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Tony O' Tool
Tony O' Tool
Youth and Children's Pastor- Lakeside Fellowship, Polk City
Groups: Pastoral Council

Tony is the Youth and Children's Pastor at Lakeside Fellowship in Polk City.  He and his wife Theresa have 5 children, two of whom attend GVCS. They are also a host family to one of our Chinese International students in high school. 

Personal Testimony of Salvation:

As I look back at my life and my salvation it is clear to me that God has been abundantly faithful and I have much to be thankful for. Like many people who are saved at a young age, I do not have a lot of memories of my life before I trusted Christ or even a drastic change which happened at that point. Interestingly I have a more distinct memory of the changes that happened in my dad’s life.

When my parents trusted Christ many things changed in our family, things that even as a 6 year old I noticed. Their lives were different, we began reading and studying the Bible and we started going to church every week. As I began learning Bible stories at home and at church one of the lessons that really stuck in my mind was from children’s church when we learned about Heaven and Hell. I also remember my parents talking about knowing for sure they were going to be spending eternity in heaven with God. More than anything I was afraid of not going to heaven with my parents. I sat down with my mom and she explained to me about sin and how it kept us from God, and how He sent his son to die so I could be forgiven. She shared several verses with me to explain the gospel, and that accepting Christ was a choice I had to make for myself. I’m not sure if at that point I totally understood what it all meant but I prayed with her asking God to forgive my sin and be my Savior. 

There were times when I questioned whether I truly understood what I had done as a 7 year old because I didn’t remember every detail or experience a radical change.  I also viewed my salvation specifically as God saving me from Hell. As I grew older and learned more from God’s Word I came to realize that the eternal salvation God has given me is not something which just comes into effect when I die. Romans 8:2 teaches us that when we are saved, the Spirit has set us free in Christ. It’s not something that will happen – it has already happened. 

In Ephesians 2:10 we see that God has created and saved us in Christ to do good works. These simple truths changed the way I looked at my Christian life. While I had been saved to eternal life, a life change had also begun the moment I was saved. As a child of God my life should be different and I should show my love and gratefulness to God in the way I live.

Much of the change I’ve seen in my life has been the process of God continually breaking down my sinful nature and changing my attitude and desires. I have been blessed with two godly parents who always encouraged (and sometimes forced) me to be involved in church and ministry. In high school I felt the desire and call of God to go into full-time ministry. I went to Faith Baptist Bible College to train for ministry and was open to going wherever God would lead. Theresa and I met in college, got married after our junior year and she has been a tremendous encouragement and help in my growth in the Lord and is always willing to get involved in any ministry God has led us to. We have been blessed with five wonderful children and are excited to see them continue to grow.  

Growing up in a small church, I always viewed full-time ministry as being the preacher. My experience in college showed me that this was not my gift. It was a difficult realization, but Theresa and I still committed to doing whatever God led us to do. Along with three other couples, we began thinking and praying about going into church planting as a team. It was at this time that Saylorville Church began planning a church plant in Polk City and God opened the door for us to be involved with this ministry. We have been blessed to serve in multiple areas of the church ministry here, primarily with children and teens. We first began working with youth as volunteers, then I took on the part time role of youth pastor while still working my regular job before the God opened the door for me to transition full time to Youth and Children’s Pastor here at Lakeside.