Johnny went to live across town with his sister for a while and we didn't see him. Then, he returned to Billy's house next door. Several others moved in with him. These other people were bad news. The cops began making regular appearances there and carting some away for drugs. Finally, Johnny's sister, who is executor of the house, was called. She came and kicked everyone out of the house including Johnny! She had all the utilities turned off. Johnny and the others went to a motel until they were kicked out for tearing up the room. A couple of months ago, Johnny moved back into the house alone without air conditioning or running water. He came over and talked with Brock often. He had hit rock bottom and he knew it. A local pastor heard of Johnny and came to visit him a couple of times. Johnny would come over and sit on the front porch and discuss with Brock what the pastor had said. A week ago Saturday, Brock gave him a Life Book, written by a friend of ours about the gospel of John. Johnny came to the house that evening and had read the entire thing. He said he was ready to make the commitment to follow Jesus! Since then, Johnny has been going to the local pastor's church. He quit drinking. He's been helping Brock Gill clean up the trees that have fallen in our yard, had dinner with us a few times, and gone to the fair with us. Right now, Brock is outside working in the shop with his buddy, Johnny.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
James and Johnny were over at the house every day we were home. Just about the time I was about to tell Brock Gill he needed to draw some boundaries (something he can never do when someone is in need), James began to ask more questions about Brock's faith. While Johnny was at his house drinking, James would come over and talk about God. James said he was ready to give his life to Jesus. Brock talked with him for hours about it. The following Sunday, we took James to a country church down the street (our church was too far away for someone without a car). He met the pastor and began attending the church. Someone in the church gave him a job in construction. He quit drinking cold turkey and renewed his relationship with his 20 year old daughter. Everything was going great for James. However, a few weeks later, we came home from a show, and James was gone. Because of the location of Johnny's house, he was violating his terms of parole by living there. The police made him move out. Since James does not own a phone, I don't know what's happened with him. I pray he is still living for the Lord. Johnny watched how James' life changed when he became a Christian (mainly not drinking anymore) and did not want any part of it. He told Brock he wasn't ready for a change like that. Find out the conclusion tomorrow...
Posted by AUNY at 5:28 PM
Johnny is a very sensitive guy. He came over and poured his heart out to Brock. The problem was that Johnny didn't have a job or car or anything. Therefore, Brock drove him to the store, and let him do odd jobs around the house. A few weeks after Billy's accident, James, Johnny's friend who had just got out of prison, moved in with him. Both of them were at the house asking for work or a ride or a few dollars everyday. Most people would tire of them, but Brock Gill never did. He is drawn to people on the fringes. I remember recently at a multi-day event, one of our friends who was speaking a couple of the nights told Brock he needed to network more. After the service, I saw our friend, the "networker," talking with the leaders trying to get them to hire him again in the future (which there's nothing wrong with this). I went looking for my husband. Guess where he was? He was speaking to the janitor of the school where the event took place. I smiled, because this was typical of Brock. We would go out of town to do shows. The minute we returned, James and Johnny were at our doorstep. At one point, we had to stop paying them to do odds and ends at the house because we were running out of chores and money. However, Brock would still take them to the store, and they would sit on the front porch where I served them sweet tea. On James' birthday, I baked him a cake. We went to their house to deliver it. James and Johnny were sitting outside. Brock quickly said, "I'll give it to them, Auny. They look drunk." I never heard anything about the cake because neither one of them remembered it. I was crushed. It seemed hopeless with these two guys. Alcohol had a strong hold on James and Johnny, but our God is stronger. Find out what happened with James tomorrow...
Posted by AUNY at 5:27 PM
It was the first weekend of Winter Jam in January, 2012. We sat down for dinner in catering when Brock's phone rang. "Hey Johnny!" I heard him say. Then, his facial expression turned grim. He walked out of the noisy room and I followed him. After the call ended, he looked at me and said, "That was Johnny, Billy's brother. Billy was at a party last night. Things got crazy and he fell off of the porch and hit his head. He died on the way to the hospital," and he quickly added, "but they were able to revive him!" "That guy has nine lives!" I said breathing a sigh of relief. "There's more," Brock continued solemnly. "Billy is paralyzed from the neck down." My breath caught in my throat as I asked, "Will it come back? Sometimes paralysis is temporary after an accident." Brock said, "They think he may regain some mobility, but he will never walk again." A few weeks later, Brock and I went to the assisted living home where Billy had been transferred. When we walked into his room, Billy was asleep. His bed was propped up and he had his head tilted back and eyes closed. I noted how different he looked. He was pale and frail, not the vibrant Billy I was used to. Brock gently spoke his name. He stirred and looked at us without recognition. Brock said, "It's Brock from next door." We both chuckled when Billy asked, "Who???" We chatted with him a while. He was heavily medicated and not very coherent. I told Billy the Lord must have something special planned for him because he had died and been brought back to life three times! After several minutes, he looked up at Brock and said, "I'm hot. Can you take off my shirt?" Brock Gill laughed and said, "Billy, you never did like wearing a shirt!" Then, he leaned down and carefully removed his white t-shirt. Brock talked with Billy's sister who is a Christ follower. She told him Billy got saved in the hospital a few days after the accident! I pray that's true. Every now and then, we take Johnny and go visit Billy at the assisted living home. The last time we visited, he had won a popularity vote and was teasing the nurses. He is back to the same Billy just a different place and circumstances. He will live at this home indefinitely. Now enter Johnny. He moved into Billy's house. I will tell you about him and his roommate tomorrow. It all leads up to last Saturday evening...
