BY: SUNNY ORLY COFFMAN
SEPTEMBER 22, 2001
Many have been applauded and memorialized since September 11, 2001 because of their bravery and/or their dedication to duty as they have been involved in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center – one of the main targets in the Attack on America. But today I want to talk about another hero or a different type.
It was fall of 1994 – we’d already had our first cold-snap and I was getting emotionally prepared and physically organized to go back on the road for the stock show and horse show season. It was always exciting for me to anticipate seeing all of my old friends – more like family – folks I’d see maybe at only one show each year, but there were many close bonds established and it made my time on the road away from home and family a time to cherish instead of dread.
As was my usual routine about that time in my life, I’d made my motel reservation weeks before time for the All American Quarter Horse Congress held every year in Columbus, Ohio at the Ohio State Fair Grounds. This was the “Oscar” of the Quarter Horse world. There were always several studs on display that had earned over a million dollars during the year for stud service. The booths would be so lavishly decorated and the horses would be groomed to a fine line.
I had been working this particular show – exhibiting my hand made line of personalized jewelry that I created before the people – for over 15 years. My booth rent was paid ahead of time, my motel was reserved and guaranteed with a credit card, my vehicle had been serviced thoroughly before I left Dallas, and when I was putting all of my display merchandise and personal items in my 1 ton Ford van for the trip to Columbus, I thought it strange that I was putting an equal amount of ”churchy clothes” in for myself, along with the usual jeans, western shirts and western hats to wear at the horse show. But I didn’t question it. I had already come to the place where I believed completely that I was truly being led by the Spirit of God and had the confidence that whatever I was led to do would all work out in the end.
I had allowed more than enough driving time to arrive in Columbus a couple of days prior to the opening of the show – time to be rested and refreshed for the business before me in the next two weeks. I arrived at the motel mid-afternoon, registered and reminded the desk clerk that I had prior, pre-paid reservations. After a long search, no reservation could be located. I verified that there was a vacancy downstairs, no smoking, queen single with a microwave and refrigerator – no problem. So, I took the room – confident that the paperwork would be sorted out the next morning. Right now, after 1,100 miles of driving, I was ready for a hot shower and a little rest.
As I was placing the last of my personal belongings in the motel room and going back to check the van one more time, lock up, and head for that awaited shower, I saw a new Buick pull up next to my van and two well-dressed ladies get out. I “heard myself say,” “Well, if ever I’ve seen two preacher women, this is the day.” One of the ladies immediately responded: “Oh, you’re here for the conference!” I told her I was here for a horse show, but asked about the conference and she let me know that a local pastor, Bob Phillips, was holding a week-long conference at a local Convention Center. When she mentioned the event, I had such an urgency arise within me that I was to go to the conference. Of course, in the natural, there was no way I could be there because I would totally be consumed by the events at the Qtr. Horse Show.
I felt led to verify the time for the first session of the conference – 7:30 pm the same day. I got in the van and drove to the Fairgrounds, wondering why I had such an urgency to go there right now. But when I arrived, much to my surprise, I read the banner over the entrance to the grounds and learned that I had arrived in Columbus one full week ahead of schedule. I could not believe I had made such a mistake – and, of course, I had not – it was all part of the plan for my life.
When I got back to the motel, I verified that I could ride with my two new friends from Kansas to the convention. They were delighted that I was interested in going and made it very convenient for me. Most of the convention centers around the country have underground parking garages and my one-ton van would not meet the height requirements.
That evening, after registering for the conference, I entered the main meeting hall and one of the first people I spoke with was one of the keynote speakers of the conference, Charles Weller, from the Columbus area. As I walked around the room and looked at tapes, books, etc. displayed on small conference tables, I saw a table with this man, Charles Weller’s, name on it. There before me were several small books of various colors – with such titles as: Rapture-Literal? – Lake of Fire – Lambkin – Marriage Principle – Melchizadek, Ministry of. I was drawn to these little books and wanted to take several of them home with me. There were no prices marked on any of the literature on the table. I looked around and the same was true of tapes and books on other tables. This was my first clue that I had been led to a group of people that operated differently than any other groups I had been around.
