From Dark To Light

The Personal Testimony Of Dale Fuqua

As a real young child, my only memory of church was of children laying on a quilt and hearing a preacher yell. I'm sure we were in and out of church, but never regular.

By the time I was eight years old, my Dad had joined the army, so then began my life as an army brat. We moved constantly, and by third grade, I was in eight different schools in one year. I could not keep up, so I gave up.

After moving so much, I began to feel rejected. All my friends were on a first name basis only. Before you got to know anyone they moved away, so I just decided to put on this mask of 'Mister Cool.' I was determined to fit in with the 'in crowd.' I began to drink, smoke, and cuss at a very early age. I lived life on the jagged edge. I tried desperately to fill the void I felt in my life. Soon all the things I did to be cool, became habits I no longer had control of. I was being controlled. All of this scared me but I was in too deep.

By the time I was 17, my father was sent to Vietnam. We moved to Covington, Tennessee to be near family. Covington was not like an army base; it was not 'cool' so I was on the outside again. I couldn't make friends, everyone thought I was strange. Up came my second mask, one of being a tough guy. I began to act like I didn't care.

My mother began to go to church more regular now, so I went too. I thought it would be a great place to meet girls. The first time I went, I saw her. She was the prettiest girl in the world to me, and I decided she was the girl of my dreams. I did everything I could to make her like me and go out with me. Her name was Kate, and she was sweet, friendly, had high morals and was very religious. She was just the kind of girl I wanted to marry. She was nice to me and listened when no one else would, but was afraid to go out with me. I kept asking her out until one day she said, "Yes." I thought I was in heaven. Later I found out her mother convinced her to go. Her mother had seen something in me that no one else had seen.

Kate made it very clear that church was a big part of her life. If I wanted to be a part of her life, I would have to make it a part of mine. So church became a big part of life. I walked an aisle, said a prayer, and was baptized at the age of 17. Nothing in my life changed. I still felt empty, so within a year I walked the aisle again. I don't remember what I told the preacher, but he told everyone that I surrendered to preach. The old void was still there, but I just didn't know what was wrong.

My father came home from Vietnam, and my family moved away. I stayed behind to live with my Grandparents, not wanting to leave the girl of my dreams. By the time I was 19, I had quit school, gotten a job, and had married that pretty girl I met in church. The void was filled, I thought. Life was great, for a while, then reality set in. By the time I was 21, I was a husband and a father. The pressure was great and the emptiness was even greater. I talked my wife into joining me in the party scene. It was the only time, I could feel safe. We began to live for weekends. Being drunk was the only way I could let down my guard and not feel the emptiness inside. Sober, I was like a spring that had been wound too tight. Any minute I was going to snap. I had become very violent in my temper and was scaring my wife and children to death. Even though we were in and out of churches all the time, I never heard anything that could seem to go through the shield I put up.

After about seven years, my wife said she couldn't take any more. She planned to leave and take my two boys with her as soon as Christmas was over. Somehow, by the grace of God, she decided to stay and give me one more chance.

Within a couple more years, we had bought our first house and had a third little boy. We were in church more regular again, and had reduced our partying to holidays. We heard that an old friend of ours had gotten saved and called to preach. He had been called to pastor a church near us, so we decided to go hear him.

Even though Brother Mike Jones preached the truth and was very good, nothing seemed to really get to me. Once in a while I might hear something that would make me feel guilty, and I would 'rededicate my life' to God. I would try my best to be good and do right but nothing could make me feel any different. I felt like I was in a dark room with no light at all. I didn't know what to do or how to get out, so I adjusted my eyes to the dark and began to enjoy it. It is only by the grace of God, that I ever wanted to get out of there.

We had stopped our party life by this time, so I had to find some other way to fill the void. I began to live at work. I would work as many as 60 to 90 hours a week. I told myself that it was what I needed to do. After all, my family needed money more than they needed me.

The church we were attending had burned and was planning to rebuild. Our pastor wanted to have a tent revival and a note burning on our new property. Little did I know this was about to change the entire course of my life. God sent the preacher, Brother Bob Orgeron, to that tent in Covington, Tennessee just for me. I'm sure of that now. This man really got to me, and some of the things he said really hurt me. He preached a sermon called "Daddy did it." This sermon ate me alive. He told us about a man name Achan, who had committed a sin, and how his whole family had to die because of it. I knew if any man had committed a sin it was me, and I sure didn't want my whole family to die for my sin. Someone had turned on the light, in my once very dark and comfortable room. I began to see things in that room that I didn't like. This made me mad. How dare this man who didn't know me, come and expose me in this way. I determined not to go back, but God determined otherwise. I tried to find reasons not to go, but even my boss sent me home early. He told me to go to that revival meeting.

