Bill Stonebraker's Testimony
Bill Stonebraker grew up in Southern California, in and around the Redondo area. Like many children today, Bill grew up without a consistent father figure. He hardly knew his biological dad, and although he had four stepfathers, none of them were particularly close to him.
This lacking had a negative affect on him from very early on. “As I got a little older, I looked at pictures of my real father, and I noticed that he would always be holding my sister, but never me,” Bill remembers. “And it always hurt. I wondered why didn’t my dad want to hold me? Why didn’t he want to pick me up?”
BILLY'S A BAD BOY
Bill got into trouble at a very young age. His mom worked, and so he lived with his grandfather and cousins for a time. Nine people lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath home. Unfortunately, grandpa did not keep a watchful eye on young Billy, and he began running wild in the neighborhood.
“I had a friend who was my age, but he also had three older brothers,” Bill tells us. “They got us into a lot of bad situations. When I was very small we were lighting fields on fire. We would break into houses, brand new houses. We would take bricks and throw them through the windows and run away. We would go onto local farms and trample down corn fields and rhubarb patches.”
“As a kid I used to steal from my friends, steal from stores, even my aunt’s purse. Then I would take my friends out for a hamburger and malt. Maybe it was a way of getting attention, of getting people to be my friends. One time a kid asked me, ‘Where do you get all this money, Billy?’ I didn’t know what to say to him.”
One other time Bill was at a fountain shop having a hamburger and malt. Looking out the window he saw his uncle pulling up into the parking lot. He got out of the car and came over to young Bill and asked, “Where’d you get the money?” He suspected the boy was stealing from his aunt. So Bill was caught in the act, but it didn’t change him at all.
Under the influence of his friend’s older brothers, Bill got into some unsavory sexual behavior. He was abused when he was very young. The older boys led Bill into perverted situations that are still in his memory. Nobody was aware of what Bill was doing; he was left to fend for himself.
Some friends came one weekend to take his sister on a trip to a farm, and Bill wanted to go with them very badly. “I can still remember her friend’s father saying, ‘We’re not going to take Billy, because Billy’s a bad boy. He ruined my corn field.’ Which I had done.”
In fact, young Bill got into so much trouble, that by the ripe old age of seven, his mom felt compelled to move. So they left North Redondo for Manhattan Beach, where something important happened to Bill a few years later. “Fortunately in Manhattan Beach I didn’t have the negative influences I had in Redondo."
FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST
"One day I was at the beach and this group of Christians came down. I didn’t know anything about Christianity at the time; I didn’t know anything about Jesus. But these people came and set up a big umbrella and sang songs about being ‘fishers of men.’ They would sing the song and cast out an imaginary fishing line.”
Bill sat nearby, watching. Nobody spoke to him at all, but he could hear what the Christian kids were saying. They took out a book with no words in it. The first page was black. “Your heart is black because of sin,” they explained. “You’ve done wrong things and sinned against God.” They turned to a red page. “But the blood of Jesus Christ…” they continued, turning to a white page, “cleanses you from sin, making your heart white as snow.” Then they gave those listening an opportunity to pray to receive Jesus Christ into their hearts.
“As they said that prayer,” Bill recalls, “I can remember sitting off to the side, closing my eyes and repeating the prayer with this person standing 20 yards away. When I said that prayer, it was like a light went on in my life. Something happened to me. Nobody said anything to me, but something happened. And it was amazing – for the next couple years, my life really did change. As a little 10 year old, my life really started changing.”
In junior high school, Bill began to get involved with surfing. Because of Christ being in his life, there developed a genuineness about him that some of the surfer guys liked. It was a Christ-like innocence. However, as Bill got deeper and deeper into the surf scene, surfing began to be his god. Eventually he moved away from anything to do with Jesus.
In high school, with the demand to be cool, Bill started to become more and more antisocial, and moved further into the surfer subculture. It meant partying, drinking (drugs were not happening in the area at this time) and ditching school to go surfing. Soon the rebellious attitude he had as a little boy reared its head again. So along with the drinking, Bill got involved once again with sexual sin and rebellion.
The last three weeks of high school, the surf came up and Bill skipped school with some friends to surf all day. The Vice Principal suspected the four boys of cutting classes. Bill recalls: “He sat me in his office and asked, ‘Where were you?’ I knew how to lie, though. I looked him straight in the eye – because I knew if you looked someone in the eye, they would believe you – and I said, ‘Mr. Fisher, I was home with my sister’s kids, watching them because my sister needed me.’ And he believed me.”
“Then my other friends came in – the squealers. And the Vice Principal said, ‘I know you guys are lying, but Bill’s telling the truth. I can tell. A man who looks me in the eye when he answers me, I know he’s telling the truth.”
Eventually, because of Bill’s “squealer” friends, the man found out that Bill had been lying. “He took me into his office; he didn’t even want to look at me. He told me, ‘You are out of here. I don’t care if you’ve gone four years to Maricosa High, you can graduate from some other school. Get out!’” Fortunately, Bill’s mother was able to get him back into the school, and he did graduate.