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JR01, How I got here

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:36 pm
by JR
It would be helpful, for those that are just stumbling on this thread, to get a background on what this is about first.

Why am I doing this?

What I am pointing to?

My mother sent me to any Vacation Bible School or Sunday school that was available. As a child I attended Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic and Baptist churches. She was a non practicing Catholic, at the time, and she thought it would be good for me, plus it kept me out of her hair. If you minister in Sunday School or VBS, believe me when I say that your efforts do bear fruit. I am living proof of it.

I was saved, at around 12 years old, at a Baptist summer VBS. I was led to the Lord by the pastor and I was all alone in my faith. My parents were not leading and I had very little other Christian influences.

My Mom remarried about a year later. She was basically kicked out of the Catholic church, since you can not commit that form of sin, at the time, and still be in the Catholic church.

My step-father was abusive and we fought regularly. Since I was a skinny teenager, he always won those arguments. They were frequently concluded by me being beaten with a leather cinch. I frequently fantasized of killing him.

When I was 16, they decided that going to church would be a good thing. I was baptized, but most Sunday mornings I was in attendance with a bit of a hangover. My story is not one that is unsoiled.

After one particularly violent argument, which included the use of a hammer to threaten me, my Mom told me we were leaving. This was right after graduating HS in 1977. So with the help of a friend, three days later we moved to California.

My stepfather tracked us down, and by August my Mom and he reconciled. They invited me to go back to Florida with them, but I declined. I was not to keen on any more arguments that were to be punctuated with carpenters tools.

As a side note, my stepfather, quickly there after, found the Lord. He was born again and truly became a new man. He was a good father to my younger brother and my parents remained married until his death a few years ago. I gave the eulogy at his funeral. He and I never had a really close relationship, but he was my kids favorite grand father and I use his testimony as an example of how God can change a life drastically. Jim Harper died a good and Godly man.

I met my wife that December and we were married in 1979. There was no shotgun involved in the proceedings, but you can properly draw your own conclusions. I said my story then, and sometimes even now, is not one that is unsoiled.

We were, and still are, happily married (in fact we just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary last Friday). I found myself, I thought by dumb luck, in software programming. I was good at it and I was working for a small company and moving up the ladder.

At this time we had three kids, 1 girl and 2 boys. My Sundays were spent at a neighbors house, drinking beer and watching football. He was a big Packer fan. My marriage was happy and work was good. I had no real problems. My wife was exploring religion, but there were no real discussions or debates about it. There was also no evidence, to anyone, that I was a Christian.

So, that gets you up to date. I had a hard life, no real father figure, but not as hard as many others. My oldest son Shawn was about 3 to 4 in the fall of 1986.

One night, Shawn was crying, so I went to his room to see what was up. He was just dreaming, so I laid down with him and fell asleep.

My first vision struck me that night. Shawn and I were floating in darkness. A bright light came between us and began separating us. I was given a frightening message that Shawn was going to be harmed. That his life would be seriously harmed and that I needed to do something about it.

I woke up. I was frightened in a way like no other time in my life. Remember, I was a skinny teenager being chased by a large angry step father with a hammer. This shook me up in a way that I have never forgotten.

The meaning of the vision was clear. Your son's life was in danger and I could do something about it. The message was crystal clear, GET YOUR FAMILY TO CHURCH.

That morning I avoided any contact with my wife, until I was heading out the door. I casually said, "Find us a church, we are going this Sunday". I gave no explanation, just that statement and I left for work.

We went that Sunday, and pretty much every Sunday since then. It took me about three months before I told my wife what had happened. I was still shook up and did not want her to think I was nuts.

My wife became saved and my son Shawn is saved. I am not sure about my daughter till this day. My life showed no evidence, until the fall of 1986, so I am waiting for that evidence to show in her life. My younger son, has other medical issues, but I am more encouraged about his salvation.

