The Story of George | Part II

“It’s clear to see now that God was after me.” George knew this full well after what had happened that day with Peter and after what had happened over the past few months of his life. On April 30, 1982, at 3:30 in the afternoon, George found himself in the last place he expected -- talking to Peter about Jesus. He was transfixed.


“I was the sponge,” George said with joy in his eyes. It was on that afternoon that he learned about the love of God shown through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. In response, George couldn't help but make the decision to turn from living life for himself to following Him as Savior and Lord. As he described his conversion to us, over and over again he kept saying that what happened to him was something he couldn’t explain or reason out. Not only did he immediately lose the desire for the drugs, the alcohol, and his old lifestyle, but even more so he gained a desire for God and for his Word. He wanted to know Him. While George didn’t grow up with a present father, he now knew God as his perfect Father and one who began healing the wounded parts of his life bit by bit.


Such a drastic change in a life cannot go unnoticed. George’s friend, Leon, saw a difference but assumed it was another phase he was going through, similar to those he had gone through before. Little did Leon and his other friends know that George didn’t simply change; he was made new, and something made new cannot return to what it once was. Because of this, his relationships couldn't remain the same as before even though his friends were accepting of him and what he now believed.


George soon got involved with a local church in the area and began serving in children’s ministry, serving as a deacon one year later, and attending a bible study with his new friend Peter. One day after he came back from bible study, he picked up a ministry newsletter he had received in the mail. The letter featured the Philippines, and George was immediately fascinated by the stories he read about the country. As he was reading an interview with a Squatter woman, her words struck him to the core, “I don’t know why these Americanos would come over and hold our children’s hands.” George wondered why anyone would not want to hold the hand of a child, walk beside them, and offer them hope in the midst of despair. He was brokenhearted for these people.


In that moment, although he wasn’t sure how it would be done, he felt as if the Lord said one word to him: Go. That’s exactly what George did. He began preparing and decided to use his month off of work to travel to the Philippines. No one accompanied him, and he went without knowing the language or the culture. Thankfully, he was able to get in contact with Youth With A Mission (“YWAM”) and plugged into their ministry while in the country. Over the course of one month, George's world was shaken and his heart only grew bigger for the country and its people.

At end of his month, he had a choice to make – does he stay at his job where he was making good money, or does he move to the Philippines long-term? The question was unanswered as he arrived back in Boston. The day he returned to work, he found out that his work shift would be changing from weekdays to weeknights. George saw this as a way in which God was preparing him for the answer he needed. A few weeks later, George had left his job and was on a plane back to the country he had come to love. He lived in the Philippines for four years.


While there, George traveled on the mobility team and saw God open up doors in numerous ways to preach the gospel. It was incredible that their team had such freedom and that the people were hungry to hear the hope offered. He also described one experience which will remain with him for the rest of his life. During his time overseas, George had the opportunity to travel to India. As he was returning from a difficult and tiring time in the country, George knew that the trek back to the Philippines would make him more exhausted than he already was. He asked the Lord to make his journey back as easy as possible and without hassle, even though he'd be returning to a crazy airport and long bus rides. However, something strange happened once he landed and began searching for his bus. As he looked around, he saw a man walking towards him dressed in a chauffeur's hat and a long jacket, which was an odd wardrobe choice since it was incredibly hot weather that time of year.


“Where are you going,” the man asked. George told him the direction he needed to go, and the man pointed back towards a white bus. George walked towards the bus, got on and grabbed a seat. He was the first one on. To his surprise, the bus was air-conditioned. Typically only the wealthy had the ability to afford a bus with A/C,  but this one cost George nothing. After waiting for a while, the driver came back and they headed towards his destination. No further stops were made and no one else got on the bus. Before he knew it, George was arriving in front of the YWAM headquarters although he had not told the driver the address to where he was going. George got off, went inside and was greeted by Peter.

“George, how did you get here?”

Peter knew that George did not know any addresses for the headquarters, and George responded, “The bus came and dropped me off outside.”

Peter paused and asked, “What bus?”

George soon learned that no buses make the drive down the road to the headquarters. The only explanation he has for what happened: an angel of the Lord was sent to answer his prayer. It was moments like this where God made his presence and his love for George very real and impossible to doubt.


After spending an incredible four years in the Philippines, coming back to Boston felt like putting a bird in a cage. It was a difficult transition for George. However, he decided to attend seminary and spent the next 9 years pursuing his Master of Divinity. During that time, he developed a strong friendship with a new friend, Jim. Through Jim, he eventually came to have the job he has now and also become a member at First Baptist Sudbury. For the past five years he has grown to love and serve the church faithfully, specifically its children and its youth. One of his greatest joys is hearing and helping kids memorize the word of God.


George also serves on the missions committee, and in August 2013 he will be returning to serve overseas in Southeast Asia. After our short time spent with George, I can say without a doubt that he is one of the most willing and obedient men I’ve ever met. Wherever the Lord leads, he is ready to go. It’s evident to see his passion for missions and for serving the church, but his desire for Christ rules far above everything else. It can’t help but flow out of him. I hope you have come to see that while his story is full of hardship and pain, even more so it is one of redemption, restoration and invincible hope. I want to leave you all with one of the last things George said during our interview, because I believe it is what he would want to say to you if you had the chance to meet him:

“We all have choices when it comes down to God. He didn’t make us robots. We know what he wants from us. We are here for one purpose – to make him known. And all the other stuff in between, it’s about trusting Him. Because I’ve had money, I’ve had good jobs. I’ve lived in good places. It’s absolutely nothing compared to God. I’ve told Him, ‘Why you chose me, I don’t know, but I will do anything.’  Love on folks and tell them about Jesus. It’s that simple. When people ask what I am all about, well, I’m not about anything but Jesus, and I hope that’s what they see."


