Praise God for the old-time religion! I came to Portland to get a friend of mine out of trouble. The first night I was in this city, I wandered out on Second and Burnside Streets, and heard a band of the Apostolic Faith people telling what God had done for them—how He could take a man back over the old life and straighten it out. The story I heard appealed to my old crooked heart; but I knew I wouldn’t go back over my past life, to straighten it out for anything in the world. My life was all covered over. I had from ten to fifteen years behind prison walls facing me. I was dodging around one crime after another—lying out in the sticks to keep away from the sheriff. Sin had done an awful work in my life.
Surely, I was in need of God. I had gone into sin when just a little boy. I wanted to see a good time in this old world, and have lots of fun, as the world calls it. But before I was seventeen years of age I turned to crime that would have put me behind prison walls for years. I got away from the old gang after I saw three of them land in prison, and I tried to settle down. I determined I would join the church and get out of that kind of life. Then I robbed my old dad out of several hundreds of dollars. I got by with the law, I got by with my old dad, kept my life covered up and made people believe I was moral and honest, but I couldn’t look my fellow man in the face. My eyes would slink down and I would dodge around the corner. I was ashamed of my life and I had a right to be ashamed. I tried many times to break away from sin, but I failed and instead went a deeper into sin.
The first time I stepped foot among the people of God in Portland, He began to show me my sins. He brought them up before me and showed me my crooked life. I knew these people preached restitution, and many times I would pick up the Word of God and throw it down because it condemned me. I knew the things that were done in secret would be revealed. I cursed this people and cursed God. My heart had grown bitter and hard, but I knew these people had the real thing.
My heart was stubborn and full of sin, but I thank God He had mercy on my soul.
My wife was an invalid, and I took her to a camp meeting these people were holding. They prayed for her, and God wonderfully healed her after physicians and operations had failed to bring health. She went home and said to me, “George, I believe God has healed me.” I said in my heart, I will see. I couldn’t help but see. She went home, threw her medicine out and began to do her own work where I had been doing it for weeks and months, and years. Those things stuck in my heart. He also healed my boy of scarlet fever. I am so glad for the wonderful love of God.
Heavy conviction came upon me. About a year-and-a-half after I heard the story of Jesus and His power to save, I made my way into the Apostolic Faith mission hall. There I knelt and for the first time in my life, I prayed an honest prayer. My heart was stubborn and full of sin, but I thank God He had mercy on my soul. When I told God I was willing to go back and face the people I had wronged, He heard and answered prayer and rolled the burden of sin away and set me free. I walked out of that hall a happy man with real joy in my soul. It seemed like another world the next day. I couldn’t begin to tell you the love that came into my life.
I went back to the same bunch of men I worked with, and they knew that God had done a real work in my heart. I knew I could go out and conquer after that. I knew I could live the life of a Christian on the job. I praise God for His mercy.
The day after I was saved, I started back over that old hypocritical life. I thought I would have to go behind penitentiary bars if I confessed out my life and the sin and crime I had committed. But God gave me grace to do it. I went to my old Dad and told him what I had done—deeded him back a good home to straighten up the wrongs I had done him. I went back to the Sunday school where I had been treasurer for years and paid back the money I had robbed out of the treasury. I faced the widows and orphans that I had robbed, faced the old walls, faced every man in this world that I could find that I had wronged, to straighten up my life. It took me six years to clean up my old life, but I praise God I don’t owe a one-cent piece today.
For years I had dodged around the crowds, afraid I would see somebody coming that I might know; but, thank God, I don’t have to dodge anyone today. I have a clean record and I enjoy life. I praise God for what this Gospel means to me. It keeps me on the job, in my home, and everywhere. With a hammer and a square, a man who was converted at the “Lighthouse by the bridge” fifty years ago, has made an honest living and has helped in the construction of many of our buildings of worship in Portland and in our branch churches. Thank God for real Bible salvation.