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At that point I had been reading the Bible and I was searching for God. This had gone on for a while and I had reached a point where I was pretty frustrated because no one seemed to know who God was. On Saturday August 7 1971 I was looking at the ‘religion’ page in the Buffalo News. I was looking at the various churches searching for anything about the bible. I had hoped to see some church with a sermon called ‘How to understand the Bible’. As I put the paper down in disappointment I found myself staring at a picture of a these people in a coffee house at a place called the House of Life. I read the headline and then the article. I immediately got Lorie and said ‘honey you have to read this’. We then decided to come to the coffee house the very next Friday night. I had been heavy into drugs and our marriage was in bad shape. Lorie was willing to try anything if it would help me. So the next Friday night on Aug. 13 1971 Lorie and I came to the coffee house at the House of Life. When it opened we walked in and found a table and sat down. A girl then came over and asked us if we would like something to drink. I asked for a menu and she said they didn’t have menus but would we like some coffee tea or pop. I asked her how much tea was and she said “oh it’s free just like salvation”. So she brought us tea and some popcorn and we were just sitting there watching other people come in too. There was a small stage and I assumed there would be some music before the night was over. After about 10 minutes this guy comes up to our table and asked if we minded if he sat down. He had long blond hair and a beard and said his name was Roger. He was a real friendly guy and we all started talking together. He also had this extremely large book which I eventually found out was a Bible. Well anyway this was a Christian coffee house and Roger asked us how we found out about it and we told him and as we talked he asked us if we were Christians. I told him that we were trying to understand the bible but that we didn’t think we were actually Christians. I told him I didn’t really know what the Bible was about and that I was having a difficult time with the language. Roger excused himself but gave us the impression he was coming right back. When he returned he handed me a small book called “The Dynamite of God” and said “here try reading this”. Turns out it was a NAS New Testament and yes it was very readable. I asked him if I could buy it and he said “oh no, its free, you can have it”. So I said well somebody must have paid for it and he said that the ‘Carpenter’s Men’ paid for it and that’s why everything was free. I asked why they would do this and why he was doing it. Roger then told me how he was raised in a Christian home and that he saw that a lot of people were lost so he had decided to stay at the House of Life for a while and tell others about Christ. He lived there. Then he told us that they were even having a free concert at Chestnut Ridge Park the next day and invited us to come and he gave us a little flyer with the information on how to get to the concert. Anyway this guy then comes in with a guitar and Roger excused himself and the guy started playing. I am fairly certain it was Mark Schultz. Well I play the guitar too so I could see right away that this guy was very good. I think that night between Mark and another guy I heard some Top 40 songs mixed in with some really nice Christian music, songs that I never heard before. I used to like Dylan a lot and he was the first singer I remember whose songs had messages in them. So I noticed right away that the music that night had messages too as the musician’s spoke of things that were strange to me, things I did not understand. It was all very strange. When Roger had told me that he was raised in a Christian home it really affected me because I could see that he had this knowledge that I did not have. He said that his parents taught him about the Lord when he was growing up. I was raised as a Catholic but I have to say that it did not have much of an affect on my life. I did have a lot of guilt about my life. That was one thing the Catholic Church was very good at. They made you feel real guilty when you failed to follow their rules. I should point out that I was fairly certain that I was not on the way to heaven. I would not have said ‘I am a good person and I will probably go to heaven’.
