By: Andrae L Walker, Minister
Three years ago I went through a life changing cross road in my life. I was getting divorced for the second time. Now you would think; how life changing could that be in the sense that I have been through it before. Well I am not sure what it was exactly. I mean, I caused a lot of the mess and the direction it was headed was primarily my fault. My anger and fussing and cussing. I brought a lot of this on myself. Let me back up some (lol). This will be quite a ride for the reader.
After my first divorce I was so angry with her and the court system that I basically ran from my responsibilities as a father. I blamed my kids’ mother for the reason why i couldn’t pay child support or the reason why i couldn’t see my kids. Now there may be some truth in it but the fact still remains that I used her sins to justify my own. I was a dead beat dad and I just didn’t see it. I had been arrested more times than I can remember during the course of our marriage and after. I prided myself that I never laid a hand on her because I wasn’t raised that way. Yet I still fussed at my wife and cussed at her and in front of the kids. I was volatile and didn’t even know it. I had gone to court ordered anger management classes. That helped for a little while but in the end that only showed that there was a deeper issue within….my heart. So anyway I am living in Cincinnati OH, at the time, hiding from the law. The apartment I am living in is in my girlfriend’s name. The car that I had was also in my girlfriend’s name. I tried to hide as much as possible from the law. I didn’t even want mail coming to the apartment for me. I was truly trying to be incognito from going back to Frankfort, KY. I blamed the city of Frankfort for all my woes — the fact that i met my then wife there. The fact that the law is always trying to put me in jail at every turn. As far as i was concerned, Frankfort was a trap and I needed to get away. And away meant going back to Cincinnati. Apparently the Lord had a different idea.
On two separate occasions I was extradited back to Frankfort KY. The first time after I got out I spent the entire time blaming my kids’ mother for even getting me there. Let me explain why that is real quick…..I had a slight moment of clarity and wanted to see my kids but I knew that my running from the law and my responsibilities was catching up with me. So I tried to reach out to my kids’ mother about sending a child support payment and that I was trying to set up regular payments through my job. I then made arrangements with her to see the kids up here in Cincinnati. Surprisingly she brought them to my place (yeah it gets better) and allowed the kids to stay with me and my girlfriend for the weekend. She stayed in a nearby hotel with her boyfriend at the time. Now what I didn’t know is that she had a plan to alert the authorities of my location and to serve the warrant I had on me. So after she came and got the kids we said our goodbyes and I am thinking how nice it was of her to let me see the kids and maybe just maybe things will be different and we can move forward even in this mess. Well, I was dead wrong there. Because it wasn’t even a full day later and the law came to the door. Now for a brief moment I am thinking that no one knows I am here except my girlfriend, sister (who had stayed with us temporarily) and my kids’ mother (BINGO). But that didn’t all fully click till after I opened the door. The officer asked me to step outside, which i did, and then he arrested me on the spot. I also noticed that his cruiser was parked way down the street so that I wouldn’t see it if i looked out the window.
So here I am eventually back in Frankfort, KY again. At this point I pretty much had given up on running and decided to plea to God with a deal of sorts. Yep everyone has done it at least once in their life. I tried to bargain with God. I told (asked) Him that if He let me out of this jail that I would stay in Frankfort and I would pay my child support. I would stay here and do the best I could to be more responsible. Surprisingly the next day I was told that I would be released. I meant what I said but that also meant that I needed a place to stay. Well, the Lord already had that set up because through a series of circumstances my parents ended up moving from Cincinnati to – yep you guessed right – Frankfort. Of all the places they could of moved to they ended up in the one place their child was having the most struggles in his life.
Living with my parents was great, humbling, and no picnic (lol). My dad made it clear that while in his house I would be going to church. Whether bible study or Sunday worship. Mind you I had been out of the church for an extremely long period of time. I decided to go to bible study because that was shorter and I wouldn’t be there no more than a few hours at best. At bible study I eyed the woman who would in turn be my second wife.
