Gary Wilkerson Podcast | World Challenge

Gary Wilkerson Podcast

  • Trust God's Process in the Healing of Your Wounded Heart

    Often our worst shame comes from what grows out of the wounds in our past. We try to cut down every bad habit or embarrassing addiction that sprouts, but until we dig up the root, the damage will never completely heal. Today’s guest, Brittany Rust, talks about how God helped her uproot and heal from a history of abuse, sexual sin and depression.

    Often our worst shame comes from what grows out of the wounds in our past. We try to cut down every bad habit or embarrassing addiction that sprouts, but until we dig up the root, the damage will never completely heal. Today’s guest, Brittany Rust, talks about how God helped her uproot and heal from a history of abuse, sexual sin and depression.

    Gary Wilkerson: Hello again, welcome to the Gary Wilkerson Podcast, here at World Challenge. I'm here with somebody I'm going to introduce in just a moment and also I'm here with somebody you've met before if you watch the podcast. I'm here with the very lovely, very wonderful, the very patient. She's been married to me for over 40 years, so patience is one of her key virtues she's definitely learned to be patient. Kelly, thanks for [crosstalk].

    Kelly Wilkerson: Yes, thank you for having me.

    Gary: How are you doing?

    Kelly: I'm doing good.

    Gary: Brittany, we're so happy to have you here today. Brittany Rust, we're thrilled we've gotten to know you a little bit, being that you have joined the World Challenge ministry team, and so grateful. We're looking forward to hearing your story. You're also an author, this is one of your written two books. This is Untouchable and written another book. What's the other title?

    Brittany: It's called, Here I amResponding when God calls your name.

    Gary: Okay. Writing has always been an interest of yours? Did you start when you were a little girl, or young?

    Brittany: Well, I just started until after high school. I just started blogging on my own like one of those Blogspot websites, and I don't think anybody read it. I don't think anyone read it [laughter]. One day my pastor's wife, my mentor read something I had written and she said, "You should do this. You're really good at that," and that was the first time somebody had told me that's something I was passionate about could maybe even do. Just started writing and investing and God just started opening the doors from there.

    Gary: You write books and you work full time for Christian ministry. You're happily married, your husband's name is Ryan, and you have a little boy named Roman. How old is Roman?

    Brittany: Yes, he is two and he is feisty. If anybody has tips on what to do in a temper tantrum, send them my way. [laughter]

    Gary: Your life sounds perfect, I mean, a lot of great things happening. Was it always perfect or did you come through some rougher stuff when you were younger?

    Brittany: Yes. I came through some rougher stuff when I was younger. I'm a part of a large family, just your pretty average upbringing in the Midwest. I had three brothers but didn't grow up in a Christian home. Didn't know anything about God or Jesus but in exchange for that, there was a lot of anger, just a lot of tension--

    Gary: In your home or in you?

    Brittany: In our home. I was sexually abused at a very young age.

    Gary: Do you remember how old you were?

    Brittany: I was about three or four.

    Gary: Just barely being beyond a baby.

    Brittany: Yes and I don't remember much about it. There's just a memory that I have. Well, for a lot of people that might cause them to flee from anything sexual, for me it did the opposite. From a very young age I was masturbating and within junior high, I was addicted to pornography. Just already had at such a young age this heaviness, this weight of shame and just bondage. There was a lot of manifestation of anger as a result of having grown up in a home with anger. That was the response I adopted to my situation and my surrounding.

    By the time I was 16, I was addicted to pornography, masturbation. I was depressed and I was put on medication for depression and an ulcer. I was just overwhelmed and so hopeless but I knew there has to be something more in life than this. This just can't be it. When I was 16, I found that hope that I was always looking for in Jesus.

    Gary: Wow. That's incredible.

    Kelly: It's amazing.

    Gary: The time you started looking at pornography, how old were you then?

    Brittany: I was in junior high--

    Gary: That's 12, 13 or something?

    Brittany: Yes, I think it was about 13 years old and I found a stash of pornography and just couldn't stop honestly looking after that point.

    Gary: Being that you personally involved in this before you met Christ, have you studied this, because the question a lot of people might ask is you think pornography more as an issue with men. Have you heard a lot of other women saying like, "Thank you for sharing your story because as a woman I'm involved in pornography as well"? Is that common? I guess I'm asking in your experience is it common to find many women addicted to pornography?

    Brittany: Not at first, when I was struggling through with it, I was told this is a man's problem and women don't struggle with this. I didn't tell anybody about it, I didn't feel I could talk to anybody about it, that anyone would understand me. I kept it to myself and the Lord delivered me, thank goodness, from that. For years I still didn't even feel like I could talk about it. I was so ashamed because I shouldn't have had that problem. I didn't tell anybody until my husband, when I got married. It wasn't until I wrote Untouchable, and I sat down to write the first chapter. I felt God told me, "I want you to talk about this," and literally with tears streaming down my face for the first time I communicated, I had an addiction to pornography and masturbation.

    It was like that final weight came off of me and, no joke, the next day, someone I barely knew but someone I had met a couple of times, a female, messaged me on Facebook the next day and she said, "God has seen how hard it was for you to share that, but he wants you to know that he's going to use your freedom from pornography and masturbation to help women." I was just like, "Oh my word," she had no idea.

    Kelly: Redemption.

    Brittany: Yes and honestly, it wasn't until that book came out a year ago that people have started hearing me talk about it. I'm starting to talk more and more about it because I'm seeing that more and more women are wrestling with this in silence because they don't feel they have anybody to talk to about. Certainly, within the church, we haven't been great about talking about it. I'm having women starting to reach out to me as I'm writing articles about it and on my blog and talking about it, women are starting to reach out more and more about it.

    Gary: It's pretty rare for there to be an open, honest conversation about it even with men in the church. I was thinking even more difficult for women because that sense of it's a man's problem like you said. I'm so glad you're doing that for women to be able to-- I think we need forerunners of somebody who openly and honestly can talk about tough issues. Here on this podcast we've had Nate Larkin, has come we've done a couple of episodes with him. He's talking more about a men and then I had another episode we did on pornography as well, it's about a men. This is really interesting to have from a woman's perspective. Kelly being a woman, any questions come in your mind for Brittany about, I don't know?

    Kelly: Yes. I'm thinking that women we can tend to be really hard on ourselves and isolate ourselves just because women are so hard on women. To have the wherewithal and the courage and to take that authentic step to say, "Hey. This is a place where I've struggled, and this is a place where I've suffered, and this is a place that Jesus has redeemed," that is amazing. I'm thankful that you're giving voice to it, and to make a connection to women so that they can be healed. Your love for women is very evident and very genuine. I just so appreciate that.

    Brittany: Thank you. For me, it was a lot of grace of the Lord because I didn't have anybody to talk to about it, or I didn't feel I had. I feel the Lord was really gracious to deliver me from that stronghold when I became a Christian.

    Gary: Right away when you became Christian, you--

    Brittany: No it wasn’t right away, honestly it took about two years. It was just me starting to get scripture inside of me.

    Gary: All this time for those two years you still had not talked to anybody it was not until you got married and started writing the book?

    Brittany: Yes.

    Gary: Would you say that's normal or rare that somebody fights this battle alone?

    Brittany: I think it's very normal to fight pornography alone. Again, because there's this stigma that we shouldn't be wrestling with it or it feels dirty. We want to portray this purity about us, but for me I'm finding that freedom from really any addiction is being able to talk about it, finding accountability. I strongly encourage, when I meet with a woman who's struggling with, whether it's pornography or anything, find someone to talk about. That's what I do. If I find myself wrestling with a situation, or a temptation or just something a stronghold, the first thing I will do is find a trusted girlfriend that I can talk to about it.

    I feel like that's really a beautiful gateway, but I didn't have that. For me it was just getting scripture in me. I didn't know God until I was 16, just memorized scripture about just purity and sexual morality. God used His word to pull that out of me.

    Kelly: I guess it's like in forming questions, thinking about your extraordinary story and how much not only do you love women, but you want them to be free. What would you say should be the first step? Is it that connection with a friend, or is it getting the scripture inside of you or a combination of both? I'm sure everyone's journey is different, and God is taking steps and leading them.

    He leads all of us, but I'm just saying, what would you say could be the first step that if someone is struggling with pornography, a woman that's struggling with pornography. What would you suggest would be the first thing that they should do?

    Brittany: I think repentance is the first step. A repentant heart is so important to the life of a believer. First, bring that to the Lord because God wants to carry that with you. Sometimes we feel like in those dirty things, maybe I need to clean myself up before I come to God. Really bring it to God and repent before Him and say, "God I don't want this anymore. Help me, free me."

    You may make mistakes down the road but keep going back in repentance to the Father. The other two steps would be, get scripture in you. We fight temptation with the word of God. Jesus did it in the desert. He fought with the word of God, so get scripture in you. Third is, find that accountability, find someone to talk to about it. When you're able to have someone that loves the Lord, call you out on that stuff or ask you about those things, you just have that support system. That person in your corner practically to help you walk that journey.

    Gary: That's powerful. I think I'm agreeing with you 100% repentance. That's biblical, that's godly. My personal struggle with that only comes- is truth and I'm not denying it. My own personal experience as young man, getting addicted to pornography was, I would look at pornography and then I'd go into this, "I'm a terrible person, I hate myself, I'll never do it again."

    It was like I don't know if it was repentance or just more like feeling self-loathing or something like that. For me I think I saw two things that I needed. One was the repentance and the other was to realize I was wounded as well. Not to excuse that, but it was almost like somebody who is trying to go on a diet and they keep opening refrigerator and eating more and more.

    It's like, that's a sin to be gluttonous and they need to repent of the sin but also there's a wound inside of them. I think for some, it's all about healing of the wounds and like, "You're a victim poor person." That's not sufficient. For others it's, "Just repent of your sin." That's not sufficient either. I think that because Jesus, by His stripes we are healed and He took all of our sin on. Isaiah 53 speaks very clearly about the woundedness of our souls and our minds and our bodies and our history. It speaks of Him taking the wounds upon Himself and our sin, our transgressions upon Himself too. Did you see in your life both, would you say you saw a need for repentance but also a need for healing?

    Brittany: Certainly, but honestly that didn't come till a couple of years later, as I talk about my book is, I had a moral failure at 25. Even though porn and the masturbation had disappeared from my life, I still hadn't fully dealt with the root of the sexual addiction that I had been locked into for so long. I thought I was free because the manifestations were gone, but then I was put into a new situation where I started dating somebody. I was in leadership and ministry at a church at 25.

    Gary: You weren't married?

    Brittany: No, I was not married. I was dating a guy and we ended up having sex outside of marriage. I had never really dealt with that root. I still had that wounds that I had just been covering up. I thought I was okay and in reality, it manifested again a couple of years later. I had to go, I had to deal with the root of it then.

    Gary: Can you explain a little bit about dealing with the root of it? What does that mean to you?

    Brittany: Yes. Mine was a long journey to work through that because, when I had sex outside of marriage being a leader in ministry I had to step out of ministry. I confessed to my pastors and knowing full well I'd lose my job. I had to step out of ministry. There was trust hurt with my mentor and with friends through that process. The guy and I broke up. I literally hit rock bottom and it took me a while to want to accept the grace and the healing to move on.

    I just sat there for a while and, I know God can forgive me, but why would He want to? He had already redeemed my life and given me this incredible ministry and blessed me and then I had ruined it. Look what I had done with it. Even though I knew God could forgive me and would want to, I almost thought I didn't want it at first because I didn't think I deserved it.

    It took me a while to- there were some bumps along the way, but God started working that healing in my heart. When I was… Finally, I was like, "Lord, I want your healing, I want your healing." What I found was, at first, I just wanted to get through this situation as quickly as possible. I was like, "God please make all this go away, just get me through it as fast as possible."

    Nothing was really happening, but then I broke in a new way and I realized that I had to stop praying, "God get me through this as quickly as possible." I had to start praying, "God as long as it will take, I will sit in this pain, I will face the storm no matter how long it takes. I just want genuine healing." I found that when my prayers changed from a me focused prayer of, "Just get me through this." To, "God I just want you and I just want your healing." That's when the healing really started taking place in my life.

    That redemption process started and for me it was just sitting with Jesus and getting His word in me and being surrounded in community. Just really being like, "I'm not going to run away from the past anymore. I'm not going to run away from the bad decisions that I've made anymore. I'm going to face it all head on so that I can walk through it." I think that's an important element to healing, is being willing to face it and work through it.

    Gary: Yes.

    Kelly: Brittany, are you saying- excuse me Gary - are you saying that you were having a hard time forgiving yourself?

    Brittany: Yes because, again, I didn't feel like I deserved it. I knew God was good and gracious, but I was withholding it for myself because I just didn't think I deserved. I was so ashamed and felt so guilty that I just put it aside for a while. Then, God kept leaning in and pressing and think, "I have this grace for you, I love you. This isn't the end of your story. This is just a chapter in your story but there's so much more I want to do in you and through you." I sort of had to let my guard down.

    Gary: I love how you changed from, a me centered and your prayer became almost like, "For your glory Lord, do this." I think that goes back to a little bit what I was saying about the difference between repentance and woundedness is. Some of our repentance, if you look at pornography again or masturbation or get involved in sexual immorality. The repentance is not real repentance. It's almost like, I'm sorry I got caught or I'm sorry that I thought I was stronger than this.

    It's a very self-focused thing and so you came out of that. That really brought more transition when you do something for the glory of God there's a greater power because He's all about that. He really wants you to be free for His namesake, as much as for your own sake. He loves us and wants us to be free buddies. He's done that. You're 26 or something like that, then after this, you've been out of it for about a year. You're seeing some healing and recovery. What's happening then, because obviously something happened to restore you to- you started writing. Can you explain a bit about that?

    Brittany: Yes. After the moral failure, my boyfriend and I broke up. Within a couple of months we got right back together. I wish I could say that we didn't have sex again, but we did it again. We were in something really toxic at that point and so we broke up again but this time it was for good. We thought we're never getting back together. That's when I really got it because I loved this person and so I really went through a season of just sadness and mourning.

    That's where I was praying, "God get me through this." I wasn't seeing the progress I thought I should see. The relief from pain that I thought I should see. After a couple of months, I was like, "You know what? I'm just going to try the world's way of healing." I still loved God, but I thought, "Man, I just need some relief and so I started dating guys I knew weren't believers. I got drunk one night and even contemplated suicide. I did that for about a month.

    I was just so again, broken. I knew those things wouldn't bring me healing I was looking for, but I was just so lost in the sadness and I allowed the enemy to tell me there's other ways to deal with the pain. I tried that for about a month and it wasn't working. That's when I say I broke again but that was the right kind of breaking, I needed to really break. It was at that point where I thought, "Now, I'm fully committing this to you, Jesus, this process, I've been trying to do it my own way, it hasn't worked, obviously. I'm going to recommit the process to you." That's when I started leaning into it and that's when I started finding the healing that I was seeking.

    Gary: Powerful. From the time you got back with this guy and had sex again, then started dating other guys not in a healthy way. I don't know if you remember what was going on in your heart at that time, but was there, would you say any anger at God because you probably had asked him like, "Set me free from this, I don't want to do this." It didn't seem to be happening. Maybe a lot of people doesn't happen that way, but I'm just curious, do you remember any anger at God at the time?

    Brittany: Yes. After the second breakup, so I was worshiping and praying and I was doing all the right things and I wasn't seeing the relief. I got angry. I remember one time I was cleaning on a Saturday afternoon and I was hurting so bad and I just remembered falling to my knees and literally curling up in a ball and just crying and then I started verbally crying out like, "God, where are you? I keep seeking you. I keep praying, I keep worshiping." Yes, there was some anger associated with that and I think it was that anger that separated me to go try the world's way for a little bit.

    Gary: I think it's a weapon of the enemy is when we're dabbling in sin to try everything he has in his arsenal to keep us from being free from sin so that we begin to be-- Ultimately, Satan is after not just our failure but to get us to believe God's a failure or that he doesn't have power. He's not going to come through or he doesn't love us or care for us because that usually then leads us towards like what you went through and almost more rebellion and more, "Okay, God, if you're going to treat me like this, then I might as well just go out and live like the world." I think a lot of people do that.

    Kelly: Yes. Brittany, can you describe what was going on? Obviously, what I hear it sounding like it was a heart issue because you're reading scripture, you were worshiping, you were praying, but you didn't have that breakthrough that you so desperately were seeking and so what was that shift that you had? There was something that brought a true connection to God, can you tell us about that?

    Brittany: Yes. It goes back to just when I looked back, my prayers were, "God get me through this as fast as possible. Take away the pain." It was all about bypassing proper healing and it wasn't until I truly broke and then my prayer shifted to, "God, however long it takes, whatever I need to face, I just want the healing. I want you in this." I actually had read a story not long after I sort of shift my focus about bison and bison are the only animals that when the storm is coming, they will actually turn and they will face the storm and they will go through it.

    Whereas most animals will run from it but by turning and facing it and going through it, through actually in the storm less than maybe the animals running from it. For me, I was like, "No, I need to turn it and I need to face the storm and I need to walk through it in order to get to the other side." That shift was taking the focus off of me and putting it on just whatever you have, God, whatever this looks like, whatever you envision, that's what I want." That was the shift.

    Kelly: It was just surrender of yourself and saying no to pride like I can fix this, or God is here to help me get out instead of here to take me through.

    Brittany: Yes. I think for me a big part of what I have to wrestle with is control and I've found through life, like when I get angry it's because I feel like I'm out of control. In that process I was trying to control my healing and I wasn't seeing the results that I wanted. I think part of that it was me showing the Lord that I was releasing control to him, to what his vision of the healing looked like. I was letting go of it and putting him at truly in control of the process.

    Kelly: Surrender is really hard, isn't it?

    Brittany: It is but good when you're there.

    Gary: It's all good. It is the only way to live. I was going to take a step back a little bit because you were talking about when you were 25, you sleeping with somebody and then repeating it and then others that's again, because now you're ministering to others who are facing those same storms. It seems there's two types of churches- this going to be a long question, but I want you to answer it. There's two types of churches. One, they just berate and beat sinners and don't look at a guy and that make them feel shame and guilt. Then the other kinds of seem to be excusing it like, "We don't really want to talk about sexual morality."

    It seems like there's a lot of churches, I don't know a lot, but there's some that, and I don't want to be judgmental here, but it seems like they preach about literally how to become successful and how to be happy and how to find a mate. I'm just wondering in both those churches because one's driving them away with guilt and the other is excusing it, I guess then my question is in your ministry, because you're writing about this and blogging about this, are you finding a lot of young people that are Christians that they're trying to live a good Christian life but they're sleeping around and it's normal and then common that having sex outside of marriage? Would you say is happening a lot in the church? Is it prevalent or is it an anomaly, just occasionally you meet somebody that's facing this problem?

    Brittany: For me, when it happened, I thought like, "I'm the only Christian who's ever done this." After that, God just started bringing people and I met so many people. People I knew that I had never had guessed it had struggled with that as well. They had slept with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The more longer I'm in ministry, the more I see it and the more I work with younger people, the more I see it. It's a real problem and you're right. We don't really talk about it I think as openly as we should. We shouldn't be casting down judgment and this fire and brimstone about it. Because that's again going to push people away, but we do need to have honest conversations about it.

    I'm very open about talking about masturbation. That's not what God has planned for you. I'll bring up the tough topics but also just doing that in grace. Because I'm so grateful that when I had my moral failure, my church, they did not brush it under the rug. They said this is a sin and you're going to have to step out of ministry. They were very clear about that, but they did it in such love in grace that they walked through the healing with me. I continued to go to that church. There's definitely a balance of that. I think we're seeing a real wrestle with this of young people, especially as generally we're waiting until we're older, till we're getting married. We're testing the waters and we're living life inappropriately in the meantime.

    I don't think people realize until they get older what damage that causes to them. Just emotionally, spiritually, mentally. You will bring into your marriage whether you think you will or not, there will be pieces of that that you bring into your marriage. We have to talk about it openly, but it can also be done in a very gracious way.

    Gary: Yes. I made a connoisseur of sermons I've been preaching since I was 16, and I love studying. I love studying the word and preparing sermons and being around my brothers and sisters in Christ who preach the word but I also listen to people online and I'm listening to a lot of young, really good pastor teachers, they're very motivational and positive thinking. I'm just concerned for this generation-

    Brittany: I am too.

    Gary: -that they're just not hearing, there's some things that God just says, "Just don't do that. I'll help you and I'll be with you." You're feeling that same way?

    Brittany: Certainly. There's a Christian influencer. I've been following on Instagram, very well known, and you would know their name and she recently promoted a book written by a Christian, but the book talks about sex and very openly about how sex outside of marriage is okay and these different elements. For me, just to even see that where she was recommending this book, my heart literally hurt in that moment thinking, "This is what we're serving people. This is what we're offering to people as a biblical way of dating." I was just like in awe that this was even acceptable.

    Gary: A Christian was-

    Kelly: Advocating.

    Gary: -advocating to read this book and the book was saying it's okay to have sex outside of marriage. The author was saying-

    Brittany: She's someone in ministry-

    Gary: -saying he's a Christian as well.

    Brittany: -divorced and she was very open about having sexual relations with her boyfriend.

    Gary: It was okay?

    Brittany: Yes. For me, but that’s just one instance where I've seen that in some form, especially through social media being as popular as it is now and there's this, "God will forgive us no matter what." People are just like, "I make bad decisions but Jesus will forgive me." It's like, yes, He will but that doesn't mean that it's okay. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. We're seeing that more and more in our culture and honestly, it really makes me nervous for my generation and the generation coming up behind us.

    Gary: From being like your parents' or maybe your grandparents' age. We look at your generation and with great hope and expectation of amazing things but also that concern of-- Please I will not get too critical here but there's this, church is a cool place and a hipster pastors lead us and they talk about these cool issues of life and we can all be cool but not dealing with sin.

    Brittany: Right. We leave church motivated. There's these great motivational talks in the church today and we leave, "Yes. God's got a plan for my life." We don't really go much deeper than that and we really need to be talking about the wrestles that we have and that we shouldn't be getting as close to sin as...yeah.

    Gary: Speaking of sin, I think all of a sudden the table was certainly clearly and most of us people listening would say, "Yes, we know." Even though it's difficult at times not to disobey God, we know having sex outside of marriage is sin. You're talking here today about masturbation as well and I think there's a lesser clarity on that. Can you give us your biblical view and your personal view on masturbation as a sin? Do you see it as a sin and always a sin? Is there ever a time where it's not a sin?

    Brittany: Yes, this is a delicate question. I will say I think in most cases it is because if we're honest people who have masturbated, you can't arouse yourself without an image. There's generally an image associated with that act. For me, I say a definition of lust is when you take God and respect for others out of the equation. When you're picturing this sexual image of somebody, you're taking God and you're taking respect for that person out of the equation and so that is lust. The Bible's very clear that lust is a sin and we should stay away from lust.

    My general, biggest feedback towards that is you likely won't be arousing yourself in that act without a visual image of somebody. Then you might say, "I'm married and it's my husband or my wife." I think in those cases you might have a little bit of gray area but that's very rare where that's the case. That would be my first piece of advice is that's a lust issue at its heart. Then there's also verses your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God resides in you and you're to honor that. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There's also these, does it say very clear in the Bible do not masturbate? No. There are these verses that lend to it not being God's design for your life and God's best for your life.

    Gary: Yes. You know, I think it’s interesting that science usually catches up with the Bible and there are starting to be some articles written now from non-Christians point of view about masturbation and they're saying particularly in a marriage how that if one of the partners is engaging in masturbation, they've studied it and they found that it affects the sex life of the couple.

