After All this Time

09/29/2017 .
Alexandra Applegate  .  Storytelling Intern

It was the music that drew him in. The voices and the instruments arranged together to make a beautiful sound that echoed off the walls and moved Sid to tears. Sid had been a musician most of his life but had never felt the music like this. Sid had been asked to play the trumpet at a Christian music festival and suddenly felt tears coming down his face- it was the first time he really felt God’s presence. Unfortunately, it would take another 60 years before he would decide to come back to a church.


Sid first began going to church in his thirties when his wife decided they should get their two daughters involved in a church community. Sid and the minister of the church quickly became close friends and he found himself becoming involved with the church. But Sid didn’t quite understand what other people found so compelling about God. He felt it was just what everyone did and Sid couldn’t seem to connect with anything he heard or taught. “There was something missing. But I couldn’t put my finger on it,” Sid said.


When the minister moved away, Sid’s family stopped going to church. His faith had never gone deeper than the surface and soon disappeared as time went on.


Sid and his wife raised their daughters and then took to traveling after they retired—never once returning to church. They lived an exciting, long life together but his wife was tragically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in their early eighties. In the midst of her worsening condition, she fell and broke her tailbone and required extra medical attention at home. Sid decided to hire Rebecca to care for his wife during the last few months of her life.


Rebecca first arrived on Christmas morning in 2009 and offered a Bible to Sid and his wife. He was instantly offended and told her he didn’t believe in God. Rebecca put her Bible away and didn’t speak of it again.


After his wife passed away in 2010, Sid became very lonely. He was by himself for most of the day and the silence would eat away at him. Luckily, Rebecca continued to offer her friendship to Sid — like rides to the grocery store — if he ever needed it. As Rebecca and Sid grew closer, he discovered Rebecca’s heart for her father’s church in the Philippines. Her passion compelled Sid to start donating monthly to help the church financially. However, he still refused to go to church and continued to insist he didn’t believe in God.


Last spring, Rebecca’s brother Billy, was singing in the gospel choir at Saddleback the week before Easter and wondered if Sid would like to see their performance. With Sid's background in music, he thought it would be interesting to go see Billy sing in the choir.


Sid was instantly impressed by the beautiful music that bounced off of the church walls. He was drawn in by the music and their singing. But then, Sid heard about Jesus.


“The music was great but Rick was unlike anybody I had ever heard,” Sid said. Jesus’ story and gift to mankind was brought to light in a way that had never made sense to him before. When Pastor Rick announced the Good Friday and Easter services, Rebecca knew this was her moment. “This was where Rebecca came in. She’d been waiting all these years so she finally invited me to church,” Sid said.


Sid was ecstatic to return to Saddleback after that first service. He even arrived at church early to experience everything and get a good seat. He couldn’t get enough. The truth of how Jesus offers healing and freedom through his sacrifice was revealed to him. After all those years, Jesus finally clicked for Sid.


“Where was I sixty years ago when I went to church? I’m sure I heard this but the crucifixion was just a black and white picture on the wall. Now it was real. I’d never believed what I heard about Jesus until I heard it at Saddleback. It was a new revelation to me. He went from being two-dimensional, black and white to three-dimensional with sound,” Sid said.  


After Easter, Sid continued to attend Saddleback every week and signed up to take Class 101. He read as many books as he could about Jesus and everything Sid had heard about for years finally came together. On June 10, Sid was finally baptized at the age of 94.


“It wasn’t something I sought out. This late in life, I finally found the truth. I used to feel lonely every day but I don’t feel lonely anymore. I’m a new me. I’m part of a family now,” Sid said.


“I’m so fortunate that Rebecca invited me. I never would have gone if she hadn’t. If you’re not invited, you won’t go. It’s that simple,” Sid said.


Sid continues to read as many books as he can and is looking forward to meeting with a SHAPE guide to determine where he can continue serving the church and growing in his new faith. He is even traveling to the Philippines with Rebecca to see the work they’re doing there and to share his story with the church there.


“I’m still in the process of learning. Sometimes it’s confusing and a little overwhelming but I want to search for it. I’ve never felt that way. It’s like God was waiting for me all this time,” Sid said.

Learn more about next steps for your faith at saddleback.com/freshstart.