NASA’s Recent Reveal Heralds an End Time, Anti-Christian Delusion

imgres

By Reverend Eddie Donnally DMin

NASA announced Monday days ago they found evidence of water on Mars. “The finding also fuels speculation that life may have at one time thrived on Mars or could possibly even exist today,” their officials said. ”They may not be ‘Star Trek-type’ extraterrestrials, but we may be close to finding alien life.”

I predict that NASA or another government agency will, in the near future, will reveal proof of alien life forms. After all, movies, thousands of hours of TV documentaries, hundreds of books and sighting by millions of people have convinced half of the people in the US, UK and Germany that UFOs are guided by extraterrestrials from other planets, according to recent surveys. From a governing perspective, conditioning is nearly at the point a more detailed reveal will not bring panic.

What does proof of alien life on other planets mean for Christians? Oh, not much. First, evolution will be confirmed as fact. If life evolved on other planets, it surely evolved here. Secular humanism will have a scientific foundation on which to build a one world religion. The foundation principle of Christian theology, that man was created in the image of God, will be shattered by one NASA press release.

It will be replaced by the belief held by untold millions of New Agers that ancient aliens landed their craft on earth, mated with human woman and created the human race. Thus, the space aliens will God or Gods to be welcomed and even worshiped when they decide to return to earth. To ride the world of negative people, Christians, they will perform a worldwide cleansing. This will save us from ourselves and bring about a new world order of peace; the NAs call the Age of Aquarius.

This is Satan’s mirror image of what the Bible teaches about fallen angels, the rapture, the Days of Tribulation and the return of Christ.

While God is God and could have created the aliens and given them a soul, something some in the faith community believe, the Bible simply does not address that possibility. It does in many ways and in many places address a spiritual realm where angels battle demonic forces. It clearly says that angels were kicked out of heaven along with the angel of light, Lucifer and perhaps some who left on their own (Genius 6:3) mated with women and produced a race that survived the flood. Most theologians believe their spirits left after their death are the demons that today roam the earth looking for human spirit to replace or at least affect.

The Bible says in many places, including Joel 2 and 3 and Revelation 9 that these fallen angels will one day return to earth, wreak havoc and usher in the days of Tribulation and the resulting rise of the Antichrist. .
Jesus said of the end times that “the very elect,” will be fooled. Paul in Thessalonians spoke of God sending “strong delusion” to those who will not believe his truth. I believe that alien life forms on other planets are fallen angels who may have lived or visited planets after leaving heaven, and they plan to destroy the world and not save it. Paul said in Ephesians 6 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers, principalities and “spiritual hosts (angels) of wickedness in heavenly places.

A growing number of Christians as well as many secular UFO scientists believe the UFO phenomenon is based in the occult, and UFO craft are trans-dimensional. They maintain that just as God’s angels are spiritual beings, but sometimes came as men, ate lunch and left footprints, so the UFOs can leave landing marks, be seen and touched by humans and have on board forms that take on a variety of shapes and sizes.

If this is true, and I am convinced it is, it would be easy for them to leave unmistakably produced artifacts on a variety of planets.
I realize that many will believe me a religious zealot with beliefs from outer space. These days, even nominal Christians are strange boats rowing against the current in the mainstream of modern thought. The cognoscenti said far worse about a whole host of God’s prophets. I just hope those “in the know” don’t throw me down a well like they did Jeremiah.

The point is NASA has an agenda with a message they are revealing in stages. And that message is as decidedly anti-Christian as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. So beware! Like Satan, this delusion as well as the thought that we are the gods of our own universe, is enticing.

Jockey Tad Leggett: Breathing Easy in Bandera

Tad3
From left daughter Tiffany,son Travis, Tad, his wife Tina and youngest son Trevor

Former jockey Tad Leggett remembered his mount breaking from the starting gate then collapsing beneath him. His next memory a month later was waking up on a noisy private plane on the way to a rehab facility for spinal cord injuries. The breathing machine down his throat had malfunctioned. He struggled for his next breath.

“I was just starting to come around when we got on the plane,” said Leggett from his home in Bandera Texas. “I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I couldn’t move. It was scary.”

The successful jockey was riding a trial for the Black Gold Futurity at Oklahoma’s Fair Meadows Racetrack on July 30, 2010. His mount, Hoist the Colours, started wobbling and veering toward the inside rail. He didn’t know the two-year-old suffered rare broken vertebrae. He remembers the horse eventually collapsing. All went black. The spill broke Leggett’s neck, crushing his number three, four and five vertebrae and leaving him on a breathing machine, and at 45 a quadriplegic.

For Leggett, a story that begin in trauma and fear has progressed into an appreciation of life however differently lived. His is not only a story of survival, but one of hope and healing, anchored by his faith, his family, and his extended racetrack family.

Since 1940, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports 150 North American jockeys died in track accidents. Add American riders Juan Saez, who died at 17 following a 2014 spill and renowned Quarter Horse Jockey, Jacky Martin, who died April 4 from injuries suffered in 2011, and the number totals 152, an average of over two each year. Since its founding in 2006, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which supports riders with a variety of catastrophic injuries, has assisted some 71 permanently disabled jockeys. An estimated 50 suffered career-ending spinal cord injuries. This in a group barely larger than NFL players.

These are facts jockeys deal with ever time they walk their mounts onto a racetrack. “I knew this could happen at any time,” Leggett said. “But did I think about it? Not at all.”

Leggett’s youngest son, Trevor, then 11, had traveled with his father to the trial races. He called his mother, Tina, an Emergency Room RN, telling her of the spill he saw, saying an ambulance had taken his dad to the hospital. “I tend to be an optimist and I’m thinking an overnight stay,” she said.

But friends she called at the hospital said her husband was not moving his limbs. Tina threw a few things in the car and with Travis, then 16, beside her drove all night to Tulsa. She learned from nurses Tad was not only immobile, he was not breathing at all without a ventilator. “In the Emergency Room, we’re trained to be calm and not shook up, and at that point the magnitude of his injury had not sunk in,” she said. “But I knew that all was being done that could be done, and it was still not working.”

On July 4, Leggett underwent a nine-hour surgery at Tulsa’s St. John Hospital. Using incisions in front and back, doctors inserted screws and plates. He developed pneumonia and doctors discovered nerve damage in his diaphragm. He clung to life.

Racetrack friends visited. Daughter Tiffany, 19 at the time, flew in. Tina stayed with Tad constantly, moving only early each morning to a room in the hospital basement. The family had become regulars at Ridin the River Cowboy Church in Bandera and between naps, Tina would pray. Tommy Griffin, the track chaplain, visited often, listening to her and praying with her. “I believe in miracles, and I believe in a healing God,” she said. “I didn’t just sit around thinking this was all I was going to get.”

Tad and Tina met at Custer County Fairgrounds near his home in Broken Bow, Nebraska two decades earlier. He was starting his career, and she was a groom. They married and moved to Bandera, where Tad could ride at Bandera Downs some nine months each year. But the track closed in 1995, and the rider spent much time on the road.

After two weeks, doctors removed the ventilator tube in Tad’s throat, opened a hole in his throat and attached a tracheotomy (trach) collar. Heavily sedated, he could mouth words and Tina learned to read his lips. Tad remembers none of this. Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund Director, Nancy LaSala—herself married to a former jockey—stayed in contact, something Tina called a huge help.

