Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

Testimony of Heartbreak and Healing

Heartbreak

by Dennis Pollock

In the following testimony I am going to be totally transparent, in fact so much so that some of you will probably think I am being too transparent. I have to confess that I have thought much about the appropriateness of sharing what I am going to be sharing with you.

I have concluded that I need to share it for a couple of reasons. The first has to do with our faithful friends of Spirit of Grace Ministries. Many of you have given generously and even sacrificially to this ministry. I have been overwhelmed with your generosity, and I’ve been blessed so much with your encouraging notes and cards. I have come to regard you as family.

I believe a minister owes something to those who support him. He owes them gratitude for sure, but he also owes them honesty and transparency. If I were a plumber or a doctor, the things I am about to share with you would really be nobody’s business but mine. They are far too personal to be spread abroad under ordinary circumstances. But the relationship between a minister and those who faithfully pray for him and support him is unique, and sometimes calls for the divulging of details that would be unwise under any other circumstances.

A second reason I am sharing this is that I know God is a God of redemption. He takes painful and tragic circumstances in our lives and uses them to minister life and healing to others. Paul wrote, “(God) comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” If my experience can minister healing and comfort to some who are experiencing terrible pain in their lives, then it will have been worth sharing it.

Shock

In August of 2005 I received the greatest shock and the most intense pain of my life – I discovered that my wife of thirty years had gotten involved with another man. Although I knew such a thing was possible I had never really expected it could happen to us. We had for many years not only loved each other but we had liked each other as well. We had been best friends and had shared joys and sorrows and five wonderful children. There had never been unfaithfulness on either of our parts up until then, and I had assumed that our relationship and marriage was pretty much on automatic pilot at this point in our lives. Many a time I had lain in bed with her beside me and thanked God for the precious gift of this sweet and wonderful lady.

There are really no words to describe the agony and the shock that this terrible discovery caused me. It felt like I had suddenly entered some alternate reality where nothing made sense and depression was the order of the day. I don’t think we ever really know how we would react to a spouse’s unfaithfulness unless and until it actually happens. When the truth came out my response was instinctive and immediate. The idea of divorce was unthinkable. I sought to try to find a way for us to get past this, to heal the relationship and somehow get back to where we were before all of this.

It wasn’t so easy. At this point the illicit relationship between my wife and her lover had taken a powerful hold upon her, and had done serious damage to our relationship, damage that would prove beyond our ability to overcome. In addition to the intoxicating feelings of her new relationship, she was angry with me for leaving an established ministry where I had a secure position and a comfortable salary in order to found Spirit of Grace Ministries, where things, at least by appearances, were anything but secure and my salary was much smaller than I had received in a long time. I had known she wasn’t as excited as I was about this new career move, but I had no idea that anger and bitterness would make her vulnerable to this temptation from the evil one.

Upon discovering the affair there was no offer I didn’t make to try to save our marriage. Knowing she had never really like me being in the ministry I offered to drop it all and get a secular job. She told me she would feel guilty in forcing me to get out of God’s work. At this point there was no concession I would not have made. I offered to go to counseling; I told her I would make any changes she wanted, I took her on an ocean cruise but nothing seemed to make much difference. Three times she left me to live with her lover and three times she returned in a repentant attitude, crying and telling me how sorry she was. But after a few days with me she would begin to miss her new friend and grow restless and irritable. After a few days of this she would leave me again. All of this happened in the last four months of 2005.

Zambia

At one point I had scheduled a ministry trip to Zambia. I told her I would cancel the trip just to be with her but she wouldn’t hear of it, and insisted that I go. Those days of evangelism have to be the strangest time of ministry I have ever experienced. Throughout the day I was so depressed I could do almost nothing but think about my situation. Depression hovered over me like a dark cloud. I could hardly pray for the crusade; almost all my time was spent crying out to God for my marriage. I couldn’t imagine how God could use a man in such a condition to do any good, but somehow he did. When I mounted the crusade platform instinct took over and I preached with as much fervor as I ever did, and many lives were touched. Thousands of people attended that crusade and it turned out to be one of the largest and most effective evangelistic events in the history of that large city. After preaching I would return back to my hotel room and the depression would come all over me afresh.

The trip home was the longest and most miserable flight I have ever taken. I had hoped that perhaps my absence would somehow produce a change in my wife’s attitude, but when I returned there was no difference. Strangely, during this time, anger was not much of an issue with me. I know the stereotypical male gets furious when he finds his wife has been unfaithful and is ready to beat her up or go after her lover. In my case there was none of this. My only desire in those early days was to try to win back my wife’s love. I spent large amounts of money buying her presents and trying to show her how much I valued her, but it seemed like the harder I tried, the less she respected me.

