I happened to be on a drunk binge one day in August of 1991, and I said
it was about time for me to stop drinking. I was walking around that corner
right there: 33rd, 34th. And on my way around this corner I ran into Pastor
Barnes. We had a nice discussion for about thirty, forty minutes. He asked
me, did I know the Lord? And if I was to die tonight, where would I spend
And I went to Highland hospital and joined the drug program. That Wednesday
I was right here in Bible class. Ive been a part and parcel of Abyssinian
I just recently came home from an unwanted vacationbecause I wasnt
really ready to take heed to what I was supposed to be taking heed to.
So God put me in a place where I didnt have nothing but time to
just revamp on everything that was taught to me by my pastor. And he hasnt
gave up on me yet. Regardless of what my problems may be, with whoever
they may be, hes there for me. Theres a lot of people he does
We kept in touch by phone, collect calls. He would send papers to me to
keep me updated on Bible study and stuff like that. It was like I was
away, but I was still here. Everybody knew of my situation. There was
nothing to hide. I did the wrong, and I did the time. Now Im back,
and by the grace of God Im still in the Word.
We have a bond. My pastor is like my beneficiary, so if something happens
to me they have to call him. Not call my sister, not call my brother,
but call my pastor. That's the person that knows everything about me.
There's nothing that I hide from him. I can't lie to him. It's not because
he's a clergyman. Why should I lie to him? He's helping me in every which
way. Keeping me straight. Regardless of what drugs, alcohol, you name
it, living, housing, whatever my problems was, if he could see some way
to assist me then he did so, out of the kindness of his heart, not because
of him being who he is.
I used to be a very violent person. I mean youre talking to a person
that used to be really, really, really bad. I mean in every sense of the
word. I used to be a bad motorscooter. You name it, I was into it. But
by the grace of God, Im still under His ministry. Its done
wonders for me. And his teachings let you know how to go about things,
instead of being angry and frustrated--to have joy and respect for yourself
and others. By the grace of God and that man up there, Ive changed.
Im not perfect. Im not Jesus. But I am working toward the
You want to go through my Thursdays? We start out from 9 oclock
in the morning, start cooking, put the mats out, start cooking, slicing
the bread, getting the tables and all the chairs set up. We play our music.
We got to have our gospel going just to keep your day afloat, just keeps
the spirit going. Ten minutes to twelve we pray, bless the food. From
12 to 2:00 we serve whoever comes in. Doesnt matter who you are,
what you are, or why you are. As long as you come to eat we have no problems
in feeding you. Weve been doing that for a long time now, eight
years. From there, after 2:00, we start cleaning up. By the time you leave
out of here its about 5 oclock. Then you got two hours before
its choir rehearsal. So from choir rehearsal all the way on up until
everybodys gone, then my day ends. Other than that, Im here
for the duration.
At one point I had a basic major, major problem. I didnt want nobody
to even think I had HIV. When I came across this virus. I felt like I
was being overcome. It took control of me and I didnt have any control
over it, like it was ruling me. I was just totally destroyed by this.
I was like a hermit. At one point I was 170 pounds, you know. I didnt
have no T-cells, didnt have anything. And this pastor is like: It
doesnt matter what your problem is, Im with you.
And hes been there ever since. He see to it that everything gets
taken care of. You got your meds, whatever you need, let me know, and
were going to keep you afloat. prayer changes things. I had to learn
that you got to pray just to make it today. When my wife died I went down
into a frenzy again. She died four years ago, cancer. By the grace of
God, he stuck with me. And by the grace of God Im healthy. Im
healthy as all outdoors.
I havent done no more time. Everything is falling in place, slowly
but surely. I ventured off, back and forth, but by the grace of God Im
still right here. Because for some reason or another God has something
He wants me to do, and He wants me to do it through this man. I cant
say what it is. I dont know yet. But I got the best pastor on this
side of heaven. I got the best church on this side of heaven. The people
are great. You couldnt ask for better people, thats understanding,
thats open to you. They dont knock you for being who you are
or what you are. They try to help you instead of hurt you. Now, thats
what I call love.