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Friday, October 16, 2015

He Heard Her Cries

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
He Heard Her Cries

Written In Manchester, Tennessee
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalms 18:6

"Can we go evangelizing tonight?" I texted to Tonya.

No hesitation. Just a quick yes. That is how it has always been with Tonya Payne. I ask her to go out and she stops everything and goes out.

Tonya and I have been evangelizing together for years at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. We have led many to Jesus together. I was in Manchester, Tennessee doing some ministry development work for Pocket Full of Change Ministries with my mentors, Pastor Ron and Amanda Fuller. They had a meeting to attend tonight so I texted Tonya. I didn't have to ask her twice.

First, we did the girlfriend thing. We had dinner and caught up on our families. Our waiter was already a Christian but needed prayer for his grandma so we did that. Then we headed to our favorite evangelism spot, Wal-Mart.

We began by praying together in the car. Then, we went inside and gave out Gospel Bracelets (thank you again Cathy Tubbs). Everyone we talked to was either already saved or got saved tonight. We felt the favor of the Lord all over Wal-Mart and 3 people met Jesus.

We both agreed that one particular encounter was worth the entire trip. We met Ashley in the women's clothing department. She caught my attention because of her fragile beauty. She was thin and wore jeans with creatively cut-out holes. Her dark hair, curled in a unique bun, was a stark contrast to her pale skin. She was in town visiting her boyfriend and didn't go to church. She believed in Jesus. Slight jerky movements indicated that she might have a medical condition or possible addiction issues.

When I asked where she was going in the next life, she hoped heaven but wasn't sure. She'd tried to be good but later admitted that she had made many mistakes.

"I try to teach my children not to make the mistakes I made," she told us. We were surprised that she had 2 children because she looked too young. She lived with alcoholic parents who she said had health problems, drove her crazy, and worried her.

She was hungry for every word we spoke and there was no hesitation about praying to meet Jesus. I spoke the words of the Gospel to her but the entire time we talked, she looked into Tonya's loving eyes as if she was drawing strength from Tonya.

When she finished praying, she put her hands over her face and said, "I needed this. I've been crying every night. I needed this!"

"Have you been crying out to God?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "Every night."

"He heard you and just answered your prayers. He has forgiven everything you have ever done. You are His beloved perfect child. One day, you'll be in heaven with Him."

She put her hands over her face again and wiped her eyes. "I needed this," she repeated.

"Do you need prayer for anything else?" I said, probing. "Do you have any strongholds like alcohol or drugs that we need to pray for? Any medical issues?"

"No drugs or alcohol but I've been so sick I can't eat. I eat one bite and I want to throw up. I was supposed to get biopsies done every 6 months and I haven't done that. I feel sick."

"Biopsies for possible cancer?" I asked. She looked sick to me.

"Uterine cancer," she whispered.

"How long has it been since you had a biopsy?" I asked.

"8 years."

"Let me pray for you," I said. This time, I prayed for her health, children, and parents. I encouraged her to see a doctor but she doesn't have medical insurance and it didn't sound like she was going to see a doctor.

Pray for sweet Ashley. Pray for her spiritual growth, health, children, and family situation. I have her email and I'll certainly follow up. I will also ask someone locally to follow up as well.

One thing for absolute certain - Tonya and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit while talking with Ashley. She'd been crying out to God. He heard her cries and her eternity with Jesus is now sealed.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Reckon You're Right

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
I Reckon You're Right

Written In West Memphis, Arkansas
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:

"It is so dark. This road is narrow and bumpy. The giant trees are covered with moss and making a roof over me."

"Cheryle! Are you sure you turned on the right road?"

"I think so. I followed the directions. It says dead end."

"Are you still on the right road? You should have been there by now."

"I'm just getting deeper into the woods. The road is now gravel."

Bob had picked the campground. I was talking to him via my ear bud as I pulled down the long narrow road of the campground, nestled on the Arkansas side of Mississippi River. We knew that I'd be driving late so Bob had carefully made arrangements for the campground host to wait up for me and escort me to my campground.

