Bio & Testimony

My Personal Testimony


I was born in Southeast Arkansas in the late forties to Christian parents that already had four girls.  


My mother had a miscarriage prior to each birth, all of which would have been females.  My dad like most men wanted a son so, he demanded of God to give him a son...I was born. 

 

I sometimes think that he afterward may have thought that he'd made a mistake in demanding that God give him a son after all the heartaches that I put him through.


In the summer of 1951 our family moved to the Oregon where we lived for twenty years; in a small coastal town called Empire; its name was later changed when it was incorporated into the town of Coos Bay.


Let me regress for a moment to point out a couple of situations of interest that happened to me prior to our family moving to Oregon.  I do not recall my age at the time, but I came close to death a couple of times before we left Arkansas.


Back in the forties and fifties it was not uncommon for women in the South to keep a little kerosene on hand for various purposes.


My mother's method of keeping it around was to keep some in a small Coca Cola bottle under the kitchen sink.  If you know anything about children, once they get a taste of a Coke, they want more.  


So, I apparently noticed the Coke bottle under the kitchen sink and while my mother wasn’t looking, I took it and quickly drank it right down.  This ill advised action on my part caused me to become very ill.  I came down with what the doctor said was double phenomena and was not expected to live until the morning.  I did this twice before I learned not to drink just anything out of a Coke bottle.  These two events were my first two brushes with death.


I also had another occasion of near death that involved me falling into a deep drainage ditch that was fortunately dry at the time, but even so, in falling I hit my head on a boulder.  This was my third brush with death before moving to Oregon.


The early years of living in Oregon proved to be a challenge to my parents because I was used to having the freedom of country living for the first four and a half years of my life.


Living within the city limits of a small town, I was confined to staying in a small yard which was difficult for me to do.  Therefore, I was always getting into trouble, by that I mean that I was being spanked daily and sometimes two or three times a day for leaving the premises of our yard.


Perhaps the best thing about my life as a child, even though I personally did not particularly care for it at the time, was that our family always had time set aside to read the Bible and pray together and on the weekends the devotion time was two or three times a day.  We also attended various church services throughout our community; I think this was in an effort to keep us, the children, immersed in the Word of the Lord, as It Is Written: “Train up your children in the way that is right and when he is old he will not depart from it.”


I was what some might call the "Black Sheep" of the family, a problem child.  I was always getting into trouble of some kind or another.  I started smoking cigarettes when I was about five years old.  My grandfather smoked and when he was through with a smoke, he would usually just toss it on the ground.  So, I picked up one of my grandpa's cigarette butts that he had thrown down, and started puffing on it.  It made me a little sick, but I kept on trying it from time to time and by the time I was ten years old I start smoking on a regular basis. 

 

I left home when I was fourteen.  I decided that I would hitchhike back to Arkansas and wound up getting put in jail for hitchhiking.  The Law Enforcement Authorities contacted my dad and asked him what he wanted them to do with me.  To which he decided to have them to put me on a bus back to Arkansas.


My dad thought I might do better living with his oldest brother that lived near the Mississippi River, on a lake and earned his living as a commercial fisherman.  So, he thought that would be a good life experience for me.  But little did he know that I did not plan on staying anywhere for very long, especially anywhere where I had to follow rules and do exactly what I was told to do.


I eventually wound up in Northern Louisiana where my dad's parents lived and I stayed with them.  I was basically free to come and go as pleased as long as I was back home before nine o’clock, p.m., as that was when my grandmother locked the doors and went to bed.

  

I was able to acquire myself a part-time job at a Dairy Mart, as a car-hop, but my freedom was short lived. 


I wound up doing something the law of the land said a person should not do, for which I wound up in a Juvenile Detention Center until my parents came out for a vacation.  At that time, I was released to my parents and went back to Oregon with them.


For the next few years I was prone to doing things that the law of the land said that I shouldn’t do.  Although I never got caught for doing these things, my dad knew that I was doing them so, he turned me over to the Courts for being beyond Parental Control and I was again sent to another Juvenile Detention Center and then to a Boot-camp.


