When I was 15 years old, my family was attending an old Pentecostal country church in McGee, Arkansas where we lived. I remember being incredibly burdened during that church service, and the weight of that burden became unbearable when the preacher gave the invitation. As I struggled to walk down that isle as a teenager, and I said “YES” to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior…it was like the weight of the whole world had been lifted off my shoulders.
Healing and restoration began working through my life, and one of the tools the Lord used to bring that work about was through my wonderful husband. However, we were somewhat divided with my Pentecostal roots, and my husband’s Catholic background. The Lord united our family in the Southern Baptist denomination where we have been serving ever since. At that time, the Lord burdened my heart again. This time…that burden involved working with children, leading them to Christ, and growing them up to love and follow Him.
My youngest son was blessed to serve on an association mission trip to Nicaragua in 2013. My son came home changed forever by the work being done there in that area. His fire and passion led me to serve on a mission trip to Nicaragua as well. I fell in love with the people, and their eagerness to know Jesus through all of their suffering. To see firsthand of hope being replaced in their hearts where only the despair of poverty was present is the driving force of my desire to partner with Jesus Christ and Open Heart Ministries in Nicaragua.
I was born and raised Catholic, in a very Catholic part of Louisiana. Even as a young child, I remember feeling like I lacked the real knowledge of who Jesus was, and what He did for us. Well, as I grew up… I did as a lot of young people do, and I strayed from the church. One of the greatest impacts on a young man life, other than Jesus of course, is getting married and starting a family. As that responsibility grew, we felt the importance of church in our lives. We tried different churches while I was in the military, but never could find the right “fit”. Something was missing in my life, I just didn’t know what. My eyesight failed and I was medically retired in 1999. I could no longer work, and had no idea how I was going to support my family. Still through all this…I prayed, but just didn’t have that closeness I needed. Even then, things might have been tough at times, but the Lord still provided and took care of my family.
Meanwhile my youngest son made the greatest decision he could ever make, he accepted Christ as his savior at the church we were attending. This was an eye opener for me. I started to truly listen to what God was saying, and what He had been trying to tell me all along. The conviction was there. Then, one day in 2006 I received a letter in the mail that informed me that I was to receive my full veteran’s benefits. My family was taken care of, and I could thank only God for that! Right there, after reading that letter on the living room couch in my home, I prayed. It was then that I truly asked Jesus into my heart and life. I finally had the closeness I was looking for and that emptiness was filled.
From that point on, all I have wanted to do was serve in my church or anywhere God calls. I have been on many mission trips and each one, in some way, has changed me. My wife and I are drawn to children so when God gave us the chance to work with Open Hearts Ministries, see lives changed by the gospel, and help feed needy children…it was an answered prayer.