Reaching out to Central New York in the name of Jesus Christ

Changed Lives

I wanted more out of life

The personal testimony of Bro. Jim Mead

When Bro. Jim was first saved, he had a desire to have a family. After praying for many years about it, the Lord gave him the desires of his heart.

I was born in 1950 and raised in a Catholic family. We went to church every Sunday morning and on Christmas. My parents raised my two sisters and I in a reasonably strict atmosphere, to be obedient to them as well as my elders, and people in authority. We were taught not to lie, cheat or steal and many other values consistent with American Society of the 1950’s.

My parents however, had a problem that would eventually lead to much grief, crisis and heartache, and that was drinking. My father, in particular, became an alcoholic. Because of his drinking, he lost jobs, acted violently and brought chaos into our lives. When he wasn’t drinking, he was a responsible person who provided for his family and was faithful to my mother. His drinking problem went on throughout my growing up years and I became angry and perplexed. I didn’t understand why he drank and how it could change him into a different person. I knew I didn’t want to become an alcoholic like him.

As I turned 18 and entered into college life, I began to drink. (At the time, the legal drinking age was 18.) I felt I could handle drinking, unlike my dad. I continued to drink and party into my adult life.

The Bible speaks in Hebrews 11:25 of enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” and I certainly was having fun and good times (or so I thought). By my mid-twenties, I began to realize that I needed the alcohol in order to laugh and socialize with people. This realization brought an uneasiness to my soul and I began to wonder if life didn’t have more meaning and more to offer. I wanted more out of life.

In 1977, a close friend and drinking buddy of mine, Rocco Gonnella, got saved and began to witness to me about Jesus Christ. More than the witnessing though, I saw a change in his life. He quit drinking and partying and began to live a holy life.

These things led to a desire on my part to know if God was real. I got down on my knees and said, “Lord, if you are real, I want to know.” I knew that the Word of God, the Bible, says, “Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7), so I told the Lord I would seek him as best as I knew how. As a result, the Lord began to reveal himself to me. I began reading the Bible and the words would leap off of the pages. When I tried to read the Bible before this, it seemed boring to me and had no meaning.

One night, I was reading Proverbs 23:29-35 concerning what will happen to those who ‘tarry long at the wine’, and I said, “Wow! That describes me.” I had read a book about the coming of the Lord to rule and reign upon this earth, and I could clearly see that everything written was coming to pass.

The Lord began to convict me of my sin and in February 1978, God became real to me. I repented of my sins and Jesus Christ became both Lord and Savior of my life. A great and wonderful change was taking place in my being. The Lord delivered me from alcohol and I have not had a drink since 1978.

In October of that year, the Lord placed me at the Living Word Church, where I have been a member ever since. I knew the Lord had a plan and purpose for my life. Even though I had gone to college, I had no real career path I was pursuing. In 1983, the Lord called me to teach at the Living Word Academy, a ministry of Living Word Church. I have been teaching Bible and Social Studies at the Academy for three decades. I have also had the blessing of teaching with my good friend, Rocco (Rocky) Gonnella, who was also called to the Academy. (It is amazing how the Lord works things out for those who love and fear Him.)

When I got saved, I was not married but had the desire for a wife and family. I would pray to the Lord to fulfill that desire. I would say, “Lord, I’m going to serve you no matter what, but my heart yearns for a wife.” It would be many years before the Lord would answer that prayer, but the Scripture that encouraged me was Proverbs 13:12,“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”

In 1993, the Lord finally answered that prayer, and I met my wife, Valerie. We were married a few years later and after that the Lord blessed us with a son, Daniel. Daniel has had the blessing of attending Living Word Academy ever since Pre-K. I have had the blessing of not only being his father, but also his High School Social Studies teacher. The Lord works in wondrous ways.

In January 2010, I suffered a major heart attack. In the months that followed, the Lord filled me with His presence and filled me with joy. He gave me the opportunity to have my testimony published in the September 11th, 2010 issue of the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper. I have since fully recovered and feel blessed that he has allowed me more time with my family and more time to serve Him.

I am looking forward to the hope of one day gaining eternal life that the Lord has promised to all those that would obey His commandments. 

Reaching out to Central New York in the name of Jesus Christ

Living Word Academy

Over the years, Pastor Robert J. Mazur of Living Word Church has expressed God’s love and concern for both the brethren and the unsaved in many ways. The following are a few comments by “Bro. Bob” taken from TV messages and other preachings: “Matthew 12:46 reads: While he (Jesus) yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Verses 48, 49, and 50 go on to say: But he answered and said unto him that told him, ‘Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?’ And He stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, ‘Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.’

