The Unseen Story

John & Eva

Leaving the pew

(Listen by clicking the white play button. You can read the transcript of the story below.)

My name is John Doherty. I’m from Jerome, Idaho. Nobody knows where that is. But anyway, I’ve been a Christian 41 years now and…Well, I just want to say my name is Eva and I’ve been married to John for 37 years. We’ve had three children together, it’s been an amazing 37 years. 

John: I shouldn’t even be a Christian. A friend of mine, in college told me he wouldn’t pray for me. He said it was a waste of time and breath. So this tells you where I came from. So I have a two part story where Jesus Christ miraculously saved me in my room, August 4, 1980, at a time where I hated everything, and everybody. And like I said, my friend would even pray for me and it was a miraculous, miraculous conversion. I just fell in love with Him. When I went to church, all of a sudden they’re talking about a building program and an Easter egg hunt. I go, Wait a minute. I don’t think that’s it. Where’s Jesus? I started going into prison. I started going to San Quentin penitentiary to tell men about Jesus every week. I was so excited because He saved my life, which I do not deserve. Men in prison would say, “Why did He come in your room August 4, 1980?” I would tell them, “I think to show He’s a bad judge of character.” I would have never picked me in 100 years, nobody in the room would have. But if there’s hope for me, there’s hope for everybody. 

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So let me backup a little bit. Growing up, I was a really, really happy kid. I remember at 12 years old, I was so happy, I was happy to be alive, I was free. I was just, my life was really a joy. We were going to a Baptist church and when you turn 12, they start putting pressure on you to come forward and get your ticket to heaven. They were looking at me and saying there’s somebody out there that needs to come forward or needs to get saved. I was sweating in the back and finally I went forward, you know – I shoo, what a relief. – and they were all, “Hallelujah” and high fiving, “John’s a Christian now.” They gave me my ticket to heaven. They never talked about the Holy Spirit. They talked about the Holy Ghost, which used to scare me, you know, “ghost?” that’s a bad thing. I don’t want a ghost. 

But anyway, at age 12, a terrible thing happened that year, I was responsible for the death of my nephew who was five years old. It was an accident, but because of me, he died and basically my life was over. It was done. A 12 year old cannot deal with that. The anger, the hurt, the shame, the guilt, it was just overpowering. But I still called myself a Christian, I would still go to the baptist church with my parents, and everything was good as long as I had that support group. 

When I was 19 years old, on board a ship during Vietnam, when all the guys went to shore and were having a good time and I was sitting on the ship saying, “I’m a Christian, I can’t go and do those things.” I all of a sudden took a hard look at that ticket to heaven. I’m going, This thing’s worthless. I have no joy, no peace, no hope, no love. I got nothing. That day, I remember the day, I remember I looked up into heaven and I said, “God, You could have stopped what happened when I was 12 and You didn’t. Therefore You’re not a nice God.” And I shook my fist at Him and I went out and got drunk for the first time in my life with my friends. All of a sudden I had friends. I was having a good time and I just threw the ticket away. 

I started breathing fire against Christians and breathing fire against the church. If somebody said they were a Christian, I’d get right in their face and just start calling them names and hypocrites, and most of the time, it was true because I met religious people. I never met a real Christian until 1980, which was weird. I tell people I never became one because I never saw one. But I was building homes up in Chico, California. I went to Chico State University because I heard it was the biggest party school in America after Vietnam and I went there. 

After that, I started building homes as a carpenter. This guy came down from Alaska and he was going to help us build. He had a beard. He was a big manly guy and I thought, Wow, he’ll be a good drinking buddy, because I was an alcoholic and I judged men by how manly they were. To me, Christians were a bunch of pencil necks, you don’t even talk to them. You know what I mean? They were weak and wimpy. At break-time he sits down and opens a Bible and I almost fell over. I said, What? Wait a minute, what is this? Because I had already put him in the man slot, and I could see he was an ex drug addict and I’m going, this is really…what is this? I was actually drawn towards what was inside of him. For the first time in my life I had a glimpse of who Jesus was inside of a human being. But one day I told him, I said, “I don’t need God.” I said, “I’m up here, God’s down here. I don’t need Him. He is for old weak people. I don’t need Him.” 

