The Testimony of the Founder and President of Go Fish Ministries, Inc.
Kimberly Marie Hartfield
My name is Kimberly Marie Hartfield. I am first and foremost a mother and grandmother of eight wonderful children and two beautiful granddaughters, who I love dearly. I have a Masters Degree from William Carey College in Hattiesburg, MS and have majored in Psychological Counseling with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. I also have some undergraduate work in Psychology, Religion, and English. I have dedicated my life to the service of Jesus Christ, who is my personal Lord and Savior. I am the founder and President of Go Fish Ministries, Inc., a Christian advocacy group for victims of sexual and domestic violence, including childhood sexual abuse. I claim II Corinthians 3-10 as my calling, which states: May Yahweh God be blessed, the God our Christ Yeshua comes from, the God all mercies come from, and the God all comforts come from; Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may be able to comfort those, who are in any kind of trouble, with the same kind of comfort that we ourselves have been comforted with by God. As we have suffered much for Christ, so we’ll be comforted much by Christ. And if we’re troubled, it’s for your comfort and to help you to be saved, which is what helps us to keep going in what we suffer: or if we’re in good spirits now, it’s for your comfort and to help you to be saved. And our hope for you is strong, knowing that just as you’ve taken part in the suffering, so you’ll be comforted. Christians, we want you to know of our trouble which came to us…, that we were troubled more than ever, more than our own strength, so that we even lost all hope of life. We had a death sentence in us, so that we wouldn’t trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead: Who saved us from such a great a death, and so saves us: in whom we trust that even now, will still save us.
As I have received the gift of God’s healing myself, I hope to be able to bring the peace beyond understanding to others in God’s Kingdom with the healing message of His mercy and grace. My love for the Lord, along with my passion for writing has drawn me to explore some commonly experienced crisis issues from the perspective of my own experience in the hope that I might bring an empathetic and compassionate insight to God’s people. I believe that God has blessed me with an ability to confront and relate these issues to the Christian community in my writings, which are written from a Christian perspective and primarily for the Christian audience, though I hope they might be useful for the healing and bringing of others into God’s Kingdom. I have personally experienced the healing hand of God in facing many of the issues I write about, which I honestly and openly discuss. I feel I have been called to the homeland mission field of North America, where I hope to continue to be able to use my writings as a testimonial tool in my personal ministries, as well as in the service of Go Fish Ministries.
I want my life and my testimony to be a witness to the grace of God and for the comforting of His people with the truth of His unconditional love and mercy. I believe I am called of God to use my testimony for God’s glory, as are all who have been saved by Jesus Christ. Revelation 12: 10 and 11 are two key verses in our salvation process, that is, our faith in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and our testimony to that fact. Now the way to be saved, and strength, and the realm of our God is here, and the power of God’s Christ because the accuser of all the Christians is put down, who accused them day and night to our God. But they overcame the devil by the blood of the Christ, the Lamb of God, and by telling the story of how Christ saved them; and they didn’t love their lives so much that they even risked death. God has brought me through diverse tribulations during the course of my lifetime, including being a victim of sexual, physical, and mental abuse, being a victim of a drunk driving accident, spousal pornography addiction and adultery, my own suicidal depression, adultery, divorce, the subsequent remarriage to my first and only husband, a brief incarceration, and having experienced three miscarriagesalong with various other trials. Through God’s merciful forgiveness of my own sins and His grace given to help me forgive those who have been my stumbling block, I have been able to overcome many of these adversities. It is my hope that I can show others God’s individual care for us, by showing how God has kept me from the very beginning of my days.
My early childhood brought both pain and comfort with it. When I was just four years old, I was subjected to the humiliation and pain of childhood sexual abuse by a close relative, who was several years older than I was. This continued over the years until I was about 12 years old. For years I shut out the unspeakable memories as my primary defense mechanism. I lived out my days just as any normal child would, only I held a deep dark secret that I felt no one else could know. I always felt like I was strange to the other children, like somehow they knew my secret, and I was ashamed. I hid my shame in the innermost sanctuary of my soul, where only God could see the ugliness, and yet somehow I knew that God still loved me.
When I was about four or five I had a dream that my mother has helped me to recall over the years since. I awoke early one morning to join her in her bedroom at the dresser where she was rolling her hair with curlers. I began to tell her about the dream, saying that I had a nightmare about Jesus. She asked me how it could be a nightmare if it was about Jesus and I was silent as I picked up a hand full of hair rollers off the dresser. I put the first one on the dresser in front of my mother and said to her, “This one stands for the people back in Noah’s day. And this one stands for the people back in Jesus’ day,” as I placed the next one beside the first I had placed on the dresser. I put the third one down saying, “this one is for the soldiers of the world, and this one stands for the Cowboys and Indians,” as I continued with the fourth curler, placing it beside the others in the line. I explained to my mother with the innocent wisdom of a child, what generation of people each one of the rollers stood for. As finally I placed the last one on the dresser I said, “And this one stands for the people like we are.” And then I reached to pick up one more curler. Placing it in front of the others I had placed in the semi-curve of a rainbow, I said, “And this one stands for Jesus.” Mother asked me if Jesus came back after the people of our time and I answered, yes, Jesus came then. Finally she asked me, “Were all the people good when Jesus came back?” She said I was silent for a long time, as if I was waiting for the answer to come to me from the dream. Finally I answered mother’s query saying, “No, Momma; Jesus learned them to be good.” Mother pondered in her heart the implications this dream seemed to have. The mystery of this dream always shadowed our lives as we shared the miracle of this first dream. We shared the mystery and the hope of it. We shared, in the recesses of our hearts, the promise of that dream, which indicated that Jesus would come soon. This dream was followed by several more over the years, but this one coming from a child of so young an age seemed prophetic to mother and I believe also that it was a prophecy to me of our Lord Jesus’ soon return, possibly in our own lifetimes or soon thereafter.
