A Walking Dead Man Raised To Life
I was raised in the United Pentecostal Church in Lumberton, North Carolina, which was started by Stanley Wilt in 1973. I started drinking when I was in third or fourth grade, but it was just a beer, nothing big. The occasional beers became a habit and around the age of twelve or thirteen I was drinking steadily. By the time Bro. Barnhill took the church in Lumberton in January,1980, I was already drinking with older men in town. At the age of fifteen I was already involved in drugs.
I quit going to church and starting doing anything for a high. I got kicked out of high school for drinking and at the age of eighteen I lost a close friend to alcohol. He was also eighteen and he died in my home.
I started receiving the “Spirit of Freedom” magazine and Bro. Barnhill continued to pray for me. I believe God had his hand on my life but I only fell deeper into drugs and alcohol. I was on cocaine, crystal meth, and any drug that I could find. I tried snorting, smoking, and injecting. I would take massive amounts of drugs, enough to kill two men my size, just to show off.
At the age of twenty-one, doctors told me I had the heart rate and blood pressure of a seventy year old man. They told my five or six times to stop drinking and using drugs because if I didn’t, I would be a dead man.
My drinking addiction had complete control of my life. I began and ended my day with alcohol. If I woke up in the middle of the night I would drink a beer. I rarely remember falling asleep at night because I would be in a “blackout.” I wouldn’t drink cokes or juice, mostly beer and liquor. I wouldn’t even buy a coke because that meant less money for beer. At work, if I didn’t drink a beer at lunch, I would drink water so I had more money for alcohol by the time I left. My addiction was so severe that I could function but I didn’t know what I was doing. I tried going to rehab but I was kicked out for drinking before they shipped me from the detox center.
I was married and had a daughter but the drug addictions and drinking habits didn’t stop. The marriage ended with drugs and alcohol, just like it started.
I have been stabbed in the chest and stabbed in the forearm with a butcher knife that went completely through my arm. The doctors said it was worse than a forty-four caliber gun shot wound. I was in a truck with friends that flipped end over end into the river and I was thrown out of the sunroof. I was involved in a shooting where a child was in the car I was shooting at. God saved the kid and me. I was also heavy into rock and roll and I would hang out with a few of the bands, one being Pure White Trash.
I have lost nine of my buddies, to drugs and alcohol. About seven or eight of my friends are in now in prison. One of my buddies went into a drug induced seizure a few years back. Another friend had a heart attack sitting in my truck. I have a friend that died from AIDS right after Christmas of last year and another friend of mine has the virus. God spared me from this. Last March, my friend and neighbor blew his head off. He had been drinking for about six to eight months straight. I just shook it off and kept on going. But God has always had my hand and I believe he put me on this path to show me His power.
I was married to my wife Lynn and we drank together for seven or eight years. It caused confusion but I couldn’t stop. I lost my business that would profit me a quarter of a million a year, over alcohol, but I didn’t care. I would pray to get clean, but I don’t know if I ever really meant it. I would even ask local preachers to pray for me to stop, only to leave and get more.
I am leaving a lot out because for the past thirty years, life has seemed like a blur. One night while I was drinking, God told me to call a friend from the UPC church in Lumberton. He wasn’t home so I gave Bro. Barnhill a call around one or two o’clock in the morning. He met me at the church and prayed for me. We talked for several hours. I knew prayer was already being sent up from several churches. I started going back to church with my wife but I was still drinking.
I was planning to go to the revival in Lumberton where Bro. David Smith was preaching. Naturally I came home drunk. My wife didn’t want me to go with her but I insisted. We both received the gift of the Holy Ghost that night and we were baptized the following Sunday. I tried rehab and everything else, but it was God and prayer that worked. My addictions just went away. God wiped them out. I don’t even have urges or thoughts about drinking or using drugs.
I know God has a plan for me. I told my sister a few years back that God is keeping my around for some reason. My sister, Sue, has heard my sad stories for years, but she never stopped praying and keeping the faith. All the car wrecks, fights, all the mean things I have done,
God just forgave me and washed it all away. I feel like a new man. I am a new man. I thank God for his mercy and grace.
Billy Bass - Lumberton, North Carolina