At the age of eighteen I decided to get married.  This worked out fairly well as it kept me out of trouble with the Law, but maintaining gainful employment was difficult for me as I was always one that liked to move around from place to place.


In 1968, I decided to enlist into the US Army, where I was very blessed not to have been sent to Vietnam where a lot of our troops were dying. 


I was instead sent to Korea for a year.


This was a truly eye opening experience.


Upon my release from the Army, I again struggled with maintaining gainful employment and I spent most of my nights out on the town drinking and carousing around.  My new found life style led to my wife running off with another man, taking our two children (a son and daughter) with them to Canada. 


I, of course did not know at the time that they had gone to Canada.  My wife wrote me a letter to say that she was sorry but did not say where they were.  


The letter she wrote was post-marked in Southern California near the border of Mexico, so I spent a lot of time without any luck looking for them.  I did not see or hear from them again for over twenty seven years.


The next few years of my life were a blur; I began drinking hard liquor on daily basis and smoking marijuana as much as I smoked cigarettes.  I drifted from place to place, from job to job; my life had no meaning or purpose; I was completely lost at which point I moved to Southern California.


I met my current wife in California in 1973.  I moved back to Oregon shortly thereafter, she followed me a few months later and we married in 1974, at which time we moved back to Arkansas.  My new wife was adopted at birth so we set out to find her mother, which we did in very short order.


After talking with her mother off and on fo r a few weeks, she was asked to come spend a couple of days with her mother and her family in order to get reacquainted.  I wanted her to be able to get to know her mother and family, so I agreed to let her spend a couple of days with them without me being there to detract from their special time together.

  

I was driving a van at the time that I had customized into a sleeping unit, so I went over to visit one of my cousins that lived in a town nearby my wife’s family so I would be close to her if she needed me.


It was during this time that I experienced another brush with death.  


I had become very fond of smoking marijuana; you might say; it was my passion.  I would even smoke a little before going to bed as this seemed to help me sleep better.


After living on the West Coast of Oregon and in Southern California for most of my life, I was not accustomed to some of the insects or the hot days that are common to Arkansas.  I did not have an air-conditioner in my van so I left my windows open during the day and kept them closed at night in hopes of not getting eat up by mosquitoes.


I had seen some wasps flying in and out of my van during the day so I purchased a can of Black Flag wasp and hornet spray to protect myself from these unwelcome visitors.  A couple of things to remember about this insect spray is, number one: it was very potent back in the seventies and number two: most insect sprays are basically a Nerve Agent that is designed to attack the nervous system of insects in order to kill them, in essence: Nerve Gas at a lower dosage.

On these cans of insect spray, back then as well as now, there was/is a warning that it should never be sprayed in an enclosed area or it is to be sprayed in a well ventilated area.


I, unfortunately, did not pay close enough attention to this warning because soon after trying to go to sleep, I thought I heard some wasps buzzing around in my van  (after smoking a joint of marijuana).


So, I got up and sprayed the insecticide around every crack and crevice in the van, in hopes of killing the wasps before they stung me.

I was not thinking in my right mind.  If I had of been, I would have realized that wasp do not be flying around at night.  The noise that I was hearing was a result of my smoking marijuana.  

However, it was too late; the van being completely closed up, soon filled up with the fumes of the insecticide; gas vapors being heavier than oxygen, my lungs soon filled up with the poison to the point that I could barley breath.


The Lord must have given me the fore-thought to think about the fact that unless something changed drastically and very soon, I would be a dead person.


My cousin had just turned off the lights in his apartment and went to bed, so I made my way into his place and told him what had just taken place.  I told him that if God doesn’t do something for me that I would be a dead man.  


My cousin, being a Christian, got up and prayed with me for God to intervene in my life.  Which He did; Praise His Holy Name!  I fell asleep praying and woke up the next morning a New Man; I was Born Again; a New Creation in Christ Jesus; a Saint.


My life since then has experienced many a struggle but it has been dedicated to knowing and serving Him (Jesus) with ALL my Spirit, Soul and Body.  


This is a brief over-view of my life from birth - to New Birth (being Saved).  I pray that my testimony will encourage others to turn their life over to the Lord and serve Him.


Minister Stewart

House of Prayer Sabbath Ministries