Jimmy Rogers

Jimmy RogersHELPING MEN EXPERIENCE THE HOLY SPIRIT

   Jimmy Rogers is the president of Rogers-Wood and Associates in Atlanta, which writes approximately $10 million of property, casualty and life insurance annually. Jimmy is a member and director for the State of Georgia for Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America. Jimmy is the founder of the Georgia Men’s Advance which has been active for forty years and ministers to the spiritual needs of men. 

   He and his wife Margret have been married thirty-nine years and have two children and two grandchildren. They are members of Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, where he serves on the board of elders and administration council.  

I would like to tell you my story. Tears cascaded down my face and my car weaved around the Georgia highway so erratically, I'm sure other drivers wondered what kind of a person sat behind the wheel.

p>In the last six years, everything we had built in our happy home seemed to be slowly slipping away. Anger, disap­pointment and bitterness gnawed at me and the more than I cried out, "God, we did everything we were supposed to do. Why did You let this happen?"

What had gone wrong? Failure hadn't been programmed into my life.

Even though as a very young boy, I had known the agony of poverty—pick­ing cotton around the South with my sharecropping family—life dramatically improved after Dad returned to Florida and raised citrus, chickens and crops.

I was the first member of our family to graduate from high school; I earned a two-year degree at Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee, before enlisting in the Army during the Korean conflict.

During my military service, I married Margaret, a pretty girl I had met at church in Orlando, and we set out to build our future dreams. While I had considered an Army career, my discharge date arrived before an officer's commission, and we eventually settled in Atlanta.

Since I was used to getting up at 4 a.m. to feed the chickens and tend other animals, hard work was in my blood. Thus, while toiling during the midnight shift for Western Union as an electronic technician, I began building a business career.

We had seen others prosper in real estate, so we decided to purchase commercial property. When the owner of the delicatessen in our building gave up, we took over, and Rogers Restaurant became a thriving, 24-hour-a-day eatery in the Little Five Points area a mile east of downtown.

In addition, we opened a dry cleaning store nearby, and as our developments grew, I became more active in the business community. But I never dreamed success would pose so many problems.

The conflict that stemmed from my active involvement with the merchants’ association and contacts in the world grew out of my Pentecostal upbringing.

The old legalistic ideas I was raised with, stressed separation from the world. That's a classic misinterpretation of God's command to not be ensnared by the world. But at the time I didn't understand what that meant. The more active my business career, the stronger the feeling that I should quit my positions as a Sunday school teacher and church leader.

However, God opened my eyes the first year I served as president of the Little Five Points Merchants' Associa­tion. One of the highlights of the year was the annual banquet, featuring plenty of booze, food and a dance band for entertainment.

Realizing there was little I could do to alter the agenda, I appointed all the committees and made plans to arrive just in time for dinner and duck out immediately after it ended.

However, something funny happened after I arrived, and calmed the cocktail drinkers down long enough to direct them into the banquet room. When I called on a friend to give the opening prayer, he replied in his booming voice, "I don't believe I want to pray tonight. I think I'd like to let our president pray."

"Let's pray," I answered. I was so nervous I don't remember a word I uttered except, "Amen." When I opened my eyes, the people in the room looked petrified. Nobody moved. Nobody spoke. Everyone froze for what seemed like eternity.

Finally, a woman who owned a liquor store in the community worked her way from the back of the packed room to the podium. Grabbing my hand, she said, "Mr. Rogers, that prayer you prayed just did something to me and I think you should know it."

As I stood there, God spoke to me. It looked like a TV teleprompter had stationed itself before my eyes. In front of the banquet guests I saw scriptures (I'm paraphrasing) such as, "I came to seek and save that which was lost," "The sick need a doctor, not the healthy," and Jesus' prayer from John 17, "I pray not that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one."

Until that time, I thought that all religious activity took place in church on Sunday, but the Lord showed me otherwise. He wanted me out where Jesus would have been in the world, witnessing, healing and saving souls.

Something else happened before I left the room that night. A woman whose husband was a retired military officer approached me and said, "You need to talk to the colonel. You're the only one who can help him."

I knew this couple well. Owners of an antique store, they had earlier volunteered to back me financially and politically for public office. But with two young children I rejected the idea.

However, because of my busy schedule, I put off going to talk to him. Two months later, while I napped one afternoon between business appointments, the phone rang. It was the woman who asked me to speak to her husband about spiritual matters. She sobbed, "The colonel was out mowing grass and dropped dead.”

I sat stunned and ashamed. The Lord had given me influence with the world and I had failed to use it. If anything good came from that incident, it was the boldness and sense of urgency that resulted when witnessing to business associates and others.

It has also served as a constant reminder that if I'm the one God wants to use in leading someone to Him, I have a duty to respond.

   When I finished my term as associa­tion president the following year, I also left the restaurant business. It had required so much of our time we had to hire someone to look after our daugh­ter, now eight, and three-year-old Rick, whom we adopted as an infant. Margaret and I agreed that our children needed fulltime parents.