Our relationship was definitely not godly and definitely not Christ centered. I was having sex with her early on and things got pretty serious pretty quick. Right about that time things with my dad were winding down. My dad and I had about a 3 to 6 month limit before we both were at each others throats. His patience was running thin with me and mine with him. Since I was going out at all hours seeing this girl and clearly having sex with her, my dad was fed up with me using his house as a hotel; and rightfully so. But I didn’t see it that way. I saw it as him trying to tell me, an adult, how to live and that he needed to just stay out of my business. So needless to say I ended up leaving and moving in with my future wife. So here we are living together with her and her two children. Oh also I lost my job shortly before I moved in with her because I was on the phone all the time texting her instead of focusing on my work. Yep – that rabbit hole was getting pretty deep. But wait … it gets deeper.
One night while in bed with my girlfriend the Lord came to me in a dream and basically said “When are you going to preach my Word”. Now mind you I had known for a long time that I may be called to preach, but frankly i just didn’t want to. My dad was a preacher and frankly I wanted no part of it. Plus my lifestyle is totally contradictory to what a preacher’s life should be like. But I knew the Lord was not going to let this go. So as I am waking up from my dream my girlfriend is tossing and turning. So I nudge her to make sure she is OK and she begins to say to me, “The Lord apparently wants to know what the title of your first sermon will be,” and I am looking at her like … man this can’t be for real. For one, I never told my girlfriend that I felt like the lord may have been calling me to preach his Word. The fact that she said something at the same time I just had a dream about it myself confirmed that I may need to take this seriously. So the next day I spoke to my pastor about it and apparently he already had the same thought. He wanted me to be a deacon, but when it came time to select people, the Lord told him not to choose me. At the time it didn’t make sense to him but he knew I wanted to serve.
So I announced my calling to preach but internally I was struggling because I was living in sin. I don’t know if God getting me to accept the call to preach was a method to put me on the right path but it definitely caused me to rethink some things. So as I was preparing to preach my first sermon, I am also preparing to marry. So much was happening so fast that I didn’t spend a lot of time seeking the Lord earnestly for direction. I just did what I thought God would have expected me to do.
My second marriage was not as volatile as the first but it was still very very hostile. Remember when I said Anger Management class pointed out some things? Well, it still never addressed the heart of the problem, which was in fact … my carnal heart.
On New Years Eve my then wife asked for a divorce. We had tried to work some things out but i was still unwilling to seek the lord and really allow Him get to the root of my problems. That night she went to New Years service without me and that was the beginning of my life about to make a drastic shift. she basically told the church that we were no longer together. In her mind we were divorced and she was through with me.
January 2, 2012 was the day I came to the Lord broken. I went downstairs in the basement in a private room and I got on my knees and prayed. I prayed Psalms 51, and I begged the Lord to change me. To take away this hardened heart and this anger that was destroying every relationship I come in contact with. I wanted to be brand new and I knew the only way that was going to happen was for the Lord to change me. I can’t really recall anytime before that day of me seriously giving my life to the Lord and repenting of my sins but I definitely did that day. I had decided that I was going to love my wife the way the bible teaches and what is expected of me as a man of God.
That was the hardest five months of my life. To live in a house with someone that you love and made vows with only to have that thrown back in your face as worthless and pointless was so difficult to put up with. It was heart-breaking at times, but nevertheless I tried. I apologized to the kids for my behavior. I prayed with them every day before they went to school and work. I even tried to ask their mother to join with us but she wanted no part of anything I was trying to do. As far as she was concerned; there was no going back for her. So we got divorced after a year and a half of marriage.
My first marriage at least lasted seven years. So you can imagine I was devastated and heart broken. I had prayed and hoped that it be the Lords will for us to remain married. I really felt ready to prove I had changed. Everyone else saw the change but the one person I wanted to see the change did not. And so I had to let her go.
For the next three months I was in a state of mourning. I cried almost every day. I was heart broken and I felt very alone. But I sought the Lord every day. I prayed and read my Word as much as possible. I developed a love for the preached Word of God. I began to finally see the bible with new eyes. All of this was great, but I still had a broken heart. I had cried on the job at my desk and many times in the bathroom. I was a broken soul and only the Lord could heal me.
In time I began to be mended by God’s love. But I was still struggling with a lot of other things in my Christian walk. When I had decided to follow the Lord and repent of my sins – which meant some things that I had done to others as well as my then wife. I called up my kids’ mother, asking for a sit down and I confessed to her my sins. I apologized for my actions for all those years and everything since. I promised to do better and be consistent with my obligations.
