“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe”
1 Timothy 4:10
Nothing like New Orleans in the summer time, then couple that with a tropical storm. It was hot, it was muggy, it was windy, it was humid, there was rain and thunder storms, it was like a steam room day and night, and though it all we labored in the field when most Americans had a Bar-b-que with friends and family.
The event is called ‘Southern Decadence’ and God rained on that event, but not fire and brimstone. We were soaked from the top of our heads to the bottom of our socks and that was just from the drinks tossed on us walking the French Quarter, as the warn rain washed our clothes daily. This event is liken to a Mardi Gras for homosexuals and if you have never preached it, I would explain it this way. If you ever preached against a ‘gay pride parade’ that would be like going to the zoo and looking at the animals in the cage, whereas preaching ‘Southern Decadence’ you are inside the cage with the animals.
Thursday we arrived from all over the nation and started off preaching at a Saints preseason game, both going in and coming out of the stadium, knowing later that we will met those same people on Bourbon street. We preached around the arena as the crowd was exhorted to be saints not just cheer for them. One lady walked up to a brother and wept after hearing the Word of God and seeing the reaction to the Word of God. Bourbon Street was crowded after the game, because what is a saint fan to do after a beating but get drunk and they do that if they win too. The police gave us much liberty to use our truth horns around the Super Dome and in the French Quarter, our adversary was trying to hold the banners in the wind. It was after midnight when we arrived to our place of refuge.
Friday morning we preached in front of an abortion clinic and get this….that clinic was once a Church in New Orleans and now murders babies, oh is that symbolic of the Church today. We surrounded the building on Saint Charles Ave with banners and preached, rebuked and prayed against said building for two hours. Nurses and security came out to see all the commotion, as the police passed by a few times and those that came out the side door to smoke got an ear full. We returned to the French Quarter later that day and preached in the rain and marched into the sodomite area with banners raised and things there can get physical with this group of tolerance. Once we are in this area, they will lock arms and block the street to keep us from walking in, they drop drinks from the balcony on our heads, try to pull down our banners, spit or push us and try to seize that megaphone to stop the preaching. All this while walking in the rain and blowing wind. As we preached on Bourbon street a few of the shop owners called the police because we were ‘disturbing their business’ and the police told them we had every right to stand there. The police stood around and watched us and confronted us only to move angry drunks and sodomites away. Friday night they had a small float parade on Bourbon Street as we preached to them on three different locations, here is a short clip of that night parade.
It was past midnight when we returned to our sanctuary for a nights sleep.
“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”
THIS ANGRY SODOMITE DID NOT LIKE WHAT A HOLY GOD SAYS ABOUT HIS SIN
Saturday we walked Bourbon Street and keeping the NO BULL-horns dry was a job, if the rain did not short the units out, ice drinks did. As we preached people would stand in the rain to listen or stand under balconies to heed the preaching. I had a few pour out their drinks on Bourbon Street and many drunks would say “we are bad but those guys are worst” as they pointed to the sodomite area. The police would move into the rain and keep the mob from hitting us. I had a bottle thrown at me that miss my face buy an inch but not so fortunate when an angry sodomite spit right on my face. That night when we did the walk into the Sodom area of Bourbon Street, one sodomite fell on the street trying to trip us and pull us down onto the street and another used his leather strap as a whip to trip a brother. Not only did we fight the wind and rain. But we had to be aware of objects being tossed from the balconies and those who ran up to us and tried to punch or grope us. We watched our step as they lay in wait on the wet street to grab our legs and stumble us from walking. Just remember, it is they that are tolerant and accepting not us. The police assigned to that grid were busy when we showed up as the followed us pulling angry sinners away. Even sinners from the voodoo shop came out chanting around us while burning some odd incense towards us but we continued to walk and preach. Again it was after midnight we returned drenched to our safe house from that wickedness.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"
LIKE OUR MAIL, GOD’S WORD IS PROCLAIMED IN RAIN, SNOW, SLEET OR SHINE
Sunday was the ‘decadence parade’ and before the 2PM parade we made ‘no small stir’ standing on the route as business owners called the police because we disturbed their business. The police came and saw that we were within our rights but noticed the balcony above us was dropping a 5 gallon bucket of water (I hope) on us. They tried to keep the sodomites at bay and soon several police cars arrived, we moved on but everywhere we seemed to stop the street erupted. We returned back to the parade route and continued to preach as the parade was about 30 minutes long. Now ten years ago that same parade was well over two hours long as this years ‘southern decadence’ was the smallest I’ve even seen it. Are the dying of AIDS/HIV? Did the weather send them home? Are they going to another city? Revival?
