Personal Testimony

About Jerry Cooney

       One of the earliest recollections I have is walking in the cold dark night with my grandmother to a Christmas midnight Mass that I was to serve at. From my earliest years I have known Jesus. I cannot recall a time when I did not know Him or have a desire to serve Him.
cooneys       The only way I knew to serve Jesus, having been raised in the Catholic Church, was to enter the seminary and study for the priesthood. This I did when I graduated from high school, and studied for twelve and a half years preparing myself to serve Jesus as a Catholic priest. A few months before ordination, I went to prayer and in seeking the guidance of the Lord, I felt He was telling me not to go through with ordination.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding...." Proverbs 3:5.

I was earning my living as a public high school counselor when I met and married my wife, Arliss.        She, too, had a desire to serve the Lord and had entered a convent, a missionary order; but God called her out for His purposes. We both wanted to serve Jesus in some way, but waited upon Him in prayer for direction.

"... In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6.

       In the summer of 1970 I was in a hurry to go on vacation. In my haste, I banged my left knee against the blade of our shower door. I was in pain, but did not want it to hinder our first day off into the wilderness camping, so off we went without seeing a doctor.
       As the days and weeks went by, the pain grew worse and I finally decided I'd better check with a doctor. He said he could see why I was in such pain as I had fluid under the kneecap. It could be removed by surgery, but until that could be scheduled, he suggested pain pills if the pain got any worse. I am not one to take pills, but the pain was getting pretty bad. I couldn't easily drive my car, which had a clutch, because the injury was in my left knee.
       The parent of one of my counselees in school started talking about the things the Lord was doing and the manifestation of His gifts. Though I was curious, I held back somewhat, not daring to cross denominational barriers. However, I did like these people and felt obligated to accept their invitation to a prayer meeting in their home.
       After all, didn't Pope John XXIII say we should get to know our Protestant brethren? I told them my wife and I would be there next Saturday evening. So following Saturday evening Mass, Arliss and I attended our first Pentecostal prayer meeting. There were several denominations present, several nationalities present, and all economic classes of people present in that living room. They played the guitar, sang songs to Jesus, prophesied, and spoke in unknown tongues with interpretation. Now I was not a Bible scholar, but I did know that these happenings were backed up by the Word of God.

"And these signs shall follow them that believe ...
they shall speak with new tongues, ..." Mark 16:17.

       The leader of the group, our host, announced at the end of the meeting that if anyone needed any prayer for healing they could come forward.        My knee was throbbing with every heartbeat, but I was hesitant at coming forward. Then our host said, "In the book of James 5:14, it says, "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the
name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick
and the Lord shall raise him up;" .

       Suddenly, I found myself saying out loud, "If it's in the Bible, then it must be okay," and with that I made my way forward. But the astounding thing that happened was, that when I said, "If it's in the Bible, it must be okay," I felt a warm heat go over my left knee. It wasn't on any other area of my leg or body. It was the hand of Jesus touching my knee. All pain was gone. I went forward for the anointing with oil, but I knew I was already healed!

"... they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Mark 16:18.

       We asked our host and hostess after the meeting what it was that gave them such faith and strength in God's ways. They said, "We have the Baptism in the Holy Spirit," and with all my ninety-one post graduate units of theology training I said, "What's that?"

"For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be
baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Acts 1:5

       He told us of a Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship Meeting being held that next Monday, that we might want to go there to find out more about it. All I could think of at that time was that the name sure sounded awfully Protestant! But, the Spirit of God had touched our spirits and hunger for more of Him found us at that meeting where we received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

"... ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me...unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8

