Bob Elsaesser

Bob ElsaesserEnter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it. Why am I saying that? Because it is a good way to explain how I spent the first twenty-nine years of my life running with the wrong people. I knew the broad road well.

I was born in New York. It was seven years after the end of World War II, and my dad had just come back from the war in Europe. He was like many returning war heroes who remained in New York City to seek fortune and fame. This is where the Spirit of God breathed life to my body and that is where I started on my journey along with my parents on“the broad road” through the streets of Manhattan. These were noisybusy city streets, packed with people strivingwith each other to get a bite out of the Big Apple.

What I didn’t know for many years was the broad road we were on was heading for destruction. On the broad road there are two main allurements, one is profit and the other one is pleasure. The enemy of our souls puts the baitsof wealth and fame before us but never shows the hook. The Devil gets many to believe the more money and thingsyou have the happier you will be so youmust get busy and get as much as you can. The hook is that you don’t realize getting those things takes precious time from relationships with God, family, friends and neighbors, the things that really have eternal value. Without them there would be loneliness and misery. Children missing their fathers too busy running catching commuter trains to New York and not returning till late after dark and their mothers left at home struggling to deal with four children find themselves looking for answers and companionship in other places. In our neighborhood most everyone in my age group were experiencing similar realities. They also had parents that were busy doing their work and nobody really spent time together, reading the Bible, talking about God, or praying at the dinner table. This left us all wide open to listen to bad advice that the devil was peddling. This was New York in the 60s and it is much the same as today. Generation to generation the bait remains the same.

So that was the environment which I grew up in. And as the road I was on started getting longer and broader. I started falling into more and more trapsalong the way through my teens. I used to get into trouble with my peers doing things that we thought were amusing, but it really was hurtful to others. Teasing other kids and doing pranks were common practice. Thinking that these pranks were just little things and there is nothing wrong with themwas the excuse to do even worse things which really hurtparents and friends badly. Things which I am sorry for today.

Getting older I started falling in with other teenagers that were experimenting with drugs at high school. That started to be a big problem for many of us. This was during the late 60s Woodstock era. Everyone probably knows from the history channels and other TVmusic channelsabout the glorifiedmusic culture of the 60s. People would ask “Oh wow you were at Woodstock?” I would respond “Yes but would you like to hear aboutthe bad trips on LSD the heroin and cocaine overdoses that many experienced there.” So I continued down this broad road getting in deeper and deeper mileafter mile. Only if anyone had told me of the joyful life Jesus offered that never lets you down and brought contentment unspeakable and full of Glory! I already knew that the peace, love and happiness the hippies were promoting wasn’t what they said it was.

As my life progressed, loneliness kept growing and growing and growing. I couldn’t find contentment in life together with lost people that were drinking, telling lies, running after girls high on drugs. I was becoming miserable. I felt isolated and alone and was doing a lot more drugs as time slowly past. I was blinded by the pills and alcoholand could not see trouble coming my way. All we saw was the next party, the next rock concert, the next event and that was the wayit was for many, many years. I was twenty-nine years of age before I was finally released from the trap I fell in. I was very fortunate to have made it alive.

In those twenty-nine years I never had or read the Bible. My family did go to church on some Sundays but we all glazed over and fell asleep in the pew during the services. We would go home, have something to eat and that would be it for religion. Looking around it was much the same for the others who were there: a small collection of half dead souls. If the pastor started to get a little too close, the church leaders would get rid of him and get a new more comfortable one. We had many pastors pass through.

We were all idolaters. In New York City every year, we would watch the giant apple come down at Time Square get drunk and try to drive home. We would idolize all sorts of things. A big house, a Mercedes, and a beautiful wifeand a star quarterback. You could brag with your friends, "Oh, you got this, I got that." That was the way it was. Lifestyles of the Rich and famous was the TV show of the day. It was all a mirage, when you thought you had it all it just disappeared or wasn’t good enough.

I left the New York scene for college in Colorado. My reason for going to college in Colorado was because John Denver recommended a Rocky Mountain High. I figured I needed to get out of the New York state of mind. I could go to University of Denver and could go skiing on the weekends and get high every night just like John. After partying for four years that turned into five, I finally graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a minor in Biology My father then asked what I was going to do now that you have finish school.

I didn’t know, so he offered to help me working the in retail trade back in NYC. New York City, for a young manin his early 20s coming from college with a drinking problem, was a dangerous change. I would go to work in the morning and at the end of the day spend time with my buddies in the advertising business drinking at the pubs on first avenue. It took a toll on my health mentally and physically I needed something in the morning to overcome the hangover in order to make it to work like coffee and speed tablets. Then do it all over again the next day.

After a few years of this I became worn down and depressed. My body was craving drugs and alcohol and my spirit found no peace.I got out of New York once again with a security and monitoring company in New Haven, Connecticut. It was much easier than the retail life in Manhattan. I was now selling security equipment to large companies and making lots of easy money. I had money and free time now. But I just got right back to the bars and hanging out with the same old type of people as before with more time to do it. They were just like me travelingthe broad road to destruction. I was getting deeper in the clutches of the Devil. He was closing in for the kill.

