Tom's family was never big into church when he was growing up, so when his mom started talking about Jesus and trying to confess her sins Tom became suspicious of their new found "faith". Read as Tom shares this testimony of how his parent's faith eventual brought his own revelation in Christ.
Growing up, our family went to church sporadically; Easter, maybe Christmas and a few other times during the year. We were a "good" family, but we didn't submit our lives to Jesus. If you were to ask me, I would have said that I believed in Jesus, but I also believed that we all just evolved and if there was a God, He was WAY out there and didn’t have much to do with us. I heard that Jesus died on the cross for us, but Jesus basically wasn’t part of my life. I didn’t know Him personally.
By the time I had gone away to college, my relationship with my parents had soured. I would say, “You can pick your friends, but not your family”. We argued constantly and I never wanted to be around them.
The effect of my parents' salvation upon me
After I graduated from Medical School, my parents gave their lives to Jesus one day, and were both dramatically changed.
Suddenly my Mom started calling me again and again, wanting to confess her sins, and to ask for forgiveness. This made me very uncomfortable! What happened to my mom? She was different. I told her, “Mom, I don’t know what you are up to, but I just want to let you know that I am not sorry for a single thing I ever did.” I suspected that something was up. You can’t just change like that, and be a totally different person, can you? My wife and I were sure that this supposed “change” wouldn’t last. Later, I asked my Mom, “Why are you and Dad so different now?” Apparently she told me the good news about Jesus and how I could have a new life, but I wasn’t listening.
Pacer's playoff games, and events leading up to the Billy Graham Crusade
In the spring of ‘99, my Dad invited me to all the Pacer’s home playoff games. He had to sit next to the most obnoxious Pacer’s fan ever! I took this gigantic bullhorn with me and screamed obscenities at the players during the entire game. I knew that he was “religious” and sometimes I wondered how he could sit next to me, with the way I was acting. It was then that I knew he loved me, and he made Jesus more attractive to me. One time I asked my Mom, “OK, what is the bare-bones minimum that I have to do to get into heaven?” She said, “Believe in Jesus.” I told her, “Fine, I believe in Jesus. Now why are you guys always talking about Him?” She told me, “Tom, when you believe in Jesus, you love Him. And you can’t help but talk about someone you love.” That really struck a cord in me because I didn’t talk about Jesus, because I really didn’t love Him, which meant that I must not have believed in Him.
One day, I saw a bus drive past me with a billboard on it that read, “The beginning is near.” And it had a picture on it of an older man. Well, I thought, “The End was near”, with Y2K coming up. And who was this man? I had a hard time sleeping that night. I laid there thinking about “The beginning is near” and what that meant. Somehow I felt like The Beginning was near for me, but the beginning of what? Later, my Mom called and invited us to the Billy Graham Crusade. I had never heard of Billy Graham before. She said he was an evangelist. I had heard of “televangelists” and told her I didn’t want to go. It sounded ‘religious’. She told me he was “the real thing”. That also impacted me because IF he was the real thing then there is a fake religion, a religion that doesn’t do anything for your soul. I had thought all religion was about the same. But to think that there is a real thing got me thinking. Nevertheless, I turned her down and said I wouldn’t go. But God wanted me to go, so He worked out a combination of miraculous events that included my wife’s mom, and so we decided to go to the Crusade with my parents.
The 1999 Indianapolis Billy Graham Crusade
It was Friday June 4, 1999. The Crusade started at 7 PM, and by 8:40 PM, Billy Graham still hadn’t come up to speak. I was incredibly irritated. I leaned over to my wife and said, “This is annoying. I came here to listen to Billy Graham and all these people keep getting up, talking about their religion, singing and waving their hands in the air.”
(Little did I know that “The beginning was near.”)
Then Billy Graham got up to speak. It was as if the Holy Spirit grabbed me by the throat and told me to listen. I was sitting on the edge of my seat. He told me that I had a hole in my heart that was created by God and it could only be filled by Jesus! With 50,000 people in the audience I felt like he was talking directly to me! He said, “The reason why you have so many problems in your life is because you haven’t made Jesus Lord over your life.” Then I could see my life, and what I had made of it using all of my God-given talents for myself. My life was all about Me, and I thought highly of myself. But I didn’t think much of most people. I yelled at them while I was driving. I talked bad about them when they weren’t around. And I put everyone into 1 of 4 categories. They were either rude, stupid, weird, or ugly. And most of time I thought they fit into more than one category! That was my life. There were other things that I wanted to change about myself, but I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, there were sins I couldn’t stop committing because I tried to do it myself, apart from Jesus. I was in a desperate situation—I saw that I deserved to go to hell. I turned to Jesus and asked Him to save me. Then Billy Graham asked us to stand up, come down and invite Jesus into our heart.
When I stood up, God filled my heart with love for everyone. I suddenly felt an intense love for my parents and I can praise Jesus by telling you that today my wife and I and my parents enjoy a wonderful relationship. Jesus has changed me! I am a new creation! The old Tom Eads is gone. “I have been crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, Jesus Christ now lives in me.” Jesus has turned the water into wine.
Today I am happy to say that I am a new man. Jesus has not only changed me and given me a love for others [instead of "categorizing" them], but He has also changed my relationships. I have a renewed relationship with my parents. I am a better father, husband, and worker. I am certainly not perfect, and continue to sin, but it is powerful what Jesus can do to your heart and life. Thank you Jesus for changing me, and straightening out a life that I couldn't straighten on my own. Thank you Jesus for dying for me.