The Most Powerful Year Of My Life So Far
I was working for a company in Florida who set concrete sound walls for subdivisions and highways. I ran a crane that unloaded the walls off the trucks and set them in place. I had been drunk for 3 solid years. I had breathed very few sober breaths in 3 years. My dad and I started a business with the woman I was living with. We were buying houses and remodeling them and reselling them. She furnished the down payment, my dad financed the houses and I did most of the work. The three of us were also in partnership in a landscaping business that I ran by myself. I was facing felony charges that were sure to send me to prison. I was a busy womanizing drunk about to enter the gates of hell.
I lived in motel rooms all over Florida driving my crane from job to job. I did the remodeling and landscaping in between jobs. I was lying in a motel one night and I raised my hands and cried and said to God, “If it’s not too late, I want you to save me. If it is too late, I want you to kill me because I am tired of this life and I want out of it. If you save me, I will give you my life and do whatever you tell me to do. I do not want to sit in a church pew. I want you to use me.”
Nothing happened and God did not show up. The next morning I went to work as usual. This was a Friday, a day we normally went home on, but there was a job that was an emergency so they sent us to Sarasota, Florida and got me a motel room in downtown Sarasota. We worked hard and late that day. I got to the motel around 8:00pm Friday night. I parked my crane and my heart was grieved and aching because God had not answered my cry. I figured it was too late, so I walked down the street a couple of blocks to a bar where I went to drink myself stupid or hopefully dead. I wanted this life to end that night.
I sat down beside a pretty lady and started drinking straight vodka. After 5 drinks, for some reason, I got up and walked to the door. I had no desire to leave the bar. I have no explanation of why I got up and went to the door except the Holy Spirit somehow convinced me to walk to the door. The door was a very large extra thick heavy wooden door. I will never forget that door. I wasn’t drunk yet; 5 vodkas didn’t even faze me, but when I opened the big wooden door the wind hit me in the face. The wind was not blowing outside. The wind that hit me was the wind of the Holy Spirit. I began to laugh and cry uncontrollably. A river of tears was flowing from my eyes. The people in the bar began to stare at me so I closed the door and walked to the other side of the street. From the moment I walked out that door, my life has never been the same. Kind of like Saul on the road to Damascus when Jesus showed up.
When I got to the other side of the street, the Lord spoke to me and said to turn right. My motel was to the left and I wanted to go to it, but I followed the Lord. It was around midnight in the hood. There was a very large black man walking towards me. The Lord spoke to me and said, “I want you to talk to that man.” I asked what to say. I was still laughing and crying uncontrollably. The Lord said that He would tell me what to say. I walked up to this giant of a man and said, “Do you know your mama is praying for you?” Now, I had never been to Sarasota, Florida in my like and I had no clue who this man was or anything about him. He asked me, “Did my mama send you?” I told him, “No, but the One you mama is praying to sent me.” This man began to confess his sins and repent right there in the streets. He bear hugged me like I was his long lost brother. Both of us were weeping under the power of God. He told me that he had to go to Georgia because his mama would know what to do from here. He left and I kept walking.
I came to a red light and the Lord told me to turn left. When I got to the first street, He told me to turn left again. The street I turned on was a long narrow street. It had houses on both sides halfway down and then it was just vacant lots. There was only one street light on the whole street at the very end. It was very dark as I walked. I got to the end at the only street light and had seen nobody. The Lord told me to turn around and go back, so I did. As I walked back, there was a black man walking towards me. There was nothing behind me to walk to, only a dead end street. The Lord told me to speak to him and once again, I asked what to say and the Lord said that He would tell me. When I got to him I said, “Do you know Jesus?” He said, “What took you so long?” I was confused by that and asked him what he meant. He told me that two weeks ago he was lying in the bed and asked God if He was real to send someone to tell him. Two weeks before this night, I was a drunken womanizer and had no plan of following Jesus. We wrapped our arms around each other tight and cried like two long lost brothers.
After that, I called my mom on the phone still laughing and crying and told her what was happening. She was overwhelmed with joy after spending most of my 39 years of life on her knees praying for me. As the Lord led me through these streets my mom was praying in tongues. I witnessed to two more black men, one black woman and a white homosexual man. My whole life prior to this, I hated blacks and homosexuals. God sent me first to minister to the people I had hated so that I could see that He loved everyone and so that I could let go of my hatred.
I made it back to my room, went to bed and woke up still laughing and crying. We finished the job that day. I ended up quitting that job to focus on what God was telling me to do. I was sitting at my kitchen table reading a book and ad I turned to the last page, God showed me a picture of a man I had purposely wrecked on a race track one Saturday night in Texas. He was in my way and I put him in the wall. It was just a picture of him in my mind, not a real picture. The Lord said, “I want you to give this man your race car, your trailer, your tools and all your spare parts.” I told God that that was all I had left of my once prosperous life in Oklahoma because I had lost everything I owned. He reminded me that I had said that I would do whatever He told me to do. He said that He had bigger fish for me to fry. So, I called him up and told him what the Lord had told me. He said that if the Lord spoke to me it was a miracle and that if I was giving away my sprint car that that was another miracle. He said that if I was serious, he was on his way. I had approximately $75,000 invested in all that. He knew that I had been a womanizing drunk. He showed up and I gave it all to him. The only one thing I had was faith and I knew the Lord’s voice when He spoke. My dad and our female partner thought I had lost what little amount of sense I had.
