DAVID CREEL’S TESTIMONY (Full Version)
(Newspaper article in Birmingham News, April 26, 1971, see page 2 below).
Greetings! My name is David Creel. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I am the son of the late Rev. George Creel and Jackie Creel who served several United Methodist churches in North Alabama.
As you can imagine, being the son of a United Methodist pastor, I grew up in church. I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t in church. Every time the church doors were open, I was there. I really didn’t have a choice. I might not have appreciated it at the time, but I am so grateful now for my parents’ insistence on church attendance. I am also eternally grateful for the godly example that my mom and dad provided for me and my sisters as we grew up.
As a child, I usually slept during church. Frankly, if I’ve been out late the night before, I still have some trouble with that, but I don’t think I’m alone in that confession! My mom can tell you about a time as a child when I had fallen asleep on the pew during an evening service, everyone went home, the lights were turned off, and I wasn’t discovered to be missing until a short time later! I, on the other hand, was clueless – still asleep on the pew!
Around the age of 10, I began noticing that my friends were sitting up and paying attention, so I decided that I needed to do the same. It was around that time that I realized that my parents’ relationship with God did not guarantee that I was right with Him. I needed my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life on Calvary so that I might spend eternity in heaven with Him.
I distinctly remember hearing the gospel clearly presented by my dad one Sunday morning: how Jesus died for my sins, and how I needed to ask him for forgiveness, and invite Him into my heart. But, I did not go forward during the invitation. However, I promised myself that I would go forward the next Sunday. So, during the invitation on November 24, 1968, I made my way to the altar at Walker Memorial United Methodist Church in Birmingham and was saved.
Here is a quote from my dad’s journal on that day: “David saved! Thank God…this morning, my son David made his way to the altar alone to be saved. Jesus faithfully saved him as he wept his confession to God. Hallelujah…I couldn’t speak further. Granville (our choir director) dismissed. Thank you, Jesus forever!”
Although I was saved at that time, I really didn’t do the things one needs to do to grow as a Christian. Sure, I still went to church, but I didn’t really spend much time in Bible study and prayer. Just as in the physical realm, one must eat in order to grow, so it is in the spiritual realm. In I Peter 2:2, we are told, “like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation…” It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized the importance of this fact and did what it took to grow as a Christian.
But, even at this early age, I believe that God was preparing me for missionary service.
- I learned electronics by observing dad’s repair of antique radios. Many a spare moment was spent with my dad in the basement working on his latest project.
- I went with dad to WDJC-FM in Birmingham where he had a couple of radio programs. Through these visits, I became friends with Chief Engineer Jimmy Long and developed a keen interest in radio.
- On one of the trips to WDJC, we stopped at the Baptist Bookstore where I picked up a copy of the book “Skywaves” which told the story of how a mission organization called Far East Broadcasting Company was using shortwave radio to broadcast the Good News of Jesus Christ to far-away lands. This book further “sparked my interest” in radio as a possible career.
- Around this time, I built my own small AM radio station using a low power transmitter obtained from a gentleman at the local electronics store. I also developed an interest in amateur radio and received a license at the age of 13.
During my high school years, I drifted away from my commitment to Christ. Although I never did anything terrible – just the usual teenage stuff – I was still rebelling against God. The best way to describe those years was a “roller coaster” experience. I wanted to live for Christ, especially after a particularly good youth retreat, but never had the power to “follow through” with a consistent walk with the Lord. I tried to be a “fence walker” with one foot in the church and the other in the things of the world. I wanted to “talk the talk” of being a Christian but didn’t have the power to “walk the walk.”
Just before my senior year in high school, God used several events to “get my attention” including a couple of car wrecks and a move from Sheffield to Gadsden. The move to Gadsden, just as I was about to begin my senior year, was particularly hard to accept. But even this was a part of God’s wonderful plan for my life.
During my senior year, I really got tired of my “roller coaster” Christian experience, but I didn’t know how to change myself or the situation. I began to earnestly pray and seek God for the answer. A devotional book that I had been reading mentioned how the Holy Spirit can help us live the Christian life. Shortly thereafter, our church had a “Lay Witness Mission.” This was a weekend event where ordinary lay people (not preachers) came and shared what God had done in their lives. During this event, I heard several people share how Christ must not only be our Savior, but He must also be Lord of every aspect of our lives. I also heard a lot about Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
On Sunday, October 12, 1975, I rededicated my life to Christ, allowing Him to be Lord of my life, and asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and to help me live a consistent Christian life. This He did! He gave me a new desire to read and study His Word and to pray during a daily quiet time. He also provided some wonderful Christian friends to help me in my spiritual journey. I learned much about the Bible from my dad and benefited greatly from the example and encouragement provided by both mom and dad.
