All In The Family
"And such were some of you: but ye are washed,
Joy riding at night, the two teenage youths never considered it stealing. After all, they never kept the cars. When the owner showed up each morning for work, all the cars were in their place on the lot.
Somehow the police didn't look at it in quite the same light. The charge was "theft by taking" and for Gene, one of the boys involved in this thrill seeking pastime, the prison term served would be eight years.
Released at twenty-four, the tall, thin, Georgia boy had now grown into a muscular young man, a whole lot wiser, but with no real direction or purpose in life.
He had honed his skills in gambling while serving time and for the next nine years, Gene would crisscross the United States and Canada working with a carnival. The money was good, especially the cut he got for drawing in the suckers who thought they could win against him. But it wasn't enough. He had to make up for a lot of lost time.
Contacts with the underworld led him to Florida where gambling was replaced with activity in drugs and running a prostitution house.
For awhile he stayed ahead of the law, somehow always managing to avoid arrest, but his addiction to cocaine ultimately caused him to become careless.
"Freeze", yelled the police as they kicked in the door of Gene's apartment. Shots rang out as the police killed Gene's dog. Forcing Gene to lie, spread-eagle on the kitchen floor with a gun held to the back of his head, they read him his Miranda rights.
While Gene was sinking to the bottom, his sister Lesia was going through her own private hell. A serious auto accident had left her paralyzed from the neck down, but in her darkest hour she had reached out to the Lord and renewed her devotion to Him.
Day after day, sitting in her wheelchair, helpless to do anything but pray, she cried out to God for her brother's salvation.
In the meantime, Gene, after serving time in a drug rehabilitation facility, moved back to Cochran. Although free of his addiction to cocaine, his dependence on other drugs and alcohol still held him in its deadly grip. It seemed to Lesia that her prayers for her brother were not going past the ceiling.
"Lord, send someone to talk to Gene. Please save him." Lesia knew first-hand where sin would lead. She had been away from the Lord when her accident occurred. One of the first people to her side in the hospital was Gene, and now her concern was for him. This was a special brother!
One day I got a call. "Mrs. Tuck. This is Gene. Could I come and talk to you about something?"
I had recently led a hooker, whom I'll call Fran (not her real name), to Jesus. She had been living with Gene. Wanting to straighten up her act, she had left him. I thought his call to see me had something to do with her. The only knowledge I had of this young man was that he worked for a friend of mine...that is when he could work. Two fifths of whiskey and a twelve pack of beer a day, plus the pot he was smoking, made for a pretty shaky painter.
I made arrangements to meet him at my office at a certain time, but was delayed. "Honey there's a long-haired guy coming to the office to see me, and I'm running a bit late."
My husband answered, "He's already been here, but he says you know where he lives."
Taking Charlie's response as a natural go ahead for me to track this guy down, I went to the little shack in which he was living. "Bless Charlie, Lord." Not many men could handle their wives fishing in such strange places. As I pulled up in my car, I took a long look. Standing nervously outside a small, weather beaten house was a tall, gaunt looking man with long hair, no front teeth, and an anguished look of despair on his face.
I rolled my car window down. Walking toward me, he leaned down, and looking directly at me said, "Miss Tuck, this isn't about Fran. This is about me. I'm an alcoholic, and my life is a mess. I've tried to change, but I can't." He took a deep drag on his cigarette. "I know there must be something more to life."
Looking at this young man, standing next to my car door, I suddenly knew that God had orchestrated this meeting. I quickly responded, "Gene, the only one who can change you is Jesus. Are you willing to make that kind of a change?"
"Yes Ma'am," he answered with a slow, southern drawl.
"Would you be willing to go with me to talk to my pastor?"
Again the quiet, yet firm response. "Yes, Ma'am."
"Then get in," I motioned with a nod of my head. Without a second's hesitation, he did!
After an hour at the church, I left the young man, now a brother in Christ, still talking with the pastor. My heart was singing as I drove off. What a great and awesome God. It was all so unbelievable. This was a fish that had literally jumped for the hook. Praise God! He did it all!
Later that day Gene went into his mother's house, mumbling something to his sister Lesia as he walked by her. "What did you say?" she asked when he came back onto the front porch.
