Tis The Season

Last night before I fell asleep I felt compelled to share a piece of my testimony. Sleep overtook me before I could start writing so I awoke early this morning to write and share.

It was 46 years ago on December 28th, 1974 that 5 gentlemen caught me stealing and instead of calling the police they prayed for me.

I was homeless, hopeless, busted, disgusted and couldn’t be trusted. Addicted to heroin and alcohol I had checked out on life.

That one prayer changed the whole course of my life and the rest is history.

A couple of years ago, God blessed me with the opportunity to meet up with one of the guys who prayed for me then. Dr. Hiram Crawford of the Israel Methodist Community Church in Chicago.

Along with some excerpts from my book “Grasping at the Wind” I’ve included a photo of Dr. Crawford and me and a photo of Israel Methodist Community Church that is still standing strong on the Southside of Chicago.

An excerpt from my book:

“A Day in the Life…

I awoke this morning with a pulsating, throbbing head- ache. It feels like a herd of elephants stampeding through my still groggy brain. I look at the alarm clock and it is noon. I look over at my cousin Tony, still asleep on the other twin bed in the bedroom we share at my parents’ home. I say to myself “At least he took his clothes off.” I am still fully dressed in the clothes I wore yesterday. I was too high from drinking and shooting heroin the previous day to take them off before going to bed. I wake Tony and ask him how much money he has - because we need to buy some alcohol before we go to work at 3 p.m. I spent every dime I had - the night before - on alcohol and drugs. With trembling hands and shaky legs, I go to the kitchen for a drink of cold water. I can’t eat solid food until I drink some alcohol to calm my nerves. I see myself in the hallway mirror and my condition shocks me. I weigh about 140 pounds on a six-foot frame and look years older than my 20 years. Life in the fast lane makes you pay a toll. I look like “a dying calf in a thunder- storm.” I’m twenty and hooked on drugs and alcohol. This day will turn out like all the rest – drinking and drugging until I am almost comatose. I’ll stumble home and repeat the cycle the next day. A line from Marvin Gaye’s’ hit song, “Inner City Blues” runs through my mind, “Oh, make you want to holla, the way they do my life, this ain’t living, no, no baby this ain’t living.” I needed some quick answers… before I stopped living.

Fast forward 2 years:

I am going to fast forward to avoid redundancy. I eventually lost my job at the parking lot with my father for stealing money from the cash register and wrecking a customer’s car while drunk. At twenty-two, tired of my drunken escapades, my parents put me out.

Homeless, broke and needing a heroin fix I went on a shoplifting spree. I would take orders for fresh meat and raid the local grocery stores to fill the orders. Generally, I walked in, filled my shopping bag with stolen goods and walked out. This worked because I looked crazy and the clerks usually turned the other way as I walked past.

However, this time the storeowners caught me. My crazy wild look did not intimidate them. Deep inside, I felt a wave of relief because I felt that finally I might find help.

To my surprise, instead of calling the police, the storeowners prayed for me. They refused to let my addiction intimidate them and stop them from carrying out God’s purpose. Through the fog of drugs and alcohol, I vaguely remembered these storeowners. They told me the location of their church and the light bulb in my head lit up. They attended the church from where I had stolen a purse five years earlier. That church owned the grocery store! These same men chased and caught me then and now they apprehended me again. I know that church started praying for me then and God answered their prayer. Additionally, he allowed them to see the answer to their prayer. A couple of years later, God gave me an opportunity to meet the woman whose purse I stole and share my testimony on the church’s weekly broadcast.

After praying for me, the storeowners took me to a Christian drug program called Teen Challenge, which specialized in helping street addicts. In my first week at Teen Challenge, on January 4, 1975, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior! Halleluiah, my spiritual journey began! During my time at Teen Challenge, God restored my physical and mental health through a strict regiment of Bible study, church attendance and prayer. They also moved us out of the city to a farm near Cape Girardeau, MO, over 400 miles away from Chicago. I remained at Teen Challenge for a year”.

This morning as I sit in my office 46 years later, waiting for the sun to come up, I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy!

The year 2021 is right around the corner and I’m like a kid on Christmas morning, filled with anticipation and expectation at what God has prepared for my life!