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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

'If I Had Died ...'

By Scott Harrup
Sept. 12, 2010

On July 5, 2003, while driving from New York City to Norfolk, Va., Justin Bell fell asleep at the wheel. His 1998 Dodge Stratus slammed into four trees. The 20-year-old sailor, headed back to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, was ejected from the car and onto the highway.

“If I had died,” Bell admits today, “because of the lifestyle I was living, I would’ve gone straight to hell. It was a miracle, all of itself, how God even allowed me to live.”

Bell’s spiritual journey was not always so misdirected. A third-generation preacher’s kid in the Church of God in Christ, he grew up in church. When he enlisted in the Navy out of high school, he says he practically had to “learn how to sin.” But he learned quickly.

He joined fellow crewmembers at nightclubs, on drinking binges and smoking marijuana, knowing that if he were caught he would be dishonorably discharged.

The car accident shook him back to reality. When his father visited him in the hospital, Bell realized he was at a critical point of decision.

“Just his coming into the hospital room, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit,” Bell says. “Before he could say anything, I said, ‘Dad, I’m going to get my life straight with the Lord; I’m going to give my life to Jesus.’”

Now the 28-year-old senior at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, is preparing for full-time ministry.

“I’d previously made plans to go to California to another school and didn’t have peace about it,” Bell says. “I checked out Southwestern, and God began to make provisions. I knew this was the path God wanted me to go down. It was basically just hearing from the Lord and Him leading me to go there.”

Bell believes God’s guidance is just as critical wherever a student goes to college.

“Even if they don’t know what they’re called to do,” Bell says, “they need to continue to pursue the Lord. I want to encourage all college students who want to do something for the Lord to allow God to stir passion in their hearts for His name, to make His name known. Not to attend school for some diploma, for the sake of having a good life, to make money, to be successful — but literally receiving and hearing from the Lord.”

Bell has found SAGU to be an environment conducive to that pursuit.

“I believe strongly in higher education, and going to an AG school allows you to hear the voice of the Lord clearly, knowing directly what to do and being equipped.”

Bell’s desire to share his faith goes back to his own radical discovery of God’s grace on a night when he nearly lost everything. He still remembers his prayer of repentance.

“God, take my life, I’ve done nothing with it up to this point. Forgive me; I want You in my life.”

SCOTT HARRUP is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.