Jesse Cradduck Story

Like many adult learners, I experienced embarrassment and frustration as I struggled with functional illiteracy.

When I was three years old, I was involved in a terrible automobile accident that left my face scarred. When I was seven, another automobile accident killed my mother and left physical scars. I also lost the hearing in my left ear from these accidents.

The house in which I lived had a dirt floor, but my grandmother Mary swept it and kept a neat home. She was a praying woman. I remember us being out of food and she called me over to pray with her and ask God to supply our need. As we prayed, I sensed the power of God. The next day a check came in the mail from my father for twenty dollars. We were able to buy the food we needed. This made a lasting impression on me.

My first experiences in school were very traumatic. The loss of hearing made it difficult to hear what was being said in the classroom. I am sure the teachers just thought I had mental problems and did not know how to help me. In those days there were no special education classes or help for the disabled. So, each year I was promoted to the next grade but without the skills I needed to do the work.

Finally, a teacher in the seventh grade refused to just pass me and gave me a failing grade. At that point I quit school and went to work. I had completed the sixth grade, but still could not read.  By this time in my life I was becoming bitter at the world. When my girlfriend Shirley turned sixteen, she was allowed to date. We were married before the year was out and soon Jesse, Jr. was born. He was born two days after my sixteenth birthday.

When I was 18, a friend of mine, Harvey Rogers, approached me about working with him at Kitty Clover Snack Food Company. But I felt I was not qualified to work there and probably could not do the work required due to my illiteracy. He gave me some advice that day that has helped me throughout my life, "Jesse, you can do anything you want to do if you really want to do it."

Most of the salesmen lived in nice homes and were drinkers. I am not proud of the fact that I joined them in this lifestyle. I took an extra job at a convenience store on the weekends for awhile so I could do my drinking and still have enough to pay the bills. My lifestyle certainly did not have a place for God or church.

Shirley began attending church and would invite me to go with her. I would make excuses but I was beginning to hope God might make a difference in my life. Finally, I consented to attend a revival service with Shirley at a small church. As the preacher preached that Sunday morning, I became sick in my heart of the life I was living. When the sermon was over, all I could think about was getting to the altar so I could cry out to God for help.

I was not sure God could forgive me for all the wrongs I had done or the terrible pain I had caused others. God reached down His hand for me! I was different. Suddenly life was beautiful and I knew I was connected to God. I had a love in my heart for Shirley that probably had never really been there before.

In 1982, I attended my first Full Gospel Business Men's retreat. In one of my prayer times at the retreat, God seemed to be asking me if I would be a preacher of the Gospel. My heart was so full of love for God and what He had done for me; I wanted to say "Yes."  However, I felt like being a preacher was far about my ability.

My desire to read became a driving force in my life. Mrs. Cindy Broadway became my first tutor. She was diligent and persistent in keeping me on track with the instruction.   In 1990, it was suggested that I attend a university. I finally agreed to do this. As I left the administration building that day, I remember looking up to heaven and thinking, "What have I agreed to do?" How could I even think about getting a college degree when I couldn't get past the seventh grade? Suddenly, God spoke to me. "This is My work."  He said, "You could not have gotten into this college or any other college if it had not been for Me." God's words ignited my faith. If God thought I could do it, then I believed I could too!

Receiving my Bachelor of Arts degree was a high pinnacle in my life. I felt I had conquered the world. I continued on my quest towards a doctorate. I took one semester at a time. With help from friends to pay the final bill, I walked across the platform one more time, with an earned doctorate degree.   Nothing is impossible to you if you will begin to believe!

Dr. Jesse and Shirley Craddock founded Maranatha Ministries, which serves over 50, 000 meals per year.


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