And then one morning God stepped in. I got a call from one of the big churches in New Haven to come and help them design a fire system and intrusion detection system. This was the big historical church on the square that Jonathan Edwards used to attend when he studied at Yale University. I went there and spoke to the caretaker of the church who said, “Bob we need a security system and fire protection because of some break ins in the area.” He smiled as he spoke. There was something unusual about him. He seemed to be looking through me and the way he smiled was different from the people I knew.

A few days later I handed him a quote and he smiled again at me and said, "Bob, I want you to come with me and the rector of the church this weekend. We are driving to Litchfield Connecticut for the weekend. I wanted you to sit down with the rector and talk about security for the church. If it works as I think it will you can have the contract.” So I got in the car that weekend and went with them. It was a couple of hours later when we arrived at something that looked like a castle in the middle of the forest. It was a Jesuit monastery. There were a lot of people to greet our arrival. They all seemed so happy to see us. They were handing out Bibles and they gave me a Bible and it had book markers with verses on them with my name on it. I noticed on the back of the book markers it said DecoloresCursilloMen’s number three.

I remembered being a bit uncomfortable as they told us no pagers, or smoking or talking that first afternoon, I noticed that the Andy the rector of church needing security was nervous too. There were 60 to 70 people praying downstairs in the basement for each and every one of us all night long. They were praying for a move of the Holy Spirit. They were praying for the lost (meaning me). On the first day I started warming up to people, and on the second day they started taking us down the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross. I felt that day that somebody really kind loved me. His name was Jesus.

And finally that Sunday, in my spirit I felt the strong presence of the Lord for the first time. I cried for Joy. I had cried many times before in Misery, but now I felt the Lord working in me and giving me purpose for my life. This was where I would finally get off the broad road and found the entrance to the narrow gate and the roadthat leads to eternal life. The Lord told me the road would be difficult and sanctification takes a life time to run but he would be there for me all the way. The devil will do everything he can to get me back but the Lord and His angels would have my back.Ephesians chapter six talks about the full armor of God;Paul knew we would be under attack because we are at war with Satan and his organized spiritual army armed with cruel hate. Paulalso reminds us to pray without ceasing and keepour eyes open because around every corner my friends on every corner lies the snares of a subtle and cunning devil.

You can see their snares everywhere you look: on the billboards, internet, television, or you can hear them on radio or in the gossip on the street. The devil will try to attack your family and friends. He can attack your wife and can attack your children. You can see it in the Bible: Samson and his Delilah; Job and his wife, Eli and his sons, and David and Absalom. When we are called to tell others about the good news of God, you can be sure Satan will be around. Why was Jesus praying Father protect us? He knew we would have trouble. What was He saying? Watch and Pray! He knew we would be at war.

For the first 29 years I was living in the world. That ended in 1981 but for the next 10 years with a lot of help from the Lord we changed my direction. He sent men who knew God to encourage. I knew the Lord was faithful; my relationship with the Lord grew little by little slowly ever closer. I for the first few years all I needed was to get closer to the Lord. The lord opened doors to get me to Georgia. I started meeting some really serious spiritual Christians who asked me about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When I was up in New Haven they were talking about it, but had not been baptized. But I was really curious to know about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There was a Holy Ghost revival going on in Atlanta. I attended a Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting and became friends with their director Jimmy Rodgers. I also became an usher at Mount Paran Church of God I saw the manifestations of the Holy Spirit every day. Attending breakfast meetings with Novell Hayes, Lester Sumrall, and many others, and ushering Sunday night revival meetings at Mount Paran Church I knew it would not be long until I caught the fire. All this happened almost 40 years ago and the revival lasted a decade.

During those days in Georgia, I worked as the sales rep for the Wurth Company of West Germany and for 10 years. I helped them open up the southeast region until the end of the 80s.We were selling automotive supplies to foreign car dealers which left me with many great friends throughout the south which I still talk with to this day. Following this I have spent the last 28 years with the Lord working on an opportunity He opened for me to build a business that has taken me through just about every major town in Brazil. We developed wooden products for American, Canadian and Mexican companies such as furniture, picture frames, construction moldings and lumber. Recently we developed similar business in Peru and Chile. The Lord has been good to me.

Most importantly for the last 10 years the Lord has asked me to introduce young people to Him. This was something I really was wanting to do. My friend Jimmy Rodgers asked me to get together with another friend John Upchurch who was working with the Godmobile ministry. Leading young people to the Lord is my delight. I am always amazed by going to these events. Every young person passing by at these fairs and festivals still reminds me of the days when I needed someone to tell me about Jesus. I found that when you show up for Jesus he shows up with power. The hours at the fairs when nothing would happen, I would ask the Lord, “What is going on here? You never failed.” And then all of a sudden the wind of the Holy Spirit would come from nowhere. The atmosphere would change, and you knew God was there. Things were going to start happening. People were getting touched and opened their heart to Jesus Christ. People were getting saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. He is truly wonderful. I am so thankful the Lord has given me this opportunity. It has blessed me greatly.

I close with the message from the Lord. Here is something good to close any conversation with those on the broad road. It comes from Revelation 3:20. Jesus says “Behold I stand at the door and Knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and sup with him and he with me.” He has been knocking on the door ever since you were born. Open it and let Him in. He will be the best friend you ever had in your lifeand altogether lovely.

Bob's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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