I have recently been blessed to receive correspondence from a brother in Christ by the name of Jeff Higdon. Yahweh has led Jeff down an afflicted path for many years, while giving Jeff and his family much grace to endure. As I have read Jeff’s testimony I have found parts of it torturous, making it difficult to read. Other parts have me rejoicing at Yahweh’s faithfulness as God has demonstrated unwavering support to a son who has trusted strongly in Him.
Much of the turmoil in Jeff’s life has come from being raised up under the influence of much doctrinal error, and being subjected to grossly deceptive and self-serving actions from leaders in the United Pentecostal Church. The journey out of Babylon takes various paths for each of God’s sons and daughters.
Jeff is the son of a UPC minister. He grew up subjected to the doctrines of that church. One of these doctrines declares that to be saved a person has to be a member in attendance at a United Pentecostal Church. This produced a false sense of obligation, bondage seems to be an appropriate word. Even as an adult, observing the carnal machinations of godless ministers, Jeff was afraid to leave the church, or the denomination, lest he lose his salvation. Satan has forged many strong bonds to keep the people of God in slavery to Babylon.
As I think of Jeff’s testimony I am reminded of the three Hebrew men who were cast into the furnace of fire by the king of Babylon. The fire did not hurt them. It merely consumed their bonds. When they emerged from the fire they were no longer tied up. Neither were they injured. Yahweh will take many of His sons and daughters through fiery experiences in Babylon. The purpose of God is not malicious, but is intended to set His people free.
There may be some things you find objectionable in Jeff’s testimony. His testimony is one of an imperfect life, battered and scarred, but ever advancing toward ultimate conformity to the image of Christ. It is the human weakness evident in Jeff’s testimony that reveals its authenticity, and which endues it with the ability to encourage and strengthen others who suffer the weakness of this fallen nature.
Those who have read my testimony in the autobiographical book Evidence of Things Unseen, will perceive that I too have been a man beset with many faults. My testimony is as much one of Yahweh’s faithful discipline of a son, as it is the manifestation of His supernatural intervention in the life of one who has looked to God for help.
Jeff’s testimony is one of much heartache and suffering. It is also one of trust in Yahweh, attended by rejoicing at God’s continuous acts of deliverance. Knowing that Yahweh is leading others to similar experiences in these days, I offer these testimonies to the readers of this blog for their instruction and encouragement.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,
I want to thank you for your dedication to the ministry and posting of your journey with God. You have been an inspiration to me in many ways, and I have enjoyed your writings. Some I do not understand yet for I have not had the time, or have not taken the time, to delve into God’s word and try to accurately discern whether they are right or not. Regardless, I have great respect for your humility and style of teaching, whether I agree or not with every little detail of what you say.
I have been on a journey myself, starting out as the son of a United Pentecostal Church minister. I have suffered through sometimes unimaginable abuses at the hands of men who justified themselves in the name of the Lord! It has wreaked havoc in my life, causing my wife to have several nervous breakdowns. To this day she is still on medication for manic depressive disorder. We pray that one day she will be delivered from it.
For many years I believed that the only way that we could be saved was by attending a United Pentecostal Church, so we continued to go to the churches in spite of being despised and rejected, in spite of our kids being taken away by Child Protective Services for a little while due to false allegations that largely came from within the church.
The one thing that carried us through those dark times is the fact that God continued to work in our lives despite what was going on at church. We had far more miracles happen to us personally than I ever saw happen in the church. Through those experiences, our relationship with God was reaffirmed and caused us to hold on tight to him though we did not understand why we were being persecuted in the churches.
We lived in Louisiana for many years and bounced from one abusive church to another, rejected at all of them but not knowing what to do. Eventually, the Lord caused circumstances to come about where our business partner stole from us and we had to sell out to him. The sale agreement included a non-compete clause that I could not work in the same field anywhere in North Louisiana, effectively pushing us out of the area.
We had always said we would move to New Orleans, but when the time came, something came over me. I was convinced that a hurricane was going to hit New Orleans and wipe it out, and I could not move my family there. That was June 15, 2005. We moved to Texas in July, and Katrina hit in August. Thank God for His direction!
I threw myself wholeheartedly into the church work in Central Texas, excited to have a fresh start and convinced that the problems we had experienced in the UPC was regulated to the area we had just left. After 6 months in Texas, the church we were going to asked us to help in a daughter work at a church that was just starting. I threw myself into that work, holding nothing back.
I worked in the church for 5 years. I taught Sunday school, led worship, preached when asked to, ran the church bus every service, taught a weekly bible study in our home, and worked on the church property welding up fences, a pavilion, doing repairs, etc.. It was as much time as a full time job. During this period I also worked two full-time jobs to support my family. I taught industrial cleaning in a prison, and I had a residential carpet cleaning and disaster restoration company. It looked like we were being redeemed after all the years of persecution. We had favor in the community, favor in the churches, and we were making it financially.
However, my credit was (and is) very poor from years of failed businesses and repercussions from some of the things we went through in the churches. The UPC would not license me as a minister due to my poor credit, so I was regulated to just being a lay preacher. I had no problem with that, happy to do whatever I could in the kingdom of God.
When we first started working in the daughter work, the pastor was a brand new preacher and did not get his license until well after the church was under way. He was a good old boy, very well intentioned and totally unlike all the previous pastors we had known. As time went on, and he grew more confident in his ministry, I saw a slow change take place where he slowly started becoming just like what we had left behind in Louisiana. It grieved me greatly and I came to realize that it was a church system that was at fault.
I told my wife that if you took a perfectly good man, plugged him into the church system and ordained him as a preacher, eventually it would spit him out and he would be very similar to all of the ministers with whom we had dealings in the past. When that realization hit, I knew that I did not want to be a part of that system and become what it would eventually make me into.
(Joseph’s Note: In August 2010, Jeff and his family left Texas and the United Pentecostal Church behind. He is now residing with his family in Idaho. He continues to seek the Lord, and to trust God to guide him as Jeff continues to work while looking to the Father to supply every lack.
Having received this preceding correspondence from Jeff, I asked him if he would allow me to post publicly some parts of his testimony. The following are taken from that which this brother in Christ sent to me. I have arranged them in general chronological order, though there is some overlap among the testimonies.)
Arm Fried in Oil
When I was a teenager, I worked a lot of hours. I would often go to high school, get out of school, run part or all of my dad’s 120 mile newspaper route, go to work at Taco Mayo (like Taco Bell) as a cook, then go home and do my homework in the early hours of the morning before starting all over again.
Needless to say, I was pretty busy, and I had a hard time finding time to pray. I worked as a cook so I could be by myself without anyone bothering me, and every night, while I worked, the kitchen became my place of worship.
I would sing praises to the Lord and pray, particularly while I was stirring the beans since that was a little noisy. Sometimes I would feel the Spirit of God come over me as I sang, and I’d get a little loud. More than once the manager had to come back and tell me to quiet down. I looked forward to this time in the evenings because it was my special time with God, even though I didn’t particularly like cooking.
One day I was frying chips in the deep fryer, and grease was popping out everywhere like usual. The floor was real slick under my feet due to all of the grease, and as I went to put in the chips, my feet went out from under me and I plunged my right arm into the boiling grease up to my elbow!
I screamed to the top of my lungs “In the Name of Jesus!” as I pulled it back out. The pain was incredibly intense, and the grease was still boiling on my arm. I flipped my apron over it to absorb the grease and everyone came running to the back to see what happened.
The manager grabbed some first aid spray and pulled the apron back and sprayed my arm. My arm was a dark purplish red color and the pain was still out of this world. I was praying and talking in tongues all at the same time, rocking back and forth. As I prayed, the pain gradually subsided, and my arm returned to normal color.
I had no burn marks, no anything to show what had just happened. Everyone was in disbelief that my arm had gone into the fryer, and explained it away saying it was a good thing I didn’t have the fryer heated up!
I had no explanation for it myself, only I knew I was frying chips, my arm went into the fryer, and I had not got burned. I doubted myself for a long time, not understanding what God had done for me. I thought to myself that perhaps it was somehow possible to stick ones hand in the fryer and not get burned, like the firewalkers that walk on hot coals or something.
Many years later, I knew a lady at church that the same thing happened to, except for her, her skin sloughed all immediately and it took months to heal. It was at that point that I fully realized what God had done for me, and began to tell people about it.
Learning to Appreciate having a Vehicle to Drive
From the time I was 14 till I was 19 I had 42 cars. I bought, traded for, fixed up, and sold cars all of the time. It taught me how to do mechanic work, and as a poor boy, I was able to upgrade a little better and a little better with each sale or trade of a vehicle. After a while, I think I got a little arrogant about how easy it was to get cars and fix them up. Pride goes before a fall!
