Going through school was rough on me because I have got a speech impediment. I’m tongue-tied. I got made fun of in school a lot. So, I didn’t go to school a lot. I didn’t like school because of all the other kids making fun of me. I never learned how to read and write in school. A lot of nights I would cry myself to sleep, asking God, "Why do I have to talk like I do. Why couldn’t I be like the other kids?" I would get into fights with other kids at school for making fun of me. I would hit them and I would be the one to get in trouble.
I never had a father. I don’t know who he is. My mother told me who my father was. I had seen him the first time when I was thirteen but two days before my mother died, she told me that it might be him that’s my father or it might be somebody else that’s my father. So, I never really got to know who he was.
As I got up into my teenage years, I started getting into drugs. I wound up with over a thousand dollar-a-week drug habit. That lasted close to twenty years. I had a sister who went to church. I called her about eleven o’clock at night. I told her I was thinking about suicide. I was thinking about killing myself. I said, “I can’t live a life like this. I can’t do this no more.” All I could think about was hurt, pain, and people making fun of me. Even on my job they would kind of say something back to me stuttering to poke at me, to make fun at me. They called me beaver, bugs bunny, made fun of my teeth. I would laugh along with them. Even though it hurt inside, I would kind of laugh. She came and got me. She took me to the church. The pastor met us at the church. It was like twelve o’clock at night by the time we got there. He prayed with me and I accepted Christ in my life that night.
I had started going to church. I asked somebody at church, “What do I do?” They said, “You need to read the Bible.” I didn’t tell them I couldn’t read or write. I was kind of ashamed to. I asked my sister and she gave me a Bible. I opened it to Genesis 1:1. I looked down the page and I knew maybe three words on the page. Then I turned the page and I would read four or five words on each page that I knew. I prayed and said, “God, how am I going to learn to be a Christian? How am I going to learn to change my life if I can’t read this?” I told my mother that I wanted to read the Bible and she gave me the Bible on tapes. I would listen to it. I would work from chapter one verse one. I would try to memorize as much as I could. When I got to work and had time I would get my Bible out and try to read it by remembering what I had heard. I did that every day for about five years. I got to where I could read pretty good.
In church they asked me if I wanted to start preaching. I had been going to church for a little while and I said, “Oh, I don’t know.” They said, “I think you’re ready. Do you want to preach Wednesday night?” I said, “No! Give me a little more time.” They said, “Okay, the next Wednesday?” I said, “Okay.” I preached for forty-five minutes the first time. I couldn’t believe it. I left there so happy, so just up there. I said, “God, you did that!” He’s let me preach in seven countries.
He let me go back to school to get my G.E.D. Then I went back to school and I got an Associates’ degree in Theology. A boy who never went to school with a thousand dollar a week drug habit, couldn’t read, couldn’t write, couldn’t talk plain.
I think I started getting more confident and didn’t care what people said. I was able to say, “God forgive them because they know not what they do” like I read in the Bible I think after about three years of going to church and reading the Bible. I guess not having a father I never had anybody there to teach me like, “Hey, don’t worry about what they say. Just let them talk. Just walk away.” I had nobody there to do that for me. God told me He was going to be my Father. He began to teach me how to love. He showed me love and started teaching me how to love people and that everybody made mistakes. Even if somebody had done me wrong, still love them, still forgive them. Do like the Bible says, “Pray for them who spitefully use you.” I would just encourage myself. God taught me, “You’re not that kid that never got love.” You’re not that kid that got made fun of. You are My Son now and I will protect you and I will always be here for you.”