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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. ...




Real Stories, Real Intervention

By Judi Murphy
Apr. 22, 2012

Life brings us face to face with circumstances that look devastating, hopeless, impossibly broken. Yet, when we turn to God in those circumstances, He can and does bring hope, peace and beauty out of seemingly ruined lives. Meet a few of the people who have discovered that nothing they faced was too hard for God.

No person is beyond forgiveness: Eric Earhart

Eric Earhart was not your ordinary, small-town bully. At age 12, he began a life of vandalism, drinking and thievery, a pattern he embraced into adulthood. At a strapping 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was intimidating, and soon developed a reputation for drugs and fighting. Twice he was kicked out of the Army for his violent, drunken behavior. But more trouble ensued when Earhart began running drugs.

“My brother and I bought a refrigerated seafood truck, and we were running a 38-foot offshore fishing boat,” says Earhart. “We began exploring the option of running drugs, trafficking drugs through the seafood business. Next thing you know, I am hauling kilos of cocaine. But something deep and dark happened when I took that step. I crossed a line. I could just feel something come over me, and I could feel the hatred and anger just welling up inside of me.”

The darkness inside Earhart only grew as time went on.

“There was a man who owed me just $900. I beat him with a baseball bat first, and I told him to leave town, but he didn’t,” says Earhart. “It was an affront to me as a drug dealer and made me look bad to others; they began to believe my threats didn’t mean anything. So I loaded a rifle and went to his home on Christmas Eve. I kicked in the door, shoved the gun in his mouth and I pulled the trigger — and it misfired. I said, ‘God wanted you to live tonight.’ And I didn’t even know God.”

Earhart began dating a woman who was working at a strip club. Her mother was a strong Christian.

Earhart recalls, “Her mother said to me, ‘I don’t know if you ever heard of the fact that Jesus Christ died for your sins and you can be forgiven.’ And as I walked out of the house, it dawned on me: I just heard the truth — I was going to hell.”

That was the seed that began to change Earhart. “I began trying to change my own life, to clean my life up,” says Earhart. “I even began telling people I was going to give up the drug dealing.”

Earhart decided to make one last drug run to New York. On the way back, local law enforcement had set up a roadblock.

“They were waiting for me to come back,” he says. “After they arrested me, I was lying on the ground. It was about 4 a.m., there was a drizzling rain, the drug-sniffing dogs were barking at me, the guns were pointed at me, and I just looked up and said, ‘Thank God it’s over.’”

Earhart began to look to God to help him change while he waited for his trial. “I just cried out to God, and I said, ‘I’m not asking You to get me out of trouble. I’m not asking You to keep me out of prison,’” he says. “I am afraid I am becoming totally evil. I’ve ruined my life. If You can do something with my life that is good, if You can do something that has any value, take it please, and do something with it.”

Earhart was convicted of two counts of trafficking, each conviction carrying a sentence of 42 months. “After I prayed, I had a complete sense of clarity and peace that I just needed to face this thing, and that God was going to be with me,” Earhart says. “When I got to prison, I thought, I’m not like these other people, I don’t belong, I don’t deserve to be here. But God said to my heart, No, you are one of these people, and you’re no better than anyone else here. I love everybody the same. From that point on, I began to tell everyone I could find about Jesus Christ.”

From a prison volunteer, Earhart heard about an Assemblies of God church in Ahoskie, N.C., called Carpenter’s Shop Church, led by Pastor Wallace Phillips. Earhart asked his dad to pick him up on Sunday mornings for his community visit passes to take him to church.

After meeting Pastor Phillips, Earhart invited him to come visit him in prison. During those visits Phillips saw Earhart grow and change.

“I saw a life transformed and changed by God’s power, and I saw the unique giftings that Eric could bring to the table,” Phillips says. He invited Earhart to be the outreach minister at Carpenter’s Shop immediately upon his release.

“Simultaneously, we were at a place where we were getting ready to plant a church,” added Phillips. He recognized in Earhart the potential to pastor.

“God was using Pastor Phillips to open a door of opportunity for me to fulfill what God called me to do,” says Earhart, who now pastors Upper Room Assembly in Gatesville, N.C.

