GARY

I was born and raised into what most folks would consider, a good family.  My dad worked hard, sometimes two jobs to support 6 children.   My mom also worked hard to keep house and help raise my five sisters and myself.  She went to work outside of the home when I was about 9 years old.  Then my older sisters (who were 2, 4 and 5 years older ) took over the household duties. They did fairly well for children but they weren’t parents by far.

Although we were taught some morale guidelines, and my folks meant well for us children, they knew nothing about God.  With the exception of the 3 older girls, we were basically un-churched.  I went a few times and I even remember a time that my parents came, but that was rare.  My dad and mom drank - my dad to excess many, many times.  I remember some good things but I remember a lot more bad things.  I remember a lot of drinking, fighting, arguing, physical abuse, and screaming at the top of their lungs.  I also remember my desire as a child for my parents to divorce so we could have some relief.  But they stayed together, I guess, “for the kid’s sake.”
 
I have been called “lucky” at times, because I was the only boy, but my dad took me under his wing so to speak and taught me many things.  We all had chores to do and my dad assigned mine - apart from the older girl’s chores. I am extremely grateful that he introduced me to many skills that I have been able to make a living with throughout my life but I will always remember the many harsh beatings that I received and his very violent methods of punishment. I loved my dad (and also my mom who is still alive) but I feared him tremendously.  So much that I lied a lot as a child. My desire was to please him and when he smiled periodically, it was great. He often felt ashamed for his actions, but only apologized once to me that I remember.  I knew that he was sorry though.  Neither my dad nor my mom ever hugged me as a child and I never remembered being kissed by neither of them. I often wondered about that when I would see other children being hugged by their parents.  I never heard the words “I love you” from my parents. It was just something that we were supposed to know. To this very day, my mother has never told me those sacred words - “I love you.”  But I make sure she hears those words from me and I stay in prayer for her salvation. I pray also for my remaining 4 sisters as they have never told me that they were born again. They dislike me speaking to them or our mother about Jesus.

I learned a few stories about Jesus around 7 or 8, however, I definitely was not saved. I was very timid in school until I entered high school. After being beat up a lot in grade school, I started fighting back.  I found I could win most of the fights I was in.  I became increasingly violent - a bully at times -  my parents were unaware of much of the fighting. They wondered sometimes about the condition of my clothes or marks on my face and hands. My grades were extremely poor. Most of the girls in school wanted nothing to do with me, so I rarely dated. I started drinking alcohol at 13 or 14. It was easy since my dad always had beer in the cellar and a neighbor man had a bar.  His son and myself would be allowed to drink “as long as we stayed home.” A horrible mistake that was, I found out, years later.  I turned into a boy drunk.  I barely made it out of school and as soon as I got a job, I was called by Uncle Sam.  After the first 6 months (training) I was boozing, carousing, and  fighting. Some of my actions were shocking even in this day and time.

I had a couple of volatile relationships but nothing solid.  Then I married a  girl who was from a Christian family. I dated her for about 6 months and I attended a Baptist Church with them periodically,  upon the coaxing of her dad. He was a Godly man.  Many times I gripped the pew to keep from going forward during the invitation.  Every time I hear “Just as I am” I think back to the times when I wouldn’t come forward and a lump sticks in my throat.  I love that song dearly now that I know Jesus.  We were married in the church and were we happy for a short while.  Neither of us  would attend church regularly after we were married.  I was leading my household the wrong way. I kept drinking and I still cursed, not as much around her.  She didn’t
drink but she picked up several of my bad habits.  We had two beautiful children - one who was born 5 months after I went overseas.  When I was stateside, I still drank heavily. I came home one day from work to an empty house.  My wife had taken the kids and went back to Florida. She was tired of the drinking and carousing. I was broken over this but my pride and arrogance caused me to be bitter instead of remorseful-instead of repentant.  I loved my children dearly and miss them to this day.  I divorced and re-married quickly to a woman I met in a bar.  We quickly had two children - a boy and a girl (and I love the two of them also and miss them - one because he lives far away and the other wants nothing to do with me). We were divorced in less than 4 years. We both carried on in un-Godly ways and one day when I got home from work, she had taken the children, drained the bank account, and left.  I became even more bitter.  I continued with my drinking and bad relationships and still drank but then at a low time in my life, lower than I had ever been, I asked the Lord to come into my life one evening. I had lost my home and my family life was in great turmoil.  I cried out to Him on a hot summer night  in 1979 and all of a sudden, He sent a cool, eerie, breeze that sent a genuine chill through me.  I went forward in a little Baptist church shortly after that, where I could do nothing but stay on my knees and cry like a baby - I couldn’t even talk.  Due to the neglect of my two youngest children, the courts gave me custody and they lived with me a few years.

