300 SW CLEVELAND STREET
PO BOX 267
Silver Lake, MN 55381
ABOUT THE PASTOR
Tom C. Rakow, D.Min.
I'm not as handsome as the cowboy in the graphic - but I do love Jesus! Below is my personal testimony, most of which appeared in the June, 1995, issue of Decision Magazine. At the bottom of the page you will also find some additional links that may be of interest. Click on either of these two links for information regarding two interdenominational ministries (the Christian Deer Hunters Association and the Christian Anglers Association) which the Lord allowed me to found. A number of members of the Grace Bible Church are also actively involved in these ministries.
While growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, I attended church and Sunday school. I was baptized and confirmed, and I assumed that this made me a Christian.
My grandfather, whom I idolized, died unexpectedly of a heart attack when I was 13. Six months later my older brother was killed in a car accident.
The loss of my brother was especially hard on our close-knit family. I remember standing at the graveside the day my brother was buried and wondering, "How can a God who is supposed to love us allow so much pain?"
I continued attending church with my parents, but my doubts about God's goodness grew rapidly. When our pastor preached about the need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit convicted me, but I still blamed God for the deaths of my grandfather and my brother. Instead of turning my life over to God, I decided never to love anyone again. I figured that if I didn't love people, I wouldn't be hurt if they died.
Soon my life became controlled by hatred and bitterness. I spent the next six years trying to find happiness in sex, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Eventually I became so depressed that I began praying to die.
Finally, out of desperation, I started secretly reading the Bible that my parents had given me for confirmation. For several months I searched the Scriptures. Despite my immoral life style I had somehow fooled myself into thinking that I was a Christian. But the Jesus about whom I read in the Bible seemed different from the Jesus I thought I knew.
Then in 1977, the day after my twenty-first birthday, I was at home watching television when a Billy Graham Crusade telecast came on. On the telecast college students were telling that Jesus had changed their lives. Their testimonies caused me to think: "If they need Christ, perhaps I do too."
Mr. Graham preached about the need to turn from sin and receive Christ by faith. I knew that this is what I had been searching for, but I was afraid. I had been in car accidents and motorcycle accidents; I had had knives pulled on me and a loaded gun stuck in my face. But none of these had scared me as much as the idea of living for Jesus Christ. I didn't want to go to hell, but I was terrified of what people might say about me.
Nevertheless, that evening I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to come into my life and change me. Not everything in my life changed immediately, but God was faithful and sent Christians to help me.
God led me to prepare for full-time ministry. I attended a junior college in Wisconsin for two years and then studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. After being graduated from Moody, I received a masters degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. In 1995 I received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Bethel Theological Seminary, near St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1988, while pastoring the Beulah Wesleyan Church in rural Wisconsin I met and married my wonderful wife, Beth. We moved to Silver Lake in 1989 when I began pastoring the Grace Bible Church (Independent & Evangelical). Since then the Lord has blessed us with four daughters.