“Over the last four years we’ve seen the ministry grow to 125-150 people worshipping in a town of 280 people,” Earhart says. “I love to tell people, ‘There isn’t a person in this room who has committed more sins in their life than I’ve committed, has hurt more people than I’ve hurt, and done more evil than I’ve done. If God can save me and forgive me, and if He can heal me and make me a new person, then certainly He can do the same in your life.’”


No relationship is too broken: Brad and Denise Wicks

Brad and Denise were very young and in love.

“The energy and life I saw in her was very attractive,” Brad says.

“I just fell in love with a shy boy,” says Denise.

Despite their attraction and love for each other, the relationship soon began to experience trials.

“We had gone away for a weekend to Estes Park, Colo., and while we were there we started talking about marriage, six months or a year down the road,” says Brad. “We called my parents to tell them, and they were adamantly against it; and I kind of took that as a challenge.”

Over Christmas, Brad and Denise secretly married in defiance of Brad’s parents. They waited until the following March to tell them.

“It was awful,” Denise says. Shortly thereafter, they discovered Denise was pregnant.

“It blew me away,” says Brad, “I wasn’t ready for that.” The pressures and uncertainties of pregnancy and parenthood forced the marriage into a downward spiral.

“From that point on, we just really weren’t getting along,” says Brad. “I just didn’t like her. It got worse and worse until it was so bad that we became physically violent with each other.”

“I started withdrawing from Brad; we were slowly growing apart,” Denise says. “I cut him off physically and emotionally. I don’t like to use the word ‘hate’ a lot, but it got to the point where I hated him. I was determined to make him so miserable that he would want to divorce me.”

Brad finally did suggest divorce, and Denise readily agreed. But Brad began having second thoughts.

“The closer we got to it, the more I started thinking, I don’t know that I really want this. I think I really do care about Denise. I do love her. And I don’t want another man raising my daughter. I need to make this work somehow,” says Brad.

But Denise was determined to push Brad away. “I was so mean. I looked at him and saw the hope in his eyes, and I just tore his heart out,” she says.

Their marriage ended.

Sometime after the divorce, Brad’s father invited him to a Promise Keepers convention in Boulder, Colo.

“God started working on my heart,” Brad says. “I came back feeling like I needed to be a man and a husband and a father. I talked to Denise about it, and I think she may have noticed a little bit of the change. But she was skeptical. So I gave her a tape of a song that said how I felt.”

Despite initial anger and resistance, Denise listened to the tape. “It just broke me,” she says. “It talked about being a man, putting God first in his life, and then his family, and then himself. And I thought, That is who I always wanted him to be.”

The couple began repairing their relationship. Four years after their first marriage, and two years after their divorce, Brad and Denise remarried. This time they invited their families to the wedding. God continued to draw both Brad and Denise closer in relationship to Him. Eventually, Brad led Denise to Christ through the sinner’s prayer.

“I couldn’t keep my marriage together, but with God at the core, as long as we keep Him there through prayer and through His Word, He can heal what the enemy did destroy,” Denise says.

“There is no doubt in my mind that God did this,” Brad says. “People don’t just get back together like this. If you are willing to say, ‘God help us; we want to work this out,’ He will.”


No illness is too difficult: Larry Greene

Over a six-year period, Larry Greene’s life seemed to come to a halt because of vision loss caused by medication used to treat heart arrhythmia. Though it helped his heart, it destroyed his eyes.

“They didn’t tell me about any side effects, but after about three or four years I started noticing problems,” Greene says. “When I was driving, I couldn’t see people on the sides of me. Then I was having trouble reading the road signs.”

At first doctors thought Greene had cataracts. “I had surgery in both eyes,” Greene says. “I could see great for about two weeks, and then my vision started getting bad again, all of a sudden.”

Dr. Steve Daughtery has helped Greene. “I recall when he first came in, he had a tapping cane. He had almost no ability to see long distances.”

Doctors finally realized the blindness was due to toxicity from the heart medications. But it was too late.

“I was completely blind in my left eye. Out of my right eye, I could see for about two feet. I could see objects, but not be able to tell what they were,” Greene says. “I’d have to get right up into someone’s face to be able to tell who they were.”

Greene had to be driven to and from work, but eventually the job itself became too hard. When he could no longer work, depression set in.

