Posts Tagged ‘husbands’

“If it weren’t for the women, the men would all still be living in caves, throwing rocks at each other”.  Darrell Travis ( my brother)

They were all different, yet in many ways the same, some were girly girls, some were tomboys. But even the tomboys liked to make mud pies and bake them in imaginary ovens, and then feed them to imaginary families. Their little rooms had tiny tea sets, for having tea parties with their children to be, and their dollies were children, babies and little girls that they could feed, burp and change. As time would go on, and they would get older, even in this world that celebrates women and girls leaving their femininity behind, their heroes were always the strong women who weren’t afraid to be a girl, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast.

Then they discovered make-up, and they lost an hour from their day, spending endless time in front of the mirror trying to look their best, trying to maximize what God had given them, for the boys.  They date, finish school, go to college, finish that and get married, and then hope to get settled, financially stable, and then fulfill what they have always expected to be able to do from the time they were first old enough to think about it, they want to have a baby.

It doesn’t always go in this order, many times it is completely in reverse, families are formed in many ways, and oftentimes families are only two people. One of the biggest heartbreaks a little girl can ever encounter is to not be able to fulfill that lifelong dream of having a child of her own. It is hard on a man if he cannot be a daddy, but it is completely different for a woman, a pain on a whole different level. This day is built around honoring the mothers in our world, and our mothers will truly always hold a special place in our heart, but there are many in our lives that are not mothers who hold places of great value as well. To the wife, daughter, niece, sister, or friend who happens to not be a mother, you hold no place of lesser value in our hearts because of that, you are loved equally.

A dear friend of mine is a pastor, and together he and his wife were not able to have children. They tried doctors and special treatments, but to no avail, they remained childless, and as this day approaches each year, it becomes yet another reminder to them of what they were not able to do, to have. So each year they would come to church and the greeters would be wishing all the assumed mothers a “happy mothers day” from the time they entered the parking lot, they were all well meaning, but with every well wish they were driving the dagger just a bit deeper. After a while, they decided it would be easier to take the day off and just stay home on mother’s day, as a golfer would say, they were “taking a mulligan”. Eventually, they were able to address that pain and meet it head on, returning to church and even embracing mothers day again, but it wasn’t easy.

One of the characteristics that makes a mom so great is the fact that they are such great nurturers, a boy can go to school and put up with all the roughness that comes with the territory of being a boy, playing football, whatever, yet come home and be loved and accepted unconditionally by mom. Mom is the one who could put her arm around your shoulders when that girl broke your heart and make you feel better. She was the one waiting at home when I went out and got banged up and came home bleeding, she would patch me up and make me feel better. But here’s the thing, that is not only a mom thing, because my mom has been gone for 18 years now, yet I still have a woman who makes me feel better when I go out and get banged up, she cleans off the blood, puts on a band-aid and I feel a whole lot better, but she is my wife.

So, if I had anything to say about it, today would not just be about motherhood, but rather would be about honoring women as a whole straight across the board. Today I am thankful for my wife, I am thankful that I have four daughters, I am thankful that I have 3 nieces and yes, I am thankful that I had a wonderful mother for thirty years of my life, I wish I still had her. But there are also many women out there who are great nurturers, strong leaders, women who are such hard workers in their own households, and I honor you, whether you are a mother or not.

I ask you to take some time to let that woman in your life who means a lot to you know just how much she means, tell her verbally, show her with your actions, love on her and let her know she is appreciated. Happy Women’s Day, God Bless-JFT


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Youcef Naderkhani, a Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy in Iran, torn from his wife and family because of his faith in God. He was ordered to yield his belief in the one true God and return to the belief of the false one that the country’s government demands of its citizens. He was ordered to return to a faith that he never held, for you see, he was never a Muslim, but the government claimed he had been, because that changes everything. To leave Islam is called apostasy, and that carries a death sentence with only one possible out, you must renounce your faith and return to Islam. Youcef cannot do that, even if he had been a Muslin, he still couldn’t do that, wouldn’t do that, because he is a follower of Christ and he has faith, a strong faith, a faith like I will probably never know.

