Mary...I prayed for my husband for 22 years, that he would become a Christian, look where it got me...This is my story!
My father was a minister; I was born and raised in the church. As I aged I did not want what the church had to offer and I backslid. When I married Greg neither one of us were Christians. Greg was raised Catholic, and my background was Nazarene, so we came from different religious beliefs that clashed. In 1980 Greg told me he wanted to go to church. I really did not want to go because I knew if I went back to church, I would give my heart back to the Lord. I had been living in guilt and had been very lonely for a relationship with the Lord for a long time. I longed for a relationship with the Lord. I longed to be close to God like I had in my earlier days. When Greg said he would check to see what time Catholic mass started, I was happy. I did not know much about the Catholic Church, but I knew a lot about Christ and the Nazarene Church which was one place I did not want to go.
We attended the church of his choice, not like the Nazarene church I had been brought up in. When we got home, Greg said he did not like the service and did not want to go back. I decided to call my Mom to see what time the Nazarene Church started and to take Greg to my home church. After attending church for two month, one day after the pastor preached, we both went to the altar. It is amazing how it happened. Greg and I were sitting together and at the same time Greg started towards the altar, going out of the pew to the right, I went out of the pew on the other side. We were both saved that day. It was so good to go home, feel clean inside and to not worry where my soul would go when I died. I had been saved many times as a child, but on this day I made a commitment to stay with God. I would later find that this commitment did not hold for my husband.
There were several things that led to my husband’s falling away from the Lord. He had been active in the church, serving on the church board, Sunday School, driving the Sunday School Bus and more, but he was very restless. A situation with our son gave him the excuse he needed to quit going to the church. His comment to me, “If I can’t control my own home and child then I won’t go to church.”
Life at this time became more difficult. Greg’s resistance to God and church left me miserable and in many arguments where we bumped heads. I was torn between what to do each day as I attempted to live a Christian life. As our fighting escalated, I made plans in my head how to leave him. I decided I would just go, leaving him everything. I believed that nothing was worth fighting over. During this time, I continued to attend church. When I would go to church Greg didn’t like it. He would say things to our dog like, “Mommy is leaving us again.” This made me feel quilty for going to church and leaving Greg at home. I found myself living in the same house with Greg, going through all the motions, but we were never together.
While attending church alone, without Greg, there was a couple of ladies who knew I needed help. I had been to the altar many times, and they noticed that I cried all the time at church. They asked me if they could be my prayer partner, and we began a special relationship. These women met me for prayer during my lunch time and we would pray. Sometimes we would fast and pray. On Wednesday nights I met with my prayer partner for accountability. Without these women I don’t know what I would have done. These women listened to my deepest hurts and desires and then they encouraged me to walk closer to the Lord. These wonderful praying women encouraged me to talk freely with them. Satan wanted me to believe I could not talk to anyone, but I knew that these praying women could be trusted. Some days these two women and their prayers were all that kept me going.
This past April, 2008 Cheryl Roland called and asked me to remind Greg that the NEI District Motorcycle ride was coming soon. I had plans to go to Tennessee with a friend, so I told my husband he could go with a friend Walter. He was excited about the ride and made plans to participate. At the ride, Greg met Pastor Mark Dill, Muncie First Church, who said a powerful prayer before the ride. After the motorcycle ride Greg came home very excited, especially about Mark Dill’s prayer. At home Greg began to tell me how he wanted to attend Pastor Mark’s church. I was very reluctant to do this since I had attended Southsouth since I was 4 years old, almost 55 year. I did not want to change churches especially if this meant that he would be happy for a few Sundays and then stop going. I asked Greg if he was inviting me to go, and if he was I would go. When we went to First Church he liked it a lot. We attended First Church two more time before the District Camp meeting started in June.
I knew that our district camp meeting was coming, but because I did not want to go alone, I attended camp meeting in OH with a friend. On my way home from OH Greg called me and asked if we could attend the Nazarene Camp meeting service. I was excited that he was interested in going and told him yes. I barely got home from one camp meeting to get in the car and drive to another. We went Sunday and Monday night and then on Tuesday night my husband walked the isle to ask forgiveness and to ask God back into his life.
After camp meeting Greg went to the Harley shop and testified the next day to his friend about Jesus. He is now making hospital visits, nursing home visits, and has joined two Christian Motorcycle groups. My husband and I study the Bible every morning from 5-5:30 am and pray. In the evening we read and pray again before we go to sleep. Because I wanted to attend church with my husband, I talked to my former pastor, and resigned my positions in my home church and began attending church with my husband. My pastor understood and supported my decision and prayed with me.
I want to encourage women to never give up. I know that Satan can discourage you, like he did me, but I found that God can still work. Another thing that really helped me was that I was consistent in attending church. When I made a commitment to God, I continued to go to church and pray and walk with the Lord even without Greg. I can not say it enough, if your husband or spouse is not saved, get a prayer partner and pray. I prayed for my husband for 22 years, that he would become a Christian, and God answered my prayer.
By Mary Statom, Muncie First Church of the Nazarene
Greg, Mary Statom's husband I made the choice to leave God...The devil tempted me to dig in deeper... I was under his control. Mary used to go to church alone while I stayed home to mow the grass. While Mary was at church, I would sit in my rocking chair, chew tobacco, and drink beer...This is my Story!