“I got pretty low,” Greene says. “When something like that happens to you, you have to learn all over again how to do stuff.”

Benjamin Owens, Greene’s grandson, thought it was time Greene reconnected with the Lord, and kept inviting him to church. Finally, Greene agreed to go to church on Easter Sunday. He liked it enough to return the next week.

Greene says: “The preacher said that Jesus taught all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed, and ask in His name, and you will be healed. And I thought to myself, I still have that much faith in these old bones. Then I just bowed my head and started praying. All of a sudden, I felt tears running down my cheek and I had this warm feeling. I asked in Jesus’ name and said, ‘Amen,’ and opened my eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Owens was sitting next to Greene. “I heard him say, ‘I can see,’” he remembers, “and I really didn’t know what to think. But I could see his whole facial expression was changed, and then he started reading the words of the Scriptures up on the screen. I knew how bad he was, and I knew that there was no way that could be possible.”

Greene nearly ran to the altar to pray and thank God for what He had done.

“After the service he said he was going to drive home,” says Owens.

“I said, ‘You ain’t got much faith if you don’t think I can drive home,’” Greene jokes. “I was driven to church, and I drove myself home that day.”

Years later, his sight is still as good as ever, with Greene needing only reading glasses for fine print.

“I reviewed a test done in 2003, where Larry’s best corrective vision was at 20/350 in the right eye,” says Daughtery. “We tested him today, and he was 20/30 in the right eye without any correction at all. But I tell you as a Christian, I believe God always can and always will heal if we ask Him to.”


No loss is too devastating: Lee Williams

In 1988, Lee Williams was living a life many dream of — a prestigious military career, nice home, wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters. He was totally content with life. On May 14, Williams’ world collapsed when his wife and daughters were killed.

At almost midnight, Williams was awakened by a phone call summoning him to his church. On the phone, he was told only that the church bus had been in an accident.

The full news would be devastating. A drunken driver, driving on the wrong side of the road, collided head-on with the bus, causing the gas tank to ignite and explode. Twenty-four children and three adults died in the crash, including Williams’ wife, Joy, and two daughters, Robin and Kristen.

“At the funeral, I laid my hands on each of those caskets and said, ‘I don’t know what I am going to do without you,’” Williams says.

Williams’ mother had died just six months before, and his dad had been killed years ago in Korea, leaving Williams with no living relatives and feeling utterly alone.

“As my hands lay on each casket, I saw every moment I had had with them, everything I had done with each of them,” Williams says. “And then it was like someone changed the channel, and I could only see all the things I would never get to do with them in the future.

“After the funeral, I came home and took all the pictures off the wall,” says Williams. “I would go from room to room and just sit there, and think of what I had lost.” He grieved for months.

“Then, on New Year’s Eve in 1989, I decided to let them go. I released them,” Williams says. “I knew they were with God, and I said, ‘In a few short minutes it’s going to be a new year, and there is going to be a new Lee walking out of this room.’ God showed me what to do.”

Williams took out his Bible and wrote what he called “power Scriptures” on index cards. Every time he would get depressed or discouraged, he pulled the cards out of his shirt pocket and read them. “Those words of God empowered me,” he says.

Later, Williams called Dottie Pierman, whose husband, John, was driving the bus that fatal night. John was killed, but his daughter Christy survived. Dottie was now parenting three children, alone.

“I wanted to share with her what God had shared with me,” says Williams. “I really wanted to be around somebody who knew what it was like to lose a spouse, and she knew.” Williams and Pierman met for lunch, and talked for hours. Out of that grew a love relationship.

“Behind the scenes, God was moving, trying to create a wonderful thing out of such a tragedy,” says Dottie.

Later on, they married. Soon after, Dottie’s children told Lee they wanted to start calling him Dad.

“I got my title back,” says Williams. “And now these three children of mine are grown and married, we have seven grandchildren, and I am Dad and Grandpa around here. God has blessed me above and beyond.”

Editor’s note: Four additional stories are highlighted in the Nothing’s Too Hard for God campaign — an evangelism-based media campaign designed to win the lost and grow the local church. All eight stories are available in video and audio format online at www.nothingstoohardforGod.org.


JUDI MURPHY is a freelance writer from Springfield, Mo.

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