It was Saturday, July 4, 2009 when I arrived in front of the hotel I had to leave just two years ago when they learned I had an unreported felony. I was back home and grateful it was hot outside unlike when I returned from Puerto Rico, December of 2004, ill-dressed and freezing waiting for my friend, Don, to arrive. Now, he was pulling up to gather me and my luggage, again! There is something to be said about a, “friend who is closer than a brother.”
After our manly greeting and stowing my luggage in the back of his pickup, we went to his home, often the center of family gatherings and good times, but for me, a refuge to begin a settling and find a course to set sail from. In this trip, I learned all the kids, now adult, were home and there were grandchildren, too, often staying, and I’d be bunking in the family room, which was fine for me. Very comfortable, with a bathroom off to one side, newly finished since I visited before. This is one gift I have admired about my brother. He’s always improving and taking what was not and bringing something out of nothing. What he has done with the various areas of his home, was being done with me. I often, rather, most often would come there with nothing and left there in short order with a plan for my life and this time would not be any different.
After the weekend, I knew I would have to begin the laborious task of finding work which would precipitate my being able to put a claim to independence. I thought how the many times my sister, Don’s wife, Maxine, would take the time to transport me to various locations to fill out applications. I also realized, where they lived would be an inconvenience because public transportation was not available, and with the day nearing when I would have to re-register as a sex offender, something would have to happen, and quickly, but God already put a plan into place to resolve each of these concerns.
Our other brother, Robert, who a bit older, whose children called me, “Uncle”, and youngest daughter one of my several godchildren had an offer he’d worked out in the city of Poughkeepsie. There was a local elder by the name of Blasse who owned a home not far from Robert’s business had rooms available for my immediate occupancy. I chose one and on July 9, took possession to be independent again. Still without working, Robert left me with a comfortable feeling to worry, but get settled and God would work out the details. I need to mention some of those details included him taking me to the mall and purchasing bedding, bathing needs and a supply of foodstuffs. I was certainly blessed as I began making myself a new home, in a city I was familiar and it was good, indeed, good to be back home.
The following day, I walked down the street, a mere ten minutes to the local police station and registered my new address, carrying my book, “If You Send Me, I Will Go”, letting the police sergeant know he was probably registering his going-to-be-most-famous sex offender. Little did I know then what I was prophesying. The time there took minutes since I was already in the system, and I was given an October date to return for my quarterly reporting.
Within a week of registering, I found a letter addressed to me from an attorney’s office in New York City. My initial thought was somehow a bill collector had found me since my return because I did leave many bills, mostly credit cards, unpaid prior to leaving two years ago. When I opened it, I was surprised it was in regards to my sex offender designation status and to call him immediately. I did.
When I made contact with him, he informed me when I registered, he was now informed of my whereabouts. I thought this was strange because no matter where I would be under the laws now affecting sex offenders in the United States, he’d have no problem locating me, even though I claimed no actual residence while living in Georgia for a long period, surely with my weekly reporting there, any correspondence could have gotten to me. However, he was glad I returned because he had been working on appealing the judge’s ruling and needed to send me a copy of his brief before submitting to the Appellate Court for a determination and the deadline to do so was quickly expiring! I praised God for bringing me back because otherwise for this state of New York, any opportunity to reverse the Level 3 designation would have been over. Within weeks of receiving and modifying the brief, I understood it was submitted sometime in September 2009.
Note: I recently found a link on the Internet specifying my appeal against the Dutchess County Supreme Court judgment of my designation which was filed and the judgment against me as filed by the Appellate Division:
(Note: If you read it closely you will see which has been my argument all along is the criteria and response to determine the probability of re-offending is tantamount of gazing into a glass ball. They’re in essence penalizing me for a crime or crimes I have not committed! As of the date of this writing, it’s been seven years since they’ve labeled me, have I been charged–ever, with any additional sex offense(s)? Have I even–ever been suspected and had any police contact for any offenses since this leveling? Do you think they would lower the designation if they were proven wrong? It was my contention if I were made a, “Level 1” to which my history showed, any future infractions would be easily adjudicated “against” me by raising my level accordingly and appropriately. In other words, it’s much easier to go “up” as opposed to going “down”.)
