Mike Mudd was in his mid-20s when he became a Christian and gave his heart to the Lord.
"I had been an atheist my whole life, and then had an experience with the Lord," explains Mudd. "I went from being an atheist to wanting to tell everyone about Jesus and what He'd done for me."
"It was a complete change," he continues. "I used to spend my weekends hanging out with drug dealers and thugs and now I'm in church worshipping the Lord or studying the Bible with my family."
Mike Mudd had been a valued employee at a specialized automobile parts manufacturing supplier in Shelbyville, Kentucky, for almost 10 years before his conversion experience in 2003.
"Shortly after I became a Christian I found out about the Sabbath and became impressed that I needed to keep it," Mudd recalls. Then I found out about the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and decided to become a baptized member of the church."
Mudd's pastor wrote a letter that he took to the company's human resources department. It explained the church's beliefs and requested a change to Mudd's work schedule so that this new Christian would not have to violate his conscience by working on the seventh-day Sabbath. At first the company was very supportive and made an accommodation for their valued employee's Sabbath observance. They went so far as to create a new individual shift for Mudd. However, over the next few years there were changes in management and human resources departments, and in September of 2007 the company told Mike Mudd they would no longer be able to honor his Sabbath accommodation request.
"They told me I was going to have to work on Saturdays. And I refused," remembers Mudd. "They started docking me for not coming to work on Saturdays, and so I was terminated because of attendance, so to speak."
When asked if this was a difficult decision for a husband and father to make, Mudd responds, "Well, when they issued the challenge of either working on the Sabbath or losing my job, I just believed firmly that God was going to take care of us. I believed without a shadow of a doubt that He was going to provide."
Mudd went from making good money to no money. There was a three-month period when his unemployment was denied, and there were no funds coming in.
"It was scary at times," Mudd admits. "At that time (2007) the job market was terrible. Nobody was finding jobs. Businesses were closing down. A lot of people in my family didn't get it. They thought I was nuts. They said, 'How do you give up a job like this? Just go to work on Saturday.' But we stood firm. We believed that it was important to stand for the Sabbath truth and provide a witness to others."
Mike Mudd, his wife Jenny and their two children Krista and Michael III.
And then Mike Herth, a local church friend, contacted the Mudds. He knew what the family was going through, and shared with Mudd his conviction that this was something important that the Lord would work out and He would bless their faithfulness. He explained the Seventh-day Adventist Church's religious liberty ministry, and its commitment to defending members' individual freedom of conscience.
"I had heard in passing about the church's religious liberty emphasis and department, but I didn't know what my options were and didn't really honestly think that there was a whole lot that could be done," said Mudd. "But Mike urged me to contact them and explain what was going on, and so I did."
After hearing the details of Mudd's experience and discovering that he had a written agreement with his former employer detailing the accommodation he was to be given, the church contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and filed charges against the company for religious discrimination.
"The case went on for a fairly lengthy period of time," said Mudd. "I was focused on finding a job and making ends meet, so at times we—myself and my family—kind of forgot about it. But they [the Adventist Church] were in the background, taking care of everything."
Throughout the process a church religious liberty representative kept Mudd informed on the progress of his claim with periodic status reports.
Says Mudd of the process, "We would get a call from Kevin James [associate director for the church's religious liberty department in the Southern United States] and he would say, 'Hey, we had a conference call with so and so from the company, and this and this was taken care of today, and this is what's going from this point forward.' And I would just say, 'Well, praise the Lord!' And we just kept praying and waiting patiently and kept on going."
The Lord answered those prayers and provided for Mudd and his family in many different ways. First, simply by responding to a generic "Need work?" ad posted on a telephone pole, Mudd landed a job with one of his former company's competitors who had recently set up shop in the area. The specialized skills he'd acquired over the past decade led first to a new job, then a promotion, and finally to an even better opportunity for work at a local university.
And then God provided once more. Mudd believes strongly that everyone is called into ministry, and so he and his family had begun praying for a way to get involved in sharing the gospel of Christ with others.
"The Lord opened a door for us to attend the Lay Institute for Evangelism in Florida," says Mudd. "We didn't have the funds to cover the cost of the program, but were convicted that it was what the Lord was calling us to do. And that's exactly when we got the culminating call from the Religious Liberty office."
The church's religious liberty staff member told Mudd that his former employer had made a settlement offer. It turned out to be for the exact amount necessary for the family to be able to attend the evangelistic training program in Florida.
Mudd's dream of involvement in ministry was realized, and he now serves as the evangelism coordinator for "Youth for Jesus," a youth-led evangelistic program held in a different U.S. city every summer. "My wife says time and time again that this experience has really brought us together and showed how the Lord will work. It has brought us closer as a family and strengthened our faith. We struggled at times, but the Lord always provided a way out. My wife, my kids, and I got to see how the Lord works when we are faithful. It has been an unbelievable experience for us to see how if we really set our hearts to do God's will and we are faithful, He will always provide for us. Always."