I want to close out this book with a chapter
written by my very first convert in Flint, Michigan, Dennis Vincent. He
is fifty-eight-years old now. He has a Christian wife and three
wonderful Christian children. And he tells people about
Jesus everywhere he goes. You can see from the photo how
happy he is.
His story is here because no one would ever publish it. I promised
him just a few days ago that I would make sure that his story got published. When
I first met him he was nineteen-years-old and he could barely read or
Not long ago I was invited to speak in Flint, Michigan. I had not
been there for many years. About two weeks before I arrived someone
from the Flint Journal interviewed me over telephone. Two of the
boys that had been saved so long ago, Dennis Vincent and Matt Martin,
read the article and showed up at my meeting.
It was a fantastic reunion!
During the evening meeting they both watched a black girl kneel at the
altar to weep and pray. It was déjà vu for them. How
keenly they remembered how they had knelt and prayed to ask Jesus into
their hearts so long ago.
The next morning we had breakfast together and Dennis handed me an envelope.
“Wes, I wrote up my story about how we met and how I got saved. Nobody
has published it yet. I’ve tried three different times.”
“Maybe I will be able to publish it for you, Dennis. I promise
you that I will try.”
So this chapter is written by Dennis Vincent, the street kid who has
now grown up and is fifty-eight-years old!
The story of Dennis Vincent and Wes Smith, the schoolteacher at Southwestern
High School in Flint, Michigan.
By Dennis Vincent
Some time in 1965
Church! I have been there a few times. Did not like the
way they did things. One thing I know, church people sure need
a lot of help---a lot more than I need.
When I was nineteen my vocabulary was very small. I used to swear
every other word. My father could not read or write. He drank
a lot. Some nights he was so drunk that he came into my bedroom
late at night with a butcher knife and threatened to kill me. One day
he chased me down the street throwing rocks and cussing in front of
A week before I got saved I tried to quit swearing. I tried hard. I
could not quit. The longest I went without swearing was one hour. And
during that time I did not say anything to anybody. The minute
I opened my mouth I started swearing. The very minute I got saved
the Lord took my swearing away from me. I knew right then that
God was real. I didn’t know how to talk to people, so I
did not say much. Everybody wanted to know what was wrong with
me. I told them I got saved.
Here is my story:
My friend at high school told me about a schoolteacher named Wes Smith
who would play cards, drink, and party with the students. I told
him to show me this teacher, and he did.
About a week later I was peddling my Sunday morning paper. I
saw this teacher in a phone booth. I pulled my bike over and
told the man that a bunch of us were going to play cards and have some
“We want you to join us.” I said.
Wes answered, “I can’t make it. I will be praising
I was shocked. “I’m sorry. My friend told me
you played cards and drank with the boys. Sounds like he set
“No. He told you right. I was doing that up until
about three weeks ago. But then something happened to me.”
“What?” I asked.
“I gave my life back to the Lord.”
“That’s good.” I told him. “I’ll
see you around.”
“Wait!” Wes yelled. “You see that church down
“They are having a meeting there tonight at 7:00. Why don’t
you meet me there?”
“That sounds like a good thing to do. I’ll see you
I left and laughed as I finished my newspaper route. I never
gave it another thought.
On Thursday of the next week I was in a little store buying some pop,
and in walked this teacher.
He smiled real big and said, “How’s it going?”
“Not bad.” I replied.
“Hey, I didn’t see you in church the other night.”
I just looked at him.
“How about you coming to church this Sunday night at 7:00 p.m.—same
“Why not. Sounds like a good idea to me,” knowing
I’d never see this guy again.
A few days later and I saw this same teacher walking toward me on the
“Hey, how are you doing?” he asked.
“I didn’t see you in church last Sunday.”
“What the _____! Are you following me around?”
“Heck, no! I just live two blocks form here. I moved
in about month ago.”
“Hey, you told me you were going to go to church with me for
the past three Sundays in a row.”
“Are you going to church with me this Sunday night? Yes
“Hell, yes.” I told him. “I’ll
I was lying through my teeth.
“Where do you live?”
“What do you mean where do I live?”
“I’ll come and pick you up right at your house.”
“Oh.” I thought a moment and made up a fake address.
“My address is 5128 Ballenger Road.”
“O.K., man. I’ll be there to pick you up Sunday night. Be
sure to be there.”
Wes told me several months later that when he went to 5128 it was an
empty lot and he knew that he had been “had”.
Can you believe that I ran into this guy again? Flint is a pretty
big city. I was riding my bike and he pulled up beside me in
“How’s it going?” He asked.
“Real good.” I told him.
“I thought maybe you lived in a hole in the ground”
“What do you mean?”