"If it were daylight, I'd probably like this road," I assured Bob. I saw a fence covered in moss. Even the black metal silhouette of Tom Sawyer looked scary in the dark.

"I'm only getting about every 3rd word," Bob said.

Great, I thought. I'm losing cell coverage.

"I see the office. It looks like a shack. A man is standing out front with a beer can."

"What are you going to do?" I guessed Bob was hearing me again.

"I see someone in the office. I'm going in." Bob stayed on the phone. It turned out that the man only had a cup of coffee. The cheerful host had waited up for me and checked me in. The shack was actually a fun building made to look like Tom Sawyer's cabin. "That man over there will lead you to your site."

"Bob, I'm following a cart. What makes me willing to follow a man I don't know down a long dark dirt road to somewhere I haven't been? I know they probably don't do background checks on these camp workers."

Even in the dark, I could see the beautiful ponds and Mississippi river. We drove all the way to the end of the campground and parked right by the Mississippi River.

The man got out of his cart and walked to my window. I rolled down my window and asked, "What are those lights I'm looking at across the river?"

"That's Memphis," he said.

"It is beautiful."

"This is my favorite site in the entire park," he said cheerfully.

"I can certainly see why. My aunt and uncle and I took a river boat cruise from New Orleans to here a few years back. Would we have passed you?"

"Yes ma'am. The dock is right around this bend. They go back and forth all the time."

"It was a wonderful trip," I said.

"I've heard that. I've always wanted to go."

"I see a park bench and table next to the river. Is that another campsite?"

"No ma'am. That is for anyone to use."

"So I can take my Bible down there tomorrow morning?"

"Your Bible and anything else you want to take."

"Are you a reader of the Bible?"

"Well...," he said, dragging out the l.

"That means no," I laughed. "Did you ever read your Bible?"

"Yes ma'am. I grew up Catholic. We went to Bible class before and after every school day. I had more of it than I ever wanted."

I made the sign of the cross. He laughed and said, "I do pray but I can't rightly say I go to church anymore."

"If you're Catholic, I know you learned about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I also know they taught you about sin."

"I learned all about sin," he joked.

"Do you still believe?"

"I suppose I do."

"What about the next life? Do you know where you are going?"

"I can't know. I suppose that's up to God. He'll make that decision. I sure hope it is somewhere good."

"I hope so too. Actually, the Bible says you can know where you are going."

"Really?" he said, sounding surprised. Bob was still listening to every word but was completely silent.

"Yes," I said. I went through the Gospel scriptures. He emphatically agreed that we'd all sinned.

"It sounds like you learned a lot about Jesus but never met him personally," I said.

"I reckon you're right about that."

"Would you like to meet him now?"

"Does it take long?" he said worriedly. I guessed there was a wife back at his camper already aggravated that he'd had to wait up on a late camper.

"Not at all. It's the easiest thing you'll ever do," I encouraged.

Then I sure would," he said enthusiastically. He prayed to receive Jesus, looked up and grinned from ear to ear. He made the sign of the cross.

"Don't forget to give him a tract," Bob whispered into my ear. I jumped. I'd forgotten Bob was listening. I reached into my purse and handed him the tract named "You Made the Right Decision."

"Thank you ma'am," he said, pulling off still smiling.

"I knew he was toast as soon as he walked over to your window and was friendly," Bob joked.

"Bob, that was amazing! It was so easy."

"God sure handed it to you didn't he?" Bob agreed.

"Yes and this campsite is beautiful. Thank you for finding it. There is a giant barge going by being pushed by a tug boat. I'll post pictures in the morning.

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Straight to Heaven

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Straight To Heaven

Written In Checotah, Oklahoma
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. Romans 21:21

Whenever campgrounds have restaurants, I eat there even if the food looks terrible. This is where campers like to mingle so I want to be there. This campground food was surprisingly delightful.

The couple sitting across from me were both Christians and fascinating people. We talked about computers, space shuttles, and Jesus. After we'd eaten, the wife Mary came over just to sit and talk.

Our server, Stacy, brought the check. I said, "Stacy, I got so busy talking with these people that I forgot to ask if you had any prayer requests. I usually say a blessing before I eat but if you have any, I'll pray for you back at my camper."

