Satan had won.
Tom and Mindy’s marriage was over. Satan had targeted this particular family for destruction, and he hit the bullseye. He must have known God had something great planned for them. That’s why he made such an effort to destroy them.
The two were married in 1994 and seemed to have it all– a good education, good jobs and plenty of money. They appeared to have the “perfect marriage.” But it was all a lie.
Things came to a boil in early 2001. Tom and Mindy were “playing church” and putting on a show for everyone. Tom worked non-stop to make as much money as he could. He had a “trophy house” with cathedral ceilings perched next to a fancy country club – even though Tom doesn’t play golf. It was the prestige and image that mattered most.
The stress of making money and arguing non-stop was taking its toll on Mindy. She was tired of playing church and watching her marriage secretly crumble. They were both miserable with each other.
Then one day, Tom entered his dream home like every other day. However, this day was different. He came home and couldn’t find his five-year-old son Wade, or his three-year-old daughter Becca. Mindy was not there either. He found a lonely note. They had all moved out. Mindy had cleaned out the bank account and moved in with her mother.
Tom, who is big, rough and tough, was broken. He dearly loved his children, and this was devastating to him. He felt sick to his stomach when he found the note. He just stared into space. He became nauseous and clammy. He started to panic at the thought of never seeing his kids again. He didn’t eat or sleep much during the two weeks his family was gone.
When he tried to sleep, it was like lying on a bag full of doorknobs. Food tasted like dust. Everything he had – except for his big house — was gone.
He was reduced to begging his mother-in-law to let him see his children. He was at his wit’s end and desperate. He was right where God wanted him to be.
Tom had no choice but to start talking to the Lord. He had a God-sized problem, and Christ had the solution. There was a work to be done, and the Lord got Tom’s attention in a mighty big way.
Tom was now beginning to see things differently. Mindy had accepted Christ a few weeks earlier in their home, and Tom was continuously exposed to the Gospel from his pastor Wilbur. But Tom’s pride was nearly as big as his empty trophy house– until Mindy left.
“(The Lord) had to beat me about the head and shoulders to get me to realize that He had big plans for us,” Tom said. So, God took away the people Tom loved.
One evening not long after Mindy left with the kids, Tom was alone in his bedroom in his big lonely home. He sought God, fell on his face and was gloriously saved. Suddenly, everything was new. He had a new perspective. The guilt he had carried was gone. But so was his family.
Tom wanted to reunite with them right away, but Mindy was cautious. He asked her not to give up on him. “Well, big boy, you better get used to me not doing what you want me to do,” she told him. But she could tell there was a difference, and one day when Tom picked up the kids for a visit, she told him about a week-long intensive marriage counseling session available in Minnesota.
Tom took the kids to a park where he contemplated what divorce would be like. He thought about Mindy’s proposal. While playing with his children, he looked up toward the heavens. He noticed that the trails that two planes had left in the blue sky were in the shape of a cross –- pointing north toward Minnesota.
“That’s all I needed to see,” Tom said. He then went home and made the arrangements to go to marriage counseling. And Tom, who loved money, forked over the $10,000 for the trip. It was a long, rigorous and exhausting week, but their marriage survived because of it.
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:21 KJV
Tom and Mindy renewed their marriage vows on June 15, 2001. To this day, they celebrate their anniversary on that date rather than their original wedding date. They serve the Lord as a family, and Tom is also now a minister of the gospel.
Seven years ago, the couple purchased a unique property in Minford, Ohio, called the White Gravel Mines. It consists of acres of caves once used by teenagers for “nefarious” purposes. Today, the White Gravel Mines are used to tell everyone about the saving grace of Christ.
They host an annual extreme trail run where participants are exposed to the gospel at various obstacles throughout the adventure.
Each Halloween, there is a live drama presentation called the “Cavern of Choices.” Visitors walk through the caves and witness scenes of what might happen if they make the wrong choices in life, including a “dark walk” through Hell and a visit to Heaven. At the end of the presentation, people are asked to make a choice and live for Jesus. In its six years, there have been nearly 10,000 people come through, and almost 700 people have been saved.
This year, they debuted the Christmas Cave at the mines. People walk through the caves and see the story of the birth of Christ as told through Christmas lights and beautiful displays. In its first year, the Christmas Cave had more than 20,000 visitors over 10 evenings to witness the real meaning of Christmas.
And to think – if Tom and Mindy had listened to the devil, thousands of people may have never heard the Gospel of Christ, and hundreds may not have been saved.
I am by no means a marriage counselor but know that God can fix and make anything that is broken brand new again. It just has to be laid at his feet.