I sat across the table from Leroy and Kathy Dusek eating my salad. Leroy, a former pastor educated in both Pentecostal and Baptist Colleges had harsh words for the church. “There is something wrong with the way the institutional church conducts its business,” said Leroy.
I nodded my head in agreement. I had come to the same conclusion as Leroy long before I heard Kathy talk about bottoms, bucks and buildings. “When my husband was a pastor,” Kathy had said during a women’s fellowship meeting, “he was under constant pressure to increase the membership, so there would be more bottoms on the pews to put more bucks in the offering to build buildings. He wanted to minister to people not build buildings.”
Leroy, stuck his fork into his salad. “You’re not going to film me chewing are you?”
I smiled. “Yes, but I’ll never make it public.”
Satisfied with my promise, Leroy began his story. “Kathy and I met when we were fourteen and married when we were twenty. We were both non-practicing Catholics, until Kathy attended a Catholic charismatic renewal meeting with her parents.”
“My parents experienced Christ in a way they had never known before at the meeting,” said Kathy. “The dramatic change in my Dad made us curious. I attended and brought reports of what happened in the meetings to Leroy. ”
Kathy accepted Christ the summer of 1975. At the time, Leroy was wrestling with alcoholism and drug abuse. Unable to anoint him with oil, as was the practice in the charismatic renewal, she anointed his shoes and prayed God would deliver him.
Unemployed and a voracious reader, Leroy checked out books from the library to occupy his time. When he neglected to return the books, the library refused to loan him more. “The only book in the house was the Bible,” said Leroy, “so I read it. It took me all summer, but I read every word and came to three conclusions: God existed, God loved me and God wanted me.”
Leroy knelt by his bed, gave his life to Christ and then stood up with the absolute assurance he was loved. God instantly delivered him from alcoholism, drug abuse and swearing. Full of zeal for God, Leroy returned to the Catholic Church and became actively involved, teaching CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) for two years.
Problems arose when he read the Bible from cover to cover the second time. “I started asking questions,” said Leroy. “You practice this but the Bible says this – why? You say Mary ascended to heaven without sin, but I can show you four places in scripture where Mary sinned. You say the Pope is infallible since Peter’s time but he didn’t declare himself infallible until 1912 –why? They sent me to Notre Dame, to specialists, and to a fat little Italian priest, but no one gave me satisfactory answers.”
“When we moved to New Orleans our new neighbor was a deacon at New Life,” said Kathy. “Every time our neighbors saw us, they invited us to visit their church. They were driving us crazy, so I said to Leroy, ‘Let’s go and then tell them we don’t like it.’”
“We went,” said Leroy, “and we loved it. Pastor Jackson made the scriptures come alive. I was past excited. I was ecstatic.”
Disillusioned by the lack of adequate answers to Leroy’s multitude of questions, Leroy and Kathy left the Catholic Church and joined the congregation of New Life. Pastor Jackson became a beloved mentor.
“In 1981 Pastor Jackson encouraged me to attend Bible College,” said Leroy.” I don’t think I felt called to ministry. I felt I should do what God told me to do but considered myself horribly unprepared. I assumed the only way to serve God was to be a pastor.”
Kathy laughed. “One day, Leroy came home and said, ‘Kathy, I think the Lord wants me to go to Bible College.’ I said, ‘Bye, have fun.’ Leroy made a lot of money selling alcohol and owned a construction company. He had just bought me a 5,300 square foot home. I thought I’d have to work for a fast food restaurant if Leroy went to Bible College. I ended up working at a church daycare, which was just as bad.”
“We were in our thirties with no means of support,” said Leroy, “but God proved faithful.”
Kathy picked up the story. “Leroy told me we were supposed to buy a green house. We called a real estate agent named Patty Abott who turned out to be a Christian and became a close friend. We told Patty we were looking for a green house. She showed us green houses in all shapes and sizes, but none of them were right. Then she brought us out of town to an old house sitting on eighty-four acres of land –.”
“Full of rats,” interjected Leroy, “the house had been vacant for six months.”
“I looked at this really old white house and thought about my beautiful new home in Alabama.”
“I refused to go in because it wasn’t the right color,” said Leroy.
“While Leroy was scraping the paint to see if green paint was underneath the white, I walked into the house. Everything was green.”
“The floor, the ceiling, the bathroom fixtures, even the kitchen sink,” said Leroy. “We bought the house, and I sharecropped for three years while I did undergraduate work.”
“After we bought the house we couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage on our property in Alabama and lost everything we owned,” said Kathy.
Jerry Tibbett, an elderly Holiness Methodist man, owned the green house. When he learned Leroy was in Bible College, he offered to carry the note with the interest due annually. The first time the interest came due Leroy was working as a night watchman and buying groceries with a credit card. He didn’t have the money to pay the interest, so he prayed and committed the matter to God.
One day, a friend and Vice President of a bank where Leroy owned stock called to ask him if he needed money. Leroy refused to answer. His friend said, “I’ll put $20,000 in your checking account. The next time you are in town come sign the loan papers.”
The second time the interest came due a wealthy friend, who knew nothing of their financial problems, came to visit. “I never told him a thing,” said Leroy, “absolutely nothing about our financial problems. We were drinking coffee and out of the blue he said, ‘How much money do you need?’ I said $12,800 and he said, ‘OK.’”
Leroy paid the interest and decided to sell his green house, so he could repay his friend. The sale of the property gave Leroy a $72,000 profit, and the new owners let them live in the house rent-free for six months while he finished his undergraduate work. A substantial sum of money remained after Leroy paid all his debts and school loans.
Dallas Baptist University had accepted Leroy for his graduate work, so he asked Patty to show Kathy houses in the area. He instructed Kathy to find a house under $100,000. Patty showed her $300,000 houses. When Leroy called to complain, Patty told him her son owned a home near the university that was a little out of his price range, but they wanted them to have the house. Leroy refused to consider the offer. Undeterred, Patty showed Kathy her son’s house and Kathy loved it. Once again, Leroy refused to consider the house.
“Kathy ministered in a local jail with Patty’s husband, Brad, twice a week. Brad played the squeezebox for the ministry team, but he never spoke,” said Leroy. “In all the time we knew them, Brad never talked. I was shocked when he called me. ‘Leroy,’ he said, ‘I want you to move into my son’s house and here is the deal. You give me $12,000 and take over the notes. When Patty sells the house, we’ll give you the $12,000 back.’ We lived in the house for two years. I obtained my master’s degree in Biblical Languages, and Patty sold the house six months later.”
Shortly after Leroy committed his life to Christ, he received a subpoena to testify in an anti-trust lawsuit. He met with an attorney to give a deposition and they became good friends.
“He was an agnostic Jew, and one of the smartest men, I’ve ever met,” said Leroy. “He often initiated discussions about Jesus and then concluded the conversation by saying, ‘Take your Jesus and go to Hell.’ His business partner was an elder at Venture Church. When his partner mentioned his church was looking for a pastor, he told the man to call me.”
The congregation of Venture Church elected Leroy to fill the pastorate with a unanimous vote. Leroy called the attorney to thank him for the recommendation.
The attorney said, “Are you familiar with the play The Jews of Malta?”
“No,” said Leroy.
“It’s the story of a Jewish man who lived next door to a Catholic convent. The Nuns witnessed to him about Jesus until it drove him crazy. In frustration, the Jew poisoned the nun’s well and killed every one of them. I’m sending you to Venture Church in the hopes that you kill every one of those people.”
LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR “NO REGRETS” PART 2