By DANIELLE REID
Local author, Christopher D. Craig, Sr., has a story to tell – and he shares it through his new book “Road to Redemption: Living in Darkness and Finding My Way Out.”
Craig’s story isn’t just about how a local author published a book. Rather, it is a story about how God redeemed his life and put him on the path to be a Lamp to others who are in darkness, a Lifeboat to people going through rough waters, and a Ladder for them to climb out of the pit they are in.
“The Lord showered me with love and peace through the ups and downs of my life, leading me in this journey to find Christ,” explained Craig. Quoting Matthew 11:23 NIV, Craig continued, “I want to point others to the One who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Life is not always smooth sailing and Craig’s life took many twists and turns. He recalls life growing up Catholic; and being molested by a priest as an overweight 15-year old. It caused him to lose faith and become a self-conscious, self-serving kid, striving to be accepted. As a high-school senior, he starred in the play, “South Pacific,” and found an audience who loved his singing and funny sense of humor. He also encountered serious health issues with Crohn’s disease.
“Even though I didn’t have eye-appeal with the cheerleader types, when I opened my mouth and sang, I got noticed,” he said. This new found talent escallated him into working at dinner theaters, singing in more musicals and eventually as an internationally acclaimed singer on a cruise ship, traveling to three continents. However, the monotomy of the daily life aboard ship led to boredom which led to too much drinking.
Craig recalls one particular cruise to a port in Mexico where cruise members would leave the ship and go away from the tourists to drink. He recollects one bar-game where they set up 34 double drinks around the bar and you had to drink as many as you could in an hour.
“I was the youngest and thought I had something to prove, so I drank all 34 drinks but didn’t remember anything after that … other than I won the contest. After that, I pursued the lifestyle that gave me more wine, women and song.”
During one of his cruises, Craig met a girl and fell in love. Seeking more stability in his life, Craig returned home to marry the girl of his dreams, but her parents said no. He was 20 years old and she was only 18. After their breakup, Craig attempted suicide. His life took a nosedive and went into a tailspin, craving more self-gratification. He began singing with the Fat Ammon’s Band in Myrtle Beach and received adulation from fans.
“I had the look, the voice, a white Mustang convertible, but I was living a lie. I put all the effort into myself and thought that would get me through,” he wistfully recalls.
Craig and the band were playing in Farmville for a Fourth of July concert when he met a new girlfriend. Craig’s health once again became an issue and the band let him go. His girlfriend said she had a connection with a show in Nevada, so he sold everything and relocated – but by the time they got there, the show had closed and moved to Korea. Because he didn’t have any money to return home, he lived in Durango, CO for a year. There he was diagnosed with a serious case of Crohn’s disease, and almost died.
The couple decided to get married and later they had a son; and moved back to Virginia Beach, where he rejoined the band. The marriage lasted only two years, when his wife took their car and child and left. So Craig returned to his life of wine, women and song.
“At that point, the pay was getting smaller, the miles were getting longer and I wasn’t getting any younger, so I dediced to leave the band.” Although Craig thought he wanted more of a normal life, he continued to lead the wine, women and song lifestyle. He said he stopped looking for “the one” (Mrs. Right) and instead looked for Mrs. Right-Now.
However, he did meet the future Mrs. Right while playing at a Christmas party in Bluefield. The couple hit it off and did an impromptu floor show, doing an Elvis impersonation. Five months later Beth and Christopher were married. Together they have a son, Jacob. Craig worked in several different jobs including a cable company, deputy sheriff, youth prison guard and worked with special needs children. His wife is a third-grade school teacher in the Montgomery County School System.
During their 23-year marriage, Craig has suffered through more Crohn’s surgeries, stage 4 throat cancer and Parkinson’s disease, but believes, “The Lord has something else for me, that’s why I’m still alive. That’s why I’m still here.”
Craig said it was during his 35 radiation treatments for cancer that he found the Lord.
“I was lying in the hospital bed two-months at a time, and could barely move. It was a struggle even to get from the bed to the bathroom. One night, I felt a nudge to get out of bed. I got up and walked a short distance, kicked a trash can over to the wall and put my hands up on the wall as high as I could. While leaning my head against the wall and getting sick, I managed to pour out my thoughts to God.
“I don’t know how to talk to you or pray. If this is it, it’s ok. If not, let’s get on with it.”
“In response, I felt a surge in my fingers down to my feet. Beth found a Christian radio station I could listen to on my laptop. The For King & Country song, ‘Proof of Your Love’ came on. That’s when I completely knew. Beth looked at me and said, ‘there’s your proof.’ It confirmed I had found my faith. I knew the Lord was the One guiding me the whole time. I just wasn’t giving Him the room to show me what I was supposed to do.”
Craig continued, “You don’t come to the Lord and give yourself up to Him without a fight. Satan attacked me really bad, to the point I was abusing pain killers because of Crones and cancer. I voluntarily put myself in the hands of medical personnel who could help me.”
As he went through counseling, Craig experienced more of God’s grace and is free of the reliance on pain killers. During that time, he had another heart-to-heart with the Lord. “One night in the room, I said ‘Lord, can you show me how to know you?’ I wrote a song in two-hours including lyrics and melody. We just have to be still and listen to Him,” Craig confesses. His song is being prepared for future release.
Even though Craig is home-bound and considered fully disabled, he has found time to train his three-year-old emotional support dog, Marley; write his book “Road to Redemption” which was released on January 18, 2023; prepare the script for an upcoming TEDx speech for YouTube; and produced two videos promoting his book. He is also considering doing public speaking appearances in person or virtually from his home.
Craig’s book “Road to Redemption” is his journey of faith, meant to encourage others. He says, “I felt my faith was taken from me at age 15, so I put my faith in myself. Then I found out how much I really needed the Lord. When I made him part of my life, things got so much better. I had to take a trip and find the path. It wasn’t straight – lots of curves and bumps. But here I am and it’s all good. I want to share and inspire other people and let them know they are not by themselves. God is with them.”
The Road to Redemption can be purchased online at: ChristopherDCraigSr.com, or in bookstores everywhere. Local purchaseres can get their book signed by Craig.