(The miracle of deliverance)

I didn’t come from a broken home surrounded by chaos, confusion, alcohol, or drugs, but I was brought up by loving, supportive parents who gave their lives to provide for my brother and me. We experienced that of a happy childhood, fishing, horseback riding, camping and water skiing on the weekends.

It wasn’t until my eighth Christmas that I received my first Bible from my grandmother. Knowing this was a special book, I secluded myself away and read with great interest. This was not some storybook about Jesus. The impact Jesus had on the condition of the hurting humanity, the miracles, hope, and peace He left with people then, made me think, “Oh, if I could have lived then, I would have followed Jesus.” Then I sank in deep disappointment because this Jesus of the Bible was not evident in this world I lived in.

My father experienced very damaging dealings with the local so-called religious clergy, and would never again go into a church, until after my salvation many years later when he came to the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation. Consequently, my brother and I were taken to Sunday school and dropped off. My small experience with the Baptist church was that we must be saved, I assumed, from Hell. The bad people like robbers, murderers, abusers, etc. would be going there, not people like us. I busied myself with horseback riding and showing my prize palomino in show parades. He was sure to bring blue ribbons; he stole the show! One day on the way to a big parade, we were in an accident and my horse, Amigo, was killed. I was shattered; my dreams were gone. It would be quite some time in the future before I involved myself with horses again.

My friends at school persuaded me from every side to indulge in the fast-rising realm of drugs and hallucinogenics. After my high school graduation, my parents moved us to a better environment. We relocated in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado right next to the Little Cimarron River. We were surrounded by lakes, rivers, mountains, and mesas on each side of us. The neighboring hunting lodge was across the lake, and it was renowned for hunting and fishing. I was hired on at the lodge as the trail ride guide. I spent hours taking care of the lodge’s horses which were used for hunting trips. One particular day as I was riding alone, I reached the highest part of the West Mesa. As I was surveying the majestic view, I was overwhelmed by the golden-leafed aspen trees, the crisp, deep smell of the pines, the orange scrub brush, and the rushing rivers, so clean you could smell it. These questions haunted me: All this exquisite beauty God created, but why didn’t I have this beauty inside of me? Why were my thoughts and desires evil, selfish, and vain? Why did it seem as though I had this wild animal inside of me? I was left frustrated with only more questions.

Without any control or thought, I walked all over the people who loved me. I left and didn’t look back. The next year I fell so deeply out of touch with the crumbling world around me. I saw nothing to give my life to or build on. I drifted from town to town, state to state, from one drug party to another. I consumed enough alcohol and pills and pot to kill any normal person. But the real wake-up call came after a series of events that jilted me out of my hazy stupor. Somehow I survived a drug overdose, a fire explosion, a boat accident, and being kidnapped when hitchhiking. I also survived an incident where I pulled a gun on the person that beat up my brother. This last event was the dawning of the day that made me know that I was so out of control. God surely was so angry with me that I knew I was headed straight for Hell. How could I possibly undo what I had done to myself and the other lives I destroyed?

I came to Hollywood, CA, for one purpose which was to make money and then head to the mountains to try to hide from the harsh realities around me. I hated the city and especially Hollywood. I knew as soon as I got there that I had blown it. The money I made was stolen, and I was too proud to call my parents for help. I was too afraid to hitchhike; I was trapped like a rat. Then the next week on Sunset Strip, I encountered groups of young people who looked like everyone else, but their purpose was worlds apart from the others. The street people used to mock them calling them the “God Squad.” When these same people spoke to me, they spoke with authority and genuine concern. I couldn’t escape the urgency of their message. “Jesus Christ is coming back to earth. Repent or Perish. Make peace with God while there is time. Jesus is coming back to earth with a rod of vengeance against all those that don’t know Him. Hell is forever. We are living in the last days. Get right with God before it is too late. Come to the church services we have every night and find out more.”

The word “Hell” hit me so hard because I knew it was true. It registered loud and clear. Immediately something inside me said, “You always said you are a seeker of the truth. Go find out about this.” About a week later I found my own ride and came to a church service on Crescent Heights Blvd. in Hollywood. It was on November 9, 1970. It was called the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation. I couldn’t deny the strong compelling drawing me, despite the doubt and skepticism shrouding my mind and heart. These were a natural reaction against the scams, lies, and abuse of humanity by which I had been wounded. Helplessly robbed of my youth, it seemed I was the subject of a tragic story. I only blamed myself for the bad decisions I chose to make.

As I entered the large, two-story building filled with people who looked like hippies, there was a feeling of happiness and sincere enthusiasm which was apparent to me. Pastor Tony Alamo looked so out of place among the hippies, as he was dressed in a business suit. I purposed to scrutinize him and everything he had to say. I did not meet his wife Susan that night. The service started with lively singing of old time gospel songs. A man played “What Child Is This” on a flute, and it seemed this angelic melody was coming from Heaven. No big accompanying orchestra was there, but something was overpowering the protective defenses I had built around my heart. The tears were flowing down my face, and I was experiencing the first Holy Spirit-filled service of my entire life. I was a lost sinner about to be found. The newly saved converts gave short, but descriptive testimonials. There must have been over 100 testimonies that night. There were representatives from France, England, Canada, Australia, Mexico, South America, nearly all over the world. There were also middle-aged adults who had left their cold, dead churches to join this specialized move of God. Every one of their testimonies was so important to establish the hope and faith in me, and to peel away the layer after layer of doubt and oppression around my heart and soul. I heard about major drug addicts and pushers being delivered instantaneously by God’s saving power, and about alcoholics coming clean with no delirium tremors. One man was on his way to rob a bank when he was stopped and brought to church where he became born again, and was made a new creature after accepting Jesus as His Lord.

Pastor Alamo brought the message regarding the end time prophecies and read from chapter 24 of Matthew. It was the simplicity of the gospel, the common-sense gospel, preached in the power of the Holy Spirit of God. How could I resist the invitation to kneel at the altar and ask Jesus into my heart? Pastor Tony also knelt down as well and led me through the sinner’s prayer according to the KJV Bible. After repenting and asking Jesus to wash away my sins with His precious blood, and inviting Him into my heart, He did forgive me! I was new! The presence of the innocence of childlike faith filled my heart. Joy, peace, and hope filled me to overflowing, passing my greatest expectation. I was made a new creature. I understood and tasted the saving power, the miraculous deliverance that only Jesus Christ can give. This miracle Man of my first Bible as a child is alive and working, talking and walking with all those who open the door of their heart.

It has been over 42 years in which I have witnessed and experienced the healing, resurrecting, and saving power. I’ve seen too many miracles to put into this account. This is a result of Pastor Tony and his late wife Susan Alamo’s profound self-sacrificing of their own lives to win souls, and to root and ground them in God’s Holy Word. They taught us the pitfalls of Satan’s hierarchy and exposed the Antichrist at large. I am forever grateful. To God be the glory and the credit to our beloved Pastor Tony Alamo.