    Kelly: I think so too.

    Gary: Yes, if somebody's imagining somebody else and they've masturbated and then they come into the time for it and the wife asks for like, "Hey, this is a great time for us to be together right now." The husband he may not say anything but just like, "I don't need to because just something just happened." I think that it radically diminishes the purity and intimacy of a marriage relationship. Then just to speak about the lust, the imagination, I can't speak for women but for men, that's the only way to-- We're very visual and that's not the only way to go down that route. [crosstalk]

    Brittany: For women too, we may not be as, some women are very physical but even if it may not be that you're reading books like Fifty Shades of Gray and there might be an emotional arousal, there is still something there that you are envisioning or you're playing in your mind to get to that arousal.

    Gary: If somebody's listening today and they say, "I knew sleeping around was sinful and I've really tried to avoid that but now you're really narrowing my sexual life. What would you say to them? How would you stop that if you're habitually lusting and going down that route? I know you've addressed that a little bit about getting honest and things like that but-- You would encourage them to say, "This is something to deal with, right? It's not something-

    Brittany: Yes. Even before I was a believer, I knew that I was engaging something that made me feel shameful and dirty. Not even as a believer. There was just something that didn't feel right about it but then certainly as a Christian, it's hard to tell people not to do something that they really want to do. They put on their earmuffs and they don't want to hear you. Like, "No, I'm just going to keep masturbating. It's not a big deal." Here's the thing is that's again, not God's best for you. It's not like it's just another rule to limit you. Really God's design is so that we live in freedom from the temptation and the sin.

    As far as you can get away from that sin boundary, the more just at peace you're going to be, the more freedom you will find. For that person that's saying, "I'm doing it and I don't want to stop." I just want to be like, don't you want God's best for your life? Do you think that that includes that? Yes, you can keep doing that and, yes, God loves you but if you really want God's best for your life, you're going to have to give up things that just play with temptation and boundaries and sin.

    Gary: Yes. You got to stop before you get started.

    Brittany: I always tell, especially young people, I'm like, "Just stay. It's not about getting as close as you can to the sin boundary. Stay as far away as you can from it. That way you're not even tempted to go in that direction."

    Gary: I think somebody who's dealing with either addiction or a habitual practice of pornography, masturbation, sleeping around before marriage and particularly because like we said, we know clearly that this one is a sin. We're less clear about this other one so it's easier as a Christian, I think to go that route, "I'm going to relieve some of my sexual tension by masturbation and pornography." Not seeing that as a sin. Let's say now that they're listening to us today and somebody says, "I agree that it is a sin but I've been trying for 10 years to stop doing this and I can't stop."

    I would just say, and I would want to hear your comments on this too after you hear what I had to say, that sometimes there's a cycle of shame that somebody falls into masturbation or pornography, then they feel so bad about themselves and they repent and they’re trying but there's more self-hatred comes in and therefore they're not-- It causes them to say, "I feel so bad about myself. I need to feel good." Every addiction, whether it be a drug or alcohol or sexual addiction, it comes from a sense of inside. It's a sin and is a rebellion against God but it's also, as I said earlier, there's woundedness inside of us. Then when we fall into it again, there's more shame which enhances the cycle.

    One of the things I would say is make sure that we don't-- You mentioned the word freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. He's not just wanting us to stop doing that, he wants us to live victorious, He wants us to live life. Satan knows that that's going to hinder you from living life so he's going to keep you in shame, he's going to keep you in fear and then you get angry at God because you're never going to get set free.

    I would say we need to tell people if this is a habit that you're not able to break right now, don't beat yourself up, don't live in condemnation and shame. There is guilt because sin has guilt but Jesus dealt with our guilt on the cross. See yourself as someone who Christ has set free and claim your inheritance and begin to believe who you are rather than believing what Satan says about you that, "You're a failure" that, "You're no good, you'll never get over that," that's just going to increase the need for that.

    At the core of it, the answer to me has nothing to do with actually whether it's an alcohol or drug or sexual immorality. It has to do with this issue of God's love. The fear of the Lord and the love of God. The holiness of God and the love of God, that these two things are married together. They kiss and when they do they come into our heart in our life and that's where real healing comes from.

    That it's not just trying bootstrapping it I call it, digging your heels in, making a promise, "Lord, I'll never do that again." That does not work. In my experience, it does not work. It makes things worse. For me, I had to come to this point of saying like," Okay, when I go to that," It was just G.K. Chesterton said that, "Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” Looking for love, looking for life.

    To realize that and then say, "Okay, wait, there's a God-given emotion in me, for intimacy, for affection for love. I'm just going to the wrong place for it." Instead of saying, "I'm just going to stop going to that place," you have to have something stronger. That's where the love of God, the power of God, the presence of God, worship, community, all those things you're talking about. Would you say you experienced not just, "I'm going to stop doing this," but something stronger replaced it?

    Brittany: Yes. I was in that cycle for two years after becoming Christian where I resolved not to do it, and I would do it I feel guilty and then I would repent and resolve not to do that again. It was a constant cycle. I found myself that honestly, the shift took place for me when I did start surrounding myself with community, and truly living in God's plan and best for me. Those two years I was still living at home. There was a lot of the pressure of living in that kind of household.

    When I got out from underneath the pressure, I was in community with other believers. I was living in the design that God had for us, to be in community and to serve Him and to just- there's this verse and I feel so bad I can't remember what it is, but it's becoming a pure and blameless child of God. For it's not about becoming but we are a child of God now. It's today living as a child of God. That means living in the grace and the redemption that has already been won on the cross for you. I think, it goes back to not living in the shame but living in God's plan for you and so you're a child of God. Walk in that.

    Gary: Walk in that.

    Brittany: Hope in that, just knowing that you are loved and you are redeemed and you are pure and you're blameless. You may not feel that way but the truth is you are. That's how Christ sees you.

    Gary: When you do start believing that, the power of sin is canceled.

    Brittany: Yes.

    Gary: That's where the power of sin breaks. Without knowing who you are in Christ, there's the confusion, the security is not there and so you're going to addictions to try to feel better about yourself. When you have Paul telling the church saying, "You are washed, you are cleansed, you are justified, you are sanctified." Which is a crazy a statement. You are sanctified because somebody who is living in addiction to pornography that does not feel very sanctified. Obviously, theologically we know there's the process of sanctification. Then there's the link between justification and sanctified. You are sanctified and now you're working it out like you said, that's a powerful feeling.

    Brittany: It's really hard to get out of the mindset that we have to act a certain way to live out God's desire for us or to have that favor and that grace but we have to get out of that works-based mindset and really just live in the grace of, "This is who I am. I am redeemed. I am chosen." Choosing to live in that as opposed to what the enemy wants for us and that's to stay locked in our works-based, " I'm not good enough," mentality.

    Kelly: You made mentioned that you're living in a place that was pressurized. Can you describe that pressure? What was causing the conflict?

    Brittany: Yes. I got saved at 16 and I still lived in my parents' house that still had the anger. It genuinely felt like heavy blanket that was constantly on me. I just wanted to shake it off but I didn't know how. I was going to that porn and that masturbation. I was very much caught up in my mind living in this feeling. This world of, "There's got to be something better than this. This can't be it." It was until I gave my heart to Jesus. I felt that blanket came off of me for the first time and there was this freedom and this deliverance and this hope that I'd always wanted. At the end of the day, I still had to go back into that home every day for two years until I moved out. There was a certain relief just even getting out of that situation.

    I love my parents. They're amazing. I have so much respect for them. They just had a very difficult childhood and something that was projected onto us and then my prayer now is that, "I don't project that onto my child," is breaking the generational sin. That's why I would say for people like, "If you're wrestling with something or do you have peer pressure friends that you maybe you shouldn't be hanging out with or situations you shouldn't be in. Get out of those situations that aren't edifying you and building you up. Get into community of other believers and you're going to even sense such a difference and just the presence that you're putting yourself into."

    Gary: The community is such a part of healing. One of the statements I say, and that's what I'm teaching is that all wounds are relational. Then the sin that we pursue is relational. You take drugs. You go to the bar with others. Even an image of pornography on the screen is an attempt in relational. All wounds, all sin is relational and therefore, I believe also all healing is relational. That's what I was asking earlier about you would have a bizarre story if you got healed all by yourself and you’d probably be the anomaly.

    I wanted my healing to be, "I'm going to be in my prayer closet alone and I'm going to wrestle with God and get rid of this sin issue or maybe I'll go to the altar at church and when the pastor gives an invitation for prayer, not telling anybody, but just pray for my unspoken prayer request." It wasn't until I actually started talking to some friends and talking to my wife and saying, "Hey. This is the problem I have, can you pray with me." Then there was something about the light and the darkness, the shame is broken. The power of this thing that's hidden in us. I'm glad you're advocating for the community as well as dealing with it personally, both are important.

    Brittany: Yes. It's purely grace that some of those manifestations I found deliverance from just because I didn't feel like I had someone to talk to about it but I still had the root sin of that sexual addiction, right?

    Kelly: Right.

    Brittany: It wasn't until I walked through after the moral failures, able to walk through that with the community that I was able to deal with that root. There was still always the root. That community and of them walking through that healing process with me. Help me to pull that root out.

    Gary: That's what you want to get to, the root. Otherwise, if the root is still there it's always going to grow back up. You can resist it for 5, 10, 15 years, but it'll still be there and Jesus is much more interested in getting to the root or He calls it the inside of the cup. Clean the inside of the cup and outside will become clean. That's a powerful testimony. This is the book you write most about this? Your other book as well, do you touch on that in your book or it's only a testimony?

    Brittany: No. In my second book. That was my first book. It came out last year, and it talks about my moral failure. The core of it is this after I had walked through healing, I asked God, like, "But where did it all go wrong? Because I loved You. I was in the Ministry. I was serving You. I was committed to not having sex outside of marriage. Where did it all go wrong?" That's where He showed me the Untouchable myth, and that's what the book is based off.

    Most believers if they're genuinely honest with themselves, they will say, "I would never do that." There are certain sins that they say, "I will never do," like, "Of course, I'll never have sex outside of marriage. Of course, I'll never have an affair. Of course, I'll never steal or murder or whatever." There's just those sins that seems so obviously wrong to us that we assume we'll never do, and I call that, "Our untouchable list."

    What happens was sex outside of marriage was on my list. I assumed I'm good. I'm in ministry. I've committed not to do it. What happened was I wasn't really guarding myself in that area. What happens is if we have sins that we say we will never do, then we actually become vulnerable in those areas because we're not guarding ourselves from those areas of sin. I have known genuinely godly people who have done things they thought that they would never do. It's why we see pastors in the news who fall into affairs or stealing or alcoholism.

    They never went into ministry saying, "I'm going to do that eventually." It's that they just assumed that they would never do that, and they didn't guard themselves, and so they fell into that sin. The book is about shattering that untouchable myth that I believe most believers have. We're going to shatter that myth, and then I give them the tools on how to stand against temptation, and so that's what that book is about.

    Gary: Cool, so powerful.

    Kelly: Brittany, do you see or can you share with us maybe some guidepost or things, flags, that you didn't know at the time? They were like just little subtleties of the enemy drawing you in, and drawing you closer to a place that you could fail. You looked back on it now, and you can see it's like, "Oh, that was definitely a snare or I should have backed up." Can you share that with us?

    Brittany: Yes, there's a couple that I talk about in the book. One of them being exhaustion. I identified that as an area that the enemy can really get in because in our exhaustion, so I was in ministry, and at the time I was doing about 60 hours a week at the church. I think I was burnt out, but I didn't really quite know it because I still loved what I was doing, but I was burnt out and I was exhausted. For me, I was unguarded because I was so tired.

    When we're exhausted right, we barely have enough strength to just do the things that we know that we need to do in a day, but let alone are we just putting up those boundaries, are we being diligent? One of those is exhaustion. I believe the enemy loves a tired person because he can get into that weariness, and he can't start putting his foot in, and he can start getting us to compromise, that's one. Another is a lack of boundaries, and one of the things that I mention in the book to guard against temptation is firm boundaries. Spoiler alert, the guy ended up months after healing, we actually did end up getting back together, and he's now my husband and God totally redeemed our story.

    Gary: That's beautiful.

    Brittany: We had some loose boundaries, right, like, "We'll never be in the house alone together," or the standard Christian, "I won't do that," but we really didn't stick to them, we found ways to get around them. For me, looking back because I had very loose boundaries. As a believer, you have to have those firm boundaries, and it might have to be a super tight boundary, but if that's what you need, then do it and then stick with it.

    That's the key, is we can say, "I won't do this," but you have to have firm boundaries, and you have to stick to them. That's another thing I look back, and I say, "Technically there is somebody in the house," but we were in the bedroom with a closed door. I was playing in my mind these like, "Well, technically, we're not alone," but your mind plays that game when you're tempted. Those are a couple I look back at.

    Gary: That's a good question. Yes, I'm glad that's a good place to wrap things up here because just giving people that practical, not be exhausted, make sure you set clear boundaries, and stay in community. Maybe even a part of community could be having somebody like Paul, Timothy had Paul, and of course, they didn't have cell phones then, but when you're in that situation where your boundaries are being challenged or that phone call, okay. I have a mentor in my life, somebody that I could trust. I think those are some really practical areas. Your book, do you have a way of we getting in touch with you? We'd love too. Like a website or blog or anything like that or-

    Brittany: Yes, so I have a website. It's www.brittanyrust.com, and you can find Untouchable and then also my newest book, Here I Am on the website, and I also have a podcast. I blog there on a regular basis, have a ministry for women and moms, so you can find me there just to connect.

    Gary: That's good. Thank you so much.

    Brittany: Yes, awesome.

    Gary: I love your honesty, and I think it going to help a lot of people.

    Brittany: Thank you.

    Gary: Not only here at this podcast, but whenever you're teaching or writing, and keep up the good work.

    Brittany: Thank you.

    Gary: Real blessed.

    Brittany: Thank you for having me.

    Kelly: Yes, thank you

    Gary: Yes, thanks, Kel.

    Key Questions from the Podcast 

    • Are struggles with pornography and masturbation common to Christian women?
    • Why do so many silently struggle through sexual addiction alone?
    • How do we find healing for our hearts and freedom from sexual sin?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    I found that when my prayers changed from a me-focused prayer of, "Just get me through this," to, "God, I just want you and I just want your healing," that's when the healing really started taking place in my life. – Brittany Rust

    I'm starting to talk more and more about my addiction to pornography and masturbation because I'm seeing that more and more women are wrestling with this in silence because they don't feel they have anybody to talk to about it. Certainly, within the church, we haven't been great about talking about it. – Brittany Rust

    It's very normal to fight pornography alone. Again, because there's this stigma that we shouldn't be wrestling with it or it feels dirty. We want to portray this purity about us, but for me I'm finding that freedom from really any addiction is being able to talk about it, finding accountability. – Brittany Rust

    We fight temptation with the word of God. Jesus did it in the desert. He fought with the word of God, so get scripture in you. – Brittany Rust

    Satan is after not just our failure but to get us to believe God is a failure or that he doesn't have power, he's not going to come through, or he doesn't love us or care for us because that usually then leads us towards rebellion and thinking, "Okay, God, if you're going to treat me like this, then I might as well just go out and live like the world." – Gary Wilkerson

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast 

    About Brittany Rust

    Brittany Rust is an author, speaker, podcast host, and founder of For the Mama Heart and Truth x Grace Women. She is also a regular contributor for Crosswalk, YouVersion, Propel Women, Focus on the Family, and have contributed resources to Single Christianity Magazine, iBelieve, ForEveryMom, Assemblies of God National Women’s Ministries, and many more.

    Brittany also founded and leads Truth x Grace Ministries, a ministry dedicated to strengthening believers through the power of God’s Word and pointing to His abundant grace. Prior to leading this ministry, she served on staff at James River Church, Convoy of Hope, Red Rocks Church, and the Assemblies of God National Women’s Ministries.

    Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

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  • Putting Hope in Reach of Every Addict

    Today, guest speaker and director of Global Teen Challenge Jerry Nance joins us to talk about a hope we can take hold of that frees us from our worst addictions. Our God can overcome the strongest addiction and redeem the darkest past. For those in the grip of addiction, he offers them a way to heal and live fully again. He can fill the emptiness inside each one of our hearts, and his mercy is new every day. 

    Today, guest speaker and director of Global Teen Challenge Jerry Nance joins us to talk about a hope we can take hold of that frees us from our worst addictions. Our God can overcome the strongest addiction and redeem the darkest past. For those in the grip of addiction, he offers them a way to heal and live fully again. He can fill the emptiness inside each one of our hearts, and his mercy is new every day. 

    Gary Wilkerson: Well, welcome to the Gary Wilkerson Podcast, I'm Gary Wilkerson and I'm here with a good friend and a great man of God who is ministering in ways that impact the world. You're going to be excited to hear what God's done through your life. Jerry, welcome! Glad you're here on our podcast-

    Jerry Nance: Glad to be here, absolutely.

    Gary: Jerry is the director of Global Teen Challenge.  Jerry, we have this in common, we both have worked for my father David Wilkerson before and we don't have in common is that I was actually born by him and you weren't but we are brothers in Christ. Jerry has been working originally with World Challenge. Where you worked for my father for many years helping him do his Dave Wilkerson in crusades and then now have taken on your role at Global Teen Challenge. Thanks, Jerry for come along today. Tell us a little bit about Global Teen Challenge, what is this as an organization?

    Jerry: Global Teen Challenge-- we partner with Teen Challenge Centers all over the world to provide training and really developing the leadership teams, as well as launching new Teen Challenge programs in countries where there are no programs, faith-based programs, for really serving the addicted population. As well as just really investing in curriculum development and translation of curriculum, so we really are doing a broad, broad amount of work just in every Teen Challenge Center in the world.

    Gary: You were kind enough to speak to our staff this morning. You asked the question, how many of you have family members or friends who are addicted? Maybe say 80% of people raised their hands right. Is that normal wherever you go? If you were to ask that question would you say-

    Jerry: At least 75% of every crowd if I'm ever in a church or in a business setting where I'm speaking to even business communities. Do you have a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol? Loved one or friend, they'll all say yes. It is an enormous issue, not just across America but truly all over the world.

    Gary: Being that that you head up one of the most effective and impactive programs for those on addiction, you probably have a pretty good knowledge of the vast breadth of addiction in the world today.

    Jerry: Well, absolutely. The United Nations, they do continual studies on the population of addicts and the numbers always are in the realm of 270 to 280 million drug abusers globally. The truth of it is when you think about that, that's not even half likely the number because a lot of your shame-based culture countries, they're just not going to report. Like a Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, they're not going to tell you the truth about the addiction there, but one in every four adult men in Pakistan are using heroin and most all of them addicted. One in every four men.

    You look at that need, and then in Afghanistan the use of-- and even in the wars where they're there keeping the soldiers stoned on heroin and drugs so that they'll go and do some of the stuff they're doing. It's an enormous problem in some of the Asian countries of the world but they won't talk about it.

    I mean like for the price of a boiled egg you can get heroin in parts of China. I mean it's incredible. India is you know just-- we believe approximately 20% of all drug addicts on the face of the earth are in India. Heroin is everywhere, and they tend to smoke it, they don't tend to use it intravenously, but I've seen parks one evening we were on the border of Mumbai or Bombay and we just see-- they took us there the director took us there. He said, just wait. It was like dusk-dark and there were at least 4000 drug addicts just coming to crash and sleep in the park because they are living in the streets, they're homeless, and they're helpless. I mean it just grabs your heart to say that this issue, drug addiction, is grabbing and destroying lives, destroying families. The breakup of the home so often today in America it's drug-related.

    Gary: Sometimes you don't think of that, you think one in four in Pakistan, for instance, being on heroin, but that's one out of four families being destroyed, one out of four moms crying themselves to sleep at night wonder where the little boy is on the streets and that's a-- so the ripple effect of addictions are much wider than we even know. In America is it-- would you say it's less of a problem than some of the countries or?

    Jerry: No, I wouldn't. There's 22 million according to government studies. 22 million Americans, so you consider our population of over 300 million, that's still a significant amount of people that are hurting. When you think of this opiate epidemic that has just flooded across America, you can fault the medical companies, the pharmaceutical companies. They really did push pain control and these pain clinics that have gone across America. People were very innocently, they were playing tennis and hurt their elbow, or they tore up their knee playing football. They go on and get a large supply of oxycontin, oxycodone. They start taking it and then they run out of pills. Well, if they start over-medicating themselves because of their pain, that is highly addictive. The next thing you know they're looking for it, and so now that the crash down and the clamp down on the prescriptions they're going to heroin. They're finding it in the streets, it's coming out of Mexico, it's coming from other parts of the world, and it's devastating.

    These are just solid people that are now devastated their families. Gary, I think one of the greatest challenges is this word ‘shame’. You don't want to tell anybody, that my son who was A-student, was a football player or a tennis stars now a heroin addict and doing things you never-- they're robbing, they're breaking into people's houses, they're prostituting themselves to get these drugs, and they're embarrassed. They hide, and so we really hope to put hope in reach of addicts everywhere and in these families that are looking for care. We know that Christ is the hope. We know that there is a transformation. We know it's possible. All the families that are listening today that are hopeless, let me tell you, there is hope. We see it all the time but America's really struggling.

    Gary: I definitely want to talk--just a little bit I want to come back to that talking about how somebody listening today and needs hope for themselves or their family. It just kind of want to keep looking at the broad brushstroke of this is how it's impacting and particularly in America here. What you're saying is, some of the prescription drugs are a little harder to get now, so people turn to the street drugs. That puts them in a whole different kind of culture too, because now you're going to a drug dealer, you're owning people money. The problems are intensifying then, and in some ways will that right?

    Jerry: Oh, absolutely. Gary, those are the students coming into the doors of Teen Challenge, they're getting so desperate, the criminal activity that results from that, they get arrested. Now they're getting criminal records, and the judges are giving them choices either go to prison or go to drug programs and Teen Challenge is one of those that they'll choose and select to be with us. A large percentage of our adult men, I'd say 10% 15% are coming through court referrals into the program.

    Gary: That's a lot.

    Jerry: Yes, it is.

    Gary: Tell us a little bit about Teen Challenge. I already know the story a little bit, how it started, but I'd love to hear from your perspective. I kind of tell the story as I know it from the early days, but Teen Challenge started-

    Jerry: It started-- David Wilkerson, your dad, was pastoring at the time and you weren't even born, I was reading in his prayer time read a LIFE magazine February 28, 1958. If you look at that magazine, we have several of them in our office that we keep a keep them around and because that was the starting point. When he's read this story of seven boys on trial for murder in New York City and God just touched his heart and said to him, "Go help those boys." 19 days later he was standing in New York City, he hadn’t ever been to New York City, didn't have a clue of really what the real issues were, but God burdened his heart to go help those boys. He made an attempt to really reach those seven boys but that really never did happen.

    While he was going into the neighborhoods, God gave him access to these gang members and favor with the gang members and just began to open doors to really minister to them. He found out there was one thing that he didn't even know about until he got in there was that, they were using heroin. You've got a picture of the United States in 1958 and think about heroin is now in the streets and kids are living together in burned out buildings. Well, the moral culture was totally different then but to think about them destroying their lives on these drugs and your dad just decided-- felt God wanting him to help those addicts and that's when in like 1960 he created the very first residential program so that students could find care and find hope and freedom from addiction because I think early on they were putting them in people's homes. These addicts trying to get off of drugs and it was fine in some cases, but in other cases, they might steal your TV and head out. That's very typical if they're still struggling with addiction. Your dad started with that heart and that compassion to help the hurting. I think that that spirit, when you talk about cultures, that culture of care, that culture of reaching out to the hopeless is still a very much a part of this culture, of Teen Challenge today, 60 years later.

