While Don Price was breaking into the Var-sity Club, Indianapolis , Indiana , at 2:00 o'clock on the morning of November 2, 1946 , a merchant policeman stuck a pistol under Don's arm and pulled the trigger. The bullet crashed within one-eighth of an inch from his heart, collapsed his lung, and lodged on top of his spine.
The next morning headlines screamed: "FATHER OF THIRTY-DAY OLD TWINS SHOT ON THE NORTH SIDE OF CITY."
Don's home was broken when he was only five. The law put his dad behind bars in Michigan City for bootlegging, but since then he has been saved. Don went to live with his grandfather and step-grandmother. His grandfather told Don there was no God, and he would stand out in storms and defy God to strike him dead. This made a profound impres-sion on the little boy.
Don's grandfather even taught Don to drink when he was young so he'd know how to "hold it" when he became old. But Don soon learned to his sorrow that the li-quor held him.
During his army days in World War II Don carried a metal-backed Testament given him by a lady in Texas who witnessed to him at a U.S.O. club. Through each battle he cried out, inwardly, not so anyone could hear, "If there is a God in heaven, get me through this battle and I will live for You."
He celebrated the war's end by several days of drinking in Czechoslovakia . He prayed again, "Lord, get me back across the Atlantic and let me kiss the good old American soil, and I will live for You." But promises like that are soon forgotten. Safely back in the United States he tossed the Testament into an old trunk and spent the next 25 days of a 30-day furlough drinking. The last five days he sobered up so he could go out with his girl, later his wife.
From Camp Swift , Texas , the army ship-ped him to Fort Wright , New York , to recuperate. "I recuperated, all right," said Don. "They made me a bartender in the officers' club and I added more drunkenness to my life."
Released from the army, Don and his bride went to Indianapolis . He intended to settle down, but drinking, gambling and wife beating plunged him deeper into sin and finally into the underworld.
On their wedding anniversary, Don planned to take his wife out to dinner. But that day he met some of the fellows. "Price, we are break-ing into a place tonight. You better come along and make some money."
He wanted to tell them no, but he didn't have the backbone to do so. Instead, he went home and picked a fight with his wife. He left the house after telling her to meet him in front of a certain building downtown, but that if he wasn't there, not to wait on him.
"I had no intentions of meeting her," Don told me, "and I drank and gambled in the early hours of the evening and later on with the fellows."
It was the following morning he was shot. In the hospital he made promises to God and to his wife, but less than two weeks later, out on an eight-month bond, he came staggering home drunk again. Finally the judge sentenced him to one year of hard labor plus a $300 fine.
"I was a small-time operator, and I gave a listening ear to others in prison who told me how I could make BIG money. They talked about the loopholes, and that if they hadn't done this or that, those dumb cops never would have caught them. But there was one thing that amazed me, those dumb cops were out on the street and we wise guys were behind prison bars."
Don fought, stole, doped, and drank in prison. One day after a fight he was placed on a bread-and-water diet in the "hole," a six-by-six-foot cell with a fourteen-inch board for a bed.
While in the hole, he heard a man reading the Bible. Angered, Don said: "If you wanted religion, why didn't you get it on the outside? Maybe some of us don't want to hear that Bi-ble reading. Read it to yourself."
But the man read all the more, and some of the verses were the same ones the lady in Texas had quoted. The Word of God began hammering at Don. He prayed, "God, if I get out of this hole today, I'll go to the chapel tomorrow (Sunday)." The next day he marched into the prison chapel. A businessman told what Christ meant to him. He quoted, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23).
Don looked at him and thought, "Boy, there is a man who has made a success in life. He is a banker and he said that he is a sinner and needs Christ. If he needs God, what about me?"
An evangelist preached on the love of God portrayed in the crucifixion. He told how Pilate said, "I find no fault in this man." That did something to Don. "I found fault with all the hypocrites and I said all the preachers were just out to make money. But I could find no fault with the divine Son of God that day."
"If the Lord Jesus Christ could save the dy-ing thief on the cross," said the evangelist; "He can save any thief in this prison today who will submit to Him. The Bible says, 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' (Isaiah 1:18)."
Don heard 1Timothy 1:15 ; "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all accepta-tion, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
While 75 men filed out of their seats and went down the aisle to publicly receive Christ, Don gripped the seat in front of him and hung on. He said, "I won't go down the aisle and 'cop' out to a sky pilot. I did the crime, I can do the time."
Then he thought about his family. Yes, he did the crime and he could do the time, but his wife and children on the outside were doing the time right along with him. And his wife was slaving away making a living for the family while he sat behind prison bars.
"Suddenly the weight of my sins pressed upon me until I wished I were dead. I thought about the heartache and the misery I had brought upon my wife and children and how I was treading the Son of God under my feet."
Then a blind girl sang, "No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus." His resistance broken now, Don started for the front of the chapel saying to himself, "Swim, sink or die, it is all the way with God, I'd rather die than live like this."
Don Price passed from death into life that day. "God put a new song in my life. After that I never had to take a pill, to drink no more, or to smoke no more. I didn't have to bite my tongue to keep from swearing."
Immediately Don began reading his Bible in prison. Some thought he'd lost his mind and told him so. When he left the prison they said, "You'll be back."
"Yes, I'll be back, but when I come, I'll tap the guard on the shoulder and he'll let me in and when I'm ready to leave I'll tap the guard again and he'll let me out."
"Price, you've really gone crazy."
He went back regularly after that with the Indianapolis Fishermen's Club to tell what Christ had done for him. Then God called him to preach and he enrolled in the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music in September 1950, where he is now an instructor in evangelism.
Don joined the staff of the Mel Trot-ter Mission, in March of 1953. While con-ducting meetings in the mission I have seen Don, the former drunken, gambling, wife-beating, un-derworld character put his arms around men off the street and tenderly lead them to Christ. Three years after his conversion Don's wife was saved and now they have a happy Chris-tian home.
Friends, what God did for Don Price he will also do for you. Christ demonstrated His love for you by dying on Calvary in order that He might redeem you from your sins.
There is hope for you in Christ, the "hope of glory." "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1Timothy 2:5).
You may have friends who want to help you but cannot. Others can but won't. But the Lord Jesus not only can-He wants to save you and give you peace. He says, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."(Luke 19:10).
You can be saved and begin a new life right now by receiving HIM. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." (John 1:12). Do it now!
By Don Price