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Shirley Wratten Leads My Family to Christ

  In 1968, my family was in a hard place. My dad was an army doctor sent for a year to the Viet Nam war.  I was nine. It was a sad day in our family when he left. We didn’t know if he would return one day in a body bag. My mom had us two kids. She’s a survivor, but she needed hope. E…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

 

In 1968, my family was in a hard place. My dad was an army doctor sent for a year to the Viet Nam war. 

I was nine. It was a sad day in our family when he left. We didn’t know if he would return one day in a body bag. My mom had us two kids. She’s a survivor, but she needed hope.

Every week my father would send a letter or tape from Viet Nam telling us about the horrors of war and how much he loved us. My mother would get my sister and I together on the couch and share them with us.

If your father has ever left you, you know how painful it can be. There was a hole in my heart that only the love of a father could fill.

Though my mother loved me very much, she couldn’t give me a father’s love. The weeks went by and my father’s absence was a great void in my life. There was no one to throw the football to me. No one to take me fishing.

There are things that only a father can do for a son. All of us have a hole in our heart that only a father can fill. I craved a father’s approval and his affection. 

One day Shirley Wratten, a friend whose husband Gary had died in the war, shared with my mom about a God who loved her in spite of her shortcomings. A God who chose to make a terrible sacrifice to build a bridge to her.

And my mom decided to put her life as she’d lived it up for foreclosure. She decided to move from a place of stiff religion to personal faith. 

I followed shortly there after. I remember being overwhelmed at the pathos of the story my mom told me of Jesus dying on the cross. How could I not embrace a savior like that?

My mom went all-in with her new faith. Later, as I entered by teen years, I realized that she looked to the world like a crazy lady – a fanatic. But to us, as kids, her life of faith was normal. Mom passed out tracts to parking lot attendants. She led Bible studies in the bad part of town. She got up early and prayed on her knees.

My dad came home from Viet Nam, a hero. He had saved many lives with an innovative blood transfusion procedure. The army honored him with an award named, of all people, after Gary Wratten. 

Shirley Wratten is still alive (she wrote this book recently). In the video above, speaking to the AIM staff, I get her on the phone and she shares the story of leading my mom to faith in Christ.

Comments (7)

  • Powerful perspective of what are we leaving for a heritage. Your mother is leaving an army of followers of Christ through you.
    May we all live a life that marks others. The Heritage of the Kingdom.

  • Seth,

    Wow I just got goosebumps reading this. I’m going to look at that book. Like you I have an incredible testimony. We overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of Our Testimony not loving Our Lives unto death. Who knows what the future holds but we know who holds the future. Isn’t it wonderful knowing the savior of the world? He came and died for an unworthy people on a tree that He made. On a hill that He created. He died for His own loved people that He created for fellowship, for communion. Now the world doesn’t want to fellowship with Him. Those who have found this Fellowship are the Most Blessed creations!!!! I am so blessed to know you Seth. I feel like I’ve known you for years and we’ve never even met. What a joyful Union in heaven we will all have standing before our Savior!!!!
    I love love the story about your father your mother and your family!!!

  • I continue to marvel but not be surprised at the weaving of our stories and experiences. So blessed to have intersected paths with you.

  • Thanks, Sandy. You encourage me at a time when encouragement is in short supply! Yes, my parents’ story has been a beautiful one.

    Hope you’re well and finding sources of your own encouragement.

  • Well, I’m looking forward to actually meeting you and moving this relationship from virtual to real this fall!

  • Gisele Marie Buenaventura

    I love hearing about how you and your family came to know the Lord! It never gets old, but instead it takes on new life every time I hear it. The power of telling people about Jesus and how this good news crosses generations gives me such awe for God. Thank you for being a faithful disciple who reminds us of our hope in Christ! I’ll check out that book!!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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