Before you read this testimony of the Awesome God we serve, I just wanted to lay some ground work. In 1995, I was “living the American Dream”. I had two family fun center businesses, making $10,000 per month, a brand new Ford F150 extra cab, a big hand held cell phone, (which practically took two hands to hold it), I was popular because of the business we owned and people often recognized me when we were out, we lived in a nice big home, blah, blah, blah.
However, the facts behind the pretty picture was that we had huge debt for the business, the home, the truck and cell phone bills were really crazy back then. My beautiful wife was having panic attacks and I was always working, or at least working for eighty to one hundred hours per week. I felt terribly guilty that I was not having time to be or play with my daughter as I always had before owning these businesses. No time for my wife, family, friends, just the feeling of obligation to work hard for my partners, to help people and justify it by saying that in a few years we would be on easy street! Ha!
Anyway, praise God that He led Kris, in an amazing way, to go to church. I went to support her, but not wanting to be there at all. I could not believe anyone would go to a stuffy church, let alone read a bible. I wanted to get back to work to our seven day a week bondage job… I mean businesses. This led quickly into the first of fantastic God stories, and the most important one personally, our salvation experiences. God put His truth into us and Kris came to know the real God of the universe one week, I will never ever forget the experience I had one week later on October 26th, then our twelve year old daughter Lacy was just a week later! We were so blessed.
This happened in Palmdale, California, at a Southern Baptist church named Harvest Community Church. I say this to let you know that what I am about to share with you, is not to endorse any denomination, belief or anything but share with you the factual story of what happened. We all loved our church, real friends and learning so much at this church. However, during this time, God miraculously sent me to Canyon Meadows Conference Center to help run a Christian retreat center where I saw men, women and children of all denominations worship and seek God. Then after five years at Harvest, God decided to send us to a different church which was quite a challenge for us. We had been saved at Harvest, had great friends, loved the pastors and everything about it, but we knew obeying God was priority. Not everyone we knew agreed with that.
When you read ahead about when that God told me or told Kris, I want to be clear that God’s word tells us that He speaks to His people, His sheep hear His voice. As of this writing, neither I nor Kris has ever heard Him speak audibly, however, it almost sounds that way as we have heard Him speak to us internally. We read that God can speak with us through His word, the Bible, through people, in dreams, visions and any way He chooses and we believe all of what the Bible says.
I wanted to lay this ground work as I realize many people may find it difficult to believe or understand some things you are about to read here, but I assure you, they are all real, documented, audio or video taped, there are from one to hundreds of witnesses for just about everything noted here. I urge you to seek God and His word on anything that challenges your beliefs. My only objective is to give Glory to God and hope to Christians and non-Christians everywhere.
I pray that the spirit of God reveals truth and direction for you as you read this testimony. Rev:19:24
In 1999, Kris and I both felt that God was telling us to discontinue foster care and to focus on raising our daughter Lacy, and our two newly adopted children, daughter Misty and our son, Matthew. So… we stepped out of the foster care system and quickly understood why; Matthew, at age six, needed some major attention. Let’s just say he had a cute, but extremely challenging personality!
After about a year had passed since Misty and Matthew’s adoption and we had been focusing on raising them, an interesting thing happened. Kris came out of the bedroom one morning, where she was praying, and told me with the most sincere words… that God just told her that we were to go back into fostering children. She then added that we were going to be called to foster two small children, and that one of the children would be a baby.
You had to be there to experience the seriousness and truthfulness of what Kris had just said. I knew it was real; it was God! I could not believe my own ears to hear myself say “okay.” You see, I was never a baby-kind-of guy. Babies are so fragile. I was just not comfortable holding babies and really never did before our daughter Lacy was born many years before. Anyway, we had previously agreed to help foster children of all ages… except babies. Then Kris said that she felt like she was supposed to pray for confirmation. That God would have our previous foster care agency, Koinonia; call us, out of the blue, to confirm what He spoke to her in prayer, that we were to be certified by them again. That was great with me, as we had not heard from foster care agency, Koinonia, for over a year. I knew this would have to be from God if they called us.
Well, guess what, the agency we had not heard from in a year, called the very next day! Koinonia Foster Care Agency called us and asked us to come for CPR training and asked if we would like to be recertified for foster care. Well, we had our answer. We knew this was obviously either God or really incredible timing. NOT!
The next day a friend of ours from Harvest, Kathy Beeler, called us. We had not heard from her in over a year either, but she called to tell Kris she had a dream the night before. In that dream, God was bringing us two children and one would be a baby girl. Now, that grabbed our attention in a big way! Kathy was a prayer warrior-type lady in the first church we ever attended, Harvest Community Church.
After these two events happened, we strongly felt and decided to share this with the children in our Sunday school class. We told them what we felt God said He was going to do. We told them God would bring two children; one would be a baby girl, so they could see an example of what an awesome God we all have!
We of course, went to the training with Koinonia, got relicensed in obedience to what we now knew God was asking us to do. It took a couple of months to get re-licensed. Then shortly after that, we received a call from Pat, the director of Koinonia. She called us saying that she had two children that needed care and attention; a little boy and his half-sister, a little baby girl. She asked if we could come on down to the agency right away. We did not need any further information or to even think about it, we were expecting it! Praise God!
The little boy’s name was Matthew, and he had all kinds of energy and loved to play superheroes. The baby girl however, looked thin and ill. She was about three and half months old, but was like a newborn baby due to the fact that she was born premature. This beautiful baby girl, Audrianna Jade, was just at 7 pounds. She had weighed only 3 lbs. 11 oz. at birth. Even though she looked so fragile, we knew it was God’s will for her to be in our home.