Later in my childhood when I was about 12 or 13, I was confronted with the fact that my sister had disclosed that she had been molested, too. I was asked if this had happened to me also, which I confirmed. But at this time, our disclosure was offered no counsel and pretty much kept the dark family secret. This was devastating to me because it brought back a flood of memories that I had no recourse to deal with. It put me in a state of suicidal depression that lasted for many years. I lived from day to day, always with the desire for life to end or something to change. A few times I tried to help death come a little quicker, though I know now that I was only silently screaming for the help I desperately needed.
When I was about 16, I was shown a film in high school dealing with this very topic, and I disclosed the sexual abuse to someone outside the family for the first time. I talked to a teacher and the gentleman who sponsored the film, but was not offered any further counsel at that time either. But even so, the disclosure was a first step in the healing process for me. A little while later I disclosed the abusive events to my older brother, who told my dad. They confronted the abuser with the accusations and he admitted the abuse, but said that he was no longer committing these acts of abuse. He pled for forgiveness and later in a phone call to me, pled for my forgiveness also. I was a devout Christian and had been taught all my life to forgive and forget, and so I tried to do just that. I put it as far out of my mind as I could, but with no counsel, I had yet to deal with the related issues.
At seventeen, I quit school and married my husband, who had seen me through all of the turmoil that the confrontation of childhood sexual abuse had brought into my life. I saw him as sort of my knight in shining armor and put him rather high on a pedestal. I began to let him occupy the place in my heart that God once had, finally giving up for time on my spirituality and in to his sexual desires. He began to subtly drive doubts and divisions between all those who had once been close to me, isolating me psychologically. He put doubts in my mind as to the motives behind my youth director’s special closeness to me. With my background of childhood sexual abuse, it was easy for me to let those doubts about my youth director’s actions toward me take over. He put doubts in my mind as to my parents’ motives for covering up the abuse. He made me feel as if I could trust no one but him. Soon after our marriage, he dropped out of church and kept me out with him for quite some time. We had sporadically attended church services, but not until I had given birth to my first child did I make the attempt to attend services regularly once again.
Women in Christian Ministry
A Journey of Faith
Authored by Sis. Kimberly M. HartfieldWomen in Christian Ministry is the culmination of my writings on women’s ministry and related topics of concern. It is a reflection of my personal journey into Christian Ministry and my search for truth in questions concerning a woman’s place in ministry, types of ministry, and whether or not she should be ordained for that purpose. It was an answer to God’s calling on my life and God’s confirmation of that calling. I hope that my journey of faith may help you in your search for truth and encourage you in your calling. This book includes samples of a Baptism, Wedding, and Funeral ceremony. God bless to all!
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Less than a year after we married, we were involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. We were driving home after his graduation from the Police Academy when the car crossed the median on Hwy 49 going the wrong way and hit us head on. My husband had extensive injuries to his knees and shoulder, which required surgeries and I had extensive facial lacerations from going through the windshield that required several months of scar tissue build up removal from my face. Needless to say, I felt very ugly. At this point my self-esteem was very fragile and I felt like my husband could no longer see me as he did earlier in our relationship. He was put on steroid medications for his injuries, in which one of the side effects somewhat lowered his sexual functioning and with my messed up face, I assumed it was because of me. We were not clearly told of the possible sexual side effects and other consequences of these medications at that time.
At nineteen, I was pregnant for the first time with my first child. Sometime during the pregnancy, I discovered a stash of pornographic magazines that my husband had hid under the bottom of his dresser drawer that I was cleaning out. I was devastated by the discovery, feeling that my husband no longer viewed me as desirable due to my facial changes and expanding shape during my pregnancy. I was being plunged into a pit of despair that would take me years to get out of. Not only had my face been scared, but now my body was changing, too. Then my husband began to stealthily tempt me to view pornography with him in the form of videos, which he claimed would make our marriage better.
Two years later I had given birth to my second child. The pornography continued to take hold of our sex life and the tension between my husband and I grew out of control as he plunged deeper into the addiction and I fought it with all of my strength. A little while after my second child was born, he hit me during the course of an argument, giving me my first black eye. I hid the domestic abuse until one day when my mother came by unexpectedly. I lied to her saying that I had hit my eye on the doorknob of a kitchen cabinet. But I could not live with lying to my mother so a couple of days later, I told her the truth. At some point I decided that I could not lie about it, nor would I hide the domestic abuse anymore, so I went to church that Sunday with a black eye. I faced up to my humiliation, knowing that I could not ever hide inside my abuse, as I had kept the secret of childhood sexual abuse all those years. Something inside me would not let it be hid, after all the years of burying myself in the secret of my childhood sexual abuse. Something inside me wanted to scream it out and tell the whole world what had happened to me and what was now happening to me. Domestic Violence was a part of my life for the next 20 years.
It Rarely Stops Video
A couple of months later when my second child was only three or four months old, I found out that I was again pregnant. My husband seemed none too happy about it, which only plunged me further into despair. Our fighting had become frequent and violent. One day after a heated and abusive fight, I went outside and stood under the two massive trees in the front yard and cried out to God in my despair, asking him to take my baby and not let it be born into this hell I was in. Later, when I went in for my three-month check-up, the doctor found no heartbeat and sent me for an ultrasound. At the viewing of the ultrasound, they found no baby, only remnants of the afterbirth. The doctor’s explanation was that sometimes the body simply absorbs the dead fetus, but I knew in my heart, God had answered my prayer and taken my baby. The guilt I felt over this was as bad as if I had had an abortion. I felt this was my greatest sin and could never disclose it to anyone. I had asked God to take my baby, so in essence I felt as if I had murdered my baby by asking God for its death. I was so ashamed and hid this secret in my heart for many years. I had not yet learned the scripture passage that tells us “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
About two years later, at 25 years old, I was determined to pick up some lost pieces of my life and studied to take my driving test, and my G.E.D. Although this gave me back some self-confidence, I still battled with my husband’s pornography addiction and the constant temptations I faced to join in his objectionable behaviors. After viewing with my husband a pornographic video, which displayed a similar scenario, my husband began to tempt me with fantasies of having sex with one of his close friends. We had sought counseling from a secular counselor for the domestic abuse after several serious fights, so I brought up the situation in one of our counseling sessions. I was told by her that open relationships were sometimes good for a marriage and would help us grow sexually. With this ungodly counsel and my innate belief that I should obey my husband’s commands, and after fighting over it for two years, I finally succumbed to the temptation and committed adultery with one of his friends.
