When I was very young, until I was seven years old, my parents took me to church. After that, I would occasionally go with some neighbors. When I was about 18 or 19 years of age, I was starting to wonder what religion was all about. At the same time, my girlfriend was urging me to get to know God. This drove me back to the church that I had grown up in. I attended several Sundays to hear what the pastor had to say.
“Usually armed and dangerous” was the typical warning from the dispatcher to my arresting officer. It was probably true, too. I almost always carried loaded handguns on me, sometimes even toting a machine-gun under my coat. I needed the protection in the underworld as I was involved in transporting high volumes of drugs between suppliers and dealers.
Six months before Pearl Harbor was bombed, I was born to the Woodring family in the Pennsylvania borough of Catasauqua. I lived there on Race Street until I graduated from high school and headed into the military around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1959. After I was discharged in 1963, I worked a job for several years before taking over my father-in-law’s grocery store and meat market in Emmaus in 1973.
When I was about 15 or so, I began to wonder and inquire about what the Bible really had to say. As a child I had attended Sunday school at the Hereford Mennonite Church. And, as a young teen, I went through their catechism classes. But I didn’t feel like I was learning what the Bible really had to say, so I began my search for the “truth.”
My name is Doug Wilkinson, and this is my story. I was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, and for the first 18 years attended one of the larger, liberal Protestant churches in Allentown. I was baptized as a baby, confirmed as a young adult, and attended Sunday School and church most Sundays. In my late teens, the “God-is-dead” theology was beginning to be propagated.
If you had known me a few years ago, when I was a wild, drunk, popular entertainer in various bars, and then knew me now, you would insist you had met two different men. That is the difference that Christ can make in one’s life. My story demonstrates the great mercy and love of God to reach into the depths of hell to save a wretch as undeserving as I. Christ had to break my hard heart with the gospel. My name is Dale Stengele, and this is my story.
For over twenty years, I lived in denial. I claimed to be a Christian for most of my life, but my desire to do good would never last long. I would be stirred to obey the Bible, but after a time the zeal would go away. I would be back to doing the things which brought me great shame and heartache. My name is Becky Simmons, and this is my story.
My name is Pam Schlaner, and this is my story. My two sisters and I were raised by parents who wanted to give their children everything they did not have. The were both born in the depression years and grew up very poor. My dad succeeded in his goal, and we had a very good life, materially speaking. Along with that good life, though, was a selfishness and self-indulgence that almost destroyed my life.