As I sit here, looking back over my life, and considering where I am now, as compared to then, I can see that it was not of my own strength, intelligence, or anything else, that I have done, that has gotten me this far.
Today, I am saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost, and anointed by God to do the work of an evangelist. All of this, goes to show, that if God, can turn me around, from what I used to be, and put me in the position I am in now, then my friend, He can surely do the same thing for you.
One day, while I was talking to a friend, I mentioned the way I used to be, and he couldn't believe it. 'There is no way that you could have been like that', he said, and this is not the first time I have been met with this reaction. It just goes to show, what God can do to, and for, someone, if they will only put their trust in Him.
I like to use the scripture that the apostle Paul used, when he said how he was the chiefest of sinners [1 TIM 1:15]. He was saying, he was as bad as they come. I was a stone cold sinner.
Like most people that I have heard, in telling me about their past, I was brought up in the church. My great uncle, was a preacher, and his wife, was a church pianist. I used to like going to church with her, when my great uncle, became too ill to continue going. I would sit near her, and as she would play the piano, I used to have a tambourine, and liked playing it. Back then, I believe that, plus the fact that there were snacks after the service, were the only reasons I liked going.
At home, being the last, and only survivor of 5 children (the others were dead before I was born, so I didn't know them), my mother, who raised me by herself, sent me to our neighborhood church for Sunday school, and church. Then we started going to another church, and I liked participating in the vacation bible school, and working on the usher board. All of this, was instilling something in me, that would one day, bring forth some 'good fruit.'
Now, in the midst of this, I still had to deal with the realities of life, as they were, in the 50's and 60's. Most of my friends, were of the type that you could find in any closely knit neighborhood. We played together, and our parents, kept an eye on all of us, as well as the entire neighborhood. There was very little that went on, that they didn't know about. Of course, we still had gangs and fights and stuff, but, it was nothing all that serious.
Most of the fellas, that I hung out with, were of what might be called the 'geeks.' We cared more about listening to jazz, studying, and playing baseball, than girls, and getting in to trouble.
When I graduated from high school, at 17, I decided, rather than stay at home, and being in the streets, I would do something constructive, so I enlisted in the Air Force. My mother had no money to send me to college, even though she would have tried to do it. But, she didn't need to wear herself out, trying to take care of me in college. Besides, the Air Force, had great educational and travel opportunities. So, I joined. Because of my age at the time, she had to sign me in.
After basic training, I came back to visit my friends, before I went to Europe, more specifically, France. While I was on leave, I struck up a relationship, with one of my best friend's sister. This, was the first, serious relationship that I had ever been in. It was looking as if this would be my future wife.
But, then, France.
France, the country known for its mademoiselles, and cognac. When I got there, I intended to, and did enroll in a correspondence course, from the military. I intended to stay on base, write my friends, and my girlfriend, and maybe attend some of the functions on the base, like bowling, and the movies. Oh, by the way, even in the military, I still went to church, on the base.
That is, up until, it happened.
The it, is my introduction to cognac, thanks to some buddies in the barracks, who took the 'new blood', off the base to introduce me, to the 'real life.'
The real life. That's what they called it back then, and suprisingly, that is what they call it today.
From that point on, I began, what was a downward spiral in to things, that would lead me to believe, that life, really hadn't been anything, before now. I thought about how, maybe I should have hung out with the other guys that snuck around, smoking cigarettes, drinking, and occasionally making out with girls. All that I held in high esteem, I let go of. My studies, my girlfriend, and church, all fell by the wayside. Even though I didn't think much about drinking, I never got drunk, but the women, that was a whole different ball game. I'm talking about women, who were upwards of 25. Eight and more years older than me, I got hooked.
While in France, my friends, took me to Amsterdam. If ever there was a 'sin city', that was it. Then, I was transferred to Germany, and women, women, women. That is all I was consumed with, women. I even moved off of base, to have a place to bring them, to stay the night.
The reason I am telling all of this, is to let you know, I was no choir boy, all my life.