After we preached the parade, we walked the route with banners raised and TRUTH-horn blasting to the crowds booed and hissed. One sodomite wanted to beat me after I preached the gay lifestyle was filled with diseased, HIV, AIDS and death. Well, come to find out that his wife (a guy) had just died of AIDS, so he took that very personal and during the parade he was held back by others and followed us walking the parade wanting blood, my blood. After we stopped preaching the heavens opened up as it rained hard, the streets were flooded and we were inside. Pray that the Lord will send forth more laborers to harvest our work as it is planted, watered, fertilized and ripe.
As we were walking to the parade route we walked next to this guy that noticed our Christian T-shirts and said he was a Christian too. Now we have not yet raised our banners nor started to preach but were just walking past this guy. I stopped and talked with him, he looked like a big tough guy and he told me that he just did 23 years in the State Penn and while inside he did read his Bible and ministered to others. Well I noticed he had a full can of beer in his hand and so I said that he seemed to live for God much better in the joint than outside and I told him that I wanted to pray that he go back to prison. In fact I wanted to pray for a life sentence and the FEAR OF GOD came upon that man. He said “No” and was backing up as if I had a knife at his throat, he wanted no part of that prayer. I told him to give me his beer so I can pour it out and he did, so I did. I then asked for his cigarette he was smoking and when he gave it up I tossed it out on the ground. I asked if he had any more cigarettes and he also gave that to me, which I ripped that pack and tossed the lighter. He wanted to get back into fellowship with God and understood the concept of prayer and was convicted. He said he would join us and even hold a banner and followed us to preach against sin in public. As we all walked together he had another pack of cigarettes that he tossed and he publicly defended the God of the Bible with us. He stood his ground, never flinched at the sinners nor when the police arrived, did not punch anyone but took some incoming and did what he was told to do. After a while he had to use the restroom and even asked permission, however we lost him during the parade and if he came back we were gone walking the route. Johnny and I later went back to see if we could find him but did not. Pray for this man, his name is Thomas as he stood and took abuse for holding our banner and was not offended in our signs nor the message we preached but was a help, if even temporary.
SOME STREETS WERE FLOODED, SO WE WERE READY TO BAPTIZE
Monday most of the brothers had gone back home as Johnny from Mississippi and I stayed and ministered to the fellowship that hoisted us. I had an interview with NOLA.com on our presents in that city and why we do what we do coupled with a personal testimony and it should be out at a later time. We worked with 3 Churches in New Orleans and with the prayers of many, we had a plan, we came, we saw, we preached openly day and night and returned home.
“We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions”
As we led EVERYONE that walked or drove by us to the Lord either by our preaching, our conversation, our banners or tracts given and the million dollar question is, just what are they going to do with that information?
BROTHER DOUG FROM MIAMI STEPPING OUT TO GET PERSONAL
Here are a couple of YouTube links from brother Buddy
THIS EMAIL WAS SENT TO ME FROM ONE OF OUR GROUPIES THAT LOVE TO FOLLOW US AROUND THE FENCH QUARTER AND YELL IN OUR EARS:
"Hey there Ruben. You know me, your favorite New Orleans heretic.
I was just winding up with my megaphone and then all of the sudden you guys up and disappeared on me! No fair!
Did me and Leo drive you guys out of town? When are you coming back?"
HERE IS A FEW NEWS POSTS ON STREET PREACHERS IN SOUTHERN DECADENCE, JUST CLICK THE LINK TO READ THE FULL STORY:
Southern Decadence protesters called a safety hazard
“….Watermeier wages an annual battle with the small group of anti-gay campaigners who show up during the Southern Decadence festival, using bullhorns and picket signs to convey their message that homosexuality is evil and that its public celebration during Decadence is particularly abominable…..”
