Have you wondered why you were born and what you were created for? Have you wondered how to discover your purpose and if it would come to pass, or if you’d have to spend the rest of your life in a boring “nine to five” job you hated? I often wondered why I was born. As a teenager I searched for meaning. Then in 1972 I heard the call… and met Luis Torres.
I was born in the little town of Fairfax, OK located in northeastern Oklahoma in the Osage Indian reservation and home to Maria Tallchief, world-famous ballerina. With a population of 1,200, endless prairie land blanketed the landscape dotted with livestock and wheat farms, reminding me of a beautiful patch work quilt. My grandmother owned Morris Drive-In-Market, a landmark for 40 years.
I grew up on the family farm, fifteen miles from Fairfax with three sisters, one brother and lots of discipline and hard work. The 360 acre farm bustled with activity as we planted the family garden, canned vegetables, grew wheat, raised cattle and did chores. On Saturdays we helped my Grandmother, Mama Opal, in the grocery store. She was a wonderful Christian and a business woman.
As children, we were often rewarded with a one-mile walk to Clark’s country general store to buy candy. We walked on the gravel road as my sister, Jean, entertained us.
“What cartoon do you want to see,” said Jean
“Bugs Bunny!” we shouted.
“What’s up doc,” said Jean as she pretended to eat a carrot and turn cartwheels in the middle of the road. We roared with laughter. The walk seemed like minutes as our older sister, Marcie, held Kathy and Wayne’s hand and kept us in line.
Our world was Barbie dolls, a little red wagon sometimes filled with kittens or puppies, golden story books, and our share of fights…but I adored my brother and sisters. We were a happy close family in spite of Daddy’s drinking.
I was blessed with a wonderful Godly Mother. Music was very important to us. She was a musician and the church pianist. Even though we were a busy family, all work stopped on Sunday. Mother saw to it that we went to church to honor God.
As service began, the little church became alive with music and Pastor’s Bible stories. Many times signs, wonders, and miracles flowed in the midst of the congregation. People rushed to the altar to repent of sins and receive healing.
Even though Daddy never came with us, I often prayed for him to stop drinking and receive Christ. Many times Mother poured his liquor down the sink when he was not home.
Because of my Mother’s faith, God blessed us as we depended on Him for daily life. We never had health insurance. One time a brown recluse (fiddle back) spider bit Mother on her leg. The pain was very intense as the ugly infected area grew to baseball size.
“You’ll need plastic surgery to repair the skin around the bite,” said the Doctor. “I’LL schedule it for you.”
With a twinkle in her eye and faith in her heart Mother replied, “I know a greater physician I can go to.”
Sunday morning the Pastor and church congregation prayed for her. Immediately the pain stopped. During the night the infected skin peeled off. Beautiful skin as pink and soft as a new born baby formed with no scar. Mother never returned to the doctor.
It seems like yesterday I sat on the fifth row of my small church eagerly waiting to hear the testimony of Luis Torres, the Puerto Rican ex-drug addict from New York City. I’d read The Cross and The Switchblade, the story of Nicky Cruz, the vicious New York gang member turned preacher and felt a call to help hurting people.
A few months earlier Mother and my eighteen-year-old brother, Wayne, heard Luis speak. During the altar call, Mother prayed with Wayne to receive Christ. So, I was excited to hear him share his deliverance story.
It was unusual for someone from a city of ten million people to visit our sleepy little town, so we’d canvased the area with flyers to prepare for the crusade. The church was packed. Although Luis and I didn’t speak to each other, sparks exploded between us.
Following the service, as casually as possible, Luis asked Pastor Essary, “Who was the young lady sitting on the fifth row with the long black hair and dark brown eyes?”
With a knowing look and a smile on his face he said, “Gail Morris. Her grandmother, Opal, owns Morris Drive-In-Market and her parents are Farrel and Juanelle Morris. Why don’t you buy a coke and introduce yourself?”
“That sounds like a great idea,” said Luis.
My heart pounded as Luis walked in our tiny grocery store. We casually talked and drank a coke together.
“May I call you?” He asked.
“Sure,” I replied. I wrote down my telephone number and gave it to him. After a few months of phone calls, we became best friends. We both heard the call and had a passionate desire to reach hopeless, hurting people with the good news of Christ.
