This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
MARK 1:1 NLT
I refer to the scripture above, the one in Mark 1:1 because it was through that Scripture that my new life began.
I took Mr. H.’s advice and went to Negril, got some weed and went out to the beach one night to do just what the Bible said: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Well, what I was doing that night was not the best and most accurate interpretation/application of the Bible; but it was, in my own heart, what I thought I was to do. This is what I thought God want- ed me to do. The only way I could be still was to get myself calmed down with some good Jamaican Ganja.
As I sat on the beach that night, the moon was out, the sky was clear, and the ocean was lapping its waves upon the shore, one after the other. In my heart, I was contemplating all of this beautiful creation in front of me. I started thinking and asking myself about how it all came to pass. “How did all this beauty come about?” I wondered.
At that moment, God spoke to my heart and told me that He was the one who created it. Not only did He speak to my heart about what He had done, but I had two other distinct impressions from Him: one, that He loved me; and two, that I could know Him. Actually, there was a third, also, and that was that He wanted me to know Him. I remember being so impacted by this moment that the next morning I told one of my friends that he should come out with me that night, and we’d go and talk to God on the beach. You see, God’s Word is true; and He honored His Word in my life that night, even though I was far from truly understanding it. Like the hymn says, “I once was blind, but now I see.” Well, my eyes and heart were being opened.
I went back to Florida and started reading that little Bible every day and continued smoking my dope each and every day … still dealing and still partying, but reading that Bible with the distinct impression within myself that something was happening to me from above. I would go and sit in the courtyards of a church there in Tallahassee to just think and reflect on God.
A dope deal gone bad is what led up to that gun at my head, and that is what led to something I’ll never forget for eternity. It’s the night of the gun incident. Right there, in the very house where I had stood outside that day looking up into David M.’s eyes, God brought into my life what I’ve now come to know is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of John talks about this in Chapter 16. It has to do with God showing you what you don’t know and convincing you that it’s true.
There are three things that I came to know that night: (See John 16:6-15).
He convinced me of sin;
He convinced me of righteousness;
He convinced me of judgment.
Jesus explains that the sin is the sin of unbelief. I came to
realize that evening that I had not yet or had not ever come to believe that Jesus Christ was truly the Savior of the world. I realized that I was being called to believe in Him. This was a real surprise, as it is to everyone who comes under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit; I realized that I was a sinner. Yes, a sinner.
The word “sin” means “to miss the mark.” All those things that I had been doing my whole life came into view now, and I saw them as sin. I realized that I had broken all of God’s commandments over and over again; but one other thing came ringing through to me in the midst of God’s conviction: that Jesus was holy and pure, and that God the Father still loved me, even though I was such a sinner.
I cried and cried and cried. I must have spent the whole night on my knees, crying out to God to have mercy on me. The other thing that I came to know that night was that Satan is alive and powerful. He wanted me, also. In fact, I believe that Satan was tempting me with the power to do more and more sinful things with my life if I would yield to him and not to Christ.
Two paths lay before me. One was dark, and the other was a beautiful and loving light. One promised more sin, and the other promised the forgiveness of sin. To tell you the truth, the power I felt from God was one of drawing me to Him. His love for me, the big black sinner that I was and was only now seeing myself to be, was no problem for God. Calling out to Him for mercy and forgiveness is what happened the rest of that night. I cried and cried and cried. As that hymn says, “I once was lost, but now am found.” That was happening to me.
The next morning, I left town to save my life from David M. and to finish that dope deal, headed for Miami to catch a flight to Jamaica. Sitting there in the airport, waiting for the flight the next morning, a missionary approached me. His last name was Green; that’s all I can remember about him. He saw that I was reading my Bible and asked me if I was a “Jesus Freak.” “I don’t know,” I said, “but I believe in Jesus.” You see, the same God who was working in my life through His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, showing me His love, His grace, and His mercy, had been doing the same thing in California, through the ministry of Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel
The “Jesus Movement,” as it came to be called, was taking place. Hundreds and thousands of young people were being touched by God in the same way I was. Many of them had been living the way that I had been living. We had a very common experience. The same miracle that happened to them was taking place in my life: I was being saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.
On my way to the Miami airport, a trip of many hundreds of miles, the first people who picked me up were Christians. (I was hitchhiking.) The rest of the people who gave me rides ranged from nice, well-meaning people, to some who were just like I had been. In one case, two of these people were offering me drugs and inviting me to go with them to their home and party and do the kinds of things that I now no longer wanted to do. I now had no desire for these things any longer. Something was happening to me on the inside. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I was changing.
So, Mr. Green, this man I’d never previously met and later found out was a Christian missionary who was on his way to South America, approached me and asked me if I was a “Jesus Freak.” I answered him as I mentioned earlier. He gave me a small, three or four-page booklet called “The Four Spiritual Laws.” He indicated that he would be sitting over in a certain area waiting for his own flight, and if I wanted to talk with him about Jesus, to please come over and see him.