I found a little Assembly of God church in Polk City, Florida. I told the pastor how I had gotten saved and I told him that the Lord told me to find a solitary place where I could fast and pray and read the word and talk to the Lord. So he took me to a small pond in the middle of a large orange orchard. It was a very quiet and peaceful place. The blooms were out on the orange trees and it smelled like heaven, but the mosquitoes ere terrible! I went there in my old Ford pickup. I would spend days there fasting and praying and reading and listening for God’s voice.
One day, I drove up to the pond and God began to speak to me immediately. The pastor had given me a journal and told me to write down all that God told me. So, I began to write as God spoke. He gave me a vision as He spoke and explained. He told me that I would race NASCAR. The vision was of a purple car with Jesus on the hood in white and red letters. The car was number 7. The hauler had Jesus and scriptures and a cross and the car on it. A lot of details were given to me that day. I didn’t really understand a lot of it at that time.
I went to the pastor and told him all that God had told me. He took me to the altar of the church and we laid the vision on the altar and prayed over it. The next day, I received a letter in the mail from a witch in Michigan addressed to me personally. The letter said that she was the private spiritist of Hillary Clinton and other prominent people. She told me how she had seen a vision of me and my name in the spirit world. She said I was going to come into a lot of money like winning the lottery. She said it was going to be magik (spelled with a k). She said that she could show me how to get it fast without having to wait for it. I showed this to the pastor. We prayed over this letter, cursed it and the devil and burned it in the fire. He anointed me with oil and prayed over me for protection. She had explained in the letter how hard I was to track down. She had searched long and hard to find me.
I went back to my private spot to pray and fast and the Lord told me to go to Daytona Speedway the next day. At this time I did not know much about NASCAR. I had never been to Daytona Speedway. I had never heard of speed week. I did not know that the Daytona 500 was the next weekend. So, on Monday, I went to Daytona. When I got there the Lord told me to go to the pits. As the cars were standing in line to get on the track to practice, I saw a car with the number 7 on it and another car with Jesus on the hood. Now, I was a baby in Christ and still a little hot headed and impatient. I really didn’t understand much about God yet. When I saw these two cars, I immediately got mad and told God, “How can all this happen when these two cars already exist?” Like He was going to bring it to pass that day or something.
I went to my truck, drove back to Lakeland, got drunk and called up the pastor at midnight and mad a big fool of myself. The night I had gotten saved, God had delivered me from alcohol, tobacco and coffee all in one night and after two weeks of a migraine hangover, He had set me free from all the aftereffects. Well, that night I used all three of them again and my female partner. Bad night!
The next day, the Lord told me to go back to Daytona. I told Him no, that I was not going. I told Him that it could not happen like He told me it would. He reminded me of my words that I would do whatever He told me to do. So, I said ok and I repented and Wednesday morning I went back.
When I arrived at Daytona, the Lord told me to go back to the pits and find the garage of the car that had Jesus on the hood. He told me to stand by the window of that garage all day and not to leave. I found it and stood by that window.
They would work on the car and take it out on the track then bring it back in and work on it some more; back and forth all day. I stayed there all day. Morgan Shepherd was the driver. I had never heard of Him before. By late in the day, he had noticed me and was paying attention to me. Finally, he came over to the window and opened it. He said, “Can I help you?” I had absolutely no clue what to say. I had no clue he was going to speak to me but these words came out of my mouth, “I am a Christian sprint car driver from Texas and I want to be on your team.”
Now, I didn’t have much money to my name and no clue what I was doing or where I was headed. I knew nothing about NASCAR except that I had gone to 5 NASCAR races at Texas Speedway. I was drunk at all 5 of them. Morgan told me that they didn’t have much money and they had no sponsors and barely made it to Daytona. Once again why these words came out of my mind I don’t know, but I said, “I don’t need any money; I just want to be on your team.” Those words could have only come from the Lord because I had no money. Those words did not come from me.
He went to his hauler and got me a business card. He handed it to me with his cell phone number on the back and told me to call him after Daytona and we would talk. I said ok, shook his hand and walked away. I left the pits and walked up in to the stands in turn one. The cars were still practicing. As I was watching the cars go by, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Next February, you will race this track.”
Everything had been happening so fast, I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed a witness that the Lord had told me this, so I called my mom and told her what the Lord said. She didn’t really know what to say.
