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HORROR TO HOPE--A STORY FROM THE HOLOCAUST

In Jerusalem there is a Holocaust Museum dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II. It has been said that going through the museum is a very depressing experience because you see these horrible pictures and read the accounts of the ghettos and the concentration camps. But in the midst of all the dark tales of suffering, there is one amazing story of how God can transform horror into hope.

In one of the German concentration camps there was a young lady named Rachel. She endured great hardship from being made to work in the snow with inadequate clothing. She watched in horror as many of her friends and family members were killed.

Then one day, the guards left unexpectedly. She didn't know the war was over. Later that day some American soldiers arrived to set the prisoners free. One young American soldier told Rachel he had come to rescue her and for her to gather her few possessions. Then he held the door for her and said, "After you, ma'am."

Rachel started to cry. He asked, "What's wrong, ma'am?"

She said, "I can't remember the last time someone held a door open for me. It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." The soldier stayed in touch with Rachel after she was relocated, and they became friends. Later they fell in love and were married.

That's what God can do. He can take the most terrible situation imaginable and make something beautiful out of it. Our God is an awesome God and I'm glad He's in control. Whenever you go through tough times, you can either look for the junk or you can look for the joy. Job looked for the joy and in the end; God rewarded Job's persistence and patience. It says in Job 42:12 that "the Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first."

(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Better Off Dead, 8/30/2011)

 
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Austin Mansfield
 
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The Spirit of Power that we receive is not like the human power that we recognize as strong. It’s a power unlike anything we can do on our own.

A young man growing up in the wrong part of Houston became a bully. He would get in fights in school, in the neighborhood, and began mugging people to get spending money. He even beat up people just for the sake of doing it.

He learned to box, and became pretty good at it. He began to make a lot of money and could have almost anything he wanted. One day, during his training session for an upcoming bout, he heard his mom talking to his sister on the telephone about his favorite nephew. The young boy had had a seizure and now lay in a coma in the hospital. Doctors said he would probably die, but that if he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be able to move his limbs, or speak, or do any of the human functions we consider part of living.

He ran into the room where his mom was on the phone and shouted, “Momma, call the hospital and tell those doctors to give him the best of everything. Tell them I’ll take care of all the bills, to fly in the best doctors from wherever they have to. Tell them who I am, and that I’ll take care of everything — whatever it costs.”

His mom spoke to the doctors, and then told him, “Son, you’re just going to have to pray.”

He realized then how grave the situation was. When someone tells you the only thing you can do is pray, things are looking pretty bad.

Then it hit him. All of his money, his fame, his influence, his friends — none of that could solve this problem. It was out of his hands, out of the doctor’s hands, out of everyone’s hands. For the first time, he was totally powerless.

And for the first time, George Foreman dropped to his knees and prayed.

He wasn’t sure God existed, but he knew that when all else failed, people prayed. He asked God, if he really existed, to help his nephew. Then he got back in bed. A few seconds later, he got back on his knees and offered to give up all his wealth if God would heal his nephew. Then he got back in bed again. A few seconds later he got back on his knees a third time and got angry at God for letting this happen to his nephew, a child who hadn’t experienced life yet. George told God to take his life instead. Let the boy live and take George’s life instead.

The next morning George’s sister called from the hospital. His nephew had woken up and could move his eyes, but the doctors said he wouldn’t ever walk again.

She called later that day, and the boy had begun moving his toes. The next day the boy was talking, and a week later he was on his way home, “walking, talking, and back to normal.” The doctors had no logical explanation. But George Foreman knew God had just given him a miracle.

Three months later in March 1977, George Foreman died in his locker room after fighting Jimmy Young. He collapsed in a heap, and entered what he describes as “a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit.”

In his book, God in My Corner — A Spiritual Memoir, George wrote “I knew I was dead, and that this wasn’t heaven. I was terrified, knowing I had no way out. Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine. If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt. …
“ I screamed with every ounce of strength in me, ‘I don’t care if this is death. I still believe in God.’
“Instantly, what seemed to be like a giant hand reached down and snatched me out of the terrifying place. Immediately, I was back inside my body in the dressing room.”

George accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and devoted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He realized his human power, his money, his prestige, were worthless in the next life, and meant to be used as tools to lead others to Jesus during this one.

He went on to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World twice. He was ordained as an evangelist in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and became pastor of a small church. He also became involved in prison and hospital ministries.

You probably know him best for the George Foreman Grills that continue to sell around the world. And he recently baptized his own 23-year-old daughter who finally decided to dedicated her own life to Jesus.
That’s God’s idea of power.

