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Ira Curl

To all those who are loved by God and called to be saints:
“And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 2:6)

Praising Jesus, my Lord and Redeemer, I want to begin my testimony with this scripture because these words don’t just give me the comforting assurance of what His eternal plans are for me, but also some needed perspective into how our Lord continues to shape me to His ends. God has so generously blessed me, and the fruit of those blessings I see in my loving wife Julia and my four precious children, Sam, Sarah, Anna, and Daniel. I truly believe our life together is a temporary foretaste to the riches that await in heaven!

The son of two loving parents, Andy and Sandra Curl, and the youngest of three boys, I was born and raised in Durham to a nominal Christian family. I remember a Bible on our book shelf and an occasional “thank the good Lord for dinner!” but never acknowledgement of His Lordship in our life. Unfortunately, the eternal truth of Christ, emptying Himself and taking the form of a servant, absorbing God’s divine wrath and raising Himself from the grave, always took a back seat. But, praise God, through His great mercy, He began a good work in me. From an early age He drew me closer to Him by giving me a desire to commune with Him through prayer. I wasn’t really sure who I was supposed to be praying to though. God or Jesus? I’m so thankful for those memories because it reminds me that although I didn’t yet know Him, he knew me and was calling me to Him.

Praise God for His patience with me, for as I grew into a young man, ignoring His calling and pursuing a self-destructive and godless lifestyle, He continued to seek me out. I see now that He used an increasing sense of emptiness and remorse for my sins that gradually began to overwhelm me. This, and witnessing God’s hand overcome the devastating effects of alcohol addiction in my father’s life, and then mercifully bringing he and my mother to a living faith, compelled me to seek out the truth of the gospel and surrender my life to Jesus.

Since that day in September 1998, so many faithful brothers and sisters have poured into me. Just as Christ, emptying themselves and becoming servants. It is their Christ-like example that reminds me that my life is not my own and just as others have blessed me, I’m called to pour out those blessings on others. My prayer is that God will use me to manifest His grace in that same humble, selfless and Christ-like spirit. I’m so thankful to Him and our church family at FBC for the opportunity to serve as a deacon for our church body. Whatever capacity I’m called to serve, it will be my privilege and to His glory!

Robert Oakley

I was raised in a Christian home the latter half of my childhood. At the age of 10, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ at a Billy Graham crusade held at Carter-Finley stadium in Raleigh. I grew in my faith through middle school and high school but wandered away from the Lord during my first few years of college. Christ, however, never forsook me! To this day, I look back and see how faithful the Lord was in keeping me from going too far down an earthly path of idolatry. The summer before my senior year in college, God opened the eyes of my heart to see that there was no true joy, satisfaction, peace, and life seeking the things of the world. I repented and re-dedicated my life to Christ: to know Him, serve Him, and make Him known. I returned to college a completely new person! On my first day
back at school, I met Stacy. That encounter, orchestrated by the Lord when I was alive in Him again, led to a beautiful friendship, romance, and marriage. I praise God so much for Stacy, our marriage of nearly 29 years, and our children Morgan, Taylor, Carrson, Nathan, Hannah, and Ellie! God has used them in many different ways to encourage and challenge me in my walk with the Lord. Stacy and I were baptized at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh and we have been members of FBC Durham for about 5 years.

As I reflect on my walk with Christ, God’s grace and faithfulness stand out to me. The Lord has stilled my fears and strengthened my faith during times of trial by taking me to promises in His Word. Oh that I would learn to trust Him more! God has also blessed me with a wife, parents, friends, and a church that speak God’s truth into my life when they see me complacent or in the midst of a crisis. One of my favorite verses that sums up my relationship with Christ is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I am very weak, but He is infinitely strong! In terms of gifts, the Lord has given me a passion for service especially in the areas of mercy ministry and children’s ministry. My family and I have been blessed to be involved in a ministry to children at Liberty Street Apartments and a ministry to adults at the Durham Rescue Mission. My desire is that God would enable us to build relationships with people in the community through acts of service that lead to opportunities to speak His truth into their lives with the ultimate hope that they become brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am incredibly humbled to be considered for deacon at FBC Durham. I fall far short of the example set by one of the first deacons, Stephen (Acts 6 and 7). Yet, I know God is at work in my heart cleansing it of sin that I might be useful to Him and prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21). He has given me an eagerness to serve as deacon and a desire to make the most of this opportunity. By the power of the Spirit and the prayers of the saints, I hope to serve in such a way that the gifts of each believer at FBC Durham can burn brighter and result in more Christ-likeness in the body, more lost people coming to faith in Christ, and more glory for our risen Savior!

Blake Woodlief

The Lord had been moving in my heart for some time, and when I was in the fifth grade, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. By God’s grace, I recognized a need for Jesus in my life, and during a Sunday morning service altar call, God moved me to make that decision. Soon afterward, I was baptized in believer’s baptism. My family attended a Baptist church on the eastern side of Durham, where I was active in various youth activities growing up.

After my senior year in high school, my family moved and my church membership moved to another denomination. Throughout college and most of my 20’s, I was fairly regular in church attendance, but not very involved in church life, experiencing no real growth as a Christian. Although I did read the Bible some, I was not receiving much in the way of teaching or Bible study, and there was very little fruit associated with a growing and maturing walk with our Lord. I tried to strike a balance between a rigid Christianity of moral do’s and don’ts, blended with satisfying selfish pleasures and sinful desires. This was, in effect, a miserable Christian existence, with little or no testimony to the goodness and grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God was patient with me though, and after my marriage to my wife, I recognized the need to establish a true Christian home, and I began to take my faith more seriously. Joining with her in membership at FBC, I began to listen and respond to God as He taught me through His word, and my relationship with our Lord became a priority.
God continues to reveal to me His sovereignty, holiness, order and grace, of which I am eternally grateful. I’ve had opportunity to serve in the past as a deacon, teacher, and in other areas of responsibility within this church body. If elected, I look forward to continued service in whatever way God leads.

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