Audrianna had serious physical ailments, and you could see that by the look on Pat’s face. There was an obvious deep concern for this little girl’s health. She had come to us with thrush in her mouth, stomach problems, a hole in her heart, a heart murmur and her extremities, arms and legs were very stiff. This was so obviously God’s will in our life, at least I knew it was in mine, because the first thing I did, “Mr. no baby guy”, was tell Kris, I would switch off with her every other night and help take care of little A.J. I loved her initials and that’s what I have always called her.
Kris, being the awesome Mom and ever observant caretaker, took her off the soymilk formula and her stomach problems ceased. She immediately noticed however, that A.J. did not look well and took her right to the pediatrician. The doctor felt she was fine; she said she just had a cold. Kris felt it was much worse than that. I trust my wife, what she says about children, and we both took her to the emergency room at the hospital that night. It was more serious than the doctor thought and the hospital admitted her right then. Audrianna was diagnosed with bronchitis and pneumonia, with fluid in her lungs. Kris and I both immediately said we would stay with her day and night, switching off some of the shifts. She remained in the hospital for ten days. Our church family started praying and letting other churches know, who also began praying for Audrianna.
After several days, when I was on one of the shifts, the doctor came in as I was holding A.J. in my arms. She had tubes for her monitors and an oxygen mask over her little face. She was breathing very hard in and out; her little stomach would go up and down very rapidly as here tiny lungs were fighting for oxygen. She just looked up at me with eyes that said “please help.” I was praying for her and holding back tears, as she was so innocent and was totally dependent on us. The doctor came in and put his hand on my shoulder and said there is nothing more they can do for her at this particular hospital. He said that if she didn’t improve by morning, it would be an urgent need to transport her by helicopter to the Children’s Hospital down in Los Angeles which was over two hours away by car, if there was no traffic. I called Kris in tears and asked her to pray and to call the church to pray. Our church leaders called other churches and many were praying that night. During the night shift, Kris and our Pastor’s wife, Melinda and our church’s secretary, Jan, came and prayed over her for her to improve.
The next morning, at the end of a shift, the same doctor came in to check on A.J. He checked again, and then told me “I don’t know what happened, she is doing great!” I told him excitedly, I know what happened; God healed her, many people were praying. He said, “He must have, because there is no other explanation”. A.J. began to improve from that day on. After a few more days, she was released from the hospital. Kris and I left the hospital with A.J. exhausted, but we were excited to stop by our church on this Saturday after their food bank ministry, to show everyone A.J., and to tell them thank you for their prayers.
Our friends and church family were so happy to see A.J., and also many were very excited to tell us about what had happened the night before at a different small church in town. They said a Pastor named Clyde Rivers, from a church about an hour away, was preaching at this small church where they went. None of them had ever seen him before, but they were amazed at how God used him to give detailed, words from God for people. They said he was going to be at this church again tonight and asked us to go visit. I said no thank you; Kris and I need some rest. My personal thought was that God is welcome to speak with me anytime He likes; I was not going to go looking for it. When we went to go home, another friend of ours named Kathy came up to me and said, Mike, God just spoke to me and said you are to be there tonight; He has a something to say to you. She was very serious and seemed surprised and a little excited by what she felt she had heard from God.
I was not interested in going until Kathy came up and said that, because first of all, she would not say that if she did not feel that were true. And second of all, Kris and I would not want to be disobedient to what God asked. We went that night to this small church, and about 20 people from our church were there as well. I stood in the back of this church and watched while Clyde Rivers actually got the youth and others up worshiping like crazy! I was leaning against the back wall holding A.J., and was very tired. (You know, the Bible says that God knows our thoughts) I said to God, “If you have something to say to me tonight, you can tell me any time, I’m really tired.” And just as I finished thinking that, Clyde Rivers immediately stopped and said you, Sir, in the back with the baby, come here. I went up and everyone in our church stood up to see what was going to happen. Clyde stood a few feet away, and said to everyone, “God wants everyone here to know that He saved this little baby from death.” And then he went on to say that He was going to use A.J. to touch Hollywood, be on magazine covers, etc. He then told me that God gave me the gift of administration and to stay in touch with the Pastor I serve under now. He then looked at me. I experienced something I never had before or since, I could actually feel the words that came out of his mouth as he pointed at me and said, “God wants you to know that He will take care of this baby, no matter what happens”. That was comforting and concerning at the same time, as I did not know what that meant, but I knew he was serious. I felt it was serious.
Clyde then said that “God wants to seal this little girl as His.” He was still a few feet away when he pointed out towards her and said, “God is sealing her as His now!” She had been sleeping, but at that precise instant, when he said “now,” she opened her eyes and jumped in my arms, then went right back to sleep. Everybody there let out a gasp with awe! They saw, firsthand, the power of God move, as this baby jumped. It was incredible! We knew God had done something extraordinary at that moment…but what?
For the next 15 months, Kris took A.J. for many, many doctor visits, as she was still having some health issues. She had heart doctor visits, regular doctor visits for different reasons and had physical therapy appointments in our home. A.J began to increase in overall good health. By this time her extremities were doing great, no longer so stiff. The thrush in her mouth had been gone for well over a year. Her heart murmur had stopped and the hole in her heart was healed. A.J. was always very active and loved staying up with us. She literally never took naps. If she even rested for five minutes while driving, she would wake up and be ready to go again! She just loved being around people, and we loved having her around with us all. I would wake up every morning around five a.m. to pray, and little A.J. would wake up just after that. I would get her up and make breakfast with her and watch Dora the Explorer. I loved my mornings with her, playing and praying, while enjoying her a ton.
