A miracle on Hwy. 80

In the last year, Chris has shared stories with me that will chill your spine. They tell me that there are elements of evil in this world that I cannot comprehend. They tell me there are men and women much braver than me risking everything they have – life, family, sanity – to make the world a little bit safer for you and me. These stories tell me all I need to know about the kind of grit our law enforcement officers have.

They remind me of a passage from one of my favorite novels. In Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, the lead character, Sheriff Ed Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie adaption) tells us readers this:

“I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he’s pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough’d never carried one; that’s the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn’t wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can’t help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can’t help but wonder how they would have operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the ‘lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn’t any passion to it. Told me that he’d been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he’d do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. “Be there in about fifteen minutes”. I don’t know what to make of that. I sure don’t. The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, “O.K., I’ll be part of this world.”

Our law enforcement says every day, “I’ll be a part of that world.” They are brave. We are cowards. They operate knowing that while there’s always a reason to love, that evil just is. It just is. No rhyme or reason. Evil just is.

And they take it on.

Those are the bad stories. Those are the ones that make you question everything.

But then there are the good stories. Good stories like the one today.

So let me turn it over to Chris for this month’s story about a miracle. At least as close to a miracle as any of us can get on this old, hard, mostly dark world of ours.

Matthew 6:19-21, 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Approximately 2 months ago, I received a request from the Youth Challenge Program. It was partnered with Antioch Church and Pastor D J Thomas. The request was for bibles from Webster Parish Men of Courage with every bible being engraved with the name of an YCP participant. These are young men and women who have decided to drastically change their lives for the good no matter the cost.

I was asked for approximately 125 bibles and I knew this would cost approximately $4,000, and I knew I did not have the money for such a large undertaking. I also knew immediately that our Living GOD wanted me to do this, so I instantly said, “YES I will get those YCP participants a bible with their name on it.”

I didn’t need to pray about this decision. GOD told me to say “YES” instantly. I have learned that sometimes, men use prayer as an excuse versus immediately saying “YES” to our LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!

After saying yes, I did start praying without ceasing in faith that my living GOD, who told me to say yes, would now tell me how I was going to pay for it. Believers should make all requests known to God. In addition, believers are admonished to pray without ceasing. David promised the Lord, “Evening, morning and noon I cry out” (Psalm 55:17).

I prayed for two days, and GOD did tell me very clearly who was to raise the funds for these specific bibles. It made me sick when he did, too. GOD has me organize a WPMOC prayer/devotional/fellowship on Friday mornings at 7 a.m. We provide free coffee, free donuts, and free JESUS! We usually meet at the big Ash tree in the center of the town of Minden, but for the winter months we just moved into Johnson’s café until spring. Also, a big thank you to Johnson’s café for offering to take us in and feed us. GOD told me to specifically tell this group they were supposed to pay for those bibles and the engraving of the names. I haven’t asked these men for anything specifically, and I was so afraid that asking for this money would be the end of this fellowship that had grown so much and in many more ways than just numbers.

That Thursday night I could not sleep at all because I was so worried about what these men might say to me. The next morning, I gave a Jesus Devotional and after it was over I, very gently and nervously, told the men about the request for the bibles and then I told them GOD stated they were supposed to pay for these bibles.  Then an awesome GOD-inspired move of the Holy Spirit happened before my eyes, and bold courageous Christian brothers of mine said “YES” to our living GOD.

Mike Toland immediately stated he would collect the money. Kevin McCann stated they would have the money by the next Friday, and then I saw a true-blue Minden Police Officer, Tim Morris, reach in his wallet and handed Mike Toland all the cash that he had in it. Tim Morris didn’t even say a word when he did that. GOD had been faithful as always!

Two Monday nights ago, I was able to go out to YCP and give a beautiful, engraved leather bible to each one of those young people. I was also given the awesome opportunity to speak to these young men about our Jesus. I spoke about the women that came to Jesus with her problems, washed and kissed his feet because she knew Jesus was the only one that could forgive her sins and make her well again. She loved Jesus with all her heart. The Pharisee in that story devalued that woman and he devalued our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in that story by not washing his feet, or putting oil on his head, or by not giving him a kiss, even though he had invited Jesus to his own home. I knew these men had been devalued their whole lives in some instances and I wanted them to know that Jesus did not devalue them. After the talk was over, 12 young men came to me and my brother in Christ, Kevin Mcann, and stated in a prayer they believed in God, they believed in his Son Jesus Christ, and they believed Jesus had come to this earth, died on a cross for us, and arose on the third day. They asked Jesus to come into their hearts and stated they wanted a personal relationship with Jesus. Romans 10:9 if thou confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in thy heart that GOD raised him from the grave, thou shalt be saved.

Twelve men were saved!

A couple of years ago, I stopped building timbers on a forever home here on this horrible earth, where I will only be for a second, a whisper of time. I started building timbers in heaven for my eternal home that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is building for me.

Please my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, I am literally begging you, stop worrying about storing up treasures, and homes, and toys, and things that you will literally have in your possession for a single minute before your body dies and your soul goes to an eternal place. Please, please, please start building your eternal home in Heaven.

Matthew 6:19-21, 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Chris Plants is a founding member of Webster Parish Men of Courage. Their mission is to encourage, equip, and empower the Men of God to become spiritual leaders in their home, local church, community, and workplace. Webster Parish is now home to a Women of Courage chapter as well as Families of Courage.)

(Josh Beavers is an award-winning journalist who has five times been recognized for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association. At one time, he was editor of The Good News, a weekly publication that shared information about local churches and men and women of God.)

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