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Archive for March 2018

The Kiss Of Death

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The Kiss Of Death

“Remember Elizabeth? She just got a hearing implant to see if that would cure her deafness,” my wife said. We were eating lunch in Georgia, at a National Country Club.

“They call that, The Kiss Of Death, in the deaf community,” offered the court certified Interpreter for the deaf who was seated at the table with us.

The Kiss Of Death?” I was in shock! “Why would they call being able to hear, The Kiss Of Death?

“Hearing would ruin their life, as they know it. Many deaf people are very happy in their own world,” she said. “It’s a very tight-knit society.  Lip reading is a coveted gift. Most deaf people don’t want to be healed. They are happy being deaf.”

She related an incident about signing to a client. The client signed back to her that she could read lips and only wanted to be spoken to, not signed to by a hearing person. Although the court had certified the Interpreter, she was still an outsider to the deaf.

The Interpreter began to describe some of her client’s anti-hearing sentiments. She served several expectant mothers who were deaf. These moms-to-be wanted their babies to be deaf as well.

As a hearing person, I’ve had very limited communication with the deaf. If they can read my lips, that’s wonderful. I cannot read theirs. We can only write notes back and forth to each other. I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to hear.

I also have no way of knowing how accurate the Interpreter’s opinion was. She was only relating her life experiences.

Although my interaction with the natural deaf is somewhat limited, I am however, very familiar with the attitudes of the spiritually deaf.

The spiritually deaf that I know, don’t want to be healed. They resist getting a spiritual implant to hear the Word of the Lord. To them, that would be The Kiss Of Death!

Forty-two times the Bible uses the phrase, “He that hath an ear to hear.” Evidently, not everyone can hear what the Spirit saith. Their Pastor/Interpreter is an intrusion into their world.

They too do not wish to be healed and want all of their children to be deaf as well. The preached Word of God is something that the spiritually deaf person cannot hear. They can’t hear sermons about:

  • Doctrine
  • Tithes
  • Holiness
  • Separation from the world

It is really futile to try to communicate with those that are deaf to God’s Word. The interference of hearing people into their life is resented.

Jesus healed the deaf. We read about it in the Gospels. He is still able to heal the spiritually deaf today who want to be healed.

My father had been the pastor at a church for three years. A brother came up to him after the Saturday night service and complimented his sermon. Dad thanked him. Sunday morning the same man gave him another compliment.

Sunday night, the same brother came up to Dad and with tears in his eyes said, “Bro. Ballestero, I thank you for that message! That was the best I’ve ever heard! You saved me tonight!”

My father invited the man into his office. When they sat down, my father began his inquiry.

“Brother, for the last three years you’ve fought me tooth and toenail. You have resisted me at every turn. Not one time have you said a nice thing to me since I’ve been here. You have never complimented any of my messages before. Now, for three sermons in a row, you’ve bragged on me. What’s your game?”

The brother broke down and cried. He apologized to my Father. He said, “I am so sorry I’ve been like that to you Pastor. The reason I’ve complimented your preaching, is because I just got my ears open!”

All a Pastor can pray for is that his hearers will get their ears opened! He knows that for those who are content not to hear preaching, it is truly, The Kiss of Death!


The Last Thing You Lose Is Your Hearing

Bro. Henry Baskins fell like he’d been shot. The sound of his head hitting the floor was enough to make those nearby sick and alarmed. His fellow workers called 911 and anxiously watched for the ambulance.

Within minutes, my phone rang and informed me that one of the most precious men in the Kingdom of God was in a coma and being taken from the ER to ICU. My heart sank. Bro. Baskins was near retirement age. No one had an answer why he had passed out on the job. He’d had no previous health concerns.

Henry Baskins

He was a church favorite. Even though he drove over 20 miles each way to church, he was always an hour or so early. He had been an usher as long as I could remember. His pockets always contained a bag of candy for the children. That made him a very popular man after church.

Sis. Baskins lived a pampered life. He waited on her hand and foot, did the grocery shopping, chauffeured her anywhere she wanted to go. What if he died? What would happen to her? She’d never even driven a car!