In my little bit of unconsumed time within the next 2-3 weeks, I devoured the books I had taken from the convention. Charles Weller said in one of the books that a person could request additional books and that there was no charge for anything he published. He said that he had received the teaching freely from the Holy Spirit of God and he was going to offer it freely to the world, as God led. This was a different kind of approach for me and I was impressed by the “difference.”
It was during the days of the Qtr. Horse Show that God woke me up in the middle of the night in that motel room and told me He was going to bring me a husband. My first enthusiastic response was: “God, I didn’t pray for one!” But I was quick to add that whatever His will was for my life, I wanted that most of all. And if a husband was His plan, I wanted the husband. I just made one simple request in all of this: “Lord, please do not put me in the dating scene.” God reassured me that I had nothing to fear – that this was going to be a “family-arranged” marriage. I had peace after that. God asked me to reach for my journal and make Him a list of the characteristics I wanted in a husband. I sat up in bed and complied with the request. Then I knew I had done what was asked of me and I turned off the light and went back to sleep.
It is now almost seven years later in my life and that precious gift from the Lord came together with me in April of 1995. It was a blessing from the get-go and our love and trust for one another and the Lord just continues to grow. Together we requested more and more literature from Charles Weller and his wife, Joyce. They were always faithful to send us whatever we requested and never once asked for or hinted around that they expected or could use some money to cover expenses. We sent money as we could, but there was a lot of stripping going on in both of us and there were many times when money just wasn’t available. But we had a constant source of teaching available to us.
Roger was not able to work the first two years of our marriage. He suffered from headaches that were only bearable because God was with him. I would sit by his bed, hour after hour, and read him the words God gave Charles Weller and I would read him the Bible. I saw him steadily move from almost total helplessness to a man that today runs a business and is a fully functioning human being. Only God knows all of the details, but what I saw was enough to let me know that God is able to bring life out of ashes – to restore out of rubble.
Charles was always unselfish. He was concerned about our spiritual growth enough to lead us to other writers like, Gary Amirault, Jani Antonsson, Bill Britton, J. Preston Eby, George Hawtin, Elwin Roach, Gary Sigler, and George Warnock. Charles has never been our Idol and we’ve even questioned a few of the things he’s sent us, but our God has always been faithful to confirm those things we questioned and Charles – or Chuck as we lovingly refer to him around our home and to our friends, is definitely our hero. We are simply not the same people we were 7 years ago and it is all because of the sound teaching we have received and the truth he has written that has set us free.
My husband pastored 27 years in denominational churches and never realized he was so deceived – so void of sound teaching – until he began to read the teachings Chuck sent us. I have literally seen a man released from a spiritual prison right before my very eyes. And, as he would get the truth in him on a subject, he was always faithful to share it with those God brought across his path. So, not only have we been drastically changed, but many of our family have been shocked by the changes that they have seen in us and many of our friends have come to embrace the lifestyle that has been established in our home.
Today, we received yet another teaching from Chuck, but tucked inside the teaching was a very “matter of fact” announcement that he is currently battling inoperable brain cancer. What can you say? How do you convey to someone that you’ve never seen but one time in your whole life – what a dramatic influence they have had on your life and how it is impossible to imagine their not being able to continue writing and mailing those life-changing teachings to us and our friends. How can you use such meager things as words to portray the true feelings you have at a time like this when one of your own is being attacked by something that is trying to take him out!
Well, all we know to do, Chuck, is apply the very things you’ve taught us and stand with you in fighting the vicious attack and believe completely – without wavering – that God is in control and He will have His way in your life. He will not leave you. He will not forsake you. He is the healer and only He knows what your next assignment is in the Plan He has for you. We love you – we treasure the role God has allowed you to play in the restoration of our own lives and lives so drastically changed all around us – and we are praying for God to have His perfect will in the outcome of this attack. My personal desire would be to sit beside your bed and read to you, as I read to Roger, and see God do a miracle. Nevertheless – not my will but God’s will be done.
ANOTHER HERO [Sunny Orly Coffman] 9-22-01 1