I spent my days not actually too focused on looking for work but wondering how to “grow” my ministry. According to Don’s encouragement of me being back home where people knew me and with the economy being in a dire condition with the worst recession in the country’s history, I was not in a mindset to try and find work. I believed strongly God wanted me in ministry, but did not know how to go about it. This would be an opportunity for God to lead me in how it would take place.
One evening, a Sunday, God told me to take a walk “up” the street as opposed to “down” the street. It was 8p.m. and obediently I set out. As I walked up Mansion Street, where I had not previously since moving here, always walking down, I passed the home of where my friend Keith lived. I stopped a moment to reflect how the summer of 1975 he came to stay with me when I got my first apartment and he needed a place to stay and after all of these years, I would hear from him occasionally, after losing the mother of his twins, and himself suffering debilitating strokes! (I learned several years later he’d been killed in an automobile accident.) Then I saw something which got my attention and made me stop to inquire.
There was a building, on the left side of the street which I never noticed before, but yet it held a familiarity with me. A man was watering the lawn so I spoke to him to learn what this building was which stood out in a residential neighborhood. He mentioned about a business I vaguely remembered, never having need to know much about it, but it was a major employer once many years before, but now it provided mental health services. I shared with him why I did not know this having been gone for long periods of time, and what brought me to town now, and he invited me inside. I’ve learned when I get started talking about the ministry, which I love so much, I often become not aware of what is going on around me, as in this case, he’s sitting at a desk and writing something, stands and stops my impromptu sermonette by handing me a note saying, “I don’t know anything about what you are talking about, not having ever been addicted, but you call this number and speak to this woman. I’m sure she will want to speak to you.” I took the note and looked at it while he is now walking me to the door, insistent on my being sure to come, “tomorrow”, and pointed to a stairway I should take once I re-entered the building. After thanking him and walking away, he called out again, “Please make sure you come here tomorrow.”
I’m beginning to learn in this walk there will be things we want to do for Him, which will depend upon our taking the initiative to do them and there are other things God will want us to do for Him and He will take the initiative and those things will be accomplished because He brings them about, and they will be unavoidable. How many times when talking to others they will respond, “God meant that for me”, yet we may not know how we are being used. Then there are those times we speak to them and they’re not getting it despite our thinking we are being God-led to deliver this message! You cannot and will not do inspired work unless it is in fact inspired work and its His purpose for that time. We, you and I, cannot control what God does nor can choose the time for when Him does it. It just will be done, sometimes without our knowing what we are doing. The message is for the recipient which can mean just one out of the ten hearing or for everyone present and in some cases, and I’m a witness, the message was really for the speaker not necessarily for those being spoken to!
The following morning, as is my custom when I get up and before I have breakfast is to have my morning devotions which consists of Bible reading along with other inspired material and prayer. My devotional time was disturbed because I felt the impulse to get up and prepare myself to meet this woman. I managed to put off this feeling and head out to get my breakfast from a nearby store. I could not find any peace and though there was no actual time set for my being there, God would not let me be still. His voice was that still, small voice but was rising at each interval to get my attention until about 11:00 it became a shout. When it did, I reasoned I could go there in the afternoon but He was insistent it would be now. So, already dressed, gathered my wallet and keys, I touched the doorknob and was stopped dead in my tracks with Him saying, “Put on dress pants. She’s interviewing you and does not know it!” So, I got out of my perfectly clean and nice looking denim shorts, since it was the middle of summer and put on dress pants, still keeping the sandals!
I arrived at the building thinking it was nearing lunchtime and nobody would be seeing me, ascended the steps the gentleman told me the evening before, and walked into an open reception area, went to the desk and said, “My name is Roy—“, and was stopped by her raised hand as she punched a few buttons on the phone and said into the receiver, “He’s here.” Then motioned for me to take a seat that she’d be with me in a moment! I was totally dumbfounded.
