T. D. Jakes  (1957-alive)

     In 1976 at 19 T. D. Jakes abandoned college to become an itinerant preacher. A vision compelled him. But he was terrified. He was a hulking, awkward African-American youth with bad eyes and a lisp. His hands shook so bad when he spoke to a mere handful of people on the sidewalk he had to hide them behind his back. The tedious fear of speaking finally left him but he didn't get a congregation for four years. That Pentecostal congregation numbered ten. And they could give him nothing but meals. When he married in 1980 he felt he had to get a regular job, as well as pastor on Sundays.
     But his job at a chemical plant lasted only two years. He was worse off than he was before. Now he had a wife, twin boys and a house to support. His car was one of the first casualties. It rarely ran. In 1982 at 25 T. D. was so poor he walked into the utility company office and begged them not to cut off his electricity. He failed. He walked back into the street and broke down crying. Many times now he had to trudge to his mother's house and lug containers of water back to his house. Winter evenings his heart ached when he saw by candlelight his wife and twin babies shivering under blankets. His wife washed his shiny suits because they could not afford dry cleaning.
     And yet he continued to minister. His car looked so bad when it occasionally ran that one of the congregation offered to park it
behind the tiny church he pastored. T. D. remembered the feisty stubborn dog he had a boy. It would run to the end of its rope and bring itself down with a thud. After six years feisty stubborn T. D. was just about at the end of his rope. He made some money doing odd jobs. He dug ditches. When no work was available he haunted roadsides picking up bottles. The ultimate failures had not struck yet. The family still had its health. They still had their house. But for how long when they were so desperately poor? How long could T. D. continue to minister?

Can You Stand To Be Blessed? by T. D. Jakes, 1994, and Woman, Thou Art Loosed! by T. D. Jakes, 1993]

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T. D. lurched from the electric company office onto the street and broke down crying.

As a young part-time preacher T. D. Jakes often went deep into the backwoods of the West Virginia mountains. Here the people were abysmally poor and often physically and mentally handicapped. One little boy - the result of incest - called another boy his 'cousin-brother'. T. D. stayed with host families. Once he slept in a house swarming with hordes of flies that had no visible food for such proliferation. He was sickened by a feeling the house was Satanic. It was all he could do to not flee. He prayed every waking minute for the grace not to run, so he would not embarrass his hosts. He didn't run but he never lost the feeling he had about that house.

C. S. Lewis  (1898-1963)

     Christmas of 1916 C. S. 'Jack' Lewis had a future few could have hoped to have. The 18-year-old had just been awarded a scholarship to Oxford University. His tutor, an atheist like Jack who rarely praised, said Jack was a phenomenon. His literary judgment was extraordinary. He not only unerringly knew first-rate literature but could explain why it was so. It seemed inevitable that Jack would triumph at Oxford, then make a great name for himself as a literary critic. But inevitable it was not. Less than one year later Jack arrived on the front lines in France, a lieutenant for the British infantry in World War I.
     On the dawn of April 15, 1918, he was atop Mount Berenchon, near the village of Lillers. Overhead two-winged planes, flimsy as dragonflies, scouted armies and occasionally dropped bombs. The main threat was down in front of Jack. Smoke spewed from cannons and tanks.  Dirt plumed up from shell bursts. The German forces stretched to the horizon. Several divisions had massed against the First British Army between Bethune and Armentieres. The great German offensive was coming right through Jack's infantry unit!
    "What the blazes was that?" screamed someone.
     Jack's mind was spinning. He could see nothing. He must have been leveled by the blast from a bomb or an artillery shell. Was he  crawling momentarily like a squashed insect? He was alive but surely he was dying. His thoughts were dying embers. He felt nothing. No regret. No sorrow. Nothing. But it was a cold end for an atheist not yet 20 years old…

Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis, 1955, and Letters of C. S. Lewis edited by Warren Lewis, 1966]
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C. S. Lewis

   During the 1940s CS Lewis debated at the Socrates Club at Oxford. He was regarded
   as virtually invincible in a debate. In 1948 Elizabeth Anscombe, a believer who was 
   also a philosopher, fought Lewis toe to toe with the same ruthless debating
   techniques that Jack used. Mentored by Ludwig Wittgenstein, she advanced the most
   contemporary philosophical arguments.
   Lewis was crushed. In his mind she had destroyed his arguments in his book
   When Amscombe was told of his distress she was surprised. She thought she had lost
   to Lewis!




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