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Life in the Fast Lane

It was still dark outside at 6:00 a.m. on October 30, 1990, when a large number of men armed with M-16 rifles quietly and cautiously surrounded my house. I was awakened suddenly by a loud, and repeated smashing sound. I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see what was going on. As I opened the curtains, I saw that there were cops everywhere, and a number of them had their weapons pointed at me. They shouted, “Freeze; keep your hands in the air; this is the Police!” This was the beginning of a series of events that would literally change my life from that of a bike gang member and criminal to that of a Christian.

I was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, in 1953. My father went to Ohio to seek work and eventually moved the family to Lucas County, outside of Toledo. My dad worked very hard, and mom cared for things at home. We went to church every week, but I do not recall ever being told that salvation came by way of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When I was sixteen, I was glad to get my driver's license and break out of the country to see the “bright lights” of the city. That's when the rebellion in my life really began to show. I argued frequently with my dad about things like hair length and my lack of motivation to work a regular job. I soon started drinking for the “buzz” that took away the cares of the world. I was a very irresponsible teenager.

I joined the U.S. Army in 1971 in an attempt to be free, and to prove myself to my dad. I became a weapons specialist like he was in World War II and then I went to airborne school, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes to prove I was tough. I partied, though, hanging out with the “cool” crowd, drinking and smoking pot, thinking I was having a good time. I am happy to be able to say I received an Honorable Discharge in August of 1974. I traveled around the country for the next six months, enjoying not having anyone telling me what to do.

I returned home to Ohio after that, and in February of ‘75, one of my greatest dreams came true. I became the proud owner of my first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I quickly became obsessed with learning about Harleys. Early one morning in April, after drinking for several hours, I left a bar stone cold drunk and headed home. I was going about 85 mph when I hit something in the road and laid the bike down, totaling it, but receiving no serious injuries myself. The local Harley dealer allowed me to use his shop to repair my bike. I learned to “wrench” by rebuilding it, and eventually earned a reputation as a custom builder.

When not at the shop, I hung out with other bikers. We drank, fist-fought, and rode our Harleys. In October of 1975, after much persuasion from a good friend, I joined my first motorcycle club. It was a small, local club, based on bikin' and brotherhood. In the spring of 1978, I met some members of a national club in Daytona Beach, Florida. After hanging out with them for well over a year, and proving I was “rotten” enough, I was accepted as a member. I became the charter president of their Toledo chapter.

There were dark sides to the lifestyle of a bike club member, including many funerals. The death of one of my best friends is a prime example. Very early one winter morning, a club brother and I left a bar in my Camaro with a couple of girls who needed a ride home. Our newest member, Ralph, was following on his Harley. When I stopped at a traffic light to let the girls out of the car, Ralph roared past us, heading on toward the clubhouse. We lost sight of him as he entered the alley behind it. Rounding the corner, I saw he had gone down. Ralph was unconscious, lying in the middle of the alley. Rushing to his side and realizing that he wasn't breathing, I attempted to straighten him out in order to do C.P.R. When I removed my arm from underneath him, it was glistening in the dim light of the street lamp, covered with his blood. Ralph had been gunned down by what turned out to be a rival gang member. I realized I would have been the first one into the alley had I not stopped at the light. As chapter boss, I was the target. I'm the one that should have been killed that night.

After nine years of riding in clubs, I became a national officer. I was in my mid-thirties and was at the point where I had anything I ever wanted: power, gold, guns, plenty of money, and three beautiful custom Harley Davidson motorcycles. I even had a vintage Corvette. By 1990, I was also very dissatisfied with my life, but had no clue what to do about it. To evade this reality, I drank and got high more than ever. It was a lifestyle in which few grew old anyway, and many of my closest friends had been killed or were serving time. Whiskey and cocaine became my friends. We used to called cocaine “the devil's dandruff.” How true it was.

Then on that October morning in Dayton, Ohio, as I stood at my bedroom window with my hands in the air, I realized that the sound that had awakened me was that of a battering ram removing my front door from its' hinges. Police officers from the FBI, ATF, and the DEA rushed into my house wearing helmets, body armor, and carrying M-16 rifles. They ran up my stairs crouching behind bulletproof shields. They handcuffed me and led me downstairs while other officers tore my house apart. They found guns everywhere, including a sub-machine gun. They also found a bag containing about five ounces of cocaine. I was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute, and possession of firearms, including an automatic weapon, to facilitate the distribution of the illegal controlled substance. I was held without bond and originally facing thirty years for the machine gun, five for the other guns, and two years for the dope.