Intense Pain

In those first months I was in the most intense emotional pain of my life. There were days when I could not even bring myself to read the Bible, which is almost unthinkable for me. Most of my prayer life involved simple prayers for the Lord to restore my wife.

I could hardly sleep at nights. I would put a music CD on and after it was over, put on a second one. After the second CD was over I still wouldn’t be asleep – just constant thinking and hurting. My sister came for a visit to provide some emotional support and help with the household chores when my wife first left me, but I wasn’t much company to her as I spent most of the time in my bedroom. I was hurting too much to want to talk. I had once heard a woman give a testimony on the Focus on the Family radio program that I could now identify with. She had been in a concentration camp during World War II and suffered greatly but had managed to survive. After the war she came to America and married an American. After living with him for nineteen years this man left her for another woman. When James Dobson asked her which was the most painful – the concentration camp or being deserted by her husband, she didn’t hesitate. Losing her husband was far more painful.

One thing I did know – the pain would not last. God is a healing God and I was certain that in time His healing would begin to work in my life. Strangely I never lost a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even in my deepest suffering He was always there, assuring me that I belonged to Him and that He would heal me.

It didn’t stop the pain but it did give me hope. I am not normally a man who deals much with depression, but now I experienced a constant crushing, overwhelming depression that would not lift. In addition to the hurt was the emotion of bewilderment. The whole thing didn’t seem to make any sense. How could she throw away thirty years of friendship and love and all of our experiences together? I tried to analyze the situation and wrap my mind around it but I couldn’t. It just didn’t make any sense. On top of losing my best friend, there were the ministry issues. I had been so certain that God had been preparing me for a ministry like Spirit of Grace and now that I seemed likely to be divorced, would God have any use for me at all in the ministry?

At one point I came very close to having a panic attack. I was at a conference talking with a man whose wife had recently died. He knew of my situation and made the comment that perhaps, like the apostle Paul, God was calling me to be single and started pointing out the spiritual benefits of remaining unmarried. I wasn’t ready to hear that kind of talk. The thought of being unmarried the rest of my life threw me into such an emotional state I thought I might have to get up quickly and leave before I had some kind of emotional breakdown right then and there. Somehow I managed to get through the conversation.

New Season

During this time God seemed very much silent. I have sometimes had very direct and supernatural leadings from Him, but now there was almost nothing. I could only depend upon His word as my guide but the Scriptures didn’t give specific instructions or guarantees about winning back a straying wife. When she left the fourth time, however, I did have a sense in my heart that it was time to move on. To continue to try to win her affections was taking a toll upon me physically and spiritually, and besides that it obviously wasn’t working. In January of 2006 I decided to concentrate on ministry and accept the fact that our marriage was over. We were divorced in April. We had three children at home and they all stayed with me. The youngest was a junior in high school; the other two were young adults. Like me they were traumatized by this sudden change in their mother and we were all in a state of shock for a while.

When the dust had settled I had to quickly learn how to create a functioning household for myself and my children. Now I was not only an international evangelist; I was Mr. Mom. The cooking had been almost entirely my wife’s domain, so I was really starting from scratch. I desperately searched for meals that would be filling and not take too long to cook. I was so ignorant I had to go on the Internet and do a search on Google to figure out how to make a tuna sandwich. Hamburger mixed in with macaroni and cheese became one of our staples and became known as “Dad’s specialty.” We had spaghetti often as well as Salisbury steaks bought from the frozen foods sections, one of my favorite spots in the store. Almost all of my repertoire of meals were exceedingly simple to make and took no more than thirty minutes.

One of the strangest things about all of this is that throughout this time of personal turmoil, God was blessing the new ministry I had founded in amazing ways. It certainly wasn’t due to my strong faith. In those days I felt like a walking dead man, and yet amazingly God’s grace never lifted off the ministry. I had gone to our ministry board and put myself in their hands, being willing to step down if they desired, but they wouldn’t accept that. They urged me to carry on with the work they felt God had called me to do.

I knew I needed healing and I knew that God was the source of all healing. I never did go to counseling. I don’t say this as a recommendation to others or even as the preferable course. Counseling has been a great blessing to many people and in most similar cases, that would be the normal and reasonable thing to do. But in my case I determined I would do what I could to draw near to God and trust His healing presence to make me whole. After my wife’s fourth and final departure I decided it was time to plunge into the work of the ministry. I might not be able to turn my mind off from thinking about what had happened to me, but at least when I was busy there was a measure of relief.

