Share This Episode
Our American Stories Lee Habeeb Logo

The Turning Point in Abe’s Life: A Wrestling Match and From Small Town Texas To Ministering To Thousands

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 24, 2022 3:05 am

The Turning Point in Abe’s Life: A Wrestling Match and From Small Town Texas To Ministering To Thousands

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1929 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


June 24, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, wrestling historian, Mike Chapman, tells us how Lincoln is one of the greatest leaders in US history, but prior to his being elected the 16th President of the United States, he used his skills as a wrestler to win approval from the masses. Cindy Cruz Radcliffe tells us how as a preachers daughter and worship leader she was able to find forgiveness after her husband left her.

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes:

00:00 - The Turning Point in Abe’s Life: A Wrestling Match

23:00 - From Small Town Texas To Ministering To Thousands

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

I'm always upgrading my car.

Not because I need to, because I want to. Today it's custom rims for my ride. Tomorrow, it might be a new driver's side seat cushion. And eBayMotors.com always has what I need.

They've got over 122 million car parts, all at the right price. That's perfect for me, because I'm a car guy. Are you still in the garage?

It's two in the morning. Almost done. Okay, I'm a car fanatic. eBay Motors.

Let's ride. This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show. From the arts to sports, and from business to history, and everything in between, including your stories.

Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And this next story is brought to us by a listener, Mike Chapman, who listens to us on 1040 WHO out of Des Moines, Iowa. Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest leaders in U.S. history, but prior to his being elected the 16th President of the United States, he used his skills as a wrestler to win approval from the masses. Mike Chapman has been writing about and researching wrestling for many years. He is also the author of The Sport of Lincoln. Here is Mike Chapman to share this turning point story in Abraham Lincoln's life. Aside from my passion for wrestling, I have long been intrigued by the history of U.S. presidents. That really began to blossom when I was executive editor of the Daily Newspaper in Dixon, Illinois, which is the hometown of Ronald Reagan.

I was the editor there from 1989 to 1998. During that 10-year period, I discovered that Abe Lincoln had actually served in the very same location that is Dixon today. Lincoln served there during the Black Hawk War of 1832. And that fact really inspired me to learn more about Lincoln as a young man, which in turn led me to the little village of New Salem, Illinois. It is located about 200 miles south of Dixon and about 20 miles northwest of Springfield, Illinois.

And what a wonderful place that is for any history buff. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 6, 1809 and raised in Kentucky. But when he was seven, the Lincoln family moved to Indiana. He grew into a strapping young man nearly 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds.

He first strolled into New Salem in 1831 as a 22-year-old looking for a new start in life. And soon he became engaged in an event that was destined to play a very important role in his career. It was called scuffling, or grappling, and in modern terms, it is called wrestling.

But first a little background. Wrestling is often called mankind's oldest sport, as it is a subject in some of the oldest pieces of literature known to exist. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, composed in ancient Sumer, which today is now known as Iraq, nearly 4,000 years ago, a wrestling contest between Gilgamesh, the king of the large city of Uruk, and a forest giant named Enkidu is an important feature of the saga. In the Bible, as described in Genesis, the Hebrew patriarch Jacob wrestles with the angel of the Lord.

After a struggle that lasted all through the night, the angel gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which loosely translated means, contested with God. Some of the greatest figures in ancient Greece, such as Theseus, Hercules, and Achilles, the most celebrated hero in the Trojan War epic known as the Iliad, were wrestlers. And there are drawings of wrestlers inside some of the pyramids in Egypt. Wrestling came to the New World with the first colonists back in the late 1600s. It flourished along the eastern seaboard and moved west with the men who carved homes out of the wilderness. And it was popular both as a test of manhood and as a form of entertainment in small villages like New Salem.

It also attracted bedding, which made it even more popular. Today, New Salem is a beautiful state park with over 650,000 visitors a year. It is possible to walk through the main gate and stroll down the same path that a 22-year-old Abe Lincoln traversed in 1831. The village was founded in 1828, and Lincoln lived there for about six years, serving as a surveyor, postmaster, store operator, and rail splitter. It was here that Lincoln got his first taste of politics when he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly.