Marlene greeted me in the lobby then with me following her to her office, said, “I only have a few minutes so maybe we can talk and make another appointment.” I was fine with this not actually knowing why I was there to begin with and stated so. When I was seated in her office, I asked her, “It appears you were waiting for me.” She responded, “I was. I had just finished praying asking God if you were going to show and when I ended the prayer saying, “Amen”, is when I got the phone call telling me you were here!” We both sat across her desk, looking at each other, for that proverbial uncomfortable pregnant pause, when I said, “I really don’t know why I am here, but maybe it is because of this,” and handed her my book. As she thumbed through the pages, she was “hmm’ing” and “aw’ing” and then put the book down on her desk. Looked away for an extra lengthy moment and then said, “I do not know why you are here either. When I got the phone call last night around ten o’clock from, (I don’t remember his name now, the gentleman I met watering the lawn) who has never called me so late before, I knew there would be a reason. I believe God sent you here and I’m supposed to do something, but I’m not sure what it is.” She paused again. Then she asked me, if I were available this coming Sunday, and I was. She invited me to speak at her church, her husband being the pastor, would arrange for me to come and share with the people my story and bring some books for possible sales! I was floored! This is what I was looking to do, and could be a simple as this? I thanked her and left with the copy telling her it was my gift and this was indeed of God for this was my ministry, a confirmation.
I could not wait to get home and call my friends, Don and Robert, and of course, Samantha in Georgia, to share with them having just arrived and within two weeks got my first speaking engagement and book sale opportunity, and how it took place.
Logistically when God has arranged for you to do something, He has worked out the details. Where the church met, in a hotel conference room in Fishkill, is not accessible by public transportation on Sunday. There are absolutely no buses, on Sunday of either city, county or regional, however Don suggested I stay the weekend and he would take me in the morning.
When I arrived I thought I was at the wrong place because I was the first one there. I did not know what to expect, but often our expectations are not what God has planned. Certainly, I would have loved to walk into a facility with theater seating of about several thousand, if not at least several hundred, and then be introduced in flowery accolades as this great writer who miraculously cured of drug addiction and every book sold and taking orders and deposits for another several hundred, if not a thousand, and this would occur weekly, or at least every weekend and my weekdays would consist of making future appointments, hotel and flight arrangements, and shipping cartons of books to be there when I arrived and signing books for those wanting a personal message and…and…this would not be as dramatic. The room eventually filled to about fifteen people, the pastor, himself, playing the piano and my occupying a front row seat devoid of other people. I met my hostess, who chided the others for my being there before everyone else, well, even she and her husband, too; but, I got my chance to share, no book sold, but her husband did press into my hand a check for fifty dollars. While I was speaking to an even smaller group the difference between Christian recovery and secular, a brother there was a proponent of AA/NA/CA, whose philosophy I opposed and made it clear I consider them anti-God, and not able to help those addicted but in fact perpetuate the addiction although the substance may not be in continual use. I can understand those who suffered addiction and whose relationship with Christ may not be as mine may need whatever help they can get to overcome their problems, but God is the only way for complete healing. There is no other way.
When Don retrieved me after my first engagement, although I was a bit disappointed, his encouraging words were simply, “It’s a start, Roy.” Yes, it was a start. It had to happen somewhere and sometime. I don’t think anyone I’ve known has ever walked out onto a stage and everything was as I wished it to be. It would take time, especially for me, because of my ego issues and considering I was just down the street from where I’d considered building a mega-church in early 80’s, and recounted how all the great ones were falling due to improper behavior involving women or finances, and even testified how others like Swaggart and Roberts were falling and I soon followed later with drug addiction, perhaps I needed this small beginning, at that particular location, to keep me humbled and remind me, who really was still in charge. After all, God only told me to take a walk and see how He blessed me already? I’m glad His telling me in this method was so much better than for Him telling me to “Go take a walk” and it to have a negative connotation. It can be either or, but it’s really left up to you.