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Guest Stories

John’s Story

It was a different time. Post war, the baby boom was in full swing. With a surplus of babies, both planned and unplanned, illegal selling of children on the black market to parents unable to conceive, became a dark and hidden stain on America’s timeline. If this surprises you, imagine how John’s parents felt when a doctor who was brokering these shady deals, actually sought them out and offered them $500 to part with their new son. Of course, they said no. Despite rejecting the doctor’s offer though, John’s mother had a lot on her plate on top of a newborn.

A mother of eight, she did her best to be the disciplinarian in place of her often-overseas merchant marine husband, on top of all her regular duties as “mom.” Again, it was a different time, and expectations of a mother were much different than today. Having a seven year old daughter who was fascinated by the sight of her little brother, their mom gave her John as a birthday present. Big sis started caring for John like he was her own personal doll to feed, change, rock to sleep, and to care for. From that point forward, his sister became the nurturing “mother,” while his mother took the harder authoritarian role of “father,” driving fear into the hearts of her children when it came time for punishments.

At the age of six, John experienced something that in 2020 would warrant a child services call, but again, these were different times. It was Christmas morning, and his dad was able to be home for Christmas that year. John and his brothers and sisters had woken at 3am with their mother and started opening their presents, while their dad still slept. Pulling out a wind up choo choo train, he was so delighted, he just had to show it off to his brother. But his excitement woke his father, causing him to send six-year-old John to sleep out in the outhouse—in December. His mother quickly brought him a blanket, and she said that everything would be alright in the morning. It’s a wonder he didn’t freeze to death that night. It was then that he realized the most powerful thing he’d ever learned. God alone was his Father, and his “pop” was just the man who sired him. At that point, he developed a true father-son relationship with Jesus. He devoted every waking moment to learning more about the man who died on Calvary and about God who promises to always be there to hold us, even in our darkest moments. That passion for the Lord never failed him, and it continues to this day. In fact, his legal name is incredibly John Saint Divine.  

While John’s dad was away working on oil tankers, his mother started losing her grasp on reality. It started with small things, but eventually it escalated to the point where the older kids couldn’t keep her reality in check anymore. One day, their mother started saying that she would hurt the children. John’s oldest brother heard her deranged rantings, as she was asking for a shot gun so she could kill them all. He cleverly deceived her into thinking that he was looking for the gun, while another sibling worked to get all the other children to safety and alert the authorities. He was still a very young child when he and all his siblings were removed from the home and scattered among various family members. Ultimately most of the children landed in an orphanage with authorities unable to reach their father and having sent their mother to an institution. Again, it was different times back then.

Within a year, John’s father returned, and reclaimed the children. The damage had been done though. Being shuffled around, suffering mental and physical abuse, plus the children’s mental state to have their own mother try to kill them, and then be sent into an orphanage, must’ve weighed heavy on them all.

At age 17, John joined the Navy where he served for two years before being honorably discharged. After leaving the Navy, he felt no real course for his life other than his passion for God. Feeling called to a greater purpose, rather than work till he died and achieve no great thing, he preferred life on the streets, where his time was his, and he could spend all his time learning and growing in his faith and witnessing to the other homeless people that he surrounded himself with. Despite being on the streets for most of his adult life, he did have a home from time to time, and during one of these times, God gave him a vision. In his vision, God told him, “If you follow me, you will play as good as the masters.” John became a musician and talented pianist. So in between studying the Bible and spreading the message of the Gospel, he also studied and practiced music.

In spite of his relationship with God, he came out of the Navy with a drinking problem. While he had periods of sobriety, he fell back into his addiction in 1988 when a trauma hit him very hard, and he ended up back on the streets again. He moved from Oregon to Oklahoma, back to Oregon, and places in between. In 2017, he was able to get off the streets through a veterans program while he was in Oregon. It was during this time that he learned that his youngest sister had terminal cancer. He invited her to visit, but she stayed, living out the rest of her days with him. He cared for her all the way up until she passed. And then he was back on the streets again.