A.J.’s main challenge then was she would wake you up in the middle of the night with what seemed like nightmares, and we would have to comfort her, rock her and get her back to sleep. She would always go back to sleep until the next morning, when she would call for me to get her.
In April of 2002, Dennis Tinerino came to our church to preach. He is a full-blooded Italian, five-time world champion bodybuilder, and very funny. After he was done preaching, he asked our Pastor if he could pray for children who were having nightmares or trouble sleeping. He told our Pastor that God was asking him to do this. Our Pastor of course said yes. Then children of all ages came up front for prayer. I asked our Pastor if I could bring A.J. up for prayer also, even though she was not legally ours. We were waiting for DCFS to okay the process to begin adoption paperwork, etc. soon. He said yes, and we were the last ones to receive prayer.
Mr. Tinerino went down the line to pray for children with general prayers to sleep well and be blessed, etc. When he got to A.J., he hesitated, and said “I sense in the past there’s been a lot of hurt. I pray right now that God is healing that hurt right now, removing the memory. This one is a Joseph. She’s a girl, right? It’s a girl, but I see a Joseph. I just believe this girl is going to dream. This girl is going to be a dreamer and I believe because of the impartation and because of the prayers, she is going to dream. There is nothing impossible through God and with God, with the understanding of God.”
Mr. Tinerino then looked at Kris and myself, and proceeded to tell us things that God wanted us to know. He said “There has been a Spirit of Injustice that is coming against you. God is releasing the Spirit of Justice to reverse it.” We felt that was something to do with court. Our Pastor’s wife said she felt the same thing, as well as a friend of ours. We did not know what this meant, but Kris and I knew it was real, but decided not to dwell on it, so we just put it aside. He also told us that we would have more children in our home. At that time, I thought “Wow, he sure missed that one.” We then had four children, our oldest nineteen, and the youngest, a baby. I loved them all, but we had zero desire for any more children. From that night on, A.J. slept soundly through the night.
Shortly before this time, DCFS said that A.J.’s mom had not shown up for a long time and would we be willing to adopt her if it went to adoptions. I said, “Are you kidding, of course we will”. Our hearts were now so engaged and so in love with her; this beautiful little girl that has brought so much joy to us every single day. For the next couple of weeks I called and kept asking when we could start the adoption process, but it seemed like there were some delays on the part of DCFS, or at least by the social worker.
On the first week of May 2002, Kris received a startling call stating that an allegation against me abusing Matthew had been lodged. We had heard of many such cases concerning others, and that if you do foster care long enough, this might eventually happen to you. So we did not think too much of it. Two ladies from DCFS came out to investigate and they spoke with our children individually, Lacy, Misty and Matthew each privately. After this time with the children, both ladies said there was nothing wrong here, not to worry, that they would get it handled. One of the workers had been our social worker in the past and had known us and our good reputation with many foster children.
After this had happened, Kris kept feeling like I actually needed to place four rocks at the corners of our home property, anoint with oil and pray around the perimeter of our property. I felt that seemed a little old testament and extreme, but the night before we received the next DCFS phone call, she felt the urgent need to do this, and as the man of the home, I was to do it. It was obvious that there something to what she was feeling. I had never done anything like that before, but I could see the reality of what she was feeling. It was after eleven pm, I was tired I felt a little strange doing this, but did it. We then both prayed and went to bed.
Just after two am, in the middle of the night, our doorbell ringing startled and woke us up. I opened the door to a neighborhood security guard. He said our there had been vandalism outside. Right in front of our home on the street, my car and my daughter’s car had been vandalized with graphic vulgar language and accusations, but our van in our driveway, on our property had not been touched, nor had our property.
I was thinking, that is so interesting, and who would do this, we did not have any enemies or problems with any people and neither did my daughter. We had quiet neighbors, and friends with the ones we knew. I was grateful that I was woken up because I cleaned it all up before my daughter saw the kind of things that was written on both cars.
The next day, which was one week after the first DCFS allegation call, Kris received another call from DCFS. This time it was from our DCFS worker. She told Kris to pack up everything of A.J.’s, as they were coming to move her in one hour. Kris was understandably shocked and very upset and asked why. The DCFS worker said it was due to the allegations against me. Kris said they were not true; how could you do this? The worker was rude to Kris on the phone and said we don’t feel it’s safe there for her … and you will never see her again. Kris called me extremely upset at the church. I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset. I told my Pastor and his wife and I called my best friend Darrell and his wife to ask them to pray. I then rushed home praying all the way.
I want to explain that I really enjoy people. I try not to judge people. I personally got along great with the DCFS worker. However, A.J. would not go to this woman, which was odd since A.J. would go to just about anyone. This particular children’s caseworker had long black and gray hair, usually wore black and had a skull ring on her finger and a dragon pendant. There was a skull on the antenna of her car and wording across the top windshield that said “Fury.” Again, I wasn’t trying to judge her, but these details did seem pretty strange for being a children’s social worker.
While Kris was packing up A.J.’s belongings, she was asking God why this was happening. She felt God reminded her of what was said by Dennis Tinerino; that this is what it’s about. When I got home to my wife, Misty and Matthew were there, Darrell and Gladys West came, as well as our Pastor’s wife, Melinda Sweet. We were all very upset and crying. A.J. just walked around playing and sitting on my lap, happy as always. Melinda asked if we had a video camera, which I got for her, and she took videos so we would have something to remember A.J. by. A while later, a different social worker came to the house and put all of A.J.’s stuff in her car. When she asked for A.J., I could not give her to her. Kris had to do it; I just could not let her go.
