Friday, December 24, 2010


Chapter Five
Friend of Sinners

"Many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him
and his disciples....and he said unto them, 'They that be whole
need not a physician, but they that are sick.'"
Matthew 9:10, 12

I wanted to sink beneath the steering wheel. The look on the gas station attendant's face said, "Uh huh, looks like Prentice has got another one." (Meaning another woman) Gulp.

I was driving Prentice's car because I had loaned him our old red Ford pickup. He and his girlfriend Marilyn were moving into the house I had just sold them. This was a big fish, and it seemed like I was catching a little of Satan's heat over it. I wanted to crawl out of sight, but before I could escape the leering eye of the attendant, the Lord spoke softly to my heart.

"I was a friend of sinners. Are you willing to be one too?"

"Oh, Lord," I whispered back. "I'm sorry." A deep sense of the rejection He had experienced came over me, and in that brief moment He pulled the curtain of time back. I could see my precious Lord reaching out to the rejects of the Galilean society in which He lived. "I'll be a friend," I promised.

God had spoken to my heart the day that Alex and Daisy pulled out of town with their U-Haul behind them. He had a new assignment for me. But to be honest...... I was worn out! I had been mother, nurse, counselor and teacher to Alex and Daisy. It had been such a responsibility. They just knew I could do miracles. They called me their "Mother" and expected me to sell their house without any problem. After all ...Moms can do anything, can't they? Praise His Name, I did find a buyer, but I was sure sweating it out for awhile.

Now, here was God telling me that this man Prentice was a 'Big Fish'. He would help me catch him if I was willing to work. Groan. "Okay, Lord. Show me what to do."
I had written a contract on a house for Prentice and needed him to sign a typed copy. Marilyn called just before I was to meet them at their apartment. She said that Prentice was sick. "Oh, does he have the flu?" I asked.

"I think so," she said hesitantly.

"Oh, that's too bad," I sympathized. "Tell you what. I'll just come by, and you can get the contract and take it in to Prentice. Have him sign it and bring it back out to me."

When I arrived at their place, Marilyn came out to my truck and stuck her head through the open window. "You know I just can't lie about this. Prentice is an alcoholic, and he's really on a bad one."

I responded cheerfully with a big smile and said, "Don't feel bad. My husband was an alcoholic, too. He just needs Jesus. Come on and get in the truck, and I'll pray for him." And I did.

"Prentice," she yelled as she walked back into the apartment. "That real estate lady prayed for you."

Sprawled on the couch in a drunken stupor, his words slurred as he said, "Well, I sure need it."

It was after this incident that God gave me my commission to go for this big fish! I was to learn that Prentice had been one of the town's drunks for years. Rumor had it that he was so mean that one time he nearly bit off a policeman's ear when the officer tried to get him into the patrol car. He had been in prison so many times he said he couldn't count them. Marilyn was not his wife, but she loved this man! Between them they had twelve children! Eight of them were Marilyn's and hers were all girls.

Now God has given me a fantastic fishing partner. My husband Charlie was game for this one! God had put a special love in both of our hearts for this couple. We began to visit them in their new home, taking blackberry ice cream, homemade pies and cakes and having them over to our home for dinner on occasion. For six months we befriended them. We began to notice that Prentice was working more and drinking less. Marilyn liked our influence on Prentice and asked us over more and more often. Soon we got to know their kids. What a family! Two of Prentice's older sons seemed drawn to us. They came to visit a lot.

One day, sitting on our porch swing, Tommy, who was the oldest, blurted out, "I really appreciate what y'all are doing for my Dad."

Realizing he was sharing his heart with me, I said, "It's not us, Tommy. It's the Lord."

"I really love my Dad, and I know his drinking is killing him." He took a deep breath and then continued. "I used to be on drugs and even though I don't do them anymore, I know I need to go to church...." he let the words trail off, and we both just sat there swinging.

Finally, I pulled up my courage and looking directly into his eyes said, "Listen, Tommy, you can go to church every day of your life but still wind up in hell." Taking his silence as a green light, I proceeded to go through the whole plan of salvation. When he left that day, I didn't know whether I had run him off for good, but I knew God had his number.

Several days later Charlie and I were just about to sit down for lunch when this burden came over me. "Honey," I said, "we need to pray for Prentice and his boys."

"Why?" he asked. "Is something wrong?"