    It was that heart, that commitment to prayer, that birthed the ministry and truly that's what we're doing all over the world is going into communities where there's enormous needs. I've been in Cambodia, I've been in Vietnam, I've been in Russia, Siberia, no matter where you're at, just Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic, Slovakia, all these countries, there's addiction everywhere. Teen Challenge being there provides hope and its men and women who caught your father's vision that said, "That's the right thing to do." They went out because really it organically grew from one center in Brooklyn, New York, folks in California, then Detroit and then other cities. Then it went to The Hague, Netherlands and they just celebrated this past summer, their 50th Anniversary and it was incredible. There were over 600 leaders from all over the world that we're there for that 50th Anniversary.

    You realize the culture then from, from Europe, it went over into Asia and then Africa and today Teen Challenge in Africa is just exploding. It happened because of one man being faithful to hear from God and then to act out and to step out into what he felt God ask him to do.

    Gary: How many centers and how many nations are there now?

    Jerry: We have over 1500 Teen Challenge programs in 125 nations of the world and Global Teen Challenge is current currently working in 10 a new countries now, Bangladesh, places like Indonesia, to be able to go in and work in some of these countries, to put hope in reach to the addicts in those communities. It's an incredible opportunity but an incredible need and we realize we won't put everybody in a bed. We're really working on new, innovative ways to try to reach addicts and provide care and to give them a chance to get out of that addiction.

    Gary: I like that. The vision when you speak speaking, putting hope within reach of every addict. Tell us about did you come up with that?

    Jerry: Yes.

    Gary: That you're working on [crosstalk] hoe did that happen and what's the impact of that?

    Jerry: While I was in prayer and reading the book of Luke and reading chapter five of Luke and just when Jesus asked Peter to get into the boat and he said, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets into the deep." They call it an enormous amount of fish and I was just pondering that in my prayer time and God just began to speak to me. Jesus changed their methodology that day of how they fished because they always fished at night. If you read the story there and Luke five Peter had said, "Look, master, we fished all night."

    He was basically exhausted and they were cleaning their nets and you don't want to reclean your nets if you know you're not going to catch any fish in the daytime was in his mind, but they caught such a catch and, and Jesus changed their methodology and they caught more fish. The Holy Spirit just said, "Jerry, if you want to reach more addicts, you're going to have to change your methodology because Teen Challenge, historic nature of our organization is 12 month residential care, coming to the program, stop whatever you're doing and come in and be with us and we'll disciple you, we'll help you, we'll help you restore your relationship with your family and with God and yourself, forgive yourself and get over some of these things and really bring restoration to your life.

    That won't work for 270 million and, and beyond, so we realized we really need to look at new strategies and new ways. Gary, I think what for your listeners' sake, just let me just tell you a couple of stories.

    Lada, a little girl from the Czech Republic. Her father was an abusive alcoholic and Lada and her little sister would come home from school and look and peek through the windows of her house to see, is dad in the kitchen is in the bedroom, is he at work, where is he today? Would not even go into the house if he was in that room and so they would sneak in if he was there. They try to sneak through windows or whatever to their bedrooms because, when he was drunk, he was horribly mean and Lada said at night he would pick us up and put us on the kitchen table and scream and yell at us all night long for hours for her and her sister and just that verbal abuse from someone that's scary.

    He was angry, yelling and slamming the table and it was everything about grades and good enough. Her self-esteem as a child was just destroyed. At eight 11 years old, she made a choice, "I'm not living here anymore." Who wants an 11-year-old child to be forced to make that kind of a decision? She chooses to go into the streets. What do you do in the Czech Republic at 11 years old to survive? She started prostituting and of course plenty of people out there to take advantage of her. Somebody began to, "Hey, you can stay here, but you're going to work for me."

    This was 17 years of that life, lung problems from standing in the cold weather, prostituting. We even have video footage of her standing in a subway station where she stoned on heroin so bad, she's nodding, just nodding, standing over the edge of the rails. People everywhere watching it. Nobody did a thing. She finally falls into the tracks and I mean milliseconds later, this train runs right over the top of her. Miraculously God protects her. She was right smack between the middle of it. The train runs on her and you're watching this and nobody did anything to try to help her until the train. Then now they're wondering if she is dead. They went down there and there she comes, just still stoned out of her head.

    She said, "About three weeks later, I came out of another trip to the emergency room. I had the clothes on my back and I was sitting on a park bench with another hospital bill I couldn't pay." She said, "I saw that bus over there with these lights and it was a Teen Challenge bus." I'm going to start crying here because I know Lada, she's a wonderful lady. She went over there and she said, "I'm going home with you tonight." They said, "No, you got to, call paperwork. You've got to do the process." She said, "No, no, you don't understand. I'm going home with you tonight." They felt okay. They took her home. God radically saved her life at Teen Challenge.

    Of course, we've heard more and more times she should be dead. Fell into open elevator shaft from the fourth floor, hit the bottom. She was robbing somebody's apartment. Horrible life. Found Jesus. Today, She's a staff member of the program. She's leading other young ladies to Christ. I was just with her, I paid her way to be able to get to go to the Europe conference because I wanted her to be able to be there for the 50th Anniversary. God transformed her life from hopelessness to hope. Now she's engaged to be married and I'm like a grandfather that feels so proud that this little girl through Teen Challenge could find life and find hope.

    Gary: That's amazing. Wow

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • What is Global Teen Challenge?
    • How prevalent is drug abuse and addiction in the US and around the world?
    • How did Teen Challenge get started?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    We really hope to put hope in reach of addicts everywhere and in these families that are looking for care. We know that Christ is the hope. We know that there is a transformation. We know it's possible. All the families that are listening today that are hopeless, let me tell you, there is hope. – Jerry Nance

    Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside. - Jean Kilbourne

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Jerry Nance

    Dr. Jerry Nance is known for his passion – a passion to see Teen Challenge extend its reach around the world to help thousands of more people find freedom from addiction. He has served as President and CEO of Global Teen Challenge since 2007.

    Dr. Nance is a servant leader at heart, having begun a career in ministry as an associate pastor and senior pastor of a local church and later, Crusade Associate for Teen Challenge founder, David Wilkerson. His education uniquely qualifies him for addiction outreach and recovery. He holds a B.S. in Religious Studies from Southwestern University, a Master's Degree in Counseling from Barry University, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy in Leadership, Education with a specialization in Counseling from Barry University.

    Beyond his leadership expertise, Dr. Nance is valued by friends, clients, and colleagues for something more than can be learned in a classroom - his compassion. He cares deeply for people who struggle with life-controlling addiction and is always ready and eager to develop the resources and programs necessary to facilitate their full recovery. From 1991-2017, he served as the Executive Director of Teen Challenge of Florida, leading the organization to an expansion of 21 centers across six states: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Missouri. He has extended residential services to over 1,200 men and women, boys and girls. Today, it is his privilege to serve Global Teen Challenge, assisting international leadership in 125 nations and working with them to put hope within reach of every addict.

    Dr. Nance and his wife, Libby, reside in Georgia and are the proud parents of three grown children and grandparents of nine grandchildren.

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

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  • BEST OF: A Wilkerson Family Testimony: Prodigal Children Overcoming Addiction

    Parents in the church can feel ashamed of having a prodigal child. They may have actually been condemned for their child’s suffering or wandering path. In this episode, Gary Wilkerson is joined by his wife, Kelly, and son, Evan, as they discuss how their family was ultimately able to draw closer to God as a result of Evan’s prodigal journey. While this time can be immensely painful for parents and families, God is always faithful. Gary, Kelly, and Evan talk about how God redeemed and healed their own relationships and lives through what seemed like a very dark period.

    Parents in the church can feel ashamed of having a prodigal child. They may have actually been condemned for their child’s suffering or wandering path. In this episode, Gary Wilkerson is joined by his wife, Kelly, and son, Evan, as they discuss how their family was ultimately able to draw closer to God as a result of Evan’s prodigal journey. While this time can be immensely painful for parents and families, God is always faithful. Gary, Kelly, and Evan talk about how God redeemed and healed their own relationships and lives through what seemed like a very dark period.

    Bob Ditmer: Well, welcome to another Gary Wilkerson podcast, and today we're going to be talking to the Christian family, and I guess all elements of the family to parents and to children, as well, as we talk about this idea of children that stray, that children that get into different areas that they should not. All parents worry about their children, but with Christian families, there's an added element. You worry about their faith and their walk with Christ, as well. Gary maybe you can share with us some history of your family as we get into this topic. 

    Gary Wilkerson: Yeah, we have our son, Evan with us here, we'll introduce him in a little bit and my wife Kelly. But we come from a Christian family. My father was a pastor and the founder of the ministry that I work with now called World Challenge. Also founder of Teen Challenge, a drug rehab program that's now in about 70 nations, almost 1,500 centers around the world. So, as I'm speaking to you today, there's about 20,000 young men and women who are in a treatment facility getting set free from drugs and alcohol, and life controlling problems through the power of Jesus Christ. His father was a pastor, as well and then his father, my great grandfather, was, they called it a tent evangelist, he'd try around in United States, preaching gospel crusades and his father was a pastor. 

    Gary: There's even rumors, we're not sure, this isn't confirmed, but there's even rumors back to, there was supposedly a Wilkerson who was a chaplain in Tennessee during the Civil War, so five, six, maybe Evan might be the seventh generation of people involved in ministry, so we come from a long line of pastors and ministers, but I think when a family loves God, the enemy hates that and he loves to attack community and unity, and so we felt the attack, we see this as we travel around the world, there's so many families under attack. I think particularly because we have made a positive dent in the negative kingdom of darkness when it comes to addiction and drugs, that the enemy really sent every demon from the pit of Hell to come against our family when it comes to addictions. 

    Gary: Being so many set free is like, "Oh, let me see if I can trap some of their own family," so we hit a season of great despair as a couple and a family of seeing personally these very destructive forces come in and wreak havoc on our own family. 

    Bob: And so, how did it affect you? What is it that happened in your family? 

    Gary: Well, we have four kids. Evan, who is here with us, and one of our other sons Elliot, both of them became pretty involved in drugs and alcohol, running from God. Evan can tell you a little bit later, but always had a heart for God, his brother Elliot, I remember when he was in the midst of his addictions, he'd call me on the phone, he was living on the street, he was homeless, he was addicted to heroin, he would call me and just say, "I'm spending this whole day praying Jesus, help me, Jesus, set me free. I love you and I wanna change, but I don't know how. It doesn't work." 

    Gary: Almost like God, you're not working. He said, "Ask," and I'm asking and it's not working, so that was for us, as a couple, it was extremely frustrating. It was almost like we didn't know whether to just fall on our face, as we did many times, and cry out to God, "Please help us, Jesus." Or sometimes shake an angry fist, "Where are you, God? You just seem so far away, so distant. You heal other people's children," and ours to seem to be, the more we prayed, the worst it gets, and it was very sad, it was very emotionally stressful time. 

    Bob: Kelly, did you feel guilty about what had happened? 

    Gary: That's a good question. 

    Bob: Did you think you had done something wrong during that time? 

    Kelly Wilkerson: Absolutely. You know, I mean, it would just kind of fall on us like how can we have done something different? How could we have been better parents? Maybe we should have spent more time with them, maybe we should have been harder on them, you know? I mean, there's just like a host of things that we would go through the checklist. If we had lived differently then he could live differently. 

    Bob: Yep, yep. I think I mentioned I used to teach in adult Sunday school class and every week, there would be prayers in this way, and it was the parents always saying, "We must have done something wrong. We didn't teach I'm this way. We must have done something wrong," when it wasn't anything they did, right? 

    Kelly: Right. 

    Bob: It was just their own moral agent and Evan, I guess, maybe that question goes to you. How do you think this happened? Was it something the parents did or did not, or how did you fall into something that was so contrary to the values that you had been raised with? 

    Evan Wilkerson: Sure. I think it really started with where my desires lied, so they really set good foundations, biblical foundations, that were right to walk in, but my desires shifted when I really started becoming more immersed in what other people thought of me and wanting that kind of acceptance from peers and friends in school, and really chasing after whatever the world was presenting. And so, that's really, I think, the cause and the catalyst of getting immersed in the world's ways and not following in what my parents had clearly demonstrated as good behavior and a good lifestyle. 

    Evan: It was just that deception of the enemy that quickly got into my system and brought me out of what I should have really been living in. 

    Bob: As you think back on that time, what was the plan? If you had a plan, when the world starts to fall apart with a child. Did you say, "Okay, here are our steps. We're gonna do one, two, three, and four." Kind of walk me through where you were. 

    Gary: For me, it was desperation more than a plan. All the plans had come and gone, the strategies of oh, this can fix it or that will solve it or he'll go to this school instead of that school, or we'll have his friends come over to our house every day after school rather than him going ... We had all these strategies and none of them seemed to be working, right? 

    Kelly: No. You know, sin wants what sin wants. And so, whether we were the host family and had all the kids at our house or if we allowed our children to be with other neighbors or whatever, they're gonna find the trouble, the temptation is there and the seduction of the world, it's very cunning. It's very, very cunning and I mean, scripture tells us that Satan is an angel of light and there's the way that he deceives and counterfeits, so just like Gary said, any plan that we thought that we might have or any strategy, I mean, the basis, what it all comes down to is that we found our way through this by prayer. 

    Kelly: And God had victory for us through the power of prayer. And sometimes, that even looked a little shaky, you know? Because the more that we would pray, the worse the situation would get. But I guess even talking about it now and kind of processing, too, it's like things would come to light, which I mean, that's what we want, because you don't know who you're fighting, what you're fighting if there's no light to it and things are still in the shadows. And so, maybe it only appeared that they were getting worse, but God was allowing things to come to light and you would have a revelation of it and you're just like, "Oh, no. Not that, too," you know? 

    Bob: Yeah. 

    Kelly: It's just like I feel like we're going deeper into the pit, you know? But- 

    Gary: One of our kids told us once, not Evan, but our other son, said, "I hate being a Christian." I said, "Why?" He says, "Everything I do wrong, I get caught. All my other friends, they do things worse than me and they never get caught." It's like the exposure of- 

    Kelly: Never get caught, yeah. 

    Gary: ... bringing things in darkness to light, but I would say that also going back to what you were bringing up earlier, Bob, about how a parent feels when you see the struggle, so Evan, I don't wanna expose you, but we can edit this later if you want. But I remember coming home one day and he was probably in his late teens and he had these two empty bottles in his bedroom and he wasn't in his bedroom and his window was open, he was sitting out on the like second story, kind of hanging over the edge just like teetering, he was so out of his mind drunk. What kind of emotions does a parent have at that time? Well, there's fear, we're gonna lose this boy, this could end in overdose or suicide or just a life of alcoholism. So, there's a lot of fear involved in that, as well. 

    Gary: And then there's the self-loathing, the anger, like, "What did I do wrong? I'm such a failure," it's just like the shoulda, woulda, couldas come in and there's a kind of a balance there. It's almost like, I think some parents totally excuse themselves and then they don't learn the lessons like I coulda. When I look back on it, like I didn't wanna repeat some of the mistakes my father had made. He traveled a lot and he was gone, so I think there was a slight father wound in my own heart that caused me to go searching for love and I think I see that. Evan was already starting to tell a story here, he's saying like in looking for love in his friends or acceptance, approval, applause. And so, I learned that lesson of okay, be present to your children. I don't wanna miss that lesson, you know? 

    Gary: And I don't wanna miss being able to tell other parents who are in the middle of this battle right now. It's like you'll hear some people say, "It's not your fault," and it's not, but there is somethings we can learn in this and somethings we can improve on as far as parenting. 

    Kelly: Right. 

    Gary: And so for me, to be present to your kids. Now, she was much better than I was. She was there and present, but you know, because even sometimes when I was there, I would be like distracted with my ministry items, my thinking of strategies and visions and goals and dreams and aspirations and building my Kingdom. I think my kids missed out on some. On the other hand, we were blessed to learn that addictions is like a disease. And I really believe that. I know there's sin involved in it, but I also believe ... So, like Evan could take a drink and the light bulb turns on and goes, "This is best thing I've ever." There's something in the brain chemical that he has in his mind causes him to take that drink and it becomes an explosive high. 

    Gary: Where if I were to take a drink, I may go like, "That didn't taste very good. I don't want that," because I don't have that kind of ... That can't be a parent's fault to have a child with an addictive personality. That is something that is ... It would be like saying, it's your fault that your children brain tumor or cancer or leukemia, it's not the parent's fault, there's disease involved in this, as well. I think that balance is really important. 

    Kelly: Right. 

    Bob: You had mentioned that you had been praying for exposure. Evan, did you know that they were praying that you'd get caught whatever you did? And did you resent that, if you did? 

    Evan: Yeah. I kind of noticed that I was getting caught a lot more than my friends would and maybe kind of like a Jonah experience. Like don't have this guy come around us, because God's after him or we get in trouble when he's around. So, yeah. That kind of sense was a little bit there following me. 

    Bob: Then was there resentment even to your faith as a result of that? 

    Evan: I think all around, there was some kind of ... I couldn't understand, I couldn't place my finger on what God was trying to do. In my selfish steep of addiction, I just pictured it as, man, God is gonna make me suffer or go through all these kinds of pains in order to give up just to realize that he's the only one that can provide life or provide something for me and so, I was kind of confused about that. Like why can't I just come to him in a different way or live how I want or experience something that I want and then just come to him and his love. But it seemed like he was just making it impossible for me to experience any kind of true, true pleasure without him. 

    Evan: And so, in that kind of selfish way, I was resenting him for that. 

    Bob: Kelly, was there anything else you prayed for besides the exposure? Were there some other prayers that were common during that time for you? 

    Kelly: Yeah. I mean, we wanted Evan to have life in Christ, you know? We wanted Jesus to be his first and foremost, you know? 

    Gary: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

    Kelly: I, too, just as a way of confession, I think that if looking back over that season, and even looking ahead to hard times that may come, because we have our faith is tested, you know? God wants to purify it, he wants to make it perfect. And I am so sorry that I forgot the faithfulness of God, you know? I would think, "You said the seed of the righteous, we'll flourish. You said," you know? And my attack was on God's faithfulness, how Satan attacked me was on the goodness of God or the faithfulness of God, or the truth of God, the wisdom of God. You know, how he was taking Evan on his journey and I mean, I just so regret that for even one moment, I would say that God wasn't faithful, you know? 

    Kelly: It just encouraged families and parents, and even kids that might be praying for their parents, or even another struggle, maybe someone's struggling with a healing or whatever breakthrough. God is faithful. He is faithful. God is faithful and never forget that. He is faithful. I don't care how dark it is, what storm it is, God is faithful, you know? He's with you. He's gonna see through this. He hasn't abandoned you. I mean, it is written that he never leaves us, he never forsakes us, and I think just like in the garden, the serpent went to Eve and said, "Did God say?" I mean, many times I would hear that. "Did God really say that he was gonna rescue Evan? Did God say he was going to protect your family?" 

    Kelly: And I would get trapped in that place where I would not think that God was with us or he was faithful. So, I mean, just- 

    Bob: I can't help, but notice. 

    Kelly: ... hang on. 

    Bob: Yeah, I can't help, but notice what's remarkable is here you're dealing with something that Evan was dealing with and the whole family learns a lesson from it, of things that they needed to deal with perhaps, as well. I guess that's how God works, isn't it? 

    Kelly: Yeah. 

    Gary: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

    Bob: Yeah. 

    Kelly: Yeah, he's a redeemer. Nothing's wasted. 

    Bob: Yeah. And speaking of the prayers that you had that everything be revealed, it reminds me of something you said in an earlier podcast. You said your grandfather talked about the holy ghost miserables? 

    Gary: Oh, yeah. Yeah. 

    Bob: Is it hard for a parent to wish this kind of thing on your child? I mean, that would be a hard thing to wish for. 

    Gary: You know- 

    Bob: They would come at such a low point, that they'd have to come to that. 

    Gary: Yeah, it is hard to wish that and sometimes it's easy, because you always love your kids, but when they're being such knuckleheads and making such poor decisions, sometimes you kind of want to see them miserable. Not in a holy ghost way, just in a human way. They're just so frustrating. But you know, having addictions and on a backslidden person, whether it be an addiction or just somebody who was just drifting from God, it's a family crisis. It's not just one person out there making poor choices. 

    Gary: It's the whole family is the negatively effected by it. And you know, so many wounded people, so many wounded families. We do a lot of pastor conferences, because of Evan and his sibling's testimonies, we have a special place in our heart to pray a prayer of faith at the end of some of our meetings for pastors conference and we've had, I'd say it’s very rare that there's anything less than 80% of the pastors who will either raise their hand or come forward for prayer. Saying like you have a prodigal son or daughter- 

    Kelly: Or child, yeah. 

    Gary: ... or child in drugs or alcohol, 80% ... These are pastors. I mean, that's not a clinical survey or anything like that, but just anecdotally I would say, 70-80% of families are dealing with this and the hurt. It's really powerful. 

    Kelly: Yeah, there's a lot of shame with it. 

    Gary: Shame. 

    Kelly: And guilt, you know? And two, it's hard for leaders in ministry to find a safe place, a space place to share their story, and you know, I mean, someone that is out to overtake or topple somebody's calling, they could take that information and ruin a ministry with it. So ... 

    Bob: Yeah, and I guess the key there is you do need to speak up, though, don't you? 

    Kelly: Right. 

    Bob: You need to seek out some help of those around you. 

    Kelly: Yes. 

    Bob: Whether you're a pastor or just a Christian in a church. 

    Kelly: Absolutely. 

    Bob: How do you overcome that shame in a case like that? Here you folks, especially a well known Christian family and you're pastoring at church, and how did you get around that? How did you get through and say, "We just need some help from some people?" 

    Kelly: Right. I think it was trying to be wholehearted and be vulnerable and just show that place that, you know, "Hey, we need help, we need to be in community." I mean, God created us to live in community and the way through this is with other's help, so ... 

    Gary: There's so many tentacles to this kind of crisis and so, the issue of vulnerability would be one, as well. So, I was pastoring at the time and I'm not just the head of the family, Christ is the head, the under shepherd, but I'm part of the family, as well, so I asked for prayer, "My son is struggling with an addiction, would you as a congregation, would you please pray for my wife and I? We're hurting." And for by and large, it was amazing and a pleasant experience where people gathered around us. But it also backfired, as well, because far more than I imagined were like, "Ugh, you can't be our pastor. You have a child who's ..." Well, its' like he's an adult for number one. It's not like the scripture talks about, you know, you can't lead, if- 

    Bob: Having control of your ... Yeah. 

    Kelly: You can't manage your home. 

    Gary: ... you can't manage your own home and stuff like that, so hey, there was management within our home, but what they do now ... But that wasn't enough. So, it almost like giving them ammunition to shoot you with and so I would say when it comes to this, be careful who you're vulnerable with if you have a prodigal child or a family member who's, even a spouse, there's an addiction there. Make sure it's a trusted friend, a counselor, maybe even if you're a pastor, a pastor from another church. Even with that you wanna be careful, because they try to take you out.

    Bob: Evan, let me put you on the spot here. 

    Evan: Sure. 

    Bob: And your parents sitting here, what did they do wrong during this time? 