She looked completely stunned. Finally she said, "I would never pray for myself. That would be selfish. I would pray for other people but not for me. I don't want to be selfish."

"Stacy," I asked. "Do you believe in prayer?"

"I do," she replied.

"What about church?"

"I don't go," she said, looking ashamed.

"Stacy," I said gently. "The Bible says that all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. Not all who go to church."

"Thank you," she said.

"What about Jesus? Do you believe in Him?"

"I do," she said.

"What about the next life? Where will you go when this life is over?"

Again, she looked ashamed. "I hope I get to come back and live a better life."

"I have a gift for you," I said, pulling out the Gospel bracelets. "I've already looked around and no one is waiting on you to do anything. May I give you the message of the bracelet?"


I spoke the scriptures, starting with the gold and heaven. She listened to every word. She loved the idea of being washed white as snow. She eagerly agreed to pray to receive Jesus.

"May I hold your hand?" I asked.

"You can, but I have poison oak."

"God will protect me," I said taking her hand.

After she prayed, I asked, "Now where are you going in the next life?"

"Straight to heaven!"

The Holy Spirit Glow was evident on Stacy's face. Mary wept and prayed aloud the entire time Stacy prayed. "Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this," she said to Stacy. "May I hug you?"

"You can if you aren't worried about getting poison oak."

"Like she said," Mary said as she hugged her. "God will protect us."

I saw Stacy several times as I walked around the campground today. She smiled all day and literally lit up when she saw me. She was still beaming when she brought us our dinner at their Chuck Wagon restaurant. I ate with Mary and her husband again and they bought my dinner. What a blessing today was! Is poison oak contagious?

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Monday, October 12, 2015

I Knew It

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
I Knew It

Written In Amarillo, Texas
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

It had been a tough couple of days. Even though my heart wasn't in it, I'd tried to have encounters. They didn't go anywhere. One person even got aggravated, which is rare. I went to bed last night not understanding what was wrong with me. This morning, after another encounter that didn't go smoothly, I asked for prayer.

In hind sight, I realize I was dreading going through Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo has always been a fun place. I stopped there on my first journey in 2002 and fell in love with it. I know it is a tourist town and that some would call it a tourist trap but I love places designed to be fun. Whenever I'm nearby, I stop again. I always do the same thing. I stay at a campground I enjoy. I go to the dog park and play. I walk around the campground waiting for Divine Encounters. At 5:30, a free limousine from the Big Texan restaurant picks me up. The Big Texan is an experience. They have shooting galleries, fun things on the wall, toys everywhere, and a delicious restaurant where musicians move from table to table taking requests. Every year, I've had them play my favorite hymn, In a Garden. I've had salvations every time I visited. Several times, I've run in to people I led to Jesus on previous years and have been blessed.

Two years ago, after my usual fun day in the campground and The Big Texan, my memories of Amarillo changed. The next morning was Sunday. I pulled out of my campsite and headed to church. As I pulled in the church parking lot, my phone rang and my brother told me that Daddy was being rushed to the hospital after having a stroke at church. The next 2 hours were horrible as I waited for news and tried to decide what to do. People prayed for me. I had many phone calls with my husband, mentor Pastor Fuller, best friend Nancy, and brother Vaughan. I spent the next 20 hours making a mad and sad dash for Jacksonville and my Daddy died a few days later. I hadn't been back to Amarillo since. I couldn't stand that Amarillo was ruined for me and wanted to make peace with the city so I could continue to play and evangelize there.

When I let my FaceBook friends know I was in Amarillo and why that was hard, my friend Wanda Brigman posted, "Now I know the reason for the block you experienced. This will be healing for you."

I knew she was right. I relaxed, mostly (but not entirely) stopped evangelizing, and just spent time with God. I didn't even talk to anyone in the limousine on the way to the restaurant. I just let myself get lost in the memories.

I ordered my food and let the bitter sweet memories of how much I'd enjoyed the night before the call about Daddy. I'd led 3 people to Jesus. When the musicians finally got to my table, I requested my hymn, In a Garden, and sang along with them. In between verses, the guitar and fiddle player did an instrumental verse and I felt God comfort me and minister to my soul. By the last verse, I was smiling and in love with Amarillo again.

