Our personal testimonies do not relate to the reader our innate goodness. Nor are they being broadcast on “UNSHACKLED” because of anything we have done. It is not about us. It is all about the One who not only changed us, and gave us life,... He is our life! We are nothing special. What God did for us, He can do for anyone who will humble themselves, admitting their need for the Savior, and inviting Him into their hearts and lives! But what a joy it is to not only know Him, but to also serve Him!
My father ended the life of my mother when I was six weeks old in Ephrata, Washington. 1 1/2 years later, my sister and I were adopted into a new family. There were some good times, but more bad than good. Both of my adopted parents drank a lot daily. Mom had her vodka and Dad had his bourbon and beer. Dad would get “snockered” and would go to bed. Mom would get loud, obnoxious, and even violent. Even though they did this at home, and most of the community did not know about it, we did. And even though the influences of our parents were not good, I still had decisions to make. Most of the time, I made the wrong ones.
I began stealing cigarettes when I was 9. Mom never threw away jars. So I began stealing her vodka and Dad’s bourbon (using the jars) when I was 12. I liked the effect of the alcohol. Drugs eventually were added to the scene.
I joined Demolay when I was 13. I began to share some of what I took from home with others. On one instance, we let many animals out of their pens at the Pierce County Fair.
We also hauled huge logs out to the road, where a van slammed into them at highway speeds at night. Destructive behavior accompanied the influence. It only became worse with time.
Home life stunk. Hated it. So I left twice. I had my guitar; that was all I needed. Once I went to the police station and told them that I just did not want to go back home. I suggested to them to send me to Remann Hall in Tacoma, a youth detention center. I thought that would be better than life at home.
A neighbor lady, Edith, had always had a vested interest in our family. She told me when I was very young that she would always pray for me. That meant nothing to me at the time, but I remember her saying it. She tried to help by asking our parents to let us go to the church down the street. One time they did let us go. It was Vacation Bible School. Terri received Christ then, but I did not want to.
When I was 12, I figured out a way to stay away from home more often- WORK! If I ever wanted my own money, I was going to have to work. So I mowed lawns, picked berries, worked in fields, etc. I bought a ten speed bike when I was 13. I bought a trombone when I was 14. I bought my first car when I was 15.
One day, Terri and me were picking raspberries in Orting with John and Sue Barnes. We missed the bus back home, and we had to walk a very long way. John was one of my friends.
Music has always been an outlet, a hobby, and a passion. I have always loved sports, but music has helped me get through life. I found something that I loved to do, and tried to develop an ability to play several instruments. I liked many types of music, but country music was one style that seemed ridiculous. Did not like it at all!
Between the band, orchestra, stage band, dixieland group, jammin’ with my friend Harold Derocher (pronounced Deroshay) on 7th avenue, and working with a group in Tacoma, I had plenty of opportunities to work at it. The group in Tacoma consisted of all black men except for me and a trumpet player from Puyallup. We practiced the entire Stevie Wonder album “Songs in the Key of Life”, and we sounded good! Of course, it helped to have a guy there rolling and passing joints constantly.
When I turned 16 I had my license and a car. I also had work. And there was school. I had to finish, or else I would never amount to anything. That is what I was told. So I did the minimum in order to get by. I had other interests. Girls, parties, music, work, school. I did not care about anyone. I just wanted to live it up. It did not matter who I hurt. I didn’t care.
Drinking and drugs were a huge part of my life by the time I turned 17. I had the freedom at home to drink and smoke. I began searching for something else. I lacked one thing- satisfaction. I was also getting out of control. For years, my parents would drink and go to bed at night. But they began staying up and drinking coffee, waiting until I got home in the wee hours of the morning. The usual greeting for me when I stumbled through the door was- “Get to bed before you fall down; we’ll talk about this in the morning!” I was often so drunk that I could not hardly walk, but I DROVE HOME!
I got a job working 40 hours a week at a Union 76 gas station. I repaired tires, and pumped gas for those who needed “full service”. Nights and weekends by myself there did not seem bad except for the time one particular car pulled in. This guy offered me a job driving a truck for his “company”. I said that I had a job and that I needed to finish school (whatever!).
