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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Power of a Mother’s Prayer

By Larry Hatfield
Dec. 18, 2011

When he arrived at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, the young soldier found himself far from his home in Oklahoma. But in his heart he felt even farther away from the God he once knew. The all-night prayer vigils and a burning desire to witness for Jesus had long since been abandoned.

At first he had merely grown cold and drifted away. But eventually his life became one party after another. Self-indulgence dulled the pain of loneliness for a while. But eventually nothing would relieve the ache in his heart. Elwyn Rogers, Specialist E4, was living the perpetual nightmare of the backslider.

Just before Elwyn’s seventh birthday, his mother died after a lengthy illness. Elwyn did everything a small boy could do to make her comfortable. But now that she was gone he felt his world begin to unravel. Yet in spite of all that, deep inside he still possessed a love and longing for God.

At the age of 14, well on his way to a life of misery, his grandparents invited him to Arizona to spend the summer with them. Little did he realize that in years to come this would prove to be a critical moment in his life. That summer he developed a passion for God’s Word and continued to sense that his life held an unusual destiny.

Upon returning home he became deeply involved in his church. Things went well at first, but over time he grew cold in his faith. Eventually, at age 16, a very confused and inexperienced young man left home. That was when his life began an uncontrollable downward spiral. A pigpen awaited this budding prodigal.

His life at Schofield Barracks quickly deteriorated into a destructive routine. It began as social drinking, but soon that wasn’t enough. Before long he was a slave to the bottle.

Elwyn became familiar with the term “bottomless pit.” In his words, sin had turned him into a “walking dead man.” His life had become so miserable that he rolled and tossed in his bed at night, pulling hair from his head and crying for morning to come.

Although he never would have guessed it, God was with him. On an island in the midst of a vast ocean, this tenderfoot had not escaped His watchful eye. This became very evident on Christmas Day 1973, when a “care package” arrived. The mailing label read, “Women’s Ministry Group, First Assembly of God, Duncan, Okla.” What a welcome sight!

The box contained all sorts of goodies, which he shared with his buddies. But nestled in the middle of the box was a small package. A Bible! It was the last thing he wanted to see. A brief note was attached: “We love you and are praying for you.”

That book represented everything he was not. So he tossed it into his locker, and that’s where it remained. God’s little Book, ignored, disdained and unwanted — but refusing to be silenced. Each time he opened his locker, there was that Bible. One day he could resist no longer. Reading it soon became a daily routine.

 This made the misery even more unbearable. In a state of despair and hopelessness he cried out, “God, why have You let me live? My life is a mess. Why haven’t You killed me, seeing how wretched my life is?” As clearly as one person might speak to another, he heard a voice saying, “I made a promise to your mother just before she died, that I would take care of her children.” That moment launched a sequence of events that would eventually lead Elwyn back to God.

It’s been said that misery loves company. Elwyn had acquired a group of friends who were heading down the same path. But God had yet another shocker awaiting him. One of his drinking buddies, an outspoken atheist, became unusually inquisitive about the Bible.

A few days later Elwyn discovered that his friend had purchased a Bible of his own. And if that wasn’t unusual enough, Elwyn surprisingly found himself asking his buddy if he’d care to attend the worship service at one of the churches on base. The following Sunday, two unlikely participants received Communion.

 The next weekend they decided to visit a small Assemblies of God church a few miles from base. The morning service went by in a blur, followed by an afternoon of silence. Yet something deep inside pulled them back for the evening service. After the message that night, an invitation was given. Elwyn went forward and knelt. Suddenly he became aware of someone kneeling beside him. It was his friend, the former atheist. And together they poured out their hearts to God.

 Even though God was in the process of doing a work of grace, Elwyn Rogers had not experienced the release he sought. His military service was drawing to a close, and he realized that difficult days were ahead. Processing back into civilian life would bring him face to face with the crowd that had brought him down the first time.

But God was faithful. The dark night of Elwyn’s soul eventually gave way to the supernatural joy that comes with the morning. Wave after wave of God’s love washed away the pain that was buried deep inside.

Elwyn has now been a pastor for more than 30 years. He currently ministers at Marlow (Okla.) Assembly of God. Yet God’s message to him, “I made a promise to your mother just before she died, that I would take care of her children,” is as astonishing to him today as it was back then. What he heard underscores two timeless concepts: the power of a mother’s prayer and the faithfulness of a loving and patient God!

LARRY HATFIELD is pastor emeritus of Grand Assembly of God in Chickasha, Okla.

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