 
Contributed By:
Philip  Harrelson
 
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She was nearly blind. She was born on April 14, 1866 to Irish immigrants. Life was hard and from the age of three her vision began to fail. To add insult to injury, Annie’s mother died at when she was eight to tuberculosis. Her younger two sisters were farmed out to relatives. Annie tried to care for her father by herself. But at the age of nine, she was sent to Massachusetts State Poorhouse in Tewksberry. He poor vision, though, became a blessing in disguise and at the age of fourteen a new institute welcomed her into their open arms, the Perkins Institute for the blind.
Six years later, Annie at the age of twenty would graduate from college. Then on March 3, 1887, Annie stepped from a train into a small town in Alabama where she was met by a young mother named Kate. Kate had a daughter who had been born with all of her senses but at the age of nineteen months she had become deaf and blind. Kate’s daughter was named Helen.
So began the fascinating story of a teacher who was almost blind, who opened the world to a seven year old child, who couldn’t see, who couldn’t speak, who couldn’t hear. Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller would be inseparable in life. It was indeed, the blind leading the blind.
In fact they would even be united in death for in Washington Cathedral, along with presidents, life Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith, there would be a special chapel reserved for them and there Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller would be buried in that chapel, together in Washington’s Cathedral.
It was long after Annie’s death that Helen Keller spoke at a ceremony at Radcliffe College where she had gone and received her degree. That day a fountain was being dedicated in honor of Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher. Although Helen could speak at this time, although Helen was a prolific author at this time, although Helen was a world traveler at this time and welcomed in the halls of Parliament and in the courts of kings and queens. Although was a highly intelligent woman and had made speeches all over the world. . . . . but on that day, emotion overwhelmed Helen and when it came time for her to speak at the dedication of the flowing fountain, she uttered one word. One word. . . . . just one word. The same word that was signed into her hand over and over and over by her teacher. The word that had opened her world. The word that had connected her back to the land of the living. At that moment, standing before a fountain in Boston, Helen’s mind went back to a little Alabama town where she had raced from the house so frustrated and went to her favorite hideout by the well.
Her teacher, Annie, had found her there and she had began to pump water from the well and as it splashed over Helen’s hands, Annie began to sign that one word over and over again into Helen’s hands. Until from the memory dredged up when she was nineteen months old, she remembered a word, a word that she had spoken, and she began to try to speak that single word. That same word that the now-eloquent Helen spoke at a dedication ceremony, seventy-three years later. The shortest public speech in history, a single word. That word. . . . . water.
I found a quote from Annie Sullivan. She said, “Love is something like the clouds that are in the sky. You can’t touch them, you know. But you feel the rain and you know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You can’t touch love either. . . But you can feel the sweetness that it pours into everything.”

 
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PRAYER WORKS
George Muller was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805. His father was a collector of taxes and George seemed to inherit his father’s ability with figures.

When Muller was converted to Christ he was impressed by the many recurring statements of Jesus for us "to ask." At this point in Muller’s life he and his wife launched into a daring experiment. First, they gave away all of their household goods. The next step was even more daring, he refused all regular salary from the small mission he had been serving. He then set out to establish an orphan home to care for the homeless children of England.

The first home was dedicated in a rented building on April 21, 1836. Within a matter of days, 43 orphans were being cared for. Muller and his co-workers decided their experiment would be set up with the following guidelines:
1- No funds would ever be solicited.
2- No debts were ever to be incurred.
3- No money contributed for a specific purpose would ever be used for any other purpose.
4- All accounts would be audited annually.
5- No ego-pandering by the publication of donor’s names.
6- No "names" of prominent people would be sought for the board or to advertise the institution.
7- The success of the orphanage would be measured not by the numbers served or by the amount of money taken in, but by God’s blessing on the work, which Muller expected to be in direct proportion to the time spent in prayer.

When the first building was constructed, Muller and his friends remained true to their convictions. The public was amazed when a second building was opened six months after the first. They kept concentrating on prayer and eventually there were five new buildings, 110 workers, and 2,050 orphans being...

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Contributed By:
Paul Wallace
 
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A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for
the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the
parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized parking lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard.
MOUNTAIN-MOVING FAITH

Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had "mountain moving faith." They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the
following week.

At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation's 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o'clock the pastor said the final "Amen." "We'll open next Sunday as scheduled," he assured everyone. "God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too."

The next morning, as he was working in his study, there came a loud knock at the pastor's door. When he called, "Come in," a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered.

