Forty years ago, a drug-addicted wino dragged his 70-pound, filthy body onto a New York City subway bench to sleep off the effects of that day's 20 pints of wine. His stomach, riddled with cancer, had swelled to resemble that of a pregnant woman. At 30, the man had already spent some 16 years on the streets.
Although it wasn't unusual for the man to suffer beatings and abuse by passersby, this day was different. This day the man suffered his last beating as a nameless, faceless derelict.
As he slept, two men (who had been drinking and were looking for some fun) grabbed the man by his dirty shirt, stood him on his feet, and beat him unmercifully, leaving the man to die in a pool of his own blood.
Charlie Strider picks up the story: "I don't know how long I lay there unconscious, but when I came to, I crawled into the men's room, put my head in one of the old, dirty urinals to wash the blood off my face, then I passed out again."
Around 5 in the morning, the dying Charlie Strider had had enough. He inched his way to the subway platform, and as he waited for the A train, he reviewed his sad, short life.
"It seems every family has a black sheep," recalls Strider, "and that was me. My parents were good, moral people, and my father was a stern man who wanted to see his four sons amount to something. But I wouldn't go to school, wouldn't behave, and I caused so much trouble that my father put me out of the house when I was 12."
The young Strider left his Columbus, Ohio, home and didn't return until a year later. He hoped for a warm welcome, but, instead, his father put him right back out of the house. Disappointed and hurt, Strider left home again, not to see his mother for some 20 years.
"When I left that time," he said, "I hopped a freight train to Chicago where I walked the streets with other boys and girls, robbing, stealing, and mugging. I got involved with alcohol and drugs. I got shot in both legs as a result of pushing drugs." Eventually Strider made his way to New York City, and to the Bowery, where homeless men wander aimlessly. For more than 3 years, Strider says, he existed in a numb stupor, as days drifted into months, then into years. He says a person in his condition eventually stops thinking altogether. As he explains it, in a city of some 8 million, nobody sees you, knows you, or cares if you live or die.
On the morning when Strider waited for the A train, his body bloodied and beaten, not only did nobody care if he lived or died, he didn't care any more.
A few months earlier, he'd been given a death sentence by a doctor in a hospital emergency room. After wandering in because of painful, infected feet, a nurse, after taking one look at the swollen shell of a man, ran to get a wheelchair and whisked Strider onto an X-ray table.
As he remembers it, that was the only time he's ever seen a doctor cry. His X rays showed 10 holes in his stomach, each one the size of a quarter; he was in the final stages of cancer. The doctor gave him no more than 3 months to live.
And so, with his body eaten with cancer and now beaten almost beyond recognition, Charlie waited for the train. He was tired of walking the streets and being abused. So when the train rolled in, Strider jumped in front of it to commit suicide.
"As I jumped, people started screaming and hollering," he recalls. "The police came with their zipper bag, brooms, and shovels, expecting to sweep my dead body off the track. But God was good to me -- I only got bruised. When they backed the train up, I got back up on the platform and went out to the street and cried. I wanted to die and I couldn't."
Utterly dejected, Strider got aboard the D train and rode it to 125th and 7th Avenues. By the time he got to his stop, he says, he'd gone completely insane. He ranted and raved and opened car doors and screamed out people's names from his past. It took 10 policemen to chain him to a light post.
During all this time, another young man out on Long Island prepared for Sunday morning church services on 125th Street. As he drove into the city, he told his wife to go on to church -- God had instructed him to get a shoe shine.
By the time he arrived at the shoe stand, a crowd had gathered to watch the insane man chained to the light post. God once again spoke to him and said, "I want that man," meaning Strider.
He pushed his way through the crowd and convinced the police to let Strider go. As Strider tells it, "The minute he touched my hand, I was like a little boy. All my ranting stopped."
They walked four blocks to the Soul Saving Station for Every Nation, where Strider heard for the first time that God loved him.
As deacons knelt around him and prayed for him, Strider said God restored his mind. Then as he cried out to the Lord, he felt the power of God pour over him as a warm, soothing balm.
As it passed through his body, he says all his swelling subsided and his cancer was completely healed. From that point on the derelict on the street was no more.
"Just as the Word of God says," explains Strider, "old things passed away and all things became new."
A New Man
Strider returned to the doctor who had X rayed him. "It's impossible for this man to be alive -- he has to be dead," the doctor cried.
Strider told him, "You're looking at a new man. I've gone to the Head Physician. He wrote me out a prescription, then turned around and filled it for me. His name is Jesus."
During the 40 years that followed, Strider has kept cancer-, drug-, and alcohol-free. He married Gloria, a church member from the Soul Saving Station, and together they raised two daughters.
Shortly after he married, God called him to the ministry sending him back to the streets. For 10 years he pastored a New York City church of 500 -- most of them saved off the streets.
Seven years ago he moved to Florida -- and often preaches at First Assembly of God in Homosassa Springs. He travels as an evangelist and as a former drug addict and alcoholic reaching out to the hidden homeless.
"Jesus is my life today," he says. "My life now is winning souls to Christ. He paid a tremendous price for the sins of men."
ONE: YOU will die physically one day, just like everybody else.
Four Important Facts About You!
TWO: After you die, Almighty God will judge YOU (Hebrews 9:27).
THREE: If YOU are like MOST, YOU will end up in the lake of fire (Matthew 7:13,14, Revelation 20:15), and there YOU will be FOREVER. The lake of fire is a real, literal place where the wicked (or unsaved or non-Christians) will be in CONSCIOUS TORMENT in ETERNAL FIRE FOREVER (Matthew 25:41,46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 14:10,11, 20:10).
FOUR: There is ONLY ONE way to escape the lake of fire and enter heaven. YOU must be Bibically saved, which means YOU "must turn to God in repentance [away from sin] and have faith [100% complete trust] in our Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:21). There is NO OTHER WAY to receive forgiveness of your sins (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, 10:43).
To be saved, SINCERELY pray something like the following:
God, have mercy on me a sinner (Luke 18:13). Lord Jesus, save me from my sins (Matthew 1:21; John 8:36). They are dragging me to hell (Mark 9:43-48). I believe in my heart that you are the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), that you died on the cross for me (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3) and that God raised you from the dead (Romans 10:9,10). I am now willing to turn from ALL MY SINS, so I won't perish (Luke 13:3,5; 2 Corinthians 7:10) -- sins of THOUGHT (Isaiah 55:7; Matthew 5:28), WORD (Matthew 12:37), DEED (1 Corinthians 6:9,10) and OMISSION (James 4:17), and follow you UNASHAMEDLY in this wicked age (Luke 9:23). You are the ONLY WAY to the Father (John 14:6) and I now TRUST YOU ALONE for my soul's salvation (John 3:36). Good works, church membership, baptism, etc. canNOT save me, according to your Word, the Bible (Ephesians 2:8,9; 1 Timothy 2:5; Acts 10:43-48). Amen.
(YOU are one of four types of people! Read Mark 4:15-20 in the New Testament).
Please see From Initial to Final Salvation
He Saved Even Me
Former Atheist Testifies
Is David Wilkerson Changing His Doctrine For The Good? (No! False Alarm.)
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