Aulton E. Herbert, Jr. grew up in Harlem, New York. As a young man, Aulton got involved in selling drugs. In December of 1989, he was arrested. From Aulton’s perspective, God arrested him, but God used the police to do it, as he was arrested for something he didn’t do. What started as an argument over a cab fare ended with the driver telling the police Aulton was attempting to rob him at gunpoint, which was not true. Due to his past record, he was taken to the Manhattan Detention Complex in downtown New York City. Anybody who has been there calls it by a different name, though. They know it as “The Tombs.” Aulton was placed in a cold, dark jail cell. As he sat in the darkness, his life began to flash by him. He had lost his mom six years prior and had buried his dad on his birthday earlier that same year, 1989. Aulton was in prison, completely alone, with no bright future.
“God, if you are real, come into my life”
Aulton didn’t grow up in church. He was into Islam, mysticism, transcendental meditation, and spent a lot of time in occult bookstores. He didn’t know anything about Jesus and didn’t want to know anything. But in that moment in that cell, Aulton fell to his knees. He said, “God, if You are real, come into my life.” After crying out to God, he looked over, and saw a Gideon-placed New Testament. He was unaware the New Testament was there previously. Yet, at that exact moment when he cried out to God, Aulton, for the first time, saw the Testament. He opened it and on the first few pages he read, “The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its history is true, and its decisions are immutable. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.” After reading those words, a peace that couldn’t be explained came over Aulton—he now knows it was the presence of the Holy Spirit.
For the next 13 months, Aulton went back and forth to trial. No matter where he went, the New Testament went with him. The more he read, the more the Holy Spirit made the Bible’s teachings clear. When he was in occultism, he would read the Bible solely to prove its tenets were wrong. But now, because of the transformation that happened in his heart, Aulton understood who He was in Christ.
God uses Aulton
Aulton ended up being sentenced to three years in prison, and he served his time in Wyoming Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The entire time he was there, he fed on the Word of God, and God began to do a work in his life. In 1992, Aulton came home on his first pass, and he was scheduled to be released in October of that year. He saw his family for the first time in two and a half years, and after seeing him, they were amazed at his life-transformation. His family would tease him and say, “Now we know there is a God, because we knew the man who left, and you are not him.”
Aulton remembered reading about the demon-possessed man in the Gospel of Mark. The man would hurt himself day and night and nobody could control him – until he saw Jesus. He cried out, and the Lord healed him. When he told Jesus he wanted to follow Him, Jesus said no and told him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 ESV) That story really resonated with Aulton, so that’s exactly what he did. At the time, none of Aulton’s family had a personal relationship with Jesus. Praise God Aulton ended up leading all four of his sisters to faith in Christ. Today, all of his nieces and nephews are also followers of Christ.
“Now we know there is a God, because we knew the man who left, and you are not him.”
Partnership with The Gideons International
Aulton soon became the director of an environmental service at a nursing home. It was while he was working at the nursing home in Queens that he had his first true encounter with Gideons and Auxiliary. As he saw the placing of Bibles, Aulton began sharing his testimony. This led to numerous opportunities to share his testimony with different people and places.
Pastoral ministry was the furthest thought in Aulton’s mind, but God had different plans. Today, he is the senior associate pastor at Christ Family Community Church in Bronx, New York—a position he has held for the past 13 years. As Aulton and other ministry leaders see strongholds in New York, they also see how partnering with The Gideons in evangelistic outreaches greatly impacts communities. “One of the hardest things in ministry is getting people Bibles. People are ready and willing to receive them—this is where the Gideons play a part,” says Aulton. New York City is wide-open, and Aulton looks forward to tremendous things happening as a result.
“When you get around Gideons, you get stirred to go after souls. It really challenges you.”
The aspect Aulton loves the most about The Gideons is their priority in reaching people for Christ. Aulton encourages pastors and ministry leaders to get involved with The Gideons. He says, “When you get around Gideons, you get stirred to go after souls. It really challenges you.”
In Isaiah 6, the Lord asked, “Who will go?” Isaiah replied, “Send me!” Aulton prays this will be the heartbeat of all Christ followers, as the world needs to experience the love of Jesus.