"Excuse me, Reverend. I'm from Acme Construction Company over
in the next county. We're building a huge new shopping mall over
there and we need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a
chunk of that mountain behind the church? We'll pay you for the
dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge, if we
can have it right away. We can't do anything else until we get the
dirt in and allow it to settle properly."

The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with "mountain moving faith" on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!

 
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MELVIN NEWLAND
 
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Bill McCartney retired as the head coach of the Colorado football team several years ago. His reason for retirement was not because he was unsuccessful as a coach. His teams had won the national championship. They had been in the top 10 many times.
McCartney said that he was retiring because he wanted to reevaluate his priorities. He said, “I’m leaving coaching, & I’m going to take a whole year to re-evaluate my priorities. Is God first? Is my family second? Is my work third?”
And when that year was over, Bill McCartney had dedicated his life & talents to Christ, & threw his efforts into founding the great men’s renewal gatherings that we know today as “Promise Keepers.”

 
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Wade  Hughes, Sr
 
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Why do people wear masks?

Several years ago, I had a nightmare, it was terrible.
For many days my spirit was greatly troubled.
In a dream, I saw one of my most serious workers at
church dying a terrible death.
As my church worker was dying,
I saw a battle going against my member.

I was broken beyond belief, as I saw this dedicated
Christian worker die and the Devil was grabbing the
individual and taking the soul to hell.

The smell was terrible, I could smell the enemy and
hell. This was so real.

In the dream, I started screaming, this is a terrible
mistake.
No way enemy, you can’t have this worker!
I have counted on them to do many things to build
this church.
They have touched many people and led many to the
Lord.
I am a better pastor because of this individual, and
the church is a better church, after all the hours
and efforts this family has invested in the church.

The enemy was slowly dragging my church member toward
the lake of fire and great torment.
We could hear the horrible sounds coming out of hell.
The smell was so real and horrible, I shall never
forget.

I was thinking, maybe there was secret sin, and they
were playing Christian games.
This was not the problem. I tried to fight for my
dear friend and the enemy kept slowly pulling my
member towards hell.

The fight was very painful.
I said, this is a good person.
This family paid their tithes.
They were faithful to church.
I could count on them.

What is going on here?
Jesus help me? What is going on here?

With tears in His eyes, Jesus came to me,
and said, I have tried and I have tried to change the
events of this day.
I have personally sent messages through you to warn
this individual?
I have sent radio messages to expose the sin?
I have given the words to television preachers, and
they watched with zeal, but My words were unheeded.
This person has cassette tapes that has warned them,
but they have not heard the message I have spoken to
them.
This person has books on their shelf, they have read
the parts they like, but the message I warned them,
was unheeded.

As a matter of record, when they heard the message,
they said the message was for someone else.
They even said, amen, let it be, but they thought the
message was for the other party.

I again questioned, Why Jesus, what is the wrong?
I knew them! They are good people.

With tears running down Jesus’ face,
Jesus said, "This individual was very angry,
and full of wrath.
Bitterness was rampant daily, and unforgiveness had
helped to bring an early death.
The home was full of coldness and painful rejection.
This person had allowed a critical spirit to tear
down the confidence in everyone.

They refused to pray.
Their hurt and disappointments had become the driving
force in their heart.
The anger they carried had brought physical
affliction, yet this never got their attention to
correct.

The person had rejected forgiveness, and justified
because of unforgiveness.

I was absolutely broken, as I saw one of my best
friends escorted into hell.
I could do nothing to change the hard heart, the
hurt,
the bitterness, --- the bait had been accepted.

The trap had locked on the neck.
I understood blasphemy as never before.
By focusing on the bitterness and pain, the person
had shown contempt and the lack of reverence for God
or His people.

Jesus had warned, the anger was turning into wrath,

 
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MEMORIAL DAY, A TIME FOR HEALING

Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it and what we will pass to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another.

Abraham Lincoln pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation embroiled in the self-destruction of what he described as "a great civil war..testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th of that year.

The minute’s speech that became known as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day. Lincoln’s purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men, both living and dead, who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. Said Abraham Lincoln: "That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."