Music played a huge role in the healing process for me. I knew there was a healing element in praise and worship and I began to collect praise and worship CDs. I put them on while I was working around the house and at night when I went to bed. I played them over and over again. A few of the songs seemed to speak directly to me. One praise song quotes Job’s declaration that God gives and He takes away. I could certainly identify with that! In another one the singer quotes God saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I will build you up again. Again you will dance with those filled with joy…” I listened to that song again and again, daring to believe that those words applied to me, and that my time to dance and rejoice would eventually come.

Adjusting to Singleness

It was difficult to get used to being single at first. We had five children and in earlier days when we would attend church we would take up a good portion of the particular pew or row of chairs where we sat. When we visited a church, pastors would get excited knowing that if our family joined their church they would instantly have seven new members. But now with two of my children on their own and the three at home attending different churches I had the strange experience of going to church alone. It felt very strange, and at first I could almost imagine people looking at me and thinking words like, “divorced” and “loser.” I started going to a large church which had an early service where I could slip in and slip out without being scrutinized or having to talk about myself. At times I would eat out at a restaurant by myself where again I had the feeling people were looking at me and feeling sorry for the lonely, middle-aged loser. 

Weekends were the loneliest times. Weekends are America’s social outlets but my social life had been pretty much reduced to zero. At times my children would be out and about throughout most of the weekends and I would face long Saturdays with little human contact, with my only times away from the house being a trip to the grocery store or the post office.

I was living a very schizophrenic existence. During my ministry trips my days were filled with constant activity and interactions with people. I was busy visiting with pastors, preaching, teaching, praying for the sick, and listening to people tell me their stories and their problems. Then after a brief, intense time of constant ministry and interacting with people, I would go back home and resume my quiet life in McKinney, Texas.

Seeking a Wife

I had taught and counseled people about marriage and divorce and re-marriage for decades, but now that I was divorced I felt a need to revisit the issue. I did a search on the Internet, typing in phrases from the Scriptures about these issues, wanting to hear from others. I found nearly every possible opinion there, from those who believed re-marriage was always permissible to those who felt it was never permissible. After a few days of searching both the Scriptures and the opinions of those who commented on these Scriptures, I was satisfied that I could remarry without guilt.

I wasted no time. I began to pray diligently for a wife and searched the Scriptures for promises that I could base my prayers on. The Bible tells us that he that finds a wife finds a good thing, and another verse tells us those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Also Jesus declared that if we being evil know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more would the Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him. Putting these verses together I concluded that I had every right to expect the Father to provide me with a good thing, a wife.

My prayer was that God would give me a wife who would be both spiritual and delightful to me. Not trusting in my own ability to select such a woman I asked the Lord again and again for an arranged marriage, a marriage that He would put together and a woman that was His choice for me. One little fear I had was that He might put me with a woman who was very spiritual but kind of grim and without much of a sense of humor and sort of dowdy. I told Him I didn’t need a beauty queen but I was trusting Him for a woman that I could find delightful; one that I could thank Him for over and over, and really mean it, once we were married.

Living as a single man did provide a rare opportunity for me. I could spend as much time in prayer and in God’s word as I liked and once the initial pain subsided I began to spend more time with God than ever in my life. The Holy Spirit often would give me a very real and very powerful conscious awareness of His presence, and this presence acted as a healing balm to me. It is possible to be depressed and sense the presence of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t believe it is possible to stay depressed for long periods of time in this presence. At least it was not for me.

Divine Comfort

The Holy Spirit was so faithful in those days. There were times when He would come upon me in prayer to such a degree that when I ran out of things to say I could not bring myself to move from the posture of prayer. At times, lying on the floor of my bedroom I would simply linger there enjoying His sweetness and saying nothing but an occasional thank you.

I want you to know that I am not telling you this to try to build myself up in your eyes or make myself out to be some spiritual giant. I am as flawed and human as anybody. But I do want to brag on the Holy Spirit and encourage you that He is not called the Comforter for nothing. I began to establish a time with the Lord at 4:00 in the afternoon when I would fix myself a cup of tea and sit in my recliner and sip tea and talk to the Lord. At times the Holy Spirit would come so richly that I would be in tears, my body shaking and my tea spilling from my cup. I often thought that if my children were to hear me crying they would probably assume that I was crying over the loss of my wife. The fact was tears were simply the natural response to the presence of the beautiful Third Person of the Trinity.