I went back home to Lakeland. Morgan did not qualify for Daytona. I called him on Monday and he told me to come to Hickory, NC and He would meet me and take me to his shop to help get the car ready for California. That was the next race after Daytona.
The only thing I had was faith in God, so I loaded my clothes and headed to Hickory, NC. I arrived and Morgan met me at a gas station and led me to his shop. His house was next to his shop. He had a little 2 story cabin next to his house called the Lug Nut Hut. The crew chief named Gramps lived there He let me stay there with Gramps. Gramps didn’t like me because I spent all my time praying and talking about God.
They didn’t start work until 8:00am. I would be at the shop at 5:30 every morning, sweeping the floor, cleaning the shop and praying over the tools and cars. I had no money. I trusted God for everything. It took all I had for gas to get there. Morgan took me to breakfast every morning and lunch every day and to church with him on Wednesdays and Sundays.
We didn’t get the car ready for California and there was a week off between California and Las Vegas. So, it was three weeks before we went to Las Vegas. During those three weeks, Morgan took me in like his own son. He told everyone He had finally found someone with the same heart he had.
He had been pulling his race car to the track with a pickup and trailer. The week before Vegas, someone gave him a tractor trailer race car hauler. Morgan found out I had a CDL so he took me to pick it up. We took the trailer and got it wrapped and ready for Vegas. Morgan asked me if I would drive his hauler to Vegas. I was very excited and sad the of course I would love to. I met a lot of people during those three weeks.
Most people I have met so far, since I have been saved, believe that God fits in a box. They believe you pray and do everything else yourself. They don’t believe that God shows up and does miracles anymore. They don’t believe in getting out of the church and doing anything miraculous for God. I have talked to God, walked with God and seen His power first hand and all I have is faith.
We loaded the race car and tools and I headed across the country down I-40 to Las Vegas. It was snowing very hard as I went through Asheville, NC. Morgan gave me a cell phone to take with me and $800 for food, fuel and whatever else I needed. He told me when I got to Vegas to drive down the strip on my way to the track and pick up a man and his wife and take them to the track with me. They were our sponsors for the weekend. They paid for all of our expenses; including rooms, food and fuel to and from Vegas. So, I stopped in the middle of the strip, picked them up in front of the casino and they rode in my sleeper t the track so no one could see them.
We got to the track and unloaded the drive around car and I went to the airport to pick up Morgan, Gramps and the car chief. We went back to the track and I unloaded the car and tools in the garage, then went to Harrah’s Casino and got our rooms all free of charge. That night while Morgan was wining and dining the sponsors, I got a bunch of his cards and walked up and down the strip handing them out and telling people about Jesus. The cards had a picture of the car and Morgan on front an the Ten Commandments on the back. I met a lot of people that night.
The next day, we got the car ready for practice but it was a whole second slower than the last place car. Morgan was pissed. He said, “We drove all this way and ain’t even going to qualify!” Morgan, Gramps and the car chief all went in the hauler to discuss what to do to get the car a second faster to qualify. The car was up on jack stands in the garage. I got the creeper and climbed under the car. I grabbed ahold of the truck arms with both hands and I told God, “I don’t know why I am here, but we came all the way from Hickory, NC with your name on this car. Show these men what they need to do to get this car in the race.” When they came out of the hauler, we changed the truck arms and bushings. When we went back out, we qualified 43rd and we were in the race.
Morgan was happy that night. The next day, Morgan asked me if I would be his spotter. I had never spotted in my life and I had never had a spotter. I had no clue what a spotter did. Of course, I told him yes I would do it.
When it came time for the driver’s meeting with NASCAR, Gramps was busy with the car so Morgan asked me to go to the meeting with him. We sat by Dale JR, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Now at this time God has shown me that there is nothing He can’t accomplish. You don’t just walk in off the streets and sit in on a NASCAR drivers meeting and sit by the top 4 drivers in NASCAR. It just doesn’t happen.
We got ready to race and I went to the spotters’ stand. The race began and after about 10 laps, there was a wreck. Everybody pitted except Morgan. He stayed out and that put him in first place. When the green flag dropped, Morgan pulled over and let every car on the track pass him. Then he said that he had a vibration and pulled the car to the garage. He said, “Load it up boys, we’re goin home.” I was stunned and overwhelmed. I didn’t understand; I was pissed. We loaded the car and I took Morgan, Gramps and the car chief to the airport. Morgan knew that I was pissed. I didn’t say one word the whole time. I told God, “If you have a plan for me here then show me what it is; if not, get me out of here because I don’t want to be a part of this.”
I drove through a blizzard from Flagstaff, AZ to Oklahoma City, OK. I got back to Hickory at noon on Wednesday and Morgan fired me on the spot. I hadn’t called anybody all the way back to let them know where I was. The cell phone that Morgan had given me broke. I had been with Morgan for 30 days.
I had a full tank of gas and $20 in my pocket. I prayed for Morgan and my pickup and the $20 and I made it back to my driveway in Lakeland with my truck on empty. It was another miracle from God.
