Jimmy Hammonds
Full Story

"A friend of mine who I was raised up with came out of church and he said, 'If you keep hanging with your same friends, you’re going to Hell.' That was the first time I realized that I was on my way to Hell, and it was because he brought it to my attention. It broke that seal, that evil bind that had my heart, it broke it, and I realized then, 'I’m on my way to Hell.' What a joy to know that Jesus Christ can take a broken-down veteran whose life is beaten, battered, and can make you able to go and witness and tell people the goodness of the Lord."






Jimmy Hammonds - Lumbee - Full Story

I’m Jimmy D. Hammond from Lumberton, North Carolina, and I’m a Lumbee Indian.

Today I would like to talk about my testimony. I was a young man raised in a rural community out of Lumberton. My dad was a school teacher and my mother was a homemaker, and up until I was 18 years old, I lived a very controlled life. High school - my dad was assistant principle at the local high school where I went to school. My mother stayed home every day. When I got off of the bus at home, mother was there every day.

Started to college at 18 ½ and was tired of going to school immediately, and decided I would join the United States Army.

I wanted to leave North Carolina, I wanted to travel and get away from my parents, I wanted to get away from a controlled environment, and I wanted to make my own choices and do what I wanted to do. And I joined the United States Army; that was the avenue for me to get away from home. Fort Bragg was only 30 miles away; I joined the army, I went through basic training, and in 5 ½ months I landed in Vietnam.

When I landed, the first day the temperature was 115 degrees, and I had a field jacket on until 1:30 that afternoon, a thick coat, because I was so afraid and scared that I couldn’t even take my jacket off.

When they took us to our unit that afternoon, which was up in Phu Bai, and when you’re in different locations of a war zone, everybody’s in that war zone, but people are in different positions. My job was convoy escort; we took supplies from the major base to the far bases out in the field.

And when I realized where I was at, I was on the back of a jeep with M6 machine gun, protecting and transporting up and down Highway One. Complete different atmosphere, because you’re getting shot at every day, you have land mines in the road almost every day, all types of possibilities of life-threatening situations.

When you’re going down a highway and you have 50 trucks, and maybe one of the lead vehicles has hit some mine and blowed up, then it makes everybody have to stop, because you’ve got to get the debris and get the road cleared, get the bomb squad out before you can go any farther, and it put us in an ambush position.

We knew that that was the potential of what they would do, is put this stuff in front of you so that it would slow everybody down, and then we would receive sniper fire from the side of the mountains, which lasted about two hours, till we got air support to come in and to shut it down.

Living in Vietnam was a nightmare, no matter where you were at. At night, 122 rockets could come in from anyplace where you were at. You always had information that there would be sappers coming through the wires at any night. The most death-defying facts that I mention was when we’d go out to these small LZ’s and take supplies. Sometimes we’d get… have to stay in, and have to spend the night there on the Green Line, and it would always be in a dangerous situation.

I had a different perspective about dying, because I felt like there was some old ladies at my home church were praying for me, and I never thought about dying when I was in Vietnam, even though death was around me. I didn’t trust in Jesus cause I didn’t know any better, but I trusted in the saints of God to pray for me.

I should have been… raised in a Christian home, I should have been able to trust in the Lord and look to Him, but I knew my lifestyle was not cooperating with that program. I knew better than that.

When I went into service, I was a young man who was lived in a Christian home, and I lived in a very good background at home, and was taught very well, and considered myself a very mannered and a good fella.

But when I got exposed to all the atmosphere that I did in Vietnam, it changed my personality. Not a violent person, but very emotional, and when I got out of service in ’71, I started to college and majored in Psychology, trying to find myself and find out the problems that I dealt with, and searching avenues of correcting my behavior.

College life at 21 and 22 is not like 17 and 18. You’re a big man on campus, and you’re a veteran, and everybody wants you to be a part of everything they’re doing, and everybody looks to you to help them with everything that comes up, and it puts yourself in a very bad situation when trouble arises. You seem to always be the one that trouble would come to.

I married in ’74 and started a family, and life was good, working and enjoying life as it was, and began… I had a drinking problem since I got out of service, added on to it an addiction problem of cocaine because I… it seems that I couldn’t get the nightmare of Saigon and Chu Lai Pa Nang out of my mind.

As time progressed, and the older I got, it seems that it triggered other avenues of lifestyle. In other words, I always worked, kept a good job and fed my family, but I loved to have a good time.

I had a disposition as to where I didn’t really bother many people, but I didn’t want nobody bothering me, and getting involved with society I had a problem with. At a Jaycee function - I was the president of the Jaycees exactly - some guys come in and tried to rob the place and take over, and I got involved with a shootout at that time and ended up going to prison for two years.