The homeless in Corvallis, Oregon had changed though since his last experience with homelessness. They were somehow meaner, and it was more dangerous to be on the streets. It was recently when another homeless person came up from behind him and hit him in the back of the head, inadvertently breaking his neck. All his things were stolen, and he was left for dead, but thanks to the grace of God, he pulled through. He moved back to Idabel to be near family and friends, sensing that the end was near because of his injury. He drank for 3 days straight and no longer wished to live. Concerned for him, the Idabel police department brought him to Saint Francis in Muskogee, the nearest facility providing psychiatric help. After he became stable, they referred him to us, here at Gospel Rescue Mission.

Being a faith-based facility, we are the perfect place for John. It gives him an opportunity to spend time with God in a safe environment that encourages a relationship with the Lord. Our guests might currently be without a home, but that’s not who they are. That is just their current situation. It may have felt to John at times during his 35 years living on the street, that being homeless was a permanent status. But, these are different times.

A final thought he left us with as the interview concluded is that “there is a blessing in everything.” There is a blessing in sleeping in the cold because it can inspire you to better yourself. There is a blessing in going hungry because it drives you to make changes in your behavior so that you don’t go through that again. And there is a blessing when you find a place to lay your head at night, even if it’s a temporary bed at the Gospel Rescue Mission, because instead of just finding food, clothing, and shelter, you’ve found hope, peace, and the love of Christ.

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Guest Stories

Christy’s Story

“I’m just so lucky to be here,” she stated repeatedly during her Gospel Rescue Mission interview. She wasn’t lucky to be here at GRM. She meant lucky to be here. On earth. Alive and breathing. She had been close enough to Heaven’s door that she could nearly see the Pearly Gates, but Jesus wasn’t ready for her to come Home just yet. He had a chain of events that He wanted her to experience that would ultimately drive her to her greater purpose. These events would be difficult, at times more than she could bear. But He would be with her every step of the way, this much she knew. This is the story of Christy.

It was five years ago when she was diagnosed with a condition called diverticulitis. In most cases, diverticulitis is mild and something that can be easily managed. In Christy’s case, it was severe, debilitating, and life-threatening. She underwent several surgeries before her last, which nearly took her life. She flatlined seven times during that final surgery, but God had a better plan for Christy. A hundred staples later, she made it through, to the joy of her children and ailing husband. It was truly a miracle. This was just one part of her story though, so let’s start at the beginning.

Her husband, 31 years older than his petite wife Christy, enjoyed traveling. It was one of his greatest passions. They went on cruises and took several trips to Disney World, deep sea diving, and other incredible experiences that most of us could only dream of. He loved his family and wanted to give them the world. Owner of a lucrative water-treatment company, he had opened a few offices across the US, and when he decided to retire, he sold them, and they were able to travel even more. Health issues started to plague the sweet adventurous man though, and soon he was in the hospital battling for his life. He was a decorated Vietnam veteran who had received many accolades and awards to his credit for his service in the United States Air Force. So, when his health started to decline, he picked his favorite VA hospital in Fayetteville to handle his treatment.

It was around that time that Christy started experiencing health issues. Her medical expenses and surgeries proved bank-breaking, and eventually they had to make some difficult decisions about their financial and living arrangements. Because he was a veteran and would receive the best care at the facility there in Fayetteville, he remained put with family nearby to help care for him and the children. For Christy, her Native American heritage would help solve a lot of their financial burdens if she could be closer to tribal health care available in Tahlequah. Being from the small college town in Oklahoma, it was like coming home for her, and she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she still had many friends in the area. So, despite having to leave her family behind, she was looking forward to the future and the adventure that was in front of her. Despite all the positivity that the couple tried to look at in their situation, the inevitable can’t be stopped.

