During height of the Azuza street revivals that launched many Pentecostal denominations including the Assemblies of God, a woman named “May Faye” attended faithfully and was deeply affected by the powerful moves of God’s Spirit. As she had no children of her own, she felt deeply impressed of God to pray daily for her nephew Jim John Barker. For a very long time she committed herself to intercede for Jim, whether or not she saw results right away or not.  Many other people had given up on Jim John- a man known for his ferocious temper.  To the public, Jim made his living selling his delicious hot tamales at his cart every day, but in reality he made his money in the dangerous bootleg trade of the 1920’s, smuggling homemade liquor during the prohibition. He had no interest in God, repentance or “revivals”.  But May had made a covenant with God to pray for Jim every single day until God “got ahold of him”.  And God blessed that persistant lady, her committed prayer life and her unshakable faith.  Jim John Barker had an earth-shattering “Saul into Paul” encounter at an altar one night; everyone who had ever known him swore he was NOT the same man- in a GOOD WAY.  Jim Barker devoted his life to the study of God’s Word, and to the ministry.  After becoming an ordained minister, Rev. Barker helped found several growing churches across the state of Texas during his lifetime.  I have heard stories about the long hours he spent in prayer; he never so much as drank a glass of water without stopping to thank God.  This was a man who truly WALKED with Jesus, every single day. And the story did not end there.  Rev. James and his aunt May Faye, then made a pact to pray every day for James’ son Jim Hollis Barker.  Jim H. was a navy gunner in World War II, a great dancer and (from what I hear) pretty popular with the girls.  Jim was smoking several packs a day.  But after he encountered God during a powerful church service, Jim left all of his cigarettes right there on the altar and never touched anything like them again.  Jim Hollis Barker became an ordained minister and started several churches across the state of Texas (and he literally built several of the church buildings in which he pastored!) As you may have guessed Jim Hollis is my grandfather and James Barker is my great-grandfather.  My parents, Rev. Mark and Bonnie Stevens have pastored now with the Assemblies of God for over 40 years. My sister Rev. Erika Goffin (AG ordained) and her husband are youth pastors in a growing youth group, often working with kids who have been abused, addicted, and/or neglected (while raising their own 2 beautiful boys and foster daughter).  My little brother Shawn Stevens is a police officer and an absolutely anointed worship pastor (and father to 4 children). My adopted sister Bethany Thompson has a successful military career, a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful boys, and she has such a passion and faith that is contagious! All together there are at least 7 pastors in my family. Which means a few things:

A. If you are in our family and you try to become a Buddhist, we WILL have all night prayer meetings frequently until you come on back. We love you. Resistance is futile. All will be assimilated. 🙂

B. Holidays take FOREVER when we all get together. Christmas will include a worship service, prayer meeting, testimonies- preaching…..by all 7 pastors, and others, until their spouses get them to allow present opening.  Healings definitely happen at holiday gatherings.  #blessed

C. Funerals will include a worship service, prayer meetings, testimonies- preaching.  Healings will probably happen at our funerals. And a salvation altar call.

D. I can ask my family day or night for help or prayer- and they will go to PRAYER.  Not a “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer, but what they would call “laying hold of the horns of the altar, praying through etc.”  And I couldn’t be more grateful.  I know I am here because of those prayers.

And all of this came down to one little Assemblies of God woman, who made a promise to God to pray for her angry nephew every day. She never went to Bible College, never preached to the masses, and I don’t even know what she looked like.But I know she wouldn’t give up. And she was faithful.  My own children both read their Bibles every day and want to keep serving in ministry using their gifts which makes me want to say:.

To May Faye: I just wanted to say “Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for never giving up. See you when I get home. love Trish”

Do you have a prodigal in your life? Don’t give up praying for them. Don’t have children of your own? Believe me, there are prodigals who need your prayers right now. And you have NO idea how God will use your prayers, persistance and compassion to change many generations to come.

 

 

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