When they finished playing, I confirmed that they knew the meaning of the hymn. I didn't really need to do that because they were the same singers who had sung to me since 2002 and I knew they were already saved. I just wanted to give them the opportunity to speak their faith.

My server was darting from table to table and thankfully, I felt led to talk with her. When she ran my credit card, I asked if I could give her a bracelet. She was delighted and as I spoke scriptures, tears swelled in her eyes. I invited her to pray.

"I need to give them the take home boxes and take care of their check," she said, pointing to the table next to me. "Don't go anywhere!"

She rushed over to take care of them. She passed me quickly saying, "I need to clean up the table behind you and give them their check. Don't go anywhere!"

"I'm staying right here!"

Finally, she came back and sat calmly at my table. She was on a break and we took our time. She tearfully invited Jesus to be her Lord and Savior.

When she finished, she took a deep breath and leaned back in her chair in relief. She looked amazed.

"You're feeling the Holy Spirit," I said. "Memorize this feeling and walk towards it all of your life."

"It feels good," she nodded and said. "I knew this was going to happen. It was time."

"How did you know this was going to happen?" I asked.

"Because I said a prayer asking God to send me a sign if He was really there. Here you are."

Thank God, I'd decided it was time to face my pain about Amarillo. I'd almost driven Interstate 10 just to avoid dealing with it. Thank God my Christian friend Wanda pays attention to what I'm doing, prays for me, and pointed out what was wrong with me. Thank God it all happened just in time to answer my server's prayer. There is a time for everything.

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They Matched

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
They Matched

Apache Junction, Arizona
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:15

"You match," I teased. They gave me a half smile, looking surprised that I was talking to them. They were holding hands, had straight black hair, and both were dressed all in black. His hair was parted in the middle and pulled back in a clip. He had a black mustache and goatee and was wearing a black muscle shirt that displayed the mythological creatures tattooed on both arms. Her hair was hanging over one bare shoulder across a tank top that read Rebel Saints. Two rings pierced her lips. I squinted to read the words tattooed across her chest like a necklace and before I knew what I was saying, I'd read aloud the words, "Pull the Trigger Bi..h."

"Are you two as interesting as you look?" I asked. They looked at each other, trying to decide how to answer.

Without waiting on an answer I quickly said, "I have a gift for you. These bracelets match and have 1 black bead. May I tie them on and give you the message that goes with them?" They nodded, looking a little stunned.

From the very beginning of the message, I had their full attention. They continued to hold hands as they listened. They'd both gone to church occasionally as children but had never had the Gospel explained to them. Surprisingly, they actually believed in Jesus but hadn't gone to church together at all during their 5 year courtship and marriage. They were mesmerized by the scriptures I quoted and it seemed to me that they'd never discussed Jesus as a couple.

I slowly tied her bracelet on her left hand as I quoted the Bible scriptures that went with each bead. I noticed that as she listened, the fingers of her right hand tightened around his. He wanted the bracelet on his left hand and since she had no intention of letting go of that hand, I had to work around her hand to tie it on.

When I invited them to meet Jesus, there was no hesitation. They looked at each other as they repeated the words of the prayer, inviting Jesus to be their Savior. They never lost their stunned look during the entire encounter but the answers to my questions and their words during the prayer were soft, clear, and meaningful. We spent a few minutes talking about how to find a church where they would be comfortable and again, they were interested. I took their pictures and they gave me that half smile again as they stared right into the camera.

Please share your faith when you are out shopping, even if someone looks like they won't be interested. This young couple hadn't rejected Jesus. They hadn't been told about how to meet Him and hadn't given Him any thought. It would never have occurred to either of them to go to church together so they needed someone willing to share the Gospel in Wal-Mart.

As I watched them walk off shoulder to shoulder, still holding hands but now wearing their matching bracelets and having matching eternal destinies, I prayed they would find a church that saw past the all-black attire and the tattoos and into the tender hearts of new Christians.