And it was also here in 1831 that the Lincoln legend first began to bloom, thanks to wrestling. Lincoln came to New Salem because he had received an offer from a man named Denton Offutt to work in his little store situated on a bluff near the Sangamon River. They had met sometime earlier when Lincoln had worked for Offutt on his flatboat, taking goods down the Mississippi River to sell in New Orleans. Offutt took a liking to Lincoln and told him that he could work for him in New Salem if he ever decided to venture over that way.

So now, when Lincoln arrived, Offutt was in competition with another store just 40 feet from his. It was run by a man by the name of William Clary. In the summer of 1831, Clary was selling liquor from his store and doing very well.

He charged 12 cents for a drink of brandy, gin, or whiskey, and twice that for his best wine. He developed a good and steady business of local customers and visitors from off the river. When river travelers came up the bluff for a break in their journeys, they were looking for a place to drink a bit and swap tails. So Offutt chose to build his store very close to Clary's, and the two men competed for business. Clary's store was at the top of the bluff about 40 feet in front of Offutt's store.

Travelers had to make a choice between them as to which was the best place to spend their small amount of money. Lincoln had impressed Offutt with his wiry strength. Offutt had seen Abe pick up large barrels of whiskey and other bulky items and carry them off with ease. At 6 feet 4 and 4 inches of height and carrying close to 180 pounds of sinewy muscle, he was a very large man for that time.

Offutt was a man who liked to talk a lot. He was very proud of his new helper and boasted to William Clary that Abe was the strongest man he knew. But Clary knew a few strong men as well. They were men of a different temperament than Abe Lincoln, loud and belligerent when the liquor took effect. Wrestling was the best way to determine what a man was made of.

The bouts in the thick grass between Clary's store and Offutt's store were a regular occurrence in a true frontier style. The ringleader of the bunch was a rugged farmer from nearby Clary's grove called Jack Armstrong. Shorter than Lincoln, Armstrong was much thicker and heavier.

At age 27, he was five years older than Abe. Little is known about Armstrong's wrestling expertise other than the fact that he was considered the roust of the gang of young men who resided at Clary's grove and hung out at the Clary's tavern. And when we continue more of Mike Chapman's story about Abe Lincoln here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history from war to innovation, culture and faith are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College.

A place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses. Go to Hillsdale dot edu to learn more. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles of laundry that need to be done. It can be so overwhelming. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to doing the things you enjoy, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack.

So you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. So the next time you come home from vacation or the kids get back from summer camp and you're faced with a giant pile of laundry, just know that all free clear mega packs have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. We hope you still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango. It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTek ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTek ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, NerdTek ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. And we continue with our American stories and Mike Chapman's story, a listener about Abraham Lincoln's wrestling match that became the turning point in his life. Let's continue with Mike Chapman. Within a short amount of time from Lincoln's arrival, a match was brewing and talk soon reached the point that if either man shied away, he would be branded a coward. Tired of off its boasting, Armstrong eagerly accepted the challenge of wrestling Lincoln. Off it offered to bet anyone ten dollars that Lincoln would win. Money, drinks and various items were soon being waged all around the village.

Finally, the two men, Lincoln and Armstrong, met on the grassy area between the stores to settle the talk. As many as 100 men gathered to see the contest, as it was undoubtedly a major source of discussion, the little village and the surrounding area. While Abe had the advantage in height than leverage, Jack had the advantage in experience and attitude. He was undoubtedly a more seasoned grappler and fighter, according to all reports. Now, there were several types of wrestling that were engaged in on the frontier. One style was to where the two men agreed to grab a hold on each other and see who could throw who first. What it was, was just a good old fashioned scuffle with each man trying to throw the other to his back and hold him there. It was just two men tugging and pulling each other in an effort to subdue the other.

Yes, foot stomping was a frequent tactic, as was hair pulling and thumbing of the face. In 1939, a popular movie called Abe Lincoln of Illinois was made from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name written by Robert Sherwood. In this film version of the story, Lincoln, played superbly by Raymond Massey, tangles with Armstrong, played with gusto by Howard De Silva in a wild affair.

It was a dramatic version that certainly looked good on film. Many stories have the match ending with Lincoln on his feet, looking down at the defeated Armstrong, the Clarice Grove boys, angry at seeing their best man beaten, advanced on Lincoln, shouting at him and raising their fists. An all out fight appeared imminent. Lincoln supposedly stood with his back against one of the two stores, fist clenched, and declared that he would take them all on one at a time if necessary. However, Armstrong came to Lincoln's side and told his pals that Lincoln had beaten him fairly and that he had proven that he was worthy of their respect. Boys, Abe Lincoln is the best fellow that ever broke into this settlement, said Armstrong.