"I don't know. I just know we need to pray."

Bowing our heads we, earnestly interceded in the Spirit. How grateful I was, for this avenue of prayer. We were soon to learn that the Holy Spirit was right on target.

Fifteen minutes later we got a call from Tammy, one of Marilyn's daughters. Tearfully she said, "Please come quick. Tommy and Randy have been in an accident, and they think Tommy's back is broken."

Rushing to the hospital we began to claim the promises. I prayed out loud, "Lord we believe not a bone is broken in Jesus' Name!" As we hurried into the emergency room they were wheeling Tommy out on a stretcher. No broken bones! Both young men had been spared!

Unknown to us, the brothers had decided to come over to our house to ask Charlie to go fishing. They were on a motorcycle. At the very moment we were praying for them, they started passing a car. As they were just to the left of the vehicle, the driver, not seeing them, turned into them. Tommy and Randy were both thrown nearly 70 feet in the air, landing on the asphalt in front of a car wash. Strategically in place, an E.M.T. team was washing their ambulance. My, how God used this incident in the life of this family! The result of Tommy's wreck brought salvation to him.

Several months after this near tragedy, he went to Norvel Hayes Bible College in Tennessee and subsequently to the Philippines as a missionary.

Now a new Christian, Tommy asked us to start a Bible study in his father's home and so with Prentice's permission we did. In the third week of the Bible study, as we were sitting at their kitchen table, Prentice shared an incident in his father's life. Finishing his story he said, "My father knew before he died that he was on the right side of the fence."

As I sensed the Spirit of God working in his heart I asked, "What about you Prentice? What side are you on?"

Taking a deep breath, he skirted around the question and said, "Well Jerri, to be honest I don't know what side I'm on."

Charlie quickly responded with, "You could know tonight, Prentice. Wouldn't you like to be saved?"

With tears in his eyes he said, "Yes, I would, but Charlie, Marilyn and I are just living together." (As if this was news to us!)

"You could take care of that, too," said Charlie. Then looking at Marilyn, who was also teary-eyed by this time, he gently asked, "What about you Marilyn? Wouldn't you like to be saved, too?" She just nodded yes, with a big grin on her face. The rest was a simple trip down the Roman Road of salvation. Bowing their heads and opening their hearts to Jesus, I could almost hear another party starting in heaven.

Boy, did I have to get busy after this scene. I only had a week to bake and decorate a cake and get a wedding set up. As it turned out, it was a fantastic celebration. Eleven of their twelve children were able to attend. By the way, "his" and "hers" now have an "ours" and the "ours" is a BOY!! They named him John Prentice Jr. Didn't I read somewhere that John was a fisherman?

P.S. As an update (Dec. 2010) Prentice went to be home with the Lord a few years ago and Marilyn is still living for the Lord, active in her church and her community.

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,
Today I want to be a friend of sinners. I want to touch them the way you touched them, Lord – without fear of defilement, without any look of disgust, without judgment and condemnation.

Lord, I want the lost to be drawn to you because of your love and acceptance in me. I want them to feel your love through me. I ask you, Lord, to pour yourself through my life today and by doing this, Lord, I know that sinners will be converted unto you.

In Jesus name,

Sunday, December 19, 2010



Some want to live within sight and sound
of chapel bell...............
I want to run a rescue shop
within a yard of hell.
C. T. Studd

I sat in rapt attention as Jason Peebles, a Bible teacher and missionary, shared his adventures at a Full Gospel Businessmen's meeting. He had recently gone to Venezuela, trusting God every step of the way. He had preached the gospel up and down the mountainsides of the "red light district". It was so named because of the blood that had been shed there by thieves, bandits, and murderers.
My spirit was so stirred within me! As I looked intently at Jason, the Holy Spirit nudged me. "You want to be like Jason, don't you?" He asked.

"Yes, Lord," I answered silently, "I'm willing to go."

"But I haven't called you to South America," He said. "I've called you to Cochran."
I didn't want to hear that at all. Our town had five traffic lights, and we were virtually rushing into the ‘50s and this was the ‘80s! Our population ran around 10,000 in the entire county. What could I possibly do worthwhile for the Lord in Cochran?

Frustrated with God, I sank back into my seat, while Jason continued to tell story after story of God's provisions and miracles. "What I wouldn't give," I thought. The dangers and hardships that Jason had experienced didn't deter me at all. "I could do it!" I thought. "If only God would let me go....if only He would call me to a faraway country."

