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Articles by Dana Williamson

Found 11 Articles by Dana Williamson

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On 9-11, 2001, Americans experienced an act of terror that forever will change their lives.

On 9-27, 2003, Bill and Sharla Merrell experienced their own personal terror, which forever will change their lives.

While traveling to a vacation site in Florida, Bill, vice president for convention relations at the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, suffered a brain stem stroke. Less than a month later, blood clots formed in his arms, legs, and chest. And four months after that, he experienced a heart attack. Yet, eight months after the stroke, Bill and Sharla say they are the recipients of God's grace, mercy, and faithfulness.

September 27, 2003 began with expectations of a relaxing, much-needed, vacation. The Merrells were on their way to Destin, Florida, where they planned to spend time with friends who own a beach house and where they would celebrate Bill's sixtieth birthday on October 1.

Bill was driving when he said he felt a weakn...

They've seen you at your worst. They know your weaknesses. They remember most of your sins. They are aware that you are far from perfect.

And perhaps that's the reason it's so hard to witness to family members. Because they know all your inconsistencies and will never forget them, you don't feel you have credibility before lost family members.

That's the premise of Tony Nickel's workshop, Bringing Them Home: Leading Your Unsaved Family Members to Christ.

Nickel, pastor of First Baptist Church in Walters, Okla., said the idea for the workshop came from being pastor of three churches and noticing how many wives were coming to church without their husbands, and how many families attended church without one or more of their members.

"The ladies with unbelieving husbands were always in fear of coming to church because their husbands wanted them home," Nickel said. "I also noticed that no one was doing anything a...

One Church's Commitment To Homeless Mothers And Children

Olivet Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla., was praised by city, state, and Baptist officials for staying and working in its community as the ninety-one-year-old church dedicated a four-plex facility for homeless women and children. The home, located at N.W. 9th and Ellison, in a once affluent, but now deteriorating part of Oklahoma City, is the fourth house opened for the homeless by Olivet.

The latest addition to Olivet's growing number of homes, is named for pastor Steve Kern's mother, Millie Bradley, who died in February. Bradley became a homeless mother with five children, when Kern was six months old and his oldest sister was eight, as the family was abandoned by Kern's father. Bradley later remarried, and the children were raised by their stepfather. Kern said with the addition of the four-plex, Olivet can now serve six homeless mothers and their children.

Over the past four years, 120 homeless mothers and children have been served in Olivet's ho...

Jalen Beth lived only one hour.

But that precious time was worth all the pain of the previous few months, say her parents, Jay and Lisa Kindsvater.

Jay, collegiate ministries director at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, and Lisa discovered Jalen Beth had severe problems when she was a four-month-old fetus.

A first ultrasound in February revealed the problems. Two days later the Kindsvaters learned from an Oklahoma City perinatalogist that their baby had lethal dwarfism, which meant her head was a little large and the rest of her body was a little small.

What made her condition lethal was that her chest was so small there was no room for the lungs to develop.

"We were told Jalen Beth would probably do very well inside Lisa, but when it came time for her to breathe on her own, she would not be able to," Jay said.

Jay said the couple was in shock after the ultrasound as they headed to Lisa's parents' home to pick up their 2...

Leigh Lowery has been a pastor's wife almost as long as she has been a Christian. She was saved during a revival meeting preached by a young evangelist named Fred Lowery. They were married two years later.

Lowery, who grew up in a small town in Mississippi and lived in a house built by her great-grandfather, spoke to wives attending the Oklahoma Pastors' Conference.

"I joined every activity at school and was voted most popular, but on the inside I was empty, lonely, and searching for love," she admitted.

She said she joined the Presbyterian church, but "didn't meet Jesus."

It was while Lowery was a student at Ole Miss in 1971 that she went to the revival at the Baptist church "because there was going to be a young singer with tapes there."

Lowery recalled the evangelist preached that night on how to be happy and stay married. "He said Jesus can make home like heaven on earth," remembered Low...