    Gary: Do you have another hour or two? Yeah, be honest. 

    Evan: What did they do wrong? 

    Gary: Don't pull any punches, man. Go for it. 

    Kelly: You might need to turn it into a series. 

    Gary: A series? Yeah. 

    Evan: No, I don't think so. I mean, from my perspective, it's really hard to perceive anything that they directly did wrong to me, you know? I'm not sure what the perfect model of is parenting, you know? I'm not a parent yet, have one on the way, but I'm not a parent yet. And so, I'll figure out more right and wrong ways of parenting when that time comes. But I didn't really see it as what they were doing wrong, you know? In my walk, it's just what can I do right and unfortunately, I had just such confusion about how to live, what the right and wrong ways of living were, and again, even though they set healthy boundaries, just through terrible influences, I'd say, and through my own flesh, I would seek to break boundaries. 

    Evan: And seek to become my own man through rebellious natures and it really just was a prodigal nature. It's just, “Give me the inheritance, so I can live recklessly and get the most pleasure that I can for myself” because that's what the world sold me, and I bought it. I bought it holistically and just went out. It's really the hedonist lifestyle, was my greatest issue. I bought the lie that the meaning of life was pleasure, and Satan is really good about getting those hooks in with that deception of “the meaning of life is pleasure and here's a little bit here.” Here's a little bit here, and before you know it, you're trapped. Before you know it, you aren't finding any pleasure in these things at all, but they're actually misery, and they're actually discontent and bewilderment that you ever came to this place.

    Evan: And when the prodigal, it says that he came to his senses of, "My dad's servants are living better than I am, let me go back to him." It was really coming to my senses of that they have provided and why did I leave that lifestyle, why would I choose something that has brought me into this pig pen and really in some physical and spiritual parallels to that prodigal story of I'm physically sick, I'm mentally sick, I'm spiritually desolate, and bewildered how I ever got here. So, honestly, it was never point of, "Wow, they really messed up. They really brought me here." And I think there's truth to that and that I have to take responsibility for some choices that I made and that it really came out of my own doing.

    Gary: In all cases with our children, Evan and his brother Elliot, there came a moment where we let go. We let go of the worry, we let go of the anxiety, we let go of the sense of responsibility, because there comes a point where there's nothing you can, whether it's prodigal or an addict in your family, you can't take the blame or the shame. I was thinking earlier when we were talking what do the parents do wrong?

    Gary: One of the things that the Lord encouraged me one time in is I was feeling so guilty, so full of shame, and he said to me, he said, "I was a perfect father, my son screwed up," or messed up, you know? He probably didn't say screwed up, he probably said messed up. So, you know- 

    Kelly: Are you talking about Adam and Eve? 

    Gary: Adam and Eve, yeah, yeah. His son- 

    Kelly: God created him. 

    Gary: God did nothing wrong, he was totally a perfect father for Adam and Eve, and yet they went into sin themselves. So, that is, it's the moral choice, the lukewarmness is a choice that somebody makes, but so letting go and just saying, "God, you're the father, you got this. You knew what you were doing with Adam and Eve, and you know what you're doing with Evan and Elliot, Annie and Ashley, and our six grandkids. You know what you're doing with them," and so, it seemed like to me that as we were holding onto this, things got worse and more shame and guilt and stress and anxiety and fear. And I don't know if it's like God's waiting for us to let go then he does something or he's saying to us, "The journey's ending, just rest now. I've got this." 

    Gary: I'm not sure which one he's doing, but in all these cases, there came a point where it just clicked. Our good friend, Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle, talks about the exact same thing. His daughter was a prodigal daughter living out in the world and doing all kinds of reckless things. And he was anxious and worried about her, he was sitting in his lounge chair with tears in his eyes just saying, "Lord, when she's coming home?" And he just said, "Rest, I've got this, don't worry about it." And you know, she called and came home a few days later and said, "I'm ready to get my life back to God. 

    Bob: Wow. 

    Gary: And get through this." 

    Kelly: I think- 

    Gary: And you had that experience, too, with Elliot. 

    Kelly: With Elliot, right. I think, too, Bob we need to remember that God loves our children more than we can possibly ever comprehend or understand. And you know, he doesn't want them ... He did not write that life for them to be in the world and sin tossed, you know? 

    Bob: Yep. 

    Kelly: That's not what he wrote for them and so, it helped me to remember that God loves him more than I ever could and that he's after them. And Gary kind of mentioned just about letting go, I had a vision with one of our other sons and the Lord says, "Give them to me." And so, I'm holding this adult limp body in our arms and as I hand them over to Christ, Jesus turns his back on me and I'm kind of like well, what's going on? He goes, "This is between us." You know? 

    Bob: Wow. 

    Kelly: He's like, "I got this. This is between the two of us." And so, I remember I just stood with my hands on the back of the Lord as he was holding our son and I just said, "I give you thanks, you're good and your mercy endures forever." And that became my anthem, you know? 

    Bob: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

    Kelly: I just stood in that place of like you're good, I'm gonna thank you, and your mercy endures forever. 

    Bob: Evan, did you feel this going on? I mean, you were doing a spiritual battle yourself, I'm guessing, through all of this. When it finally dawned on you that, "I need to go back," what was it that you think caused that to happen? How did it happen? 

    Evan: Well, I definitely knew that were my parents praying for me day and night, and I saw the broken heartedness in them and that was really effecting me, too, of course. But it really came just to God's intervention and just as my mom said of Christ almost just taking us for himself, just to deal with us in the way that he wanted to, was the only thing that could really intervene and break that bondage of sin, that addiction, because it was just as overwhelming for me as it was for my parents. And you become clueless as to what the solution is, what the remedy is, and when you're praying all the time, too, but not seeing any kind of leeway or effects of it, you really start to lose hope. 

    Evan: So, I actually came to a point after rehab and then relapsing again, of just absolute hopelessness. There is no way out of this. I mean, my clear belief was this is who I am going to be for the rest of my life, I'm an addict, and this is just me. So, that, of course, out of desperation bred, "God, I need your help. Lord, save me. There's no other way to turn except to you." And either it's just gonna be a miracle or it's gonna be what I've concluded that I'm just an addict from here on out. And there was various points, it was just recently that God just laid out this whole timeline for me. I was giving thanks to him, just, "God, thank you for my wife. Thank you for job, car," whatever it may be, and he laid out this amazing timeline of, despite my actions, in spite of me running away from him, and actually working against him in my hedonism and my drugs and alcohol, he kept putting stones and pieces in place to turn me back to him. 

    Evan: And there was no other way to see it other than, wow, God had so much grace in me to put this prayer over me, put these friends who just constantly was speaking Bible verses, giving me this job where I needed this mentor. Thing after thing, just absolutely lavishing me with grace, in spite of my actions. So, it was nothing that I did, it was just answered prayer of I was really actually working against God's grace, but because of his favor and because he wanted to answer our prayers and he knew that I was desperate for him. He put the pieces in place and once step after another, lead me out of that. Where you look back and see that was a miracle. God lead me out of that. God answered our prayers. 

    Bob: Sounds like it was a process rather than something like a bolt of light out of the sky, it took a while? 

    Evan: Right. There was actually one day where I thought, "Oh, this is the miracle day where my life absolutely changes and I never go back." I had a counselor who said, "You know, God sees the things that you're doing and it actually breaks his heart. And so, I would consider just telling him you're sorry sometime." And it was a day after partying all night and I missed Sunday morning church, I came home and my parents were pretty upset and said just get it together essentially. And I went upstairs and I just thought about what my counselor said and I said, "Lord, I'm sorry." That was it, you know? 

    Evan: As simple as it could be and immediately, I was just rushed upon with his love. It was overwhelming. I had to just to fall on the floor and I was weeping, just because of his love and it was just this instant reaction of you're forgiven, the father sees the prodigal son far away, and he rushes to him and wraps his arms around him, and kills the fattened calf and celebrates. And that's how I felt in that moment just from saying, "Lord, I'm sorry," I felt like he was celebrating and his love and so, if anything, I thought that was the moment. Hey, I'm free, you know? I'm never going back to drugs again and it wasn't long before it actually got worse. So, that is unfathomable to me. I don't understand how it actually got worse after that. To this day, that was the greatest experience of his presence ever. 

    Evan: And it still spun out of control, but I still hung onto that memory and it was just the beginning point that started putting all these steps into place for a complete change of life. 

    Bob: I'm sure you don't ... You regret having done all of those things, but it sounds like through all of those things, you got a clear vision of who God was, that you wouldn't have had any other way. 

    Gary: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

    Evan: Absolutely. Faithfulness, he was faithful, his steadfast love, his grace, his forgiveness, all of those characteristics, again, in spite of me or despite what I was doing was really surfacing in those times and I didn't really get a full picture until after the fact. And I think a lot of times life is like that, it seems by matter of chance or random and when we're actually just submitting to God or sometimes running away from him even, he still just surrounds us and he still chases after us. And you begin to see these characteristics of him unravel and it's not until you look back where you say, "Wow, you are an amazing God." 

    Bob: Kelly, I'm watching you watch Evan speak of this. Great deal of joy on your face. This must be wonderful to hear that. 

    Kelly: Oh. I'm ecstatic, yeah, to have release and victory and like he said, there's such a celebration, but it doesn't compare to the celebration that God, the father, has over him. And it's extraordinary to take something that's broken and to mend it, to take the things that are bruised and to heal. I love in scripture where it's written that God is near to the broken hearted, and it says, "He binds up their wounds," you know? It's like God is personal and hands on like Evan mentioned, he lavishes his love on us as his children, I think it's extraordinary. 

    Kelly: I thank him for the miracle. 

    Bob: Yeah. So, Gary, I guess in retrospect, as you look back on this whole time, have you come to any advice for our viewers and listeners? What would your dos and don'ts as a parent going through something like this? 

    Gary: Yeah, thanks for asking that, it's a very important question. Because I think a lot of people listen to this, whether they're running from God themselves or lukewarm, or they're finding themselves in addictions or they're a family member, they're probably asking themselves, "Okay, what not? Like great story, but how does that translate to me? Do I just wait for a miracle to happen or is there somethings I can do?" And so, I would say there are some steps we can take. We had to become proactive to be very careful, number one, about not being what psychologists would call co-dependent, where we provided an environment for our kids to excel in their sins, so to speak. 

    Gary: One of my son's drug counselors said, he was a former drug addict as well, and he said, "Oh, man. When I was into drugs, I wish you were my parents, because you made it so easy. Like you provide them. Here's $50, Evan. We love you so much." I was worried about it, I thought he was a drug addict, because of his self-esteem low, so like here's money and I love you so much, do whatever you want. And it's just the opposite was he needed. Like no, you need boundaries and so there has to be ... Internally, there has to come a strength of saying, "I am not going to feed their addictions, I'm not going to feed their thing." And so, with one of our other kids, we actually had to come to a point where we actually had to ask him to leave the home. I mean, it was one of the roughest days of our lives. 

    Gary: Actually calling the police and he's crying saying, "I don't wanna leave." And the police were actually grabbing him by the arms saying like, because he was stealing from us and it was just feeding his heroin addiction, and so setting some boundaries, being firm. These are things I would say, there's a scripture verse that says, "The spirit helps our weaknesses," and so, the spirit of God will do these supernatural miracles where Evan and Elliot and his siblings are set free and saved, but the spirit also helps. There's a certain ways he helped and one is with the family members of being careful about being co-dependent. There's some really good books on that you can read. You can go Celebrate Recovery is a good tool the church has about helping family members deal, so you're not alone. So people aren't dealing with this family member or their own stuff that they're doing with independently. 

    Gary: So, you go to a meeting and then secondly, I would say also is then the spirit helps our weaknesses and our infirmities by the supernatural miracle, yes, like your brother we're talking about, right after you had that vision of turning him over to Jesus, he called us maybe a week or two later and said ... Bizarre, started bad. He said, "I'm in jail." I said, "Oh, no." And he said, "But last night, in the darkness of my prison cell, a supernatural light came in the dark cell. My cell became bright and the presence of God came in, filled the room," and he said he hadn't been in jail very long so he was still detoxing and he said, "The blood changed, my mind changed my heart changed," and he was set free, so it was great he had that miracle. 

    Gary: And then Evan talked about the miracle, as well, but there were some steps they took. The spirit helping our weaknesses by going to rehab, Teen Challenge, or a lot of insurance companies pay if you're family member or spouse or yourself wanna go into a rehab program. Teen Challenges, they're all over America, around the world, there are other ... I prefer Christian centered ones, but man, even if it's not a Christian one, because some of these are medical issues, so you can medical help as well. And I don't know, would you advise that Evan? Like going through a detox, going through a rehab? I mean, I think those things gave you some ... 

    Kelly: Tools. 

    Gary: Tools. You learned some things there that aided that supernatural spiritual, power thing, right? 

    Evan: Yeah. Absolutely. I would definitely advise some very practical things that the rest of the world does to help you get sober. I believe God has supernaturally placed some really sound methods of recovery. I mean, AA was phenomenal for me. Rehab helped changed my whole psychic change, they call it. A sponsor, there were times where I would being craving or obsessing and the greatest thing in that moment was just being able to call up a sponsor and he would talk me down or again, going to meetings. All of those things I can see how God actually uses those, but ultimately, it came to the point of being on knees every morning, every night just asking him to help me stay sober and then thanking him when I did stay sober. 

    Gary: Yeah, yeah. I think those are tools that God has, like what you were saying, he created these tools for us, for our good, for our benefit and so, there's something unhealthy, I think, in a Christian environment that would say, "It's only this one. You just have to pray your way out of this," and I agree with you, you're saying that's the core of it, but then to kind of deny that the fact you might need counseling or that you might a Christian community to help you through this, or you might need rehab and you do need detox. 

    Gary: I mean, that stuff can kill you. They say if you're an alcoholic, the hardest detox to do, because of the blood stuff and so, these are things that I think ... Again one of my kids breaks his arm, I'm gonna pray for healing, but I'm also gonna take him to the doctor and I think we need to be a little bit more open in the Christian community about looking at various means. And not looking at other ... I've heard so many people scorned like, "Oh, AA is a higher power, it's so secular." It's like okay, maybe it's not the best thing. The holy spirit is much better than your dog being a higher power by far, you know? But least it's a step and take a step, so- 

    Bob: All truth is God's truth, right? 

    Gary: All truth is God's truth. 

    Bob: Yep. 

    Gary: And there's such good stuff out there. Evan, if you don't mind me saying, he went to a counselor probably for a year or so, right? 

    Evan: Right, yeah. 

    Gary: Even after meeting Jesus again, and coming into grace, and I'm so glad you ... We were so thrilled that every week he was there faithfully and going to some meetings, and that for the family, too, is like when you're ... Because you're nervous. Like the word relapse is very fearful in families that deal with addictions and so to see them so healthy that they're taking their own initiative and again, as parents, we can't mandate that. We can't say, "Did you go to your AA meeting today? Did you go see your counselor?" Because that's almost like diminishing their sense of worth, that they can do it themselves. They don't need mom and dad to make them better, they need God, they need self control, they need the power of the holy spirit, they need the power of a sound mind that makes wise decisions and as they do these things, then the changes sometimes they're instant and then sometimes they're slow. 

    Gary: And then sometimes they're instant and then slow. God uses so many forms and methods of doing things. Just don't give up and don't give up. And then man, the toughest thing of all for me in situations like this is like ... And I still don't fully understand this, it's like how gracious God was to rescue our kids, but then my heart goes out to those who lose children. And I wish I had the theology to help you through that other than just to know that God's with you, but some families have lost ... 50,000 young adults have overdosed this year alone, or the last 12 months. 50,000 overdoses in America and so it's an epidemic, it's becoming higher and higher on the list of things that are killing people today. 

    Gary: And so, man, some people have lost their loved one and I just wanna say God's with you and he's not giving up on you and it wasn't your fault, don't get stuck in a spiral of shame and self hatred, just realize that God's for you and with you and when the curtain is pulled back and we see him face to face instead of through glass darkly, we'll be able to understand what was behind the scene of this thing. And again if it's ... And the Christian mentality of like, "Well, they're an addict, they call on the name of Jesus, but they were addicted, were they saved or no?" I've had a lot of parents ask me that. Like did my son or daughter go to heaven, even though they overdosed? "Whoever calls in the name of the Lord, shall be saved." 

    Gary: So, I believe if they had a heart after God and again, if we look at it in the disease model of this, they were struggling with this disease as well as sin, but because they were diseased or because they were struggling with this particular item of sin and it's more deadly, so you have a son who's struggling with pride, well it's not gonna probably kill him. And another son who's struggling with a heroin addiction, that could kill him or alcohol could kill him, but in God's eyes, it was like we never asked the questions like, "My son who died, who was full of pride, is he gonna go to heaven?" We just go, "He had a little bit of haughtiness, but it's okay." 

    Gary: But no, God sees our heart, he sees beyond ... Struggle with sin is not the only measure that makes heaven available to us. It's grace, it's forgiveness, it's the blood of Jesus Christ and so, yeah, you don't have to picture that, that loss in the worst scenario, because the enemy would love to induce more fear on that. But for those of you who have a family member or yourself struggling, man, take the action and take it today. Because Satan is so subtle, it's just get high one more time, you know? When I was taking Evan, we flew from here to California. I was taking him to rehab and the flight attendant came up and said, "Is that your son row 17?" I said, "Yeah." He goes, "We need to cut him off, he's been drinking the whole thing." Again, my heart was breaking and yet, to see him then take those steps, just don't give up. Don't ever give up. 

    Gary: And now, I mean, I don't know if you plan on asking him about it, but what he's doing now? 

    Bob: Well, we can. 

    Gary: Yeah, because I'm so proud of him. 

    Bob: Oh, yes, yes. 

    Gary: Because it's not just ... And the good news about the Gospel is it's not just like, "Oh, we're so scared, our son's an addict. Okay, good. He's not an addict anymore." Well, he's still a lousy human being and he's still hopeless and he's still in despair and he still doesn't know where he's going with his life. Jesus does a whole lot more than get rid of the bad things in our life, he brings us into the glorious and Evan's a testimony to that. 

    Bob: And brings you purpose. And so, yeah, Evan please tell us what you're doing here with the ministry now. 

    Evan: Yeah, so 2 Corinthians 5:17 is something that I hold onto and it's, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old has passed, behold the new has come." And I see that, it's evidential in what Chris transformative work has done in me. I don't recognize the person that I used to be in pictures and in memories. I don't even know who that person was anymore. And I'm shocked by how he keeps making me more like him and giving me more of his heart for other people and so, right now, I just started at World Challenge in January, where I'll be doing a ministry called Faith Answers, which helps bring apologetics and sound doctrine to teenagers, to young adult, who are uncertain about their faith or who are dealing with a lot of objections to the faith within the culture. 

    Evan: And it's just out of passions that Christ has given me and has developed through becoming more like him and knowing him through relationship, and I say this a lot in AA meetings when I go there or just to friends is that, "When I got sober, it wasn't just, as my dad, 'Oh, I'm sober. That's the end of it. This is as good as life gets.' Instead, a whole world opened up of possibilities, of dreams, of ambition, of future where it just felt like endless life. Christ says, 'I've come to give abundant life.'" He says, "First that the enemy has come to kill, steal, and destroy." And I really see that as profoundly the mark of drugs and addiction is just all it does is kill, steal, and destroy. But Christ has really come and given abundant life to those who are in him. 

    Evan: And that's what I've seen. It just is overwhelming, a bountiful life in this process where it's not just about being sober, it's not even about me anymore, he gives you a heart to help others who were in the same struggles that you were in and then do more than you could have possibly hoped for.

    Gary: Again, it's the spiritual rags to riches story, it's the ashes to beauty story of the Gospel, it's not just ashes becoming back to solid form, it's something beautiful is formed out of that. 

    Kelly: Redemption. 

    Bob: Yeah. 

    Kelly: Redemption story, you know? 

    Bob: And all that the enemy has thrown at Evan, what wonderful things must be ahead for you that he doesn't want you to do. 

    Gary: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

    Bob: So, it's gonna be remarkable to see what God with you down the years and through this ministry or elsewhere. So, we're looking forward to seeing it. 

    Evan: Yes, I'm looking forward to it.

    Bob: So, Gary, how about if you pray for all those parents and children out there who are struggling with either an addiction or with a child of addiction. Pray for them that they might have the same kind of positive outcome that you've had, as well. 

    Gary: Yeah. And I'd just like to ask those who are listening, whether ... If you're driving, I don't want you to close your eyes, but if you're listening at home, maybe just close your eyes, maybe put your hand on your heart, just think God needs to touch that area. 

    Gary: And so, Father, pray right now in the name of Jesus, as we place our hands on our heart that you will protect the heart of those who are struggling with somebody in their family that is in this life controlling problem. We pray that you would give them peace and that they would be able to lift hands up and say we surrender this person to you God, you have to be the one who is in charge of this life, because it's too stressful, there's too much tension, there's too much fear, too much anxiety, so we not only turn this person over to you. But with that, we also give you all of our stuff, too, that we're dealing with through the midst of this chaos and this pain. 

    Gary: And for those who are actually addicted themselves, who are struggling themselves, Lord we pray that you would do a miracle like you did on our children's life, to break this bondage, snap it where it's gone now in the name of Jesus. 

    Kelly: Jesus. 

    Gary: And we pray that through this journey, that they would go, Lord that there will be a healing journey, healing the broken heart. Even when we tell Evan's story, Lord, some of his addiction might have come from a low self-esteem from hearing what his teacher said about him, but he overcame through the word of his testimony and through the blood of the lamb. We thank you for that power. And so, we pray now in Jesus name, God, that you would break addictions and set them on a course for recovery. That they recover from this. 

    Gary: Give them programs, give them counselor, give them groups, give them meeting spaces, give them close friends, give them sponsors, give them pastors, give them family members, who know how to help guide them through these situations. Help them to take the steps, God, not just on one hand, we're waiting on a miracle, but on the other hand, we're saying we have to be proactive, as well. So, give us the steps to take, as well we pray, in Jesus name. For those who are lukewarm, God, awaken hearts right now, quicken them to be alive in the spirit once again, that there be a fresh wind of the spirit coming over anybody who just feels like they drifted, if they've become a prodigal or they have prodigal children. God, we thank you that you're the God who restores, redeems, rescues, and revives. 

    Gary: We thank you for this, in Jesus name, amen. 

    Bob: Amen. 

    Evan: Amen. 

    Kelly: Amen.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • If my child becomes a prodigal am I to blame? Should I feel guilty? Could I have done something differently? Did I do something wrong?
    • How did you become a prodigal son? Was it something your parents did or didn’t do?
    • As the parent of a prodigal child, what should I do?
    • How and what do we pray for our prodigal children?
    • How do you overcome the shame of having a prodigal son so you can share your struggle with others?
    • As a prodigal, what caused you to come back to God?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    When a family loves God, the enemy hates that and he loves to attack community and unity. We have felt the attack in our family. The enemy really sent every demon from the pit of hell to come against our family when it comes to addictions. – Gary Wilkerson

    Your prodigal child is not your fault, but there are some lessons we can learn as parents and improve on. – Gary Wilkerson

    Blaming yourself for your child’s addictions is like blaming yourself for your child getting cancer. There is disease involved. It’s not your fault. – Gary Wilkerson

    God is faithful and never forget that. He is faithful. I don't care how dark it is, what storm it is, God is faithful. He's with you. He's going to see through this. He hasn't abandoned you. – Kelly Wilkerson

    Satan is really good about getting those hooks in with that deception of the meaning of life is pleasure and here's a little bit here. Here's a little bit here, and before you know it, you're trapped. Before you know it, you aren't finding any pleasure in these things at all, but they're actually misery, and they're actually discontent and bewilderment that you ever came to this place. – Evan Wilkerson

    We need to remember that God loves our children more than we can possibly ever comprehend or understand. He did not write a life for them to be in the world and sin tossed. – Kelly Wilkerson

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

  • BEST OF: How to Turn Your Anxiety Into Healing

    Many of us have struggles that we aren’t comfortable sharing with others. These secret sins seem so taboo that if we told anyone, they might stop speaking to us. Often these deep soul wounds manifest as anxiety or anger or other sins that affect our relationships with friends, family and community. So how do we get to the root of these issues? How do we find healing from these sins that constantly seem to trip us up?