It was March when I got back. My partner and my dad had a contract and closing date on our house. All of my charges had been dropped. All I had to do was sign some papers and I was free. I had about $10,000 coming from the sale of the house, but God told me to give my part to my partner and walk away. So I was broke and homeless.
I had some very nice expensive furniture that I gave away to a couple from the church. I went back to the orange orchard and fasted and prayed and God told me to give my pickup and last remaining possessions to my dad and walk out of Florida. I started walking with $5 in quarters in my pocket, the clothes on my back and my Bible and journal.
I headed north. After about 50 miles of intense walking, I came to the interstate. I tried to hitchhike on the entrance ramp, but nobody picked me up. My feet were killing me and I was very tired. I began to cry and I asked God, “How did I get here and what do you want with me?” I drank some hot tea with my last dollar and threw it up. God said, “Are you ready to listen?” I said that I was. The Lord told me that if I would follow Him and listen and do everything He told me that He would take me to the winner’s circle and championship stage of NASCAR and I would speak His words. Then He said, “Now, pick up the phone and call your mom and tell her you need a ride to her house in Texas.” I was 39 years old and had never asked anyone for anything. I had worked my butt off since I was 15 years old and paid my own way. I told God this and He said, “You told Me you would do everything I told you to do.” So, I called my mom. She told me to find a bus station. It was another 17 miles. She bought me a ticket. It was a 3 day ride to Bryan, Texas. I had no food or money.
When I finally got there, Mom took me to eat and then to her house. When I took my shoes off the first layer of skin came off with my socks and my feet smelled like a dead pig. They were rotten. I took and bath and my mom rubbed salve on my feet and prayed over them. When I woke up the next morning they were completely healed.
The Lord told me to sit at my mom’s kitchen table and fast, pray, read His word and do what He told me. That was a very hard task for a workaholic like me. But, I began my next step of following the call of God. I never knew following Jesus was this hard. I was at a place I had not been since I was a child. Broke with no possessions to my name, living with my mom and depending on her to feed, house and clothe me. I never dreamed I would ever be back here.
I began fasting, praying, reading and seeking God with everything I had. The only way I know how to do anything was with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. God began to teach me many things. I fasted so much my body didn’t know whether to crap or store it up.
The little brother of one my best friend when I was 25 years old, got hit by a train going 55mph and got ejected out the back window of his extended cab Chevy pickup head first. They took him in a helicopter to Waco, Texas. They could not x-ray him because he was too swollen. They put him in a head, neck and back brace and cleaned him up and sent him home until the swelling went down. He looked like a train hit him head on. It was terrible.
The Lord told me to go visit him. His mom and dad were there. I knew them like they were my own kinfolk. I visited him for a few minutes and then sat on the porch and visited with his mom and dad. His mom, Mary looked at me and said, “Something is different about you. Your color is different, your countenance is different; you just ain’t the same. What happened?” I told her that I gave my life to Jesus and He called me to preach the gospel. Her husband used to work with me in the construction world. He just laughed, but Mary said that she knew it and that she could tell that I wasn’t the same.
When the swelling went down, they took Lance back to Waco and x-rayed him. The doctor told him that his neck was broken and he needed emergency surgery. He said that with the surgery, he had a 50/50 chance of being paralyzed from the neck down and without the surgery, he would soon be paralyzed. Lance told the doctor that he needed a second opinion and some time to think. The doctor told him he was crazy.
He came back home on a Friday and the Lord told me to go to his house and deliver a message to him. When I walked in his front door, he was on the couch and wearing his brace. I told him that the Lord wanted to heal his neck but He wanted Lance to give Him his life first. He wanted him to accept Jesus as his Lord. Lance did not hesitate and replied, “What do I do, how do I do this? I’m ready.” I took him out on the front porch and sat down at a table with him and I led him in the sinner’s prayer. When we finished, I told him I would pick him up Sunday morning and take him to church with me. He said, “You ain’t gonna make a fool out of me are you?” I told him no, it would be ok. While I was on my way home, he called me and told me that his momma was going to come with us. I told him that would be wonderful.
As I was still driving home from Lance’s house, the Lord told me to start a fast right then with no food and no water. He said for me to not put anything in my mouth until I saw Lance’s healing. At this time, I had only been saved for 4 months and had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues yet. I told the pastor of my mom’s church what the Lord told me to do. He said for me to do exactly what the Lord told me and that he would turn the service over to me.
Sunday morning, I picked up Lance and his mom met us at the church. We all sat together with my mom. After praise and worship, the pastor called me up. At this time, no one in the church knew what had happened to me. They just knew I showed up one day and I was not a hell raiser anymore and I that I spent a whole lot of time on my knees at the altar crying.