Then gently, so gently, the Lord spoke again. "If you will just let me, I'll turn your real estate office into a soul saving station."
"What? Did I hear you right God?"

No one could have preached the sermon louder than the Holy Spirit did to me that night. God was speaking directly to me and I was getting the message loud and clear. All I had to do was just be me, go about my business of selling real estate, and God would do the rest! It was so simple. Neat! A soul-saving station. "Okay God, let's go for it!"

When we turn the reins of our life over to the Lord, it's amazing the direction we'll find ourselves going. Instead of just looking at our vocations as a way to make money, we can look at them as tools to spread the gospel.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Latin American people. In fact, right after my husband proposed, I left for two weeks on a missionary stint to Mexico. (He should have figured right off the bat that this new wife of his was going to have the world on her mind.)

One evening, not too long after God had spoken to me about my new office status, I was driving by our local Chamber of Commerce. I saw a young couple with three little children. They were obviously just out for a stroll. I was near enough to see that they were probably not local folks, so I pulled up close to them, jumped out of the car, and introduced myself.

It turned out they were from Bolivia. Alex, the head of the little family, was attending our two year college. Their English, although somewhat broken, was good. The three children, being quite young, spoke only Spanish. I loved them all immediately.

I found out where they lived and a few days later I took over a jar of hot peppers. (I told you I would be using weird bait!) They seemed overwhelmed that I would take the time to do this, but it wasn't long before they discovered that this crazy, blonde American really did care about them.

When I mentioned church to them, they were quick to tell me that they were Catholic, just in case I had any ideas about converting them. "Great," I responded. "I'm Catholic too."

"You are?" they asked.

"Sure." I just 'happened' to omit the fact that I wasn't Roman Catholic. "I believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and that God is a Trinity....... Father, Son and Holy Spirit." I could see them relaxing, letting down their guard.

"You know Alex," I said, looking around at the dumpy little house they were renting, "I think I can help you and Daisy buy a house."

"Really, Jerri?" he said incredulously. "Buy a house here in the states?"

"Sure," I said confidently. "The Lord will show me how to help you."

Thus began my odyssey with Alex and Daisy Vasquez. Their house really was a dump. The moisture was so bad that all of their clothes smelled dank and musty. Their shoes were covered with green mold, and the house felt damp all the time. I had to find them a house. It was an unhealthy situation.

In the meantime they became regular guests for dinner. We helped them with their children, were on call at night to answer their questions and even got them to visit the little Methodist church we were attending. "Jerri, why is your church so plain?" asked Alex. "Why no statues?"

"That's just how it is," I replied, not wanting to sound pious or religious. "We're just plain country folk here in Cochran." Silently I prayed, "Oh, Lord please let them see You in our church. Show them you are more real than any statue."

As time went on, I could see the Holy Spirit melting their hearts. One evening, after finishing dinner, we all went into the living room. Looking intently at us, Alex took a deep breath and said, "You know Charlie and Jerri, we have never heard about Jesus in such a way before. We want to become Christians like you." I know there must have been great rejoicing in heaven as the angels looked down that night and saw the Tuck family and the Vasquez family joining hands in a circle and praying together.

It wasn't long before I was able to help them get a loan for an adorable three bedroom house. Daisy was elated! She had never had so much fun in her life. The kids ran from room to room squealing with delight. Friends from the church came, and we all joined in dedicating their home to the Lord.

During the next two years we watched Alex and Daisy grow in the Lord. Their kids learned to speak English, and our kids picked up a little Spanish. Our youngest daughter Dotty, who was only ten years old, seemed to have a special love for these precious Bolivians. That love was a two-way street between Dotty and this new found family. We had no idea what God was up to in their growing relationship.

I was later to sell the house for the Vasquez's and they went on to Gainesville, Florida, where Alex finished up his business degree. Eventually they returned to Bolivia where Alex joined his father in the family business. During the next twelve years we rarely heard from them. Alex managed to visit us twice, but other than that we didn't keep in real close contact. We knew they still loved the Lord and in that we rejoiced.

Twelve years later Dotty was living in Joliet, Illinois. Completing her degree in nursing, she attended one of her last classes.

