Going into the ARMY turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me for several reasons:
#1 I was able to leave Pennsylvania (they sent me to Texas) and get as far away from it as possible. This was best for me because nothing was going on after I graduated except for trouble. I mean, when you start hearing about how your classmates were getting killed over something stupid…I knew it was time for me to go. #2 Money! I had none and I needed some. #3 Well that’s my testimony of course.
Who would have ever thought that going into the military would not only change the physical shape of my body, but also the spiritual shape. Well, the next thing I speak about has nothing to do with how I got saved, but nonetheless, it is noteworthy. I remember in basic training they gave us one opportunity to go to church, so I jumped on it and so did everyone else. Funny thing is, I don’t remember any of the soldiers being at all religious. I soon realized that this was not an appointment with God, but an appointment of the opposite sex. Marching all the way to the on post chapel was nothing more than a meeting place for men and women. Since the men and women were in different areas, going to the church building provided nothing more than a common ground in which to set up rendezvous. This would be my very first encounter with a church outside of Teen Haven (see my “About me” page on this) and it was a total flop. Needless to say, we all came and left the same way, “Sinners.” Although some did manage to find sin, none succeeded at finding God.
It wasn’t until after AIT (the job training portion for a new recruit) that anything, or anyone remotely close to God would come my way. When I arrived at my official permanent duty station at Fort Hood, located in Texas, I was taken to the replacement detachment (a holding/staging barracks) until they found a unit for me. Generally, a new soldier only stays at the replacement for a week or two, and then, it’s strait away to their unit. For me, it was about two weeks of waiting, and then I finally got picked up and transferred. This is where it gets interesting because after leaving the replacement area, I was sent to yet another barracks across the other side of post; but I still didn’t go to my unit. I was told to stay in these other barracks until my unit was ready for me. Therefore, I ended up staying there for a few more weeks. The other strange thing about it was that my roommate was a guy I knew from AIT. I wasn’t sure as to what was going on, but, at the time I didn’t mind because I was getting some free time and an easy pay check.
One day while going to the chow hall I was stopped by a man named Keith Ballard who had extended an invitation to his church (NTCC). I accepted the card, and we parted ways. A few days later, thinking nothing of the invitation days earlier, my roommate and I went to the chow hall to get some grub. After filling our trays with food we sought for a place to sit and eat. My roommate noticed someone he recognized…well that person turned out to be Keith. Come to find out, he had also been invited by the “Church guy,” as we called him. Nonetheless we ventured to walk over and sit, eat, talk with him. In my mind, I said, “No, not the church guy,” but we sat there anyway because we didn’t know anyone else, and it was bad enough that we were already like fish out of water.
Thursday had come around and my roommate decided to go to NTCC with Keith. And please notice I said “My roommate,” not “My roommate and I.” I let him go and see what was going on first, then upon his return, I would decide. After my roommate returned from church, I asked him how service was; even though I immediately noticed something had taken place in his life. He came in the room, and just started throwing things in the trash. He disposed of his cigarettes, dirty magazines, videos, whatever he had that was sinful in nature. I looked at him in complete and utter bewilderment; thinking to myself “What in the world had gotten into him? No, it wasn’t the world that had gotten in him, but it was Jesus. That was one delivered dude, or so it seemed.
He told me about the preaching, the spirit of God and how that he went to the altar and prayed for salvation. It was after hearing and seeing what had transpired in his life that I knew I would attend the next service. It was like the woman at the well experience for me; I had to go and see this man named “Jesus” for myself. He had me hooked just by his transformation so I imagine what God could do in my life.
I believe it was a Sunday service that I attended with Keith Ballard, and true to what my roommate said; “Jesus was in the house.” Man, right now, as I’m writing this, while listening to Praise and Worship and telling this story, the spirit of God came in the room. He’s awesome! This lets me know that he’s not finished with me. The rest, as they say, is history. During alter call, one of the brothers approached me and asked if I’d like to receive Christ. He was a tad slow, because I had already rededicated my life back to Christ before he even reached my pew. Praise the Lord. Oh, and my roommate? After we relocated to our designated unit, I never saw him again. He never came back to the church, I never ran into him. Go figure!