Sudden Conversion

NOTE: Today’s guest post is from Helen Turner. She guest posted back on October 21st about not putting God in a box. I asked her to share her salvation story because it clearly illustrates how God pursues us. It’s not only touching, but demonstrates that God is not limited to our knowledge and experiences, but moves how he wants to. And it’s all for our good and often for the good of others around us.

Photo Credit: RondellMelling (CC)

Photo Credit: RondellMelling (CC)

God was wooing me all my life. My momma was a godly and praying woman. She started off attending an Evangelical church, then switched to a Baptist one, then eventually settled at a Jehovah’s Witness church. She read the Bible all the time and talked to us about it, and taught us great morals. Yet, growing up, I really didn’t know much about God, and I knew even less about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 

When I moved out on my own, I loved to party and dance. I had lots of fun, friends, and dates, but I wasn’t interested in settling down like many of my friends were. I wanted to pursue other opportunities. Back then (in the ’60’s), if a woman wasn’t married by her mid-twenties, people feared she’d end up an old maid. At least that was what my good-meaning friends and relatives would say to me, but I didn’t want to get married just to be married.

Growing up, I knew this guy, Ruben Turner, because my uncle married his aunt. So their children were our mutual first cousins. And my best friend married his first cousin. We would see each other from time to time, but I wasn’t interested in him.

When one of our mutual cousins died, my dad wanted me to attend the funeral. I didn’t really want to go, but I went for Dad’s sake. Ruben attended the funeral with his family. At the church, I was really thirsty— it was a hot, summer Virginia day. Somehow, I knew that Ruben’s parents had water in the trunk of their car. Since I was standing near Ruben, I said to him, “I sure would like some water.” He said to me, “I’ll get you some water if you will let me take you out.”

I said yes only because I really wanted water. We dated for a while, but I wasn’t really into him. We just went out to have fun — at least that was my attitude. He went into the service shortly after we were dating. We wrote letters back and forth, but once he went overseas, we eventually lost contact.

While he was gone for three years, I dated other men, including one who wanted to marry me. He even took me to Ohio to met his family, but I knew in my heart that he wasn’t the one. Shortly before breaking off that relationship, God spoke to my heart— I didn’t even know who that voice belonged to, but I felt a peace when he spoke. He said, “I have someone for you.” I broke up with my boyfriend because I knew he wasn’t the one.

Two weeks later, Ruben was out of the service. We reunited and got back together. This time, I knew that Ruben was meant for me. He came home in August of 1970, and we got married in March of 1971. Neither of us was saved.

I am not sure why this next incident happened except that the God, through the Holy Spirit, was wooing me. About seven years later, I was standing outside in the yard by our driveway. Suddenly, God’s presence fell on me like nothing I had ever felt before. I knew this was God’s presence, but I didn’t even know what this meant except I felt as if I was made new. The trees, the grass, and the flowers all looked brighter and newer. I felt freer than I had ever felt before.

I was so ignorant of God’s ways that I didn’t even know the sinner’s prayer. I had never said it, but I knew I was saved. I really didn’t know anything about salvation except growing up, I knew that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. But for some reason, no one explained what his act meant for me personally–at least, I never took the time to seek the truth about Jesus and how his death and resurrection applied to my life. I was water baptized in the Baptist church at thirteen years old, but I still didn’t bring Jesus into my heart.

Until now. I had this deep hunger and thirst that I never had before. I started reading the Bible because I wanted to know all about God. Ruben was taken back by my sudden change. He said to me, “Every time I see you, you’re reading the Bible. What’s wrong with you?” I couldn’t help that I was growing hungrier for God.

I started reading the Bible chronologically, reading from the Old Testament, but after a while, I knew that I needed to know more. I moved to reading the New Testament, and I understood things clearer.

During this time, I had experiences with God. Sometimes I felt overpowered by him that I wanted to run. I would hold onto the bedpost to keep from running around the bedroom. I would say out loud: “I sure do feel like running.” 

Like I had mentioned earlier, I grew up attending a Baptist church, but it was very conservative. They never talked about the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, or about running. So, I didn’t know what was going on with me. I did share my experience with a woman we knew. She was an older woman who only wore white. We called her Momma Chambers. She was friends with Ruben’s mother.

She said to me, “Sister Helen, people run.”

“What? You say that people run?” 

One day, Momma Chambers asked me if she could come with her crew to our house for a Bible study. I told her yes. 

What I didn’t know was that this group was from a holiness church. Their women only wore dresses or skirts—no pants. And they didn’t wear earrings or any make-up. That night, I wore pants, make-up, and earrings. When I noticed that the women in the group were wearing either dresses or skirts, I felt self-conscious about wearing pants. 

During the Bible study, I felt this overwhelming presence fill me. I felt so overpowered by the Holy Spirit that I began to shout— that was very strange behavior for me because I was very conservative. I had never shouted a day in my life. I had heard about people shouting in church before, but I thought they were putting on. And now, I was shouting while lying on the floor of the family room–I didn’t even know how I moved from the chair to the floor. I was wearing short boots that night. While I was on the floor, my feet kept swaying back and forth. I tried to stop them from moving around, but I couldn’t. Then these strange tongues came out of my mouth. I didn’t even know what they were. I said, “What is this?”

Momma Chambers said, “You’ve got the Holy Ghost.”

I said, “What’s the Holy Ghost?”

The group couldn’t believe it. They said, “You mean, you’ve got the Holy Ghost while wearing pants?” They learned something too.

Ruben was in the kitchen, next to the family room, studying. When he was drafted into the Army, he had another year left in college. When he got out, he returned to the university to finish his degree. That night, he was mad because I had invited these people —most of them were strangers– to our house. He didn’t want any part of this Bible study. Well, when he heard me shouting, he opened the door into the family room. He looked at me then said to the group, ”What have you done with my wife?” He knew that I didn’t shout. He knew that this person acting this way wasn’t me.

My change affected him so much that he started reading the Bible because he wanted to know what had happened to me. He asked a lot of questions and a year later, he got saved.

I am not an emotional person, but when the Holy Ghost fell on me, I felt as though I could run through a troop and jump over a wall. After that experience at the Bible study, I never shouted like that again. Why I did that night, I am not sure.

What my salvation and Holy Ghost experience did teach me was that God knows our hearts. People say that you have to say the sinner’s prayer to get saved, but that’s not always true — at least it wasn’t for me. I got saved in my yard without saying the sinner’s prayer. Yet, I know that some people might need to say the prayer.

I don’t understand all of it, but I do understand that you can’t put God and his ways in a box. For his ways are much higher than ours. And this experience taught me that he is a lover who woos us long before we even know him.

What experience have you had that proved God was wooing you? Please share in Comments below. Thank you.

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About the Author


Friend of God. Writer. Resting in His grace daily.