A few years later I had an old van I was driving. One day, as I was going to church, the van started spitting and sputtering. I got angry and hit the dash with my hand. I said “Lord, I’d just as soon not have a vehicle as to have this piece of junk!” Big mistake!
The next day, I was driving down the interstate and the engine blew, sending a rod through the block. I had my whole family with me, so we got out and started walking. Almost immediately a man stopped and picked us up and gave us a ride home. I walked for close to a year.
After that year, I bought a Chrysler New Yorker. After three weeks, I made the same mistake. The car started giving me problems and I got angry again, even saying I’d rather not have a car than to have a piece of junk like that. Temper, temper! What happened to that van is described later in the testimony titled God sent a Fireman. Back to wearing out shoe leather.
I fixed up another car. Drove it a short time and blew the head. Took months to get the money for a used head, then when I fixed it, it slung a rod out of the block, ruining that engine! Every vehicle I bought or worked on ended up having catastrophic failures. I had lost my Midas touch with cars. Everything I touched broke!
After two years of walking or riding a bicycle, I finally got my hands on an old beat up Dodge van. Actually, I got my hands on three old beat up Dodge vans to be exact. I pulled the engine from one and the transmission from the second and put it into a third body to make one driveable vehicle. This vehicle was far from perfect, but I finally had wheels again.
I learned to be thankful. I continually thanked the Lord for that old junky van. When the floorboard rotted out and the passenger seat fell over, I thanked the Lord. When the dry-rotted seats that remained all ripped, I thanked the Lord. When the tires blew out, I thanked the Lord. When the gas tank rusted through and was un-repairable, I thanked the Lord. (Matter of fact, I strapped a 5 gallon can to the wall inside and put a hose through one of the holes in the floor board, running it to the fuel pump.) That van was ugly and had all kinds of problems, but it kept on going. I finally was able to buy another vehicle, and when I sold that old van, it was still running.
I learned my lesson. In ALL things give thanks! Even though I had talents and abilities, the Lord broke me down to the point my talents and abilities did me no good. He let me walk and walk and walk through the valley of not having a car until I learned my lesson. ALWAYS be thankful! Give thanks in all things!
Finding a Wife
When I was a teenager, I was your typical revved up male looking for a girlfriend, but I did want to be pleasing to God. I dated one girl, and as soon as we started dating, I knew something was wrong. She had an extreme fear of me when alone, but was okay in a crowd. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I decided I needed to show her what a gentleman behaved like since I figured her fear stemmed from someone showing the depravity that the male species can sink to.
We didn’t date long before I found out she had been gang raped, then molested by the father in the home she took refuge in. Her grandmother took her in and told me I wasn’t welcome around anymore, so I just kept her in my prayers and that was the end of that relationship.
The next girl I dated was a different story. If she hadn’t put on the brakes, I would have thrown my morals to the wind. When she broke up with me, I was both heartbroken and relieved. Heartbroken that the relationship ended, but relieved that I hadn’t sinned against the Lord.
After this, I decided I would have to approach dating differently. I did not trust myself to stay pure in a relationship, so I was in a quandary. What was the right way to handle this? All my friends dated, but I didn’t trust myself to date. What should I do? I wanted to keep a clean conscience before God. After praying about it, I realized that even if I found the perfect girl, I wasn’t ready to get married. Why frustrate myself? I decided that I would not date until I was ready to make a full commitment.
From that day when I was 16 years old until I was 20, I did not date. I went from 16 to 20 years old without any hassles. When I was 20, I felt like I was ready to get married. I had been working full time since I was 14 years old, and now I was living on my own. I had a full time job and a part time business doing car head liners.
I prayed and asked the Lord to send me a wife, one that was pleasing to him and was the one that I needed. I told the Lord I wasn’t interested in dating. I wanted to find a wife. I felt like dating was preparation for divorce with the date, break up, date, break up.
About 3 weeks after I prayed this prayer, a terrible hailstorm hit our community. The hailstones were from golf ball size to football size, and many roofs were destroyed and some cars were completely total, the tops smashed in.
At church there was a single mom who had been coming for several months with her little son, and she was a few years older than me. Her car was smashed up pretty bad. The windshield was knocked out and the vinyl top was ripped to shreds. After she got the windshield replaced, I offered to put a vinyl top on at my cost to help her out.
I thought the top would be easy to replace even though I had never done one, but it proved me wrong. I did it at her apartment and it took me three days to finish it. While I was working on her car, she brought me tea and fixed meals for me, and we talked while I worked. When I finished, I invited her to go to a fellowship meeting with me. From the first day I started working on the car till three weeks later, I saw her every day.
On the third week, I stayed after Sunday morning service and prayed all day at the church. I told the Lord that somehow I had allowed myself to fall head over heels for this lady, and I wanted to know whether she was the one or not. I told the Lord that if He showed me she was the one, I would ask her to marry me. If not, I would break up with her.
I prayed and set a fleece before the Lord like Gideon did in the Bible. I told the Lord that if she was the one, then at church service that night I wanted to hear her speak in tongues clearly and receive a blessing she couldn’t contain where she started shouting. Now, I was going to a Pentecostal church so this wasn’t uncommon, but the lady I was dating was extremely shy and I had never seen her do any such thing, so I figured it was something that only the Lord could do.
At church that night, I was excited waiting for her to arrive. Service started, and she wasn’t there. Song service ended, and she still wasn’t there. We had a special singer, and while she was singing, my girlfriend walked in. I was excited. I just knew that the spirit of God would move on her while the singer sang. Nothing happened.
The preacher started preaching, and my heart sank. The service was a dead, lifeless service. I couldn’t feel the spirit of God moving at all, and the preacher struggled through his sermon. I kept hoping that perhaps when he gave an altar call, which he always did, then there would be a move of God, and I would see the Lord touch my girlfriend. It was not to be. The preacher got lost on making his point, and finally gave up. No altar call, he just said “You are all dismissed in the fear of the Lord.”
Everyone got up and was greeting each other and saying their goodbyes. I looked back at my girlfriend, and she was sitting there with a blank look on her face. I bowed my head and started praying. I told the Lord I was serious about the fleece I had set before him, so please give me words to say to my girlfriend to break up with her, and to please send her a good husband that would love her and her little son.
While I was still praying, I heard a commotion behind me in the middle of the church where she was sitting. She suddenly jumped to her feet and began shouting and praising God to the top of her lungs, then began speaking in tongues fluently. I was startled and amazed when I realized I understood some of what she was saying. I had French lessons in high school, and she was speaking in French (which she didn’t know a thing about). She was saying in French, “I love you Jesus,” “Jesus you are my Lord,” “I praise you Jesus,” and on and on.
I leaped to my feet and began to praise the Lord for hearing my prayer and answering in such a dramatic way. A few minutes later, my girlfriend was able to talk in English again, and she started laughing. She said “What just happened? I wasn’t thinking anything or doing anything, and suddenly I just got hit by the Spirit of God!”
I asked her to marry me shortly after that, and we were married on November 24, 1989, just 3 months after we met. Our marriage hasn’t always been perfect, but we have always clung to the fact that God put us together, so who were we to put an end to what God began? Sometimes in a marriage your heart goes pitter patter and you feel that strong love for each other so you walk together, and other times you continue walking together out of commitment. The key is to keep on walking. If your spouse is still breathing, God can still bless your marriage.
There have been times in the past, going through the trials we went through, that it seemed our marriage might be dead, but we kept on, and today our marriage is the stronger for the winds of adversity that have come our way.
Trials like Job’s
We once went to a toxic church where the pastor was a tyrant and dictator. The church was full of people in the middle to upper income bracket, but we were poor, living in a small trailer house. The pastor ordered me to sell the trailer and land we had because he said it was not God’s will for his people to live in mobile homes. Our trailer was small and we only had a 1/4 acre of land, but our note was only $100 per month. Our income at the time was less than a $1000 per month, and we were able to pay all of our bills on that. After being publicly shamed for having so little faith in God by living in a trailer, I being a good sheeple went and bought a house with a note of $1000 per month. Yes, my note was the same as my income, but I had faith!
Miraculously, my income did go up drastically. (Maybe it had something to do with the sheer raw fear I had running through my veins as I worked in my business.) For over 1 1/2 years I paid the note on time. Often my lights would get cut off, or water, or some other bill would go unpaid, but I did pay the note. This was an owner financed house.
After that time, the man financing the house had a massive heart attack and was unconscious in a coma. His daughter had power of attorney if he was unconscious, so she flew straight from Colorado to Louisiana to steal as much as she could before he came back to. We were living in one of 42 houses he had owner financed. There were some things we had changed shortly before he had the heart attack, but we had done the changes verbally. According to the paper work, we owed almost $3000. As soon as the daughter came in to town, I immediately went to her and discussed everything that her dad and I had done. I showed her all the paper work we had along with what we had paid, and I told her of the verbal agreement we had which I had no documentation for.
