Why the experience of salvation matters

Former rebellious teen explains why the tenth Adventist Fundamental Belief gives him hope

The Experience of Salvation September 22, 2014

Michael Stango’s life was shackled with bitterness and pain. Growing up without a father led him to make reckless decisions during his youth. Little did he know, an encounter with an ex-convict would help lead him on a path toward a life filled with peace.

A rough start

“I’m the product of a broken home,” Michael said. His mother raised him and his two sisters by herself. His father didn’t live in the home. “We knew who he was but he was more of an acquaintance, practically a stranger.”

Growing up without a father was painful for Michael. He longed to have a genuine father-son bond. “I was devastated,” he said. “As I got a little older, that hurt and emotional pain turned into anger and resentment.”

Michael became rebellious. He started smoking cigarettes at 11 years old and experimented with drugs and alcohol when he was 12. Michael also became a thief. All the while, Michael was searching for something to fill the hole in his heart. “My whole teenage years was spent more or less on sex, drugs and rock and roll,” Michael said. “Yet I was still unhappy. I couldn’t find happiness that way.”  

Michael rebelled in this stage for 10 years. It would take an encounter with an old friend to put him on a new path that changed his life forever.

Touching a Bible

When Michael was 21 years old he ran into a friend who was also named Michael. His friend told him how he joined a Christian drug rehabilitation program after he was released from serving significant time in prison. His friend became a Christian and introduced many people to Christ. In the same conversation, his friend also explained that Jesus died so Michael could have the chance at eternal life.

“Wow! I was shocked,” Michael said.

His friend also gave him a Bible to read. “It was the New Testament, ‘Good News for the Modern Man.’ It was the first time I ever touched a Bible.”

When Michael read the Bible he read the entire New Testament – from the book of Matthew to the book of Revelation.

“I read about Jesus, how good he was, how he healed people, raised the dead, fed the hungry, talked about the kingdom of God, how he loved everybody and forgave sins,” Michael said. “And I realized he was willing to forgive sins, and I really needed that.”

Experiencing salvation

Reading the New Testament of the Bible opened his eyes. For the first time in his life, he realized how much he was loved. He was amazed at the sacrifice Jesus paid for his salvation. “I realized how much he loved me, because they arrested him, they spat on him, they mocked him, they crucified him,” Michael said. “That broke my cold hard heart to see how they mistreated Jesus.”

This revelation led Michael to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. “When I did, I received a peace that this world does not know, a peace that passes all understanding.”

He abandoned his rebellious life and embraced a Christian lifestyle.

“I tried to live a life of obedience according to God’s word. I tried to be a decent person and I tried to tell others about Jesus.”

Michael is happy he accepted the gift of salvation. He encourages others to experience the same love the savior extends to him and all who ask.

“It’s the greatest joy and the greatest privilege a human being can have,” Michael said. “Jesus is willing to accept anyone who would humbly come to the cross of calvary.  He’s waiting there for you because he loves you.”