ALMYRA, Ark. – God is changing lives in Almyra.
One life that has recently been changed is Chris Stone’s. He shares his story in his song, “I’m sorry,” where he apologizes to his ex-wife, his parents, his current wife and God.
Born in 1973, the Almyra native said he had a normal childhood and was blessed with parents who had him in church whenever the doors were open.
In high school, Stone described himself as a social guy. He started drinking in his late teens.
“I didn’t really get in a bad group of friends. They were just regular old kids. When I left home, I went to college just to get the heck out of Almyra, a small town with a population of about 200 or so,” Stone said. “I got to college and just broke free from the way my parents raised me. I didn’t have to obey anymore. Looking back, that’s about the time I grabbed the devil by the hand.”
Stone did not last very long at college before withdrawing and returning to Almyra, where he worked for a little while on his parents’ farm. He and his first wife married and were together for 12 years.
“That’s what we did when we flunked out of college around here. We came back home and got married,” he said. “I wasn’t a good husband, doing things I wasn’t supposed to. I would have rather been anywhere but at home even though I had this perfect little family.”
At the same time, Stone’s childhood sweetheart, Erika, was also going through a rough patch in her marriage. Both their marriages ended in divorce. Now, they are married to each other and run a successful business, Rolling Stone Hauling.
“It’s a good marriage,” Stone said. She was the first to hear his song, “I’m sorry.”
In December 2021, Stone quit drinking.
“That is something I was physically on my knees and prayed for. I knew I was an alcoholic. I knew it was affecting everything even though I was functioning,” he said. “That was the first time I felt one of my prayers was answered because it wasn’t hard for me to quit drinking. I had tried in the past without praying. That is where that started for me really.”
In February, Stone began going to a Bible study on Thursday mornings in Stuttgart. The leader invited Stone to a men’s retreat. It was there Stone rededicated his life to the Lord.
Soon after, his wife attended a women’s retreat, where she also found salvation.
Stone said he has seen the power of prayer work in his own life. His parents never stopped praying for him, Stone said, even though his relationship with them has had its rough patches.
“My parents are great people. They’ve forgiven me,” he said, noting his relationship with his sister has also been fraught with turmoil. “Patching all these relationships has been awesome. It’s been emotional. There is a lot of hate there.”
God then called Stone to share his story through song. Though he had a guitar since his 20’s, he did not start truly practicing until he stopped drinking.
“I didn’t pull (the guitar) out until I quit drinking. I needed something to do with my time, so I picked up the guitar. I play it every day and I don’t know. I didn’t mean to write this song and I still can’t explain to you how it happened. I’ve tried to write another one since and I can’t, so it makes me think God is going to be present for the next one too,” Stone said.
Rooted in Christ
God is also making an impact on the youth in the Almyra community. During the school year, the First Baptist Church holds a Wednesday night after-school ministry, “Rooted in Christ.” They feed the children a three-course home cooked meal and deliver to shut-ins and others, have worship, Bible study, and complete a service project.
Sabrina Cooper said they served more than 80 meals each Wednesday and averaged between 26-38 children. This year’s Rooted in Christ Ministry ended in April.
“It has just been extra good,” Cooper said. They have had two baptized and three others come to Christ with baptism on the horizon.
To keep the youth engaged throughout the summer, Cooper said they plan to have a variety of events.
For instance, on June 4 they are having a banquet for the Rooted in Christ workers. They will be served by the youth. Additionally, they are working on organizing a girls’ trip to Little Rock and a bow shoot for the boys.
Stone invited folks to First Baptist Church in Almyra.
“We’ve got plenty of room for anybody looking for a good church and we need a preacher too,” he said.