I was very open about the whole deal. I had prayed about it, and I determined that whatever she decided would be fine. If she kept to the verbal agreement we had, then I would go with that. If she didn’t believe me and wanted us to move, I was okay with that also. The daughter said she was fine with the arrangements her father and I had made, so don’t worry about it.
A few days later, my wife called and said a sheriff had delivered an eviction notice to us. I immediately got the notice and took it to the daughter to discuss it. I told her that if she wanted us to move, we would move. She laughed and said, “I’m sorry, I sent that by mistake. Don’t worry about it, just stick to the agreement we had.” So, I was quite relieved and went about my business.
3 weeks later, it was time to go to court according to the eviction notice. I told my wife that even though everything was okay, I’d better go to court just to make sure. I went to the courthouse, and as I walked in, the daughter was walking in also. When she saw me, first she registered extreme shock that I was there, and then her face twisted in hate. She told me that she was going to get me. She was going to destroy me and my family. She was going to make sure that my kids were taken away. She even said that my wife was just like Andrea Yates (The lady in Houston who drowned her kids in the bathtub, which had just occurred two months earlier).
I was in total shock. I had no idea what this meant or the reason for the sudden hatred and the Andrea Yates accusation. I went in to the courtroom, and my case was the first one on the document. When the judge asked for an explanation of why I had not paid the $3000 according to the terms in the contract, I explained the agreement between the father and I and also the agreement between the daughter and I. The daughter was yelling at me while I was talking and the judge had to threaten her to keep her quiet.
The judge was very nice to me, but told me that in today’s society everything has to be written down and notarized. Unfortunately, I had been served proper notice according to the eviction delivered by the sheriff, and I had 3 days to move out. I walked out of the courtroom stunned. The daughter was following me yelling at me, and I had no idea what to do. Right at that moment I was broke, not a penny to my name. All of my money was tied up in cleaning contracts that I had crews working on.
This was the beginning of a long nightmare for my family and I, and a time where the Lord showed himself strong in our lives. I had to go home and break the news to my family. We had a storage building rented for our business, so as fast as we could, we moved everything possible into the storage building. I packed it from the top to bottom front to back. Also at the same time this happened, we discovered that my wife and five girls all had lice! Anyone who has ever had to deal with lice in long hair knows the nightmare that can be.
At the end of three days, we weren’t through moving, and we had no place to put anything else. The locks were changed, we were barred from entering the property, and the remainder of our stuff was hauled to the landfill. This included a good portion of our furniture and some of my equipment and tools I used to make a living. We were homeless. It happened so fast, my head was in a whirl.
During those three days, I still had a business to run that was very much dependent on me being there with deadlines fast approaching on the contracts, we did not have money, and we had to find a place to live. I had gone to the pastor immediately and told him of our situation. He was very rough with me in his demeanor, but said he would help. No one from the church helped with the moving, but at the end of three days someone offered to put us up in their home. The only problem with that were the lice…..! We started focusing on taking care of the lice problem. We got them all killed (we used tea tree oil), and after a few days there were no more.
During this time, an employee who wasn’t supervised well enough (For some reason I was a little preoccupied with other things) over wet a carpet in a school we were cleaning, and I had threats of a lawsuit from the school. That end up costing me $5000. (The Lord gave it back, I’ve written that in another testimony). After a few days, the owner of the local Holiday Inn heard about our problem and let us stay there for three weeks at no charge.
The pastor brought us in and talked to us. He said that people in the church could let us stay with them, but that our family was too big to stay with one family in the church, so therefore he would split us up among four houses. I had no idea there was an ulterior motive here, but I felt I had no choice so we agreed.
As soon as our kids were split up among church people’s houses, the pastor called me in and said we need to go to the local child protection services office and talk to them. I immediately thought, Oh no, they’ve learned about the lice my kids had and someone reported it. My wife and I went to the office and we were each interviewed separately. The first thing they asked me was if I had ever molested my girls! They also wanted to know about why my wife had tried to drown the kids in the bathtub.
I almost didn’t know what to say. I thought we were being called in over being homeless or perhaps the fact that the kids had got lice (which we had already cleared up). The first thing that went through my mind was that perhaps someone had molested one of my girls and I was somehow accused of it. The thought of something like that being done to one of my children made me physically ill to even think of. When I was asked about the attempted drowning though, I immediately remembered the threat of my kids being taken away and the accusation that my wife was like Andrea Yates. I refuted all of the accusations as there was absolutely no truth to them. They would not tell me who had reported us, and said that we could only visit our children supervised.
When my wife and I walked out of the office, we were both in shock. I had lost all body temperature and went stone cold. My wife’s monthly cycle stopped, and her hair started falling out. Her hair was past her waist, but within a few weeks it was only to her shoulders. This experience had to be the absolute worst thing I have ever gone through in my whole life. I have been through many things, but the loss of my children was the most devastating blow I have ever had.
We went back to the pastor to talk to him, and he told us CPS had put him in charge of our children. From that point on, he started ordering us to do all kinds of things, and every order he gave was “If you don’t do this, I’ll make sure you never see your children again.” I felt as if a gun was held to my head. I immediately complied with anything I was told to do.
I was ordered to immediately turn over all of my finances to the pastor. He told me I was a terrible father, a terrible husband, and that I wasn’t fit to be either. He also said that people in the church had corroborated the charges against us! I turned over all of my money to a man in the church who was to manage it for me. The man in charge of our money sat down with me and told me I didn’t bring him enough. He couldn’t pay all my bills with the money I had given him. I told him I had given every penny I had made to him. He also gave me a stern lecture about working too many hours. He said I was going to have to cut the number of hours I worked, and I was going to have to bring him more money! It was a no win situation!
My wife and I had to go to parenting classes. We visited our children and had to deal with the church people whose homes they were in being very hostile towards us. As we are going through this, the people in the church took it upon themselves to contact all of the kid’s teachers and tell them that my wife was crazy (bathtub scenario) and that I was a child molester. They also contacted all of the people I did business with and told them the same thing.
One by one, I started losing customers. I was contacted by a former boss who had a meeting with me to discuss whether I had molested my children or not. He had known me long enough to know my character, but there was still a small question mark in his mind.
The ruining of my reputation led to the demise of my business over the next year. Do you know how fast a bad rumor runs in a small town?
While all of this is going on, I am getting regular chewing outs from the pastor. At one point he ordered me to leave my wife or I would never see my children again! He also told me that if I ever told anyone that he had said that, he would tell them that I was I liar!
My girls were sent to a pediatrician and subjected to a pelvic exam. They also went through interrogation and counseling trying to find out if the charges against us were true.
I was so extremely stressed during this time, I didn’t know what to do. I prayed, I worked as hard and fast as I could, I tried to please everybody so that I could keep my kids. Remember also that I had a potential lawsuit from my business.
There were two times during all of this that I almost snapped. One time I came up on an intersection where the woman (who had done the initial accusations) was driving through. I stomped on the accelerator. I was going to nail her to the telephone pole on the opposite side and kill her. At the same time I stomped on the brake, screaming NOOOOO! I had both the accelerator and the brake to the floor. In my anger I wanted to kill her, but I knew the Lord would not be pleased with that. The other time I almost snapped was after the pastor ordered me to leave my wife or lose my children. I had a very strong urge to take my .22 rifle and shoot him. The Lord helped me through that also.
I’m just being honest here. One does not really know how they will react until they are in a situation where your back is against the wall. Even though the Lord has seen me through many trials doesn’t mean that I am always a spiritual giant full of faith. Sometimes the flesh wants to take over.
At this point, we still did not have a place to stay, the kids were still in other people’s homes, and we were being told we probably won’t get them back, my reputation in the community has been ruined, and the whole church has wholeheartedly turned against us. We can count on one hand the number of people we know who will still speak civilly with us, and still have fingers left over. We were actively looking for a place to live. We had more income coming in now due to many of the jobs I had done in the summer were paying their bills, but 100% of it was going to the church to be doled out to us as needed. (Remember the gun to my head, “If you don’t you won’t see your kids again.”)
The pastor called me into the office and told me He had found a place for us to live, a four bedroom duplex. I was to go by the housing authority office and pay all the deposits and start moving in. I went to the housing office, got the key and took my wife to look at the place. When I got there, red flags went up immediately. This is during the day on a work week, and there were people everywhere milling around on the streets and we were the only white people in sight. I am not racist at all, but I could feel the hate coming from the people who saw us.
I asked around and found out there were a lot of burglaries, rapes, and shootings in the neighborhood. I went back and told the pastor I would have to find another place because it wasn’t safe for my wife and kids in that area. He immediately exploded into a rage, shouting at me. He told me I had better take that money and go do as he said or I would never see my kids again. I went back to the housing authority and rented the 4 bedroom duplex. I decided that the Lord could keep us safe, but if I didn’t get my kids back first, safety wasn’t even an issue anyway.
