For those of you that don’t know me, I’m George Boals. I’ve been the building administrator for the past 6 years, here at Calvary Road. My wife Vickie and I have been members of Calvary Road since February of 1988.
Pastor Dave ask me to share my testimony this morning because I will be heading a new ministry here at CRBC called Celebrate Recovery. You may be wondering what qualifications I have to lead this ministry. Well, I believe if I share my background with you, you’ll have a better understanding of my passion for this ministry.
I was born the 5th child of 7. My father struggled with alcoholism all his life. My mother dealt with it as long as she could and when I was 6 or 7 years old, my parents were divorced. I have very few memories of my father and the ones that I do have, are not pleasant. For instance, I remember being home alone with my father and there was a fire in the neighborhood, the sky was filled with smoke (very frightening for a small child) and the only security I had was my father passed out on the couch. Needless to say, I didn’t find much security in that. Well enough of that, let’s talk about some good stuff.
My mother is the most incredible lady I’ve ever known. She raised all 7 of us by herself. I remember her working day and night just to keep food on our table. And you know, we never went hungry, although I’m sure she missed many meals to make sure there was enough for us kids. There wasn’t much money but the house was filled with love. She made each and every one of us feel very special. Sunday’s were her only day off and we would take turns going on day trips, one child each week and I ALWAYS looked forward to my turn. I’ll cherish those trips for the rest of my life.
Moving on, in the summer of 1977 our house burned down (that’s another story at another time) and we left the city of Norfolk and moved across the river to Hampton, Va., which was actually a blessing in disguise. It was a fresh start for me and my family. You see, in Norfolk, people already knew me as a poor kid or at least I thought of myself that way. But in Hampton, nobody knew me. I was able to establish new friends and be part of the cool gang. Unfortunately, being cool didn’t always mean doing the right thing. This is about the time I started partying with my friends. Alcohol was always factored into these parties. And the older I got, the more parties there were to attend and you know it didn’t matter who was having the party, if there was a party, you just showed up.
In high school, one of my best friends committed suicide. I think Al realized that all this partying was pointless and there wasn’t very much to look forward to. Well, I started thinking about things and the direction my life was heading in and my future didn’t look too bright either. After graduation, one Friday night, or early Saturday morning, I came home from a party and realized I had to make some changes in my life. And all I could think about was the peaceful feeling I had when I was in the boy scouts, hiking the Appalachian Trail and I wanted that feeling again. So I drug out my old backpack, and packed it with what I thought I needed to live in the mountains. You see, I was going to be the second Grizzly Adams. About 4:00 that morning, I hit the road with my thumb in the air, headed for the mountains. I actually made it up to our spaghetti bowl of a beltway, and it was time to make a decision. Was I going to head west to the mountains or, wait a minute, my brother-in-law and sister, lived up in PA. And I remember, he told me he could get me a job. So north it was. About 9:00 p.m. I arrived at my sister’s front door and sure enough he got me a job. I went to work at box factory in Palmyra, PA. Now my brother-in-law is a former Marine and a Vietnam Vet. So guess what George decided to do? You guessed it, I left for the Marine Corps, August 17, 1981 and I spent 13 of the most wonderful weeks of my life in Paris Island, SC., Marine Corps Recruit Depot. OOORAH!! Of course in the Marine Corps, there were lots of new friends and a lot more alcohol. One thing I did figure out is I did not want to be a private very long. So I did what I had to do to become a squared away Marine. I graduated as honor graduate out of my M.O.S. School and picked up my first stripe. Soon after that I entered the fleet, my unit was shipping off for a Mediterranean float. Our R&R was interrupted by a little conflict in Beirut Lebanon, so they turned the ships around and to Beirut we went. There wasn’t much to do in Beirut but stand guard and drink a cold one when you got a chance. Alcohol was very easy to obtain. The locals were more than eager to take American dollars and bring you back a bottle, so the trend continued.
Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I left for the float, I made one of my weekend excursions to Myrtle Beach and I met this awesome little blonde. She was from this foreign country, somewhere in WV. I’ll have to tell you the whole story some other time. But at the end of the weekend, when we were ready to part ways, she tore off a corner of a deposit slip with her address and phone number. Once I got back to base, I did what any wealthy young Lance Cpl. would do. I called her collect and the romance began. And that awesome little blonde is still standing by my side. We’ll be celebrating 21 years of marriage in August.
