When I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll; but, when things are slowed down, then I feel myself getting rolled over. I thought my time had arrived and I would be getting attention from churches and other organizations, wanting me to speak, and during the time in between such calls, I underwent struggles which ordinarily would have crushed me and made me give up but God kept my head above water, and I don’t swim, in fact, I am deathly afraid of water, even still water, never mind waves!
One afternoon, I was headed to Robert’s place of business when I ran into a gentleman I met before leaving for Atlanta. He’d be leaving the mall on his way home from work while I’d be on the same bus headed to work, and because it would be the last bus, would save him a seat because of the crowd and he being older than I, would look out for him. We recognized each other and caught up with what happened during the time we’d not seen each other, and I mentioned having wrote a book. He showed rapt interest suggesting I should go on the air, as in radio, to tell my story, on the local radio station, which I never knew existed was in the next block. He mentioned he knew one of the radio announcers and told me to just go right in! I feigned not knowing the place and could hardly do what he was suggesting, so instead he escorted me to the place, walked right into the studio while the radio personality was spinning a record, made the brief introduction and I was on the air for about twenty minutes doing an impromptu on-the-air interview! I was so thrilled about such an opportunity, easily overcoming nervousness my previous experience having been on the air, my own show in the early 80’s.
My friend, Don, suggesting people I should meet put me in touch with a woman named Beverly, who worked with their singing group, “Just Voices” booking them at various outlets, who coincidentally had a radio show, a gospel program, every Sunday morning, in the same radio broadcast studio I interviewed previously. I called her and immediately was scheduled to do a more involved interview, promoting my book and agreed to schedule me in the Hudson Valley for speaking engagements.
One of the local churches, Trinity SDA, toward the end of July ran a tent effort and Pastor Dixon’s main theme was against drugs, more specifically crack cocaine. Robert made the introduction and when Pastor Dixon learned of my book and testimony offered me to speak for several minutes prior to his message, resulting several books being sold. This church had been in my history when visiting in the late 60’s during summer custody visitations with my father, and when I moved here in the mid-70’s attended occasionally, but most of the people were either dead or gone, so there were many new faces. I later asked, well, actually after pursing the matter, held an afternoon program to give my story to the whole church. By this time I’d develop a PowerPoint presentation entitled, “I Have Something to Say”, which addressed addiction and how the Lord helped me overcome and would do for their family and friends as opposed to the conventional programs, which in my opinion only scratched the surface and does not promote healing or a cure. During the tent meeting a young lady made her way to me, sat one seat over because I had my materials on the chair, asked me for a business card. Her name was Sandra.
Sandy, as she preferred to be called, called the following Sunday morning wanting to meet me and talk. I was, at that time, meeting with a group of men, also sex offenders, at Robert’s place of business, served to provide hope and comfort to those addicted. The primary purpose for the group was to provide an alternative to the usual addiction meetings around town; however, instead it turned out providing support to two men, recently released from prison who struggled with probation/parole issues, and needed reassurance as they were adjusting as well as prayer. It didn’t hurt the fact Robert was gracious to provide brunch at a local diner as a way to fulfill the temporal as I tried to fulfill the spiritual.
I agreed to meet her, thinking she was having a crisis moment, not quite sure how she’d even knew who I was. When we met at the park in front of my home, she only lived a few minutes away, by car, when she stepped out the vehicle approaching me, I was interested in her. Sandy, age 43, a nurse and single mother of two daughters, 10 the other 12, was tall, slender, and attractive. Suffice it to say, as I’ve mentioned before in my first book, I will not divulge another person’s struggle, first without their permission and secondly the book(s) are about God’s dealing with me, so you will hear of my struggles and victories leaving those I meet to tell their own. Our first conversation dealt with an issue she was going through with her children’s father and she wanted to know what to do, to get a male’s perspective.
I was surprised when she had to remind me she was the one who sat near me and requested the business card at the tent meeting the previous Friday evening. It is interesting as this apparently distraught woman, facing so many issues revealed not only inward but outward scars of the battle she was fighting, I felt compelled to share with her my own scars, to create a bond. Our meeting lasted two hours and I handed her Samantha’s book for single mothers and gave her Samantha’s phone number, and assured her I would call her in one week to follow-up to see if there was progress in her dealings. I called Samantha to relate what I just experienced and to expect a call from this woman, who I did not feel adequately helping, first being a male, and since she and her had in common so many issues, she’d be better suited addressing them and agreeable to the suggestion.
I need to point out when I first saw Sandy in the park, I had a question rise in my mind, “Was she the one?” I do not know if other men, or women, who are searching for companions, if they ask the same question internally as I do. I know I began to pray for a companion, a mate, after recognizing God answered my prayer for a “friend” before meeting Samantha, and trying to progress further than the request, I thought it wise to change my prayer and begin asking for a wife.
The following early Monday morning Sandy called me, in tears, confessing she did not want to live anymore, feeling life not worth it! Having been to that point in my life, and tried taking my life on several occasions, kicked into gear to help this woman getting her to think in terms of time, in future lengths, by agreeing to meet me, this time me coming to her, just a fifteen minute walk and a park not far from her apartment complex. She agreed to meet me.
I quickly dressed and while walking, praying for two things:
- He would use me to speak to her and reach her, and
- Whatever lust I might have within me would not rise to take advantage of this woman in an obvious moment of vulnerability.