My wife and I started moving everything in, setting up housekeeping. After a few days, the pastor called me into the office again. He started shouting at me again, asking me what in the world was I doing putting the lives of my family in danger by renting a place in the middle of the worst area of town. What kind of father was I anyway? He said he could see why I had lost the kids. He wouldn’t hear any of my protest that HE was the one who had made me rent it! He told me to go get my money back, the church had rented me a two bedroom apartment and we were to move into it right now. He had previously rejected the idea of renting a two bedroom place because he said CPS would not allow the kids to come home if we didn’t have separate bedrooms for the boys and girls.
I tried to get the $1000 back from the housing authority, but the money could not be refunded. We moved into the two bedroom apartment.
I do not know the pastors motivation for reversing what he had said about the 4 bedroom apartment, but by this time I realized I needed to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove in my dealings with him. He held the key to my children’s future, so I had to walk on eggshells with him, but at the same time I had to figure a way around him.
While praying about the situation, I realized that I had money owed to me that the pastor and people involved in the case did not know about. Instead of waiting for it to be mailed and risk being detected, I went directly to the people that owed me and picked up the checks. I then took those checks to their bank and cashed them so they wouldn’t show up in my online banking account.
Over the course of a few weeks, I was able to collect $700 over and above what the pastor and church people involved knew about. At this point we were 3 1/2 months into the ordeal. I forgot to mention that my wife had to be hospitalized for stress for three weeks during this time. Also, concerning the carpets my employee had messed up and we had to correct, the threat of a lawsuit was dropped when I agreed to knock $5000 off of the bill that was owed to me (most of my profit for that contract). During this time I had also blown the motor in my carpet cleaning van and didn’t have the money to have it rebuilt, so that was one more thing added to the mix.
Things were looking pretty bleak concerning our kids. We kept praying, but we weren’t hearing anything back from CPS concerning the investigation. The only things we were hearing were being told to us by our pastor, and it didn’t look good. But, we did have a place to stay, we had food to eat, we were able to pay all of our bills at the time. Also someone gave us a good deal on a used car so we once again had transportation. I had come to accept the loss of my reputation. The stress level had come down a notch except for the extreme ache in our hearts for our kids being gone and being uncertain of their future. We just kept on praying.
What would happen to the kids?
One day the pastor called me into his office. He had paperwork drawn up that he wanted me to sign. I asked him what it was. He said that he wanted me to sign over my kids for adoption, that he would make sure they went to good homes. Even after everything I had been through, this still floored me. I looked him straight in the eye and told him in no uncertain terms that there was no way I would ever sign my kids over to anyone. They were my kids, and I intended to raise them. No one else would care for them like my wife and I.
The pastor exploded into a rage again. (I was beginning to get a little used to these rage explosions by now.) He did everything but curse me, telling me how sorry I was. In his anger, he told me he was sending the kids back in three days and he would make sure that I lost them. He said he knew everything about my finances, how little money I had and so on. He felt he had me over a barrel. He knew I didn’t have beds or very much food because he had doled out the money that I gave to him and had an accounting of every penny I had spent as well as access to my checking account and what came in and went out. Or so he thought. He did not know about the $700 I had hidden in a shoebox.
He told me I had gotten away with molesting my daughters this time, but I wouldn’t get away with it again. I told him I hadn’t got away with anything because I wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing. I asked him if any proof had been found. I knew that it hadn’t because I was innocent. He just sputtered and in his rage sent me out of his office.
I raced back to the apartment, overjoyed that my kids were coming home. I grabbed the money out of the shoe box and worked around the clock for the next three days finding and buying the furniture we needed, and stocking the house with food. $700 doesn’t go far, but it was just enough with careful buying and shopping the second hand stores to get everything we needed.
Three days later our kids came home. Oh what a happy reunion that was! We were all ecstatic at being together again! I don’t know if any of us got much sleep for the next few days for all of the excitement we felt at being together again. What rejoicing there was in our household! What thanking of the Lord there was for bringing us back together! There was no petty bickering among the kids! It was a happy time. However, there were still the pastor’s threats and the fear of losing our kids.
After the excitement began to wear off at having our kids home, the threats we had received weighed heavy. What if the pastor said something to CPS that would truly cause our kids to be taken away from us? What if we weren’t “Good enough” in the eyes of CPS? What if, what if, what if. The pastor said he was going to have CPS come check on us as soon as the kids came home because he knew we did not have what we needed to take care of them.
After 3 weeks, I could take it no longer. I went to the CPS office and asked to speak to our case worker. I explained that I was very afraid that they would find some cause to take our kids from us, and would they please come to our house, check everything out and if we needed to do anything tell us. I wanted to keep my kids!
The lady was very kind to me. She spoke soothingly to me and told me, “Mr. Higdon, every allegation against you and your family has proven false. After a thorough investigation of the facts, we have come to the conclusion that your kids have an excellent home environment. Now go on back home and don’t worry about us ever investigating you again. We have real cases of abuse, and that is where we need to focus our limited amount of resources. If all of the families were like yours we wouldn’t have a job!” It felt like a great weight had rolled off of my shoulders. Things didn’t immediately return to the way they were before losing our house and all the false accusations, but the Lord had and did keep us all the way.
After the meeting with CPS and the assurance I wouldn’t lose the kids, we left the church we were going to. The pastor and congregation still continued to spread rumors throughout the area, slandering us, but my family was out of danger. Most of the churches in the area were warned against us (and took our former pastor’s word), and I gradually lost most of my business due to the church people spreading rumors.
One light in all of this was the home-schooling group we belonged to. It just so happened that the doctor who examined the girls was a leader in the home-schooling group, and he told everyone in the group that the allegations were unfounded.
For two years I didn’t attend church on a regular basis, not trusting anyone, but my wife and kids attended another church. We were firmly convinced that if we did not attend a church building in that particular religion, we could not be saved.
I prayed about what to do about all of the hurt caused by the former pastor, church members, and the daughter of the man who had owner financed the house to us and had filed the false charges. Should I file charges on them? Should I talk to someone above the pastor in the organization he belonged to? I came to the conclusion I had to forgive them, so I did.
So what happened to the pastor, church members, and the daughter? The Bible says vengeance is mine, I will repay. The pastor of the church swindled the congregation out of 40 acres of land on the interstate. Many of the members invested their life savings into it, and somehow when it was all said and done, the pastor owned it all. The pastor was booted in disgrace (but kept the land), the congregation disbanded, many turning their back on God.
The daughter that had filed the charges became pregnant for the first time at 40 years of age, and did not have a clue as to who the father was. She ended up a pauper, living in a house her parents owned with nothing to her name, struggling to survive.
What happened to us? The Lord continued to provide. Yes we had scars. My wife’s hair that had at one time hung down past her waist had fallen out to where it was only shoulder length. She had health problems from the extreme stress. I had become an extreme workaholic, working 20 hours a day, seven days a week, driven by the fear that I would not be able to provide for my family and might lose them again.
After this, the Lord in His mercy once again brought us through a wilderness experience where I had no work, so I learned to trust completely in Him instead of my being a workaholic. This time, there was much more peace. We had seen how God had provided for us in the past, and we were able to fully trust Him. After that time, the Lord helped me start another business that was extremely successful in a very short period of time. There were trials with that business, but God had a purpose in it. Through the sale of that business, we were able to move to Texas in 2005 and start life anew.
P.S. I measured my wife’s hair today, and once again it is down to her waist. There is a lot more gray in it, but don’t tell her I said that.
The Engine that wouldn’t quit
One time in the early to mid 90’s, I moved a doctor to New Orleans almost 400 miles away. I rented a tow dolly and pulled my little Toyota corolla behind it. Out of habit, when I pulled the car up on the dolly, I put it in first gear. I pulled that car all the way to New Orleans at 70 mph with it in first gear, the engine revving through the roof. I didn’t realize it until I backed off the tow dolly.
After unloading the truck and dropping it off, my family and I got in the car to make the long drive back. Right outside New Orleans the rods started knocking and I lost power. We drove 350 miles or so at 30 miles per hour with the rods sounding like they were ringing bells under the hood. We kept praying asking God to get us home safe.
When we rounded the curve on our street and saw our house, one of the rods broke and went through the oil pan, locking up the motor. I pushed in the clutch and coasted into our driveway!
A Business Van Provided
When I first started my own carpet cleaning business as a full-fledged business, not part time like I had done for years, I had a dilemma. The Lord had provided everything I needed. I had equipment, I had chemicals, and I had a few customers. He even provided me with a brand new Century 400 Ninja carpet cleaning machine. It was a very nice portable machine, but there was one problem: No matter which way I turned it, without taking off the door, there was no way I could get it inside my two door Toyota Tercel. I even removed the passenger seat. It would not fit!
