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2003 Conversations


Joy Williams: Rooted in Grace (December 29, 2002)

Judy Rachels: Christmas gifts (December 22, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael: New music for a timeless message (December 15, 2002)

Roger and Greg Flessing: Media, ministry and society's ungodly messages (December 8, 2002)

Rick Salvato: Meeting medical and spiritual needs around the world (November 24, 2002)

Asa Hutchinson: Drug Enforcement's top officer (November 17, 2002)

Bill Bright: 'Not I, but Christ' (November 10, 2002)

Ray Berryhill: Living by faith (October 20, 2002)

Owen C. Carr: Reading through the Bible 92 times (October 13, 2002)

Curtis Harlow: Combating campus drinking (September 29, 2002)

Wes Bartel: Making Sunday count (September 22, 2002)

M. Wayne Benson: The Holy Spirit knocks (September 15, 2002)

Dr. Richard Dobbins: Understanding Suffering (September 8, 2002)

K.R. Mele: Halloween evangelism (August 25, 2002)

Roland Blount: God makes a way for blind missionary (August 18, 2002)

Cal Thomas: Finding a mission field (August 11, 2002)

Lisa Ryan: For such a time as this (July 28, 2002)

Dallas Holm: Faith and prayer in life’s toughest times (July 21, 2002)

Paul Drost: Intentional church planting (July 14, 2002)

James M. Inhofe: Serving Christ in the Senate (June 30, 2002)

Karen Kingsbury: The Write stuff (June 23, 2002)

Michael W. Smith: Worship is how you live each day (June 16, 2002)

Wayne Stayskal: On the drawing board (June 9, 2002)

Fory VandenEinde: Anyone can minister (May 26, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask: Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2002)

Stormie Omartian: Recovering from an abusive childhood (May 12, 2002)

Luis Carrera: Beyond the Shame (April 28, 2002)

Tom Greene: The church of today (April 21, 2002)

Philip Bongiorno: Wisdom for a younger generation (April 14, 2002)

Deborah M. Gill: Christian education and discipleship (March 24, 2002)

Norma Champion: Becoming involved in politics (February 24, 2002)

Steve Pike: A candid discussion about Mormonism (February 10, 2002)

Raymond Berry: More to life than football (January 27, 2002)

Sanctity of Human Life roundtable: Doctors speak out (January 20, 2002)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: Ministering in the military (January 13, 2002)


2001 Conversations

Recovering from an abusive childhood

(May 12, 2002)

Stormie Omartian is a popular speaker, musician and author of 12 Christian best sellers. She and her husband, Michael, have enjoyed a longstanding ministry as Christian artists, producing records, videos, books and other resources. Stormie spoke recently with Scott Harrup, associate editor, about the challenges of relating to an abusive mother and her discovery that God can bring healing in the most trying circumstances.

EVANGEL: Your childhood was difficult. Could you talk about some of the pain you faced?

OMARTIAN: I was raised on an isolated ranch in Wyoming in a home without running water or central heat. My mother was mentally ill and my dad was gone a lot. Even when he was home, Dad was so tired that he barely seemed to be there. Mom was always talking to the voices in her head and she would put me in the closet to punish me, although I never was sure why I was being punished. If I protested in any way, however, I’d really get punished. Often, she forgot I was in the closet. Our house was old, so there were mice and spiders and once there was a snake. The dirty laundry was kept in that closet, so I spent the hours sitting on the laundry basket pulling my feet up so nothing would crawl over them. I was very afraid and I believed that life was hopeless and futile.

We moved when I was older. Mom no longer locked me in the closet, but she continued to be abusive and referred to me in the most obscene manner. When I went to school and was able to visit friends’ houses, I realized for the first time just how abnormal my home life was. Mom was so unpredictable, she could become violent at any time. So I never brought friends to my house. This only intensified my feelings of isolation and lack of love.

As an outgrowth of those experiences I tried to kill myself when I was 14. As I grew older, I relied heavily on alcohol and drugs and I became involved in unhealthy relationships. I delved into Eastern religions and the occult. I was trying to find some way to dull my pain. Whatever I tried would seem to work temporarily, but ended up sending me into deeper pain. There was always a backlash.

EVANGEL: How did you come to Christ?

