The End of Me
Hi, my name is Ron. And I believe that God has created me with the purpose of showing people the powerful love of God that has transformed me.
I grew up in a great home with Christian parents who got saved out of the Jesus movement. They were pretty radical. They were wild, to say the least. We went to a Methodist church when I was young, but they were spirit filled. And it was not uncommon for my mom to go running through the sanctuary with the praise flags. My mother had a prayer ministry. She also sang in a gospel trio and got to tour around and do a bunch of different events. My dad taught Sunday school and we seem like just the picture perfect family that had been restored. They had both been brought out of addiction and really abusive, horrible backgrounds. Really just had awesome parents.
When I was about 12 years old, though, I started to notice that things around my house were different. There was some tension there; there was a tension between mom and dad. They were spending more time in their room, there were less family meals, and after a few months of this, it finally hit its climax in my mom storming out of their bedroom and saying, “Pack your bags son, we’re leaving.” On our way out the door, my dad and her got into a tussle in the garage, he ends up pushing her, she falls on the ground breaks her arm, very dramatic. We were on the run from dad for a few days. We figure he’s at work. So we go check on our house to see if we could get some clothes or something. We drive up to my home that I grew up in and it’s been burned to the ground, just a pile of ashes. So at 12 years old, I go from living a pretty sheltered life – I went to a private Baptist school for the first few years of my education. – to things are really turned upside down.
I moved with my mom to the city. Just as radical as she was for Jesus, she’s now just as radical for the world. She’s bringing home a different guy every night, she’s going out to night clubs, she’s using the gifts that God gave her to sing in the club versus the church. And my dad, he’s not much better. I bounced back and forth between one home to the other trying to just find some sort of, some sort of normalcy. And what I find is that I’m starting to really enjoy this crazy, chaotic life. A lot of it seems appealing. I like smoking marijuana with my mom. I like not having to go to school all the time. It’s during this same time period that I started to just really question my sexuality.
My mother, God rest her soul, she put a lot of heavy stuff on me as a child from 12 going forward. I was her best friend. So I heard about all the things that dad had done and how he had failed. And I really think that some of that started to take root in my own heart, that I was actually starting to become afraid that I wouldn’t be man enough to be a husband to a wife. When I was about 15 years old, I went out on a boat with my sister and her boyfriend around two o’clock in the morning, after we’ve had several drinks, she looks at me and she says, “Ron, are you gay?” And I said, “You know what? I think I might be.” So I decided to go home and tell my father. It did not go over well. This was in the mid 90s. This was not okay. I told my dad he seemed very, very, very angry and very upset. I’ll never forget the words that he said to me. He said, “Ron, I just don’t want you to be rejected your whole life.” My mother was too much of a mess to really know what was going on. She didn’t have much to say about it.
After a few more years of her drinking, I actually would end up losing her to cirrhosis of the liver. At 19 years old, I lose my mom. On one hand, it was very painful and on the other hand, I kind of felt a sense of relief that I didn’t have to take care of her anymore. To run away from my pain, I ended up moving with some friends of mine to Indianapolis, Indiana where the drug in that scene was crystal meth. I started using it just on the weekends. I was working at a good job, but every weekend I was getting high. I was heavily involved in the nightclub scene, in the gay community, going out every night. After several years of this, just doing drugs on the weekend, it became too hard to recover between Monday and Friday. I just did meth all the time. It was easier to not have to go up and go down off of it. So it just became a way of life, but everyone else around me was doing it too. They all had jobs. It seemed like everything was okay.
I started DJing in nightclubs when I was about 23 years old and I got really good at it. So I started getting to go to different cities. When I would be in different cities, and I would run out of drugs, I would buy them from different places and realized, Wait a minute, where I live in Indiana, this stuff is really expensive. But where I grew up in Texas, it’s really cheap. So I borrowed about $10,000, and started a methamphetamine trafficking business. At first, again, I was only dealing with people that had jobs – doctors, lawyers, people that were, “put together.” But as time went on, I started to realize that the amount of drugs that I was flooding into this community were actually destroying lives. I started to see some of the darker sides of stuff. I started to get in some really, really rough situations.
When I was 27, I got arrested in Houston with a pound of methamphetamine. And to be honest, I thought I was gonna go to prison for the rest of my life. Up until this point, outside of a traffic ticket, I’d never even been in trouble. At 27 years old, in jail for the first time, it was a really rough situation. The people in there were a bunch of predators that really saw an easy target on my back. I ended up being sexually assaulted and robbed and manipulated, my commissary food taken, whatever you can think of, it happened. I ended up getting sentenced to five years in prison. I did three and a half of that. By the time I got out, I think I was more hard hearted than I had ever been. When I was released, and went to live with my dad, who had cancer and died nine months later. I’m already back on drugs by the time my father passes away. I’m just at a point where I just don’t really care. If I go back to prison, Oh, well.
To add to all of this, I started getting involved in crimes that 10 years before I would have never committed. I started taking people’s identity, stealing their information, stealing their money, taking it out of their bank accounts, getting loans in their names, doing whatever I could do just to try to feed myself some sort of identity. These poor choices sent me back to state jail two more times. I would do a year, get out for six months, do another year. And it was during that time that I was in there, that the enemy did his strongest work in my life. My third time in prison and I spent the entire year just planning how I was going to get out and take over the world. I was going to make a ton of money. I didn’t care how I got it. I was going to just stake my claim on what I thought the world owed me. I got out and I set out to do just that.
