His prayer of desperation today means a promise kept
By: Major Frank Duracher
In September 1995, George Henry was desperate. He stood on his backyard deck and pleaded with God to intervene. George’s heavy drinking was taking a toll on his health and his family. By his own admission, he was at the point of suicide. If only a miracle could happen, George promised a life totally sold-out in the service of others.
“I remember walking back inside, thinking, he’ll never answer my unworthy prayer. He’s got too much to do!”
Even as he uttered the prayer, he felt a severe unworthiness. But God intervened, all right— although not in a way George expected.
“I had just dropped my wife off at work, and was driving under the influence,” George said. “I got pulled by a highway patrolman and was soon arrested for DUI.”
But that was God at work, answering his prayer, George quickly adds. It was the wakeup call he needed. He checked himself in at the Asheville, North Carolina, VA Hospital, where after five days he “was still disoriented.” One thing he does remember: God revealed to George that this incident was heaven’s answer to the prayer he made on his back deck.
His further revelation was that he is just as worthy to ask God for anything; and that his worth was as great as any other man’s in this world.
“God showers me with blessings!” George said. “I’m overwhelmed that he chose me out of all creation to be here on this day, and at this moment, ringing this little bell for The Salvation Army!” His eyes moistened at just the mention of such a realization.
And as for George’s promise to God – he’s kept his bargain. In the 24 years since, George Henry has become well-known for his volunteerism, particularly for three passions God laid on his heart to serve: Kairos Prison Ministries; delivering meals through the Macon County, North Carolina, Home for the Aged; and, ringing a kettle bell at Christmas for The Salvation Army.
“I’m only here because God placed me here,” George said. His kettle stand is at one door of the Ingalls Supermarket in Cashiers, North Carolina. He’s there between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and hardly anyone passes him by without stopping to talk to him. Most put a donation into the red kettle.
In the two South Carolina prisons where George and his Kairos mates minister, he is known by the inmates as “the love smuggler.” Love is the only thing he can smuggle to the prisoners, some of them on Death Row, he said.
Why The Salvation Army? He remembers service rendered as far back as World War II. “I was only about 9 or 10, but I remember the good they did.”
George has quite an impact on The Salvation Army’s mission in the seven counties under the corps located in nearby Waynesville, North Carolina. His two top Christmas efforts through the years have each raised over $10,000. Two top days in a row each garnered $600, an hourly average at $100.
“When I first met George Henry, I was stunned in a good way because of his mountain-moving faith. His love and passion for the Lord Jesus Christ inspired me,” said Major David Cope, Waynesville corps officer. “George raises thousands of dollars ringing the bell and organizes (other) volunteers so that we can support and help the needy citizens of Jackson County. Even when there are few volunteers, George rings the bell alone to help keep the effort going. He is involved in prison ministry and other community service, and always seeks to help his fellow man. George Henry touched my life.”
At age 85, George shows no signs of slowing down. He maintains his state license as a building contractor and insists, “I don’t even like the word, ‘retirement.’”
Not even a fight with prostate cancer slowed him down. He completed his treatments and has total faith in God’s plan for his life.
Any sage advice for would-be kettle volunteers?
“Yes: Remember to put the ding before the ling!” he said, chuckling.
Major Frank Duracher, a former staff writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.