Changed - God's transforming power

The Praise Team at the Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands is singing Mary Ann Flemming’s favorite song, “There Is a Sweet Anointing in the Sanctuary,” and the congregation joyfully joins in ...

News April 8, 2018

The Praise Team at the Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands is singing Mary Ann Flemming’s song, “There Is a Sweet Anointing in the Sanctuary,” and the congregation joyfully joins in this act of worship. Mary Ann smiles, eyes closed. She is thinking of her son, Floyd, realizing how different this Sabbath is from what it could have been for him without the transformation, the anointing. Mary Ann’s mind clicks on replay mode. She reminisces, tears running down moist cheeks….

Twelve years ago, Mary Ann drove her Ford Explorer west from her home in Tipperary toward the St. Croix SDA School at Holger’s Hope in historic Christiansted, St. Croix. This would be her second visit to the Adventist School campus, and this time she was on a mission. Mary Ann and her husband George realized that they needed to do something or they could lose their son Floyd. So Mary Ann had brought the required documents and a determined that no matter what it cost them, they would get their son Floyd away from the public school where he was attracted to trouble like steel to a polished magnet. Though Floyd had no idea what was in store for him, he would be finishing 9th grade and hopefully the rest of high school here, not at the public school he presently attended. His parents hoped they could convince him to wear the dreaded uniform that identified him as a student of the school at Holger’s Hope. This could be Floyd’s last hope.

Floyd was admitted to the St. Croix SDA School, and almost immediately he got into trouble for teaching the younger children at the school to play dice and for peddling drugs near the school campus. Floyd was about to be thrown out of school at this his last hope. Some teachers had given up on him, annoyed that Floyd had been admitted to the school in the first place because of the reputation that preceded him. Why bring trouble the school?

But Bible Instructor and resident school pastor, Maurice Andrews, saw in Floyd a soul to be saved in spite of the foul language, the drugs, and the gambling. Somehow, Pastor Andrews had faith in him and “adopted” him as one of his sons.
For the upcoming Week of Prayer, Pastor Andrews invited young Pastor Garcia from Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts to speak. Students were riveted to their seats, eyes glued to the face and voice of the speaker as he told the story of a young man, Garcia’s college roommate, who had been possessed by evil spirits and who listened to evil music and videos. Pastor Garcia told of the Holy Spirit taking hold of the young man, of the prayers offered up on his behalf, and of the victory and joy as He gave his life to Christ. The preacher from AUC left the island after the Week of Prayer, but his message had taken root: God could and does change lives. No one was hopeless.

Floyd was restless. Could there be hope for him? Could God transform him also? Transformation is a process, and for it was a matter of falling down and getting up many times as he reached out in faith to his new friend, Jesus. The drugs and the profanity were still a problem, but Pastor Andrews kept an open door to his office. In times of weakness, Floyd knew where he could find a caring father and friend.
The speaker for the next Week of Prayer was Pastor Steve Riley from the South Caribbean Conference. Pastor Riley’s messages penetrated the life driven by drugs, gambling, and profanity, and Floyd was baptized in 2005. His grades improved. His mom saw the change in him and she too was baptized along with his sister a year later. Not long after that, Floyd’s dad was also baptized. In a few months, Floyd became so active at the Peter’s Rest Church that he was appointed an elder-in-training.
College beckoned, and Floyd chose Oakwood College in Alabama (now Oakwood University), an SDA institution, to study nursing. At Oakwood, Floyd excelled academically. He also joined the world-famous Oakwood College Aeolians and with them Floyd the world, even to Russia, using his exceptional musical talents.

In April 2011, Floyd, at that time a college junior, was invited to return to his alma mater, the St. Croix SDA School, to be the keynote speaker at the Adventist School’s colloquium attended by all of the churches on the island. Floyd’s moving story of his transformation brought tears to many eyes and was a paean of hope to the hopeless. Floyd seemed to suggest to the hundreds present that if God could change him, no one was too far gone.  
Today, Floyd, his wife Dionne, and little Josiah reside in Tennessee where Floyd is pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing. Is there anything too hard for the Lord?
The Praise Team at Peter’s Rest SDA Church is still singing, “Come and lay down the burdens you have carried….” Mary Ann wipes a happy tear from her eye as she thinks of the transforming journey Floyd has taken.
           “God is good,” she whispers, “God is so good. “