By Mark Ellis —
Kyle Duty’s parents split up when he was only four-years-old, then his mother took him and his siblings across the U.S. to get away from his father.
“She basically hid me from my father, and we lived in housing projects,” Kyle told God Reports. “So that was kind of rough for my sister. She was four years older and she got beat up a lot.”
Five years later, they moved back to California, where they lived in a housing project in Thousand Oaks. “For me, that was like winning the lottery because I got to go to school with pretty normal kids.”
In sixth grade one of Kyle’s friends convinced him to try smoking pot. “It was pretty bad at first, it was kind of terrifying. Why I ended up going back and doing more, I had no idea.”
A year later, his older sister persuaded him to start selling pot. Kyle also got a part-time job working for a gardener mowing lawns, a Vietnam vet. “He smoked pot, and he got me selling for him too. And then it became my identity. It’s who I knew myself to be.
“I was a drug dealer and I started failing school. My brain just couldn’t concentrate at that point, and I really started falling apart pretty quick.”
Kyle’s mother didn’t seem to care if he did well in school. “She really didn’t help prepare me for anything and my dad didn’t either.” Kyle’s father was living in San Diego, and they only had contact once a year.
In high school, Kyle continued selling drugs. “As a drug dealer, I was already on the radar of several detectives in town. They were waiting for me to turn 18 as I found out with one of my other drug dealing friends. When he turned 18, they got him immediately. Then they gave him a choice of either turning people in or going to prison for 20 years.”
Kyle had no church background whatsoever. “My passion was riding motocross. I didn’t know anything about God, I didn’t know anything about Jesus. I was clueless. I didn’t see any need to know any of that.”
One Sunday night, Kyle came home and sat on the couch in their apartment. “Mom had a TV on and she was sitting over in her chair reading a book. She wasn’t paying attention to TV. I sat down and started petting the cat.”
Kyle became vaguely aware a preacher was speaking on TV, but he didn’t focus on the message. “Some guy was talking about God and Jesus. I don’t remember it registering in my mind what the guy was talking about.”
But then something remarkable happened. The wind of the Spirit touched Kyle’s heart.
“I remember feeling strange, and I thought, This is really weird. Why am I feeling strange? I can’t figure this out.
“Then I started to get emotional, but I didn’t understand why. What’s going on here? he wondered.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
Kyle walked around the back of his mother’s chair and went into his room. “I didn’t even flip on the light. I just sat on the edge of my bed,” he recounts.
Then he asked a question he had never considered: “Is this you God?”
As a confirmation, the wind of the Spirit touched him again. “I suddenly felt incredibly peaceful. I mean, remarkably peaceful. I never felt that peaceful before. I’ve never felt that peaceful since.”
Then God impressed something important on his heart: You’re not going to be a drug dealer anymore.
“It was in my head, and my heart was being affected because of the peace. It was vibrant. I remember agreeing, saying okay.”
Without any conscious effort on his part, without reciting a sinner’s prayer, barely understanding what was happening, Kyle was a new creature in Christ!
When Kyle woke up the next day and prepared for school, he thought, This is going to be interesting. I look like a drug dealer. I sound like a drug dealer, but I’m not a drug dealer anymore.
“The only thing that stuck in my head was: This guy Jesus has got something to do with this. And he apparently is talked about it in the Bible…
Where do I go from here? I figure I’m going to have to get a Bible.
As a senior graduating from high school, Kyle only read at a third or fourth grade level. “Somebody had given me a Bible, a King James version, which was really hard. So I just walked around with it. I went to school and walked around with it. I tried to read it,” he recalls.
His friends noticed he was different. They particularly noticed the Bible. “What’s going on with you?” one asked.
“I don’t know…I don’t know. I just figured that Jesus is in the Bible and I gotta figure out who he is.”
For the next several weeks Kyle repeated that line. Sometimes, he would ask people: “Do you know who Jesus is?”
One day Kyle left his apartment and was walking down the street. He could hear the sound of an electric guitar coming from another apartment. “I knocked on their window and a guy opened it, and he was about 19-years-old.”
They talked about the guitar for a while and then suddenly the guitar player flipped the script. “Do you know Jesus? Are you a Christian?” he asked.
“Well, I’m not really sure,” Kyle replied. “I believe in God. I really want to know more.”
“My brother’s a pastor at this church here in town; they meet at the community center. Would you like to come?”
“Yeah!” Kyle exclaimed.
“They were teaching verse by verse and I started learning more, getting some solid biblical teaching. I got another Bible and it began to make sense to me.” He read with a dictionary next to him, because of the deficiencies in his reading skills.
“I’ve been in pursuit of a relationship with the Lord ever since,” he says.
“God gets all the credit for this because I didn’t really respond that I can remember. And He’s the one who provided the feeling of peace that was overwhelming. That was him! That wasn’t me.
“God realized I was so far gone…I had so much to learn, to figure out what He is like. I knew we had a journey ahead, and I said, ‘Let’s go.’”