But this had an unexpected twist. After the sexual encounter, the friend despairingly cried, “Oh my God, What have I done?” I began to make excuses for my behavior, telling him of the domestic abuse I had encountered at the hands of my husband. Surprisingly, he instructed me to go back home to my husband and get back into the Word of God. He specifically told me to read the book of Job. This was not something I had expected. But I did just that. I went home and delved into the Word of God and read the whole book of Job. Though this man refused to let our sexual relationship continue, I fell deeply in love with him. I saw him as the spiritual leader that I had always wanted my husband to be. I tried with all my might to put our relationship out of my mind, knowing it was an illicit and sinful desire, but I could not stop remembering him. I fought this temptation for several years, but because I had told my husband about the adultery, he used it to try to further tempt me.
And yet, through it all, I began to delve into the Word of God with a passion I had never felt before and tried to live up to the expectations of my “emotional” lover. Though I endeavored to search the Scriptures, probably for all the wrong reasons, I nevertheless, found some strength to resist further temptation. But the more I stood against my husband’s illicit sexual desires and the more I ventured faithfully to church, the more violent the fights became. The domestic violence was a way of life now. Over the years I had received multiple black eyes, a broken arm, a broken nose, many bruises, death threats, and other psychological abuses, which almost always occurred on Sundays and Wednesdays over such difficulties as me attending church services with the children and not having dinner when expected. My husband would sometimes spit on me, strangle me, use pressure point techniques on me, kick closely at my pregnant stomach to scare me, kick at me while I rocked and nursed my babies, demand that I have sex with him while I was trying to nurse a baby to sleep, and many other physical and psychological abuses. He continuously cursed me in front of the children and always held me responsible for their childish inadequacies, which taught them almost a total disrespect for me. Not only did I have to contend with his abusive words and behaviors; I now was faced with the disobedience and disrespect of the children that I loved so dearly.
Then one evening came the last straw. My husband was angry again and threatened to hit me again. I told him that if he wanted to hit me again we’d make it a fair fight and I went to the closet and got a baseball bat. He wrested it out of my hands and grabbed his gun that was laying on the dresser. Before I knew what was happening, I felt the cold metal to my head. All of a sudden, I sensed a great peace come over me and I stopped fighting. I knew I was ready if the Lord chose for me to die, so I just relaxed and dropped to my knees. I didn’t know whether he was going to pull the trigger or not, but it didn’t matter because I had God’s peace beyond understanding in my heart. Then suddenly, my husband let me go and put the gun back down. I left the room. The next day I filed for divorce. When I filed for divorce much of the physical abuse diminished as we were living separately during that time. We were divorced for a year, but he continued his emotional hold on me through our sexual relationship, that we maintained, because I wanted us to remain faithful to each other. By this time we had five children, and I was soon pregnant with my sixth child.
In my early pregnancy, I began to have some trouble with my blood pressure and other pregnancy related illnesses. I was afraid for my health and feared dying during the birth. One night after a severe bout of the flu, I had a dream that would change my life forever. In this dream were three scenes. In the first scene I felt myself in a small dark room lying in a small bed, much like in a hospital room. I felt an intense pain, my heart pounded, and I struggled to breathe. I felt as if I was very near death. Then suddenly, a bright light shone all around me, and Jesus appeared to me standing at my feet. Christ touched my feet and then disappeared. I immediately felt a sense of relief and a calming peace came over me as this portion of the dream came to a close. A few months later, during the birth of my child, I hemorrhaged severely, losing much blood and nearly died. But just as this first scene in my dream had depicted, I had been near death, yet the Lord brought me through it.
When I had become pregnant, I was burdened that our separation should end and that we should reconcile our relationship, since the abuse had halted during this time. Soon after the birth, we moved back in together on the pretense that we would have the divorce annulled. He refused to remarry me for some time, saying that he never considered us divorced and would only have the divorce annulled, which he claimed cost several hundred dollars that we did not have. After quite some time of using this excuse, I became insistent that we just remarry because it cost less and I felt like we should not be living together unmarried, though we had always remained faithful to each other since the divorce. He finally revealed that he never intended for us to remarry, because he had been advised by a lawyer, that he would never receive as good an agreement as he had with our current divorce papers if we should ever remarry and divorce again later. At this point I pleaded for God to answer me as to whether or not I should continue in the relationship, still divorced or not. The next day, I read a passage in Genesis that said, “I have seen all that he has done to you, return to thy kindred” and I took this to mean that I should go back home to my parents. We separated for the second time.
In the second scene of the dream I had had during that bout of the flu, I had been in my parents’ home and I felt that same sense of dread and felt a great fear of dying. I had dreamed that I arose out of bed from the back room and walked in the darkness to the kitchen area of my parent’s house. As I came into the area between the kitchen and the living room, near the carport door, I saw the same bright light I had seen in the first scene and the Lord appeared to me a second time. Once again, Jesus touched me and the fear and panic immediately ceased, while a sense of peace restored me as this second scene came to a close in the dream. Almost two years to the day of the dream, I was living in my parents’ home due to our recent separation. One night as we exchanged the children, he began to fight about the exchange saying I was supposed to bring them the previous night. I had brought them to his house and he had pulled in behind me blocking me in. When the fight began, I pulled through the yard and tried to escape from him, only to realize that he had left the children alone and followed me. He tried to run me off the road a couple of times, so I somehow sped up and got a little way ahead of him. I pulled into the driveway at my parents’ home with him following close behind. I ran into the house calling to my father, saying that he had just tried to run me off the road and was following me. Daddy grabbed his gun and headed outside, where he thought he saw my husband reaching for the weapon he usually kept under the front seat of his vehicle. My dad shot at him, hitting him in the earlobe. My husband sped off. We called the police and filed a report and they went and got the children and brought them back to me. As I stood in the kitchen doorway and heard the gunshot, I felt that great sense of fear and dread that I had felt in the dream two years before. But just as the dream had prophesied, the Lord was with me once again and brought me safely through it. My husband was taken for a mental exam by his family and was taken to Chicago for six months or so while under treatment. He returned a few months later, apparently with a change of heart, and we remarried. Shortly afterwards the domestic abuse resumed.