OMARTIAN: At 28, I was at the end of my rope. I’d tried everything there was to try to beat my pain. I felt I couldn’t live any longer. I planned my suicide more carefully this time, hoping it would look like an accident. A friend I was doing a record session with noticed my depression and insisted that I meet with her pastor, Jack Hayford of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif. The three of us met at a restaurant. He talked with me a long time about Jesus Christ, and he made the gospel come alive for me for the first time in my life. He gave me three books to read: The Gospel of John, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters and a book on the working of the Holy Spirit. I went home and read them. My eyes were opened. I know people must have been praying for me because the words just seemed to leap off the page. We met Pastor Jack the following week in his office. I accepted Christ as my Savior that day in October of 1970. It’s been nearly 32 wonderful years.

EVANGEL: Several of your books focus on the power of prayer. How has prayer transformed your relationship with the Lord and with loved ones?

OMARTIAN: Prayer has saved my life. My husband, Michael, and I were married in 1973. Between my salvation experience and finding a marriage partner, my life had turned around. I believed that all of my problems would be solved. But I still struggled with long-term bouts of depression. Going to church regularly and studying the Bible were helping, but I had not yet identified my depression as something that needed to go. Several pastors’ wives were really gifted in helping people who were depressed. I began to attend counseling sessions at my church and it was eye-opening to discover that I did not have to live with those feelings.

My counselor fasted and prayed with me and helped me see that God had a different plan for my life. A big part of my recovery was confessing my unforgiveness of my mother and asking God to set me free to forgive her. As I prayed, I felt my depression lift from me. It was like someone removed a crushing load from my shoulders. I had discovered the power of prayer. I began to wonder what else God could do in response to prayer. I discovered that God wants us to pray and to partner with Him to see His divine plans enacted. When we realize how prayer can affect our marriages and our children and our work and our relationships, we can begin to bring God into those situations in a deeper way. There are so many things we just don’t think to pray about, and God waits for our prayers to act in our behalf in those areas.

EVANGEL: What are your newest ministry opportunities?

OMARTIAN: Writing is my favorite thing to do, and that outreach has continued to open up over the years. About six years ago, I felt led in my prayer group to pray that my current book at the time, The Power of a Praying Wife, would break through all barriers and reach the widest audience possible. I wanted to reach women in other countries and speaking other languages. I prayed this, believing it was the heart of God. And as my prayer group joined with me in that prayer, we really felt it was God’s hand at work. Now, not only has that book been translated into 15 languages, but the other books are also around the world. I remember when I saw the first case of books translated into Chinese I just cried. The thought of Chinese ladies reading the book and being touched – people I will never know or see — just confirmed to me that God was in it.

EVANGEL: If you could give a word of encouragement to a mother today, what would it be?

OMARTIAN: A mother has tremendous power and authority in prayer over her children. I would tell any mother to always remember she has that authority and power and that God is on her side. What she nails down in prayer will be set by the power of God. When she prays against the enemy and says, "You are not getting my child; I claim this child for the kingdom of God," and then prays over every stage of that child’s life, it is amazing what happens. I know a lot of parents get intimidated with their children, especially if a child becomes rebellious. And a rebellious spirit is intimidating. But parents need to recognize that that rebellion is not of God and that they do not have to stand for it. In prayer they need to go to battle for their children. As wives, women also need to hold up their husbands in prayer. They need to take authority over the enemy’s attacks on their partner and break down spiritual strongholds that might endanger their marriage.

EVANGEL: Having come through a difficult relationship with your mother, how have you seen God at work in your own years of parenting?

OMARTIAN: My children are grown. Christopher, 25, is a musician and record producer. John David, 22, just married recently. He and his wife, Rebekah, bought a home near us and we’re so excited about that. We adopted John David when he lost his parents. His mom was my best friend in high school. Amanda is 21 and in college. I prayed over them all even before they were born. I was a prayer partner with John David’s mom when she was expecting him. And I prayed over them every day they were growing up. Prayer preempted a lot of issues we might have faced otherwise. There were some battles. My children, coming up in a family of musicians, would not always discern the kind of music they should listen to. We’d have to take some CDs away on occasion and pull down a few posters of music groups. But God preserved them from so many things. And to this day, I still pray for my children that no one will ever influence them away from the Lord.

EVANGEL: Anything else?

OMARTIAN: I’m writing another book in response to a lot of letters and e-mails. The Power of a Praying Woman addresses the needs of women in so many walks of life. The focus is on praying about your own walk with the Lord — praying that your intimacy with God would grow and that you would remain in the center of His will. It’s a book I need for myself. I’m always reexamining myself to see if I’m on target with the Lord.

 

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