By Ada Brownell
Note: This is a true story from the book, What Prayer Can Do
James DeBoer is now a Sunday school officer, and his wife, Ruth, is a Sunday school teacher. To see how greatly they enjoy the services at First Assembly of God Church in Lakewood, Colorado, one would never suspect they used to drink alcohol and quarrel constantly.
Today they are a happy couple and their home a haven of peace, but a few years ago it was anything but that. The children were allowed to smoke and drink any time they wanted. The parents never took them to church.
But a member of Lakewood First Assembly started coming by and giving the children a ride to church. One day she asked the oldest boy what he would like most in all the world. He replied, “I would like my parents to be saved.”
Jim and Ruth talked it over and decided it was time they started going to church for the sake of the family, for they had reached the brink of disaster. They were desperate.
Both of them knew something about the gospel. Ruth had been converted prior to her wedding. She was not living for the Lord, however, when she married Jim. They started writing to each other in 1950 when he served in the Army. After corresponding eight months, Jim made the trip from Colorado to Nebraska to be with her. Three days later he gave her a ring. Four days after that, they were married, and the next day he had to go back to the Army base.
Ruth wasn’t married long when her church had a revival meeting and she rededicated her life to Christ. She was so excited she wrote Jim about it immediately. He was not as thrilled as she was. “Don’t get religion on me now,” he wrote back, bitterness oozing from his words.
Jim could recall when he was age six and his greatest hero was not some famous cowboy, but Moses. He wished he had been named after the great leader of Israel! In his young heart, Jim had a desire to serve God, and he told his mother he wanted to be baptized. She said he was too young. From that time on his attitude toward life was different. Rebellion increased. By the time he was age nine he was such a problem his mother was told he would have to go to a reformatory. Instead she sent him to live on a ranch with an older sister and brother-in-law.
Jim’s brother-in-law let him drink a little whiskey one night. Jim liked the effect. It made him act silly and he thought it was fun, so the next time he had the chance he drank again. By age 16 he bought his own liquor or made it himself. He learned how to make peach brandy, cherry wine, and potato whiskey. He drank so much when he went to bed, he sometimes thought the bed floated in the air—so he got up and tied the bed down.
Then came military training, marriage and overseas service. After his discharge he arrived home to find Ruth still serving the Lord.
“I’m having none of that,” he said.
Every Sunday they fussed because she wanted to go to church and he didn’t.
Jim went to Sunday school with her once, but the teacher knew about his habits and switched from the regular lesson topic to teach about the evils of smoking and drinking. Jim refused to go back.
They quarreled over other things too. When Jim went to the movies, Ruth waited outside in the car. When their first child was born they fussed over how to rear him. Then they fought about Jim’s drinking.
Finally Ruth decided if she would stop going to church maybe peace would come to their home. So she conformed to Jim’s wishes—but this did not solve their problems. If the quarrel pattern changed at all, the quarrels became more frequent.
By May 1961 their lives reached such a crisis point that Jim began to make desperate plans. There was a man he hated. He desired to kill him. The drinking, the quarreling, the frustrations of life had so confused his mind that he focused all his anger on this one enemy. Life had become so meaningless he was willing to trade all hopes of future happiness for one moment of revenge.
He decided he would kill the man, and it would be a brutal murder. That was the kind of treatment Jim felt his enemy deserved. He knew what he would do with the body. When it was all over, he would confess the crime to the authorities. He thought the satisfaction from getting revenge would make it all worthwhile.
One day while at work he meditated on his plans—considering the best way to attack his enemy, when he remembered the Bible says, “Whoever hateth his brother is a murderer,” (1 John 3:15). He knew enough about the Scriptures to realize in God’s sight it is not necessary to commit the deed—the thought alone makes a man guilty in God’s eyes.
Suddenly it seemed Jim could see the crime scene he planned. He was looking into the lifeless face of the man he had killed. The bloody scene in his imagination might have nauseated some people, but the sickness Jim felt was in his soul, not his stomach. A crushing load of sin pressed against his body. The weight seemed more than he could bear. His breath came in gasps. In agony he clinched and unclenched his fists again and again.
A moan escaped his lips, though no one else heard it above the clatter of machinery. “Oh, God,” he cried aloud. “Forgive me!”
Instantly peace and quietness flooded his soul. He felt the load lifted from his back. He had never known the full meaning of salvation, but now he knew he had been forgiven.
When he went home, he read his Bible and prayed again. He read a Scripture portion and prayed every day, but he didn’t tell Ruth.
It was at this time the woman from Lakewood First Assembly told Jim about what his son had said he wanted more than anything in the world.
The boy said, “I would like my parents to be saved.
Jim and Ruth decided to go to church.
Jim took a stand for Christ—and Ruth rededicated her life to the Savior at church on Sunday morning. They knew what to do with all the beer and liquor in the refrigerator. After church they took it out and dumped it in a creek near their home. But the cigarette habit hung on to Jim for several months. Not until he was baptized with the Holy Spirit in a revival meeting was he delivered from the craving for tobacco. Ruth also received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit one night later.
God made Jim a new man. He found the old hatred for the one he planned to murder was gone. He went to his enemy, made peace with him, and invited him to church. The man attended church a few times, amazed at the change God made in his would-be-murderer.
Jim and Ruth are now students of the Bible. They are faithful in church attendance and active leaders in Sunday school. Jim served on the deacon board for consecutive terms and Ruth is a Missionettes leader.
God snatched them from the brink of disaster and placed them on mountaintops of joy and satisfied living.
THE PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, August 17, 1969