I was raising two step-sons also a few years later (one of whom I am very close with, even today - like a son) so my cursing slowed down and my violent behavior slowed down.  But some of my anger remained.  I seldom attended church, and seldom fellow-shipped with other Christians and so my growth was painfully slow. I was now saved but disobedient.  Satan continued to make attempts to destroy my life and God allowed me to be brought down in the depths of pain and anguish again through several instances over a period of a couple years.  I had lost everything including my two youngest children who were stolen away on a visitation.  After finding them in another state, and through the process, I was arrested on a couple of occasions, and a continual barrage of incidents that put me into a state of depression.  Although I managed to keep working and had the outside strength to carry on with daily activities, it seemed that I had no place to go from there.  I had no idea where I was heading -  no direction because I was completely out of fellowship with my Lord and Savior.  I finally made the decision to dedicate my life to God. I came to realize that I was here to serve Him and to glorify God. He led me to the decision that I was here for His glory, not mine.  I turned it ALL over to HIM.  I made a another public profession of faith and was baptized in a local Baptist church. Some tell me that I wasn’t saved before but I do not let that bother me because I know that I am ‘saved to the uttermost’ now - even though I can’t ‘pinpoint’ the exact day or date. 

I joined the church and attend regularly. I started Sunday School and my teacher (who now is one of my closest friend) taught me how to maintain a prayer list.  He encouraged me to start reading the Bible through each year which I now do. To make it plain and simple, I am now serving GOD only. He has taken the filth away from my tongue, the desire for alcohol, the hatred, the bitterness, the carousing, all of it!  Praise You Lord!  I now live in the Spirit and although Satan reminds me of the flesh, I know I am washed in the blood of the LAMB! I have asked forgiveness and have forgiven all for all things.  Of my four grown children (2 boys and 2 girls) and 2 stepsons, I only have steady contact with two - my youngest son and oldest stepson. They both are born again believers and my relationship with them is wonderful-they bring me great joy (and the grandchildren I am allowed to see).  They have both forgiven me.  My two daughters want no contact with me.  One to the point of hate, even though I have asked for forgiveness. The other boys are indifferent to me.  I pray for their salvation continually and my two sons that have a relationship with Jesus also pray for the others I know the Lord will  someday undo what I have done if they give their hearts to Him. I also pray for the salvation of my four sisters - they bear no fruits of their salvation so until I see the day come when I mention the name of Jesus to them and they don’t get offended, I’ll keep praying for their salvation.  They mostly make fun of me over the years but someday I pray, they will all see that what God has done for me is genuine.  And in God's eyes, I am not a "kook".

I am retired with a modest pension but God continually (and amazingly) provides for me.  I have a wife who prays for me and is not captured by the material things this world has to offer. I have a little business which I use to buy Jesus Videos, Bible Tracts, and Bibles. It is a Jesus Video and Bible Tract ministry locally and beyond.   He has allowed me to use it to help others out there planting seeds and evangelizing for Him. The Lord has caused me to be extremely bold for Him.  I spend most of my time planting seeds for the Lord.  There is not enough time in the day to tell people about Jesus Christ.   One of my main concerns is children. The evil in this world is turning our children away from the narrow path and leading them on the wide path to destruction.  Parents are refusing to lead their children and in many instances, are actually blocking their kid’s path to Jesus by their actions.  I know, because I had blocked mine. Television, the media, and even many of our schools are calling “evil good, and good evil.”  [Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20]  I thank God for His forgiveness and I will continue to pray for the salvation of my children and other’s children until my last breath on this earth.  One of my prayers is, “God, un-block the paths of these young ones and bring them to You Father. Soften their hearts and open their young eyes so that may allow Jesus to come into their hearts. In Jesus holy name I pray.”


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