HOW SUNNY RECEIVED HER NAME
A LETTER WRITTEN TO A FRIEND
BY: SUNNY ORLY COFFMAN
AUGUST 7, 2001
I’m seeing that you are being used to draw some things out of me – force me to verbalize on subjects I’ve held and pondered in my heart, but have not necessarily had occasion to “speak to the world” yet. Perhaps all of this interaction we’re being allowed to share at this time is preparation for greater teaching opportunities or writing opportunities for the future.
For some reason, I’m feeling prompted to write you the story of how my name came to be “Sunny.” That was a question you asked – so, now let me begin this saga.
In March of 1990, I had just found out my favorite cousin had died in December of 1989. I was on the road and had just gotten home from my livestock show tour. I received specific instructions from the Lord to see that the property where she lived here in Dallas, be disposed of properly and not allowed to be a vacant house turned into a drug laboratory or used for some other illegal operation. [The neighborhood where it was located would have been an ideal breeding ground for such a thing to happen.]
On a day when I had been to the police station to pick up a copy of the police report surrounding her death – [found in her home many days after death], had an appointment with an attorney for other purposes, etc., the Lord spoke very specifically to me and said “This day you must locate “such and such” book – a book about “deliverance.” Well, I called every bookstore in town I thought might have the book and finally found a copy at the Christ for the Nations bookstore. It was a longggggg way from my “appointed rounds” that day, but I went over there to pick up this only copy they had. When I entered the small store, it was deserted except for the lady attending the shop – a foreign student from the middle east. I commented on how quiet the store was and she responded “oh, didn’t you know that Benny Hinn is holding a seminar on-campus today? I asked who Benny Hinn was and she was shocked and showed me a huge stack of his book that had just been released “Good Morning, Holy Spirit” and explained that not only was he an author, but pastured a church in Orlando, was a very well known minister of healing on television, and looked at me like I had 2 heads because I didn’t know about him. I didn’t bother to explain that I hardly ever watched TV.
I paid for my purchase, gathered up my things and was about to walk out of the shop, when in came probably 150 people – all surrounding 3-4 people. The lady pointed out to me that one of the men being surrounded was Benny Hinn. I later learned that the other man was one of his brothers – a very tall, nice looking fellow. One of the ladies was Freida Lindsey, wife of Gordon Lindsey, founder of Christ For The Nations, and her female protégée.
I had never been “star struck” and also didn’t even know this man or anything about him before this day, so I was surely not impressed and started to walk out the door when the Lord spoke to me and told me to lay my things down and go speak to the man. I obeyed and we had a very pleasant exchange and God had me asked a question of him, which he kindly answered, etc. Apparently, the only point of the meeting was for me to know he existed, for God to deposit a prayer project within my spirit for this man, and then about a year later, for God to lead me to be “a fly on the wall” at a few of his crusades – again to pray for him, but in his arena.
I had been prompted by the Lord to make arrangements to sing in the Benny Hinn choir for a period of time, so I had participated in 3-4 of his crusades, but never been an “attendee” of any of these – only a choir participant. And, believe me, there is no interaction between the choir and anything that goes on, stage-wise – at least not when I was there. But God wanted me to observe things from “behind the scenes” and to pray, which I did for quite a season.
Then, much to my surprise, in May of 1991, I was directed to attend a Benny Hinn crusade in Dallas. I fought the crowds and showed up, as directed. At some point in the service, Benny Hinn made an announcement “I want all of you that are called to full-time ministry, whether you are yet serving in the position to which you have been called or not, to come forward – come in close. I want to pray for all of you.” Well, I left all of my things in my seat and made my way down to the front. I was probably 7-8 rows back from the stage. He prayed over all of us and then began to call just a few folks onto the stage to pray for them individually. I was one of those folks and that is when he prophesied over me that I would be making a trip to Israel and not going as a tourist, but going to birth a ministry. [I think I mentioned just a little bit of this to you in an earlier e-mail.] But he made some specific declarations over me, such as: “You will be in Jerusalem on your birthday. Listen very carefully because some important things will be spoken to you that will change your entire life. This will all be arranged by our Father.” He then told me he had received the anointing for a Healing Ministry from K. Kuhlman and the Lord had instructed him to pray for me and pass this same anointing onto me. I took every word this man said literally and before I left that crusade that day, I learned that Benny Hinn was taking a tour group to Israel and in November and saw that they would be in Jerusalem on my birthday. Well, that was all I needed to know at that point in, what I can now see was, my own spiritual immaturity. I didn’t pray, I didn’t question, I just booked the trip and paid for it with a credit card…expensive lessons are the ones we never forget – ouch – but they do sting as we walk through them. Well, needless to say, I was off in left field, but only in one area – timing! Oh, yeah! It’s just as important to have the timing of God as it is to have the direction of God, because without that ingredient, you can have the best and clearest instructions and know the heart beat of God and be assured that you have heard perfectly, but still be out of the ball park of obedience because the timing was off.