After a month, doctors told Tina her husband had stabilized. They suggested he go to an acute care nursing facility near their home. There were no plans to wean him from the ventilator or the feeding tube inserted into his stomach. Tina wanted more. Her search for a better facility proved fruitless. Late one night a nurse she didn’t know stopped by Tad’s room in ICU and suggested Craig Hospital in Denver. She considered it an answer to prayer. She and LaSala contacted them; they sent an assessment team and accepted him.

When he arrived there by private jet, the mechanical ventilator malfunctioned, and nurses had to insert a tube into his lungs and pump an attached plastic bag to keep him breathing. But soon he was breathing on his own and eating real food. “It was worth whatever it took,” said Tad. “They don’t tell you they’re going to teach you to walk, but they teach you how to live your life; how to brush your teeth, tie your shoelaces and get in your car. I had counseling, and it was painful, but I didn’t want any antidepressants.”

When he left three months later, he was moving a big toe and lifting an arm. Yet, Tina said the second they drove up to their home in Bandera and she saw the new wheelchair ramp, she knew their life was forever changed.. “I finally realized that what we had done every day of our lives, we could no longer do. Frankly, I felt a little cheated.”

Time together, traveling or even having a cozy dinner at a restaurant was difficult if not impossible. Tina left her nursing job and for the next two years concentrated on taking care of Tad. “It wasn’t easy,” she said. “But it was still a lot better than our kids losing their dad and me losing my husband.”

One challenge was money. Several tracks held fundraisers for Tad, and Tina used the cash to negotiate lower fees from the hospital. Fair Meadows held a $500,000 catastrophic Insurance policy for its jockeys. Those funds ran out before Tad left Craig. The couple received a bill from the hospital for $60,000. She remembers piling the bills on their living room table and praying over them.

She contacted Craig to work out a payment plan. Officials there had her fill out an application and their charity cut the amount down to $6,000. She called again, and they told her the debt had been forgiven.

In 20 years, Tad had ridden some 9,000 Quarter Horse races and another 2,000 on thoroughbreds. He won at least 1,600 races, including 131 QH stakes races, with eight being Grade I. His mounts earned nearly $14 million. Still, with neither working they were soon living off what remained from the fundraisers and monthly payments from the Jockeys’ Guild and PDJF. “We didn’t live high off the hog,” Tina said. “But the money paid the bills and took care of Tad’s care. Without their help, there is no way I could have stayed home with Tad.”

“My injury was a life changing experience for the entire family,” Tad said. “For me it was catastrophic, but it had to be the same for all of us. It’s one thing for me to be hurt, but to see my family have to go through those changes was hard.”

And yes, Tad’s faith was severely tested. “I asked God, why did He let this happen? But I came to realize that Jesus didn’t let this happen, and we’re not going to go through anything that He is not there to help. And when you come out the other side, you’ll be a better person.”

Today, Tad concentrates on exercising, both at an outside facility and with a physical therapist at home, something paid for by PDJF. He walks up to 45 yards with the aid of a walker. If he has something to hold on to, he can rise to his feet. Yet, his hands are closed and only about 20% normal. Driving an auto is a goal. “I’m a quadriplegic, but I get around better than some paraplegics,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger. Therapy is great, and I praise God that they are there to help.”

Tina is back at work; a senior nurse for a local hospice. She also works most nights from home, assigning on-call nurses to emergency patient needs. She was accepted into a Masters Degree program and hopes to become a Nurse Practitioner.

They visited Las Vegas last fall and made trips to tracks to meet with their many friends, some of whom Tad says still call. He thanks track friends who “rolled in to visit” at Craig. He chiefly needs help getting in and out of bed, and with Trevor still in high school, spends a great deal of time alone.

Before fellow Quarter Horse jockey Jacky Martin died, the two often spoke by phone. Tad even made the trip to visit Martin in his Houston rehab hospital. Martin, 59, was also a quadriplegic, one permanently hooked to trach collar breathing machine. “He was my idol and it’s sad,” Leggett said. “Makes me realize things could be worse (for me).
“Sometimes I slow down and I’ve had time to search myself. I believe a lot of things in my life have changed for the better. I have some bad days, but I know I can dwell on the past all I want, and it won’t change anything. Every day isn’t easy, and I might talk light to some people. But there is a lot going on emotionally, physically and mentally. But by George, I know it’s like that for a lot of people. I look at it like my life is a book. One chapter is done, and now it’s time to go on to the next.”

Tad Leggett, who rode at Indiana’s Hoosier Park, will one of four catastrophically injured jockeys honored at Jockey and Jeans. The fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund is set for May 30 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and a bevy of Hall of Fame jockeys are scheduled to attend. The annual event was started by five former jockeys, including “Ride the White Horse” author Eddie Donnally, a former journalist for the Dallas Morning News and the only former flat jockey to win an Eclipse Award for writing.

-30-

A Coming Tsunami of Fire: Will You Be Swept Away?

tsunami

Lying prostrate on the floor of a small church surrounded by Christians praying very recently, God gave me an end-time vision. I’ve since learned others have received similar visions.

I saw a great number of Christians gathered under a huge, well-formed tree next to a body of water that reminded me of Psalms One. They seemed content, talking and fellowshipping with each other. Then the calm water receded without their noticing. A huge tsunami, taller than any building, formed and rolled toward the unassuming Christians. The tsunami was water, but the water was red and on fire. It was not the fire of the Holy Spirit but the enemy, Satan. At first, a few Christians noticed it coming and then more. Finally, all started praying, and a shiny blue bridge stretching upward appeared at their feet. Amazingly, only a few decided to take the bridge to the higher ground. Most were swept away and consumed by the fire.

A few days after the vision, the Lord showed me Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames shall not set you ablaze; for I am the Lord your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior.” There is hope.

Jesus is the holy one of Israel, the Messiah. He loved Jerusalem so much; he wept over the city. According to the Apostle Paul, in Romans II, Gentile Christians are grafted into the Jewish nation. As Americans, we see the fertile lands of relationship with the Jewish state drying up literally and figuratively. The drought in California corresponds with the drought of support of Israel by many of our nation’s leaders.The persecution of Christians around the world and the receding religious freedoms here in America are met with the same apathy God showed me in the vision. The unparalleled wholesale brutality we see in many nations is Satan’s end- time-attack against Christ and his followers. The attacks are only starting. The tsunami is on its way.

I had a lack of understanding how God’s promise of the “latter rain” and spiritual outpouring “on all flesh,” promised in the last days in Joel 2 could be reconciled with II Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.”

I believe the falling away are the Christians in my vision who are content with the status quo. While the Holy Spirit will fall on all flesh, not all will receive it. Those who seek the bridge to higher ground are those who will seek and thus receive the end-time outpouring. I came to understand the forces of good and evil are polarizing. Many are content with speaking Christianize and fellowshipping with others like them. Yet, some sense the coming tsunami and seeing the leading of the Holy Spirit to higher ground.

God told Abraham and nation Israel in Genesis 12:2-3 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you.”

I fear for America. And though my vision indicates those who do not move to higher ground, deepen their relationship with Christ, publically walk out their faith and join in corporate prayer, will be overcome by Satan’s tsunami. Of course, knowing Christ as Savior guarantees us eternal life and at 71, I am thankful for that. Yet, I am dedicated to advancing the Kingdom of God here on earth until my days here end.

In the vision, the group of Christians eventually came together for mass, corporate prayer, something that biblically has swung the very hinges of history. God has provided a bridge above the Satan’s tsunami. I urge you to join in prayer for the protection of Israel, the safety of this nation and godly wisdom for both countries leaders.

