We joined Search Ministries for a couple of years and conducted many discussions on Life and God around the sprawling city of Houston. Sometimes we drove out to "The Barn" on a Sunday night to sing without instruments with a bunch of maverick Church of Christ folk. Their harmonies thrill the soul There we met Buddy who had a dream about launching a radio station for young people that played only contemporary Christian music. He did it. I listened, and called him: "You need something to break the sameness. How about letting me do an interview show?" I carted my little tape recorder around Houston and recorded the testimonies of many fascinating people. A couple of young women drug runners heard my broadcast and called in. One lived two lives, playing in a performing Christian band while using her cover as a UPS employee to deliver drugs. The other led only one life as the girlfriend of the leader of the whole drug running outfit in our city. She would never allow me to meet her, even sfter she came to Christ during a call from a phone booth. '"They will kill you, I will call you at the same time each week." And she did. She bought a Bible and we studied, phone booth to my home. Then she didn't call any more. The other girl phoned: "Her live-in caught her reading the Bible and shot her. She's dead!" I never met her. I don't even know her real name. "Aw, come on, Jo, that didn't happen." Yes, it did. All that I am telling you led eventually to a time when I became emotionally exhausted. I didn't even tell you some of the story. No wonder many Christians stay in the holy huddle their whole life and never venture out.
...and then came Gratia.. Twice, her husband Jack, was the Commander on the Columbia. We went to Canaveral to watch him lift off, then sped back to Mission Control in Houston to watch him come in. All around us was the whole launch crew. Jack was still up in space. At the consoles in front of us sat Steve, another Christian astronaut.. "What are you doing, Jack?" "I'm opening my Bible to have devotions with my crew"." What are you reading?" "Proverbs 3:5 and 6!" The media does not report such stunning information. Long after Jack was formally out of the Space Program he continued to speak to dignitaries around the world and returns to the Cape a couple of times a year to lead tour groups.
Now, about Jack's wife, Gratia: She would call. "Jo, I have this idea! I have a group of teenagers I want you to speak to." I showed up and walked into a crowd! Another time she invited wives of former astronauts for a weekend in Galveston. She had us lead discussions about Life and God for teenagers. About eight years ago her ideas lured us back to Ann Arbor where they lived at the time. She had lined us up to speak for street kids, Chinese students, faculty and other students on the campus of one of the Big Ten. Gratia probably never will run out of "ideas".
... back to Kingwood where we lived for a year and a half. I continued an every morning interview program on KSBJ. Ted was meeting with commuting business men in early morning Bible studies as we both continued to meet and teach small groups around the city. A dear attorney named Bill Lange helped us launch Family Life Resources, my continuing non-profit ministry. The people who had rented our home in Spring Branch trashed it. Our family labored to restore it so we could move back in, but the night before the move an arsonist broke in and threw a lighted match in a bucket of varnish. Sticky, black soot covered every inch of our hard work. No, I didn't strike the match but the thought did cross my mind. Insurance paid. I had our contractor knock out every wall possible to open our once closed-in home to the beautiful forest that surrounded us. Oil prices were abysmally low and had forced foreclosures all around us. We put our newly remodeled, open home on the market and it sold to the first people who came. We were on our way back to the dry, clear mountain air of California.
A not-so old-hymn by John Peterson:
JESUS LED ME ALL THE WAY
Step by step along each day.
I will tell the saints and angels when I lay my burdens down:
"JESUS LED ME ALL THE WAY."