His Lawyer is the best there is in Human rights cases; his name is Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, and as his name suggests, he is a follower of Islam, but he believes in freedom to practice your faith without persecution. He has taken up the task of defending Christian’s right and left in Iran who have been charged with their faith, he cares about them, he fights like a lion for them, yet even he bows to Allah. Yesterday he was sentenced to flogging, 9 years in prison, and 10 years of not teaching or practicing law, not to mention cash fines. In a show of mercy, they converted his floggings to a cash fine also, mighty big of them I think. The charges he is being imprisoned for; “they said that I had acted against national security”.

His brave response to the lower court that sentenced him is this, and it bears quoting.


“I have not done anything wrong. I am a lawyer who loves my country and defends the rights of the people of our land. If they prefer a humiliated, intimidated, desperate young lawyer who has never tasted freedom, I do not regard this individual a lawyer. What good is a knife that cannot cut? A lawyer must be brave, logical, and law-abiding, and I have tried to be that way. This is why I have never been summoned by the Bar Association Court.”This ruling is imposed. Even so, I will not escape and I will not leave my country. I will go to prison. Either I will come out, or I will die there.”

“They told me that my actions smell of nationalism. It was the Prosecutor’s deduction that nationalistic activities amount to apostasy. The prophet of Islam said: ‘Love for the land comes from the belief in God.’ Which one should I accept now and what should I do?”

Youcef Naderkhani is now no longer represented, when the best lawyer in the nation is imprisoned for representing you, there aren’t going to be any other lawyers jumping to represent you, yet he has faith. He sits alone in prison, 3 years running now on death row, the sentence could be carried out at any time, and he just ran out of his last worldly defender, a Muslim one at that, yet he has faith. In a country that is hostile toward him that would love nothing more than to snuff his life out because he won’t deny Jesus, yet his faith endures.

Youcef’s story has been mainstream, but there are so many that are not. People in North Korea who refuse to hide their bibles and are killed for it that we never hear of. Christians in Nigeria that refuse to hide their bibles, and their homes and families are killed, beheaded and burned because of it, yet they are powered through it all on faith.

Growing up here in America, much emphasis has always been placed on how powerful and safe we are as a country. I have been told many times by people that God blesses our country because of our faithfulness to him. I am sorry but I just don’t believe that. When I used to hear of these atrocities in places like North Korea, Iran, or one of many places in the world where you can still be killed for your faith, I used to think that we needed to use our military might and go free those people, to stop the atrocity.

That is the mindset I was raised with as an American, walk softly and carry a big stick. It is really easy to be duped into thinking you have a strong faith when your country has the most advanced military and nuclear arsenal in the world, but what about Youcef, who just lost his last lifeline to freedom? I have no doubt that his faith is in the Lord, and that no matter what happens, he will be ready for it.

This heartbreaking story made me take an account, what is my faith in, is it in the relative safety of living in a place where we currently have religious freedom? Would I be strong if all of that were taken away and I was in a jail in a strange land, with no advocate and a death order issued on my head? Or would I fall apart and tell them what they wanted to hear and beg God’s forgiveness later? I like to think the former, but I know my faith has never been tested to those lengths. Think about it, how would you do in that situation, we never know what the future holds. God Bless-JFT

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Church was about to get out, and I was thinking about the prayer room. I hadn’t been going there for a while, or working the parking lot either for that matter, for the past few months I had been taking a break because of my shoulder. Because of course, shoulder surgery impedes your ability to pray with folks who are in crisis you know, yeahhhhh. More like the fog of the medication was impeding my desire to volunteer, but that was all changing because I was done taking them. That probably has something to do with why I was thinking about something other than myself again, my head was clearing, and I felt a very strong motivation that I needed to go to the room after services.

I put my name tag on, and settled in the comfortable chair and began to look over prayer request cards, as a friend stopped by and said hi. While he was chatting with me for a few moments, asking what I had been up to, where I had been and so on, a man entered the room and went directly to the wall across from me. He knelt and went into prayer, and I gave my friend the look that told him I may be needed soon, and he took the hint and left.