Posted by AUNY at 5:25 PM
When Brock called Billy, this is how the conversation began every time: Billy: "Hello." Brock: "This is BROCK." Billy: "Who???" Brock: "This is BROCK from next door." Billy: "Oh, hey BRAD." One time, Billy was over at the house and he looked at the girl who was living with us at the time and said, "If someone comes up here that you don't know nothin' about, you call me and I'll show him what I'm about!" Then, he looked at me and said, "You too, Brock's wife." Haha! He could only get Brock's name correct when referring to me! We had a dozen friends over one day trying out our new 300 foot zip line. Billy was over helping us install it. He went on top of a rickety ladder with a chainsaw over his head and no shoes on. Brock, who was the Billy whisperer, was inside, so I tried to talk him out of cutting this one branch. One of the girls told a guy to hold the ladder for him. The guy shook his head and pantomimed the chainsaw coming down and cutting off his arm. We all backed up feeling helpless. At that moment, the ladder and Billy began to fall. Billy threw the chainsaw in the opposite direction. Then, he shrugged and got the chainsaw, climbed back up the ladder, and cut the limb. We all breathed a sigh of relief! When someone began going down the zip line, Billy would yell out encouraging words like "Make it happen, captain," or "That's the ticket, baby snake!" However, toward the end of the ride, he got concerned that the brakes would not stop the passenger and would scream the same thing every time, "Jump!!!" It was hilarious and all of our friends loved on Billy. Tomorrow, I will tell you more, but warning...the story gets sad.
Posted by AUNY at 5:24 PM
About ten years ago, Billy was driving his motorcycle with his brother, Johnny, on the back. They hit a semi-truck and were both thrown from the bike. Johnny hurt his back, but Billy was quickly declared dead. They covered him with a cloth. After several minutes, Johnny noticed the cloth over Billy was moving. He told the paramedics. They removed the cloth and Billy looked at them! On the way to the hospital, Billy died again. They gave him CPR and he came back to life again! After being in the hospital for eight months, Billy was released and went home. He had brain damage and lived off of a monthly disability check he received from the government. A few months after he returned home, we moved into our home next door. We quickly met Billy and became fond of him. He never wore a shirt or shoes, just a pair of shorts or jeans in the winter. He used words like "I don't mean to be ugly" even when he was not cussing or being ugly at all. Billy told some of the same stories over and over again. Our favorite one was when he came into possession of some full blood wolf pups. He loves animals and didn't know what to do with these wolves, so he took them to the Walmart parking lot and put up a sign above them that said "Free Huskies!" He gave them all away in a few hours. Can you imagine the owners' shock when those "puppies" grew up? Very quickly Billy began to associate Brock with the Lord. He would tell his friends, "Don't use bad language around him. He's religious!" More Barefoot Billy stories tomorrow...
