by Susan Bowers
Some people live all their young lives in church. Their parents take them to church every Sunday. They attend Sunday school. They learn all the books of the Bible in the third grade and receive a set of ribbons for their Bible as a reward. They go through catechism and learn – what? What is it they learn? The pastor’s son is cute. No, that’s not it. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Yeah, that’s it. But I missed that part. Oh, I knew it in my head, and when I finished my catechism class I knew that and a bunch of other stuff too (including the fact that the pastor’s son was cute). I knew it in my head. But, it never made it to my heart.
In 1988 when I graduated from the Air Forces’ weather forecasting school (meteorology school) I got sent to my first of many army assignments. I was in the Air Force going to an Army installation. I was supposed to go to Fort Riley, Kansas. Instead, I went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I
It was there I met Dermot. Derm, as everyone called him, was one of the forecasters stationed at FortSill with me. Since he was my primary trainer I got to work with him every shift for several months until I was trained in and then I would relieve him or he would relieve me on shift. Derm brought a briefcase everyday to work. In his briefcase was a much worn Bible. Not old. But, used. In all my years in the military I’d never seen anyone bring a Bible to work. But Derm did.
Derm was this gentle man. He was a gentleman too. He was kind and good. In the busiest times at work, pilots at the counter, phones ringing off the hook and the weather turning stormy, Derm never lost control. He was patient on the phone and to those pilots that could be – frustrating, to say the least. Somehow, if one of our co-workers lost control, Derm’s words would bring peace to the situation.
Under Derm’s meteorological tutelage as well as my boss and all the other forecaster’s tutelage I thrived as a weather forecaster. While my military life was moving forward, my personal life was in shambles, and had been in shambles for years. I was an abused wife; had been an abused wife for years; an abused wife with no end in sight, except maybe by death – at the hands of my husband.
So when Derm asked me if I wanted to go to church where he and his wife Paula attended I jumped feet first into a place of something other than my home where I was abused. I loved Derm’s wife instantly. We became fast friends. I attended church with my girls. My husband went three times and never returned. I never pushed.
It was in this little church of about eighty people that I found love that I didn’t have, acceptance that I didn’t have, faith that I didn’t have, and the Savior that I didn’t have. I saw in Derm and Paula what it was to be a child of God. I learned how to pray. I learned how to open the Word of God and find a fresh truth every time I opened it. I learned what it means to worship God. I learned about the One and Only, the Savior.
One day in November of 1989, alone in my bed, after a very frightening time of abuse, on the wall of death, I called on the Savior. This Savior knew what it was like to be beaten. To have his body pounded to near death. This Savior knew just what I felt. So I surrendered to the Savior. This Savior not only saved me for eternity; this Savior saved my life literally. I finally had the strength of the Savior – to walk away.