A local doctor had come as a guest to make an appeal for "just one more nurse" to join a short term medical mission team to Bolivia. She volunteered, and you guessed it! Alex and Daisy, with their entire family, including aunts, uncles and cousins, surprised Dotty by meeting her at the airport!

After two weeks on treacherous mountain trails and treating over 1,000 people, Dotty remained for a week as an honored guest at the Vasquez home. They lived in a mansion, overlooking a plush golf course. Their servants waited on Dotty hand and foot. They squeezed fresh orange juice for her every day. They took her sight-seeing and on a shopping spree. It just so happened that in La Paz, Alex's family held a one-third interest in a major soft drink bottling company!

Isn't God incredible? Let's see....where did I put those peppers?

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,

When I start thinking that I could do more wonderful and glorious things for you if…only, if only I had more talent, if only I was in a better situation…if only I was a missionary in a far off land…if only…. Help me remember that you placed me right where I am Lord…that the talents I have are what you have equipped me with…that this is the situation you have placed me in…today. Lord, I want to be faithful to you today…right where you’ve placed me. Keep my eyes from wandering, Lord.

In Jesus name,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


We used to have some pretty lively discussions around the dinner table when Charlie’s mom stayed with us. My mother-in-law, who was in her eighties at the time, took the lead one night. “Jerri, there have always been abortions; you just can’t legislate morality.” Naturally I agreed. I wasn’t going to get on the wrong side of my mother-in-law!

After mom went to bed that night I did some research on the Internet and sure enough she was right! Women have been having abortions for centuries. In fact in the first century there was intense heated debate over this issue. The question, “When does life begin?” was hotly argued.

Since Mom was a “dyed in the wool” Clinton fan, I decided to back off and not press my pro-life views with her. Mom really loved the Lord and to her, abortion was strictly a political issue. I wasn’t so sure.....

Case in point: A young teenage girl, for now I’ll just call her Grace, got pregnant. She lived in a small town where teenage pregnancy, especially if you were unwed like Grace, was simply a disgrace.

Since you rarely heard about illegitimate births where Grace lived, no doubt a lot of back room abortions were being performed. It was important to Grace’s parents and to other leaders of the community, to live an “upright life”. A young teenager like Grace would be looked down on for getting pregnant. A respected place in the community would be out of the question for her. Even worse, her parents would be shunned by the church folks for having a daughter like her!

Grace’s boyfriend was going to stick by her. Abortion didn’t even come up in their conversation. Of course at first, he considered not continuing their relationship because of the pregnancy, but he truly loved her. He wrestled with the situation and made up his mind. No matter what anybody thought, they would have this baby.

When Grace and her boyfriend went anywhere together you could see heads turn. Her best friend didn’t want to be seen with her. The women in the church sewing circle began to shun Grace’s mother. Grace’s father noticed the change in the men in town. Once respected, he was now ignored. Abortion would have been an easy out for Grace....especially in her early trimester.

But Grace held her head high. The baby (she never referred to it as a “fetus”) was growing and she could feel his little feet pushing and kicking. Her boyfriend could feel him too. When he laid his hand on her stomach, the wonder of the life within her absolutely amazed him. Who cared what everyone thought? They were already in love with this little person within her.

One evening the labor pains started. Her swollen face was now contorted with the agony of her contractions. She hadn’t expected it to hurt so much. The baby was coming. She held the hand of her beloved and squeezed....hard. It would soon be over he assured her. Wiping her brow he whispered words of love and encouragement.

Then, as if in a moment, the pain was gone. The baby cried lustily. Oh, if those who had wagged their tongues could have seen the joy in this scene. Even those who favored partial birth abortion, up to the last stages of pregnancy, would have been ashamed of themselves. This baby, as all babies, was meant to live!

Tenderly laying the baby in Grace’s arms, he then kissed her lightly on the cheek, “We’ll name him Jesus, just as the angel said.”

With a smile on her face, and looking deeply into Joseph’s eyes, Mary said, “Yes, His name shall be Jesus.”

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1:18-20 NIV)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Chapter Three
Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?
by Jerri Tuck

When you enter the Beautiful City,
And the saved all around you appear;
I hope that someone will tell you,
It was you that invited me here!
Author Unknown

"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of
heaven? And Jesus called a little child
unto him, and set him in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:1-2

In my brief career as a Hell's Angels, we didn't really take the time to learn the Bible so, as I mentioned at the start of this book, I didn't know too much about God's Word.

