My Personal Testimony & Answered Prayers

(Part Two-Continued From Part One)

 It didn't take us long to find all the churches in Portland, so we met many new Christian friends in Portland almost immediately! But we went through a trial about 3 months after moving there! (The Lord was testing my faith!)

We moved there in March, but by May our money was starting to run out! It was hard to find work, and I was very unskilled, and I didn't know the city well. That was the same year there was long gas lines! (You might remember the gas shortage, so called!)

But in June 1973, our landlord told us we had to move by July 1st, because his niece was coming to town, and he wanted the apartment for her. I was very worried, because our money was almost gone, and we had no jobs.

But Portland always had a Rose Carnival every year in June, and there was a christian coffee house ministry there called the Jubilee coffee house. Marilyn & I went there every day for the next three weeks. Witnessing to people who walked by.

We would be there for hours every day! But I would also spend about six hours a day in the prayer closet at home, because I was desperate those 3 weeks, because I knew we had to find a place by July 1st with no money!

One day Marilyn was witnessing to a man named Gary, who walked by the Jubilee Coffee house. I joined her as we prayed with him, and then told him to stop by our house some day! (Not really expecting him to!)

It about two days before July 1st our money was completely gone. We had no food in the house! No Bread! Nothing! Not even butter! We did have one bag of beans. We had to be out in two days!

Also! Another thing! Marilyn's parents also called the first week in June, and said they were coming to visit July 1st! These were the people I told that I would take care of their daughter!

But they were due in town the same day we would have to move out into the street! Do you understand why I spent 6 hours a day in the prayer closet those 3 weeks? I was desperate as I could be!

But then two days before the first of July we were moving our furniture around, and packing our stuff! It was very hot, about 100 degrees! We lived in an upstairs attack apartment with no air conditioner or fan.

So we were miserably hot, and the pressure was severe! Marilyn started to get crabby! (I didn't blame her!) Then I strained a muscle in my back moving the hideaway couch, just to make things worse!

It was then we heard some footsteps of someone coming up the stairs! There was a knock at the door! It was that Gary we witnessed to at the coffee house a few weeks before! (The one we never expected to see again!)

I told him to excuse us, and explained the situation. He then told us he would give us a hundred dollars, if we drove him to Salem, Oregon, which was about 50 miles away! But I told him we had no gas in the car!

He told us he would fill the tank, and we weren't in the position to say no! So we drove him to Salem, and we came back with a half tank of gas left, and $100.00. So the next day we drove all over the Portland area looking for an apartment!

But all the apartments were charging $125.00 a month then, and we couldn't find one for $100.00 a month! So about 4:O'Clock that afternoon I gave up! I told Marilyn let's go home! I just gave up!

I no longer said those words, when I started to black out! I was only 23 years old. I never blacked out before then! I never blacked out since. (It was the Lord!) The Lord always comes through, when we can do no more!

I quickly pulled the car to the side of the road, and told Marilyn she had to drive, because I was starting to black out! Marilyn slowly drove back to the road, when we seen a small sign that said $97.50)

You See! The traffic flowed at 50 miles an hour on that road! We would have missed that sign, if I wouldn't have blacked out.  I believe the Lord caused me to black out so we would see the sign. (Perhaps I was being slain in the Spirit.)

It was a nice apartment for $97.50, with a big bay window where we could see a beautiful valley. We took the apartment for $97.50 one day before July 1st. June 30th 1973. ( But that's not all!)

I still didn’t have any money to haul the furniture with! The landlord also told us he wanted a $20.00 cleaning deposit when we moved in the next day.(Which we didn't have) I also had a strained muscle in by back! (I thought about the hideaway couch!)

But we had a Christian friend who lived next door, who once drove a semi truck moving furniture! I reasoned he would help me, but could I help him with the strained muscle in my back? (God had it covered!)

We drove home! Told are Christian friends next door we found an apartment! The Pastor from their church was visiting them, when we told them. The Pastor told us we could use the church truck the next day! (July 1st!)

So my friend Frank & I went to the church the next morning to pick up the truck. The church was completely empty, except for the person who handed us the keys to the truck! He was only there to give us the keys.

But when Frank & I were crossing the street, then I started thinking about the hideaway couch & my strained muscle! It was at that very second, when we heard a voice cry out behind us.

It was a muscle bound black man, who seemed to come out of no-where! The church was empty behind us, and there was no one was in sight, when we walked out! This man came out of no-where!

He asked if we were moving! I said yes, but I wondered how he knew that! He then asked if we needed any help! I said yes, but I haven't any money to pay you! He said I'll help you! (He Did!)

