1978 was a crucial year in our lives and in our marriage. Kathy’s father committed suicide in May 1978. She had a rough time for a couple weeks in California when she attended the funeral and related to her brothers and mother. It seems we are always good at getting family photos taken when we gather together for funerals. We don’t get them very often otherwise, but we have them for funerals. And then of course, there’s always someone missing.

When she got back, I decided I didn’t want to be married any longer and in July I moved out of the house. That left her pretty much abandoned by all the men in her life. I remember that I was worried about her and I called her mother, Jean, in California and told her. Kathy drove all the way to California to pick her up and bring her back to Michigan to stay with her. I felt she needed someone for support and I couldn’t think of anyone else who would be able to do it. While they were gone, they took the boys too, Dad took a bus from Omaha to Detroit to visit with me and to confront me on what I was doing. That was a very strange four days or so with Dad. We stayed together in the house on Elm Street and drank beer and argued a lot.  I think he knew he was dying at that time. By January he was in the hospital and passed away in March of 1979.  He told me what a mistake I would be making. I didn’t listen to him at that time of course, because I knew what I wanted. When Kathy came home with her mother, I moved back into the Single housing units on base at Selfridge Air Force Base, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. After a couple weeks I found a basement apartment in St. Clair Shores. It was dingy and lonely and I couldn’t do anything but sleep there.

I was running around a lot and drinking and staying out late and all that, but finding it more and more meaningless.  Kathy was really struggling with it all and looking for some kind of help.  We went to counseling once, but that left her even more depressed. Her mother asked her if she’d try reading her bible. She picked up her old white KJV bible that we’d carried with us from California to South Carolina to Corpus Christi, to Pearl Harbor, to Omaha, and finally to Detroit, and started to read. But all she could do was cry and pray. Her and Jean began looking for a church and visited several in the Metro Detroit area but found a home at Martin Road Gospel Chapel. One of the Elders there, Arnold Jonker, counseled her regarding God’s view of divorce and she re-dedicated herself to the Lord.

One evening when I stopped by the house to see the boys she told me about her new faith and said that God hates divorce. We had not talked much about God in our relationship, so I just got mad and left. As I was walking across the yard to my car, Chuck & JD, came running along with several friends from the neighborhood. Chuck started shouting “Daddy, Daddy!” When he got right up close to me he turned to all the kids and said “My daddy can’t be with me anymore because he has to work two jobs.” I have no idea where he got that idea, but it broke my heart to hear him say that. I drove away and stayed drunk for about a week. I began to think about what my Dad had said, I began to appraise the wasted life I was living, I started thinking about the boys and I felt terribly convicted for wanting to live my life completely for myself regardless of its impact on others. As I look back on the event, it was God’s spirit convicting me of my sinful life and my need to get right with him. But I wasn’t interested in that. Even when I moved back home I wasn’t interested in God. I made it clear that Kathy wasn’t to invite me to church or to try and read the bible to me or anything like that. We lived like that for several months.

One night Kathy had invited two of the Elders to come to our house for a visit. I knew something was up when they got everything cleaned up and I tried to stay away, but there was no where to go. I came home and found Bill Newhouse and Arnold Jonker sitting in my living room. They shared the gospel with me in a friendly way but I explained that I didn’t need any religion. But they left with my agreeing to read the Gospel of John. I kept my promise and read it and then the rest of the New Testament.  Kathy also got me to take the boys and pick them up from VBS that fall and while I was there, Arnold convinced me to sit in the church with the kids to help keep order. I heard little VBS children’s stories which were exactly what I needed to hear. I was convicted of my need for a Savior and on November 12, 1978 I prayed with Arnold and Bill and an itinerant preacher (Murdy Getty) to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior at Martin Road Gospel chapel. Ever since that time, Kathy and I have focused our attention on serving the Lord in various capacities. Our marriage started over, rooted in a common spiritual foundation of our commitment to Christ. We fell in love all over again with the right perspective and began our new life together as a family and as children of God.

The good folks at Martin Road helped us a lot and we’ll never forget them! We’ve departed from some of the practices of that group, but will always be grateful for their involvement in our lives at the time we needed it most. We got involved in ministry and service at MRGC, but I’ll write a little about that in the “Ministry” section of my biography.