Conquering Life's Mountains

(By: Rev. Tina Barry) 

The young social worker opened the door of the abandoned building and could not believe what she saw. Trash was all over the floor, including rotten chicken bones and other rotten foods, and in the midst of this disgusting mess were four little girls. These girls were sleeping on old mattresses that were thrown on the floor and a baby bed with a mattress that was oozing its stuffing's and covered in baby excrement.  

These four little girls ranged in age nine months to six years old. The social worker noticed the youngest was naked, covered in scum and near death from starvation. She quickly picked up the nine-month-old and wrapped her in an old skirt that was lying nearby.  

When the social worker left the abandoned building, she took all four girls with her. The Division of Family Services placed the three oldest girls with their father's relatives. The youngest was placed in the only available foster home in the area, a home intended for mentally handicapped children. That was me.

Russell and Vera Roark had three children of their own. Their youngest was born ten years after the first two. She was the only one living at home, and she was lonely. The Roark's decided to adopt in hopes of giving their daughter a companion.  

After their application was accepted, a 22-month-old little girl was brought to their home. Russell sat her on his lap and removed the shoes from her feet. (Shoes that were much too small). She was much younger than what they were hoping for, but they quickly fell in love with her. I was that little child.

The agency was in a hurry to find me a home. They were fearful that my lack of stimulation and time in a home for retarded children would cause me to be developmentally delayed. My doctors were convinced that I would not be as normal as other children. I would take one step forward and stumble back three, it seemed.

Vera would cut my food into small bites. If she didn't, I would shove a large piece in my mouth. I never had anything but a baby bottle and baby food up to this point.

Whenever I would see a mentally handicapped child, I would begin to scream hysterically and hide behind Vera. Vera would wake up in the night and find me banging my doll's head on the wall of my room.

Eventually everyone's fears were put to rest. Surrounded by love and prayers, I slowly began to improve. I was very much a normal child. In fact, I entered the first grade when I was age five. By the time I was in high school, I was running on a track team and on the school honor roll. May God be glorified for showering His grace on me.

Vera was very active in her local church. From the time I arrived at the Roark's, I began attending church with her. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age eight. This was just one month after the Roark's officially adopted me.

Did life's challenges stop after that? Hardly! During the time I was growing up, fostered and adopted children were like outcasts. Most of my schoolmates did not accept me. They made fun of me, calling me names. They tormented me when the teacher would leave the room. I was stolen from, beat up, and even spat on. It was not until my senior year in high school that I gained some acceptance.

The Roark's were close to Vera's sister and brother-in-law. They spent much time together on weekends and vacations. I would spend two weeks every summer in their home. Unknown to the Roark's, Vera's brother-in-law was a child molester. Every time he was alone with me, he would molest me. This went on from the time I was six or seven until I was fourteen, and was then able to fight him off.  

The last time I was in their home, I became ill with toxic shock syndrome and almost died. This scared my aunt so badly that I was no longer invited to stay in their home. Praise God!

On my 18th birthday, Russell sat me on his lap, once again, as he did my first day in his home. He told me of my three birth siblings, and that he would do whatever he could to help me find them. Less than three weeks later, Russell died of a heart attack.

Almost exactly one year after Russell's death, I married John. We had met four years earlier on a church hayride. Like myself, John was active in church. We had been close friends for three years before we knew that we were to spend our lives together.

John and I moved to a small town in Mid-Missouri, and soon our family began to grow. Before long, we had two sons. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to find my birth siblings when I was first married. Now, five years later, my young sons triggered my desire to search again.

It was Thanksgiving weekend, 1990, when John and I went to the St. Louis Library to do research. On our way there, I prayed, "Father, let me find them so I can tell them about You."

Our research proved once again to be unsuccessful. In my first search however, I unknowingly made a valuable contact. The very week after Thanksgiving, I received a phone call from this contact. I was told that my older birth sister was trying to contact me!

On December 1, 1990, Doris and I met for the first time. We spent the day looking at photos and sharing our lives. I found out that she did not just have three siblings, but there were fourteen, including myself. God has a way of proving Himself faithful.

Over the next few months and years, all but two of the siblings and relatives were united. In so doing, I ended up finding out about the dark side of my family's past. It is a sad story, but mostly with good outcomes for my brothers and sisters, compared to how difficult it most likely would have been for us had we remained in the same environment we started out in life with.

Here is what I learned about my mother, Rebecca. At age 25, she found herself in a local mental health facility. From the beginning, she had emotional outbursts of anger and was unstable emotionally. She had just experienced major rejection from a man whom she had intended to marry. This had pushed her over the edge.  

The physicians diagnosed her with schizophrenia, and she was treated with insulin shock therapy and electroshock therapy. During her treatments, she claimed that she was pregnant. The physicians didn't believe her. They believed it was just one of her delusions.  