With his help, we had the furniture all moved, and the apartment all set up by 11:00 O’clock that morning! This black man said a strange thing when we dropped him off! He pointed out a house and said "I'm needed at that house now!

Do you remember the $20.00 cleaning deposit we needed? The Landlord said a strange thing when we first arrived with the furniture! He said he never did this before in 20 years as an apartment manager there, but he said we looked like nice kids, so if we promised to clean the apartment when we moved some day, then we wouldn't have to pay a deposit.  I never had to say a word! He never knew we didn't have it anyway.

We had the apartment completely set up by 11:O'Clock A.M!  My in-laws arrived in town 1:00 O’clock that afternoon. My in-laws never knew about our troubles then, because we never told them.

We also had food, because Marilyn & I applied for food stamps a few days before that! So the Lord didn't have to supply food! But it seemed like he supplied everything else. (That black man is still a mystery in my mind!)

I never had to ask anyone for anything through it all! It was Gary's idea to give us $100.00! It was the Pastor's idea to loan us the truck, who just happened to be visiting Frank that day!

It was the new Landlord's idea to dismiss the $20.00 cleaning deposit, who never did it before in 20 years as a manager, and without me saying a word! The first & only time I ever blacked out my whole life!

But I did do something through it! I spent 6 hours a day in the prayer closet for 3 weeks before, because I had faith in God, and I knew he was my only hope. I have prayed, and God has answered my prayers!

Marilyn soon had a job with the telephone company! I took a few Accounting classes at a Business College, and did some bookkeeping for a Security Guard Company. My first daughter Angela was conceived in that apartment, but the Landlord didn't allow kids there, so we rented a small house in August of 1974, and Angela was born in February 1975.

That was also a miracle, because Marilyn had a hard time getting pregnant, because of a tipped uterus. So Marilyn prayed about it, and we also kept praising the Lord every night, and it was during that praise, when Marilyn conceived!

But I was so happy to be a father! I would come home from work, and rock Angela in the rocking chair, until I laid her in the crib at night! I then would take these colored plastic cups in her crib, and shine a flashlight into them, as I turned off the lights!

Pretty colored lights would flicker all over the wall. Angela would lay there for hours watching those lights, then she would fall asleep, and I would go to bed. I was living my childhood dream.

Shattered Dreams

More answered prayers will follow after more history here.

It’s true that the Lord was answering my prayers, but I wasn’t giving him glory for it then, because I was young, foolish, and very ignorant of God’s ways and His Word then. I was always into my own emotional and physical needs, so I couldn’t discern or be sensitive to the needs of another heart including God’s own heart.

I believed in God, and I read the Bible, but I was always debating various Christians about trival issues which had nothing to do with salvation. I also had a lot of anger from my childhood after being abused as I was growing up, so my anger would show as I argued in my debates with other Christians. It troubled Marilyn’s heart greatly because we couldn’t visit church events or Christians without me getting into some sort of senseless argument of one kind or another. (I remember many times when Marilyn would be embarrassed and ashamed of my behavior around other Christians.)

I also didn’t have many skills then or much education, so properly providing for us was extremely hard for me, and Marilyn always earned more money with the telephone company than I did. I also stopped praying after a while, and became distant from the Lord. So eventually my relationship with Marilyn was damaged beyond repair. (1978 Marilyn filed for divorce.)

I wrote an article to men on this website titled "God’s Precious Gift Of Womanhood". I wish all young husbands could read it, because I was very ignorant when I was young, so I didn’t understand the things I do now about how to treat women. (I must have wondered a thousand times: What if I would have understood those things when I was young, would it had made a difference and saved my marriage?) I know in my heart that things would have turned out different, if only I could have read my own article about womanhood. Ironically: It was Marilyn who shared a Christian Book with me, that gave the analogy of the huge hotel relating to a man’s relationship with his family, but you’ll have to read my article about womanhood to understand what it was about. (It’s just that I didn’t understand the analogy back then, but I sure do get it now! But I had to go through 20 painful years to understand!)

So Marilyn and I went through a very painful and bitter divorce. It led to 20 years of bitterness in my heart, and I couldn’t go to church because of painful memories of Marilyn in church. (It hurt real bad.) My childhood dream was shattered through divorce, when I couldn’t be with my daughters as they were growing up, which was the root cause of my bitterness. (But the Lord would pull my bitterness out by it’s roots in 1998, and he used my own daughter to do it. I’ll be sharing that story a little later.

But I spent the next several years separated from the church, and perhaps God Himself. I was bitter at Marilyn! I was bitter at the system!  I was bitter at life, and bitter at God Himself for all the emotional pain in my life. (I guess I blamed everyone but myself!)

