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The Good Fight
By Thomas Irvin
For when we were yet without strength
come to a place where I personally called upon
I grew up in and around Memphis, Tennessee.
I was consistently inconsistent concerning
church attendance and spiritual
matters. Fortunately, when our
family did attend church, we
visited Gospel-preaching Baptist
churches. Therefore, I grew up
knowing the Gospel, though I did
not trust Christ until I was 29.
Allow me to take you through 37
years of personal history.
My curiosity was peaked, my heart was
convicted, and I needed answers. Yet, I was still
in Saudi Arabia. There was no pastor
or church available, so I did what
any sensible American would do in
2010. I turned to YouTube. The only
pastor I knew of was Adrian Rogers.
He had a sermon online called The
Simplicity of Salvation. He made
salvation so clear to me.
Man that is born of a woman is of
few days, and full of trouble (Job
14:1). I was stillborn to a 16-year-old homeless
mother on September 24, 1981, in Memphis,
Tennessee. After I was resuscitated, the Lord
saw fit to restore my life. Even though the
Lord blessed me with a wonderful mother who
was not slack concerning her responsibilities,
starting a family in an unbiblical fashion
produces a troublesome life.
In January 2000, I joined the U.S. Air Force. I
became a defense contractor in Saudi Arabia in
2006. While there, I met an American Muslim
family who gave up United States citizenship
to live in an Islamic country. They were finding
that to be a bad decision. A member of the
family asked me a question I could not shake:
“How does a person become a Christian?”
Until then, I assumed I was a Christian. I was
from the South and surrounded by churches,
but it never occurred to me that we must
become Christians. This burst of light shone
on my empty existence. I knew the answer to
their question. I explained that all are required
to trust in the death, burial, and resurrection
of Jesus. The trouble is that I had never actually
20 I struggled with the decision to
call upon the Lord for nearly two
weeks. I understood my 29 years
of baggage could not come with
me into the Christian life. Considering what
Christ suffered for me brought me to a final
conclusion. I happily bowed my head and came
to be identified with the whosoevers who have
called upon the name of the Lord. Our Savior
is so wonderful! He reached down into Islamic
darkness and saved a wretch like me.
And all men shall fear, and shall declare the
work of God (Psalm 64:9).
I left Saudi Arabia a saved man. During my
time in Saudi, I came to be involved in Mixed
Martial Arts (MMA). From Saudi Arabia I
moved to Long Island, New York, for my next
training camp. While there, I attended a Bible-
believing church. The Lord made clear to me
that MMA fighting was not for Christians.
My MMA training sessions subjected me to
certain lewd fellows of the baser sort as well as
colorful music and language. It became clear
as a follower of Christ, I would have to put
childish and spiritually unprofitable activities
away. My replacement for MMA training was
standing on busy shopping corners to pass out
Gospel tracts. The weapons of my new warfare
were not carnal. I became engaged in the good
fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).
Living in Long Island, New York, depleted
my savings. I began looking for work, but a
background in aircraft armament systems
from the Air Force was not exactly marketable.
After diligent search, reality set in that living
in New York was not sustainable. The defense
company I worked for in Saudi Arabia called
about a position in Egypt.
The Lord helped me find a faithful Bible-
believing missionary in Cairo. Excited about
spending time with a missionary in Egypt,
I accepted the job. On my way to Egypt, I
was sent to the Naval Air Station in Virginia
Beach for training. While there, I searched for
a church to attend and found Bible Believers
Baptist Church outside the Navy Base. In the
church service, the pastor did something I
found incredible. He preached line-by-line and
verse-by-verse through the book of Acts.
It was refreshing. I stayed after church to talk
with Pastor Tim MacDonald for nearly three
hours. He gave me a book and a CD produced
by James W. Knox. The disc had James’ Bible
school course How To Study and Teach the
Bible. My life was greatly enriched! He taught
me to unequivocally trust God’s Word!
at Camp Leatherneck, working with the U.S.
Military. While there, the chaplain allowed me
to teach the Bible in the chapel each Saturday.
This Bible study was open to anyone interested
in coming. The same men from Uganda came
consistently. These men were wonderfully
receptive to God’s Word and captivated my
heart, sparking the desire to learn about the
I planned a trip to Uganda, and my friends
in Afghanistan made arrangements for me to
preach daily while in Africa. The excitement
was mounting, but then we received the news
that President Obama was drawing down the
war in Afghanistan. Instructions were given
to prepare for immediate return to the United
States. This included canceling upcoming trips.
I was devastated. It seemed to me the door was
closed. As instructed, I helped prepare for the
return to the States.
Returning to DeLand, I eased back into Bible
school and various church ministries. I also
married the most wonderful woman God
could give an undeserving man. We spent our
evenings searching Google Maps for various
countries to see whom God had laboring there,
all the while praying the Lord would show
As I was living in Egypt—encouraged to
study and provoked to trust God while
serving the Lord with a missionary—the
Lord gave me a taste of my future. The
missionary and I spent hours each night
on the streets of Cairo witnessing. This
was an exciting time. The Lord set my
heart ablaze for missions. After one
year my contract ended. I moved to
DeLand, Florida, and started
attending classes at The
DeLand School of THE
BIBLE. I had been in DeLand
one year when I
was offered my
last contract in
spent the next