The man was average build, so average in fact that if I were to have to describe him to police, I would have a hard time, he was incredibly average. He was 40-50ish, dark tanned, someone who spent his days outside, and he was praying fervently, I don’t know how to explain that, but I could tell that he was in deep communion with God from the time he hit his knees. I have seen people pray like this before when they have had family members near death, or when they were wracked with guilt over a sin, or were afraid their marriage would end and they could do nothing to save it. I looked away to give him his privacy until he finally stood and turned around to face me, and what I saw was not what I expected at all, but quite the opposite.

I stood and said hello, my name is Jim, and asked him if there was anything I pray with him about. He shook my hand, but his face was not troubled in the least, on the contrary it was a mask of peace as he looked me in the eyes and said Hi, I’m Mark, what can I pray with you about?

I didn’t know what to say, I thought as we stood there shaking hands. His were hard, the hands of someone akin to working hard for a living, but he just looked into me with those eyes. He wasn’t there to make conversation, and I felt as though the man was looking right into my soul when he looked at me. He wasn’t smiling, he just had that look of peace on his face as he stood there and waited for me to tell him what he had come to hear. I could swear the man knew my story when he looked at me, had he been sent, had he looked over the shoulder of his Boss at my page in the book of life before he had been sent on this mission? I didn’t know, but I definitely knew something “different” was going on.

I hesitated, isn’t it funny, I am a prayer room guy, there to help others who are going through a hard time and maybe need a little help and support, yet when it came to me it was different. The first thoughts that went through my head were “I am a prayer room guy, I am here to help you, not the other way around” as if because I wore the little nametag on my shirt that meant I had my act together (do we ever do that as Christians?).

His stare, it just continued, and he didn’t talk, he just waited as I vacillated, he knew my story I am sure, but he waited, because I had to open up. That is what this had all been about, hadn’t it? I wasn’t supposed to go to the prayer room to pray for someone else tonight, someone was coming to the prayer room to pray for me. I was coming out of this hard time in life and God was telling me “enough, it’s time to get back to work, you’ve milked that shoulder all you’re going to, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and let’s get back on task son, it’s time to get your head back in the game”.

So I told Mark what I needed prayers for, we sat, and he prayed for me. After he finished, he shook my hand again, placed a hand on my shoulder, then walked out of the room, I haven’t seen him since, nor do I ever expect to again. Yes, I do go to a big church, and it is easy to miss seeing people, but that is not why I don’t think I will ever see Mark again, I don’t think I will ever see Mark again because I believe he was sent from heaven, I am pretty sure Mark was an angel. Hebrews 13:2   Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

I know one thing, I was a different man when I left the prayer room that day than I was when I went in, feeling strangely healed in many ways. Whether he was an angel or not, I have no doubt God placed Mark in my path that day. God Bless-JFT

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It began simple enough, with common sense questions I began to ask myself. The guys at work knew me as someone who liked the finer things in life, frugal yes, I would get the best deal on the finer things in life, but none the less, the labels mattered to me. One day, I sat looking at the watch that had started it all, the most expensive one I had ever purchased. Christmas was coming up, things were tight and I felt like a real self centered jerk walking around with a $2300.00 watch on my wrist that did nothing a Timex wouldn’t. Oh, true it was good to 300 meters on a dive, problem was, no humans were good for 300 meter dives, so when the submersible recovered your body, it’s pilot would at least get a nice watch in the deal. I grabbed my camera and began taking the pictures for E-bay, I was sad to see it go, but I could no longer justify the luxury, besides, I still had my collection of Seiko automatic dive watches anyway. They weren’t Omega, but they did keep time, and cost less than a quarter what the Omega did. Sigh, I clicked “list”.

When I slid the packaged watch across the counter at the post office and walked out, I somehow felt lighter, I felt better, and I didn’t miss the watch anymore. I had been telling myself that when the kids were all grown, I would get another, now I wasn’t so sure. What did it matter?

Several years later, I wanted to go see the girls, I was really missing them, and it had been a while since I had been there, Brooke had just moved to Dallas, Lauren was still in Arkansas. With all of these tuitions I could have been CEO of G.E. and things still would have been tight, considering the two girls still at home were in Christian high school too. I didn’t even ask, I knew the answer before hand, the money just wasn’t there. I thought about something then, and I went in and looked at the Seiko watches on my dresser, then grabbed my camera. It was much easier letting go of all of them than it was the first one, and now I was watch-less, but I did still have a cell-phone that kept time I thought as I hurried through the terminal to catch my flight to Dallas first, then Little Rock.