He told me that he was looking for someone like me, and that I would get a lot more money than I could ever dream of. I did not refuse him, but asked him to elaborate. He then told me that I would be hauling stuff from Seattle to Dallas. In time I learned that the “stuff” was stolen electronics and goods. They were to be hauled to a warehouse where new serial numbers were attached, and then they were to be resold. When he told me that I said that I had to think about it. He then got up in my face said that he had already told me more than I should know. He said that he would kill his own mother. He then opened the trunk, and there were many automatic weapons and various other things. I told him that I had seen and know nothing. They left, and I was scared all night, thinking that they might return.
If I had taken them up on their offer, I knew that I would be dead soon.
On New Year’s Eve(1976), I really wanted to just party. But my boss made me work. So I partied at work. When my friends came by the station, I invited them into the bay, where we drank, smoked, etc. John came by with Dave Davies and wanted to borrow my car. I had let him borrow it before, and he had taken care of it very well. I was hesitant because it was New Year’s Eve, and I knew that they were headed somewhere to have a good time. I trusted myself behind the wheel drunk, but not someone else. Because he had done so well in the past, I agreed to let John have the car, but insisted that he return it by 3AM. By 3AM, I was already blitzed. There was no more “full service” for anyone, and the place reeked. I did not pay attention to the time until about 4:30. I realized that John had “disobeyed” me, and began thinking of ways to help correct his behavior. About 5:30 he walked up to the station. I asked him where my car was, and he said that it would not start, - the bumper was bent. I asked again where my car was, and he said that it was at a certain place, that there was an accident. I really sunk emotionally when I finally saw it. I managed to sell it for $65 the next day. John promised to pay me back, but I never heard from him again. I borrowed my parent’s car sometimes and rode my bike to school the rest of the year. The army recruiters were after me. I did not want to enlist, but learned that I would have basic training in South Carolina, not too far from North Carolina, where John was at.
It never worked out. I never saw John as I had hoped. I knew that I would not get the money back for the car, but if I could just get to him for a few moments, I thought that I could be satisfied. It never happened.
I got stationed in Germany, and wound up in Entertainment Showcase, and elite army musical group under the Morale Support Division of the 21st Support Command in Kaiserslautern. I started out playing trombone, but was eventually heavily involved in arranging, background vocals, and auditions. In walked a beautiful blonde soldier one day who sang country music. I did not like country music, but when she sang it- I did. I learned to like it a lot, and we were married 4 months later in Copenhagen.
Eve was with Showcase a month, but her unit commander would not let her be attached to Showcase for the usual year long assignment, so she had to return back to work at Cleber Kasern. I eventually left in 1979, because the head of a prominent group- “Soul, Satin and Silk” wanted me to join. I did, and we travelled a lot, made a lot of money, and lived it up....while still serving in the army! But the army moves soldiers after a while, and we were then stationed in Texas. Eve already had the “nine month disease”, and Nadyia was born at the end of that time frame in Fort Hood. Moonlighting continued with a country group.
After some time, we were again stationed in Heilbronn, Germany. Moonlighting continued with another country group. Cheri was born there. After some more time, we were stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia. Moonlighting continued with the formation of another country group. I was beginning to learn to like country music. But along with playing in bars is always drinking. Many times over the years we had made it home in the early morning hours by some miraculous intervention.
Larry Traw played guitar and sang in our group. He was a retired warrant officer. He told me one day that he thought that we could both make more money by just working together as a duo. So we did. We had 2 PA systems, 2 vans, and a lot of equipment. It was only the two of us, but it sounded like an entire group. Things went pretty well in those days, but there was something still missing from my life- satisfaction.
