace of God?" And the whole idea of grace - that God blesses me even
though I do not deserve it - finally struck me. It wasn't long before I felt called to be publicly
baptized - submerged in water with 200 people watching! For me it was a struggle with
embarrassment (for various reasons) - I had to forsake some of my roots with my family and
had to say to Jesus, "You are in charge now; I want to do things your way because I love you
and trust your word in the Bible." And that commitment in baptism, after so many influences,
has made a huge difference. And as for that young lady, praise the Lord, I married her, now my
wife Stephanie.

So how has knowing Jesus Christ changed my life?  My life is all about the “Good News” now.
1) God accepts me and loves me no matter what.  How many people can anyone say loves them
no matter what?  God does.  2) God has a plan for my life.  He uses all my past experiences, all
my strengths, all my passions, for His purposes.  No matter how badly I screwed up yesterday,
there is a brighter tomorrow!  A new beginning!  3) God provides for my needs.  He provides
food, and companions, and transportation, and whatever else I need from day to day.  And
4) God gives me a new beginning, each and every time I go astray (which is often!).  Praise the
Lord!  When I was a boy, I learned this prayer, which is what Jesus said in the Bible:

Our Father in heaven, Holy is your name.
Your Kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.  Amen.