Knowing God was real and alive was tremendous, but I had a burning desire to know more. Jewel Morsey, a dear friend and child evangelist, asked me if I would like to help her in a weekly Bible club held in her home. I was thrilled! I was going to do something for Jesus!

My first big job for God? Keeping her two year old son, Miles, from throwing bread over the flannel board, along with other various and sundry important duties. Undaunted, I flexed my muscles, held the little tyke down, and in rapturous wonder listened as Jewel, week by week, unfolded the Word of God through pictures.
Sitting on the little wooden benches with the neighborhood children, I too was learning about Jesus. It was so neat. This glorious being, who had invaded my heart and life, had left a Bible for us to learn about Him. I drank in every word.

After several months I said, “Jewel, I think I can do this. I want to have a Bible club too.” Already I had gathered the few children that lived near my apartment in downtown Sacramento and shared with them the stories that I had been learning. Several even prayed and asked Jesus to come into their little hearts. I was beginning to get hooked on soul winning.

My first official Good News Club was going to be held at my mother's home. I must have passed out over 100 invitations. I was expecting a mammoth crowd of kids. Two showed up! I held my Bible and pointed to the pictures on the flannel board as I had seen Jewel do so many times. I carefully explained how God loved them and that Jesus died for them. Would they like to pray and have Jesus live inside them?
I had 100% acceptance. I was overjoyed. The two little girls left the Bible club that day with Jesus in their hearts. I was on my way.

Getting involved with Child Evangelism Fellowship was very instrumental in helping me see the worth of a child. Also, I met some neat people who helped me overcome a lot of fears in meeting new people.

Isabel Biondi had to be the bravest person I had ever met. She invited me to help her teach a Bible club in a very poor section of Sacramento. “But first,” she instructed, “we have to go door to door and pass out invitations.” Now I didn't mind doing that in my mother's neighborhood, but in this slum area? Besides, wouldn't people think we were from a cult?

Isabel would not be deterred. Armed with a little Wordless Book, she knocked on the first door. “Hello,” she said with her most disarming smile. “We're going to be teaching a Bible club in the administration building every Friday, and we want your children to come.” Barely taking a breath, she continued, “And I know you care about your children and want to know what we'll be teaching them so I brought this little Wordless Book to show you.”

Before you could say lickety-split, Isabel opened the little book of colors and explained about heaven (the gold page), sin (the black page), the death of Christ (red page), a cleansed heart (the white page) and as gently and softly as a lamb, said to the lady, “Ma'am wouldn't you like to have this Jesus come into your heart and be your Savior?”

And she did! I was dumbfounded.

The next apartment was mine. Practically shoving me up to the door she said, “You can do it. Go on.”

That was some O.J.T. That month, in addition to the scores of little boys and girls we taught, we led 40 adults to Jesus. Then we prayed, “Oh, Lord, please send them someone who can help them grow in you.” Before long we were standing in awe at what God was doing. Construction had begun on a Bible-believing church......right smack in the middle of the housing project!

Through the years I have taught a lot of boys and girls about Jesus. I like to think that when you win a child, you win a whole life. It's great to be saved on your death bed, but how much better to know Christ from an early age.

When teaching children, you may never see the fruit of your labors, especially if you're just passing through, like I was in Pennsylvania. We had been transferred there with my husband's business and were only to be there a short time.

Remembering what a great time I had had in Sacramento, I looked for a housing project. Sure enough, right there in Erie, was a project just loaded with kids.
I got out of my car and asked a couple of children if they would like to hear a story. This was back in the 60's, and kids weren't glued to TV like they are now. “Yeah!” , they responded with enthusiasm.

“Well, go and get your friends,” I instructed them, “and I'll tell you one.”
Before long I had a crowd of kids, all seated on the grass and watching in wonderment as I explained the life of Jesus through the Wordless Book. As they bowed their heads in prayer at the end of the story, twenty-seven little boys and girls asked Jesus in their hearts. I wrote down all their names!

I asked them if they would like to hear more stories like this every week and got a hearty response. Then followed interviews with the officials of the housing project, a sample meeting, lots of red tape, but in the end we had our club. On the first day eighty-five kids showed up. When I got to the end of the story, I asked how many kids already had Jesus in their hearts. Twenty-seven little hands went up.
At our last class we invited the parents to come. The children all met me at the front gate and we marched through the project, up and down the streets, singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” That night over 100 children received Bibles (a gift from the Gideons), and many parents received Christ.

