On July 6, 1973, at Young Life’s Silver Cliff Ranch in Colorado, I came to understand in my mind and heart who Jesus is and his relevance to life. Who he is, what he said, what he did, his love for people and the significance of his death and resurrection.

There was a battle that was going on…

I was supposed to go to Florida which would’ve prevented me from going on this trip. I stumbled and almost fell off the cliff at our bus stop at Royal Gorge on the way out. When given the opportunity to be alone for 20 minutes and think about the significance of Jesus crucifixion and death, I was attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. Someone on our trip brought drugs. He offered some to me and I smoked pot at camp.

There’s an enemy who opposes God who wants to steal, kill and destroy our lives. Jesus came to give us life to the full. I’m glad the battles didn’t stop God’s plan for my life.

Steve Dunlap and Bobby Kelland who were on Work Crew and went to Woodlawn, shared their stories about who Christ was in their lives to all the guys in my cabin. It was like a light bulb turned on. My understanding went from my head to my heart. In a moment, I had a complete personal faith.

So thankful for my Young Life leaders John and Pat Gertsmyer who invested in me and for Mike Wilmer and Ann Sheavly Wilmer who invited me.

The next day, July 7th, John walked me down to the camp store and I bought a Bible. John told me to start out by reading the Gospel of John. I started reading on the bus ride home. It was like reading an exciting adventure novel. I read up to chapter 3 where Nicodemus, a Pharisee, asked Jesus what he needed to do to fully know God. Jesus said flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit gives birth to Spirit. You need a spiritual rebirth.

In the “Chosen Series” Nicodemus says to Jesus, “If you keep doing what you’re doing we’re going to have to follow the law of Moses. Jesus replied, “I am the law of Moses!”

With John chapter 3 in mind, at a bus stop, I went in and bought a pack of cigars and handed them out to the guys including John Gertsmyer and said “I’m a newborn baby Christian have a cigar.” Joe Belinko’s adventure as a Christ follower had begun!

Who would’ve ever thought that I would become a Young Life leader at Franklin High School and be on Young Life staff for 45 years!

My newfound faith in Christ which started when I was 18 years old has stood the test of time now for more than 50 years. It has impacted every aspect of my life. Jesus is God in the flesh, he died for our sin and makes it possible for us to be forgiven and have a right relationship with God. It’s through faith in Christ not just in our minds but in our hearts.

Jesus is the author of life. To infinity and beyond!