Ron Norris came from a long line of Bible-believing Christians; many of whom graduated from the same Bible college. He was given every opportunity to know the Lord, but instead, his life took a different turn. During his teen years he began to smoke, drink, and take drugs. His parents were worried, and tried to get him to change his ways, but to no avail. But this day was different. Ron had been arrested with drugs, and was awaiting his court date, and in the meantime he was determined to have as much fun as possible. Being worried, his mother asked him, “Ron, don’t you want to go to church with us this Sunday?”
“Yeah, sure,” he answered casually, so when Sunday rolled around she woke him up at 7:00 a.m., and to more or less appease her, he went to church even though he had had very little sleep the night before.
Ron’s life was about to change during that service. “I really had an experience with the Lord that morning,” he explains. “I asked Him to forgive me, and although I had been through 500 or more altar calls in my life, I knew this was the time, and gave my life to Jesus Christ.”
By the next year, Ron was enrolled in what is now the Pacific Life Bible College, affiliated with the Angelus Temple, a large Foursquare Pentecostal church in Los Angeles, California. There he met his wife, and soon after graduation, he accepted a job with The Church On the Way. Two years later he was appointed as one of 17 associate pastors, and continued to teach Sunday School, and was in charge of their Home Group Ministries. This is a huge church located near Hollywood where thousands attend, including many famous television and movie stars.
After four years of service, the Supervisor for the Southern California District contacted them to be pastors at the Santa Monica Foursquare Church, where they worked for the next ten years. Life looked good. The church was growing, and they were involved with many activities, including a new school and day care center. Ron’s wife was campaign manager for a Republican church member running for the United States Congress, and as you can imagine, with so many activities and a young family of three boys, it was a stressful time for both. Then, coming back from a 17-day tour of the Orient, Ron suddenly faced his wife’s announcement that she was in love with another man — one of their church members — and that she wanted a divorce!
Ron’s world was rocked to the core. “For the first month after she was gone, I really got in touch with the Lord,” he says, “but then, one day I went out with some people from church, and I had a glass of wine.” That was the beginning of leaving the ministry, years of stumbling around, and even getting back into the drug scene — the life of his youth. He returned to Arkansas, where his parents lived, but God was not done with him. Oh, no! In the words of Psalm 106:1, “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
For nine years Ron lived and worked in Arkansas, where he met Deborah, a fellow car salesperson. Two years later they married, and yet something was missing. From time to time they would visit different churches, yearning for a spiritual connection. “I kept trying to come home,” Ron says, but having been a pastor himself, he always seemed to spot the inconsistencies. “Every time I made a connection in church, I felt that they were preaching things that were not biblical,” he continues, “so I would go to another and another — trying to find a church where the doctrines made sense.”
For help, he turned to the Internet, trying to locate and learn from the Christian leaders he had respected in his childhood, but no matter where he looked, he found contradictions. There were many good things written about them, but also many bad things. And although he had been a grounded pastor for ten years, it now seemed like everyone had gone crazy!
Ron’s mental anguish deepened to the point where he left the house one day without a decent coat and began wandering through the streets of Little Rock, Arkansas. “I literally walked around for about three days, confessing my sins, and begging the Lord to forgive me,” he recounts. There were nights when he nearly froze to death sleeping in the park. He was plagued by thoughts that perhaps the “secret rapture” had occurred, and he had been left behind!
But God’s plan was about to unfold in an unexpected way. Ron had changed jobs from car sales to RV sales when a retinal detachment caused him to be off work for a month or so. When he returned, he was reassigned to liquidating inventory in an old building where he found an old TV set with very fuzzy reception. You guessed it! Soon Ron had tuned in a channel where he could get some sort of picture off and on — and he began watching 3ABN. It wasn’t long before he was “hooked” on 3ABN’s Christ-centered programming, and he watched for the better part of two months.
“The people were genuine, and they touched my heart,” he recalls. “Because of Danny Shelton’s testimony I was able to relate to him immediately. I could tell he was going through a tough time, and I was, too. I realized that the people who appeared on the programs were not ‘celebrities;’ they were real people from all over the world. They kept the Sabbath, and I thought, ‘Here are real people serving the Lord and doing something really radical — worshipping on the seventh day — the Sabbath!’ The Jews did that, and I respected them for living up to their convictions, but here were doctors, lawyers, and every kind of worker, keeping the Sabbath holy! The fact that the Seventh-day Adventist church had been around for over 140 years strengthened my faith. God had answered my question — yes, there are people that haven’t gone crazy! He brought me in contact with them on 3ABN, and watching it was like seeing the first signs of life for me!”
When Ron and Deborah finally found the Little Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church, they felt right at home. “I like the diversity of people and races there,” he says. “When we first started going to church here I felt like we had arrived at a United Nations Christian Summit!” he adds with a smile.
Ron and Deborah were baptized on November 5, 2005, and that day his parents also joined by profession of faith. He tells us that his wife, Deborah, can hardly get through a church service without being moved to tears.
I’m moved to tears as well as I see how God is using 3ABN to reach souls yearning and searching for more Bible truth. Because of God’s grace and mercy, many people, just like Ron, are finding their way home!