One day in my cell, I observed another man from a similar background, reading a Bible. He invited me to attend a church service with him, so I went. It was being conducted by a preacher from Charity Baptist Church in Beavercreek. During this service he preached about a place called Hell. I was reminded that morning that Hell was a real place of torment, and that I was headed there without Jesus Christ. Essentially, he was telling me I had much bigger problems than going to prison! I didn't like the message, but I'm glad that preacher had the guts to tell me the truth. As a street-wise hustler and con artist in my own right, I was not about to be flimflammed by some religious guy, but his sincerity caused me to return to another service a week later. That preacher gave me a Bible and as I read, it confirmed what he had told me. I had bigger problems than thirty-seven years in prison.

In my cell, I longed for peace in my soul and continued to read the Bible. I was reading it one morning and had a small radio playing when the time and date came over the air: 5:00 a.m., November 30, 1990. Tears filled my eyes as I realized it had been ten years to the day since Ralph had been gunned down in that alley. My influence had caused him to leave his job and his family to join the motorcycle club. He was dead and, according to the Bible, in Hell because he had followed me. That morning I surrendered my sin to the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked Him to come into my heart and take control of my life. He saved my soul that morning and I have never regretted it. Jesus Christ gave me the peace I had longed for so badly. I was still in jail without bond and still going to prison, but as of that moment, I was a free man. I was free from the bondage of sin that had held me tightly for so many years. With more peace than I had ever had in my life, I wrote a letter to my parents telling them of my conversion. The preacher, Tom Gresham, from Charity Baptist Church, came to visit with me regularly after that. He gave me verses to read and set up a study program to help me learn the Bible.

Not many days later, my attorney presented me with a plea bargain. The U.S. Attorney was willing to drop the automatic weapon charge if I would plead guilty to the other gun and drug charges. That would bring my max down to seven years in federal prison, instead of thirty-seven. I took that deal, to be sure. The following week I was granted an unprecedented third bond hearing. My attorney told me that I didn't have a chance, but somehow I believed I did. Mr. Gresham had told me people of his church were praying for me, and though I did not fully comprehend that, I knew something was different now. Against all odds, a federal judge granted me a bond on December 21, 1990. Federal Marshals told my attorney that I was the first person in the history of that Federal territory to make bond after being “no-bonded” twice for drug and weapons charges. I give all the glory to the Lord. I went to church the following Sunday to thank those strangers for praying for me, and I was received with such kindness and love that I kept going back. A week later, I was baptized as a public declaration of my faith.

When my sentence date finally arrived eleven months later, I was prepared to be sent away to a federal penitentiary for seven years. I was thankful for everything the Lord had done for me. He had given me a new family in Christ, and most important of all, He had saved my soul from ever having to worry about going to Hell. In U.S. District Court, before the Honorable Walter H. Rice, with approximately seventy members of Charity Baptist Church present, I stood to answer for my past life. I was a new man in Christ, but the old man's deeds still had to be answered for. Judge Rice stated that he had received almost one hundred letters on my behalf and that I had the most exemplary pre-sentence investigation report he had seen in twenty-two years on the bench. Judge Rice stated, “You do not look like the same man that appeared in front of me one year ago.” Then he asked me to explain for the record what had happened to me “on the inside” to account for that change. That gave me the opportunity to testify of my salvation by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” After acknowledging that the change in my life was so extraordinary and substantially atypical that the people who dealt with and drafted the Congressional sentencing guidelines could not have possibly contemplated it, Judge Rice separated my two charges. He sentenced me to five years probation on the drug charge, which included six months' house arrest and 1000 hours of community service, to wit, telling others how I got off dope, off liquor, and out of the gang lifestyle. Judge Rice essentially sentenced me to tell others about Jesus Christ. “The gun charge,” Judge Rice said, “would possibly be dealt with at a later time.” This type of sentencing procedure had never been seen before in the United States 6th District. Again, all the glory belongs to the Lord.

I am thankful for all who prayed for me, and I thank the Lord for giving me a second chance. Most people in the life I chose died in their sin without salvation. I was extremely blessed that someone came and brought me the Gospel of Christ. I learned that, “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that famous verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God sent his Son to die so that I might live. In Romans chapter 10, I read, “That if thou shall 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” Verse 13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I called upon the Lord with an honest heart and He saved me! Do not risk waiting as I did. I had no guarantee that I would live long enough to repent. Neither do you. If you are not saved, please accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You will never regret it.

David Charles Spurgeon

 

The Bible says “Boast not thyself of to morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth”

Since you don't have the promise of tomorrow, ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save your soul today. Trust him and pray something like this: “Lord Jesus, I admit I am a sinner, deserving of hell. I believe you died on the cross for me, Lord. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and give me eternal life.”