The third scene of the dream was not so easily understood, nor recognized. In this scene, I walked with the Lord on a great stretch of beach where many people lounged and slept. As we walked together, the Lord raised His arms to show me that all the people slept. He very clearly and audibly spoke one word to me saying, “Awake.” I awoke hearing the audible voice of Jesus speaking that word. I prayed for three days for God to reveal the meaning of the dream to me. I searched the Scriptures for any verse with that word in it. I found three passages.
Love does nothing wrong to another, so love does what the Word of God says to do. And do that, knowing the time, that now it’s high time to awake from sleep, because now we’re closer to being saved than we ever thought. The night is almost over, and the day is near, so let’s put off what we’ve done in darkness, and let’s put on the covering of light. Let’s walk honestly, as in the day; not in fighting and drunkenness, not acting in sexual sin and shamelessness, not in arguing and jealousy. But put on the likeness of Yeshua the Christ, and don’t satisfy the wants of the body. Romans 13:9-14
Don’t be misled: evil people make good people do bad things. Awake and be good, and don’t sin, because some of you don’t really know God. I say this to your shame. I Corinthians 15:33-34
This is why God said, “Awake, you who are sleeping, come to life from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then, that you walk carefully, not as thoughtless people do, but as wise ones, using your time wisely, because the days are evil. So don’t be unwise, but understand what God wants you to do. And don’t be getting drunk on alcohol, which is excessive; but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:13-14
On the third morning, as I was just beginning to awake, I heard the voice of the Lord again say to me “Three times is three years.” I took this to mean that in three years, I would walk with the Lord, since I was walking with the Lord in the dream. I believed that this meant I would walk with the Lord in death. From this point on, I believed I was going to die within three years and that I had three years to awake myself and tell God’s people to Awake. I told my husband my fears, as well as some of my church family. My husband, rather than giving me the support that I so desperately needed, began to mock and ridicule me, calling me crazy and saying that he would kill me himself, if I didn’t stop talking about it. I lived in fear of death for three years, praying that it would not come by his hands, but by God’s. I began to stand up to his ridicule. When he would threaten my life, I stood in his face and said to him, “You can’t do anything to me that God doesn’t allow.” This only infuriated him more. The fights escalated. I continually went to the church to pray and counseled with my pastor and his wife. I began to pray the prayer that Jesus prayed at Gethsemane, “Father, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but Thine.”
At one point I had prayed specifically that God would confirm the meaning of the dream through one of His people. I heard the voice of the Lord once more in another dream telling me, “Listen to Mrs. Bobby”, who was the pastor’s wife. One night after a prayer service I spoke to her about the dream and she suggested that the dream could mean that I would be walking with the Lord in a spiritual sense, but not yet in death. Yet, I was so convinced that I was right about my initial interpretation that I totally discounted this possibility. As the time drew nearer, and the third summer approached, I increasingly feared death and my husband and I argued more and more frequently over the matter. I sought his comfort but received none, only further threats.
Then I was led by the Spirit to a passage that says, Whether I live or die, I do it for the Lord. I began to accept the fact that I might indeed die, but I received hope with the Scripture that said, Nevertheless, it is more profitable for you that I live. Meanwhile I began to pray that I would at least see one of my children’s up-coming birthdays. And then I prayed to see the next one, and then the next one. As August approached, I found myself pregnant, once again, only to very early on miscarry. My husband denied I was ever pregnant, and so I suffered the miscarriage alone. Shortly thereafter, we had a heated argument where he ridiculed me severely about the dream, and ended up threatening to kill me in a very gruesome way once more. He said to me, “I’ll cut you up in a million pieces and put you where no one will ever find you.” This emotional turmoil was more than I could handle, so rashly I jumped in my car and drove to the Brownsville revival in Florida that I had been hearing about. I had just planned on staying a couple of days to get my head together in prayer and try to discover what God wanted of me. I had gone there because it was near the coast, on the beach, just like in my dream. I somehow felt I would be nearer the Lord, there.
As I was driving to the church though, and just as I had reached the beaches, I realized I had made a wrong turn and looked down at a map. The next thing I knew was that I had wrecked and totaled my car. I was unhurt, but totally stranded with only $8 in my pocket. The wrecker driver took me to a homeless shelter where I spent the night with some pretty unsavory characters. I was very much afraid, but I tried to be a witness to all those around me. I swept the floors to earn my keep and spent the evening in prayer with one eye open all night. I walked to the church the next morning, where I talked to a minister who helped me to contact my pastor who arranged for my dad to come pick me up the next day. So I spent two nights in a homeless shelter witnessing to anyone who would listen to me and then walked back to the church the next day to await my dad’s arrival. I sat on the church lawn studying my Bible and praying for God to give me some clear direction. God led me to the passage that said, “I set before you this day, life and death, choose ye therefore life.”
