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CBN.com They’re rated the no. 1 snack food in America with 1.85 billion pounds sold last year… potato chips.
Meet Ray Jenkins, owner of Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips. His company had $24 million in sales last year.
Things haven’t always so good for Ray.
He grew up poor in the projects of Detroit… dropping out of school after the 8th grade to take a job in an iron foundry. He joined the Navy where he was assigned as a cook on the USS Bristol. It was there that Ray learned skills to enter the food industry. When he returned home, Ray went into business for himself.
“We had $150, and we started with chip dip,” Ray recalls. “We had a local dairy make the chip dip, and I sold it to taverns, to bowling allies, to little stores, out of the back seat of my car.”
He met his God-fearing wife Myrna on a city bus, and they married.
At the time, Ray didn’t think much about God. “I thought if I could see God, then I might believe in Him,” he says.
Ray bought an old potato chip factory but his business struggled. He could barely support his family, and the pressure was mounting.
“The banks had told us, ‘You’re bankrupt and don’t know it; sell your equipment and whatever you have because you have a negative networth of terrible condition’,” Ray says.
“My god was my business. That was a failure. I put all my heart, my effort, energy, and everything else into providing a living and to make that business work, and the harder I worked, the worse it got.
“I started drinking. I stopped every night in the bar and drank. It was to relieve the pressure. I didn’t have the answer to make the business work. No matter what I did, it seemed to be wrong. So I stopped in the tavern and drank, drank, drank.”
He continued to drink until one night when he stumbled into the house. Ray started vomiting blood.
“Ray was bringing up blood out of every open orifice of his body,” his wife says.
When the paramedics arrived, the news was not good. “They told me that it appeared that Ray had lost 60 percent of the blood that was in his body,” she says. “They also told me that Ray wasn’t going to make it.”
But it was during this time, Ray says, his spirit left his body.
“Then I thought to myself I’m going to hell,” he says. “I knew that in my heart. I know I was going to hell. Going to hell for eternity, forever, was the most terrifying experience I’d ever felt in my entire life. It was like looking in the face of a starving lion that’s about to eat you alive. I was ashamed of my life and how I’d neglected my family. My life was the business and the aftermath of getting drunk… In this pitiful condition, this hopeless condition, I felt God’s presence with me. He didn’t dislike me, He loved me, but He was disappointed I had not been a proper husband to my wife and a proper father to my children.”
As she followed the ambulance to the hospital, his wife Myrna began to pray, and God gave her amazing peace.
“A peace came over me, and I knew that Ray was going to be alright,” she recalls.
Ray says his spirit came back into his body, and he realized that he was going to live.
Ray spent two weeks in the hospital and received a blood transfusion. “When I got out of the hospital, I told Myrna, ‘There is a God. I don’t know who He is, or where He is, but I’ve got to find Him. I can’t live any longer without God.’
“Later on I realized that I had lost enough blood that I should have been dead. I was dead. I left my body. There was no question in my mind. The Lord saved my life, so He could save my soul.
“I finally felt a peace that I’ve never experienced in my life, and I found for the first time what I was seeking in my life, in alcohol, and anything else the world can offer and that’s His peace.”
And with that peace, Ray says that God began to work in other areas of his life. “The Lord gave me ideas and plans,” he says. “It was like a master business person talking to me. In my mind and heart, I knew I had the right answers. I went forward, and that year we made $85,000 profit.”
Today, Ray and Myrna run a successful snack food company that sold 25 million bags of potato chips last year. On the back of each bag, Ray has printed stories of his life and Scriptures with the Gospel message.
He does this to honor the God who brought him hope in a hopeless situation. “With me, He should have run out of patience a long time ago, and although I was a sinner, He still loved me.”
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