She was released in July of 1955. In August, she gave birth to a baby girl. This baby girl was placed for adoption.

Prior to her illness, Rebecca had been a teacher with a Bachelor's degree. After her release, she returned to her teaching position, which did not last long. Soon she became ill again and had to return for more treatments. She was then given a double lobotomy. 

During her second set of treatments, she met Marvin. Marvin tested out with an IQ of 52 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He and Rebecca made plans to marry after their release.

Just as they had planned, Marvin and Rebecca married soon after their release from the mental health facility. Shortly thereafter she became pregnant again. She gave birth to a daughter, and thirteen months later she, gave birth to a second daughter.  

She returned to her teaching position, and Marvin went to work doing odd jobs for cash. While they were at work, my sisters were left alone in a playpen with a loaf of bread and a baby bottle. Relatives eventually found out and began taking care of them. This lasted for five years and then they were released for adoption.

In 1963, Rebecca became pregnant again. This time a baby boy was born. Rebecca and Marvin were not getting along well, so she took her infant son and went with a male friend to Little Rock, Arkansas. It was there that she sold my brother for $1,000. Rebecca went back to Marvin, and they had another girl thirteen months later. I was that baby girl. Marvin was still angry concerning his son, so they took me to Little Rock and attempted, unsuccessfully, to trade me for my brother.   

At this point there was no reconciling their marriage. Marvin and Rebecca divorced.  

Marvin remarried. Soon he and his second wife, Iris, had a son. He was immediately placed for adoption.

Rebecca soon married again. She kept me with her, and Harvey, her second husband, had three out of four of his daughters with him. We lived in an abandoned building in St. Louis. This is where my stepsisters and I were found.

Rebecca and Harvey eventually had four children of their own. The younger boy and girl were taken to a local hospital for treatment and left. They were quickly placed for adoption. The older boy and girl lived with them until they were five and six years old. They endured much abuse and were removed from the home when Rebecca was seen chasing my brother from the home with a butcher knife and stabbing him in the back.

This information was very hard for Rebecca's children to accept. Some were able to handle it better than others. It was difficult for me, but I was able to go on and recognize the miraculous work of God in my life.

God gave me an opportunity to share the sacrifice of Jesus for their sins with my siblings. They were raised in homes where they heard this gospel message, but only one other than myself was living for Jesus. They were not receptive to hearing of the Lord at that time, and so all I could do was continue to pray for them.  

Our family continued to grow with the birth of a daughter. No more children were born after this, but our family continued to grow in the Lord. I was set free from the pain and hurt of the abuses I suffered in my younger life, and by the wonderful grace of God, I have been able to use those past trials and tribulations to help others. I believe God desires that for all of us, become healed emotionally from past hurts, and then allow God to use those painful trials of our past to give others hope, rather than allowing them to hold us in the dark prison they can hold a person in all the way to their grave.    

Our children have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and we now have a ministry of sharing music and the word of God. We have been blessed to see the lost come to know the Lord, and we have seen lives changed and people healed. God is still proving Himself faithful.  

As of this writing, I recently received a phone call from one of my brothers, telling me of his family's salvation and a desire to serve the Lord! Praise God!

I am living proof of the love of God and His faithfulness. No matter what your life experience, He can change it. He can heal you and set you free! He can take your mess, and turn it into one glorious message to reach out and touch others. The very purpose of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is to see people saved, healed, and delivered from the snare of Satan.

In the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, starting in Chapter 2, then ending with Chapter 3, God is addressing His Church. In reading what God has to say to us, we find one common theme:  

"To him who overcomes, and keeps my works until the very end, I will '' 

Before a person gives their life fully to the Lord Jesus Christ, it is one's nature to believe that God is most likely not a very compassionate and loving God, especially if a person has one hardship thrown at them after another.  

After a person becomes spiritually born again and taps into the power of the Holy Spirit, having their eyes opened to Biblical Truth, they begin to realize that obstacles in one's life are really mountains to be conquered and/or removed. It is these obstacles God has allowed to be placed in our life - for us to overcome them, rather than being overcome by them - thereby allowing Him to form Godly character in us that will pay huge dividends through all eternity.

Romans 8:28-29 assures us of this, as does II Corinthians 4:16-18:

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day."  

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, (in light of eternity; interjection mine), is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

In Christ, we truly can be overcomers. Will it always be easy? No. Yet it light of eternity, will it be worth it? Absolutely! God promises that if we don't give place to bitterness and anger and resentment regarding the trials that life hands us, but rather, dig in with the strength of Christ to see us through (See: Philippians 4:13), our persevering through those trials, no matter the outcome, will produce for us 'an eternal weight of glory.'  

How can we possibly lose by being overcomers in Christ? We cannot.

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.


JESUS DID IT! and...


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 6:19-21 is our assurance)