I realized at that point, that the car wreck had been the point of no return. I felt that if I had not repented of my sins and begun to pray for and seek life that God would have taken me at that time. I understood that as I had begun to pray to see my children’s birthdays, for the first time in my life, I was actually choosing life. I actually wanted to live and was seeking life in fellowship with the Lord. Then God also showed me the passage in Jonah where judgment had been declared on Nineveh, and yet when Nineveh repented, God chose not to execute that judgment. It was not that God changed His mind, but that when God passes judgment, it is always on condition of repentance. I had truly repented of my adulterous relationship and my suicidal death wish, so God chose for me to live and not die. Had I not repented and sought God with all my heart, I believe the car wreck would have brought about my death and I would have walked with the Lord only in death as surely as the dream had prophesied. Either way, I knew by this time, that if I lived I would walk with the Lord in life, or if I died, I would walk with the Lord in death. I had learned to accept both possibilities, even if it meant having to face those who never believed the dream was anything more than just a dream, nor that its prophetic appearances would come to pass.
This dream was the pivotal turning point in my life. I learned a total trust for my Lord and Savior like I never had before. I literally put my life in His hands. I had to live for three long years really fearing death to learn to appreciate and love life. Since that period of time, I have not seriously considered suicide, as I had previously lived with a death wish for as long as I can remember. Before that time, hardly a day went by, that I did not hope for death to bring an end to all my suffering. I even prayed for death to come. But as I learned to trust in God more each day, I found an inner strength and peace that I had not experienced up to that point in my life.
Later, as I rode home with my father and brother from that shelter in Florida, I tried to listen to their council as to what to do next. I was told by them that I should move back home with my dad until I could get back on my feet and go to work. I had previously been offered by a lady in my church, a chance to go through a Second Chance Class that guaranteed a job interview if I finished the course. I was told that I should leave the kids living with their Daddy until such time as I could support them. I knew that he had them completely in his control anyway and it would be useless to try to get them away from him at that point, since I had no means to support them. So I moved back home with my parents, and enrolled in the class, which began in late August or early September.
During this time I had several very vivid dreams concerning the month of October, but couldn’t quite figure them out at that time. One dream that I had back in July was very clear and showed my husband, all my children, and my self, walking through the local mall, together. There were Halloween decorations everywhere, so I knew it was October in the dream. As we walked through the mall, I spotted a baby camouflaged hunting outfit and told my husband that we needed to buy it. At this time it just didn’t make any sense, but I noted it in my diary on July 11, 1997. In another dream I was walking through the hallway of my church and I fell flat on my face, but I was looking upward into heaven. I saw thousands of angels in the heavens. It was so vivid, I actually saw the tips of their wings shining like the sun with thousands of points of light. Then I saw an angel appear next to me and I heard the voice of the angel speak to me saying “The angels will be with you.” I then asked the angel, “Oh? Am I going to go through some troublesome times?” But the angel just repeated, “The angels will be with you,” and then I awoke. I had no idea what this could mean.
I went on to complete the second chance class and went to work at Forest General Hospital in Housekeeping. I had much joy in talking to and witnessing to the patients as I cleaned their rooms. One lady was on her death-bed, and I came in and quietly and thoroughly cleaned her room. As she struggled to speak to me, she whispered, ‘Thank you” with a sweet love in her eyes and genuine thankfulness in her heart. I never will forget her face, as she told me thank you with every ounce of her being. After living with such an ungrateful and abusive husband for so long, it gave me great joy to know that I may have made a small difference in a few lives like hers. But it was October and the days were turning cool.
Then one day I went to my husband’s house to get some of my winter clothes that were still there. When I got there, I found the house in total disarray and filthy, so I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I cleaned for several hours before my children came in from school. When they arrived, I was shocked when I met with their total anger and malice. My oldest daughter called her daddy and told him I was there. The next thing I knew was that my husband pulled up in front of the house with a police car and two police officers. I tried to explain what I was doing and showed the police officers the messy house and asked them to have him remove the weapons from the premises until I left. He denied having any guns, though he was a police officer himself, and had always had guns since before our marriage. As I tried to explain what I had been through with my husband and what I was trying to accomplish by trying to get back on my feet and then trying to get the kids back, I was met with total disdain from the female police officer. She told me that she never would have left the kids with her husband in those circumstances and that I shouldn’t have either. As I tried to explain further, my dad arrived as my husband had called him to come get me. He told the police officers something to the effect that he knew how I was and that I had been out of control with him on occasion, I believe referring to the time I tried to slap him when he used God’s name in vain in front of my children and cursed at me. When I tried to explain that I had only tried to slap him because of his cursing, they told me to shut up. They told me that if I didn’t be quiet, they would arrest me. My husband and my dad were both allowed to give their side of the story, yet they refused to hear a word from me. I contained myself as long as I could, then once more tried to explain my position. They told me to shut up or be arrested, so I held out my hands with tears rolling down my cheeks and said arrest me then if you think I have done something wrong by helping him clean up his house. I never said an ugly word or raised my voice to any of them. But in any case, I was arrested for disorderly conduct and was incarcerated on a Thursday evening. The first night I was brought into the Lamar County Jail to a trailer with bars on the windows and doors, which housed several women of questionable character. I was scared to death. Here I was, a young church-going mother of six children, who couldn’t even steal a dime from her mother and lie about it for long, who was arrested for trying to help clean my husband’s house, in jail with a bunch of women of ill repute. I was showed my bunk and given a blanket, but no pillow. I was given a bar of soap, but as I had no change of clothes, I didn’t shower. The first thing I noticed was a bookshelf with several Christian books and a Gideon Bible. I grabbed it off the shelf like it was pure gold and read until they turned the lights out that night. When the lights were out I sang praises quietly to myself. I don’t know if the others heard me or not.