He shall be one of us. The Clarice Grove boys backed off and Lincoln gained a new status in the little village. He was known from then on as a man not to be trifled with, despite his infectious grin and considered good humor. The fact was, it seemed, that Lincoln could defend himself and he gained immense stature due to his wrestling prowess. So the main thrust of the bout could be described like this. Lincoln didn't really want to wrestle Armstrong because he felt it was building up too much as a fight and not strictly a good natured contest.

But when he saw how everyone was talking about the match and making such a big deal, he knew it was bound to take place eventually. It is estimated today that nearly 15,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, more than any other figure in history, with the exception of Jesus Christ. And many of these books talk about Lincoln's contest with Jack Armstrong and its impact on his career. The most thorough discussion of Lincoln's wrestling background comes in the book, Honor's Voice, the Transformation of Abraham Lincoln, written by Douglas L. Wilson in 1999. The book offers an entire chapter, nearly 32 pages, devoted to Lincoln's wrestling prowess, appropriately entitled, quote, Wrestling with the Evidence. Here's the key part, Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency and his eventual elevation to the pantheon of American heroes have transformed his wrestling match with Jack Armstrong from a rowdy initiation rite in an obscure pioneer village into a notable historical event, end quote. Wilson then quotes John T. Stewart, who knew Lincoln as well as anyone, and brought him into his law firm in Springfield after Lincoln left New Salem. Quote, This was the turning point in Lincoln's life, Stewart claimed after the death of his longtime friend, talking about the wrestling match. As a fitting end to the New Salem wrestling match story, Lincoln became friends with the Armstrong family and often visited the little cabin in the months after the match with Jack. Jack's wife, Hannah, even knitted some shirts for Abe, and Abe would babysit, sometimes rocking the cradle of their young baby. Lincoln left New Salem after six years and moved to Springfield, where he began his law career.

Years later, he even defended Jack's son, Duff Armstrong, in a famous legal case. Jack Armstrong didn't live long enough to see Lincoln win the presidency, dying in 1854 at the age of 50. Lincoln was buried in an obscure, out-of-the-way frontier cemetery a mile or two from New Salem, unknown except for his grappling contest with a man who became the 16th President of the United States, and arguably the most popular American ever. There are other brief references to Lincoln using his grappling skills after the Armstrong encounter. Sometime later, while working in another tiny store in New Salem, a man insulted several women customers with profane language, and Lincoln asked him to stop.

The man persisted and said no one could make him stop. Lincoln challenged him to step outside, flung into the ground, and stuffed weeds in his mouth until the man surrendered. In August of 1834, while running for the state legislature, Lincoln found the opportunity to show his wrestling skills once again.

During that time, he was running for office once again, and this time he was elected to the state legislature. Just as Lincoln was getting ready to speak, a fight broke out in the crowd, and his friend was roughed up. Lincoln jumped off the platform, grabbed his friend's assailant, tossed him a few feet, then strode back to the platform and began his speech. And then there is also a report of Lincoln losing a grappling contest.

It occurred during the Blackhawk war years, sometime in the 1831-33 period, and took place in Beardstown, Illinois, a little village about 50 miles west of Dixon. The foe was a man named Lorenzo Dow Thompson, and many years later, in 1860, while running for the presidency, Lincoln himself talked about the struggle in an interview. Lincoln said up to that time he had never been thrown, and neither had Thompson.

They squared off, grabbed hold of each other before a large group of soldiers, and struggled valiantly, but Lincoln said he was thrown twice, declaring Thompson was strong enough to whip a grizzly bear and the best man he had ever grappled with. And then there is this fascinating tidbit from the Douglas Wilson book, Honor's Voice. He adds that Abe's mother, Nancy Hanks, liked to wrestle, and, quote, in a fair wrestle, she could throw most of the men who ever put her powers to the test.

So let us conclude with this statement from Wilson's book. Quote, Legends, by their very nature, are not so much factual account as symbolic embodiments or expressions of what the facts represent. In any case, Abe Lincoln's wrestling prowess can best be interpreted as representing Lincoln as a strong, determined, and fearless fellow, ready to take on the task at hand and never shrinking from the ordeal itself. After all, that is what the man known as Honest Abe would want from us.