I was just slightly frustrated to say the least! God had provided everything I needed to start my business, but I was dead in the water without being able to transport my equipment!
I started praying. “Lord, I need a van! And Lord, I need something that looks decent enough to pull up to customers houses in. And Lord, I need it for less than $1000 because that is what I have to spend!”
What an impossible prayer! How was the Lord going to do this one?! Every van I looked at was thousands, not hundreds. After praying for an answer, I just started thanking the Lord for providing. I didn’t know how He would provide, but I reasoned the Lord didn’t do anything halfway. If he had provided everything I needed to start my business, then surely he would provide the vehicle.
At church service the following Sunday morning, I was worshiping the Lord during song service. I was totally focused on God, clapping my hands and raising them to the Lord in worship. All at once, I saw a vision!
In this vision, I clearly saw the back end of a white ford cargo van. I could plainly see that it was a Ford by the shape of the taillights, and the back doors had no glass, so I knew that it was a cargo van. It was also a very brilliant, beautiful white. Perfect for my business!
After the service was over, I told my wife about the vision and wondered at what it meant. Was it just me dreaming of what I really wanted? Why was it so crystal clear, in detail?
I decided that it was just the Lord giving me hope, but not necessarily a picture of the exact van that I was going to get.
I suddenly remembered a widow whose husband had died. Parked next to their house was a dark blue Chevy cargo van her husband had driven. I called the lady up and asked her about it. She asked me “Are you talking about the blue Chevy van my husband used for his business?” She specifically said it was a Chevy, just like I thought it was.
“Yes, that is the one.” I told her. I was worried about ripping her off, and especially since she was a widow. I told her the van was worth much more than this, but would she be willing to take $1000 for the van?
Now, $1000 was every penny I had. That left no money for title transfer, tags, inspection sticker, etc. She told me she would consider it and give me a call back.
The next day, she called back and said she would take $800 for it. “Eight hundred dollars?!” I said, “But I offered you $1000 for it!”
She said, “I know it, but I called my son-in-law and I don’t think it is worth $1000, so I am asking $800.”
I gladly took her up on the offer. I was now the proud owner of a dark blue Chevy cargo van. Not exactly what the Lord had shown me in the vision, but it would work.
Boy was I in for a surprise……..
The surprise came when I pulled up to the ladies house to purchase the van. There, sitting next to her house was indeed a dark blue van. However, much to my surprise, it was not a Chevy like I thought, and like she had told me. I’ll give you one guess as to what it was: It was a Ford! In fact, it looked exactly like the Ford van I saw in my vision, except for the fact that it was dark blue and not white. I started rejoicing! Imagine that, what a coincidence! Well, the Lord hadn’t given me a white ford, but he HAD given me a blue one, and I would certainly settle for that!
I was excited beyond words as I took ownership of that van. I even had enough money left over to pay for tags and inspection sticker!
I traded out work with a graphics designer to design a logo and sign for the van. I was really excited. New business!!
My excitement faded a little however, when I went down to the sign shop to see about getting the sign made for the van. The sign man told me, sorry, but that dark metallic blue doesn’t look good with anything! You need this thing WHITE!
Okay, so I needed it to be white. How was I going to do that? I checked on paint jobs, and they were over a thousand dollars! I was in another dilemma. I started praying about turning this dark metallic blue van into a pearly white one. How was I going to do it? I had very little money.
At least now I had a van, so I was able to haul my carpet cleaning equipment with it and making a little money. Everyone commented on how ugly it was though. Sigh. Oh how wretched it is to be in poverty! I still kept praying though.
A few days later, a man knocked on my door. I had a vehicle that I had decided not to repair the last time it had broken down and it was sitting behind my house waiting on me to haul it to the crusher.
The man wanted to know if I would sell it. He had access to everything needed to fix it. I told him I would take $200 for it.
The man thought for a few minutes then made me a proposal. He said he didn’t have $200, so would I be willing to trade? I said “Sure, what do you have?” I was expecting tools, a bicycle, etc. He said he didn’t really have anything to trade, but he was a car painter. If I bought the paint, he would be willing to turn that ugly blue van into a prettier color!
I had the money from a carpet cleaning job, so I went and purchased a pearl white paint. A few days later, I had a beautiful pearl white Ford cargo van! God provided to me exactly what He had shown me in the vision, but in a roundabout way where I could never have guessed how He would do it!
Does God Hear and Can He Provide?
In 2000, I had a new carpet cleaning business. The Lord had blessed me with work, but I had run out of jobs and there seemed to be none on the horizon. I prayed and asked the Lord to send me work. I specifically told the Lord that I wasn’t just looking for a handout, but if He would send me work, I would believe that He gave me the ability to do it.
Right after this prayer, a young man that had done some work for me mentioned that I ought to stop by a Baptist church and see if they needed any carpets cleaned. I stopped by on the way home and walked in to give the secretary a card. The secretary told me that I was too late. “Too late?” I said, “Too late for what?” She said that in less than an hour all of the bids were due in. Bids? I didn’t know anything about a bid!
I asked her if I could be included if I put in a bid in time. She said “Sure, but you don’t have enough time to look at everything, this is a huge complex.” I asked her to give me a young person that could literally run through the complex open doors for me, and I would give her a price before 4 P.M.. A young man was assigned to the task, and I literally ran through the entire complex, writing down the first price that came to my mind for every room and area he showed me. I got back to the secretary’s desk out of breath but with a handwritten bid in hand, right at the 4 P.M. deadline.
Now, when I looked at this job, I was absolutely broke. I did not have the finances to do the job, but I trusted that if the Lord gave it to me, He would help me to do it. I was waiting for the phone call the next day from the church, hoping against hope. I did not know if I would be taken seriously in the bidding process since I wasn’t really invited to bid on it, and also my company was new, not well established like the others that had bid on the job.
The day dragged on, and finally that afternoon the phone rang. I had won the bid! I was really excited! I told my wife that I was going to be getting up at 6 am the next morning to go to Jackson, MS to pick up the supplies and rent the equipment I needed to do the job.
The next morning at 7 am, my wife came into the living room where I was sitting and praying. She asked “Why haven’t you gone to Jackson? I thought you were leaving at 6 A.M.?” I told her that I was ready at 6 A.M., but I couldn’t leave yet. When she asked “Why?” I told her I had no money, and the van was out of gas. Also, I had no money to pay for the supplies or rent the equipment when I got to Jackson. She walked out of the room shaking her head, probably thinking I was crazy!
I continued to pray, and reminded the Lord of what I had prayed two days earlier when I had asked for Him to give me work, and when He gave me work, to also give me the ability to do the work. I was confident that if He had answered the first part of the prayer of giving the work, He would also answer the second part of the prayer by giving me the ability to do the work.
So there I sat, broke and penniless. The hounds of despair wanted to bay at my door, but I wasn’t ready to give in to them. I’m sure my wife thought I was crazy, and if I had asked a business man’s advice, I’m sure they would have agreed with her. The bills were all due and there was no money to pay them. What should I do? When you don’t know what to do, pray, and then pray some more. So there I sat, and I kept on praying.
As I was sitting in the living room praying, when suddenly there was a knock at the door. I jumped up and answered, and there was a man who I knew that the Lord had used many times in the gifts of the Spirit. He told me that He was driving to work that morning, and the Lord had spoken to him and told him to bring me a $100. He argued with the Lord that I wouldn’t be awake since I never was up before 8 A.M. most of the time, then finally He told the Lord that if my lights were on, He would stop and give me the money.
When he drove past my house, I had all the lights on in the front! I accepted the $100 he gave me, then got in the van and drove to the gas station and filled up. The Lord had given me the financing for the transportation, but I still needed another $1000 to pay for chemicals and equipment rental. I hit the road, continuing to pray as I went that the Lord would go before me and make a way for me to get what I needed to do the job.
When I got to Jackson, MS, I drove straight to the supply house that carried all of the chemicals and equipment I needed. I did not know the people at the supply house; I just knew that their store was the closest one that had everything I needed.
I walked into the store, introduced myself to the owner, and walked around figuring out what all I would need to do the job. After totaling an estimate up of everything that I needed, the owner asked about the job that I was doing. When I told him it was a church, he offered to let me take everything I needed and just pay him when I got paid! Wow! This man did not even know me at all! I was bowled over with how the Lord had provided.
I thanked him profusely, loaded my van to the gills with chemicals and equipment and headed home, rejoicing at how the Lord had provided.
When I got home, the Lord sent some young men asking for work and willing to wait to be paid until I got paid. I cleaned all the carpets in the church and stripped and waxed all of the floors in the whole complex. When I was done, they were so happy, they gave me a regular contract that lasted for several years!
It is wonderful to know that God DOES hear us when we cry out to Him! He delights in surprising us with the different ways He can come up with to provide for our needs. We only have to trust in him. Just like Peter walking on the water, each step we take He will make the water firm beneath us, step by step, as long as we have faith.