The next day was Friday and we went to the courthouse to clean it up for the next week. I talked to some of the women for the first time then. When I told them why I was arrested, they just laughed and laughed. They couldn’t believe I was thrown in jail for attempting to help my husband clean his house and that hew called the cops for me doing so. Later that afternoon we were allowed an hour in the fenced in concrete courtyard. There was a high set of steps that led up to a locked two-story building, so I climbed to the top where I could see over the edge of the fence and not feel caged in. I sang praises to God atop those steps. Though I was surrounded by fence and other prisoners, I was alone with God and free. When we were brought back to the trailer, I got the Bible again and began to read it. After a while, one lady offered me a nightgown, so I could shower and wash my clothes. As humbled as I was, I accepted with great thankfulness. After I had showered, she and her friend told me how their husbands had got them into a shoplifting theft ring and how they had been caught at the local Wal-Mart. Others began to tell me their own stories. One had been busted for drug use, which her boyfriend had gotten her hooked on. There were many other such stories in which husbands or boyfriends had led them down a path of temptation to which they succumbed, until they were finally arrested.
After the stories were told and everyone went back to doing their own things, and I back to my Bible study, one black woman came back to me when she felt no one else was looking. She began to ask me about salvation and how she could know that she was saved. I began to try to explain to her that you can only be saved if you trust in Jesus with your whole heart and if you truly repent of your sins. She said she had always believed in Jesus since she was little, but that she wasn’t sure of her salvation because of her recent sins. I tried to explain to her that repentance meant a complete turning away from your sin with the resulting change in behavior. I attempted to show her that though she believed, she had not truly repented nor yet trusted Jesus. She came very close to making a decision for Christ, but another woman had come to listen in on our conversation and began to ask questions herself. Others gathered around as I tried to show them the way of salvation, but as I had never really witnessed to any one before, I found myself floundering for answers myself. But I trust that the seeds I planted that night have not gone unharvested, because God’s Word says one plants, and another brings in the harvest.
The next day was Saturday and we didn’t get breakfast on weekends, but only lunch, which was a peanut butter sandwich, along with some very weak Kool-Aide. The peanut butter was spread so thin you could barely see it on the bread. The same with the jelly. Sometime that day, I was told that I had been bonded out by my father and oldest brother. I got in the car with them and a couple of miles down the road, was told I was going to Pine Grove Mental Health center to be tested. I found it quite curious that it was I who was the victim that had been beaten and bruised and had a gun put to my head, and they thought I was the one who was crazy. At that point I told them to stop the car and I opened the door and said that I would walk home and that I would not go with them. I walked until the cops picked me up again and I was back in jail. This time I went before Judge Anderson, who actually listened to me with some compassion. He said that I never should have been arrested in the first place and would let me work off my fine by Sunday. I asked if I would be out in time for Church services and he graciously said that I would be allowed out by Sunday Morning Services. I was allowed to call my pastor and arrange for him to pick me up Sunday morning on the church bus and bring me to church. That last night in the jail during my Bible studies, God revealed to me what the October dreams meant. As I thought about the one where my husband, my children and I were walking together through the mall, I knew that it meant that I would be reconciled with my children and husband in October. I knew that the one where the angel told me that the angels would be with me, was talking about this very time of trouble. I knew at that moment that I had to go home to my children. After the church services, I had my pastor bring me home to my husband and children. About three weeks later I found out I was pregnant again, which explains why I had said in the dream that we needed to buy the camouflage baby outfit. The Halloween theme and hunting season signified the month of October. It was now October and the baby was due in July. She was born on July 11, 1998, exactly one year to the day of when I had noted this dream in my diary. I named her Rebekah Selah Grace! What grace God had bestowed on me with the foretelling of her birth!
During the second chance class that I had taken, I had discovered the possibility of going back to college at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, MS. I had learned about the grants and loans that made it possible to go to college, even if you couldn’t really afford it. In 1997, during my early pregnancy with Selah, I entered college as a non-traditional student at 37 years old. I took two trimesters of classes and then took that first summer and the following winter trimester off after having her in order to nurse her. The following October I re-enrolled in classes, scheduling them around her nursing pattern, so that I had a little over an hour off for lunch to go to Mama’s and breastfeed her. During these early years of undergraduate study, I floundered through several choices of Majors and Minors, before finally deciding on Psychology as my Major, dropping Religion to a Minor, along with English.
By December of 2000, I was facing serious burnout in school. I was unconsciously wishing I would get sick or something, just to have a little time off. Two days after Christmas, I awoke early in the morning after having a dream about having another baby. I remember arguing with God in my mind as I was walking to the bathroom. I was telling God, that I was in school now and the last thing in the world I needed was an eighth child. After all, I had given Selah her name because it was a musical term in the Bible that meant “a long pause” in Hebrew. I was telling God that I hadn’t had enough of a pause. As I was returning to the living room where I had been napping on the couch that morning, I didn’t notice the bag of storybooks that the cat had knocked over during the night. As I sleepily walked back to the couch, I slipped on them, and when I came down on my foot, it was completely broken at the ankle. I called out to Rose, my oldest daughter, to awaken her and to tell her to call her daddy at Forrest General Hospital where he now worked as a detective. Thirty minutes later, he still had not come, so Rose brought me the phone and I called him personally. I explained that my foot was hanging backwards on my leg and finally he understood the seriousness of it. Forty-five minutes later, he made it home and with the help of my boys, managed to get me into the middle seat of our van, where I could lay down. This was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt, until it finally began to go numb and I could no longer feel it. The only way I made it through that ride was by quoting the passage of scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” all the way to the hospital. When I got there, the doctor explained to me that both my ankle bones were broken and that I would have to have emergency surgery to fix it. I was scared to death, since I had never been put to sleep before, even after having seven children. As they were giving me the drip to put me under, I told my husband about the dream I had just had and that we were going to have another baby. He just laughed and said I was hallucinating. But after I fell, I had come to the conclusion that there’s no use in arguing with God, and had already accepted it as fact. Because of the medication I was on after the surgery, I had to withdraw from college for the remainder of that trimester, which gave me the much-needed rest I had been unconsciously praying for.
