(By: Grace Gerrod)

Have you ever met someone who seems to get pleasure out of making life miserable for others? I used to be that way. I'm a woman, but there was a time in my life when I took great pleasure in beating up people. With a baseball bat! That included men!

Let me tell you a little of my up-bringing, so you can fully appreciate how God has set me free from hurting people, and has done a miracle in my life by putting a desire in my heart to love people, instead of beating on them with a Louisville Slugger.

When I was born, my mother left me permanently at the hospital. She left my older brother and sister at my grandparents, and just took off without telling anyone. My grandparents raised me the best they knew how, but by the time I was 10 they were in their 70's, so you can understand the strain they were under. I attended a Lutheran school up until the fifth grade, but got kicked out due to my rebellion. From there I was placed in a public school. I skipped school frequently and had little interest in applying myself, so my grades suffered.

By the time I was nearing 18, I was stealing a lot. I was in and out of jail often for getting caught stealing, and for not paying traffic tickets. A week before I turned 18 I moved out of my grandparent's house and moved in with a man. He and I moved into an apartment complex that had eight units. The occupants of those units either drank heavily or were taking drugs or selling them. I soon got involved in selling drugs too because it was big money and you could make it fast. But because there was so much drinking and fighting and selling drugs at the complex, one day the landlord came to me and asked, "How would you like a reduction in your rent?" 

"What would I have to do?" I asked. 

"Be a bouncer. Patrol this place to maintain some order."

I took the job. Most of the people at the complex were men, and so for me to have an "equalizer," I stuck six aluminum baseball bats in the corner of my apartment. If anything came up that I couldn't handle myself, I'd get a baseball bat.

So between selling drugs and beating up people with my baseball bats, I had a purpose in life. I grew to like beating on people and hurting them. If I didn't hurt them physically, I'd hurt them mentally. If someone were slow or mentally impaired, I'd rip him or her to shreds emotionally. I especially loved to do it to people like that. Once my landlord made me mad and I even shattered his elbow with a bat. Many a person went to the hospital to get patched up from me using them to hit home runs. I grew to where I hated people of all kinds, and I grew to hating being touched. If I didn't get to hurt someone at least once a day, I'd be miserable inside. I'd get mad because no one got me mad so I could hurt them.

Here's a twist to all of this. I sold drugs for 14 years, but never took any. But if you hang around drugs long enough, thinking you'll never get suckered into taking them yourself, the devil finds you a special challenge.

My sister got arrested for selling drugs, and they locked her up. I got custody of her three children. Suddenly I was the parent of a 16, 15 and 12 year old. I used the children as a reason for not being able to handle the stress, and you can guess what happened next. After seven months of using cocaine, I was up to a $900 a day habit. I was always the type that if I was going to do something, I wasn't going to dabble. I'd either do things up good, or not do things at all. 

That's a good quality to have if it's applied to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but it's a trap of the worst kind for those who are not living to please God.

I got desperate enough for drug rehabilitation programs-four different times to be exact-but as soon as I was released from the programs, the very next day I'd be back on cocaine. If I went for a 28-day program, I was clean for 28 days. On the 29th day, I was right back to the same addiction I'd checked in for. I'd tell my friend who was coming to pick me up, "Be sure to bring along some cocaine."

The last program I was released from, I was placed in an outpatient clinic. Bob was my counselor. We became good friends. I didn't realize he was a born-again Christian, until one day he brought up a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program called Western Michigan Teen Challenge. He gave me literature on it that interested me, until I came to the part where it said women had to wear dresses to worship services. I called him up the next day and said, "No thanks. I haven't worn a dress in 20 years and I'm not about to start now."

God was stirring in my heart though, although I didn't recognize it as Him at the time, and a couple of days later something inside me prompted me to call Bob back up and tell him that I had reconsidered. In December of 1988, I checked into Western Michigan Teen Challenge.   What did I get myself into? Sue Seals, the lady supervisor of the women's unit, was a very loving, hugging woman. I used to duck, hide, whatever I could do, because I could not stand to be touched. I still had that hatred and bitterness in me.

I also found out what the CHRISTIAN meant when Bob had called this a Christian program. This program was 24-7-JESUS. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you hear nothing but scripture from the Bible-learning how to apply it to your life to let the Holy Spirit use it to set you free. By God's grace alone I was able to stay with it, difficult as it was, and it was Christ's power that began to have His life-changing effect in me. Why 24-7-JESUS? Well, if Jesus Christ was God before He came to earth in the form of a man, and He left earth and went back into Heaven to function again as One of the three persons of the triune Godhead, why not 24-7-JESUS? Why settle for anything less than God Himself to set alcoholics and drug addicts and ballbat-smashers like me free from those bondages?

But to have the power of Christ and the scriptures and the Holy Spirit working on my behalf, I had to purposely and willfully turn my life over to Jesus Christ. It had to be an act of my will. So I did that. Then I sought Jesus to baptize me into the fullness of the Holy Spirit, because scripture says that He is the Holy Spirit baptizer (See Matthew 3:11; Acts 19:2). Once I did those two acts of obedience, the power of God began to flow through me; changing me; delivering me; healing me; remaking me into a lady I never dreamed I could be.

It took about six weeks before I turned loose of the bitterness and hatred inside of me, which was what had me so miserable inside. Bitterness and hatred must have a release, and mine found its release in making others hurt. But once I chose to let it go, it just went! It's like chains dropped off from me! After that, every once in awhile I'd knock on our supervisor's door and say, "Momma Sue, I need a hug." 

Before, I used to beat and hurt people, sending them to the hospital for bandages and stitches. Now the Lord has allowed me to put spiritual bandages on people coming into the program. (Editor's note:  At the time of publication of this testimony, Grace was a counselor at Western Michigan Teen Challenge 231-798-7927). When I came to the program, I needed to be accepted for who I was, not for what someone wanted out of me. And that's exactly what happened. So now when people come in, strung out on drugs, shot up and cut up, by the grace and power of Christ flowing through me, I give them the same thing people gave me. The unconditional love of God through the power of Jesus Christ that has changed my life. He's the one who deserves all the credit!

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)