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Saved In Childbearing


I grew up in the home of an unsaved alcoholic father. My mother was also 
unsaved. My grandmother was a devoted Christian who played the organ at 
the Akron Baptist Temple in Ohio. Unfortunately she passed to Heaven when 
I was quite young so I never really knew her - only knew of her. My first 
introduction to "church" was when I was around 12 years old. An 
acquaintance of our family (who happened to be a Mennonite lady) invited 
my brothers and I to the Vacation Bible School that was being held at 
their church. 

My little brother & I attended that week and learned the books of the 
Bible. We began attending church with this good lady and her family every 
Sunday. It was different.... they did not use any music during their 
services. I remember as a young girl wondering why the women all wore 
"doilies" on their heads. They were very good people and very good to me. 
I stayed in their home many times & thought it was odd that they gathered 
at the table in the morning before school to read the Bible and pray. I had 
never experienced such a thing. 

During the fall of 1974 I attended a Ford Philpot Conference with this 
family. I remember the man preached in the gym of the local high school and 
it was attended by hundreds & hundreds of people. On Friday night of that 
week there was a special push for teens. I went along with several of my 
friends. He did give an altar call after the message. I went at the urging 
of my friends (not the Holy Spirit). Someone took me back to a little area 
and showed me the Bible and I'm not sure what else happened. At any rate I 
hung on to that experience for more than 12 years as my Salvation experience, 
not understanding that Salvation is a personal relationship with Christ. 

During this year my father's drinking continued to worsen. I remember every 
Friday night, it was my job to call all the bars in town to try and find my 
father before he drank up all the grocery money. A man that worked with my 
father at a local egg hatchery began to take an interest in our family. He 
invited my parents many times to his church (also a Mennonite church). We 
lived in small farm town in Indiana that was HEAVILY populated by Amish & 
Mennonite folks. My brothers & I switched to that particular church to join 
their youth group & get involved in all the activities. We started praying 
that our parents would come to church. After many months of praying & waiting 
at the church doors to see if they would keep their "promise" - one day it 
finally happened! 

I saw my father and mother walking up the steps to the church! I 
was elated! We didn't attend there very long. I mentioned my Baptist 
Grandmother earlier...my father had gone to a Baptist church when he 
was young. He didn't care for the Mennonite way. They never gave an 
altar call - he didn't agree with that. They didn't use the King James 
Bible - he hated that. Several other reasons caused him to start looking 
around for a good Baptist church. He finally found out about a "baby" 
Baptist church that was holding services in the basement of a bank. We 
attended one of their very first services. BOY! What a difference that 
was for me! They had music! What a spirit I felt that night! 

They seemed so happy in the Lord. We continued to attend there and 
before too long they were able to move into their own building. During 
this time my parents both "rededicated" (I would call it reformed) 
their lives to the Lord (many years later they were both gloriously 
SAVED!) A couple of years after attending this church they called a 
new Pastor. He had 6 children. I became best friends with his oldest 
daughter and my older brother became buddies with his oldest son. This 
oldest boy - Darren was quite the city slicker and I was just a country 
"bumpkin". We didn't quite hit it off at first, but eventually we all 
became fast friends and were together often. 

I fell in love with the Preacher's son - Darren. We began to "date" and 
later on he went off to college. Well that was just too much for a young 
man - all those single "chicks" up there and he, a handsome, young single 
guy! He did the heart-breaking thing when he came home for a visit! As 
the Lord would have it though, he came home for the Summer and injured 
his back and was not able to return to school in the fall as he had to 
have back surgery. I thought it would be kind to help fill his recovery 
time with some visits. So I visited every day! Of course I was still very 
much in love with him. Well, the Lord directed our paths and in 1980, He 
brought us blissfully together in marriage! 

Almost as soon as we were married we were flung into the ministry! I 
knew that he had the call of God on his life, but I was so young and 
immature..... We both agreed that it was God's will for us to have a 
family though, so we didn't wait until we could "afford" children, else 
we probably would have never had them! My father-in-law, Phil Tharp, one 
of the Godliest men I know, a man I dearly love, has always been very 
vocal, very involved in his children's lives. When he found out that we 
were expecting our first baby (his first grandbaby!) he showed me a 
Bible verse: "Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in childbearing, if 
they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety". Then 
he said, the best thing you can do for yourself and that baby that you 
are carrying, is to keep your heart right with the Lord. 

