From a prostitute to the pulpit: How one choice can really change your life

Though we occasionally hear of a pastor with a prostitute, in my case it happened the other way around. As a 17-year-old aimless, thrill-seeking young man with no religious background, I was baited by a prostitute and walked into a set-up for robbery and murder.

After fully undressing myself, an eerie feeling swept over me; the feeling that the prostitute and I were not alone in the room.

Suddenly, the light came on and I was standing face-to-face with a man yielding a butcher knife, pointing the nine-and-a-half-inch blade at me! Within moments, the man stabbed me in the throat, severing my jugular vein. He stabbed me again in the chest, one-eighth of an inch below my heart, and then one final time in the liver.

With all three mortal wounds bleeding profusely, I fought to escape, running into the street where I staggered to a light pole and prayed the first prayer of my life.

I am living proof that God can turn your mistakes and mess around.

You see, only two weeks prior to my attack, a young man from a local church knocked on my door and nervously recited, “Everything you’re looking for can be found in Jesus.” Those words played out in my head constantly like a song you just can’t get out! They would not leave my mind, even in what I assumed would be my dying moments.

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So I prayed. I asked Jesus for mercy and most importantly, forgiveness.   

Seconds later my friend who was waiting in his car while I was with the prostitute rushed me to an emergency room that was, by God’s grace, within one block of the attack. There, a cardiovascular surgeon and two other doctors worked for more than 11 hours to save my life.

I experienced a radical change of heart and lifestyle from that encounter. I learned implicitly that all it takes is one choice to really change your life.

The choice the young man made to tell me about Jesus would not only change my life forever, but it would ultimately send me down a path to complete seminary training and spend the rest of my life telling everyone who will listen about the saving power of Jesus Christ.

The choice I made to experiment with a prostitute as a reckless teenager catapulted my life into one dependent upon God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

Turns out, that choice was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  It was the wake-up call this aimless boy needed.

I am living proof that God can turn your mistakes and mess around.

I believe the only reason I woke up alive that next morning was because of God’s mercy.

For 17 years, I chased after what I thought would give me fulfillment. I didn’t know who God was, and I didn’t care to find out. I lived like I wanted to. For me, change was only to find a new high. I constantly tried new things, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

I’ve been told that I was still praying out loud when the District Attorney got to the hospital. I don’t remember, but I do remember the decision I made underneath that street light.

Now I live to tell you that the only explanation for my existence today is that God miraculously spared my life because He wanted to show me His amazing grace, to change me, and to use me to reach others that might also be changed.

I have learned that this journey we are on with God is one of continual growth. It starts at the cross, but it doesn’t have to stop until we exit this world.

All it takes is one choice—one decision to live the life that you’re destined to live. Your past may not have been pretty (Lord knows mine isn’t), but it doesn’t have to pierce your future.

Bill Purvis is the pastor of Cascade Hills Church in Columbus, Ga., and the author of “Make a Break for It: Unleashing the Power of Personal and Spiritual Growth.

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