One Wednesday, Eve told me that the girls had never been to a Sunday School. Just after she said that there was a knock on the door. Two ladies were standing there. One spoke up and said that she was from Bethel Baptist Church, and was the pastor’s wife. I told her that it was an amazing coincidence, especially since Eve had just mentioned that the girls had never been to Sunday School. She said that they have a bus which can come by and pick up the girls. Eve said that she did not think that Nadyia (4) and Cheri (1) would ride the bus. Mrs. Cooper then offered to pick up Nadyia in the car. Eve agreed to let her go, but later felt guilty about sending her daughter to Sunday School, and not going herself. Mrs. Cooper went on and invited us to go also, but I told her that I was busy on the weekends. I did not tell her that I played music in bars until 2AM, and was hung over until about 4PM each Sunday. I just said that I was busy. God can handle “busy”.
I had booked a gig at the country club for the following weekend. But when we arrived, we found another group already set up on stage. Double booked. I do not know what I did on Friday or Saturday, but on Sunday morning I woke up unusually early. Eve was already awake and looking at me. I knew what she wanted. She was going to ask if we could GO TO CHURCH! I did not wan to go to church. If I wanted to go to church, I would go. But I had no desire to go. She asked. She used that extremely powerful influential force all wives have, but few use. It is a meek, quiet, and humble spirit which most men find impossible to resist if they love their wives at all. She won. We went.
I told her that we would sit in the back of the auditorium. People were friendly, the singing of hymns was tolerable. But the choir was very difficult to listen to. But I did not care. It was one time. I was not planning on returning.
When the pastor started preaching, I looked up and noticed that the speakers were aimed on purpose toward the back of the auditorium. As he preached very loudly, I wondered who he was mad at. I did not like it. I told Eve during the message that I did not like it, and that I was NOT going to come back.
The following Wednesday, there was another knock at my door. I opened it to see the Pastor Cooper and Bro. Walker standing there. I asked him how they knew that we lived at that address. He smiled and said that (1)- His wife had already been there, and that (2) I had filled out a visitor’s card (I did not think that they were going to actually use it). I invited them in. They complimented us on our place, and then wasted no time. Pastor Cooper asked me if I knew for sure that I was saved and on my way to heaven. I am a smart one, I thought. I know what he wants to hear. After all, I have tried for days “TO FORGET” what he was preaching on Sunday- that you need to know that you know that you are saved. So I told him about the time our parents finally let us go to the church down the road where we lived, and that I had gotten saved then during Vacation Bible School. It was a lie. Terri had received Christ, but I had not done anything of the sort!
Since I told him that I was saved, but not living exactly right, he then turned and began talking with Eve. I thought I was off the hook until he then started asking me questions about my life. He said that Christians read their Bible, they pray, they witness, they are in church faithfully, etc. In the end, I told him that I would be back on Sunday (I did not want him to think I was not saved, although he already knew it).
That next Sunday was similar to the first. Same friendly people. Same music. Same preaching. Same result. Except this time, I told Eve that I really will not come back any more. I did not care if they hunted me down, I do not like it. The preaching really bothers me. I intended on offering a final farewell to the pastor on the way out, and he asked me to please come to choir practice that afternoon I figured that there would be no harm in that.
A preaching service followed. This time it was different. I began to see people there who I knew. some of them I knew had much bigger problems and needs than mine. But they had something I longed for. They seemed SATISFIED! Even in their need and difficulty, you could sense a peace in their lives even in troubled times. I did not have that. Everything was a crisis, disaster or catastrophe in my live. I was anything but satisfied. I had been around the world, performed music in front of thousands. I had recorded albums in the studio. I had a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters. But it was not enough, as I was living a lie. And I began to realize that my days were numbered.
I told the pastor that night that I drive 25 miles to work every day, and wondered if he had anything that I could listen to. I was searching and seeking for whatever these other folks had. He handed me a few cassette tapes.
On Monday morning, I went to work listening to one side of the cassette. It was Oliver B. Greene. A tent meeting. Great choir. But once again, preaching. Same as before. It bothered me. Every mention of Jesus’ name. Every mention of the blood of Christ. It all bothered me. But I toughed it out. I tolerated it the entire day, both going to work and going home.
