Tommy Thompson Bio 17 Testimony of Pat Bell

APPENDIX 1

How God Saved Me

by Pat Bell, Alaska

I was born on 14th August, 1914 in Chitina, Alaska and grew up in the customs and ways of my people, the Athabascan Indians of North America. My mother died when I was still a young boy. I ran away from home when I was eight. For my sinful young life I was always being sent away from Chitina and eventually, when I was thirteen, they sent me to Idaho to St. Anthony Industrial Training School.

I behaved myself good and they gave me a Bible for that, but I spoiled this when I was found out smoking my first cigarette.

May month 1934 Spring, I got off the train at Chitina. It was the Copper River and North Western Railway. (When I got off at my old home town I never thought I would have a feeling for touching alcohol. By that time I had disliked it.) All my friends in town were waiting for the train. Soon as I stepped out everyone came to shake my hand. I had two fine adopted sisters who came and walked home with me. I was very glad to see them. And there was my old Dad, working unloading the mail and freight. He had been on the railroad for twenty years. Even when it was shut down because of no more work at Kennecott Mine, he worked til they closed the railroad.

The same train I came in brought a carload of whisky, beer and wine. The liquor store had been set up in town - that was something new. On my first trip to town I met my old gang who had grown up with me in this little home town of Chitina. (The word Chitina come from native language. Chitty is Copper Rocks and na means river or streams. “Chitty na” that’s how it got its name Chitina, pronounced Chit-na.)

But now to get back to my going to town. That’s when I met my old gang and to my surprise they each had a bottle of liquor and all of them offered me to join them. But I refused to take anything for I did not like the taste. (For years the drinking had been going on and whenever I came home there were drinking parties going on.) One night two years after, in 1936,1 felt lonely and blue, longing for what we thought was a good time. Two of my friends were living close to my home in our native village so I go and visit them. I come up to the door and knocked, no one answered. I had in mind that I am going to join them and take a little drink. The one who owned the house opened the door slowly and let me in. There was a young lady there who was very drunk and she set up a glass for me. It was pretty strong. This first drink I ever took and it got me into trouble for fighting so I had to serve ten days for being drunk and disorderly. In jail I thought I would never touch liquor again. But when I was released from jail I met some of the old gang and I was glad to see them again. We all went to town and onto a spree. This was my life for a long time after.

I didn’t like the life I was leading. The liquor had gotten me into all kinds of big troubles. Once it was very serious trouble when I had frozen my feet. I had gotten six months for robbing a whisky cache, which I drank, and found guilty was sent away to jail. On my way back I had left Anchorage on the mail truck bound for Chitina. Another guy was with me who owed me money and for that he bought me a gallon of wine. I took a little too much. When the mail truck stopped at Lower Tonsina, fifteen miles from Chitina so they could put chains on the wheels as the hill was very icy and slippery, I got into argument with a new passenger, so I walked away from the truck. I was so drunk that I did not know where I was going and got lost in the bush. Walking on an ice covered stream, I thought it was strong, but when I stepped on the ice I broke through and found myself with no shoe on one foot. Not remembering where I left it, I kept on going, wet up to the waist, very cold and tired. I went through some brush and soon I came up to the road. I looked down about fifty feet and there was a house. I was so glad I ran and knocked for five minutes. My foot was freezing pretty bad. Just then the door opened and a nice, kind, young cripped lady opened the door and let me in. It was 5.30 in the morning. She soon made a fire to warm me up but when she felt my foot she said, “It is frozen hard as a rock” I was so worried for there was nothing we could do at all for my foot. This lady was Hattie Mack She had a jar of Vicks so she put that on and I was taken back to Anchorage again. The old doctor at Providence Hospital said, “It’s a good thing you put Vicks on. It helped.”

I was in hospital for nearly two months and my foot healed. I was now a heavy drinker and worked only to drink. Now out of hospital I spent the day getting drunk.

The Second World War years I spent in Cordova and now I was a real alcoholic and not able to quit. After the war I got back to Chitina. Most of the boys and girls I knew before had gotten married and Chitina itself had changed. The family had changed too. By Summer 1954 got worse and now felt sick too - but Satan gave me more and more.

When the new missionary came, he asked me to meetings and he preached good and I heard good - for now I was deaf too. I was member of Russian Orthodox Church all my life, and it also was my old Dad’s church.

The chart used by Mr. Thompson taught me that Christ alone can free me from Satan’s power. Now I want to be saved real bad, but still I drink and get blue and very sad - but I keep putting it off.

On December 21, 1954 I got up after the meeting and went to the missionary and told him, “I want to be saved.” He read a verse from the Bible, one in 1 Timothy 1:15 “this is a faithful saying Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” He made me understand very well. He had given me a paper to read some time before this, “Old John is Dead, I’m new John.” Now I want to be new Pat, so I bowed down and asked Jesus to save me. That night I walked out of the hall at Chitina feeling really happy like a new man. It was so different and I was so happy. I went around and told my friends, “Old Pat is dead. I’m new Pat.”

Now I thank God, what a wonderful life this is, for I am with other Christians and have been baptised and breaking bread, remembering the way Jesus died. I am so happy.

When I look at those who are still drinking, I bend down on my knees and pray for them, also my old Dad. He was a real heavy drinker but now praying real with all his power too, having accepted the Lord into his heart just a little time ago.

The end

Pat Bell

Footnote

I had the joy of seeing Pat saved, and shepherded this dear soul until his earthly journey ended through sickness, placing his body in earth at Copper Center, Alaska, there to await the coming of the Lord.

Dear sinner, does this not encourage you to turn to the Saviour who did so much for Pat?

Oh come, sinner, come to mercy’s call
Here at Jesus’feet;
Oh come and repenting lay thine all
Here at Jesus ‘feet.
Oh lay it down, lay it down,
Lay thy weary burden down, Oh lay it down, lay it down, Down at Jesus’feet.
Your servant for Jesus’ sake,
T.J. Thompson