A Season of Hope/ A Redeemed Story

Over the last couple of years, I have publicly and privately expressed a lot of pain. I have not wavered from sharing my struggles. I have ranted and raved. I have shaken my fist. I have stomped my feet like a petulant child–literally and on the pages of this blog.

Occasionally, I have been asked to speak and share my story. At times I have chosen to offer help to those who hurt too. Sometimes, my message was more about what not so say and how to treat those who are suffering. At this point in my life, I am never more excited than when I get to share what God has done in the redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of my life. Better yet, I am thrilled when I have the chance to help people see hope–to know that God can redeem not just their souls from sin, but that He can and does redeem their stories.

Stories.

We all have a story. Some of us can’t escape the knowledge of our stories, they are ever before us. Some of us are blessed to have stories of far less drama and tragedy than others. But all of us have a story. We each have a story of sin and the broken life that follows. We have a story of loneliness and despair. We have a story of _________________ (I’ll let you fill in the blank).

We each have a story, but no matter what yours is or isn’t, here’s hope: There is no story too horrific or too ugly for God to redeem.

None.
Not a single one.
No matter the details.
No matter the guilt.
No matter the shame and embarrassment.
No matter the consequences still yet to be faced.

None.
Not a single one.

Yours, like mine, can be redeemed.
Beauty can be found again.
Although different from before, life can be resumed once more.

In today’s post, I’d like you to notice the tag line has changed to be more reflective of where I am on this journey…

From the crash and burn of destruction and despair to a posture embracing redemption, restoration, and reconciliation, this is my journey of leaning on the gospel of grace…

And lean I do… For where I lean, I find hope!

For those who walked this journey with me, a million billion gazillion thanks. Yours is a story worthy of telling and telling soon!

In the meantime, the following links are the beginnings of Desperately Wanting To Believe Again.

If you choose to stop reading here, Happy Easter! It is a season of hope!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

**Warning: Graphic Details Ahead**

http://lesfergusonjr.com/2013/02/08/blogging-porno…hy-its-obscene/ ‎

 http://lesfergusonjr.com/2013/03/06/obscenity-redux/ ‎

Forward

After some soul searching (and listening to the advice of others), I have decided to leave the blog name just as it is. Because the truth is simple: every day is new–and each new day is an opportunity to wrestle with and struggle through old and fresh doubts, pains, fears,and heartaches. These days I find myself in a much better place. My marriage and family are amazing–so is my work with the Lake Harbour Drive church. I am blessed beyond measure. But in another moment of full disclosure… As the man once told Jesus… 

I believe. Help my unbelief…

 

My friend Jimmy Hinton put Angela Williams in touch with me sometime last year. Angela is the force behind Voice Today–an organization that seeks to give a voice to those who have been sexually abused as children.

In her own words from the Voice Today website:

I believe that through communication and education the stigma of child sexual abuse can be removed from the victim and placed on the predator, where it belongs. By giving this epidemic visibility, we are able to focus society on the issue and, as a result, become a VOICE for the voiceless. It takes great courage for a survivor to step out from the silence and shame and reach for healing and wholeness. They must be met with compassion and understanding to feel safe with each step they take. I believe adults need to take responsibility for the protection of children through education. A trained, conscientious and vigilant society puts the predator on notice and gives the child a community of safe people to watch over them. My dream is that one day this silent epidemic will be exposed, leaving no place for a perpetrator to hide. I pray this plague will be eradicated. I have a lifelong mission to help create a world without sexual abuse, a world where children will be safe, growing up whole and healthy with their sexual, physical and emotional boundaries in tact. Will you help me? Please give of your time and resources! Please join THE VOICE MOVEMENT today!

Angela is doing the work of a lifetime and I am proud to be her friend. She is getting ready to publish another book for children–a tool in the hands of parents who want to protect their precious children. This book is being produced in the memory of my son, Cole. Angela has honored me with the opportunity to write the forward and what follows is my first try…

Forward

I really hate that I am writing this forward.
I really hate that you are reading this book.
I hate that you feel the need to read or share with your children anything of this nature.

And yes, hate is a strong word for this man whose mother taught him not to hate anything.
But hate I do.

Even worse, I hate the events that have led me to this place.
I wish I could stick my head in the sand and have it all go away.
I wish I could, but I can’t.
And so here we are.

