Washed White As Snow
(The James Pepper Story)
Contributed by: Becky Fischer (From her Grandfather's taped testimony)
He'd come home drunk again, cursing and yelling. Six-year-old James had seen him like that many times before. But this time it was different. Somehow his dad seemed angrier than usual, and he was just being plain mean. There weren't many places to hide in that two room wooden shack, so when his dad began hollering at his tiny, soft spoken Cherokee mother, the child could see and hear everything.
There was no reasoning with the Indian man that night, and as he screamed unfounded accusations at his wife, he reached for the big heavy iron rod that the family used for a fire poker. In a drunken stupor he wielded it through the air and connected with his wife's head. The little boy, already terrified at the scene, screamed in horror as the blood literally gushed from the woman's head. She laid helpless and seemingly dead on the bare wooden floor before him. James' mother was the most precious thing in all the world to him, and at the sight of the blood he threw himself across her body, fearing the worst, that she was dead.
"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" he screamed at his father, who didn't even seem to understand the seriousness of what he'd just done. Each time the little boy spoke the words, it came out with growing vengeance. Something happened inside of him at that moment. A bitterness and anger entered his heart that never left him. James vowed at that young age that he would live for only one thing--to get big enough to kill his own father for what he'd done to his mother.
By some divine miracle, Mary Elizabeth Pepper did not die, but her recovery was very slow. There was no such thing as blood transfusions in those days in the tiny town in Missouri. But upon her recovery, she understandably left the home to move in with one of her older sons, and James, youngest of ten children seldom saw her again. But James' troubles were just beginning. He was in and out of trouble with the law, thrown in jail numerous times for stealing, but he was always let go because he was a minor. An older brother once said of him "He was the meanest little kid I ever knew". Frequently picked on by other kids, he nearly sliced a guy's hand off one time to get him to leave him alone.
James never went past the eighth grade in school, and spent his days helping take care of the little tobacco farm, where he got all the tobacco and home made wine he wanted---stolen behind his dad's back, of course. By the time he was seventeen, misery and hatred were his constant companions, the day came when hopelessness consumed him and he thought of little else but ending his own life. It wasn't a matter of "if" but of "how". He'd lost count of the times he'd wondered about a place he'd heard about called heaven, where it was totally peaceful, where everybody loved each other and no one ever went without food. He questioned, "Could there really be such a place?" If there was, he pondered, why not end it all and get out of the miserable life and go there. He wondered if there really was a Great Spirit and what he was like. He knew nothing about a god or religion except for the little bit that he'd seen as his father performed some types of Indian rituals out by a tree in the yard. He'd never been to a white man's church or read a white man's Bible.
It was in one of those pensive, desperate moments that he sat all alone in the wooden shack on a stool at the table. Laid out before were his hunting knife, a shiny new revolver and some poison. Among all the other questions that ran thru his mind, he was trying to decide which of these was the quickest and most painless ways to do away with himself, when suddenly…..
As he looked up at the wall in front of him there stood a man he's never seen before clothed in pure white. Before James could open his mouth the man held his finger up to his lips as though to say, "Don't say anything." Then he spoke, "I've come to answer your questions," and he motioned, "Follow me."
The last thing James remembered at that moment was beginning to stand when the walls of that two-room shack rolled back and the teenager found himself following the white robed man into a garden. The man kneeled before a rock and began to pray. Within moments, soldiers appeared, grabbing the man and forcibly taking him away.
The young Indian boy continued to follow this stranger and watched as he was whipped and beaten mercilessly, then finally nailed to a wooden cross. James found himself at the foot of that cross weeping and sobbing as the blood flowed from the man's hands and feet. He looked up at this kind individual, and somehow inside himself, he knew that this stranger on the cross was the Son of God. Just like he sobbed when he was a little boy laying in a pool of his mother's blood, he looked helplessly up at this man and cried out, "Why did you let them do this to you?" From the cross the dying man looked down at James and said, "For you!"
With that, suddenly, James was back in the kitchen of the little shack, still weeping like a child. He sat for the longest time thinking about what he'd just seen and heard, when he realized The Stranger was standing before him once again clothed in glowing white garments. When James looked at him the man spoke, "Though your sins were as scarlet they have been made white as snow." Then He disappeared.
In that moment it was like a thousand pounds were lifted off James' shoulder and every ounce of the hatred and anger and bitterness that had been his constant companions for so long instantly disappeared. He had never felt so free. He glanced down at the items sitting on the table before him, which included his cigarettes, alcohol and gambling cards, and a voice behind him said, "I guess you won't be needing those things anymore."
The voice was so real James turned to see if his father had entered the room, but no one was there. Then he realized it was the voice of the man clothed in white. "No, I guess I won't" he said, and with that he threw the cigarettes, the cards, and the alcohol away and never touched them again!
EVEN THE MULES KNEW THE DIFFERENCE!!
James' life was forever changed that day! Even the old mules that he plowed with knew it. It was in the days when farmers walked behind the plows, holding the wooden handles, and throwing the leather straps guiding the mules over their shoulders and around their necks. Whenever the old plows would hit a stump or a big rock, the jolt would throw them over the plow and under the feet of the mules. For many years as he'd been farming, when that would happen, James would began to rant and cuss and come up screaming and beating the mules as if it was their fault.
The first time James plowed after his life changing experience, he ended up under the feet of the mules once again, and he could see their hides begin to quiver. They were poised for the usual beating. But James quietly stood to his feet, dusted himself off and said, "Well, praise God"! And the two old mules literally turned their heads and looked at him as though in disbelief. Even the mules knew he was changed!
It wasn't until later James received a Bible and as he searched the Word he read about the very scenes he had walked through by vision himself. In utter amazement he read the story of the crucifixion of the Son of God. He had been there! It was then learned the Stranger's name was Jesus. Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God!
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)