I was born 1961 in Walkertown, North Carolina to a good, church-going family. However, the church we attended was a dead, liberal church. It was merely a social event. I hardly remember anyone ever speaking to me about my soul or the things of God in a meaningful way.
The ministers ridiculed the Bible and those who believed it. I only remember one time seeing someone carrying a Bible with them to church. It turned out they were a first time visitor. Our youth minister was known to have underage kids at her house for parties with alcohol present. So in my teen years I was introduced to drugs and drink largely through contact with the church youth group.
Spiritual Journey Begins
I don't recall having much of a serious thought at all about God until one day when I was about 12. I was selling magazines for my Jr. High when I knocked on a lady's door who gave me a tract called "This was Your Life". It told the story of a man who died and went to hell. As I read it, the thought struck me that I too would die some day. I began to think on the fact that I must spend forever somewhere. I didn't get saved that day, but something definitely changed in my life. A sense of the fear of God came over me. Conviction of my sin had begun in a way that from that point on I could not completely escape.
For a while, I tried listening in church but found nothing that could help me there. I turned instead to the party scene. By high school I was using and selling drugs. I lived for the weekend and the next party. Yet, the whole time conviction of sin was growing. When I would use drugs or drink, I would go into "panic attacks" thinking I was dying. One day I woke up screaming and trembling in a state of sheer terror. I was so covered with sweat I looked as if I had just stepped out of the shower with my clothes on. I had dreamed that Jesus came back and I was unprepared.
I graduated high school in 1979 and went to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I nearly failed the first year due to excessive drinking. A 1.50 gpa at the end of the freshman year was required to return next year. I finished with a 1.51. At college it seemed everywhere I went I ran into Christians. If I was drunk enough, I was not afraid to talk to them.
One day as I was passing through the Student Union Building, a man from the Gideon's gave me a little green New Testament. That started a habit of reading the Bible each day which God used to enlighten by soul. I would often come in so drunk I could not walk, but would still read something from my Bible before falling in bed. I read over the plan of salvation in the back of that Bible many times.
A lot of Christians began to pray for me during my sophomore year. However, there were two young men on my floor in the dorm who were God's key instruments in reaching me. Mike Davis and Rich Gill befriended me during the course of the school year and often came to my room and confronted me with the Gospel. When I was headed out to the bars I would see them going to a Bible study with their nice clean girlfriends.
My heart began to long for what they had. Mike took me a meeting of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship with him. The speaker that night had to cancel so they had a testimony meeting instead. It was the first time in my life I was in a meeting with true believers. I had never heard people talk about God in an open and personal way before. It created an ever deepening since of conviction of sin. Soon Mike took me to his church, a newly formed Christian Missionary Alliance church in Boone, NC. I remember sitting on the back row as the songs were sung and gripping the seat in front of me wanting to cry and run out the door.
My misery continued to deepen as I tried to live both worlds, going with Mike to church on Sunday but to the bars with my buddies on Friday. The last time I ever drank I remember being on a dance floor as a song blared "I'm on the Highway to hell, don't stop me." I thought "I don't want to be on the highway to hell!" I gave up the party scene that night and never went back. I began to get more "religious," yet all the time knowing I had not been born again.
I began to listen to Christian radio and learn more about the Christian life. After the school year ended, one day got enough courage to go to a Christian bookstore in Winston-Salem. After making sure no one saw me, I slipped in and bought a new Thompson Chain Reference Bible and a study book on the Gospel of John.
The New Birth
On May 23, 1981, I sat outside under the stars reading my new Bible. Miserable with trying to live both worlds, I went into my room and fell on my bed and began to pray. I said "God I don't want to quit praying until I know I am a Christian" I remembered a verse that said "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." I began to call out the Name "Jesus" over and over again. At about 2:30 am God saved my sin-sickened soul! Something happened in my heart at that moment that made me know His presence and blessing as real as if I had seen Him with my own physical eyes. It was the happiest moment of my life.
I was so happy that I had to tell someone right away. I was alone at home so I called the all night Christian radio station, WWMO in Reidsville, NC. I still have a tape of the announcer saying that he just had a most unusual call. He couldn't hardly understand the caller because he was so excited. He had just gotten saved. I am still blessed when I play that tape made just moments after I met the Lord.