Posted by AUNY at 5:23 PM
Friday, September 27, 2013
Our show is very interactive using many volunteers onstage. Brock looks for a certain type of person for each effect. On this night last year, he was looking for a little boy for this particular trick. As he got the six year old boy onstage, I held my breath. Adults are somewhat predictable. You never know what is going to come out of a child's mouth. Brock asked this little boy where he worked. "Walmart!" he answered with no hesitation. When the audience laughed, he looked right out at the crowd and gave them a beaming smile. It was as if he came alive on the stage. Brock continued on with the adorable little guy. At some point Brock commented that his mom needed to get him an agent. I silently agreed as I watched the boy own the stage. After the show, the mother of the boy came running up to us tears in her eyes. She told us that her son was autistic. The doctors said that he would never be able to stand on a stage. The lights and large crowd would overwhelm him. She said what happened that night was a miracle! If you have a special needs child in your life, realize this. Whenever the doctors give the diagnosis, they must tell you what to expect based on his/her symptoms and past experiences. It's their job. However, when you serve the almighty God, expect the unexpected! He has a knack for taking our weaknesses and turning them into huge, supernatural strengths. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Posted by AUNY at 10:02 AM
Our day yesterday began at 9:30am and ended at 11pm. During that time, Brock spoke at a church. He did his new passionate message about how to see revival in our country. It ended with people on their knees praying. After the service, a big, strong guy came up to the pastor bawling. At one time, he was the sheriff. He had not been coming to church as much as he used to. After hearing from God that morning, he was ready to get involved and really serve at their church. At 1pm, we drove our dually truck and trailer to the community hall. There we set up our grand illusion show which we have not done in probably seven years. Since we were in this same town, Bay St Louis, Mississippi, earlier this year, we decided to bring out some of the old stuff. Also, because we had done some school assemblies last week promoting the night, we added the water coffin. At 4:15pm we quickly rehearsed the illusions. At 5:56, we finished setting the final prop. "And we have 4 minutes to spare," Brock said laughing. I was beginning to remember why we don't do this particular show anymore...5 hours of set up! The place was packed out. We squeezed kids on the floor in the front. Adults from the church stood along the wall allowing people from the community to use the chairs. Excitement filled the room. We performed the cube zag, where Brock cuts me in half in a vertical fashion; assistant's revenge, or the shower curtain as Todd Prather termed it years ago, where Brock's arms and legs are in locked stocks and belts are strapped around him from head to toe. I pull the curtain in front of him, and just like that, Brock is free. He then pulls back the curtain to reveal me all strapped in now. Before Brock escaped from the water coffin, we did the famous origami illusion. It all went really smoothly! After the water escape, Brock spoke about the only true freedom is found when you give your lives to Jesus. The response was great! I am not sure the official count of ones saying yes to Christ last night, but they ran out of the 100 response cards they had. That made the hard work worth it!
Posted by AUNY at 10:01 AM
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Yesterday I woke up with an anxious heart. In October, we are going on two mission trips to Las Vegas and Brock's going to Nicaragua. This means that not only are we going to have to pay some expenses, but we will not be receiving any income that month. Not to mention, November and December are slow for us as well. When we agreed to it this summer, both of us said that we would trust in the Lord to provide. Now that it's getting closer, I am beginning to worry. As I spent time with the Lord yesterday morning, I scolded myself for doubting. I am writing a book about the miracles the Lord has done in our lives over the last several years and how He always takes care of us. Just the day before, I was telling someone how the Lord provided for us this summer. How quickly I forget. A few hours later, I ran across a speeding ticket Brock got while we were in Louisiana last month. Fear immediately began to boil to the surface. The whole financial situation began to blow up again in my head. I am trying to save every penny I can to get us through the next few months. Who knows how much this ticket will cost? I walked out to the porch where Brock was saying goodbye to someone on the phone. I sighed and handed him the ticket. "Can you take care of this?" "Sure," Brock said as he grabbed it and ripped it to pieces. I stood there looking shocked as he smiled and said, "I was just talking on the phone with an attorney from Jonesburo, Louisiana where we performed last month. He called the officer who gave us the ticket and told him what we do. The guy was fascinated by a Christian illusionist and said that he would change the ticket to a warning." Just like that, my fears subsided. If God would take care of a silly ticket that was a mistake, I know He will provide for us in October when we are going where He has asked us to go. God is so trustworthy.
Posted by AUNY at 9:28 AM
Monday, June 10, 2013
It was right before we began the 3rd night of camp services last week and my heart was heavy. The first night everyone was so excited because God showed up and we were all very expectant of what God was going to do that week. However, it seemed that all of us were distracted on the second night. The band (The Awakening, who are totally anointed and amazing by the way) felt the same way. We prayed with them and a few youth pastors before the service began. Brock talked with Stone, the leader of the band, and told him that if he felt that same distraction by the audience when he began leading worship to nod at Brock so that Brock could address it. Stone gave the nod shortly into the first song, so Brock went onstage and basically interrupted worship. I nervously prayed that what he said would go over well. Brock can be so extreme and the people pleaser in me sometimes gets nervous. I've learned to trust that Brock is hearing from the LORD. It's just that sometimes my flesh gets anxious. Brock said, "I don't want us to be guilty of what Jesus charged the pharisees with in Mark 7:6-7, so we are going to have a do over." Brock had everyone go back out into the lobby and repent and pray. Whenever they felt like their hearts were right, they were instructed to come back in and worship the Almighty God. I went out with them to watch what happened. This was such a remarkable group of teenagers and leaders that everyone separated and prayed quietly for several minutes, nobody was goofing off. Then, one by one, they began to file back in. I stayed out until there was only a few left. One of the last people to come back into the building was the drummer of the band. The LORD really got a hold of him, so the band played without him for a little while. It was actually really cool, because when the drummer entered the stage, you could tell. The drums coupled with the drummers' attitude of worship took the worship time up to a new level. Worship was so sweet that night and God showed up! In fact, most of the group stayed and worshiped for over 4 hours. It was incredible!
