A man who found God after he improbably survived a suicide attempt five years ago fulfilled a divine compulsion yesterday when he presented four ‘crucifixion nails’ to Angus Buchan moments before the evangelist addressed the Karoo Mighty Men Conference at Middelburg.
Michel Stone said that in December 2007 his troubled past caught up with him “in absolutely every way”. After two months of living in constant fear he decided to kill himself. He locked himself in a room in his Piketburg home and took a lethal dose of cardiac glycoside, a drug that paralyses the heart muscle.
“I took enough poison to kill about eight people,” he said.
But he woke up about five or six hours after swallowing the poison.
“I first thought I was dead. Then I realised I was still in the real world. After a lot of cursing I heard a still voice to the right of me saying ‘Whether you live or die is not your choice’.
“I just broke down. I did not know much about God but I just started confessing from when I could remember; from about 5 years old.”
Stone says that about two weeks later he got a Bible from a dominee because he felt he needed to read about God in order to try and understand what had happened to him. From that time on he began to get a lot of support from Christian people.
“Just before Easter [in 2008] I woke up one morning with an incredible urge to make nails for Angus Buchan. I thought, well it’s my own idea and I ignored it. But this [urge to make nails for Buchan] literally has been going on for the last five years.
“Eventually, about two months ago, just before Easter, I got up one morning and walked into my blacksmith shop and started forging nails. And by lunchtime I had made 20 nails. My wife asked me: ‘What are you doing?’ – And I said: ‘I am making nails’. She asked: ‘Why?’ I said:’I don’t know but I’m just doing it.”
Stone said a friend of his sent a photograph of one of the nails to bagpiper Piperjames who subsequently ordered 50 to present as gifts to people at the 2013 Karoo Mighty Men Conference where he was scheduled to pipe Buchan onto the stage on April 28. Stone grabbed the opportunity to ask Piperjames if he would give four extra nails to Buchan on his behalf so that he could be obedient to what he believed God wanted him to do. But Piperjames’ wife Ina said he should rather go to the KMMC and present the nails to Buchan himself.
“I tried weaseling my way out of it but she wouldn’t let up,” he said.
Stone said he had been nervous about attending a camp together with thousands of men.
“It was a bit too much for me. But I am glad I came. It is amazing. It’s like being home. I cannot believe it is so peaceful. There are about 20 000 men here. But I have not heard any cursing or aggression. It [attending the KMMC] is probably the beginning of a lot more [MMC outings],” he said.
Buchan listened intently to Stone and said a few words of encouragment to him, as he accepted the nails which symbolise the high price that Jesus Christ paid to save people from eternal suffering.
“It was a great honour, to present the nails to Buchan,” said Stone, who learnt the blacksmithing trade as a youth at reform school. He said he got bitten by the bug of working with hot metal then but due to lack of demand for blacksmithing today, he only does it as a hobby now. However he turned his hot metal skills to making jewelry and today he earns his living as a goldsmith.
He said he had been an aggressive person and a drunkard in the past. He sobered up about six or seven years before his suicide attempt. During this time he was tormented by the realisation of the bad things he had done in his life “because I could no longer hide from myself through alcohol.”
Eventually he was driven to the point of trying to take his life, which led to his encounter with God.
Stone said his wife Tracy is deeply impacted by his transformation.
“She has not committed her life [to Jesus] yet, but she has an absolute passion for me to be with God. And amazingly enough, she will often come to me and say: ‘You know we haven’t prayed yet.’ .”