The booklet hit me like a floodlight of truth and encouragement about what was happening to me. It helped me understand what had been happening to me: my new awareness of being a sinner, of what sin does to you by way of destruction, and of what God’s answer and solution are to sin — namely, to have faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who had died for our sins … to surrender my life to Jesus … to stop running my own life … and to let Christ sit on the throne of my heart and life.
Everything started to fall into place for me at that moment. Toward the end of the booklet, there was a sample prayer that one could pray to turn away from their sin, to put their faith in Jesus, and to receive Him into their lives as Savior. I sat there quietly and said that prayer. It was at that moment that my life changed: February 6, 1973. In the paragraph below, you will find the exact words I read that day. Please look it over carefully. It tells you how you can talk to God like I did.
The following is an explanation of how you can, at this very moment, receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. You can be saved right now, through coming to Him in prayer. Prayer is nothing more than talking with God. God knows you. He knows everything about you, and He loves you very much. He has already demonstrated His love for you by dying for your sins upon the cross. The Bible promises that if you will call upon Him to save you, He will. If you will believe that He died for your sins, and if you will turn away from your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you will be saved.
So, here we go. (This, by the way, is just what I prayed back on the 6th of February, 1973.) “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying for my sins on the cross. Right now, I’m opening the door of my heart and life, and I want to receive You as my Savior and as my Lord. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and for giving me eternal life. Please take complete control of my life and make me into the kind of person You want me to be. And, Lord, give me the power of God to live for You each and every day. Thank You, Father, in Jesus’ name.”
As I sat there, Jesus Christ has become my Savior, my whole inner sense of who I was and what I was beginning to change. I continued to read my little Bible, and now it was making more sense to me than it had in the previous weeks. In fact, it was like a glove fitting a hand perfectly. God’s Word was feeding my soul for the first time in my life. It made sense to me, and I kept reading it and reading on and on.
I went over to Mr. Green, per his suggestion, and began to talk to him about Jesus and what was happening in my life. I might add that what he did for me, in both coming over initially and then in the following conversation, were right along Biblical lines. First of all, he witnessed to me or shared Jesus Christ with me. God’s Word teaches us that this is His plan for our lives. I saw it live and in action, and God used it to bring me to Jesus Christ. Acts 1:8 — “But you shall receive power when the HolySpirit has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Mr. Green had a power about him, but it was not pushy or loud or odd in any way. He simply loved me as he spoke to me; and his heart and goal, as I now know, were to reach out and share the love of Jesus Christ with someone who looked like they really needed it. The other thing he did was to help me with direction for the future. You see, I was essentially homeless and penniless. I had nowhere to live other than to “crash,” as we used to call it, at different friends’ apartments for a few days at a time. I had no clothes, other than what I was wearing and one change of clothes in my small backpack … I think; it’s hard to remember. The only other thing I had (and more about him later) was my dog, Bernie, an English Foxhound who was being taken care of for me up in Tallahassee.
Mr. Green began to try to talk to me about where to go, what to do, and what I was going to do now, etc. He asked me if I had any skills to speak of. You have to know that this was a real step of faith on his part because he was looking into the eyes of someone who looked like people you see walking around the streets these days.
My mind went back to my airplane flying days, and I mentioned this to him. He gave me the name of a Christian ministry in Waxhaw, North Carolina, called JAARS — Jungle Aviation Airplane Repair Service. This group of people would service and repair small fixed-wing aircraft for the Wycliffe Bible Translators who worked down in the jungles of South America. He said, “Why don’t you go and give them a try? Go meet with them, and maybe they can help you.” You see, there was something inside of me at that moment about wanting to do something for God. That’s what I was thinking. Little did I realize at that moment how the guidance of God had been at work in my life, even before I was saved.
As I look back over those days, being threatened by David M., being convicted by God about my sin and His love and grace toward me, and then meeting Mr. Green and being asked if I was a “Jesus Freak,” I can see clearly now that God had been leading me each step of the way — including this new idea about doing something for God, as I put it. I can also see that God uses people to tell others about Jesus Christ. So far, there had been several in my life: Mr. H. in Montego Bay, the Christians who picked me up on my escape from Tallahassee, and Mr. Green at the airport in Miami. I would say to anyone who has any desire to tell others about Jesus, go ahead and do it, even if the person you are talking to seems and looks hopeless. You never know what God might do!
The only regret I have about Mr. Green is that he never got to see what has happened to me after that night, but I will see him in heaven and will be looking him up. He is one of the first people I’d like to meet there. I want to thank him for helping me to come to know Jesus. Come to think of it, Mr. H. has no idea, either; the last he knew was that I was on my way out of his office, and he had to go repair the damage I had done. God was repairing my life, but Mr. H. had no idea. I can’t wait to see him; I’ve thought about him so many times. Mr. H, get ready; I’ll be seeing you and thanking you!