By the end of January, I knew for a certainty that I was pregnant again. But in late February, I re-entered school on crutches anyway. I took crackers to class with me to keep the nausea at bay until my seventh month. The pregnancy went fairly well, though as I had been with Selah, I was borderline diabetic and had borderline high blood pressure as well. When it came time for an ultrasound, I was shocked that it was a boy. I had my heart set on another girl and didn’t know how in the world I could handle another rough and tumble boy. But after a little while and a lot of prayer, I accepted the fact that I was having a boy, and that God would not give me another one if he didn’t think I could handle it. As October moved closer, my blood pressure remained high, so Dr. Shannon decided to induce labor a couple of weeks early for safety precautions. I told my husband that the Doctor wanted me to come in on Saturday morning to induce labor. He was not happy. It seems he and the boys had another ball game to go to. I explained to him that this was not a matter of convenience, but for the baby’s health and my own safety. I told him he could go to the ball game if he wanted, but I would be going on to the hospital, without him, if necessary. After this serious disagreement, on Saturday morning, he finally decided the ball game was not so important and decided to join me after all. After the doctor broke my bag of water and a few hours of hard labor, it was time for my eighth child, Joey, to be born. The intensity of his birthing process seemed so much more difficult than the others, but I was also feeling much older than I had the last time around. I pushed and pushed with every ounce of strength that I had left in my body and then some. Finally he was born.
After two days in the hospital, I went to Mama’s house for a week and then returned home. The days that followed were pure Hell on earth. Joey was very colicky, even though he was breastfed, which made everyone in the house miserable after days with no sleep. The conflicts between Rocky and I were fueled by the kids refusal to help me around the house, his refusal or lack of know how to discipline them in an appropriate manner, and my returning to school soon. My husband had always hated the fact that I had entered school, and continually ridiculed me about my intelligence and my choice of a Christian College. Curse words and heartaches flew around like baseballs falling to the ground after being tossed carelessly into the air. My heart was broken once again, when I realized, like Lea in the scriptures, that it didn’t matter how many children I gave him, he simply could not love me for who I was. His incapacity for love seemed to me to have been fueled by his father’s alcoholism in the days of his youth. With his father’s inconsistent love and violent wrath, he never really learned how to love. And then again maybe I didn’t know exactly how to love him either, considering my childhood history. It seemed most of my loving had been somewhat sexualized all my life. After three months of Hell on earth, and another night of Hell raising by my husband, I packed my bags once again. In a fit of anger and decisiveness, I told the kids whoever wanted to go with me could come and whoever wanted to stay with their daddy could stay. Sunny, Merry, Selah, and Joey came with me. The boys stayed with their father. I feared for them, but I knew there was no way I could handle all of them on my own, and that I would just have to trust God on this one. Rose had already moved out and in with her Nana and Papa a few months earlier due to a conflict with her daddy, where he had pinned her against the wall and scared her badly.
We loaded up in my old white station wagon with the back-end full of suitcases and bags and my husband close on my heals pleading with me to change my mind and not leave again. His remorseful tears seemed so genuine; it almost broke my heart all over again. But I knew tomorrow night would be the same as this one if I didn’t get out of there and that the children were better off with us separated and not fighting all the time. A little while later, we pulled up at Mama’s and told her we needed a place to stay. All the younger kids and myself crammed into the spare room, while Sunny slept on the couch. The next few days we spent trying to get adjusted to living with mama and daddy again. I applied for government assistance and got Merry enrolled at Dixie school. Sunny continued at Oak Grove along with her sister using their daddy’s address. I drove them to school every morning and my dad picked them up in the afternoon, while I was in classes.
I got back in school the following February, arranging my schedule around Joey’s nursing time. After about seven months of sleepless nights, and walking the floors with him between myself, daddy, and mama, his crying finally eased off. While I was breastfeeding, I discovered that when I ate onions and orange juice was when he was the most fussy and I loved them both. I had a hard time giving up the foods that I loved, among other things. I had almost completely given up soft drinks and coffee and any other highly acidic foods, and still, for months on end, he cried. I figured God was telling me to give those things up anyway, but I still rebelled on occasion, and ate what I wanted to. I paid for it dearly.
Rose finished up her senior year of high school, one of only two Distinguished Scholars that year. She had managed to juggle science fairs and presentations with my help getting her to a science fair in Oxford, MS. That was the first time I had ever driven that far by myself, and we had Joey in his car seat behind us. She had put in many hard hours working on an oral history of war heroes in this area. She was looking at colleges in North Carolina because that was where her boyfriend David was going. They had been seeing each other since early high school. She had applied to NC State and to UNC. I was disappointed that she chose not to go to a Christian College as I was and desperately wanted her to, but I left it in the Lord’s hands. One night she came to me in tears, and said that she had not got into either of her choice of schools. She was devastated, but she had found another college called Meredith on-line that happened to be a woman’s Christian college. I was ecstatic and told her she should go for it. She couldn’t understand why she had not made the other two colleges after all her hard work, but I knew in my heart this was God’s doing. Sometime later we found out that her transcripts had mistakenly not been sent out. She didn’t know how she could afford a private college either, but I told her that if this was God’s will for her, then He would make away. So we started praying. A few weeks later, she received the news that she had been accepted and had received a $20,000 scholarship. We looked at the finances and realized that she would still be a few hundred dollars short each year with all the student loans she could get. We had no idea how we were going to get her there either. A few days later, she found a plane ticket on-line for less than a hundred dollars and we trusted God for the rest. Just a few days before she was to leave, we received another letter from the financial aid office of Meredith, stating that they had reviewed our income information and her transcript and had awarded her a full academic scholarship for four years, worth $68,000. Rose and her high school sweetheart later married, and have had a child, my second granddaughter. Rose graduated from Meredith four years later, and then went on to Duke University for graduate study and has graduated with a Master’s Degree in May 2011.
The following year was Sunny’s senior year in high school. We saw her win First Place in the State on the National French Exam her Junior year, followed by Third Place in the State her Senior year. She was considering entering the mission field to French-speaking people at that time. We did her senior project together and raised funds for a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, while beginning the Joshua Mikel Memorial Fund in memory of the child which the victim lost at birth. Sunny applied for Meredith and received a substantial scholarship as well. Due to the home life that she had suffered through, when she finally got away from it all, she experienced a bout of depression and confusion, which somewhat hampered her learning experience at Meredith. She also experienced some culture shock and had some uncomfortable experiences while there. She then returned to MS and entered Jones County Junior College and finished her second year of college there. She went back to North Carolina after that, and is about to be married and is studying Library Science.