I was thankful I was not working because how do you say to someone, “Listen, glad you called but could you hold off hurting yourself, or killing yourself until I can get off for lunch?” I felt within my soul this was the type of ministry I was called to do, when you don’t know one minute to the next what God is calling you to do. On the way, I noticed two people, one profoundly retarded affected physically and the other guiding them. I studied the afflicted one and thought this person will never know the love of a woman, or having a child, or the many other feelings we take for granted, which may cause us deep pain. So, who is better off? When I rounded the corner, I saw Sandy, head down, shoulders heaving in apparent sobbing, and my heart was touched.
I mentioned how the afflicted one would never know the power of feeling and although I consider myself stunted in the feeling department, yet I am supposed to be normal, yet not a touchy-feely kind of man, I could say nothing but offered my hand when she could feel my presence and raise her up to stand with me and hugged her to let her feel me and know she was not alone. I tried calming her with gentle words and kept holding onto her even as she tried to break away until it was decisive enough for me to know it would be her decision and not mine to let her go. I suggested we sit at a different bench to walk away from the place she’d originally chosen to demonstrate in order to feel better we needed to take steps in progression. After several hours of sharing with her how God hadn’t allowed me to die by my own hand, I would not have been here to give her the message I was now sharing and how grateful I was to be here and life so much better than I could have expected at the time when I wanted to give up thinking there was no hope. As part of my nature, when her eyes were now clearer than when I first saw her sitting and crying, and a smile appeared on her face, I got her to laugh at a silly joke, then I knew she’d be okay and it would be time for me to walk safely away.
I had my own struggle of fighting boredom, waiting for the next speaking engagement, wondering if I were hearing God properly. Was this what I truly was called to do or was I living in my own fantasy? I was receiving a few hundred dollars a week from unemployment, but it would end soon, my benefactor, Robert, informed me after two months I would be expected to provide my own housing expenditures, and I was entering that time of “grave” silence when I could not hear God speaking. It seems I go from one high point to the next, even tragic moments keep me going, to have something to work through and when they do not happen as in the case of Sandy, then I eventually manufacturer my own, and I did, when I became tempted regarding drugs and would leave the state of healing given to me many years before.
On two separate occasions, once in Newburgh, the other in Poughkeepsie, I sought and found my past, each event ending in shame, regret and repulsion not wanting to return from a life I now advocated by being healed. I was thankful each time God did not raise His hand off me for if He did I would have returned to active use and never wanted to be so bound-up again. I wrestled with how I could profess healing—now, after having returned twice, and recognized it was not God’s voice speaking but the one who brought the temptation and wanted to gloat over my apparent failure. In all of my studies, I’ve come to accept it’s not about being knocked down, but it’s about standing one more time which really counted. If I were to be made with this being the proverbial, “thorn-in-my-flesh” so be it but it does not mean I have to succumb, and it never means not preaching the truth as it is. Healing does not mean “absolute” for only one is absolute and this is God. We are human with a nature to sin and long as we continue to apply His grace for failures, then we will prosper and the message does not change, but we do! In fact, my message of what God is doing and continues to do, is held ever higher despite the additional scars of the battle and warfare waged against the would be destroyer of my soul.
The enemy taunted me about going back from the healing of exhibitionism so valiantly won and experienced in my prison cell on the island of Puerto Rico in 2004. When the opportunity presented to re-enact what had been done thousands of times before, it was not the same. That demon had been driven out and although I could invite his return, remembering, too, the shame, pain and loss of control because of its energizing the compulsion which propelled me to the act, I, through the returned grace of God continued putting my heel against the head of that ol’ serpent.
Despite the wars of boredom previously mentioned, I would get an invitation to speak this time by the elder who’s home I lived. Again expecting great things to take place, was surprised to learn there are small churches in the largest borough of New York! And I’d found one. When an offering was collected, and no books sold, the money given paid for the subway and train ride return trip, but I had to dip into my own personal funds to pay for the cab back to my home! I was given a gratuity in a check for $75 which was needed and appreciated. I despaired wondering when it would be my time, when the check would be $750 or $7,500 for my efforts. I know it is possible but I wondered when the possible would occur.
The Lord revealed Himself in a magnificent way when told my cellphone would be cut off, followed by my broadband which gave me access to the Internet, and both services I needed desperately to survive if my ministry would ever get off the ground, I got an invitation to speak at the SDA church in Kingston when the planned speaker could not make it and someone called Lydia, Robert’s wife, who suggested I take their place, even in the midst of a beginning snowstorm, and only presenting my eleven o’clock hour message, “If You Send Me, I Will Go,” the church at the moving of the pastor lifted a free-will offering, and with the church gratuity raised enough to cover both of my bills before the deadline to end my services!
Due to Sandy’s involvement with her church I had hopes of being interviewed by the local cable television which never resulted, and like the hope of it falling away, so did the relationship which developed between us.
Since our last meeting, we’d agree to see each other and in time I would spend considerable hours with her and her daughters getting accustomed to being their eventual stepfather, however without their knowing. As my history shows, it does not take me long to go from meeting to altar and by October, Sandy and I became engaged, and although we both believing God was involved and maybe still was, as of this writing (April 17, 2010), we broke up before the end of the year. It seemed too many differences, too many miscommunications, and not enough love to continue.
Never really understanding why things happen to me the way they do until a much later time, I now understood why it could not be, Sandy and I, until one formidable event would take place, but this is the reason for the next chapter.