A month later, John and I left for France. Our itinerary called for traveling for two months, and I anticipated the sharp scent of autumn, lumbering wagons hauling grapes, vineyards turning red, wrapping myself against a cold snap. France wears a coat of full fall, and I relish it.
I did not want to take John along, but he plaintively asked to go, and it seemed cruel to leave him home. Paul and Ann, our friends from Dundee, joined us for the relaxing first week, and then Ann and I left the men in France and accompanied Marie-Louise on a rollicking road trip, taking us to minister in Italy and Switzerland. Marie-Louise, an inspiring French woman, and I had become mutually admiring friends in Bible school, and she now pastored a church in Sospel (no connection intended with Gospel). Unsuspecting of the discomfort they caused, neither of them knew of John’s “condition,” the two women chattered about us as a couple as if nothing were awry. Since I wasn’t ready to reveal anything, I felt like taffy being pulled on an automated machine, demonstrating its wares in a windowed candy shop.
After Paul and Ann left, John and I visited with Charles and Barbara, staying in a little apartment cozied underneath the welcoming home of the newly-elected director of the Christian Businessmen’s Club. Pampering us, the harvesting weather stayed warm, which facilitated our use of the toilet just outside our front door, couched in a cubicle tucked under the stairs. The shower had a 5-liter capacity, which meant you got soaped up and ran out of hot water! But these people were such a blessing to us. Beyond the toilet, like an exquisitely appointed tea tray, laid a beautiful garden, and I had peace and quiet to write my sermons as I ministered in various places in the area.
Being able to attend the meetings given by the South African Evangelist in Orlando required a two-hour drive. It was worth it. One Friday night I went by myself, feeling the need to touch God and have Him touch me. After the brother preached, he called for the ministers to be the first to come forward for prayer. We lined up, and he went down the line laying hands on each one. A spirit of laughter came over us; we laughed uproariously, some of us sitting on the floor because we could no longer stand we were laughing so hard. Periodically, when the laughter subsided, the brother would wave his hand at us and say, “Have another dose!” and we would fall to hard laughing once more.
At the end of the evening, on his way out of the church, the evangelist passed me sitting on the floor. He put his hand on my head and said, “Have a double dose.” I did not fall back laughing. From my old drinking days, before I was born-again, I recognized this dose as being one drink too many. There was always a limit where, if I drank one more drink, I would be sick. It felt like that. I had taken one spiritual drink too many. I pulled myself off the floor, staggered to my car, and drove home in a stupor.
France seemed like an aborted vision by now, even though the Lord spoke clearly to me during my son’s graduation from Logos. One evening while in Texas that May, we attended an event in the Civic Auditorium, a meeting given by a big-name evangelist. I don’t remember the plea he made, but my heart, wide open, responded to it by saying, “Lord, I’ll go. I’ll do whatever you want done. Send me.”
My eyes, wide open, looked at the podium and suddenly, before me, stood Jesus. His face practically touched mine, and He said emphatically, “Marty, I said France.”
Responding to His words, I hung my head in shame and said, “I am so unworthy.” Instantly, Satan stood before my still opened eyes.
I jerked my head up and saw Jesus once again. He repeated, “Marty, I said France.”
John and I visited Jo to help her while she gave birth to her third baby. We stayed several weeks taking care of the house, feeding the kids, and one evening Jo, the baby, and I went to a certain movie playing on the military base. The content of the film revolved around an abused wife’s revenge.
Jo made some comments on the way home that bothered me, and I determined to talk with her the next morning. When I woke the next day, I asked the Lord what kind of a day He had made. He said it was to be a day of truth. I had no idea what He meant.
Later in the morning, I took Jo into Bridget’s bedroom and asked about her comments. One thing led to another, and I asked, “Jo, do you hate men?”
A certain evangelist in town organized the restaurants into giving the ministers in the area a breakfast once a month at a different restaurant. Of course, they had to be big enough to seat about a hundred people, but he pulled the plan together. At one of these breakfasts I sat next to a man I had never met. He had his notebook open to a page where he had written the initials S.I.D.A. This is French for A.I.D.S. I leaned over and told him I knew French, so if he ever needed someone to speak to a French person, I’d be happy to help him.
He whispered back that S.I.D.A. is Spanish, and he didn’t know either French or Spanish. We laughed, but he took down my phone number. This was my first encounter with the possibility to speak French to someone, and I wondered if this was why I had taken the intensive French classes just before moving back to the States.
A friend of mine looked at Jo one day and said, “You would be perfect for my son. I’m going to have him write to you.” He did. He returned home from the Orient with his Marine unit, came to see Jo on Valentine’s Day, and soon after they planned a wedding.
Between the wedding and a heavy counseling schedule for John, I gave up all efforts to minister or to raise money. It seemed prudent since all the doors I opened slammed in my face. I wrote, instead, working away at JJ’s computer, as we gave him a new one for graduation, an upgrade he needed for law school.
The Lord told us to move back to California where we knew people. So, in May, in time for JJ’s graduation from Bible School, we wrapped up our business in France and returned to California. We wanted to set up base in the gold country, having always wanted to live there, and after a few frustrating days of finding nothing to rent, John pouted, “See? I told you we shouldn’t come back. If the Lord wanted us here, we’d have a place to live.”
The next day, I took a drive, just Jesus and me. He told me where to go, arriving at a community I didn’t know existed, a little town called Cool. There I stopped by a Realtor’s office, and since I always try to check a person’s spiritual pulse, I discovered her to be a born-again woman. She said it would be a joy to find something for me.
Jo came bouncing in and plopped down on the sofa. Jordan, like a tin soldier, marched through the living room and sat rigidly beside her. She took his hand. He had the air about him of “Oh, sure, right, yeah, that’s what we should do, hold hands.”
I said, “Well, Jordan, this is rather surprising news. What do you want to do about this?”
Giving an excellent impression of a puppy dog he looked like he should have his tongue hanging out dripping saliva. “We should get married, don’t you think?”
Jo chimed in, “We want to get married. I don’t want to go to France.”
Wanting my husband to help shoulder these problems, I told him about the measles shot and its ramifications. He reacted by saying, “Let it drop. These things don’t really hurt anybody.”
I thought, “It hurt you enough to drive you into homosexuality. What will it do to my daughter?” But I didn’t say anything for fear of an eruption. His perversion had become forbidden territory to investigate.
As time passed my daughter’s rage and my confusion ruled our relationship. What could I do to clean up this mess? I went to my prayer group for help, asking them to pray for my daughter without divulging the exact nature of the problem; my friends were also learning about spiritual things like I was. One by one they came to me and said we needed to pray for her in her room.
During our second year in Bible School, we enrolled our daughter in a private Christian school. The popular, teased-hair crowd at the public school had shunned her long parted-in-the-middle California hairstyle, and that left the disenfranchised who grabbed her. Jo’s loneliness worried me. I wanted to get her out of that venue before she encountered the drug scene, or entered the sex rat race, so mid-year I tried to move her to the private school. Jo didn’t want to suffer another initiation and appealed to her father for help.
“Marty, Jo doesn’t want to change schools now. Wait till fall.
“Look. We should have put her in the Christian school from the beginning, but we didn’t. I believe when you see you’ve made a mistake, you should alter it immediately.”
“No. We’re leaving her in public school.”