One of the most unusual experience I had with the Holy Spirit occurred on a Sunday afternoon when I put on a CD that had the soundtrack from the musical, Man of LaMancha. This is the story of a very eccentric man who goes forth through the world trying to right wrongs and do noble deeds. In the process he meets the village prostitute whom he renames and treats like nobility. The woman thinks he is ridiculous at first, but his kindness and respect eventually win her heart and change her life. I know you will think this is strange but as I heard the songs on this CD the Holy Spirit touched me in a way I have hardly ever been touched before. My heart was melted by the beauty of a love that shows respect for those everyone else has despised. Throughout that CD I sobbed like a baby, overwhelmed with the beauty of the love of God. I fully realize that this story is fiction; it never really happened. But it seemed that the Holy Spirit was showing me the beauty and power of God’s love through this fictional drama. At times His presence became so strong I was nearly ready to ask Him to turn off whatever He was doing for fear it would physically overwhelm me, but I wanted all He had for me and so I let Him do His work.

Love of God

One of the key things God did for me in those healing days was to reveal to me His great love. As the Holy Spirit ministered to my spirit during those days it seemed I was being tenderized. I began to see the beauty of people and sense how deeply and intensely God loves them. It began to show up in my preaching. I had always been willing and able to preach on God’s hatred for sin, but now there was an added dimension to my preaching. I would find myself saying something like, “Despite all of your lies, your harsh words and your fornications, God still loves you and desires to forgive you and make you His child.”

When I would go to foreign countries I began to feel a deep love for those people. The Indians, the Africans, the Filipinos, all began to look so beautiful to me. I didn’t have to remind myself to preach about how much God loved them; it came out in nearly every sermon.

As my spirit was healed I lost the sense of being a loser. I got involved in one of our church’s home groups and actually enjoyed going and making new relationships. I could sit in a restaurant alone or in a church service without worrying about what others were thinking of me.

The ministry continued to be blessed. The first two overseas meetings in 2006 were somewhat small but there was a definite anointing and a manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. That summer I preached in Uganda where we saw crowds of up to seven thousand people in the crusade meetings, and had an estimated three thousand people come forward to receive Christ. And amazingly, the money and contributions kept coming, which actually provided not only for the trips for but a modest salary for me and my office manager. It was evident that despite all I had been through, God’s favor and blessings were resting on this ministry. I knew it wasn’t due to my great faith. I found it incredible that the founding of the ministry coincided with the destruction of my thirty year marriage. When I founded Spirit of Grace Ministries, I knew nothing about building a ministry, and on top of that I was so emotionally torn up at that time I could do little more than go through the motions. Somehow God had carried me through those early times when I could hardly pray and now as I watched Him work and pour out His Spirit during every outreach my faith actually began to rise. I concluded this blessing had to be a result of God’s great love for the African and Indian people.

It’s hard to pin down just when God’s emotional healing work is complete. It comes gradually, but one day it’s as though you wake up and realize – “I’m OK. I don’t hurt anymore, I enjoy my life, I enjoy my work – I must be healed.” I would estimate that somewhere between eight and ten months after I first learned of my wife’s unfaithfulness this became my experience. I was surprised by two things: first, how quickly the work was done and secondly, how thoroughly. It was said of Jesus in one of the gospels: “He does all things well,” and I can say a hearty amen to that.

Without describing my own situation I wrote an article in 2007 called Wounded Warriors which was very much autobiographical. I wrote, “You know the healing is being accomplished when you start laughing and joking again. At first you thought you would never do these things again, but you find the Holy Spirit encouraging you, telling you that it is not only OK, but even right and good that you should do so. The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Work of Grace

As I took stock of the healing I realized that God had done even more than I had hoped. I found myself appreciating people more than I ever had in my life. I have always been somewhat of an introvert and social situations were often not something I looked forward to, but I began to actually enjoy being with people. The emotional reserve that I had been born with seemed to have been cracked open. I laughed more easily and I cried more easily. Somehow as the healing occurred I went from seeing myself as a broken loser to seeing myself as a very blessed man. This had nothing to do with financial resources or outward blessings. I was still a divorce, middle-aged preacher with no wife and not much of a social life. The blessing I felt was simply the privilege of knowing and loving our Triune God, and being loved by Him and used by Him. I found myself thanking God again and again for being so good to me.

