Wife’s change showed former marine what he was missing
Sent to the Vietnam war in 1968, Vernon Ware felt a strange sense of protection from an invisible force in a number of deadly attacks.
"A friend of mine ran out in the street one time and was shot down and killed," Vernon recalls.
"At that moment someone threw me down behind a wall but when I looked around there was no one near me. I knew that it could only have been God."
After that initial experience as a teenager, Vernon recognised that God had protected him and he began praying and trusting that God would bring him through his terrible war experiences.
"Later on in my tour, I was on a bridge that our unit was guarding when it was blown up and damaged heavily by incoming rockets," he says.
"Although I was also hit with shrapnel and had to be medevaced, I was protected from far worse."
After his tour of duty, Vernon tried to put the past behind him and built a successful life for himself back home.
"I even ran for mayor of my small town and was elected," he says. "Those things were nice, but there was still something missing from my life and I couldn't figure it out."
One Sunday evening he sat in front of the TV with his wife watching a Billy Graham Crusade.
Vernon says he was so moved by the message that he had to hold back tears in front of his family as Billy Graham challenged his audience to invite Jesus into their lives.
"My wife went to church the next Sunday morning and came home looking like strobe lights were lighting her face up," he says.
Her beaming smile gave her away and Vernon somehow knew that she had just prayed to accept Jesus into her life. A week later she asked if he wanted to do the same.
"It was then, in the basement of my home, I got down on my knees and prayed: Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and have sinned against You and that I need forgiveness for my sins. I want to change how I am living now and I know that You can change me. Would You come into my life and be my Lord and Saviour?"
He began to see life in a new light, but he confesses that since then "I have had failures which are all my fault."
Affected by post-traumatic stress, he has battled depression, a suicide attempt, a divorce, and he did not attend church for 11 years while he worked as a jail officer.
Despite all this, he says firmly "God never left me through all my failures. He is a mighty God, a powerful God, a loving God, an all knowing God, a merciful God and much more. He has more to offer than anything, any place, or anybody else in this world!"