On August 6th our sister Betty Brice went to be with the Lord. We share a bit from her autobiography here to honor her and give glory to the Lord who drew her to himself and worked through her to encourage so many others.
Encountering the Lord A couple of weeks later, the church asked me to be part of a group that was being organized to acquaint our congregation with the realities of world hunger. I already knew a lot about world hunger, and had done at least one program for my Woman’s Circle at the church. My view on the subject was clear: “Yes, our country needs to help feed the world’s hungry people, but only after we get ours first.” I went to the first meeting and expressed these feelings. I reluctantly agreed to be part of the committee.
We met once a month. One evening, sometime between the first and second meetings, I was sitting in our living room reading. Suddenly, I had a vision. I saw a rice field as if through a porthole, with people in conical hats working in it. I saw the wind blowing and ripples on the water surrounding the rice plants. I knew without a doubt that I was seeing the world through God’s eyes. I knew from the bottom of my heart and soul that God was saying that everyone on the earth was entitled to their fair share of the world’s resources. My worldview was turned upside down and changed 180 degrees. My life was changed forever.
I went back to church and tried to share my experience, but our pastor, didn’t quite know what to make of it. I tried to find someone that I could talk to and share with, but nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. I was on the library committee, and we had a meeting one evening not long after my experience. Our pastor’s wife was part of this committee. She and I arrived early, and having heard about my experience, she started asking me about it. She seemed so intense, and kept leaning towards me. I suddenly realized that I had met the Lord and didn’t even know it. I had always believed in God, but my perspective was that He was way up in the sky somewhere. When I realized for the first time it was possible to have a personal relationship with Him, I was thrilled.
Surrendering it all My joy was short-lived. What followed was the worst month of my life. I wanted to change the world, starting with my family. I wanted to feed them rice and beans, but they objected strenuously. My husband said that he felt I was taking away his comfort.
I repeatedly had to talk with our pastor, and I wasn’t one who did that sort of thing. I usually kept my problems to myself, but I felt compelled to talk about them with him. Then one day he asked me a question: “Why are you so involved with the world?”
I knew that he was right, but I also heard the Lord say that I had not given my whole life to Him. I had given Him my church life and my volunteer life, but had never thought about giving Him my home life—and it was in chaos. So, right then and there I gave my whole life to God.
Immediately, everything changed. For the first time, the Bible opened up to me. I had tried to read it before, but was unable to; I found it confusing and uninteresting. Now it was the most fascinating book I had ever read, and I spent hours reading it. ...
I will teach you Myself I desperately wanted to talk with someone about my experience. I searched for people who I thought would be able to tell me what it was all about, but when I did find someone that I thought might be able to tell me, I was afraid to ask. Then one day I heard the Lord clearly say to me, “You don’t have to search anymore for someone to tell you what it is all about; I will teach you Myself.” I believe He has kept His promise.
Everywhere it talked of love In the meantime, I spent hours reading the Bible. I found it the most fascinating book that I had ever read. Everywhere I looked in the Bible it seemed to be talking about love—love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, love your neighbor as yourself, husbands love your wives, etc. Everywhere I looked, it talked about love. I didn’t grow up in love, and I knew that there was no love in me. So, I started praying for God’s love to be in my heart. I prayed it over and over again for a long time. Gradually, God did put a measure of His love in my heart. There was a time when I would say that I really didn’t like people all that well, but that all changed as God changed my heart. I now find that I really love people, and they seem to respond to God’s love in me.
‘Healing hands’ I yearned to do great things for God, to be somebody in the Lord. I especially wanted the Lord to use me to heal people. Once in a while, He did use me in that way, but only for headaches. One day I drove someone to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for radiation treatments. I sat next to a younger black lady, and she mentioned that she had a headache. I took her hand and prayed that the Lord would take away her headache. Much to my surprise, He did.
“You have healing hands,” the lady said. I didn’t really think so, but I was delighted that the Lord had answered my prayer. Another time, I heard that a young lady from our church was in Chelsea Community Hospital with a headache that had been going on for days. It must have been like a migraine. I called her and asked if I could pray with her. Her head hurt so badly that she didn’t even want to talk with me. Before she hung up, I prayed that the Lord would heal her headache. She waited until I had finished, and then hung up. Later she told me that after she had hung up, she suddenly realized that her head no longer hurt.
The Word of God One day I discovered that some young people in our church belonged to an ecumenical Christian community called The Word of God. I talked to them about the Lord. Unlike others in our church, they understood what I was talking about. It was as if they spoke my language. I became friends with them, especially a young girl named Alice.
Eventually, Alice and I decided to pray regularly for our church. Our pastor gave us his permission and encouragement. Alice and I were faithful in meeting and praying for our church. Soon after we had begun praying together, I had a sense that the Lord was saying, “There’s someone in the church who thinks more of the building than the church.” I had someone in mind, and when I had the opportunity, I told our pastor. He agreed with me, but never mentioned any names, nor did I.
The next time Alice and I met, the Lord let me know that it was me that He was talking about. I had to learn that the church was the people, and not the building. Whenever I thought or prayed for the church, I visualized the building, and not the people. I was humbled. In order to pray properly for the church, I faced the pews, and learned to visualize the people in the pews. It made a big difference in my prayers. I also learned to pray out loud.
Sometime later, Alice invited me to have dinner with the girls she lived with. They were very nice Christian girls who belonged to the Word of God Community. One in particular, Marie, became a very good friend. She married a young man whose parents belonged to our church. She was Catholic, and after they were married, he joined the Catholic Church. I taught her how to can fruits and tomatoes. We often went together to pick fruit in the orchards around Ypsilanti. I enjoyed her company immensely. We talked about the Lord, and often shared our experiences with God.
She and her husband eventually invited us to become members of the Word of God. I had let her know that I was interested, and she in turn gave us tickets to an evangelistic dinner that The Word of God was putting on. I was totally surprised when they asked Doug if he was interested in joining, and he said, “Yes.” To join, we had to take classes that the Community held on Jesus, the Holy Spirit and living the Christian life. When we were finished, we attended a Community Weekend. The featured speakers were all leaders of The Word of God.
At that point, I had a longstanding problem with back pain that I took medication for. I had injured my back years earlier while wheeling a pile of dirt from the front of the house to the back when Doug was unable to do it himself because of the accident he had been in. Periodically I also had had to have traction on my neck. In addition, I had had carpel tunnel surgery done on both wrists, but still had problems with my back. While on the weekend, the pain was particularly bad, so I prayed that God would heal it.
On the last evening, the small group that I had been assigned to decided that they needed to pray with me because they weren’t sure if I had received the gift of tongues. They asked me to come with them to the prayer room, which I agreed to do. When we got to the room, I had to force myself to go in. It had such a strong sense of the Lord’s presence in the room that the atmosphere seemed thick, and at the end of the room was a very bright light. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that the light was the Shekinah Glory (visible evidence that God was there). I sat in a chair just inside the door while the girls prayed for me. I found myself praying for my back to be healed. Suddenly, it felt like someone was running their fingers up and down my back. This went on for about five or ten minutes, and the pain all went away, and I knew that my back had been healed. At the time I didn’t tell anyone about it.