Written by Teresa Goodnight
“The thing that happened at LaFortune. Crazy things that can’t be explained that happened leading up to capturing Saddam, mathematically speaking, they just don’t happen. They just don’t.”
God’s purposes are mapped out. He has a plan. He sets us on courses that make no sense to us at times, because we can only see what we see in front of us. When Jonah was told to go to Nineveh, we all know what happened when he decided to go his own way. It’s quite a whale of a tale. When God tells you to go—you just drop everything and go. At least, that’s what Eric Maddox did.
In 1993, Eric Maddox was a typical 21 year-old running through LaFortune Park in Tulsa when he came to a bridge. He heard what he said could only be a call from God. He was a bit stunned. He looked around for someone to get verification on what he heard. No one. Did God really call him to be an Airborne Ranger? He didn’t even know what that meant. He left the park and drove straight to a recruitment office. He didn’t know much about callings from God except that if you got one, you better follow through.
Eric was about to embark on his final semester at the University of Oklahoma. Yet, he knew God was calling him to take this path. He never imagined God put him on a path, leading him to be an interrogator for the United States Army. He certainly never envisioned being the one who brought down the Ace of Spades, Saddam Hussein. How could he have known? His story is a set of God-led one in a million kind of shots. God landed him right there, right where God wanted him to be. (You can read the whole story in his book, Mission: Blacklist #1 if you want the full version. You won’t put it down!)
When I was in school with Eric, I knew him as a kind-hearted, funny guy in class. He was super smart—just the kind of kid who makes their parents proud. He was one of those guys everyone enjoyed being around. We hadn’t spoken in decades aside from reconnecting on Facebook. So, as you can imagine, I was spiritually intrigued to hear his story BEHIND the story on Saddam. The part I already knew was that he felt God had called him into the army running in the park. The part I didn’t know—well, it was even better than I imagined.
In my lifetime, Saddam was the first foreign leader I really understood as a threat to America and certainly to his own people. I spent many nights praying for him to be caught, praying for friends who were called into duty straight out of college one week, These guys and girls were sent into the first Gulf War with Operation Desert Storm. War and evil became very real to me fairly instantly as Saddam dominated the scene as a true terrorist. Like most Vietnam vets, my dad told brief stories of being in the Infantry from memories he didn’t care to live through again, but he survived that war; I hadn’t personally lived through the terrors, as our young men and women were sent into battle. This war was right in my face. So, needless to say, I really wanted (or maybe needed) to know the details of Eric’s experience in God’s part in bringing that particularly heinous terror to an end.
When we started, Eric shared, “So, you know, I grew up in Sapulpa. I don’t think I was saved. I went to church and I didn’t feel any connection to God. When I went to OU, like a lot of kids, I didn’t think about God in any way whatsoever. I did wonder what would happen when you die, but that’s about it. I used to run in the summers. While living with my parents, I’d come home from work all day and in the evenings, I’d run around LaFortune park.” Eric continued, “I was heading into my senior year at OU. So, I’m running in the park as usual. Then, there’s this one area over a bridge. I’m telling you, Teresa, I was told to go join the Army and become an Airborne Ranger. I didn’t know what an Airborne Ranger even was. I never wanted to join the Army. I had never shot a gun before; I know, I grew up in Oklahoma, but I had never done gun or army stuff. I just stopped in my tracks and I looked over the side of the bridge. I was like, ‘Who was that?’” Then he went on, “I stopped running; I went to my car. I drove to a recruiter. I told him, ‘Hey I think I’m gonna sign up to be an Airborne Ranger.’ He said, ‘You don’t wanna do that.’ I said, ‘I don’t think I have a choice.’ I had to wait the whole fall and enlisted just before Christmas. I joined the Army as an Infantryman in 1994 and eventually graduated Ranger school.”
So Eric stayed on his path. By 2000, he was trying out for Delta Force. It’s the highest level in the Army. Every six months, they accept 120 soldiers to try out. Eric said, “It’s a demanding process just to make that cut. So, I made it; they sent me to the mountains of West Virginia for the final one-month try-out. It’s treacherous. I’m in these mountains, pushing myself beyond any kind of normal limits. We all were. Every day 6-12 candidates just dropped out with injuries, blisters, and so on. These are the baddest dudes just to get there.” He went on, “I’m going through this tryout and I’m 10 days in and my body’s just shot. Every night there are 40-60 soldiers going to the medic to bandage feet and so forth. Many hear ‘You’re out.’ The medic just won’t let them go anymore. I went to him with these horrible blisters. He says, ‘I’m gonna let you go one more day, but you’re not gonna make it.’”
