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by Janet Nesler | Decision Magazine

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"No matter how bad my life became, I always believed, there was a God or a life forces of some kind."  These are the words of Russ Pruitt, former drummer for a rock band, a former drug and alcohol user and also a former Novice Hindu Honk who is now a born—again Christian minister.
At the age of 16 Pruitt began to play in a rock band., and the Beatles were his idols; when he graduated from Portsmouth High School, he joined a rock band named Bare Facts and traveled. During this time Pruitt married and had a son but continued to travel with the band.  Around the; mid 60's the band signed a recording contract with WT1CA in New York.  Their song Georgians became a hit in the Tri—state but never made the top on the charts.  The group traveled with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars with such groups as Kool and the Gang, The Raiders.  Russ and band were featured in Teen magazine.

All this time Pruitt was heavy into drinking and drugs. and in 1363 the band broke up, and Pruitt moved to Dallas, Texas, where he worked as a road musician traveling the south and southwest. "For one whole year" Pruitt says "I stayed high all the time; I never came down, and when I woke, I would just get. high again. 1 was so selfish, if there was only ten dollars and no food, I would spend the ten dollars on drugs.  My wife was very patient and. stayed with me during this time, but one day I decided I had had enough of this kind of life.   I was just burned out on it. "Pruitt says he started investigating Eastern religions and started going to the Integral Yoga Institute and was really impressed by the incense burning ail the time.  The sweet smoke gave the atmosphere of a cleanliness he had not experienced before.   Most of the people who came there were searching and coming, off drugs.  A lot of the big-name stars had turned to yoga for an escape to their lifestyle.  Pruitt stopped drinking and doing drugs and started searching deeper into the Hindu religion.  E7or the next five years he did meditation, was a vegetarian, practiced breathing techniques, did yoga exercises and finally became a novice Hindu monk and a certified teacher. During this five years his wife divorced him because he alienated her by his religion and his lack of regard for her feelings, Pruitt stopped playing in bands and moved into a retreat called Ashram.  He lived there for two years, and during this time he practiced celibacy and nonviolence, shaved his head and wore an orange scarf to represent purification.  He was given a new name, Devado Chaltonya.

"I gave everything away, my car, my clothes, everything I owned," says Pruitt,"But 1 had not changed inside though I disciplined myself to act like a religious person.   This lack of change made me grow restless, and I started to investigate other religions and with every religious faith I inquired about, the only one whose leader was raised from the dead was the Christian religion.  The rest are still in their tombs; Jesus was the only one to be raised from the dead."  Pruitt says he began to read the New Testament and began to really respect Jesus, so he wanted to make Him his personal deity and was told by his instructor he could do this.   So he said his prayers to Jesus and took his instructions from his teacher in the Hindu religion.

In June 1976 Pruitt moved back to his home town of Portsmouth, Ohio, to take a job as manager of a vegetarian restaurant, but the deal did not work out so he went to work with an insulation company.  He had noticed a drastic change in his family.  When asked what caused the change, their reply was they 'got saved' and he asked "Saved from what?"  They told him they had let God come into their life.  Pruitt wanted to know more about this so he made a deal with his aunt that he would go to church with her if she would let him give her a yoga lesson once a week.  She agreed.  He went to church with her and heard God's message preached for the very first time and after about four months of attending church Jesus began to appeal to him more and more. Finally Pruitt says he was brought to a choice of Jesus totally or Jesus not at all.  He got up one morning and as he was reading the Bible, he had the revelation that he was a sinner.

Hinduism has no concept of sin.  That morning he took his Kuru picture, beads and robe, put them in a suitcase and put them away.
"Until that morning" says Pruitt "I only knew about_ Jesus. That morning I found the difference between knowing about- and knowing Him.  From that time on my life was different.  I experienced a new birth, an INNER change.   I felt real sorrow for the first time for all the things I'd done.  I began to see my real self. "

Pruitt began to write his son who still lived in Texas.  His ex—wife had not remarried, and he would talk with her at times and try and explain his feelings of remorse for the way he had handled their marriage.  He began to pray that he would be reunited with his ex-wife and son, and have the opportunity to give the marriage a second chance.  Neither he nor his wife had ever thought that there would be a chance of working this out. When the uncle with whom she was living with lost his job and moved back to Ohio, she decided to come back too.  Pruitt started seeing his son on weekends and took him on weekend trips to get reacquainted.  He invited his ex—wife to go to church with him, and she accepted.  It wasn't long before she accepted God and one week later they were remarried and became a family again, later having another addition to their family, a daughter.

In 1883 Pruitt became a Christian minister because he felt, the call to preach the word of God to others who were searching.  In 1885—86, he traveled as an evangelist to Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, West Virginia, and Indiana.
Pruitt now has a small church in Wheelersburg, Ohio3 and attends Shawnee State University with emphasis on journalism and religion.  After graduation he will move to Virginia and further his education but continue to preach.

When asked how such a change came about in his life, Pruitt, with a sincere look answered:  "It took a lot of searching.   When you are in a fallen spiritual condition you cannot reform yourself, only God can do this."


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