Back Into the Shepherd's Fold

Buddy was raised in the church and chose to be baptized as a teenager after an evangelistic series. “I had a desire in my heart to do the right things,” he remembers, “but I was hanging out with the wrong crowd, and I ended up choosing the wrong path.” His life quickly turned to a life of crime—and he also began using alcohol and drugs.

Buddy became skilled at burglary and embezzlement by the age of 17. He was arrested twice before he got a job as a truck driver at a  company that fronted for a Mafia-controlled drug-trafficking operation. Fearless, he even stole from them without regard to the potential consequences. But God intervened to extract him from this environment; after a physical altercation with an influential man, the organization asked him to leave. “They don’t just let people go once they know the things I knew,” he says. “God really saved me.” A short time after Buddy left, the FBI raided the organization and shut it down.

At 23, he was arrested again and thrown in jail, but he ended up smuggling drugs and alcohol into the prison. “Jail didn’t set me straight,” he recalls. “If anything, it made me worse.” But even in jail, God didn’t take His hand off Buddy. There was an attempt on his life when he was in solitary confinement, but God stepped in again and saved Buddy from death.

Buddy’s rebellion continued even after getting out of jail. He continued to steal from his employers, drink, and use drugs, but he also added adultery and gambling to the list. He was twice married and divorced, with four kids to show for it, as a young man. “But my third marriage would prove to be the worst time in my life,” he says.

Supernatural Confrontations
His third wife “played around with the spiritual side,” according to Buddy. She believed in and tried communicating with the spirits of dead people.

About three months into their marriage, unnatural things began happening. They were living in Quincy, Illinois, at the time in a very old, four-storey home. Buddy noticed that doors would open unexplainably and knobs would turn when no one turned them. A horrid stench would fill the home for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and then disappear. Noises from upstairs, which Buddy thought were from a neighbor, became frightening when he learned that no one lived in the apartment above. One night, when he was woken from sleep, Buddy felt as if his body was on fire, yet the room was not burning.

Buddy became angry one night and challenged the demons, threatening them if they disturbed him again. But this just made them mad, he explains. That night, he saw a strange presence in his home. An old chandelier in his apartment began spinning rapidly for no discernable reason. Crystals from the chandelier flew off, embedding themselves in the wall. “I watched as this presence moved upstairs through the ceiling. It left a hole in the ceiling four feet by eight feet wide!” he remembers. As he and his wife fled the house in horror, they both heard two distinct childish voices laughing at them. “That thing was violent,” Buddy says. “God saved me once again that night.”

Buddy felt hopeless. His wife didn’t believe or respect anything Christian, even after the experience with the demons. Now with two more children, a loveless marriage, and an insurmountable addiction to drugs and alcohol, he tried focusing on his career and lived one day at a time.

A Seed Planted
Back in 1998, his mother had sent him a VHS tape of a sermon preached by Pastor Doug Batchelor. “I remember thinking, ‘I like him. I could listen to this man.’” Though Buddy eventually lost the tape and never found it again, he purposed in his heart to one day meet the pastor.

Buddy’s career working in management brought him to northern California, close to Pastor Doug’s church. Buddy eventually divorced his spiritualist wife, got married a fourth time in 2006, and was on a strong career path despite still struggling with drugs and alcohol.

Just four days after his wedding, though, he suffered a debilitating and career-ending back injury at work. The injury led to a forced leave of absence, and God brought many things together for him during that time. “I praise God for that injury,” Buddy says. “It changed everything. Without it, I would be lost.” A Sabbathkeeping coworker gave him a DVD series about the book of Revelation, and he and his wife watched them together. He chose to start eating better, and he read books about prophecy that stirred his spiritual life. Then he remembered the videotape of Pastor Doug from so many years ago and realized he was living close to his church.

On April 17, 2008, God saved Buddy one more time. “I was still struggling with drugs, but I knew I had to change. God told me it was time to choose. It was life or death. I chose life.” Buddy spent the entire next day praying, crying, reading his Bible, and wrestling with God.

A few weeks later, Buddy and his family went to visit Pastor Doug at Sacramento Central Church. They did meet, and another pastor there began a weekly visit and Bible study with the family. Buddy and his wife completed the Amazing Facts Study Guide series together and were both baptized that September, and his youngest daughter followed that December. In 2011, he has a growing relationship with five of his six children. “I’m praying about the sixth,” Buddy says. “God has reunited me with all the others. I’m just waiting for God’s perfect timing.”

Buddy has overcome all his addictions and his health is greatly improved. He ministers at his church and at a homeless ministry with the Salvation Army. He teaches a Bible study weekly and preaches several times a month. “God is so good,” says Buddy. “By God’s grace and through Amazing Facts, my family and I turned our lives around. God is so merciful to me and has blessed me so.”

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