Newt Lesher

Gospel Pioneers
Gospel Pioneers
Gospel Pioneers

I thank God He saved me, a drunken bricklayer. I wasn’t a churchgoing man, I was a man of the world frequenting billiard halls and saloons. Not that I didn’t believe or want to find God, because I did! I was a hungry soul. My mother was a Christian and she planted faith in my heart.

Mother died when I was young. I stood by her deathbed and promised to meet her in Heaven. I went to many churches, knelt at many altars, and traveled for miles to try to find the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, the standard that had been set up in my heart.

My father was an atheist. He bought my first glass of liquor and taught me to play pool. My father and I ran a billiard hall of our own. I went out into sin, but with an aching heart, and with a hope in my breast that some day I would find the people who could help me pray through to salvation.

God knows every hungry heart. He led me almost two thousand miles to San Francisco in 1907, right after the earthquake and fire. I thought I was going there as a mechanic for a better job. I was chasing the little green spot over the hill. My wife remembers the day I started out. I was a drunkard and a booze fighter. I learned the trade of bricklayer in 1900 – had the trade mastered and could go out and do a man’s work, but I spent my money in pool halls and saloons. She kept the midnight oil burning many a night. She had met me in the dead hours of the night, wheeling her baby through three feet of snow, to find her drunken husband.

My wife trusted me one time with the last dime in the house. I started downtown to get bread with it, but before I could buy the bread I came to a pool hall. I heard the click of the balls and went in. I lost the game, I lost my dime, and went home without any bread. My wife looked at me and said, “Where is my bread?” I said, “I didn’t buy any bread.” I felt mean. The convicting hand of the Lord was upon me. I said, “I lost the dime downtown in a pool hall.” She didn’t say anything to me, but down her cheeks rolled two big tears. That drove a dagger into my heart.

She had met me in the dead hours of the night, wheeling her baby through three feet of snow, to find her drunken husband.

I am glad for the hour I heard this Gospel. It penetrated my heart like nuggets of gold. I was headed for the union hall, my brain almost paralyzed from liquor – a  young man about twenty-two years of age. I was blue, discouraged, and brokenhearted. A group of these Apostolic Faith people were on the street corner singing that beautiful old hymn, “I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest, I’ll sail the wide seas no more.” That song arrested me. My feet were riveted to the sidewalk; I couldn’t get away. I didn’t want to get away. God was dealing with me. I thank God for the joyful sound.  

They didn’t know me – I  was a stranger. But it didn’t take long to get acquainted. Down at the altar of prayer they saw I was in earnest. They gathered around and prayed with me. It was about midnight when I prayed through to salvation. God saved my soul!

Later on the Lord sanctified my soul down there at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California. About three months after I was saved, I went back home to Colorado. I opened the door of that little house and I was singing that song, “Down at the Cross where my Savior died, down where for cleansing from sin I cried; There to my heart was the Blood applied: Glory to His name!” We started a prayer meeting. My wife knelt by my side and said, “Pray the Lord will give me the kind of religion you have.”

In that town of Fort Collins, where I was born and raised and went to school, they all knew that I now had the old-time religion. I went around making restitution and paying old bills and confessing my sins.

This is the greatest thing in all the world. I have loved it these many years. It means something to tell the people that you can live what you preach.

The Lord has done something wonderful for me these last six months. He raised me up; almost from the grave. My blood pressure went out of control because of diabetes. The doctors didn’t hold out any hope, but that didn’t scare me. There were several thousand people praying for me. I wasn’t afraid to die, but I wanted to live to be able to witness for God.

I am thanking God to be here in Portland and feel the warmth of the fellowship of the people of God – hearts that beat together in unity and oneness. I have fought shoulder-to-shoulder with these people for many years and I am still trusting God to lead me on until He calls me Home to be with Him.”