I still wanted a wife; although there were times I contemplated deliberately choosing the single life and giving myself entirely to God. But stronger still was the desire for a wife who would be partner with me in ministry, a woman who could travel with me and pray with me, and keep me company after the meetings were over and the crowds had gone home. Though the ministry was prospering, I sometimes felt like a ranch hand working out in some lonely field repairing a piece of fence all by himself. I prayed, “Lord, give me a lady who can work on the fence with me.”

The Bible uses the phrase “watch and pray” and so I was not only praying but also looking for this gift I was certain the Lord had for me. I wasn’t really wanting to do the singles club thing; I figured that as many people as I meet when I do meetings, it wouldn’t be too hard for the Lord to bring the right lady to me during some conference. Of course I was aware that most of my meetings were with people of other races, but that didn’t trouble me in the slightest. I have always believed that in Christ there are no racial barriers. The color of her skin was not important, but the content of her character was all important.

After a couple of brief false starts I finally met the lady God had destined to be my wife. I was doing a conference in Lagos, Nigeria when I noticed a tall, attractive lady who seemed omnipresent in the meetings with her camcorder. Her name was Benedicta and she had taken it upon herself to record much of the conference and produce a video. Though I found her very attractive I didn’t see any way we would ever meet so I didn’t give her too much thought until, at the end of the last day she came up to my car just before I was to be driven to my hotel and asked if she could interview me for the video she was planning to produce. I agreed, of course, and when I had a chance to talk with her later, I dared ask her how it was she had never been married. When she told me that most men she met were not spiritual enough and could drag her down and hurt her ministry I was intrigued. I asked her if I could buy her a cell phone and could call her from the U. S. She agreed and hundreds of phone calls and two trips to Lagos later we were married.

Marriage

I know that some people will raise their eyebrows at our marriage. On the surface we could hardly be more different. I am white; she is black. I am American; she is Nigerian. And she is definitely younger than me. But the thing that makes our marriage seem so perfectly natural to both of us is the love of God. I once spent some time with a man who had just returned from a missionary stint in Mexico. The missionary work had not gone well and he and his wife had returned home in a state of shock, disappointed and disillusioned. But as we talked he said something that was surprising and sad to me. He made a crack about the Mexican people that was very much derogatory and not far from being racist. I couldn’t believe he could ridicule the very people he had been trying to minister to. I thought to myself, “No wonder this man’s ministry was so unsuccessful. He had no love for the Mexican people.”

One of the great pre-requisites for ministry to any people is love. Without that you only have cold doctrine. If God ever calls you to minister to a foreign people, and you find you have no love for them, get on your knees and give God no rest until He gives you a love for those people. And if He doesn’t somehow do that, then go back home and figure that you were never truly called. When God calls us He equips us, and the greatest of His equippings is what Paul called, “The love of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”

God has given me a great love for the African people. I don’t just minister to them because it is my duty or I think I’ll get a bigger reward in heaven. I love the Africans. I love to preach to them, I love to spend time with them, I love to eat meals with them, to laugh with them – I love Africans. Even in America when I hear a black person speak with an African accent I am immediately drawn to them and try to engage them in conversation.

This is why, though it may seem strange to people to see me with an African wife, it seems perfectly natural and even desirable to me. The Africans seem to sense this, and one pastor recently said, “I used to think that Dennis was a white man, but now I know he is a black man.”

One thing I need to emphasize: God did not heal me by giving me another wife. He first healed me and then gave me a wife. My healing was not a “help me Rhonda” kind of a deal; it was our Magnificent Comforter doing what He does so well. And it was our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, living up to his first announcement of His ministry, when He declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. For He has anointed me to heal the brokenhearted…”

Some of you who read this are going through severe pain of your own. Your circumstances are unique, but you can very much identify with the pain that I have described. I would not dare to tell you to follow my exact course. You have to find God’s prescription for you and it will be different with every individual. But one thing I can tell you with all confidence – Our God is a healing God, our Lord Jesus is a healing Lord, and the Holy Spirit is a healing Spirit. God does not always protect us from the bumps and bruises of life. At times He will allow His children to go through intense pain. But He will be with us! He is faithful. He who knows when the sparrow falls to the ground knows your pain and He is willing and able to apply His marvelous healing hands to your life.

And when He has finished you will find that He has done such incredibly fine work that you can truly say, “God is good – all the time.”

 

line

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

 

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring video clips and pics from our recent mission in Mateka, Kenya.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.