So then one day I catch myself at home, in the early ‘80s, ‘84, ‘85 and I’m sitting around, I’m a Vietnam veteran, I’m an ex-convict from prison, and I’m working every day trying to prepare for my family and raise four children and a wife, and I got very depressed. I was depressed because I felt like I was on a dead end road. I didn’t have no direction to go and no future. Jobs were hard to find and the unemployment rate was high, and it seemed like depression set in. I even had thoughts of taking my own life at different times, because I felt like I couldn’t go on. I went that way about four years.

And then one night, one Thursday night, my wife kept wanting me to go to church; they were having revival, and I felt like I would go; I would make my wife happy and I’d make my mother happy, too. So if you make two women happy at one time, it’s a good thing.

So I decided I would go that night, and I went; small church, the preacher preached, he talked about worshiping idol gods, and I felt like I was involved with worshiping idol gods - my job, my car, and situations of life - and not looking to Jesus Christ.

And that night it dawned on me that I needed to change my life, but the most effective part of that night was, I had a friend of mine who I was raised up with, a child at that very church we played with as children in the yard. This was on a Thursday night, and I saw him Tuesday, at a place we drank at in the afternoon, and he come by, he looked at me and I waved at him, he acknowledged seeing me and I waved at him. I weren’t trying to hide what I was doing, it was open.

But that night, he come out of church and he looked at me and he said, “If you keep hanging with your same friends, you’re going to Hell.”

That was the first time, with all I’d been through, that I realized that I was on my way to Hell, and it was because he brought it to my attention.

I feel like up until then I put all my insurance on my saints praying for me, my mother and daddy praying for me, and my grandparents praying for me.

But that night when he looked at me and said, “If you keep hanging with your same friends, you’re going to Hell,” it broke that seal, that evil bind that had my heart, it broke it, and I realized then, “I’m on my way to Hell,” and that was a very hurting situation for me.

People told me later I got under conviction that night, but the next morning I called upon the Lord to save me. I was sick and tired of drinking, I was 39 years old, and it seemed like I was at a dead end part of my life. I just couldn’t continue on, but I knew I needed some help, and I called on the One who hung the moon and set the stars, and Jesus Christ came into my life at 9:15 on Friday morning, April the 14th, 1989 and changed my life.

I came home that after… my wife came home that afternoon, I told her that I’d met Jesus that day. She was so excited and happy, but she was still skeptical and wanted to watch me for just a little while. But as time rolled by, weeks went by, she realized that I was on the right track with the Lord.

He came, He changed my life, He took the nightmares away; no longer was I depressed because I had something to look forward to. I had a home in Glory; I was on my way to be with the Lord when this life was over.

But I felt like when He touched me, I had a calling to go in the ministry, and I started witnessing to people, letting people know the goodness of the Lord. A year and a half later, I turned it over to Him, and I became a preacher and I started evangelizing.

1996, I became the pastor of that very little church that I went to on that Thursday night and Jesus saved me, and I’ve been pastoring there for 15 years.

What a joy it is to understand that Jesus Christ can take a broken-down veteran who’s broken, whose life is beaten, battered, and can change your life and make it possible that you can be able to go and witness and tell people the goodness of the Lord.

A lot of people fail to realize why Jesus died on the cross. Most people will look and say, “I don’t know why He would do it for me.” Well, they’ve never read John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

God looked down one day, and He saw this world was in such a state that only He could come down, as His Son Jesus, and die on an old rugged cross.

I had a sin debt that my grandmother couldn’t pay, my daddy couldn’t pay, my mother couldn’t pay - if they could, they would have - but Jesus come and died on an old rugged cross that my sin debt could be paid.

He’s my Redeemer, and the Gospel story just lets us know that a little baby was born in a manger, where He could raise up and die on an old rugged cross, that I could be forgiven.

He set me free. I was in bondage of my own self, of wanting to do what I wanted to do, trying to make up for lost time, trying to make up for circumstances that I could no longer control, but yet, when I called on Him, I was just sick and tired of the way my life was going. I knew I needed a change, and when I fell upon my knees and I said, “Jesus I want you to forgive me of my sins,” I knew I should’ve been serving the Lord, I knew about it from a child, but yet I chose to follow myself, but at that moment when I called on Him, He touched me in such a way that it felt like He took 300 pounds off my shoulders.

The main thing that people fail to realize, is two things: one is, all you have to do is ask Him and He will; and number two is, He’ll keep you when He takes you. He won’t leave you on your own.

It’s just so wonderful to know that when He moves in and takes control of your life, He’ll guide you, and He’ll always be there to whisper and lead you in the right direction.