I told them a short version of how I got saved and then I called Lance up. As he stood beside me, I told the church what the Lord told me to do. They all knew about Lance because it had been in the paper. We were both hometown boys and everybody knew we were two of the biggest hell raisin’ drunken womanizers in town. I was 39 and Lance was in his 20’s. He was just a boy when his brother and I were roommates. I told the church that anybody that spoke in tongues to come to the altar, kneel and begin to intercede in prayer for Lance’s healing. Everything that was happening was the Holy Spirit. All I was doing was what I was being told to do. I told Lance to take off his brace and throw it on the ground. He and his mom looked kind of worried, but he did it. I anointed him with oil and laid hands on him. Moy mom had her hands on Lance’s mom and Lance’s mom had her hand on Lance’s shoulder. The pastor and the evangelist laid their hands on me and I prayed. When I finished praying, I told Lance if he wanted to put his brace back on that was between him and God, but I told him that he was healed.
The next day, Lance had a doctor’s appointment to x-ray his neck again. Lance’s mom asked me to come with them. My mom and I followed them there. It was Monday at noon and I had had nothing to eat or drink since Friday at noon. We went to one building for the x-ray and then they sent us to another building for the meeting with the doctor. When the doctor came into the room, he sat on his stool and rolled up to the table where Lance was sitting. He began to explain to Lance that when they x-rayed him in Waco, all of his ligaments and tendons that surround his vertebra in his neck were stretched out and his vertebra had collapsed and shifted forward. A piece of one of his discs was broken off and stuck between two discs and was pressing against his spinal cord. The slightest movement would have caused his spinal cord to be cut in half resulting in him being paralyzed from the neck down. The doctor said that that was why they told him that he needed emergency surgery. Then he said that the x-ray today showed the ligaments and tendons all tightened back in place and his vertebra was back in line just like it is supposed to be. He also said that the broken piece that was up against his spinal cord had come out from between the discs and had worked its way to the back of his neck. He said that Lance no longer needed surgery and he would just need some rehab to strengthen his muscles.
Lance got up and ran across the room and hugged me. The doctor had taken Lance’s brace off and Lance told the doctor that I had prayed for him not to have to have surgery. The doctor said, “Well, maybe he could pray for me and I could win the Kentucky Derby.
We all left and my mom and I went out to eat. I was very hungry, thirsty and relieved. Lance later told me that on the way to the doctor he and his mom were talking and his mom said, “Loyd is going to be heart broken when the doctor says you have to have surgery.” Lance said that on the way home from the doctor they just kept asking each other how this had happened. There was no answer but God! Lance also told me that on Sunday after we had prayed for him that he went fishing and took his brace off while he was fishing.
After that, I was asked to join the local pastor’s prayer meeting every Thursday at the old closed down JR High School. We prayed for everything 10 pastors could think of and everything the Holy Spirit put in our hearts. After about a month the Lord told me to go to the woods one night to pray and fast. I had received my prayer language a week before in a prayer meeting where several of us were holding hands praying before a service. The Lord told me not to take anything with me to the woods but my Bible. My mom was a little worried so she laid hands on me and prayed before I left. I was raised in the woods so I was not scared of anything. But in the summertime in Texas, there are thousands of mosquitoes, lots of snakes, wild hogs, coyotes, wild cats and ants. I had not gun, no bed roll, no mosquito spray and no knife; just me, my Bible and some anointing oil. I had been walking through the woods for about an hour when the Lord brought to my attention a large clump of trees down close to the creek. He told me that that was where He wanted me to spend the night. I did not have a flashlight or matches or any way of seeing in the dark. I trusted God with my like. I was not concerned.
As I walked into this large clump of trees in the creek bottom, it was very hot. I saw a tree that grew at an angle. It was one you could climb by just walking up it. The Lord told me to camp right beside it. I had only been speaking in tongues for nearly a week. I lay down on my belly beside the big crooked growing tree and opened my Bible and began to read and seek the Lord. I was only there a few minutes when the fire ants began to bite me. I got the anointing oil out and anointed the threes surrounding me and prayed for protection around me and rebuked the ants. I took a stick and scraped the dead rubble off to naked dirt and lay back down. There was a very nice cool breeze blowing through the threes that was very unusual for summertime in east Texas. Normally the breeze, if there is one, feels like a hot blow dryer. As I lay there reading, the fire ants did not bother me anymore and the cool breeze was so amazing that you could tell that it was supernatural. This was not some weather phenomenon in the east Texas summer. God was intervening.
As evening got near and dust was beginning to make it too hard to read in the shade of the trees, I closed my Bible and used it for a pillow. I rolled over on my back and began to pray in tongues. Now in east Texas in the summer when the sun goes down, the mosquitoes are like a blanket that covers the land; especially down by the creek. As it began to darken, I could hear the mosquitoes closing in and swarming over my head and body. But they weren’t biting me. Now that was very weird because I am a mosquito magnet. Every time I would stop praying in tongues, a lone mosquito would bite me. I would start praying again and they just swarmed like a blanket above me. Now that was weird. The mosquitoes finally went away and I was falling asleep.