Eric was super frustrated. He worked really hard to get this far. It was such an achievement to be admitted to the tryouts, let alone to continue to pass the tests day by day. He said, “I knew it was bad. So, I go to my bunk and got on my knees and I prayed to God. I was like, ‘God listen. (Really? I just told God to listen?) I can’t do this. I need you to fix my feet clean.’ I got up the next morning and the blisters were gone. They were completely gone. I was like, ‘How’d that happen? I’ve gotta be able to remember this.’ They were so gone that just to prove it to myself, I didn’t wear socks for the remainder of the tryout. It was probably the dumbest thing I could do to hike through those mountains without socks. After all that, in the final stages though, I didn’t make it. I just kept thinking ‘Why would God fix my feet if He didn’t want me to be a Delta Force member?’” It just didn’t make sense.
Understandably, Eric was frustrated with the results. He pushed himself beyond the limits most of us would even dare to think about trying. Why he didn’t make it just didn’t fit. He struggled to make all the pieces come together. It seemed odd that God told him to be a Ranger, fixed his feet during Delta selection, yet he never became a Delta Force Operator. He finally had to put the puzzle aside and concentrate on what was next.
Eric moved past wanting to be a Delta Force Operator. His path led him to an opportunity to be an Army interrogator. Again, it was nothing he planned—it was more an opportunity that seemed afforded to him with his performance and intellectual abilities. However, he really became engrossed in the intel side of things. It makes sense if you know him. He was always a super sharp student, involved in the gifted program in school, with a notable IQ. Eric was truly crafted by God as a multi-faceted player with reserve strengths equal to the ones he usually had in play. So, this road seemed a natural fit. Eric thrived in the role and was doing quite well.
Then, three years later, in 2003, Eric received orders to go to Iraq to join Task Force 121, the unit who was responsible for tracking down everyone on the “deck of cards.” In this deck, Saddam was known as the Ace of Spades. Then the terrorist/criminal targets went down from there. Eric said, “I show up in Iraq and this task force is a legit group. Like, I always wondered where they keep all the really bad dudes. Well, now I know. These guys had superior intellect and just pervasive mental perseverance coursing through their veins. They were all right there in one unit. So, during my inbriefing, I had to ask my Commander, ‘Why did you have me come to do this? I’ve never been to war before. I’m a Chinese-Mandarin linguist?’ (That was the specialty they trained Eric in as he shifted towards becoming an intelligence officer.) Then his Commander answered, ‘Well, you’re the only trained interrogator who is former infantry and graduated Ranger School.’” “After that,” said Eric, “things happened that no one could explain that landed me with the right skills at the right time at what felt like a preordained meeting.”
Eric seemed the perfect fit for an open spot needing filled in Iraq. He stayed the course doing his best at what he was trained to do. He said, “Because of my infantry background, they sent me on a raid into Tikrit, Iraq. I’m supposed to be there one night and then they are sending me back to Baghdad. So, when we get done, the team leader is looking at me. He had that ‘Where do I know you?’ look. The Delta Force Operators hold their own tryouts. This guy remembered I was one of the last guys in the tryouts. He knew I could hang with the intensity of their missions. So, he kept me there.” At that moment, Eric didn’t pause at that moment to remember how God made it possible for him to make it to that final point at the Delta Force tryouts. It didn’t start to piece together until later how God healing his feet prolonged him at tryouts—long enough for this Commander to remember him, remember his fortitude, and most importantly, to keep him in Tikrit.
In 2003, at the beginning of the war in Iraq, CIA Case officers led the hunt for Saddam Hussein through the use of paid local informants. They never used prisoners to be the front runners for information. They just wanted prisoners to admit their guilt. Then, they put them away. By the fall of 2003, the CIA determined that neither Saddam nor any of the other high value targets were in Tikrit, where Eric was. So, they left the Delta Force team with just one CIA agent.
