ABOUT Ted Baccich (my testimony):  

“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.”Martin Luther

I was born in tMartin Lutherhe great city of New Orleans, Louisiana, where I was raised and steeped in the Roman Catholic tradition.  I went to Catholic grammar school, was confirmed as a Catholic at the age of twelve, and graduated from an excellent Catholic high school by the age of seventeen.  I had been to church, pretty much every Sunday for all my life.  It was the way I was brought up.  Throughout my formative years, I saw some things in the church that made sense, but I also saw a lot of things that made no sense at all.  By the time I was a senior in college at the University of New Orleans, I was looking for some answers about God – most significantly – did He really exist?  This of course begs the questions of why and how?  Why would someone who had been raised and steeped in the Roman Catholic tradition question the existence of God?  And how in the world would that someone find the answer to that all important question? 

    The answers are not as complicated as they might seem.  Part of the curriculum that I had studied all my life, including Catholic grammar and high school, was Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  I remember thinking, even at a very young age, that if we were created by God, why are they trying to tell us we evolved from monkeys, and at Catholic schools nonetheless?  The evolutionary philosophy we were taught simply didn’t mesh with Creation, at least not in my mind.  And so I questioned: Why would people who supposedly are the leaders of the “One True Church” (the Catholic Church) as they would call it, try to tell us we evolved from four footed beasts and creeping things?  Their answer was something called Theistic Evolution.  It’s one of the many practices of the church whereby someone from the outside, like Darwin for instance, comes in and says in effect, the church is wrong and the Book of Genesis is a fairy tale.  And then the church, in its cowardly desire to get along with doggone near everyone and not step on too many toes, simply compromises the moral high ground.  Instead of saying no and standing on the integrity of Scripture, the church rationalizes away scriptural principles, and tries to incorporate into Scripture that which the popular culture demands.  Thus, children like me, being raised and steeped in the Catholic tradition, are taught that the Book of Genesis is sort of true and that we also sort of evolved from monkeys.  Is it any wonder I needed an answer to the question of God’s existence?  Who in their right mind wouldn’t?  And so I studied Mr. Darwin’s theory.  I took a long hard look at the church, the Scriptures, and anything else that might provide some answers to what is, effectively, the most important question in human existence.  Is there really a God, and if yes, who is He?              

    My senior year of college would bring me some answers, and set my life on a course that would alter it forever.  By that time in my life, I had reached the point of complete cynicism toward the church and its authorities, as many of the so called men of God were corrupt and effeminate.  I am not talking about guys who were a little limp in the wrist here; I am talking about legitimate homosexual predators – in some cases homosexual pedophiles.  The church knew it and did nothing, except for – when they got caught – to transfer these men of false priesthood to another parish where they could prey on others (no pun intended).  In addition to being effeminate and false, most of those false priests were radical leftists and would openly support political candidates who were neo-Marxist and pro-abortion.  Again, this begged the question, why are so called men of God acting in this manner if they really believe in God?  It begged the question of why so called men of God would act in that manner if they believed in anything at all.  The answers, again, are not as complicated as they might seem.  As I would come to find out, most of them did not really believe in God or anything else that might affix a standard on eternal truth.  They were what George Barna today calls casual Christians.  They, kind of sort of, believed in God but not enough to really live like it.  For them the Scriptures were negligible.  Yes, the Scriptures stood for certain things but so did society, and the prevailing, evolving societal definition of social justice would be the one they would follow.  Thus, the so called men of God in my church could not be relied upon because, as an old friend used to say, “They don’t really believe anything.”  The answers to my burning questions of God’s existence and identity would come from outside “the church.”  Fortunately, many of my answers would come from the one source I could not question, God Himself.  He still speaks.     
    It was my last year of college, and I decided it was well past time to take some elective courses that would interest me.  I took a course called “The Survey of the Bible as Literature.”  Growing up Catholic, I had never really read the Bible, only excerpts from it in religion books (it’s the way they taught religion in Catholic schools).  So I thought I might learn something new in a Bible class.  One day, one of the girls in the class struck up a conversation with me about God, religion, and the Scriptures.  She invited my girlfriend and me to church.  My girlfriend was none too pleased with this invitation, as she believed there were ulterior motives written all over it.  Personally, I didn’t care whether or not there were ulterior motives; I was interested in learning something.  Besides, the church girl was good looking, who was I to argue?  So I accepted the invitation, and I went to her church.  After attending the service, I remember thinking this was the first time I had ever heard a preacher speak like he actually believed what he was talking about.  So I filed that piece of information away in the part of my mind called “significant.”            
    After several weeks passed, I contacted the church girl, and told her I wanted to attend church with her again.  It was refreshing to hear someone, anyone preach a message like he meant it.  Even if I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that was said, at least the preacher had the chutzpa to believe in something.  At the end of the service, the preacher gave an open invitation to pray for whoever wanted or needed prayer.  I had never heard anything like his invitation so I figured what the heck?  What have I got to lose?  He said, “Who here feels like their relationship with God is not all that it should be, or all that you would like it to be?  I want to pray for you.”  I figured that invitation could apply to almost anybody.  It certainly applied to me, so I raised my hand, and went forward for prayer.  Several people prayed for me that day.  Some of the people and prayers seemed mighty strange, but I figured I’d give them a chance.  One woman, who I had also met at the University of New Orleans, attended this church.  She would tell me how God “talked” to her.  I thought she was a complete nut of course, but I gave her a chance.  And besides, the day after I went forward for prayer at that church, something had changed.  Something was different.  I couldn’t put my finger on it; but something was strangely different, and it was real.  It was like the Spirit of God was following me around or something.  

