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Paul Funchess' Salvation Story

When someone asks you to tell your personal life story it is always difficult to know where to start and what information to include. There is a mountain of innumerable detail that makes my story unique from yours and your story unique from mine. However, and this is important, our stories are actually the same story. I was created by God just as you were and have been given significance as an image bearer of the creator as you were too. However, neither of us by nature are content with the significance God has given us and we want to rule our own lives on our own terms. Since there can’t be two rulers we have to work to erase God either by force or by redefinition. This is extremely difficult given the fact that He has made Himself known in everything that is made, written a book that serves to clearly explain Him and His will, and actually became a man and lived on earth to make Himself known. It seems ludicrous that after the abundant revelation He has given us we would persist in our efforts to suppress His truth and manufacture our own but that is exactly what we do. A person’s life before Christ could be summed up as war against God.

I waged war against God from southeastern New Mexico. That is where my family lived for the majority of my growing up years. Our family business was a funeral home. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that it is good to go to the house of mourning. Well, I lived in the house of mourning. Every day God confronted me with the reality of the brevity and fragility of life. Death in all its parts was a part of my everyday life and while I waged war on God it would be a constant, merciful reminder to me that I could not win that war.

"My creator was so committed to bringing me back to Himself that He sent me to this place that might as well have been Mars."

My family attended church but the churches were not good at making God known. In fact, they served to distort God and His Word. It is a great darkness when war is waged against God from the very places that claim to make Him known. That darkness permeated my family’s life. I made several professions of faith because I was terrified of God’s sure judgment on me. This fearful view of God did nothing but further my hatred of Him and my commitment to wage war against Him.

I grew tired of trying to please a God that I hated and would consequently live in open rebellion against Him throughout the rest of my growing up years. The details of my rebellion may look different than yours or very much the same. My rebellion was public and unabashed while yours might have been private and moral. Nonetheless, we are both rebels and haters of God.

An extremely rebellious and proud young man from New Mexico found himself at a small college in the panhandle of Florida because of his desire to play basketball. The college happened to be a Christian college but that didn’t matter to me as long as I could play ball. My opportunity to play basketball quickly dried up and I found myself at a place where I did not belong. The college and I did not see eye to eye on anything. I could tell you some ridiculous stories. I have no idea why they let me stay. But the main point is how the God that I hated was pursuing me. My creator was so committed to bringing me back to Himself that He sent me to this place that might as well have been Mars. I was making really terrible decisions about every part of my life but God was using every one of those decisions to bring me to the exact place where I would finally see Him.

After two and a half years of bible classes and chapels, God graciously brought me to a place of acknowledging my willful war against Him and turning from my hatred in repentance. Where there was commitment to undermine and deny His Word He gave me a trust and desire to obey it. This transformation is owed to a simple realization. While I was against God, God had died for me. Jesus has been made to bear my sin and experience my punishment for my sin. He died so that I could be at peace with God. He did not stay dead but rose from the dead and defeated death and sin for me. He had the power over death and sin and He had love towards me. How could I continue to oppose this God who had made me, loved me, pursued me, died and rose again for me. I could not resist Him anymore. I wanted peace with this God and I could have it!

Soon after Christ conquered me through His love, I came to the realization that there were so many people in the world that were still at war with God and did not know of His love for them. I did not know what I could do about it but I wanted to be a part of telling the world what God has done in Christ.

I could say that there is a whole lot more to my story. There are indeed a lot of details left out about my family life and ministry experience. I married a woman that has made me want to love Jesus more than any other human I know. God has made us parents of the most wonderful kids. God has also given me many opportunities to minister and preach the gospel in many different contexts. I have pastored in New York, Florida, North Carolina, and now Washington. I have been a traveling evangelist, a Christian school teacher, and a Christian camp supervisor. Some of these all at the same time. The point of my story, though, isn’t any of these things. The point of my story is that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin—Exodus 34:6,7.