    Many of us have struggles that we aren’t comfortable sharing with others. These secret sins seem so taboo that if we told anyone, they might stop speaking to us. Often these deep soul wounds manifest as anxiety or anger or other sins that affect our relationships with friends, family and community. So how do we get to the root of these issues? How do we find healing from these sins that constantly seem to trip us up?

    Bob Ditmer: Welcome back to another Gary Wilkerson Podcast. We hope you're enjoying these podcasts that we're doing every week, and if you are, we would ask that you would subscribe, rate, review and share them with your friends so that others can enjoy these podcasts as well.

    Gary, we're going to be talking about a topic today that I think follows the theme of a lot of things that we talked about here. That is, “How do Christians Navigate Life?” Life throws a lot of stuff at us, doesn't it? Bible tells us a lot about how to get through those problems. I think that's your heart, isn't it, to try to deal with those hurts and problems and fears? 

    Gary Wilkerson: It is, that's the reason I wanted to do this with you, Bob. I don't have the opportunity, because I travel so much, to sit down with people on the pastor's couch, so to speak. 40 years of pastoring so many people came in, just seeing the miracles, the power of the gospel, lives transformed, marriages that were hanging by a thread healed. Three years later, I'm dedicating their baby, happily married. The mom who's in my office, and she's weeping because her teenage son is on drugs and run away from home, she doesn't know where he is, she can't sleep at night. There's two resolves to that.

    One is that, we hear the stories of the prodigal son come home, and that's rejoicing. Other times the son doesn't come home, but the mother begins to learn to trust God. Again, the pastor's office, there is this place of healing and grace. It was my hope to take these issues of people that are hurting and with addictions and need healing in life. Put it in a context where we try to be honest about it, because I think so many people that experience their Christian faith in the realm of the superficial, of the happy-go-to-church-smiling, “How are you?” “I'm fine,” kind of faith you would never dare talk about, “I looked at pornography last night,” or “I almost slapped my son, my daughter.” We would never talk about those things sometimes in church.

    Since we don't bring them to the light, they never get healed. I'm hoping we continue to speak, we have in the past, I think it'd be will behoove us to continue to speak to issues that maybe are deep and penetrating that maybe people go like, "I don't know, if I want to hear about," every time we have a podcast is about anxiety, or stress or fear, or how to deal with depression or addictions. When my son was on here, we talked about his addiction. These are hard issues, but I think they're so important.

    I pray that, we as Christians, get beyond always happy, peppy, bursting with songs. That is where we were meant to live, but to get there, sometimes-- you don't get the through denial, you get there through facing the crisis of life, the hardship of life, the suffering of life, the pain of life. Once you do, you come out of that with a maturity that you would not have. That's the whole purpose. Why does God allow pain, the suffering our life? It is to grow us, it's to mature us, so without that-- That was a long answer to a very simple introduction there.

    Bob: I like the answer. Nicky Cruz said when he was on with us, “We should be the Holy Ghost Hospital,” what the church ought to be, right?

    Gary: Right.

    Bob: I guess for those who may not be in the church are afraid to go to the church because of some of these issues. Maybe they're getting some instruction from you-- from these podcasts. I certainly hope so.

    Well, the topic we're going to talk about today, we talked about before, but it's one that is so important, I think we're going to bring it up again. This one you probably often heard when you were a pastor, and that was, “Christians dealing with fear, anxiety, and stress and how do we get through it?” I don't know who said this, but somebody had this quote, "Worry is like a good rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.” (Erma Bombeck) 

    Gary: [laughs] 

    Bob: I think that's probably true. We all sit there and rock all day long and worry about our fears and our anxieties. We've talked about this before and about the issue is an issue of faith. That's an issue of not understanding ourselves in God. Another one, isn't it truly-- we're focused too much on ourselves. If we have a lot of these anxieties and fears, although they may be well-positioned, we just think too much about ourselves. Is that true, do you think? 

    Gary: Thinking too much of ourselves in the wrong way is unhealthy, being self-absorbed, selfish is totally going to lead us in the wrong direction, to think of ourselves in terms of every day, “How am I doing?” I think of myself every day a lot, but I don't think of myself as selfish. What I think about is, what do I value in life. 

    My values have shifted, as I've grown. I used to value success and fame and fortune and notoriety, and financial success and all these things being well known as a minister. Those were my values. Every morning I wake up and I make a decision based on that. My values have changed now is like I want some of the simple things that the Bible talks about to be a man who loves well, and receives love well, has grace, has generosity, freedom, contentment, and those aren't selfish, because those are the power tools that make ministry life-giving to other successful. 

    Success doesn't come when I'm striving to be famous and make a name for myself. Matter of fact, the opposite happens, I don't have anything to give, it's selfishness. Self, in its best context, we said this before, agape yourself, love yourself as the way you love your neighbor, love yourself, and that word is agape. I don't think that’s selfish to wake up every morning, spend some time in your devotional life, not only worshiping or asking for things but taking a moment to say, "Okay, what do I value? I value love. Yesterday, how did I love? Okay, I said that to this person, and I neglected that. That wasn't love, so Lord cleanse that part of me, give me new strength." 

    That question really depends on the energy behind what is taking place in the self. If it's an energy, it says, "This self that I have, the true me that God created is important and valuable to God and valuable to others. I belong in a community and so I want to be the best self I can be. Not just so I can be happy and financially secure or whatever, but so that I have something to give to others. That type of self is really important whereas the other type is just being self-absorbed. 

    Bob: Thinking of myself and I'm having anxiety over it, it may be because I didn't offer what I thought I should offer. I have nothing to give, but it's because I want to prop myself up in many ways. They go real closely hand in hand, don't they? [crosstalk] -separate one from the other. 

    Gary: Yes. When you're examining yourself and you're full of anxiety, that's a signal that something's off, but it's not necessarily-- sometimes we think, "Oh Lord, I'm so sorry, I'm anxious." There can be sin in anxiety because it's a lack of trust, but also can be a signal. A lot of our emotions that we label as sinful are actually gifts that, in the right context, not to get stuck in anxiety. When I'm anxious, it's like a gift of a signal that, “Wait a minute, something wrong, maybe I'm anxious, maybe there's stress because I made a decision based on needing to be popular. Now I have to go jump through all these hoops to get there. There's a lot of stress in my life that doesn't need to be there.” 

    Whereas the opposite of that would be knowing who you are in Christ. Again, it's like this looking at yourself through the right lens, taking some time to understand, "Okay, why am I anxious now? Oh, okay, you're actually helping me, Lord, by letting my body feel that anxiousness because it's showing I'm misdirecting my life. Now I want to go back to my values." 

    “This morning, I woke up,” I said, “I value love, I value grace, I value contentment, I value peace and now I'm anxious, I don't have peace. The values that you put in my heart, the biblical values that you have for me, are not being realized in my life. The Bible's over here, and I'm over here, I've got to align those two things together. The anxiety draws me back, the stress draws me back that, even anger draws me back.”

    If you're driving down the road, somebody cuts in front of you, and you honk and yell and scream, it's like, "Okay, well, my value of peace, I'm going to let that guy rob me of my higher value to live a life of peace. That anger showed me, okay, I'm off value now.” To return to the Lord, the scripture says, the return of the Lord is not just your backsliding and now you've got to come to the altar and pray and get saved again. Returning to the Lord is often returning to the core values that he's put in our life.

    Bob: You mentioned one word a couple of times. Since we've been talking about that, and it's contentment, and I guess that's the other side of the coin, isn't it? If I'm not content, I will be anxious, I will be stressful, I'll be fearful. How do we become content even if we don't have the things that we want? 

    Gary: Well, the question is that what makes you content? Your values again, drive your contentment. If my values are fames, fortunate, success, to be adored and applauded, then I'll only be content when I get that. The problem with that is you're totally dependent on outside validation. It's like if you like me, then I'll feel good about myself, then I can’t be content. I have to try to please you, I have to appease you. I have to be somebody else. I have to figure out what, who is Bob like, what kind of guy does he like.” He likes real serious smart guys. "Bob, did you know how smart I am." You're not yourself. You'll never be content. You'll ever be peaceful. You'll never accept yourself. You'll always feel shame and guilt and striving. Contentment is born out of understanding biblical values. 

    Wanting those biblical values and then asking for the grace to live in those biblical values. When you see yourself aligned to those things, they go, “Okay. That's contentment.” It's not when I make a million dollars. If my value is to love my wife well, well that's more within my control to get my wife to love me, is not within my control. It goes back to that-- I'm sure a lot of listeners aren’t AA type people 12 steps. The Serenity Prayer. I think is a really important when I believe is attributed to Saint Francis to accept the things I cannot change and to change the things I can. A lot of us are trying to change the things we can't change. Again, getting fame, fortune, success, value through applause. You can't change that. If you live for that, you're going to make wrong decisions and your life is going to be-- No way you're going to find contentment, you're always going to be striving for something. 

    On the other hand, if you have the value of loving, I can control that. I can't control my wife whether she loves me or not, although I'm thankful that she does after 41 years of marriage. It's more-- give me the grace to surrender to you, the things that are out of my control and surrender to you also the things that are in my control so that I have the power to do those and that brings the peace. 

    Again, as I said not to repeat myself, but then anytime you feel those other emotions that are classified as negative emotions, you see those as signals. Again, strangely maybe even as a little bit of a gift because it's like, "Okay. It's a discipline you're showing me." You maybe-- you have created my human nature in such a way as when I get anxious, it's a signal that something is off in the things that I truly value or that I should value because sometimes we don't even know what to value. That's a whole another program itself. 

    Bob: That was going to be the next question. We've got people listening and watching you're saying, "You just identified my values. They're way off track. How do I reform my values? How do I go about doing that?" 

    Gary: My values were off when my soul was off. If my soul was empty and feeling worthless, it's too painful to say. All I want to live for is peace and joy and contentment and generosity and loving others deeply because I don't believe that's going to give me success and fame and fortune. Those are too moderate or just average. 

    The empty heart is always driven to be spectacular, to be super incredible, to be above the crowd whereas I think the kingdom mentality is like, "I'm thankful that I'm breathing." There's joy in my heart and forgiven my sins. They seem to be unspectacular if that's even a word. These are very temptations that Jesus face from say-- remember, "Throw yourself off the top of the thing. That's spectacular make stones into bread. You're going to get people from all over the world come to see you do that." The temptation of Jesus was maybe you're not enough Jesus and so do these things to prove yourself. That's the temptation that throws your values off if you start with that. I call it the core wound. 

    Most people haven't even identified what their core wound is. My wife and I we pray over this regularly. Her core wound is, "I fear I don't have a voice." Sometimes she says something and somebody doesn't respond to her. That hits that core wound again, or me even, "You're not listening to me." She realizes that that core wound is going to create the wrong values: “I need to be heard. I demand to be heard.” If she gets that core wound healed and she goes like, "I have a voice. Jesus gave me a voice." Then she's able to just speak and it doesn't matter whether people respond positively or not. My core wound was, "I don't feel like I'm ever enough. No matter what I do, it's just not enough." Out of that core wound what am I going to do? I got to throw myself off the pinnacle. I got to change the stones into bread. I got to do something to be…  

    Since I feel like I'm below average, I have to prove I'm above average. I can never just be average. I used to think average is the worst thing you could be because that would confirm my deepest suspicions of my core wound. Now I'm saying like, "Hey, to be average is nice." It's like, I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to prove anything. I don't have to thrill the world. I don't have to have the best sermon because it's awful, no matter how many times you preach and no matter how many people's lives you touch that and you leave the pulpit feeling like, "I'm such a failure. That was a terrible sermon." That's no way to live. That's the stress. That's the anxiety. That's the fear of not being enough. 

    My values changed only when my heart changed and I went like, "Jesus, you're teaching me. I want to believe this now about myself that you have given me value. You have given me belonging. You have given me love. Now I'm not striving for it. I can change my values now is to be gracious to others and to be kind to others and to be content and peaceful." 

    Bob: "Stop striving and know that I'm God." In other words. Right? 

    Gary: That’s right. He's in control. He's not just in control of hurricanes and wars. He's control of the internal things that he cares about in our life. 

    Bob: Do you recommend people pray to know what that core hurt is?

    Gary: Yes. I recommend pray. I recommend a community, have somebody that you can honestly talk to. I think men particularly have a hard time with this. I ask this whenever I travel around the world I said, "Put up your hand and shows, name five friends just did this last week." Three fourths of the pastors in the room couldn't do it. You just see the look of almost like terror on their face, like it hit them like, "I'm ministering to thousands, but I don't even have a few friends that I can talk to about that."

    Then, again, it's a process of rather than being very superficial as a Christian and in denial it's actually face to pain to say, "Hey there is something inside of me." You don't have to go back to your childhood and say, "My mom did this. My dad did this." You can actually look at it today. Again, we'll use that experience of you're in the car, you're driving somebody cuts in front of you and this rage and this anger comes. You can deal with your own heart issues saying like, "Okay. I always get angry when people cut me off on the road." Where does that come from and so that you can examine it not by having to go back to your childhood, like a psychiatrist might do. You can do it in the daily events. 

    I think that's what Jesus does is he takes you today and says, "Okay. You just--" For me, as an example, when I was in my late 20s and early 30s, I was struggling with pornography. This lust would stir up in my heart and it's like, "Okay. How do I stop that?" It's like bootstrap and just say, "I'm not going to look," or just that repetitive repentance and stuff. It wasn’t until I realized, I have to deal with this. Not just on the superficial level of promising, I'll never do it again, but I had to get healed on the inside. Again, it goes back to the core wound. If you feel like you're never enough, then you need some kind of external stimulation, “Ah, that felt good!” 

    Sin is born out of the core pain and the core choices we make because of that pain. I'm not saying that sin has an excuse like, "Oh, you poor soul. You looked at pornography because you're a victim." I'm not saying that. You are responsible for your sin. I was responsible for my sin. I was a sinner in doing that. It was two things. I had to deal with the fruit that I saw which was the sin. I had to deal with the root as well as the healing. I think our churches are very well versed at dealing with the sin and the fruit, but very poorly schooled and able to deal with the root of it which is the need for healing of the soul.  

    Again, the pornography issue would be the healing of the masculine soul that you don't have to look outside to get love and validation. It's already in you. Then you don't need that then. For me, the pornography died off when I felt like, "Okay. I don't need some stirring like that because I'm already stirred because of the deeper love that I have now." That does it. It's taking a look at the pain, it's taking a look at the struggle you have and going much deeper than the superficial saying like, "I'll never do that again." 

    Bob: I know it's hard for a lot of Christians to go in to their church and talk about these issues. What do you suggest they do if they're in a church where they just don't feel they can? What do you recommend? 

    Gary: I would recommend finding just a handful of trusted comrades, some friends, that you can be honest with. You'll know it when you start a conversation. I've got a few friends like that outside of the context of even a small group that you might join in the church that's usually not the place for fullest disclosure. If you have a group of two or three friends and those should be people that you are intentional about. You actually have a conversation with them saying, "I choose to come into a relationship with you that is going to-- If you're willing, we're going to go beyond surface. I'm going to tell you some things about me that might cause you to reject me or cause you to fear me or cause you to view me in poor light but I want to risk that because I need somebody like that in my life and see— 

    Normally, they don't reject you or hate you or look bad about you, it opens up their heart, they go like, “You struggle with that too? Man, so do me. I've never talked to anybody about that.” I had a guy in my office other the day and he's probably 70's and we started talking and I mentioned something about an experience he had, when he was in his 20's, a veteran and a war experience he had and he started talking. 

    He started telling me this. “I've never told anybody that,” tears rolling down his face. In his 70's, it's like 50 years later. He never told anyone. I just I realized that it's like few of us have safe places. He'd been in church his whole life but didn't have a safe place so finding somebody-- You won't find somebody until you're willing to be honest though and you're not going be willing to honest if you are believing you're not worth it, you're not valuable, you don't belong. 

    It's too risky. 

    If you already feel you don't belong and then I come to-- say, I come to you, I'm coming to you, Bob, I don't feel like-- I won't say that, but I'm coming to you with an internal sense of, I don't belong and then I'm going to come to say to you something that might make me not belong to you, again, then that's too risky. There's too much pain. If I come to you saying like, whether Bob receives me or rejects me, I know I belong. I'm a child of God. I know who I am, I have value, I have worth. Therefore, I can risk true community going beyond the surface. That's where true healing comes from. 

    It's a catch-22 though because to really-- the sense of not belonging may be the very thing you need to talk to, so there's risk involved in as well. I'm not saying you have to be totally healed before you can build community because you need that community, but I would not risk it in, I wouldn't stand up on a Sunday morning say, during testimony time like, “Hey, I'm dealing with pornography,” but I would find those trusted friends. 

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • How should Christians deal with fear, anxiety and stress?
    • Is it a sin to be anxious?
    • How can we learn to be content?
    • If our discontentment is coming from misaligned values, how can we get them back on track?
    • If someone doesn’t feel they can be truly vulnerable in church, where can they find healing for the deep issues of the soul?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    I pray that we, as Christians, get beyond always happy, peppy, bursting with songs. That is where we were meant to live, but you don't get there through denial. You get there through facing the crisis, hardship, suffering, and pain of life. Once you do, you come out of that with a maturity that you would not have otherwise. – Gary Wilkerson

    Worry is like a good rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere. - Erma Bombeck

    When you're examining yourself and you're full of anxiety, that's a signal that something is off. We think, "Oh Lord, I'm so sorry. I'm anxious." There can be sin in anxiety because it's a lack of trust, but it also can be a signal. A lot of our emotions that we label as sinful are actually gifts. – Gary Wilkerson

    Contentment is born out of understanding biblical values, wanting those biblical values, and then asking for the grace to live in those biblical values.  – Gary Wilkerson

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr

    Sin is born out of a core pain and the poor choices we make because of that pain. I'm not saying that sin has an excuse. You are responsible for your sin. We have to deal with the fruit that we see, which is the sin. And we have to deal with the root as well, the healing. Our churches are very well versed at dealing with the sin and the fruit, but very poorly schooled and able to deal with the root of it, which is the need for healing of the soul. – Gary Wilkerson

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

  • Left to Die, Nora Has Found New Life

    We’re told in Matthew 19:26 that with God all things are possible. How many of us actually trust in that promise, though? We serve a God who can do incredible things, and the most spectacular is when he saves one of his children. This week, we’re joined by Holly Dziedzickie and "Nora" from Cambodia who share a striking testimony about how God’s power and goodness saved one girl from certain death and brought her into new life.

    We’re told in Matthew 19:26 that with God all things are possible. How many of us actually trust in that promise, though? We serve a God who can do incredible things, and the most spectacular is when he saves one of his children. This week, we’re joined by Holly Dziedzickie and "Nora" from Cambodia who share a striking testimony about how God’s power and goodness saved one girl from certain death and brought her into new life.

    Gary Wilkerson: Hi, I'm so glad you guys are here today. I'm Gary Wilkerson with the Gary Wilkerson podcast. We're in for a really good story today, Holly, we are so happy to have you with us. Nora, thank you for coming with us today. You're from Cambodia...

    You've been there for 10 years now. Tell us a little bit about your ministry there in Cambodia. You're working with, what's the name of the ministry?

    Holly Dziedzickie: Girls' House of Refuge.

    Gary: Girls' House of Refuge. Tell me, what is that?

    Holly: God told me to open a home for women, for young women. So I did and then he would choose and bring the ones he wanted to, so he ended up bringing girls that were pregnant or girls that got raped and different girls. Also, just really poor girls. I started getting a name for being willing to take drug addicts, being willing to take alcoholics, being willing to take traumatized girls that are all knocked-up or pregnant. Nobody else can help them. Other Christian organizations in the country would call me and say, "Hey, will you take this girl?" Or, "Hey, there's this girl. This person's trying to sell this girl, this little girl, 14, 12, whatever."

    I would take those kind of girls. Also, with women's ministry, you're drawn to women. When you go out in public, girls are drawn to girls. They want to share the gospel. We'll go through the whole Bible in a year at my house. They want to practice what they're studying. It's really cool because they're baby Christians so everything's new, which I love that because it's just really innocent in a sense.

    Gary: You still lived in the home where the girls come in now after 10 years?

    Holly: Yes. We all live together.

    Gary: That's in Phnom Penh?

    Holly: Yes, in Phnom Penh.

    Gary: You have Nora with you here today. Did you first meet here when she came into your house or did you know her before? How did you meet Nora?

    Holly: I met her because one of my girls, she's the cousin of one of my girls that lives with me. My girl posted, she was in this hospital that wasn't great and her hand was cut off and everything. She said, "Can you pray for my cousin?" I was like, "What's going on, honey?" That's my girl. Personally, called her and talked to her. I wasn't in country at the time. I was in America. I called my staff and I said, "Can you go meet up with our girl's cousin and see what's going on, what happened?" Right within a couple days of me sending my staff, I flew in and then went. I actually dropped of my bags and went straight to the hospital to go meet Nora because we had already started a relationship to help her out.

    Gary: Tell us a little bit about how she ended up in the hospital.

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: There was a guy and he did really bad things to me.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: He wanted to kill me. This guy had done things. He had kidnapped her before, and he had stolen her virginity and a lot of things had happened to her. He was stalking her. Nothing ever happened to him and then later on, he figured out a way to meet up with her. What he did was, because he's a businessman and really rich in their village. He's the richest. He had her cousin say, "I'm going to give you this business motocard thing. I'm on my way to a business trip, will you tell her to come pick up this card from me."

    Her cousin told her, "Go meet this guy and pick up this card." "Where do I meet him?" She said, "Out in the middle of the field really, off a dirt road, as place that's really secluded and just get the card because he's in a hurry. He's got to go." It was 4:00 in the morning, mind you. Cousin is a seller of chickens. They get the chickens from this guy. You know what I mean? It's all village kind of thing. That's why she went to go meet him but when she went to meet him, he doused her with battery acid.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: After the acid, she turned around to run.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Then he had a butcher knife. She heard the sound of the butcher knife and then he started hitting her head.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: She put her hand up to block it then the butcher knife went through her right hand.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Also, on her arm. He was hacking.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: And he grabbed her hair.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Then she fell on the ground.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: He started saying, "After I kill you, I'll leave."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: He started hacking her hand because the knife was dull—

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: When he said that he was going to kill me and then leave then I thought okay, well, I want him to go.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: When he said he was just going to do this and then go, then she actually didn't fight all that much. She put her hand out and let it go.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: He put his foot on her arm and he grabbed the hand and he started hacking.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Blood started squirting out.

    Holly: That was from her head, from her arm.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: He stood over me for about three or four minutes.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I closed my eyes to make him think that I was dead.

