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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.

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Guest Stories

James Story

As COVID-19 continues its warpath through the world, Gospel Rescue Mission has remained a safe haven for our guests and a place of comfort. For one guest, COVID-19 left his life in shambles, and we were the soft-landing place he needed so that he could sift through the rubble and start putting the pieces back together. So, what happened to James? Did he fall ill? Did he lose a family member to the destructive virus? No. In fact, James’s story has a whole new level of shock factor.

It was early March, one week before America came grinding to a panicked halt. James received a troubling call from a friend, and he knew he needed to be there as that person went through one of the worst experiences one could imagine: the sudden loss of their spouse. He could hear the pain in his friend’s voice and knew he had to help in any way that he could, so he took the next flight out to California, unaware of what was stirring up on the other side of the globe. What he thought would be his mission to help another would ultimately tear his life apart. 

A week after arriving in sunny California, mass-hysteria set in as news swept across the nation about the pandemic. Airports were cancelling flights, bus stations closed down, and trains weren’t taking passengers. Transportation, other than pricey rental cars, became non-existent. So, James buckled down for the long haul, happy to be with a friend in need and enjoying the vacation-style atmosphere of Cali. Its beachy palm trees made for a nice change of scenery, much different than the quiet plains of Oklahoma. Just as he was settling in though, his phone rang again. This time, the devastation was much closer to home.

His wife called with the news no husband ever wants to hear, especially when you are a thousand miles across country. “I have cancer,” she told him somberly. And with those three words, James’s life came tumbling down. He tried to catch a flight out, take a bus, anything, but with limited funds, and all inexpensive forms of transportation down for who knows how long, he was stuck. After a short time, he found a flight to Dallas, the closest he could get to his home in Tahlequah, and he jumped on it without hesitation. Upon arriving at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, he was quarantined for two weeks at the Arlington Event Center, having just arrived from a coronavirus hot spot. In the meantime, his wife was going to appointment after appointment receiving more bad news with every visit. Those two weeks seemed to be an eternity.

When his time in quarantine was up, he made a mad dash for the bus station, which was still operational in Texas. He went as far as the bus would take him, Muskogee, and that’s when things really started to unravel. His funds were completely depleted. His wife’s health had taken a turn for the worse; in just a matter of 3 weeks after her diagnosis, she was hospitalized, and the prognosis wasn’t good. With no income and his wife being in the hospital, the family home that they had been renting was needed by other family members, and they lost their home. He had no place to go back to and no money to get him to Tahlequah anyways. And with the hospital locked down due to COVID-19 and not accepting visitors, there was no point in trying to get there anyways. And that’s when he found Gospel Rescue Mission.

Since being here, James’s wife was transferred to OSU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, underwent two surgeries, and still has two more surgeries to go. While doctors are trying to be optimistic, the reality of the situation is that her health is uncertain. She was stable enough to be released after her surgeries, so she went to live with her son until they could get a place of their own and start rebuilding their lives. James recently found employment at a great job and is saving up to get their vehicle back and get a new place to call home.

We all know that God can work amazing miracles through the power of prayer. So, if you are reading this story, please take a moment to pray for them and for all the guests and staff at GRM. It’s a tough business to be on the receiving end and the giving end of life change, and COVID-19 hasn’t made it any easier. However, through prayers and the support of our volunteers and donors, the guests and staff at GRM will keep coming back with more stories of heartache turned to heartwarming stories of strength and resilience. Thanks for all your support!