My name is Ray Welsh, and I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I was born in Owensboro, KY March 10th, 1962 to Bill and Margie Welsh. I had good parents and a good childhood. My mother was overprotective of my four younger brothers and myself. My childhood was very good. My dad worked two jobs. My mother started to give me a little freedom to go places without her. This was the time I started using drugs and alcohol. Marijuana was the first drug I experimented with. In the mornings I would smoke pot before and after school, while selling it as well. This caused my grades to drop drastically. I met a girl that I dated for a long time. Senior year of high school I got her pregnant and we got married. Things changed fast.
I went to work at two different jobs, one after school, and one on the weekend in construction. This is where I learned my trade as a carpenter that I still practice today. 18 years old I became a father of my son Joe. Joe was born in October of 1980. I was able to go to work, complete my schoolwork at home, and still graduate with my class. My wife and I moved in with my parents until we were capable to move into our own house. I partied a lot prior to this, but now that I had the freedom and luxury of having my own place, the partying really took off.
In 1984 my wife and I had another child, my little girl Lacie. Immediately, Lacie became daddy’s little girl. This brought about a change in me and about this time we started going to the First Church of Nazarene, the church in which my wife and I were married in. My bar attendance regressed for a while and times were good. The house we bought, I remodeled into a brand-new home, and we bought a brand-new car and truck. Life was good, the money was good, and I considered these the days of my life.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I started going to the bars again and quit going to church. Shortly after my wife started partying with me again, we were smoking pot, drinking, and was introduced to a new drug; Meth. Everything went downhill fast. We lost our home, my new truck, and had to move once again.
I had switched jobs and began building Wal-Marts out of town for two and a half years. I had an affair while I was out of town working. This affair ended up with the pregnancy of my third child. I told her mother that I would be around for her so she wouldn’t give up the baby, but it was a lie. I had seen my daughter one time when she was six weeks old. I went to Kentucky to be back with my wife and kids.
“He uncovers the deeps out of darkness and brings deep darkness to light” Job 12:22
The affair came to light and shortly after my wife and I divorced. I told myself that I had got married at 18 and was married for ten years that I was robbed of being able to live my life up until this point. With that self-made excuse, I had gone buck wild. I met my 2nd wife shortly after and after several years we had my youngest daughter, Danielle. One might think being remarried and having new children that my partying might slow down, but it didn’t. I had become out of control. Up until this point the only trouble that I had with the law was numerous DUI convictions.
In 1995, I was invited to a party, and on the way there I stopped at a convenient store to pick up some beer. Apparently, I robbed the store. I went to prison on a five-year charge and served out in 41 months. This seemed like an entire lifetime to me. While in prison, I got married to my youngest daughter’s mother. When I got out, I was out entire week until I went back to jail for another DUI. I did six months and I was sick and tired of being sick tired. When I got out, I stayed clean for four years without any treatment, just God alone.
I was doing “Scared Straight” programs with the youth in the churches of Owensboro. I even started a program called “Earn while you learn,” where I taught men who had been in prison a trade so they could make a living. I was making a lot of money with the help of these men that I was training. It was not long until I fell into the bondage of alcoholism and addiction again. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18. By the year of 2004, I was in and out of jail at least six times until 2009. I had become a fugitive for three years until February 24th, 2012 when it all came to an end. The police came to my house on suspected drug activity. I was arrested on drug charges and outstanding warrants. While in jail I went to a “Residents Encounter Christ” event, where my son Joe had came to give his testimony. His testimony was a lot about me and how I had raised him. This hit me harder than I have ever been hit and I had to finally take a good look at myself. I stood up in front of all the men there and asked for Joe’s forgiveness for not being the father that I should have been. I begged God to forgive me for this as well. This was something like the prodigal son, or maybe you could think of it as the prodigal father. I was met with open arms. I also had the opportunity to learn about Friends of Sinners. I wrote a letter to the Executive Director and he eventually came to see me. This began the process of me getting out of jail and into Friends of Sinners. This was a miracle. In man’s eyes it was impossible. But I would soon find out that with God all things are possible. I came to FOS on July 3rd of 2012. It has been unreal the measure my change that has happened in my life since then. While incarcerated I prayed asking God to restore my relationship with my children. In return, my daughter, that I had only seen once, God placed into my life. She is 22 years old and she is in her brother and sister’s life too. When I had prayed that prayer, I had left her out. Being that I had only seen her once at six weeks old, she didn’t register as one of my children like the other three, but God wouldn’t leave her out and she is in our lives today. This has also brought to my attention of a granddaughter that I never knew I had. I am using the trade God blessed me with long ago in business with my brother today. These are all miracles! God has been SO GOOD TO ME. The pinnacle of all of this was the privilege of baptizing my son Joe. I have done a lot in my life, but this has topped them all. I am so blessed. I also witnessed my grandsons get baptized this year. I am so grateful for all these blessings that God has bestowed on me. Today, my life is good. The FOS ministry has given me a great foundation to stand on. This foundation is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, and for this I am truly thankful.