You are reading a book to help teach, explain, and protect your children from an insidious evil.
This is an evil most never really know exists.
Please make no mistake. This evil is real. It is deceptive. It is treacherous. It is sinister. It is so very subtle.

Those that know these things are faced with difficult choices. You can choose a path of deliberate ignorance and thereby hope to avoid the pain and discomfort this topic engenders; or, you can choose the path of knowledge and empowerment—and by doing so, embrace the opportunity to face down a malevolent force—to take a stand for the lives of children and families everywhere.

Those lives and that family could well be your own.

And since I am a preaching minister, please allow me this brief moment of preaching: That desire to ignore this evil? It will only serve to ensure more devastated lives in the future.

Unfortunately my family was that family of shattered dreams and broken tomorrows.

We were not deliberately ignorant, but ignorant we were. And that ignorance has cost us dearly.

Sexual abuse is real.
It happens.
It robs the innocent.
It redefines life.
It destroys.

This book is dedicated to my son, Cole. He was abused and more, if your imagination can imagine the very worst. Mentally and physically disabled, he eventually found the courage to speak out—to name his abuser, the destroyer of his innocence. Ultimately, it cost him and his mother, Karen, their very lives.

Yes, you read that correctly.
They were brutally murdered as the final and ultimate abuse. Just like the story of Cain and Abel, their blood cries out from the ground. Their lives demand and deserve justice.

So if by reading this book, your children remain safe and whole, then the lives of my murdered family are given fresh new meaning.

And I?
I am given hope.

So read this book.
Love your children.
Save a life.
And smile with me at the memory of a mother who died protecting her son and a boy who loved God and lived the best life he could…

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison, MS

Silence

Silence.
I relish quiet time and silence.
Time when the kids are asleep.
Time when and the TV’s are not blaring.
Precious time to think, process, write and rewrite.
Time to just breathe…
Time when silence is in fact, golden.

Golden, yes, but not when it comes to prayer.
Silence is painful then.
Silence is a reminder of an empty void.
Silence serves as a jarring notice that while we still pray, we also still want and need, wonder and question.

If I had a dime for every time I cried out to God on Cole’s behalf…
Obviously it’s not the money I would like to see.
Not the money at all.

But my prayers for Cole were all of a similar nature.
To be normal.
To be like the other kids.
To be able to run, walk, climb, and jump.
To be without pain.
To speak clearly.
To have a girlfriend.
To have a life.
To really live.

None of those requests are out of the ordinary. In fact most parents—-at least in our American culture–assume their children will live normal productive lives. And more times than not those children will have the opportunity to do so.

But not Cole.
Not Cole.

Cole had more physical disabilities than you could imagine. Add in his cognitive challenges and the struggle was immense. But in spite of his difficulties, the intellect for self-perception was always there. He knew he was different and not in a way the world perceived as good.

And as much as we loved him, we could not always protect him from that pain.
But we tried.
Oh God how we tried.
And prayed.
And begged.
And pleaded.
And made deals.

And there was nothing but silence.

Silence.
Screaming, ear busting, head splitting, banshee loud, deafening silence.

Silence.

For twenty years.
Silence.
Silence.
Silence.

And then he was gone.
Ripped from life before he ever had the chance to live like other kids.
Gone before… so many things he would never see, do, or experience.

I wish I had a dime for every time I cried out to God.
I wish I could have sucker-punched every well-meaning soul who tried to console with words, images, and thoughts of Cole in a better place.

Intellectually, I understood his pain and struggles were over.
Theologically, I believed he was with God and well.
Spiritually, I was angry and hurt.
Emotionally, I cried for what was lost and what would never be.

I live with a lot of regrets and what ifs.
We lost an awful lot that terrible day.
The empty seats at the table are ever before us.
And if the silence was deafening before…

As clichéd as it might be, time really does help.
On most days, even though I miss him with a deep unfulfilled longing, I can smile, laugh and talk about my son who is in a different place.
But some days the pain is just as raw as it was the day he was taken.
And silence is an all too familiar experience.

On those days I sometimes use this picture to remind me of Cole’s new reality and the truth of answered prayers… even when they are not answered in my arbitrary time frame.

HopeRealized
(With thanks to the Huffington Post for an inspiring picture and story)

Even though the silence mostly still remains, I am thankful for so much. I am thankful for the good memories and the precious time we had. Cole made me a better person. I miss him so, but I am glad he is free and unfettered…

cole

To those who hurt with loss, you are not alone…

Blessings to you,

Les, Jr.

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