Our first date was on Oral Roberts University campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a chilly October night. We sat in a cozy corner of the ORU student center holding hands and drinking hot chocolate. Suddenly, Luis said, “I’m gonna reach as many people as Oral Roberts with the good news!” His bold statement shocked me. Our second date Luis proposed. We were from two different worlds but I knew he was God’s choice. My answer was yes!
Daddy meant it. “If you marry him, you can’t come back home!” Tears streamed down my face as I struggled with his words. I was nineteen and in love. Even though my father was a strong family man and a hard worker, he was a heavy drinker and wasn’t a Christian. He didn’t understand the call on my life. I loved my family very much, but I had a decision to make…obey God or man. I chose to obey God and answer the call.
Since Luis couldn’t come to my house, Mama Opal’s house or Pastor Essary’s house was our meeting place. Together Luis and I prayed for the Holy Spirit to change my father’s heart.
The tragedy was a turning point in our family. It was one o’clock in the morning. Loud banging on the front door awoke us. Daddy quickly opened the door.
“Do you have a son named Wayne Morris?” asked the highway patrolman.
“Yes. Officer I do. He lives in Tonkawa and attends college,”
“I’m so sorry. He was in a fatal gun accident. His body will need to be identified. May I call a minister for you?”
Trying to hold back tears and comprehend what he’d just said, Daddy managed to say, “Yes, please.”
Reeling with the news, emotion flooded the room as my parents and my sisters embraced each other. The Holy Spirit gave my Mother peace as she remembered the night she lead Wayne to Christ when the Puerto Rican preacher came to our church.
Our pastor quickly came to our home. My Father fell to his knees and wept uncontrollably as Pastor Essary led him in the prayer of salvation. God’s comfort and peace entered the room. Wayne’s death brought my Father to Christ. After the tragedy he attended church every Sunday and never drank again, but he still forbid me to see Luis.
One Sunday morning Luis was the guest minister. Our church was growing with new families, so Daddy sat with Mother near the front. He didn’t know Luis was the visiting preacher. Pastor Essary introduced Luis and asked him to share his testimony.
Luis made eye contact with my father. He was stoic but listening. Luis’ confident swagger and sense of humor captured Daddy’s attention.
“I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and lived with my grandfather because my parents were divorced. My father sent for me when I was four-years-old. I moved from the warm Caribbean sunshine of Ponce to the concrete jungle of the Bronx. At the age of thirteen I became involved with the wrong crowd and started drinking and using drugs. Coming up with a hundred dollars a day to support a habit is difficult for anyone, so I turned to crime and ended up in jail.”
Luis’ voice filled with emotion as he continued, “A tall, skinny preacher came to visit me. I ended up in Teen Challenge, a faith-based program, where I found Christ. For the first time I felt unconditional love, hope and joy. I began a new journey with a new purpose and now I am free. You can be free too.” Luis smiled as the church exploded with applause and tears.
The Holy Spirit dealt with my father’s heart about his attitude and immediately after the service approached Luis.
Warmly shaking Luis’ hand, Daddy said, “Will you join us for lunch.”
“I’d love to,” said Luis.
That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that developed between Luis and my father. The Holy Spirit changed his heart as Luis became a son instead of a son-in-law.
September 7, 1973 we were married. Together we answered the call and have shared the good news of Christ around the world.
As I’ve studied the meaning of my name, the Holy Spirit has reconfirmed my call. Gail is a short form of the Hebrew name, Abigail, which means “joy of the Father.” I feel it is a privilege to be his joyful servant. He constantly gives me strength to help others rebuild the broken down places of life. Isaiah 51:11 says, “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head; they shall obtain gladness and joy and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”
It’s through Christ that I conquer. I’ve also discovered my middle name “Louise” means battle maiden or warrior and is a feminine form of Luis. Torres means “tower “or a tall building of strength. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe.”
I’ve come to realize my purpose is to joyfully battle for the souls of hurting people through prayer and to help them find safety through the Word of God.
Have you wondered why you were born? You, too, were created with purpose. In fact, you were created in God’s image. 2020 can be your year! New discoveries and treasures of purpose are coming your way. Ask Him and He’ll reveal His wonderful purpose and plan for you, just as He did for me.