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The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press
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July 11

The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press

Over the past few weeks the People of Praise has received a great deal of attention in the press. Here, we aim to correct the record and provide clarity on a few important points.

A Soldier's Life Is Saved

By Chris Meehan

US Army specialist Joe Ridenour (Oahu) has been recommended for a commendation for helping save the life of a friend and fellow soldier. Joe’s urgent phone call led to the rescue of a soldier who had attempted suicide near an army base 2,500 miles away from Joe’s station at Scofield Barracks, Hawaii. The 26-year-old soldier says, “I’m terribly grateful to God for such good friends like Joe.”

Joe vividly remembers the events of Saturday, November 19. That morning he called his friend Mark Morris (not his real name), who lives near Fort Lewis in Washington State. (The two had met and become friends during communications signal training in Georgia.) Mark told Joe he’d done some heavy drinking by himself on previous weekends, but he brushed it off and said that he was just trying to stay out of trouble.

Joe was concerned, but not overly worried. "Things didn't seem out of control," he recalls. Later in the day Joe received several text messages from Mark indicating that he had begun drinking again. Joe decided to call and ask what was wrong. Already drunk, Mark responded angrily, "Nothing's wrong!" The conversation didn't go well, and Joe didn't expect to hear from him again. But then he received more text messages. One said, "I'm sorry.” Another said,"Tell [name], all is forgiven.”

Joe wrote back, "What's going on?"

"I'm fine," Mark replied, "Don't worry about it. Everything is taken care of."

The tone of resignation in the messages rang alarm bells with Joe, who had taken suicide prevention classes as part of his Army training. He called Mark again, but Mark didn’t answer and the text messages had also stopped. Joe couldn't be sure that Mark was going to commit suicide, but he says, “the Lord gave me the grace to overcome my pride and take the risk of looking foolish if I had misread the situation."

He called Josh Pruitt, a soldier at Fort Lewis and a mutual friend, and convinced him to take immediate action. After calling Mark and receiving no answer, Josh dialed 911, and the operator dispatched paramedics. They found Mark unconscious on the floor of his home. He had swallowed all the medicine in his medicine cabinet.

Mark was in intensive care for three days. He remembers waking up in the hospital in a bit of a panic because an oxygen tube was running down his throat, but he doesn’t remember any of the events of November 19.

“I’ve always believed in Christ,” says Mark, but his faith had grown shaky and he says he had become more interested in parties than God. “Now my priorities have changed. I’ve opened up to see the blessing of friends, and to see what’s going on in the world and in myself. Overall, I still have difficult times, but I also see the blessings.

“I’m attending substance abuse classes and Alcoholics Anonymous several times a week. My prayer life is daily instead of weekly or monthly. I’m very open about the experience, always the first to talk about it if it ever comes up. I shamelessly tell the story. It’s in my past--not my future!”

Joe says he and Mark talk on the phone weekly. “We are much, much closer friends.”

Responses

  1. Justin Walters says:

    Praise God! Way to move with the Holy Spirit, Joe!

  2. Maria Elliott says:

    Joe, I am so blessed that you took action! This story moved me to tears. What a reminder that we are the hands and feet of Christ who saved Mark's life through you. Praise God!
    ~Maria E.

  3. Jim Grill says:

    Praise God!
    Thank you Joe for listening to the Holy Spirit! The words of our song "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us and it Cries out, it Cries out. The Sprit of the Lord is upon us and we cry out, we cry out Father!" comes to mind. You cried out Joe and a life was saved. Thank you Father!!!

  4. Anne Brewer says:

    Praise God that you were paying attention! God moves right in the middle of the ordinary stuff of our daily lives, like phone calls and text messages! Glory!

  5. Linda Coney says:

    What openness that enabled the Holy Spirit to act in power!

  6. Julie Walters says:

    How blessed you are to have saved a life. Life is precious.
    God Bless You

  7. Dan Brewer says:

    Way to go, Joe. You stuck your neck out for a friend. What a difference you made!

  8. David Gruber says:

    Love wins the day. God bless you mark and Joe!

  9. Walt Seale says:

    Thanks Joe. Way to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit!

  10. Kate Record says:

    What an inspiring story, Joe! The Lord is using you in so many ways....

  11. chris urbanski says:

    Joe,
    Praise God you listened to the still, small voice of the Lord and acted on His voice...glory!

  12. Carmen Fraga says:

    What an example of obedience to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Good for you, Joe. And what mercy our God showed in helping this young man through you...we are all blessed! Now he, too, can help others. Praise our God!
    Carmen

  13. Nancy Grams says:

    Joe, there couldn't be a finer tribute to our life together in Christ than your willingness to lay down your life [and reputation] for a friend. God bless you!

  14. Bill Brophy says:

    Joe,
    Swallowing your pride and taking the risk of possibly looking foolish paid off in a big way for your friend. Thanks for being faithful to your friend & to the training you received.

  15. Jen Havard says:

    What an awesome story! The Holy Spirit is moving and working, through you, Joe. What amazing things He can do when we are listening to His promptings!

  16. Bernadette says:

    Joe,
    You laid down your pride, took a chance and trusted your gut.
    Thank you.

  17. John Boughton says:

    Blessed perseverance and care! Keep moving with the Holy Spirit.

  18. Tom Shriver says:

    Joe,

    I'm so proud of you for acting on a prompting of the Holy Spirit. You are an example and a blessing to us all. I'm glad to have known you for so many years as a camper & counselor. God Bless you in your work. Thank you for serving the Lord and our country as you do.

    Tom Shriver

  19. chris kadera says:

    Great inspiration joe I am glad that there are great men like you with strong faith and a deep desire to follow the Lord and what he has in mind

    Praise God!!!!

  20. Lori Twining says:

    What an example of how faithfulness in little things, like learning about suicide prevention in army training, like really listening and caring about a friend and being faithful to the Lord led to your being instrumental in saving this man's life! May the Lord continue to use you, Joe, as that fine instrument attuned to His Spirit, able to do his work! Glory to God!

  21. jim says:

    What an incredible story. My sister, who is an Army Colonel, was also stationed at Fort Lewis. She was very concerned about what could be done to prevent sucides. She will be delighted to hear this story.

    Joe Ridenour, you're a tremendous man of God. Praise God for this life that was saved.

  22. Chris Rousselle says:

    Joe, you have saved a life that is precious. May God bless you for your efforts.

  23. Alana Busekrus says:

    What a beautiful story! It is a good reminder to pay attention to intuition, aka (often) Holy Spirit promptings. Thanks for sharing, Joe.

  24. Claudia Schmitz says:

    Joe, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-control. You acted in the Spirit of Christ in you. God's love & power to save has been made stronger & brighter because of your obedience. Thank you.

  25. Bruce Wansart says:

    Life is to precious to let fear or pride hold us back from doing the right thing. I'm glad i know more about this brother in Christ.

  26. Karen Heintzelman says:

    Joe, you are an example of great courage and trust! Every life is so precious to God!

  27. Carol Phillips says:

    You are such a wonderful man of God and an inspiration to others. I'm blessed to know you.

  28. Cathy McAdams says:

    Wow! Joe,your actions could only have come out of a life of prayer and a relationship with the Living God who LOVES us just where we are! Blessings to you and yours Joe McRidenour.

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