No. 1065



If you ever feel like you have been shielded from some of the world’s major problems, you will be able to relate to what I want to share with you today. I grew up in a rural dry county in Southeast Arkansas, and about the only thing we had to talk about that was the least bit negative was some of the boys going to a nearby town, in a wet county, and having a beer. As a result of this, plus my dad’s preaching to me against it, I have never taken a drink of alcohol of any kind, and have never bought a package of cigarettes. To be sure, I have done a lot of things much worse, so don’t let me leave a false impression. I am just a sinner who has been saved by God’s amazing grace.
That was back in the mid-1950s, and today we live in a vastly different world. Drug addiction and alcoholism are major problems today, and few are the families that have not been negatively impacted by the culture in which we live. The monetary costs of treatment rehab and incarceration is astronomical, running into the billions of dollars, not to mention the toll in terms of misery and human suffering in dealing with it. When you have addiction of any kind, the end result is wasted potential and wasted lives.
A good example happened recently in our family, to relatives of my wife Janis’s daughter-in-law. In 2011, retired missionaries Don and Helen Willingham were murdered in their home in Springfield, Mo., by Jose Huckleberry. Almost five years later, on Jan. 29, 2016, he was found guilty and convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of burglary. What follows are the words recorded by the couple’s daughter, Donna Willingham Fedor, as she sat through the week-long trial. “I see Jose as a broken young man. He grew up in the foster home system, suffered a lot of abuse as a child, and got into drugs at a young age. He fell into a lifestyle of robbing for money to buy drugs. Such a waste of his life so far! But Jesus loves him. Jesus loves to take broken, hurting people and turn them into new creatures!”
When you read the words I have just shared, you should understand that Donna’s mother and father had been brutally murdered with a knife by a man not knowing they were home and only intending to rob them, looking for something of value that he could sell to buy more drugs. When confronted, her father resisted and was finally overpowered and died, but here is how she described the death of her mother. “When mom fell to the kitchen floor, after she had been stabbed so forcefully that the knife blade penetrated her sternum and sliced her aorta open, her arms were outstretched, her feet were perfectly together, her body formed the shape of a cross, and her beautiful face and eyes were staring up at him from the cold kitchen floor.”
What is truly amazing is that Donna, after hearing all this, was vitally interested in Jose’s soul and where he would spend eternity. She said that during the trial she tried to make eye contact with him, and on the final day he looked straight at her and she smiled at him and he smiled back at her. She had already decided that regardless of the outcome of the trial that she wanted to see him. The message that I want to leave with you from my heart is that more and more people are coming to realize that Jesus is truly the answer to overcoming addiction that is devastating the lives of millions of people across the world. This is why programs like Renewal Ranch and others offer real hope for the Joses of this world.
(Editor’s Note: Bookcase for Every Child – Changing Lives & Futures – ONE AT A TIME. Please visit our website: