Tia Hall

           

           

WHEN GOD SMILED ON ME

Personal Testimony of Tia Dye Hall

From the time I was just a baby, God allowed my family to take me to church.  Early on we went to Moss Hill Baptist Church, where Bro. Greg Moffitt was pastor. My parents loved him and followed him faithfully.  However, along the way, God revealed to Bro. Greg that he had never been saved; He was lost.  He immediately resigned from Moss Hill telling the people that he had to go get help for his own soul.  Obviously, my mom and dad were shocked.  Nonetheless, they started looking for a church to attend and finally decided on New Oak Grove Baptist Church in Myrtle, Mississippi.  I remember there being a couple of different preachers that came and went, but as I child I don’t ever recall feeling God’s presence there. 

Around 1993, our pastor at the time resigned, and Blue Mountain College sent Bro. Claude Mills and his family over to preach for us.  We saw something different in them; something we had never seen before.  We asked Bro. Claude to be our Pastor and voted him in 100%.  He accepted and has been with us ever since.

Right away, God started changing things, not only in the church, but also in our family.  My parents had our family in church as far back as I can remember.  During the early years of New Oak Grove there were a lot of troubles.  People got mad at Bro. Claude because he was changing the way things were done.  Little did they know that it was not Bro. Claude making the changes, but actually God changing us.  God was tearing out the old traditions of men and bringing in the new and right ways of God.

I remember a point when my mom realized that the God that Bro. Claude and Mrs. Becky had was not the same God that she had.  I remember my mom and dad following Bro. Claude, so that’s what I did.  Somehow God made me see what Bro. Claude was teaching was right.  I never really thought about it being right or wrong for the most part.   I sort of just went with the flow of things.

Every year Bro. Claude and Mrs. Becky attended a camp meeting in West Helena, Arkansas called Mississippi Delta Camp Meeting, where Bro. Charles Shipman was Pastor.  It was the church Bro. Claude and Mrs. Becky came from originally.  They began to take the people from our church to Camp with them.  For the most part, I just went for the social part of it.  Little did I realize then that God was giving me friends that would be my forever friends – my friends for life.   

In a youth service at one particular camp meeting there, I felt God move on me for the first time.  At that moment, I actually knew for myself that God was real and not just a fairytale that I had been taught about my whole life.   When you walked through the doors of that Camp, you could feel the presence of God.  Some of the preachers that we are associated with now and that preach to me and my family today are preachers that preached at that camp meeting.

While growing up, I can always remember hearing my mom talk about how she was always afraid of God as a little girl.  She talked about preachers who told of how terrible hell was and it always scared her.  But I never can remember really being afraid of God, at least not like that.  I feared God because of who He is, but not because I was afraid of Him or of  hell. I knew that I didn’t want to die and go to hell, but I wasn’t really afraid of it.  

From the time I first felt God at Mississippi Delta Camp Meeting, my life changed.   God continued to deal with me off and on. I talked to my dad once about why I was stuck and couldn’t get saved and he told me something that I held on to.  He said, “Tia, why would God give you more light if you refuse to step in the light He has already given you?”   You see, I loved music of all kinds. I always listened to music.  That was the issue God had dealt with me about, but I refused to give up the music that I loved for the music that glorified God.  My sin wasn’t necessarily my love for the music but refusing to submit to God’s way.  I went a couple of years not really seeking God or worrying about Him or giving much thought to the things that were being preached to me.   I remember one specific thing that happened during this time.  Bro. Claude was teaching the youth during Sunday school.  We were all talking to him one morning about praying. Every time we would pray our minds would just wander.  Sometimes I would even fall asleep while praying.  We asked him in class about what to do about praying.  He told us to ask God to show us ourselves and ask him to show us Himself.  God began to deal with me and began to talk to me about being justified or declared righteous, but I really just brushed it off. 

At this time, our church was going through some major changes. Several families had left the church, because of the hard sayings, the truth, and the Ways of God were just too hard.  We began going to another camp meeting called Festival of Joy in Pontotoc, Mississippi.  This camp meeting was at Grace Baptist Church, where Bro. Terry Owen was the pastor.  Bro. Terry Owen, Bro. Greg Moffitt, Bro. Mike Williams, Bro. Tim Rutherford and Bro. Claude Mills were the preachers that preached at that camp at the time.

I remember being under some really heavy conviction at camp in June of 2000.  On the last night of the camp,  Bro. Greg was preaching out of Ephesians 2:1-5, which states: “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”   I went down to the altar and God was truly speaking to me.  He told me He loved me, and I called that salvation.  That “experience” changed my life, because I knew that God loved me, but I did not get saved then.

