"Now I Am Forgiven"

by Janet Clark Shay

I WORKED FROM numerous interviews with Loyd Gross and his wife, Allison. In addition, he recorded his testimony on audio file for me. Using this information and further personal research (especially concerning the submarine and the technicalities of its operation), I wrote his short life story for a 24-page Christian gospel tract. Here is an example of the first few pages. 



“We're sinking!!” The message from command shot through the submarine like a torpedo.

An eerie feeling crept over Loyd. Part of the young sailor's job when he was on galley duty was to man the phones. He had just received the call. A plug had blown out below the floor of the boat, and water had filled a storage space and come up onto the floor. Crew members had blown the wrong ballast tanks, sending the boat into a nosedive. The boat was in danger of plunging below its 312-foot test depth. The lives of eighty men were in jeopardy, and Loyd Gross was one of them.

Scared to death, Loyd did not think about trying to reach one of the escape hatches at either end of the boat. There was only one thing on his mind: if this was the end, he was going to wind up in Hell.

Men scrambled with lightning speed as the captain fired orders. After what seemed like an eternity, Loyd felt a sharp upward surge. Relieved, he wiped the moisture from his brow. During the weeks following, Loyd could not dismiss the dread of his eternal destination.

There was a shipmate onboard who constantly read his Bible. Loyd had observed it on more than one occasion, and the vision of this man crowded his thoughts daily following the incident. Once back in port, Loyd determined to ask this guy how a person gets to Heaven.

They had been in dock several days, but Loyd had yet to get up the nerve to approach the man. Then a crew member made a startling announcement: “You know the guy who reads his Bible all the time? Guess he slashed his wrist. Must want off this old boat pretty bad.”

The comment left Loyd stunned. The way he reasoned it, if this guy who constantly read his Bible had tried to kill himself, he probably didn’t know how to get to Heaven either. Loyd finished his tour in the Navy without answers.

-- End of excerpt. Full story written in the gospel tract, Now I Am Forgiven.




The Prayer That Makes a Difference

by Janet Clark Shay


Oma Van Gelderen had gone on to heaven by the time I wrote about her. I interviewed family and also gleaned information from articles her adult daughter had written. As when writing any biography, I find it useful to do outside research to add personal touches to the era and setting of the story. The excerpt from chapter one of the book, The Prayer That Makes a Difference gives us a glimpse of her story. For more click here.


The Person


Mrs. Jacobs stepped down off the porch of her humble wood-frame farmhouse and headed for the chicken coop, leaving baby Oma tucked safely in her crib and three-year-old Monka playing inside the house. As the girls’ mother scattered feed to her brood of chickens, she heard a voice within her. “Go back.” She didn’t take it seriously at first, but soon the impression became so compelling she could not shake it. She abandoned the chickens and rushed back to the house.

“No!” Mrs. Jacobs screamed at the sight of baby Oma’s crib. The mattress was aflame. She snatched the infant from her bed, laid her safely out of reach, and grabbed heavy rags to smother the flames. She was still trembling long after the fire had gone out.

Mrs. Jacobs guessed that little Monka had caused the near-fatal tragedy—probably by poking a long stick into the burning fireplace as the girl had often watched her parents do. Now, all the mother could think about was that her children’s lives had been spared. Mrs. Jacobs was not a Christian and wanted little to do with spiritual matters, but she had attended church as a girl and had enough religious upbringing to recognize God had prompted her to return to the house.

Several years later, a second incident in Oma’s childhood could have proven deadly. One afternoon Oma played happily on the front porch, lost in childlike fantasy, wandering back and forth near a small wooden table. Finally tiring, Oma crawled up onto the porch swing. She was not there long when she saw the table begin to shake. Suddenly, a rattlesnake slithered out from under it and slid down the steps and out of sight. Even as a child, Oma understood God’s protection over her.

-- End of excerpt. Full story found in the book The Prayer That Makes a Difference