Today is my birthday and a very special day it is. However, I had no idea that I would fall in love on my birthday. Seventy years ago, on this day in 1951, I entered this exciting world. Forty years ago on a beautiful Sunday morning just like today, I found love on my birthday in a church. I especially remember that day because I was broke and I needed a job.
Two weeks before my birthday, I was low in spirit. I called the 700 Club and asked for prayer. I wanted someone to pray with me that I might find a job before my birthday. The person that prayed for me suggested that I get rooted in a Holy Spirit-filled church. Eleven days before my birthday, I received a phone call from a member of Victory Assembly (Now Victory Fellowship Church), a local church in the area where I lived.
Every day John called and we talked about the goodness of God. At the end of every conversation, he would invite me to visit his church. Although I had never met John, his accent told me that he was white. I was reluctant to go to church with him because I had never attended a so-called “white church” and I just wasn’t ready for the commitment.
John called me every evening. The Wednesday before my birthday, John called. He said,
“I perceive by the Holy Spirit that I am beginning to bother you. Therefore, I am going to make you an offer. I want you to go to church with me this coming Sunday. However, if God does nothing for you, I promise to never bother you again.”
“You’ve got a deal, John,” I replied.
“Good,” said John. “The service starts at 7 a.m., I will pick you up at 6:45 Sunday morning.”
At 6:40 a.m. Sunday morning, the telephone rang. It was John. He apologized for not being able to pick me up. He would send his son Mike instead. At 6:45 a.m. there was a knock at the door, When I opened the door there stood a tall, redhead, freckle-faced young white man in his late twenties.
“Hello. Are you Eric?” asked the young man.
“Yes,” I replied. “And you must be Mike.”
“I am,” he answered.
Immediately following the quick informal greeting, I got in the car and we headed for church. It was my birthday and to be honest, I was not excited about spending my special day in church.
It was my first time attending a predominately white church service. To my surprise, everyone was friendly. In the sermon, the pastor talked about how Jesus meets us wherever we are in life. That day, I certainly needed Jesus to meet me in my brokenness. Although I was celebrating my birthday, I was down in spirit. Near the end of the service, the pastor gave an altar call to those who wanted prayer. I went to the altar. The pastor went from person to person laying hands on them and praying for them. When he got to me, he said,
The Gift I Never Imagined
“Today the Lord is going to give you what you have been seeking Him for.”
When I tried to tell the pastor what I wanted him to pray for, he turned off his lapel microphone and said,
“Don’t tell it to me; tell it to the Lord.”
Then I closed my eyes and began to pray that God would give me a job as a birthday present. After church, as I was leaving the building, a young man came up to me, handed me a card, and said,
“The Holy Spirit told me that you were looking for a job.”
When he said that, I could have passed out. I had not told anyone why I came to church. Only God knew. Most miraculously, God had answered my prayer. The next morning I started my new job. October 10, 1951, is the day I was born. However, October 10, 1981, was undoubtedly the best birthday ever. It was the day I met John Bertucci whom I call my father in the Lord. That was the day I quietly asked Jesus to come into my heart. I became a new creation on my birthday and my name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This birthday was the best birthday ever.