As if repeating his own thoughts out loud, he responded, "I said, it's about time I made a change in my life so I went and saw Miss Tuck today, and I got saved." Unaware of the shock on Lesia's face, he added, "And now I've got to get my clothes washed so I can go to church tonight."
Later, Lesia, in relating this incident to me, laughed saying, "If I hadn't been paralyzed, I would have fallen out of my wheelchair!"
This was the start of what was to be a long and pleasant relationship with Gene and his whole family.
The next day I dropped by and asked him if he would like to go with me to a Women's Aglow meeting in Alabama. It was their Christmas meeting, and men were invited. He was game and off we went. This started a succession of meetings and get-togethers with this new convert. For the next three or four weeks, Charlie and I stuck to him like glue. My fishing partner, like me, was growing very fond of Gene.
Incredibly, Gene stopped drinking at once. It was a shock to his system. But he did it! Marijuana was harder to give up, but before long he had overcome this addiction as well. Gene was growing in the Lord. His progress was obvious to all.
A brother in the church offered him a job as a painter at our local junior college. With a new job, Gene felt he needed a new hair style. I agreed and so off to the beauty shop we went. "Betty, fix him up real good," I said as I left him in her capable hands. What a shock when I came back to pick him up. This guy was getting better-looking all the time. The few extra pounds he had gained and the new hair style had made quite a difference.
One time, as I was praying for Gene, I said to God, "Lord, I know Gene is happy, but why won't he smile?"
As quick as I asked this question, the Lord gave me the answer. "Would you smile if you didn't have any front teeth?" That's it! Teeth!
While Gene was living in Florida, a drunken driving spree had landed him, head on, into a telephone pole. To top it off, some Haitians had dragged him out of his car and beat him with a baseball bat. It was a bad day. Since then, no teeth and no driver's license either.
Making a painting deal with a dentist friend of mine for false teeth, Gene was on his way. I told him there was only one condition to the deal. He had to smile. And he did. In fact, Gene was smiling a lot. You could see his self-confidence growing.
One day Gene said, "Miss Jerri, I think I'd like to start a painting business of my own."
"You can do it," I encouraged. "Let's go to the printer and get you started."
Seeing his own logo on business cards, with his name and phone number, was all the encouragement he needed. Before long he had more business than he could handle. He eventually quit his job at the college and worked full time in his own business.
Soon DUI tickets were dropped, a van was purchased, and people in town were beginning to notice. One of the local sheriff's deputies told me that he had never seen such a change in anyone. I agreed.
About three months after Gene got saved, our daughter, Sandy, along with our granddaughter Amber, moved back to Cochran.
Just so happened Gene was around when she drove up with her U-Haul. Later over dinner, he shyly asked, "Are you going to church tonight Sandy?"
From then on, it was Gene, Sandy, and Amber.
Standing in front of the probate judge, where Gene had once paid fines for drunk driving, he was now placing a ring on Sandy's finger. There was a lot of smiling going on that day....by everyone......including Bobby Johnson, the Probate Judge. He, like everyone else, was amazed at what God had done.
Three years later, the three have become four, as baby Mallory was born. It was a proud daddy holding his little girl in the delivery room. It was hard to believe that just three years earlier this young man, with so much potential and talent, was at the point of despair. What a difference Jesus makes!
Today the shack has been replaced by a very nice, modest frame house, a temporary place until they build their new home. Recently purchasing three and one half acres, across from Cochran's country club, Gene and Sandy have been studying house plans. Amber is even planning to have a horse! And guess what? Grandma and Grandpa are just around the corner.
Fishing for men.
Needless to say from my point of view, fishing for men is extremely rewarding. In this particular incident, there was a real bonus in store for the Tucks. We got one of the best son's-in-law a family could ever hope for.
Now where did I put that pole?
Prayer for Today
It’s so exciting fishing for men. Wow! They really do come in all varieties. Lord, as I prepare myself to go out into the world today, help me remember that each soul I talk to could potentially become a member of my family. How would I want them treated? Would I be so quick to judge them if they were my children? Lord, open my heart to respond in compassion to those in need.
In Jesus name,
Jerri Tuck –
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