If you asked me point blank whether or not if in the history of creation God had ever answered a prayer and changed a life, I’d say yes. Pin me down for some evidence or an example, what then? Do I go with Jonah’s cry of distress from inside the belly of the whale (how can that be?!!!) or the time when I was a kid when the family was on a 300 mile round-trip drive to watch the Hoosiers play basketball in Bloomington, and dad pulled off the road because our car had overheated? I prayed that the car might start working. Dad waited for a few minutes and started it back up. We didn’t have a problem the rest of the way. As a child in the backseat, that’s how I thought prayer worked with God: send up the request and expect immediate results.
Since then, I’ve seen that most times a mechanic has to fix the car. I’ve got to change the flat. In my twenties, I was married and divorced. When my first wife and I were separated, I prayed and even fasted for the marriage to be saved. I’ve watched those who I perceive to be believers and good people pray for addictions or cancer to be overcome. My first marriage ultimately failed. In other cases not mine, addictions seemed to win out, and young children’s earthly lives were not saved. I came to believe that God and prayer worked in some other kind of way that I couldn’t understand. As I entered my thirties and life post-divorce, I chose to focus on the physical and intellectual gifts I perceived God had given me, and I tried to use them in this world the best I could. For about a decade, I lived as if God never intervened in any life. I lived as if prayers were never answered and lives were never changed. Admittedly, I continued to pray some prayers in spite of myself. A series of events have unfolded the past few years that have opened my mind to new possibilities. That’s what I hope to share here in the coming weeks and months. I’ve met someone who claims God can change lives, and he offers up quite the story as evidence. I know this man as Fern, and part of what I’ll share with you is his testimony. Below you can listen to our first conversation.
This is the fifth podcast in a series in which I ask Fern to give his testimony. We are working on the manuscript of a book. One of the titles we have thrown around goes something like this…
Flight to Redemption: A Story of Cocaine, Prison, and a New Life Through Christ.
Fern discusses what it was like to live in a halfway house and look for his first job. He highlights events that he has come to refer to as God Moments. Several times when he shares with prospective employers that he has served twelve years in federal prison, he hears the response, “We believe in second chances.”
Below, you’ll find three ways you can listen to the podcast:
In the latest Torg Stories podcasts, we’ve been talking with Fernando Fernandez about his life. This includes time involved with running cocaine, stealing a US Marshal airplane, arrest in Cuba, and a prison conversation to Christianity.
In this episode, Fern finishes his 12-year sentence in Terre Haute and Peoria. He talks about his relationship with his son and what it was like to think about creating a new life following prison. After spending most of his life in Cuba and Miami, Fern is released into a Midwestern snowstorm and a halfway house in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
After hearing about Fern’s theft of a U.S. Marshall plane on the last podcast episode, in this conversation Fern tells us about arriving to Columbia and getting involved with the Medellin Cartel, the first prayer of his life, and his eventual arrest by the DEA in the Bahamas the day after the birth of his son.
Below you can listen to my reading of “Sanctuary,” a story in my novel-in-stories entitled Horseshoe. The catalyst for writing this piece probably first came the result of the death of a high school friend from cancer approximately fifteen years ago. I remember that there was a church service in relation to her illness. It wasn’t a service I attended, and I never talked with my friend or anyone else about what happened there. So the events of this story and the thoughts of the lead character are from my own imagination.
“Sanctuary” is in the novel-in-stories Horseshoe
I was interested in the subject matter because of my interest in what it means to be a person who believes in God and what it means to pray. I also drew on my experiences of the death of my grandfather and father in law, both also from cancer. It’s a story I couldn’t have written ten years ago before I met my wife and learned what it is to live in the world with daughters. It’s a terrifying and wonderful experience. Music is by the Jeremy Vogt Band. “Sanctuary” first appeared in the literary journal Sakura and was published most recently by Cherokee McGhee Press.