By Michael Ashcraft –
A shotgun blast to his face left Leonard Williams blind.
The gun blast should have blown his head completely off. He was only 19.
“It was the grace of God that kept me alive,” Leonard says.
Leonard grew up in Yuma, Arizona, at a time when the only economic activity revolved around the military base and agriculture.
For a young man looking for excitement, there was little besides playing shuffleboard at the county center, so Leonard fell into drugs and the streets just like his older brothers.in the 1960s. He had eight brothers and four sisters.
He met the girl who is now his wife in high school and they had a child, moving in together when Leonard was 17.
He dropped out of high school because of one assignment that involved an oral report. He was terrified of public speaking, and since an oral report was required to pass the class, he dropped the entire shebang.
In 1977, gang culture hadn’t developed too much. Mostly, kids fought by neighborhoods. Somebody from a rival neighborhood had stolen his Chevy Impala and burned it.
Leonard and his buddies went out looking for revenge. His head was sticking out of the window as he looked for the culprits.
Before he could see or do anything, the culprits fired a shotgun at him.
“My head should have been taken off at the shoulders,” he says.
Leonard had once given his life to Christ as a child at a church where his parents dropped him. He knew about God.
But even though his life was spared miraculously, Leonard still didn’t give up the life of drugs and fully surrender to Jesus. Stubbornly, he persisted in the party life.
He told his girlfriend that she should look for another man, since he was blind.
But she had other ideas. Leonard was the father of the child in her womb, and she insisted they get married.
“I’m not going nowhere,” she said. “I’m not having a child being an unwed mother.”
So they went to the justice of the peace to formalize their union.
After several months of surgeries that involved the best specialists at the time, Leonard recovered just enough sight to get around without falling down. He can even read with a magnifying glass, but he holds the large-print Bible about three inches from his face. He remains “legally blind.”
Leonard was hostile to the idea of seeking Jesus. As a consequence of his party lifestyle, his marriage was “deteriorating” to the point of divorce.
His wife was the first to attend.
He angrily opposed her attending.
One day, she was driving; he can’t drive. He told her, “We’re NOT going to that church.”
But since he was blind, he didn’t realize that she drove him to church. He didn’t realize where he was until it was too late.
She went in, and he stayed in the car fuming.
Soon, a brother from the church came out to cajole him to come in and he relented.
Leonard accepted Jesus that day.
He realized that he needed to go to every service and prayer if was going to resist the temptation to fall back into sin.
This reversed the roles. Now it was his wife who opposed going to church. She just wanted to go weekly or bi-weekly. He wanted to go to daily prayer, outreaches on Saturday, drama practices, discipleships – every time the church was open.
It was too much for her, but Leonard explained, “If you don’t want me to go back into sin, then I need to go to church.”
The daily encouragement, exhortation, and fellowship was like daily nutrition for his soul.
Eventually, Leonard began taking on ministry. He began to specialize in praying for the sick and seeing them healed.
After several years, he was ordained a pastor of a church. No impediment was able to stop him from serving God and having a fruitful ministry.
Today, Leonard is an evangelist with Christian Fellowship Ministries, a church planting movement based in Arizona, the same organization that helped him find the Lord.
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
About this writer: Michael Ashcraft is a financial professional in California.