SBC Life Articles

Ted Stone

When Ted Stone stood in Salt Lake City to make a motion calling for the formation of a drug abuse task force, his words flowed like raindrops of pain.

His question confronted every listener, "If the Christian church does not lead in this effort, who then will lead?"

For over twenty-two years this tall, slender crusader with long, curly hair has addressed millions of listeners with frank revelations of his former involvement in the drug scene. "I have a story to tell you, " he begins. "Much of it is ugly. I share this true story with you because I don't want what happened to me to ever happen to you or to anyone whom you love."

Ted Stone grew up in a good, respectable North Carolina family. He made a public profession of faith in Jesus at age 10, accepted God's call to the ministry when a teenager, and attended Wake Forest University and Southeastern Seminary while pastoring a rural congregation.

But his overwhelming dream about becoming "somebody special" often conflicted with the "good little preacher boy" image envisioned by family and friends. He soon abandoned the ministry for the excitement of business and politics. Ted's rebellion led him to alcohol, but the unpleasantries outweighed the good feelings, and he soon chucked the bottle.

He reclaimed his church ties, serving as a deacon and Sunday school teacher. But this brief turnaround was soon derailed when a friend offered him amphetamines. The traveling salesman assured Ted that the stimulants would not hurt him. "They will give you a bushel of energy," he promised. "It's what you need to make a million bucks."

Ted's ambitious personality had always led him to do everything to the "max." Within fourteen months the young businessman was consuming fifteen capsules a day, and his personality had completely changed. There were numerous warning signals, even an overdose. But the "speed freak" assured himself, "I can quit anytime I get good and ready." But he never became "good and ready."

A newly acquired gun became the increasingly violent druggie's constant companion, and he found a new thrill in robbing stores. The "criminal monster" soon shot a storekeeper, who miraculously survived.

The former pastor was arrested. When he was released on bond into a still disbelieving community, he not only continued his "uppers" habit, but branched out to marijuana, barbiturates, LSD, and countless other alluring substances. In and out of psychiatric wards, his Duke University doctor described the addict as "psychotic, and dangerous to self and others."

He was finally sentenced to seven concurrent 15-25 year sentences. Ted came down off drugs "cold turkey" at Central Prison. After suffering through double pneumonia, he gradually accepted the responsibility for his misdeeds and began the long road back.

At Caledonia Prison Farm, the still shell-shocked convict faced two momentous decisions. The drug temptation was still present. Goodies were smuggled into the unit daily by enterprising convicts and state employees who were rotten apples. Ted finally decided to abandon forever the self-destructive habit. He so often reminds his listeners, "I used to be a drug addict, but no longer. I went through a period of recovery, but I am no longer recovering. I am recovered forever by the grace of God, and that same hope can belong to anyone with the problem."

But it was his reconciliation with God that truly righted the course of his life. While at the farm, Ted allowed the Lord to take charge of his life, and everything began to miraculously change. He became an active member of the prison church, and was asked to preach by the Episcopal chaplain.

When his inmate friend Eddie White accepted Jesus as Savior, he asked the chaplain to allow his buddy Ted to baptize him by immersion. With the chaplain's permission, Ted baptized the new convert in a wooden, coffin-like box, as nearly forty fellow convicts sang Amazing Grace.

Ted's family and friends remained loyal and supportive through the dark days, and he was released after four-and-one-half years behind the bars. That day he rushed to the downtown church where he once served as an associate minister and knelt alone, engulfed in his tears, and promised God, "I'll live for You, or, if You ask, I'll die for You. I turned my back on You, yet You never once turned Your back on this sinner. I owe You everything."

And this committed crusader has been true to his word. In 1996, and again in 1997, he walked across America to enlist others to join his mission. Since 1997 he has served as trustee at Southwestern Seminary.

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  • SBC Staff