Personal Testimony

My story is that I came from a family with all 4 grandparents emigrating from Germany in the early 1900's. Both parents father's were in construction in Cleveland, Ohio with my mom's dad a very successful builder. My dad was a mason contractor like his father and after WW2 where he was a tailgunner on B-24's he came back to work with his father in the business. Dad met mom who was a widow with a small child(my brother Gary)and married her. I came along about 10 months later. We had a pretty idyllic life in Fairview Park a suburb of Cleveland.

We moved to Ft Lauderdale in 1962 then Titusville Fl in '64. My dad ran the shopping center my grandfather built there then took over the bowling alley when the manager was stealing funds. In 1970 my life suddenly changed forever when my dad had an affair & mom promptly divorced him. I remember coming home & seeing my grandparents there & mom upset & after I was told what was going on I went into the dining room put my face in my hands and it was like something broke in me-I put up walls so I'd never be hurt again. I kept all the hurt inside which led to many emotional problems.

We moved back to Ft Lauderdale to be by her family. Six months later she tried to kill herself by an overdose of sleeping pills. She had called my dad before passing out and he rushed down 200 miles to her bedside in the hospital. A week later they got remarried(I was best man at my parents wedding!) and we moved back to Titusville. I was happy to be back at Titusville High with all my friends and surfing Playalinda Beach. I went to college at FIT in Melbourne less than an hour away from Titusville. However, on a summer trip to Europe in '74 mom tells me that her and dad are getting divorced again. Now I don't know how many times I've heard people say 'divorce doesn't affect the children...they're resilient, blah blah blah". The truth is that divorce in most cases is a nuclear bomb in a child's life. I've suffered my whole life from the effects of feeling abandoned, rejected, with anger, rage, and hatred buried deep inside myself. I have no doubt that had I not come to Christ I could have easily become violent or engage in drug or alcohol abuse to medicate myself.

However, by the grace of God I instead went on a God search and while in college starting with a search for a real encounter with God. I began studying Christian mysticism, then eastern mysticism as well as what became known as the New Age movement. After graduating from college I drove out to Mt. Shasta in California for a few months before I got accepted into the Peace Corps for deployment to the Fiji Islands. Whether I was looking for adventure or escape I'm not sure but after 7 months in Fiji I decided to leave the job at the Bureau of Statistics and travel the South Pacific with my backpack and surfboard. I spent 15 months in the South Pacific before finally heading home in Nov. '78. The whole time overseas though I was a vegetarian and into eastern spirituality but I became more and more disenchanted with the whole thing. Something wasn't filling the hole in my heart that the divorce of my parents had only intensified. It wasn't until I got back home and got a job working at Cape Kennedy on the Space Shuttle that I began to realize my spirituality was not fulfilling me-I was still searching. I was going to night school at FIT working on my Masters when someone had put a small sign on the side of the road. It kept haunting me like a flashlight in the dark as it said "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other Name under heaven whereby you must be saved Acts 4:12". At first I thought...'oh geesh that's just the Bible' as I was way too spiritually sophisticated for that. However, over time more and more it began to dawn on me that perhaps there was something unique about Jesus Christ. Maybe he wasn't just one of many teachers or gurus but He really did rise from the dead. Seemed to me that guru's all talk great but in the end none have conquered death(and most were interested in money & girls!). If Christ did then He truly had something to say that demands our attention.

About that time an old friend of mine started inviting me to church at Park Avenue Baptist Church where Peter Lord was pastor. Peter had a huge impact on me and after receiving Christ I got baptized and started a new journey of faith in Jesus Christ that I had left during college. Whether I was now saved by faith or recommitted only God can say but to a very large degree I no longer had a craving to search for God and endless reading but felt spiritual peace in my heart. Early on I decided to go to Dr. Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri study center in Switzerland and spent several weeks there working and studying the issue of Genesis and origins. In particular I was trying to get a handle on whether Genesis was literal or not. I spent a lot of time reading Dr. Henry Morris's books on dating technique's well as the case for the doctrine of creation vs evolutionary theory. It was a few years later that I set up Christ is Creator Ministries to put on college debates on the subject as well as for a radio talk show I had on Christian radio and several Christian tv shows I was on.

In the mid 80's I met 2 people that changed my life in many ways. Jack "Murph the Surf" Murphy spoke at my church after getting out of Raiford Prison where he had been for 17 years for a double murder in 1967. He had come to Christ through the ministry of Chaplain Max Jones who had led many inmates in that facility to Christ. Jack had been parolled through the efforts of Frank Constantino who also spoke at the church service and invited me to prison ministry. I told Frank I really was doing everything to stay out of jail but promised to pray about it. Funny but that night I opened the Bible & Matthew 25 opened up to where Jesus was saying "In as much as you have done to the least of these...visited those in jail...you have done to Me". Well I called Frank & told him I think God wants me to do jail ministry! He told me to show up at 33rd street jail in Orlando Monday morning & Max Jones & Murph would show me what to do. Well as I was walking into the jail I saw an Orlando Sentinel newspaper with headlines "Aids infected inmate bites prison guard at 33rd street jail" so I was praying going in the facility..ok Lord...I'm going to get sodomized & get Aids but if that's your will..I'll do it. Well I spent the whole day in the jail talking to inmates who kept saying..."what are you doing here honky...my momma doesn't come to see me...why aren't you at the beach looking at girls in bikini's..." I'd reply telling them I felt God wanting me here to talk to them and encourage them to follow Christ and stop serving satan. When I walked out of the jail that day I was on cloud 9...thinking I've wasted a lot of days in my life but this day would count! Since then I've spent 25 years ministering to inmates & consider it a great privilege to touch these hurting men & women.