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Welcome Home

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Welcome Home

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:20

The rest of the family had gone to bed and Deb and I were lingering and talking as we turned off the lights. Suddenly, the doorbell rang.

Two large armed men stood firmly with their feet apart. They wore all black and were decked out in body armor. My children say I have no filter but when Deb let them in, even I knew it wouldn't be prudent to ask them what would happen to them if they died tonight.

It had been such a holy and fun day. At 5:15 AM, Deb's family had gathered for prayer and Bible Study. Each stated their plans for the day before leaving for work or errands. One family member went evangelizing with me at Walmart and we led 8 people to Jesus.

As we all began to arrive back that afternoon, Shiloh and Deb's dog Peanut welcomed us home. Live praise music filled the house as family members prepared for the evening praise and worship service. The dogs frolicked in the living room as other family members laughed and prepared dinner. We sat to eat at their large dining table and joined hands as Deb's husband Steve blessed the food.

After dinner, we sat in the living room singing praises to God, accompanied by live guitar music. I presented a Gospel Conversation Workshop to enthusiastic listeners who asked great questions. We spent a few minutes playing with dogs and cats before finally saying goodnight and heading to various bedrooms.

The armed men standing at the door were a grim reminder that while God had forgiven and forgotten past mistakes made by Deb's family, the world had not.

"We need to see the men!" one said in an authoritative voice.

"I'll get them," Deb said. "They've already gone downstairs to bed. Cheryle, you might want to grab Shiloh." Turning to the men she explained, "We have a house guest so we have an extra dog."

"Good idea," I said, quickly leashing her. Even Shiloh had the good sense not to bark at men with guns.

Deb's adopted family members came back upstairs to sleepily face their probation and security officer's probing questions.

You see, a few years ago, my dear friends, Deb and Steve, felt God leading them to open their home and family to newly released sex offenders (SO's). I spent many hours talking with Deb in the early planning stages of this ministry and something she said has always stuck with me. She said, "Cheryle, most of society has given up on these men. There are no throw-away people in God's Kingdom." In spite of many concerns and objections voiced by family and friends, they were obedient to God.

The armed men were apparently satisfied with what they saw and heard because they left. I hadn't realized I'd been holding my breath until the door closed behind them and I exhaled. The men went back downstairs and I released poor Shiloh from her leash.

To be accepted into Deb and Steve's family, prisoners approaching release dates fill out an application which is prayed over and reviewed by their Ministry Board of Directors. The ministry accepts born again Christians they believe are serious about starting over and need help doing so. Most of their adopted family members were saved in prison and/or active in prison ministries.

I've learned much about SO's during the growth of this ministry. Like most, I'd believed the widely quoted but false statistic that almost all SO's reoffend. What I've found out is that the statistic is a self-fulfilling prophesy and like most statistics, it is important to understand what it is really reporting.

The SO "reoffending" statistic includes those going back to prison for any reason. SO's go back to prison for reasons other than actually reoffending. Some may have drug or alcohol problems and return to prison for crimes associated with that. In Arizona, most SO's on probation are required to take lie detector tests. Any question, even questions unrelated to the crime committed, is fair game and if they fail or the test results are inconclusive, these men could be sent back to prison, which would mean they were included in the statistic as a "re-offender." Needless to say, SO's are nervous, which tends to cause the test results to be inclusive. SO's are required to meet regularly with their probation/parole officers and counselors, which they are charged a fee for. As you can imagine, SO's already have a hard time finding employment and this mandatory time during traditional work hours makes that even harder. If SO's get behind on these payments, they could be sent back to prison. If SO's can't find somewhere to live and become homeless, they could be sent back to prison because they are unable to register an address. Some SO's get so discouraged that they give up and "burn their ticket," which means they deliberately commit a minor offense like skipping a meeting just to go back to prison. Many working with them expect them to reoffend and treat them accordingly. The real statistic - ones who actually reoffend - is more like 30%, which I understand is still too high. The point is that SO's often come out of prison into a system set up for their failure.

