RON ARCHER: HOPE and HEALING for the “TRICK” BABY

If anyone had a need for hope and healing, it was Ron Archer. Below is his memorable and moving testimony shared in a blog of The Gideons International in 2013. Surely you’ll agree that if there was hope for him, then there’s hope for you, too.

“At the age of ten, living in the ghetto in Cleveland, Ohio, I held a gun to my head. I was ready to fire a bullet and end my life.

Fortunately for me, the gun had a hidden safety feature that I did not know about. The gun would not fire.

Why would a ten-year-old boy want to die? The age of ten should be filled with dreams of becoming a football player, an astronaut, an explorer, or a movie star.

I just wanted to die. But God had another plan.

My grandmother was an immigrant from Germany. And my grandfather was an immigrant from Cuba. It was in Cleveland, Ohio, where they met and married. They had three boys and four girls.

Through a series of events, including a fight, my grandfather was convicted of attempted murder and was sentenced to prison. When the story of his crime hit the newspapers, my grandmother lost her job. Being a strong German mother, she began to work odd jobs, such as cleaning bathrooms to support her seven children. But soon she lost her health and was unable to work. She had five operations, which left her maimed and deeply depressed. The family lost everything and was thrown into the streets.

My mother was the oldest of their children. She was stunning in appearance and was often told she looked like Elizabeth Taylor. A pimp in the community heard of her and offered my mother money just to have dinner with his male clients.

Eventually this led to her performing other favors for these clients, and at the age of 14 my mother became a professional call girl. Her three brothers had become heroin addicts and joined a gang called “The Devil’s Disciples.”

With a father in prison, a mother in ailing health and no place to call “home,” the children’s lives were becoming unraveled. They fell prey to prostitution, drugs, and violence.

At age 16, as a hardened call girl, my mom became pregnant with a baby conceived with one of her “tricks,” as they were called. Her pimp made it clear there was no time to have a baby, because it would get in the way of his making money from her.

After several abortion attempts my mother eventually gave birth. Born prematurely with no pancreas, under-developed lungs and other physical deformities, the baby was not wanted and almost died of pneumonia.

That unwanted baby was me.

When I began school I was diagnosed with learning disabilities. I was a severe stutterer. I often saw my mom beaten by her clients. Many times they would beat me as well.

By the age of ten I wanted to die.

In 1973 my life changed when my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Spears, volunteered to be my speech coach. She was a kind Christian lady who had no children. She gave me a Bible. As part of my speech therapy, I would read the Bible aloud into a tape recorder. I have since learned that this Bible was a hotel Bible that had been placed by The Gideons International.

Until then I had never held a Bible in my hand.

I read this Bible every day for a full year. I read about a stutterer named Moses, whom God used to bring people out of bondage. I read about a young shepherd boy who beat Goliath with a slingshot and a stone.

I began to understand from the reading of my Gideon Bible that God uses those who have been wounded very deeply. I began to understand that life can be a mess, but with His help it can become a message.

I became a scholar, student body president, and a young pastor. With that same Gideon Bible I preached messages of hope and healing that led my mother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, and other relatives to Christ through my church.

Today with that same Gideon Bible the Lord has helped me plant churches, preach revivals, author five books, host TV programs, advise world leaders and lead peace-keeping efforts in Africa and India. Hundreds of thousands have heard the gospel message because of that one Bible.

May God bless The Gideons International through the continued placement of His Word.

Yes, I was born a “trick baby.” But through that one Gideon Bible, the real trick was on the devil.”

(Bishop Ron Archer)

Through the ministry and Bible distributions of The Gideons International, many individuals around our planet find hope. Want to have a part? Consider this… one hundred percent of donations to this organization purchases Bibles that are shared free of charge to recipients.

PRAYER: NEW HEART… NEW HOPE… NEW FUTURE

Dear Lord, You know I’ve prayed for her… for her grandparents… for her mother… for her children… for her to have a future and a hope. I realize You love her and patiently waited for her. You created her, knew her so well… knew even the number of hairs on her head. You saw her pain… and the pain of those who love her.

You understood her need for Your redemption… for Your power to change her direction… for Your joy in her life… for Your wisdom to trust You… for Your peace that passes all understanding… for Your faithfulness… even when she felt hopeless.

The dark night was real, but Your Word says joy comes in the morning! Tuesday morning brought that joy when she called her grandmother from rehab. It was the call long awaited. She at last had reached the end of herself… and the beginning of new life in Christ!

May she choose to be filled daily with Your Spirit… to find strength in Your joy… to walk in Your Way, Truth, and Life. May she experience Your hope… to pray, to grow, to share Your love. May she model godliness… as a woman… mother… daughter… granddaughter… friend….

Thank You, Lord, for the miracle of a new heart… a new hope… and a new future. Amen.

(The above prayer was inspired by true events in the life of a real person. Her recent decision brings hope to me, so I’m sharing.)

