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The text on this page is from the preface of Take Every Passage to Prayer, Volume 3 - Acts to Revelation, to be released by the end of 2022, Lord willing. Note: Footnotes from the preface are not included with this text.
© 2022 by Charles Wagner.
All rights reserved solely by the author. The author guarantees all contents are original and do not infringe upon the legal rights of any other person or work. No part of this text on this page may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Charles Wagner's Testimony
My name is Charles Wagner. A resident of Cape Ann, Massachusetts , I am blessed to be married to my wife Karen of six years and count it a joy to be the father of Chad and Stephanie, the father-in-law of Matt, the grandfather of Ava, and the step-father of Meredith and Kirsten. I am the founder of Gramazin, an endeavor to spread the word to the despairing that Jesus Christ really does change lives. I am also the designer of 72Stories.com, a web application designed to familiarize believers with the work of building the Kingdom of God in their local community. I shared my spiritual testimony in the preface to my book, Take Every Passage to Prayer, Volume 2: The Gospels. I invite the readers of this book who have not read a copy of Volume 2 to visit www.gramazin.com to learn how the gospel of Jesus Christ has transformed my life.
I was a poor student in college. I was far more interested in the social experience of college life. I enjoy reminiscing about the pranks I was party to in my first two years on campus. I served in two positions in student government in my sophomore year and I was a resident assistant in my junior year. My collegiate experience included a trip with other Political Studies majors to Jamaica to meet government officials and a two month trek across Western Europe with other students and faculty.
My lack of attention to matters of career bit me where the sun doesn’t shine. My Political Studies major proved useless to me after graduation as I had no intention of pursuing a career in government. I had failed to listen to the advice of my academic advisor, who had recommended that I change my major to business. Upon my return to Pennsylvania after college, I had no idea what to do with my life. I lacked the academic record that would give corporations the confidence to hire a 22-year-old for entry level career positions.
However, my career is a story of God’s grace and His sovereign guidance and direction. My career is also a story of how God can use anyone, no matter how weak their resume may be, to work to build His Kingdom.
How did God prepare me for my work on Gramazin and 72Stories today?
- God directed me into the information technology industry.
By God’s grace, I was hired in the Spring of 1984 by a company in New Castle, Delaware. My job description required me to sell calculators, electronic accounting systems, and copiers. I struggled to meet quota in that job as my sense of integrity made it hard for me to get excited about products I didn’t care about. I also found it difficult to represent a company with shady backroom business practices.
My “sales career”, cough, wasn’t any more lucrative after I took a job selling business forms. I found myself out of work a few months later during the first year of my marriage to my first wife. 1986 was a miserable year as I navigated through a series of jobs that didn’t require a college education.
However, things took a turn for the better in the Fall of that year after I replied to a job advertisement for box handlers at a warehouse. I loved working with older blue collar men moving skids of boxes from tractor trailers to three-story shelving. My part-time evening work eventually became a full-time day job in the same warehouse. It was my full-time day work that revealed to me that the company was having serious employee morale problems.
I decided to do something about it.
I audaciously wrote an unsolicited 15-page paper on the morale problem and how the problem could be fixed in the corporate office. My supervisor at the time was the daughter of the owner and CEO of the $ 16 million company. My initiative led to my hiring in the corporate office as the company’s new Systems and Procedures Analyst. I went to work on a Friday dressed to work in a dirty warehouse. That following Monday I went to work in the corporate office in a business suit. Many of my former colleagues in the warehouse were not at all happy I had escaped the mundanity of the warehouse work.
If my story was a fairytale, I would write in this paragraph about how that move led to me eventually becoming an executive in the company, enjoying an expensive home, and driving an expensive car to work where I managed hundreds of employees. However, that balloon was popped within hours of taking on my new position. The CEO hired me, but he was in the process of stepping down from active management of the firm. The president was looking to reimage his father’s company to make it his own. Therefore, I was on the wrong team, an employee his father had hired. While the CEO spent six months each year in Florida, I reported to the president who was too busy to supervise me. This meant that I often came to work with literally nothing to do.
One day, the president made an executive decision, clearly but unknowingly inspired by God, that changed my destiny. He decided to assign me to the Information Technology (IT) department where I would do technical writing about the new mainframe system the company had invested in. I have been in IT ever since. Over the course of the following few years, my proficiency in utilizing state-of-the-art desktop software brought me acclaim within the corporate office. I displayed a gift for quickly learning software and using my new skills to solve business problems. For example, the president recruited me to help him to prepare an extensive proposal for what would prove to be a failed attempt to acquire a major competitor. I was appointed Corporate Communications Manager. In that capacity, I was afforded the opportunity to make a 20-minute training video for the company. My aptitude in utilizing software applications, first revealed in the early 90s, has enabled me over the last thirty years to design a variety of websites, databases, brochures, reports, pamphlets, graphics, newsletter, etc.,.
- God directed me into teaching and training.