There were coyotes howling, owls hooting, whippoorwills singing, frogs croaking; just a normal Texas night in the woods. I heard some armadillos rootin’ around and some coons messin’ around. I finally fell sound asleep. It was pitch black with no moon. It was so dark that I could not see my hand in front of my face. You know how it feels when you’re asleep and you can feel someone staring at you? I was sleeping so soundly that it just really didn’t bother me. But all of a sudden, something breathed on my face. Now, I am one who is very familiar with the woods, but I had never been in the woods without some sort of light. I don’t know what breathed on me, but the breath was so strong that it took my breath away and I began to choke and gasp for air as I jumped up and made my way up that crooked tree. Now, it only took approximately 10 seconds to go from a dead sleep to wide awake and half way up that tree to a dead stop listening for what breathed on me. My heart was racing 90mph as I came to life from that dead sleep. I let out a loud yelp to scare off whatever it was.
Squatting halfway up this tree in dead silence listening, I did not hear one footstep or one sound of anything. I could not figure out what could have breathed on me that would have taken my breath away. About 5 minutes went by when I heard a herd of wild hogs drifting from the creek towards me rooting in the dirt and snorting. It wasn’t 5 more minutes and they were directly under me rooting and snorting. The only thing that I could figure out was the Holy Spirit or an angel breathed on me to wake me up so I could get out of harm’s way. What else could have taken my breath away like that?
My Bible was in an army Bible cover with a handle on it and thank God I had grabbed it when I went up the tree. Those hogs hung around about 30 minutes and then they moseyed off. I have no clue what time it was but going back to sleep was not happening. I don’t think you could have glued my eyes shut. I prayed and listened.
The pastors’ prayer meeting was the next morning and God gave me a word for the pastors. These pastors had been praying for revival for 4 years. The Lord told me to tell them to get a tent and set it up in the playground of the old JR High School where they met and to start holding revival services Monday evening at 7:00pm every night until He said to stop. He also showed me myself preaching and telling my testimony and many of the people running to the altar crying and repenting and giving their lives to Jesus.
All of these men had been preaching for many years and I had been saved for only 6 months. For me to take these men a word from the Lord was a little spooky. But when the sun rose, I went back to Mom’s house and got ready and headed to the meeting. I was very excited because the Lord spoke to me. When I arrived, a few of the pastors came early and they could tell something was up and asked me. So, I told them what I had heard from the Lord. The ones that were early were excited and one of them said that he could have a tent by Saturday and we could have it set up and ready by Monday. There was an excitement in the house.
Then, one man who showed up late had kind of a dominating spirit and when I told him, he got fighting mad. He stood up and started writing on the chalk board. I couldn’t understand what he was writing. He said very angrily, “I’ve been preaching for 14 years and if God wants to talk to me He will tell me, not some 6 month old redneck that doesn’t even know the word.” He told the rest of the group that he wanted me kicked out of the meeting now. So, they asked me to leave. So, that was the end of me and the prayer meeting.
The week before, the Lord had told me to wash their feet. I did and they washed mine and that was all good. But, revival was just too much from a young pup. This was the beginning of a long line of rejections from many churches and pastors and religious organizations.
My mom’s family reunion was coming up and Mom and I went to it. It was at my sister’s house in Odessa, Texas. The Lord told me to tell my mom’s whole family that I was going to race NASCAR and preach the gospel. When we got there, we began to fellowship and listen to the normal family stories. I had this one uncle who loved me more that your normal uncle/nephew relationship. One night when all was settling down in the living room, I told him that I had something to tell the whole family. He was very bold and outspoken, so he stood up and told everybody to sit down and shut up because I had something to say. Wow! For me to stand before my mom’s whole family while I was broke and homeless and nothing to my name and tell them at the age of 39 that God told me I was going to race NASCAR was a very bumbling moment. By the time I was finished, I was completely engulfed in tears and weeping.
The uncle that love me more than most, told me that if I said it was going to happen, he believed it would happen just like I said God told me it would. One of the others laughed and made fun of me and told me God did not exist and I was a fool. Most of the others just patted me on the back and said that I was a 39 year old dreamer that never grew up.
One of my cousins is in a wheel chair and paralyzed from the neck down. The Lord laid on my mom’s and my heart to pray for his healing. We did, but he is still paralyzed. What a family reunion.
Back home, I continued fasting and praying and reading. I never fasted so much and never heard of anyone fasting as much as God was telling me to fast. During one Wednesday night service during praise and worship, I was on the front row with my hands raised; intently praising God, when God told me to was time to take a step of faith. I was so excited because I was so tired of sitting still. I told God to just tell me where to step because I was ready. He said, “Take a step. It is time.” I told Him to just tell me which was. He said, “Forward, now.” I felt pretty dumb so I took one step forward and the power of God came upon me and I began to weep very loud and uncontrollably. My legs got real weak ad I went to my knees weeping very loudly.
