For years, I was an abusive, prejudiced drug dealer. I had a $3,000-a-day cocaine and heroin habit. My life was all about me. Then I started having encounters with God.
During one encounter, I was sitting in a lounge getting high when a drunk guy walked up to me, pointed his finger and laughed. “Ha, ha, ha. I’m supposed to be here. You’re not. You’re supposed to be doing something for God.” He made me so mad I just wanted to beat him. He messed up my whole night. I couldn’t party anymore so I just went home. That’s when my life started feeling like a movie—where I had escaped from prison and was running through the woods beings chased by dogs. I could no longer get any peace.
During another encounter, I had a shoot-out with a group of drug dealers for about 15 minutes during which I kept reloading. After it was over one of the guys who worked for me came over to me and said, “How did those bullets miss you?” When I looked behind me, there were five bullet holes in the wall that I had been standing in front of. It’s as if they went right through me. Later, I found out my grandmother had been up at 3:00 that morning and started praying for me—the exact time of the shoot out.
By this time, I knew God was after me. Something was going on. I was driving on the expressway when I started feeling something coming upon me. I felt like I was at the end of a rope and the rope was love. It was as if it was pulling me someplace I didn’t want to go. It was so strong. I remember saying, “Whatever or whoever is messing with me, leave me alone.” But it never stopped. He kept on drawing me and pulling me.
Another time, I was driving down the street and I saw a man dressed real raggedy. He was wearing three or four coats at one time with holes in them. I kept looking at him because I knew he had something to do with me. I just wanted to make the light so I could get away from him. Right when I reached the intersection, the light turned red. He turned and looked at me like he knew I was there. When I looked at him, he was smiling at me—but he had my face. I’m not sure if it was a vision or a real person—but it looked real. Then I heard God speak to me. I had heard Him before, but this time He wasn’t playing. He said to me, “Willie, you can come the way you are now or you can go through what you just saw and lose everything. But either way you are going to serve me.” He was done being nice with me.
I told Him, “You know what? My family loves me. They would never let me become a bum like that guy.”
So I called my mother and she said something to me she ain’t never said to me before, “Willie I’m tired of your drug dealing and the way you are living your life. Don’t call me anymore.” She hung up. She knew I dealt drugs and didn’t like it but she never talked to me like that. Next, I called my favorite aunt who said the exact same words. Then I knew—God had moved their hearts against me. Now I got scared.
I went to one of my drug hangouts. I started talking to several of the guys who worked for me about how I was going to have this ring made. It was a ring with diamonds on the top and rubies on the side. The minute I got done telling them, someone knocked on the door. He had the exact ring I had just described that I was going to have made for myself. He asked for me and wanted to know if I wanted it. I was kind of puzzled. Then I started talking about a fur coat that I wanted—mink with a fox collar. Right after I finished describing the coat, another guy came to the door with the exact coat. My friend asked me what was going on. I told him I didn’t know but that I was getting out of there. I was trying to figure out what was happening. I had always known about God but not this part of Him.
I asked my friend to take me to a motel. When we got to the motel, I was telling him things I wanted him to do. He left. About five minutes later he came back and knocked on the door. When I answered the door he asked me if I had left this item in the car. It was a little book about 1 inch long and 1 inch wide. The minute I saw it I knew it was the book my cousin gave me two years earlier. At the time, I had thrown it out the window. Now I understand how it got there. I believe an angel picked it up and at the right time put it where I could find it.
I told him to give it to me. At the time, I was watching a program on television about the U.S. trying to capture Manuel Noriega, of Panama. It was as if the TV was talking to me. On TV, the newscasters were saying, “I think they got him.” I was thinking maybe I should just give up. Then the newscaster said, “We just about got him.” This talk about capturing him went on and on. I must have given up in my heart because the next thing I knew I was standing over the toilet flushing my cocaine. I was confused. I couldn’t remember walking over, picking up the cocaine, walking into the bathroom and flushing it down the toilet.
I got really scared, fell on the bed and said, “God, I give up.” WHOOSH! All this peace and joy went through my body. It was so awesome that I rose up off the bed and said “What was that? I ain’t ever had a high this good.”
When I got off the bed, all fear had left me. I felt peace and love. It was a cold, winter day and I decided to go for a walk. Before that, I was always afraid to walk by myself. Drug dealers were kidnapped, robbed or killed. But the fear just left me. So I remember walking and everything looked so beautiful—the snow, the birds, the sky. It’s like I was walking in darkness before. I didn’t notice the beauty. I was so happy.
Now I have to tell you this—before I walked into the motel, I hated white people—and they knew it. Whenever I walked by them, they wouldn’t even look at me. But now I had love going through me. White people started coming up to me and just started talking to me. My mind hadn’t caught up to what God did in my heart because I kept trying to figure it out. Now you have to know I didn’t know anything about being born again. When I got back to the motel, this is what I told God, “I don’t want no Jesus and I don’t want no Holy Spirit. All I want is you.” I didn’t have a clue that Jesus was the only way to the Father. But one thing I can tell you is that I was born again. I was a changed man but I didn’t know that salvation was through Jesus.
After, I heard a voice say, “What are you going to do now? All your drugs are gone. You’re going to have withdrawals. You’re going to be vomiting, in pain and sick.” I got into bed and curled up like a baby. I don’t know if God put me to sleep or if I fell asleep. The next morning I woke up with no sickness, pain or vomiting— impossible with all the drugs I used to do.
The following day, my friend who worked for me came back to the motel and I told him what had happened. He said, “Nigger, are you crazy? What are you going to do? You got all these women and you’re making money. So what are you going to do? Let’s take a ride so I can show you all these niggers that went to jail where we can open up spots.” I don’t know how I knew but I knew it was a test.
We drove around and he showed me new spots where we could start selling drugs. We were on our way back to our hangout. When we got to the driveway and I was about to get out of the car, I said, “No. Take me back to the motel.” The guy driving turned around and said, “You passed, Willie.” And I knew that was God speaking to me. Back at the motel, I asked him why he told me I passed. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. No one else in the car had heard him say that but me.
When I woke up, it was Christmas Day, 1989. I felt I had to go to church. I felt an urge to go there. I knew it was God. I went outside but my car wouldn’t start. I knew I had to get to church so I called my girlfriend. She came to pick me up. She asked me where we were going and I told her to church. She asked me why I wanted to go to church when we could go back inside the motel and have sex. She had on a short dress. I was looking at her legs and out of my mouth came, “Just take me and drop me off at a church.”
“What church?” she asked. I told her any church. She took me to a church and when I walked in the service was already to the altar call. I went straight to the altar and that’s when I accepted Him publicly. When I left church, I noticed all the cars driving by. It was my drug dealing friends trying to see if what they heard—that Willie had accepted Jesus—was true.
After that, I called my mother and told her what I did. She told me that she already knew. When I ask her how she already knew she said, “Every time you hang up someone calls and tells me, ‘Your son just gave his life to Jesus.'”
Dr. Bill Winston of the Living World Christian Center in Forest Park, Illinois can be contacted as a reference in support of this testimony. Willie Smith can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.