By the time I came back from Europe, having earned an honorable discharge, I took up, right where I left off, women. I got back to Detroit, about 2 weeks, after the riot, and boy, had things changed. I did visit some of my old friends, and my ex girlfriend's family, she got married on me, because of my own actions.
Some of my friends, had become drug addicts, hustlers, and prostitutes. Still, I tried to keep more to the straight side, by getting a job, and moving out of the house that I was in with my mother. That way, I could be my own man, because living with her, and the 'rules' she had, cramped my style, and I didn't want to disrespect her, so out I went.
At one point, I even visited the church that I spent most of my childhood in, and the pastor, asked me to come back and I said I would think about it, but I didn't.
From there on, it was women, cabarets, after hour joints, women, hustling, women, popping pills to keep me awake, so I could continue to do my thing. The hustling I did, was pimping, making outfits for go-
This lifestyle, was not all of the fun that it was cracked up to be. In fact, there were times when, it almost cost me my life. Dealing with all types of people, it was like a dog eat dog, situation. You would think everybody was your friend, but they were hustling just like I was, and some times, they would hustle me, while I was hustling in a way that was on the up and up. Any way, a rip off of a popular after hours joint, was the first time that I began to seriously think about,, 'is this lifestyle worth this??'
Walking in to a situation, that any dummy should have been able to figure out, I wound up with a gun to my head, and the loss of my money, and a little of my dignity, they had everyone to strip down to their birthday suit, I survived to only do something even dumber. The next time, I was set up, and found myself, in my car, with a young lady, and two of her friends, in an alley, with a gun to my head, basically, resorting to conning them, not to shoot me. It worked. You would think, that a hustler, and a player, would know better, but, no, that is not always the case. Now that I look back on these two instances, I realize that it was not the con job that spared my life, or the fact that there were too many people to be gunned down in the after hours joint, that kept the robbers from shooting us, but it was God, who was, in the midst of this, working something out, in my life.
Well, you would think that I would have quit going to these places, and picking up women, but, not me. However, I got a lot more cautious.
Over the next few years, I began to slowly withdraw from this lifestyle, when I met the woman, that I would eventually marry.
Our relationship, hit off, on a good note, right from the beginning. Even though we never thought about getting married, she was a lot closer than most of the other women in my life, at that time. One thing about me, was the fact that each of my women, knew of the others, because they all worked together at different bars.
We, shortly after getting together, had a daughter, but she died, two weeks after being born. That had made me feel like a part of me, had died. That was the first child, that I had fathered, that I knew of. I may have had one or two in Europe, but, I am not sure.
After the loss of my daughter, I got back in to the routine, of player. In fact, when my main squeeze, got out of the hospital, she came to stay at my apartment, and two girls I had staying with me, helped her to recuperate.
Shortly after that, she asked me if she could bring her son up here from Alabama, where he was living with her sister, I said, sure.
After he got up here, I found myself in a position that made me feel a little uncomfortable, and that was the position of having a family.
During the course of our relationship, we had many arguments, and separations. We weren't married at the time. We just split up, and got back together. While she was sort of looking for commitment, I wasn't. Besides, she was still legally married, even though she and her husband had been separated for years.
Anyway, she persuaded me to get a job. So, I did. Now, having a job, wasn't all that bad, but it did make me feel like I was being tied down, in that when we moved in together, I felt the need to provide for her and her son. I still, however, did my hustling in addition to my work. I still needed 'my freedom.'
Through all of this, I was being molded in to something that was totally out of character for me. A husband, and a father.
Even though we didn't get married, I dropped the other women, and moved out of my apartment, and in to a flat, with her and her son.
During the time of my employment at Chrysler's Dodge Main plant, I had a foreman, that was a minister, and he was always wanting to tell me about Jesus, and I couldn't stand it. I tried my best to stay away from him, especially if I was alone. Every time I got near him, I felt uncomfortable. It was like being in a cage, and I couldn't escape. Here I was, with all of this sin in my life, and up until then, no one around me, had ever made me feel like this. Oh, he was, and is, a nice guy, but, his niceness, was like the light you turn on, in a room, and the bugs, head for cover.
