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Faithful prayers lead family to Christ

STILLWATER, Okla. (BP)–The strip joint was across the street from where Susan Stephens banked. God impressed on her to pray for the business owner, which she did every time she went to the bank.
This continued for a year and a half. Stephens, a former student at Oklahoma Baptist University and Oklahoma State University, believed in the power of prayer. She had no idea, though, how many lives would be affected when God answered her prayers.
To date, 11 members of Jack Charles’ family have been baptized into the membership of Stillwater’s Eagle Heights Baptist Church, and more may come.
Charles, who owned the strip club, was not a Christian, but he began to feel that it was wrong to own such a business, so he sold it. Then, in February, his grandmother’s death led him to start searching the Scriptures for truth.
“She had been in the nursing home and hadn’t been able to talk for weeks,” Charles recalled. “My mom walked in and said, ‘I love you, mom.’ My grandmother said, ‘I love you, baby.'”
Shortly afterwards, she died, and Charles began reading books about near-death experiences. He talked a lot to his brother Ralph, a Christian who lives in Miami. Ralph and his family had been praying for Jack for 17 years.
“Every time I asked him something, he would say, ‘You know, in the Bible … .'” Charles recalled. Finally, he began reading the Bible on his own and soon accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
On Feb. 14 he became a Christian, and made a public profession of faith Feb. 28. For six of the next seven weeks, one or more of his family members responded to the invitation.
On March 7 his wife Barbara, brother John and niece Ashton accepted Christ. John’s wife, Kamera, also was baptized; she had been a Christian for years but had never been baptized.
The following Sunday, March 14, Jack’s parents, Ralph and Carol, made public professions. All seven were baptized March 21.
Two weeks after that, March 28, his sister and brother-in-law, Cathy and Kirk Brown, also were saved. On April 4 his niece Morgan accepted Christ, then on April 11 his aunt, Beverly Jean Bradley, made a profession. The four of them were baptized April 25.
“The funny thing is, most of them had been struggling with this for some time, but not me,” Charles said. “I was so far away from God, that everyone was surprised when I got saved.”
He said he talked to his family members about his faith, but “it was God who did all the work.”
Charles said the best thing is the joy at family get-togethers.
“When you hear Mom laugh for the first time for real, it is nice,” he said. “It’s good to see the family get together and not just be mean and cuss.”
Jack’s wife, Barbara, said she was “overwhelmed” when Jack became a Christian. She started reading a Bible and listening to Christian music, and was led to the Lord. Since then, another woman at work and her supervisor have been saved, “so it’s going around in my department.”
His brother John said his grandmother’s death “led Jack on a rampage. We had about a six-hour conversation and he started telling me what to read.” He said he began reading his Bible at work, which has caused his co-workers to “treat me like an alcoholic; everybody looks at me different.”
John’s wife, Kamera, said she was saved while living in Hobart, but had never been baptized. She said God had been with her through some tough times as a child, and had protected her family even when they were far from him.
Their daughter, Ashton, 12, was saved at the same time as John. She talked with her dad, then went to Sunday school that week. When her friend Amanda asked if she were to die, and Jesus asked “Why should I let you into Heaven?” Ashton replied, “I think I know, but I might not have it all together: Because he died for me and because he is my savior.” She accepted Jesus, as did her friend Shelly. The girls also led another friend, who was a Buddhist, to Christ. That girl said she will not be baptized, though, until her parents become Christians, too.
Ralph Charles, Jack’s father, said he had always “believed in God or a higher power,” and had attended churches from Quaker to Jehovah’s Witness to Catholic. Ralph said he and his wife “didn’t think much of it” when his mother-in-law talked just before dying, but he was glad it caused Jack to turn to God. “I finally decided it was time to put away my past religions and turn to the Lord. We had given up going to church for quite a few years” until he came to know Jesus.
Ralph’s wife, Carol, said she was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness but had never considered herself a Witness. “Ralph and I talked about God among ourselves, but I guess we never really talked to the kids about it like I thought,” she said. She said she went to church after Jack was saved, and when pastor Jerry Dockery started the “sinner’s prayer,” she responded. Every time she hears the prayer, she said she wants to go forward again. Since becoming a Christian, she said she has “a wonderful peace about me. I feel like a weight was lifted off of me. I have a ball every time we go to church. It’s a new experience; it’s a good experience.”
Jack’s sister, Cathy, said she was saved Dec. 3, 1997 in Georgia at her father-in-law’s funeral, but had not followed through with believer’s baptism. Since making a public profession, she said she has “such joy in my heart that I never had before. It’s wonderful. I told my husband I was going with him or without him, but he came, too.”
Cathy’s husband, Kirk, said he had been looking for something “for a long time. My folks passing away opened my eyes up and showed me you don’t live forever. I wanted to be saved. I wanted to go to Heaven and meet this Guy that everybody has been praising.”
Jack’s niece, Morgan, age 9, was saved during Passion Week before Easter, then Ralph’s sister, Beverly Jean Bradley, was saved. “I went to church with them Easter Sunday. I almost got up that day,” she said. “I felt like the pastor was talking right to me. I always knew there was a God, but I never let him in my heart.” She said she now starts every day with singing, prayer and Bible reading.
The whole family said everyone is more at ease than ever before, and family get-togethers are more joyful than they ever were in the past.
Bradley made a public profession April 11 and was baptized April 25. The members of Eagle Heights are now waiting for the next member of the Charles family to be saved.

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  • Dave Parker