It was July 2020 when her dear husband took his last breath. Christy and the children were absolutely devastated. In the midst of her own health issues and her inability to travel because of it, the family wasn’t able to have the glorious Arlington Funeral with 21-gun salute that Christy and her husband had been planning for years. Because he was so much older than her, his passing was something that her and the children had discussed and had been mentally preparing for their whole lives together. What they hadn’t been planning was for Christy’s health crisis that came out of nowhere, draining their savings, and making her too unstable to travel far. The family decided to cremate him and wanted to do a more proper funeral once Christy’s health was more stable.

In the meantime, the friends that she had been able to house sit for while she was undergoing treatments eventually returned, and having nowhere else to go, and needing to be as close to Native American health care as she could, she resorted to come to Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee while she gets her and her late husband’s financial affairs in order. “I’m just so lucky to be here,” she said again. So grateful for a safe place to lay her head, and more importantly grateful for the air she is able to breath, and grateful for the life the Lord has given her. Christy is working towards getting better, getting her own apartment here, and getting her and her late husband’s benefits lined back out, so that she can one day live independently.

We want to take a moment to thank our donors, for helping to make Christy’s transition easier. While we do have many stories of the addicted or those that haven’t made the best life choices and are working on righting their wrongs, there are many people who find themselves temporarily without a home simply because of a snowball of unfortunate circumstances. If it weren’t for the generosity of those who give, people like Christy would be out on the streets right now, hungry, trying to keep their feet dry and their bodies warm as the cold rain pelts them, much like life has. It must feel so defeating. But here there is hope and direction and a sense of purpose here at GRM. And it’s because of our donors and sponsors that Christy has a warm safe place to lay her head. Thank you! You ARE making a difference!

If you would like to donate, donate at https://grmmuskogee.networkforgood.com/projects/78864-investing-in-life-change. If you would like to be a part of the action, volunteer! Contact Charolette at Charolette.sanders@grmmuskogee.org.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit 5

Judges 11:29 New International Version

Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.

 The Holy Spirit is our only consistently accurate guide for all things in our life.  He will take us on a journey that is filled with adventure, passion and blessing.  That is if we will trust in Him.  He is our leader and our friend.  Listen to His voice, do what He says and things will go better for you.  The Holy Spirit does not always offer a life of comfort.  Remember that the Holy Spirit is the one that drove Jesus into the desert for forty days of fasting and prayer.  Do not glamorize that event.  That was difficult.  Jesus was obedient to the leading though it was uncomfortable.  From time to time, the Holy Spirit will do the same for you.  One of the things that the Holy Spirit focuses on is to get you in the right frame of mind, in the right place at the right time.  Trust in His guidance.  His leadership will not always make sense, look beyond logic.  Remember that His ways are not our ways.  His ways are always better.  Surrender to Him today.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 15

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30

    Earlier we had looked at the first of Jesus’ Ten Commandment upgrades regarding murder.  We learned that in the Old Testament if I did not take a life from another human being, I was not considered to have broken the commandment.  However, Jesus tells us that if we so much as call someone a fool or in other words use life sucking words about someone than we have committed murder. 

Now we have Jesus’s second upgrade.  In the Old Testament as long as I never have sex with another woman I am generally seen as having not broken the adultery commandment.  Now Jesus goes to meddling with that simplistic interpretation.  He says if you lust you are committing adultery.  Consider what that means. 

If you look at pornography you have committed adultery.  If you fantasize about a woman that is not your spouse, you have committed adultery.  Any time that you dehumanize a woman and degrade her even in your mind you have committed adultery. 

Again, we come to the concept, you must guard your thoughts.  It is easy for our mind to wander to cleavage or short skirts.  I hate to even mention it in fear that it will cause some of you to stumble but silence also has it s power.  When you find yourself struggling, when temptation is calling out to you.  Call out to Jesus. 

If the image is on a screen, shut it down, but I know that it is already seared into your brain, so call out to Jesus.  Consider this, Jesus loves that woman, purely.  Consider this, that is someone’s daughter.  If she is a Christian woman, she is God’s daughter.  Do you really want to fantasize about the daughter of God?  Ask Jesus to help you think purely.  Acknowledge that He has made beauty and cherish that beauty.  Protect it, do not allow others to degrade her with coarse jokes or comments. Rise up.