Hebrews 11:1 ¶ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
A $275 Van
This is yet another story of God’s provision. This was probably in 2001 or 2002. After losing everything, I had to buy another van for cleaning carpet. I purchased a worn out ’78 model Chevy van with a worn out ’78 truck mount carpet cleaning machine in 2001. I patched and patched on the machine and the van and limped through a year. I cleaned a tremendous amount of carpet that year with that old van and machine, but I knew it was just a matter of time before it died.
In 2002 or 2003 (I don’t remember the year exactly), I started looking for another van, and I found a finance company that had repossessed a ’89 Chevy with a nice looking body, but the transmission was out. The transmission shop wanted $1000 to rebuild it! I didn’t get a price on the van. As soon as I found out how much the rebuild would be, I passed on it.
The same week, I was driving my old ’78 along, and the transmission went out. I coasted to a stop in front of the only occupied house on that stretch, got out, and went to the door to see if I could borrow their phone. The man that came to the door said he was an unemployed transmission shop foreman. He offered to fix the transmission in my old ’78 for $200!
I thought about it for a minute, and thought about how bad of shape that old van was in. I asked him if he would do the same for a ’89 Chevy. He said, sure! He even offered to take me to the finance company I had seen the van at and tow it back if I made a deal.
We went to the finance company, and I talked to them about the van. They said they understood the transmission was expensive to fix, so how about if I gave them $75 for the van?! I gave it to them, the gentleman hauled the van back to his house, and another $200 later I had a van that was like brand new again!
What are the chances of buying a van in top shape for $275? It bowls me over the way the Lord does things a lot of the time! He also provided another truck mount carpet cleaning machine that went inside of that van, also at an unbelievable price.
One thing I didn’t mention is the money. Even though it wasn’t a lot of money, he also provided the money to purchase everything AT THE TIME I NEEDED IT, and not before. I didn’t have that sitting in my checking account, but he provided it when I needed it.
God’s ways are beyond comprehension! The way he orchestrates things is marvelous! Why panic when things appear to be going wrong? Don’t you know that he knew it was going to happen before it happened? He already has a plan before you meet your disaster!
What is Your Pot of Oil?
In Feb. 2002 or 2003, I don’t remember exactly which year, I was reading II Kings, the 4th chapter about the widow whose sons were about to be made bondmen to satisfy her debts. The story tells of the miracle where Elisha asked what she had in the house, and she said only a pot of oil. He told her to gather up all the vessels she could find, fill them from the little pot she had, and sell it to satisfy her debts, which she did.
After reading this passage of scripture, the question started pounding through my head, “What is your pot of oil?” The question stayed with me for two days, and I contemplated on what the Lord was trying to tell me. I asked the Lord if it meant there was some talent I had that He would bless to provide for our financial needs, or was there something I had that I could sell to satisfy the needs we had.
We were in severe financial straits, and I needed to purchase propane. Our propane tank was a 250 gallon tank, and over the last several months, I had used 100 gallons every 2-3 months. Each time, I had run out of propane and had to bleed the line when the tank was refilled. It had been 2 months since the last refill, and I was watching the tank drop: 5%,4%,3%,2%,1%. I started crying out to the Lord asking him to please give me some work to do so I would have the money to pay for the propane.
Our house was totally run on propane. We had a propane stove, hot water heater, central heat, and dryer. With six kids at home and no eating out, we kept the stove and the dryer going all the time, not to mention the hot water.
As I watched the tank drop to 0%, I remembered the passage I had read a few days earlier and the question the Lord had put in my mind, “What is your pot of oil?” It slowly began to dawn on me that my pot of oil was the propane in the tank!
I didn’t say anything to anyone; I just quietly thanked the Lord and went on my way. We went through the remainder of Feb., then through March, April, May, June, and July. All through this time, we were still in financial straits, but the propane kept on flowing, and we kept on cooking, heating our water, and drying our clothes. August came, and I finally started getting a little bit of work. Towards the end of August, the propane was still flowing, and one morning I realized I had an extra twenty dollars in my pocket. I was finishing work after working all night, and I picked up the morning paper at 5 a.m.. There in the classifieds was a 20 gallon propane tank full of propane for $20! I felt something urge me to buy it, so when I finished working at 7 a.m., I called about it and was driving to pick it up when my wife called to tell me that the propane had just run out! I told her not to worry, God had already provided.
I brought the tank home, hooked it up, and it lasted about 3 weeks. This was in September. At the end of the three weeks, I had made enough money to refill the tank.
I believe that just like the Lord miraculously provided through a creative miracle then, God will also do the same in the times that are coming our way!
One Bag of Rice
The year following the propane miracle, we were faced with another crisis. Our house was owner financed, and we had done a handshake deal and wrote down the agreement on a sheet of paper, each of us keeping a copy of the agreement. After 1 1/2 yrs. – 2 yrs. of paying on the house, and remodeling the carport into an additional room, I lost my copy of the paper. When I called to get a copy, there was a long silence on the other end of the line, then he asked “What agreement are you talking about, you are just renting.” I immediately knew we were in dire straits once again.
Our house we had fixed up went up for sale, and we had no money and no place to go. My business was feast or famine, and right at that moment we were in the famine mode literally. Work was slow, and on that Tuesday night, after we ate our meal, we only had one bag of rice, and it was full of weevils!
Even though I felt the desperateness of the situation at the moment, I also felt an excitement in my spirit. I gathered my wife and 6 children into the living room and explained to them the situation we were in. I then told my children that I was going to tell them stories of miracles that had happened in my life since I was a kid like them, to build their faith so that when God provided for us, they would be able to tell their children what God had done.
For two hours, I told one story after another of how God had provided for my family when I was a kid all the way to the present time. After I finished, we prayed and asked God to provide for our needs. I sent the kids to bed, but my oldest daughter asked me if she could stay up and clean the living room so that when the Lord sent someone to us the next day it would be clean. What faith! Of course I let her clean the living room.
The next day, we got up, picked the weevils out of the rice, and ate it. (My wife was fasting, but I’ve always kidded her that it was not entirely for religious purposes!) At noon, my oldest daughter was expectantly waiting for someone to come by when the mail man delivered the mail. She ran out to the mail box and came running to me with an envelope containing a business check! I opened it up, and it contained a check for $5,000!
Now where did this check come from? My company had cleaned several schools 1 1/2 years before, and on one of the schools, through the negligence of one of my employees, several classrooms got mold in the carpet. I was able to successfully abate it, but the school refused to pay the cleaning bill for the work we had done ($5,000). Out of the blue, with no warning, after I had given up all hope of ever getting paid, I received this check for $5,000 at the precise moment we needed it.
I firmly believe if my family had not stood in faith believing, we never would have received this heavenly provision. One time I was worshiping in church and I became angry with the Lord for all of the suffering I had gone through for nine years before he healed my back (another testimony!). The Lord spoke to me very clearly and firmly and said “I healed you at your point of faith, not at your point of need!”
I remember one Sunday morning pulling up to church and getting out with my family. A dear friend who was used mightily by God in the Gifts of the Spirit came up to me and asked to speak with me privately for a moment.
He told me that there was a book I was reading that was going to destroy my marriage. I was mortified and shocked! I knew exactly what he was talking about, and I was reading such a book! I had bought the book secretly, and no one knew of it except perhaps the storekeeper I had bought it from!
He told me that if I continued reading the book, a spirit would come into my house and marriage and my marriage would be destroyed. I went home from church that day and destroyed the book. What we do in secret is no secret from God. Sometimes we think we are not hurting anyone else with a particular sin, so what difference will it make?
Satan likes to tempt us and hinder our walk with God. The bible says:
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…
If we are weighted down, we can’t run as fast or as far, and brothers and sisters, we have time coming that we need to be prepared for. We need to be equipped to fight. Sin creates holes in our armor that the devil can and will use against us.
Sin doesn’t benefit us! God’s ways are the best way! The devil tries to give us shortcuts, but his ways lead to death.
Throwing Out the TV
Several years ago we had a TV like all other “Normal” Americans. I was careful of what I watched and what I allowed my children to watch. I became hooked on certain shows, and as the shows went from totally clean to dirty, I was like a frog sitting in a pot with the heat being slowly turned up. I was addicted to the show and now that I “had” to watch the show, I didn’t want to give it up just because of the bad parts.
I found myself sitting and watching TV with my kids and I would tell them “Hide your eyes……hide your eyes……hide your eyes” as something came on that I didn’t want them to see.
One day after telling them to “hide your eyes”, it suddenly occurred to me: Wasn’t the thing I was telling them to “hide their eyes” from equally bad for me? Would I allow someone to come in my house and do the things that were occurring on the show? Would I want my children around this type of behavior?