On Tuesday, I was warming up the truck and began speaking foolishly. “Who is going to make me listen to that next cassette. I am a free American. I do not have to do it.” I did not hear an audible voice, but heard the Lord speak clearly something like-
“Boy, you are in deep trouble! What you need is on that cassette! This might be your last chance!”
I was now terrified! I put the cassette in. It was a message from John, Chapter 10, entitled- “The Other Side Of The Door”. I listened to every word attentively. I stopped the truck about 20 minutes into the message and shut it off. I turned the cassette off. I was crying. God was right. I was wrong. God was good. I was bad. I was in trouble. I began to pray, but stopped. I did not want to pretend any longer. I did not to act any longer. I did not want to lie any longer. So I prayed, first of all, that God would help me pray correctly. So I stopped; I shut up. I listened; I waited. Again, there was no audible voice, but the following message I understood clearly. It went something like this-
“Glen, I want to save you. I want to forgive you. But there are two things in your life which must be first dealt with.”
1.“You are a slave to alcohol. You cannot live without it. But if you are going to be a Christian, you cannot have that element of life. It has to go.”I had the same desire. I wanted to be free. But I did not want to mess around with AA or some other therapy which may or may not work. I wanted deliverance. And as far as I was concerned, God could do it by Himself. I prayed right then and vowed to God that if He would help me, I would never drink again.
2.“You must forgive John Barnes.”This was almost funny. I had looked for him for a long time. I thought that I would probably never ever see him again anyway. This is easy. “Yes, Lord, I forgive John.”
I then prayed, asking God to forgive my wicked life, and to make me His child, and to save me.
What a blessing it was to finally find and have what I was seeking for. Actually, the satisfaction found in Jesus Christ is unexplainable. He changed my destiny and my life. He is everything I need. I now know what those Christians had in times of trouble which I sought after.
It has been such a blessing to speak with John over the phone. But I longed for the day when I can see him again in this life. I thanked the Lord for what He had done in both of our lives. But there was a real desire to see him again. I wanted him to know that I had completely forgiven him.
That opportunity came in 2010 in Colorado at Johnston’s Corner. After 35 years, we were able to see each other and develop a great relationship, which has continued to this day. We communicate every week, pray for each other and for the families.
What a blessing it is to be forgiven! What a blessing it is to forgive!
God is good (all the time)!
I was born on July 17, 1954 in Seneca, South Carolina at Oconee Hospital. That hospital is now a local nursing home. I was plagued with jaundice, rickets, and a severe calcium deficiency as a child. I wore braces on my legs for a season. My Mother believed in prayer although she wasn’t a dedicated Christian. She had people praying for me--as a result, I was able to walk normally and never suffer those problems again despite the doctor’s report that I’d never walk normally.
Unfortunately, I never knew my biological Dad…I was the result of a short-lived romantic relationship. Mother never talked about him much…I imagine that he was tall and blonde and probably good-looking. Mama told me that he was killed in a motorcycle accident while I was a baby. It was heartbreaking to me—every child wants to identify with his parent. I felt so detached and unimportant. In 1957, my Mother married Calvin Walker. She gave birth a few months later to our half-sister, Kathy Walker. Dad never pursued a close relationship with me and it hurt to see him favor my sister more than me. I never felt like I had a real, caring or loving Father. Of course, Calvin was an alcoholic. That problem would show up violently in our home consistently for many years. That helped shape my inferiority complexes, lack of self-esteem and a emotional hunger for love.
From the years of 1957-1967, we traveled and lived across the United States. From my birthplace of Seneca, SC to California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Texas and later back home to South Carolina. I never had the experience of making friends, celebrating birthday parties, dates or anything stable or enjoyable in my life. My mother was the most consistent and loving person in my life---I guess I can credit her with saving my sad life. Needless to say, I grew up a desperate child. Always wanting to make friends and have relationships with other kids..but it was always short-lived. She always loved me despite Daddy’s abuse or lack of attention.
While living in California, I can recall sleeping in a travel trailor with my Uncle Jay and other sisters. I was about five years old. He was young and unmarried at the time. We all loved him and never imagined for one moment that he would ever touch any of us. But he fondled me one night. I never told anyone. I was afraid of stirring up any problems in our already troublesome family. This event stuck with me for years…I became very wary of other men and developed a strong distrust for men.