    All that talk about God speaking to this woman stuck in my craw, because the faith of my youth taught me something different, something I just couldn’t accept.  It went something like this:  God talking to people and all that kind of stuff went out with Peter, Paul and the Apostles. It is a theological teaching called Dispensationalism.  My mother believed it.  Of course she did, she was very devout and followed church teaching, but I never could.  After all, why would God talk to one person and not another?  Was He some kind of arbitrary and capricious God?  It just didn’t make sense, and I could never believe in a God who would play favorites.  If God would speak to Peter and Paul and this woman who was a bit nutty but utterly convinced that God spoke to her, then why not me?  Hey, I was a nice guy (most of the time), and I wanted to talk to God.  More than that, I needed to talk to God.  Or at the very least, I needed God to talk to me.  I needed proof.  I needed to know if God existed.  I wasn’t about to take the word of some disingenuous priest who thinks that maybe God might be real, and that I would just have to accept it on faith.  I’d been lied to - too many times to take a man’s word for just about anything.  As a result of all the lies and hypocrisy I’d seen in the church, I was more agnostic than I was Catholic.  I was Catholic by confirmation but agnostic at heart.  If one stops to think about it, the church is supposed to be about the heart, right?  In my eyes, because of its weakness and inability to reach my both my mind and heart, the Church had failed me.  It had failed to answer my questions, and it had failed on its God-given mission.

    And then the encounters began.  After praying, seeking, going to this new church, and asking God to talk to me, He actually did.  It shocked the living daylights out of me when it happened.  I had been attending this new church, an Evangelical Christian church in Metairie (a New Orleans suburb) for a couple of months when it all began to unfold.  

