Cathy and I were both saved and born again on August 6, 1977 at a Bill Gothard seminar in Dallas, Texas. I wrote about that experience in a previous post entitled “A Shopping Trip To Dallas,” and both Cathy and I have told that account to numerous people in various situations since then. The transformation in our hearts and in our home was immediate, although we looked the same; we just didn’t act the same. There are those who have an emotional experience at a Christian meeting or conference, and going forward the initial emotion fades, and they are left with the question, “Was my experience with the Lord Jesus really real?”
Bill Gothard spoke to that question on the last day of the conference and invited all who prayed for repentance and salvation, to ask the Lord to give them a sure sign of the reality of their prayer. Together both Cathy and I prayed that very prayer. That in itself was a new and different experience for us, because we never prayed together for specific requests despite being married for 12 years. My brother Berry Lee (Bubba) and his wife LaNell along with most of their children were at the conference, and they were the first in our family to know about our prayer and surrender. This was significant because Bubba was the one who had urged us from the beginning to attend the conference. He had promised if we “didn’t love the conference and were blessed by it”, he would reimburse us for all of our expenses. That had been enough of a challenge for me, since I would have enjoyed having Bubba pay for everything.
Following the close of the conference on Saturday, we left Dallas to return to our home in El Dorado, Arkansas, eager to share with as many as possible what had occurred. Our children; John Aaron, Mary Kay and Ginny were still young at ages 10, 7 and 4 respectively. They couldn’t fully appreciate what had taken place because we looked the same, but were to see the changes in us in the days to come. We had not given too much thought concerning our prayer for confirmation from the Lord until the mail arrived the following week.
I don’t remember if it was on Monday or later in the week, but Cathy received a letter from her Mom who lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mom Young wrote us letters and notes on a regular basis, so the letter itself caused no immediate excitement. When Cathy opened the letter there was a folded envelope inside along with an explanation of the reason for the addressed and stamped empty envelope. Mom was always on the lookout for commemorative stamps and coins, and this particular stamp was a special one concerning the Young family. The stamp had been issued to honor General Herkimer.
General Nicholas Herkimer was a brigadier general in the New York state militia during the War for Independence in the 1770’s. He happened to be a distant relative of the Young family, and we had been told about that relationship by Mom Young years before. What we were not aware was the fact that on August 6, 1777 General Herkimer along with his troops were ambushed by British regulars assisted by Mohawk Indians in what was known as The Battle of Oriskany. General Herkimer was mortally wounded in the leg and died 10 days later. The stamp was commemorative of the 200th year of the General’s brave sacrifice that our nation might be free. He has been memorialized in New York state by the naming of a town and a county in his honor.
What caught Cathy’s attention and mine was what was imprinted on that envelope. On the stamp is a painting of General Herkimer propped against a tree encouraging his troops to continue fighting at Oriskany. The post mark is from Herkimer, New York dated August 6, 1977, 200 years from the date of the heroic battle and also the date of our spiritual conversion in Dallas, Texas. Cathy’s name as a Herkimer family member and her address are written by her Mom. Under the stamp are the words, “First Day of Issue.” After studying the envelope for a few moments, Cathy exclaimed, “This is our confirmation from the Lord of what took place in our hearts on August 6. This is really our letter from God!”
Was this envelope just a mere coincidence or did it have a divine purpose? Both Cathy and I have full confidence God answered our prayers by transforming us that day in Dallas, and was responsible for her Mom sending us a confirming letter of what took place. Cathy had the envelope framed, and it hangs on our bedroom wall opposite our bed. It is a daily reminder to us of God’s love for us and his power to transform and encourage us in our prayer life and faith walk.
PS: We did not ask Bubba to pay our expenses for the Dallas trip. In thinking now about it, we should have paid his!