(Fred Owen is the man sitting in the front-center.)

God Straightened Me Out!

July 01, 2014

Bound by a love of whiskey from childhood, this man finally heard how to find deliverance.

By Fred Owen

How I praise God for the Gospel, and for what He has done for me. I am a witness that the Lord can save a man and give him something that will make him live clean, honorable, and upright. He can also sober up a drunkard, straighten him out, and keep him sober.

I was born and raised on the Barbary Coast in San Francisco, California. A love for whiskey was in me from my earliest childhood. I used to say that I was born with it—it was second nature to me. My relatives were all whiskey drinkers. The men made it, sold it, and drank it. I cannot remember the first time I tasted alcohol, but my father used to take me to the bar when I was just a little boy.

When I was big enough to stand up to the bar by myself and drink, I thought that meant I was a man. Whiskey failed to make a man of me, though. I became tied down by every filthy habit that can bind a man. I became a drunkard, a fighter, and a slave to tobacco.

I got married, moved to Oakland, California, and had a daughter. However, my home was soon broken up because of the life I lived. Everybody knows there is no happiness in the home of a drunkard. I made life miserable for everyone around me. I reached such a state that my little girl ran from me whenever I came home. I could not get along with my wife. It seemed it was just as natural for us to quarrel and fight around the home as it was to eat our meals or read the evening paper. I could not get along on the job, either, and was grouchy all the time. I was a disgrace to my community, always having to apologize for some stunt I had pulled while drunk.

Many times I tried to straighten up and be a man in my own strength. I made lots of resolutions, and promised my wife I would do better. I went on the wagon and threw away my makings for liquor, but I could not stay sober—the love of whiskey had me bound. I tried to quit tobacco, but could not get away from the cravings. Instead of getting better, I went from bad to worse.

Finally, my wife and I decided to separate because of the trouble in our home. We gave away our furniture to the second-hand store and the neighbors. Then I sent her to live with her folks in Portland, Oregon. There she attended an Apostolic Faith meeting. She told me she had never seen such happy people. That intrigued me.

With my home gone and my wife gone, my life was getting worse by the day. It was a dark time for me. I realized I needed to get away from my old friends and relatives on the Barbary Coast, and decided to go to Portland, a “dry” town, and make a new start. It was just before the first of the year, and my plan was to turn over a new leaf.

Early in 1917, I came to Portland full of resolutions to straighten up, do what a man ought to do, and provide for my family. I thank God I did straighten up, but it was not because Portland was a dry town; it was because I met God.

When I arrived in town, I went to my father-in-law’s house on the east side of the city. He came to the door and said, “We have been waiting for you. We have been putting in prayer requests at the Apostolic Faith Mission that the Lord would bring you here, save you, and reunite you with your family.”

That sounded good to me. I was invited to a meeting that very night. I had never seen people who were so ready and anxious to get up and tell what God could do for a poor sinner like me. Men and women told how God had taken sin out of their lives and given them victory for many years. I had never heard anything like that before, and there was something about it that appealed to me. Then a young man got up, looked me in the eye, and testified that he had been in the same fix I was in until God delivered him. I believed what he had to say; it sounded real to me.

When the preacher spoke, he did not tell me to turn over a new leaf, but he pointed right down at me and said, “Sinner friend, prove God for yourself.”

When the preacher spoke, he did not tell me to turn over a new leaf, but he pointed right down at me and said, “Sinner friend, prove God for yourself.” I had been to church a few times, and had been in different missions, but I had never heard anyone talk like that. I thought it was fair and square enough for anybody.

When the service ended, I decided to go down to the altar of prayer and see if God would do the same thing for me as He had done for those people. I made my way to the front, got down on my knees for the first time in my life, and prayed an honest prayer before God. I called on Him for mercy, and I meant business. I said if He would save my soul and give me the old-time religion, I would serve Him to the end of my days.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, God took my sins away and made a Christian out of me. The love for tobacco, booze, stealing, lying, and swearing all went out of my life—the Lord delivered me completely. When I got up from my knees, I did not have to ask anyone what had happened to me; I knew the work was done in my heart. I was born again, and all the old appetites for alcohol and tobacco were gone.

That night I proved that God is able to save. Now, thirty years later, I have proved that He is able to keep. I have had no desire for whiskey from that day to this. Strong drink has not even been a temptation since the Lord saved me. It is on the shelves in the places where I have done janitorial work, but I thank God that the “want to” is gone.

After I was saved, I went to my wife and told her what God had done for me. She could see a change had taken place, and once she saw what the Lord had done for her drunkard husband, she wanted the same thing. It was just a couple weeks later that she went to a meeting and got saved, too. We have had peace and joy in our home ever since. It had been a place filled with quarreling and discontentment, but the Lord came down and made it peaceful.

I wrote to all the people I had wronged and made restitution to them. No one told me to do it; God showed me that it was the right thing to do.

These days, I have a peace in my heart that passes all understanding.By the grace of God, I am able to live right and act like a man. I do an honest day’s work, and I do not carry off the tools like I used to. I work as a janitor in some of the big offices, banks, and department stores in Portland. Over the years, I have found cash that belonged to other men. One time, I was going about my duties and found a sack with eight hundred dollars in it. There was nothing in my heart that wanted to keep the money; I turned it over to the owner. Later, I told my fellow workers about it and they began telling me how they would have gotten away with stealing the money, and what they would have done with it. I thank God there was no desire in my heart to do something like that.

When God saved my soul, He also healed my body. The tobacco and alcohol had given me ulcers. I had gone to many physicians and also tried Christian Science to get relief. Nothing worked until I called on God Almighty for mercy.

My heart is full of praise to God. He did not fail me in the darkest hour of my life, but instead, He set me free. Since then, He has proven Himself to me many times. I used to think that when a man got religion, his good times were gone. My good times started when God saved my soul! I love this Gospel. It is real and it gets better and better as the days go by. Today I am rejoicing because I am a Christian.

About the author

Fred Owen was saved in 1917. He sang in the choir and served God faithfully in Portland, Oregon, until his death in 1964.