We Have An Extended Family in Christ

“Here, Christ is not rejecting His earthly mother and brothers and sisters, but rather is bringing forth a great lesson of a true benefit in the Kingdom of God. You see, Christ did not grow up in the same household with these individuals who were now His disciples. They were not related to Him, not born in the same family, but Jesus Christ was saying, ‘Look, here’s my family, behold my mother and my brethren, my family.’ The disciples followed Him at a time when His own brethren and relatives did not believe in Him. Christ was speaking of His ‘spiritual family’, a family extended, a family available to every believer who follows after the Savior.

“I say that one of the greatest blessings that we all have is an extended spiritual family that we never had before in our lives. Christ was not claiming that He did not love His parents and family. In fact, the life that Jesus Christ puts within you gives you more love and patience, a greater ability to love your relatives than before. I know I myself am blessed in my extended spiritual family. In my work, and in the call of God in my life, I love and cherish this family He has given me. 

Doing the Will of God Together

“Something happens between people when they have that common desire, goal, will, and love – doing the will of God together. Because Christ becomes the common denominator, He plunges together in Himself, in a bond of love, people of different ages, cultural background, languages, color, habits, and lifestyles.

“We call each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’, which is scripturally sound, as this is how believers addressed each other in the early Church. Upon Salvation, we discover that we become brethren, and because we have the same goals, we find that a bonding takes place, which we can’t explain.

“This does not replace the natural love and friendship we have for our parents or siblings, but, on the other hand, an extended family is very necessary for a healthy, vibrant, Christian experience and growth. Without it, one wavers, struggles, and has a difficult time in his Christian experience, not seeing the potential of God to the fullest in his life.

“Bro. Bryan Rocine, our Associate Pastor, is like a son to me. I feel the responsibility of a spiritual father to him and I love him dearly, but that love does not take the place of the love I have for my own sons and daughters.

“…Bro. Bryan and others, with myself, work together in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a bond of family, a real relationship that is healthy and is to be coveted, protected and desired. 

Christianity Is Not a Solitary, Lonely Experience

“I like the way God said in Psalm 68:6, ‘God setteth the solitary in families…’ God is concerned about those who are without family and alone. He does not want ‘lone rangers’, or people to be alone in their Christian experience. In 1 Corinthians 12:18, the Lord says through the Apostle Paul’s writing, ‘But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.’ It is God’s desire and will to place every believer in a family as it pleases Him. The problem is, we have to cooperate with Him. It has been my experience that many times people want to be alone in their Christian experience. Some Christians never find themselves where God wants them, and find themselves short-circuited and not growing in the grace of God.

“One of the evidences of being properly placed in a spiritual family atmosphere is finding yourself in a close love relationship, caring for and being concerned with brethren. The Apostle Paul called the Church family in Ephesians 3:15, ‘…the whole family in heaven and earth…’

The Great Commission

“I would like to emphasize another thrust in which this particular work has been involved since its beginnings. Chapter 14 of Luke records a lesson the Master taught about a Great Supper to which many people were invited. When the lord of the house sent his servant out at dinner time, however, those who were invited declined, making up ridiculous excuses why they wouldn’t come. Verse 21 is not only a command for that servant, but also a commission for us from the Lord Himself: ‘…Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.’

“Now the Living Word Church is a second, even a third generation organism, and we place great emphasis on passing the faith on to our children. But our job goes far beyond our own relatives and descendants. We have to be concerned about others as well. Yes, we have a responsibility to nurture our next generation, but we also realize the necessity and importance of going out and seeking those who are broken and maimed. They are just as important and valuable in God’s sight as our own offspring. We must never forget The Great Commission in our lives to get the Word out to the downtrodden and to those in bondage. God’s great work is the salvation of souls. Therefore, we must be unencumbered and unhindered in our efforts in getting

the Gospel out to the lost.

“I thank God for the opportunity to have access to that Great Supper with the Lord. We can finish the race as a family along with many others who are broken and humbled, who are eagerly seeking, wanting, and accepting the Word of God.

“I thank God for the opportunity to have access to that Great Supper with the Lord. We can finish the race as a family along with many others who are broken and humbled, who are eagerly seeking, wanting, and accepting the Word of God.

“May God bless you and keep you, stir your hearts to serve Him, and make you a part of the family of God.” 

“May God bless you and keep you, stir your hearts to serve Him, and make you a part of the family of God.”