The preacher walked over in my direction and his legs grew weak and he had to sit on the stage to keep from falling down. He told the people if they had never felt the power of God to get down here now. He said, “Come down here and just walk near Loyd. The power of God is so strong I can’t stand up.” So, the people began to come and as they walked near me they began to fall out in the spirit. They were lying all over the floor. It was a very powerful night.
The Lord told me to shave my head.
Next, the Lord told me to wash the feet of the whole church. I told the pastor and he said that Sunday night the church would be having service out in the country at the pavilion. He sold me that he would turn the service over to me and I could do what the Lord told me. I preached a message on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. I told them the Lord was about to send me out and this would make them be a part of what I was being sent to do. As I washed their feet, they began to weep. The Spirit fell and we had a powerful service of uncontrollable weeping and refreshing. The pastor washed my feet and anointed them with oil and released me to go out to preach.
Hurricane Katrina hit and some people offered me a job running some roofing crews in Mississippi. This was a big money opportunity. I was excited and ready to go. God told me to go to New Orleans instead. I told God that the offer was in MS. I checked with FEMA, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. All of them said that they were not being let us in to New Orleans yet because it is too dangerous. That night, my mom and I were watching TBN and Don Tipton was on there saying that they had two ships on the Mississippi River in New Orleans doing hurricane relief work and they needed help now. They gave a phone number which I called the next day. They told me to please hurry and get there.
I had no money and my mom bought a little pickup for me to drive. She gave me a credit card for gas and food. I had no idea what I was headed for. I was just walking by faith and following God’s voice. I stopped in Lake Charles, LA to pick up a military permit to enter New Orleans. I also picked up a young man who needed a ride to help out in New Orleans and some supplies and we headed in.
There was a big warehouse on the river filled with relief supplies and two old coast guard ships for the volunteers to sleep on. About an hour after I got there, Renee’, my future wife, also arrived. We acknowledged each other visually, but there were no fireworks or love at first sight.
The first day, they decided that I should be on the evaluation and feeding team. We would take food and knock on doors and evaluate their needs. We also prayed with them before we left. At the end of the day, we turned in the evaluation forms and the next day the different crews would go back out to the houses. They put Renee’ on the tree trimming and cleanup crew. She also did a little warehouse work. After two days, I convinced them that I was a tree cutting professional and they switched me to the tree trimming and cleanup crew.
The second night we were there, after the evening meal and testimony service, Renee’ and I ended up on the dock alone and I shared my testimony and vision with her. She left the dock suddenly, crying and said that she had to go pray. The next morning she came to breakfast and said that she felt like a butterfly whose head had just poked out of the cocoon.
As the days passed, we talked and hung out and God began to show us that we were meant to be married. I told her everything about me. I told her how sorry and worthless I had been. She told me little of nothing about her. All I knew was that her husband had died and she had two daughters and she lived in Houston.
Hurricane Rita hit the Friendship Ministries’ headquarters in Lake Charles and they asked if I would go there and be the cook during the day and haul supplies in from New Orleans at night in their semi. After a couple of days of doing that, they came to me and told me I was doing a wonderful job and asked if there was anything they could do for me in return. I told them I wanted them to bring Renee’ and her daughter in to help in Lake Charles. They agreed. Renee’ and I kissed for the first time and it lasted for about 3 hours. That was good.
Renee’s daughter, Paula, saw us holding hands and got very upset. Renee’ told her that they were going to go back to Houston for a time so that they could pray about all of this. I told Renee’ that if she left, I would never see her again. She assured me that she would be back in a little while.
I continued cooking and trucking. I was cooking for about 2000 people twice a day on two wood fired BBQ pits. I met a lot of awesome people and was God do great things and many people got saved.
Renee’ and Paula did show back up and Paula had a new attitude and warmed up to me very well. I asked Renee’ to marry me and she said yes. She then informed me that she had a sizable bank account that we could use to get my ministry started. I was overwhelmed! We had enough to race Daytona!
We went to Houston and gave away and sold all of Renee’s stuff from her 2 story 3000 sq. ft. 2 car garage house and gave the house to Renee’s oldest daughter and son-in-law. We also went to visit my mom and kids. Then, we went back to New Orleans and got married on the coast guard ship that we had slept on. The ship’s name was (if you ask me) Hope. If you ask Renee’, it was named Mercy. We got married on the helicopter pad of the ship, sitting on the Mississippi River with downtown New Orleans as the backdrop.
Paula stayed in New Orleans on the ship with some friends for a couple more days, and then traveled to their house with them where Renee’s mom picked her up. After our honeymoon, Renee’ and I went to get her and I got to meet Renee’s mom and grandparents.
For our honeymoon, we went to the NASCAR race in Atlanta and then to the mountains of North Carolina. We rented a cabin on the side of the mountain. After picking up Paula, we headed to Hickory, NC.