The Bible says we will reap what we sow, because bad seeds produce bad fruit, and good seeds produce good fruit.  All my constant arguments with Marilyn and the church produced bad fruit in Marilyn and myself. (Marilyn’s own words were: I caused her to fall from grace.) It was my actions that caused our divorce, yet I blamed her, life, and God for it.

Here is one little tiny answered prayer in the midst of 20 years of bitterness, just to show that God was there through it all. He never left me for a moment, because He’s faithful, but I had left Him through anger and bitterness. But it was about 1989: I had been separated from God and the church over ten years, after Marilyn filed for divorce in 1978.

I couldn’t feel God anymore! I couldn’t feel love anymore either! I couldn’t feel anything! I felt completely separated from every Christian I ever knew. Most people I was around were drunks, who knew nothing about God. I didn’t drink, but I was just around people who did.

I felt so separated from God, that I could actually feel evil all around me, just like it was surrounding me. I was miserably unhappy, because I would remember the joy and thrill I once felt with the Lord, but I couldn’t feel it then. So I started questioning my faith in God, and started reasoning if He even existed. I almost became an atheist, but there was only one reason that kept me from becoming an atheist then. (I had prayed and God had answered my prayers.) I couldn't reason that away, because I knew God had answered my prayers before beyond any shadow of doubt, so it was just something I couldn’t deny.

So I decided to pray again, but I was skeptical trying to reach God this time because I felt so separated from Him. But I remembered something an old Christian friend of mine once said: "Jeff, if you’re ever in a place where you can’t feel anything for God, then come to God with what you have, and God will meet you where you’re at."

So I did just that: I was walking down the street one night, and here’s what I prayed to God: "Lord, I don’t love you tonight, because I can’t feel love. In fact Lord! I even question your existence, but I have these memories of you answering my prayers before, so I pray to you now hoping you might hear my prayer once again. But all I can come to you with is an intellectual memory of you Lord, because my heart has been far apart from you and love. But Lord! It’s just that I can’t stand the evil I feel all around me, and I just want to feel your love which I once felt before, etc."

That was the first part of my prayer as I was walking down the street, but here is the last part of my prayer that night: "Lord, I still don’t feel you, so can you give me just a little sign, so I will know you’re even hearing my prayer, so I’ll know you haven’t turned your back on me. Just a little sign Lord."

I only walked one city block after asking God to give me a sign. (About two minutes afterwards.) It was on the very next intersection, when a car came around the bend, and then came to the intersection I was approaching. The car squealed, as the driver slammed on the brakes, and did a fish tale swing in that intersection. (Like spin the bottle.) I thought the car was going to hit me, as the driver slammed on the brakes.

Then the car door opened, and the driver got out. He ran right up to me and he said these words: "The Lord just told me to give this to you, that’s why I stopped so suddenly like that."

 It was just a little Gospel Tract he gave me. But it was all I needed, because I only asked God for a little sign, that he was hearing my prayers. I then walked around the bend in the road, and I noticed a secluded area where I again prayed to the Lord. It was there when the Holy Spirit fell upon me as I praised the Lord for a few hours, and I felt His Spirit more than I had in over ten years. (Just like I did before.)

But that was only half of the story, because the Gospel Tract had the name of a new church that just opened up stamped on the back of it. I called the church the next day, and I learned that an old Pastor friend of mine from 1976 was Pasturing the church. It was a Pastor Friend, who had been in India for the last several years before then, and I didn’t even know he was back. (I had really missed him a lot.)

So I reunited with my old Pastor friend the next day, and he had some very interesting things to say about that Gospel tract, car, and driver. Here is his words that he said the next day: "Jeff, I have only been back from India a few weeks, and I just started this church. I know every Gospel tract from this church, and that Gospel trac isn’t one of them. Also! There’s less than ten members of this church, and I know all of them, and not one member of this church even closely resembles the description you gave me of that driver, who gave you this Gospel tract, and I also know every car that’s ever been in this church parking lot, and no car matches the description of the car that swerved in the middle of that intersection last night."

Here’s the thing about that: The Car! The Driver! The Gospel tract! A mystery to this day! I just asked the Lord for a little sign, and received a mystery I still can’t solve to this day, and I received it within three minutes of the prayer. It might seem like a little thing, yet so big and important to my heart at the time. (1989)

My prayer tonight as I write this is, that the Lord will touch all who read it. I pray the believer with faith will have even more faith in prayer. I pray the skeptic who reads this will be less skeptical of prayer. It might not be enough to convert a skeptic, but I know a skeptic will never convince me that God hasn’t answered my prayers because I know God has. To the skeptic I say: "Keep reading in Part Three, because more answered prayers to follow. Click on the banner to Read Part Three of my Personal Testimony & Answered Prayers