George LeMaster was on a dead end road in life and did not see a viable exit.
George LeMaster was on a dead end road in life and did not see a viable exit. In February 1981, he decided to take is own life at a dump just outside the town in which he lived. With a loaded gun, he was ready to pull the trigger when he spotted a small red book the snow. It was a Gideons International New Testament that, obviously, had been discarded. The message in the book was strong enough for LeMaster to halt the plan to end his life and begin his road to recovery. LeMaster, of Wayland, Mo., shared his testimony during the Pastors Appreciation Banquet hosted by the North Central Missouri Camp of The Gideons International Monday evening at United Methodist Church. Prior to that February 1981 day, just the task of living was challenging for LeMaster. For 12 years of his life he was an alcoholic. He was addicted to alcohol and it was controlling his life. As a result of his alcoholism, he was incarcerated on a felony driving while intoxicated charge and lost his driving privileges for three years. Twice he went into detoxification programs, once after his brush with the law and again as his health began to deteriorate. This is when he was introduced to the prescription drug “valium” to calm his nerves. He became addicted to that, also. “Each time I was released from these programs, I would return to the old ways and each time the alcoholism would progress another step,” LeMaster said. By this time, a bad situation got worse. He was drinking straight vodka, taking valium and eating very little. “I was very sick physically and mentally most of the time,” he said. Through his stupor, he could see his life, his family, his home and his job slipping from him and he could not stop it. “My life was completely out of control because of alcohol and drugs,” he said. LeMaster lost his job of 10 years as a machinist, nearly lost his home, and because of verbal and mental abuse, was well on the way to losing his wife and three children. “My wife asked me the question, if I could choose between her and the bottle which would I choose? I said, ‘The bottle.’” At this time, LeMaster’s mental state was such that in February 1981, he decided to take his life. “I was of no more use to my family or anyone else,” he said. “I took a loaded Magnum revolver and went to a dump outside of town, where all the useless things end up, and prepared to end my life.” While sitting there ready to pull the trigger, LeMaster noticed “a little red book” in the snow open, face down, all wet yet very prominent. He picked it up. It was a red Gideon New Testament open to the book of James with random verses underlined: “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded... Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” “These words penetrated the fog of alcohol and made something click in my mind,” he said. Two days later, LeMaster was hospitalized with pneumonia, likely caused by the trip to the dump. “The doctor related to me later that given the level of alcohol and drugs in my system, plus pneumonia, coming off drugs, alcohol and the D.T.s, my chances were ‘iffy.’” When he was released from the hospital, LeMaster was met by a Christian friend who had witnessed to him many times before. They talked about salvation and LeMaster told him about his experience at the dump. “There in his den, we prayed for deliverance from the bondage of drugs and alcohol,” he said. “I accepted Christ as my Savior and I was delivered completely.” LeMaster said that he has been sober for many years with no desire to drink and, for the past six years, he has been the pastor of two churches. In May 1990, LeMaster met and heard Gideon Representative Donald Waterman speak and related his experience to him of how the little red book had influenced his life. “I thank God for that day when God’s Word literally leaped from a little red book laying there in the snow,” he said. “Had that Bible not been purchased and placed, had not been discarded, I would not be here. God does work in mysterious ways.” LeMaster thanked the people of the Gideon association for their dedication to spreading God’s word. More than 180 people attended the Pastors Appreciation Banquet with most of guests coming from a five-county region. Bud Neptune, Missouri State Church Ministry coordinator, welcomed the guests. Charles Epps, camp president, offered the invocation and gave the Scripture reading. Vocalist Ted Blankenship sang “Victory in Jesus.” Pam Keyes, Missouri West Regional Auxiliary director, provided auxiliary highlights. The Calvary Praise Team also provided musical entertainment. Tom Meyer, of Nashville, Tenn., provided the evening’s message. Meyer retired after 25 years on the headquarters staff of The Gideons International. He was the international field representative with responsibilities to develop and expand the ministry internationally. His travels took him to more than 80 countries and required that he be out of the country more than six months a year. Although his area of activity was global, after the fall of Communism he primarily concentrated on the developing of Eastern Europe, to make available the Word of God to a people who had been denied the Gospel for many years.