       From that evening on our lives were on fire to learn more, see more, and do more for Jesus. Our dusty Bibles hardly sat still long enough to catch any specks of dust as we constantly poured through its pages to grow in Him.
       On the high school scene I joined with another Christian teacher each morning to pray. We prayed over the classrooms, for the students, and for the other teachers. We prayed for our Christian club on campus, which arranged to have a "Jesus Group" come to campus during lunch hour in the gym to share their songs and testimonies with the students who cared to attend.
       After one of these sessions, I was on my way back to my office when a young boy approached me and said, "Mr. Cooney, who is this guy they were talking about called Jesus; does He live over there by the beach?"
       I looked at him and was dumbfounded. Was he pulling my leg? Did he really not know who Jesus was? The utter sincerity on his face told me he had no idea who Jesus was. I arranged to see him later and as I hurried on my way, another boy approached me and said, "Mr. Cooney, can you get me an appointment to meet the man called Jesus?" I was just as stunned as I looked at the sincerity in his eyes. I again arranged for him to see me later.
       I then went into my office and shut the door. I said, "Jesus, what are you trying to tell me?" Could it be possible that there are kids and adults here in this country that don't even know who you are, even as an historical figure, much less as the Son of God?"
       I mused, "If they come from a pagan home and were absent during that period of study in history, if the teacher chose not mention Him in those chapters, or if the history books deleted His name in that era of history from the text, they wouldn't know of Him. Santa Claus, tinsel, and merry making have left His name and the real meaning of Christmas out of this world."
       Suddenly I knew teachers were needed to teach the Word and try to reach God's people to prepare them for His coming, and to reach out to those who have never heard His name except maybe as a cuss word.
       My wife and I continued to pray and ask God to direct our lives. Then in the middle of a warm July night in 1976 we both woke up and felt God speaking to our hearts. "Sever your ties. Go to a place I will tell you."
       The next morning we looked at each other with the question on our faces, "Did this really happen?" Yet we knew in our hearts it did. As Arliss was heading for her Tuesday morning prayer meeting, I called Grandma (my mother who lived in a little apartment off the garage) and told her we were going to sell the house. Just as I said, "... sell the house." the doorbell rang and a real estate man stood there saying, "I was just passing by and felt if you wanted to list your house, I could sell it for you." We had never had any real estate men stop by our house like that before.
       Jesus showed us more signs that we were being directed by Him and Him alone. He led us up to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. He went before us and prepared the way. I was not called by any denomination to minister and I had no idea what type of work I would do. Once I resigned my job with the school district there was no turning back. Teachers with my number of years seniority are usually not hired back as they can get younger ones fresh out of college and lower on the pay scale.
       We arrived in Oregon with thirty-six dollars in our pockets. Arliss was in her eighth month of pregnancy with our sixth child. The first month's mortgage payment was paid in the closing cost of the home we bought. To feed a crew of myself, Arliss, Grandma, and five children --- thirty-six dollars was not going to last long.
       That night Arliss went into labor prematurely and gave birth to our sixth child, a girl we named after Jesus ... Rose Sharon.

"I am the rose of sharon, and the lily of the valleys." Song of Solomon 2:1

       It was a miraculous birth. The placenta had separated in the womb except for a small portion about the size of a quarter. It had even started to deteriorate and after the emergency Caesarian Section, the doctor said, "You are a mighty lucky man. That baby should be either dead or a vegetable from the way things looked inside when we opened up your wife. But we've given that baby every test we can and she seems perfectly normal." I told the doctor that all the credit goes to Jesus.
       Before we had left Long Beach, California, to move to Oregon, a servant of the Lord had prayed for safety on the trip and prophesied over Arliss saying, "That baby will have a miraculous birth."
       The next morning in the hospital another doctor came in and told Arliss, "That baby was a miracle! We keep giving her every test and find she is perfect normal." Later that day he came in again and said, "That baby is a miracle!"
       By this time Arliss was wondering if he was a Christian since he used the term miracle and she said, "And we give all the praise to Jesus for that." When she mentioned the name Jesus, the doctor stiffened, mumbled something, and quickly left. That was the last time we saw him. We don't even remember his name.
       Afterwards in the community there, we met other people who had heard of the miraculous birth when they saw our baby. They said they knew of a nurse or member of the staff at the hospital and the whole hospital had been talking about the miraculous birth.
       Jesus blessed us further when the children and I attended church on Sunday. Arliss was still in the hospital. I knelt down and asked God where we should go to church and he told us. There we met a lady who came up and introduced herself asking me where I was from and what type of work I did. When I told her I used to be a high school counselor but taught the Bible on the side, she said, "A Bible teacher? We've been praying for two years for a Bible teacher. Would you come to our home and teach the Bible?"
       Later when I asked her what led her to ask me to teach when she hardly knew me, she said, "The Spirit of God told me to ask you." After I started teaching there, others came and asked me to open a Bible Study in other communities in their homes and within a short time my schedule was filled.
       When I stepped out to follow Jesus, I made Him two promises. One, I would never ask for money, and secondly, I would never ask for a place to speak. I would wait upon Him and look to Him alone to provide our needs and to open doors for ministry. I only allow a dish or basket for contributions to be placed in the living room and no mention is usually made of the fact it's there.

"...Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these ... Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, ... shall he not much more clothe you..." Matthew 6:28-30

       For over thirty-one years since we have stepped out in faith to follow His every leading, He has met our every need. There are twenty-nine of us now when you include our married children's spouses, and our grandchildren. To us, Jesus is our El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough. He has gone before us arranging speaking places, opening up homes to teach the Bible Studies, and starting the tape ministry whereby audio teachings on every book of the New Testament and some on the Old Testament are going out free to whomever wishes to grow in God's Word.

The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned
that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary;
he awakens my ear to hear like the learned. (Isaiah 50:4)

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