I didn’t want to go.
My pastor had invited me to Promise Keepers the week before, and I had said yes only because I didn’t want him to know that I was a fake.
I was 32 years old who attended church regularly, married to a beautiful wife for 6 years, had two incredible kids, and was making nearly $90,000 in my dream job as the youngest newspaper editor in Gannett Inc.’s history.
And yet, I was living a nightmare.
I was always angry. I slept 3-4 hours a night. I was in trapped in secret addictions. And unbeknownst to anyone else, I had already attempted suicide several times.
I didn’t want to go to a “Jesus” event in Cincinnati, Ohio, riding in a van full of “Jesus” freaks singing “Jesus songs.”
But at 3 p.m. Friday, May 9, 1997, there I was . . . riding shotgun as the rest of the men were singing “No Greater Love” at the top of their lungs.
By 7 p.m., we were sitting in the nose-bleed section of old Riverfront Stadium, and I was wishing I was anywhere but there.
After some worship music, a speaker named Crawford Loritts came to the podium. After telling a couple of jokes as icebreakers, he paused and stepped away from the microphone for several seconds.
When he stepped back up, he apologized to the 70,000 men who had gathered there saying that he didn’t feel very funny at the moment because there was a man there tonight who, if he didn’t get his life right with Jesus, he would not be alive in two weeks.
No one but me and God knew that I had planned a final suicide attempt two weeks from that night.
Needless to say, Crawford Loritts had my attention. Or as I have learned since then, the Holy Spirit had my heart, and began convicting me of my desperate need for Jesus.
I began to cry. I mean, really cry. Like ugly man cry.
It felt like all of my hurt and shame was being poured out as God’s love and grace were being poured in.
The men in our group still remind me of the kleenexes, toilet paper, and paper towels they had to get for me as I sat there and cried my heart out to make room for my new heart.
Before Mr. Loritts was done, I began to make my way down front to repent and seek forgiveness.
The rest of the night was a blur, but I do remember the next day surrendering my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
In that surrender, I also answered God’s call on my life . . . as a pastor.
So my wife and I left $90,000 a year to make $9,000 . . . $11,000 below poverty level for a family of four. And we couldn’t have been happier.
I have attended every Promise Keepers event I possibly could since then, but on that day in 1997, God used Promise Keepers to save a man, a marriage, and a ministry.
That weekend in Cincinnati still inspires me to be a “vessel of honor.”
I’ve been a pastor now for 21 years, and born again for 22.
(My birthday is May 11; my born-again day is May 10. . . Guess which one I celebrate?!)
I’ve told this story hundreds of times . . . and still weep each time. And I would be absolutely honored and humbled to share this story at Dallas in 2020, if it be so.
All for God’s glory.
From Tim’s wife, Pam
I learned early in life never to open a door to a stranger. Thankfully, 22 years ago, I didn’t heed that parental advice and my life hasn’t been the same since.
The stranger was a man I had been married to for six years. But that summer night, the man who returned from a Promise Keepers event in Cincinnati was not the same one who had left our home. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” It was as if a 3-D, living and breathing version of that Scripture from 2 Cor. 5:17 had walked right in, ushered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I could tell something was different the moment I laid eyes on him. I may not have realized he was on the brink of suicide, but I did realize he was a workaholic and our marriage was a mess. If it wasn’t for Promise Keepers, I would have been a young widow or an old, miserable woman. Thankfully, I’m neither. I am the blessed wife of an anointed man of God, who has a wonderful marriage. I am also the mother of three children who are privileged to have a father who took the role of spiritual head of the household seriously and they are now walking in their callings.
We celebrated 28 years of marriage in April. I praise God for Promise Keepers and for the stranger I let into our home. I can’t imagine my life without him.
Learn more about the upcoming Promise Keepers 2020 Conference in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
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