Jesus takes this command very seriously as He directs us to pluck eyes, rip off hands in other words to take extreme measures.  Do whatever it takes to make your thoughts pure.  Seek counsel, find friends who also struggle and confide in them.  This is a battle.  Be free or be dead in hell.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Part 4

 Judges 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.

Are you trying to decide if someone is filled and led by the Holy Spirit?  Are believers drawn to them?  The Holy Spirit calls out to itself within the lives of others of like faith to come together.  I do not believe in unity at all costs, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit brings together men and women of God.  Even if they disagree on certain topics, they discover that they can work together for the causes of the Kingdom of God.  Even those that are normally opposed will feel compelled to join the effort given by the Holy Spirit.  I desire to see this Spirit more and more each day.  Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might see Your church united and lead our community to love and serve You more.  Help us to be a light to the lost.  Let us share the hope that can only be found in You.

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Guest Stories

“George’s” Story

Did you know that the state of Oklahoma holds the country’s second highest divorce rate? George, and a lot of our guests, are no strangers to this fact. Finding love seemed to be no challenge for George, it was the lasting love that he seemed to struggle with. He met the woman that he thought would be the love of his life, but after 5 years, the relationship went sour. While they were never officially married, she filed for a common-law divorce since they had lived together for over 5 years. The judge awarded the land and property to her, and he was out the door.

Quick to bounce back though, George worked hard to get back on his feet. His work experience was full of various skills: Heavy machine operator, certified welder, he even landed a high-paying desirous job working for Cadillac building car frames. It wasn’t long after that he got wind that his land had been sold. Back in a position where he could do something about it, he bought the land back from the new owner. Unfortunately, the love bug bit again, and he let a woman rent from him who refused to pay her part, and once again, the land was lost.

Feeling incapable of picking up the pieces for a heart-wrenching second time, he turned to drugs and eventually suicide to eliminate the constant stress and worry. Three rehabs and a stint to the Green Country Crisis Unit later, George found himself being driven to Gospel Rescue Mission by a Crisis Unit employee for orientation with us. Right away, he felt better and more at peace with himself.

A bull rider and rodeo roadie for his younger years, he’s banged up, but he’s still going strong. Broken bones didn’t stop him, divorce didn’t stop him, and addiction is definitely not stopping him either. While he’s on the job hunt for any kind of meaningful employment right now, his ultimate goal is to work on a ranch, out in the open air with the animals. That’s when he feels free. “I’m here,” he said confidently. “I’m trying to make a better life for myself.” He’s doing amazing at working our program, he’s realized some of his mistakes, and even when he moves on from us, he’ll be taking with him the love of his new GRM family and the loving spirit of God.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 14

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:22-26

   Peace.  I offer you peace.  But peace does not happen accidentally.  It requires effort.  Our natural bent is to put it off because it is simply too painful, to uncomfortable to engage in the conversations needed.  “Settle matters quickly.” We make excuses as to why we should wait.

We avoid healthy conflict, but no face mask can prevent the damage that can be done through this practice.  Research shows us that avoiding the conflict leads to a whole host of physical health issues.  Families are destroyed because we don’t address the issues that are in our faces.  Our minds become warped by our thoughts of revenge.  But the most damaging is to our spirit.

Remember we were designed for a perfect life in the garden.  Peace should be surrounding us.  Contentment is in our wiring.  However, sin came in and broke that peace.  Our sin was a declaration of war against God.  When we live in conflict with our brothers and sisters we are in conflict with God.

How often have I been in church, nursing a grudge?  I feel angry and embittered over some slight real or imagined.  In the darkness of my mind I have contemplated evil against my enemy, maybe even while I am there in church.  While you are at the altar.  While I am worshipping and recognize this anger welling up within me, I must go make things right. 