The classes only lasted six weeks. We had to move back to California. I never saw or heard from any of these kids. But I know I will see them again.
Did I say you might never know the results of your witnessing? Sometimes God lets us have a little peek.

One day my brother, Doug called me from California and said, “There's a lady here who wants to talk with you.”

“Hi, Mom,” she said. “You probably don't remember me, but I'm Rosie. I came to your apartment when I was just a little girl, and you led me to Jesus. I just wanted to thank you.”

Rosie had visited my brother's church one Sunday and “just happened” to sit next to him. When she opened her old Gideon Bible, he saw my name inscribed in it. “Where did you get that Bible,” he asked in surprise.

“Oh, I got this Bible about thirty-five years ago from a lady who led me to Jesus when I was just a little girl.”

You know, I really like fishing for kids!

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,
I’m so glad you love the little children. Please help me see their worth in the light of eternity. Let me not discount the importance you place upon them, always remembering that when a child is saved, a whole life is saved. And, Lord, even when I don’t see immediate results, help me remember that your hand is upon the children, working to bring that initial work of salvation to its final completion at the last day.
In Jesus name,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Magic of Christmas


Remember when you last heard one of your elders reminiscing, “I used to walk five miles to school in the snow, hanging onto a barbed wire fence”? Or how about, “I can remember when bread was ten cents a loaf”? Or better yet, “You kids ought to be grateful. I remember when times were so tough we had to share the water in an old wash tub for our Saturday night baths!”

Ah yes, the good old days! Times have sure changed.

I’m beginning to think I’ve become a member of the “over the hill gang” because I find myself thinking about how things “used to be”. The Christmas season is a great time to reflect on and compare years gone by.

The perfectly cut Christmas trees are just one example. What a shock I got one day at K-Mart when I saw a vendor sticking a Christmas tree in a buzz saw of sorts. Voila! Out came a perfectly shaped tree. If I could have followed the tree to its new home I may have seen even more grand symmetry; matching ornaments, lovely cranberry colored bows and all white lights.

I remember when........

The kids were so young. Linda, the oldest was just thirteen, while the other four trailed behind her down to four years of age. Surrounding our house were acres and acres of pines. Surely the “perfect” Christmas tree was somewhere out there, just waiting for a daddy and his brood of five to discover it.

Times were hard back then. We had scraped together everything we could lay hold of just to get to Georgia. Our older three were living in California and Charlie and I were doing everything we could to keep body and soul together. It wasn’t going to be much of a Christmas, but we would have a tree....and it was going to be the grandest of all.

As Charlie and the children traipsed through the woods it seemed they just couldn’t find the right one. “No. That one’s too spindly. Not enough branches. Yuk, that one’s weird looking.” Nearly an hour had gone by and the searching band of tree hunters was becoming weary.

“I’ve got an idea,” declared Charlie. “Let’s pray!”

“Yeah,” said Jeff. “That’ll work.”

Holding hands in a small circle, the hunters bowed their heads. “Dear Lord,” began Charlie. “You see we’ve been trying very hard to find a Christmas tree, but our search seems to be in vain. Lord, will you please help us find a really good tree? In Jesus’ Name, Amen”.

Just as Charlie said “Amen” a little bell began to tinkle. To Charlie and the children it sounded just like Tinker-Bell from the Peter Pan movie. They all looked at each other in amazement and Charlie asked, “Do you all hear what I hear?”

Each nodded yes.

One of the kids whispered, “Let’s follow the sound.”

Quietly, as if the slightest noise would break the spell; the children led by their father, began to follow the tinkling sound of the bell. Ducking under low hanging branches, fingers to their mouths to remind each other to be oh, so quiet, they began walking.

Then as suddenly as it began, the sound of the bell ceased. Looking up they were all astonished as, you guessed it, the most beautiful Christmas tree in all the world was directly in front of them.

Charlie and Jeff started sawing, while the girls in the Tuck tribe hugged and danced around the tree. Before long the prayed for tree, some twelve feet in height, was gracing our living room. Strings of popcorn and cranberries were carefully placed on it, along with handmade ornaments (some which I still proudly display on my artificial tree of the nineties) and lots and lots of silver tinsel.