MIZE FAMILY: MORNING of HOPE

The book NIGHT OF ANGUISH; MORNING OF HOPE by Jean Mize relates a powerful true story. I can’t imagine anyone reading it without being deeply moved. It is an unforgettable story that goes from deep unimaginable grief to unexpected, amazing hope.

I remember hearing news reports when the Mize family’s night of anguish began. My heart went out to them. I am thankful that I later learned that they experienced a morning of hope.

Amazon’s review relates the following….

“Does a Christian live through heart-rending personal tragedy without becoming bitter or defeated? NIGHT of ANGUISH, MORNING of HOPE… the true story of 12-year-old Dana Diane Mize… abducted from her hometown, taken to an isolated area, and murdered. Despite the horror of the circumstances, the reader cannot help but join Dana’s mother in praise to God for His grace and comfort during the family’s healing process.

Dana’s parents, two brothers and a sister were shown through faith God’s sustaining power and His ability to bring good out of evil. They have learned that understanding is not demonstrated by comprehension of circumstances but by commitment to and communion with God.

This is a true story of compassion, faith and forgiveness that can encourage everyone in whatever trial they are experiencing.” (from Amazon’s Review)

The Mize family experienced hope and faith to endure… to forgive… to see God’s glory in the darkest times. What a blessing it is for us to see that after a night of anguish, God can bring a morning of hope!

MISTER ROGERS: HOPE to LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS

There’s a documentary by Morgan Neville about Fred Rogers entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”….

“In 15 years of reviewing films professionally, I can’t recall ever having heard as many sniffles and sobs as I did when “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”  played to a packed house at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.” (From Kenneth Morefield’s article, “Love Thy Neighbor as Mister Rogers Did,” in Christianity Today, June 7,2018)

I understand this display of emotions felt by many when they recalled Fred Rogers. My own life has been richer, because I believed him when he told us, “You are my friend! You are special!” Memories of Mister Rogers inevitably include his kindness, his love, his gentleness, and his acceptance of others who were his neighbors.

The special thing about Mister Rogers was that everyone was his neighbor. He intentionally taught children (and reminded adults) valuable traits to help us all live on this planet as neighborly as possible.

For more than 30 years Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was more than an educational environment on television; it was a safe haven where children felt loved, accepted, and well… special. It was a place where hope to love our neighbor overflowed as from a wellspring.

Mister Rogers was the epitome of a good neighbor, and I am thankful for him, his life lessons, and his example. In today’s neighborhoods called “the real world” we need more like Mister Rogers and more of his hope to truly love our neighbors.

Was this man in his casual sweater and comfortable shoes extraordinary? Perhaps he was an ordinary man who simply trusted and obeyed the words of Jesus: “… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

HONEY PIES: HOPE THAT’S SWEET AS HONEY

Sharon had a dream to bake pies to share with family and friends. Lance had a love for her pies and a vision for a business featuring pies made by hand with the finest available local ingredients. Today a mixture of hope and opportunity are resulting in a sweeter central Arkansas one pie at a time.

Honey Pies Bakery in Little Rock is experiencing the taste of sweet success. Hard work and quality ingredients are blending well to create the winning recipe for continued success. Of course, it helps to have capable hands in any mixture, and Honey Pies is fortunate to have Executive Chef Anne, one the best pastry chefs in the state.

Honey Pies received Arkansas Times Readers Choice Awards in 2017 that included Winner for Best New Restaurant, Winner for Best Pie, Winner for Best Desserts, and Finalist for Best Bakery.

Awards already in 2018 are Arkansas Times Readers Choice Awards: Winner for Best Pie, Winner for Best Desserts, and Finalist for Best Bakery.

Honey Pies is also featured in both a 2018 documentary and a book. “Make Room for Pie” is the title of both the documentary by Arkansas Educational Television Network and the book by Kat Robinson.

With this success has come intentional actions by the owners, Lance and Sharon Woodson, to give back. For every cup of coffee sold, they donate one meal for a hungry Arkansan.

After thoughtful investigation into numerous coffees the owners added Leiva coffee to the menu. Leiva means more than just delicious coffee; portions of profits help meet economic and educational needs in rural Guatemala.

When in Little Rock visit Honey Pies for breakfast or lunch, award-winning pie and coffee with a cause. While there you might also grab a taste of hope that’s sweet as honey!

DON MOEN: HOPE THAT GOD WILL MAKE A WAY

Don and Laura Moen shared hope for a child for years before their first child’s birth. Don has shared their story: “We waited for 12 years before we had our first child. Doctors said we couldn’t have children, but God gave us 5 at the end, a daughter then a son, a daughter then a son, and then a daughter. Men had given up on us, but at the end God gave us five children in 7 years.”

Don Moen is an internationally acclaimed Christian singer, songwriter, pastor, musician, worship music producer, Winner of 6 Dove awards. Of the hundreds of Christian songs he has written and shared all over the planet, I can name my favorite.

