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FIRST-PERSON: Redeeming a prodigal

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–After speaking in a church in North Carolina recently, we were invited to the pastor’s home for fellowship and a home-cooked meal.

It seemed as if the pastor’s wife had spent as much time preparing the afternoon meal as most preachers spend developing their sermons. Four other guests joined us at the table and we enjoyed one of the best meals that either of us can remember ever eating.

During the time of fellowship we were introduced to a young man whom the pastor said they had recently “adopted.” It was obvious that he was not speaking in the literal sense as the man was in his early 30s. As it turns out, the young man had accepted the Lord in November of last year and since that time has become a regular fixture at the pastor’s home, joining them daily for meals and fellowship.

This new Christian shared with us how Christ had come into his heart in a powerful way just a few months ago. He had been raised in a Christian home, attending church regularly as a child. But as he grew into adulthood he wandered away from the security of the body of Christ and into a world of drugs, violence and prison.

Vocationally, our new friend confided in us that he had been an agriculturalist, involved in the domestic cultivation and distribution of cannabis sativa, more popularly known as marijuana. He had been a drug dealer.

He said that for some time he had felt the Lord nudging him to return to church and to sanity. So, last November, after a hiatus from church for more than 10 years, he returned and recommitted his life to Christ. The young man said he knew that his decision would require a drastic career change. He would have to quit the lucrative trade of selling drugs and find work in a sagging economy with limited marketable skills. This did not sound very inviting, so he thought about it for a week.

During that week he said that his regular customers would call to restock their supply. During this time he told them, “Not right now, man. It’s not a good time.”

After a week of sleepless nights, our new friend finally decided to trust God and to remove the drugs completely from his life, even if that meant throwing away a large amount of money. So, he bundled up the 10 pounds of marijuana he had harvested with the intention of selling, and carried it out into a field nearby. “That’s where I burned it,” he said.

Marijuana usually sells for around $100 per ounce on the street. So, that was nearly $16,000 that went up in flames in that field.

When the church heard about the young man’s faith and willingness to commit all to God’s will, they immediately came to his aid. His new church family made sure this prodigal son would have all his needs met for his faithfulness to God. The church members helped him to find work to support himself without selling drugs, and they continued to love and encourage him to wellness. Just a few months after his decision, this young man is now involved in a landscaping and tree-trimming business.

He is doing quite well, thanks to the love of a little church in the hills of North Carolina.

Leaving the pastor’s home that day, we noticed a plaque that read, “We welcome strays.”
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores. On March 30, Stone will speak at Gospel Center Baptist Church in Supply, N.C., during the morning service and Town Creek Baptist Church in Leland, N.C., for the evening service. On April 6, Stone and Barber will be at First Baptist Church in Joshua, Texas, for both the morning and evening services. On April 9, Stone will speak at MacArthur Blvd Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, and from April 13-16 he will lead a revival at Montwood Baptist Church in Roxboro, N.C.

    About the Author

  • Ted G. Stone & Philip Barber