I was able to do much more than I ever imagined by just cutting out some of the fluff, but it didn’t stop there. I then began to feel the urge to further question myself. If God came here and asked me what one possession I really enjoyed, what would it be? TV, naw I don’t really care too much about that, I could part with the computer too, cell-phone, no problem, hmm, Hey I really like my quad, yes, that would be it. God, I would have to say, I really enjoy my quad, and I want to thank you for blessing me with it. I am able on my days off to get on it and head out into the mountains by my house exploring, taking pictures, having a great time in nature. Yeah, I was really fond of my quad.

What if, Jesus told me to sell my quad and give the money to the poor, would that bother me? Are you kidding me, Of course it would bother me, take the TV, take the house, the stuff, but c’mon, not the quad, that is like my link with nature, anything but the quad, not the quad Jesus, take my tools, my wife’s truck ;-), just not the quad.

It became a realization to me that I had an unhealthy relationship with my “Off Highway Vehicle”, it had become a material possession that I was way too fond of. I stood in the garage looking at it and I actually turned right there, I began to loathe it on the spot, because I realized what all of this was leading up to, it had come between God and me. I didn’t need to sell everything I had, I needed to change my heart and I needed to stop falling in love with stuff. But the quad did need to go, because it would be a reminder as long as it remained in my garage that I “had” been in love with my possessions. I listed it on Craigslist later that day.

My wife bought me a non-dive watch for father’s day a couple months after I had sold off all of my dive watches. It is not a known name, not automatic, and not expensive, but it is the most valuable watch I have ever owned, because someone I love took the time to go out and pick it out for me. All of the others I chose, they were self-service, and they meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.

I can tell you there is nothing more freeing than no longer yearning for that next thing, no longer caring about having the latest and the greatest, and for letting God take over and helping you to shove those possessions that once meant so much to you out the door. I am sure I am not “there” yet, I am sure the watches and the quad were only the beginning, the house could be next, or perhaps my truck, I just hope that I am open minded to the Spirits guiding when it happens. After all, what here on earth besides kindness, love, family, and spreading God’s Word really matter anyway, isn’t it all temporary? God Bless-JFT

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So what do you think, the 911 or the 944 he asked me as we went out the front door and headed for the garage? We can put the top down on the 911, it is a little nippy but it has seat coil heaters that will keep us warm, or we could just forego the convertible and stick with the 944, all luxury anyway. I never gave it a second thought, the 911 I said as the garage door rolled up revealing the two freshly waxed bright red sports cars under the light.

The 911 already had its top down, and was a sight to see with its flared wheel wells and the wide whale tail on back above the engine grill. It was flawless, there was not a scratch anywhere on either of the cars, and although I have never really been a car guy, the only car that has ever stolen my heart was Porsche. Were I ever to buy a car, it would be one of these I had often thought. The 944 was a nice car, I mean Tom Cruise did make it famous in that movie “Risky Business” after all, what was it he said? Oh yeah, “Porsche, there is no substitute”. But that wasn’t my style at all, I would take one if someone gave it to me of course, but the 911 was the one that held my heart, no, not heart, lust. Matt 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Think fast, he said as he chucked the keys at me and I caught them in midair. Dude, you know I can’t keep doing this, if I wreck this thing I would have to sell my house to pay for it, if I even owned my house anyway, which I didn’t, the bank did. He would just laugh and say “you worry too much, c’mon, let’s go have some fun, after all, that’s what insurance is for right? It purred as I turned the engine over and pulled out of the garage onto the street, headed for a main thoroughfare. He reached over and turned on the state of the art Blaupunkt stereo, setting it to some serious rock as I punched it out onto the main road. As I zigged and zagged in and out of traffic with the music blaring I remembered the movie “Against all odds” and the street race scene between the 911 driven by Jeff bridges and a Ferrari Testarossa driven by James Woods. That was where my love affair with this car had begun.

