I want to thank God for this old-time religion. I thank God for the truth that makes me free. Quite a few years ago, the National Cash Register Company sent me to the West Coast on business. I went up and down the Willamette Valley as a sales representative for that company. I made good money, and I spent that money trying to find the satisfaction and reality my heart longed for, but I never found it. I bought diamonds and beautiful clothes, stayed in fine hotels, rode the luxury cars on the trains, joined three different lodges, attended the theaters, operas, and dances, and yet there was sorrow in my heart. While on the road, I met men who were older than me, and they taught me many things that did not do me any good. I learned to drink gin fizzes, Manhattans, highballs, whiskey straights—in short, I began to lead a fast and wicked life.
One night, in my hotel room in Portland, Oregon, at the age of thirty-two, I realized that I was a failure—a ruined man. My reputation was gone, my character was destroyed, and my health was slipping from me. I had religion, but that didn’t save me. From the time I was seven years old, my mother sent me to the priest to confess my sins. I used to get up at five o’clock in the morning, run to the church, and go into the sacristy. There I laid out the priest’s garments, waited on the priest, and poured the wine into the chalice. As the years passed, I continued to bend my knee in the confessional box and tell my sins to a priest, because I knew no better than to think that man could forgive them. I would take the penance he gave me, go out in the church and say the prayers, go to the communion table and take the wafer, and then go home broken-hearted, miserable, and discouraged. It never changed my habits or appetites; it never made a new man out of me nor brought me joy.
I was tempted to take my own life to get rid of the sin and shame that was daily bearing me down.
Remorse settled down on my life, and I wondered where I would spend eternity. I was tempted to take my own life to get rid of the sin and shame that was daily bearing me down. But one day I got upon my knees and asked God what He was going to do with me. Do you know what He did? The very next afternoon, He sent a man to my room. I heard a knock at my door, and when I opened it, I found a Christian there. He said, “I am interested in you. I see you in the hotel. I wonder if you are saved?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he asked me in a language that I understood, “Do you know that you are right with God?” He went on to tell me that I would go to Hell unless I was born again. That went deep into my heart and took root.
The man invited me to a church service, and he brought me to the Apostolic Faith camp meeting. There, I heard testimonies of the former drunkard, the ex-convict, the doctor, the lawyer, the merchant, and the preacher, all of whom God had saved. Their faces were lit by the power of God. They were born of God’s Spirit and they knew it. They told me that if I confessed my sins to Jesus Christ, He would wash them away and would make a change in my life.
That night, God broke my stony heart. I went forward to an old pine bench—I was the first one to it. Tears of repentance poured down my face. I confessed my sins to Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man. I lifted an honest heart to Him, and bless God, He had mercy. He came into my life, and broke the shackles of sin that had bound my heart for so many years. That night the sunlight of another world flooded over my soul. It was the most glorious day of my life. I had prayed to the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and Michael the archangel and never got an answer, but when I prayed to Jesus Christ, He answered. I have never smoked, gambled, taken a drink of alcohol, or been to a show or dance since. I broke up the old pipe, burned my deck of cards, and began to read the Bible. The blessed Spirit of God gave me liberty, and the joy of the Lord has been in my heart from that day. I thank God for what He has done for me!
Richard Clarke was converted in 1909, and became a fearless preacher of the Gospel. As a traveling evangelist, he went to various parts of the country declaring the power of God to save and deliver from sin.