It was still dark outside at 6:00 a.m. , October 30, 1990 , when a large number of men armed with M-16 rifles quiet-ly and cautiously surrounded my house. I was suddenly awakened by the sound of loud and repeated smashing against a house. I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see what was causing the noise. As I opened the curtains, I saw that there were armed men everywhere and a number of them had their weapons pointed at me. They shouted to me, "Freeze; do not move; keep your hands in the air; this is the Police!" This was the beginning of a series of events that would literally change my life from that of a biker and criminal to that of a Christian.
I was born in Lawrenceburg , Tennessee , in 1953. My father moved north to seek work, settling eventually in a farming community outside Toledo , Ohio . Dad worked hard, from forty to eighty hours a week and mom cared for things at home. We went to church every week, and I was active in youth fellowships: however, the plan of salvation was nev-er explained to me. When I was sixteen I was glad to get my driver's license and break out of the country and see the "bright lights" of the city. Then the rebellion in my life really began to show. I began drinking beer for that numb-ing effect, that "buzz" that took away the cares of the world. I argued frequently with my dad about my hair length and about my lack of desire for working a regular job. I was very rebellious and irresponsible.
In 1971 I joined the U.S. Army in an attempt to prove my-self. I was a light weapons specialist and then I went to air-borne school, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes to prove I was tough. I partied and hung out with the "cool" crowd, drinking beer and smoking pot, thinking I was hav-ing a good time and enjoying the "buzz." After being honorably discharged from the Army in August of 1974, I traveled around the country for six months.
Then I returned to Ohio to settle down, and in February 1975, one of my greatest dreams came true - I became the proud owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I became obsessed with learning about Harleys and began working in motorcycle shops and dealerships. One morning in April 1975, after partying and drinking, I left a bar stone cold drunk and headed home on my Harley. I was going about 85 mph when I hit something in the road and I laid the bike down, totaling the bike, but receiving no injuries. One of my friends allowed me to use his bike shop to repair my bike. I learned to "wrench" by rebuilding the bike and thereby earned a reputation as a custom builder.
Although I was a loner, I hung out with other bikers and we drank, fought and rode our Harleys. In October 1975, after much persuasion from my friends, I joined my first motorcycle club. It was a small local club based on broth-erhood. In 1978 I met some members of a national club and after hanging out with them and proving I was "rotten" enough, I was accepted as a member.
There were many dark sides to the lifestyle of a biker, in-cluding many funerals. The death of one of my best friends is a prime example. Very early one morning, one of my friends and I left a bar with two girls for a joyride in my Camaro, with my best friend following on his bike. When we stopped at a light to let the girls out he took the lead with the bike. We lost sight of him as he entered the alley behind my house. Rounding the corner, we saw the bike wrecked in the alley and my friend crumpled against a fence, seem-ingly having lost control of the bike. After we rushed to his side and realized that he wasn't breathing, I put my arm underneath his body to straighten him out in order to do CPR. When I removed my arm from underneath his body, it was glistening in the dim light of the street lamp, covered with blood. He had been gunned down by a rival gang. I would have been the first one into the alley had we not stopped at the light. Those bullets were meant for me! 0ther "natural causes" of death (by our standards) were shoot-ings or stabbings, motorcycle crashes, and overdoses of al-cohol and/or drugs.
After nine years of this lifestyle I had become a national of ficer in the club. I was in my mid-thirties and had risen to the point where I had anything I wanted: gold, Harleys, cars, vans, a motor-home, Corvettes. Everything was free. By 1990 I was very dissatisfied with my life, but did not know any other lifestyle or how to change mine. To evade reality, I drank and got high more often. It was a lifestyle in which few grew old anyway, and many of my friends had died or were serving time. Whiskey and cocaine became my friends. We called cocaine "the devil's dandruff." The hopelessness of a life of sin made fighting and drinking a daily occurrence.
Then on that morning in Dayton , Ohio , as I stood at my bedroom window with my hands in the air, I realized that the smashing sound that had awakened me was the sound of a battering ram removing my front door from the hinges. About fifteen police officers from the FBI, ATF, DEA rushed into my house. The whole alphabet was there! Wearing helmets, body armor, and carrying M-16 rifles, they ran up my stairs crouched behind giant shields. I was immediately handcuffed and led downstairs while the of-ficers tore my house apart. They found guns everywhere, including a sub-machine gun and a box containing a bag of cocaine. I was arrested and held without bond, facing thirty mandatory years for the machine gun, five mandatory years for the other guns, and two years for the cocaine. What started out as "fun" turned out to have a hefty price.
One day in my cell, I observed another man, who was from a similar background, reading a Bible. He invited me to at-tend a church service on November 4th conducted by two men from Charity Baptist Church . During this service I heard preaching from the Bible about a place called Hell. I thought I was a fearless man, but I'm telling you-it scared me! When they told me that Hell was a real place of torment, and that I could read about it for myself in the Bible, I did not like the message, but I did appreciate the truth. As a street-wise hustler and con-artist in my own right, I was not about to be flimflammed by a couple of religious guys, but something about the message they gave me that day caused me to return to another church service held by them on November 11th. I had Bell's palsy (total paralysis of the right side of my face) and my right eye did not focus very well, so I requested a large print Bible. I received the Bible and began to read it with a passion, longing for the peace that could be found within.