I held Misty and Matthew after A.J. left and assured them that no one would take them from us. We all cried and we thanked our friends for coming and asked them to please keep praying and tell others to do the same. I had to go into my bedroom by myself. I cried so hard, I could not believe what just happened. The emotional pain hurt so much. I had never known what it was like to actually experience the loss of a child. I did not know what would happen to our little baby girl that they took away crying. I literally could not stop crying for a long time. From that time on, my ears began ringing and have never stopped since. When I cried out to God at this time, He gave me a scripture in my head, I had heard of the book and verse number, but I did not know what the scripture said. I looked it up and it says “Call to Me, I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” It is Jeremiah 33:3. I really needed that kind of reassurance from God.
At that time, there were over 50,000 foster children in LA County, which is an enormous County anyway. We had no idea where A.J. was going or if we would ever see her again. Kris reminded me that this is what we were foretold about the spirit of injustice that was released out against us, but God released a spirit of justice to reverse the decision. I also remembered what Clyde had said, that no matter what, God would take care of her. I really needed these two words from God-loving people, because it felt as though our baby girl had died. But to me, even worse, if that’s even possible, was the not knowing what she was going through or how people would treat her or if she thought we had just abandoned her.
After about a week of not hearing anything and crying out to God, the young lady that worked as the physical therapist with Kris and A.J. called us and said that she had just visited a home where she heard a younger child crying and saw that it was A.J. She called to ask us what happened as she was shocked to see A.J there and not with us and happy as usual. She knew how much we loved this little girl and saw how great Kris worked continuously with A.J. on her physical needs and speech. She told us that A.J was just a couple of blocks away. She was concerned as A.J. was very upset. I immediately called our foster care agency to ask what they knew; was she okay and is there any way we could speak to the foster parents? They told me what they could, but it would be up to the foster parents to call us. I went outside to pray and cry out to God to please let me know that she was okay. A short time later, the foster mom called me. She was very nice, but very guarded, as they obviously said who-knows-what to these people. After talking for a while, however, she agreed to let us come over and visit with A.J. We immediately set it up for the next day. And they lived just two blocks away!
When we came in their home and saw A.J., she just stared at us and looked terribly traumatized. Both of our hearts broke and we cried. We brought her favorite snack, chocolate raisins. She absolutely loved those at home, but this day, she just looked at them. After about 30 minutes of talking with her and playing with her, she began to smile again. It was so great seeing her, but so sad to see the effect the trauma of moving had on her. As we went to leave, she pointed out to a small metal sculpture of a boy on a bike, and with a question said, “Matt”? A.J. could say her brother’s name pretty well. As Kris and I got in our van and backed out of their driveway, we honked the horn and A.J. waved back from the window.
We were able to visit A.J. two more times at this foster home. Each time was better, as she loved seeing us, and we think, felt more secure. Each time we would honk our horn and wave as we left. We were given permission by our foster care agency and the foster parents to visit. When the DCFS office heard of the visits, the one supervisor called me yelling and screaming and said that was not permitted. I calmly said we were given permission and were never told otherwise. That just got this person more upset. We truly had no idea it was not permitted.
Throughout this process, the lead management of DCFS in Lancaster, California, continually told me they would look into things, would call me back and more; none of which they ever did. My friend and attorney Mike Medicis, told me, I should say – warned me, not to speak with any of them. He said they would just delay it, and work on a case against us. I believed Mike; I just could not believe that this could happen in America. It did not make sense to me that this could possibly happen; it was like a nightmare movie of the week.
Well, for about three months, I did everything humanly possible to try and get A.J. back. I spoke to all the foster organizations I could. I spoke to the police department; spoke to foster parents; I spoke with the mayor and his wife of the city; I tried everybody and everything I could with phone calls, e-mails, and in person. Then while in desperate prayer, I felt God tell me to call Sheryl at Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center. Kris had worked there part-time as a volunteer to help out. Sheryl was very busy being the Director of Care Net. I thought to myself, how was she going to have time to sit down and listen to this story, to my story, and to our grief? Well as God would have it, she picked up the phone when I called, was available and said for us to come on over. So Kris and I got the car and went right over.
Sheryl graciously listened while I spoke with agony in my voice and tears in my eyes. She then told us with lots of love, caring, and from past experiences of her own, that I needed to totally detach myself from A.J. and the whole situation; and to let God handle it. I am sure I looked at her with disbelief and wonder, thinking, how in the heck do you do that? We thanked her, and as we drove home, Kris agreed with Sheryl and said that she had already done just that, that God had shown her the same thing. I told Kris I believed her, and I believe Sheryl was correct, especially since I knew God sent us to her. However, I just had no idea how to detach myself from A.J. and the situation. The love I had for A.J. was so strong; I just could not imagine detaching myself from her.
I had to get myself alone with God and pray. And the awesome God we serve gave me supernatural peace, and the understanding just to let him be God to take care of the situation. He so gracefully did that for me, as I had no idea how to do it on my own. Guess what happened next? The very next day after I released A.J., things started happening; absolutely amazing things; God things!