Take a stand in the voting booth for our nation’s religious freedoms. Pray for and support groups who seek life for unborn babies, do battle in the courts for our religious liberty and seek to defeat secular humanism and moral relevancy. Ask God to give us spiritual eyes to recognize evil in its various disguises. Give due to the many brave men and women who died to give us religious freedom. As to corporations who overtly back secular humanistic causes, vote with our feet.

An article on CNN’s website following modifications to the Indiana and Ohio religious liberty law proudly proclaimed “Now Who’s the Moral Majority.” Are they really?

Isaiah’s end time prophecy in 5:20-21 says “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!” The preceding verse tells us. “And let the counsel of the Holy one of Israel (Jesus) draw near and come that we may know it.”
Ephesians 4 27 tells us (ISV) “and do not give the devil an opportunity to work.” I believe that means in us and also in our world. But, remember it was Jesus who came to destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

Speak up. Stand up. But first pray, seeking the Spirit’s wisdom and leading.

Lastly, the Bible is God’s living Word and speaks to us afresh each time we read it. God recently showed me a verse I knew He meant for me during this time. Psalms 144 1-2 “Praise be to the Lord, my Rock. Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.”
My fingers typed the words you read. I pray you consider them. Writing is a way I make war and do battle. I urge you to seek God and learn during this time of worldly tesing, how and in what specific battle He is calling you to fight.

Paraplegic Former Jockey Anne Von Rosen: Where Reality Bleeds Hope

Von Rosen with jockey friends and others at Turf  Paradise Racetrack

Von Rosen with jockey friends and others at Turf Paradise Racetrack

By Eddie Donnally

“A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis for all human morality.” John F. Kennedy: Profiles in Courage

Paraplegic former jockey, Anne Von Rosen is writing her own chapter.

“I’m determined to fight and not give up,” she said from her apartment in Phoenix. “Doctors never flat out told me I’d be paralyzed the rest of my life, but I accepted it to some degree. But I have said from the beginning that I will walk again.”’

For paraplegics, the shocking new and complicated lifestyle of being wed to a wheelchair is virtually always balanced with hopes for a divorce. Reality versus hope is a theme common to us all. Yet, catastrophically injured former jockeys, who measure themselves by their physical and mental ability to get a racehorse to the finish line before others wearing identical goggles, soon learn this balance is precarious. And to radically tip either way is brutal for body and mind.
On March 11, 2014 Von Rosen finished second aboard Quarter Horse Panchita Bonita at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

“I don’t remember the race,” she said. “But I remember galloping out thinking the mare had run a huge race. The next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground. I couldn’t feel my legs, but the strange thing was it wasn’t scary. I knew what had happened, and I accepted it. I always have. I think people don’t know how dangerous this sport is.”

While there is no exact data this writer could find, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which supports riders with many kinds of catastrophic injuries, has since its founding in 2006 assisted some 71 permanently disabled jockeys. Approximately 70% or 49 have suffered paralysis or other spinal cord injuries severe enough to end their careers. This in a group barely larger than NFL players.

Hours after the accident, a seven-hour emergency surgery dealt with her leaking spinal fluid. Two days later, another surgery stabilized her spine. Her T5 vertebrae were severed. Medically termed “complete,” its healing at this point in time is virtually impossible, according to most doctors.

“No doctor walked in my room and told me flat out I’d be paralyzed (from the waist down) the rest of my life,” she said. “But I accepted it to some degree. I knew mine was complete, but maybe I just blocked it out. I did a lot of visualization and visualized myself walking to the barn. From the beginning I said I’d still walk.”

For Von Rosen, determination seems built in. Intelligent and personable, she is also known as a hard worker and independent. She worked on a breeding farm in her native Germany before moving to Italy, France and England where she exercised horses at several major tracks. She gained a job as a vet tech at prestigious Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington KY, became an assistant trainer and then decided to become a jockey, first riding at bush tracks in South Dakota in 2001. A seasoned veteran, she raced chiefly at Turf Paradise and Canterbury Downs, riding 5,000 races and winning a respectable 666.

Von Rosen, now 43, soon moved to Denver’s Craig Hospital, renowned for helping those with severe spinal cord injuries. She refused counseling along with anti-depressants. “I didn’t like it there,” she said. “They are good at getting you independent in a wheel chair, but I wanted to do other things, medically.”
Included was the homeopathic medicine, practiced by her father—a doctor in her native Germany— acupuncture and the stem-cell therapy that reportedly in 2011 healed a paralyzed donkey. She said Craig Hospital doctors were not cooperative, with one saying homeopathic medicine would interfere with the blood-thinners they prescribed.

“So much of this injury is psychosocial,” she said. “If you take away things I believe in, how can I get well. If it helps me, why take it away?”

After two weeks, she moved back to her home and family in Germany where she underwent rehabilitation at a facility in Frankford while her father treated her with everything from reflexology, raindrop therapy( aromatherapy and massage with essential oils), and Electroacupuncture; a form of acupuncture where a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles.

Last September she spent six weeks at Dr. Osualdo Fort’s Pain Clinic in San Juan, Puerto Rico, receiving controversial Electroneuromedulas treatments. Long acupuncture needles are inserted deep inside the spinal cord, then connected to an electrical stimulus strong enough to cause sharp pain in previously unfeeling extremities. Several Latin and South American doctors perform this treatment, and claim that, in some cases, it restores nerve connections inside injured spinal cord tissue. They claim outstanding success. Yet the practice is not yet approved in the U.S.

“The needle goes in deep,” she said. “It hurts in the places where I can feel pain and it’s dangerous. I can’t yet feel pain in my legs which would be great. But its helped. I’m starting to get my pelvis to work. There is no sensation yet, but I can still feel things inside, I can feel things move. It’s hard to explain, but I believe it will help me walk again.”

She had treatments there again in June, then went back to Germany, moved to Phoenix last fall and plans to receive the same treatment in September.
In the meantime, her day-to-day battle goes on. A battle familiar to many. Former jockey, Jackie Fires, a paraplegic since a horse he was exercising fell on him in 1977, said the first year after the injury is the hardest. “Your whole life changes,” he said. “You have to learn to live all over again. Your legs are gone so you have to use your hands and arms for everything. It’s like being born again.”

For Von Rosen and other former jockeys now paraplegic, this new birth is often painful. There are high risks for developing dangerous urinary tract infections and pressure sores from sitting so much. And there are catheters to deal with, something Von Rosen said means getting up in the middle of the night to empty the catch bag.

“I still have pain in my upper body; my back actually. One of my ribs won’t stay in place, and I have spasms in my legs when I move in my sleep. The pain wakes me up.”

Doing things most of us take for granted becomes lengthy, often impossible. “Just certain things you can’t do,” she said, “like taking the dog for a walk, going into the kitchen and throwing together something to eat, getting ready and going out the door in twenty minutes. Everything takes so long. It’s frustrating to do the little things you never thought about before.”

For Von Rosen, life has been reduced to dealing with her injury and healing from it. She gets up at 9:00 a.m. when she said various friends show up to help her get into the Switzerland-made exercise machine her father purchased to help build her muscles. She spends hours on it each day. Three days a week, she goes out for physical therapy. She does standing exercises in a special frame at least a half hour twice a day. She also hooks up her Acuscope, a device reportedly to have pain management properties. Sometimes used on racehorses, it reportedly delivers a low amperage electrical pulse to cells that opens their membranes and allows healing nutrients to flow in and waste products/toxins to flow out.

She recently took time off to attend a day held in her honor at Turf Paradise, something she said was rewarding; most rewarding because she stood in leg braces for the world to see. Her voice turns cherry when she talks about the Doug O’ Neill trained Get Back Anne, who raced at Santa Anita, and a thoroughbred weanling named Running for Anne.