My sister, Glenda was my best friend. Kathy, the firstborn of Calvin and Mama was just a baby. Daddy spoiled her a lot. I always felt like I was not important and unloved. Mother though, had a way of making me feel loved. Calvin was emotionally abusive toward Mama and us girls. He worked hard to feed us and provide a shelter or home but that wasn’t enough. I grew up thinking that I wasn’t pretty or smart enough to have a Dad who loved me. I just couldn’t figure out why he was so mean--..it would take years to figure out that one. In the meantime, I was trying to get away from him. I felt so sorry for my dear Mother. Of course Mama loved him—he saved her out of a sad life and loved her. She could always forgive him to beating us girls and making life miserable.
While living in Arizona, life was uncomfortable. One little girl threw me out into the main highway one afternoon--that was scary. We lived in a small apartment with a large community of Mexicans. One afternoon, Glenda and I were talking to a little male classmate when Daddy threatened us to get inside the house. I hid underneath the bed and he never found me. My sister, Glenda was beaten. We never knew what to expect from Daddy. He seemed to always be angry at someone or something. Life was always unpredictable with him. We learned to avoid him as much as possible.
Life didn’t get much better when we moved back to Westminister, SC. I had to repeat the 3rd grade! We lived in a small house with an outhouse, no hot running water and a pot-bellied stove. It seemed that kids loved to pick on me because I was so gullible, and easy to tease! One 3rd grader threatened to beat me up if I didn’t stay away from her girlfriend on the bus! Boys teased me a lot. It never seemed to end. There were many times when I felt like an outcast because we were poor. I was tall, skinny and felt very ugly. We couldn’t have children over to play because we couldn’t trust how Daddy would behave. I began to get so frustrated that I became somewhat angry at life and started getting even.
They say that children can be mean and indifferent and I am witness to that. My sisters were growing up and they became my best friends. While I went out of my way to befriend girls, those friendships never lasted for long…except on the playground at school. I never experienced slumber parties, birthday parties or invitations to special events as far as I can remember. Most of the boys that I knew in the 5th and 6th grades loved to call me names—long legs, ostrich, giraffe, and the pain and anger sunk in deep. Mother advised me to stand up for myself…and I did. I had pent-up anger that included my dysfunctional family life. I started hitting the boys as they would call me names and make fun of me. The girls didn’t do this. My teacher threatened to spank me one afternoon. She had seen the verbal abuse from the boys but did nothing. Unfortunately, she never saw the mess at home. I couldn’t wait to get out of school. I hated school. I was tired—only God knows and understands how I survived all those years.
In the 6th grade, I got involved with some of my sister, Glenda’s friends. They wanted to come over and do a séance. I was very curious but was so naïve. We all sat around a table in a dark room with a candle lit. The leader was calling for Walt Disney to come back from the grave. All at once, the candles were blown out and I felt claws on my arms, back and head. It really scared me. I jumped up from the table and turned on the light…that was the last time we ever did that. No one had to convince me that demons were real. At that time, I really began to question my sister’s motives and trustworthiness.
Most of the kids I knew lived a happy, positive life…something I really wanted but couldn’t have. My sisters were my playmates and I was okay with that. We made our last transition to Atlanta, Georgia in 1968. While there, we got involved in a local church---Buffington Road Christian Church. The pastor visited our family numerous times. He was such a godly man! He was the only pastor that ever reached out to us. We attended church for a while and I made a few friends. Daddy was encouraged to get help from a Half-Way House for Alcoholism. He did go but he never changed his way of life. He did attend church but never gave his life to Christ. I thank God that my Mother allowed us to attend Sunday school.
My sisters and I got involved in a local Good-News Club for children. The couple that led the club in their home loved children. For the first time in years, I felt like I was somebody special. Although I don’t remember the date or time, I remember making a decision to ask Jesus Christ into my life. I wanted and needed what the Lord was offering me---forgiveness, unconditional love and acceptance. I will never forget that decision. During that time, I was able to go to summer Christian camp—it was wonderful. While there, a foundation of God’s love was laid for me. I can still recall some of the songs. I realized that people who loved God also loved others. Despite my failings, God really did love me!