As I came up on an intersection where we would be turning right, I turned on my blinker and began to slow, but my friend said don’t slow, punch it. I didn’t get it, it seemed dangerous but he was an old guy, probably 36 or 37 and I was like 24, so I did as I was told. The car took the corner at high speed without even a hint of slide or slip, it was pure beauty. If our wives had known what we were doing they would have been really ticked, but you know, they probably did know. As I would drive his 911, he would regale me with stories of how he had begun working at a fast food restaurant and worked his way to the point he was at now, where he owned a finance company and was filthy rich. He was also house speaker for the state legislature, he had his fingers in a lot of pies, we had met at church. I was so impressed with him, I wanted to be just like him, after all, he was a Christian so that had to mean he was okay, right? If he could do it and make it sound so easy then maybe I could too. Matt. 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal”.

 That was over twenty years ago, and we lost touch with time. I saw him not long after I was divorced and struggling to start over again, bumping into him at another church. He shook my hand and said “My condolences or My congratulations on your divorce, whichever fits”, then he smiled and patted me on the shoulder, then turned and walked away. Spoken like a true politician I thought as I watched him walk off, a comment for each scenario that might or might not exist, without bothering to take the time to find out.

The lure of things shiny and red, fast and powerful or glittery and exclusive is one of the best things the devil has in his bag of tricks. If he makes us want something so bad that we begin to lust after it, then we are willing to often times work our fingers to the bone to get it. If we get to that point, then he has won, because when we begin to work our fingers to the bone to get something we want, we take our eyes off of God, and our focus is on the material. He also will mask our materialism with words that are more palatable than “greed or materialism”, words like “collector, enthusiast or hobbyist”. I know about these things because I have had to deal with them first hand, seeing things and wanting them, thinking about them for a long time until I could get them, watches were a vice. My kids laugh and call me a “former watch junkie”, and while it sounds funny, it is representative, I used to spend a lot on them. Just two days ago, I had to interface with a very nice man from headquarters at work who is a peer.

As we were chatting I noticed he had on the exact model of dive watch I used to own and I mentioned what it was and that I used to have one. He smiled and began to name off the other watches he had too, all big name, big dollar watches rated for diving. Ah, you are a collector huh, I asked? No, I don’t have the money to have the watches I really want he said, although he had just told me the watches he had, and I knew the combined value was at least $10,000.00. He then told me the ones he wanted but couldn’t yet afford, and considering the ones he already had and the fact that he didn’t even consider himself a collector, I had no doubt that he would find a way to get the ones on his list.

Materialism is like the old saying, if you throw a frog in hot water, he will jump out and live, but if you put him in a pan at room temperature and set him on the stove, and slowly bring it to a boil, he will die because he won’t see it coming. I think of the parable of the rich man, the problem wasn’t that he had possessions, the problem was his heart, he liked it all too much. The “stuff” had become his god. Who is your god, is it the One who sent His Son down for you that you may have everlasting life with Him in heaven? Or are you serving the god of money, the god of prosperity, are you a collector or things, is there anything that you own that would give you real heartbreak to part with if you had to choose between “it” and “God”?

Be Blessed-JFT

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The trail was empty as I pumped my bike as hard as I could, trying to beat the setting sun. The ride is an hour and a half, but the sun was only good for an hour. This was my eleventh day out of fifteen back at it, trying to get healthy again, and I was giving it my all. I rode over the place where I destroyed my left shoulder last year, and I thought about the scars on my shoulder from that surgery, already becoming tan from riding (sleeveless). I wanted to shout at that cursed piece of ground that had caused me so much pain, to tell it that it hadn’t beaten me, that it wouldn’t ever beat me. But I couldn’t, because it had.

It had beaten me because I had let my guard down, and truth known, it wasn’t even this piece of ground that I was talking about as I rode in silence listening to “Casting Crowns’ on my IPod. A guy at work about twenty years ago used to say to us when we were in school that it okay to be “cocky” as an operator, but if you are, you better be “real” good. What he was saying is that if you were cocky in what you do in work, you better be prepared to back up what you say. As followers of Christ, we now know that is not really a good character trait, but guess what, it is one I still fight, but not in the way you might expect.