The pure truth, the facts and nothing else. Abe Lincoln was a wrestler. And you've been listening to Mike Chapman tell the story of Abe Lincoln, the wrestler. Who knew? Who knew?

I didn't. And I've read a lot about Lincoln and, well, some of the books he cited I have on my desk. I have a stack of Lincoln books I still have to read. And you can never stop reading about Lincoln and Washington and some of these great, almost titanic personalities, because there's just so much to them. By the way, Mike spent his life as a newspaper writer and editor in Iowa and also has spent 50 years of his life writing and researching wrestling. He's appeared on A&E Network, ESPN and the WWE.

Abe Lincoln and the wrestling match that became the turning point in his life here on Our American Stories. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles of laundry that need to be done. It can be so overwhelming. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to doing the things you enjoy, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack.

So you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. So the next time you come home from vacation or the kids get back from summer camp and you're faced with a giant pile of laundry, just know that all free clear mega packs have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 90210MG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTech ODT. We recorded it at I Heart Radio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?

It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams.

Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family, but thankfully, NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. And we continue with our American stories. Up next, we have a story from Cindy Cruz Ratcliff. Cindy is a wife and a mother of three. She has been leading worship at a church in Houston, Texas, for over 20 years, but she's been involved in music starting at a very young age.

Here's Cindy with her story. The very first time I ever sang in church, I was three years old and a group had come to my dad's church to sing. And I can remember sitting in the church that night thinking, I want to do that. And so I asked my dad after the concert if I could sing in church the next Sunday morning, and he said yes.

And so I did. I was born into a preacher's family in West Texas. Of course, we lived in a very small West Texas town. We were living in Stanton, Texas, which if you're a real Texas native, you know where that is. It's in between Midland and Odessa where there's absolutely nothing but tumbleweeds and dust and pump jacks.

And if you don't know what that is, those are those things that look like hammers going up and down that pump oil out of the ground. And that's where I grew up. A lot of my earliest memories were in church. I can remember sitting in church with my two brothers in the row in front of us and me sitting in my mom's lap and my two sisters on either side of her. And I can remember when my brothers would act up in church, my mom would march all five of us out and then bring us all back in. It was humiliating, so humiliating. You're like, I'm not doing that in church ever again. Those were just a part of being in a pastor's family.

My dad, when I was five, my dad got invited to preach at a friend's church for a revival, which was a series of meetings every night of the week. And so he said, you know, why don't we get together and learn a song each day and we'll sing that song that night? And so that's what we did. And so, you know, we learned five songs. And on the last night, we had a little concert of all the five songs that we had learned.

And that's kind of how we got started. So when I was about nine years old, my dad decided that he would go into what is called full time evangelism. People would invite my dad to come preach and then we would come and sing in these little churches. And, you know, I can remember my dad bought a bus.

This was 1972. My dad bought a bus and we got on that bus and started traveling around the state of Texas singing in churches. He would preach and we would sing. And my siblings really became my best friends because, you know, we were in a different place every week. And we spent a lot of our time when we were on the road learning new music and we would harmonize on the bus. And, you know, it really developed our ear for harmony and music.

I don't play an instrument, which is one of my big regrets in life, but I have an unbelievable ear for music. And it was developed in those moments, in those weeks and months and years that we spent on the bus learning music. And it was really exciting because all of my siblings and I, we did school by what they called correspondence back then. They didn't have home school. You had to go through one of a couple of schools that were out of Chicago. And all of the child television and movie stars went through these schools.

The Jacksons and the Osmonds and, you know, all of these young kids who were performers. They all went to the same school that we went to out of Chicago. And we traveled the first probably 10 years. We traveled, I know my mom still has the calendars. I helped her move recently after my dad's death and we found a box where she had kept the calendars of our bookings. And we were on the road for probably the first 10 years, about 320 days a year.

It's just staggering. I don't even know how we did it. And there was not one church that we went into that my dad didn't say, listen, they're not here to serve us, we're here to serve them. I think we recorded 32 albums together. We won a couple of Dove Awards and most of the music that was being released back then was like Southern gospel quartet music. But, you know, my family, we sang contemporary music and we were all young, we were teenagers. So even with my family, we were kind of pioneers in Christian music at the time. And some of the earliest really big contemporary Christian artists were inspired to go into contemporary music because of my family.