The next year, a pleasant Sunday in October of 1864 found a teenage girl, Emma Hunter, gathering flowers in a Boalsburg, Pennsylvania cemetery to place on the grave of her father. He was a surgeon who had died in service to the Union Army in that great Civil War. Nearby, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer was strewing flowers upon the grave of her son Amos, a private who had fallen on the last day of the battle of Gettysburg. Emma respectfully took a few of her flowers and put them on the grave of Amos. Mrs. Meyer, in turn, laid some of her freshly cut blooms on the grave of Dr. Hunter. Both women felt a lightening of their burdens by this act of honoring each other’s loss, and agreed to meet again the next year. This time they agreed they would also visit the graves of those who had no one left to honor them.

Both Emma Hunter and Elizabeth Meyer returned to the cemetery in Boalsburg on the day they had agreed, Independence Day, July 4, 1865. This time, though, they found themselves joined by nearly all the residents of the town. Dr. George Hall, a clergyman, offered a sermon, and the community joined in decorating every grave in the cemetery with flowers and flags. The custom became an annual event at Boalsburg, and it wasn’t long before neighboring communities established their own "Decoration Day" each spring.

About that same time in 1865, a druggist in Waterloo, New York, Henry C. Welles, began promoting the idea of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans. He gained the support of the Seneca County Clerk, General John B. Murray, and they formed a committee to make wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteran’s grave. On May 5, 1866, war veterans marching to martial music led processions to each of three cemeteries, where the graves were decorated and speeches were made by General Murray and local clergymen. The village itself was also decorated with flags at half-mast, evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.

Also, as the Civil War was coming to a close in the spring of 1865, Women’s Auxiliaries of the North and South moved from providing relief to the families and soldiers on their own sides to joining in efforts to preserve and decorate the graves of both sides. A woman of French extraction and leader of the Virginia women’s movement, Cassandra Oliver Moncure, took responsibility of coordinating the activities of several groups into a combined ceremony on May 30. It is said that she picked that day because it corresponded to the Day of Ashes in France, a solemn day that commemorates the return of the remains of Napoleon Bon...

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Contributed By:
Robert Leroe
 
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A few years ago I conducted a funeral for a dedicated Christian man. His wife approached me and said, “He’s the lucky one—I wish I was going to heaven today. Why couldn’t it have been me?” We don’t usually envy people who’ve died, unless we know where they’re going, and where we’re going. On his deathbed, a minister told his son, “Don’t worry about me. I’m feeling somewhat better today. But should I slip away while you’re gone, you’ll know where to find me.” Christians never say good-bye for the last time.

 
Contributed By:
Ritch Grimes
 
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About 25 years ago, Cruz and Debbe Santiago met at Coney Island beach in New York City. They were homeless. They were addicted to drugs. They were experimenting with witchcraft. They were involved in gangs. They lived in the meager shelter underneath the Coney Island boardwalk. That was their home, except when they were in jail. Jail was their second home—their home away from home.

Then, one evening when Debbe was in jail, something happened. It was a little thing—such a little thing that you wouldn’t think it would make a big difference—but it did. The little thing that made a big difference was a Bible. A jail matron handed Debbe a Bible.

What about that matron? Did she expect her two-dollar Bible to make a difference? She had given Bibles to prisoners before. She had seen them leave without changing. She probably felt like you and I feel sometimes—that we do our best, but nothing happens. Perhaps she still feels that way, because Debbe didn’t change either—not right away.
While she was in jail, Debbe read the Bible. She read it every day. It fascinated her—and what else did she have to do? But then she fell into using drugs again. She ended up in the hospital in a coma. She woke up to the hissing rhythm of the respirator at death’s door. She woke up to the path of death on which she was walking. She had been there before. But this time it was different, because she had been reading the Bible. This time she knew what to do. This time, she asked God to release her from the drugs—and He did. This time, she dedicated her life to Christ—and Christ made the difference.

When she was released from the hospital, Debbe went to the jail to visit Cruz. Cruz noticed the difference. He said, “She was clean. She talked about the Lord. She left me a Bible.” Cruz became a Christian. In 1988, Cruz and Debbe were married.

But there’s more! (If Paul Harvey were telling this story, he would say, “And now the rest of the story!”) The rest of the story is that Cruz and Debbe started the “Salt and the Sea Mission” near Coney Island. They’re helping people just like the people they used to be—homeless, addicted, headed for jail. They preach the gospel. They feed anyone in need—60 on an ordinary day—hundreds at Thanksgiving. They operate a latchkey program. They help 350 children in a nearby welfare hotel. Every Sunday after church, they walked down to the beach—and poke into the secluded places—and give people a piece of bread—and give them the Bread of Life.

All because a jail matron gave a Bible to a junkie. All because a woman kept on handing out Bibles! God will bless our loving service.

 
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