“I went to that address on Ballenger and it was an empty lot.”
Now I’m looking for a way out. This guy just wouldn’t
“Tell me your address.” Wes said.
I thought, “What the heck.” So I told him my real
address, but I planned to be somewhere else that night if he showed
up knocking on my door.
“Good.” He said. “I’ll be there
Sunday night to pick you up.”
I made sure that I was not home that night. I took my mom shopping
and stayed away from the house until I was sure it was too late for
About 7:20 on Sunday night Wes pulls up in front of my house, comes
up onto the porch and starts knocking on the door. He sees me
“Hey, man,” he says, “Sorry I’m late,
but there is still time to make it.”
“I can’t go.”
“I’m not dressed.”
“You’re just fine. Get in the car and let’s
Then my mother chimed in. “Dennis, a little religion around
this house would not hurt one bit. Go with the man.”
I don’t know why I obeyed both of them, but I did. On the
way to the car I said, “If any of these people step out of line
it’s over. I’ll be out of there. If they say
anything to me it’s over.”
“Stay cool, man. Just relax. Nobody is going to bug
you. I’ll make sure of that.”
For the next several Sundays Wes picked me up and took me to church. Afterwards
we would get pizza and pop. I was playing the odds. I didn’t
mind getting free food. But I was playing the odds. “He’ll
miss a night or someone will say something to me at church and then
it will all be over. I can’t lose. I’ll get
off the hook.”
For the next six weeks this guy never missed picking me up. He
was never late and the only time I seen this guy was on Sunday night. “The
odds beat me! This guy is never going to quit buggin me. From
now on I’m going to hide out from this dude.”
I was sound asleep. I did not even know what day of the week
it was. I skipped a lot of school and we had been drinking a
lot. I heard my mother’s voice.
“Dennis. There’s a man here to pick you up for church.”
I woke up cussing.
“What the hell. Won’t this guy leave me alone? Tell
him I’m not here. Tell him anything to get him off my back.”
I didn’t know that he was standing in the living room and heard
everything I was saying. I felt pretty sheepish when I came out
and he was standing there.
“You back again?” I asked.
“Yep. You got that right. It’s me.”
“What day is this?”
“Today’s Sunday, baby. Time for church again.”
“You know what? I’ll go one more time with you and
this will be the last one. I’m really tired of this crap.”
Wes just smiled.
We got to church at 7:30 and the service had not started yet. It
was like they were waiting for us to get there. I sat through
the whole thing and tried to daydream.
On the way out Wes and I stopped to shake the preacher’s hand. The
preacher said, “Dennis, I thought you were going to get
Without even thinking, I blurted out, “I thought I was, too.”
The preacher said, “It’s not too late. Come with
We went into the Sunday school room and knelt down. “Go
ahead and pray, Dennis.”
I looked up and said, “I have no idea what to say. I don’t
know how to pray.”
“O.K., Dennis. Just repeat after me: Jesus, I am
a sinner. I need to be saved. Please come into my life
As I repeated the words I began to cry. Every hurt that I had
ever had in my life seemed to melt away. In their place came
a joy and happiness I had never known. I suddenly knew why Wes
was always smiling. I felt real good and I never cussed again. That
was forty-one years ago!
The Lord has been real in my life ever since. For about a year
or two I read the Bible with Wes. Believe it or not I learned
to read pretty good. Seven years after I got saved I entered
Bible School and became a missionary where I worked at Flint Metal
Fabricators. It is called Flint Metal Center now. I passed
out more than five hundred Bibles and a ton of other stuff. I
preached every day. After I retired my wife and I worked on a
Boy’s ranch in Florida for one year. The last six years
I have been writing for the Lord.
The world has printed my testimony three times. The religious
people have rejected publishing my testimony. I have submitted
it many times. I have passed out many, many copies of my testimony.
Here’s one the poems I wrote:
THE KID OFF THE STREETS
DENNIS M. VINCENT
I used to run the streets,
Lie, gamble, drink and cheat.
Everything that could put you in jail;
Then I asked JESUS to come into my heart. He promised to keep me out
My life has changed, now I’m happy as can be. My wife and kids
can see JESUS in me.
Oh, if only I knew how much better this like was to be. I could have
saved my life a lot of pain and grief. Yes, I used to run the streets,
now I walk the roads Telling people about JESUS, the way of life and
life’s woes. There is one thing for sure, living for Jesus is
not the boring life they say. I can tell you it’s a whole lot
better way. I was blind and now I can see.
JESUS is my friend and not my enemy.
Today will never come again;
I beg you, my friend, ask JESUS to come in. Yes, I used to run the
streets; now I walk the roads, Telling people about JESUS everywhere
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