I knew I was in trouble when the light had shown me the mess my life was in. I didn't know what to do, nor did I have anyone I trusted to help me. I did all I knew to do, and that was to cover up and pretend I was all right.

One day, not long after that tent revival, my wife told me something that really blew my mind. She told me Brother Bob had gotten saved. If that man could be lost where did that leave me? I knew that I could be lost too. Within a year, Brother Bob had left his church in Mississippi and had moved to Covington, Tennessee. Sometime later, he began to pastor a small church close to us. I didn't know why at the time, but I felt I had to be there, so we changed churches again.

I saw something different in this man from the one who had done that tent revival just a short time before. Does getting saved really change someone? If so, why wasn't I changed? I didn't know, but I was sure I was all right.

Things were beginning to change all around me. My wife was acting different, and for some reason I really wanted to spend time with her and my sons. I began to enjoy church and the things of God. I no longer slept through church. I was even beginning to hear some of the things that were preached. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I liked it. I know now it was the goodness of God loving me into repentance. One night in January, Kate asked me if I had ever doubted my salvation. I said, "Yeah, but I'm all right." She told me she thought that she might be lost. That shook me up, but I never let on.

A week later, I looked up during an invitation and there was my wife in the altar. I had never really seen anyone get saved before, and this was sure different. She and Pam, the pastor's wife, were in the altar hugging, crying, and laughing all at the same time. Later, I found out, that they had also been praying for me. I left church that day with a new wife. A wife I could not rattle nor make angry. I was happy for her, but I just could not understand the change and peace I saw in her. I could no longer deny that she had something I didn't have.

In March of that year, we planned a trip to Nashville, for the youth convention. I was looking forward to it, because it meant I would have three whole days off work. The first night our seats were up in the clouds and the air was real thin. I fully expected someone to get a nosebleed. I was looking for anything, except what did happen. The speaker told us to turn to the person beside us and give our testimony. I turned to the young man, on my right and God said, "Just what do you plan to tell this boy." God was right, I didn't have anything to tell. Suddenly the Holy Spirit of God fell on me and showed me who and what I was. God had convinced me that I was a wicked, lost and dying sinner bound to spend an eternity in hell. I felt like I was in a dark cave, and a long way off I could see a glimmer of light. I started toward the light, but the path kept getting smaller and smaller. I had to keep backing up in my mind and taking off things that I had put on in this world. All the way back to the motel room, I was afraid I would die before I could reach the light. I kept trying to say it was anything but what it was. Probably for the first time in my life, I had to be honest with myself and with God. When we finally got back to our motel room, I tried to conceal the problem, but I couldn't. I was willing to try almost anything; I even tried to read my Bible, but nothing was helping. I had to get to that light soon before I died in the cave lost and alone. I needed help; I asked Brother Bob if I could talk to him. He said, "OK," got his Bible and started to the balcony. I was afraid I would fall off the balcony, before I could get to the light, so I was relieved when he went into the other room instead.

He asked me what the problem was. I don't know what I meant to say, but what I said was, "I'm lost." He began reading to me from John chapter 4, about the woman at the well. I couldn't hear or understand what he was saying. The power of God was so strong on me; that all I could see was myself in the cave. The path leading to the light was getting smaller, and now it was making me sick. Finally, we knelt on the floor to pray. The tears of all the sin, shame, and unbelief began to fall. I felt sure I was going to die, but God was just stripping me down to fit through the hole at the end of the cave. I still couldn't make it; I could not take off enough to make it through that tiny opening. Here I was at the light, and I could touch the opening, but I couldn't get through it. I was going to die and I deserved it. I told God that I was unworthy and asked Him to save me. Then all at once, all the pain and guilt was replaced with peace and joy. I was out of the cave; I felt free for the first time, and the emptiness in my life was filled. I know now, that only God was able to get me through the tiny opening at the end of the cave.

I had spent my whole life looking for someone to love and accept me. Wearing one mask after another just to be cool, be somebody, and be accepted. Now here on March 3, 1989, just one day away from my 39th birthday, God showed me he loved me, and by the blood of His Son I was accepted.

Since then, my life has totally changed. My wife and I love each other very much. We finally have our house in order: God first, family second, and work last. I can't get enough of reading and studying God's Word. Many of my questions have been answered. Yes, getting saved really does change a person from the inside out; yes, you can be sure of eternal life, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm no longer just a church member, but one of the Bride of Christ.

Now God is constantly raising me as one of His children. Teaching me how I should live and raise my family through his Word. I still sin, but He forgives me. I still stumble and fall, but He always picks me up and puts me on my feet again.

I thank God for the day He brought me out of the cave into the light; the day He filled the emptiness in my soul with His love and mercy. I want to spend the rest of my life serving Him and sharing His love with others just like me.