Last fall, I was so angry at the devil for attacking my brother with the terrible disease that he was stricken with. I called out the devil and challenged him, told him to “bring it”, give me your best, and called him out for the pathetic loser he is (oops, there I go again). So there you go, that was my cockiness, not at work, humility at work and home, cockiness with the devil only. I just forgot the second part of the equation, the part about being “real good”. What happened next was tantamount to boiling a frog slow so he doesn’t know it, I slowly let my guard down, and Satan was waiting, he brought it just like I asked him too, only I wasn’t ready then, and he got me.

I came around a bend in the trail as the sun dropped below the horizon, and began my last brutal climb, sucking and blowing yet trying to keep my breathing under control as I pedaled up at a 45 degree angle. My lungs burned and my quads and calves burned too, but it was all good, I was getting stronger with every pump. The shoulder surgery had left me in more pain than I had ever been in before, even though my right shoulder had been worked on about a decade ago, it was small potatoes to this. The pain killers were a necessity I guess, but I knew they were not good for me. Little by little things started to change, I stopped hearing my beloved Holy Spirit, and that just broke my heart. I began to feel as though I were all alone in the world, it was because I was in my own little world. I became numb, and my deep connection to the Lord seemed to be a much longer distance connection than normal. He was waiting, I was no longer “that good” and he “brought it”.

I am nearing the top of the hill now, the desert is pretty as the shadows fall and darkness begins to gather, I must hurry. I catch my breath and take a drink of pure water as the sweat drips from me in at least ten places and the song “Hosanna” begins, I think for a moment, what better song could I be listening to as I pedal to the top of this mountain, picturing the scene of Jesus triumphal entry, people laying palm leaves before him. I am no longer winded as I hit the last stretch and begin the long downhill stretch that is the happy ending of the ride. During the time I was on the pain meds, he threw so many trials at my family, big things and I felt like my head was going to explode, I was so ill equipped to handle it. A fellow blogger Linda C. pointed out to me that that is what the devil does to people who are bold with their faith, he waits for a weakness like when you have to have surgery, and are not maybe your sharpest, and then he attacks you. I think there is a lot of wisdom in her statement, I am quite certain that is what happened with me.

But the Lord is faithful, and He showed me enough to know what was going on, and gave me the strength to break the chains of bondage. I threw them away and told my wife and friends I am never going to ever take them again, I always want to be sharp. The Spirit was back immediately, an old and dear friend that I had missed more than I can ever say. As depressed as I had become for over two months that I was healing, the return of the Spirits voice has placed me in a euphoria that has lasted for weeks.

As I blast down a hill that we have named “lung-buster hill” (when you are going up) the street lights are beginning to come on in the subdivisions in the valley below. I have learned a lot again I think, I have learned that I am nothing. I am not a warrior, I am not bold, I am not tough, I am fragile. There is nothing about me that I am that I can take credit for, not even this riding, I am not staying upright because I am an awesome rider, anyone can crash. I am upright because that’s how God wants me to be, I am not a warrior apart from the one God makes me into, I am not bold with strength apart from that strength which God blesses me with, and I am not tough apart from the durability God has tempered into me through life, I am yours my Lord.

I do not regret calling out the Devil, I would do it again but I do regret letting my guard down. As I blast out onto the pavement again, I shift up into high gears and push it harder, it is so great to be alive and here now. I don’t feel as though I am the same person I was last fall, I feel much more grateful I think, and blessed, funny how God is constantly re-inventing us isn’t it? God Bless-JFT

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Her hands had hurt as she had pulled bark from the trees, stuffing it into her pockets and looking around for anything else that might be edible. There was some grass in clumps beneath a tree, so she grabbed that too, and brought that home. Her children were starving to death, as was her mother and husband, to think of it, she was so weak she could barely walk herself, but they sat and ate the grass she had pulled up. It had come down to this; they were eating grass and bark, anything to keep alive.