Has my life been perfect or without sin since that time? As a missionary, do I “have it all together?” Of course not. Just like everyone else, I am a sinner saved by grace and sometimes have struggles. But, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have been able to live a much more consistent Christian life since allowing Christ to be Lord of my life. The verse that I feel best describes the way to live a Christian life is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Just after my high school graduation, I was invited to go on a short-term mission trip to Haiti. This experience really helped me to see “first hand” the needs of people in impoverished lands.
I began to sense that perhaps God was calling me to be a missionary – but not in the traditional sense. I was fascinated by the idea of using high power shortwave radio to tell the people of the world about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I felt that God was calling me to be a technical missionary.
With that in mind, I enrolled in the pre-engineering program at Gadsden State Junior College. I later transferred to Auburn University where I majored in Electrical Engineering. God also provided a cooperative education job with Alabama Power Company in Gadsden to help cover the costs of my college education.
During this time, I made my second short-term missions trip – this time to shortwave radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. This trip further strengthened my conviction that I was to be a missionary engineer.
Upon graduation from college, the door to missionary service did not immediately open, so I accepted a job as an engineer with Alabama Power Company in Oneonta, Alabama. I worked there for 7 years, from 1983-1990.
During those years, I continued to pray about missionary service and believed that one day the Lord would open the proper door which would allow me to serve as a technical missionary.
Around 1986, I became re-acquainted with the Far East Broadcasting Company through a group called “Intercristo.” This is a Christian organization which matches one’s interests and education with potential mission agencies – a bit like a Christian referral agency.
In 1988, I visited one of Far East Broadcasting Company’s shortwave sites in a place called “Saipan,” a small island in the western pacific. I greatly enjoyed this experience and began to pray about the possibility of returning as a full-time missionary.
In 1989, I applied for career missionary status with FEBC and began the process of raising my financial support, which took about a year to complete.
At first, the leadership of FEBC wanted me to serve a one- year term at their San Francisco station and then move on to the Philippines. This was a major test of my faith and commitment since I really wanted to return to Saipan. I made no mention of this to the FEBC leadership but made it a matter for prayer. I distinctly remember praying something like this: “Lord, if you want me to go to San Francisco and the Philippines, I will go. But, Lord, you know that my heart’s desire is to return to Saipan. May your will be done.” About a week after praying that prayer, I got the word from the FEBC leadership that their plans had changed and that I was heading for Saipan! The words of Psalm 37:4 were certainly true: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
I began my first term of service on Saipan in October of 1990 where I served for the next 18 years. During those years, I greatly enjoyed my role as an engineer for KSAI (our local AM radio station) and KFBS (our international shortwave radio station). Working for the shortwave station was particularly gratifying since millions of people in Russia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Indonesia were coming to know Christ through the radio ministry.
In 2008, I came back to Alabama in order to take care of my aging parents, Rev. & Mrs. George Creel. During those years, I was on assignment to partner ministry Galcom International. In that role I designed and built Christian radio stations in various places around the world including Zambia, Albania, Malta, Pohnpei, Paraguay, Belize, and Indonesia.
In 2010, I met Vicki at Brasher Springs Camp Meeting near Gadsden. Later, at the suggestion of a mutual friend, we began corresponding. We met again in 2013 while Vicki was serving then as a volunteer with SIFAT (Servants in Faith and Technology) in Lineville, Alabama. We were married in April 2014.
In 2012, my dad passed away and my mom in 2014. After the death of my parents, Vicki and I were asked to serve on FEBC’s International Service Team. Currently we both are serving with FEBC’s International Service Team (FEBC IST) providing technical support to our radio stations in Asia.
In my testimony, I have shared a lot about my experiences as a missionary. But remember, we are all called to be missionaries. We are all called to share Christ in appropriate ways with those around us who do not know Him. Each time I leave my home church’s parking lot, I see a sign which reads: “You are now entering the mission field.” Let that be a challenge to us all. This can involve developing a relationship with someone over a period of time and then sharing Christ at an appropriate moment. This can be done while sharing in another’s grief. Or, this can be as simple as leaving a gospel tract along with your tip at your favorite restaurant. The point is to find appropriate ways in keeping with your personality, gifts, and talents to share Christ with others.
In closing, I would like to thank you for allowing me to share a bit about my “faith journey”. I would also like to end with a challenge to each of you. If you have never made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, won’t you do it today? Or perhaps your spiritual walk has been similar to the “roller coaster” experience that I described earlier. If so, Jesus wants to be Lord of every part of your life. If you will surrender your life entirely to Him, the Holy Spirit will help you to live a life that will honor God.