A couple of months earlier, I had pulled into the 24-hour fitness parking lot, and was facing a large empty retail building. I clearly felt God tell me that building could be used for an indoor entertainment center, with rooms that could be used for ministry, prayer, parties, etc. It would have an indoor miniature golf course with scriptures along the way and other details. (This actually happened when God later moved us to Tennessee) This was very interesting to me since we had previously built two family indoor entertainment centers. It was at that time that we were touched by God and saved by His grace. We knew the hard work and sacrifice that was involved in forming this type of business. I had no real interest in doing that again. But I still told Kris about it and we agreed we should pray. She felt like we were supposed to pray and actually see the numbers “777” on something in the mail that day to know to go further with this. I personally thought that was a little unusual, but that day a flyer came in the mail and on the front center, in a box was the numbers “777!” So in obedience to what seemed to be God’s leading, I contacted the realtor and asked to take a look at the property. We went the next day. The building was empty, and what stood out on a big blank wall, was a large occupancy sign which read “Maximum number of occupants-777!” Well, within a couple of weeks, the building was rented to a floor shop and I was very relieved, but sure the heck did not understand what that was all about
Anyway, all that, to say that the very next day after I gave the situation all to God regarding A.J., prayed, detached myself from it all and let Him know I’m going to trust him throughout this ordeal, things began to happen. Kris came out of prayer in the late morning, seemed excited. She went out to get two items at the store and to get a pizza from Ameci’s Pizza. When she came back home, she was ecstatically excited. She told me before she left that she had prayed and asked God if we were going to get A.J. back and adopt her? She told me she had prayed for God to show her “777” again if we were going to get her back.
So she began to tell me, with excitement in her voice, Mike, as I pulled onto the street a car pulled in front of me and the license plate had “777” on it. I said that’s cool, but thinking to myself, that could be just a coincidence. But then Kris said with huge excitement, that she went to the store to buy the two items she needed and decided to buy one more thing at the register. The cashier went to ring her items up at the register; the register blinked and then froze. The display read “terminal secure.” The clerk called for the manager. The manager and her both said they had never seen this happen before. Just then, the register stop blinking, the words disappeared and the price was “$7.77!” And she showed me the receipt. Now I’m thinking, wow, that’s really cool. But then she was even more excited as she pulled out the receipt from Ameci’s Pizza that she had just came from, and it was also “$7.77!” It was more than cool. I was pumped up and Kris was ecstatic! We both agreed not to tell anyone, but to trust God and see what God was doing. We just did not want any other person’s human wisdom, opinions or anything to get in the way with what God was doing, including our own.
The next day was Wednesday, the particular day I went down to the L.A. Food Bank, every week. Ed and Lynn Brentlinger graciously allowed me drive their truck and trailer to load all of the groceries for the food bank. I had been doing this every week for three years at our church. My friends, either Rick Valenzuela or Sitole, had been going with me for a couple of years. But early that morning in prayer before I left, I was praising and thanking God for what he showed Kris the day before with the “777.” I asked God if he could tell me if A.J. was doing okay and what was going on. He gave me a Scripture in the book of Judges about Gideon and his small army that defeated the massive enemy. They did not defeat them, God did, and God told me we are a Gideon’s army and fighting against the huge DCFS organization.
I was feeling amazingly great that morning since God spoke to me, this does not happen all the time. As I entered the church office, the door into the sanctuary was closed and it sounded like there was a bunch of people in there praying like crazy; it was very loud. The church was open every morning for those who wanted to come by early and pray. Normally two to six or so people might be in there. This day, however, seemed a lot different. Jan the secretary came out from her office, realized how loud the noise from the sanctuary was, looked at me with a question on her face and jokingly said, “that sounds like Gideon’s army in there!” I was amazed that she said that, but agreed, and asked how many people were in there? Right then, Rick opened the door with a huge smile on his face, looked at me and said that he, Curt and Madelyn were in there praying for A.J. Jan and I both asked if that was all, just the three of them in there. Rick said, without missing a beat, because he was so excited, “yes,” and then asked me, “Mike does this mean anything to you”? I was just praying like crazy with my eyes closed, and I saw “three sevens” come down from heaven. I am sure my jaw hit the ground, as I was in amazement at what he just said. I said yes, that means a lot. He grabbed his Bible and said great, God told me to go to the seventh book of the Bible, the seventh chapter and the seventh verse. As he was telling me this, he was looking it up in his Bible. I could not believe it; it was incredible! I told him it was the very scripture that God gave me a just short time earlier that morning about Gideon’s army! I called Kris and told her and she was amazed as well.
We went to drive down to the L.A. Food Bank and were very excited. When we had arrived, there was an uncharacteristic delay. We were held up for about 45 minutes, which had never happened before and had never happened since then. Because of the delay, we did not have time to stop at the pizza buffet like we usually did every week. So we stopped next door at Carl’s Junior during lunch time. It was packed. As I walked in the door, a very tall, very homeless looking man looked at me and said “Hey Boss, how are you doing?” I said great, but what he said was so interesting because I called other people “Boss.” I ordered my food to go and was standing there waiting for Rick to receive his order, when the homeless man started asking questions about the “end times.” I turned to talk to him about that, that there was nothing to worry about if you knew God and obeyed His Word, and then I started witnessing to him about God. I told him that I’m sure he has heard people tell him about God before, but the greatest thing to do is for him to ask God to reveal himself to this man. I told him that God is faithful and He will reveal Himself to anyone that’s sincere and wants to know the truth.
Rick and I asked to pray for him. He said yes, so we did. When we turned to walk away, this busy rush-hour crowd had all stopped what they were doing to listen to us witness to him and to pray for this man. Only God could have done that, and He had the words coming through us because they spoke truth and were really good. (Obviously God) Rick and I knew we are running behind, and not really understanding what had just happened. We hurried toward the door, and just before I got there, the homeless man yelled to me, “hey Boss.” I turned around, and saw that his countenance looked different than just a few moments before. He seemed more serious and peaceful. He then asked me, “How is your little girl?” I was caught way off guard; I stuttered and said I think she is okay. He looked at me with a big huge sincere smile, and said “No, she’s doing great.” When Rick and I got outside to the parking lot, Rick started jumping up and down saying “That was an angel; that’s an angel!” I said, “That’s either an angel or God speaking through a homeless man just like he spoke through a donkey!” We jogged to the truck without even looking back, because we were in a hurry and in awe of God and what had just happened.
