By Teena Myers
Cade paced the hospital waiting room, anxious for news. His wife’s pregnancy was fraught with difficulties. She had already lost two babies. He didn’t want to lose another one. A somber doctor walked into the waiting room. Cade braced for bad news.
“You must choose,” said the doctor. “Your wife or your baby.”
He couldn’t choose. “Where is the chapel?”
Cade was no stranger to the things of God. His father was a Methodist preacher, and his wife had converted to Christianity. Disillusioned by the hypocrisy he witnessed in church, he had abandoned his father’s God and wasn’t interested in embracing his wife’s faith. But his circumstance demanded help from a higher power. He sat in the dimly lit chapel and made a deal with God. “If you will give me my wife and my child, I’ll give you the rest of my life.”
He returned to the waiting room, pondering what to tell the doctor. The doctor met him in the hall. “I don’t know what happened, but your wife and baby girl are fine.” Cade named the daughter he had always wanted “Kathy.” God had given him two lives for one and then balanced the deal by calling Kathy to serve him before she was born (Galatians 1:15).
“All I knew were Christian parents who loved God and me,” said Kathy. “I knew God had called me to preach the gospel at a young age. In everything I did, God exalted me. I was the shiny pebble.”
Kathy adored her father. He always told her she could do anything she wanted to do until Kathy shared her calling. Kathy and her father were returning home after a Wednesday night service. She looked at her father and said, “One day I’m going to preach the gospel.”
Her father rested his hand on his beloved daughter’s shoulder and said, “Honey, I know you are very special, but girls don’t do that.”
Kathy’s perfect world crumbled when her father barely survived triple bypass surgery. He returned home frail. Months elapsed before he could walk. His brush with death made eight-year-old Kathy aware of the need to secure her eternal future. She had always communed with God through her music, but felt prompted to do more. She yielded her life to God and asked to be baptized in water.
The following year, Kathy awoke to her mother’s cries of pain. Kathy ran outside in her pajamas to find her father, who arose early to walk around the block for exercise. Still weak from his surgery, her father found the strength to run home and call the doctor. Kathy stood in the hall and watched her mother wheeled out of the house and into the waiting ambulance. That was the last time she saw her mother alive.
“After the funeral, my life turned upside down. My father slipped into a deep depression and became emotionally detached. In the middle of school, I would close my books and walk home. My nine-year-old mind reasoned I was in a bad dream. If I went home, everything would be different. My father threatened to put me in a boarding school if I couldn’t control my behavior. Even though he was very compassionate, I felt rejected. Instead of boarding school, he enrolled me in a Christian school. It was the best thing he could have done for me. I survived by burying myself in church activities,” said Kathy.
Kathy did well in her new school, and her life was returning to normal when her father remarried. His new wife was insecure in their relationship and jealous of her husband’s love for Kathy. She made the next five years of Kathy’s life a hellish nightmare. Separated from her father’s help by her stepmother’s deception, Kathy longed for the day she could leave.
Five days after graduating from high school, Kathy moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to attend William Carey University. “My sudden departure broke my father’s heart. He was never aware of the troublesome relationship I had with my stepmother. I had to leave to survive. This time I coped with life by burying myself in college activities.”
During her sophomore year, Kathy’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Radical surgery failed, and his strength faded fast. By the end of her sophomore year, his looming death became more than Kathy could bear. She enrolled in the summer semester to avoid going home, but her brother warned her if she didn’t come home, she would never see him alive again.
Kathy didn’t recognize the frail man resting in the recliner. She barely recognized the “General,” as she affectionately called her father. She spent every waking moment with him for two weeks.
The night before he died, he called her to his bedside with the nickname he gave her. “Doodie Doll, I’ve got two things to tell you. One, you can do anything you want in this life if you want it enough. Two, don’t ever forget that I love you.”
Kathy hugged him. “I’ll see you in the morning, Daddy.” Her brother entered to sit with him, and Kathy went upstairs. Her father died before morning.
“My brother decided a trip would help me deal with my grief, so I went to Corpus Christi to visit friends. Three days later, my sister-in-law called. My brother had died. I returned home to bury a third family member. Life didn’t make sense. I was an orphan, and now my brother was gone. Then I returned home for Christmas. I came downstairs for church in the same dress I wore to my father’s funeral. My stepmother flew into a rage. She ordered me to change clothes and then demanded me to move out of the house. I had no place to go, and I was scared,” said Kathy.
Kathy put her clothes and jewelry in the cream-yellow Monte Carlo her father bought her shortly before he died. She knew no one would be at the college, but having no place else to go, she headed for Hattiesburg. Tears streamed down her face as she pulled onto the interstate. When she saw the church her brother had attended, she exited and pulled into the parking lot.
The service had already started when Kathy walked through the wooden double doors. “The decision to visit Word of Faith changed my life. The instant I heard the worship, I knew I was home. To me, God is in music. That is where I find him and know him best,” said Kathy. By the end of the service, Kathy knew she needed to stay in New Orleans.
She had attended the church for more than a year when the pastor preached a message that redirected her life. Her Baptist training taught her women can’t preach the gospel, but she couldn’t deny the calling tugging at her heart. In the sermon, her pastor explained that knowing we had a calling wasn’t enough. We had to surrender to that calling.
Kathy met with her pastor the next day to explain that she had always known she had a calling. He leaned back in his chair and laughed, “I was wondering when you were going to figure that out.” The next day she enrolled in Bible College.
Pastor Myrtle D. Beall, the founder and pastor of Bethesda Missionary Temple in Detroit, Michigan, was the first female minister Kathy met. Affectionately known as Mom Beall, she spoke regularly at Kathy’s church. Kathy went to the altar for prayer after one of her sermons. Pastor Beall looked at Kathy and said, “Oh my! Who are you? You are very special.” Then she turned and said to the pastor standing behind her, “She is very special.” Kathy’s pastor nodded in agreement.
Pastor Beall became Kathy’s mentor. She unraveled decades of teaching that women can’t preach the gospel. They talked by phone for months. Whenever her pastor’s family went to Detroit for a convention, they brought Kathy with them.
Pastor Beall prepared Kathy for the resistance she would face. She broke through that resistance the day she became a keynote speaker at a worship conference with a thousand in attendance. The man who spoke before her started with scripture in Genesis and went to Revelation, explaining why women should not be in ministry. By the time he finished, she wondered if she had erred when she entered the ministry. She went to her hotel room in tears and called her husband. He prayed for her and encouraged her.
The man who introduced her at the next session said, “Well, you have to admit that any woman who has the courage to stand up here now deserves a standing ovation.” Everyone in the audience stood up and cheered. Kathy preached the gospel that day and had a long, fruitful ministry preaching all over the world.
Teena Myers is the Chairman for Southern Christian Writers. These stories were shared with her by Christians who live in the New Orleans area.