God never let me make that trip, wouldn’t even let the travel agency refund my money, never even prompted me to give the trip to someone else – oh, no, it was a total loss. Perhaps if He had done it any other way, I wouldn’t have this message engraved in stone on my forehead – ‘ASK GOD ABOUT TIMING AS WELL AS DIRECTION!’
Then, in 1992, as I am coming home from this wonderful Quarter Horse Show I worked for years, I was passing through Nashville, TN in late October and God spoke to me: “Stop and call your friend, Lolly Arnold.” Lolly, a Hawaiian by birth, lived in Nashville many years. God had brought us together in a church in Hendersonville one crisp October night a couple of years earlier and we had been instant soul mates. So, I stopped at a pay phone [no cell phone at the time] and called Lolly. Her immediate response was: “Where are you?” When she learned I was in town, she insisted I come over and spend the night with her before driving on to Dallas. I complied with her request.
At some point, she heard about my experiences concerning Benny Hinn that I’ve just related, this prophecy I had received through him, and the disappointment of not being allowed to go on the trip to Israel. She said: “I had to hear all of this to confirm what I knew God was already speaking to me – even before your initial call. You are going to Israel next week with my sister, Judy, who lives still in Hawaii and myself. We are meeting in New York and spending the next 3 weeks in Israel and you are going with us.” I made all of the feeble excuses I could drum up. I was tired [exhausted would have been a better word], I hadn’t been home in months, I was behind with all of my necessary accounting paperwork for my shows, etc. etc. etc. I said: “Besides, if you’re leaving next week, you must have booked this trip months ago and it is probably sold out and there wouldn’t be any room for me anyway.” Lolly, who does hear from God clearly, said: “If we make a call and find out they have a cancellation, would you go?” So confident was I that this was never going to fall in place that I said: “Of course, make the call.” But, much to my amazement, only minutes prior to the call being made, someone from another state had cancelled their booking due to a death in their family.
I had already found out from Lolly that there were 500 people going on this trip – two complete airplane loads of folks – and that in every city except Jerusalem, they would be splitting the group up into multiple hotels to accommodate all of them. I never made any special request to the travel agency concerning accommodations – probably because I was in such shock that there was a vacancy, but in my heart, I asked the Lord to confirm all of this as being His Plan and His Timing for me by allowing me to be on the same airplane and in the same hotels with Lolly and Judy. And, of course, He did all of that. But it was not until I got to New York to meet Lolly and Judy and we received our packet of final literature and boarding passes, that we discovered I was not only on the same airplane with them, but on the same row – just across the aisle from them, so we could effectively hold a conversation the entire trip. Not only that, but we were booked in all of the same hotels for the entire trip and out of the 10 tour buses used to transport this group around Israel, we were all assigned to the same bus.
Needless to say, everything the Lord had spoken to me through Benny Hinn had come true exactly to the last detail. I was in Jerusalem on my birthday – the last full day in Israel. That afternoon, we had all been taken to the Upper Room to see the famous place where God’s Power had manifest in a group of 120 folks. We were also to participate in a communion service with our entire group and several other groups from around the world.
