Thirty Years on the Gospel Highway

The Personal Testimony of Al Hughes

    The Apostle Paul continually gave his testimony of how he met the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:12-16). Since Paul is the New Testament example of a Christian, let tell you what Jesus has done in my life also.
    Shortly after I was born in 1947, my parents took me a Presbyterian church in Detroit to be sprinkled. Although my folks were what others might call "good people," they were not "church goers." They only went to church on special occasions like Easter and Christmas.
    My parents were good to me. They disciplined me when I needed it (which was often). I never doubted they loved me. Being the only child in the home, I got most of what I ever wanted…Except one thing-- A stable home.
    My Dad worked nights as a motion picture projectionist. My Mom worked days as a service representative for Michigan Bell Telephone. Consequently, they didn't see much of each other except on weekends. 
    As a teenager, I remember answering the phone in the evenings and some strange man asking for my Mom. It wasn't long until it became obvious Mom was having an affair with this guy. I found out soon that a divorce was in the works.
    It was a difficult time. Divorces hurt everyone, especially kids. I was torn: Do I choose to live with my Dad or do I live with my Mom?
    I never had to make that decision… The decision was made for me before the divorce was finalized. The date was December 7, 1962. I was awakened by loud shouting between my Mom and Dad outside my bedroom. They were arguing. Mom was screaming at my Dad, "You've turned my own mother against me!!!" Dad said, "I only wrote your mother to let her know what was going on." Mom's mother lived in England. Evidently, my Dad wrote a letter to let her know about the divorce proceedings. My Mom found the reply she sent back to him from England. She took it as an attempt to turn her mother against her. 
    My mother was almost hysterical. Neither of my parents knew I was awake listening. Finally, my mother screamed at my Dad, "Oh, why don't you DROP DEAD!" With that, she stormed out of the house to go to work. Finally it was quiet. I could hear my Dad crying softly in the living room. After about fifteen minutes I got out of bed and went into the living room. Dad made me a lunch and sent me off to school.
    After school, I almost hated to go home, knowing my parents would probably be fighting again. When I walked into the living room I knew something was wrong. My mother was home. Normally she did not get home from work until about 5:00. It was only 3:00. I could tell she had been crying. Also, there was a man with an open Bible in his hand sitting on the couch. I soon found out he was the pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church.
    Mom ran and hugged me. I asked, "What's going on?" The preacher said, "Allan, your Dad died this morning of a heart attack." Dad was only in his early 40's at the time. 
    At noon, my mother had come home for lunch. While she was eating her lunch the phone rang. Someone wanted to talk to my Dad. She went to his bedroom to wake him up. She found him stiff and cold. He had been dead for about three hours.
    When the pastor said my Dad was dead, I immediately looked at my mother and remembered her final words to my Dad that morning, "Oh, why don't you DROP DEAD!" She never knew I heard her say that. I was already angry with my mother for having an affair behind my Dad's back. Now THIS!
    The pastor sat us down on the couch and explained from the Bible how to be saved. My mother listened intently as he turned from verse to verse in the Bible explaining how Jesus loved us and died for our sins at Calvary. He told us that Jesus was buried and rose from the dead the third day. Then he said, "Jesus will save you if you will call on Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior." He asked my mother, "Mrs. Hughes, would you like to be saved right now?" With tears she answered, "Oh yes!" Then he turned to me, "Allan, would like to be saved with your mother right now?" 
    I was angry… Angry at my mother… Angry at the man who was having an affair with my mother… Angry at God! Before I could answer, my mother said, "Oh, sweetheart, please get saved with me." The pastor urged me, "That's right son, you need to get saved today." The preacher was on one side of me and my Mom was on the other. Both were urging me to get saved. 
    Finally, just to get them off my case, I said, "OK! OK! What do I need to do?" The pastor turned to a Bible verse referred to as "the sinner's prayer"--"God be merciful to me a sinner." 1 First, he lead my mother in prayer and she wept as she called on the Lord to save her. After she prayed, the pastor lead me in a prayer to be saved. I prayed, but I didn't mean it. I was just trying to get it over with. I fooled my mother and fooled the preacher, but I didn't fool God. God knew I didn't really mean what I prayed.
    In the weeks that followed, I saw a genuine change in my mother. She was different. I would get up in the morning and find her reading her Bible. She wanted to go to church! Not the Presbyterian Church, however. She wanted to go to the Calvary Baptist Church where that preacher who lead her to Christ was the Pastor. 
    I wouldn't go. 
    About four months after my Dad died, Mom and I were watching television one evening. Suddenly she screamed in extreme pain. She cried, "My head! My head! Call a doctor." I ran to the phone and called a doctor. This was during the days doctors still made house calls. He came to our house and gave her a sedative. She calmed down alittle, but was still in pain. The doctor said she had a pinched nerve in her neck that was causing the pain. He said it would go away if a few days.
    Every day for the next couple of weeks, my Mom was unable to go to work because of her head ache. 