    Holly: Then after that, he left.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Then I opened my eyes and I could barely see but I saw that he wasn't there.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I didn't know what to do. I was all by myself-

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: -and it was so quiet in the field.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I was laying there.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I was laying flat. I was just looking up at the sky.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I said, "God, please help your child. Please."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: All of a sudden, there started to be light.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Something lifted me up.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: And I was able to walk.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I felt like I wanted to sleep but somehow there was strength and I don't know where it came from.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: It helped me to see. I could see what I need to get because the battery acid had gotten in my eyes.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I was able to see the phone in my purse

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: -and I was able to call my cousin.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I was really tired, and I laid back down-

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: -but when I laid down, that time, I was actually laying on thorns and an anthill.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: They came out and they bit me all over. She has scars all over her back from the ants and the thorns.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Maybe five minutes later, they say sister but it's really cousin, came.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: When she came, I was able to sit up.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: She didn't lift me up. It was God. He was lifting me up.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I was able to go on the moto.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: And we went to the doctor that was really near there.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: -but the village doctor, they're like, "We cannot help her." Because they won't take you if they think you're going to die in the village because it's bad karma to think that the ghost is going to be around haunting the hospital, so they won't take you.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: They didn't wrap. They just said, "We can't do anything about your hand." Mind you, she picked her hand up with her-- She had her hand with her.

    Gary: She brought her hand with her. Did they wrap it or anything? Did they do anything at all?

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: No. They just stuck a bag on it because they were going to drive her to Phnom Penh. They didn't want blood in their car.

    Gary: How far is where she was living?

    Holly: About two hours.

    Gary: Two hours. Okay.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: She thinks it only took an hour to drive to Phnom Penh.

    Gary: Somebody was flying, huh? Let me back up a little bit. When she was laying there after being cut like this, she cried out to God but she didn't have any relationship with God at the time. She was a Buddhist?

    Holly: She was a very strong Buddhist.

    Gary: For those who don't know, Buddhist, they don't believe in any god. There's spirituality but there's no being called God so it was really odd that she would call on God, wouldn't it be?

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Yes. I asked her why did you call on God if you never knew God? And she said, "I really don't know." She's looking back at it now and she's like, "I feel like Jesus was staying next to me and he helped me to call him."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: During that time, I felt like somebody was near me. I felt like somebody was with me.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: She said, "I don't know." Because the Buddhism, she thought maybe it was her mom that was already dead or her grandma but she felt like somebody was there but she didn't call on them. She called on God.

    Gary: So she made it to the hospital in Phnom Penh. I saw a picture of her in the hospital. Is that in Phnom Penh?

    Holly: Yes. That wasn't the best cure there at all.

    Gary: But the picture of her all wrapped up.

    Holly: Yes. They wrapped her up like a mummy.

    Gary: Because of the battery acid?

    Holly: Yes.

    Gary: Then at this point, you were still—

    Holly: Then they cut off more of her hand and at the time, they told her they can't sew the hand back on because she'll get cancer. Yes, that's what they told her.

    Gary: Okay. But they probably didn't have the ability to do that anyway, I'd imagine. You're still in United States at this point or are you back?

    Holly: No. She's in the government hospital when I landed, so I went to that hospital.

    Gary: Okay. You went with the girl in your house was her cousin?

    Holly: Yes.

    Gary: You went to meet her? That's the first time you met her?

    Holly: Well, actually, I went with my staff.

    Gary: That's the first time you met her?

    Holly: Yes. She was in the hospital and I met her-- The cousin that she had called, they were there and there was other people there that were dying.

    Gary: Then, how did she get to your house?

    Holly: That's a good story too actually.

    Gary: Okay, can you tell us about it?

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: At first when I walked into the hospital,-

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: -I said, "I want to help you and change the hospital."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: I told her, "We can go to a different hospital and we can heal your face." I was really worried she was going to lose her face because the battery acid was eating it away.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: At first, she was like, "No." Because she didn't know me, so she was like, "No."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Then, I would pray for her and two or three times I would come. I just kept coming.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "I started to have a feeling."-- I'm just translating for her, she started to have a feeling.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "I decided that I would go with her." Basically, she had decided to let me help her.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "When I'm with Holly, she gives me a lot of love. I just really see the love."

    Gary: How long ago was that, that she came from the hospital to your house? It's been like more than years or-

    Holly: No, this is recent. The attack happened in February.

    Gary: This is very recently.

    Holly: "God’s heal her face so much." That was my prayer. You should see the pictures of her face. God's healed her so much.

    Gary: She's so beautiful inside and out. She really is. You can see Jesus in her too.

    Holly: That just happened in February.

    Gary: That's miraculous the power of not only inside the healing, but outside as well. I don't have to ask this question because I can see it in her eyes, but she met Jesus early on or after a while coming in your house? Where she really knew [crosstalk] she was coming [crosstalk]

    Holly: Do you want me to ask her?

    Gary: Yes.

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "When I was living with Holly--We live with a lot of girls. There's a lot of girls at the house."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "The girls at the house, they come in and they share the word of God with me."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "But I didn't believe."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "Then, there was a day that I asked Naren, who's another sister in the house, she's actually staff, for a Bible.

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "I want to read it for myself."

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "I don't believe what they're just saying to me."

    [laughter]

    Gary: When you read it, that opened up your eyes then?

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: "Yes, it was reading the Bible."

    Gary: Last question I have for you, what does your family that's not in the house with you, what does your family think of what's happened in your life?

    Holly: [foreign language]

    Nora: [foreign language]

    Holly: Actually, when she talks to her family-- Because she's still in hiding. This bad guy is still looking for her. All Things Are Possible is really helping us. We've already got arrest warrant out, we've been able to go to court, she's been able to tell the judges but this guy's still looking so she's still in hiding. All these conversations she has with her family is on the phone but they're telling her every time, "You've changed so much." Because just her attitude, just everything about her is so different.

    Gary: I love it. It was very, very evident. I'm so thankful that Jesus changed your life so radically and now is using you to change other lives. You probably already seen this, but she's second-generation and she'll be leading people to Christ. You've probably already seen that then, third-generation and fourth-generation, they impact on Cambodia and around the world.

    Holly: Just like the girls in the house that we're sharing with her. Those are that all came to Christ on their own too, that have really bad traumatic past also. They can minister to each other in ways that, "Well, God, help me. His word says this, and he did it." They share with each other like that. It's very matter of fact. It really is a blessing and an honor to be able to serve the Lord. I'm shocked every day. He loves me.

    Gary: He alone is worthy. If somebody wanted to find out more about your ministry, is there any way do you have like any kind of a website or newsletters or something like that?

    Holly: Yes, we have a website. If you go to www.girlshouseofrefuge.com, that'll take you right to our website. If another one comes up we're in Cambodia. We're in Cambodia.

    Gary: We'll be praying for you. The last of those who are listening to your story here today that keep you in prayer and Nora you in prayer that God will use you mightily to do great things in the country.

    Holly: Thank you so much.

    Gary: Thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it. Love your story and I love the work you've done. Keep up the good work.

    Holly: Thank you.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • What is House of Refuge in Cambodia?
    • Why would a Buddhist woman call out to God in her time of need?
    • When and how did Nora give her life to Jesus?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    The village doctor said, "We cannot help her." They won't take you if they think you're going to die in the village because it's bad karma to think that the ghost is going to be around haunting the hospital. - Holly Dziedzickie

    I asked her, “Why did you call on God if you never knew God?” And she said, "I really don't know." She's looking back at it now and she's like, "I feel like Jesus was staying next to me and he helped me to call him." - Holly Dziedzickie

    When I'm with Holly, she gives me a lot of love. I just really see the love. - Nora

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • Sin is the Smoke Pointing to the Fire of Woundedness

    Guest: Doug Welbourn

    Many believers discuss their sins and problems in very specific terms like anger, worry, doubt. They think these sins are at the core of their struggles, but that usually isn’t true. Our sins are more often symptoms of deeper heart issues. When we wrestle with a sin over and over without victory, it’s almost always because we aren’t getting to the root of the problem.

    Many believers discuss their sins and problems in very specific terms like anger, worry, doubt. They think these sins are at the core of their struggles, but that usually isn’t true. Our sins are more often symptoms of deeper heart issues. When we wrestle with a sin over and over without victory, it’s almost always because we aren’t getting to the root of the problem.

    Gary Wilkerson: Hi, Gary Wilkerson here on the Gary Wilkerson podcast. I'm excited about today's podcast, I think we're going to see and hear some amazing things. We're going to be talking with Doug Welbourn today.

    Doug, welcome. Glad you're here and looking forward to talking to you about some deep issues, some things that are really deep in the heart.

    Doug Welbourn: Thank you. Appreciate it.

    Gary: We’ve talked here before in this podcast about the two elements that seem to help or hinder us from that Zoe life, that life of God in us and one is sin obviously, you've been addressing that. And the other is woundedness. I've heard it referred to as like when a house is on fire, the firemen come, they don't point the hoses at the smoke and say, “Boy, if we just get that smoke out.” They actually shoot it through it. Even when they don't see the flames inside the building, they shoot it through the window, knowing that’s where the flames are even if they don't see it.

    Then eventually the smoke will-- And the smoke is secondhand, the smoke is the result, the cause is the flame. Sometimes in our Christian life, we are trying to address the smoke, like, “Oh, you're angry, oh, you're lustful, you look at pornography, oh, you tell lies to make yourself look better.” We're addressing the sin, which is so important to do and Jesus spoke of that so much and so did of all the other writers. Sometimes in church, we don't deal with the wounds, to me, I think the fire is-- I look at somebody who is saying, “Okay, well, I'm struggling with lying, I continue to try to do self-promotion through lying.”

    That's actually the cause, self-promotion, you're trying to promote yourself because you feel bad about yourself. You feel little, so you're trying to make yourself look big. Let's not just deal with the fruit or the result, let's look at the cause, what's causing this? I think that gospel message you’re sharing today is so cool because it deals with both, it deals with both the smoke and the fire. It deals with the wounds and the fruit of that wound of the sin.

    Doug: Yes, I agree 100%. I've been talking in one direction but another direction is, most sins that people tell you about is not the real sin. The presenting problem is not usually the real issue. Likewise, when someone says this is my sin, that's not the real issue, that's a symptom of the real issue. It's good that they are willing to talk to somebody because just as you-- That example you used is very good. Why people lie, anger is always a secondary sin so you want to help them find out what's going on. The problem is a lot of time, people don't know why they have issues because it comes from their parents. Tons of issues come out of their family of origin and they're hurt, and they buried it and they don't even remember so.

    Gary: The moralism you were talking about will, or legalism, will almost always present itself publicly through dealing with the secondary issues. Now I'm not saying sin is secondary in the sense of its importance or need to be dealt with but I'm saying in a sense it is-- We're both saying it is a result of something that is working underneath the surface inside-- And Jesus called it inside the cup. You can clean the outside, you can get rid of-- “You don't look very angry to me.” Like-

    Doug: Matthew 23.

    Gary: “Yes, I've got it under control, I'm not angry,” but inside you’re seething, inside is dead man’s bones and so-

    Doug: Eventually it’ll come out by itself.

    Gary: Or it'll come out another way, it'll come out through too much drinking or to try to cover the anger and stuff like that. It just pops up some other way. Moralism tends to treat the symptoms and so a moralistic counselor, behavioristic counselor or a behavioristic pastor will always be speaking towards behavior modification. “Don't do this, stop doing that,” and then if they can't deal with it, there's almost a frustration in the leadership, “You're not towing the line, we're going to have to bring church discipline, we're going to have to even kick you out because you're still drinking or you're still looking at pornography.”

    Doug: Unfortunately.

    Gary: They don't know how to deal with the heart issue and that's what Jesus came for all these religious systems were doing all this externals and Jesus came for the internal and turned things around. That message you're bringing when-- I've been with you, when you do these pastors conferences, we were in Ireland together and I heard your message there and it really does go to the heart. I think that's so important that you're not dismissing the… and we're not dismissing that behavior.

    We’re saying that if you get to the heart, your behavior will change. That seed planted on the ground, will blossom a different kind of fruit, and a good tree bears good fruit. Letting yourself be yourself rather than letting something else come take the place of that.

    Let’s just say we put another chair at this table and we brought in a guy named Bill and Bill said, “Okay, you help people who are struggling, hurting. I'm stuck in this habitual pattern of sin, addiction, hatred, unforgiveness.” This is a really big question, I'm sorry, as far as this is so broad, you may not be able to unpack it but what goes through your mind? How can I help because, again, in this podcast, I want to help people? I don't want to just give good theological insight, I want to help people that listen, they're saying, “I can't seem to stop-

    Doug: Bitterness.

    Gary: -bitterness. I hate this person and I know I'm not supposed to and I want to, but I can't stop it." I hear you saying, there's something about Christ living in us. What would you say to Bill who's who's struggling with those kind of things?

    Doug: Well, if there was someone who is way down the path and there aren’t many—

    Gary: You're going to believe what you want, is that what you mean?

    Doug: Well, they're living the Christ life. They're living the cross and the cross has killed a lot of the flesh. I haven't used that term yet, but selfishness, and they really are in love with Jesus, and he's their all. If it's one of them. One of them [crosstalk]. There's not many of those people. They would be able to handle that fairly quickly. Because their life is not in this world, it's in Christ, but for most of us, even fairly mature Christians, if they’re really hurt, I'm not talking about they have an argument or-- like my wife and I.

    We rarely really hurt each other, we do hurt each other, but not enough to have a big deal, but what you're talking about is someone like I was stabbed in the back in a church by someone I thought was my best friend and that was a monumental hurt. The two things that go through my mind first are, one, this is really important to Jesus, he talks a lot about forgiveness so I cannot take it lightly.

    Number two, this has got to be a process, because just say to someone within a week, you're going to forgive this person. The Holy Spirit can do that, but that's not going to be the norm. How I would address it with them is, I would want them to feel the pain more than anything. I would spend a lot of time with them in their pain.

    Gary: What do you mean you want them to feel the pain, you want to feel worse?

    Doug: If that's what it takes.

    Gary: The opposite of that would be denial, depression and emotions.

    Doug: The opposite of that is I'm a Christian, I shouldn't feel this. Maybe it was my fault. I call certain people over gracing. They're good people. They love the Lord so they over grace, they give people a break, but really down inside they're seething. I really want to get at that if that's the case. Some people aren't, they're just mad, but I want to go over it. I really want them to go over it and over it and I want to get all the pain out. That's hard for them, but I want them to write a letter to the person which will probably not be sent, but that's a tool to get them to personalize it. In many cases, that is a catharsis moment.

    Gary: I think I'd add to that. Excuse me for interrupting. One of things I did in a process similar to that of needing to forgive somebody that hurt me, it was to be clear about how they hurt me and how I felt about it, but then also how I reacted to that. It put me more on equal ground with them. Before that I thought they were so much lower than me because they were monsters. How can they act like that? Are they really even Christians? Could a Christian do that?

    They were so below me. When I started to… and I wrote that down in a letter to them, and it was full of-- I just let it go. I was just writing, “I think you're an idiot, you're so stupid, you say stupid things.” It just felt good writing it. In the same step, I took a look at my own heart and said, "Oh, what I hear myself saying has a lot of bitterness to it, has a lot of anger to it." Then I realized, wait a minute, I'm kind of in the same thing.

    What helped me was to realize I can't change them. I can't make them come into understanding their sin or their lack of grace. I can't change them and I can't control that, but what I have opportunity to do is look at my own heart, and see where there's areas for growth so I can see in there, because if I allow resentment and bitterness and unforgiveness to remain in my heart, I'll probably end up-- Bitter people create bitterness, so it set me free from that. I wasn't spreading bitterness. Probably for them, they never overcame their own anger and bitterness, so it hit me. It's almost like Satan just to try to multiply his impact.

    Doug: Sometimes they don't even know what they did, so I agree with that, but for me, that's a little bit later because I want them to-- I think it's important first, if you don't feel it, you won't deal with it. I want them to feel it, okay? I want them to have some time with it and I keep in touch with them so that it's not turning into something sinful. I tell them that along the way, my goal for you is forgiveness, all I keep telling them that. I'm not trying to give you permission to sin but if you bury any of this then that part will not get healed or forgiven.

    I let them have that for a period of time which I feel they need and they will be surprised in many cases if they're Christians and fairly mature Christians by how mad they are because they're not used to being angry, real angry. They'll tell me they're really angry at this person. I said I understand. That's how we're not built or we were not designed to be treated like that, we were designed to be treated with love and with affection. God made us to be just-- Put His arms around so this is not normal. We continue on and then in time as that begins to just wear off a little bit, because it does after a while, without looking at them yet I say, "Look at the letter and I want you to discern what of those sins do you do?

    Not just every couple years, but what sins do you do and I want you to write them down, and then I want you to go to God and I want you to go to the Holy Spirit with an open heart." The next step… that is a lot of talking going on, before this, I'm just giving you this. What you said which I give you a little props here. I learned this from you. I say, "I want you to look at these guys and I want you to say do you think they really like monsters like a black lagoon? Do you think they're just guys that are broken and they got issues? Do you think they're way better or worse than you? Can you think stuff that you do that they do or maybe worse?"

    What I've learned in the couple of times and I've used it as they say, "Yes, they're no worse than I am." In a couple times they said there are a couple people they feel are evil, really evil.

    That's worth pursuing, but in most cases I don't think they're worse than I am. That doesn't mean all the anger goes away right away, but that allows them if they're willing to go with the Lord and they will forgive those people.

    Gary: That's true.

    Doug: Dealing with evil people is a whole other-- They still need to forgive them but it's just [crosstalk]

    Gary: Yes, that's a whole other conversation about that with boundaries, and stuff like that. Yes, unsafe people.

    Doug: You know, people that are-- maybe Satan's involved, and stuff like that.

    Gary: Yes, that happens a lot.

    Doug: I think that's just condensed to something that really takes half a year.

    Gary: Right. As we just track with what you're saying there, you're saying something that's unsaid and that you're walking with somebody over a six-month period. It's relational. The person is not doing this on their own. It's not just sort of me in my secret closet.

    Doug: I don't think a person could do this on their own. [crosstalk] The key thing is not that I'm an expert. The key thing is I'm telling my story. I think I've discovered that the most important thing for a counselor is they're telling their story, so I'm telling my story about how hard it is to forgive and how deeply I've been hurt. That just helps people, "You've been hurt this bad. I've been as hurt as deeply as you have."

    Gary: Somebody to relate to.

    Doug: "Have you forgiven them?" "I have," and I tell the story then when I have lunch. I had lunch with the guy recently. Will we be best friends again? Probably not, but I've totally forgiven him and he's totally forgiven me. That's very important.

    Gary: When you're hurt, it can turn out in two different ways. One is you hold onto your bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, or you can be healed and set free from that and forgive the person. Again, you may not be ever trust them again or be close to them-

    Doug: The thing is if a person is not trustworthy-

    Gary: - but you'll feel free. Right.

    Doug: It's not wisdom, like Jesus said in one place. He did not entrust Himself to them. He loved them, obviously-

    Gary: It's a good thought.

    Doug: - but he was smart.

    Gary: Yes.

    Doug: You know who they are. You can love them again, but you don't necessarily have the same relationship with them.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • What are the things that hinder the power of God from operating in our lives?
    • How can we break free from habitual patterns of sin?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    Most sins that people tell you about is not the real sin. The presenting problem is not usually the real issue. When someone says, “This is my sin,” that's not the real issue. That's a symptom of the real issue, so you want to help them find out what's going on. – Doug Welbourn

    The moralism you were talking about will, or legalism, will almost always present itself publicly through dealing with the secondary issues. Now, I'm not saying sin is secondary in the sense of its importance or need to be dealt with, but it is a result of something that is working underneath the surface inside. Jesus called it inside the cup. – Gary Wilkerson

    The two things that go through my mind first are, one, this is really important to Jesus. He talks a lot about forgiveness so I cannot take it lightly. Number two, this has got to be a process, because just to say to someone within a week you're going to forgive this person, the Holy Spirit can do that, but that's not going to be the norm. – Doug Welbourn

    About Doug Welbourn

    Doug Welbourn has served in ministry for over 30 years. He has pastored in several states and in churches of all different sizes from 60 to 1100. Doug served in Abidjan West Africa as an International Pastor. Doug’s experience also includes working as a consultant for the western churches of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He specialized in the revitalization of unhealthy and dysfunctional churches. He has served on the Spiritual Care Team of Samaritan's Purse where he traveled internationally to minister to the rescue and developmental workers across the globe. Doug has been a speaker at workshops and conferences here and abroad and writes for Christian publications. He has three grown children and three stupendous grandchildren. He loves to ride his bike, follow everything Boston sports and even dabbles in interior design.

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • Epic Failures Can Be Redeemed

    None of us can live without failure. What defines us is how we recover from our low points. At our rock bottom, do we turn toward God and delve deeper into community, or do we isolate ourselves? Today, Nate Larkin joins Gary Wilkerson to talk about how we can choose a better path in the middle of our failure.

    None of us can live without failure. What defines us is how we recover from our low points. At our rock bottom, do we turn toward God and delve deeper into community, or do we isolate ourselves? Today, Nate Larkin joins Gary Wilkerson to talk about how we can choose a better path in the middle of our failure.

    Gary Wilkerson: Hey, I'm back with Nate Larkin. Nate, you have written this amazing book called Samson and the Pirate Monks. Samson is in the title of your book and the groups. The story you tell in the book of Samson and David. Do you mind unpacking that a little bit for us today [crosstalk]. I think that's so important. I know we touched on community being important but that just gives us the story of the Bible about the difference in the impact.

    Nate Larkin: I remember Samson from color illustrations of Edgar Meyer's family Bible storybook that my dad read from every morning during family devotions. To me, as a kid, he was really the ideal man. This guy with the fabulous physique and the great hair, the guy who was invincible in battle and irresistible to women. I remember thinking, someday I want to be like Samson.

    Samson, he really was a messianic figure in the Bible, he's a major biblical figure. Four entire chapters of the book of Judges are devoted to his story that we know far more about him than we know about many others that are listed in the roll call of faith. His birth was announced by an angel, first to his mother and his father and it was a time when Israel was under domination by the Philistines and needed to deliverer so God sent Samson.

    Samson grows up knowing that he's there to be a hero and a deliverer. He starts out in this amazing way where he kills a thousand Philistines in one day. Nobody had ever done anything like that. The Philistines were so terrified and the Israelites were so electrified that on that day Samson became the leader of Israel and the Bible says that he went on to judge Israel for 20 years. As far as we know, he did a decent job.

    He's the leader of Israel on all matters, civil, military and religious, but Israel is under the domination of the Philistines and the Philistines at this point actually are maintaining this superiority with a very strict policy of gun control. They've made it illegal for the Israelites to own metal in any form. Anyway, Samson is a guy who shows up for work at 9:00 and clocks in and does his job and clocks out at night, for all we know he did his job, but after five o'clock Samson had this habit of disappearing.

    He would roam in the neighborhoods of the Canaanite villages looking for trouble and excitement and female companionship. At the age of 40, the wheels came off for Samson. He's in the bedroom of a Philistine girlfriend, a woman who's already betrayed him twice. You'd think it would have dawned on him that this is not a good relationship but he really at this point thinks he's bulletproof. She finally extracts from the secret of his great strengths, shaves his hair and then wakes him up, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you." So Samson gets to his feet to discover that his fabled strength has fled.

    They overpower him, bind him with chains, gouge out his eyes and take him to a prison where they put him to work serving their god, the god of grain. There Samson is in the dark, walking in circles, in chains, doing the same thing every day, no hope of escape. Then one day like a miracle the door to that room opens, they take him out of the prison, they take him some distance away to a great temple where there's a festival underway. The Philistine equivalent of Mardi Gras, the cream of Philistine society is there.

