So this past weekend I attended a concert at Grace church in Middleburg Hts with the special man in my life. He attends bible study there and heard about this concert coming to the church. It was Broadway Comes to NE Ohio. J. Mark McVey, who played Jean ValJean in over 3,000 performances of Les Miserables on Broadway and internationally, performed selections from the immensely popular musical. He also performed other inspirational music selections, interspersed with personal stories from his life, career and faith journey. While this was amazing and inspirational there was another man that spoke for a few minutes, Gerard Long from Alpha USA.
Alpha is an organization that gives people the opportunity to explore faith and its meaning in life in a relaxed friendly setting. He was a very charismatic, well spoken, attractive man and I immediately thought, this man has it all. Probably a charmed life, beautiful family, the whole nine. He invited everyone there to services the next day where he would be discussing overcoming life's difficulties and tragedies. He looked like he walked off the cover of GQ. I was intrigued, what could this man know of tragedy? The whole next day I thought about going to one of these services and I decided to go back Sunday to the 6:00 service. I texted my guy and he said he would join me, great, but I was going regardless. The worship service started as usual, praise songs, the pastor spoke for a few minutes and then Gerard took the stage. I was right, he had lived a charmed life, until tragedy crashed his world. He shared with us the most incredible story of faith and love and God's grace. His youngest son 17 year old Alex had befriended a troubled boy at school. He came home one evening and told his parents he had taken a drug, and he was sorry. While upset they figured they would nurture him at home and the drug would eventually work it's way out of his body. It was a rocky few days. A friend of Alex's had also e-mailed him that his ex girlfriend had put a wiccan curse on him. Which he added as a side note that if anyone ever hears of this to not take it lightly, it is pure evil. At one point within those few days Gerard's wife got an impulse to check on Alex in his room. It was 7 in the evening and what she found in his room was a suicide note. They rushed out to try and find him, track his whereabouts, called police and searched the better part of the evening. Finally the police told them to go home and wait to hear. Unfortunately later that night they did hear, they found Alex at the beach, he had hung himself. My heart literally dropped, THIS was not the story I thought I was going to hear. Gerard went on to talk about the desperate times that followed. Through scripture and God's grace he struggled on. His wife struggled as well. The cold hard facts are that over 50% of marriages end in divorce after such an incident. But Gerard prayed with all is might, he shared how he prayed every day for God's grace to get him through the days, weeks and months that followed. They argued, his wife got sick, very sick yet he continued to keep praying. He shared that he knew she needed to be loved yet she became very difficult to love so he prayed for God to help him love her when he felt he no longer could. Little by little the clouds rose and the aching pain loosened its grip and they began to heal. His love for his wife truly saved her life, and certainly their marriage. I was amazed at his conviction of faith and love of Jesus Christ as his savior in his darkest hour. He spoke about eternity and how our lives on this plane are just a vapor, a flash of time in the grand scheme of things. He understood that anything taken from you in this life will be given back to you ten fold in the next. He has faith he will see Alex again and this reunion will be amazing in eternity. This really helped me gain new perspective on my sisters death. He has written a book called Breakthrough I have ordered. I can't wait to read more about this man's journey and his incredible faith.