I was born in 1956 in a small town in North Carolina. My mother was very young when she and my father were married. She was only l5 years old when my oldest brother was born, and thirteen months later I arrived. When I was about 3 years of age, my family moved to Virginia so my father could find employment. My parents’ marriage was not a happy one. My father drank excessively and was very abusive toward my mother and all four of the children. There were many times I actually feared for my mother’s life. My parents separated several times while I was growing up, and finally divorced when I was 12 years old. My mother went to New York City to find work in the nursing field, and, later sent for the children. We stayed with her for a short time, but my oldest brother and I hitchhiked back to Virginia. At the time, he was 14 and I was almost 13 years old. We stayed with some friends in Richmond for a number of weeks and ran the streets at night. My father caught up with us and decided to put us into the custody of the State of Virginia. After being in Juvenile Hall for about a month, I was placed in a foster home. The people there were Christians. (This was probably the first time in my life that I was ever exposed to the gospel!) While I was living with them, a large crusade came to town and we all went. When the invitation to come to the front was given at the close of the meeting, the man of the house said to me, “Would you like to go down to the front and get your life straightened out?” So after a minute or two, I made my way to the front. The gentleman there asked me if I wanted to be saved. He read a paper with me, asked me if I believed it and told me I was saved. My foster family was delighted!
I remember returning to school and when I told my rowdy friends I had gotten saved they laughed so hard they had tears in their eyes! It did not take long for me (and everyone around me) to realize that I had absolutely nothing!
Things were not going well in the foster home, and we could not get along. After just about 3 years in this home, I decided to run away to my grandmother’s farm in North Carolina. Before I left, I stopped into say goodbye to some of my schoolmates, who were sisters of a woman named Melody Oliver. Her mother convinced me not to go to North Carolina and shortly thereafter Melody and her husband David, after prayerful consideration, opened their home in Pennsylvania to me. When I arrived in Bryn Mawr, there was a series of Gospel Meetings going on with Mr. Lorne McBain and Mr. Jim Smith. I was not impressed with the gospel or with these Christians who went to meeting every night of the week! Also, I did not want to be a burden on David and Melody, so I decided to return to Virginia. I will never forget the day I left! Melody stood at the door in tears. This was the first time I could ever remember a woman crying because she cared about me. It seemed like the Lord was trying to turn me around here, because it rained the whole way from David and Melody’s house to the Interstate where I hitchhiked back to Virginia. Again I stopped at Melody’s parents’ home, and while I was there David called on the phone and persuaded me to return to Pennsylvania, where the meetings were still going on.
As I listened to the preaching again, the gospel began to work on my stubborn heart. The preachers visited with me from time to time and asked me whether I was saved yet. At night after meeting, David would speak to me about my soul. He and Melody had a genuine interest in seeing me saved. On May 13, 1973, around 1 o’clock in the morning, sitting across from David at the little kitchen table on Linden Drive, reading John 3:36 and John 5:24, I saw that if anyone should be sent to hell for eternity, it was me! I then realized that I was the poor lost sinner that Christ had died for! At that moment I was saved for eternity by the rich grace of God.
I will be eternally grateful to David and Melody for taking an interest in this wayward young man. Since coming to know Christ as my Savior, life has been worth living like it never was before!