God Loves You Now
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” — Romans 5:8 (p. 860)
Prior to 1983, I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was married and had two children and another on the way. I had recently lost my job, and we had no place to live. We were offered a small house near the hometown of my wife’s parents. The house was next door to a Baptist church. The pastor of the church, Rev. A.M. Stone, came by to visit us every Sunday for several months. Never once did he criticize me for sitting on my front porch drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. He just told me that he sure would love for me to come to a church service. He said, “God has a message for you.”
One Sunday morning I decided to take the preacher up on his invitation. That Sunday, as he ended his message, he extended an invitation to those who wanted to know Christ as their Savior. I could barely see the front of the church because of the tears in my eyes, but somehow I made my way to the front. It seemed as though I were running down the aisle. I just could not get to the front fast enough. I took hold of the pastor’s hand, laid my head on his shoulder, and cried like a baby. That Sunday, Jesus changed my life forever!
I did not quit smoking or abusing alcohol right away. But within a year, I did quit drinking for good. I had a hard time trying to quit smoking until I met a pastor who told me about bitterness and being unforgiving. We prayed that I would forgive all who had offended me. I contacted those who had offended me and asked them to also forgive me for having bitterness in my heart toward them. The battle to quit smoking was over.
My wife, Sally, and I teach prayer in prisons and churches, and we minister in the workplace. We founded the Oil and Gas Prayer Center along with Be Free Prison Ministry. The Oil and Gas Prayer Center partners with thousands of prayer warriors to pray for the needs of men and women working in oil, gas, and related businesses. It all started with a pastor who loved me right where I was. He prayed for me, invited me to church, and never gave up on me. Thank you, Reverend Stone, and thank you, Jesus!