Marlin and Patsy Hawkins spent "the hardest twelve years of their lives" holding in a deep, dark secret. They've spent the last six years encouraging others not to do that.

The Hawkinses said it was hard knowing their son, Mike, was living a homosexual lifestyle from age sixteen to twenty-two. But when he turned from that lifestyle, yet was diagnosed HIV positive less than a year later, that's when the pain became almost unbearable.

And until Mike was hospitalized with full-blown AIDS about four years after the HIV diagnosis, the Hawkinses kept silent about the illness.

"The fear of isolation is a real motivator for silence," said Marlin Hawkins, controller for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. "But when you have a loved one with AIDS, you need support from others. We found when we went public with it, the more people knew, the more they cared about us.

"We especially encourage people to tell their churc...

Church Carwash Opens Doors for Cleansed Lives

It seems many are looking for something free. But most find it difficult to accept some things when they are offered free of charge — like a car wash — or salvation.

Members of Sheridan Road Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., found that to be true of many who brought their cars to the church's free car wash.

As an outreach to the community, church members set up a free car wash on the church parking lot (no donations accepted) just "to plant some seeds and let people know we care for them," said pastor Tom Woodson.

The idea, Woodson said, came from David Kirkhuff, who drives an outreach bus and is a children's worker at the Tulsa church.

"I had read about something like this in a Southern Baptist publication," said Woodson, "but David came up with this idea on his own."

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a Saturday, Sheridan Road's parking lot became a car wash as about twenty-five members scrubbed, d...

"Hello, brother."

A common greeting for two Christians, but extremely uncommon from a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard to a former NAACP president.

"My wife answered the phone when Johnny Lee Clary called to tell me he had surrendered to the ministry," said Wade Watts, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church, McAlester, Okla., and former state president of the NAACP.

"Handing me the phone, my wife whispered, 'It's that old Ku Klux Klansman,'" Watts recounted.

But when Clary said, "Hello, brother," Watts said, "That sounded mighty strange to me" after all the years of harassing phone calls from Clary, who had risen to the top of the anti-black terrorist organization and had once set fire to Watts' church building.

Clary said his prejudice toward blacks began when, at age 5, he saw a black man in front of a Del City, Okla., grocery store. "I thought he was a white man covered in cho...

Highway Patrol Chief Finds Joy in Service

When a Highway Patrol trooper knocks on a door, he's usually the bearer of bad news. But not necessarily so with the new chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Gary Adams.

Adams is chairman of deacons at Twelve Corners Baptist Church near Noble, Okla., and one of three "dusty trail" deacons who do visitation ministry.

Appointed head of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Jan. 15, Adams, 52, oversees 619 troopers and a $36.5 million budget which includes the statehouse patrol He had spent the previous ten years in charge of 100 troopers on Oklahoma's ten turnpikes.

"I had been in gun battles, kicked in doors, and participated in manhunts, but to save my life, I couldn't stand up before the church and read Scripture," Adams said.

Adams admitted he really wanted to be a deacon at the church, but when time came for nominations, his name wasn't even mentioned. Then when he was asked to serve as a deacon at Twelve Corners about five...

"... and Lord, be with us during this haying time and cattle shipping season."

Maybe not a typical prayer to open a Sunday School class, but it's at the very heart of a Thursday night Bible study class in the wide-open spaces of the Panhandle surrounding Beaver, Oklahoma.

There are no horses tied to hitching posts, but a myriad of pick-up trucks and horse trailers line the parking lot of First Baptist Church, and just inside the door, cowboy hats are tossed askew around the coat rack.

It's the Boots and Jeans cowboy Bible class where thirty to thirty-five cowboys gather each week to study the Bible and share Christian experiences.

The class resulted from a heart-felt burden of Shawn Campbell, who regularly witnessed to the cowboys in his Beaver saddle shop.

"I was talking to some guys one day and gave them cowboy Bibles (New Testaments with a bucking horse on front) and told them we were having a Bible study in ...