Testimony of Anthony Russo

Written by Anthony Russo

April 20, 2024

Anthony Russo is the newest member of the Striving for Eternity speaking team. He is available for virtual and in-person events. Learn more about him and the topics he speaks about here.
The following is Anthony’s testimony.

What Was Your Life Like Before Christ?

Raised Catholic, when I was 13 years old I “walked an aisle and prayed a prayer” at a protestant church service, like so many others before and after me. In truth, responding to the “altar call” gave me a different religion, but for the next twenty years I wasn’t a born-again Christian, I was simply a born-again hypocrite. Despite seasons of intense Bible reading, study, and church activity, I had no genuine fruit of repentance and faith in my life.

During those years I married at twenty and divorced at thirty. During the separation phase, God did not save the marriage as I had prayed He would. In bitterness, I cast off any last vestiges of belief in Him.

For a year-and-a-half I lived like a typical lost person going through the throes of divorce. During that time I explored other religions and no religion at all. In the end, I settled on a path of determined self-help-ism where I read and incorporated anything that could improve me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I even graded myself on daily, weekly, and monthly self-improvement goals. I became “Type A” about being “Type A”! By September of 2005, I had been divorced nearly a year and had started life over. Besides being in the best physical shape of my life and pulling myself up from rock bottom, I was dating a girl, had recovered financially from the divorce and was again making good money, and had moved to Florida, bought a convertible, and was living the dream of most unsaved guys.

How Did the Lord Save You?

Life, by all worldly standards, was very, very good. But inwardly I was miserable. I was suffering from severe guilt about how I was living and questions about my career and future, all of which also brought on panic attacks. I knew from those 20 years as a professing Christian that, were I to die, I would face the God I’d disavowed and spend eternity in hell.

In late summer of 2005, in maybe what could be called existential desperation, I visited a church. I didn’t know it was a liberal church that did not preach the gospel, I just knew it was a church. I still remember the “sermon.” It was some horrible homily centered around a tragic, hopeless song from Les Miserables. At the time it spoke to me because it seemed comforting but I knew something wasn’t right. I don’t recall ever going back.

On September 15, 2005, through no action of my own, I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I told my girlfriend I “wanted to go back to God,” though I was unsure what that would look like. She was an atheist and wanted no part of that. We ended up both upset, and she went home. There, alone in my apartment, I knew that I had to go back to God. I repented for every sin I could think of, past and present. No church. No sermon. No altar call. Just total repentance and surrender to God, the God I’d known about for twenty years and had turned my back on for a year and a half.

That night and the ensuing days God broke me completely so that He could rebuild me and make me not how I designed, but how He did.

How is Your Life Different Now?

Immediately God removed that girlfriend from my life. Eventually, I understood how I had made her an idol. At the same time, He got me into a church. I enrolled in a DivorceCare class to go back and revisit old wounds and hoped to heal the right way—God’s way. It was a nominal Christian church in a dying post-Christian denomination. Despite its flaws, God used it as an incubator for me, a baby Christian. I began reading my Bible. A lot. The guilt was gone immediately and the panic attacks soon after. I had a peace I never had before, not because of a religious experience but because I knew my sins were forgiven.

Over the first few months, I had to unlearn a lot of what I understood about God, about me, and about life. Once the old building and foundation were demolished, God built a new man on a new foundation. In the years since I have experienced the new life of a Christian. Sins I used to do, I don’t anymore. I strive to know God and His Word, and to obey Him and put His Word into practice.

I met my wife, Amy, at that church. Long story short, by God’s grace, we married April 2007. We’ve had many trials and transitions over the years, but God has always been faithful, even when we were faithless. The Lord continues to show me areas of sin in my life and teaches me patience, trust, humility, and so much more.

Twenty years ago my goal was essentially to be as close to humanly perfect in this life as I could be in my own strength. Since then I have only trusted in Christ’s righteousness for any good in me, and I eagerly wait with great hope for His Perfect righteousness to be fully and finally culminated in the life to come!

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