I was also a habitual thief. I had stolen a waffle iron from Wal-Mart that I gave to my then wife as a gift. Well, if I was truly sincere I needed to return it and confess. But Satan was in my ear saying “There is no need. Just throw it away.” But the Holy Spirit pressed harder against my heart to follow thru with my prayer for cleansing. So I had made up my mind that if they decide to arrest me then I would just have to accept the consequences of my actions. I boxed up the waffle iron and took it to Wal-Mart. I asked to speak with a manger and I confessed to her that I had stolen this and that I was returning it, and that whatever penalty I must face that I am willing to accept that. You should of seen the reaction on the woman’s face. She looked at me bug-eyed crazy. She said that no one has ever come into the store and done what I just did, and as far as she was concerned we were square. She thanked me and we parted ways.
I COULDN’T BELIEVE THE LORD SPARED ME THAT DAY
I couldn’t believe the Lord spared me that day. I deserved jail and I was ready to take it. But even after that experience I still had one more person to confess to; my employer. I had stolen all kinds of stuff from my job. And once again the Spirit pressed upon me to confess to my employer. Satan was ringing loud in my ears. I was really scared to do this because this is a company I was dealing with every day, not like Wal-Mart who I see maybe once a week at best. But I made up my mind that I would follow the Lord and commit to my promise of seeking a new cleansed heart. I went in and spoke to my boss and confessed that I had stolen from him and that I returned what I could. My boss looked at me and said “Thank you” and asked me to make him two promises. He said for one, “Don’t ever steal from me again, and two: Whatever path you are on right now, stay on that path.” At that point I couldn’t hold in the tears of joy and thanks in my soul. The lord had once again spared me and shown me grace.
Problems seem to come in groups and never alone. I received a letter from Child Support that a review was requested of my current child support obligation. Then after that my employer was downsizing and my job was on the line – plus my car was having transmission troubles. I ended up having my child support raised; I lost my job; my car finally died, and I lost my apartment. So once again I ended up moving back in with my parents.
They continued to be a right on time blessing in my life. In March of 2013 I had just found a new job that paid well and I was ready to make more consistent child support payments when I got a letter to show up in court over the lack of steady payments. Now mind you, I hadn’t seen my children and I am living in a room in my parent’s house and I have been through a roller coaster year in 2012. But yet my children’s mother shows up to the courthouse. I tried to explain that my unemployment was paying on my child support until I found more steady employment, which just a week ago I had started.
For some strange reason the judge remembered me. Even though I had not seen him in almost five years. He looked back and asked my children’s mother if I should lock him up. She nodded and he agreed and then revoked my probation. I was to serve out a 4 year sentence that was on hold – permitting that I don’t do anything to get put back in front of the judge. I was basically fighting the inevitable for years. I was stunned and in shock as to why they were throwing me in jail. I had a job that could pay. I had been making payments the best i could. I even asked for work release so I could keep my job and still pay. The judge was not hearing any of it.
As I sat in the back room I got on my knees and prayed. I asked the Lord how long did I have to pay for my past sins. I was trying to do the right thing but it just never seemed to work out.
After I was booked I sat in my cell and prayed. At that point I was at a crossroads and was fed up. I wanted to quit everything: This Christian walk; being responsible to my kids; ministry: all of it (Not realizing Satan was the one tempting me to think as I was. Anger can truly be a deadly spiritual emotion Satan wants to use against us).
I came in on a Friday and by Sunday the Lord spoke. I was reading my Bible and for some reason the passage about Paul and Silas in Acts 16 came up in my spirit. Especially the part when the jailer came to them and asked “what must i do to be saved”. At that point I knew why I was there. I was there to reach souls. So I dedicated my entire time there to ministering to the other inmates; and the Lord blessed.
I won’t go into great detail, but I will say that I have seen the Lord conduct prayer circles in jail cells; brothers reading their Bibles and coming to Bible study. I became a sort of “Pastor” to the men in there. I spent every waking moment ministering and talking to these men. I couldn’t believe how the Lord had moved in my life and the lives of these men. I was known as “Preacher” to everyone. Even the jailers called me Preacher. I was given favor from the Lord I had never experienced with eyes wide open before.