Within a couple of weeks, God went “phwwwwwhht” and all of a sudden I buried a skill saw in my leg about that deep {shows depth with hand}. While I was getting better my wife, not this wife, ran off with a grocery clerk. I got a job cutting wood and got poison oak and didn’t get paid. Basically, I was at my wit’s end. I probably could have been committed to, you know, a mental institution. My mindset, I was just so messed up. But anyway, August 4, 1980, I went to my room, and I prayed, “God kill that woman. She hurt me so bad.” Because it was very hurtful. And He didn’t answer that prayer. But Jesus came into my room, August 4, 1980. I didn’t see a light and I didn’t hear a voice, but I felt Him. And I’m thinking, Uh, I think you have the wrong room. And I felt His presence. It was amazing. I think Isaiah said, “We see Him, you know, all of a sudden, we can see who we are.” Job said, “I’ve heard of You, but now that I see You, I detest myself.” Basically, He came in my room and said, “It’s time for you to lose your life.”

So I had a hard decision. I argued with Him. I said, “I’ll go to church, I’ll quit punching people.” And He said, “No. You have to get out, totally out.” And I said, “I can’t be a Christian. I hate those people.” I did, I seriously did. I said, “Okay, I surrender.” All of a sudden, whaaaat?, He filled me with love and joy and peace and hope. I cried for the first time in seven years, because angry people don’t cry. They just get more angry. But His love broke me. I mean, there was probably a puddle of tears there, just of joy and peace and hope. And I want to show you a picture of what repentance looks like…Because the next morning, nobody talked to me. I got up and drove for hours and got in front of the woman who had left me for another man and I said, “Please forgive ME for being such a terrible husband.” And she was like, “What?” Like, “What happened to you?” I said, “I don’t know. But Jesus is alive.” 

Anyways, so this is, this is the start of my journey. I just couldn’t wait to tell people about Jesus who saved my life. Totally undeserving, totally not deserving His love and mercy and goodness. And, I started going to church, and they’re talking about an Easter egg hunt in a building program, and I’m going, Where’s Jesus? And I would go to the pastors and say, “When do I get to speak? I want to talk, tell them about Jesus. We just didn’t have the tools to bring people to Him, we could just bring them to church. Now we have tools. Now we can assess where somebody’s at. Do they need to hear the gospel? Now we can share the Gospel. Let’s see, maybe they need deliverance. Do they need prayer for healing? Do they need…We can assess the situation and kind of see where people are at and give them what they need and this is the most exciting thing about the whole thing. When we started living this life finally, seven years ago, seeing a man online living this life just shocked me. He was living the book of Acts. I’m going, Wait, that’s the Christian life. 

I sat in church reading John 14:12, where Jesus said, you know, “When I leave, you’ll see greater things.” I’m going, What is greater than zero? Every time I go to church and say, “Can I speak?” “No, no, no.” And then [the pastor] gave a sermon: If you have a gift, we want you, we want to use you. So I would go up to him, “Hey, I want to teach Sunday school.” [He would say,] “Well, actually, we’re looking for a bus driver.” Oh, okay. Well, why didn’t you say that, you know? It was so frustrating not being able to talk about Him and speak about Him because I was so in love with Him. So I’ve always had that. 

So then, when I read a book about happening today, somebody healing people today, and then I started getting online and finding, Wow, this is for today. So then I started seeing things on YouTube, and then that’s when I saw Torben and the rest is history. So we just started, we kick started ourselves. We went out and started praying for people and we’ve been running ever since. We’ve seen probably close to 600 people healed now and we’ve baptized over 200 people. So now our lives are way, way more effective and we do it in a casual manner. That’s what’s neat. We don’t have to get worked up. When it’s casual, it’s so much better. We minister wherever we’re at. We don’t get together and say, Okay, we’re going to go out on Friday at seven. Nope. It’s, Where are we? Are we at the dentist’s office? Are we at the post office? Are we at Walmart? Where are we? And it’s so funny. One of us will say, “Well, I have to go to Walmart just to get this one thing.” And we’re gone for an hour and a half! Okay, what happened? Well, I met this person and they got healed, and this person…It’s like you can never, it’s impossible to make a quick trip. I don’t know why everybody that needs healing goes to Walmart though. It’s kind of amazing. 

Christians who have the Holy Spirit need to realize that we have all power and authority. We just need to step out.

Eva: Our main goal is to share the gospel with people, but Jesus said to heal the sick and cast out the demons too. Because those get people’s attention and that’s when they can experience the power of God, or freedom or something and that opens them up. Not always. But a lot of times it opens them up so that we can share the gospel with them and that is the main reason we do those things. Not that we’re all focused on healing. Not that we’re all focused on casting out demons and deliverance. No, no, it’s just we’re doing those things because Jesus commanded us to do those things. Our heart is to share the gospel and we have a secret that we share with people. When we pray for people, things happen and when we don’t pray for people, nothing happens. 

John: Pretty profound. 

Eva: It’s that simple. 