Operations were still very much alive in Tikrit, but with no high value targets, things were slightly less intense. One afternoon, while training with the Delta Force Operators, the CIA case officer left with the group was firing a 203-grenade round. Eric said, “It detonated a couple hundred meters down range. Although the kill radius of a 203 round is only about 15 yards, a speck of shrapnel flew all the way back into the abdomen of the agent. The guy said ‘Hey. Something just happened.’ For precautionary reasons, they had a medic look at the case officer’s stomach to make sure it was no big deal, but the speck eventually required them to crack open his chest for exploratory surgery. The event permanently removed the CIA agent from the theater of operation.
With the freak accident, the Delta Force group called the CIA team and asked for a new guy. Eric shared, “They said ‘Nope.’ They weren’t sending anyone else out to Tikrit, because they were certain no high value targets were there,” Eric went on explaining how random things once again turned into opportunity. Now, because the Delta Force Team was no longer supported by the CIA, they asked if he could do anything to gather information from the prisoners in the interrogations. “I told them ‘Absolutely. I think I can.’ and that’s what I did. The rest of the story is in my book, but people don’t tie it in together as a God thing, but I knew.” shared Eric.
Eric immediately started seeking valuable information from the prisoners with his interrogation technique. He was strategic. Formed relationships. Listened. It was really a detour from any kind of interrogation the Army was doing at the time. Eric shared, “The funny thing is the guy who recognized me from the Delta Force Team didn’t even like me. One of the Delta Operators liked me and we spent time together doing these interrogations; the other guy was the Deputy Commander, and he just did not like me. I’m not for everybody,” Eric chuckled.
As Eric kept gaining more and more interesting intel through the prisoner interrogations, he was using the translator all of the time. Eric said, “We only had one translator. We were preparing for a huge raid of 20 houses and we really needed an additional interpreter. Fortunately, there was an interrogator back at Baghdad, who was also a native Egyptian, who of course spoke Arabic. He was sent up to join us in Tikrit.” When he arrived, the Delta Operator, who didn’t like Eric, requested that he permanently replace Eric in Tikrit. He made a logical case that the native linguist would allow the team to preserve the energies of their interpreter. Eric shared, “The team leader didn’t really like me. He didn’t like that I was wasting his linguist. He said he was going to trade me and keep this guy, because the Egyptian didn’t need a translator. There was nothing I could do about it. So, I was scheduled to leave for home that night. I was done.” That’s how things looked at that moment.
As tales of God intervening go though, this story wasn’t over yet. Eric shared, “We’re on this last raid before I’m to leave. That interrogator then has an accidental discharge of his weapon. That’s when if you accidentally pull the trigger the gun fires. I had never even seen one, but this interrogator had one. It’s bad.” Eric went on, “They train you over and over to make sure that never happens obviously, but he had one. They immediately sent him back to Baghdad and I stayed.” Eric said humbly, “I’m not saying God just messed up this guy’s gun—but the odds of that happening, exactly when it did when my time was up—they are nearly impossible. It’s just one in ten million or something. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s just not.”
That was the path that God put Eric on that led him to Saddam. Eric said, “I have no question in my mind as to His involvement in my path. The bridge at LaFortune. My Delta Force trek with my feet healing, extending my tryouts and allowing me to be in the final group with this Delta Force Operator. The odds of the piece of metal in the guy’s chest is like one in 100 million. The accidental discharge on the exact right day, just before I was leaving that night—not impossible, but it’s just so unlikely to happen.” Eric added, “Someone who isn’t a Christian might not pull those pieces together the same as I would—but I know God had a plan.” Then, he paused, “I don’t know what the pinnacle is of your job (whatever job that may be), but if you’re an interrogator, tracking down the ‘Ace of Spades,’ that’s it. You would think that would be the best moment you could experience. That’s just not what happened.”
The Fall from Glory
Political factions have a certain way of turning something incredible into something else. Everyone has a stake in the game. For many, the good of America falls further down the list than the betterment of self. So, although most all of America heralded Eric as an amazing hero, many of those with intelligence acquisition skin in the game did not. After all, they were the ones deemed with the task of finding Saddam. They were also the ones who dismissed Tikrit as having no value toward his capture.
