Pastor Michael and Mrs. HamiltonI was born in and grew up in Vero Beach, Florida. While attending a little Baptist Sunday School in the summer of 1962, I came to know the Lord as my personal Savior. I have warm memories of Sunday School, and I still have that old Sunday School Bible presented to me in 1962. I love to look at all those verses I highlighted with the hopes of memorizing the entire Gospel of John.

Unfortunately, we eventually stopped attending that little church (Can we ever remember why we stopped going to church?). Somehow our family never went to another. Neither did I as the time passed away. I graduated high school in 1971 with few goals other than to finish school and go to work! Concerning spiritual matters, and from a practical point of view, I was no different than an unbeliever. I quickly became an alcoholic, following a well-established pattern in our family. I sank into other immorality. I was like an airplane in a tailspin, plummeting toward certain destruction. My life was the personification of disobedience toward God. It is hard to describe the emptiness and loneliness that was within me. Even though I sought them diligently through the things of this world, I could find neither joy nor peace. I was living a life totally independent of God. What a perfect formula for ruin! It seemed as if there was little hope for this long-ago converted Sunday School boy.

In my early 20's, finally convinced that I was driving down one dead end road after another, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy for a change in my life and for direction. The truth is, life only got worse. I often thought, "Surely life can't get any worse than this!" Little did I know at that time that the Navy of old actually seemed to endorse and encourage alcoholism and other immorality rather than help with it. I ended up stationed in Norfolk, Virginia on a fast-attack submarine. Hold that thought.

My wife was born in and raised in the Buffalo, New York area (Lakeview). Like most there, she was brought up Catholic. This was a direct outcome of the Italian heritage. She too went through a personally tumultuous time. She too seemed to slide down the slope of sin without apparent help. A small group of charismatics brought to her at least some semblance of the Gospel. She was saved. However, they insisted she had to speak in tongues to be so. She knew this was wrong and looked elsewhere. Finally, she moved to Norfolk where her brother-in-law and sister were. He was also stationed on a submarine.

This is where I met my wonderful wife Maureen—in Norfolk. After a very short courtship, we were married. All the prognosticators insisted that we would never make it. I shortly understood why. I quickly discovered that her life was just as hopeless as was mine. Marriage didn't seem to help either of our problems; we were both still miserable. In fact, in some ways, we were probably the worse for it. My wife insisted that we find a church. We tried a few here and there. What an eye-opener that was—what was called church out there.

After leaving the Navy, we moved to Maryland. It was there where we finally realized what was missing in our lives and in so many churches! We found a good, Bible-believing church, and very quickly things began to change in our lives. We helped in any ministry that we could. Our young children were right by our sides and helped in everything we did. Life became exciting and complete! How could we have missed something so long that was so obvious in hindsight? How could something so gratifying have been so seemingly elusive?

In 1985, I moved our family from Maryland to Rhode Island. We served in good churches here for several years. During these years we saw many great things happen. However, the greatest thing I experienced was the Lord's calling of me into ministry! Eventually, in 1997, the Lord brought us to North Tiverton Baptist Church where we have enjoyed many glorious years. We are expecting and praying for many more years to come with this dear church!

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