(click the WWLTV Eyewitness News clip for story)
Southern Decadence Under Way On Bourbon St.
“….The group said it wants to hammer home its message. "I'm coming out of the closet New Orleans," said Bible Believer member Ruban Israel. "I'm in love with Jesus Christ, and his blood is not HIV positive. They have the freedom to be anything they want to. All we ask is for the same freedom to stand here and tell them they are an abomination before God……."
Southern Decadence 2010 had the highest attendance since before Hurricane Katrina
“…The Christian protesters were outnumbered 100-to-1 and quickly disappeared to regroup in a nearby church on Dauphine Street. Not to be outdone, and learning from the best, the protesters were back with their own bullhorn to get their message across to the thousands of people on the street…..”
“….Brian Cranford, Ruben Israel, and several gentle warriors for King Jesus stormed the gates of hell in New Orleans two weeks ago and took on, head to head, the lies of the devil. They joined with “Jesus Christ Miracle Power,” Jan Stratton, Pastor Bill Shanks, and Pastor Dale Sochia. They hit the abortion mills in the morning and “Southern Decadence” on Bourbon Street in the evening. This little 10 minute video exposes the absolute depravity of those enslaved by homosexual sodomy. It also exposes several lies that the sodomite community uses to justify itself in the eyes of Almighty God:….”
Video: Jesus' lil militants hit New Orleans
“…And now, the last of our series of videos concerning the anti-gay folks who showed up in New Orleans to protest the recent Southern Decadence event (led by notorious "street preacher" Ruben Israel). They can best be described with one word: Extremi-Religo-Clusterfuck-a-Nutty….:
I would like to introduce Clarence Cope from Pennsylvania, a fellow Open air Preacher and a personal friend that has been preaching on campuses for decades. Here is his testimony of how a living God and clean one up for service, read and enjoy.
My story begins many years ago, and I share it in the hopes that it can be a blessing for someone. Since I believe that the Lord has been writing a letter on my heart to His church for the last 36 years, I think it best to know a little about my conversion and my “training”. My experience places me somewhere in the Christian continuum as a “Christian mystic”, with Biblical scholar being on the left extreme, and wild-eyed fanatic on the right extreme. (Some think I am much closer to wild-eyed than to scholar. I hope to prove them wrong.)
My God story started slow but continued over the years to grow in intensity and reality. When I was little, I believed that God was real, that Jesus was the son of God. But over the years, as with most children, I strayed from the truth and became like the prodigal son. It is with great rejoicing that I can now relate my story. He did not leave me in the pig pen, but came out to find me and bring me home to Him.
I grew up in the rolling hills of southeast Pennsylvania, in a small town named Schwenksville. My early years were unremarkable, characterized in my memory as a study in geekdom, a real l-l-l-loser. In high school, I excelled in nothing. I was one of those nerds that sat on the edge of the cafeteria and watched the “in” crowd. I had no vision for my life. The one thing I did have was a quick mind, and a strange sense of destiny. I just knew that somewhere in my life I would find my purpose.
Sin was my master all my growing years. As a youth I attended church with my family, but it had little effect on me. I remember reading the Bible and seeing all kinds of miracles and power. I remember thinking that if the Bible were true, ought we not to be seeing such things today? I thought that the lack of the miraculous in the church was a strong argument that the Bible was mythical. At the same time I discovered the pleasures of the flesh.
Even way back then I instinctively knew that sin was bad, and ought not to be done. Seeing no hope in the church because of her powerlessness, and seeing no hope in my own strength, I became convinced that I was insufficient to win a war against my lusts. Embracing sure defeat I allowed myself to be swept away by the lusts of the flesh. All I could see was my own weakness. I could see nothing of Jesus’ strength. He was as yet unknown to me.
After high school, I went to college for a year, but dropped out the next summer to join the USMC. I saw myself as a coward, and desperately wanted to become a man. I joined to go over to Vietnam. That was my war. I wanted to do my part, and also to find the one thing that always was forefront in my understanding of what it meant to be a man. John Wayne. As a boy, I watched every war movie that came along, and found myself yearning for the camaraderie portrayed by men at war. I wanted the unbreakable fellowship that comes from men fighting beside one another for a grand cause.
