The story below was sent to us by the author, a pastor whose ministry has been a blessing to my family. I know it's long. But I pray it causes you to rejoice in Jesus' power over sin! -- Daniel
The Testimony of Jerry Wells
My name is Jerry Wells. My parents were Wilbur and Opal Wells. I was born in December, 1954. I grew up in Oklahoma City. My Mom Opal died just before my 4th birthday. My Dad Wilbur was devastated by her death as was our whole family. He turned to alcohol to escape his pain. For the next 14 years of my life, I lived with an alcoholic.
Wilbur was a bad drunk. To his credit he maintained his job and only drank after work and on weekends. He attended clubs where he met various women and slept with them. I was five the first time I saw my Dad sleeping with another woman in our house.
Dad met a good woman at work and married her when I was six. But he did not stop drinking. His substance abuse eventually drove her away. One night he got mad at her, stripped her naked, and through her out in the front yard.
She made an excuse to leave. She said she was going to visit some relatives. She never came back. I never saw her again. Dad was served divorced papers by the courts and a restraining order. He had a nervous break down and checked into the mental ward of a local hospital. I was 8 years old.
By this time, my older brother Jim had been married for several years and my sister Sandy was a senior in high school ready to leave for college. By the fall of 1963, it was just Dad and me.
Dad rented a room from two ladies and we moved in with them. We lived there for about six months. We then moved into a one bedroom rent house that Dad owned in one of the poorest areas of Oklahoma City.
Dad met a woman at a club when I was 9 and married her. We moved into a nice home in Del City, Ok. But he did not stop drinking. She could not take the abuse. She and her teen age daughter moved out when I was 12.
My older sister and brother decided that I had been through enough. They took me from Dad. Dad begged them to change their minds. He told them I was his life. He promised to change. He did for two weeks. But one evening he started drinking. He locked me out of the house and made me set outside for hours. When he let me in he was in a drunken stupor. He told me that I was wrong for leaving him. He threatened me and told me to never leave him again.
Dad then started drinking even more. He would disappear on Friday nights and not come home until Sunday. He would normally call me from some girl friends house. To his credit he always made sure that I had money. He bought me a motor cycle when I was 15 so I would have my own transportation.
When I was 15, Dad married another woman that he met at a club and she moved in with us. It lasted six months. She divorced Dad and moved back to her home town. One night Dad got drunk and drove to see her. She called the police and they arrested him because he tried to break into her house. He called me with his one phone call from the local jail. I did not have a driver’s license but I drove a couple of hours and got him out of jail. I then drove him back to Del City. Dad had the shakes all the way home.
Then Dad’s driver’s license got suspended for drinking and driving. He was afraid to drive without a driver’s license so he made me drive even though I did not have a license.
By the time I was 15, I hated Dad. I had no respect for him as a man or as my father. I told him I was leaving one day when he was drunk. He tackled me in the living room and threatened me again.
Why didn’t I leave? I did not think I had anywhere to go. I didn’t think any of my friends parents knew about my Dad’s problem. My family did not talk with me about it anymore. Everyone has their own problems.
We went to church occasionally. Dad always wanted to be a member of a church and he always tithed as far as I know. But I was bitter at Wilbur and at God. I could not see any use for either one of them in my life. To express my anger at God, I would go to the cemetery where my Mom was buried and literally shake my fist at God.
Amazingly, I was good young man by the world’s standards. I was a very responsible student. I treated adults and peers with respect. I respected the law. I did not get in serious trouble. I did not drink. I was not promiscuous. I did not see a need for God in my life. I had the attitude that I did not need anyone and that I could succeed without God’s help or anyone else’s.
When I was 16, I met a young lady. We saw each other for more than a year. I cared a great deal for her and I also cared a great deal about her parents. But as time passed, I did not show her or her parents the respect they deserved. I was deceptive. I was not a good leader. I did not keep my word. I hurt her enough until she finally rejected me. She told me what an evil person I was. From that day forward, she would not have anything to do with me.
This hurt so much because I cared so much for her. I had hurt my Dad. But I had never hurt anyone that I really cared for. It was this experience that caused me to take an honest look at myself.
What I saw was not very pretty. Over time, I saw that I was selfish. I also saw I was proud. I saw I was deceitful. I saw how bitter I was at my Dad and at God. I saw that if I did not change I was going to hurt people just like Dad hurt me and so many others. I could see we both deserved to go to hell.
This scared me. I could see where I was headed and what kind of life I was going to experience if I did not change. I wanted to change but I did not know how. I also felt that I was powerless to change, especially my selfish motives.