Not many days later, my attorney presented me with a deal. The U.S. Attorney was willing to drop the automatic weap-on charge because I was a non-felon, if I would plead guilty to the five-year mandatory gun charge and the two-year drug charge. Although I was still being held without bond, I now faced seven years instead of thirty-seven, which gave me some hope of making a new start when I got out of pris-on.
I longed for peace in my soul and continued to read the Bible. I was reading my Bible one morning and had a small radio playing when the time and date came over the air - 5:00 a.m. , November 30, 1990 . Tears filled my eyes as I re-called that it had been ten years ago to the day when my best friend had been gunned down in the alley behind my house. My influence had caused him to leave his job and family to join the motorcycle club. He was dead and in Hell because he had followed me. With many tears and trembling hands, I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart and take control of my life. I surrendered completely to Him and He saved me. A feeling came over me that morn-ing that has never left. Jesus Christ gave me the peace I had longed for so badly. I was still in jail without bond and still going to prison, but as of that moment, I was free.
I was free from the bonds of sin that had held me so tightly for so many years. I called my wife and told her to contact Tom Gresham (from Charity Baptist Church ). I wanted to tell him the great news. With more peace than I had ever had in my life, I wrote a letter to my parents telling them of my conversion. Mr. Gresham came to visit with me and looked at me skeptically. I was quite a sight-long hair, a beard, Bell's palsy, a jail uniform, and excited about the fact that I had been saved! He gave me verses to read and helped set up a study program for me to learn the Bible.
The following week I was given a third bond hearing. My attorney told me that I didn't have a chance, but somehow I knew I did. Mr. Gresham had told me that the people of the church were praying for me; and although I could not understand the fact that all of these people I had never met were praying for me, I knew something was different now. Against all odds, the judge granted me bond on December 21, 1990 . Federal Marshals told my attorney that I was the first person in the history of that Federal territory to make bond after being "no-bonded" twice. I give all the glory to the Lord.
My wife and I went to church on December 23, 1990 , to thank the people for praying for me, and we were received with such kindness and love that we kept going back. On January 6, 1991 , I was baptized as a public declaration of my faith. Later in January I went to a weeklong pastor's conference in Georgia , and after I returned home my wife asked Jesus Christ to be her personal Lord and Saviour. On January 27, 1991 , my wife was baptized, and we joined Charity Baptist Church . Since then, we have attended faith-fully and I am enrolled in their Bible Institute.
In March my wife told me that she was expecting a baby. I was excited, yet I wondered if this was really a blessing or not. After all, I was in the middle of a pre-sentence in-vestigation and due for sentencing in May. Against the ad-vice of my attorney, we petitioned the court for a stay of sentencing, until the baby was born since my wife was a high-risk pregnancy. Many people prayed and wrote the Federal Judge handling my case. Although he delayed my sentencing date until November and acknowledged the let-ters and the apparent change in me, the Judge reminded me that my sentence was mandatory.
When my new sentence date arrived on November 22, 1991 , my wife and I were as prepared as possible for me to be sent away to a federal penitentiary for five to seven years. We were very thankful for everything the Lord had done for us. He had given us a new family in Christ, a beautiful baby girl, and most important of all, He had saved our souls from going to Hell. In the U.S. District Court, before the Honorable Walter H. Rice, with ap-proximately seventy members of Charity Baptist Church present, I stood to answer for my past life.
I was a new man, but the old man's crimes still had to be answered for. Judge Rice stated that he had received almost one hundred letters and that he knew me from the probation report. He stated, "You do not look like the same man that appeared in front of me one year ago," and he asked me to explain what had happened to me on the inside.
That gave me the opportunity to testify of salvation through Jesus Christ and of the changes that Christ had made in me. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 , "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." After acknowledging that the change in my life was so extraordinary and substantially a-typical, that the people who dealt with and drafted the sen-tencing guidelines could not have possibly contemplated it, Judge Rice separated the two charges and sentenced me to five years of probation on the drug charge, with six months' house arrest and two hundred hours of community service per year. This type of sentencing procedure had never before been seen in the United States 6th District. Again, all the glory belongs to the Lord.
I am thankful for all who prayed for me, and I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for giving me a second chance. Many people in the lifestyle I chose died in their sin without sal-vation. I was extremely fortunate that someone came and brought me the gospel of Jesus Christ. They gave me the Bible and I learned that, "...all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). I learned that famous verse; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16).
God sent his Son so that I might live. I found out "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was bur-ied, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). I read, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9). Then I read verse 13 of Romans chapter ten, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." I believed and called upon the Lord and He saved me!
Do not risk waiting as I did. I had no guarantee that I would live long enough to re-pent. Neither do you. If you are lost, will you please accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? You will never regret it.
Since you don't have the promise of tomorrow, ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save your soul today. Just trust him and pray, "Lord Jesus, I admit I am a sinner, deserving of hell. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and give me eternal life. I now completely trust in You as my Saviour. Thank you for sav-ing my soul. Amen."