In 1970, I began attending MD Collins High School. We moved into a new home in a subdivision called Hillandale. I was so excited at the prospect of making friends for once in my life.
Unfortunately, Daddy continued his drinking, fighting and chasing other women. Mama never understood the emotional trauma that me and my other siblings experienced. Mama would simply sweep the problems under the rug, forgive him and keep walking. The rehabs never worked. There were many times during those years that we had to flee our home—sometimes in the middle of the night. Daddy would come home in a drunken stupor, cursing and threatening to kill Mother and us children. The police department got to know Dad very well. He would end up in jail many times but Mama would always bail him out! We had a bad name in our neighborhood. I felt like everyone knew about our terrible home life and I was so ashamed.
Despite the problems from Dad, I did make a few friends in our neighborhood—they only came around while Dad was working. Still, rejection was a part of my life in school. I unsuccessfully attempted to join the cheerleading team and other social clubs. I felt like a loser.
High school kids were very unfriendly, clickish and could have cared less about my feelings. Most of the popular girls wore nice clothes, drove cars and were attractive. Most of my clothes came from local second-hand stores. I felt so isolated and unattractive.
Since I had such a desire to belong to something or somebody, I got involved with a group of druggies at school. This group of teenagers were friendly--they didn’t care if I was poor, gawky or stupid. I finally began to feel better. I started smoking cigarettes and pot. Some of my best friends were engaged in pre-marital sex and lived reckless lives. I went to parties and had fun. It’s only a miracle that I didn’t get caught or involved in an accident while driving home high on drugs. Unfortunately, I lost my virginity at a young age—a junior in high school and it continued for several years as a reckless cycle in my life. I would do anything to make young men like or care for me. Unfortunately, I was naïve to their motives. Sex was nothing more than a sport for them. It was a mistake that plagued me for many years---shame, self-loathing, unworthiness. I always felt that I would never marry or meet someone who could love me.
While the hitting and name-calling continued for me in high school, the boys eventually learned to leave me alone. I had such a temper! I guess they felt sorry for me. I was such a wall-flower. One young man wanted to make an example of me but I had learned a little bit along the way! While pretending he liked me, I walked away. It was very disturbing how many of the girls I knew were involved in that! Even the pastor’s daughter was unfriendly. Christianity didn’t seem to make much difference at school.
It became even more dangerous to allow friends to visit me in our home. One afternoon, a nice young man came over to visit me. He was a Christian. When Dad came home, he pulled out a knife and kicked the young man out of the house. Needless to say, he never came back. Once again, Daddy proved that we were’t important to him. He made life so miserable. He would never defend me or protect me when other people insulted me. I became so indifferent and skeptical of others. I couldn’t trust any man.
At the end of my 11th year, I quit school because my Mother was sick. Dad had forsaken us and ran off with another woman—we lost our home. I went to work to help Mother but eventually got laid off after Christmas. In 1974, I made a decision to get my GED and join the military. I was desperate to experience a normal life—if such a thing existed.
I signed up for Germany and spent the first 6 weeks of my life at Fort McClellan, Alabama in basic training. What an experience…a lot of yelling, screaming and tongue bashing. I couldn’t wait to graduate and move on. We learned the disciplined life and I learned to bite my tongue and be more easy-going. My friend and I were transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky with a combat MOS—or job. It was a huge military mistake. My girl-friend convinced me that working with the police would be exciting. Well, we attended MP school and then eight weeks later, we were on our way to Frankfurt, Germany. Once there, I was the only female cop in our platoon. It was scary. There was a lot of competition and I knew that I had to work hard in order to win the respect and friendship of my male counterparts. It worked and I was able to win awards and be promoted ahead of my peers. After about a year, I asked to be reassigned to Goeppingen, Germany to be near my older sister, Glenda. She was married to a soldier.