She does not feel forgotten, and to the contrary said friends are a big part of her life. Ten months after her injury they still show up at her apartment to help in many ways. Because she does not yet have a hand controlled auto, they take her to Physical Therapy, help her get into her exercise machine, shop, and when needed help with dishes and laundry.

“I’m grateful and thankful for all the people around me to help me get through this; to my family in Germany and my family in racing.”
While grateful, she’s dislikes needing the help. “I’ve been lucky because the support is still there,” she said. “But the hardest part is having people take care of me because I’m so independent. It’s frustrating because everything takes so long. But it’s something I just have to bear.”

And yes, sometimes there are tears. “Some days I feel alone and cry.”

For Von Rosen and others like her, that delicate balance between hope and despair, lament and positive affirmation, giving in and going on is daily fare. She currently resides at the intersection of perspiration and aspiration.

Jockeys know the risks and accept them. Still, the exhilaration of being atop a half-ton racehorse, traveling inches apart at 40 MPH, with a paycheck, adulation and another “win” beside your name waiting at the finish line, is something never easy to give up. When it’s snatched away too soon and replaced by a permanent lifelong injury, it’s traumatic.

The same courage needed for the former is essential in the latter. Despite the daily battle, frustration and sometimes sadness, Von Rosen is not about to give up. Encouraging words are helpful, she said. Active on Facebook, she relishes chats, post comments and especially prayers.

The “why it happened?” remains a work in progress. ”I know there is meaning in what happened to me. I think God had a reason, I just don’t know what it is. I do know that whatever happens, there is a purpose out there for me. I am going to get out of this chair. I don’t know when, but I will.”
-30-
Rev. Eddie Donnally, a former Eclipse Award winning writer and author of his popular bio, “Ride the White Horse” is one of five former jockeys who founded “Jockeys and Jeans,” dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of race riding and funds to help riders who suffered career-ending injuries rebuild their lives. The inaugural Jockeys and Jeans event last winter at Tampa Bay Downs raised over $22,000 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund and the second annual event, scheduled to move to a different track each year, is set for May 30 at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.

Has the “Prince of Peace” Really Brought Peace?

images

By Chaplain Eddie Donnally

As a hospital trauma unit chaplain, I see up close agony, shock and intense, heart numbing grief. Fatal heart attacks, auto accidents and suicides are daily fare. I can’t fix people, and thus far my prayers have not raised any from the dead. But I can find the courage to walk beside the wounded and bring them my calm and compassion. I often pray with the afflicted for peace.

Peace is a valuable commodity. But is it really available?

Yes, it does show up in ways that are beyond human understanding. I believe it’s available because our Savior bestowed it on his disciples and all believers today.

Isaiah 9:6: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The great prophet Isaiah spoke those words about Jesus some 800 years before He was born in Judea. He came into a world of chaos and turmoil not unlike our world today. While our nation has beheadings and random murders by extremists, police assassins and foreign government hackers, His land was occupied by Roman soldiers and ruled by murderers. The Romans likely invented crucifixion and used it to control those they ruled. Herod the Great was a brilliant madman King who murdered members of his own family and many rabbis. To exterminate Jesus, he ordered all male Jewish babies two and under to be slain. An angel appeared to Joseph, telling him to flee to Egypt, saving Jesus’ life. The Judeans hatred for the Romans that was to erupt into a full blown war some six decades later already seethed in the hearts of budding Zealots.

Judea, like America today, was anything but a land of peace.

This Prince of Peace told us to pray for our enemies, turn the other cheek when we are slapped and love our neighbor as ourselves. Whoa! While even his disciples expected him to wage war on Rome and the Herod family, he walked to the cross without defending Himself: His physical war against the world’s evil forces still in the future.

While he said those who stand with Him as Messiah will have opposition, even from their families, He guarantees His followers peace. John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Yes, there can be confidence in our most perplexing moments, strength in our weakest hour, and the light of Christ at the end of our darkest tunnels. The paradox that only God could orchestrate is not lost on me; a man who lived a previous life filled with chaos, turmoil and anguish now walks alongside others suddenly hurled into that same world of uncertainty and pain, and in that finds peace.

We serve a supernatural God. I often witness that supernatural peace descend to earth like the hoard of angels at Jesus’ birth. I’ve seen women fall to the floor to wail for their suddenly dead children, only to rise with eyes holding the steely glint of hope. I’ve seen men find the courage to weep openly, only to lift their chins with the determination to outlive their mourning. As surely as I see sudden death, I see peace.

No wonder the heavenly host who witnessed Jesus birth declared to the world: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)

Peace, the kind that invades our hearts and eases our souls no matter our circumstances, has arrived.

May you find Christ’s peace this Christmas.

God Knows Our Name: What is Yours?

EdHeadshot

The only One who can name you is the One who created you.

Recently, at a staff meeting for chaplains at a hospital where I work, I met our new Missions Director for the first time, and said, “My name is Eddie, but I answer to whatever any one calls me” She politely reminded me that names are important.

And they are. And so are labels, the ones we give ourselves and the ones others hung on us and, to some extent, we believe. For the most part my relationship with my father was good, and together we made some great memories. Yet, I will never forget when I was unsuccessful at solving a fourth-grade long division problem and he called me “stupid.”

Though I now have several degrees, including a doctorate, I never liked math. Perhaps, to some degree, I accepted that in mathematics I was “stupid.”
God, in the book of Exodus, took the important name or label, “I Am that I Am.” Jesus, as the only Son of God, said, “I am,” The Good Shepherd; The Light of the World; The Bread; The Way, Truth and the Life; The True Vine, and The Resurrection and the Life. His fellow countrymen, wanted to kill Him when He declared Himself divine by saying,”Before Abraham was I AM.”

By acknowledging Christ as Savior, we inherit a number of labels, including: Children of the Light, The Beloved, Redeemed, Chosen, Blessed, Saints, Stones of a Crown, His Handiwork, Masterpiece, Apple of His Eye, Ministers of God, a Royal Priesthood and Sons of the Living God, to name a few.

During visits with patients, I listen in confidence to intimate details of their lives, confessions of past wrongs, their need for forgiveness, disappointments, grief and even anger with God. Only after listening, do I sparingly offer spiritual counsel and more often prayer. During visits, many ask if they should call me Father, Pastor, or Minister. I tell them I’m simply Chaplain Eddie. If I ever have a tombstone, I hope it shows up there.

I ask each of you to join me in rebuking any painful label we’ve been called, and ask the Lord to stop us from hanging labels on others, especially those we love. And lastly, may we take up, embrace and verbally call ourselves the labels God gives us.
After all, how could I possibly be stupid about anything, if I am, “The Apple of God’s eye”?

EdHeadshot

Remember, the only One who can name you is the One who created you.

DO DEAD BABIES GO TO HEAVEN?

images

By Chaplain Eddie Donnally DMin

In hospital jargon they’re called, “fetal demises.” As a hospital chaplain, I have anointed, prayed over and even baptized babies who died either in the womb or shortly after being born.

I’m also a Foursquare minister and praying for the dead and baptizing a baby, dead or alive, is not something I would do in a denominational church. Yet, a chaplain is a type of missionary, and a keeper of the sacred in a secular world. Standing before a mother grieving over the dead child she holds in her arms and believing that baby needs to baptized to enter heaven, is no place for a lesson in theology. I am called to provide comfort and love my neighbor as myself, a principle all Christians believe is essential. But can I tell that mother with assurance that her child’s soul will reside in heaven?