    One Saturday morning, I went to her bedroom to let her know I was going out with some friends. She would not wake up. She was breathing, but unconcious. I called a different doctor. After examining my Mom, he called an ambulance. They found out at the hospital that she had aneurysm in her brain. It was probably what caused the severe pain in her head two weeks earlier. 
    I personally believe she could not live with the guilt of what she said to my Dad the morning of his death, "Oh, why don't you just DROP DEAD!" The Bible says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."1 Those hateful words from the tongue of my Mom brought death to my Dad, and eventually took my mother's life also.
    My Mom never regained conciousness. She died at the hospital two weeks later from a second aneurysm. She was only 38 years old. I'm so glad for that Baptist pastor who came and lead her to Christ five months earlier.
    I was 16 years old and alone. I miss my Dad and Mom. You never really appreciate someone as much as you do until after they are gone. 
    After graduating from High School, I went to Milwaukee to college to study radio broadcasting. The following year, I returned to Michigan looking for a job in a radio station. I ended running a surface grinder in a tool shop. God had other plans for me.
    I lived in a place called the Nelson Hotel in Plymouth, Michigan. This "hotel" was a flea infested apartment  house located 25 feet from the railroad tracks. I had a room with a dresser, a bed and a closet. That was it. I shared a bathroom at the end of the hall with six other rooms. 
    I began to dabble in drugs while I was playing in a hard-rock band on weekends. 
One of the guys at the shop named "Gar" warned me about this "religious fanatic" named Gordie who worked day shift. He said, "Watch out for Gordie. He'll try to convert you!"
    Sure enough… Gordie came on night shift for one week. As he came in at the beginning of the shift, he "scoped out the place." He spotted me and started heading my way. Gar said, "Look out Al! Gordie's comin' to get ya!" I would duck into the john until the coast was clear. 
    One night, Gordie cornered me before I could get away. He asked me, "Al, have you ever thought about becoming a Christian?" I said, "I'm already a Christian. I was born in America!" He said something I'll never forget, "Being a citizen of America will never make you a citizen of heaven!" I said, "Well, I was baptized as a baby." Gordie said, "And whose decision was that… Your parents or yours?" He had me! I knew I wasn't a Christian. 
    Immediately my mind returned to that afternoon when that Baptist pastor lead my mother to Christ. God convicted me that I fooled the preacher, and my mother into thinking I prayed to be saved. But I couldn't fool this guy Gordie. He saw right through me! Finally I cussed him and went my way.
    I could not get Gordie's witness out of my mind. I kept thinking about the preacher who tried to win me to Christ the day my Dad died. I asked God, "God, if You will show me those verses again that the preacher showed my Mom when she was saved, I'll pray and mean it this time!" I even took my mother's King James Bible and tried to find that "sinner's prayer" that my mother prayed.
    About three weeks before Christmas in 1967, I received a Christmas card from Gordie. He enclosed a tract titled, God's Simple Plan of Salvation. I didn't realize what it was and set in on the top of my dresser. It sat there for about a week. Then one night I came in and noticed it sitting there. It seemed to be saying, "Pick me up and read me, you fool!" 
    I picked it up and began to read. It began: "My Friend… I am asking you the most important question of your life. Your joy or your sorrow for all eternity depends upon it. The question is: Are you saved? I mean… are you sure you will go to Heaven when you die? It is not: Are you a member of some church?… but, are you saved?"
    God had my attention! I read the entire tract through. Lo and behold, there were the same verses the preacher showed my Mom and I five years earlier! Even "the sinner's prayer" was in that tract! I read it again! That night, in the Nelson Hotel, I got on my knees next to the bed and prayed something like this: "God, You said I must be 'born again' to go to heaven. Would You please have mercy on me a sinner, and 'borned me again?'" Praise God, He heard me and answered my prayer! 
    Thank God for His grace! I didn't deserve it, but He gave me a second chance to be saved!
    I went to work early the next day to tell Gordie I got "borned again!" He rejoiced when I told him. I began telling everyone what happened in my life!
    Shortly after I got saved, Gordie approached Gar and said, "Well Gar, when are you going to join Al and get saved?" Gar said, "Al ain't saved. Religion is just a fad to him." Gordie said, "What would God have to do to prove to you that he's really saved?" Gar challenged, "Ok. Look at Al. He has long hair like a hippie. He dresses in grubby clothes. When Al gets his hair cut and starts dressing like a man, then I might believe he is really a Christian." Gordie got down on his knees right next to Gar's machine and began to pray out loud, "Lord, You just heard Gar's request. Would You speak to Al's heart about his hair, and clothes… Show Gar Your power!" Then he stopped, looked up at Gar and asked, "Say Gar, when would you like God to do this?" Gar sarcastically answered, "Tomorrow!" Gordie resumed his prayer, "And God, would You please make it happen TOMORROW!" 