I continued my education at William Carey University, finishing up my Bachelor’s degree and then entered my master’s level program. My husband and I have remained separated, but are still married, though we do not live together. I have followed my heart and God’s Word as close as possible under the circumstances, and have chosen to remain married and not divorce. Since the scripture tells us that if a woman leaves her husband, she is to remain unmarried or be reconciled to her own husband, I plan to keep that possibility open, unless he chooses to divorce me. And if that should happen, I will remain unmarried. But for now we have both chosen to remain faithful to each other, but live separately until the seeds of reconciliation have begun to sprout. My husband has had some serious medical issues and almost died a couple of years ago. Since that time, it seems to me that God has been seriously working on him. I’m still not to the point of reconciliation, but pray that God can and will change his heart someday and that we may be reconciled. But if not, then I know we are all in God’s hands.
During these last few years, God laid many plans for the future on my heart. From the beginnings of Sunny’s senior high school project, I began a personal ministry for victims of childhood sexual abuse, rape, and domestic violence, which incorporates the Joshua Mikel Memorial Fund into it along with plans for other ministry efforts, including a second-hand bookstore for Christian literature, called Go Fish Christian Books, which stands for Gifts of Faith and Inspiration Second Hand. I named the Umbrella ministry Go Fish Ministries, after the passage of scripture where Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of others.” Its acronym stands for Gifts of Faith Inspiring Serving Hands. I did some homework and figured out how to incorporate the Ministry to have non-profit status. For quite sometime I had felt God’s call on my life and I became an ordained minister, in hopes of furthering the ministries’ efforts. It is my sincere hope and prayer that God will provide me with the wisdom and funds to make this a great ministry to reach victims of sexual and domestic violence, as well as others with Christ’s life changing Gospel. In the opening up of my heart and telling of my story, I hope that others can see the way God has changed my life from a depressed and suicidal victim of both childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence, and a sinner myself, to a strong woman of faith and inspiration, still a sinner, but a survivor, forgiven and victorious.
I have seen my plans for the bookstore blossom from an Ebay storefront website, to a corner booth in a flea market, to a place of my own. I had a small office suite, in which I crammed several plastic shelves full of books and gift items. When I opened up in July of 2004, I had a few plastic shelving units and a couple of hundred books. Then I got real wood shelves and over 1000 books from donations, and by God’s grace remained open for eight months. I paid the first couple of months rent out of my student loans and God did the rest. Upon opening the store, I sent a write-up to the Impact newspaper describing the Grand opening plans for the bookstore and Ministry. To my total shock, they ran a front page headline about the opening. Not long afterwards, I received a phone call from a reporter from the Hattiesburg American, who then came in to the store for an interview. She had previously researched my website, and interviewed me quite knowledgeably about my plans for the ministry. A couple of days later, a good-sized article with a picture of me in the bookstore appeared in the Hattiesburg American Newspaper. None of this was my doing, but God’s grace brought it all to pass. I struggled with faith several times when it seemed the money just wasn’t going to be there to pay the rent, but God remained Jehovah Jireh, the God of Provision. After eight months of struggling to just make the rent, and not very much community support, I closed up shop with a lack of faith and went home with more books than I knew what to do with.
During this time at home, I began to write a series of Christian tracts, with the belief that a few words about life coming from a Christian perspective can go a long way in a world where people don’t have a lot of time for reading lengthy books. My subjects covered topics like sexual abuse, pornography, discipline of children, birth control, breastfeeding, and other women’s issues, etc. I hope and pray that God will bless these efforts of mine, to minister to those in his kingdom who are hurting as I was. My words were simply my perception of these crises and other events, from which I drew my conclusions from a Christian perspective. After I came back home and decided just to finish my coursework and not try to work and go to school, I began to feel the need for a version of Scripture, which the kids could understand, without using such words as “propitiation”, which even some adults do not understand. I began a paraphrase of the Psalms and Proverbs and then moved on to the New Testament. I struggled with this quest greatly, not sure where the desire to do this was coming from. But God showed me throughout my struggles, that it was God’s will for me to do this. I have continued my work on this paraphrase of Scripture, and have completed the Psalms, the Proverbs, the New Testament, and the Torah. I am still working on the rest and hope to complete it within the next two years. In the mean time, I am trying to build a ministry from the ground up, with no money, and no help, from anyone but God. It will be up to God what happens next. But Lord Jesus, here am I, send me!!!
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now the way to be saved, and strength, and the realm of our God is here, and the power of God’s Christ because the accuser of all the Christians is put down, who accused them day and night to our God. But they overcame the devil by the blood of the Christ, the Lamb of God, and by telling the story of how Christ saved them; and they didn’t love their lives so much that they even risked death.
Revelation 12 [10-15]
My son Rock is now a parole officer here in Hattiesburg. My son Tommy is a security officer and now has a beautiful little girl and boy. Jonnie is now working and doing well. Merry is going to graduate this year and lives with her sister, Rose. Merry is quite the character and is doing very well in drama productions. Selah and Joey are now home-schooled and are doing very well. We live next door to my mother and help take care of her, so I am now officially a member of the sandwich generation. My dad has now passed away, and I miss him greatly, even though we didn’t always see eye to eye on life events.
Clockwise Selah, Jonnie, Rock, Tommy, Merry, Joey, Me, and Rocky in the center.
To read more of my story read
A Little Redneck Theology also available on kindle
- A Christian Response to Childhood Sexual Abuse (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- A Christian Perspective of Abuse in the Marital Relationship (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Coming out of the Closet Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence and the Non-traditionally Sexually Oriented (gofishministries.wordpress.com)