In order to more effectively utilize Eric, he was immediately pulled out of the Army. That move gave the government a lot more flexibility with interrogators. For Eric, it was a much better situation. It paid more. He was back in the States. It certainly felt safer. However, what he didn’t see coming was the world of competitive intelligence—the political factions. The CIA, FBI, DIA, and all these groups with their own special interests were supposed to be responsible for tracking down the most wanted people in the world. They just weren’t happy about the way things went. An army interrogator was not supposed to find Saddam. He just wasn’t.
They soon started with campaigns about how Eric just “got lucky” or was “in the right place at the right time.” By Eric’s estimation, they were right in the fact that God had placed him there at the right time. At this moment, these campaigns were detrimental to Eric’s demeanor. It was frustrating to him, as he was feeling pretty proud of himself. I understand. I’m sitting here typing up the story in Starbucks and I want to explain to everyone sitting around how important what I’m writing is. I almost just told the clerk when I went for a refill. I had to stop myself. So, I think I kinda get it. It would be pretty easy to be feeling a bit high and mighty if I did what Eric did. Even if I thought God got me there, which by the way, is how I know this story is happening. Still. It would be a minute by minute battle to keep myself in perspective.
The factions were making comments to minimize what Eric had done. They needed Eric to just have been lucky in order to maintain their positions as the authorities on intelligence that information. From the government’s perspective outside these agencies, we just needed to do more of it. So, they decided to get 30 of these interrogators and make them specialists. Eric said, “The agencies though, were basically standing in the way. They were not going to give over that power. These struggles lasted until 2009-2010.” While it was all transpiring, Eric continued with his struggles with pride. They started to overtake him a bit. He became a little bit obsessed with wanting to show his abilities to anyone he found. He found himself spiraling a bit out of control. His only bright spot in the middle of the spiral? Reconnecting with his friend Heather.
Heather and Eric got married in 2008, which gave Eric a whole new sense of purpose. He was still going through these struggles when they married, but Heather gave him a ray of beautiful light in what felt like a gaping hole of darkness. He found himself experiencing a lot of angst and depression disengaging from such an intense set of battles. The mental anguish from the political pressures was also intense. He just needed to escape it a bit.
Heather and Eric had their sweet baby girl in October of 2009. Eric felt he should want to stay. He should want to be home, but he decided his best escape was to remain deployed. He was leaving just three weeks after she was born. If he were overseas, he wasn’t in these pointless political struggles. He could serve his country and find some form of purpose again or so he thought.
Before his marriage to Heather in 2005, Eric was in a raid where an enemy hand grenade blew up in front of him. He took some shrapnel. It definitely freaked everyone in his family out. Eric shared, “So, when I was going out again in 2009, those happenings she had heard of haunted her. Heather was a little nervous. She was a brand new mom. The realization that I go on these dangerous missions kind of sank in for her for the first time. Heather had known about it, but she certainly had never dealt with it.” Eric needed deployed. His wife needed him safe for her and for their daughter. It’s a whole scenario most of us don’t experience unless we have loved ones serving in our armed forces. I think if we did, we would appreciate our freedom a whole lot more than we do.
Eric was now heading out, being deployed. He said, “When leaving, I was super excited. I’m in the Baltimore airport. She’s in Oklahoma. Our sweet daughter, Mary, was about 3 weeks old. A normal person should be sad they are leaving, but here I am excited. I’m acting like I’m going to the north pole to see Santa Claus. Things were just off. I was just off.” The whole scenario ran the gamut of emotions for everyone involved. Nothing was in sync. Nothing.
A “Come to Jesus Meeting” with Another Type of Interrogator
Eric was boarding the plane. He said, “Heather calls me right when I’m walking on. She says, ‘So, I’ve gotta ask you. Are you saved?’ And I’m like, ‘Are you talking about church? Yeah. I think I’m good.’ She’s Baptist. So, you can imagine a Baptist-minded woman talking to someone who is like ‘Yeah. I think I’m good.’ So, she says, ‘Eric Maddox. I’m serious. Are you saved?’ and I’m like, ‘I think. I found Saddam. What is God looking for?’ Then, she’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I said ‘Heather I went to church as a kid. My mom goes to church every Sunday. You pray. I think I’m good.’ Then she says, ‘No. Are you, yourself saved?’ Then I answered her,
‘Heather there’s a lot of screwed up people out here and I’m not one of them. I’m probably good.’ Then, she’s like, ‘Don’t get killed. I’m going to send you a bunch of tapes.’
