Today as I preview Cheri Horgan’s story, tears blur my vision. All children truly want is to be loved. They need to be protected. I praise God for bringing Cheri to Himself and wrapping His protective arms around her. I pray that He will do the same for the countless children without homes in El Salvador, Peru, Uruguay, Uganda, Haitii. And even more, I pray His church would step up and be His hands and feet. That they would see these hurting children not as someone else’s problem, but as God’s precious children in need of love. Cheri’s grandfather fought for her. God wants us to fight for His children. (Although not with a gun, please. grin.)
As you read Cheri’s story below, notice the change that came once her grandfather turned to God. Sharing the gospel is more than helping others find the ladder into heaven. It’s helping them find the abundant life God promised.
Grandfather Fought For Me, by Cheri Horgan (writing as J.J. Jenkins)
When my mother found out she was pregnant, I already had a brother and sister waiting for me who were just steps apart in age. My father and mother fought constantly and both were seriously drug and alcohol dependant. Until the day he died, my father insisted he wasn’t my father (or father to my siblings). My mother reigned as the black sheep in her family and had left home at age 14. From the time I was born, I heard the hateful rejection they felt for me and the violence that came with my name. In the hospital, at a time most parents should be cuddling their new baby girl, my father fought with my mother to sign the adoption papers and let the couple he had brought adopt me. She refused, not out of love, but to make him angry. Once the doctor released her, she dropped me off with a babysitter and headed to the bar. My sister and brother were already being placed with a couple from the church. The babysitter rented a small house from my grandparents, on the same property.
Each day when my grandmother got off work she came to check on me. It came as no surprise when my grandmother fought the babysitters adoption process and took me into her arms. She quit her job and never left me with a babysitter again. My grandfather would later tell me repeatedly that Grandma was going through the change of life, and was deeply depressed until God brought me into her arms and gave her a new reason to live. He said she would have never made it without me. But that is not the act of Love that I want to tell you about.
When I was about 4 years old my mother reappeared and wanted to take me home with her. She had remarried and according to her, my grandparents had promised she could have me back when she got back on her feet. My mother rarely came to visit, so even as young as I was I knew something was up. The truth was she was jealous of all the love and attention I was getting, and she thought that should have been her as a little girl in Grandpa’s arms. She grabbed me and ran for the door, but my grandfather stopped her before she could reach the door. He pulled a 30.06 out of the closet and aimed it directly at her! I remember the screams and the tears, and all of the yelling…but it would be years later before the full impact would sink in.
My mother said it was the only time she ever saw her father cry. My Grandmother said it broke his heart to have to do what he had to do…my mother had always been a daddy’s girl. My grandfather looked my mother in the eye and told her that he loved her, but if she tried to take me away from my grandmother he would have to shoot her and spend the rest of his life in prison before he would let her do it. I remember the room going quiet. Grandma whimpered and then begged him not to do this. My mother kissed me on the forehead and left. Grandpa would later tell me he had never hurt so deeply, but he couldn’t let me go.
My grandpa gave up drinking after that and never missed church if he didn’t have to work. He became active in the men’s ministries, and every morning I would find Grandma and Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table, having their morning coffee and reading their devotions. He showed me unconditional love in human form, and always forgave me when I did wrong. Even when I was a hippie sowing my wild seeds, he loved me and always had a place for me. Grandpa would have given his life that night to keep me safe. He knew my mother had been drinking and he also knew the man she was with was worthless. He always wanted the best for me. He was willing to give up everything…for a spoiled, homely, little girl who talked too much.
My grandparents were the greatest parents ever, and I owe it all to God.
As a side note, my mother is still on drugs and is an alcoholic even today at the age of 78. She has left my brothers and sisters so scarred with memories of her abuse. My oldest sister told me recently how she used to pray that God would give her someone to love her like he did me when I got to go live with Grandma and Grandpa. I miss my grandparents so much, but I know they will be waiting when that time comes to cross over to the other side.
When I think of love, they are the first image in my mind.
So what can you do? Today I ask you to pray for the young women in the Remar orphanage in El Salvador. Pray that they will know God’s presence. Pray that God will heal those deep wounds no child should experience. Then spend a moment asking God what He would have you do. This month the El Salvador mission team from our church is writing letters to the girls we connected with on our trip. We are creating and maintaining a relationship with them so they will know they do matter and we do care. On those nights when they lie awake in their beds, feeling utterly alone and wishing they had a mom or dad to tuck them in, it is my prayer that they will read the letters of love we send and know that they are not alone. (For my subscribers that go to Northland, if you want to join us, find me this Sunday.)
I imagine you can do the same. If you’d like to start an orphan penpal mission in your church, Bible study, or homeschool group, contact me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.
Cheri Horgan is a single mother, and grandmother who finds everyday is a learning experience in the course of life God is teaching. She will be the one shouting as she slide through the pearly gates with her hands held high, “Wooo-Hooo! What a ride!” She has lived in many states across the country, from California to Delaware, and has learned to laugh at the trials and expect the miracles in situations out of her control. She believes she has been called to encourage, and has made many new friends as she holds their arms to the Heavens in prayer.
God has blessed her with some amazing experiences from being the first extreme makeover on daytime television on the Leeza Show, to being homeless and living in a shelter in Harrisburg, Pa. She has worked as a taste tester for Hershey Foods, a travel agent, and an aide who visits with the elderly in nursing homes (recording their memories), among other things. She loves learning about people, and listening to the stories they tell. Her son tells me he is thankful they struggled to get by, because it makes him appreciate what they do have. She wants to enjoy life to the fullest, experience God to the highest, and learn to trust to the point of no fear. She believe in miracles, forgiveness, and prayer.
And before you leave, watch this video and listen to the heart of our Father.