Ron Baker - My Story
From the time I was born in 1930, in a country town in New South Wales I saw nothing but violence and hatred and arguments. My parents were often apart for two or three years at a time and they had no profession of faith whatsoever. That's why as a youngster I could never bring myself to believe that God existed.
During World War 2, when I was about ten, my family needed food and many of the men were away fighting so I had to go to work. I had hardly any school training, because of this I was basically illiterate. I could just barely write my name and add a few figures. I also had a speech impediment, which was a nervous condition caused by being belted continually as a child and being told that I was useless. So I grew up convinced that I could never do anything, that I could never achieve anything in life.
At age 12, I was introduced to the occult through tea reading. This continued through my adolescent years as I consulted a medium and eventually became a medium myself. By the age of 14, I was drinking and this started for me the long downhill slide into alcoholism. By the time I was 19, I was a drunk. I couldn't keep jobs and that's why at age 20 I left the country and came to Sydney to get a job as a government bus man. I was a conductor for seven years, then began driving buses.
The drinking continued and from the time I was about 23, for the next six years I was drinking and taking amphetamines and all of the domestic drugs I could obtain. I'd drive bus during the day and drink at night. Finally I reached the stage where I couldn't concentrate. It was a miracle that I never killed anyone.
I married Beryl Bringham in 1953, but six years later, after we had a daughter and a son; our marriage was breaking up. The trouble was over my drinking and gambling. It was easy to play the poker machines - they just ran away with money.
In 1959 the Billy Graham crusade came to our city and a Christian builder who was working on a house for us, witnessed to my wife and persuaded her to go to the Crusade. That night Mr Graham preached on the home; Beryl responded to the message because he said: "No matter what mess you may have made of your marriage or your home, Christ can put it back together". Beryl was desperate that rainy night. She really didn't want our marriage to break up. She responded to the invitation and stood in four inches of water as she was being counseled. When she came home, she told me: "I've given my life to Christ". But I was drinking and was more concerned about the water dripping on our floor than about what she said.
That night we had probably the most violent argument we ever had.
I was skeptical and bitter and filled with hatred. My background made me hate. I couldn't see that anyone could love. I didn't know how I could tell Beryl that I loved her. I had been married to her for six years and I didn't know what the word 'love' meant. I watched her for two or three days and knew there was something different about her. I knew she had changed and even tried to call on the spirit world to see what had happened to Beryl. Through demonic influence I'd had no problem overpowering her in the past, but I lost full control over her the night she committed her life to Christ. Until she did that I could manipulate her to do what I wanted her to do.
A few nights later, after I arrived home from work, this fellow who invited Beryl to the Crusade asked me to go with him to a Crusade meeting. I wasn't really interested but I went. I thought: "What's this going to do for me?" But I knew I was lost. It was just as if I were in a spider's web and didn't know how to get out. As I listened to the message something inside me snapped and I heard a voice say: "Go". I went forward and because all the counselors were busy the only person available was a reserve counsel, a 19 year old lad. The thing I remember about this lad was that he knew scripture. He didn't know my problem but he knew the Word of God. He asked me to read the BIBLE, but I couldn't read so he told me what the verses said and I committed my life to Christ.
When I told my wife about it later, she said she was pleased, but I sensed that she was really saying: "We'll wait and see." I had promised her so many times I would give up drinking. I had tried. I had gone to doctors and pleaded with them to help me. But then I'd pick up one drink and away I'd go. I knew that sin was at the bottom of my drinking.
After the crusade I went to church with Beryl, but for two years I continued to fight against alcohol. I drank four times during those years and each time I picked up one drink I crashed. Even so I grew spiritually those two years, but it wasn't until 1961 that an incident changed me.
In 1961, I landed in hospital in Sydney, where I had an emergency operation because I was hemorrhaging so badly. As I waited for surgery, a man three beds away was dying of leukemia. I listened to him pray asking the Lord to take him home. I came to a realization and prayed, "As filthy as I am Lord, take me completely." Commitment had finally become a reality to me. If I hadn't gone forward two years earlier and committed my life to Christ I wouldn't have been at that point. But I knew that I had never yielded myself to the Lordship of Christ. I'd been saved but I wasn't under His Lordship. Now this became a reality.
I was still illiterate and had the speech impediment. But I had surrendered my life to God, telling Him "I have nothing to offer you only myself." And so God led me to a speech therapist, a lovely Christian, who tutored me for two and a half years in the basics of education. I was learning to read and speak, "The cat sat on the mat."
Though doctors told me half my brain cells were damaged because of alcohol, I wouldn't let anything hinder me. I applied for Bible college training a two year course, and worked full time as a student while I continued to drive buses full time. Then I went on to finish a four year theological course at a Baptist college.
In 1969, I graduated and served as a pastor in suburban churches of Sydney. The churches grew, we held open air meetings and today I'm involved in an evangelistic ministry that has taken me to preach all over Australia in England, Scotland, Singapore and other areas.
I have cried when I have thought back 21 years ago and what I might have become had it not been for Christ. I probably would be dead and in a drunkard's grave if it hadn't been for Him. I know that the most exciting thing in my life today is to be allowed to be in the presence of God and talk with Him about lost people and then go out and do something about it.
Reverend Ron Baker
The Reverend Ron Baker - A brief history.