Not long after I arrived, God allowed me to get acquainted with some Christian young people. I don’t recall how this happened…I believe it was all by God’s intervention in my life. They were so friendly and got me involved with different Christian activities. It was refreshing to have friends who seemed to really care about me. In 1975, I went to Brussels, Belgium to hear Billy Graham preach at the Heizel Stadium. What a great experience it was. I made more friends with really sweet, godly people whom I shall never forget. Nor will I ever forget the preaching and the Bible studies we had for a week. I can never forget his words, “God loves you and He has a purpose for your life!” Hundreds of young people flocked the altar and gave their lives to the Lord. Never in my life had I ever experienced the love of Jesus Christ as I did then. A huge revival broke out in that arena--
God used that time in my life to remind me of how much He cared for me. I was given the Good News Bible and inside the front cover, I wrote out my testimony of salvation.. I am so thankful for the military chapel there on base…God used that place to teach me so much. I praise the Lord for using people that showed me unconditional love---God had not forgotten about me.
The Lord protected me numerous times while stationed there in Goeppingen. There were many young men and elderly men who pursued me for all the wrong reasons. After spending two years there, I departed the military and went back home to attend college. I was so glad to be back home with my family in Seneca, SC. Unfortunately, Mama had allowed Daddy to come back home again—for the millionth time.
I attended the local community college and began to enjoy life somewhat. Since I had struggled for all my life with a severe lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence, I decided to work hard in school to test myself—I wanted to discover if I was as stupid as I considered myself most of the time. This was a huge test--.college wasn’t easy at all. But I worked hard and actually made the honor roll much to my amazement. I wasn’t attending church anywhere like I should have been. It seemed as if I had placed the Lord on the back burner of my life.. I was enjoying school, a social life and work like I had never experienced before. God brought a great friend into my life! She was just the friend that I needed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t serving the Lord nor involved in church. I began to make poor decisions.
In 1976, my oldest sister, Glenda had divorced her husband and moved back home. She convinced me to travel with her and Kathy to St. Petersburg, Florida. We moved down there and I began working. She got me involved in a strip club. After one day, I knew it was wrong—I was so ashamed and quit. Glenda was a bad influence. She always wanted me to follow in her footsteps to a bad life. We would go to bars and drink and party. While there one night, I met a young man named Gordy. He was good-looking, friendly and liked me a lot. I was always attracted to people who made me feel important and pretty. We spent a lot of time together on his boat. We did the unthinkable. I became pregnant much to my chagrin. I didn’t know what to do. I called my Mother and she arranged for me to fly home. My sisters remained in Florida.
Once I arrived home, I was feeling very guilty and so ashamed of myself. Mother loved me but was concerned for my future. She convinced me that I should get an abortion. I had no idea what I was doing. We went to Atlanta and I killed that unborn baby. Afterwards, I knew I had done something horrible. I struggled with depression and shame for years…all the consequences of my sin. In the meantime, I stayed busy and working.
I tried to forget my past but couldn’t. I tried to stuff all those negative feelings deep into the recesses of my heart for a season. God knew however that I would eventually need healing. The shame of my sin would cast a shadow in my life for years to come. One thing was certain—God knew all about it. He would lead me to the place of reconciliation.
I finished another semester of college and made some important choices. I was unhappy and wasn’t prepared to settle down or continue my education.
In 1977, I reentered the military and went to Fort Dix, NJ. After graduating I was transferred to Kaiserslautern, Germany. I enjoyed my work and made some good friends! I still had emotional issues and pursued the wrong men for all the wrong reasons. At the end of the day, I still lived with discouragement and self-loathing. I had no idea of how to break this pattern. My social life wasn’t that fulfilling to me--I got so tired of dating. My work did satisfy me to a large degree…was so thankful for that.
In the fall of 1977, I auditioned for a musical group called, “Entertainment Showcase.” I really didn’t think I had a chance but little did I know what God was orchestrating in my life. While there, I met an amazing young man who was extremely talented and caring. He helped me so much and wanted me to become the female country-western singer for the group. I was so excited about this! I worked with them for three months and then had to return to my former unit and job.