Well, during those first three months, Mike Medicis, my attorney friend, was correct. DCFS had been delaying and building a case against us the whole time. One night, a school night very late after 11:30 pm, a DCFS worker came to our door and demanded for us to wake up our children so he could speak with them. Even though I was upset that they would do such a thing, I kept calm and did as he asked. He spoke with them individually and left after midnight.
Our foster care agency Supervisor Troy and director Pat were extremely supportive of us. Pat even went with me to the DCFS meeting with one of their top directors. In short, he was cold, calculating and said that in no way would we ever see A.J. again, and said he would do his best, sarcastically, to do what he could to allow us to keep our foster care license. I was very upset when we left the office. I thanked Pat. She was very upset as well. I got into my car and drove an hour and a half to the San Fernando Valley, the city of Woodland Hills, to see the only attorney that we could find that would possibly take the case.
When I arrived to the office of James McNamara, I sat down with him and through tears and anger and I explained to him what had happened. He asked questions, but was especially concerned about the time that had elapsed since A.J. had been out of our home. He echoed the same sentiments of Mike Medicis, grabbed a pencil, held onto the tip of the lead, and told me that this was the chance we had of getting her back. He said he just wanted to be up front and explained why no attorneys would take this type of case, as it’s almost impossible to win against DCFS. Again, this was so foreign to me, to live in the land of the free, and yet be so helpless to this agency. Mr. McNamara said it would take a $5,000 retainer just to begin the case. So I said no problem. We borrowed the money… and the battle began.
Kris and I did everything we were asked to do for the case. We had to get letters from friends, all kinds of pictures, character references, list our experience with children, doctor visit details, therapy visit details, heart doctor visits, charts and notes from Koinonia Foster Care, etc., and we were told not to talk to DCFS at all.
During this process one-day, Kris and I went to Baja Fresh for lunch, the same location that we had so much fun on the last lunch we ever had with A.J. before she was taken. This is the first time we had been back there since she was taken. As we were eating our lunch, one of the social workers that had investigated at our home regarding the original accusation from Matthew, came into have lunch. After she sat down, I walked over to her with sincerity and asked her if she was able to tell me anything about what was going on. It was like a spy movie! She ducked her head down a little bit, looked both ways, and quietly said “Mike, be careful; they are watching you, they’re trying to cover their tracks.” That is all she wanted to say. I told her thanks and left her alone, while wondering to myself, what the heck is going on? They are watching me?
Well, many court days came and went. Both sides were bringing in information to the judge so she could make a decision whether there was even going to be a case. If not, we were told we would never see A.J. again. That decision was to be rendered on the next Monday. I was doing very good about trusting God until late Friday, we received over 100 pages of false allegations; flat-out lies about Kris and I. They were from A.J.’s attorney, her birth Mom’s attorney and the DCFS attorney. It looked obvious to me that they had collaborated on this, changed the wording around to make it look like there were lots of different accusations, etc. It mostly said all of the same pack of lies. We felt that they were trying to bury us and the Judge in paperwork to stop the case right now. All they had to do was give the judge any kind of doubt at all and she would say no to the case. She worked for the same people within the DCFS organization. My attorney friend Mike, after reading all these pages, said to me that this case is over; it’s been buried three days in the tomb and only God can resurrect it.
Interestingly, as I noted, DCFS sent these hundred-plus pages out late Friday afternoon right before the Judge’s decision was to be made that next Monday morning. I was pretty upset, pretty down. I looked at all this false stuff and said to myself, if I was the Judge, I would not grant a case. Then Darrell called me and told me that Clyde Rivers was going to be back in town that Saturday night, the very next night. We had not seen Clyde since the day A.J. was released from the hospital as an infant, when he said that God had saved her life. I had never met Clyde personally and neither had Darrell or anyone else I knew, but I prayed throughout the day on Saturday for God to speak to him about this case. This time, I was desperate to hear from God.
We went to the church that Saturday night, October 21st. It was a larger church this time and about 50 people came, with about 20 from our church. No one there had seen Clyde since some 14 months earlier. Clyde worshipped like crazy again with everyone and then started to preach. He then started pointing out people and began prophesying to them things only God could know. I was prepared this time and brought a tape recorder. It was so incredible to hear such details of what had just happened with people in their lives or their character traits, what God said was to come for them, etc. It was interesting that he only pointed out people from our church this particular night. When it was over, everyone in our church was hanging out talking about it while all the other people left. I said to the group, I need to go thank Clyde for being obedient to the voice of God, as it must be a challenge, as I am sure he is ridiculed from believers, as well as non-believers. I simply went to say thank you and shake his hand.
As soon as he grabbed my hand, he began to talk loud and clear. Everyone stopped talking and listened as he said “God says He knows the false allegations that have come against you both. He is shutting her mouth right now. He is stopping all of the allegations against you both, in just a matter of minutes!” We knew right then we were going to have a court case, as the term “minutes” is used for notes in court. He then said, “The devil wants this baby. It’s not just a little demon; it’s a principality, and it’s beginning to hinder the plans God has for her life, and God says, no more!” WHAT? I had no idea what that last statement meant, except that he was very serious, and it was like a warning to pray like never before. Then Clyde went to turn away and then turned back, and said “She is coming back to you.” Everyone was amazed and excited at the same time!