Lolly and I were walking around looking at everything and she nudged me and said, “Sunny, I think that man over there is trying to get your attention.” I looked up and saw a very handsome, very Israeli looking guy motioning for me to come to his position. I asked Lolly to accompany me. When we got in voice range, the man began to speak to me directly out of the Bible, except he had no Bible in his hand. He spoke to me out of Isaiah, Ezekial, Jeremiah, and the words were coming out of him like bullets being fired from a Thompson sub-machine gun. They were so forceful that I felt they were penetrating my very being. At some point, he began to prophecy, virtually word-for-word, the exact same things that Benny Hinn had said – purpose of trip, etc. – then he told me that I was on holy ground only because the blood of my savior had penetrated the soil of this nation. Then he said: “The Lord would have you know your Hebrew name. It is important now, but soon it will be of even greater importance.” He said: “Your Hebrew name is ORLY” and he spelled it for me. Then, he said: “It is difficult to translate, but as close as I can see, it means ‘The Light of Christ in You.’” He said: “That lines up with the experience I had when you stepped into the room.” He explained: “I couldn’t see your face at all for a few minutes because there were such strong rays of light emanating from your face – actually your entire head, but especially your face, that it blocked out my view of your facial features.”
This man spoke much about the magnitude of ministry I would be involved with and the numbers of folks whose lives would be touched by my being obedient to the call of God on my life. He, too, spoke of K. Kuhlman and the same anointing. He then spoke that he was aware of this being my birthday and how very special it was that God had given me my Hebrew name on this day. Then, for the first time in all this, he broke eye contact with me, looked down at the tour badge I had on, “Sunny” and stated: “That is not your birth name, but the Lord wants you to know that Sunny is His choice for you a name and that it, basically, means the same as Orly.”
I had been given another name at birth by my Mom, but at age 7 months, my mother had attempted and succeeded in causing an abortion to herself when she found herself again pregnant by my father, a man that was not being faithful to her, not meeting her financial needs, and a whole lot of other negative things I’d rather not get off into. I’m not in any way justifying my Mom’s actions, but after all these years, I can better understand where she was: uneducated, totally dependent upon this man to sustain life for her, facing the very real possibility of having to raise me alone, etc. etc. In any event, because of the crude tactics used in this procedure, a strong infection set in and Mom nearly lost her own life as a result of her decision. Of necessity, she had to leave me with her favorite sister, my aunt Agnes, who truly became my spiritual mom. It was my aunt, during the 6 weeks that I lived with her, that started calling me “Sunny”. She declared to the rest of the family members that I had the sunniest disposition she had ever seen and felt this name better suited me than the name given me by my Mom. By the time Mom was released from the hospital, the “dye was cast” and everyone in her own family were already calling me Sunny. For the rest of my Mom’s life, she alternated, at will, between the two names. It was only me that went through a season of rejecting the name Sunny. Though it wasn’t spelled Sonny, it sounded the same and Sonny was a popular boy’s name at my high school. I threatened my family never to call me that in front of my friends. The last thing I wanted was to be masculine in any area.
Somewhere around age 50, I got the idea that Sunny was really a pretty neat name and spent some bucks to have a very quality western belt designed with the name engraved in sterling silver and highlighted with rubies on the back of my belt. I began to make that name out of gold wire and put it on all of my expensive western hats that I wore at the horse shows, livestock shows and rodeos where I designed my line of personalized jewelry items. I even designed a cattle brand that resembled a rising sun and called it Sunny’s Brand.
I came home from Israel at Thanksgiving time and it was not until June of 1993, that the Lord spoke to me and instructed me to apply for a legal name change. I complied with the request, trusted Him to provide the finances, which came in such a unusual way that even I knew only God could have done it, and had my name legally changed to SUNNY ORLY.
Once the application was accepted and the court granted my request in August of 1993, the Lord shared with me the purpose of all this action. He had effectively removed every name any man had given me and replaced them all with only names He, Himself, had chosen. So, when Roger came along, at God’s choosing, he didn’t have to see my birth name, my prior married name, etc. It just wiped the slate clean. He also showed me in the Bible several instances where He had changed the names of folks as He changed their natures. [Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob are a few examples.]
HOW SUNNY RECEIVED HER NAME [Sunny Orly Coffman] 8-7-01 1