    My very good friend Jerry and I were in Atlanta, Georgia.  Jerry and I had been friends for some time, and he was a very devout Catholic.  He was so devout that he had studied for the priesthood.  He was also strongly considering becoming a monk, which he eventually did.  Jerry was a great man – a best friend – who loved God and sought truth and righteousness always.  I was in Atlanta to apply for a job as a police officer, and I was in the final stages of the application and interview process.  Jerry came along because there was a monastery just outside of Atlanta that he wanted to see.  One night, in the middle of the night, I was awakened by something in our hotel room.  I awoke to the sight of a glowing lamp in the corner of the room.  I thought I should turn it off, but I quickly realized that the lamp was off.  Then the presence came. It paralyzed me from head to toe.  My ears popped, as though I had been brought to altitude very speedily.  Then the presence “loudly” teletyped these exact words into my head (it is the best description I can give of what actually happened).  It said, “Seek Me first, and all these things will be given unto you.”  And as strong as the presence came, it suddenly left.  It also put me back to sleep.  I never could have fallen asleep on my own after an experience like that.  I woke up about an hour later scared to death because I knew one of two things were definitely true:  I had either lost my mind or heard from God.  Either way, there were going to be changes.  Besides, when you have an encounter like that, you can try to rationalize it away as a pizza dream, but in your heart you know.  I had been praying for a lot of things at that time so the message was directly applicable to me.  A person can chose to live in denial or live with the truth.  I asked for the truth; I asked for revelation, and there it was.  I remember asking Jerry if he thought God would say something like that.  Even though I had probably glanced over it in Scripture, I was basically scripturally illiterate at that time.  When Jerry and I finally returned from Atlanta, I called one of my new Christian friends and told him what happened.  “What did the voice say?” he asked.  I told him.  He said, “Yeah, that’s Matthew 6:33.”  I opened up my new NIV Bible (someone had given me one).  There it was in black and white, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).  I was floored.  It was almost exactly the same words I had heard that night, and it was proof.   

    As a result of all that I was encountering and experiencing, my head was spinning.  I was overwhelmed with the idea that there really was a God; that it was all true – the Bible, Christ, Heaven, Hell, all of it.  I had never really stopped to carefully consider if it was all really real.  I just never saw any concrete evidence, and I was beginning to get it in ways that were almost too much for me to fully comprehend.  In spite of everything that had transpired, I was such a skeptic that I wanted even more proof.  I wanted to know for certain that I wasn’t caught up in some sort of mass hypnosis or some sort of mind controlling cult.  I had to know that I knew for sure.  I had to remove all doubt, or at least come as close as I could to removing all doubt.  I had seen so much deception in my life, and I didn’t want any part of it.  So I asked God to show me some more.  I wanted Him to speak again.  I wanted more revelation.  I wanted Him to hang out with me and explain things to me.  After all, I was a nice guy, and He did that for Peter, Paul, and apparently this nutty lady at church - so why not me?  Someone once said, “You need to be careful about what you pray for; you might just get it.”   

    The new church I was attending had organized a morning prayer meeting at some ungodly hour, which I had no intention of attending.  Even though I was now really seeking God, there was no way I was dragging myself out of bed at “o’ dark thirty” when the Army had already forced me to do that for several years.  I figured if God has enough good sense to cause the sun to not rise until a certain hour, then we should take a hint and do likewise.  On the other hand, we serve a God who never sleeps, and He was about to make me keenly aware of that fact.    

    One morning, long before daylight, I woke up with a distinct urge to go to morning prayer.  I fought it as best I could, but could not go back to sleep.  I wound up doing what I said I would not do … getting up way too early and praying with a bunch of really overzealous Christians.  Toward the end of the prayer time, the pastor asked everyone to gather around because he felt that someone had a word of inspiration to share.  The associate pastor began to speak prophetically.  I didn’t think much of this guy, so the chances of me listening to whatever he had to say were slim.  I strongly criticized him and his word of inspiration in my mind; I didn’t say anything critical out loud (who would know and who would care?).  But I did rip the poor guy to shreds mentally.  Almost at the instant he was finished speaking an older woman off to his side began to speak, loudly, repetitive, and angry-like in the Name of the Lord.  Her words were of strong rebuke, telling the listeners not to think of the associate pastor’s words as a “light thing.”  I was floored.  As it was beginning to become commonplace during this season of my life, God was speaking to me again – this time as a rebuke.  It was a bizarre experience.  Considering all the strange things that had been happening lately, how could that have been a “coincidence”?  The “coincidences” were really starting to pile up.  The law of mathematic probability was starting to work against any supposition that maybe there was no God and that maybe all this stuff was strictly coincidental, and I knew it.      