A few years ago, one of my fellow ministers told me there can be no forgiveness of sin without repentance, and the Bible is clear on that point. In a sense, he is very correct. Yet, in the case of children below the age of understanding the concept of Christ as Savior, I believe that infants who die go to heaven (paradise).

Why?

The subject is not directly addressed by Scripture, though there is sufficient Scriptural support to put it into one of those gray areas of secondary doctrine. Doctrine I believe would be covered by Romans 14: 5, where Paul was talking about the law of liberty, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in their own minds.”
Scripture: One biblical text is particularly helpful at this point. After the children of Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness, God sentenced that generation to die in the wilderness after forty years of wandering. (Deut 1:35) “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers.” God specifically exempted young children and infants from this sentence, and even explained why He did so: (vs 39) “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good and evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.”

The key issue here is that God specifically exempted from judgment those who “have no knowledge of good or evil” because of their age. These “little ones” would inherit the Promised Land, and unlike other would not be judged on the basis of their fathers’ sins.

We also have II Samuel 12: 21-23, which records David’s grief following the death at birth of his child whose mother was Bathsheba. His dismayed servant asked, (vs. 21) “What is this you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” David answered, (Vs 22) “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ (vs23) But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

While it is possible David was talking about the grave, it seems far more logical to believe he was talking about the afterlife or heaven. David, of course, confirmed in Psalms 23 that he would “dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” so we know David believed he would be in heaven.

These verses, Job 3: 11-16 (New Living Translation), indicate that Job believed that stillborn children were not condemned, but on the contrary in death found peace, sleep and rest.
“Why wasn’t I born dead?
Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?
12 Why was I laid on my mother’s lap?
Why did she nurse me at her breasts?
13 Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace.
I would be asleep and at rest.
14 I would rest with the world’s kings and prime ministers,
whose great buildings now lie in ruins.
15 I would rest with princes, rich in gold,
whose palaces were filled with silver.
16 Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child. . .”

Then there are the verses in Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14; and Luke 18:16. All the commentaries on the verses I could find basically state that Jesus was saying that the kingdom of God is composed of little children like those brought to Him. This statement makes no sense if Jesus thought that infants were going to hell. It makes sense only with a view that infants are part of the kingdom of God and if they die they go to heaven.
Adam Clarke’s commentary has been a standard for over a century and recognized by Armenians and Calvinist alike. He writes of Matthew 19:14, “But Jesus said, ’let the little come unto Me, and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven,’ a great part of God’s Kingdom is composed of such literarily.”

While tradition and early church leadership are not Scripture, it is always considered worthy of consideration by serious Biblical scholars.

Westminster Confession of Faith (1646): “Elect infants, dying in infance, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”

Today, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says of the same verse: “We believe that this passage bears directly on the issue of infant salvation, and that the accomplished work of Christ has removed the stain of original sin from those who die in infancy. Knowing neither good nor evil, these young children are incapable of committing sins in the body – are not yet moral agents – and die secure in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

One of the most eloquent and powerful expressions of this understanding of infant salvation came from the heart of Charles Spurgeon. Preaching to his own congregation, Spurgeon consoled grieving parents: “Now, let every mother and father here present know assuredly that it is well with the child, if God hath taken it away from you in its infant days.”

Spurgeon turned this conviction into an evangelistic call. “Many of you are parents who have children in heaven. Is it not a desirable thing that you should go there, too? He continued: “Mother, unconverted mother, from the battlements of heaven your child beckons you to Paradise. Father, ungodly, impenitent father, the little eyes that once looked joyously on you, look down upon you now, and the lips which scarcely learned to call you father, ere they were sealed by the silence of death, may be heard as with a still small voice, saying to you this morning, ‘Father, must we be forever divided by the great gulf which no man can pass?’ Doth not nature itself put a sort of longing in your soul that you may be bound in the bundle of life with your own children?”

And finally, the following commentary is found in “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology,” written by some of Foursquare’s most respected theologians. “In not believing on Jesus Christ, and thus rejecting His Salvation, man fails to take advantage of the forgiveness which He provided by His death. Thus, the whole guilt of man’s sin is heaped back upon himself. This sin is not possible for a little one before he attains the age of accountability; thus the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ still avails for him. It is impossible to state when a child will reach this point of accountability. With some it is as early as three or four years, with others it may be five or six years of age.

Thus, it’s safe to say that at the very least, the issue lies in a non-essential area of grayness, one that gives me the space to practice grace. When I’m standing in front of a couple and the mother is holding her dead baby in her arms and she asked if I think her child will be in heaven, I wouldn’t give her a lesson on the nuances of secondary doctrine.

I would simply read her Matthew 19:14 and tell her, “Yes I believe your baby sits at the feet of Jesus in heaven.” Like Spurgeon I might add, “I believe the Bible teaches that through faith in Jesus, you will someday join that precious child.”

IS ISIS BABYLON RISING ?

images

By Rev. Eddie Donnally DMin

A study of the maps of the areas in Iraq controlled by ISIS seems to indicate they possess the ancient city of Babylon. Is it possible that the group, known for its demonic cruelty, will rebuild the city? Could they be part of the prophesied rise of the antichrist?
While there is no current evidence that either is true, there are sufficient parallels between ISIS and the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians to suggest it is possible.

Among biblical scholars there is significant agreement that Babylon will be destroyed before the second coming of Christ. While Cyrus II took control of the city in about 600 BC, there is ample historical evident to suggest it flourished for a time after that and gradually degraded. Destroying the city obviously requires its rebuilding.

Babylon is the “Land of Shinar” of Genesis 12:1 and it is widely believed that the Tower of Babel was built somewhere in the country of Iraq in a city formerly called Babylon (derived from the word “babel”), about 55 miles south of Bagdad. It should be noted that the dispersion from Babel happened in 2242 B.C., and the Babylon civilization was born eight years later in 2234 B.C.

The tower of Babel was dedicated to Marduk, a demon of untold powers according to a host of demonologists, and one referred to twice in the Bible as Merodach, “the evil king of Babylon.” Markuk was Babylon’s original and best known god.

Babylon was once ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar who was every bit as evil as ISIS head Al Bagadadi. His army lay siege to Jerusalem so long the Israelites were forced to eat their babies to survive. When his soldiers took the city, they killed King Zedekiah’s sons in front of him, and to make sure that image would be his last, gouged out his eyes before shackling him and taking him to Babylon.
Babylon took thousands of Israelites captive and kept them in slavery for some 70 years. When the city started to decay, some say because of the often flooded Euphrates River, Assyria to its north became the Hebrews chief enemy and much of the land controlled by ISIS would lie in ancient Assyria. Both were descendants of the Semitic race and both worshiped demon gods.

When Assyria conquered Babylon in the 8th-7th centuries BC, Assyrian scribes began to write the name of Ashur with the cuneiform signs AN.SHAR, literally “whole heaven.” The intention seems to have been to put Ashur at the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Ashur replaced Marduk as the supreme Assyrian god, hence the name Assyria, A god of war, their largest city, Assur, was named in his honor. Both deities, Christians believe, were powerful demons.

Besides massacring the enemy soldiers, Assyrians made mass deportations of the rulers (nobles, functionaries, craftsmen), so that the remaining people obeyed with humiliation (the most famous is that described in the Bible, of the Israeli to Babylon). Enemy kings were beheaded, and their heads hanged in trees and cities were destroyed. Women were made slaves. This cunning policy, the army and good administration maintained the empire for centuries. The conquered populations had to pay heavy annual tributes.