During the summer, they had been able to catch rats, frogs, and even snakes, but still barely enough to stay alive. There had once been corn to eat, how wonderful that had been, but now that was just a distant memory. Before it was over, they had ground the cobs and husks down and made tasteless cakes out of even that. She still remembered when she had found the handful of baby mice under a rock, she brought them back home, one of her daughters was near death and needed to eat. She had boiled them, but no matter how long, they stayed together and doughy. Even her husband Jo asked her if she would eat that, but her daughter had been brave and eaten it anyway, and it had saved her life.

Jo had a nephew across the river in China, and there was food there, they knew it was a huge risk, but they had to try, or the whole family would die. They set out and snuck across the border, fording the Tumen River to China. They made it and were stunned at the abundance of food, they had never before seen a rice steamer, and there was so much food they didn’t know what to do. One week later they returned home with many bags of bulging rice for their family, they would make two more trips for provisions.

A few days after returning from their third trip, Jo was arrested, she suspects a neighbor informant told the authorities on them. The following day Han was arrested also, she never saw her husband Jo again. They kicked and beat Han with wooden rods and crushed part of her skull, then placed her hands on the hard concrete floor and stomped on them. Then, without further explanation she was released, she was three months pregnant.

She would later be told Jo died on a train after having his wrists tied above his head without food or water for ten days. She returned home to find all of the rice they had hidden had been taken by the police. The kids were hungry, and her mom had been watching them.

Han gave birth to a boy, but he starved to death two months after he was born. In desperation, her oldest daughter left to find food and never returned, they believe she was caught up in human trafficking and taken to China, and then her mother died. In less than a year, her family of eight was reduced to four. In North Korea, if someone has been arrested then the neighbors no longer trust you and they suspect you of something. One night in July 1998, two policemen came to their door, and told them to leave, and if they didn’t they would burn the house down.

On July 18th, Han, with her two daughters JinHye, then 11, EunHye, 7, and  son BoKum, 5 set out on a 100 mile walk for the Chinese border. Weak from malnutrition, Han could barely walk, and the first night they stopped at a friend’s house to lodge for the evening. She looked at Han with wide eyes, how can you do it, two high mountain crossings and the river still lay ahead? Everyone was too weak to carry BoKum and he was too small and malnourished to walk. But how could a mother leave her son behind? But if they stayed, they would all be caught. She took a night to think things over, she didn’t know what to do. The next morning, her friend said “leave him, I will take care of him”. Han agreed, and planned to return for him in five days after getting the girls safely into China, she promised to bring back food for her friend. “Why aren’t you taking me too” BoKum asked, and she explained that she was going to go get some food and bring it back, and then she would take him, then she gave him a ground corn cake, she wishes she had given him more. They walked for two nights, then crossed into china, hid in fields and stole squash to eat. Then heavy rains came and they could not cross back over, Han didn’t know how to swim, and the river was at flood stage.

Then Han heard Kim Jong Il was executing anyone who hadn’t voted for him in the election, Han hadn’t because she had been in China at the time. She got jobs in China, and earned money to get BoKum back, but it took her two months before she earned enough to hire a man to go get him. Sadly, he returned empty handed. The woman had abandoned the boy, and he was seen wandering aimlessly in a field singing “when is my mother coming”. A neighbor gave him a bowl of porridge out of pity, he died immediately afterward, common when people who are malnourished eat too fast. When she heard about BoKum, her heart was ripping out of her chest.

They spent 10 years in China, and were deported several times back to North Korea, but were always able to bribe their way back into China. The last time a Korean-American pastor paid $10,000.00 to North Korean guards to sneak them back. They went to the United Nations in Beijing and asked to live in the U.S.

After 16 months, they were given a home of freedom in the U.S., one that came at a very high cost. There are only 130 refugees from North Korea who have settled in the United States, but you never hear from them because they have families. If a defector speaks out, it will be taken out on the family they left behind, Han has no one left, they are all dead. That is why they are speaking.

Crosses adorn the walls of their home, they carry bibles with them everywhere, they are on a mission to educate the world about what goes on in North Korea. You see the polished military parades, but you don’t see the people disappearing, the Christians dying. Please take a moment to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ, for all those suffering in that poor country. And tell Han’s story over and over to everyone you know. God Bless-Jim

This Story is True

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