John: I think it gets their mind going towards, Wow, maybe there is a God. Maybe Jesus is alive. Maybe Jesus is real. I talked to a girl yesterday in Lowe’s. She’s a pagan, and she was really uncomfortable. But I just told her, you know, I said, “We have a lot in common.” I said, “I don’t like religion. I don’t go to church.” [She was like] “Oh, what?” That disarms people. “We have home church.” It disarms people. Then I just started saying, you know, “Jesus,” I just share my testimony with her. “Can I pray for you? Do you have fear, anxiety, depression?” “Yes.” “Can I pray for you?” “No.” “Okay.” You have to meet people where they’re at, you can’t push too far. 

But yeah, the tools now are just…It’s really wanting people to find the Savior that I found August 4, 1980. That’s my main goal. 

Eva: I would read the book of Acts and just wonder, you know, just wonder, How come things like this don’t happen today? Not having any idea that they could. But it’s just like, you know, so I wasn’t really looking like John exactly, but as soon as we started watching the lessons, it was a revelation. 


John: But we were watching the lessons, we got to Lesson Five, which was talking about healing and we looked at each other and said, “I think this is real.” And so we just went out to the mall, both of us together, years ago, didn’t know what we’re going to do, what we’re going to see, I’ll let you tell the rest. 

Eva: Yeah. So we needed something at Radio Shack. So we went into Radio Shack, and no one was in there, except these two employees and John started sharing the gospel with these two young people. And, I would have been happy for that being our first night out, you know, but um, another lady started walking in the store. In my mind, I’m praying, God, get her out of here, because he’s sharing the gospel with those two people. [both giggling] But He did not get her out of there. He brought her over to me. I started talking to her and found out she had pain in her neck and I just prayed for her and the pain left. Then I started talking to her about the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure if she got the Holy Spirit when I prayed, or God just really touched her, but something happened and it was really good. Good for her. And, that was our first night out. I don’t remember exactly what we said. But we were nervous, of course. You learn by doing and don’t let fear stop you from doing this. Just go out, the Lord will be with you and just realize that you will make some mistakes, but it’s okay. 

John: And it doesn’t matter age. We were in Denmark for two months, and there were young people there from 21 countries and everybody was on the same page. It’s like being in heaven. We’re all done with religion, we’re all going to move forward with Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s funny, the young people would say, “Oh, it’s so good to see older people doing this.” We’d say, “No, no, it’s good to see younger people.” So it’s kind of a neat thing. It’s an awesome life. There’s no going back to the pew, you know, for us. I see why they call it a pew, you know, “Peeeewww.” There’s no, we can’t go, you can’t go back after you’ve tasted this life. It’s just something happens inside of you. 

I don’t tell people, “Don’t go to church.” I never will, because God told me to go to a church one time and the pastor got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and then died six months later. And I would have missed all of that if I would have just said, Ehh, this is wrong. No. If He tells you to go to Kingdom Hall, go! Do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do. This is what I tell people. But for me, it’s hard to go back because I don’t know. It’s just, I feel like I’m being manipulated and that I can’t be used. When do I get to be used? So now the streets, the streets are pulpits and people, normal people. “Go out into the world,” Jesus said, live this life and now hold church. So it’s… 


Eva: Yeah, and people you just run into, even over the phone, we’ve had things happen. We had one healing by text. Somebody had bad tooth pain and we prayed and texted her back and right when she read the text the pain left. So I mean, God can use any of the technology that we have. Please don’t feel like you have to be in person with people. You can call and cast out demons over the phone. So you can do all this, you can heal people over the phone, on Zoom, any any technology, God is in it all. He can use it all. 

John: It’s just God touching people, drawing people. It was amazing, I met a lady in Montana a couple weeks ago and I saw she was limping. I said, “Can I pray for you?” “No.” I said, “Well, you know, I don’t go to church and I don’t like religion.” She goes, “In that case, you can pray for me.” And it’s just like, wow, because people are really fed up with, you know, the status quo, what we grew up with, you know, hanging out looking at the back of somebody’s head. They really do want to see something that’s real and alive today. Today. It’s the power of God. It says in Acts 8, they couldn’t wait to hear what Philip had to say. Why? Because demons were coming out screaming and the lame were walking. This is really what we need. 

I was so shy before I met the Lord. I couldn’t even talk in front of two people. I was just, it just blows my mind and I hated everybody. It just blows my mind to think that I went into jail and hugged the neck of a child molester. I’m going, “Wow, He really changed my life. Seriously, that’s when you start realizing how much He has changed you. He filled me with His love.

Eva: His love is transforming, for sure.

There's no going back to the pew, you know, for us. I see why they call it a pew, you know, “Peeeewww.” There's no, we can't go, you can't go back after you've tasted this life. It's just something happens inside of you.

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