Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MIGHTY FOR THE KINGDOM Elstan Wooten, named after baseball figure, Elstan Howard (the first black player to be drafted by the New York Yankees on April 14, 1955), will definitely make it to Heaven’s Hall of Fame.
Wooten, a correction officer at Bleckley PDC and pastor of a local church, blessed the socks off of everyone at our Thursday night Bible study. When he was only four years old, Wooten’s mother passed away. Shortly afterward his father left, leaving him and his six older sisters to fend for themselves. However, a loving 75 year-old grandmother took them all into her heart and home and raised them for the glory of God. In their home church all children with a living mother wore a red rose. Those whose mother had died wore a white rose on Mother’s Day. When Wooten looked around at the children he felt left out, wondering “Where is my mother?” He began to struggle, feeling life wasn’t fair.
In those days you might say Wooten had a “drug” problem. His grandmother “drug” him and his siblings to church every time the door was opened. When he was 17 Wooten joined the National Guard. He couldn’t wait to be on his own and promised himself he would never step foot into a church again. But God had other plans. Life had many adventures for Wooten, including his full surrender to God. Grandmother’s prayers were answered in a unique way. While working as a guard at the Cadwell Detention Center, Wooten gave his life completely to Christ. Reading a Christian book and watching different volunteers coming to minister to the detainees had a profound effect on his life. The year was 1990. Working at the detention center, Wooten continued with his responsibilities in the National Guard and in 1992 the Bosnian War began.
During his deployment in the Bosnian War, Wooten had many opportunities to share his faith and even did so with a group of Muslims from Liberia. Proudly wearing a gold crucifix, Wooten told Muslims about the living Savior who loved them and died for them. He did not fear for his life, but was fearless for his God. Wooten’s experiences in war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina made him realize how short life is. He was more determined than ever to make up for lost time in the service of his Lord. When he finished his tour of duty, he redoubled his efforts to learn the Bible and started taking seminary courses. He soon became a pastor in a small town in Dodge County, Ga. We don’t hear a lot about the little town of Cadwell, GA, population just over 400, but thanks to Wooten there is a thriving church there called Cadwell Christian Fellowship Center. Recently Wooten felt the call to go back to his home church, Harper Valley Chapel. He left the Cadwell church in very good hands. Today they have 14 pastors who tend this large flock and they continue to grow, thanks to one man who was determined to make a difference. Harper Valley Chapel was started 124 years ago by one of Wooten’s relatives. With Wooten at the helm of this fellowship, it marks the first time in the church’s history that a bloodline relative has served as pastor since its founding. His grandmother would be proud! A few years ago, Wooten suffered a heart attack. He prayed hard as they prepared him for open heart surgery. His prayers were answered. Instead of the dreaded surgery they were able to use stents to correct his problem. Wooten was awake throughout the procedure. Although sedated, Wooten was in what they refer to as a ‘twilight zone’ where he was conscious. Wooten said, “I was praising God through the whole thing.” Afterwards Wooten apologized for his out loud praising, but the doctor replied, “No, don’t apologize! That helped me through the surgery.” Wooten continues to praise his Lord every chance he gets and this past Thursday night was no exception. This mighty servant of the Lord shared his wonderful testimony with the little group that meets in our home. We were all blessed and I trust that as you have read this; you have been blessed also!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


(EARLY DAYS - Charlie and me and Virginia and Dotty on our laps)


As the lady got into her car she looked at me and smiled, “I can’t tell you who sent me, but I can tell you one thing…it’s sure great to be a messenger for the king.” With that she drove away and I was left standing with my mouth gaped open in surprise.

The woman, who at that time was a stranger, had come by my house to bring me some Christian books, tapes and an envelope containing $135. There was no way possible she could have known our electricity was being turned off the very next day because of two months of non-payment.

It had been a tough year for us. Charlie had back surgery, leaving him out of work for months with no paycheck. My income from writing articles for the Macon Telegraph was a whopping $200 a month. Food stamps became a necessity to feed five hungry children and I learned what it meant to be humbled because of circumstances beyond our control.

To make matters worse it was the Easter season and our church was having their annual Easter egg hunt. What seemed like a minor need was huge for us. Our two little girls needed Easter baskets and we had no money for gas for our car, much less non-essential items.

The next day I triumphantly paid the electric bill (which took nearly the whole $135) and with a few dollars worth of gas in the car, headed for the little town of Chauncy to interview some school board members for a news article.

On the way back home I kept thinking about the Easter baskets and decided I would stop at a drugstore and see if I might be able to squeeze enough money out of our depleted bank account to buy them.

Just as I reached for a little basket I heard the voice of the Lord. “If you buy these baskets I’ll not give you good baskets.” My hand jumped back from the $1.29 item and I responded, “Okay, Lord. I’m going to trust you on this one.”

That night our son Jeff, who was very concerned about his little sisters, came into our room. We knelt by the bed and prayed about the need for Easter baskets. I assured him that if God could supply money for a big electric bill, then surely Easter baskets were no problem to Him.

The next morning before we were out of bed the phone rang. “Mrs. Tuck, someone called me and asked me if you could possibly use two Easter baskets.”

One hour before the time the girls were supposed to be at the church, the same lady who had brought the money, showed up at our door with two of the biggest Easter baskets I had ever seen in my life! They were filled with wonderful goodies…candy, gum, sunglasses and in addition to the baskets she brought an Easter card containing $25 and a beautiful cake for all of us to enjoy.

While the girls were at the Easter egg hunt I was able to purchase material for Easter finery. Although I struggled to keep awake during Easter services because of sewing until the wee hours of the morning, Dotty and Virginia were the happiest little girls in the church.

That had to be one of the best Easters we’ve ever experienced. Not just because Jesus proved again that He was our Jehovah-Jireh (our provider), but because we knew He really was alive.

Many years ago a young Jewish man posed a question to Alfred Ackley, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" Ackley replied emphatically that he knew Jesus was alive because he had just talked with him. Subsequently, in 1933 Ackley wrote a hymn entitled, I SERVE A RISEN SAVIOR.

The chorus of the song says it all: “He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me, He talks with me, along the narrow way. You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.”

Do you know He’s alive? Does He talk with you every day? Are you experiencing the resurrection life of Christ?

“Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25