I was so looking forward to Monday morning. When we got to court, many friends were waiting outside there and we all prayed before Kris and I went into the courtroom. The short story is that the Judge looked over all the paperwork, looked at the three opposing attorneys, and said there’s a lot of information here, but I do not see any facts to back it up. She then said she would grant the case and she awarded us “defacto parent status,” which meant we would have the rights just like a parent would. She also granted us visitation rights to start seeing A.J. again to keep the bonding going in case she came back home to us. And at that, the three opposing attorneys all stood up and began to argue with the Judge. I could not believe what I was seeing. It was obvious this was not the normal thing that happened; it sure wasn’t normal to see attorneys arguing with a Judge. She told them all to sit down and shut up. I almost jumped out of my chair and yelled, yahoo, God is so awesome, but decided to just hold my composure. The DCFS attorney then stood up and said to the judge, “But Mr. Midkiff used to drive by the foster parent’s home and pray for them while on his way home.” Everyone in the courtroom looked at him like… so what.
During the next few months were many, many court dates, waiting in the room to go in, delays, lies against us, and the days that seemed like weeks. Right at the beginning, the DCFS attorneys began the lies stating things like A.J.’s birth Mom said negative things about us; and these were totally made up by them. A.J.’s birth Mom had not been seen for a long time, and we had tried to help her when we did see her months earlier and we considered her a friend.
At the next court date, I had pulled in the parking lot, sat in my car and prayed for God to bring A.J.’s birth Mom, Shelley, to the court or have her call me. I really wanted some of their lies exposed. As soon as I finished praying, Shelley’s father, A.J.’s grandfather, pulled up next to me! I again was amazed. Why, I don’t know; God is so awesome! It was amazing to see him, and I immediately said hi and asked how Shelley was doing. He said, not good, and she really needed help. I gave him my cell phone number and asked him to have Shelley call us.
Shelley called me later that day and asked us for help. She was homeless, out of insulin and had no food. So Kris and I went and picked her up, fed her, got her some clothes, and found her a home to stay at with a lady friend of ours from church. We told her all about what was going on, what the attorneys were saying, etc. She was very upset that A.J. was not with us. Kris helped her out by taking her to social services to get her medical insurance re-established to replenish her medicine and help her out in other ways she needed as well. Shelley gladly testified about us, who we were, how we had helped her in the past, and now as well, and that she wanted A.J. back in our home. She also stated that she wanted to get herself better and get A.J. back for herself. That was a shock for me to hear, as she had not been around in such a long time and DCFS was ready to terminate her rights. She had barely seen A.J. for fifteen months. Anyway, it was her right to try and as her biological mom, I could understand.
Well, the court case went on for months. Somewhere in the middle, the DCFS brought in their top rated attorney to replace their current attorney and conveniently delayed the process further by doing so. Well, it did not stop God and what He was going to do. The Judge allowed us to use the video that Melinda Sweet had taken the day A.J. was picked up from our home. It obviously disproved the claims that she was skinny, underfed and unhappy. The video clearly showed that she was a perfect size, with rosy cheeks, laughing and playing, and walking over and backing up to sit on my lap, like she often did when I was at home.
Pastor Clyde Rivers came to town one Saturday per month, each month, during the court case. Of course, we went to hear him preach every time. Each time we went, while he was preaching, he would have me stand up and would say God says… and tell us what was going to happen in court the next week! It happened just like he said every single time. It was so incredible! More and more people came to these monthly evening sermons to hear Clyde preach and to hear what was going to happen next. This case was becoming huge!
Just before Christmas, DCFS came up with other reason to delay the process and I was very upset that day since I was praying and hoping to get her back before Christmas. On Saturday, January 10th, Clyde was in town and during the meeting asked me to stand up and said, “God says He brought you here tonight for a reason. It seems like there are hindrances, but God wants you to know He’s in control. It’s not for your glory but for His Glory. Someone in the enemy camp will vindicate you.”
On the weekend just before our final scheduled court date, Pastor Clyde came to town. This court date is when DCFS was going to bring in their director and final witness. So, we went see Clyde preach at the same church he was coming to once per month. This time, again, right in the middle of his preaching he stopped, and said “Mike Midkiff, please stand up; God wants to tell you something right now!” He went on to say, with an authoritative voice, “On Monday, God will have their star witness, witness against them.” That was it; that was all we needed. This was going to top the cake of amazement for me, my wife and many others. God is in charge, and I was looking so forward to court on Monday.
It was incredible. We arrived to court, and sitting there was the foster mom that A.J. had been originally taken to after she was taken from our home. I could tell she was not comfortable being there, but briefly I said hi and said we were glad she was there. Kris and I knew this must be their star witness. We did not know why she would witness against us, as her and her husband saw the real truth. However, they were so afraid of losing their foster son, that they gave A.J. over to a different family and did not want any further contact with us because of the DCFS case. DCFS really scared them. If it wasn’t all that God had done and spoken through people, we would have been very unsure what was going to happen next. We were so grateful to have God on our side. Romans 8:31 says, if God is for us, who can be against us!