During our 8th week of training at the rifle range, I got word that my closest cousin, Buddie, had been killed in Vietnam. It was a very painful and awakening event. I realized that this was not a John Wayne movie where everybody of importance comes home safe and sound. They were shooting real bullets, and killing real people. It was a shock to realize I had been drug along in a romantic fantasy, and now I was facing the possibility of death. I cried out to God I think for the first time in my life. I was 19.
“What have I done?” “What have I done?” I cried through my grief. But turn and repent? Nope.
I believe the Lord heard my cry because two weeks later, when we received our orders, I was the only man in the company that was not assigned to go to Vietnam. Instead I was sent to Kansas City, Missouri. I was chosen because of college background and high test scores to join an elite team bringing the USMC into the computer age. All of my battles were against IBM mainframes.
During this time, I was unawares that the Lord was pursuing me. Later on, when I looked back on all the things that happened, I see places where the Lord’s hand became visible. I was preserved in a car wreck where I drove directly into a dirt bank traveling in excess of 60 mph. I was preserved when I was surrounded and attacked by a gang of teenagers in a shopping center parking lot. He was looking out for me.
After my service was completed, I went back to school at Penn State University, and started dating my first wife, Christine. The Lord continued to pursue me in increasingly dramatic fashion. All the time, I was sinking deeper and deeper into sin. While at school, I started to use drugs more often. After my freshman year, Christine and I married. We moved up to Penn State, and I continued in my pursuit of a degree in Computer Science.
We played around with sin, and went even deeper still, experimenting with the idea of an “open marriage”. Our drug use increased. By the time we were married eight months, our decline into the depths of sin reached the level of infidelity. By the year and six month mark, our marriage was on the rocks. I am condensing a lot of history into a few short paragraphs. The underlying theme is that I was being drawn ever more deeply into sin, and the Lord began to call to me ever more clearly.
In hindsight, I remember the first really dramatic encounter I had with God. I had begun to think of myself as a “spiritual” person. Christine and I had moved in with a friend of my wife, named Mary. Our relationship had deteriorated considerably. Chris was running around on me (not the first time) with a man named Stanley. We were teetering on divorce.
Mary was also separated from her husband. One weekend she told him that she had had an affair with another man. He was a jealous man, bordering on illness. He yelled and screamed at her over the phone, then screamed that he was coming to the house to shoot her, their two kids, Christine, me, all their cats, and the neighbor’s horse.
Logically speaking, I think we should have left, but we did not. Christine took the children up to our bedroom on the second floor, I sat in the kitchen with a baseball bat for defense, and Mary went into the living room to await his arrival.
Again, I cried out to God, “God, he’s coming here to kill us. You’ve got to change him. You’ve got to change him. Deliver us Lord God”.
I prayed for some time with great intensity. He didn’t come, and didn’t come, then after a long time, he showed up. Mary and he went into the living room to talk, and I waited in the kitchen with the bat to defend against him. They talked for a few minutes, then Mary came into the kitchen.
She said, “He is rational now. He thought that Christine and you were the cause of all of our problems, but now he realizes that he is the cause of all of our problems. He took his guns out into the woods and buried them. Go on upstairs to be with Chris and the kids.”
I went upstairs and stood in the doorway. Chris was playing with the kids on the bed. The image of her and Stanley leapt into my mind, and I was filled with loathing for her. This was not her first affair. In a year and a half, I think it was her third dalliance. The loathing was kindled as a fire in my heart, but it was so evil I could not bear it.
I prayed, “Oh Lord, I don’t to hate my wife, please help me to love her.” In that instant three things happened. One I recognized immediately, and the other two I came to recognize several years later. The first thing was that the loathing disappeared and was replaced by an intense love for my wife. It was a wave of warmth that swept over me and filled me. The next thing I recognized years later.
The room became very very bright. A light so intense that it made me squint filled the room. I remember I could just barely see. It was like a bright summer day when the sunlight is so bright your pupils almost close and everything sort of dims out.