I stayed in Deb and Steve's home before they opened their home to SO's. They are family to me. How much did I believe in the power of Christ restoring a life? That was the question I asked myself when deciding to continue staying there when I visit their city. Biblical heroes like Paul and David were murderers and God forgave and restored them. Was there any life that God couldn't restore or any sin He couldn't forgive? I'm in the redemption business and I'd better believe in redemption for all. Not only do I stay there, I make a point of going there and fully participate in their ministry when I'm there.

I wish you could see what I see in this home. I see a Christian couple who decided to make men most would consider unlovable, their beloved family. They drive them to appointments and finance their food, clothing, and transportation until they can do it for themselves. They help them find employment and navigate their way through the requirements they have to meet. They begin and end each day with prayer, praise, and Bible Study, continually encourage them, and gently rebuke them when necessary.

I see men broken by sin and thrilled to be fully restored by God. They treasure and guard their redemption and have spent so much time studying the Bible that their knowledge far surpasses my own. Their eyes glow with awe that Christ loved them enough to forgive them. They appreciate everything done for them and feel blessed to be where they are. They willingly share their testimonies and are serious about helping others meet Jesus. Instead of being bitter about the constraints, they accept what they cannot change and stay determined to live with the joy of the Lord.

I see a happy home where people laugh, share chores agreeably, pray for each other, and work it out when there is conflict. Not every resident has worked out but for those who embrace the love, life, and safety Deb and Steve offer, they soar "as if on eagle's wings."

Deb says that her family loves to hear the words "welcome home." She says it to them often. She even says it to me when I arrive at their home. I am honored to be part of their family. Heaven is our real home and when I stay with Deb and her family, I leave feeling as if I have had a taste of heaven.

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Maybe One Day I'll Be Good Enough

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Maybe One Day I'll Be Good Enough

Written In Maricopa, Arizona
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

When we arrived at the checkout counter, Andrea had no customers. "How can I help you today my darlings? Did you find everything you needed?" she said.

"We did," I said. She rang up my purchases and since she didn't have any customers waiting except Kathy, I said, "May I give you a gift? Kathy is with me and she doesn't mind waiting for you to ring her up." I started to hand her a Gospel Bracelet and realized Kathy already had a bracelet out and was about to do the same thing.

"She already had one out for you," I said. "I'll let her give it to you."

"I want both of them," Andrea said, reaching her arms out. We laughed as we each tied one on a wrist.

We gave her the bracelet message and she nodded all the way through it. "It sounds like you have heard about Jesus before."

"I have," She said. "That is beautiful. I needed to hear that today."

"Do you go to church anywhere?" I asked.

"Not really. I work on Sundays." She stopped to greet the customer walking through the door with a cheery, "Hello my love. Let me know if I can help you."

"Do you know where you are going in the next life?"

"I'm working on that. I've done a lot of bad things but I'm finally living right. Maybe one day I'll be good enough to go to heaven. I've already been baptized." She greeted someone else entering the store.

"Andrea," I said. "We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are good enough for heaven. The Bible says our good works can't get us into heaven. Remember the white bead? The gift of God is eternal life. All who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. Can I lead you in a prayer calling on Jesus."

She reached out her hands for mine just as a customer walked up to check out. I stepped out of the way and let her check Kathy and another customer out. Another customer walked up and Kathy and I stepped to the side and waited. 3 more walked up.

I told Kathy, "Satan might as well stop sending so many people. We will wait as long as it takes to finish this conversation."

I prayed, "In the name of Jesus, I bind the enemy working against Andrea. Andrea belongs to Jesus."

No more customers walked up and we stepped back to the counter. Andrea immediately reached out her hands to mine and we prayed claiming belief in Jesus, confessing her sins and finally asking Jesus to be her Savior.

"Now where are you going in the next life?" I asked.

"I am going straight to heaven!"

Andrea lived near Kathy so Kathy invited her to the church that she attended when she was in town. Andrea gave us both a hug and we left.

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Make It a Matter of Prayer

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Make It a Matter of Prayer

Written In Sedona, Arizona
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Does prayer matter to you? Do you believe it changes things? Is it as essential to you as your food and water? Is it your first response to everything? One of the things I like best about evangelizing with Kathy Hollenberry is how much she depends on to do the work of evangelism. It is absolutely why we lead so many people to Christ when we are together.