Sound familiar? They may have invented beheading, if not they at least popularized the practice. It’s also likely they crucified their enemies long before the Romans. Oh, yes, the Assyrians led the captured Hebrews back to their cities to be slaves with hooks piercing their jaws.

In 721 BC, the Assyrian army under King Sennacherib captured the Israelite capital at Samaria and took the citizens of the northern kingdom into captivity. This left the southern kingdom, Judah, ruled by Ahaz and Hezekiah, to fend for itself. Judah had tried to appease the Assyrian king, Sennacherib by becoming incorporated into their kingdom and paying a yearly tribute that once included the gold from Solomon’s Temple. Six years later Ahaz died and his son Hezekiah became king. He broke the religious idols; re-captured Philistine’s occupied lands, formed alliances with Ashkelon and Egypt, and made a stand against Assyria by refusing to pay tribute. In response, Sennacherib attacked Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem.

They knew the price of losing. An Assyrian war bulletin from a few hundred years earlier read: “I slew two hundred and sixty fighting men; I cut off their heads and made pyramids thereof. I slew one of every two. I built a wall before the great gates of the city; I flayed the chief men of the rebels, and I covered the wall with their skins. Some of them were enclosed alive in the bricks of the wall, some of them were crucified on stakes along the wall; I caused a great multitude of them to be flayed in my presence, and I covered the wall with their skins. I gathered together the heads in the form of crowns, and their pierced bodies in the form of garlands.”

To make matters worse, Sennacherib taunted the Israelites, saying, “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you like this, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you from my hand? (II Chron 32).”

While Sennacherib took 46 of Judah’s cities, he did not take Jerusalem.

Another parallel is found in Leviticus 16. It tells that the Lord ordered his high priest, Aaron, to ‘place lots upon the two goats, one marked for the Lord and the other sent into the desert on the Jewish Day of Atonement. One goat is sacrificed as a sin offering. Aaron, the priest, placed both hands on the other goat’s head and confessed all the nation’s sins, then sent the “scapegoat” into the desert. So unclean was this goat, its handler had to wash his clothes and body before being allowed back into the camp. In the original Hebrew, scapegoat translates as Azazel. In apocryphal and rabbinical literature, this goat is considered the personification of the impure. Today, a goat head is the best known satanic symbol. The ancient Hebrews considered Azazel the most powerful demon of all and a type of Satan. Thus, the sins of the early Hebrews were sent back to their source.

In the book of Enoch, which is not canon Scripture, but was well respected by the Hebrews and quoted by Peter and Jude, Azazel is leader of the fallen angels of Genesis 6, who came to earth cohabitated with women and produced the Nephelim, a race of giants destroyed by God in the flood. The book of Enoch says Azazel “revealed the eternal secrets which were (preserved) in heaven.” Verses in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6 say those fallen angels are bound in chains until the second coming of Christ. The Book of Enoch said the place they are bound is in the earth beneath Dudael, which many translators say is “Babel,” the site of the Tower of Babel in Babylon.

Yet, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (when Christ returns to take his church to heaven) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. . . .”
We know that Satan’s most personal manifestation will be the antichrist. It’s interesting that ISIS has claimed for their caliphate (government) the very same soil inhabited by the ancient demon worshiping Babylonians and their nearby cousins, the Assyrians. They also replicate their same demonic behavior, even punishing members of their own faith. And within their souls, several thousand years later, is the same deep hatred for the Jews and the same desire to capture Jerusalem.

Could it be they represent Satan’s end time effort to be manifested on earth as the antichrist? Could rebuilding Babylon be a good start?

OH BOY, I’M A REAL CHAPLAIN NOW

Humboldt-County-Fair-grandstand-650x416

Chap. 28: Humboldt County Fair, Ferndale California, August 2006

They’re in the track’s parking lot just like the jockeys told us. A girl no more than 18 slouches in the cramped back seat of a rusted-out Pontiac Firebird. In her arms, a baby is curled up in a pink blanket, sleeping soundly. Piled in every vacant space are clothes, blankets and tools. It’s cold and early morning, and the girl looks up and flashes an embarrassed grin. I glance over at my wife, Sandi, and put on a warm smile. Not far behind us in the barn area is the baby’s teenage father. I’m thinking I should have brought him.

After working as the Race Track Chaplaincy of America’s Director of Development and Communications for five years, I get a two-week vacation. When a track chaplain friend calls and says the usual chaplain for the tiny track in far Northern California can’t make it this year, Sandi and I decide to be real track chaplains. We’ve driven 600 miles from Los Angeles to the county noted for giant Redwoods and pot grower. We walked into the backstretch that morning for the first time, quickly meeting an older jockey and two others who told us about a young couple, who were broke and living in their car with a young baby. The riders want my help in taking up a collection to get them a place to stay.

The girl cranks down a back window and Sandi leans in, smiling broadly. “Sorry to surprise you. We just wanted to come see how you and the baby are doing.”

“We’re okay, except it’s kinda cold.”

I bend closer. “How about we go someplace warm and have breakfast?”

Soon, we’re in a nearby diner booth where she’s shoving down bacon and eggs with one hand and holding the baby in the other. She tells us her name is Lisa, and she met her “fiancé,” Ralph, when he came from Idaho to ride here last year. She became pregnant and had her baby, Sarah, while living with her mother who won’t allow Ralph in her house. When he returned this year, she hopped in his old car with their baby, not yet a year old, and came to the track.

“She’s real healthy and eating baby food fine,” Lisa says. “It’s just that Ralph blew the transmission in his car on the way here. We don’t have much money, but he’s named on two horses tomorrow, so we have money coming.”
The irony hits me. I too had once showed up to ride at Rockingham Park, busted and with a five-day-old baby, depending on coming paychecks to keep us going.

“Some of the jockeys are taking up a collection to get you a place to stay,” I say. The baby is awake now and looking around. Sandi starts making faces and tickling the baby’s stomach. Sarah starts laughing.

Well, I’m telling myself, I wanted to be a track chaplain. This is exactly what they do. The work is rarely neat, usually filled with dangling ends, and how to help is not always clearly defined. It’s far colder than Sandi and I expected, and we’re staying in a donated garage-top apartment no bigger than a motel room, so staying with us is out.

“It’s in the 40s this morning,” I say. “It’s dangerous for your baby, and if someone notices and calls social services, they might take little Sarah.”

“I’m not going home. I love Ralph, and we’re going to get married one day.”

I want to tell her she’s being shortsighted and selfish, but I’m not into sermons. “Great. But we need to get you and Sarah a place to stay.”

We stop at a grocery store, and I pay for diapers and baby food. When we take her back to the auto, she starts the engine for heat, but explains she can’t leave it running long or it will overheat.

It’s the first day of racing, and at the outside rail we watch horses train and introduce ourselves to trainers, jockeys, grooms and owners. It’s like they’re all kids and it’s the day before Christmas. Many of the trainers and riders work at other racing jobs as exercise riders and shed row foremen but leave during the summer to race the California fair circuit. It starts in early June with the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, moves to the California State Fair in Sacramento and the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa and ends in August at the Humboldt Country Fair. Like the rest, this one has livestock shows and contests, flower and craft competitions, and a midway with rides, sideshows and rows of win-a-stuffed-bear vendors. Racing is for Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses and mules.

Unlike typical racing, there is room for non-rich owners. Successful owners of small businesses and companies buy a half-dozen or so horses in the spring, take a hiatus, gas up their motor homes and for a few months enjoy live horse racing. They help at the barn, park beside each other in the track’s RV lots and maintain a friendly but competitive camaraderie. After the races, they gather on lawn chairs under their portable overhangs, barbecue, have a few beers and rehash that day’s victories, defeats and the enthralling peculiarities of racing. Humboldt is the last in the circuit and some say the best, kind of a Saratoga for poor folks.