Any way, for years, I managed to keep away from listening to him, but even then, something was pulling me in to a position, that would lead me, to seek him out. God was laying the ground work.
What made me change my mind about running from Him (God), to seeking Him out, was a series of events that started happening, shortly after attending an Earth, Wind, and Fire concert.
At that time, we lived in a two bedroom house in northwest Detroit.
We went to see them, when one of their most popular albums, was the one called, I believe, Serpentine Fire. The reason I mention this, is because of the profound effect this album had in my coming back to God.
We went to the concert, and thoroughly enjoyed the show, so much so, that we purchased the album.
After playing it, almost hours a day, strange things started happening in the house, concerning our son. At that time, he was about 8 or 9. It started with him having strange dreams. He would say he dreamt about demons, and how they were chasing him. Then, he began to see, what he described as an old hag, walking around in the house, while he was awake.
Well, in my wisdom, I said that he was experiencing this, because of all the movies, and programs on TV that dealt with this type of, what I called, nonsense. After all, that is all we watched.
Any way, things began to progress in to more serious areas. My girlfriend, began to hear faint whistling, in the house, along with her son. When she told me about it, I told her, that since the whistling occurred, when her son, was not in the room with her, that he, was the one that was doing it, to either get more attention, or to manipulate her in some other way.
After this went on for a while, I got fed up with her and him, and moved out. I guess it was because, she was beginning to pay more attention to him, and neglecting me, so, I hit the streets again, and renewed relationships with my other main squeeze.
After I left, things for them, got worse. Of course, even though we had separated, I still supported them, and still visited her, and at times she dropped him off at my place, while she worked.
Their problems, finally got bad enough, that she began to get in to, what is called 'spiritualism.' By this, I mean she began to believe that spirits were causing their problems, and in order to deal with them, she needed to go to one of these people that you see in ads in the newspapers, that tell you to burn certain candles, and quote scriptures, and sprinkle water on the bible and such. Things, progressively got worse.
The idea of demons, and such, tormenting them, seemed at first to be something out of movies like the exorcist, and poltergeist. It was all foolishness to me.
However, after they tried everything that they knew of, I finally went to that 'Jesus nut', of a foreman, and told him the problem.
He had all the reason to turn me away, or say, 'Oh, you want to hear me now, eh', but he didn't. He told me he and some friends of his, would come over to my house, and discuss the problem.
What happened after that, was that when he came over, with some other Christian brothers, and after counseling us, he informed us that a demon spirit, was in the house, and he and the others, would cast it out. Then, he said, 'After we cast him out, it will be up to you, to keep him out.' 'How do we do that??' I asked. He replied, ' by giving your hearts to the Lord, and either get married, or split up. God can't keep the devil out of your lives, if you continue to reject Him, and live in sin.'
Now the pressure was on me. She was ready, her son was ready, but the player (me), wasn't, at least about getting married. Giving my heart to the Lord, to me, seemed to be just saying something, and really not meaning it. So we prayed the prayer, after the demon was cast out. This all seemed like foolishness to me. How could a man, cast out demons?? If there are such things. Once again, in all the time I was in church, I never heard anything about demons. None. It may be that I wasn't really listening. But, looking at some preachers today, it could very well be, that they didn't preach about it, because they didn't believe it themselves.
Well, from that point on, things got worse, for me, so to speak. Her, and I broke up, again. Basically, it was on the understanding, that I didn't want to do anything to hold her back. I respected her decision to live for Christ, and be celibate. I still had 'seeds' to sow.
When I would visit her, I was still supporting her, she would start sounding like the preacher foreman. It was Jesus in the morning. Jesus in the evening, and Jesus until the sun went down.
One thing I could see about her, is that she was much happier, and her son was too. They would gang up on me, while I was at the house.