While I was in Beirut, Vickie wrote to me every single day and I tried to write every day but it was more like 3 or 4 times a week. You’d be amazed how well you can get to know someone by corresponding by letter. When I returned 8 months later, I went to visit her in WV and I asked her to marry me. I had to marry her because we were going broke trying to date. It got quite expensive, with her in WV and me in NC. So on August 20, 1983 Vickie and I started our life together. It wasn’t long before Vickie wanted to find a church to attend so we did. Right after church, we would run home, put on our bathing suits and head to the beach, by the way of the beer store. The alcohol didn’t seem to be a problem at this time because my sweetie was a little back slidden. But once I got out of the Marine Corps, and we moved to WV, I went to work in a night club. Now the problems began. I spent way too much time at the club than I did at home and our marriage started feeling the effects. Vickie worked days and I worked nights and we spent very little time together. By this time, alcohol had control of my life. I knew something had to be done but I just didn’t have the strength or will power to overcome this monster. All along, I was attending church with Vickie and I would pray for strength but just never really found it. About this same time, the night club closed down. It seems the owners failed to pay their taxes and Uncle Sam came in and put pad locks on the doors. I dreaded telling Vickie that I was unemployed. You see she was 7 months pregnant with our daughter Meredith and I couldn’t understand why she was so excited about me loosing my job. I continued to look for work, meanwhile I tended bar to make a few dollars until something else came along. It did. I went to work for Long John Silvers as a manager, making very little money I might add.
This is when an old Marine Corps buddy gave me a call and told me he was going to drive dump trucks in the DC area and told me he could get me a job. So we packed up our belonging and moved to Northern Virginia. All along I continued to struggle with alcohol. Some nights I would not come home at all. There’s something to say about a praying wife. One of the first job sights I worked on, was this new development called Kingstowne. Vickie and I had been looking for a church and I saw this big brick church on Beulah St. So the next Sunday, Vickie and I attended Calvary Road and I’ll never forget, Mary Payton, the church hostess. The pastor invited all the visitors to go with Mary to his office after the service to get more information about the church. Mary made a statement that morning that I’ll never forget. She said, Pastor Dave believes no one ever comes thru these doors by accident. Pastor Dave visited us that Tuesday evening and we joined the church the next Sunday. I still couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t help me with this struggle. It wasn’t until November 5, 1989 when Dr. J. Harold Smith spoke on God’s 3 deadlines that I realized I knew about Jesus but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. That morning I took a little elevator ride in my heart to find an empty space. Then and there, I asked Jesus Christ to save me from my sins. I wish I could tell you that I immediately conquered the alcohol but I didn’t. It took some time and it took some growing in the Lord. With people like Mike Williams, I slowly began to get a handle on my life. Mike shared a scripture verse with me that has become the foundation of my recovery. That scripture is I Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you except as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I can tell you today it’s been years since I’ve touched the stuff and I have absolutely no desire for it whatsoever.
Last year, when we went thru the Purpose Driven Life, God spoke to me thru Rick Warren. Rick made a statement in Chapter 31, page 26; “God never wastes a hurt. In fact, your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.” That was it. The Lord began to speak to my heart and I knew what my ministry was going to be. In October of last year, I had the pleasure of attending the Super Conference at LU with our staff and Rick Warren was the keynote speaker. Once again, he made that statement. I visited the resource tent and saw the information about Celebrate Recovery for the first time ever. I went back to the arena when we were still on lunch break and I saw Mike Williams sitting across the arena by himself. I made my way over to him and told him about the Celebrate Recovery material and he ask if I were interested in purchasing the startup pack. I told him I was. He told me he had ordered it a couple of weeks ago and had it sitting on his desk waiting for God’s man to come forward. And so here I am.
I look forward to all the wonderful things God has in store for this ministry. We’ll be starting classes immediately after Pastor Dave finishes this sermon series. I would greatly appreciate your prayers and support for this ministry.
God Bless You and Thank You!!