Posted by AUNY at 2:56 PM
Monday, April 29, 2013
Saturday, when we were stranded at a gas station off of I-40, I went into the store and heard the song, "I'm Coming Home" sung by Skylar Grey playing over the speakers. The lyrics began to wash over me. Wasn't I coming home at some point...hopefully? I youtubed the song when I was back in the bus and found one video that was very nice. Even though this is a very secular, mainstream song (in fact, the cover of her record has her mostly naked on the front, that's why I chose this video with scenery instead of the girl), it called to my soul. Lot's of things pull at our heart, but only the things of God really reach down to our souls. You see, as Christ followers, there is something that is missing in this world. It's not just all of the heartache and the disease of sin, but it's a longing for the New World, that New City, heaven. No matter how comfortable we are here, it's not our home and we have a deep desire to ultimately be with our LORD. Hebrews 13:14 says, "For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come." And Hebrews 11:10 says, "For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." Watch this video and let the words sink deep into your soul. Whether you've had a loved one that's already gone to be with the LORD, or maybe you're like me and are having a little dry spell. Home is with the LORD. Even here on earth, the times we feel most at home is when we are close to our LORD. If you've let this world distract you and are not as close to the LORD as you once were, listen to these words. He's calling you home. Run into his open arms figuratively speaking and dream of the day when it will not be figuratively anymore...
Posted by AUNY at 9:21 AM
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Smooth is the opposite of how things have been going for us. Last night as it began to rain on us and the few who braved the weather to come to the festival, right in the middle of our show, I thought about this. However, I knew that in a few minutes we would be finished and would have a break for a couple of weeks. Also, I comforted in the fact that stellar kart had allowed us to ride in their bus. This meant that we could be home as early as 8am the next morning! The thought of being home warmed my chilled bones. Well, things didn't happen the way I had hoped. It's 8:40am and we are still an hour and a half from home. The bus broke down. As of now, we are stranded at a gas station off of I-40 85 miles from Nashville. Oh well! At least we aren't in the er where we spent the first couple of weekends this month.
Posted by AUNY at 8:30 AM
Monday, April 22, 2013
Travel pushes you to the extreme and sometimes beyond. There are days when even the sweet elderly lady serving breakfast at the Hampton Inn gets on my nerves. When everyone is annoying me, the common denominator is me. I know that it's my problem and I need to find some time to get alone. Friday was one of those days. The difficulty was that we had lots of shows and set up that day, so I didn't know if alone time would be possible. We came down to the breakfast area of our hotel, and I was ready to just take a few minutes before our hectic day and have a quiet breakfast. As soon as I set my things down, this guy from across the room wearing an orange shirt made eye contact with me. After a recognition came across his face, he began to wave excitedly. I looked behind me knowing that he was waving at someone he knew. Nobody was there and the guy began to approach me. He was probably in his 20's and it became quickly clear that he was mentally challenged. Selfishly I thought, "There goes my quiet breakfast." However, my whole morning, correction, my whole outlook changed when I met this man. He stuck out his hand and said, "I'm Andrew. What's your name?" We began to talk for a while and Andrew had so much joy that it was infectious. Then, he said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, "I pray for people everyday. Can you write your name in my book so that I can pray for you?" I was too choked up to talk so I nodded my head and wrote my name and then gave the book to Brock to write his name. At this time, Andrew's parents entered and Andrew said, "Mom and Dad, I met some new friends!" We began talking with them. Then, another guy came up to Andrew's parents and said, "I work for a minister named Charles Swindoll and have been in the ministry for years, but I have to tell you. After meeting Andrew, I went up to my room and cried for about 20 minutes because compared to him, I am a hypocrite!" At this point, Andrew's parents began crying, I was bawling by now. Brock came over and said, "I don't know this guy, but I'd like to echo what he said. I'm in the ministry as well." Of course, Andrew was walking around talking to other people in the lobby he had not met yet. There has been a few times in my life when I met Jesus with skin on. Friday was one of those times...the day I met Andrew.