I ended up with more money, more credit, more cars, more clothes than I had ever had. Through these ill gotten gains I bought everything you could imagine. One day I realized that I had purchased everything I thought I wanted and I was still miserable. The emptiness that I experienced that day, I’ll never forget. For 30 years, I’ve been trying to get somewhere. I tried through selling drugs in my 20s, I’ve now tried multiple times through robbing people in my 30s. It’s this whole life. I mean, if I could just get there. And the Lord did allow me to get there. I got, I got, I got and there was nothing there. It was just so empty. When I came to the end of me, I found the very beginning of Him.
A few weeks later, a guy that I was living with, got into some trouble. He told the police about what I had been doing in hopes that he could get out of his own trouble. The police came to get me. They found me with a backpack on that had 60 plastic driver’s license with my picture and other people’s information. It’s a first degree felony offense. They had every bit of evidence that they needed to prosecute me to the fullest extent of the law. It was in that moment, sitting in the back of a police car, that I had my first adult experience with the Lord. I’ll never forget this. Sitting back there I remember looking out one side of the police car and the Lord showed me a vision of what my life had been. He showed me the darkness. He showed me the manipulation, the addiction, the disaster that my life had become, and the wake of disaster that was behind me. Out the other side of the police car, I saw a vision of me in a field with my arms open wide wearing a white shirt and I was in the very presence of the Lord. As I’m literally looking back and forth between one side of the car and the other, The Lord said to me, “Today I set before you life and death, choose life.” In that moment, I chose life, and I start yelling, “I’m free, I’m free.” Mind you, the police officers in the front seat of the police car, thought I was crazy. I’m surprised they didn’t take me to the psych hospital. But they didn’t. But I was free. I was more free in that moment than I had ever been in my entire life.
In that freedom, I got to walk out the next few years in prison. I wish I could tell you that that’s where my story ends, and that the miracle happened and I’m just whole and restored and everything’s great going forward. But there were a lot of things in my heart that just had not been healed, and they just hadn’t changed. When I finally got to the prison, where I would do most of my sentence, I settled in, found a boyfriend, and we went to church every Sunday together. We sat on the front row. I wish I could tell you that those in the church there, were just ready to accept us and love us and love us unconditionally, and treat us with kindness, but that just wasn’t my experience. I was insulted. I was yelled at and I was threatened. People did not want me there. I did not fit in with what they thought church was. But I knew that God had something there for me and I knew that God had more for me. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I knew that He had more for me. So I kept coming back.
My aunt sent me a book by Pastor Robert Morris called The God I Never Knew. Intrigued, I opened the book, and I stayed up all night reading it and reread it. I read some chapters two and three times. What I discovered was that there was a God that I didn’t know. About two weeks after that, I met a guard. She was doing count. She’s coming through with her clipboard, and she is just bubbling over with joy. She comes by my bunk and I stopped and I said, “Ma’am, excuse me, what are you so happy for?” She turned around and looked at me and she said, “It’s the joy of the Holy Spirit baby.” I found her a few weeks later, and I said, “Hey, I need your help. I read this book and I want you to pray that Jesus will baptize me in the Holy Spirit.” About three days later, she comes and kicks my locker at 4:30 in the morning, wakes me up and says, “I’m ready to pray for you son.” She prays that Jesus will baptize me in the Holy Spirit and immediately, I felt different. Immediately.
Two days later, they have a conference inside the prison. I’m supposed to go with the boyfriend. We meet there, we get into a disagreement in line waiting to go in, and he leaves and he goes back to his dorm and I go to this conference. During this conference, the main gentleman that spoke talked about sexual purity. And he talked about the blessing of the marriage bed, and God’s original design for sexuality and for marriage, and what for what God had – the blessing that was there. This was the first time in my life that I had ever been able to receive a message like that. Previously, whenever anyone would talk about that I would immediately, even in my heart, most of the time with my mouth too, would go into defense mode. But I realized that I wasn’t defending myself and so I really started to freak out there. I’m in this gymnasium walking back and forth during this conference and asking the Lord, “Lord, I don’t understand what’s going on. This doesn’t make any sense. I am the gay boy, that is who I am.”
We went into a time of really deep worship and during this time of worship, God spoke and led me to Genesis 3:11 “Who told you, you were naked?” It’s God talking to Adam and Eve, like right after the fall, like they now believe that they’re naked. And I rewrite it and God says, “Who told you you were gay?” It’s in this moment that I realize that God doesn’t call me that. He doesn’t see me that way. He didn’t design me that way. And all at the same time. He’s not angry at me for believing that, He’s brokenhearted. He wants me to live out of truth. Two weeks later, parole came and told me that it was time for me to go home. I end up going to a ministry that helps me get on my feet, into another ministry that further helps me get on my feet. And eventually I end up at Gateway Church, working as a part time janitor. Eventually, that leads to more leadership roles and more opportunity and more ministry calling.
Today I serve at Gateway Church on the group’s team. I’m a part of outreach, single parent, family ministry, and a whole bunch of other stuff. God has given me an incredible opportunity to steward what He has done in my heart and in my life. I’m not married yet, but I know God’s got that for me. I know that it’s on the horizon. He’s continuing to heal me, to help me be more and more free, and to help me know Him in a more deep and intimate way. And for that, I’m just super grateful.