Groups like Point of Grace and Steven Curtis Chapman. And so we traveled and sang and we did that for about 13 years. And then I got married at 22 to another Christian music artist and set up house in Dallas, Texas, and built a studio with my husband. We began to produce music and we began to write songs for other artists. And we had a very successful production company, very successful music writing career. We wrote number one singles for a lot of different Christian artists and produced some secular artists as well.

Paula Abdul and Gladys Knight and Steve Perry and Al Green. I mean, we were just very diverse, which I loved that about the kind of music that we wrote and produced. So we did that for about nine years. And then I went through a very difficult, unwanted divorce. He came from a very broken, dysfunctional family. There were signs in the beginning of difficulty and trouble. And I thought, you know, I can love and encourage and support him to where we can get to a healthy place. You know, there were there were seasons of it being healthy.

And then there were seasons when it wasn't healthy. And he chose infidelity and he chose alcohol. And I don't know what else. I just know there was alcohol involved.

I really hate to kind of put him in this position because, you know, he was a well-known artist and it's on my Wikipedia page. But he chose, he chose to walk away. I did everything I knew to do to try to save my marriage. And it was really difficult because, you know, in the church world, especially in the denomination that I grew up in, you know, first of all, there aren't a lot of female ministers, certainly not one who was divorced. In fact, most men who were divorced were kicked out of ministry as well. So, you know, in my mind, I thought, you know, this could be the end of it for me. And you're listening to Cindy Radcliffe share her story growing up in West Texas.

And we're talking West Texas, where pumpjacks are architecture. And from there, growing up a preacher's daughter, just traveling from church to church, 320 days a year like, well, Willie Nelson would do, just living out of a bus. And then marriage and then a divorce. And what happens next?

Well, we'll find out. Cindy Radcliffe's story, a story of faith here on Our American Stories. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles of laundry that need to be done. It can be so overwhelming. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to doing the things you enjoy, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack.

So you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100 percent free of perfumes and dyes and gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. So the next time you come home from vacation or the kids get back from summer camp and you're faced with a giant pile of laundry, just know that all free clear mega packs have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 9 0 2 1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by nerd tech ODT. We recorded it at I heart radio's 10th pole event. Wango Tango. Did you know that nerd tech ODT remejipants 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?

It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by nerd tech ODT remejipants 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, nerd tech ODT remejipants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. And we continue with our American stories. We've been listening to Cindy Cruz Ratcliffe share her story. We last left off with her husband choosing to walk away from their marriage. Cindy felt her life in Christian ministry was over, that she was a divorced woman and there were no options.

Let's return to Cindy for the rest of her story. In the early months of my separation from my first husband, my best friend gave me a book called The Bait of Satan. And it really just talks about how the enemy wants to hook you with unforgiveness and how that can drag you down a path. Thankfully, I read that book and it changed my world. I decided I was not going to walk in unforgiveness and I was going to let go and allow God to do whatever he wanted to with me in my future and not have a tether to the past. I can remember driving up to an intersection in Dallas, Texas, the exact intersection where I had seen my then husband with a woman in the car with him.

And I remember sitting in that intersection having that memory and feeling no pain from that memory. And I know it's because I just decided in my heart that I was not going to allow the enemy to ruin my life, to destroy my life with unforgiveness. I pretty much lost everything that was familiar to me. My husband moved to California.

I was left with pretty much nothing. And a friend of mine, B.B. Winans, who is a very well-known Christian artist, invited me to come to Nashville to work for him. And really, very subtly, God began to put my life back together. And while I was in Nashville, a friend of mine from Oklahoma City who was a pastor, he called me and he said, Cindy, he said, I don't know if you would be interested, he said, but I feel like if you will come to Oklahoma City and lead worship for my church, he said, I feel like this might be the doorway to what God has for you in this next season of your life. You know, I just stepped out in faith and decided I'm going to try this. We really ended up with something special there. And I got a call from my brother about 18 months later, and he said, I really need some help building our music department at the church in Tampa.

Would you come and help me build there? And so I did. And I was there for a little while, right about a year. And I decided to go home. And so I went back to Dallas and my pastor's wife, where I had attended church in Dallas. She said, we're starting a Saturday night service. Would you help us build a team for Saturday night service?