    I didn't know anything about this. On the next day I got up from bed and looked in the mirror. I didn't like what I saw. I said to myself, "Al, you don't look much like a Christian!" I went and got a hair-cut. Then I bought some nice new work clothes and steel toed work shoes from Sears. When I showed up at work that afternoon, I heard Gordie shout a big, "AMEN! PRAISE THE LORD!" I wondered what was going on. Gordie ran over to Gar and said, "Well Gar… Look at Al! Now do you believe!?" Gar just shook his head and cussed.
    It wasn't long until I became aware from reading the Bible, I should get baptized. But, I didn't know where to go? I tried a Presbyterian Church again, but the pastor didn't even open the Bible the entire service. Only a few members brought their Bibles to the service. It was almost like a social club in religious attire. 
    I recalled the pastor who lead my Mom to Christ was a Baptist. So, I tried a Baptist church up the street. I was impressed when I noticed practically everyone carried their Bibles to church. The pastor preached right out the Bible verse-by-verse. 
    After the service was over, I asked the pastor if I could get baptized. He told me to come back to his office later that afternoon. At 2:00 I returned to his office. He said they had not baptized anyone in about two years because their baptistery leaked! 
    I continued to study my King James Bible everyday. I began having a strong desire to preach the Bible. I was telling everyone about how God saved me. I didn't have any training, but I could tell what Jesus did for me. The guys at the shop began calling me "preacher." I enjoyed listening to preaching. I would listen to Evangelist Oliver B. Greene preach on the Gospel Hour everyday. I ordered every soul winning booklet and commentary he offered on the radio. 
    Meanwhile my social life was really suffering. I lived a very loose life-style before I was saved-- Fornicating, partying, drinking, smoking pot  -- but God was changing all that! I called my girlfriends, but instead of inviting them to a party I invited them to church! They laughed and thought I was kidding! When I began to witness to them, they usually hung up the phone. 
    In the spring of 1968, I phoned an old childhood girlfriend. Her name was Vicki. Her sister Barb answered the phone and said Vicki was in the Navy. I remembered Barb from the times I dated Vicki six years earlier. She would follow us around and threaten to tell her Mom and Dad every time we tried to "make-out." She was a real pain in the neck! However, I was getting desperate. All my old girlfriends had dropped me like I had the plague. So I asked Barb, "I have tickets for the Detroit Tigers tonight. Would you like to come with me?" She said, "Sure!" 
    When I took her home after the game, I parked the car outside her house. Instead of "making-out" in the car, I got my Bible out of the glove box and witnessed to her! I told her how God saved me and wanted me to preach His Word. I gave her some soul winning booklets by Oliver Greene and asked her to read them.
    A few days later, Barb called and said she also got saved! WOW! I was excited. It was like I got saved all over again! 
    We were married less than two months later! I married my first convert! GLORY! That was 29 years ago! Jesus has blessed our marriage abundantly with four daughters who love the Lord and 12 grandchildren!
    I still wanted to get baptized. Barb and I went to a Baptist church in which a young couple took us under their wing. We expressed our desire to get baptized. They told us we needed to go before the deacon board and give our testimony first so they could evaluate our salvation experience. In other words, "check us out and judge if we were really saved!" This church stuff was new to me, so we appeared before the deacons and told how we got saved. It was like a tribunal. The deacons told us we could be baptized after we completed a six week "Timothy Class." So we enrolled.
    About two weeks into the "Timothy Class" I heard this hell-fire damnation type preacher on the radio. This guy knew how to "shell the corn." He was a local pastor, so Barb and I visited his church Sunday night. We got there about 30 minutes before the service started. I told the pastor we heard him on the radio. He gave us a tour of the church building that concluded at the baptistery. (Praise God! It didn't leak! It was filled and ready for someone to get in and be baptized!) I told the pastor that I was going to be baptized in a few weeks. He asked me, "What are you waiting for?" I told him I had to complete the "Timothy Class" first. He took the Bible I was holding and showed me Acts 2:41, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."  He pointed out that these people got saved and baptized THE SAME DAY! No "Timothy Class" and no going before any deacon board. He challenged me, "If you really mean business, I'll baptize you tonight!" 
    When he gave the invitation at the end of his sermon, I went forward for baptism. He asked me to come to the pulpit. After introducing me to the congregation, he said, "Brother Hughes, tell us how you got saved!" HA! Instead of going before the deacons, he had me testify before the whole church! I didn't mind however. I enjoy giving my testimony. I've never grown tired of telling people what Jesus has done for me. That night however, I got a little carried away. Barb told me on the way home that I spoke for about 20 minutes. I couldn't believe it. It felt like only five minutes. God confirmed to me that night He wanted me behind the pulpit the rest of my life. 
    In 1974 I graduated from Midwestern and moved to the State of Washington to start a new church in Redmond. Two years later the church merged with the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood and I became Dr. Ken Blue's assistant pastor. God later lead us to start the Barton Baptist Church in Barton, VT. In 1986, the Lord called me to the pastorate of the Bible Baptist Church in Port Orchard, WA.
    God has blessed my life with a loving family and a fruitful ministry. To God be the glory! If you've never trusted Christ as your Savor, call on Him today and ask Him to save you. He will. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9-10)