During those three months, I got to know Glen Williamson really well. He was engaged to another girl back home. She was his high-school sweetheart. Knowing that he was already taken, I took care not to get too involved but to maintain a working relationship. I respected their relationship. Unfortunately, the more I got to know Glen, the more I realized that he was the most remarkable man that I had ever met. He was honest, humble, respectable, hardworking and talented. For years, I never thought I would find someone like him--I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. He was everything it seemed that I had ever wanted in a man. We began living together like husband and wife. Within just a few months, I realized that he was the man that I had always dreamed of having yet never thought could be possible mine. He wanted to marry me! I couldn’t have been more happy in my life. In March of 1979, we went to Copenhagen, Denmark to get married. I am so thankful for what I believe was God’s plan for me and Glen. Although Glen was not a Christian, he was still wonderful. He continued to be a great husband and father to me and our children.
In 1984, Glen was assigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia. Shortly afterwards, we moved into a home in Richmond Hill, GA. We weren’t eligible for family housing at the time so we had to rent. I honestly believe that God planted us there for His purpose in our lives. I had mentioned one evening to Glen that I wanted to get the girls into Sunday school! I simply felt that going to church was important although I wasn’t actively serving God myself. I had to go to work myself to help with the family budget. The girls were in a day-school. Life wasn’t easy back then. But I believe that God was in control. Within just a few months, we were visited by the pastor’s wife and another missionary of Bethel Baptist Church. Glen was moon-lighting as a musician at that time. He wasn’t opposed to church but had no desire to get involved himself. He even admitted that he would go—just once for me.
I was allowing Nadyia to go with Mrs. Cooper since I didn’t want her riding on the bus. After a few times, I felt so guilty for not going with her. Glen’s musical gig was cancelled on Saturday night so he agreed to accompany me to church. I heard the best preaching that I’d listened to in a long time…God was definitely working in my life and also Glen’s. He had no desire to go back but after a visit in our home with the pastor…things began to change. I was questioned about my salvation. I knew that I had prayed at one time for salvation but didn’t feel like a Christian because I had not served God for years..plus I had former issues that had never been resolved. God knew all about that. Pastor Cooper listened to Glen lie about his salvation. Pastor told Glen that if he was truly a Christian, then he should be in church and reading his Bible! Glen had no choice. We started attending regularly. God was working. Glen got involved with the music.
There was an evangelist Bobby McGilliard and family that came to Bethel Baptist Church at Christmas. His wife shared her valuable testimony of knowing Christ without having any doubts. The more I thought about her words, the more uncomfortable I felt. I told Glen one evening how I really questioned my relationship with Christ. It seemed that I couldn’t get the victory over little sins in my life. At one point, I honestly felt like salvation wasn’t for me, that Christ couldn’t love me enough ---I had too much sin in my life. Yet, I hungered for that peace and joy that she had talked about. I wanted a change in my life especially for the sake of our children and our family. He asked the church to pray for me. I don’t remember how long it took for me to get on my knees and beg for Christ to forgive me of all my sins and change my heart. He heard my prayers and I realized that His love was sufficient to save me. I was so thankful. I had been taught to get into the Word of God and start reading. That was the beginning of a wonderful new journey with my Savior. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for His long-suffering and grace toward me.
Within two years, we were headed to Trinity Baptist College where God continued His work in my life. I loved teaching Sunday school, heading up a children’s Good News Club and telling others about Christ in our community.
After serving God overseas in Ukraine for many years, we came back home to Seneca, SC and later moved to Springfield, MO in 2010. I wanted to volunteer and mentor young women in a Pregnancy Care Center. God was still in control. Before I could even start training, I had to accept counseling for the abortion in 1975. That counseling changed my life! I never realized how much I had buried all those self-loathing and negative emotions until I had to confess them to the Lord. That event changed me life…I learned that Christ had already forgiven me. Now, I could live and love freely. The depression and discouragement that entrapped me was gone. Forgiveness had gained another woman.
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