In 2015, Kathy and I have evangelized together in Tennessee, Washington DC, Virginia, New York, Washington state, and Arizona. I have lost count of how many we've led to Christ together but I know that in the last 7 days, 43 people prayed with us to meet Jesus. We bounce back and forth between taking the evangelism lead while the other prays. We stop between salvations to pray. We pray over stores, people, ambulances and fire trucks. We do devotions and prayer in the morning and pray at every meal. We stop and pray aloud when something scares us, breaks our heart, or inspires us. Basically, during our time together, we make everything a matter of prayer.

We'd evangelized in Sedona, Arizona before so we knew we were entering a spiritual battle ground. Beautiful Sedona is a New Age hub for the world. Shops selling crystals, readings, aura photographs, vortex tours, and the like are everywhere, sometimes 3-4 in a block. This week, we stopped and prayed as we passed these shops and went inside to pray and evangelize at many.

The first day in Sedona was hard. We talked with many, locals and tourists, offering the same loving approach we always use but were shut down for various reasons at every encounter. No one smiled and some glared or stared as we walked past, without even knowing what we were doing. The spiritual darkness was thick enough to feel and when it grew dark outside, we simply couldn't take it another minute.

We decided to return to the hotel and as we walked back to Hallelujah, Kathy stopped and prayed, "Lord, send us a Divine Encounter. We really need something uplifting."

I added, "Yes Lord. We're going back to our hotel room feeling the darkness of this place. It would be a favor to us if you would send us something uplifting."

We began walking again and God answered our prayer a minute later when a woman said, "Why don't you come into my store?" It was a toy store, so you didn't have to ask me twice. We went inside and laughed as we both bought toys for grandchildren. That by itself was uplifting enough. However, God wasn't done blessing us. We offered the woman a Gospel bracelet, which pleased her. The good news the bracelet represented pleased her even more. In just a few minutes, this woman happily and joyfully prayed to receive Jesus. She was having knee pain so Kathy offered to pray for her knees. During the prayer, the woman felt a healing tingling from God pass through her knees and when we left the store, she was feeling good spiritually and physically. Prayer matters!

Kathy and I immediately sent out texts, social media posts, and e-mails requesting prayer for the next day in Sedona. The response was instantaneous as people wrote back and reposted our requests. Below is a portion of what our friend and prayer warrior Julie Airis wrote:

"John 8:12: Jesus said I am the Light of the world. He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of Life. Lord cover Kathy and Cheryle with your glorious light! May the darkness flee away from them and not harm them in any way. May the glory of God illuminate them and cause your opposers to fear you and be delivered from their great darkness! Make your invitation to forgiveness and to inherit heaven irresistible and grant they will put their faith in you Lord."

Kathy and I praised God for such a direct answer to prayer. We slept well and woke up the next morning ready to go. Before we left the hotel, 4 workers had met Jesus. The entire day was filled with light. When we pulled back into our hotel at 9 PM, 21 people had met Jesus in a single day. Yes, we still had dark and disturbing encounters but prayer had protected and empowered us.

I encourage you to make everything a matter of prayer. When something disturbs you, stop immediately and pray. Praise God when good things happen. Be bold and pray aloud as you walk down the sidewalk and through the grocery stores. Pray while driving, sitting in church, and in the shower. Hang out with people who think that kind of praying is normal and will stop and pray aloud with you no matter where you are. Text your friends to ask for prayer about everything - just don't do it while you are driving.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Surprise Surprise Surprise

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Surprise Surprise Surprise

Written In Phoenix, Arizona
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Remember Gomer Pyle's famous line, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise?" That was how I felt after paying for my hair color and cut.

The entire 2 hours had been uncomfortable, starting with me telling my stylist why I was in town. Her jaw clenched as she explained her eclectic religious heritage that included family members making her attend LDS, Catholic, non-denominational, and Lutheran services with a little Judaism sprinkled in. She had no use for any of it and appeared to have no interest in heaven, God, or Jesus. She considered her entire family either crazy or at the very least dysfunctional so the various organized religions they practiced held no attraction for her. I thought she was someone who had moved on from her family issues and had built a stable life for herself and her 12 year old son that didn't include religion or God.