    He can hear the crowd as they approach the building, the roar that goes up as they bring them in to ridicule him and Samson feels this surge of hope, this last chance to redeem his failed life. With the help of an unsuspecting young boy, he finds his way to the two pillars that formed the central structural support of the building. He breathes a quick prayer to God, pushes the pillars apart, the building collapses.

    The Bible says that Samson killed more Philistines in his death than he killed in his entire life but yet, Samson died a failure. When Samson died, the Philistines still ruled Israel. Some years later, not that many, God sends another deliverer. No angels this time, nobody suspects that the youngest son of Jesse is anything special till he's anointed by the visiting prophet. Like Samson, David enjoys spectacular early success against the Philistines, but then he goes on to do what Samson had never been able to do.

    He actually defeats the Philistines, establishes the free and independent state of Israel with secure borders. He establishes a capital in Jerusalem. He leads a great revival in worship. David is a warrior. He's a poet. He's a musician. He's a king. He's a great man. In about 40 years old, the wheels come off. He's alone in the city, hasn't gone with the army into the field for the spring campaign, happens to be on his roof when it's bath time for the neighbor lady, catches a sight that lights a fuse and within days, he's committing adultery and then covering up that sin with murder.

    We've got two great men, two great failures. After their failures, the lives of these two men go in different directions. Samson dies in enemy territory alone and a failure. David actually recovers. David actually goes on to become a better man and a better King. He dies surrounded by family and friends and he leaves a legacy. Why? I'm convinced it's because… David recovered because he had learned to do the things that make recovery possible. Samson didn't recover because he'd never learned to do those things.

    Four simple ways in which their lives are different, and I think they account for their different ends. First, Samson was a loner and David had friends. Here's Samson. He's this major biblical figure. We have so many stories about Samson. The Bible does not give us the name of a single friend. In fact, the only woman that is named, the only associate aside from his family, that is named is Delilah, the woman who betrays him. Aside from that, Samson doesn't have friends because Samson doesn't need friends. Samson is Samson. Samson is the strongest guy he knows.

    David is different. He begins his life alone, a lot of time in solitude in the fields tending his father's sheep but everything changed for David on the day that he killed Goliath. That's the day that he met Jonathan. The Bible paints the scene. Here's the headless giant lying dead, the Philistines in full flight, everybody's high fiving around the young hero, and then off to the side stands Jonathan, the crown prince, next in line for the throne.

    If Jonathan had any sense at all, he would have begun at that step to begin to take steps to isolate and eliminate David but instead, he does something entirely different. He approaches David. The first thing he does is he takes off his armor which is to say he's defenses. He gives his armor to David and then he takes his sword and his knife and his bow and his arrows, things that David could hurt him with, gives those to David too. Then on the basis of that vulnerability, he offers a friendship.

    David and Jonathan formed a friendship that day that will save their life on more than one occasion. They formed a covenant, a bond that outlives them both. That becomes the first of many friendships for David. The names of David's friends fill up pages of the Bible, his 3, it's 30 it's 300. He surrounds himself with losers, with desperados, with debtors, and with giant killers and heroes greater than himself, and together they do what one man could never have accomplished.

    Here's the second difference between them. Samson is roamer and David is a home builder. Samson, the Bible gives us many scenes of Samson's life but really no domestic ones. We don't see him at home hanging out with guys. We don't see him with the family. He's out, usually behind enemy lines. He's in enemy neighborhoods, almost always alone. He does amazing things but he does them all by himself.

    It's striking to see the difference in the stories, of scenes from David's life. We see a couple of times when he's alone but only a couple, almost always when we see David if he's out, he is either in the middle of a throng or the head of one. Interestingly, the first thing that David did when they captured Jerusalem was he built a house for himself there, a fine home, suitable for entertaining friends and building a family.

    David was home when he fell. Samson could have cried out for help when he fell but it wouldn't have done any good because nobody knew where he was. When David fell, he could see home and home could see him. Home could see he was in trouble. Especially, one very good friend named Nathan who was able to come and confront him. Another way that the two are different. Samson was a man of very few words and David lived out loud. Here's the amazing thing, in the Bible, all the major characters pray a lot.

    Have you ever noticed that? They sing and they pray a lot, these big long repetitive prayers. We've got Samson, we got four chapters. One prayer that desperate God help me seconds before he died. Aside from that, Samson didn't talk to God. Samson really didn't talk to other people. Samson kept it all in here. He was emotionally constipated but he was a strong silent type, that was Samson, all in here.

    David was different. From the time he was a kid, he sang to God and excerpts from his compositions and his journals make up most of the largest book of the Bible which he gave to Israel as their songbook. Here's the amazing thing when you read the Psalms, more than half of the Psalms are laments. I was surprised to learn that because when I was growing up, the Psalms that we sang were only the happy triumphant ones. We didn't sing about God has betrayed me, God kill my enemies and their children. Whatever David was feeling, he said, he lived out loud.

    Gary: I like that.

    Nate: I think Samson was blind long before they took his eyes. David lost his sight briefly after looking into that blazing fire of lust but he regained his sight because David really wanted to see. The final difference between the two is that Samson made the big plays and David made the little plays. Samson did… had feats of conquest and bravery and strength that have never been duplicated. Nobody else has killed 1,000 Philistines in one day.

    Nobody else has picked up the gates of the city and walked off. That's the kind of stuff that Samson did. That's why he had that surge of hope at the end of his life because he knew he was behind but he thought he could come back. He'd always been able to come back on his own. Now, David was different. David only killed one Philistine on his first day but David killed the right one. David was tempted toward the grand gesture.

    We're told that toward the end of his life he sitting in his house one day, he's playing with his grandkids. He's looking around. He's just so grateful for all that God has restored and all the blessing on his life. Suddenly, it dawns on him that he's living in the finest house in Jerusalem and God doesn't have a house. All God has is that box they used to carry around the desert. David thinks that's not right. God deserves the best house in Jeru-- God deserves the best house in the world. That's what I'm going to do.

    I'm going to build the best house, he gets so excited. He calls the architects, they design this great temple. He starts ordering building materials from around the world.

    Then at some point, he takes the idea to God and God goes, "No, thanks but no thanks. It's not a bad idea of the temple, but you're not the guy to build it. Your son can build a temple. What you can do is go spend time with your boy." That's all it took.

    David shut the project down immediately, laid everybody off, put all the materials in storage and went and spent time with his boy. I was 42 years old when it suddenly dawned on me as I looked into the face of a very angry wife, that my childhood dream had come true. I had become Samson. I was a gifted guy. I had some promise but I was living in the dark, walking in circles. I was in chains. I was blind. If there was going to be any hope for me, I was going to have to a) admit I'm Samson and b) somehow find a way to learn to live like David.

    Gary: What a beautiful, profound, wise and life-transforming. If we listen to that story that you're telling now, it'll make a big difference. Nate, thank you so much. I'm really honored that you spent the time with us here today.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • How can we overcome our failures?
    • What role does community play in redeeming failure?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    We've got two great men, two great failures. After their failures, the lives of these two men go in different directions. Samson dies in enemy territory alone and a failure. David actually recovers. David actually goes on to become a better man and a better King. He dies surrounded by family and friends and he leaves a legacy. Why? I'm convinced David recovered because he had learned to do the things that make recovery possible. Samson didn't recover because he'd never learned to do those things. – Nate Larkin

    The Bible says that Samson killed more Philistines in his death than he killed in his entire life but yet, Samson died a failure. When Samson died, the Philistines still ruled Israel. – Nate Larkin

    David begins his life alone, a lot of time in solitude in the fields tending his father's sheep, but everything changed for David on the day that he killed Goliath. That's the day that he met Jonathan. David and Jonathan formed a friendship that day that will save their life on more than one occasion. They formed a covenant, a bond that outlives them both. That becomes the first of many friendships for David. – Nate Larkin

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Nate Larkin

    Nate Larkin, the founder of the Samson Society and author of Samson and the Pirate Monks: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood, grew up as a preacher’s kid. He married his wife, Allie, on the day he graduated from St. Lawrence University, and they headed off toward Princeton Seminary and the ministry.

    If you’ve heard Nate’s story, you know his plans didn’t work out so well. He was ensnared by a sexual obsession he couldn’t tame, and the fear of discovery eventually drove him to abandon the professional ministry. It’s a miracle his marriage survived.

    After more than two decades of secret and steadily intensifying compulsive sexual behavior, Nate’s nightmare finally ended in a painful collision with reality. Today, he helps overlooked victims of the commercial sex industry – addicted users – find their way back to integrity and the true intimacy that every person craves.

    Booking Inquiries | Facebook | Twitter

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • BEST OF: Fighting Hopelessness in Our Walk with God

    In this "best of" episode, we revisit the inaugural episode of the Gary Wilkerson Podcast. Gary talks about how hope in Jesus Christ can transform the destitute and anyone who feels as if they have lost meaning in life. If you’re going through a season of hopelessness remember God is there. He cares about you and he loves you intensely.

    In this "best of" episode, we revisit the inaugural episode of the Gary Wilkerson Podcast. Gary talks about how hope in Jesus Christ can transform the destitute and anyone who feels as if they have lost meaning in life. If you’re going through a season of hopelessness remember God is there. He cares about you and he loves you intensely.

    Key Questions Covered in the Show

    • Why am I going through this, am I cursed? Why aren't I blessed like others? 
    • How do hope and love change us and put such a spark in the human psyche? 
    • Do our mistakes come from an incorrect view of ourselves and of God? 

    Key Quotes from the Show 

    Hopelessness is borne out of an incorrect view of God and that’s where Satan comes to kill and destroy our view of God being good and for us. God being powerful, being available, being present to us at all times and even being with us in the storm when the storms don’t cease. - Gary Wilkerson 

    Jesus really is the answer for everything. – Gary Wilkerson 

    To be the spiritual man or woman who draws near to Jesus is going to be a battle. There's going to be Satanic distraction to pull us away from that intimacy with Jesus. – Gary Wilkerson 

    The Holy Spirit penetrates the walls of self-interest and says, "That's not what your heart was built for. You weren't built for yourself. You were built for others. You were built for God.” – Gary Wilkerson 

    The spirit is striving against the flesh. What for? So that we might have intimacy with Jesus. So that we can have the victory that Jesus wants us to have. – Gary Wilkerson 

    There is a deeper joy in Jesus that is not based on circumstances. – Gary Wilkerson 

    God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain… - C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain 

    The lack of hope causes people to be immobilized, to be lethargic, to lose confidence and energy. You sit back and let life happen to you when you're hopeless. – Gary Wilkerson 

    Hopelessness has all kinds of talons that destroy our life—despair, depression, discouragement, or manipulation. – Gary Wilkerson 

    The root of hopelessness is not knowing the nature and character of God. – Gary Wilkerson 

    Mentioned in the Show

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • A Prodigal's Journey from the Pew to Prison to Phnom Penh

    God’s commands can sometimes seem so impossible to fulfill, so distant from what we want. In these moments, it can be so easy to become angry at God. Our visitor this week, Holly Dziedzickie, shares how her frustration with God’s commands led her down a rebellious path until he called her back in the most extraordinary way.

    God’s commands can sometimes seem so impossible to fulfill, so distant from what we want. In these moments, it can be so easy to become angry at God. Our visitor this week, Holly Dziedzickie, shares how her frustration with God’s commands led her down a rebellious path until he called her back in the most extraordinary way.

    Gary Wilkerson: Hi, I'm so glad you guys are here today. I'm Gary Wilkerson with the Gary Wilkerson podcast. We're in for a really good story today, Holly, we are so happy to have you with us. We're going to be hearing a story of God's miraculous power.

    How He not only changes a life and Holly in your life makes you a devout follower of Jesus but gives you a purpose and a way to help other people. Holly, thanks for coming here today. I want to start off with your testimony, you came from Christian home, right?

    Holly Dziedzickie: Yes.

    Gary: Both parents mom and dad.

    Holly: Yes.

    Gary: Loved Jesus devout, took you to church.

    Holly: Yes, took to me to church, growing up, they would talk about God at the dinner table. I believed in Jesus. I believed that there was a God and His name was Jesus Christ. My mom sent me to Awana and all those things good Christian parents do.

    Gary: They were probably a little concerned when they saw, you were a teenager you started getting involved in some things that would not be necessarily a Christian lifestyle, to say the least.

    Holly: Yes, when I was a teenager, actually, the first thing I started getting involved in was homosexuality, from there I got caught, was I 12? You got caught and then--

    Gary: Caught by your parents or you were caught by somebody else?

    Holly: Actually, the pastor of the church by love letters. I was writing with another girl that was in church and her stepmother found it and she gave it to the pastor.

    Gary: Pastor told your parents?

    Holly: Yes, he told my parents and then he came and had a meeting with me and he said, "Holly, you have a fork in the road. You have to choose. Are you going to follow Christ or are you going to go down this road of your own way?" I told him at the time I choose to follow Christ. I was a little kid though but in my heart, I didn't. In my heart, I was very angry with God for making it wrong in the Bible. He could've made it right. Why did he make it wrong? That sparked I would say, a seed of rebellion. From there, I would still do the things I wanted to do, but be hiding it from my parents back, got into drinking, got into hanging out with the wrong people, got into drugs and ended up just keep coming home and hiding it.

    Holly: When you say drugs like you're talking about smoking pot.

    Holly: You start out smoking cigarettes as a kid and then go from there to pot. Then from there got into methamphetamine and then from there got into selling pot, so I could pay for my methamphetamine. Then from there, got into selling methamphetamine, and then from there, decided to cook it. Why should I sell it for them and give them all the money when I can learn how to make it myself. I just started hanging out with the bikers and with the Mexican mafia, different people that were cooking and I figured out how to do it myself. Then I became a cook with a girlfriend in and out of jail.

    Gary: During this time, did you have any reminiscence of the background of your mind, of the words that you heard in church or your parents that was Jesus whispering to you at all or did you totally shut them out?

    Holly: Well, during that time, it's funny because I use needles, I would inject methamphetamine. I would sit there with girlfriends or whoever I was doing drugs with and I would talk to him about God. I say, there is a God, his name is Jesus Christ. I'm not following him but he's real. It was just a matter of fact to me but there wasn't that personal relationship. I remember having little experiences as a kid here and there, but what I have now today, present today is not what I had then for sure.

    Gary: You didn't have the clear understanding of Christ being your Lord and Savior.

    Holly: I didn't have this Holy Spirit living inside of me telling me no, don't do that or making me uncomfortable to do so like I do now living inside of me. When I do something it's like I fill up and it's telling me no. It actually makes sin uncomfortable. It's the point to where the things that used to attract me and the things that I used to live for and fight for and be willing to die for before now are like a repellent to me. It's really weird. It's from darkness into light. Really quite an experience.

    Gary: How did that experience happen? The transforming of your heart and the renewing of your mind coming to Christ, how did that happen to you?

    Holly: Well, the last time I got arrested, I was a felon. I had already been arrested for manufacturing and I had a loaded firearm. I had drugs all bagged up, so I could sell them and I got caught.

    Gary: In your car?

    Holly: That's actually interesting. I was at another drug addict's house trying to meet up with a girlfriend of mine that I was fighting with and she was supposed to come meet me. The cops pulled up to their house and I had on me a gun. I was sitting in their chair, I had on me the drugs, and I was drinking alcohol and I saw the cops pull up. There was this weird void or numbness that went over me. I had time to get up and throw the gun out the back door into the neighbor's yard and throw the drugs and everything and wait until the cops leave and go back and get it.

    For some reason, I just sat there and kept drinking my bottle. They walked in, they said, are you on probation or parole? I said, no, I was lying and then they said, can we search you? I said, no. Then they searched me and they ended up finding the gun and the drugs and there I went off. Even me getting arrested, that last time I got arrested was miraculously-- It was miraculous in a sense of I let them arrest me. It was weird.

    Gary: God was preparing for something to happen. It was actually while you were in prison then somebody talked about Christ or did you go to a chapel?

    Holly: While I was in jail, I was like in this dark cloud. You have the drugs coming out of you and so your skin feels like it's crawling. I started hearing loud whispers like, “Psh! Psh!” and I thought it was the girls and said shut up and I jumped on the tables they were scared of me. The guards would move me to other pods because you're fighting your case, you're in County. They wanted to give me 12 years, which was actually a good deal for me at the time and because a loaded firearm, what do you do when you're a felon already? That was going on and they moved me from pod to pod because of my violence. I would pace up and down and say, let the bodies hit the floor. If anybody came near me I shove them.

    Gary: I heard you say earlier, you had studied some type of martial arts.

    Holly: My dad had all in his kids.

    Gary: It wasn’t just rage, but knowing what to do with your rage. You could hurt somebody.

    Holly: I was very much a fighter, street fighter, and everything. There was no problem. I liked violence. It actually attracted me. They moved me from pod to pod, which actually if I looking back at it, if they wouldn't have moved me because of my violent outbursts, they actually drove me in the middle of the night from a low-security jail to high security. If they didn't do that, I wouldn't have ran into this girl I knew from the streets, her name was Michelle. She was in there for four years fighting a murder case. She was a pretty evil broad. I saw her and it was like I was in this dark cloud and I saw her, it was hard to explain but she looked different, shiny in a weird way.

    I walked in for like, Michelle, she's like, Holly. I said, what happened to you and what I meant by that was you're weird looking, you're shiny. She didn't know what I was talking about, but she ended up telling me she had gotten saved. This little old lady from Yucca Valley would come drive down and tell the girls about Jesus. She said, "Do you girls want to be delivered?" If they said yes, she'd come and pray over them. She said, Jesus Christ can deliver you, and pray over them. Michelle's was very demon possessed. They would go into the Bible studies and County and stuff just to get out of your cell. You're locked down for 22 hours, you just went out. Whatever it takes, I can get out and go into a room, okay I'll go there.

    It doesn't matter what you're going to talk about to them. She said yes. The lady prayed for her. She fell on the ground doing a flop. Demons came out of her, and so she got saved. That's what I was seeing was this girl that I knew from the streets who was totally different. The inmates respected her, the cops respected her in County, and she was now the trustee and there was just something different about her. During that time, I'm this crazy violent homosexual drug addict, violent but there was something in her that I wanted. I called home and I called my mom and I said, can you send me a Bible? She sent me a Bible and I tried to read it and it was just, I opened it, I was excited.

    I was in my little two-man cell with my roommate. I read it and it didn't make any sense to me. It went in my head and it spun around and it made me really mad. I was like, man, all you Christians and I started saying something, I don't know. I threw the Bible across the room. My roommate was supposedly a Christian and she said something, I was like, shut up lady and then she's like, I'm going to push the button. There's an emergency button because I scared her. I was like, no you're not going to push the button. I knew if she did, they'd moved my pod again and I'd be away from Michelle. I had her up by the throat against, so she couldn't push the button where the window, the cops can't see in the window, because you're just in that door.

    There's only a little tiny window about a foot by what maybe four inches. She's screaming, I'm like, "Shut up lady." Then Michelle was out because she was the trustee. She came up to the door, she said, "Holly, what are you doing?" I said, "I'm tired of you guys tell about the Bible I try to read as much of jargon." She said, "You need to ask God to open your eyes before you read that." She walked away and I was like, "Whatever." Anyway, she walked away. I calmed my roommate down, she went on her bed and cried herself to sleep and I got the Bible, I sat on my bed and I said, God, open my eyes. I opened it and I started to read it randomly opened it to Romans chapter five.

    Romans chapter five and chapter six is how I got saved. Where it talks about how God's demonstrated his own love towards us and how he died for the unrighteous. As I was reading it and how he died for the ungodly, and you keep reading, it's something light. It was like something hit me. The thought came to my mind. I'm ungodly and also whatever was keeping me from understanding what I was reading before. It's like God ripped it off. He opened in my eyes. I understood what I was reading. Which was a miracle. As I kept reading it, talked about being a slave to sin. Don't you know whoever you choose to obey, that was whom you obey? Whether of sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness but God be thanked. As I'm reading, I'm like, "I'm a slave to sin." It was just like this revealing, I guess you'd say, of who I was and it was shocking to me. I'm a slave? I was realizing all those years of drugs, all the lies I said, all the cons I did, and everything. I knew that there was a God and his name was Jesus Christ. I knew that he died on the cross for my sin but I also knew there was a Satan and the thought came to me, "I've been being conned."

    All my life I thought I was doing what I needed to do to make me happy but I've been serving Satan. I've been a slave to him and he's been robbing me. It was anger. I was like, "I'm such an idiot." Then as I kept reading, but there was a choice. I could choose to be a slave or I could choose to be obedient. The end of that is life eternal. I was definitely an enemy of God. As you read through those chapters, you'll see that you're in enmity with God. You're an enemy of God and that qualified me to be able to receive from him. I remember back then, I didn't know Christianese and everything.

    It was like my life flashed before my eyes and I was realizing how many years I threw away on all the drugs and all the false relationships. Always looking for love, really. I looked up and I said, "God, I don't know you but I want you and there's things in me. I can feel it up in my throat. I'm a homosexual. I'm a drug addict. I'm a alcoholic, but if you don't like it, you can change me because I want you." It was like, after that… The sinner's prayer or whatever, that was my sinner's prayer. God met me right where I was at and after that, I couldn't read the Bible enough. The more I read it, it would give me this feeling, this excitement.

    I’d come out of my cell before, it was like let the bodies hit the floor. Now, it's like God gave me new eyes and I would look at the women and it wasn't like how can I get a candy bar from you or maybe I want to sleep with you. It wasn't like that anymore. Now, it was like, I had this feeling and these new emotions and I go by them. I'd stand by and they're like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "I love you, man." They're like, "What are you doing in your room?" I'm like, "Man, I'm just reading the Bible. If you just open it and you just read it, it's better than drugs. It's better than sex, man. It's so good."

    They're like, "Really?" I'm like, "Yes, it makes you feel really good, but you got to say open my eyes, first."

    Gary: You already had your pattern. [crosstalk]

    Holly: Yes. That was me just coming off of drugs and not knowing really the word of God. That's how I got saved. After that, they wanted me to give me 12 years, which was a good deal but actually they dropped it the next time I went to court and they gave me three years. So I got three years and I started to learn how to be a Christian in prison, which was good. I needed to be behind bars for that. I ended up getting out in one and a half years on good time and learned a lot. I learned a lot. Blew it a little bit. You know what I mean? Because you're just out of Egypt.

    Going through that wilderness. [laughs] Not getting laid. What do you mean, "Blessed are the meek? What does this mean, God?" I don't get I'll fight for you? What do you mean weak? Where God's like, "Okay. I'll show you here in prison because you can't learn it on the streets. You need to learn it here first."

    Gary: That's so powerful. After that, you went to a Bible school?

    Holly: Yes.

    Gary: In California?

    Holly: Yes. I went to Calvary Chapel Bible College in in Murrieta and graduated.

    Gary: That's a transition. That's a real transformation. Now, moving up to more current things. From the time at Bible school, you got a call to do something a little bit unusual? We will talk about this minute. You ended up in Cambodia for the last 10 years. You've been in Cambodia. It was that like, "I'm going to go to Cambodia and help people there." Or was it like God somehow miraculously told you to get up and go?

