Pastor Tony Barbosa
"I was raised in a very conservative Catholic home, where my family were very devoted Catholics. From my childhood to my late teenage years, I went to church regularly with my mom and dad, and my two sisters. In my early 20’s I began to attend church less and less, and by my mid 20’s I stopped going to church altogether.
Church for me became nothing more than a religious organization to make people feel good about themselves, and to help those who were in need. I began to attend Church only on special occasions such as weddings, Christmas, and Easter.
At 22 years old I married a wonderful woman, we were blessed with two children, but unfortunately in our marriage we had no place for God at all. I came to the point where I didn’t even believe that God existed at all, practically an atheist. I was worldly minded and extremely selfish, causing much destruction in my family. This type of living went on until the day my wife asked me for a divorce.
I must confess that was the worst news I had ever heard in my entire life. Thinking about my children, and the destruction that divorce would cause in our lives, I began to search for answers on how to fix our situation. During this time of great turmoil and struggle in our family, my wife visited First Baptist Church of Warwick, Rhode Island, where she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
One Friday driving home from work, with tears in my eyes from thinking about our situation, I remember saying these words “if is there a God, I need you more than ever.” The very next morning at home alone with my children, I received a visit from Pastor Sam Stricklin. I had never met him before and had no idea that he was a Pastor.
He spent almost two hours with me that day talking to me about the Lord. The following Saturday, to my amazement, He came and visited me again. We spent a good two hours talking about the Lord and before he left he invited me to attend church.
From the two meetings that we had, I was deeply touched that he was praying for my family. He was the only person that I knew that had expressed any concern about what my family was going through.
His concern and care for me and my family, created an interest in me to visit the church, so we began to attend First Baptist Church as a family. We received marriage counseling, and his teaching and preaching had me so curious that I began to attend every church service. The result was an intense conviction in my heart that I resisted for about four months. I found myself comparing what I knew from the Catholic Church to what was preached from the Bible.
Then under heavy conviction on January 24, 1999, I called on the LORD to save my soul and accept HIM as my LORD and SAVIOR. I’m forever thankful for my brother in Christ, Robert Page, who presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ that day. On February 7, 1999, I was baptized at First Baptist Church by Pastor Sam Stricklin.
Looking back today, I praise His name for my salvation, for the hope of heaven, for restoring my marriage, for blessing us with another child, for the great privilege of serving Him, and for the many blessings He has given us over the years."