After calling the Prayer Chain in our church, I rushed to the Osteopathic Hospital. As I headed for ICU, I noticed family and saints were gathering too. There was a waiting room next to the ICU door.

No one, not even family was allowed to go in and see him yet. I told the folks in the waiting room to pray for Bro. Baskins. They prayed Pentecostal style.

I pushed the call button and announced myself. The nurse buzzed me in. She escorted me to Bro. Baskins’ room. My heart sank when I saw him. There were more tubes connected to him than I’d ever seen. There were tubes down his throat, up his nose, in his chest, his arms, his hands and his leg. It seemed like there were 10 monitors going. The pumping sounds of the machine doing the breathing for him were hard to ignore. He looked hopeless.

Even though he was unconscious, I announced myself to him. I said, “Bro. Baskins, this is Bro. Ballestero and I am here to pray for you.

My prayer was probably only a minute or so. I felt guilty being the only one allowed back in his room. I really didn’t want to leave even though my prayer was over.

My Dad had always said that the last thing we lose is our hearing, naturally and spiritually. I remembered that and began to talk.

I said, “Bro. Baskins, no one knows what happened at work today. Those close to you said you just fell over and hit your head. You have been in a coma ever since. The ambulance brought you to the Osteopathic Hospital.

“The doctors are trying to find out what the cause of the problem is. They don’t know. No one but me is allowed back here right now. So, don’t worry about your family not coming in, because the nurses are being very protective of you right now.

“Your wife is in the next room. All of her needs are being taken care of. Your children are here. The saints have filled up the ICU waiting room and I have the Prayer Chain praying for you.

“When they start letting family come in here, it will only be once every 4 hours and then, just for a few minutes. Now don’t worry about anything. You just focus on getting well, we’ll keep praying. I love you!”

Every time I went to see him, I prayed, and then I chattered. I told him of the news in the church. I talked about his family. Reassured him of his wife’s comfort. Every day for about 3 weeks I visited his room.

One Friday, he woke up. They checked him over and checked him out. When I heard the news that he was home and walking around. I rejoiced! This was awesome news.

Sunday morning when I stepped into the auditorium, there was Bro. Baskins standing at his usual ushering post. He hugged my neck and tears came into his eyes.

“Bro. Ballestero, when you came into my room and prayed for me and talked to me, I heard every word you said. Thank you, Thank you!” He said.

He could still hear! Unbelievable! Even when he was in such bad shape!

Dad’s words again echoed through my memory. “The last thing you lose is your hearing, naturally and spiritually.”

Can you still hear?

If You Can Hear, It’s Not The Kiss Of Death,  It’s The Kiss Of Life…  Spiritual Life!



Written by Martyn Ballestero

March 22, 2018 at 7:33 pm

“Thanks, Dad! I got it for myself!”

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The Apostolic Tabernacle, located 905 S. Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana, was celebrating its anniversary. Bro. Carl Ballestero had just finished teaching the afternoon Bible Study. The service ended in prayer, and then the crowd was dismissed. Bro. Cavaness promised to feed his guests a BBQ feast and the crowd showed their excitement to go eat. Well, all except one teenager.

The dark-haired young man looked for a side room or a place to hide until the church emptied. He hoped that no one would miss him or come looking for him. He didn’t want to be seen by anyone right now. He couldn’t find a classroom.

Without anyone noticing, he slipped through a door that led him to the baptismal tank area. There, he bent over so as to remain unseen and moved to the side of the tank and laid down on the bare floor, flat on his back. He closed his eyes and waited. It seemed like forever before the sounds of conversations to died out and then he heard the front door close. He listened for any sounds of footsteps, but all was quiet. That’s when it started.

The boy began to cry, when I say cry, I don’t mean that there was a tear or two. I mean he began to sob. He wanted the same experience with God that his parents had. He felt shallow, empty, and unfulfilled. He wanted more of God. The sobs turned into groans and heartfelt travail. Time wasn’t important, food wasn’t important, getting something from God at that moment was all that mattered now.

