Paul Struhar sharing the Gospel with seafaring men visiting a church service.

A New Way of Life

April 01, 2013

It seemed likely his mother would die before they could get across the country, but this man saw a miracle and found a new way of life.

By Paul Struhar

Over forty years ago, when I was a young man twenty-two years of age, I arrived in Portland, Oregon. Sin had robbed me of everything; my health and everything good in my life was gone.

My father had been a drunkard, so I grew up in the slums of one of the eastern cities. I am sorry to say that I followed in his footsteps. I learned to drink and gamble and carouse to my own sorrow. My father passed away when he was young—he paid an awful penalty for the life of sin he had lived.

When I saw the error of my ways and wanted to turn over a new leaf, I joined a church. I signed the pledge not to drink anymore and became the preacher’s right-hand man—even with all my sin. But that did not take the tiger out of my heart or the sin out of my life. I would go to the church and then to the shows; to prayer meeting, and then to the pool hall. I was the social secretary of the church and ran the social functions, but there was still that desire in my heart to have my own way—and I had it. For years I struggled on and only became worse instead of better.

My mother was a Christian woman, but she was sick with tuberculosis, and the doctors could not help her. They ordered her to go to a sanitarium, but she did not want to go. I had a

Christian uncle who attended the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon, and some of the people from the church sent us a church paper. That paper brought joy to my mother’s heart and she desired to go to Portland.

One day she asked if I would take her. She hardly expected me to say that I would do so, but she had been praying and God was working on my heart. I said yes, as I was weary and ready for a change. I thought I would have a good time, take a few months’ leave from my work in the East, and then go on down through California and back to my work in Pennsylvania. The doctor said it would be a good thing for me to do to build up my body.

When Mother asked me to put a “For Sale” sign on the house, I did so. It sold the next day and she had the money. We bought tickets for my mother, my two little sisters, and myself to go to Portland, though no one expected my mother to live long enough to get there. In fact, when we reached Chicago, Illinois, she almost died, and we had to get off the train and let her rest for a day. I sent a telegram to my uncle in Portland to have the Apostolic Faith people pray for her. They did pray, and we got on the train again. Mother went to her berth, and there she prayed and consecrated her children and

everything she had to God. The next morning as we traveled through Omaha, Nebraska, she woke up healed. She never had any lung trouble or hemorrhages after that.

We were four days and five nights on the train, and arrived in Portland on a Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon I brought Mother and my sisters to the church to meet with the people of God. After the service, the ministers prayed for her and she walked many blocks back to where we were staying. The Lord wonderfully blessed my mother and permitted her to live for thirty more years and to be a blessing to many people.

I went to church that Sunday afternoon out of courtesy to my uncle, and with the thought of arguing with the old gentleman. However, what I heard in that service took all the argument out of me. I heard testimonies of the redeemed. A man who had been a drunken sailor testified. He said he had been kicked out of his country, put in jail, had his teeth knocked out, and that he had done everything he knew to get rid of the liquor habit, but he couldn’t do it. His testimony got to me, as my father had been the same type of man, and I was following in that path. God had saved that drunken sailor and from that moment on, he had been living a clean, respectable life.

That Sunday afternoon in the Apostolic Faith Church, the Gospel appealed to my heart. I raised my hand for prayer at the close of the sermon, but I didn’t go forward to the altar and get saved, even though I knew that I truly needed a new start in life.

The people of God prayed for me, and I cancelled the rest of the tour and quit my job in the East. For many months I went to the meetings. Then I bought a home far from church so I wouldn’t have to attend the services every night. But I was working with some people from the Apostolic Faith, and I began to get under such awful conviction that I couldn’t sleep.

One night I settled it in my heart that I was going to get saved, and it seemed that the load lifted somewhat and I was able to sleep. The next morning I told one of the boys at work, “I want to get to the meeting tonight and make sure.” He said, “We can’t come after you tonight, but I will tell the workers about this and we will put a request in for you, and we will pray for you.” That night I got to church on my own, and I was there to hear the request read! After the service, I prayed at the altar, but my heart was so full of doubts I couldn’t pray through to victory.

Some time later, while at work in the shop one day, I was painting the top of a boxcar and praying. I was thinking of the testimonies I had heard and wishing I had a testimony like that in my heart. That morning God began to deal with my heart. He began to show me what it would cost me. It wasn’t the few hundred dollars I had in the bank, but it was to completely surrender my heart and life to Him.

I want to tell you, God keeps books, and although I had my life all hidden from my fellowman, God brought it all before me.

The thought of a restitution came up before me—something I wouldn’t have confessed for anything. Would I be willing to go back over that past life and straighten it up? I want to tell you, God keeps books, and although I had my life all hidden from my fellowman, God brought it all before me. I said, “Yes, Lord,” and God heard my prayer. I jumped off the boxcar onto a little platform, and my heart was full of joy. It was settled in my mind that I was going to make that restitution. Right there the witness came into my heart that I was saved. The Lord cleaned me up on the inside and on the outside right on the spot when He saved me. No more cigarettes, no more drinking, no more carousing, and no more blaspheming! The old life went out. I couldn’t tell how it went out, but it went.

The restitution that I needed to make was to a storekeeper who had employed me. I had taken his merchandise and money. God gave me the grace to ask his forgiveness and pay back what I owed. I am glad God sent me back over my old life to straighten it all out, and I had a wonderful time going back and paying the men I had defrauded.

When our family was on the way to Portland, I had intended to pass my two little sisters on to our relatives upon our mother’s death. Instead, God healed our mother, and my sisters were reared under the sound of this marvelous Gospel. It was my privilege to see them give their hearts to God.

God has helped me to say no to the sins that once had me bound and I have stayed with it. My tongue hasn’t slipped for over forty years. God has kept me. He also restored my health and gave me the strength to work hard. Today, I am a businessman in this city, with many men working for me, and God keeps me living an honest and upright life. I count it a privilege to live for Jesus.

About the author

Paul Struhar became a zealous worker in the Apostolic Faith Church. He went into business in Portland, but never became too busy to do the Lord’s work. He served as head usher for years, and had many opportunities to relate what God had done in his life. 

During World War II, God gave Paul a special burden for servicemen. Nearly every Sunday, he would take his car downtown to the bus and train depots, and invite men who were traveling through the area to church. Over the years, he received many letters expressing the gratitude of lonely servicemen who had enjoyed the spiritual uplift and friendliness they found in Paul’s home. He served the Lord faithfully in the Apostolic Faith Church until his death in 1963.