My story started like many others in our country. I was born in a small farming community to a lady who had four children from her first marriage before her husband died. She was raised in a Christian home and after a short time she married my father. With him, she had three more children (that lived). I was the middle of those three. My father was a religious person (by all accounts, to hide the fact he was a very wicked sinner.) From the time I was four years old, my mother raised my only sister and two brothers and me as a divorced woman. To say we were poor is an understatement. I am very proud of the fact that even though we were poor and our mother was a divorced woman with a farm girl’s education, NONE of her 6 sons or one daughter ever got tried or convicted in a criminal court. All six of her son’s joined the United States Navy. Four of us used that as our career.
Unfortunately, my mother became bitter with religion, due to things which happened in her earlier life; however, as she aged, she always prayed and tried to instill us with good character. She sent us to Church, even though she wouldn’t go herself.
The Navy and Marriage
After high school, I joined the Navy, married Debra Gilbert and continued a sinful life. I remember each time we would go to mama’s house she would try to have a preacher there, or remind me that she was praying for me. After many years, I believe she rededicated her life to Christ before she passed away. About the same time, my sister started saying she was praying for me. As a matter of fact, she gave me mama’s Bible, which lay on our coffee table for years without being opened.
In the late 1980’s and early 90’s I started feeling bad about my life and remember several times telling Debbie, “we need to get our lives straight and get into Church.” Then, I would get over it and continue with my sin.
In 1994 while on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, instead of doing all the wicked things I had done in the past, like drinking to excess, I began to take tours of the cities where we docked; most of them included trips to huge old cathedrals. On a trip to Israel, I took a tour of ALL the “Holy Sites.” By the time I returned home I again told Debbie, I needed to get my life right, but didn’t.
Milton, Florida and a Baptist Church
Finally I was transferred to Pensacola, Florida and decided to buy a house in Milton. Wouldn’t you know it, that was where the Lord had strange people in a Baptist Church who came out to people’s houses and talked to them about their soul’s future.
It was on a Tuesday evening that Brother Ray Jones came to my house while my brother and I were out fishing. Debbie told me when I got home that someone from Trinity Baptist Church had come by. First, I said that wasn’t true, Baptists don’t bother people at home. She swore that it was and it hit me–that was my opportunity and I missed it! You see, over the previous 5 years that we had lived in that house, many of the different religions had come to my house; most had talked to me and I was NEVER interested. But that day, I was convinced that God had sent for me. I remember being a little down. Then on Saturday morning, I was sleeping in and someone knocked on my door. It was Pastor Dennis Morris of Trinity Baptist Church. He stated that Brother Jones was out there Tuesday night and told him SOMEONE in that house was ready to be saved. On that morning in October, 1999 (I believe it was the 24th) I repented of my sin and asked Christ to save me. This was just the beginning.
The next morning was Sunday and I was in Church for the first time as a saved man. Shortly after that, Debbie started attending Church with me. Within a few months our son got saved. About one month after I was saved, the Lord took the taste for all alcohol out of my mouth. Things continued to improve month to month and year to year. I’m looking forward to what is next.