Still working nights for Western Union, I turned my attention to insur­ance, joining a friend's business as a part-time salesman. It would take five years before I felt experienced enough to open my own agency, but without the demands of the restaurant draining me; I found I could devote more atten­tion to our children.

We were the All American" family, attending church and school functions together, taking family vacations and enjoying life in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur.

Nothing prepared me for the shock we faced after many happy years. Rick had advanced to middle school when his grades started slipping and other problems cropped up.

After talking with counselors and many other people about the problems dogging our son, we reached an inescapable conclusion. At the tender age of fourteen, Rick was a heavy drug user.

Anyone who has lived through this understands that I'm not exaggerating. This was the worst crisis of my life. Though we searched our hearts and minds and tried to establish communication with him, none could be achieved. Peer pressure had derailed him and nothing we tried got him back on track.

The "drug war" of the 1990s? How about the one that plagued us in the '70s, that permeated not just our high schools and middle schools, but even our grade schools? This is not a problem that cropped up overnight.

Suddenly, instead of peaceful bliss, our home was the site of conflict and agony. Naturally, whenever problems arise, we go looking for solutions. But first we have to work through the stages of grief.

As any counselor will tell you, the first is denial. You deny that there is a problem and then try to convince yourself it's not really all that bad and will resolve itself in a short while.

After facing up to reality, you torture yourself with guilt, wondering how and why you failed and what you could have done to prevent it.

When that's over, you try to shift the blame. In my case, I asked my wife why she wasn't a better mother, since she stayed home with the children; I reasoned if she had been a better parent, things would have turned out differently.

That's followed by severe doubts about God. Does He even exist? And if He does, why doesn't He care?

The above is a mere outline of the picture that was played out over endless days that stretched into months and years. And while this real-life movie rolled, I wondered how I could maintain my church work and active Full Gospel Business Men's speaking schedule. What right did I have to talk about how wonderful God was when trouble plagued my own house?

When Rick turned seventeen, he gladly moved away from home, although that didn't prevent us from finding out about the drug charges and other scrapes that kept landing him in legal trouble. Your child will always be your child. Moving from under your roof doesn't drive him or her out of your heart.

Thus, we were still troubled, though it may have seemed our source of trouble was gone. We still wondered when this never-ending difficulty would come to a conclusion.

One day, on my way to give my testimony to an FGBMF chapter, all the questions, pressures and doubts that had built up over the years caved in on me.

"Why God, why?" I sobbed as I drove.

Finally, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: "Why don't you try the Word?"

That simple question launched a thorough study of the Gospels, as I wondered how Jesus would respond to a crisis. Tracing His footsteps, I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John backwards and forwards. As I studied, a new picture of Christ emerged.

One of the most meaningful chapters I found in this probing was Matthew 8. Immediately after the Sermon on the Mount, people saw Jesus putting into practice the words He spoke there.

There are five separate instances of action in this chapter, the first three healings-of the leper, the centurion's servant, and Peter's mother-in-law. Verses 24-27 tell how He calmed the stormy seas that worried the disciples, and after that, cast out demons from the man at Gadarenes.

In none of these cases did our Savior go through great motions or awesome displays of power. He simply spoke the Word and God’s will was accomplished.

Suddenly I realized that coupled with the power He demonstrated while on earth, He gave us authority to use His name to accomplish the same tasks, to heal the sick, empower the lame and open blind eyes.

Armed with this scriptural awareness, I saw that we needed to do what we could do best. Pray, speak the Word, and trust in God to deliver the results.

About a year after Rick moved out, a dirty, long-haired, bearded stranger showed up at my office one afternoon. Not used to seeing many customers like that, I got up to meet him. Looking back over the counter was my son.

After he entered my office, we both sat there awkwardly, trying to decide what to do. Finally, he said, "I know you don't approve of the way I've been living, but if I die, I know I'll go to heaven."

Though he had realized he had problems, he faltered and struggled with the decision he had made to straighten out his life. Nonetheless, I was glad he had come to see me, and even happier when he returned a few months later to ask my advice about enlisting in the Navy.

Though I never expected him to pass the background checks, they accepted him, and he excelled in the service, becoming the diver on a large destroyer during his three-year tour. He is now married and the breach between us has been repaired.

It's been fifteen years since the height of this battle and only now can I talk about it without being overcome by emotion. And as I share this story in various locales, I have discovered many people are doubting God because of their struggles with life's problems.

If we're not careful, it's easy to be critical of Christians who fail to serve God. Often, the reason they're not active is because of these hurts. The devil has them immobilized.

There's a saying that Christians form the only army that shoot their wounded. The time for that is over. Let's help each other recover and return to fight our enemy who is Satan. The victory is ours and the promise is in the Word. Go, troops!

James M. Rogers, of Suwanee Georgia, passed away peacefully on August 5, 2019 in Greensboro, Georgia. Jimmy had fought the good fight and finished the course. We will miss our friend, and will treasure the legacy he left as a role model for us to live the Christian life.

 

Jimmy's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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