Monday, March 14, 2011


Chapter Ten


"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but
of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which
liveth and abideth forever." I Peter 1:22

Day after day she lay there. The hushed sounds of the doctors and nurses voices, combined with the dark room, caused fear to grip her heart. She had been immobilized. She wasn't to move. One move could cause instant death. They had called it an aneurysm. She wasn't quite sure what that meant. All she remembered was a knife splitting pain in her head and everything went dark.

Lying there, suspended precariously between life and death, Penny (not her real name) had a lot of time to think. Her mind played back the last 30 years of her life and it wasn't a pretty picture. The most recent chapter had been written while in the very act of prostitution. The man with her when her brain seemed to explode was terrified. He hadn't bargained for this in his night's pleasure. He certainly wasn't waiting around to find out what was going to happen to Penny.

Her mom was there, holding her hand, praying for her. And clear across the country there were others praying for Penny; a grandmother in California, an aunt and uncle in Georgia; many others. "God spare this girl. Help her to turn her life over to you before it's too late."

I hadn't seen Penny in over twenty years. Through the grapevine I had received news about her. She had gone through several husbands, had two children of whom she eventually lost custody, and generally just wasn't able to find her niche in life.
My step-mother Margie, whom everyone fondly called "Nana", was always calling me to pray for one family member or another, but especially for Penny. "Jerri, if there's not a miracle, Penny is going to die," she said in tears. I cried with her and assured her of our prayers.

Finally, the crisis passed. Brain surgeons had used their wisdom and skill to clean up the dreaded blood clot. They put a plate in Penny's head and a shunt to drain unwanted fluid from the skull area, lest the brain be compressed, causing eventual death.

The three weeks of total immobilization and brain surgery paid off. Penny was out of danger but, better than her physical recovery, was her commitment to Christ during her sojourn into the valley of the shadow of death.

At Nana's funeral, some five years later, I saw Penny for the first time since she was a little girl. Immediately, we were drawn to each other. Oh, no doubt about it. Penny was a new creation. But the years had taken their toll. Now in her mid-thirties, without her children, unable to hold a steady job because of her physical disabilities, Penny was a lonely young woman.

I learned she had a boyfriend in another state where she was living. It all sounded nice but something was missing. I couldn't put my finger on it, but we hugged and kissed and said we would keep in touch when we returned to our homes. I continued to pray for Penny.

Several months went by and we got a call from my sister. "Penny's stranded in Texas. Can she come and stay with you?" Absolutely! No way would we turn her down.
Picking her up at the bus station in nearby Hawkinsville, the missing pieces started coming together.

This "wonderful boyfriend"' turned out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Taking advantage of Penny's childlike trust, he talked her into selling all of her furniture and personal belongings, except her clothes, and then used the money to meet his own needs. He told her they would start a new life together and get married when they got to his son's house.

Deliriously happy, Penny believed him. She paid for a tune up for his car, bought him tires, and paid for gas and food. They got as far as Texas, when the money ran out. So did his love. "We're through", he said callously. "I never meant to marry you."

In complete disillusionment, Penny called her mother, asking her what she should do. She had three dollars to her name, all her worldly goods in two suitcases and two boxes, and if that were not enough, a broken heart to top it off.

Knowing that Penny had transferred her disability check to an Albany, Georgia address, my sister called us and asked if Penny could stay with us until things got straightened out with her money situation.

Driving home from Hawkinsville, we let Penny know she was loved and that it was a privilege to be her family, to be able to help her in her situation. She was exhausted from traveling across the country for five days, but relieved to know that she was with people who cared. Thrilled to be with family who wouldn't condemn her.

As the days went by, her tragic story began to unfold. Years of feeling inferior to others...being considered a dumb child, when all the while she was stone deaf in one ear, making it difficult, and sometimes impossible to understand what the teachers were saying.

Into adulthood a pattern of bad relationships evolved until finally she wound up in prostitution. It seemed an easy way to make money. She suppressed the guilt that would continually try to surface.

"I always thought of the Bible you gave me, Aunt Jerri. You put the date in it and wrote that I had asked Jesus in my heart. I knew better than to live the way I was, but I couldn't seem to stop myself."

When Penny was seven, we had been visiting at Nana's. She and her big brother Tom had eagerly listened as I told them about Jesus. They bowed their heads and prayed that day. It was a special day, and I had given them each a Bible with the date in it so they would never forget their prayer to Jesus.

