To help the readers to understand why I am so passionate about helping the Ukrainian people I believe it is necessary to tell you about my life. One of the many indictments people make against Jehovah is that “if God is love then why does He allow suffering?” One reason we suffer is because of the decisions of others and another reason we suffer is because of the decisions we make ourselves. But I believe God has allowed me to suffer so that I could have compassion for those who have been through what I have been. Suffering has allowed me to “walk a mile in other's shoes.” (Heb.2:18) Suffering has allowed me to graduate from the “school of Hard Knocks.” Suffering has allowed to completely understand the difference between “sympathy” and “empathy”. Let me explain.
I born and raised in Tennessee but now reside in Walton, Ky. I come from a broken home. After my sister, JoAnne died in 1974 and my parents divorced shortly thereafter. My father was a proud, bitter and vindictive man. JoAnne had come down with the Flu but because my father thought it was no big deal and he wanted to save a few dollars, he would not allow my mother to take her to the hospital. The Flu developed into rheumatic heart disease which eventually took her life while she was on the operating table. To punish my mother for leaving him which was because of his infidelities, he refused to pay child support. It’s always the children who suffer the most when parents divorce. Its amazing to me how what happens to us as a child stays with us for the rest of our lives. When I was about 11 or 12 years old I had a Johnny Cash “A Boy Named Sue” moment. My mom could not afford to buy me new shoes so she bought me some at a yard sale. I don’t think she realized it at the time but they were girls shoes. The neighborhood children made fun of my shoes as I walked to church and when I returned home I went to my room and cried. Kids can be so cruel. That is why it is important to me that I go to Ukraine to buy the orphans shoes.
My sister died in 1974, my mother died in 1984, my father in 1985, both at the age of 42, and my grandfather in 1986. I buried half my family by the time is was 18. Is it no wonder that I lived much of my life believing that I was pre-deposed to die at a young age? Could anyone fault me for not caring and living pretty much in apathy? Around 1986 I began drinking a lot and getting into trouble with the police. But let me state right now that I don’t blame my past troubles on the alcohol. I attribute my problems to a lack of character that wasn’t instilled in me by a loving and responsible father. I will never understand why a man will not support his children. But I am not bitter about this. I am now grateful he was not in my life because if he did not abandon us I could have turned out just like him. Poverty is an excellent teacher of how to handle money.
For much of my 20’s and 30’s I drifted through life, looking for answers but finding none. I joined the Marines in 1986 and left in 1991 after finding no answers there. I joined the Marines because I needed discipline in my life. I could not build proper character while in the Corps because what found there were other guys just like myself. Some peers are not very good role models! I then entered college. I only did it because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. In all honesty, I hated college. I entered in with the G.I. Bill and I was working part-time so it wasn’t the cost that kept me from continuing. I saw no point to college, for me at least and I still don’t. College is supposed to teach, broaden and enlighten the mind but I think that it fails in that respect. I realize now, and I believe that I am proof, that by experiencing life and studying God’s word could someone get this much needed higher (Godly) understanding.
I did stop drinking in 2005 though. If I told you how much I drank you would think I had a drinking problem. But quitting was not a hard decision for me. I guess you could say I was a responsible binge drinker. In over 20 years of drinking, I only missed one day of work because of it. I started drinking before my mother died so I can’t blame her death for my drinking. I started drinking because I saw other people do it and it looked like they were having fun. I continued to drink because it was fun. I stopped drinking because it stopped being fun. I didn’t like what it was doing to my body and I just got tired of the hang-overs. Also the risk of getting a D.U.I. or hitting or killing someone wasn’t worth the risk. I don’t miss it really. I actually can’t stand the smell of it to this day. Do you remember the first time you took a drink? Alcohol tastes horrible, but it gave us that buzz. That’s I think why most people continue to drink. One must really work hard to be a drunk.
Children do not get to pick their religion. I was dragged kicking and screaming to a Pentecostal church by my mother. I deplore the Pentecostals which my mother was apart of. They exist on half-truths, superstitions, and false doctrine. I became a skeptic of them when at about the age of 12, I witnessed a man die of a heart attack while at church. If these people believed in miracles by the laying on of hands then why didn’t they save him? But there is one thing I did take away from that experience was a fear of God. I wanted and needed peace. On January 1st 2006 I became a Christian.
I now have peace with God and want to serve Him. Hopefully, the Lord willing, I will get to live and work in Ukraine someday. It gives me great joy to serve the Lord, knowing that what I do there He approves of. Since 2007 I have returned there 9 times and have grown to love the Ukrainian people. We are very much alike, them and I. They have both been dealt a bad hand in life. Despite this, they carry themselves with dignity, toughness and resolve. But they need hope and that hope can only come from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that I can be the Lord’s instrument in bring that hope.