I took what he said to heart. I thought about it constantly. During this 
time we had been showing the "rapture" films to our teens - "A Thief in 
the Night" and all those. Those films really make you stop and think 
about your condition. I began to examine myself - as the Bible says to 
do. I started to doubt. I shook it off. The Holy Spirit came back again 
and again..... I became very troubled at the thought of the rapture and 
whether I was really saved or not. I could not remember what took place 
that night back in 1974. That really bothered me..... why couldn't I 
remember what Bible verses that lady had shown me? Did I pray? And if I 
did pray, what was it that I said? Shouldn't I remember all this, if it 
was real to me? Was I a Phony? 

I began to lose sleep at night. One day during the Summer (we had been 
married for several months and I was about 6 months along in my pregnancy) 
I came home from my mothers house after doing laundry all day. When I 
came in, I called for my husband.... no answer..... no note...... 
nothing....... my heart skipped a beat. I went into the bedroom to see 
if maybe he was resting. What I saw made my heart stop! I saw laying on 
the bed, his shirt in a heap, his pants draped over the side and his 
shoes on the floor by the drooping pant legs!! I thought the rapture had 
taken place and I had been left behind! After a few quick phone calls, I 
discovered he only gone out for a quick swim with his brothers! What 
relief! But with that relief came an even larger flood of guilt and doubt 
about my condition before the Lord. 

I felt guilty because of my fear of the rapture. Why would one of God's 
children be afraid to meet her Heavenly Father? Shouldn't the thought of 
such a thing bring joy and excitement? I began to justify my self. Surely 
I was saved. Didn't I work on the bus every Sunday? Didn't I work in the 
nursery, teach Sunday School, work with the teens, clean the church, and 
even go door knocking every Saturday telling other people about Jesus? 

How could a lost person do all these things? I had to be saved - after 
all, I married the Preacher's son! It became too heavy of a load for me 
to carry. One night after I was sure my husband was asleep, I had a long 
talk with the Lord. I did what the Bible says to do and I examined myself 
thoroughly as to whether I was in the faith or not. I had to swallow a lot 
of pride that night and finally after I got it all down, a flood broke 
loose and I realized my lost condition before the Lord. It was as if the 
Lord was saying - It's now or never Starr. I still tried to rationalize 
things and wondered what would people think. This weighing of the pros 
and cons went on for hours, and just when I felt I had enough courage 
to rouse my husband out of slumber - the Devil would rock my cradle 
again and assure me that I was alright - I married the preacher's son! 

Finally, the conviction became so heavy I thought my heart would burst. 
I started to cry, hot, swelling tears ran down my cheeks. I realized that 
God was wooing me. He had done so much for me, given so much for me, and 
I had given nothing back except phoniness. What a waste my life had been - 
I began to sob & weep in absolute surrender to God. At the sound of 
weeping, my husband awoke and was immediately concerned. Thinking it 
was something about the baby or my health, he asked, What's wrong?! The 
only 3 words I could muster were, I'm not saved! He was wide awake then 
I'll tell you! I knew the words to pray for the Sinner's prayer - I had 
shown them to many people myself, but they had never been real to me. But 
my husband took me out to our little living room and shared the Scripture 
with me and prayed with me. Right there kneeling in front of our sofa I 
gave my heart and life to the Lord Jesus. A decision I've never regretted. 

It is interesting to note that when our baby boy was due to be born, I 
developed Toxemia. The dr. decided for the health of the baby and mine 
that they should induce labor. I was induced the whole night with Pitosin, 
and NEVER once did I even feel a twinge of labor. They sped up the drops 
every few hours and nothing. Late the next morning, I had a pre-placenta 
birth, which caused me to have an emergency Caesarean Section. When they 
delivered our baby, they said there was only a small portion of placenta 
left keeping him alive. If I would have been at home I probably would 
have lost the baby and I would have hemorrhaged to death. Praise the Lord 
our baby was healthy and my life was spared also. 

Now my "baby" boy is 19 and is studying for the ministry at Midwestern 
Baptist College! I often wonder what would have happened that day in the 
hospital if I had I not accepted the Lord. What if I had stayed in my lost 
condition and then died during child birth - I would have gone to Hell. I 
would not know the thrill of having a son surrendered to the Lord's 
service. I've never heard of another person being saved as a result of 
reading or hearing I Timothy 2:15 - but the Lord surely used it in my 
life. God has been so good to me all these years. I fail Him miserably 
some times but He is good all the time.

He has given my husband & I 20 wonderful years of marriage, & in the 
ministry. 3 precious children - all saved and surrendered for full time 
service. He's healed our youngest daughter of cancer. I just cannot thank 
Him enough for all He's done for me.

Starr Tharp - Isaiah 26:3,4
Mother/ Pastor's wife
Lincoln Ave. Baptist Church


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