The last thing that happened I also did not recognize until years later. That morning we had sprayed for a house fly infestation. The floor of the bedroom was literally covered with hundreds and hundreds of dead flies. At first they began to buzz. Then they began to flip over and fly off. I picked up a shoe and went around pounding on them to keep them dead. This story is usually met with great mockery when I tell it on campus. I can only witness to what happened.
What did not happen is that I did not humble myself before God and repent of my sins. Instead, shortly after the fly incident, I moved out of Mary’s house, and started dating a girl I had met at work. My heart was becoming harder against my wife. I not only was not repenting of my sins, I was harboring unforgiveness and rage against Chris. God turned up the volume a little.
I moved into a tiny apartment with a great view overlooking the sewage treatment plant. I was struggling to keep my life from crumbling. One winter day, my girlfriend and I, having sinned, left my apartment. Whenever I would leave, I would put a piece of paper on the door with the inscription “Leave a message”. As we exited the building, my wife was turning around in her car. I sent my girlfriend to her car, and walked over to Chris’s door.
“What do you want” I hissed.
“It was snowing this morning, and I missed you and just wanted to see you.”
Great was my anger against her. I sent her away. But then the enemy began to tempt me with the thought of seducing my wife. Like the monster I was, I borrowed my girlfriend Candy’s car to go over to seduce my wife. But like another time later in my life, God said “You will not go there”.
When I arrived at Chris’s house, she was on the couch softly crying. When I sat down, God began to convince me of every evil thing I had to her. I came face to face with the monstrosity of sin reflected in Chris’s tear watered cheeks. All the wounds, all the heartaches, the broken promises, the broken dreams were paraded before my eyes. I could bear it no more, so I got up and suddenly left.
All the way back to Candy’s home, I cried out to God “Oh God forgive me, forgive me for all the evil I have done to my wife.” I wept openly as I drove the 14 miles back, begging for release from what I had seen about myself.
The heart of man is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked. Back at Candy’s, I hardened my heart again. I knew I was supposed to forgive my wife and be reconciled with her. I was not willing. Candy was distraught that I would dump her and go back to my wife, but I told her “No, I am through with her, I am going to stay with you”.
That night, when I got back to my apartment, someone had neatly printed on my message sheet:
“You’re Forgiven, God”
Even now it fills me with awe to remember the thunderclap realization of what this meant. His reality came on me like the heat of a blast furnace. I went into my apartment and spent the entire night weeping bitterly and praying. For a short time thereafter I was on fire for God. Candy and I began to go to church on Sundays. But again the heart of man… I was faithfully reading the Bible – until the day I came across this verse:
Mt 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,…
Reading that was my doom. When I thought I could justify divorcing my wife and messing around with my girlfriend I turned my back on God again. Rather than doing the right thing by forgiving my wife and reconciling with her, I walked away. My lust again triumphed over reason.
I graduated from Penn State, divorced my wife, and impregnated my girlfriend all in about the same three week period. Candy did not want to marry me, but I always wanted a child. I pressured her until she agreed to marry me. I believe that it was at this point that God allowed me to ascend to a mountain peak.
Candy and I married and we moved to Connecticut. I was hired by the Aetna Life & Casualty company. Aetna had a computer staff of over 500 people. As soon as I got there, because I had been a pioneer for computerizing the USMC, I very quickly established myself as the rising star in the department. Within a few months, I was being invited to all high level meetings on new applications. I was the “go to” guy. When anyone needed it done soon and good, they came to me.
Aetna’s system group was the cream of the cream of the computer industry. They had a two year waiting list of people who wanted to work with them On my last day at Aetna, they called me and asked me to interview with them. Such was my professional mountain peak.
My daughter Heather was born in October 2, 1973. She was beautiful, the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. She was daddy’s girl. The sun rose and set on her daddy.
We were renting to buy a little row home in Hartford. Life was good. It was a time, the only time, when everything was wonderful in my life. I was happy being married, and having a daughter. My professional reputation was growing. And then, we were flicked off that mountain peak.