I called NASCAR and told them I wanted to race Daytona. They laughed at me and told me that that was not going to happen since I didn’t have any experience on asphalt. So, I called ARCA. They told me I could test in Daytona in December and they would tell me where I could start racing after they saw how I drove. They also said that I wasn’t going to race Daytona and I was to not even ask.
We made a deal with an ARCA team in Mooresville, NC. They built us a car just like we wanted with a Jack Roush engine in it. It was an ex-Mark Martin car. I told the car owner to get the car ready to race. I didn’t want a primered test car; I wanted a painted race car ready to race. He told me that I was wasting money because they weren’t going to let me race Daytona and you can’t race a Daytona car at a mile and a half or a short track. I told him that I was going to race Daytona and that it was my money. I told him to just get it ready.
He got the car ready and we tested at Daytona on December 15, 2005. I had never raced or driven on an asphalt race track except at the practice school I attended at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was more of a discipline school than a race school. My mom and my two oldest kids flew up to watch me test. After inspection, I took the car out on the track for my first lap. There were 72 cars that showed up to test and on my very first lap, I was 7th fastest. I pulled the car back in the garage after my first lap and expected the crew to jack the car up and start working on it to get it faster. Instead, everyone just stood there staring at me. I let my window net down and raised my helmet shield and asked what the matter was. One of them shouted, “You really can drive a racecar!” There were a few laughs and then the work began.
After the first day of testing, we were 20th fastest. Lee, my crew chief, told me there were some arrow repairs we could make back at the shop to make it faster and this was only a test motor. The race motor would have better heads on it. That turned out to be my only test day because the other 4 days of testing got rained out.
Lee took the car back to Mooresville and we headed to my mom’s house where my sisters and their families were coming to celebrate Christmas. Lee called me on Christmas Eve and told me that ARCA called and said that I was approved to race Daytona. Lee was excited. That was something that he and ARCA had said would not happen, but something that God had told me would happen.
So, all the preparations for the Feb 11th Daytona 200 began. The designer told me he would have the hauler ready and wrapped the week before Daytona which was cutting it pretty close. Since Renee’, Paula and I were already in Daytona looking for a piece of land to rent to set up a tent to hold revival during the race week, we did not get to see the finished wrap on the hauler until it showed up for the race at Daytona Feb 6.
We searched all the property surrounding Daytona Speedway, and there was only one piece of property that was available to rent for race week. It was a small triangle piece of property between a restaurant and the road on the main corner, right across the street from where all the sprint cup t-shirt haulers set up to sell shirts at the race. It was the most popular corner in all of Daytona. The restraint owner was also a local developer. He was a pretty wealthy man. He told us that in order to rent this property, we would have to get approval by the city, the county and the airport because it was under the jurisdiction of all of them. He said that the three of them had never approved anybody to set anything up on that property. They had only allowed the Boy Scouts to use it to park cars as a fund raiser. He told us that Cingular Wireless offered to pay whatever was necessary to use the property but they had been turned down. At that time, Cingular Wireless was a sponsor of a full-fledged NASCAR car. He told us that if they approved us by some miracle it would cost us $50,000 to lease it for 8 days. I didn’t blink an eye or let him see me sweat. I just said, “Let’s get it approved.” So, he started the process.
We started praying and told God that that was a lot of money. God’s answer was, “I gave you the money and sent you to do a job. Rent it.” Two days later, the man called us and told us that believe it or not, they approved us to rent the property. We gave him a check for the property and then rented a 750 man tent with chairs and a stage and started getting it ready. It was obvious to us that all of this was ordained by God. The doors just swung open.
When the hauler showed up, we were in awe of the job the man did designing it. It rocked! We were so excited. As a one year old devoted and sold out disciple of Jesus Christ, I had seen the mighty hand of God pushing open doors for one solid year. My faith was so strong that I had no fear and no doubt that I was ordained to win this race. I knew in my heart there was no way I could lose because I had the favor of God dripping off of me. I was living in prayer and fasting and reading the word. I was so in tune with God that I felt that if God farted, I could hear it.
During practice, I got in the draft for my first time ever at 195 mph. That was an awesome feeling. I was 7th fastest in practice. We got the car ready for qualifying, but we missed the set up and ended up qualifying 28th. But, we were in the race!
The race got rained out Saturday might in a downpour thunderstorm. Pastor Gary Kolstad and most of Freedom Christian Center followed us to Daytona and manned the tent while we were racing. Tommy Bowles managed the outreach for us.Sunday morning at 9:00am it was 40 degrees out when they dropped the green flag. I pulled up to the top of the track on the outside and two cars followed me. I went from 28th to 14th in 4 laps. The car started overheating on me and we fell back to 20th behind a rookie that was all over the track. We were waiting on a caution to come in and pull some tape off the grill. On the 14th lap in the middle of turn 2on the bottom of the track, this rookie spun sideways right in front of me. I went high and had him passed when a car hit me in the right rear quarter panel and spun me head on into the wall. That was the end of my day and first year of serving the Lord.