Saturday, July 26, 2014

Daughter Missing! Part 2

Jim and Emily Spencer's 20-year-old-daughter Pam went missing in California in 1973. They flew out to look for her but could find no clue as to her whereabouts. Back home, the torture of waiting and wondering began.

They kept calling the Los Angeles police, but they had nothing new to report. While the Spencers imagined the worst, they kept hoping Pam would turn up alive and well. But as time passed, their hopes grew dimmer.

Emily had been a faithful Catholic all her life, but her religion couldn't sustain her through this tragedy. Her three daughters had been her life. In her heart she turned on God, lashing out in fury at Him for allowing this to happen to her darling girl.

"I could no longer function as a wife and mother," Emily said. "To get through the endless days, I turned to tranquilizers."

Then about 8 months after Pam disappeared, Emily read a newspaper article about a psychic who helped people find missing loved ones. The article told of a girl who had been missing. With the psychic's help, her murdered body had been found.

By this time, Emily and Jim were grasping for anything that could lead to finding Pam, so Emily wrote for an appointment with the psychic. (She didn't know until later that God's Word commands us to stay away from the occult. At that time, she didn't know any better.) "Satan nearly destroyed me through it," Emily said.

The psychic told them to bring something Pam had touched and something from her boyfriend. She asked for no more information than Pam's name. She was kind and assured them that God had given her this power to help people in situations like theirs.

Then she told the Spencers that Pam had been murdered because her killers were afraid she would "fink" on them to the police. The psychic described the murder and said Pam's body was hidden in a very remote area where it was unlikely it would ever be found.

The Spencers returned home with the horror of the psychic's words ringing in their ears. In the weeks and months that followed, the words of the psychic repeated themselves over and over in Emily's mind like a recording. Emily couldn't sleep, and each waking hour was torture.

After a year, Emily could stand it no longer.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Daughter Missing!

One Sunday, a new lady began to attend our church in the Gloversville YMCA. Emily became a member and brought many extended family members with her. What an encouragement she was to us even though she had a heart-rending story to tell.

On January 6, 1973, she and her husband Jim had put their 20-year-old daughter Pam and her dog, a malamute husky named Layla, on a plane in New York bound for California, where she planned to make her home. That was the last time they saw her. Three weeks later she disappeared without a trace!

Six months earlier, Pam and a girlfriend had gone to California to try their wings away from home. Deciding to make her home there, Pam returned to Gloversville for Christmas to get the rest of her things.

Pam was always industrious and responsible. After high school she worked as a legal secretary, bought her own car, and paid her parents for her room and board. According to her boyfriend and other friends, she was never involved in the drug scene. She enjoyed cooking. needlework, and other homemaking activities. During her stay in California, Pam called home every evening--until the weekend she disappeared.

The first inkling of trouble was an urgent phone call from Pam's girlfriend Sally in Malibu on Monday night. "Have you heard from Pam?" she asked. Pam had called her Friday after work saying she was coming to spend the weekend, Sally told Emily. But Pam never arrived.

On Sunday, Sally drove over to Pam's apartment in Santa Monica. Finding no one there, she obtained the key from Pam's landlady and found the apartment in order. Only Pam and her dog, who accompanied her everywhere, were missing.

When Pam failed to show up by Monday, Sally contacted the police and called Pam's parents. Emily immediately called her sister who lived in the Los Angeles area and asked her to check into the situation. When she could find no satisfactory answers, she recommended that Jim and Emily fly out to investigate for themselves.

The Spencers spent 16 days in the Los Angeles area. They talked to police, but they could find no clues. Even Pam's boyfriend, who was visiting his family in Colorado at the time of Pam's disappearance, was as clueless as they were as to her whereabouts.

The Spencers searched hospitals, institutions, dog pounds, and even appeared on television, showing Pam's picture and asking for information. Finally, in desperation, they hired a private investigator. After 10 days, he too was unable to turn up any clues.

With breaking hearts, they finally had to pack up Pam's things and return home to their two younger daughters. Then the torture of waiting and wondering began.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Worry Box

It's been said that "worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due." Are you a worrier? I was--until I learned how useless worry is and discovered strategies to stop worrying.

Worry is the number one health problem in the USA. Hospitals and mental institutions are full of people who worried themselves into physical and mental illness. Doctors tell us that worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. Research has proven that worry breaks down resistance to disease, and it actually causes diseases of the nervous system, digestive system, and the heart. In short, worry is not only sin against God by demonstrating a lack of faith, but it is also sin against our own bodies. Worry kills.

A poem I found on an old greeting card says, "Overheard in a Tree One Day," got me to thinking:

Said the robin to the sparrow, "I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so."
Said the sparrow to the robin, "I think that it must be
They have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me."

I discovered that the big difference between worry and concern is that a worried person sees a problem, while the concerned person solves a problem. Worry never does any good. First, it's useless to worry about things we can't do anything about. We must trust them to God. Second, if we can do something about it, we need to get busy and do what we can.

God's prescription for worry is recorded in Philippians 4. I have found that it works every time, in every case, if applied moment by moment according to the instructions of our Great Physician: (1) Rejoice in the Lord always! (v. 4); (2) Don't worry but pray (v. 6); (3) Dwell on good, helpful thoughts (v. 8); (4) Keep our minds on Jesus (v. 7, 9). Since we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (v. 13) and God has promised to supply all our needs according to His endless riches (v. 19), why worry? I now replace worry thoughts with these Scriptures.

If you are a worrier, here's an idea to try: J. Arthur Rank would write down all his worries and put them in a box for Wednesday, designated his Worry Day. On Worry Day, he would read them all and usually found that by then most things were already settled.

For a happier, healthier life, don't worry!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

God Tests His Product

Have you ever wondered what God was doing?

Pioneering a church is hard work and often discouraging. While my husband and I were planting the new church in Gloversville, we often wondered why God allowed things to happen that seemed to be detrimental to the work of starting a new church for Him.

Our first winter in Gloversville, major winter snowstorms struck seven Sundays in a row with fifty percent more snow that year than normal. Just getting to services was a major production. And often, no one else could get there. When we read in Job that God commands the snowflakes, we jokingly asked each other if God was really on our side.

We started the church with no core group. A few who came were already Christians, but developing workers was a challenge. Snowstorms didn't hurt like receiving the early Sunday morning phone call from a Sunday school teacher who had decided to drop out of the church. Or spending all day Saturday helping someone move, carrying furniture up and down flights of stairs, only to be told a few weeks later that we didn't love them. The gut-churning pain of rejection from people we had gone out of our way to help was as sharp as any physical pain.

But the Lord reminded us how people rejected Him. He suffered total rejection on the Cross. We began to, in small measure, experience "the fellowship of His suffering" (Philippians 3:10).

Our district director of new church plantings at that time, Rev. Leon Miles,  pointed out that God was not only building a new church. He was building us too. We learned to lean harder on Jesus, as we began to understand what it means to suffer hardship as "good soldiers of Jesus Christ." And we grew stronger.

God builds people. No good manufacturer would put his product on the market without testing it first. God tests His product too. And little by little, our church grew, and so did we.

James wrote, "When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." Really? Joy? Yes! "For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing" (1:2-4, NLT).

When trials come your way and you don't understand why, just cling to Jesus and remember that God is perfecting you.