Make peace.  Sometimes you will be wronged, forgive anyway.  Go make things right and then return to church and worship in Spirit and in Truth.

GRM offers a webinar on Restoring Peace where you can learn to become a peacemaker.  Peacemaker is a role that our world needs today more than ever.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Episode 3

Judges 3:9-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

When the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

When we look around and see that our world is in true need, a desperate need, our God is watching and waiting.  Look to Him, to be our salvation and our hope.  He is simply waiting for us to seek Him, to call out His name.  Today is that day.  Dear Heavenly Father I look to You above all things.  Bring hope and wisdom to our world.  Let us love abundantly.  Let us face our enemies with courage and win them with our love.

He will send a deliverer filled with His Holy Spirit.  I pray that I would live a life that would enable me to be chosen by Him to bring peace and to bring justice but most importantly the message that we all long to hear.  THE KING IS COMING.  Prepare the Kingdom for His arrival.  Be purified.  Choose to love the unlovable.  Choose to forgive.  Choose to speak against injustice.  Choose to call of peace.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series Episode 13

   “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21-22

 In the last blog we talked about allowing the law and the prophets to be a mirror to our hearts.  Most of us feel that we are “good enough” or “better than”.  However, when we see ourselves clearly under the firm teaching of the law and the prophets, we begin to see the intention of the heart.  Yes, we did something nice.  But we did it so that we could get the applause.  Maybe we want bragging rights for our patience.  Regardless the law and the prophets will expose us at least to ourselves.

On the surface as I examine myself, I rarely break the ten commandments.  Some claim that because we live under the new covenant the law no longer applies.  But Jesus does not dismiss the old, he is adding to it.  This passage is the first in the sermon to point this out to us.  Do not murder.  Simple straight forward.  In my lifetime I have never killed, taken life from another human being.  The biggest thing I ever killed was a very sick turkey that was suffering.  It really was an act of compassion that was asked of me by my family.  I found even that sort of killing to be difficult.  As a soldier I have committed myself to defend others and if needed I am willing to take life.  That would be a last resort to save someone else.  But the actual killing of a human, not on my list of past sins.

If we were under the old covenant that many say no longer applies, I would be good to go.  This sin would hold no sway on me.  However, Jesus adds to the law.  My personal history is full of times where I have lost my temper, where anger got the best of me.  Jesus tells me here that I am subject to the judgement.  The Father loves me, that does not change.  But if I lose my temper, He is not proud of me.  He cannot brag on me because I have broken the commandment not to murder.  If, even in my anger, I use my words to cut someone down and insult them; I have murdered their soul.  I have broken the commandment.

What Jesus is teaching me is that I must guard my words carefully.  I must use them to speak the truth in love.  While correction may be required, I must remember that the ultimate end that I am speaking life into them.  I look around at our world today and it is dying slowly from all of the negativity around us.  If someone does not agree with us or votes different than us, we throw our words around and stab at them with little barbs of hate. 

My friends the lesson here is that we must speak life.  Jesus is commanding us to think about how our words will either build someone up or tear them down.  Choose life.  Build up those around you.  Even if they disagree with you, build them up.  Even if they don’t seem willing or unable to understand you, build them up.  Inspire others toward life. 

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Week 2

 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. Numbers 27:18

God is seeking men and women that are willing to receive His Holy Spirit to guide their leadership and their lives.  Joshua spent many years under the leadership of Moses and realized most likely early on that the task was beyond his ability.  He became open to receiving the Holy Spirit.  Inviting the Holy Spirit to take leadership of our lives and our leadership exponentially increases the potential of our lives.  These leaders must seek to be filled, anointed and led by God.  Many strive to learn the techniques and skills of leadership and these should not be abandoned, but seek the greater counselor.  He can guide your training.  It is the Holy Spirit that makes the Godly leader effective.  It is the Holy Spirit that gives him or her unprecedented wisdom and insight.

The Holy Spirit will orchestrate a life that ultimately brings Him glory regardless of what seems to be the truth in your world.