I was born on March 31st, 1935 in Fandon, II. We lived on a farm and were a very poor family. I went to country schools through the 8th grade. Then I went to high school in Macomb, IL. where there were about 400 students. This is where my trouble started, drinking, smoking, fighting, stealing. This also continued after high school. I was a sinful young man in every way.
At age 19, I contracted polio, and was paralyzed from the waist down for a year. That was such a terrible year that I began to drink even more. It got to the point where my mother told me to stop or I would have to leave home. So, I left home and ended up in Traverse City, Mi. where my uncle lived. My life of sin continued. One day, my mother wrote a letter telling me that she and my father and brother and sister had been saved. She told me how I needed to be saved, too. I attended some churches but no one seemed at all happy to see me. So, I stopped going. About 5 or 6 months after my mother wrote the letter, she and my brother came to Michigan to convince me to come home. The pastor came and witnessed to me, but I did not receive the Lord then. I had come home, but I was still going out with my worldly friends and drinking with them.
One Sunday morning, I went to Calvary Baptist Church in Macomb and it was wonderful. It was different than any church I had ever attended. I heard the Gospel and was so convicted that when the invitation was given, I wanted to go forward but did not. I loved my sinful life. The Lord was working in my heart as people were praying. I planned on going back to Michigan. I had a lot going on in this world and I loved things the way they were. My mother wanted me to wait until the pastor could talk to me again. I agreed and went to see the pastor in his office. He told me what I already knew, that I was a sinner. I had a bottle of liquor in my pocket and wondered if he knew. The pastor said, “Lon, God can and will save you if you will let him.” I was under conviction but I said I thought I was too sinful to be saved. He gave me this verse in John 6:37, “All that the father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” I said, “That’s me. I can be saved.” I asked Jesus to come into my heart and walked out a new creature in Christ Jesus. On November 14th, 1956, my life was turned around and I drank no more liquor. I poured it all out. A new life in Christ had begun.
I have this confidence because the Word says in John 5:24, “Verily, verily I say unto you he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life.”
I had a job at a filling station but was fired for handing out tracts and witnessing to people. When I called my pastor, he gave me a verse to claim which I did. The next morning, I got a call for a job with a factory. This was the first big answer to prayer since I was saved. I was able to witness to people at work. I went out almost every night to witness with 3 young men who were in the church. They were such a blessing and helped me grow.
I thank God that He called me to preach. I went to Tennessee Temple University and I was able to preach in jails and rescue missions. I felt so honored to serve. Between semesters at school, I was home for the summer and met my soon-to-be wife, Janice. After 2 years in TTU, Janice and I were married on June 19th, 1959. We then moved to Owatonna, MN. Then I attended Pillsbury Baptist College. After that, I served as a pastor in various churches. God had spoken to my heart that my calling was to be an evangelist. I was almost 50 years old when God allowed me to represent a mission board as a missionary evangelist. The Lord gave me these verses, Joel 3:14, “multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision…” Ezekiel 22:30, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in gap before me…” This was the assurance I needed. The Lord was calling me to serve as a missionary evangelist. There were many issues and trials to this great challenge due to our age and unstable financial situation. We did not have a home of our own, or a reliable car. In one of my meetings, a dear brother told me I needed a verse on which to rely. He gave me I Thess. 5:24 which says, “Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it.” God is and has been faithful. He has seen us through many trials and difficult situations in which only He could allow good things to prevail. One such situation was when we found I had cancer after coming home from a trip to Haiti. After unsuccessful surgery, I had many radiation treatments. Even through that, God allowed me to travel and represent Him. The cancer has been in remission for many years.
We began to live by faith and trust God for everything. He gave us a home, reliable cars, and money to pay our bills. Many Godly Christian friends have helped us along the way. It has been a wonderful, blessed life serving Christ. When I joined IGM, Dr. Dave Bovard was the director. He and I made several trips to other countries together. The director now is my friend, Dr. Gary Newhart. I thank God that on November 14th, 1956, God changed the course of my life, made me a child of God, and allowed Janice and I the privilege of serving Him.
Janice has been my faithful helpmeet through almost 58 years. We have seen many trials but also many blessings in serving our Lord.
In closing, I would like to say if you are reading this and are not sure you are saved, you can be! First, realize you are a sinner. Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Second, realize the penalty for your sin Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death. . .” Then realize that Jesus and He alone paid the price for your sins. Romans 5:6 ,8, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly, . . . But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ can and will save you if you are willing to repent and be sorry for your sin. Come to Him. Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
If God can pick up one like me, from a life of sin, then He can and will YOU!