I’m thinking ‘I’m probably all square. What’s God looking for? I go to war. I like America. Doesn’t that count?’” he finished.
When you hear a conversation like that, you start to think we need to be having it with everyone in our churches. It’s a pretty common misunderstanding that God is looking for us to DO enough to make it in. Many of us just think like Eric that we’ve done enough. We’re nice enough. We’ve walked enough little old ladies across the street, so to speak. However, Eric quickly found out that was just not enough. There was actually no amount of good he could do, not even tracking down a powerful enemy like Saddam Hussein, that would give him a pass through those pearly gates.
Heather started sending Eric tapes from a Baptist preacher named Adrian Rogers. Eric shared, “So, I’m over in Afghanistan and I’m listening to these tapes. It wasn’t like they were just changing my life, but I thought they were pretty good. Then, he goes into Ephesians, into verse eight, and starts talking about grace through faith and not good works and I’m telling you it was a revelation. I was like ‘What? Oh my.’ It completely penetrated my heart. It was so needed.” Eric said. Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT says “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
Eric was blown away by the concept of grace. He said “I felt I was losing my mind. I was in this cycle. All I wanted was to prove I was the greatest interrogator in the world. I had become slightly arrogant. I wanted to travel the world and tell people, ‘Give me the hardest prisoner. I need to know who stunk it up first and I’m gonna shove it in their face and break the prisoner with my interrogation techniques.’ It wasn’t THAT bad, but I’m a bad dude and when you get to be called interrogator, it’s kind of a cool title.”
Eric continued, “You get to be with this task force; you can break anybody, and you do it in a way that’s smarter. Well, it’s very consuming. I couldn’t get away from it.”
The more Eric contemplated grace, the more relief he found. Eric shared “So, when I realized this verse, it was like this huge weight came off my shoulders. I don’t have to do anything. As a matter of fact, I can’t do anything. And, God knows I’m jacked.” (call out) He went on, “I knew I was screwed up. I thought somehow these interrogations and this service to my country were going to make it ok and that I could get to heaven,” said Eric.
“I had never heard this verse before. I told Heather, ‘Does anybody else read this thing? This Bible? This is incredible. This Jesus Christ, he’s just something else.’
So, from that moment on, Eric said, “I had a completely different look on life. I was different with Christ. It’s way better. It’s not arrogant. Then, I just kept thinking, it was great God chose me and pretty much handed this opportunity to get Saddam to me, but I didn’t do it. He picked me. I feel great He chose me, but I just didn’t do it. It’s impossible. It’s impossible that all of these things could have happened without God intervening. There’s just no way. God wanted me there.”
Eric then moved into a new area of thinking. He thought, “What I know more than that God landed me there on purpose is that God did not do all those things just so that I could find Saddam. My gift is to talk, well, it’s my mom’s curse,” he chuckled, “but it’s my gift. I’m excited to see how God will continue to orchestrate His plan for His Kingdom.”
Right now, Eric is on a journey with God. He’s ready to understand how all this experience God gave him is meant to serve the Kingdom of God. He shared, “It’s certainly how I pay the bills. I have a gift and do know God gave me a purpose. But, we are here to serve Jesus Christ and to grow His Kingdom—to serve people. So, I’m ready to see what’s next.”
“One part of Eric’s Chazown
(Hebrew for Dream)”:
Chazown is a Hebrew word communicating that we were each born with a dream or vision—our own Chazown. Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church has a book titled “Chazown,” which helps God’s people find their God-given dream.
Eric, like each of us, has a plan already crafted by God that he can be a part of if he chooses. I found it ironic that Eric was so drastically changed by Ephesians 2:8-9, because when you continue the passage, into verse 10, God tells us, (NLT):
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Planned long ago. Someone, who accomplished something high on the list of worldly victories, seeking how God plans to use that God-ordained accomplishment for the Kingdom of God. That’s Kingdom perspective we all need. Funny enough, God already has it all mapped out for each of us. We just need to answer His call.