In June of 2002, God told us to move out of our church building and into the gym so we could renovate the church building. God changed the name of our church from New Oak Grove Baptist Church to Faith Baptist Church.   Bro. Claude told us that we had followed him even when we didn’t know what was going to happen or understand and that we were people of Faith.   It was all part of tearing out the old and bringing in the new. We couldn’t go into our new church building the same old people with the same old name. We completely gutted the inside of our church building and rebuilt the entire inside. God was also doing a mighty work in the lives of the people at the same time.   

I was in cosmetology school at the time and living the life I wanted to live.  I was sneaky and dishonest. To the world I was a “good girl”, but I knew better than to be doing the things I was doing.  I knew that I had to lie to my parents about what I was doing and that in itself made it wrong for sure.

In January of 2005, I met Jeremy Hall, the man I would later marry.  He took a stand and gave me some tough choices:  I could either continue the life I was living with my friends in cosmetology school or I could have him, but not both.  He was ready to settle down and start a family.  Jeremy wasn’t even saved, but God brought Jeremy to me and used him to save my life.

Jeremy and I started liking each other and wanted to date, but first he had to go talk to my dad.  My dad sat him down and told him there were some things that he expected of us and if he (Jeremy) didn’t think he could follow those rules then not to waste our time.  One of those rules just so happened to be Jeremy needed to come to church with me.  Surprisingly enough, he agreed to go.  Since then, he has pretty much been in church with me every time the doors were open.  The very first time he came to church with me was our first service in our new church building. Bro. Tim Rutherford was preaching a revival for us.  God began to work on him and us as a couple during that meeting.

God really began to deal with me in late summer of 2006.  I remembered Bro. Claude telling us when we were younger that when we didn’t know what to pray, to pray that God would show us ourselves and that He would show us Himself, so that is what I began to pray.  God began to show me how just downright awful and pitiful I really was. I was a liar, a thief, deceitful, a conniver and totally unworthy to be loved.  I was a person that I wasn’t proud of and didn’t want to be. At the same time, He began to show me how forgiving and trustworthy and gracious and longsuffering He was and that I was exactly the type of person He gave up the life of His son for. I was amazed that even though I was all of that bad stuff, He loved me anyway.

On Wednesday, October 11, 2006, we were at church and Bro. Claude started the message by saying, “This is specifically for someone tonight”.  He said he didn’t even ask God who because he was afraid He would tell him and he didn’t want to have his hand on anything that happened.  When Bro. Claude said that, I thought to myself, it’s probably someone else because they

had been seeking God a lot more than I have. I hadn’t even been that serious about Him for very long. Then Bro. Claude said, and “it’s not someone that has been seeking God.”  That kind of caught my attention and I thought, well maybe, just maybe, it might be for me.  Then he said, “Tonight is for someone that doesn’t deserve it and hasn’t even been serious about God, just playing games.”  By that time, I was listening to every word he was preaching. He talked about how this person wasn’t worthy, because God had sent His Son to die for the unworthy and that is what makes them worthy.  Bro. Claude said some other things, but my mind was still blown away at the fact that every time I would try to convince myself that God wasn’t there for me, Bro. Claude would tear down what I was saying to myself. He then went over to Titus 3:3, which states, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life”. I knew then, without a shadow of a doubt that he was preaching that specific message just for me. The only thing I could do was go to the altar.

When I got there, I just started talking to God and asking Him what I was supposed to do now. The only thing that was on me was thankfulness.  Even though I had not sought him or done any of the right things, He still loved me and wanted to save me. It felt like the only two people there in that church was God and me.  I couldn’t even hear Bro. Claude preaching anymore. I told God that I wasn’t worthy for Him to save me, and He said I was worthy, because when He looked down on me He could see Jesus in me.  God told me He was smiling at me because He was smiling at His Son.  At that very instant I believed Him, but I wasn’t sure if that was Salvation or not.  I just kind of sat there and looked and waited until Bro. Claude got done preaching.

When the preaching was over, I asked Bro. Claude if we could talk, and we went into a Sunday School class.  He asked me, “What’s up?”  I told him, “I think I just got saved.”   He said, “Well, tell me what happened.   I told him what had happened since he started preaching, how I had been arguing with God, but every time I would present an argument, God would knock it down in his preaching, how God told me He was smiling on me because He was smiling on His Son and when He looked at me that’s all He saw. 

Bro. Claude asked, “So what is going on in you now?”   I told him I felt I should be crying, but I couldn’t, I could only laugh. He started laughing and said, “Why would you want to cry?”  I didn’t really have an answer to that other than that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I then told him that really all I wanted to do was smile back at God, since He was smiling on me.  He told me to go ahead.    I realized then that I had gotten saved and began to thank God for saving me and smiling on me.