Out of the Darkness, Into His Light

By Craig LeQuatte
The Flame Volunteer Writer

We all have a story … this is mine.  As a boy, I loved to read, play outside and ride my bike. I felt I had a soft heart for God as I grew up in a church which taught more social gospel than repentance. Between ages 8 and 12, I was moving forward in my faith. At some point in those years, I professed Christ and was baptized.  I also spent time in prayer with the youth pastor. I had a changed heart because of Jesus, but there were things in my life that did not seem to change.

My brother was 1½ years older, rough and muscular. I guess he was trying to make me more like him since we constantly fought (mostly I ran). I did once crack his skull with a railroad spike … but I digress.  He was talented at sports and effortlessly excelled.  My one aspiration was to be better than him.  Although that was never realized, it is what drove me to be very competitive all my life.

During high school there were many changes in my life. I began to get high, shoplift, lie and cheat. All increased in direct correlation to my social anxiety.  On the other end of the spectrum, my parents went to a Bible study and encountered the Jesus movement of the ’70s which changed their lives. As the study grew and eventually became a church, we children started attending. My parents started a teen Bible study where kids from all over Southern Illinois encountered Christ in our home.  One night immediately after the study ended, a friend I invited  wanted a ride home.  After I dropped him off, I returned home and entered our basement where the speaker was then praying with those interested in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. When asked why I was interrupting the session, I bluntly replied, “I LIVE here buddy!”  Unfazed, he simply asked if I was ready to pray.  My response was “Why not!”  My life was spiraling downward with guilt and shame for what I’d been doing, and since I’d been hearing the true gospel preached for the past couple years, I realized my need for Christ and the power to live for Him.

That was a rainy Thursday night in November 1978.  I was a senior in high school and co-captain of the football and basketball team. Everything should have been cool, but I was miserable and knew I needed God.  Everything changed that night in my family’s basement.  God saved me, filled me with His Spirit and gave me new life.  For the first time I truly knew I was going to Heaven.  My school friends wondered what happened to me as I shifted from partying to praying.

A year before I received Christ, I heard Fred Bishop speak at our Bible study.  I was intrigued and convicted. I wanted to be around him.  His influence changed me and made me who I am.  He taught the principle of surrendering to God; we decided to burn any leftover influence from the world in a big bon-fire … like my Buddha incense burner and Black Sabbath records.  We willingly gave our lives wholeheartedly to Christ in prayer, fellowship, abandoned worship and witness. We craved God more than life itself.  What is life without God anyway?

My life would continue to change when I started going on evangelistic witnessing trips with Fred Bishop and No Greater Love Ministries.  Over the next 2-3 years as I lived my life for Him, I was set free from the once-timid, introverted, legalistic young man I used to be, and I began to share my faith with others.  God blessed me with a wonderful family; my wife, Jill and daughter, Josie. I retired from the Air Force and currently work at the VA in St. Louis.

I encountered the love of Christ where, “He endured the cross and pardoned my sin.” — Hebrews 12:2

Bottom line … my life was a mess.  I had fallen into a pit, and I could not get out no matter how hard I tried.  I came to understand that I broke God’s law (think 10 Commandments) and had condemned myself to eternal separation from God. I encountered the love of Christ where, “He endured the cross and pardoned my sin,” (Hebrews 12:2).  Accepting Him, I was brought near to God with an eternal destiny in His presence!  Christ claimed me, clothed me with righteousness and filled me with His power to be His witness just as it was in Acts 1:8. This is truly the Good News!  I publically profess my allegiance to Christ and testify to His greatness!

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