The Story of George | Part I

I love being a wedding photographer. It's incredibly rewarding, and taking pictures for such a special day in the lives of my clients is a joy to me. Sometimes, however, you want more variety as a photographer, and I've been itching to try my hand at something different. The idea came a few months ago to start capturing and sharing stories of the people around me through photography. Everyone has a story, and I believe they are meant to be shared, from the youngest to the oldest. As this idea began to grow, I wasn't sure what or who to start with. My friend, George, is a member of our church in Sudbury. One Sunday, he was sitting in front of me, and I couldn't help but watch him worship. He has shared his incredible story with me before, but I wanted others to hear it. A lightbulb came on. George would be the first person whose story I would feature! I presented the idea to Kristin and she was immediately on board. We planned that I would photograph the person while Kristin ran the interview, and since she enjoys writing and sharing stories as well, there couldn't be a better match for this project. I would bring the person to life through pictures, and she would bring the person to life through words.

That being said, below is our first story to share of our friend, George. Enjoy!


It was quiet in the halls of First Baptist Sudbury as we prepared for our interview. We found our spot to sit, grabbed a drink of water, and set up for our recording. In the back of the church, an older man walked through the glass doors. It was George.

This was my (Kristin) first time meeting George and I was excited about the interview, although I didn’t expect for his story to leave the impact it did on me. He has a deep but kind voice, and as we prayed before we began, I could tell that this – sharing his story – was something special for him too.


George was born in 1944 in Keystone, WV, a coal miner’s city. It wasn’t long before him and his mother and sister moved to Lynn, MA. His birth father was absent from his life growing up, and his stepfather was present but abusive in more ways than one. George didn’t understand why his mom never attempted to escape the abuse, and thus he experienced countless nights of crying himself to sleep. This was George’s environment up into his early teenage years. When he was 14 years old, his mom gained the courage to leave the relationship, and she sent George and his sister to stay with their grandfather.


George quickly made friends with his new neighbor, Leon. Little did he know at that time, Leon would be a dear friend for many years to come. He remembers the fun times they shared together, like when they decided to make some extra money by joining the nearby Episcopal church choir. George laughed as he reminisced and described him and Leon wearing those funny choir robes. In their mid 20s, they were the "dynamic duo" that was inseparable at parties and dance halls. George was known as the teddy bear; Leon, the ladies’ man.

When George was 16 years old, he and his family moved to Roxbury. He made a decision to quit school and work full time, his first job being a dishwasher. Roxbury was a change in scenery compared to where he grew up in Lynn, and one experience in particular could have drastically changed the course of George's life.


The day before his 18th birthday, as he was returning from work one evening, crowds of people and police cars were gathered near his home. He dropped off his things at the house and told his mother he was stepping out again to see what was happening. She urged him to stay at home, but curiosity was too great to keep him inside.

As he approached the scene, he noticed two kids in the back of a police car, and both began pointing at him. Immediately, with no knowledge as to why, the police took George into custody. He soon found out that he and his friend had been falsely accused of attacking and robbing a group of kids in another part of town. Arriving at the police headquarters, he underwent questioning from the cops and was held overnight. George spent his 18th birthday in jail.


Not long after, he appeared in court, and due to differing opinions between the victims, he was kept in custody for 6 more weeks before the next trial. Because of his clean record and the sovereignty of God, George escaped a 5-year prison sentence and was given probation instead. Relief swept over him. After spending those 6 weeks in prison, having been falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, he made the decision to leave Roxbury and go back to Lynn to live with Leon. As he finished sharing this chapter of his life, George stated, “When you think you’ve gone through a lot, you never realize you can go through a lot more.”


He and Leon soon found themselves living a lifestyle centered around two things: drugs and alcohol. This lifestyle lasted for 18 years. "I was running into hell," George said, as he described those years of his life. During this time, however, he was not only still able to work as a dishwasher but was also hired as a computer operator trainee. He completed his jobs with ease while at the same time working under the influence. To his amazement, he did not lose either job because of it. Looking back, it was the providence of God that kept him working where he was, because George was meant to meet someone that would change everything about his life.


After years of partying and drugs, he came to a crossroad in his life. His sister had become ill, and one day after visiting with her at work, he decided that life was no longer worth the pain and brokenness he was experiencing. George packed up his things and walked home with every intent to end it all. There he sat on the edge of his bed, making a hangman’s noose. Thirteen loops. As he stood up to hang the rope, however, he felt a strong resistance and something so real that he couldn’t move any further. He sat back down and wept. God intervened that day, although he did not know it at the time.


George went back to work and ended up getting help through a psychologist who worked with him through past and present issues. While the advice was helpful, it wasn't the cure. One day, however, a new trainee walked through the doors of his company. His name was Peter Higgins. As George began teaching the class for that day, suddenly a feeling rushed over him. He didn’t know how to explain it, and boldly he asked his trainees if any of them had experienced something like this before. With great conviction, Peter spoke up.

“I know what it is.”

“What is it?”

“I believe the Lord is calling you.”

George didn’t respond well to Peter’s answer, and frankly he wanted nothing to do with him or The Lord. Yet on April 30, 1982, he found himself walking down the hallway to talk with Peter…