Alas my time to go before the courts was coming up for probation. I prayed fervently for the Lord to give me probation. I was claiming it in Jesus name and everything that I thought I needed to do in order for the Lord to grant my request. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Even the jailers were sure that i would get probation with no problem. But the Lord and the courts said no. I was crushed. I looked to God angrily and confused. I was like: “Why lord? Why must I stay here?”
After several nights of tears and angry prayers (Yep – those happen) I came out of my cell. Everyone was giving me condolences like someone had passed away. I tell you – the brothers themselves were hoping to see me released. The Lord worked even then in the hearts of men. One brother who was a nonbeliever came to me and said something about parole. He then asked me how long I had been in and I proceeded to tell him since March and it was now July. He explained to me that parole is actually what you want and it’s better for you. See when you get out on probation nothing counts toward your sentence. See – i had been on probation for the last 6 or 7 years and not a single day counted in my favor. When I got locked up in march of 2013 I still had to serve the full sentence ordered. But in probation every day counts in your favor. Plus every 40 hours of work warrants an amount of good time off your sentence. So I began to wonder if that may have been the Lord’s will all along for me.
Sure enough it was and I was released from jail after five months of incarceration. While I was “inside” I met some brothers from Buck Run Baptist Church who orchestrated the Bible study every week. I had grown pretty close to them and one of them had invited me to church when I got released. So I called him asking him about going to church and about needing a ride. It was a great experience and one I will never forget. I had been praying for a new church home for several personal reasons. I knew the lord wanted me to grow and I didn’t see that happening where I was and so I asked the Lord to make clear where I should go. I remember the Spirit saying to me, “You’ve been getting to know your new church home for the last 20 weeks”, and right then I knew what I had to do. I changed membership and became a member of Buck Run Baptist Church as I still am today. But again the Lord wasn’t done blessing me just yet. That same brother that gave me a ride to church asked me how was I doing in my job search, because he knew through our weekly Bible studies that my reason for being in jail was child support obligation. I explained that its rough because now I am a convicted felon on parole and finding a quality job is next to impossible.
So my brother asked me if I would like a job with him and his company. I gladly jumped at the opportunity. I had a new church home and a job, but the Lord still was not done blessing me. One of the brothers from the jail ministry is a commissioner for the housing authority of Frankfort. He spoke to me about finding a place and how was I doing with that. I explained that I just didn’t have the extra funds at the moment to pay for the deposit and a first month rent for a lot of apartments. So he worked it out where I could get a place through the housing authority of Frankfort.
So now I had a church, a job, and a place of my own; but yet the Lord was still was not done blessing me. My job made it possible for me to save a little money before the courts began to garnish my wages for my child support obligation. With the money saved I was able to buy a vehicle that is great on gas and wouldn’t cost me a lot to fill up the tank. So the Lord blessed me with a church, a job, an apartment, and a car; and yet and still, the Lord was not done blessing me. Remember how I said parole was better for me than probation because every day of good time counts in my favor? Well every 40 hours i get so much off my 4 year sentence. Some weeks I would work 50 maybe 60 hrs a week because we were so busy. Well I found out this past may that I am officially off parole. Yessssss sir you heard me correctly! Through the Lord’s provision I am officially a free man. I still have the scar of a felony charge on me but that hasn’t stopped the Lord from providing a way for me. I was on probation for nearly 7 years then I was locked up for 5 months and then I was on parole for a year and a half. i should still be on parole ’till 2018, but the Lord brought me out of it sooner.
There are many things even after that that the Lord has blessed me with, simply by making me available to be free from the law. That prayer I had prayed when I was arrested; you know when I asked the Lord how long do i have to pay for my past sins … ‘Just a little while longer’ seemed to be the answer.
God has been way too kind to me and I know I am most undeserving of his love and provision in my life. Reading your testimony about how “Precious Testimonies” came about touched my heart deeply. I pray this testimony of mine encourages you and others seeking the Lord or even someone that isn’t seeking Him yet. None of what the Lord has done is because I was so good and obedient. I fell quite a few times in my walk but the Lord is faithful and merciful to his children. I tell this testimony every chance i get because it’s filled with Gods grace and love and compassion. It shows that He does care and He is not just sitting there watching us fall on our faces for amusement. I love the Lord and His Word. I pray this testimony continues to be a blessing.
Love you and thank you for your own obedience to His will.
Min. Andrae L Walker