That night, after tucking five weary tree hunters and decorators to bed, Charlie and I looked at the prize before us. Sitting on the couch, with all the lights out except the multi-colored ones adorning the tree, I leaned my head on Charlie’s shoulder. “You know,” I observed admiringly, “It really is beautiful, isn’t it?”

Charlie, always much more analytical and discerning than I, remarked “Well, actually Honey, it’s somewhat crooked and a little sparse over there on the right and.....”

“Shh,” I scolded. “It’s the most beautiful tree in the world. It’s the tree that an angel led you all to.”

“Hmm,” Charlie agreed smilingly, “You’re right. It does look like a perfect tree, doesn’t it?” We both grinned with satisfaction, thankful that a Savior who was humble enough to leave heaven and be born in a stable, would also listen to the earnest prayers of five weary children, looking for that perfect Christmas tree.

And that night, with visions of sugar plums (and perfect Christmas trees), five little sleepy heads would have certainly agreed with our observation. It would also be a Christmas they would never forget. I can hear them now as they reminisce to their children..... “When we were kids, we really had it rough. One time Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas tree, so Grandpa took us into the woods, and while we were looking.......”

“Remember the former things of old. For I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.” Isaiah 46:9; I Timothy 3:16

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Chapter Two
Chief of Sinners

When you enter the Beautiful City,
And the saved all around you appear;
I hope that someone will tell you,
It was you that invited me here!
Author Unknown

It was 1982 when I received this little poem. I cried as I read those words because they were penned by a doctor in our town who had recently been convicted of two murders. He was just beginning to serve his sentence in a Georgia penitentiary. However, my tears were of joy and deep humility that God had used me to catch a fish that many had written off as not worth saving.

Our little town reeled under the enormity of the crime. Two men, murdered in cold blood, right in front of the doctor's grandchildren. No one could believe it. Gun shots to the head we were told. Blood everywhere. Unbelievable. Not the doctor. For weeks it was the talk of the town. The trial was over quickly. Two consecutive life sentences for the doctor. Serves him right. Should have received the death penalty. Poor children. What a monster he must be.

Soon it was only talked about once in awhile at the Grill, a local restaurant, or at the Dairy Queen. Folks have other things to do in a small southern town. Life goes on. Even for me. I have a business to run. No time to think about the doctor. Until one day...

I own a local real estate business and my office is on the main street of our little town. I often take a shortcut through the alley that runs next to my building. Backed up against the alley is the jail yard. At that time, back in 1982, it had a high cyclone fence with razor wire at the top, confining prisoners to a bare exercise yard that only had a basketball goal. Prisoners would shoot a few hoops or talk to people through the fence; anything to kill time on a hot, humid Georgia day. It was no concern of mine as I drove down the alley. I had real estate on my mind. So many things to do…that is until I noticed the doctor leaning against the corner of the fence. He looked so downtrodden, so dejected.

It was honestly the first time that I had even thought about the doctor. I had followed the events of the trial with casual interest but hadn't really given any thought to the doctor as a person. Suddenly, my heart was gripped with a burden I couldn't explain.

I parked my van and went into the Christian bookstore next to my office. In my mind, I kept seeing the doctor leaning against the fence. As I entered the store, I noticed a local preacher leafing through some books. "Andrew," I said, an idea popping into my mind. "I wonder if you would do me a favor?"

"Sure," he responded with a smile.

I told him about my sudden burden for the doctor and that I would love to go see him, but I wasn't sure how my husband would feel about my going to the jail. I asked if he would please take a book to the doctor for me!

Glad to help, the preacher marched off to the jail, book in hand. Little did he or I know how instrumental that book would be in transforming the doctor's life. To this day I don't know the name of the book, but inside I had written a little note: "Dear Dr. Smith, Charlie and I love you, and we're praying for you. Love in Christ, Charlie and Jerri Tuck."

Two months later I was going down the same alley when I happened to look at the jail yard and saw the doctor next to the fence. The prisons in Georgia were so overcrowded that he was still in a holding pattern waiting for transfer to the Jackson Diagnostic Center. "Hi Doc," I yelled. "How are you doing?" His response was totally unexpected.

"Praise the Lord; I'm doing fine!" I think the van brakes must have been smoking as I came to a stop and jumped out. He was beaming from ear to ear. Something had happened to the doctor and I had a pretty good idea that Jesus had something to do with it. Knowing that we couldn't talk right out there with any degree of privacy, I arranged to go the next day to visit him in an official way.

