Who Are They? Danny’s Story

This is the testimony of Danny Dareing, my wife’s uncle. Gideon’s International put that Bible in his hotel room. He wrote this testimony in the same wheelchair from which he founded two churches in Oklahoma. He died in 2002. WHO ARE THEY? “They” are Danny Dareing. What will you do to Love God. Love Southern. Serve the World?


My name is Dan Dareing and I’m a Vietnam Veteran who served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. I was a grunt, who carried an M-16 in the bush. I lived like a dog, slept on the ground at night with ants, ticks and leaches. The mosquitoes made a meal out of me many times at night; if you’re a Viet Nam Veteran, you know what I’m talking about. I came home from Vietnam in April of 1971. I was 147 pounds of lean, mean, fighting machine. My teeth were rotten and I had an early suntan. I felt naked without that M-16 hanging off my body and the thought of getting home safe and sound seemed like a million miles away. I thought about the guys I left in the bush and if they would make it home. My homecoming was very brief and soon I was mixed into a relentless society that was moving faster than I could deal with. College, marriage, and becoming a father hit me all at once; and I was working at a job that I wasn’t really fond of. Pressure and more pressure and even more pressure was about to drive me wild. Heck, I never even got to take that senior trip. I needed at least a year of debriefing, and doing nothing but airing out. In just two years I end up in the next paragraph.

In 1973 I walked into the old Cherokee Motel in Miami, Oklahoma with a small automatic hand gun (that I kept under the seat of my car) wrapped in a sock. I had become very disenchanted with the way life had treated me, I was bitter for what Vietnam had made me become. I was a very dangerous person to society, a time bomb ready to explode at any given moment. I felt that life was not worth living—a marriage gone bad, and everything crumbling about me. I was convinced that there was no way out. I entered the motel room with no food, but I smoked like a chimney then, so I had three packs of cigarettes and a Payday. The room was a dingy little place with a little instant coffee machine, a shower, a small radio, and a black and white TV.

The first day I laid around and stared at the ceiling, reliving everyday of my life as far back as I could remember, and all the adventures I had experienced, good and bad. There really never was anything stable in my life since I came home from Nam. Every time I was idle I’d go to Nam in my mind, and anything other than the feelings I experienced in Nam was a big let down. I was disenchanted with work, and the pressures of life seemed like “dog eat dog.” I was convinced I should just pop the cap and say “goodbye” to this world forever.

The second and third day I became weak from lack of food, and trembled because I didn’t sleep, and I missed having friends around. I got the gun out and set it on the table. I said to myself, “tonight is the night.” I paced up and down, back and forth, from room to room. I would bump my head against the wall and make an “about-face” and repeat this trip hundreds of times, like a caged lion. I never left the room.

About six o’clock that evening some high school kids rented a room next door and started a party. I remembered those days. They laughed and the girls screamed all night long. I said to myself, “If I pop this cap they will hear it and come in and make light of my death. I’ll wait, and, when they leave, I’ll end the thing.” One o’clock, two o’clock came. “When are they going to crash?” About three o’clock in the morning I heard the last car door slam and drive away.

Lying on the bed, I reached for the gun and stuck it against my head. “Wait!” I said, “It will damage my head for the funeral.” I stopped and put it in my mouth, and pulled the hammer back, hands trembling. About that time, I glanced to the left for reason as my thumb started to squeeze the trigger. There on the table was a Bible. I pulled this gun from my mouth, eased the trigger back in place, and laid it on the bed. A big thought entered my head before the bullet did, “I’ve been in this room for three days now, and I never was this Bible.” I could see where I had set cups of coffee on the top of it, but I never noticed it being in the room. “Who would put a Bible in a motel room? This is really odd.” I opened it up and read some of the verses. It did not make a lick of sense to me, and I closed it.

But just then, I felt a heavy pressure come in the room and a voice spoke on the inside of my mind that said, “Here you are about to kill yourself, and you never have tried to live for Jesus. You’ve never tried to live for Him totally and see if He was who He said He was. You can kill yourself anytime. But you have never tried to live the Christian life.” The only other times I had felt this powerful presence was at my Grandmother’s funeral, and when I asked Jesus to save me at age 12.

I knelt beside that old bed and asked Jesus to help me try to live for Him. I said, “Lord I am not afraid of anyone or any situation. I will live for You without shame or reservation. Just help me deal with the pain.” That was 26 years ago. Since that time, I have read the Bible from cover to cover 6 times. I have pastored 4 churches in the area, and witnessed over 300 people being saved and baptized.

If I would have taken my life in that old motel room that night, what would my life have stood for? Now I know who I am and what my purpose really is in this life. I have been on the mountain tops and in the valleys where He carried me. When I die, I will not hand Him a wasted life full of bitterness and rebellion. I will hand Him the return on His investments. I give Jesus Christ all the glory, praise, and honor for all He’s done in my life. And I thank you for reading this.

Many times I’ve gone back to that old motel room in my mind and thought about my commitment that day. The literal motel has been bulldozed down, and a bank is there now. But I really did put the “old danny” down that day and the “new danny” rose from lying in the place of death to walking in the newness of life. I know I’m not everything I should be, but praise God I’m not like I used to be. Amen! John the Baptist said, “He [Jesus] must increase, and I must decrease.”

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