Most of the afternoon the young prayed. His eyes were almost swollen shut. Some hours later, as folks gathered in for the evening service, he slipped out of the baptistery and into the Men’s room to comb his hair and wash his face. No one seemed to notice his earlier absence. His parents never mentioned it.

The young man became a pastor and many years later he invited Bro. Roger Evens to preach for him. One day, Bro. Evens said, “Do you remember the day at Shelbyville that you prayed behind the baptistery and didn’t go eat with everyone else?

The young pastor’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know about that?” he asked.

“I was there,” Bro. Evens said. “I came back into the church with your dad looking for you and making sure you had a way to go eat. That’s when we heard you crying out to God. I told you dad to go pray with you because I couldn’t go eat knowing you were crying like that.”

“Your dad said, ‘No, I can’t go pray for him.”

“Why not?” I said.

“Like a baby chick getting out of its shell, it has to do that by its self! If he doesn’t get this for himself he will never amount to a hill of beans.”

“With tears in your dad’s eyes and in mine, we walked out of the church that day.”



Fifty-five years later, all I can say now is, “Thanks, Dad! I got it for myself!”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

March 19, 2018 at 1:55 pm

“I Used To Go To Sunday School There!”

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“I Used To Go To Sunday School There!”

It was cold! The outside temperature in South Bend, Indiana showed three degrees above zero. The snow was falling in big gentle flakes. There was already about eight inches of new and un-plowed snow on the street.

It was after two o’clock in the morning as I walked to my van from Bro. Victor Simon’s house. His wife, Sis. Helen Simon had called after midnight and said that her husband was in severe pain with a kidney stone. He wanted me to come and pray for him, and so I did.

The Simons were not just members of the church; they were pillars of the church as well. In their senior years, they were still very active. It pained us all to watch Bro. Simon suffer from this horrible condition.

I unlocked my custom-sized van as I came out of their house and stepped up onto the running board kicking the snow off of my shoes before getting in. The wiper blades removed the snow enough for me to see, as the engine started. I was only ten blocks or so from home, so the heater wouldn’t be of much help tonight.

There were no tire tracks in the new snow, so no one had been down this road in a long while. I pulled up to the first intersection, which was only about a half block away to make a left turn. That’s when I saw a hood-covered man walking under the street light with his head down.

It was miserably cold out. Not windy, just cold. I felt bad though, for anyone having to walk in deep snow. Besides, it was two in the morning and did I mention that it was cold outside?

I swung my van close to the curb, rolled my window down and asked him if he’d like a ride. He nodded and got in.

As I put the van in motion, I asked him where he needed to go, and he said, “just keep driving.”

His response and word choices just sounded wrong. I could tell that things were going to go bad very quickly. I smiled and said nothing. One block later he announced in gruff tones, “I’ve got a knife!”

The knife he brandished threateningly at me had a blade about eight inches long. It looked like a hunting knife at first.

After my initial glance at the knife, I looked back through the front windshield. And, as if nothing had just happened, I started talking.

“I’ve just come from the house of an old man who is a member of the church that I pastor. He’s in a lot of pain with kidney stones right now. He wanted me to pray for him because he believes God will heal him. That’s why I’m out here this time of night.” (By now, He had been in the van for about two blocks.)

“What church do you pastor?” The hood-covered figures asked.

“I pastor Christ Temple Apostolic Church on the corner of Elwood Avenue and Elmer Street.”

He paused a brief moment in thought and then said, “Pull over right here!”

I pulled the van to the curb. His hand was on the door handle as he half turned his hooded face toward me.

He began to speak in an apologetic tone. “When I was a little boy, I used to attend Sunday School there. That’s a good church, and those are some good people. Keep up the good work.”

With that, the mystery man got out of the van and closed the door. He was unwilling to talk anymore. Condemned by his own attempt to do wrong, and no doubt realizing how far from Sunday School truths he had fallen, he slipped into the night.

I drove on through the un-plowed snow, thanking God for his mercy, and for every Sunday School Teacher in our Church!



Written by Martyn Ballestero

March 11, 2018 at 6:56 am