By Chuck Martindale
IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE in miracles you need not read any further, because on November 18, 1996, at approximately 8:00 a.m., Jesus Christ delivered me from alcoholism, and filled me with the Holy Spirit and with the hunger and thirst for his word.
The amazing part of this transformation is that no one, I mean no one, was talking to me about Jesus Christ or trying to lead me to the Lord. I had gone to church several times as a young child, but I was now 44 years old and had been drinking and doing drugs for 26 years. I had been divorced for 13 years, and I had two sons that I rarely saw and did not support. There was not a day in that 26 years that I did not drink or do drugs unless I was sick or in the hospital. On this day I was asking the Lord not to let me get drunk again, as I had been asking him for months, but I continued every night to do the same thing.
I was what is called a “functioning alcoholic.” I got up early, worked hard, and made it to the bar early, so that I could get to bed early. One day I decided that there had to be a God, so I started praying to this God–whoever he was–that he would help me. My simple prayer was, “Lord, help me.” I did not want to live like this anymore, and saw no other way. I didn’t want to run anymore; I was tired. The guilt of my past made me not want to live anymore, and I saw no reason or purpose to my life. I prayed this simple prayer for months, and then one day (November 18, 1996, at 8:00 a.m.) on a boat that I was renting, Jesus Christ showed up.
I really can’t explain it, because I did not see Him, but I knew that I was in His presence. I asked this Spirit, “What do you want me to do?” There was no answer, but what I realized was that the desire to drink and drug and all the things that went with it were gone. He replaced that desire with the desire to learn about Him.
As the Spirit led me to study His word, I read Romans 7:15:
“For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do.” (KJV)
It was as if this was written for me–I knew this feeling. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I couldn’t stop. Only the power of the Holy Spirit could take away the desire to drink and replace it with the desire to study His word.
I read Romans 12:2:
“Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (KJV)
I realized that all my life that is what I had been doing, being whoever I needed to be, never knowing who I really was…conformed to the world.
Since I didn’t know any Christians, I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go, so I visited a couple of churches and found a home church. Then I started going to an accountability group, got involved in Promise Keepers, and read the Bible every chance I got. With this new birth, I had a peace that I had never had; I thought life couldn’t get any better.
Then God performed another miracle. I visited my parents in Florence, Alabama, where my ex-wife and sons also lived. My father’s birthday was the same day as my wife’s mother’s birthday, so I invited all the family to dinner. Well, God took over from there, and in no time he restored our marriage. My wife and both my sons moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. If God had asked me when I first was saved if there was anything that he could do for me, I would not have asked for my family back, because I thought that was impossible. Perhaps the reason he did this was to say, “Chuck, I’m God, I can do all things.” I think now, sometimes we don’t ask God for certain things because we think they are impossible. There is nothing impossible for our God. I now understand Ephesians 3:20:
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (KJV)
I stepped out in faith by starting Truth Evangelistic Ministry (TEM). I visited rehabilitation centers, and told of the good news and the healing that Jesus Christ had done in my life. Not long after, my wife and I started having problems. It was very difficult for her to really forgive me, and I could understand why. The Lord was with me, and He was telling me through scripture what was happening. I read ‘you reap what you sow.’ I had not sown anything all those years ago, so there would be no crop for a while. The Lord forgave me, but it was much more difficult for my wife, and we separated.
Shortly thereafter, our youngest son, who was 19 at the time, was in an auto accident. He had a traumatic brain injury and internal injuries, as well. My wife worked in the operating room at the hospital and knew the surgeons, so she was able to get one of the best neurosurgeons around to perform the brain surgery he needed—we were told as he was taken to the operating room that he might not make it through the procedure.
My biggest fear was not that he was going to die, but that he didn’t know Jesus Christ. I had not told him about salvation yet–I was always waiting for that perfect moment. I went into the chapel in the hospital and the Holy Spirit prayed for me, because I didn’t know what to say. The prayer went like this: “Dear Heavenly Father, I have nothing to offer you, and if it be your will to take my son, it will not change how I feel about you. You know what it is like to have your Son in pain as He hung on the cross, and you know what it is like to have your Son come home. It had to be a glorious day in heaven when Jesus returned. Again, I have nothing to offer you, but I promise you that if you will allow my son to come home, he will know your Son.”
Our son is now 36 years old, owns his own home and business, and has two beautiful children. It took years for his rehabilitation; he had to learn to read again, and how to use words–but the best news is that he is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ–another miracle!
I sold my business during this crisis, so within a very short time I had been separated from my wife and family, almost lost my son, and had lost my business. I stayed on my knees and face most of the time in prayer, weeping, not understanding why God had given my wife back only to take her away. Then one night in prayer the Lord spoke to me very clearly saying, “Chuck, when you first saw Shirley you prayed that I would give her back to you and I did, but you didn’t accept her the way she is.” I understood completely that I was to accept her just like He had accepted me–just the way I was. All God wanted me to do was to love her, and He would do the rest. He took the pain away, assuring me that it would be alright in His timing.
While I was waiting on our reuniting, I felt led to missions. I knew that I was not saved only to go to church on Sundays and sit in a pew. Several mission associations required college, and language skills. Then I learned about a man name Charles Chatman in Missouri, who had been going to Haiti for more than 20 years. When I reached him, he asked me if I wanted to go to Haiti. All I remember is saying yes.
That was in 1999. Since November of that year I have made 100+ trips to Haiti. I have had the privilege to help build many churches, orphanages, and a widows’ home, and to help feed thousands of starving Haitians, take many medical teams and VBS teams to Haiti, but most of all to share the love of Christ in a country that is filled with voodoo. I had prayed that God would show me what He had saved me for, and on the first trip I knew this was my calling. It wasn’t long after this first trip that the Lord restored my marriage, and my wife received Jesus Christ and was able to forgive me. Our oldest son, who did not know the Lord, now is 46 years old and received Jesus in 2007. He graduated from college in 2014, and is now working in Gainesville FL.
The Bible says in John 15:16:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” (KJV)
He not only ordained me, but my church ordained me as a minister in 2004.
I continue to serve in Haiti, Pakistan, India, and when I am home I visit churches and organizations to tell of the miracles our Lord has done in the lives of my family and the wonderful work He is doing in Haiti. Also, TEM has a homeless ministry in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
As Peter and John in Acts 4:20 said,
“for we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.”
I have seen the miracles, and I am one of them. I cannot help but proclaim his name, Jesus. I am the most blessed man I know, and I understand that where much is given much is required.
(updated February 2017)