When the company decided to build a new mainframe system to facilitate its unsatiable appetite for acquiring smaller competitors, I was asked to join the two dozen member team of employees and outside consultants that were tasked with the roll-out of the new solution. I was appointed to the position of Education and Training Development Manager. It was in this role that I was introduced to the world of technology training. I developed several courses that were used in the rollout of the software. I traveled frequently between Boston and Washington to train staff and customers on the new system. Given that I love statistics, I am surprised I cannot cite how many times I traveled to New York City to train employees of Fortune 500 customers. I certainly crossed the Hudson River by subway from Newark, NJ at least two dozen times.
In 1994, I resigned from that company and took a position with a training company in the next town over. I taught over 8,000 adults over 12 years how to use a variety of business software applications. I taught at a different company in the metropolitan Philadelphia region each day of the week. While this experience significantly increased my business software skills, its most significant impact was to give me teaching skills and confidence in public speaking. While many people would rather hang onto the tip of an airplane wing in mid-flight to avoid speaking in public, I’m one of those who have no qualms about talking in front of audience. Unfortunately, I’d have to drive long distances to do any public speaking in faraway places because I avoid flying on an airplane as much as I can. We all have our phobias.
- God made me an innovator.
As I shared earlier, I failed to follow the advice of my academic advisor in college. I did not take any business classes. One day, probably in late 1988 or early 1989, I designed an organization chart for the president of the company that reflected my naivete about business. He informed me that he had a good laugh with one of his vice presidents about my work.
Infuriated by the mockery of something I put my heart into, I quickly took advantage of the company’s educational benefit, and enrolled into an MBA program. It took me six years to graduate because, cough, I had to take all of the undergraduate business classes I didn’t take in college. I found myself most interested in courses that would be of interest to entrepreneurs. It became evident that my heart longed to build my own business.
However, I didn’t want to run a business with a model that already existed. I wanted to create a new kind of business. I wanted to invent something and then market, sell, and service it. There was a long history of entrepreneurialism on my mother’s side of the family, dating back to horse-drawn wagon trucking and shipping firms. I must have had the gene.
The 1990s and 2000s were a continuous search for that “one big idea.” To tell the truth, a couple of my ideas had market potential. One even developed an interest from an investor. However, I lacked the fortitude to get those ideas off the ground. I was a broken, anxious, and insecure man who didn’t understand the love of God.
Throughout all of those years, I thought of myself as the poster child for underachievement. I had the perception that my friends from childhood and college were being paid big bucks, enjoying nice titles, enjoying ski and golf vacations, and hobnobbing with the rich and influential. Not so me. My “poor self-esteem” , so to speak, was a contributing factor in my hospitalization for suicidal ideation in April 2004.
After my spiritual awakening in the 2010s, my heart’s desire and entrepreneurial interests became exclusively focused on serving the Kingdom of God. Gramazin, an anagram of “amazing grace”, was conceived to encourage believers to share their testimonies with their hurting neighbors. However, my lifetime interest in technology, and specifically my passion for programming, needed to express itself. 72Stories.com was conceived as a technology training tool to enable believers to practice local outreach from the safety of their homes. My entire career, as broken as I thought it was, turned out to be purposed for me to minister to believers at this hour of my life through writing, teaching, and technology.
God knew what He was doing in my life. God prepared me for a moment such as this. Ladies and gentlemen, the years were not wasted. As a still dear friend from my past shared with me once in one of my darkest hours, “Nothing is Wasted” with God. I stand before you today as hopefully an inspiring example that God can use the most broken people, even those old enough for AARP membership, and restore the most derailed careers, for the benefit of His Kingdom.
- What about my writing skills?
My late father was a gifted writer, though he didn’t exercise his gift as much as he could have. I am grateful to have his written testimony in his Bible that sits on my desk as I type this. My son, Chad, also has a gift with words. I look forward to how God will put his skills to use in years to come.
Writing has come easily to me through the years. As I mentioned earlier, I went to Jamaica in November of 1981. The professor asked us to write an extensive paper about the experience. It was due in May at the end of the 81-82 school year. I put it off month after month. The day before the paper was due, I sat in front of a typewriter and, poof, handed in on-time a 76 page paper with hundreds of footnotes. I received an A for my work. Whether it is a lyric, a blog article, a speech, my unpublished autobiography, an email, a brochure, content for a website, or a book like this, I rarely struggle for words. In the time it takes some to labor over the perfect wording of a text message, I can write a five page summary of current events.
I don’t share this for reasons of pride. I do share it to acknowledge God has gifted me with the skill of writing. Repurposing what a famous pundit often said, my writing gift is on loan from God. If I fail to use it for His purposes, He could take it away from me. There may come a day when I have written everything He wanted me to write, and my writing gift will be no longer necessary to serve His Kingdom. I may lose the ability to string coherent words together in a sentence. For now, I must type to serve Him for as long as I am able. As of today, I plan to write four more books, Lord willing, including this one.
Therefore…Our sovereign God had plans for my life from the beginning of time.
- For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NIV)
- I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 (NIV)
- But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
- Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
I am who I am because God designed me to be who I am.
I have experienced what I have experienced because God was executing His plan for my life.
I experienced the transforming work of the gospel, giving me a love for service to God, because God had a plan to use my technology, teaching, and writing skills for His glory.
I am where I am in life because God purposed me to do what I am doing to serve His Kingdom.