Photo by Jeff Rogers
My father passed away when I was four years old, leaving my mother who didn’t have a job or even a driver’s license. She remarried and I had a great relationship with my stepfather. He was such a humble and serving man. He taught me how to really serve people. My mother’s family was of the Old Regular Baptist faith. Her father was a deacon. My mother wasn’t a Christian but she attended church. As a child, I didn’t understand what was being said in church, and when they prayed, I slipped out to play in the creek.
I met my wife when I was in kindergarten. We married after I graduated from college with a degree in civil engineering and mining engineering. Early in our marriage, my wife was a Christian but I wasn’t. She tried to get me to go to church and I went occasionally, but I wasn’t committed. Each morning on my way to work I dropped off my two aunts to work at the Five and Dime. One morning, my Aunt Silvy said, “We are having a revival at church and you are coming.” April 15, 1986, I attended the revival with my wife. As the evangelist preached, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to follow Christ. I was baptized the next night. My mother was present. She had never made a profession of faith and she wasn’t happy with me.
I started actively serving at the church, first teaching the fifth-grade Sunday school, then sixth, then seventh and eighth grade classes. Our youth classes exploded. We had a fantastic time with the kids.
About a year after I became a Christian, I lost my job. We had just purchased our first home. We signed the mortgage on our new home on a Friday and that Monday I got laid off. I told my wife, “God will provide. I know He will.” Two days later, on Wednesday morning, I got a phone call out of the blue from a guy who used to be my former basketball coach. “I just lost my engineer. I need a new engineer. Do you know where I can find one?” I said, “I think I do!” I started the new job the following Monday. We were faithful in our service and God continued to provide.
Eventually the coal company I worked for was bought out by another large coal company and they only kept two people. I was one of the two.
I was very grateful to keep my job. About a year later, the chief engineer at the coal mine left and they asked me to do this job. I worked every Saturday for a year. I finally took a Saturday off to get my wife something for Christmas and my boss called and said, “Where are you?! I need to talk to you. The VP of operations is leaving and I want you to take on that role.” I agreed and did both for about a year, serving as both chief engineer and head of operations, requiring 10 to 12 hours every day. I was still teaching the youth and serving as a deacon at church. My excessive work schedule was really hard on my wife and particularly for my oldest child who was around seven at the time. My wife was busy with our two youngest who were babies, and I was always working. I came home every night overwhelmed and exhausted but not to the extent my wife was. She is a great mother and wonderful wife, always being there for our children while I was away. I am a very fortunate and blessed man!
The president of the company was a very hard boss. He was hard on me. But he taught me a lot. He called himself a sinner man, but there was still an influence of God at our company. He cared about the men and their families and understood the importance of a good job to support their families. In 2001, my boss retired and I was asked to become president of the company. I went from being responsible for a couple of people to 348 people. Two years later, the coal business tanked and our parent company claimed bankruptcy. The market was so bad that we couldn’t sell the coal. A new CEO reorganized the company and took the company public, which gave us the funds to help us out of bankruptcy. After the reorganization, I was asked to take over a second location for the company and then was responsible for a little over 800 employees. In 2013, the market declined again and the company filed bankruptcy and split up, but I was allowed to stay on by the new company that acquired our company. All employees were laid off except about 40 people, but within a few months we were able to hire people back. Then in 2016, we were unable to stay open. I had to tell the men that I couldn’t give them any hope of a future at the company. That was the hardest day of my life.
I received six month’s pay from the company, and after that a different company put me on retainer as a consultant, and when they no longer needed me, a friend provided some work which provided health insurance. I have continued to ask the Lord what He would like me to do in this new season of my life, and while I sometimes find it hard to wait for the answer, I have experienced joy in the unknown. I am at peace and know that God’s got it. I am just open to wherever and whatever the Lord leads me to. In the meantime, God is allowing me some down time, and I have been able to spend time with my wife (we are going on 36 years of marriage), our three sons, and grandchildren. God has blessed me beyond measure, and I am so grateful.
I recently started teaching a young adult class at church. I encourage them to get out and take what they have learned and apply it out of the church walls. I tell new Christians, “God has a calling on your life, but you have to keep seeking and you will find what God wants you to do. Wherever you are, you can have an impact. You just have to love people.”
Several years ago, my stepdad passed away. At his funeral, my mother made a decision to follow Christ. She was 64 years old. I had been praying for her since 1986. I prayed for her every day that God would touch her life. Never give up praying for someone you care about. Never give up.
I also prayed for my boss (who called himself “sinner man”) and many of the men who worked at the coal company. I prayed that the Lord would touch their lives too. I would tell the men, “We have this in common: we are put on this earth by our heavenly Father to love each other and help each other and take care of our families.” Many men came to know Christ during their time at the mine. And then one day, I got a call from a friend who said my old boss had accepted the Lord. I saw him later and hugged him, “I’m so happy for you.” He said, “I guess you heard. You were right. It does make a difference in your life.” I told him, “I’m a sinner man too. But the Lord takes our sins and they are covered and forgiven.” I told him that I had prayed for him for years. Never give up praying for someone you care about. Never give up.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.