When I went back to the state university for summer school I knew I needed to get away from that environment so I planned to go to a Christian school in the fall for at least a semester. I was working at a campus information desk just a few weeks after I got saved when a man approached the desk and said "Are you a Christian?" I told him how I had just met the Lord and was praying about going to a Christian college in the fall. He told me about a place called Hobe Sound Bible College in south Florida.
They had very high standards and strict rules. Some of them seemed really strange to me, but I reasoned that if these people were willing to come under this type of discipline there must be something to them. So I applied and was accepted. I spent the fall of 1981 getting grounded in my faith before returning to the university in Spring of 1982.
Back at Appalachian I joined Campus Crusade for Christ and became active in the witnessing and trying to win my old friends to the Lord. One of them began serving God in full time ministry around 1988. I switched my major from business to public speaking- secondary education so I could learn to speak publicly for the Lord. Before I got saved the thought of speaking to any size crowd terrified me. Today that is what I love to do more than anything and each day I speak to thousands of people though our radio program.
Beginning of the Seminar Ministry
I finished my BS in Public Speaking at Appalachian State and returned to Hobe Sound and finished a Bible degree there. During the spring of 1984 the pastor of the campus church, Bob French (now one of our board members), asked me to lead a Bible study in the parsonage for about 12 people one evening.
God had been speaking to me about the amount of time people waste. One of the motivating factors in my coming to Christ had been an increasing realization of the brevity of life and how there is so little time in this world to prepare for eternity. It was something that began to burn as a passion within me.
I put together a study that evening on "Redeeming the Time". A few days later I received an encouraging report of how God used the message in a fellow student's life. I began reading books on time management and studying Scripture on the topic. When I had another opportunity to speak, I did the same material over again. During the next few years I began to share it whenever I could and it always seemed God blessed it.
After graduation, I taught public school in Florida and worked for the church at Hobe Sound. I was fired from my job as a public school teacher after my first year for speaking to my students about the Lord. I then went to Liberty University for my Master's degree continuing to share the message on redeeming the time whenever I could. I focused my Master's work on counseling Christians to wisely use their time. By 1987 when I finished at Liberty there were several opportunities for me to share so it seemed wise to form an organization under which to minister. That's when we started the ministry known today as LifeChanging Seminars.
For the next four years I worked as a prison chaplain for the Florida Dept. Of Corrections at a maximum security prison near Hobe Sound. This gave me an opportunity to meet many ministers who invited me to share the message in their churches. I also developed it into a college course which I taught in the Bible College and, with some modification, in the local community college.
About that time, I also met a young lady from Indiana who came to the prison with the Bible college group. Her name was Carrie Archibald. We had two wonderful years of courtship before marrying in 1991. The following year God called us to Czechoslovakia as missionaries for a year. One of the greatest privileges of my life was to share the message in that part of the world with hungry hearts newly liberated from communism.
Upon returning from the mission field, I worked several jobs such as adult education, teaching Public Speaking for a Bible college, and teaching in a Christian school. Meanwhile, opportunities to share the seminar increased.
In 1998, I left my last part time teaching position to go full time in the ministry of helping God's people understand the importance of "Redeeming the Time". Since that time, God has opened many doors which I could never have forced open myself to allow me to share the message on a wider scale than I would have thought possible at the beginning. God keeps me busy with many seminars each year. I enjoy what I do today and see good results continuing to come from the messages.
I have been encouraged by the positive feedback to our new radio program, "Redeeming the Time". The more I travel, the more I enjoy home! The development of the radio ministry makes a lot of sense to me. It is something I could do from home which allows me to reach many more people for much less money. Please pray for this venture that God would bless and direct us in it.
God has been very good to me these last 30+ years of serving Him. He has not only given me an exciting ministry to pursue, but a wonderful wife and twelve little blessings; Sunshine, Summer, Joshua, Joy, Ricky Jr., Royal, Caleb, Christian, Precious, Paul, Jubilee and Jewel. I sometimes wonder where I would be today if it had not been for that lady who gave me the Gospel tract as a 12 year old boy. What if those two soul winners had not cared for my soul as a lost, drunk college student? It makes me want to be a soul winner, so that years from now someone will be able to point back to me and say "That person was the one God used in my life". God help us to be soul winners and to redeem the time!