October 1, 2013

Forgiveness at Last

Before I reached my teens, my mother made it clear to me for the first time that if I would live right and obey the Bible, I would go to Heaven. If not, I would go to Hell for all eternity. I remember so well how I purposed in my heart, right then, that if there was a choice, I would go to Heaven. Sadly, it was many years before anyone told me the way to make Heaven my home.

At sixteen, I moved to Medford, Oregon, and rented a room in a lady’s home. Then I went to work in a café. During that time, such a hunger came into my heart to know more of God. With my first paycheck, I bought a Bible and each night read it faithfully and prayed with the little understanding God gave me. Somewhere I had heard that Jesus would return to earth, and I felt that it would surely be soon. One night, as I prayed, a wonderful feeling came into my heart. The next day, I had such a love for my fellowman and faith that if I died I would go to Heaven. However, there was no one to teach me. Without guidance or the knowledge of how to keep this wonderful feeling, it wasn’t long before I lost it.

I continued to read my Bible, and called myself a Christian because I still wanted to please God. When I was eighteen, I read in the Bible that a woman should have long hair, so I began to watch those around me, looking for someone with long hair who lived for God. I knew one woman who had long wavy hair, but it seemed that she was vain. Another was very worldly. I decided it must be impossible to do everything that I read about in God’s Word, so I gave up on obeying the Bible.

Many years passed, and the day came when discouragement took control. I was married and living in Ruch, Oregon. I had four young children, and my husband had begun to drink heavily. Things seemed so hopeless that I could see no reason for living, and even thought about suicide, though my mother had always said that was a coward’s way out. One day while reading my Bible, I saw so clearly how I was failing God. I cried out to God from the depths of my heart, “Help me to get to know Jesus like I should know Him.”

God answered that prayer. Only a short time later, a lady invited me to some Gospel meetings that the Apostolic Faith was scheduled to hold in an old store building in front of the house we lived in. I did not see how I could go, but she suggested I ask my husband to keep the children. He did not usually do that. However, he agreed, and that night I went to the service. Oh, the wonderful things I heard! The music was beautiful; I enjoyed the singing of the old hymns. I went to a couple more meetings and the testimonies began to catch my attention. Through them I began to understand that God worked in the lives of individuals, answering prayer directly.

After hearing one woman tell of her mother being healed of cancer, I put God to the test. For many years, I had suffered with severe headaches. They had started when I was fourteen and was thrown from a car and dragged quite a ways with my head in the gravel. No amount of aspirin would deaden those headaches. The next time I felt one coming on, I prayed. Then I put it out of my mind, for I knew if I continued to think about it, I would lose faith. Sometime later, I realized the headache had not gotten bad, and to this day, they have never returned.

As the meetings progressed, I learned that if I repented of the sin and wrongdoing in my life, Jesus would come in and forgive those things and put within me the power to do what the Bible said. This was what my heart had longed for since I was just a child.

I did not yield to God’s call right away. I was afraid of what my husband and others might say. One night I decided I would not go to church because I felt the neighbors were watching and they knew I was going every night. Then one of them stopped by on her way and told me I had no excuse to stay home because I lived so close. I was glad, because I wanted to go so badly.

By the time the final service was held in that building, I knew that I needed an experience of salvation in order to be a Christian. The preacher asked for those who wanted prayer to raise their hands so that others could pray for them. A friend of mine had come with me, and I knew that if I raised my hand, she would tell our husbands as well as other friends. I thought they would laugh and make fun of me, and I would be alone. I did not have the courage to raise my hand, but suddenly, I could not breathe. As the minister continued to ask for people to raise their hands, I could hear nothing. I felt that if I did not raise my hand, I would need to run outside for air. At last I lifted my hand, but when they asked me to stay and pray, I said, “No!” When we returned home, my friend did tell everyone about it, and they made their remarks, but I just wished I had followed through and prayed.

A short time later, I began attending the Apostolic Faith Church in Medford, Oregon, about thirty miles from my house. As I sat in the meetings, God showed me my sins and the conviction grew even heavier. Before long, I was praying a great deal of the time. God blessed me many times in private prayer as I went about my chores, but somehow I could not believe that He would forgive me. As a result, I prayed for over a year before my faith reached out and claimed the promise of salvation.

Such joy came into my heart! I could hardly sleep that night as I rejoiced over the glorious gift He had given to me.

On May 3, 1953, Brother Clarence Frost preached about the Crucifixion. I felt I was guilty and so I repented. Knowing that God had blessed me many times, my faith took hold, and I received His witness of real salvation. Such joy came into my heart! I could hardly sleep that night as I rejoiced over the glorious gift He had given to me. There was always something missing until that night when Jesus became my Savior and I became His disciple. Later God sanctified and baptized me.

God gave me thirteen children, and in the raising of them, He gave me strength. Sometimes we needed miracles in our lives to keep on going. One time while I was cutting wood, I sent my oldest son into the house to move a pan on the woodstove. I forgot there was another pan at the front of the stovetop filled with hot grease to fry bread in. He moved the wrong pan and splashed hot grease all over the front of himself. He was not wearing a shirt, and came out of the house screaming. I got on my knees and started praying, and in a few seconds he stopped screaming. On Sunday, he didn’t want to go to church because he had spots all over his face, neck, and chest. We prayed and God removed the spots that showed above his shirt collar.

Another time, five of the children came down with whooping cough. While my eight-month-old baby was coughing, she stopped breathing completely. For some time, I worked to revive her, but couldn’t. I sent one of the children outside for my husband and he tried to revive her also. She turned blue, and it seemed she was gone. I cried out to God, praying desperately, and she just started breathing naturally again. I feel God gave her back to us that day.

One summer, a forest fire started near our house. It came closer and closer until the firemen came and told us to evacuate. The children prayed that God would spare our home. The fire came down the hill and stopped across the narrow road from our house. Later, the firemen told us that live embers had fallen on our house. Though it was summer, and the house was old, none of the embers caused a fire.

When I needed shoes for two of the children and did not have the money, I put what I had in the tithe box, and the next time I went to church, there was a bag with my name on it. Inside were two pairs of shoes, just the right size.

One Thanksgiving, we had nothing special for our meal, and a couple showed up with a complete Thanksgiving dinner. So many more prayers have been answered that it would be impossible to list them all.

My heart is full when I think of how God has blessed me. He has provided for every need, and there have been joys without number.

apostolic faith magazine