Jesus never forgot it either. His word, the incorruptible seed, had taken root in their hearts. He would follow them both through many trials and when they would willingly give Him their all, He would be there to receive them.

During the three and a half weeks that Penny stayed with us, the Lord showed Himself as so compassionate and loving. He wasn't mad at her. He wasn't disappointed in her. He had been there all the time. She was to learn that her security was not to rest in relationships with men, but with Him.

Using the time with us as a spiritual oasis, Penny traveled with us to several prisons where Charlie and I were ministering the word of God. Drinking in the word at church, Women's Aglow Fellowships and other Christian functions, we saw her blossom.

Taking her to a passion play in Macon, the Lord drew her with cords of love. Weeping, she went forward and recommitted her life to Christ.

Yes, God is faithful. Faithful even when we're not; even when we're deceived by the enemy. His word is incorruptible. It will bring forth fruit in us. It will get us through.

As our daughter Linda prepared to take Penny to the airport, we all hugged and cried. Penny was going to be okay. She had loving Christian friends who were waiting for her. She had a church that could forgive her for not being more discerning in her decisions. And she had the Word of God.

Arriving safely home, Penny called to let us know that everything was fine. Her first Sunday in church was like starting her Christian life all over again. A visiting evangelist singled her out and spoke words of encouragement to her. God had forgiven her for making a foolish decision. He cared about her. She was overwhelmed with the thought that she was special to God.
Penny is special to us too.

When you think about it, we're all special to God.......we just need to be reminded from time to time.

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,

Help me be willing to pick up my Christian brothers and sisters who have stumbled. And, Lord, when I pick them up, I’ll try to remind them they are special to you. Sometimes people forget that, Lord. Let my home be the oasis where they can learn that you are a God who restores those who have gone astray.

In Jesus name,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011



We Cry Abba, Father

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage
again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of
adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

Our girls were so excited. They, meaning Dotty and Virginia, were in their first year of college when Coca-Cola granted a large sum of money to help gifted, but financially disadvantaged high school students.

The college would select three mentors to work with twelve ninth graders from our local high school. If our girls were chosen to assist in this program, they would be tutoring as well as taking these kids to various functions and places to help them culturally.

The news finally came. Our two girls were accepted, and the fun was about to begin! Of course there was one catch! They would need my credit card. They would be taking these kids out to fancy restaurants, attending self-help seminars, and even such cultural excursions as a trip to Six Flags in Atlanta! Would I mind? Who me? They assured me I would be reimbursed for expenditures on my credit card.
Do you have any idea how much the tab for twelve kids, three mentors and one chaperone at the Green Jacket restaurant comes to? Believe me I was nervous learning that these kids were eating escargot charged to my American Express card. But somehow I always got my money and in the process got to know quite a few special kids in the group.

(Dotty and Virginia - many years later, still spreading the Good News of Jesus)

While involved in mentoring these kids, our girls decided to begin a Bible study for young people. They started it on Saturday nights in our home and before long the girls had all their students they got paid an hourly wage while the kids heard the word of God. I told the girls it reminded me of Moses’ mother, who got paid for nursing her own child!

For some of these kids it was a first. Going to a fancy restaurant was one thing, but hearing about Jesus Christ from the Bible was another. In this group of twelve, there was one student who really grabbed our hearts. He was a young black youth with a very shy demeanor. When the other kids quit coming for one reason or another, we noticed that Larry would make it a point to call the girls for a ride to our house. He was hungry to learn about the things of the Lord.

We began to learn that, not only was Larry bright, but also very talented. He brought his drawing pad to our house, and we were amazed by his artistic ability. As we continued observing Larry from week to week, the girls began to realize he was probably involved in a homosexual lifestyle. We didn't want to probe, but Larry was high on our prayer list.

One night we had a guest speaker in our home who had been delivered from homosexuality. His testimony really affected Larry, and it wasn't long before he stayed after Bible study one night and gave his heart to the Lord. Several months passed, and Larry got baptized and joined our church. We were so proud of him. But Satan doesn't give up easily, and the old crowd continued trying to lure Larry back into the old lifestyle.