Sandi and I find Ralph outside one of the ramshackle barns and wait until he ends his conversation with a trainer. We introduce ourselves and tell him we just had breakfast with Lisa and little Sarah. We learn he’s a part-time cowboy who each summer reduces and rides the fair circuit. But this year there were problems and he’d just arrived. He’s at least 5’7”, and while lanky, I wonder how he makes weight, though the weights seem higher than at the larger tracks. I explain about the riders planning to take up a collection to get the baby a safe place to stay. He seems accepting and explains he’ll have a paycheck in a week.

“We’re in love, you know. We do plan to get married.”

“You met her last year?” Sandi asks.

“I left before I knew she was pregnant. I wanted to take her with me, but she wasn’t 18 yet and her mother hates me. Now she’s of age, and we can get married without her mom’s permission.”

“That’s one sweet baby,” Sandi says.

“Yeah, she’s something else.”

“You need other accommodations,” I say.

“This is the season here, and motel rooms are high,” he says. “Some of the jocks are so broke they have to sleep in the jockeys’ room. Don’t know how much they can help.”

“We’ll figure out something,” I say, having no idea what it might be.

*****

The racing secretary’s office and adjoining jockeys’ room look like a tool shed built in the 1930s. Their decaying wooden slats painted a fading red tilt slightly and have places where the boards don’t meet. It’s nearly noon when I walk into the jockeys’ room. Filled with at least 25 jockeys, no valets are in sight. It has three rooms lined with dark boards that show daylight. Its wooden benches sag and the walls are lined with cupboards the size of microwave ovens for the jockeys’ gear. No showers or reducing facilities are in sight. On the floor of an adjacent room, I see several rolled up sleeping bags.

Yet, conversation and laughter flow. As in all jockeys’ rooms, there is a sense of fellowship, community, and we’re-all-in-this-war-together attitude. I chat with a couple of the riders proposing the collection and with the clerk of scales’ permission, ask loudly if any would like to gather for a pre-race prayer. Every person in the place stops and comes forward.

I’ve said pre-race prayers in several jockeys’ rooms. Usually, a handful or a dozen show up. Never have all wanted prayer. I later learn why. I recite the 23rd Psalm and say a prayer for everyone’s safe return at the end of the day and close with a petition for Ralph, Lisa and little Sarah. I announce the collection and riders step forward, a few with $20 and some with change. I count it in front of them: $127.43. I add another $20, possibly enough for two nights in a motel.

Ralph clears his throat. “I’d rather use it to pay for part of a new transmission. We’re okay for now in the car.”
I stiffen, but hold my tongue.

Ray, the older rider who wanted the collection, takes a step forward and faces Ralph. “Kid, you’re not thinking clearly. That baby needs to get out of your broke-down car. Like today.”

Ralph’s face reddens. He takes a deep breath, and I use the pause to jump in. “Is it all right if I ask some of the owners? They understand things like this. They’ll help.”

“Do what you want,” Ralph says and walks off.

On my resume is a history in raising funds for the national RTCA office and a Certificate in Fundraising from UCLA. Asking people for money is what I do. I go into the saddling paddock with the riders and trainers who saddle their own horses, identify the owners, and after the horses are saddled, I introduce myself. I tell the story, trying not to be maudlin. Some donate on the spot, others promise to later. An older man there with his wife seems genuinely shocked. They talk privately for a second.

“Look, we got a 42-footer with an extra bedroom in the back,” he says. “She and the baby can stay there as long as they like. Just tell her to stop by after the races.”

I learn he’s a retired RV dealer who fell in love with racing decades earlier. I thank him, go back and give Ralph the money I collected. He seems pleased. He’s not only got his wife and baby a place to stay, but over $200 toward getting his transmission fixed. That evening I take Sandi out to dinner to celebrate.

In the next two weeks, I organize and make the chili for two backstretch cookouts that feature hymns played on a guitar, singing, and a short message. I remind all that Jesus loved having dinner with those not loved by society and is always ready to have a deeper fellowship with anyone. Later, several ask me to pray for specific needs. That week, a woman who runs the midway asks Sandi and me to hold a Sunday morning service for the carnival workers beneath a giant Ferris wheel.

I learn why the riders love prayer: mule racing. The mule Black Ruby won fame when she won 57 races, earned $175,000 and even raced at classy Del Mar. This meeting’s richest race is a $5,000 winner-take-all match race between mules Smokin Joe and Sarah Nelson. In it, Sarah smokes Joe. A hybrid cross between a female horse and a male donkey, a mule is not easy to train. While intelligence is a trait attributed to mules, it is not evident here. In their defense, some at Humboldt do not seem to be trained to race. Many refuse to load in the starting gate, rear in the air once inside and in the first turn bolt to the outside. Several run through or jump over the outside rail. Worse is the immediate stop. After the race ends and riders rise in the stirrups, many mules dig in their front feet and in one stride prop to a stop. Rider after rider is propelled into the air like circus acrobats. Mule riders are falling like soldiers at Gettysburg. A few are hospitalized, treated and released. I don’t know that I ever prayed harder for safety.

But it is a spider that keeps Sandi and me busy at the local hospital. A few nights into the short season, Ray is sleeping in the jockeys’ room when he’s bitten by what a doctor says is likely a Brown Recluse. In about half the cases, the bite is not serious. Not so with Ray. He is so sick on our way to the ER that we have to stop several times to allow him to throw up. I watch as a doctor lances and medicates the ugly red wound on his lower leg. The painful wound grows and does not respond to antibiotics.

We visit daily and help him contact long-lost relatives and collect information needed to become a Medicaid patient, something that seems necessary if he is to remain hospitalized. A cowboy and former bull rider, he has a face of shriveled rawhide. He tells us of herding cattle in a blizzard and outrunning a Montana Grizzly on horseback. He’s ridden the summer fair circuit for decades and lists his broken bones like combat metals.

Each afternoon at the track, a fog bank rolls in from the nearby Pacific Ocean like an arctic dust storm. The temperature falls as fast as the mule jockeys. Sandi and I go to a thrift store and buy coats. One morning we’re late getting to the track because a fence has come down and the road is clogged with Guernsey cows. I tell Sandi, “We’re in the big time now.”

On the final day, we throw a farewell chili dinner. The poor folks’ Saratoga is over. None of the riders have been injured. I think the prayers helped. Ray is still in the hospital, but I’ve found an owner willing to file a worker’s compensation claim on his behalf, one that allows him to get paid while he recuperates. Ray is talking regularly with the formerly estranged daughter I’d called for him. I think she even listens to his tall tales. Ralph won a few races, making and collecting enough money for a new transmission.

Outside one of the barns, the long August day lingers. The group, which includes the horse owners who housed Sarah and Lisa, use plastic spoons to dip into Styrofoam cups and put away the chili Sandi and I made. Most of the riders and trainers will go back to their more mundane jobs. I’ll go back to my RTCA office in the bowels of Hollywood Park. Sandi will resume a job for an inner-city charity. Like the owners who will drive home in their RVs to jobs in ordinary businesses, we leave to face a life not nearly as enthralling as the Humboldt County Fair.

But for a few more hours, fair racing is our universe’s center. Earl Baze, an Outrider and member of the same family that includes famous riders Russell and Tyler Baze plays his guitar with a new gusto. We sing songs into the night. Ralph, with Lisa beside him carrying Sarah, amble up to Sandi and me.

