Updated: Nov 16, 2019
When you hear “bootlegger” what comes to mind?
If you know anything about bootleggers, you know that they typically brewed whiskey in the outskirts of towns and cities. During the time of prohibition, when it was illegal to sell whiskey in the open market, dealers had to find clever ways of bringing the bottles into towns and cities. Some would hide the bottles inside the tall boots they used to wear. Hence they began to be called “bootleggers”.
Now that you’ve had a history lesson, you might be surprised that we have a former bootlegger from the mountains of Southwest Virginia in our midst: Stu Epperson. He no longer bootlegs whiskey (to know more about that part of his life, you’ll need to ask him). Instead, he gives testimony for our Lord.
How Epperson got involved in NCS
Like many of our members, he was told about NCS by someone already involved. In Epperson’s case, it was Mike Kelley. Kelley wasn’t involved in a church, but he was a part of this newly formed group. Epperson feels like he truly owes a lot to Kelley and prays for him to this day.
Epperson was at a place in his life where he had a need for fellowship with men who were dedicated to Christ…and our group met this need! He also saw how NCS challenged men to be Godly leaders throughout their lives: in their family, community, church and even business. He’s been a regular member for approximately 13 years.
His perspectives on faith
Like most of our members spotlighted in our newsletter, coming up with a single “God moment” is tough. Many, like Epperson, would say that there are so many that it’s hard to choose. But he felt that one of the most significant God moments of his life was attending a Billy Graham evangelistic meeting in February 1953 (in the big tent) at the fairgrounds in Greensboro, NC where he surrendered his life to Christ. He had been born again earlier at the age of ten. The event with Graham led to him attending Bob Jones University in the fall of 1953 where, among other great things in his life, he met his future wife Nancy. They have now been married 56 years with four children and 21 grandchildren.
With endless amounts of additional time, Epperson knows exactly what he would do: study the bible. He would also encourage others to do the same. He cites being consistent in reading the bible daily, as well as devotions by both Oswald Chambers and Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, as being one of the hardest and most profitable things about living out his faith each day.
Another important part of living out his faith daily is the fellowship with men at the New Canaan Society.
“For me being a Christian means being born again by faith alone, through grace alone and by Christ alone,” shared Epperson.
Epperson puts his faith into action through his role as a host for NCS. He realized that if he truly loved God and his neighbor, then he was compelled to get others involved…and bring them to live close to God. Being a host provides a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that in this role, he is making a conscious effort to move others closer to God and further from despair and an empty. Jesus Christ is the answer.
Final thoughts from Epperson
The all-important question of crunchy versus creamy peanut butter wasn’t a one word answer (everyone gets asked this question for our interviews). As Epperson explained, almond butter is healthier and he does prefer crunchy because it gives it more body. He also added that, according to a physician, “seven almonds a day will increase the length of one’s life by three months”…so perhaps we should all switch to almond butter? At age 82 you can understand why Epperson feels this is important.
And as everyone knows about our lodge, nicknames are a serious business, although some members still don’t have one. If Epperson could give someone a moniker who doesn’t have one now, it would be Kalim Andraos.
“Actually I did give him one some time ago. I started referring to him as the Stinger. Like a catfish or stingray keeps fish alive after caught, he keeps Christians awake after being born again…to be awake and active men for Christ, which is what we are all called to do,” Epperson stated.