Tucson, Arizona was experiencing flooding in October 1983. I was out riding my motorcycle in the rain looking for work every day but getting nothing. I hoped to work in radio, but had no experience or leads to break into the industry. Four months earlier I had been attacked at a bar and had my mouth wired shut for 7 weeks to repair a broken jaw. I had no education, no practical experience in much of anything, to put it mildly, I had no hope that I had a future. But one thing kept getting my attention.
Every day as I rode out to look for work I would pass by a large church on the corner of Ina and La Cholla, Casas Adobes Baptist Church. I had no church background. I didn’t know what it was all about. All I knew about church was that it was open on Sundays and that was it.
Every day I passed by that church and the parking lot was filled with cars. “What in the world are cars doing at church on a Monday?” I wondered. Some people complain about a church with a big parking lot. But it was a parking lot that piqued my curiosity about Christianity.
On a Tuesday as I prepared to make a left on Ina to look for work again, a police officer pulled up on my right. I was in trouble. I had no license plate on my motorcycle and I certainly couldn’t afford a ticket. I actually prayed. “God, if you want me to go to church, don’t let him give me a ticket.” The police officer rolled down his window and got my attention. “Son!” He yelled.
“Yes officer?” I said.
“Do you have a license for that thing?” He asked. He was referring to my license plate.
I slapped my hand on my wallet in my back pocket and said, “Yes sir, right here.” I was such a smart alec.
“Well, put it on,” he said, and drove away.
I was shocked he didn’t ticket me. So, I turned left and headed for church.
Pulling into the parking lot I had no problem finding a space because on that Tuesday there was only one car in the parking lot. One. Where are all the cars, I wondered. I wandered around the sanctuary and saw no one. I walked around the property and saw no one. Then I made my way into a building which turned out to be a school. There was a woman sitting at her desk. She was the principal of the school. Her name was Stephanie. I walked in and she greeted me. Not knowing what to say, I asked, “How do you join this church?”
“To join our church,” she said, “you have to be a Christian. Are you a Christian?”
My response? “Uh, yeah, sure.”
That was Stephanie’s cue. She opened a drawer in her desk, pulling out a Bible. Inviting me to sit, she started talking to me about Jesus.
After a while she had me talk with another guy in the office named, Max. Max was straight to the point, showing me in the Bible why I needed Jesus in my life. He pulled no punches, then asked me to get on my knees to ask Jesus in my life. We prayed and in an instant, as I confessed my sins, something changed. Suddenly, my life seemed different. I crossed a line into a whole new world.
Max talked with me further then gave me my first Bible. By the time we were done talking it was late and he invited me to join him in the revival service the church was having that night. We walked into the sanctuary and sat down in the back. The service was actually about to end. There were two twin evangelists on stage who asked people to come up and share a testimony about how God has changed their lives that week. Max leaned over to me and said, “Why don’t you go up there and tell people what happened to you.”
Sure. Why not? I thought. So I made my way to the front. I was the last guy in line. Ahead of me was a man, a strong, burly guy, weeping at the microphone because of the terrible direction his life had taken—so he committed himself to Jesus.
Just then, one of the twins put his arm around me and asked, “Brother, would you please pray for this man?”
“Sure.” Why not?
I stepped up to the mic and prayed. “Uh, God. Uhm. This guy is really hurting. So, uhm. Could you help him? Cool. Amen.”
I opened my eyes and looked upon the crowd. Everyone was looking right at me with a look of, “Oh no. Who is this guy?” The twin evangelist standing next to me looked at me as if he realized he just made a huge mistake.
I opened my mouth and said, “I ain’t never prayed before. But I got saved about an hour ago and I feel great!”
The room exploded in laughter.
Pastor Roger Barrier, sitting on the first row, was beet red from laughter. After a moment of prayer, Roger led me downstairs to talk with me more about beginning my walk with Christ.
I went home. I was so excited about my new faith that I forgot about looking for work. Every morning I rolled out of bed, hit the floor to pray, and then read my Bible. I read all day. I consumed every page in that first month. Then in my second month I did it again. Every chance to go to church was a decision of joy. Sunday school was fantastic. I wanted to know everything I could about what it meant to follow Jesus. But while I began to grow in my faith I actually had no one to disciple me. So I drive down the road to a bookstore and found a copy of Handbook of Christian Maturity by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ.
A few months later I got a job with KVOI radio and began my Christian broadcasting career, which continues to this day as I work on broadcast projects with Campus Crusade. The Lord even let me work for five years with Bill Bright on his radio and Internet projects in the late 90s.
Every day with Jesus has had its up and downs, but it’s been an adventure. I’ve endured troubles, struggled with sin, learned more and more about Jesus, and as time has gone by, I fell in love with Jesus, the supreme affection of my life. I married a gal who laughed with everyone about my salvation, had three daughters with her who have grown to know Christ, and I’ve served the Lord in the US, Turkey, Mongolia, and now the Middle East. I was once offered a million dollars to go work for a media company as a signing bonus. But I would have had to give up my ministry. Why would I give up my ministry for something as small as money?
Today, I’m privileged to write with Roger and Julie Barrier for PreachItTeachIt. My career in broadcasting is in its 36th year. My ministry with Crusade continues in its 25th year. My marriage is in its 35th year. And I look with anticipation at what God will do with my life next. I know it isn’t all joy. As I’ve experienced great trouble in my ministry in the past, I know there could be great trouble ahead. But no matter what happens, whether I win or lose, experience joy or pain, live or die, I have Jesus. And I want you to have Jesus too. He can begin the new story of your life.