Well, the first person to take the stand was their director Paul, the very gentlemen who lied to me over and over, yelled at me on the phone, called me names and very much tried to constantly intimidate me. His story was full of holes, and he was very unprofessional on the witness stand. Next, they brought in A.J.’s former foster mom. The DCFS attorney only asked her two questions. As he received her answers, which were completely opposite of what he expected, talking very well of us and refuting what they were trying to say negatively about us, he said he had no further questions. Ha ha ha! I nudged our attorney and said to go for it and he did. She even said, every time A.J. Heard a horn honk, she would look at the foster mom and excitedly asks if that was mommy? It was amazing as she witnessed against them just as God had said through Clyde. Through it all, the Judge kept very quiet, with little to no expression. With everything else the DCFS lied about, schemed about, finagled, we had no idea where the Judge stood. She scheduled the next court date one week from this day to make her decision.
That week before the decision was longer than any week I had ever endured, even as a child during Christmas break, you know, the week you are out of school before Christmas! When we did finally get to court, the little courtroom was full. We decided to bring Matthew and Misty, even though children were not usually allowed in the courtroom, so they could see the glory of God right before their eyes. The little court room was packed with DCFS personnel. The Judge was obviously nervous, her hands slightly shaking, as she began reading and rebuking the DCFS for ever taking A.J. from us. She stated they had not provided any proof to their allegations, and then she proceeded to vindicate us on all counts, just as Clyde said God would do many months before in that little church, when I shook his hand. Also, the DCFS social worker that brought up the original accusations, that called Kris so rudely that horrible day, the very lady that God told Clyde would never be seen, NEVER did show up in court, even though the Judge repeatedly asked for her. AMAZING! Who do you think is really in charge of this universe?
The Judge then proceeded to tell the DCFS director and their attorney that Audrianna Jade, A.J. must be brought back to the Midkiff’s home within the next two hours or she would hold them for contempt of court! Let me tell you, we all had tears of joy running down our faces and I was ready to jump on the chairs and do a dance! When the Judge smacked her gavel down, the DCFS people looked so confused. Some people had grins. The bailiff and the stenographer congratulated us, as did the DCFS attorney. He also told our attorney, as he took him aside, that he was glad that we had won our case. The Judge told our attorney that we broke the record with the most exhibits, i.e. pictures, notes, video and much other proof and paperwork, than any other case in their history!
Shelly, the DCFS social worker that picked up A.J. from our home originally, was also the one that was told to bring A.J. back to us. After 9 1/2 months of agony, A.J. ran over, pointed in our bedroom where she used to sleep in her crib, and said “My room.” She then ran over and sat in my wife’s lap and said “Hi mommy.” Wow was that touching. God made it like A.J. had never been gone. Up to this day, A.J. has never asked or spoken about any other foster parents or the other children she stayed with; no bad memories were there! Only God could do that!
A.J. made me smile every single day we had her as baby, and has done that every single day since we’ve had her back. She is a loving, quiet young lady, full of life, loves animals, loves people and has a smile that will make anyone’s day brighter. I love her and all my kids so very much.
The story does not end here. Just a couple of months after A.J. was home, God spoke to us in absolutely amazing ways to incredibly confirm we were to move to East Tennessee. This is a state we have never been to, did not know anyone, but He said to go, so we said yes. He always has the best plan, no matter what we think or understand. Thirty days from that date, our house sold in a declining market and we were in East Tennessee! Anyway, that is a whole other incredible God story!
We were told that because the adoption was not final yet, the DCFS would have to give approval for us to even take A.J. out of the state. Of course I thought, oh great, here we go again with another battle. To my surprise, our DCFS worker was very helpful and tried to find us a court date to finalize the adoption. However, with a week before we were supposed to move, we were told that no court dates were available in LA County, Orange County or anywhere, as they were all full. Kris was calling to check in on anything that she could do! But again, God had it all under control. Kris went to the Lancaster courthouse to ask the very DCFS attorney, who had lost the case, to sign the papers releasing A.J. to move out of state with us. She found him, and surprisingly, our attorney was right there speaking with him. Kris needed him to sign as well, and he rarely came to this courthouse since his office is over an hour and a half away in the San Fernando Valley. So that was some coincidence? Next, after Kris had left, Judge Valerie, the very Judge that ruled on our case, overheard the two attorneys talking about signing off the paperwork for us. She came over and asked if they were speaking about the Midkiffs? They said yes, and told her what we were doing. She said her last day in that courtroom was that Friday, and if the Midkiffs brought A.J. to her courtroom, then at the end of her day, she would perform the adoption since she had all the authority to grant the adoption.
Our attorney called us about this, and he said I just cannot believe all the things that happened in this case. He told us what the Judge said she would do and he said he had never seen this happen before. He was excited for us and said he was going to do the adoption for free!
Our whole family came Friday for the adoption. We brought the whole family and a few friends and we went into the courtroom, which was much larger than the original one. Again, to our surprise, it was full of DCFS people. As the Judge went through the process and awarded A.J. to us as our adopted daughter, all of the DCFS people in the courtroom stood up and applauded! It brought tears to my eyes to see this happen and to know that God orchestrated it all; to know God had her adopted the day before we drove to our new destination!! The very next morning, our whole family set out for East Tennessee excited to see what God had in store for us next.
0h, by the way, God told Kris and I to get back into foster care and help more children after we had been in Tennessee a while! We have been blessed with having many more children in our home and adopting three more children; Ashley, Daniel and James. I guess Dennis Tinerino heard right on that as well!
Our attorney cut his bill by many thousands of dollars and we were able to pay the debt off since God blessed us with a very good profit from the sale of our home.
God is great and greatly to the praised!
There are many more testimonies we want to share and we are sure, many more to come!
Feel free to email us about this or any subject by email: [email protected]
We are currently working on fighting the horrendous war against human trafficking and would really like your opinion or help with a website in regards to this current evil.
Thank you and be tremendously blessed!
Mike & Kristina Midkiff