I got really mad, jumped up, and snatched the TV. Out the door I went and I threw the TV into the backyard. I noticed an immediate benefit after all of the wailing of my children died down: My house was more peaceful, my children were gifted artists, my children’s grades went up, and amazingly, I had more time!
Making Monuments in Your Life
Several years ago while in a church service, there was a young lady and her husband who had just received terrible news. They had only been married a year or two, and had not been able to have any children. The young lady went to the doctor and he found cyst all over her uterus. He told her sorry, but it would be impossible to have any children.
She and her husband came to church devastated, as was the whole church when the terrible news was told. She went to the front for prayer, and the whole church was lamenting and praying, mourning for the loss of her ability to have children.
I had quite the opposite reaction. I felt something leap inside of me, and I felt an overwhelming joy flow through me. Inside I was rejoicing for the healing that was going to take place, and I felt like I had to tell her not to despair. I told her that God was going to make this a monument in her life that she would forever look back to and say, “I know that God did this!”
Sure enough, just a short time later, she became pregnant and had a little boy. The next year she had another child!
If you are facing a “monumental” challenge or sickness in your life, don’t despair! This very thing that looks like it will crush all of your hopes and dreams may be the very thing that God uses to give you strength for the times ahead!
The Power of a Testimony
I have found over the years that since I am not good at debate, people have often out argued me when discussing the things of the bible. I greatly dislike a heated debate, but I want to tell others about Jesus and persuade them to come to him.
One thing that I have found is that following my Christian values and sharing my testimonies is the most effective way to share the gospel to others.
I once had a lot of dealings with a businessman who was an atheist. Normally, if you are around me for more than a few minutes, I am going to end up saying something about the Lord, but this man was different.
Every time I was in his presence, I would feel a check in my spirit and could not share a single testimony with him or even say anything about God to him. I did not know the reason for this, and I prayed about it, but every time I saw him I could not talk about God.
For two years or more I had dealings with this man most weeks. Sometimes things didn’t go right in our dealings, but I was always honest with him. If I made a mistake and the mistake was in his favor, I always owned up to it. He learned to fully trust me because I never lied to him like the rest of his associates.
After two years, suddenly one day I felt a release in my spirit to share all of the miracles God had done for me. I might as well have been talking to a stone wall. I definitely felt prompted by God to share my testimonies with him, but he never had a reaction, comment, or anything. He would just look at me and listen, then continue on the conversation as if I had never said anything. I honestly didn’t know what to make of it, but I continued on like this for probably two more years.
One day I got a phone call and he asked me if I could stop by his house and meet his mother. This was unusual, but I agreed. When I arrived, for the next several hours he would tell me, “Jeff, tell my mother about how God kept your arm from frying in the fryer. Jeff, tell my mother about how God healed your back,” etc..
I was in shock! He remembered every single testimony I had told him! He told his mother that if I had told him about the miracles at first, he never would have believed me. Instead, I had proven over the first two years that I never lied, even when it would have benefitted me greatly to do so and I had little likelihood of getting caught lying. When I started testifying to him it left him in a quandary. He did not believe in God or in miracles, but now through my testimony he was faced with positive truth that miracles did happen.
This man became a believer in God. As of when I left Louisiana he still hadn’t become a Christian, but only because he was wealthy and didn’t feel like he could continue doing business the way he did and be a Christian too. I hope that he has made the decision to cross over that line, but because of testimonies, he now believes there is a God in heaven.
A Van for the Family
Several years ago, our kids had outgrown our four door Pontiac Bonneville, and they certainly didn’t fit into my Ford Festiva or my carpet cleaning van. We couldn’t hardly go anywhere as a family because we didn’t fit! Six big kids plus my wife and I were crammed like sardines into that car.
One day my wife called, and the car was broke down. She got it home, but it had blown the head gaskets and jumped time at the same time. We didn’t know what we were going to do for a vehicle. We had no money and no credit to buy another vehicle at that time. I prayed about it, and while in prayer, I suddenly felt like God was going to provide a vehicle for us.
I got in the Festiva with my wife and went down to the Ford dealership to the used car section. I looked through the vehicles and found a really nice Ford 12 passenger van with all of the options. It was a one owner vehicle in top shape. The salesman told me it was $5000. After test driving it, I told him I would be back at the end of the week to buy it.
My wife thought I was just a little crazy. Where could we get $5000? I felt that excitement rising in me. I just KNEW that the Lord was going to do it. Toward the end of the week, we got a letter in the mail. In the letter was a check for $10,000! My wife’s uncle had died with no heirs, and she was given $10,000 from the estate! This was totally unexpected. I had no idea that God was going to give us this money when I went looking for a vehicle. I had no idea how God was going to provide, I just knew without a doubt that he was going to.
I don’t quite know how to explain it, but this was not a case of “Name it, Claim it” like so many preach. It was more a prompting of the Spirit, a listening, and then stepping out in faith when I felt that prompting.
God Sent a Fireman
I was working a job just above minimum wage. My wife was sick, and I had 4 or 5 kids at the time. My car threw a rod, and even though I know how to repair cars, I could not afford the parts. I worked extra jobs to make money, but at the time I had my focus fixed on a long term solution to my money troubles. I used all of the money I made to build carpet cleaning equipment. In the long run, that was the answer to getting off of the bottom.
Anyway, after walking for a year, my boss owner financed a Chrysler New Yorker for $800. He took $100 per month out of my pay check. I was on cloud nine! Yahoo, a car again! I had wheels! I was free again!
Unfortunately, my elation was short lived. After staying late at a home school meeting, we drove home and pulled in the drive at midnight. Right before we got to the house, the car’s engine started missing terribly. I backed the car into the driveway. When I turned off the key and opened the door, I saw flames! I grabbed all of my sleeping kids out of the car and ran them into the house.
I tried to pop the hood so I could smother the fire, but the hood jammed and wouldn’t open. I could see gasoline boiling over the top of the carburetor onto the engine, and it looked like liquid fire as it spread across the engine. I ran next door to get a neighbor to call the fire department, but she wouldn’t answer the door. I was praying, Lord Help Me, as I sprinted across my yard headed to the neighbor on the other side of me.
Right at that moment, a wrecker truck stopped on the road. I shouted to him “Do you have a fire extinguisher?” He told me he did. He got out of the truck, pulled out a large duffel bag and threw it on the ground. Then he started taking off his shoes. What in the world was this idiot doing taking off his shoes?! I thought to myself. I need a fire extinguisher, and he says he has one, so what in the world is he doing?!
He unzipped the duffel bag, and then stepped inside of it. This man’s actions were getting stranger by the second! Suddenly, understanding dawned on me when he pulled up his fireman’s suit and put on his coat! He was a fireman!
He ran across the street with his fire extinguisher and looked at the flames. He handed me the fire extinguisher and told me to just spray a little at a time on the gas line to keep it from blowing up the car by hitting the gas tank. I did as he told me, while he directed in the fire truck that he had already called for me. The car was a total loss. It burned out everything in the engine compartment and dash, but nothing else was harmed.
So what does the Lord send when you have a fire at midnight? A fireman of course! Anyone or no one could have been on that road that night, but the Lord specifically had a fireman be the first passerby. Not only that, that was before cell phones were popular, and this man had a radio that he was able to use to call the fire department.
A Battery in the Wilderness
I was on my way to church on a Wednesday night, and the alternator went out on my van. The van died right in the middle of nowhere. No houses, no traffic, about a 26 mile walk to the closest place, and my cell phone had no signal. I had the entire family in the van. We said a prayer, and then I got out and checked the battery terminals to see if they were loose. Nope, they were fine.
Right at that moment, a pickup truck pulled over and a man dressed in a cowboy hat jumped out and said, “What’s wrong, your battery dead?” When I shook my head yes, he told me to pull my battery and he would give me another one. I pulled it out, and he reached in the back of his truck and pulled out a brand new battery! He said he had been carrying it around and I could have it for free! With that, he jumped in the truck and drove off.
I put in the battery, cranked up, and made it to church. What a blessing that was!
Well, 7 years later, I got to repay the debt I owed. I was driving the church van and found a man on the side of the road in the same predicament. I ran back to my house and got a new battery I had and gave it to him. He was dumbfounded that I would do that, but I owed a debt that had to be repaid.
God’s Daily Provision
We were living in a 3 room unfinished cabin 26 miles from town. The cabin had no running water, and minimal electrical inside. I ran a water line, but due to lack of money, I only ran one faucet inside the house. I built an outdoor shower from cedar post and old windows screwed together (I painted the windows so you couldn’t see through them). I made a sawdust toilet from a five gallon bucket, and picked up several bags of sawdust at a friend’s sawmill to use in it.
I had lost all the contracts in my cleaning business, and my business had virtually folded. At the time, I had been falsely accused of some things and my name was mud in the community and churches in our area. My wife and I didn’t know what to do. We were afraid to let anyone know of how dire our circumstances were, afraid that we would lose our six kids.