About 22 years ago I used to be a Christian, but things came up and I walked away from God. I had been on the church board, but differences and disputes in my family discouraged me, and I made the choice to leave God. God didn’t leave me. I walked away. I should have been obedient to him, but I wasn’t. It was a long road for me; I was in the devil’s hands. The devil tempted me to dig in deeper, lied to me, and got a big grip on me. I was under his control.
I used to think about coming back to the Lord, but I had a heart of stone. My head was like an anvil; you could not talk to me or get anything through to me when you talked to me. You probably could not have even beaten anything about God into my head. During my time away from God, the devil continued to lie to me. He said, "You can’t go back to the Lord. It will never be the same.” I believed this lie, a lie from Satan.
While I was away from God, people were praying for me. Later, when I gave my testimony in my home church, I asked people to stand who had been praying for me. It was amazing what I saw. I witnessed people from all over the congregation rising to their feet. I was amazed at the number of folks praying for me. My comment to these wonderful praying Christians: “I never had much of a chance.” I thought I had a chance when I married a preacher’s daughter, but I soon found that I needed more. I needed a personal relationship with Christ.
During my days of struggle, I attended a church and the pastor preached on the church of Laodicia in Revelations. The sermon was on being lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. I felt God tugging on my heart during this service, but I told myself I was not going to the altar.
God started answering prayers when my wife and her friend went to a camp meeting service in Ohio. I knew while they were gone that they were praying for me. My wife, Mary, and I had talked about going to the NEI District camp meeting when she returned, and I agreed to go with her. I decided I would go if she got back in time on Sunday. When Mary got back on Sunday, she informed me that the preacher had spoke on Laodicia, being lukewarm, and I told her that I should have attended with her. When the time came for us to go to camp meeting, although I had promised I would go with Mary, I put it off. I did not go on Sunday night or Monday night. When Tuesday night came, I wanted to go. I thought of a friend I used to pray with at work who could not get out. I knew that my friend would love to go, but needed help getting there. We decided to take go, all three of us.
The evangelist spoke about holiness and about the temple and the veil being torn in two, from the top to the bottom. He said that we could enter into the holy of holies and have as much of Jesus Christ as we want. In the past I had heard holiness preaching, and I was walking in the light that I had, but at times some of the theology became confusing. The evangelist said, whenever we hear holiness preached, substitute the word "holiness" for "Christ-likeness". I knew I was not Christ-like. He said some of us need to come and plunge right in. My brother-in-law, Darryl, was sitting on the outside, and I was kind of blocked in. I got up to go to the altar and Darryl started to get up, but he was not getting up fast enough so I gave him a little forearm push to get around him. I went and threw myself at the altar of prayer. I thank God for altars in churches.
At the altar while praying, my tears flowing down my cheeks and my face, I had a vision. I dabbed my fingers in my tears and wrote my name on the altar. Another vision that I had was of me kneeling at the foot of the cross, and I saw Christ’s blood dripping down. I took my finger and wrote my name in his blood on His cross. I call it holy graffiti.
I am now clean through the blood of Jesus Christ. I know now that Christ died on the cross and died for me while I was a sinner. Things around my home have changed. Mary used to leave go to church alone while I stayed home to mow the grass. While Mary was gone, I would sit in my rocking chair, chew tobacco, and drink beer. Mary knew I was not right with the Lord, and this is why she prayed for me.
Today we pray together. Before we eat breakfast we spend time in God’s word. We seek God in all that we do. It is my prayer that you don’t see me, Greg, but rather that you see Jesus in me. I want you to know what Jesus is doing with me. I now have a burden for the lost.
I have a picture card that I really like. It is a picture of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. There is no door handle on this door, so Jesus will not enter unless you open the door. What you don’t see on the back of the card is the way my life was without Christ. I had bolted my heart’s door shut with steel bars and chains so that Christ would not come in. But if you look at the front of the card, you will see a small screen, and this is where I allowed the Holy Spirit to come through, bringing thoughts of Jesus Christ to me.
The day after I gave my heart to the Lord, I was outside in my garden working, and the devil began to discourage me. He said, “You are not Christ-like; you have eight packages of chewing tobacco and two cans of Skoal in the house.” I immediately got up, went in the house, and threw these items in the trash. I want Jesus more than I want any of these things. My advice--if you have anything that keeps you from Jesus, get rid of it. Don’t waste 22 years like I did. Life to me before I was saved was like a long, dry desert, with no hope. Before I met Christ, I couldn’t love my wife like I was supposed to love her. I couldn’t love family, church friends, or anybody. I had to love from a distance. But when I gave my heart to Christ, I asked him to make me like David in the Bible who said, “Hide not my heart from thee. “ Now I am happy as I follow after Jesus. I want all of him that I can have.
I ask for your prayers to keep me tender. Please pray that I will be obedient to the Spirit to go to those who He would have me be a witness to. At the shop where I used to work, I was not always the best employee. I got the job done, but I had a bad attitude. I just praise the Lord today that I have changed from my old ways. I praise Him for the old rugged cross.
Today, my life is all about Jesus. What a difference Christ has made in my life and in my family's life. I am praying for you now. I believe it is going to take a close walk to see Him on the other side. Thank you for allowing me to share my Jesus with you.
By Greg Statom, Muncie First Church of the Nazarene