Baptism | Doug Gotsch

Baptism | Doug Gotsch

September 11, 2022 |

What was life like before you met Jesus?

I believe that I have always known about Jesus, but never really accepted him in my life. Growing up in the shadows of Philadelphia my childhood was filled with church, youth groups, and traveling ministry with my dad, but I didn't know what it meant to have Jesus in my life. It was just something we did. Then in 1988, right before my fourteenth birthday, my father died and what connection I did have with Jesus died with him. I was angry, lost, and my whole life turned upside down. I found science and this knowledge to contradict what I had learned as a kid about the Bible, God, and Jesus. I reasoned myself to the point that Jesus was just a man, nothing more. I even argued with the pastor who was marrying Amber and me on this point as well as Jehovah's witness who came knocking on my door. I walked away from what faith I had for what amounts to 30 years. In 2004, my mother died from what the police said was foul play by my stepfather. Eleven days later my stepfather committed suicide due to the unrelenting strain put on him by the investigation of what I knew was false in my heart. My life was filled with anger, hate, and judgment of others. I looked to possessions and other gratifying sins to find the happiness that I wanted. We all know how that works… it didn't. I honestly didn't realize at those moments I wasn't truly fulfilled in my life, I just saw it as my life — happy to pursue my job and try and make more money to do the next project on the house or buy the next cool thing I really didn't need.

How did you meet Jesus?

I was re-introduced to Jesus on a few occasions in recent years. I went to my wife Amber's baptism because while I wasn't a follower, I still knew what baptism represented. This began a very slow progression of my re-introduction to Jesus and faith. Another time I attended a service with my wife Amber. I can't tell you why I went to that service as Amber had asked me to attend on past occasions, but I had declined. Maybe it was all the negativity in the world, the crushing politics everywhere, Facebook and the telephone tough guys there, who actually knows (well one guy did, God). I went and the sermon was captivating — Jake made jokes because that's what Jake does. One sentence really stuck out: "This isn't my kingdom, my kingdom awaits". Wow! For whatever reason, I couldn't stop thinking about that statement even as a non-Christian. All this stuff in the world doesn't really matter, there is something better. Still brings a tear to my eye when I think of the power of that statement. That opened my heart to start getting to know this Christian thing again and Jesus. I wanted to understand why this made such an impact on me. I picked up my childhood Bible I got from my first youth group and started reading the gospel of Matthew. It didn't make a ton of sense, but things did stand out. I saw Jesus' forgiving power, his love for those around him, and his love of the Father. Riches and power do nothing for you in the eyes of God, demonstrating to me that joy is found in God. Everything I was chasing no longer held merit. Seeing the same things that plagued the world then still does now really hit home. I didn't want to be that person anymore, passing judgment, being uncaring, cold, and heartless. I wanted to, no, needed to change. John 8:12 Jesus says "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life”. For so long I walked in darkness, maybe it was time to follow the light.

After being saved by Jesus, what is your life like now?

It's been about two years since I began to follow Jesus. I am a different person. I feel the power of the Holy Spirit guiding me and changing my heart. I feel convicted by messages at church and those I read just reinforce my faith in Jesus. My everyday life has been affected by accepting God's grace, repenting from my sins, and beginning to walk a path more like Jesus. I want to help others. I want to be involved in the church. Looking back at my life, I see how God's plan brought me to Iowa and wanted me here. I feel this is exactly where he wants me. It all happened for a reason. Being a part of the Veritas Urbana church plant has been such a fulfilling part of my young Christian life that it makes me stronger in my faith every week. I pray that someone comes to church for the first time or begins to come again and finds Jesus because of the work we are doing in Urbana to spread the gospel of Jesus. In John 4:13-14 Jesus says to the Samaritan woman “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”