Sitting with the doctor in a small office of the jail he began to tell me his story... He had been an alcoholic for many years. Over and over he had tried quitting and, in fact, prior to the shooting incident, had been "dry" for three years. Something happened that set him off again, and when he returned home that fateful day, there was a note from his wife which simply read, "I can't take it anymore."

In his search for her, he went to his step-daughter's home. Her husband met him on the front porch, and an argument ensued. Soon the son-in-law was joined by his father, and the arguing grew more heated and intense. In a rage the doctor went to his van, opened the glove compartment, took out his gun, and the rest is a matter of history.

Sickened by what he had done, awaiting transfer to the medical facility and then to prison, he felt that life was over.....not worth living. Who could ever forgive him? He couldn't even forgive himself.

Lying on his cot at night he devised a plan. He would kill himself. Since he was a diabetic, it would be so easy. Just inject an overdose of insulin into his veins, and it would all be over. Anything would be better than the hell he was in....the torment of his mind that he could no longer endure.

The decision was made. This was the day! And then Andrew brought the little book. He decided to read the book first, and then he would kill himself. But the Spirit of God had grabbed him. "I went up to the third floor of the jail everyday for thirty days," he recounted. "It was so hot up there. At least 120 degrees. I couldn't put the book down. At the end of thirty days I fell on my face before God. Jerri, He not only saved me, He delivered me from the desire to drink, He baptized me in His Holy Spirit, and He healed me. I have not had to have another shot of insulin from that day to this."

We cried together, the doctor and I. What a mighty God we serve. Kneeling together, we prayed and rejoiced at the marvelous mercy of God. As I left the jail, I couldn't quit crying. "Oh, Lord, please keep me sensitive to your Holy Spirit. Even the slightest impression from you I want to obey."

It's been over twelve years since the doctor gave his heart to Jesus. We have a joint bank account. I take care of his taxes and little things that come up. We write pretty regularly to one another, and each letter from him is such a joy. He was recently turned down again for parole. Let me quote from his latest letter: "Atlanta undoubtedly couldn't find a replacement for me so they've renewed my contract for three more years. They don't have me down and out yet, but they've got me staggering. Our Lord is serving this time with me. I haven't heard Him complain so I won't either. With love, Your brother in Christ."

Prayer for Today
Dear Lord,
Help me realize that your gentle tugging could make the difference between life and death. Lord, I need to be sensitive to your voice at all times. Let me not be so consumed with the affairs of this life that I neglect the silent heart-cries of those bound in sin and despair.
In Jesus name,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

May I have a word with you?

There were about 40 or more guys in attendance...they seemed so thankful to be in the Bible study on Thanksgiving they left, one of the detainees lingered behind...a black gentleman in his 50's. He waited patiently as man after man came up to shake my hand or share a comment or a burden...finally...

"I just wanted to share something with you," he began...

Realizing he had something important to say I invited him to sit down on the front row. With an empty chair between us he began his story...

"When I was on the street (meaning he had not yet been incarcerated) a lady came up to me and asked me to put my hand over my I did. She asked me what I saw and I told her nothing. 'That's right she said, You're walking in darkness because you're lost, but God is going to put you into a prison where you are going to learn how to see...where you're going to be saved.' I didn't want to hear that at all.

"Then a few days later another person...a man...came up to me and told me that God was sending me to prison and I would learn many things and be saved. I didn't want to hear that either. (this man was waiting for word of where he was going to be sent for some crime he had committed)

"It wasn't long before I got the news....I was informed I would be going to Cochran and Bleckley PDC. I had never heard of Bleckley County PDC. What a surprise when I got here three weeks ago. I found out it was a BIBLE COLLEGE and there were meetings about the Bible every night of the week.

"I just wanted you to know I've gotten saved and my life has totally changed and I am so inspired and challenged to live for God.

"I just thought you might like to know."

He then got up from the chair and in a very gentlemanly manner shook my hand and said thank you and turned to walk away...

Just as he did I noticed his name tag. I don't remember the last name but his first and middle name was JOHN WESLEY.

I said, "Your name is JOHN WESLEY."

He smiled. "Yes, I just learned about him. He was a man of God."

"And you are too!" I answered.