    A few days later, after Sunday evening services, a group of us young single folks went to that great American/ Christian Dining Establishment, Shoney’s.  As we gathered around the table, a group of people from church were already seated there.  Wouldn’t you know it?  There she was, the older lady who had prophetically spoken the rebuke at morning prayer, only a few days ago.  I couldn’t resist putting her to the test, so I maneuvered myself to get seated right next to her and introduced myself – all innocent like.  Once an opportune moment came I gave her the third degree.  I had to know if she was for real, and more importantly, if her God was for real.  So I grilled her with a barrage of subtly attacking questions.  I know this is not the most Christian tactic of course; but you see, I had to know that Christianity and the things I was experiencing were not fake, fraudulent, or false in any way.  I had to be sure.    

    When the timing was right, I reminded her of the situation a few days ago, at morning prayer, and asked her if she remembered what she had prophesied.  She said that she did remember, and that someone was mocking the associate pastor’s prophetic word.  She said there was a spirit of mockery in the church.  And probably not nearly as embarrassed as I should have been, I stated matter of factly, “Yeah, that was me.”  She appeared to be taken aback by my straightforwardness, so I seized the opportunity and tried my best to derail her.  I needed to see if her God could rescue her from my best prosecutorial cross examination.  At the time, I had an undulating mean streak and a sharp tongue.  And I am sorry to say I was not afraid to use it.  In my most cynical manner I started with, “Do you believe in the Second Coming?”  And then in rapid fire order I grilled her with several difficult theological questions of increasing complexity and sensitivity.  I brought all of my cynicism, intimidation, and verbal acumen to bear upon the situation.  I verbally and spiritually hit her as hard as I could.  I figured if she could survive the likes of me, then there really was a God.  When I was done, I wanted to see if she would melt into weakness, or if God would intervene and stand up for her.  In my heart of hearts, I honestly hoped He would.  And He did, doubled in spades.  When all was said and done it was I who melted, not her.
     After my verbal barrage, she sat back and looked at me as though I had two heads.  Then after pausing and studying me, she started to tell me all about myself!  She knew things about me my own mother didn’t even know.  She knew so much it scared me.  She told me of my religious upbringing, what I disliked about it, and what my personality was.  She was also aware of the fact that I had a serious headache at the time, which she prayed for on the spot and it rapidly disappeared.  She told me of my background, my past, my present, and even my future.  She told me one thing that night that would come to pass in vivid detail some eight years later.  My life story was being unfolded before me and told to me by someone who had never met me.  The bottom line was there was no way possible she could have known that kind of intimate detail unless she was getting it from God Himself.  It was just not even remotely within the realm of mathematical chance.  What she received in that Shoney’s is called a Word of Knowledge.  It is a spiritual gift that is very rarely seen in the church today, and God was using it in my life to confirm His knowledge of and love for me.  With all the other things I had already experienced, my ability to honestly doubt the existence of God began to seriously wane.  Yes, I know most people would have abandoned doubts long before I did, but I was and still am a skeptic.  Skepticism and Christianity don’t often go hand in hand, but sometimes they can, especially when dealing with wickedness and deception.  And we live in a world full of wickedness and deception.   

    When she was done with me at Shoney’s, I was speechless and overwhelmed.  Again, it was I who melted into weakness, not her.  And to be perfectly honest, I thanked God for it.  I was glad that there was Someone out there in the universe that could meet me on my own terms.  It was God.  A group of us left Shoney’s that evening and prayed some more.  Barbara, the lady I grilled at Shoney’s, prayed for me again.  Everything she prayed was either true in the past, present, or would come true in the future (and I am not exaggerating).  

    Barbara has since become very much of a beloved godmother to me.  They say there are little old ladies who do nothing but pray, and that they are going to have high places in heaven.  I’ll say this much, when I see Barbara, I don’t see a little old lady.  I see a highly utilized Queen on the chess board of God, and someone who will have a high place in heaven.  For whatever reason God does seem to pick some people.  Why I do not know, but all my observation and experience says that He does call certain people to certain things.  Some people are simply more spiritually gifted than others.  I wish I was half as gifted as Barbara.  This is a woman who had, and still has, what I really wanted, the ability to encounter the living God.   