I remember first hearing “God will Make a Way” in 1994 when I needed it. It is special to me, because its message was proven true in my personal life. If your situation is difficult or seems hopeless, trust that God will make a way for you.

DON MOEN: HOPE WHERE THERE SEEMS TO BE NO WAY

“GOD WILL MAKE A WAY” is a song by Don Moen that I love, because it offers real hope.

“God will make a way Where there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see; He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way.

Oh, God will make a way Where there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see; He will make a way for me.

By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead me, And rivers in the desert will I see.
Heaven and Earth will fade, but His Word will still remain, And He will do something new today.

Oh, God will make a way Where there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see; He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way.

With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.”

(Don Moen)

IF… THEN HOPE: YOU STILL HAVE HOPE

“If you can look at the sunset and smile, then you still have hope.

If you can find beauty in the colors of a small flower, then you still have hope.

If you can find pleasure in the movement of a butterfly, then you still have hope.

If the smile of a child can still warm your heart, then you still have hope.

If you can see the good in other people, then you still have hope.

If the rain beating on a rooftop can still lull you to sleep, then you still have hope.

If the sight of a rainbow still makes you stop and stare in wonder, then you still have hope.

If the soft fur of a favored pet still feels pleasant under your fingertips, then you still have hope.

If you meet new people with a trace of excitement and optimism, then you still have hope.

If you give people the benefit of a doubt, then you still have hope.

If you still offer your hand in friendship to others that have touched your life, then you still have hope.

If receiving an unexpected card or letter still brings a pleasant surprise, then you still have hope.

If the suffering of others still fills you with pain and frustration, then you still have hope.

If you refuse to let a friendship die, or accept that it must end, then you still have hope.

If you look forward to a time or place of quiet and reflection, then you still have hope.

If you still buy the ornaments, put up the Christmas tree or turkey, then you still have hope.

If you still watch love stories or want the endings to be happy, then you still have hope.

If you can look to the past and smile, then you still have hope.

If, when faced with the bad, when told everything is futile, you can still look up and end the conversation with the phrase,’…yeah, BUT…’ then you still have hope.

(Original source unknown)

STREAMS IN THE DESERT: OF HOPE SURRENDERED

“There is a peace that springs soon after sorrow,
Of hope surrendered not of hope fulfilled;
A peace that does not look upon tomorrow,
But calmly on the storm that it has stilled.
A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses,
Nor in the happy life of love secure; But in the unerring strength the heart possesses,
Of conflicts won while learning to endure.” (Lettie Cowman)

Sometimes life seems hopeless during those very hard times when “hope must be surrendered.” I am thankful for a book that truly brings hope and touches my heart as few books have. It is STREAMS in the DESERT by Lettie Burd Cowman (published as Mrs. Charles Cowman).

It was introduced to me in the 1980’s by a friend, and I have been blessed so much by it that I have given copies through the years in hopes of blessing others.

After years of significant missionary work in Japan, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cowman were forced to return home to America due to his major health decline. Charles suffered his physical pain, and Lettie suffered emotional pain as he slowly died. During this time she wrote the daily devotional that came from her personal experiences of both bitter difficulties and sweet fellowship with God.

The source of the book’s title is Isaiah 35:6: “Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Each day’s thought-provoking reading includes an inspiring Bible passage and another author’s uplifting quotation.

This book is a best-seller, was translated in 15 languages, and has been reprinted many times. After all, who doesn’t suffer and need a message of hope that God has purpose even in suffering? Lettie frequently declared that she did not write the book; God gave it. Through STREAMS in the DESERT He has given much hope, and I have been a recipient of hope found within its pages.

I challenge readers, especially those needing hope, to read one of the short daily devotions in this book each day for one year. I think you will agree that this valuable resource is indeed full of hope.

LEIVA STORY: HOPE FOR OPPORTUNITY

Unfortunately we are all aware that sometimes the business world includes harsh realities. However there is one family working passionately to stop the current cycle of exploitation in the coffee business.  Fortunately they are successfully providing opportunity where it is desperately needed. The Leiva (pronounced Lay-vuh) family is all about the land, its families, and reinvesting a portion of all profits into struggling communities of rural Guatemala. They hope to improve quality of life for others and to promote hopes and dreams of future generations.

Coffee lovers can help in this worthwhile endeavor by simply purchasing Leiva coffee. (This blog is not posted as a commercial; I am only sharing info about a real family sharing real hope.) Not only will you be enjoying truly delicious coffee (I can personally attest), but you will help make a difference.

The Leivas’ story began with hope for opportunity. Instead of giving up, they rolled up their sleeves to create the change they hoped to see. We need more people like the Leivas on the planet!

Visit Leivascoffee.com to learn about opportunities to meet educational needs of impoverished Guatemalan children.