Not long after meeting Murph I went to an Open Doors Ministry(Brother Andrew-Bible Smugglers) banquet in Orlando & a Romanian Pastor named Dumitru Duduman spoke there. Well I have to say I never heard such a testimony in my life. Dumitru had been smuggling Bibles for Brother Andrew's ministry for 25 years taking hundreds of thousands of Bibles into Eastern Europe & the Soviet Union at a time when it was the death penalty to do so. In the early 80's he was caught by the KGB & sent back to the Securitate in Romania still under the iron fist of it's President Ceaucescu. Dumitru testified that they tortured him horribly breaking his ribs and beating him & electrocuting him. He said that they put him in a dark cell where he suddenly was covered with rats that were eating him alive. He cried out 'God don't let me die like this' when a light appeared in his cell brighter than the sun. Dumitru said he heard a voice say "Look at me Dumitru" and opening his eyes he saw an angel with a sword with flames of fire and who looked like the sun and told him "behold" and all the rats were killed. The angel told him he would suffer a while longer but God was faithful & would help him. Eventually Dumitru was released & Ceaucescu had him & his family deported from Romania. He moved to L.A. and worked with Brother Andrew when I met him. I went to 3 of these banquets crying each time I heard his testimony & the word that God would judge America for our sins & especially for the sins of abortion & homosexuality. I asked my church if we could get Dumitru to speak there and he did...moving my Pastor Peter Lord in a way I had never seen before. Soon after Dumitru sent me business cards making me a regional director for his ministry Hand of Help. Not long after I went with him and his family to Romania on a mission trip in Sept. 1990 after Ceaucescu was killed. We brought in Bibles, food, and medicine to help the poor and suffering in Moldavia- the poorest area of a very poor country that had just gone through a horrible revolution throwing off communism where many had been killed. The orphanages were filled with children in terrible conditions & we visited one that shocked me for it had genetically defective children in very difficult conditions. After I came back I asked my church if we could help those children & my church gave Dumitru $56,000 to build a Christian orphanage. A few years later it opened & over a hundred children were cared for who may well have died otherwise so terrible were the conditions there. In 1991 my ministry published a book on Dumitru's life & visions/prophecies called "Through the Fire without Burning" (10,000 copies 1st edition). God works things out mysteriously and it has sold tens of thousands of copies much of which was used to help finish the orphanage in Romania. I gave copies to Rep. Jack Kemp's wife Joanne in Wash. D.C. who was leading a Francis Schaeffer class for congressional wifes where they & their husbands read the book. I worked with Dumitru till his death in '97 and can honestly say he was a man unlike any I have ever met. Though of a different Christian background than myself (he was Pentecostal) his warnings about God judging America hit me hard for he had been saying for years that America had become like Babylon...and that California, New York, Florida, and Las Vegas would burn with fire. He said Revelation 18 referred to America and on Sept 11 2001 the words were almost prophetic for Rev 18 talks about the judgment on commercial Babylon saying "and they were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning saying 'woe woe, the great city...for in one hour she has been laid waste". I don't know if this scripture was directly related to that terrible event but it shook me to the core and like every other American 9-11 affected me deeply. Dumitru was a real soldier for Christ and loved his people in Romania. Sadly he died shortly after his beloved wife died but his legacy of building churches, speaking a warning from God, and following Christ at all cost lives on.

It took many more years for more complete healing to take place from my parents divorce and much of it happened recently when my mother died. At the age of 55 having never married I came to realize while my mother was dying of cancer just how much I had been holding in. I had to face the stark reality that the pain of abandonment I felt at my parents 2 divorces and mom's suicide attempt had left major effects on my psyche...including deep seated hatred and anger that I had never shown but had left me with depression, anxiety & panic attacks. As my mother was dying I had to deal with forgiving her and asking her to forgive me and I finally came to begin to let it go. Great grief and tears came as I saw my mother pass from this world and knew in my heart that God had done a miracle by sparing her much suffering from lung, liver and then brain cancer at 84. She died peacefully in a coma after praying earlier that day that God would take her home to her mother and to God.

I always say that Christ came to set us free...not make us 'religious'. That's true... real freedom to love God and be loved by God -not out of feeling we have to 'perform' or follow religious rites and duties but as a child in the arms of an incredibly kind and caring Father. I've had the great fortune to have met many wonderful Christians and enjoyed their friendship-Edith Schaeffer, Dr James Kennedy, Dr.A.E. Wilder-Smith, Dumitru Duduman, Peter Lord, Jack Taylor, and many others who have helped direct and lead my life. One thing I have learned is that God will have His way in our lives...we just have to keep our hearts open to Him and in the end it's His sacrifice of love & Holy Spirit in us that creates our destiny of entering the reality of God's presence where we can enjoy His Glory and Love without end.

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