Eric shared “I know one part of God’s path is children with Down’s Syndrome. I’m completely drawn to them. When I’m around one, it’s all I wanna do and all I wanna be. If I could ask God where to put me—I hope part of His direction puts me on that path. It would be helpful to my soul to support those amazing kids.” Eric finished the interview with his hope for Down’s kiddos. He said, “I need people to look at Down’s Syndrome kids and go ‘Thank God.’ I need parents to celebrate that super special baby. One thing I know, if you get me on it—I’m just telling you…”
Yeah, I can only imagine Eric. #GoDoBe
What’s Your Chazown?
When you put Eric’s story into a framework of God’s purpose and plan—it would seem from an earthly perspective, Eric had reached the ultimate worldly achievement being the guy who got Saddam. After all—the “Ace of Spades” didn’t make the list of America’s most feared terrorists/enemies for nothing. However, Eric’s mission? He’s ready to see even further reasons God orchestrated this path for him. He’s looking to follow into God’s Kingdom purpose for his path, his pursuit, and his victory. Sometimes people mock this hero’s credit to his Creator for this path—but I agree with him. I can’t wait to see where God uses him next.
What about you? Are you pursuing God’s plan for YOUR life? Are you actively seeking how he can use your experiences, gifts, and talents in the Kingdom of God? You don’t have to get Saddam to have an equally fascinating story of God weaving together your experiences in a way to be used for his Kingdom. In fact, we all have the promise above in Ephesians 2:10 that He’s prepared these Kingdom works in advance for us to do. In some cases, God might be using you before you even realize it. In others, you may know exactly how God wants to use you, but you might not be answering “Yes. Here I am. Send me.” Take it from Eric, who followed God’s orders before he knew much more than that God was someone you just obey. Regardless.
You might already be aware of your skills. You might know exactly how they could be used if you just said “Yes.” If so, let this be a challenge to you. No matter how great your earthly achievement, YOUR pinnacle that marks success, it pales in comparison to the work God has for you in His Kingdom, in HIS plan. If you aren’t quite sure. Don’t worry. There are so many great methods. One is in Pastor Craig Groeschel’s book mentioned above, Chazown. The book is available on Amazon or you can participate in a Chazown experience at Life.Church. Focus on the Family also has a great set of articles available at www.focusonthefamily.com with “Discovering your God-Given Purpose.” The articles share everything from discovery, to setting up your goals, overcoming fear of criticism, to your purpose having eternal significance.
In my own life, I have found God’s purpose almost thrust upon me with this magazine. It certainly wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t thriving in earthly financial value in a way that would justify purchasing it from an earthly perspective. It’s a print magazine in a digital age. However, God has shown my husband and I great purpose in having a community publication sharing the message of Christ. We see the magazines vacating the shelves across town all the way to Grand Lake. We talk with random strangers, who contact us, touched by a message God had us write on.
You explain to me a plan of how a girl ends up with an English degree, on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU), a web designer/marketing/trade show person, managing marketing/events around the country/world and selling high end fiber optic networks to the biggest telecom companies. That path doesn’t seem crafted. However, from a Kingdom perspective if somehow God lands you with a Christian magazine, working on events with non-profits, selling some ads trying to help pay for it, and writing about whatever God brings my way – then you have an interesting set of experience. I’m more involved in His plan than I have been in such a long time. I could go on, but you get the idea. I don’t get it. I just know God has plans bigger than me and I don’t always NEED to get it. I just need to follow through.
What’s His plan for you? Find it. If I’ve learned one thing, life is way too short to waste on things that won’t matter. God has a plan. Hop in it. Fall in it. Just get in it however you can. If you’ve fallen out of it a bit, don’t worry. God still can pick you right back up and plug you right back in. After all, Philippians 1:6 NLT says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” #GoDoBe
Maybe Heather Maddox’s inquisition also pierced your heart as you read? Can you relate to Eric’s responses? Have you ever felt you were “good enough” to make it in? That other people being in church is probably enough to get you there?
God didn’t write a plan for us that leaves us wondering. We actually get to know for sure. Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) says:
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
So, like Heather, let me ask, “Do YOU know Christ? Have YOU, YOURSELF, accepted Him as your personal savior?” If not, you can pray something like this: “Father, forgive me as I know I’ve messed up. I’ve been trying to get to you on my own. I can’t do it. I don’t even have to do it. You came to me. Sent your Son to die for me so that I could live. I declare Jesus is Lord. I believe he rose from the dead.” If you do pray it–reach out to your church and let them know! If you don’t have a home church–email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you get plugged into one.