Then and now; veterans reunited after 30 years
Fri, 09 Jul 1999 - 12:00 AM CST
1967. Ft. Hood. Killeen, Texas. Cecil Adams, 20, and Darcy Haisley, 18, are going through boot camp together. It's near the end of the month. Haisley is broke and hanging around the barracks with nothing to do.
"Cecil would witness to me and I had a lot of stupid arguments about God," Haisley remembers now. "He invited me to this little storefront hole-in-the-wall kind of church. People called him 'Brother Adams.' All this 'Brother' and 'Sister' stuff. During the service, a lady to my right was holding up her hands saying, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' At the altar call, Cecil kept saying, 'You can go now.' I didn't know what he meant. I just wanted to get out of there."
1968. Vietnam. An outpost near Da Nang. Adams and Haisley are serving together. Adams is a conscientious objector serving as a medic.
"I knew he was a conscientious objector and wouldn't carry a weapon," Haisley says. "But I remember a time when a 17-year-old kid named Atwood was killed by a sniper and everybody was hugging the ground and Cecil was up and moving with his medic bag and working on this kid."
Haisley could see that Adams' talk about religion was not empty words.
"There was something about Cecil. I remember asking him what religion he was, and he said, 'I just believe the Bible.' I didn't know what to make of that. I just knew that he was different and had something that was genuine. Probably what made the biggest impact on my life was just watching his life. Just seeing the contrast between the way I and the rest of the guys were living and how he was living."
Haisley's life was a wreck. He was constantly smoking marijuana. Constantly trying to numb his awareness of his own mortality. And constantly confronted with Cecil.
"I remember one day the guys were giving Cecil a rough time and my friend George Vanderdeusen said to me, 'You know, Cecil's right.' We were laying on this bunk having a cigarette. And I looked at George kind of funny and said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'I used to be really involved in Youth For Christ. What Cecil believes is right.'
"George was killed later. I had been wounded and Med Evac'd out, when I heard he was hit. I went and visited him in the hospital. I knew nothing about the gospel or the Lord. It was an intensive care unit. I remember an incredibly hopeless feeling. I didn't know what to say, and he said to me, 'They want to take my legs.' I didn't know what to say. I was loaded on dope. I remember saying, 'You're going to be ok.'"
1969. Everett, Washington. Haisley has come back to his hometown after his tour of duty. His life continues to spiral downward.
"I came home and got into drugs real heavy," he says. "Actually got to the point where I thought I was an animal and was eating with my bare hands. One day there were these people preaching the gospel down on the street corner. And I went over and talked to them. The first thing I said to the guy on the corner was, 'I'm not afraid to take all of my clothes off, right here, right now.' That's where I was at.'"
The group invited Haisley to their church, Gospel Light Temple, an independent Pentecostal fellowship.
"The guy that preached had a real anointing," Haisley recalls. "I went down to the altar."
This time it was Haisley's turn to say, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
"I started saying it to copy the other people at the altar and I started feeling horrible. So I started saying it louder. I got to the point where I was screaming 'Jesus!' at the top of my lungs. The whole church stopped. They must have thought, 'We've got this madman.'"
And then a man walked up behind Haisley. He laid his hands on his shoulder and quietly said, 'Son, you don't have to scream. Jesus hears you.'"
Three weeks later, Haisley received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
"I used to tell the guys in our unit, 'If I ever got religion, I'd want the kind that Cecil's got,'" he says. Now he had it.
Haisley's transformation was immediate and dramatic. He had been living on the streets using drugs; he returned to share the gospel.
"Everybody knew me," he says. "I witnessed to thousands of people in the first couple of years. I've led hundreds of people to the Lord."
1999. Taos, New Mexico. Cecil Adams and Darcy Haisley are reunited at "The Gathering," an organized reunion of the 5/46th 198th Light Infantry Battalion.
"About the middle of May, my wife gets a phone call," remembers the Rev. Cecil Adams, now a veteran pastor with the Assemblies of God. "And this man says, 'Is this the religious Cecil Adams that was a medic in Vietnam?' And she said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Well, for 30 years I've been looking for him. He witnessed to me over and over and I'm now an Assemblies of God pastor. And I'm shocked that not only is he an Assemblies of God minister, but he's pastoring in Killeen of all places. He's the one who took me to that little church that scared me."
Weeks later, the two friends saw one another for the first time in more than 20 years in Taos.
"It was powerful emotionally," Adams says. When we arrived at the reunion, they expected me to be religious. They knew about me. But they were shocked to find out here's Haisley and now he's like Adams!"
Just as Haisley had watched Adams' life, the others in the unit now saw his own complete change.
"There were a lot of people that came up to me and they just couldn't believe the transformation in my life. The way I had been living, they probably figured it was a miracle I was even alive."
The Revs. Haisley and Adams now share the joy of salvation as they pastor Assemblies of God churches in Killeen and Everett. They also continue to share painful memories of their months in Vietnam. But they use those memories constructively.
"When I have flashbacks," Adams says, "I pray for the men I knew there. Haisley is actually the second one who has come to Christ in the years since I've been home. And if there is one thing I really focus on from those years, it's the power of soul winning. Your witness is so powerful, that even though you don't know they came to Christ, God's at work in their lives. We think, 'Well, I witness and people turn me down.' Yes, these guys all turned me down. But look what's happened. This is two of them. How many more?"
"After I got saved," Haisley says, "I got to thinking about George Vanderdeusen. I had really cared about this guy. I really loved him. And it was one of those tough things when he was blown away. And all of a sudden, it dawned on me that he had been in that hospital 3 days before he died. And God gave me an assurance that Vanderdeusen had that time so he could get right with the Lord. He was going home. I always feel like when I get to heaven, he's going to be waiting and yelling out my name."