by Victoria Tkachuk
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No, that's not a spelling error. I mean I had some demons on the run today for nearly an hour.
In my work as a caregiver I've met some very interesting characters, but none so deserving of your prayers as Chuck, a 79-year-old man who suffers from some serious demon possession. Wait, wait. That's too much too soon. You need some background information first.
Chuck was born in 1927 and raised on the south side of Chicago. He grew up with mom, dad and ten brothers and sisters. Age-wise he's somewhere in the middle of them. His mother, a devout Catholic who tried her hardest just to get everybody fed and herself to confession every week. His father was admittedly a hardworking man, but only made it home- after the bar- long enough each night to beat his children bloody. Chuck learned early on to literally fight for his life and the lives of his younger, weaker siblings. "Dad's weakness was the bottle," Chuck told me. "I never took to it like he did, no way."
In addition to family conflict Chuck saw a lot of it on the streets of his neighborhood. For those of you who haven't talked at length with a Chicagoan 75 years or older lately, let me fill you in: Chicago was no picnic in the "old days," in fact the south side saw just as much violence between Irish, Polish, Germans and African-Americans as they do on the west side now with Hispanic and Black groups. Probably more since gangsters really did run the city back then, leaving law enforcement absent from most neighborhood brawls. "When someone had a problem with you, you'd tell 'em you'd beat the ---- out of them." This is how the majority of Chuck's teenage recollections begin.
His early twenties saw Chuck in the factory and during the war, since he was fortunate to stay out of it ("I didn't want to fight [foreigners]"), Chuck used the time to hone his cabinet and woodworking skills. This was only in his spare time, the hours not already devoted to the job or his newfound love of a hobby, boxing. Eventually Chuck met "a nice girl, too nice for [him]" (Dorothy), married her, moved her out of the old neighborhood and had two children. They even went to church back then, so he told me. "Oh sure, we went every week."
After a long life together, Dorothy passed away (about 12 years ago) and Chuck came to live with his daughter and son-in-law. The daughter is a Catholic (but non-practicing) and her husband was raised Hindu, but now participates in any "spiritual" endeavor during which he can get "caught up in the rapture" (I wish he knew what he was referencing!). This man (very emasculated) and his wife (obviously influenced by the 'feminist' movement and so is de-feminized) tell Chuck that, "it's ok to curse out God for doing this to [you]" and have encouraged me to comfort him in this fashion. They've also told him (in my presence) that when he's dead, "of course [they'll] miss [him], but [he'll] be dead in the ground in a box, and that's that."
Excuse me? That's the end of it? I beg to differ. Certainly the backgrounds of these two have something to do with their beliefs (or lack thereof): the son-in-law teaches science, which says everything has to be proven empirically. So if you can't see God, He must not be there. The woman was a Catholic and thinks you have a little bit of sin that builds up, but by attending mass and saying your ten 'Hail Marys' you can whittle it back down. Every now and then go to confession and the priest will absolve you.
I can't help but think about sin when I talk to either one of these people. If it were true that we begin as basically good people, the priests could solve the problem of sin. When I brought this up to Chuck one time- at the very beginning of my evangelizing to him- he said, "Yeah, but that ain't it. We're not good, we're sinners." Amen. We're sinners. And with that comment, we began talking about Christ.
I've learned a lot about Chuck in the past few months. He was abused as a child. He's been talking to God for a long time, asking Him for help. Just today I found out that, as a young man, Chuck wanted to be a priest! But when he saw the hoops the Catholic Church wanted him to jump through to please God, he said goodbye to that path. "That stuff don't impress Him." Yes, it's what's in your heart, how you glorify God through your servant hood to others that matters. Above all it's how close you hold tight to Jesus that pleases God.
This is how my typical morning begins now, with a discussion of the Gospel. True, I only spread it to one person. But if you knew how much the Spirit puts on my heart, what Scripture I'm led to, the words that leave my mouth that are poetic when they need to be and straightforward when required, you would understand the mystery and majesty of our Lord.
Every day I am challenged to justify my presence in Chuck's home. "How'd a young girl like you get stuck with a jerk like me?" he asks. Every day. And I give the same response; "I'm not stuck, I was chosen to be here. I don't know why, because it wasn't my will. But I try to delight in it every moment because it was God's will for me. It became my will." I heard on the radio today, "God hasn't called you to a place, He has called you to Himself." I didn't choose Chuck, but I draw closer to Jesus when I'm reading Chuck the Word. And I know it's not in my hands to change his heart, but I love being the one through whom God brought Chuck the truth!
I pray for Chuck every day for his heart to soften, for his unbelief to melt away and be replaces with utter gratitude at the grace He offers. Chuck knows he needs forgiveness, and he desperately craves the peace only Jesus can bring. Will you join me in praying for Chuck whenever you can?
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Victoria - I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I promise I will pray for Chuck and for God to use you in a mighty way! Isn't it a great feeling when you know God has chosen you to do His work in bringing a soul to repentance? Awesome! God Bless, Julia