Candy’s father was killed by a drunk driver back in Pennsylvania. She was devastated. In order to deal with the loss, she asked if we could move back to PA. I agreed. I looked for work in central PA, but in the early 70’s it was still a technological backwater. I was not able to find anything, except in Philadelphia. It was still about 4 hours from her home, but it was closer.
The man who hired me thought he was being promoted and given a new system to develop for Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia. I accepted his offer, and we moved back down to Pennsylvania. Candy and I searched out a nice little twin, with a small yard, a fireplace, breakfast nook, and 4 bedrooms, finished attic and basement. It was my ideal place. Not so for Candy.
When I reported to work, I found out that the man who had hired me had been demoted and all of his systems taken away. I was put to work for a man who did not hire me, did not interview me, and did not want me. He put me to work doing program documentation. For anyone who has been in computers, program documentation is the lowest task that can be assigned. It is what you assign people who have an associate degree and zero programming experience. By that time I had had over 7 years experience. From that point my life collapsed, seemingly overnight.
The one bright spot was my daughter. Every day when I returned from work, she would be in her high chair eating. When I walked into the room, everything would stop, and she would stare at me. We played eye games. I would wink at her, or scrunch up my face. She would squeal, hands and feet would waggle, and food would fly. Then back to staring, awaiting the next look. I had never been loved like that – ever. She was daddy’s little girl and was the center of my life.
At work I was greatly offended for being assigned such menial work. My attitude suffered, and I was not adjusting or adapting well. My work situation became untenable. At the same time, Candy stopped talking to me. When I would come home my daughter would rejoice, but my wife would just sit there with a dour look on her face, staring at the TV. If I asked her whether there was a problem, she would just deny it, and refuse to talk to me.
She started to take longer and longer trips home, sometimes being away for a week at a time. After one of her trips, she told me she wanted to go back to school. I offered to pay for any schooling in the area, but she insisted that it had to be at Penn State. Then came the bombshell. She wanted to go back to school, with me footing the bill, and to be free to date. After she graduated, then we could talk about getting back together. During her next absence, I cheated on her.
The situation became more and more strained at home and at work. At my sister’s suggestion, I checked into a mental hospital, but all they could do with me was teach me how to make pot holders and ceramic pot plates. After a couple of weeks, I checked myself.
Finally, I had had enough. One night, I just started talking to Candy, who was unresponsive. I said, “I am going to ask you questions until we come to what the problem is.” My first question was “Have you fallen out of love with me?” She said “Yes” She told me that she was trying to find the perfect father’s day card. It was then she realized she didn’t love me at all.
There was much crying and when the crying subsided, we began to talk about where we went from there. Candy suggested that I could start dating to find someone else, and when I did, she would bow out of the picture. I thought that if there was a propitious time to make a confession, now would be the time. I told her that I had already gone out on her once. It was quite possibly the stupidest thing I ever thought to say.
Candy leapt from the bed and ran up and down the hallway weeping and screaming. I remember I was amazed that her reaction was nothing like what she had been saying merely 2 minutes before. I guess when I confessed my infidelity, it exposed the true state of her heart.
Anyway, things went downhill from there pretty fast. In a couple of days, she took Heather and left to stay with her mother. My work? Forget it. All I could do was to stare at my desk, drink coffee and search for some way out of my agony.
I thought that I would take this time without a wife to immerse myself in immorality. I joined a swinger club. For those who don’t know, back in the 70’s, swinger clubs put out periodicals where the sexually wicked would place ads for whatever perversion they wanted. Well I was intending to take this time of freedom to avail myself of it.
I believe that is the point again when God said “You will not go there”.
I would come home from work to an empty house, usually to wander from room to room weeping. My drug usage went way up, as did my drinking. I would come home, wander the house, get stoned and drunk, and then try to make a decision on which ad I would respond to. Great confusion would come on me, and I found I could not make a single decision about the swingers ads. I would sit hour after hour, day after day, trying to decide between the twins in New Jersey or the housewife in Allentown. I could not.
Instead I became suicidal, and kept a loaded rifle beside my bed to blow my brains out the moment I could work up the courage. At work, I could do no work. My problems were like a cloud of hornets swarming around my head, stinging me, and driving me to kill myself. All I could do was sit, drink coffee, and stare at my desk.