I managed to speak 4 simple Gospel scriptures and made a few unsuccessful attempts to reach her emotionally. I was looking for what I call the Holy Spirit Hook but her face remained stoic and her language clipped and professional. I finally decided to let her off the hook and changed the subject to mundane things like the weather and raising children.

When she finished, I let her know that I loved my color and style and walked to the front to pay. I generously tipped her and even her goodbye was professional and a little distant.

I got to the door, opened it, and realized that while I had over the course of the 2 hours managed to give the entire Gospel, I had not asked if she wanted to meet Jesus. Up until that point, I had respected her boundaries and hadn't pushed and I didn't want to ruin it by annoying her. I was sure she wasn't interested in calling on Jesus but my rule is that if I give the Gospel, I always invite people to meet Jesus. I hesitated but felt the firm insistence of the Holy Spirit to go back. I walked back to her station.

"I hate to bother you again," I said timidly as I interrupted her sweeping up my hair. "I would never want to push you but I just realized that I told you about Jesus but didn't invite you to meet him. My personal opinion is that it is rude to tell someone about the greatest party there ever was and not invite them to it. Would you allow me the privilege of leading you in a prayer to invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior?"

"Let's go outside!" she said firmly as she grabbed my arm and pulled me to the door. I wondered if she was furious.

When we got outside, she went to crying and said, "I can't believe you came here today. You have no idea what is going on in my life. I am in a custody battle for my son and yesterday, I got a DUI. I'm worried about how that will affect keeping my son. I don't know what is going to happen. Will I go to jail? Will I lose my license and my son? How will I work to support my son if I can't even drive? I came to work today feeling like the worst person ever and here you are talking to me about forgiveness of sin. I can't believe it."

I was as surprised as I've ever been giving the Gospel. Nothing about her appearance or demeanor indicated any of that. She just seemed like someone who wasn't interested in what she called "religion." I took both of her hands and looked her in the eyes.

"God sent me to you today to tell you that He loves you and is offering you forgiveness and a fresh start. This salon was a long way from where I was and when my GPS suggested it, I knew there had to be others closer but decided to just drive here. God picked this salon for me because of you. May I please lead you in a prayer calling on the name of Jesus?"

She agreed and prayed, clearly repeating the words I suggested. When we got to the part where she confessed that she was a sinner and asked for forgiveness, she wept.

"You're forgiven now," I told her when we finished. "God has forgotten your past and washed you white as snow. He won't even remember your past. You will still have to face the courts, the DUI, and the custody battle but you will do it with the strength of Jesus behind you. You mentioned earlier that your weight was an issue and just now you mentioned drinking. Are food and alcohol problems for you?"

"They are," she admitted. "It seems like I'm addicted to everything. I don't know how to stop."

"You just did," I said. "It sounds like food and alcohol are what the Bible calls strongholds. May I pray for you and ask God to break your strongholds? I also want to pray for your various legal issues."

"Please," she whispered. I took her hands and felt them tremble as I offered up a commanding and pleading prayer to God on her behalf.

When I finished, I suggested both Alcoholics and Overeaters Anonymous. She agreed to go to both. We talked about how to pick out a church and since I used to live in Phoenix, I was able to offer a couple of suggestions. I got her contact information and we hugged for about the 5th time.

"I can't believe it," she whispered. "I came here today feeling hopeless and now I have so much hope." I reminded her again about church and getting support for her strongholds.

I have no words to explain how surprised I was. I was surprised that the words of the Gospel had touched her. It seemed like they were falling on deaf or emotionless ears. I was surprised that after spending 2 hours with her, I had no idea of the burdens she carried. I had almost left without inviting her to meet Jesus and was certainly surprised at the depth of her longing for the peace, strength, and forgiveness Jesus offered. If ever anyone was convicted of her sin and ready to meet Jesus, it was her, and I didn't even know it. I left thanking God for the power in the Gospel, the undeniable value and influence of His Spirit, and the people who taught me the discipline of sticking to my evangelism training even when I think it isn't going to be successful.

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