I was too full of pride, to admit that I didn't know anything about God, and couldn't answer her back, when she would try to point my wrongdoing, out to me. So, I figured, the only way I was going to get the upper hand on her, was to.........., you guessed it, pick up the bible, and read it for myself. My whole motive was to prove I was better than her. To maintain my, superior male ego, that's all pimps and players, think they have. So, I picked up a bible and started reading it. WHAT DID I DO THAT FOR???
All of a sudden, I was seeing what I never believed, or should say, have never heard before. The true meaning of why Christ died on the cross for our sins, and what the full message of the gospel, really is. In all my years of being in the church, I can't ever remember hearing anything about salvation, power over the devil, the promises that God has for His saints, or anything. Either the pastors weren't preaching it, or I wasn't listening.
But, God still had to work on me, because I was using the bible, to show my girlfriend where she was wrong, rather than using it, to see my own flaws, first.
Still, things got somewhat back to normal, but we still seemed to be having problems with strange things happening in the house. It was about then, that a preacher on the radio, mentioned, that when we make a decision for God, we tend to give some things over to Him, while trying to hold on to what we might call, insignificant things.
So, we threw out just about everything we could think of, that might be a hindrance to our total peace. We quit going to bars. Stopped drinking. Stopped smoking. Started going to church. We weren't sexually involved, because that was sin. She made plans to get her divorce, so that, if we were going to stay together, it would be in marriage.
Despite all of this, problems still seemed to plague us. Then, one day, our pastor was talking about how things which we may have in the house, may be demonic, and be overlooked. We had gotten rid of everything but, that old Earth, Wind, and Fire album.
I forget how it came to us realizing that it, was the problem, other than, we were being taught about certain cults, and ancient symbols, that essentially opened the door for demons to come in. Upon looking at the cover of the Serpentine Fire album, we found that several of those symbols, were the exact same symbols that we were warned about. We took that thing out of the house and put it in the car, and the trouble, subsided a little. We sure hated to do it, but, when we threw it away entirely, the trouble, stopped. I mean, it was unreal. An album causing all those problems. Even, listening to the songs, and contemplating the words, all led to the same conclusion. The album cover and the songs, were all demonic.
This is why I tell people that listen to rock music, rap and a lot of other, what is called 'new wave' music, to beware of what they are listening to, because there are obvious, and subliminal messages that are being sent to call up, demons, even though the artists, may just believe that they are just entertaining.
One of the Debarge brothers, said in an interview, that he gets his ideas from spiritual sources, and that his songs are directed to the 'spirit.' Now he said it, and that is what a lot of this music is, music from spirits, to spirits. Question is, which spirits are they from?
The more I read the bible, the more I wanted to read. The more I wanted to read, to freer I felt. All of a sudden, I was getting to be just like that foreman, trying to get others to realize what life is all about. There was a comic saying, back then, where a person was asking these questions, 'Who am I?? Why am I here??' I never really thought about it, until I read the bible, then it all became clear. I am made in the image of God, and I am here to worship Him. That is the sum total of our lives.
Now, in worshipping Him, He blesses me, in all areas of my life. The more I worship Him, the more He blesses me. Life, health, peace of mind, finances, spouse, children, you name it, including, eternal life, that is what He provides for those that will only worship Him.
The bible says, God has more blessings to give us, than we can even think of asking Him for [1 Cor. 2:9].
All my life, I had been trying to fill that part of my life that seemed to be unfulfilled. Booze didn't do it. Money didn't do it. Women, didn't do it. Drugs won't do it. Power won't do it. With each of these things, you only find out that you need more, and more, and eventually they will destroy you. But, when you worship God, He will fill that void in your life. That's what He did for me.
I thought, that I would just get saved, and live a quiet life, of going to church, and living for the Lord. Little did I know that He had this ministry in mind for me, because I thought I had been too bad, and He had to show me, that all of the things I experienced in the past, were merely stepping stones to get me to the place where I can tell a majority of you, I have walked in your shoes, and I know that there truly is nothing too hard for God to change. If He can change me, He can change anybody, including, YOU!!!
If I become wealthy, fine. But, it doesn't matter. If I gain power, or not, it doesn't matter. As long as I am pleasing in His sight, that is the only thing that matters to me.