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So when Mark was finished playing another guy came up to our table and asked if we minded if he sat down. Well we sort of had the routine figured out by now and the guy was very polite. That was the thing about these people, they were polite and unassuming. I mean me and my friends all thought we were very cool but these people were different. They were real and honest and seemed to have no pretentions. I noticed that there were other guys talking to people at their tables too and I heard people saying “Praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah”. I had no clue. Never in my whole life had I ever seen anything like this. Anyway this other guy said his name was Steve and when he asked if we were Christians I said “No”. I had figured out by now that the people with the big bibles were Christians and I knew I was not anything like them even though I was reading the Bible. I realized that I was not a Christian, I was just a guy trying to find God and I knew something was missing in my life and that’s why I came there, I wanted to see what it was like and if they knew who God was. Well Steve also said he was raised in a Christian home. But this time I asked for more information I wanted to know how he actually became a Christian. Something must have happened I said because you have this thing and I don’t know what it is, but there must have been some point when you got it. Steve then told me and Lorie that when he was little he had watched this movie where all these people got killed. It scared him and he asked his dad what would happen to the people who died. His dad told him that those who had Christ would go to heaven and the others would not. That’s what I remember Steve telling us and he said he prayed with his dad that night and that’s how he got saved. Then another musician came and played and this guy had real short hair. That surprised me a bit but when he talked he was just like the first guy. Man I wondered what these people were into. When he finished playing the coffee house was over. But then this guy got up, I think it was Bob Stains, and he said ‘We are all going to pray now and if anyone wants to stay for prayer they can’. So here we were in this very strange place unlike anything we had ever experienced, even on drugs. We saw some of the people whose pictures were in the paper and even talked one to them. I was trying to process it all in my mind. No one was swearing, no one was smoking and no one was high. And yet the peace and joy I felt that night was real. I wanted it. After they prayed they sang a few choruses and my heart was really touched by that. Who were these people? Where did they come from? What were they? They seemed awful happy. How did they get that way? Saturday August 7 1971 was a pretty nice day. I was pretty excited about going to the concert but I had no idea of what to expect. When we got there I was surprised that there were so many people. We started hearing some pretty good music, all laced with encouragement to follow the Lord. I remember Steve, the guy we had met at the coffee house preaching at one point. It just totally blew me away. There’s that guy Lorie, the one we talked to. Then after a while the sky clouded up and you just knew it was going to rain. At that point they asked all the Christians to come together because we are going to pray this rain away. Lorie and I got in that circle even though we weren’t Christians. I will never forget how different people asked God in the most simple way to please not let it rain so they could finish the concert. Then they all sang Amazing Grace. I never had felt anything like that in my life. There were people walking around passing out pamphlets and this girl came up to us and said ‘would you like a gospel of John’ and handed me this little book. ‘What is it’ I asked. She said it was the gospel of John from the bible. I told her that I was reading the bible and that I was all the way up to Leviticus. She suggested that I read the gospel of John. Well wouldn’t that be out of order I asked, shouldn’t I just wait until I get to it? Oh no she said, you need to read the New Testament, don’t try to read the whole book. The books are all different, you can read them separately. Really I said, you mean I can just read this little book and it’s from the bible? After that I went and found a place to sit down and I started to read gospel of John.
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That night after we got home I continued to read that little book. This was the first time I had really learned much about the Lord. I saw a few familiar stories that I learned growing up. But there were other things that I did not know. I was surprised that Jesus had so much trouble and that he was challenged so much. This was not what I learned in church. Also he was telling those who followed him that they would be with him always. I never heard that before. Lorie and I were spending the week at my Grandmothers cottage and I was painting it for her. There were these very small bedrooms and I had to sleep alone that night. So I turned on the light and laid in bed reading until I finished the gospel of John. As it ended John explained that Jesus did much more than was written but the things that were written were there so we would ‘believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name’. It was late and I laid there thinking about the weekend and the things I had read. What was it saying? Was it what I thought it was saying? Was it that simple? I started to see more clearly. I started to understand what these people were doing. They’re following Jesus. That’s it. They’re following Jesus. That’s what you are supposed to do, you’re supposed follow Jesus. The events from Friday evening to Saturday evening all happened very fast in just a short period of about 24 hours. My search was over. I had finally figured it out. Well that’s when something very strange happened. I felt this very strange presence fill the little room. It was what I felt that night when they prayed at the coffee house and what I felt when they prayed at the concert. It was the presence of God. It was then that I heard the words ‘Will you follow me too?’ I cannot tell you if it was an audible voice or if I just heard it in my mind. What I can tell you is that when I heard it, for the first time, doubt entered my mind and I found myself thinking ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. I was so different than these people I had met and I just was not sure I could be like them. As I thought about it I started thinking about all the things that were wrong with my life and that if I decided to follow Jesus there were things that would have to change. It was then that I heard that voice again and this time it said that you wanted to know how to find God and now you know, and now you are not sure you want it. I began to pray right then and I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and let me become his follower. It was like I was hit with a lightning bolt. This change just flooded me as I was transformed from darkness to light. I mean I knew that something was happening to me although I did not totally understand what it was. I woke up Sunday morning a different person. I smelled breakfast cooking and went downstairs and walked into the kitchen. When Lorie turned and looked at me I totally lost my composure and I quickly walked out of the kitchen. She was right behind me and grabbed me and I could not look at her. She grabbed me and was very angry and said ‘look at me’. I couldn’t. ‘Your smoking marijuana again aren’t you’ No I said. ‘Yes you are’. No I’m not. ‘Why are you like this then?’ I got saved. What? I got saved. What? I’m telling you I got saved. ‘I’m saved too’ she said. No your not. I’m saved but you’re not saved. ‘Yes I am’ she said again. When did you get saved? ‘When I was 13’ What, I asked. ‘I got saved when I was 13’ How, I asked. ‘Well my friend took me to this little church and they asked people to come forward to get saved and I did’ Lorie you’re telling me you were saved when you were 13 years old. ‘Yes’. Well why didn’t you tell me what do you think I’ve been looking for over the past year. ‘I’m sorry, I forgot about it’. How could you forget about it? ‘Well I went there for a while but then my friend moved away and I stopped going’. ‘I couldn’t understand the bible and after a while I stopped reading it’. Well what do you want to do then? Do you want to follow the Lord together? OK
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And that was how it happened. That day we started reading the bible together. We started making notes on what we discovered and we wrote down all of our questions in a notebook. The next week Lorie asked me if we were going to go back to that place. You mean the House of Life? Yeah, are we going back? Well you know honey, all these people, they got it all figured out. The way I see it we don’t know nothing. Maybe we should read the New Testament first. So over the next month that’s what we did. Then about a month after the concert we decided to go back to the House of Life. They had given us this newspaper called ‘Together’ and it told a little about what they did so we showed up on a ‘prayer & bible study’ night. When we found Roger he was excited to see us and had wondered what happened to us. Well we have been reading that little book you gave us, you know, the New Testament’. He was really happy to hear that. There’s something else I said. What, he asked. Well we got saved, we found the Lord. He was so excited and he wanted to tell all the other guys. There was a lot of rejoicing that night. People were praising God. I will never forget that night because we were accepted as one of them. We became a part of the fellowship at the House of Life. And we were there until the end. It was all we knew. In those days we started bible studies at our house and we started going out on the streets and inviting people into our home. People would come from the House to help with the studies and it was not long before some of our friends got saved too. And it seemed like whatever we prayed for came to pass. The Lord was good and we were totally sold out to Him. And as we developed relationships with folks from the House we grew in the Lord. To this day I credit them with steering us always to the Word of God. We always held the Word as the final authority and learned to test all teaching with the Word. I have seen many fall into the false teachings that abound in the churches today and in almost every case the teachings of men are held in higher esteem that the Word of God. Well it is forty years later as of this writing (March 2011). I can’t say that everything is beautiful. We have had to face difficulties over the years. In August 2009 we lost our son Steve in a terrible automobile accident. We have had some bad things happen to us in some denominational churches we tried. And we have lost some of those who were precious to us, and have experienced loss of jobs, financial problems, family problems and church problems. But through it all we have had a faithful Savior. You know I have heard Christians say that if persecution ever came they did not know if they could go through it. You could. He would get you through it. His strength really is greater than ours. And in various trials and tribulations we sometimes see that strength come into us. So the way I would end my story is that I would say that Jesus is the way, the only way. He is real and He is alive. There are some people in this world who just seem to have a hunger and thirst for righteousness. And there seem to be some who don’t. There was a girl who lived across the street from us about 3 years ago and she got real sick. Lorie and I went over to her house and told her about how we came to the Lord. We told her about the coffee house and about Roger and about the concert. We told her how we committed our lives to Christ. And we told her that she too could be saved and that no matter what happened she would be with the Lord. She prayed right then and there. We wanted her to read the bible first but she said she understood and wanted to get saved. Before Marguerite died she became a strong believer and she devoured the word of God. She said that this was what she had been searching for her whole life. I knew exactly what she meant.