    This time of my life was spring through fall of 1989.  I was 23 years young, and the revelations and experiences were spectacular.  Spectacular is a strong word, but it is the only word that really covers what kinds of things God showed me during that time.  The reality of God and His kingdom came crashing down on me like a ton of boulders that had just been jarred loose from some prehistoric rock formation.  I was in a position where I had a very clear cut choice: either acknowledge God and the reality of His Kingdom, or live the rest of my life in denial of what I now knew to be real.  The experiences I have written about here are far from isolated, but they were defining moments for me.  They were proverbial forks in the road.  As Robert Frost metaphorically wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

    As I set my “hand to the plow” and started down the “Road Not Taken,” God continued to speak and to move in my life.  God had spoken and moved so much in my life – in that first year of my Christian walk – that I thought such movements and revelations would be commonplace for the rest of my days.  I thought I was well on my way to becoming the next Moses.  That is a bit of an overstatement, but I did think that God was getting ready to do some very special and very unique things with me.  I was excited, zealous, eager, and ready to save the world for Jesus.  Everything about my experiences seemed to shout that God had chosen me for something special.  And who in their heart of hearts wants to believe God has chosen them for something mediocre?  So I set my hand to the proverbial plow and did not look back.  I would live my life as a Christian, a real Christian, zealous and on fire, doing my utmost for His Highest.  

    Sometime later, while living in my Metairie apartment and working as a bellhop at the New Orleans Hyatt, God woke me up early once again.  This time it was not for morning prayer but with a Scripture.  Again, I am not now, nor have I ever been a “morning person,” which explains the fact that God has a sense of humor in calling me to the Army.  So God chimes in at o’ dark thirty with a Scripture.  The voice, once again, is teletyped into my brain, and once again it is quite loud and clear.  It says, “Matthew 10: 22!”  Now me being the stubborn person that I was, I resisted the voice and attempted to go back to sleep.  I was persistent, but God was far more persistent.  After about six or seven rounds of hearing “Matthew 10:22!”, I finally threw in the towel.  Frustrated and tired, I got up.  There before me was my Old King James Bible, another gift from an elder Christian.  I read the Scripture.  It goes like this, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my Name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22 KJV).  I remember thinking at the time, “Thanks God, that’s a cheery way to start the day.”  Looking back on that day, now some 20 later, God was trying to tell me something very serious, and He meant every word of it.  I was just not ready to hear it at that time, but I sure have had a lot of time to reflect upon it.  It was a literal forewarning.  If I had known just how literal and just how serious God was speaking at that time, I would have dropped all ambitions at becoming a preacher (ambitions I was beginning to develop in earnest), run home to my parents, enrolled in law school, and lived a very different sort of a life.  My parents would have gladly supported an “honorable” profession such as a lawyer, but not a profession like a protestant minister.  If I had had any inkling of the kind of sacrifice God was calling me to, truth be told, I never would have made it.     

    So God spoke to me and revealed Himself to me during that first and very decisive year of my born again Christian experience.  It was an intense year.  The encounters were shocking and life changing.  Maybe God has spoken to you and revealed Himself to you; maybe He hasn’t.  But rest assured of one thing, my experiences are not unique to myself alone.  Church history is replete with examples of God communicating to and with His people.  So the question is not just for me, but for all people everywhere.  Does God exist; and if yes, who is He and what is to be done about it?  Also, what of encounters with God at certain junctures in history?  Has God stepped in and intervened at certain points in history for the benefit of mankind?

I realize I have spoken some strong and even some harsh words.  It is important to note that my strong words are not intended to be anti-Catholic.  (I just happened to grow up Catholic and I saw some things I found questionable.)   My words are intended to be anti -hypocrisy (especially religious hypocrisy).   There are both good and bad people in virtually every strata of Christendom.   I have both friends and family members from multiple denominational outlooks, beliefs and dispositions.  It is my sincere hope that THIS testimony will cause them to think on these things and perhaps draw closer to Him who is The Author and Perfecter of Our Faith.
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