So, happy ending, right? I thought I did what I was suppose to do and everything was taken care of. Not so fast.

When Shawn was in fifth grade we were living in a nicer area of town, I had my own business and things were going well. One thing about living in the nicer part of town, your kids friends have more access to things than you can imagine. By fifth grade, Shawn was introduced to drugs, alcohol and porn. We did not get the details on these facts until years later, when Shawn let us know what was really going on.

One night, in sixth grade, we found Shawn passed out in the front yard of his friends house. They had been skateboarding across one of the busiest boulevards in our city. They were doing this drunk. We were out to dinner, with friends, and my wife had a sudden urge to check up on Shawn. We got him on the phone, but he sounded weird. He said he had banged his head skating. We left dinner immediately and that is how we found him passed out.

By seventh grade, his school work was failing, except when the grades came out, then he got a C or D, just enough to pass. This what not him doing this, this was the school system. They were passing him on and basically condemning his future.

So, what about the happy ending? My wife decided to take him out of public school. That decision was the second step in saving his life. You see, the vision was not just about us going to church. The vision was for us to go to church so that we would be able to save our son. This is how God accomplished it.

1. We had older friends, in the church, that had been through similar things and we knew how to read the signs. We also knew it could happen to any family.
2. The church we were attending, had many families that home schooled. My wife home schooled Shawn the next year and a half. They gave her the confidence and the resources to do this on very short notice.
3. Shawn loved the Lord and was a good kid. He just needed to be removed from his friends influences.
4 We enrolled Shawn, in the same Christian HS that our friend from church had his daughter attend. This was the same daughter that we saw cause tremendous heart break for her family.

God's message to me was, get your family to the church, so that He could surround me with the resources my son would need. He gave me a 7 year warning. Why? Because I was to self centered and hard headed to do the right thing for my family. I needed a 2X4 across the head to do the right thing.

Shawn graduated from that HS and went to Hume Lake's Joshua Wilderness Experience (great program) upon graduation. He came back a man of God. God did it and I am forever grateful.

So that is the first vision. I do not know why I got that message and why other father's have not been given the same warning. Perhaps they have, just in a different manner. I know that tragedy happens every day, just like Shawn avoided, and I do not know why I got that vision and others do not.

If the telling of this story opened up old wounds, I am truly sorry. All I can do is to praise God for saving my son.


PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:45 pm
by AndCanItBe
I praise God for saving your son too. Thank you for sharing jjrear.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:48 pm
by grace2all
:praise: :a3: The Lord has certainly worked in your life jj...Praise God! Thank you for sharing your story. :grin:

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:50 pm
by WhiteH2OWoman
What a wonderful and inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it with us, and welcome!

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:52 pm
by Salty Skipper
Praise the Lord, JJ!

When the Lord wants our attention, He sure knows how to get it. I am glad that you shared this with us!


PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:54 pm
by Mttw633
To God be the glory! Thank you for sharing, it blessed me.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:57 pm
by Shelby
Thank you J.J. for sharing your story. I started crying here...

My step-father was abusive and we fought regularly. Since I was a skinny teenager, he always won those arguments. They were frequently concluded by me being beaten with a leather cinch. I frequently fantasized of killing him.

God bless you J.J.! :a2:

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:09 pm
by JR
ShelbyGump wrote:Thank you J.J. for sharing your story. I started crying here...

My step-father was abusive and we fought regularly. Since I was a skinny teenager, he always won those arguments. They were frequently concluded by me being beaten with a leather cinch. I frequently fantasized of killing him.

God bless you J.J.! :a2:


Thank you, but remember my step father did not end his life that way. The real story was that he was born again and God changed him. That is what is really important.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:23 pm
by Shelby
Ok, I remember.

That's just when I started crying, when I realized how deep your pain was. That's the only reason I highlighted that. Not trying to point it out or anything. oops.

I'm happy your family is saved! :praise:

PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:34 pm
by Salty Skipper