Found the Right Way to Live
April 01, 2016
The victorious testimonies he heard in a church service gripped his heart.
My heart is full of praise to God for this mighty salvation, because I am sure that I would not be alive today if the Lord had not saved me.
In 1924, I was the first child born to my parents. I was raised in a Christian home on the family farm in the St. James community near Greensboro, Florida.
I learned about Jesus from my parents and also my grandparents. We were only able to go to church once a month, so on the other Sundays they held Sunday school in our home. We also had prayer meetings in our home, and the Bible was often read to me. When I was very young, my mother would gather my sisters and me around her knees and tell us Bible stories and read Gospel tracts to us. My grandmother had never been to school, but she could read the Bible. She taught me verses such as, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), and “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9). I worked with my grandfather on the farm, and the first song I ever tried to sing was one I learned from him: “The Blood Done Sign My Name.” He often sang it when we had family prayer meetings.
As I grew up, I strayed away from the teachings of my parents and grandparents. Many times I took a walk just to get out of being in those times of worship with the family. By the time I was in my late teens, I had gone out for the things of the world. I had started smoking and drinking, staying out late at night, and doing all the things that go along with that lifestyle. I even went to the bootleggers, thinking I would make some easy money. I purchased liquor and started reselling it. Then, in order to increase the profit, I poured water into the liquor when everyone’s back was turned. I was looking for satisfaction in cigarettes, alcohol, and money, but there was none.
People would say to me, “You drink, and yet you are the son of those sanctified people.” I would tell them, “But I am not sanctified!” Then I would drink more. Yet, it bothered me to think of what I knew would happen to me if I died.
Sometimes I would stop alongside the road and convince myself that I was praying. Actually, I was only telling God what I would and would not do. Other times, after coming home in the late hours of the night, I would bend my knees and make all kinds of vows and promises to God. I prayed because I wanted Him to deliver me from my troubles. I thought if I threw away the cigarettes and said I wouldn’t drink anymore, that would make a difference. I was helpless, though. I could never keep those vows. Very soon I would fall into the same old rut again. I did not know that I needed to repent and ask God to save me.
One day God let me come into contact with the Apostolic Faith people. My family received literature from the headquarters church in Portland, Oregon. When my father heard that there was a branch church about 150 miles from us, he went to visit. After he returned, I went with a few other family members to revival meetings being held at the Apostolic Faith Church in Century, Florida. As I sat in those church services, I heard the people of God testify, and those testimonies really struck me. The young people told how they lived for God day by day. I could not live right for even one day, no matter how hard I tried. What they said interested me. I had found what was missing in my life.
At the end of one of the services, we were invited to pray. I went forward because my mother told me to go—she thought it would be disrespectful not to. Two servicemen from Portland were stationed at an Army base in the area, and they were also at that meeting. One of them knelt to pray with me. He asked what I was seeking and I did not know what he was talking about because I was not seeking anything. He told me just to ask God to be merciful to me a sinner. I knew my life was full of sin and I wanted God in my heart, so I prayed those words. Tears came streaming down my face. I had nothing to offer God, but when I cried out to Him to have mercy on me, something happened. The Lord came into my life and rolled the burden of sin away.
When I got up, I felt so different. The drinking, the smoking, and the other sinful habits were gone. From that day to this, I have not been guilty of those old sins I committed in the past. I have had no more appetite for sinful habits. I had been a big liar and told lies without reason. After that prayer meeting, I was careful not to tell anything untrue or say anything bad.
During those services, the Lord also sanctified me. When I returned home, some of my friends predicted I would be back to the old life in six months. However, that did not happen. And when I was inducted into the United States Navy, people told me, “You can’t live a Christian life in the Navy; you can’t keep your salvation there,” but the Lord kept me. When I came out of the service, I still had Christian victory in my life.
God baptized me with the Holy Ghost, and I thank Him for keeping me through the years. Those who gave me six months to live the Christian life missed it by many years because I am still serving Him! Praise God! I have that salvation in my heart today and I can recommend this glorious way of life to anyone.