During this time there were two Christians in the office who could see my great agony. Several times they asked me to go with them to their lunch time Bible study. I always put them off. I was a spiritual man and did not need this Jesus fellow to run my life.
That brings us to December 3, 1974. That morning one of the Christians, named Jim, came over to my desk and said:
“You know Bro, you and I have something in common”
“What that Jim?”
“My wife told me it’s all over between us. She is going to divorce me and marry someone else.”
I just clucked at him. “That’s too bad Jim.” But I could not get too excited about his problems. I had my own. My daughter had been taken away from me. I could not live without her.
This was the day I was going to do it. I was going to stand up, turn around, open my window, and jump. It would only take a second or two, no one could stop me. Just stand up, turn around, open my window and jump. So simple, so easy. I worked all morning trying to gather the courage just to do it. Around noon time, I think I was just about there. My frame of mind was I wanted to end it all. I was ready.
Jim stood up and said, “Hey Bob, it’s noontime, we’d better get over to the Bible Study”.
It was in that instant that God spoke to me audibly for the first time.
“He’s been married for 14 years, he’s got 3 daughters, his wife is leaving him for another man. You’ve been married less than a year and a half, you’ve got only one daughter, and your wife is not leaving you for another man. She’s just leaving you, but he still has time for me. What are you doing with your life.”
The sound of His voice drove me under my desk. I pulled myself back up, and called out, “Wait up, I want to go with you”.
We walked a couple of blocks away, to the 14th floor of the PNB building. The conference room had a half a dozen men in it, sitting around an oval mahogany table. I remember we got right into it. I started asking questions. I can’t remember the questions nor the answers. I was weeping uncontrollably with my chin hooked on the edge of the conference table. It was the only thing that kept me from being pressed to the floor. There was a heavy weight on my shoulders. I could not sit upright.
They were witnessing to me about making Jesus Lord of my life. I had always believed that Jesus lived, and that He was the son of God. No one had ever explained to me about obeying Him. They were telling me I had to make a commitment of my heart and then do it.
As I was sitting with my chin hooked on the table edge, God took away my vision. I no longer could see the conference room and it’s inhabitants. Instead I was looking at a battlefield. In the middle right in front of me there was a white frame house, bombed out. In front was a black walnut tree, stripped of it’s leaves and bark and charred black. Over to the left, there was a housing development bombed out and destroyed. There was another development to the right that had been leveled.
I knew immediately that what I was seeing was a depiction of my life. Then God spoke to me for the second time.
“You did this to your life. You lived it anyway you pleased without any regards to me.”
I turned to the fellow sitting to my right. His name was Charley. I asked him, “If I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, will He heal my marriage?”
Charley said, “Yes He will”.
Then the Lord spoke to me the third time, but in a different voice. He told me that I was at the end of my time. If I did not repent of my sins right there and then, I would be dead before nightfall.
Through my sobs, I cried out to God again.
“God, take my life, it’s broken. Fix it. I’ll do anything you want, anything just fix my life.” Over and over I kept praying “It’s broken fix it, it’s broken fix it.” The gentlemen did not know what I was talking about, but I was still looking upon the depiction of my life destroyed by my sins.
I don’t know how long it was. Finally, the weight lifted off my shoulders and I was able to sit upright. When I did, a fire was kindled in my heart. My insides were on fire, and I experienced something I had not felt since young boyhood. I felt clean. I felt pure. I felt innocent. My heart was free from guilt, from condemnation, from consciousness of sin. I was a new man. I was born again.
I never end this chapter without something else that happened that day. When I arrived home that evening, I found the house plundered. Candy had come down with a truck and took almost everything we owned. My immediate reaction was great anger, but the Lord spoke to me one more time for that day.
“I command you to love your wife. Give her whatever she wants.”
I called her up and told her about my conversion. Her reaction was “Well, that’s nice for you.” Then I told her she was welcome to everything she took, and if there was anything else she wanted, just to let me know and I would bring it up to her. She listed off a half a dozen other things she wanted. That weekend I took a load up to her and gave her everything. God began training me for my ministry on the day I got saved.
My first lesson was to love someone who did not love me. He never let me stop loving her.