Adjalala Pericles was a pastor's son and grew up learning about God and reading the Bible. He became a preacher himself as a young man and never doubted he was saved and going to heaven until a fellow pastor confronted his love of money and possessions.
Pericles had been pastoring a large, prosperous church, but what the crowds coming along every Sunday did not know was that Pericles was lying from the pulpit.
"Some years ago I had a chicken business and I got a bank loan to start out," he explains. "But I made everyone believe that God had sent me the money divinely because of my devoted prayer life. I made everyone believe that I had a gift to pray for financial breakthroughs in their lives.
"If people needed a job or to become financially stable they would come to me for prayer. I can't explain it but those prayers were often answered."
Pericles confesses that he also exaggerated stories about God's work in peoples' lives to emotionally manipulate people into making commitments to Jesus.
"It was working because I was telling people what they wanted to hear," he admits. "I was drawing crowds and keeping them with a trail of lies to induce them to support my ministry."
Then one day a friend confronted Pericles about whether he had truly given himself spiritually to Jesus and been changed from within, or whether he had only an outward appearance of Christianity.
soul.His friend explained salvation more accurately to Pericles – how the wrath of God is against humanity because of sin; how we deserve the justice of God which is death for our sin; and how the great love of God made an escape for us through the death of Jesus Christ, Himself fully God, and at the same time fully man, in our place on the cross.
He talked about being "born of God" from John 1:12-13 in the Bible, which says; 'Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God; children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or of a husband's will, but born of God.'
As a result of that meeting, Pericles truly turned from his sin to God and from his manipulation of people and using the things of God for his own purposes. He asked God to change him from the inside, to give him a new heart, as the Bible says, and to bring his dead spirit to life.
"Though I was a committed church goer before my true conversion, I confess that a great change happened in my life. My prayer life became more about asking for opportunities to share Jesus with others, rather than gaining material things. I truly feel free indeed.
"I confessed my lies to my congregation and I will never preach again about trusting in material possessions," Pericles promises.
He quotes Matthew 7:22-23, where Jesus tells people who have done miracles in His name that He never knew them, and 2 Corinthians 3:5, where the Apostle Paul tells even professing Christians to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith.
"These two verses helped me to stop and examine myself and my Christian walk," he says. "I encourage people who grew up in the church to take a test in humility and check if they have ever truly repented of (turned away from) their sin.
"Make no mistake," he warns, "There is a faith that can help you get stuff but it is not a saving faith. Don't be misled by the needs of your flesh and what this material and passing world can give you.
"Don't feed your selfish desires, feed your spirit and soul by studying the Bible, meeting with other believers, praying and telling others about Jesus."•