Tom's Testimony

I grew up in suburban Detroit, Michigan, the city of the record label, "Motown Records." Many classic rock and rollers came out of Detroit. I grew up around what we have all heard called, "Sex, drugs and rock and roll."

Like a large portion of God's people, I experienced sexual abuse as a child. I've fought the spirit behind that stronghold ever since and will contend against it for the rest of my life through praise and worship unto God.

In grade school I began to experiment with drugs to escape the reality of what had happened to me in my youth. It took me nearly 30 years to figure out that I was taking drugs to cover up the pain.

As a child, I attended the Lutheran Church with my mother. I went to Sunday school and through confirmation classes to become "a member of the church". The Lutheran Church doesn't give "altar calls" or require you to receive Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior to become a Christian. For me, this step came many years later (Romans 10:8-10).

I escaped my sexual abuse experience through yet another kind of abuse . . .  pharmakia . . . or drug abuse. I took LSD, marijuana and other drugs that change your state of consciousness. Next, I ingested Quaaludes (tranquilizers) of which I must have taken thousands!  Everyone I knew in high school was staggering around the hallways of school.

In 1980, I moved to Los Angeles, CA and found myself almost instantly involved with freebasing cocaine. (Just down the block from where I lived in Van Nuys, CA, Richard Pryor ran down his driveway, literally on fire from freebasing cocaine with ether).  I had moved to Los Angeles to become a musical rock star. I got pretty far - working with famous song writers and engineers. I didn't know the devil had another rock for me though: the cocaine rock I wasn't familiar with.

After about 6 years of purchasing cocaine from my dealer (who also sold to Natalie, one of the Jackson's, and the drummer for one of LA's most notorious bands [for whom I purchased glass pipes]), I realized I had a problem when I was taking my last puff in the parking lot of Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers' Lion's Share recording studio. (I now play drums, sing, and praise the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah," Jesus!)

I must tell you that when I look back at my life in the music industry and the lives of many well-known musicians that have died of drug overdoses, it's the devil's greatest deception to convince us that we need to get high to play music. Alcohol and drugs will hinder, not aid, what you're trying to accomplish with your music.
After nearly 10 years of struggling and searching to be a rock star, I moved back to the suburban Detroit, Michigan area. I started a business fixing doors, a trade I learned from my Dad who had been in that business all his life. I stayed clean and sober for a while, but when you're making really good money, you can buy a LOT of cocaine - so I relapsed.

One weekend I bought about $500.00 worth of cocaine and rented a hotel room. Cocaine elevates your heart rate and causes your temperature to rise so I was taking a puff and then jumping in the shower to cool off. The final puff I took from the scrapings in the glass pipe I was smoking was way too much for my body to handle. I jumped into the shower to cool off but I couldn't get cooled off. I ended up running down the hallways of the hotel (without a stitch of clothing on!) screaming, "I'm on fire. I'm on fire." Unfortunately, I left the hotel key in my room so I couldn't have gotten back into my room even if I'd wanted to.

The devil had tricked me for so long into using cocaine to sooth my emotional wounds that he had me believing that I was literally on fire. I ended up running down the hotel stairs and asking the lady at the front desk, "Am I on fire?" I actually jumped over the front counter to ask her to take a closer look. She said, "No, you're not on fire."

I had totally flipped out and overdosed on cocaine!!

After calming down in the hotel foyer, the emergency ambulance came to take me away. They took me to a hospital where they decided to send me to an asylum. My parents were waiting at the hospital and my Dad said, "We got you out of a lot of things, son, but we can't get you out of this one."

I was in the asylum for nearly two weeks. It was there that I started reading my ordained uncle's New Testament and read how God had cast the devil out of heaven. I didn't know that the devil had every right to mess with me if I was on his turf. I later learned that if we submit to God, we CAN resist the devil.

In 1995, I was dating a girl I met in Portland, OR that attended a local Lutheran Church. We had been out drinking beer and, walking home from the bar, she threw me up against the wall and said, "What are you going to do about this Jesus thing?" Being intoxicated, I probably responded, "I don't know. (This is the same church I would later get married in.)

At that time, I had built a little altar to Jesus in my apartment and, some time later, kneeling at that altar and looking at the picture of Jesus on it, I said, "You died for me?" I began to weep and tell God I believed in Him and I asked Jesus to forgive me of all that I had done against Him.

I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior but I still relapsed and backslid even after I got baptized in the Holy Spirit. It took a while to stop drinking, smoking and doing drugs. (I've got the burn marks in my Bible to prove it!)

In 1999, I attended a conference with Bible College teacher, Dr. Norvel Hayes. After the conference, I was standing next to Norvel's daughter, Zona, who was signing people up for their Correspondence Bible College. I asked myself, "Should I do this?"  Just then the Holy Spirit said, "If you don't do it, it's sin." The Bible mentions, "To him who knows to do good and doesn't  do it, to him it is sin." I signed up real quick!

The year 2001 was a pivotal year for me. I married my wife, Candace Sjerven, and attended a local School of the Prophets. The first five years of our ministry involved Candace being the webmaster for two prophetic websites and much travel with me drumming for many prophets during worship in their prophetic meetings/conferences. In one such meeting in Stockton, CA, I led harp and bowl style worship, singing verses from the Bible. The meeting was turned over to me and I ended up laying hands on, and praying for, everyone in the meeting.

I started selling my "Third Heaven Vision" anointing oil on a well-known prophetic website for which my wife was the original webmaster. The oil actually fulfilled a prophetic word that was given to me by a local pastor. "Show Tom his life's work - something he can put his name on. Only the work of the Lord! Only the work of the Lord! Only the work of the Lord!" she cried.  (The production of my four worship CDs also fulfilled this word as the songs on them were written, sang, performed, arranged and produced by me as well. My name is on them all!)

In 2007, Candace and I were ordained by Bob and Esther Thornton of Global Evangelism International. In 2004 and 2007, we went on mission trips to Turkey, Bulgaria and Israel, ministering to the Gypsies with Georgian and Winnie Banov of Global Celebration.  (I drummed for Georgian at numerous meetings for 10 years.)

In October 2011, I was one of the speakers at "The World Holy Spirit Ministry International" conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii, where I was aided by a Korean interpreter.

There's a lost and dying world out there and they're burning! God has given us His eternal fire and God has also give us a Great Commission to GO and keep the people who don't know Jesus out of the wrong fires that some of us have experienced. We're called to pull people out of the fiery trials that they may be in. I ask you, "What are YOU doing with the testimony that God has given to you after God pulled you out of the fires of affliction?  The Bible mentions that we overcome by the word of our testimony and the blood of the lamb.

Our trials are a part of our testimony, but Jesus is the living, active Word of our testimony; and it's Jesus' blood that has purified our every sin. We must choose to believe it.

God has done so many awesome things in my life. I still fall short of His Glory, whether it's in thought, word or deed. I encourage you today, that if you've sinned and fallen short of God's Glory, Jesus' arms are not too short to rescue you out of the pit of hell.

Tom Panich