“We’re going to get married up in Idaho,” Ralph tells us again.

“In a real church,” says Lisa.

Congratulations,” I say, thinking I should suggest pre-marital counseling but don’t.
Lisa puts an arm on Sandi’s shoulder. “Would you two pray for us?”

We do and at the end share hugs. Sandi holds Sarah to her shoulder, rocking her from side to side. Ralph looks at me head on. “Thanks chaplain.”

I savor the word “chaplain.” I was officially endorsed as a chaplain by my denomination the previous year, and many people call me chaplain. Tonight, it has new meaning. Behind us, the music starts anew. The smell from the big pot of simmering chili wafts into the cool air. With it comes the heady aroma of celebration. I remember diving joyously onto a muddy track following the last race at a Florida Downs meeting.

It’s a celebration I understand.

Chained to a Miracle

imgres

imgres

By Rev. Eddie Donnally

It was dawn when the silver and black bus rolled out of the Los Angeles County Jail parking lot and made its way down the 110 Freeway to a courthouse in nearby San Pedro. The chained and shackled inmates used the opportunity to fill their eyes with scenes more interesting than a jail cell and to chat with the person on the other side of their handcuffs.

At 5’ 3” and fifty-two, I was an unlikely inmate. I was the only former jockey, Eclipse Award winning journalist and successful TV production studio owner aboard this bus. Yet, I belonged. After deciding to stop my psychotropic medication, drinking heavily and undergoing a manic state that had kept me awake for nearly fifty hours, I had hit my girlfriend. Both the state of California and I thought the act inexcusable. It was the sixth day of my incarceration and I was recovering from cold-turkey detox and Strep throat. To pass the time, I struck up a conversation with the young man who shared my chains and we talked about the events that had put us there.

My childhood had been as black as the bus. My most vivid memory was of sitting on the steps in our little country house in Southwest Virginia listening to my mother scream as she waited for a visiting nurse to come and give her another shot of morphine for the pain from stomach cancer. I was five when she finally died. Her mother who raised me died suddenly six years later. When my father remarried I lived with him where a relative sexually abused me for more than two years.

I graduated from high school at only sixteen and two months later was on a train bound for Lexington Kentucky where I had found a job at a thoroughbred breeding farm. Within three years I was a successful jockey, living in a downtown Baltimore high rise. In my first year of racing, I made more money than my father had made in a dozen years working as a railroad conductor. The rage that boiled inside my heart because of the sexual abuse fit well on a thoroughbred racing in a pack at 40 mph. Nineteen years, thirteen broken bones and about 1,200 victories later, I retired as a jockey.

During my riding career I nurtured my love of writing and had been published in virtually every major newspaper east of the Mississippi including the New York Times and their Sunday Magazine. Retirement led to writing one column a week for the Dallas Morning News. When I resigned eight years later, I left with an Eclipse Award for Newspaper writing. I was nothing if not an over-achiever. Next, I convinced a self-made millionaire to invest in a small television production company and signed a personal services contract that allowed me to own 20% of the company. Here, my rage manifested itself as ambition and I became a workaholic, writing a documentary that won a second Eclipse Award for Television Production.

Casualties of my success were a marriage of fourteen years and my sanity. A friend found me unconscious after a suicide attempt after which I was diagnosed as bipolar and made the first of my two stays on psychiatric wards. Thoughts of my wife with another man brought back the long suppressed thoughts of my sexual abuse. For reasons even two years of weekly sessions with a psychiatrist never fully revealed, I became determined to live the life of a bisexual. Because of a strong religious background it was a life I couldn’t accept, yet it was one I couldn’t leave.

No amount of success mattered, I was miserable. Excited to the point of ecstasy over heading up a success][ful company one minute, I would walk into my office and burst into tears the next.

I soon found myself in a second mental hospital and the woman I married ten days after my divorce – who looked much like and had the same first name as my first wife – divorced me after six years. Having few alternatives, my partners bought me out and I lived in ritzy Laguna Beach for two years, largely wasting my life. Broke again, I moved to Huston and the opening a new Thoroughbred track, wrote for the Austin American Statesman and produced my own racing TV show. Determined to be heterosexual, I began living with a exotic dancer and like her became addicted to crack cocaine. Within seven months I returned to California dead broke and got a job grooming horses and living on a track backstretch.

Less than a year later I met a woman who owned a marketing company and moved in with her. I was living on the low down, shackled to a never ending cycle of elf hate becoming self destructive behaviors and those behaviors generating more self hate.. That same self hate told me seven years of Lithium and three years of Paxil was enough. After a long bout with mania, my rage turned toward my girlfriend and I landed in Los Angeles County Jail.

At the San Pedro Court we were kept in several large holding cells, barren except for a cement seating shelf lining three walls. An older inmate related how he was a teaching elder in his church and was only in jail because he had been fishing with his son and a check of his fishing license by a game warden revealed a twelve-year-old warrant. As soon as he saw a judge he could be released.

Prisoners were escorted to the courtrooms for appearances and one man, in his early thirties, returned to sit on the floor. He began crying. My bus friend talked with the man who said he had just received twenty-five years to life for a third strike petty theft. He would not be allowed conjugal visits from his young wife and he would not see his two young children grow up. My friend began praying with him. The church elder began to preach and my bus friend stood up and started taking about God. Then I did the same. One of our other cellmates, a hefty man, told us how God had kept him alive when a rival drug dealer put a gun in his face and pulled the trigger only to have it misfire.

I pulled the New Testament from my back pocket and handed it to him. He opened it and read from the first chapter of James beginning with “Count it all joy…” As I listened, I saw the cell fill up with a blue metallic haze. I looked around and everywhere prisoners were on their knees, using the shelf as an altar or prostate on the barren floor. All were praying or crying.

I cried as well, first in sorrow for what my life had become, then in shame for all the things I had done and the people I had hurt. Then realizing I had been forgiven, I cried for joy. What felt like a beam of light flowed through me as if I had stuck my finger in a light socket. I was filled with light. Every one in that room, about a dozen, stood, held hands and prayed that Christ would change our lives.

I often wonder if that moment on December 16, 1996 had a similar effect on the rest of my cellmates. A new creation indeed, I have been in full time Christian ministry since that day. I traded my San Pedro apartment overlooking the bay to move into a single room at the Los Angeles Dream Center, a former fourteen-hundred room hospital near downtown Los Angeles which had been turned into an outpost of hope.

God not only halted the cycle of self hate but reversed it to self love. I will spend the rest of my life realizing that Jesus came in the form of man but was still God and God loved me enough to die for me. If God loves me that much and lives inside me, how can I not love myself?

Sober, celibate and focused, I led a midnight Hollywood outreach to transsexual prostitutes and homeless youth. While taking Bible courses to become a minister, I met Sandi. Seven months later we were married in the Dream Center’s chapel. In 2001, less than five years after leaving jail, I was licensed as a Foursquare minister and have since been ordained and endorsed as a chaplain. I earned a Certificate in Fundraising from UCLA (17 courses), and until 2009 was the Development Director of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, which sanctions and oversees chaplain who serve at horse tracks.

Though I served as Assisting Pastor at two LA area churches, I felt my ministry was outside church walls. I started doing disaster response and in my 60s went back to school and earned a Doctorate in Ministry. We moved 2600 miles to Clearwater Florida where I did a year of hospital residency, earned four units of Clinical Pastoral Education and am today a professional hospice and hospital chaplain. My bio, Ride the White Horse: A Checkered Jockey’s Story of Rage and Redemption has opened many doors to speak, and these days Jesus has given me a passion to share my story of healing inside prisons.