Delivered from Darkness
Murder Took Her Mother, But God Remained
Few things could be more traumatic to a child than seeing the murder of a parent. As a 16 year-old, Jennifer Messer witnessed her stepfather murder her mother. “Only my faith in Christ delivered me from the anger I felt towards God,” she says. “It took a while for me to realize that; but I did, and now I want to tell others that I saw God’s glory and light in the midst of darkness.”
Jenni came to the Army in Logan, West Virginia. “The Logan Corps is right across the hill from where we lived,” Jenni explains. “As soon as I stepped into the door I knew I was right where God wanted me to be!”
Jenni’s love for reading her Bible began when she was little. “When I was ﬁve, my summer project was to read my Bible. It became a tradition for me. But even though I read its pages, I wasn’t saved,” she says.
Then, on March 31, 1998, Jenni gave her heart to the Lord. As her faith grew, she became more grounded in her relationship with Christ, but that bond was severely tested just eight months later on the night her mother died.
“My home life had always been rough,” Jenni recalls. “My stepfather was horrible on drugs. We both suffered from years of physical and emotional abuse from him [before] my mom ﬁnally left him.” With the divorce, “We felt happiness and peace. I praised God for this every day.”
Then, one night in November 1998, Jenni’s stepfather returned to confront her mother. “I couldn’t sleep that night, and I heard my mom yelling. My stepfather was at the front door, and I ran into the room at the moment when he lifted his gun and shot my mom two times. Then he turned the gun towards me, but it jammed.”
As Jenni waited for paramedics to arrive, she begged God not to take her mother from her: “I told God how much I needed her, but she died early the next morning." Believing that God had not listened to her pleas, she directed all of her fury toward Him.
“A few months later, I was cleaning my room and I came across my Bible. I wiped the dust off and began ﬂipping through the pages,” Jenni says. Her Bible fell open to John 14, and her eyes landed on verse 18: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (KJV). This was the message from Jesus that she was longing for. She remembers how the weight seemed to lift from her shoulders.
Jenni realized two things: God had not abandoned her, and, by disparaging God, she was falling right into the devil’s hands. “I knew that my behavior towards God was giving victory to the devil, and there’s no way that was going to continue!” she says.
Jenni decided that it was time to return to church. She began teaching a Sunday school class and discovered that many of her students experienced terrible conditions at home. “Their [lives were] so much like mine that my heart broke for them,” Jenni says. “I now want God to use me to show others.”
Jenni knows that it is her faith in Christ that delivered her from her darkest time, and it will sustain her throughout her future ministry as a Salvation Army ofﬁcer. “I know that God can change lives. He changed mine. He understands me.”
She has a special message to others like her: “No matter what you are facing in life, God is right there next to you. Even if you have given up; God hasn’t given up on you!”