Every day, we would go outside and pray, and ask the Lord to provide for our needs. I got a little bit of work here and there, but nothing reliable or steady. We often did not know where the next meal was going to come from or how we would pay the note on our land or our electric and water bill, but somehow, someway, the Lord came through every time we prayed. It might be a letter in the mail that included a little bit of cash, or someone might drop by, and give us a little bit. We never told anyone our circumstances and never asked for help, but God provided day by day.
After praying for food one day, I received a phone call from a Italian restaurant I had cleaned the carpets in, and they asked me if I might be willing to swap stripping and waxing their floors and keeping their carpets clean in exchange for food. They were very embarrassed to be asking since they were the nicest restaurant in town, but they had fallen on hard times. They would pay for the chemicals if I would just provide the equipment and labor. Look how the Lord provides! While I had no income, no money for groceries, God fed us from the nicest place in the whole area!
Also during this time, I was paying my car insurance as I could. I would pay it one month, it would cancel, and I would reinstate it and keep on paying. I did not realize that the state of Louisiana automatically fined me every time my insurance canceled! I had accumulated almost $2000 in fines, and my license was revoked. Once again, we took it to the Lord in prayer. While my wife and I were praying, a friend we hadn’t seen in a long time came driving up in her pickup truck.
She said she was praying, and the Lord said we needed some money, and she had to ask around to find out where we were living so she could bring us some money! I believe she gave us $300, prayed with us, and left. We were rejoicing and shouting hallelujah! The next day, she came driving up again. She said she had gone back home and while bragging to the Lord in prayer about how good she had been by giving us $300, the Lord told her it wasn’t enough. She then gave us $1000! We were really rejoicing then! It still wasn’t enough to pay everything we needed to pay, but it was a long way in the right direction.
The very next day, our friend once again came driving down our driveway. She said she hoped we didn’t mind, but once again the Lord had told her she still had not given enough. She gave us $2000 more! Hallelujah! We were able to pay off the fine and reinstate my license, pay our bills, and buy food.
Through this time we went through, every time we ran out of food, or needed gasoline, money to pay a particular bill, etc., my wife and I would go out and sit under a tree and pray, and God always miraculously provided, and always in an unexpected way. We experienced several miraculous healings during this time when we often didn’t even have enough fuel to drive to the doctor, much less pay for a visit. We did not live in luxury, and we were not always comfortable (often no heat or air conditioning), but God provided everything that we needed. Sometimes I think the kids didn’t even know we were on hard times.
I know that we have hard times coming our way, but the Lord will provide for our every need. There is no need to be afraid, He is a good Father and cares for us, and we only need to trust Him.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.
A Dislocated Thumb and a Rusty Nail
During our time living day by day through the Lord’s provision, my wife and I were both hurt the same day. I was changing the fuel pump on our 1994 Ford van, which is located inside the fuel tank. I misjudged how much fuel was in the tank and how much all of that fuel weighed. When I removed the straps holding the fuel tank in place, the fuel tank dropped, catching my thumb as it went down. The force popped my right thumb out of joint and turned it around backwards.
I immediately cried “In the name of Jesus” and grabbed my thumb, twisted it back around, and popped it back in place. It immediately swelled up, and I wasn’t able to use it. I finished putting the fuel pump in one handed. My wife went out to the outhouse/shower that evening, and in the dark she stepped on a board with a rusty nail sticking up. The nail went almost all the way through the center of her foot.
The next day we went to church, and there was an evangelist who preached on demonstrative praise. On Monday morning we got up and had to go to town. My wife had red streaks going up the side of her leg, and my thumb was still unusable. We had no health insurance or money, and I made my living with my hands, so we did not know what to do.
My wife said, “Why don’t we try what the evangelist preached about last night and just praise the Lord for taking care of your thumb and my leg and foot?” We gathered all the kids into a circle and we joined hands. We started praising God, thanking Him for his daily provision, and thanking Him for healing us. As we praised Him, we began jumping up and down.
We went out and got in the van. As usual, I grabbed the steering wheel and pulled myself into the driver’s seat, when I suddenly realized my thumb had closed around the wheel and had almost completely stopped hurting! The healing was in a matter of moments! We rejoiced and praised God for what he had done.
The next morning when we got up, the red streaks were gone from my wife’s foot, and she was able to walk on it again. How I love Doctor Jesus!
Going into Business with God and the Devil
After our Job trial, my business was completely wiped out and shuttered. If my name was on the business, people wouldn’t do business with me. I didn’t know what to do, and I had no money to work with, no credit. We were on rock bottom financially, but the one thing I did have was a very strong faith in God.
Note: I found through my trials that God was much more interested in building my character than in providing comfort for me.
I was working one day, subbing a carpet cleaning job under another company, cleaning an apartment. As I was cleaning, I was asking God for direction. God’s spirit came over me like a warm blanket, and I fell to my knees in intense prayer for about 30 minutes. His spirit lifted, and I finished the carpet cleaning job.
As I left the job, finished for the day, I suddenly felt an urge to go to the financial aid office at the local university. I felt it was the Lord, so I did. After sitting down with financial aid counselors, I felt like that wasn’t why the Lord had brought me there. As I walked out the door, a poster caught my eye that advertised apartments for rent. The apartments had several bedrooms and the tenants rented a bedroom, sharing the living room and kitchen.
As I looked at the poster, I realized I had cleaned the carpets when they were brand new before the complex opened. (Red Louisiana clay tracked in.) The question popped in my mind “Do the apartments have 4 bedrooms or 5 bedrooms?” I thought about it for a second, and I couldn’t remember. Oh well, I told myself, what difference does it make? As I walked to my van, the question started pounding through my head “4 bedrooms or 5 bedrooms? 4 bedrooms or 5 bedrooms?” I thought I was going crazy.
I drove away, with the question still pounding through my head and me thinking that this is what it is like to actually go crazy! As I drove down the street, I looked over, and there were the apartments. I gritted my teeth, telling myself I may be the biggest fool there ever was, but I’m going to go in that manager’s office and ask if there are 4 bedrooms or 5 bedrooms.
When I stepped into the manager’s office, feeling like the biggest fool on earth, suddenly the question left me, and in its place was the burning question, “Who is this man behind the desk, and what does he do?” I made small talk for a few minutes, not quite knowing how to approach the question, when suddenly the man looked at me strangely and said “You may think I’m weird, but somehow I feel like the Lord sent you in here for a reason. What do you do for a living?”
Through that conversation, I found out he had a small cleaning business. We formed a partnership, and our business we formed skyrocketed in a matter of months. In less than 6 months, we each had a monthly income between $3500-$5,000, working only 4 hours a day. Our business was running smoothly, the employees all trained and doing well.
At this point, the devil side of my partner showed up. Greed and laziness took over, and our business relationship deteriorated overnight. He became arrogant with our customers, losing an account that would have made us a fortune and almost costing us some of the ones we had.
My partner then began actively working to cut off money to me and force me out, so he would have sole control of the business. I could have dissolved the LLC we had formed, but the business would have been a total loss. I was in over my head, dealing with someone that had significant financial resources and I had none. I knew that God would make a way, but I didn’t know what to do.
I started selling stuff that I had to survive and pay bills. While selling some sheet metal to a man, he casually asked me about what I did for a living. After a few questions, he started telling me everything that my partner had already done to me in trying to take over the business. I was shocked! How did he know my business partner?
He started laughing and told me, no, he didn’t know my business partner, but he had spent the last 20 years on an airplane flying around the country as a small business consultant.
He offered to coach me for free, and through his tutelage over the next 1 1/2 months, I was able to block all of my partner’s moves. After my partner felt like he couldn’t force me out, he bought me out.
I was and am so grateful to the Lord for what He did! One year before that date, I had been completely broke, living primitively in a cabin in the woods with my wife and children, and now I had enough cash in my hand to move out of the area and start over again.
God sent the money we needed, He just had the devil deliver it!
My wife had always wanted to move back home to New Orleans, and it had often been assumed that if we moved from the area, that would be high on the list. When we sold the business, my wife was excited about moving back home. All at once, I became adamant that under no circumstance would we move there. She said “You always say that a hurricane will hit there. I lived most of my life there and never went through one.”
I told her, “Yes, a hurricane will hit there one day, and it will wipe that place out, and we are not going to be there when it does.” I didn’t know how soon, but I knew it for a fact. I was like a rock that would not be budged on the issue.
My wife, being the good woman she is, submitted to my final decision, though under mild protest. That was in June 2005. In July 2005 we moved to central Texas, and in August 2005 Katrina hit New Orleans and devastated that city! God is so good! He hides us in the day of trouble if we will only listen to His promptings.
Joseph’s Note: If you have a message for Jeff, or his family, you can either post a comment to the blog, or send me an e-mail and I will be glad to forward it to him.
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