Several years passed and Larry had his ups and downs. Our family tried to understand the pull of this type of life, but it was hard. We just knew that we loved Larry, and we were trusting God to give him victory in his life.

What causes a young person to get involved in a deviant lifestyle? Are they born that way? Is it their environment? And more importantly, how do we as Christians come across to those so involved? What is our attitude toward them? Do we just look the other way and pretend this is not a problem we should have to deal with? What is our responsibility to our neighbor? What was our responsibility to Larry?

For Larry, rejection and sexual abuse had both played a large part in his slide into homosexuality. A product of a brutal rape, Larry was keenly aware of rejection from his earliest recollections. His mother was only fourteen years old when Larry was conceived. He never knew his real father.

At the age of thirteen, a cousin raped him. Somehow this cousin convinced Larry that he loved him. At that point in his life, there was no guilt for Larry. He just felt loved, and love was something he desperately needed.

Then he was chosen to be in the Coca-Cola program and with the entrance of God's word into his heart, the guilt he had suppressed began to surface. "When I came to the Bible study, I began to realize my lifestyle was all wrong," said Larry. "Up until then, I thought it was okay, but somehow, just listening to the Bible made me see things differently."

God's word has a way of changing our lives. Larry would never be the same. Even though he had gotten saved, he slipped into temptation, but the Spirit of God was still at work in his heart. He who had begun a good work in Larry would yet complete it.

In his senior year of high school Larry made a quality decision; one that would affect his life forever. He decided to join the Navy upon graduation, and he wanted a fresh start. Still feeling weak spiritually, he picked up the phone and called us.
Larry told me he had changed his phone number, was not associating with anyone, and staying in his apartment day after day. He was afraid he would slip back into the old lifestyle and knew he needed help. In six months he would be leaving for boot camp, and he didn't know if he would be able to make it as a Christian.

At the time I was preparing for an upcoming trip to Israel. Using my trip as an example, I told Larry he had to train spiritually for what lay ahead of him just as I was in training physically. He took my advice and ran with it.

We picked him up for church Sunday morning, Sunday and Wednesday nights and also for personal Bible study at our house every Tuesday evening. We could see him growing spiritually. It was exciting. One night on the way home from church he said, "You know what, Miss Jerri? I'm going to pass you up!"

Laughing, I replied, "I believe you are, Larry. I believe you are!"

The night before his recruiter came to get him, Larry and I sat in my car for one last prayer together. As I committed him to the Lord that night, tears stung my eyes. "Miss Jerri," he said with quiet resolve. "I'm strong enough now. I'm going to make it." And he has.

At boot camp Larry started off with personal Bible study and prayer each day. It wasn't long before the word was out. Larry was one of those Christians! Soon he had several trainees who met with him each night for devotions. He joined a choir at the base chapel. Seeing the choir was lacking in spiritual devotion and zeal, he suggested they have prayer requests and testimonies. The idea caught on, and it wasn't long before the whole atmosphere of the choir became super-charged with spiritual life.

After graduation from boot camp Larry started school to become a Hospital Corpsman. He was fifth in his class and got to pick his first assignment. Corpus Christi, Texas. His long range plan is to enter the medical field as a trained professional.

During his first Christmas break, Larry accompanied me to a nearby men's prison where he shared his testimony with 150 inmates. He was able to tell them that there are no mistakes in God's creation. God, in His sovereignty had ordained for Larry to come into this world so he could make a difference. He was able to tell them they did not have to stay bound in homosexuality, that you are not "born" that way, and that Jesus Christ can deliver and promote you. He told them that although he had suffered rejection, he knew now that he was accepted!

In his closing remarks to the inmates, Larry declared with confidence, "You know, I've never known my real father, but now I know THE Father!" The inmates rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation. His blonde mother sat on the back row and I can tell you the tears were streaming down my face. I was so proud of “my son.”

This chapter is far from over. Today, down in Texas, there is a young Navy hospital corpsman making a difference wherever he goes. You'll know him by the big smile on his face. He's a somebody today; a somebody who is no longer under bondage; a somebody who has been adopted into the family of God; a somebody who knows who his father is and can call Him Daddy!

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,

There are so many Larry’s in the world, kids who have been sexually abused and mistreated. When I see the young people hanging out on the streets, help me see the hurt in their hearts, Lord. Help me remember that you, and you alone, can make a difference in their lives.

In Jesus name,