She said, it's going to be like a younger audience, more contemporary. So that's what I did. And one day while I was leading worship, I know this is going to sound crazy, but one day while I was leading worship, I saw this young man standing in the back of the auditorium. And he was dressed in a suit and he looked like he had just come from work. It was on a Wednesday night and he had his hands lifted in worship. And I just thought, wow, this look at this businessman back there just really worshipping while he's in church. A few weeks later, I met him after the Saturday night service and he introduced himself and I introduced myself. And his name was Marcus Ratcliffe. And we met in March at church.

And eight months later, we got married. And just before we got married, I got a phone call from a gentleman in Houston, Texas, by the name of Joel Osteen. And Joel said, he said, my dad passed away earlier this year and I've just become the pastor of the church. And I would like for you to come down and just visit the church and see what you think about coming to lead worship for us.

And, you know, there weren't very many female worship leaders at the time. So Joel called me and said, would you come down? And it was crazy because I was literally sitting at a sonic drive in and I get a phone call. And in that, you know, famous Texas accent, Sandy, this is Joel Osteen. And I was like, wow, OK. And he asked me to come down to Houston and, you know, just check out the church. And when I got there, I could see that the music department really needed development.

It had not been a focus of the church. So we sat down to talk about it and I told him what my vision was. He began to say what his vision was and they just lined up perfectly. And Marcus was a mortgage broker and very successful in Dallas. And, you know, we were literally just weeks away from getting married. And so I was talking with Marcus about it and Marcus was just so generous.

And he said, you know, I can do mortgage brokering from anywhere in the United States as long as I have a computer. And he said, I really feel like this is what God has for us. And so we moved to Houston. We got married, went on our honeymoon, came back to Dallas, packed our stuff up and moved to Houston, began this journey 20, almost 23 years ago. It'll be 23 years in October that we began this journey with Joel. It's been fun because I don't have all of the duties of running the department anymore, which is nice.

But I don't have to do all of that. And so I've been able to venture out into some other areas that I've been excited to venture into. And one of those is I've been writing a screenplay. You know, I had I had been writing music. I've I've written music since I was nine years old.

I mean, I was a published writer at nine years old, had been writing for quite a while. And my dad, when I was 18, brought me this book called. And it was one of a trilogy called The Singer, The Song, The Finale, written by Calvin Miller. And he wrote he brought this book to me and he said, you've got to read this book. And he would begin to read passages out of this book and literally cry while he was reading these passages because they were so powerful.

Just it's an allegory on the life of Christ, but it's written around the theology of music. And about seven years ago, I came across the film rights for it and purchased the film rights and began to write the screenplay. So I've worked on this screenplay for seven years. I would, you know, write something and I would sit down and read what I'd written to my dad.

And we would both sit and cry together. It was just beautiful. And I didn't finish the screenplay until last year. And my dad went to heaven before I finished it. But I know that I know he's proud of what I've done. I mean, he encouraged me all along the way of how I had kept to the soul of the book and how I kept to, you know, the real message of the book. And it was just so sweet to get to share so much of it with him as I went through this journey. I've just seen God take a little West Texas girl who, you know, was born out in the middle of a bunch of tumbleweeds and, you know, put me in front of very influential people, millions of people to encourage them and uplift them and lead them into God's presence through worship. And it's been an absolute joy, even along the hard places, even in the tough spots.

My constant has been the gift that God's given me, bringing me closer to him. And a terrific job on the production by Faith Buchanan and a special thanks to Cindy Ratcliffe for sharing her story. She had to decide at a key juncture in her life whether to forgive her ex. I decided I was not going to walk in unforgiveness, not be tethered by the past, the biggest and best decision she made in her life.

I lost everything that was familiar to me, she said. And then she was invited by B.B. Winans to work in Nashville, worship leadership, a letter to Oklahoma City, then to Tampa, then to Dallas where she meets her husband, and then she gets that call from Joel and 23 years later, leading worship there and then writing the screenplay her dad always wanted her to write. And we love telling these stories about people of faith because like the military, they lead lives that include a lot of movement and worship leaders. And by the way, if you don't know what a worship leader is, it's the person who leads the band. The story of Cindy Ratcliffe, here on Our American Story.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 17:15:20 / 2023-02-16 17:31:09 / 16

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime