2 Drunks & a Praying Wife
by A. Bruce Wells
When I first met Roger Drye, he was as messed up as I was. But he had a praying wife who was a Christian—and prayer changes things. Thank God for praying wives!
A Self-Image Problem
I was born into a typical, though slightly dysfunctional family, in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1954. In early life, and as I was growing up, for some reason I had an extremely poor self-image. I’ve often wondered why this was so as I lived in a loving home with really good parents. None-the-less, my terrible self-image resulted in my always being an underachiever.
I was weak at sports, barely passed from one grade to the next in school, gave up on music lessons, was unsuccessful in dating and social relationships, and was generally a negative, unhappy person. My friends were mostly underachievers, too, and even though I had a full scholarship to the University of Louisville because my mother worked there, I dropped out and started wandering around the country. I got involved in one job or venture after another, always thinking I could make a lot of money on just my wits—but it never happened.
But then I met Roger Drye. I went to work for Roger selling books, and anything else we could make a dollar on. We travelled all over the country, living in motels, seeing the country, and hanging out in nightclubs. Like most anyone who has a poor self-image, I already had a pretty good handle on drinking before I met Roger. Along with several other of our associates, we managed to stay well saturated in beer most of the time. Actually, it was great fun for a young, adventurous man, and it temporarily made me feel better about myself.
In the Dark
Unlike many “salvation” testimonies I’ve heard that describe how the individuals come to the end of their “emotional rope” before they turn to Christ, it was not that way for me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but when Jesus started bidding for my life, I had reached a certain level of happiness, and was as carefree as I can ever remember being. However, what I didn’t know was that I needed to be rescued from an eternity of hell. No one had ever explained that to me with any clarity, and I was as spiritually lost as they come.
Fishermen by Trade
Eventually, Roger and I grew tired of selling and living paycheck to paycheck, especially now that Roger and his wife had a young son to think about. Wanting to settle in one spot, we decided on Mobile, Alabama. We were interested in fishing, so we decided to invest in a shrimp boat— which needed a boat load of repairs (pun intended).
Yes, I was literally working in the fishing industry, nets and all, when Jesus started to invade my life, just as He did some of the original disciples. And, no, the movie Forrest Gump was not based on my life. We never made much money with our boat, unlike Forrest. People who drink on a daily basis seldom do well in the financial arena, and we were doing way more drinking than our share. It was somewhat of a miracle that we both didn’t die at sea as we barely escaped a couple of major accidents.
Once in a drunken, foolish absence of responsibility, we ran with our nets in the water for so long that we couldn’t bring in the catch. The net was so full of shrimp that our winch burned out, and we were stuck, unable to move forward or back. We finally had to pull up one corner of the net by hand with a block and tackle, and slowly empty the hundreds of pounds of shrimp back into Mobile Bay. I’ll never forget that day, or the danger involved, but such is the luck of a couple of drunks.
Church: A New Experience
It was at this time that Roger started going to church with his praying wife, and as he became more interested in God, he started asking me to join them every Sunday. Even though I had a good excuse for not going every week, there was a part of me that wanted to go, and somehow I knew I should be there. I’m very grateful Roger didn’t quit asking.
Actually, I had grown up in church, but it wasn’t a church that actively promoted salvation as a real experience. In fact, I had never even heard of being “born again” until I visited this little, Spirit-filled church that Roger and his wife were attending. In this church you could feel the presence of God, and occasionally there would be a real miracle—something I had never seen in any church before. I’ve come to believe that too many American churches are lacking this “Presence of God.” The church might look and sound good, but if God isn’t there, it’s a good idea to ask “why?” God doesn’t endorse just any establishment. He is present where there is real faith.
A Step beyond Belief
After hearing about salvation, I didn’t immediately become a Christian, but I began to understand that I needed to do something beyond just believing that God exists. I had always believed in God’s “existence,” but so did, and does, the devil, and he’s not going to heaven. The thought of hell became an everpresent fear in my life, and it seemed that God was speaking to me from every angle. Bumper stickers seemed to jump out in front of me. The TV seemed to be tuned to the 700 Club in every motel room I visited. People were handing me gospel tracts, even though I had never been given one before, and seeing people pray over their food in restaurants was convicting. God was definitely on my case, and there is no escaping His Spirit, when people are praying for you.
Finally, after avoiding a number of altar calls in church, while driving alone from Louisville to Mobile, I decided to ask Jesus to save me. I’ll never forget the tremendous, demonic resistance I encountered as I tried to pray. It was if there was a swarm of bees all around my head, all humming “Don’t do it!” at the same time. But God’s Spirit helped me break through the confusion, and I confessed with my mouth for the first time ever that “Jesus is my Lord,” and I was instantly “born again.”
The sense of God’s presence with me in my car as I drove down I-65 was unbelievable—like a warm breeze, filling me with joy and peace. And since that moment, God’s Spirit has never left me, even though I continue to make mistakes and at times live foolishly. People say, “You can’t clean a fish until you catch it,” and that was certainly true in my case. It has now been 30 years since I made my confession of faith. When someone asked me to share my testimony at a gospel fellowship group, I was a nervous wreck from fear of public speaking. But God moved, people were touched, and the next thing I knew, I was being asked to speak at other events—which launched me into ministry. The Apostle Paul shared his testimony again and again throughout his travels, and I figured somebody needed to hear mine.
Over the years I have experienced God’s amazing faithfulness and grace. I now have a grown family: three sons in their twenties and one wife—my first…and she’s a praying wife. Thank God for praying wives!