    Holly: Yes. There was a guy that was going to Bible college. He went to Cambodia. He emailed me and said, "Holly, we really need worship leaders here." I'm a worship leader. That's another story. I was like, "I'll be praying that God would send some people to Cambodia. I'll pray for you." I didn't want to go because I have in my drugs and stuff would go into Mexico a lot and I didn't like Mexico when I went there. It was just for working, you would say. My idea of missions was like that. I didn't want to be a missionary, but I was willing to do whatever God wanted me to do so I started praying that God would send missionaries over to Cambodia, worship leaders.

    In my last semester, I was getting ready to graduate and then God really clearly-- It was funny. I'm praying for Cambodia. I didn't even know where it was. It sounds like Africa to me. You know what I mean? The name. Never bothered to look and then all of a sudden, wherever I go, I go to the gym, there's a story about Cambodia. I was like, "That's funny. I'm praying for that country." Then I'm driving the car to go to Bible school and the pastor was talking about Cambodia. Then God told me to go to morning devos at Bible college and I didn't have a class that day so I wouldn't normally go.

    I got up early, went to the morning devos and it was this big, huge screen and it was a big map and it was Cambodia. It was almost like God smacked in the face with Cambodia, in a sense. Driving home, I said, "God, do you want me to go to Cambodia?" It was just like this instant love poured through my heart to the point where I got teared up, had to pull over because I was driving on the freeway. I was going to crash and I was like, "Okay. I will go." I bought a ticket to go to Cambodia for three months, a round trip. Then while I was there, He called me there. It wasn't like, "Oh, I'm good. God told me to go so I went."

    Gary: You've been there for 10 years now. Tell us a little bit about your ministry there in Cambodia. You're working with, what's the name of the ministry?

    Holly: Girls' House of Refuge.

    Gary: Girls' House of Refuge. Tell me, what is that?

    Holly: God told me to open a home for women, for young women. So I did and then he would choose and bring the ones he wanted to, so he ended up bringing girls that were pregnant or girls that got raped and different girls. Also, just really poor girls. I started getting a name for being willing to take drug addicts, being willing to take alcoholics, being willing to take traumatized girls that are all knocked-up or pregnant. Nobody else can help them. Other Christian organizations in the country would call me and say, "Hey, will you take this girl?" Or, "Hey, there's this girl. This person's trying to sell this girl, this little girl, 14, 12, whatever."

    I would take those kind of girls. Also, with women's ministry, you're drawn to women. When you go out in public, girls are drawn to girls. They want to share the gospel. We'll go through the whole Bible in a year at my house. They want to practice what they're studying. It's really cool because they're baby Christians so everything's new, which I loved it because it's just really innocent in a sense.

    Gary: You still lived in the home where the girls come in now after 10 years?

    Holly: Yes. We all live together.

    Gary: Did I hear you say more than one home now?

    Holly: Well, I did before. Right now, we're back down to one.

    Gary: That's in Phnom Penh?

    Holly: Yes, in Phnom Penh.

    Gary: Okay. You're in the city. You're in the bustling, hustling, crazy part of the world. That's… World Challenge, our ministry, does work there and we have for 20 years or so or more in Cambodia and in Phnom Penh in some of the rural areas, church planting and things like that but we've ran across some of these things that you have been facing as well and it's not an easy ministry.

    Holly: Yes. You can call me. Bring me the girls.

    Gary: All right. That's so cool. Thank you.

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    …when I was a teenager, actually, the first thing I started getting involved in was homosexuality. In my heart, I was very angry with God for making it wrong in the Bible. He could've made it right. Why did he make it wrong? That sparked I would say, a seed of rebellion. - Holly Dziedzickie

    I didn't have the Holy Spirit living inside of me telling me, “No, don't do that!” or making me uncomfortable to do sin like I do now. It actually makes sin uncomfortable. It's the point to where the things that used to attract me and the things that I used to live for and fight for and be willing to die for before now are like a repellent to me. - Holly Dziedzickie

    The lady prayed for her. She fell on the ground doing a flop. Demons came out of her, and so she got saved. That's what I was seeing was this girl that I knew from the streets who was totally different. The inmates respected her, the cops respected her in County, and she was now the trustee and there was just something different about her. During that time, I'm this crazy violent homosexual drug addict, but there was something in her that I wanted. - Holly Dziedzickie

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • Faith & Food – Feeding Your Calling

    Unhealthy habits in life usually begin in small steps. They start when we say, “Oh, I can stay up late for this event and still wake up early for work tomorrow. I can splurge with my diet this week and work it off later.” Sooner or later we may find that these small choices have begun to build into serious health problems. This week, Gary Wilkerson talks with a Christian nutritional counselor, Laura Harris Smith, who shares her descent into a deadly medical condition, the way God healed her body and her journey into good health.

    Unhealthy habits in life usually begin in small steps. They start when we say, “Oh, I can stay up late for this event and still wake up early for work tomorrow. I can splurge with my diet this week and work it off later.” Sooner or later we may find that these small choices have begun to build into serious health problems. This week, Gary Wilkerson talks with a Christian nutritional counselor, Laura Harris Smith, who shares her descent into a deadly medical condition, the way God healed her body and her journey into good health.

    Gary Wilkerson: Well, hello, everybody. We are in for a great time today at the Gary Wilkerson Podcast here at World Challenge. We have in our studio with us today Laura Harris Smith. Thanks for being with us today.

    Laura: Thanks.

    Gary: I just got your book, and I've been reading it and it's been a real blessing. I love how you're praying for people, speaking faith, and helping people's spirit, mind, body—spirit, soul, and body. That's one of our favorite passages here as a ministry, 1 Thessalonians, where it talks about the spirit, soul, and body. As I was reading your bio, there's some things you're a nutritional counselor. Can you just give us-- What is a nutritional counselor?

    Laura: Well, I actually, six years ago almost lost my life because I was on the brink of adrenal failure and did not know it. I was told make changes or die. They said, "If you survive, it'll take 18 to 24 months to turn around." I had what was called adrenal burnout.

    Gary: Were you already a nutritional counselor?

    Laura: No, I'm telling you why I became one.

    Gary: Gotcha

    Laura: It kind of found me. I basically was in a place of not sleeping. I can't sleep, I'm laying down sleep for eight hours, but I wasn't sleeping. I love my life; I have a king-size life. I would get like maybe four hours sleep; both of my parents did this kind of work like a badge. Stage four of adrenal burnout is when all of your organs shut down. I didn't even find out I had it until I was in stage three.

    My blood work started coming back wonky. I discovered John F. Kennedy had it. They said it not been assassinated, he would have been dead in a year. All of these things I'm finding out. When someone looks at you and says make changes or die, every meal becomes a final exam. I had to start studying what to eat, what not to eat, what to get rid of.

    Gary: What were you feeling at that time? Could you feel symptoms of weakness, brain fog?

    Laura: Yes, yes, and yes. However, I have such a strong constitution.

    Gary: You fought through it?

    Laura: That really worked against me. Because I just kept pushing through and kept pushing through. I started noticing like, at church, I was unable to even keep standing through the first worship song. We have the typical concert worship style, three, four songs upfront. I would have to sit down, I would be just exhausted. Those types of things started happening. I was actually in the middle of a book contract with Baker books, and I had, I was contracted to write Seeing the Voice of God, it was a book on dreams and visions, biblical dreams and visions. I was interviewing sleep study doctors.

    It was so sneaky, I call it Jehovah sneaky, for God to use work to make me study sleep, because it was work that was keeping me from sleeping. This doctor's looking at me and saying, "If you don't sleep, the first thing is to will go wonky in your body are your hormones, and then this and then this," and I'm like checking the list and still, it's not fully registering, that's what's going on with me. Then I get the diagnosis, I go on total bed rest for three months. It was during that time that I knew because of everything that I was learning. I just bet this is going to become a shift in my writing. I had written probably 16 books before that.

    I knew the Lord was calling me to shift into a body, mind and spirit lane. I felt like I owed it to my readers to go back and educate myself. Go back to school, and educate myself once I got mended up. The Lord did in six months. I had a total clean bill of health. I was back running strong. I make myself get seven to eight hours sleep every night now. Somehow, still just as productive. When I went back to school, I became a nutritional counselor not to hang out a shingle and open a clinic, but for my readers. Everything I do, I pour into my books.

    I have now since then gone back and pursued degrees. I have my bachelor's in original medicine, which is body, mind and spirit medicine, and my masters in another couple of years, I'll be a naturopathic doctor.

    Gary: Wow. Good for you.

    Laura: I'm slamming it.

    Gary: You said something that, I think maybe some listeners might be really interested hearing, your only sleeping four hours, and then I heard you say you made yourself sleep eight hours. How does somebody's make yourself sleep eight hours.

    Laura: I really do and always have had the ability to lay down and just sleep. Not only fall asleep but stay asleep. I wouldn't sleep, I was in sleep rebellion. I had a massive sleep debt. When you don't go to sleep, your body will go to sleep for you. To answer your question, what I had to do is I had to, in my pursuit of disciplining myself with sleep health, I discovered this whole world of people, who they tell me they just can't get to sleep.

    They lay there and they just can't, they cannot do it. If they do get to sleep, they can't stay asleep. My heart was really compassionate toward them because I think sleep doctors could put all the other doctors out of business. If we get our sleep right, we will be healthy people. Oh yes, those eight hours that God gave us at night, and him even creating the moon and the stars. That's not an afterthought. He did. That's a sacred time.

    He not only wants us to rest, He wants us to heal during that time. We're a captive audience. He wants to speak to us, even in the night, I believe, like He did with many other biblical characters. What I have done since that time is, I've actually begun to create helps products, essential oils, things to help people get to sleep and stay asleep. I do have one called quiet brain that does just that.

    I have people tell me that they, whether by applying it, or diffusing it, that they go to bed and they wake up 10 hours later, it doesn't sedate the brain it focuses. I have also reports of people saying it helped them focus for work. It must be a, it helps you focus on sleep or focus on work, whatever it is you need to do. Turn everything else off and do that.

    Gary: Is there a link between-- I know, we didn't invite you to talk about sleep, and I'm not sleepy. That’s not why I am asking this question. I’m wide awake. I think it's interesting topic. Is there a link between-- because you're a nutritionist, poor nutrition is it going to cause poor sleep habits or not?

    Laura: You're asking all the right questions. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. What we eat, and especially the time that we eat it can lead to poor health. I got in here late last night and had to eat very, very late. I slept very, very well, but that's because that was a rarity. If you are eating right before you go to bed, if you are eating wild and crazy things, and your body is having to work all night long to digest it. It's not doing what God created it to do, which is to heal. There's a chemical that's released in your body while you're asleep called HCG. It's a hormone. In children, it's released and they grow.

    At some point, you quit growing. As adults, when it's released as we sleep, we heal. If we're not sleeping, we're not healing. This is where all your reserves run out in your 30s and 40s, and chronic illnesses start settling in and listen, I am a miracle believing, hey, let's pray and I'll call down a miracle. I want people to maintain their miracles and to be smart.

    I'm telling you, on this one, He required me to cooperate with Him. He still requires me to cooperate with Him. I still if I fall back into that and I could so easily, that's my drug of choice. It's just I could work all day. I think sleep is a colossal waste of time. I think there are people dying and going to hell. I've go to get to them. I want the whole world to be saved by noon tomorrow.

    Those are the downsides of that 1 Corinthians 12, "Gift of faith". You just think you're invincible, you can do everything like, I said, "by tomorrow". I've just had to learn that I'm one person. I have to make myself go to bed. I have a husband who is all about the journey. I'm all about the destination. I'm A to B. I like direct flights. I like all that. It is about the journey and you have to take care of yourself on the journey.

    Gary: Is he like you as far—I don’t want to sleep. I just want to…

    Laura: No.

    Gary: No, he isn't.

    Laura: Oh, no.

    Gary: He's kind of the plotter, kind of paces.

    Laura: Absolutely. He is usually the first one in bed and now we have, I won't say it's a deal, a kind of unspoken but I migrate that way and I'm on the bed. [chuckles] I'm usually on my laptop for about a whole other hour, but I do. I try to. I have kind of an inward rule. My typical time to sleep is like midnight to 8:00, sometimes 1:00 to 9:00. I have a rule if I wake up before that eight-hour mark, I try to just lay there, just pray, not rush and start the day. I mean this was serious. I almost died. I have to take it seriously. Yes, it's the thing that I easily fall back into if I'm not careful.

    Gary: Yes, going back to your story then, how long did you take to get out of that place?

    Laura: Well, three months in bed-

    Gary: Three months in bed.

    Laura: -will make you think differently.

    Gary: What changes did you make then?

    Laura: I took out wheat. I took out sugar. My nutritionist told me, "You need to make certain changes so that your body cannot have anything else to do but heal". All of my organs, things were starting to shut down. My reproductive system had already entirely shut down in my early 40s. I just thought, "That's a fluke". Well, no. Then my liver tests were coming back, where all these different tests. I had to use food as medicine. When your liver is in bad shape, you just can't start popping pills for each organ. It won't process it.

    She said, "Wheat and sugar are very hard on the body to process. Let's take those out for now and give your body nothing else to do but heal." Lots of naps during the day; it was the hardest thing.

    Gary: Obviously, it's worked. You're healthy and your family is doing good.

    Laura: I feel great.

    Gary: You've made major changes. Things change.

    Laura: We're all off wheat and sugar. I mean literally we started, if I could just say, I had this one shelf in the pantry and there was sign on it. It said, "Mom's Pantry". Whatever the cook does usually it starts to trickle down and they were all gluten-free. We all do this sugar-free. We have made a lifestyle change. There's 19 other flours out there. There's rice. There's buckwheat. There's sorghum. There's almond flour. In the beginning, my husband would bring me flours. We’d experiment with different flours. That type of thing. It's just a choice. It's a perspective shift.

    Gary: I love it. He sounds like a good husband.

    Gary: One of the major things I wanted to ask you was being that you’ve written the book and I know it's helping lots of people and you've been interviewed and you speak on this. Do you find that fairly normal in the church for us to be eating poorly, out of shape? Is that a major problem or do you think there's any second question tied to that? Do you think there's any difference between, just say an average, take 100 people that go to church and 100 people that don't, would their nutrition be any different? I don't know if you've ever examined that or not.

    Laura: It is a major problem. If I had to put a number on it, on the people that I have seen, I would say that it's in the high 90% of people that they not only are they unaware, I think it's that they have high faith. They just think that God's got their back and I began to bury some heroes of mine a couple of decades ago and I just started asking myself questions like, and I was a farmer's daughter, so I already thought that I ate healthy. I ate colorfully. For me, it was the sleep. I call it sleep hygiene, but for others, it is what they are putting on their plate. They're killing themselves, one forkful at a time, and let me tell you what else I've learned people don't like it when you mess with their food. I have had to learned to be hated by a few people. The tide does turn.

     

    Gary: It's like you're touching idolatry in some senses, right?

     

    Laura: You move people's food and the flesh goes crazy. You go out to dinner with people and they start apologizing for what they're ordering. I'm like, "Hey. There's no condemnation. I am not judging you. I may be praying for you." I actually had a guy look at me one time and say, "Are you saying if I eat wheat, am I going to go to hell?" I said, "No." He asked me if I eat wheat, am I not going to go to heaven. I said, "Absolutely not. You'll probably get their sooner, but you're not going to not get I”n. It's not about that, it's the quality of life that we have here living a healthy life. We need this body to serve the Lord with, I want to live long and live strong.

     

    Gary: Yes, I've had people say, and you've probably heard this as well, when you talk about nutrition, when it comes to their spiritual life and the calling on their life, you've heard it said, "Hey I don't care what I eat. If I die, I'll be with Jesus sooner," and it's just like, well, yes, you will be, but he's given you a calling on your life and if you're not going to be healthy enough to carry it out, you're going to be sick and just as slow of body, slow of mind. That's just not going to work.

     

    Laura: You are the very first show I've ever been on that quoted the 1 Thessalonians 5:23 passage for me. The reason I love that is because of what you just said. It actually says in there, "You may be found blameless, at the Lord’s coming body, soul and spirit." Come on. We can receive, accept, take responsibility for and have some blame in this if we are not doing these things. It’s not bondage, it's actually easy things. You've just got to change your mindset, change your lifestyle. Start making better choices. I believe that body, mind and spirit, if we are to be whole, we are to pay attention to all three.

    Gary: So, we're talking about the health or lack thereof of some in Christian circles. Do you have some inclinations as to why people remain in poor health, whether be spirit, mind, or body when they've heard it. Like some of the stuff you're hearing today, it's going to be new. I like that but some of the stuff they're going to go like, "I heard it before" or "Here we go again" or there are some things that keep people stuck.

    Laura: I think it's habit.

    Gary: Habits, yes.

    Laura: A lack of discipline, a lack of tapping into the spirit of self-control which God has given us. It's one of the fruits of his spirit. By the way, if you don't have self-control, you don't need to go read a book on self-control you need more the Holy Spirit. His main job is to make us holy. I love all the gifts of the Spirit. I love all of that the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit but the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit if we only have one or the other, we're like interestingly enough a dove which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit has nine grooves in each wing. If you only have the gifts of the Spirit and you're not exercising the character of God or if you only have love, peace, joy and all the fruits of the Spirit but you don't believe in miracles or healings or faith or prophecy you're a one-wing dove. You're going to be flying around in circles. I think it's the lack of self-control but it's also a lack of believing in the miraculous. It took for me a miraculous changing of my mindset to change and make these lifestyle changes.

    For me, like when people say to me, "It's too hard" I have one woman telling me the other day, "It's just too hard. I try to give up sugar it's too hard" I thought, "You know what? I didn't have that luxury. I had to make the changes or die." When people say to me, "Life's hard" I'm like, "Compared to what, dying?" Come on, you can do this-

    Gary: Or living sick.

    Laura: - when I find someone who's not doing it they either have not made the connection in their mind between what they're putting in their mouth. Psalm 103, "He satisfies my mouth with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagles." I always feel like if they can get that revelation, have discipline, self-control, set those new habits they will see change and they won't forget.

    Gary: I could not agree with you more. I think you're spot on with all those things. I might add one and you probably would as well is getting rid of shame in our life because I think a lot of people either overeat or have poor eating habits because there's such shame. Even sometimes trying a new diet or something and then they fail they feel more ashamed. Then that shame is the sense of something, "I'm not good or I'm not loved or I'm not worthy, I'm not acceptable"

    When somebody feels like that they're going to have to go to their drug of choice whether it be, some would go to alcohol or narcotics or-

    Laura: Or food.

    Gary: - food. Yes, food is one. I think shame sometimes plays into the battle for somebody who in their mind saying, "I'm going to change" but their emotions are so out of whack. There's a lot of self-hatred and condemnation. Listen to the voice of the enemy, you're no good, you'll never make it. Then that shame drives them actually to eat even more poorly like, "I need a whole pint of ice cream" How many times have we seen even in movies you see this link. Somebody gets dumped by their spouse or by their boyfriend, girlfriend and they have this big party.

    Laura: Pint with a spoon, right?

    Gary: Yes, it's the comfort food. I think shame, discipline all these. It's not one like the wings of the dove you're talking about. It's not one ingredient that brings this wholeness of health but balancing the three together. Somebody is listening to us now and they're starting to say, "Okay, let me give it another go" What kind of advice would you give to them about maybe engaging their self-discipline, getting involved now in healthy choices. Do you start with motivation or do you start with--?

    Laura: Habakkuk 2:2 Write the vision and make it plain

    Gary: Write it out. Good. That's really practical.

    Laura: So that he who reads it can run.

    Gary: What would you want somebody to write?

    Laura: What I would say is get online, Dr. Google your situation. By that I mean try to lose weight, can't lose weight, obese, family history of diabetes, whatever it is just Google your way to some basic information. Then get a great book of somebody who believes body, mind, and spirit, health and then try to get a plan, a game plan for your life starting with some easy goals.

    Baby step your way into them, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get a plan for movement. Just all of those things. Get your plan, plan your work and then work your plan. 

    Gary: Do you mind praying for the people that are listening to us today that they might be touched in these, particularly three realms that we're talking about?

    Laura: Yes, let's do it. All right. "Well, Heavenly Father, I just, first of all, thank you for Gary and for this wonderful organization. Thank you for the World Challenge. Thank you, God, for bringing us together. I believe it's no mistake, and that those in the sound of our voices today can know that they have tuned in for a reason. And that God has total temple health for their body, mind and spirit health for them. I believe the Lord is saying, today is the day to make a vow and keep it. That the Lord is putting it on some of your hearts right now you know. You've been listening and you are convicted, not condemned, but convicted.

    Through the Holy Spirit, that change needs to come. You're having your aha moment. And I just declare that you're going to listen to that you're going to flow with that you're going to get your game plan. You're going to get a good book or get online and study and show yourself approved to just the story of you learn what you need to consult a healthcare professional if you need to, but get a plan, write it down. And ask the Lord for grace for change in your life. If it's that you need to eat differently and better and make wiser choices and sleep better and exercise more do that. If it is that your life is full of stress and your emotions are all locked up, and you're full of unforgiveness or hatred or whatever. Get Healthy there, get rid of all of that you can do it now and release those people in those relationships to him and those emotions, in Jesus's name. It could be that spiritually, you need to be better connected to God or friend, it could be that you need to be better connected to the body of Christ. It's not just you and Jesus. You've got to get connected to the body because otherwise, you are off on an island.

    And that disconnection can dis fellowship you and all of that. So get connected spiritually, emotionally, physically, I pray for all three for you right now that you would be proven blameless at the Lord's coming, body, soul and spirit, just like 1 Testimony 5:23 says. As Gary said earlier, if you are someone who's tried before, and you have felt shame or condemnation because you could not finish what you started. Let me tell you something, a righteous man falls seven times it gets back up. Get back up.

    I tell you this too, if you fall, fall forward, okay, just don't lose progress. Just get up again, and keep going. You can do it. The Holy Spirit is there to help you. I'm here to help you. And I believe that God wants you to live your life and finish. Strong, live long and live strong in Jesus' name.

    Gary: In Jesus' name. Amen. Thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us today. It was brilliant. I loved every minute of it [crosstalk] for people to hear this.

    Laura: Thank you, Gary.

    Gary: God bless.

    Key Questions from the Podcast 

    • How important is sleep to our physical, emotional and spiritual health?
    • Will poor nutrition negatively affect our sleep?
    • Is poor nutrition a problem in the church?
    • What are the things that keep people stuck in bad eating habits?
    • How can we move toward making healthy choices?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    Sleep doctors could put all the other doctors out of business. If we get our sleep right, we will be healthy people. Those eight hours that God gave us at night, and him even creating the moon and the stars, that's not an afterthought. That's a sacred time. He not only wants us to rest, he wants us to heal during that time. – Laura Harris Smith

    A dove, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, has nine grooves in each wing. If you only have the gifts of the Spirit and you're not exercising the character of God, or if you only have love, peace, joy and all the fruit of the Spirit but you don't believe in miracles or healings or faith or prophecy you're a one-wing dove. You're going to be flying around in circles. – Laura Harris Smith

    I might add one, and you probably would as well, that’s getting rid of shame in our life. A lot of people either overeat or have poor eating habits because there's such shame. Even sometimes trying a new diet or something and then they fail, and they feel more ashamed. – Gary Wilkerson

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Laura Harris Smith

    Laura Harris Smith is a Certified Nutritional Counselor with a master’s degree in Original Medicine. But before all of that she was just a farmer's daughter with a love for colorful food and a pastor's granddaughter with a heart to see others prosper spiritually. The best-selling author and her husband, Chris, are the founding co-pastors of Eastgate Creative Christian Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, where they specialize in helping people get healthy—body, mind and spirit—believing it is the only path to wholeness.

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    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

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