This led me to start a spiritual journey. I started reading the bible. I started attending church more often and listening closer to sermons from the bible. It started making sense.
I was sinner. I was dead in my transgressions and sins. I was separated from God. I was powerless to change my heart, who I was, or who I would become.
God’s son Jesus was God. He loved me. He wanted to have an eternal relationship with me. He wanted to save me from my sin.
For that to occur, because God is just, Jesus had to suffer for my sin. He had to pay the debt I owed because of my sin and the sin of my forefathers. His death on the cross proved that He loved me and paid that debt in full. His resurrection was proof that He was God and that the debt was paid.
If I would accept that payment by faith in Jesus, I would be reconciled to God forever. He would change me. He would give me a genuine His love for others that was free from selfishness. He would live within me through His Spirit and give me power over sin.
It was a struggle to believe that God loved me. The circumstances of my life worked against this truth. By the time I graduated the sixth grade, we had moved six times and I had attended six different grades schools. I had witnessed things that my Dad did to me and others that no child should have to experience. How could God love me like the bible says and allow me to suffer so much? Why didn’t I have a good stable family with two parents that loved me? Why did God let my mother get sick and die when I was so young?
This struggle with faith lasted for six months, but God was faithful. Finally, on New Years Eve, 1971, just before midnight, I believed. The Lord spoke to my heart when I asked him why I had suffered so much. He said, “It was what I personally needed to see my need for Him.”
It was true. I was so proud of what I had achieved in spite of the circumstances in my family. I was self righteous.
My family suffered because of sin. But God let me be a part of it and then fail so that I would see my need for Him and His righteousness in my life.
I believed that night just before midnight and shortly thereafter I was baptized as a testimony to my faith in Jesus Christ.
Looking back, there have been so many blessings that are too numerous too recount. My life changed. My Dad died of lung cancer in the fall of 1977 when I was 22. He was 66. But before he died, we were reconciled. Jesus changed my heart toward my Dad so that I loved him and forgave him and did not hate him anymore. The last five years of his life we were able to talk openly about things for the first time.
Just six months before my Dad died, on August 12, 1977, I married a wonderful Godly Christian woman named Debbie Mills. We have six sons and two daughters. Jesus gave us His heart of love for one another. My relationship to Debbie and our ministry together gave me happiness that I did not know two people could share on this side of heaven.
But after more than 29 years of marriage Debbie died. She was 53. She was diagnosed with cancer in September of 2006. On May 3, 2007, Debbie left us for heaven.
Following Debbie’s death, I understood for the first time what my Dad felt when my Mom died. I struggled all over again with having faith in God’s love for me. But Jesus kept one of His promises. He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” After Debbie’s death, Jesus kept assuring me of His love for me and my children. He hung on to me when I had no strength or little faith to hang on to Him.
My faith has grown deeper as a result of our loss. When I think that I cannot depend upon Jesus more, I discover a whole new dimension of trust that always changes me and sets me free.
I am not an alcoholic. Through the same circumstance in my life and my Dad’s life, Jesus has proved what a difference He can make if you know Him and trust Him.
My life verse is Psalms 40:1-3. It says…
I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Jesus can and will do for you what He has done for me. You will not be able to avoid all the horrible pits in your future. Life is so hard. But with each new trial your faith in Jesus Christ can grow as you learn to depend upon Him more. If you can find your way to the Rock, He will give you a new song. He will then use you to cause others to trust in Him.
To receive Jesus Christ as your savior from sin like I did, the scripture says…
- You need to understand that you are a sinner separated from God and you are powerless to change your nature.
- You need to understand that God’s penalty for sin is death and separation from God in a place of eternal torment the bible calls hell.
- You need to understand that Jesus is God and that He died for your sins on a cross to pay your sin debt.
- You need to understand that Jesus rose from the dead and that He is Lord of heaven and earth.
- You need to put your faith in Jesus Christ to save you from sin and be willing to give testimony to your faith by following the Lord’s command to be baptized in water.
(Jerry Wells is currently the Pastor at Western Hills Church in Oklahoma City. Western Hills Church is located at 401 S.W. 44th in Oklahoma City. You can reach the church and Pastor Jerry by phone by calling 405-634-1454. Pastor Jerry is now married to Saundra Wells. They married in November of 2008. Saundra’s husband John Cobbs died in January of 2007. Pastor Jerry and Saundra have twelve children from their previous marriages to Debbie and John.)