“A miracle in the Biblical sense
is an event which happens
in a manner contrary to the regularly observed
processes of nature.”
— Alan Richardson
When the two criminals standing before Ken Ortman jammed their hands into their overcoat pockets, he thought he was a dead man. Ken had confronted the two inside his house over money that they had stolen from him.
One of the men, named Bobby, was in his forties and had recently been paroled from Sioux Falls Penitentiary. Ken and his wife Sheila had agreed to mentor Bobby after his release, with the hope that he would not repeat past mistakes. They had welcomed him into their home and treated him like part of their family. But then they began to notice money and items missing from their usual places, so Ken gave Bobby an ultimatum: “Return the things you’ve stolen within three days, or I’ll have to call the police.”
“You call the police and you’ll regret it,” Bobby threatened.
On the third day, Ken found himself in the frightening position of facing off with Bobby and an unidentified man who weighed around 250 pounds and was dressed in an overcoat made of fur. He looked like an angry grizzly bear! “Lord,” Ken prayed, “give me courage and wisdom to handle this right.
Bobby spoke first. “We came to tell you that you better not do anything about that money.”
Ken responded, “Did you bring it back?”
“Well, then, I told you what I was going to do.”
“If you know what’s best for you, you won’t do that.” Bobby warned.
“If I don’t do anything, will you bring the things back that you took?”
“No, we can’t.”
“How do you ever plan to make this right, Bobby?” The calm in Ken’s voice surprised him. “Sooner or later, you’ll have to return all the things you took from people or go back to jail.”
“We’ll make sure we don’t get caught.” Bobby’s tone was threatening.
Ken noticed that he felt calm in spite of the tense atmosphere in the room. “You know, Bobby,” he said. “Only God can put wholeness and happiness in your life.”
“It’s too late for God now,” Bobby said. The two men looked at each other, and jammed their hands deeper into their pockets. Ken thought they were going to murder him.
Then puzzled expressions suddenly came over their faces. The bear-like man growled, “Keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you!” They both paced the room a bit – their hands still in their pockets. Then Bobby announced, “We’re leaving. Consider yourself lucky to be alive!”
The next evening, Ken and Sheila saw a news report that the two men were found with an arsenal of weapons. They’d gunned down a highway patrol officer and fled on foot. But eventually Bobby was caught and returned to prison. Ken couldn’t help feeling that somehow he had let the guy down. That nagging feeling prompted him to drive to the penitentiary for a visit.
At first Bobby seemed remorseful. But then his expression hardened and he said, “This is no big deal. I’ve been here before.”
“Just tell me this,” Ken asked. “What did we do wrong, Bobby? What could we have done differently that might have helped you?”
“It wouldn’t have mattered,” Bobby said. “It was too late. If you’d been there when I was fourteen instead of forty-three, things would have been different.”
Ken was touched by the sadness in Bobby’s voice. There was nothing more he could say. But as he started to leave, Bobby added, “You know, Ken. The strangest thing happened that day at your house. I haven’t been able to figure it out. We intended to kill you. But when we reached for our guns, we couldn’t get them out of our pockets!”
As a result of that miraculous encounter, a seed was planted deep in the hearts and minds of Ken and Sheila Ortman. And in 1982 they trusted God to help them establish the Lives Under Construction (L.U.C.) Boys’ Ranch in Lampe, Missouri. For decades, the Lord has been working through their ministry to positively influence the lives of troubled, young boys from all over the nation.
And in 1994, it was my great privilege to meet them in person and hear their story firsthand!
“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord …
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”
A RUST REMOVER …
Visit the Lives Under Construction website at http://www.lucboys.org/ and look into the faces of each boy pictured in the home page photo. Pray for every precious soul, and ask God to continue performing miracles at the L.U.C. Ranch in Lampe, Missouri, on behalf of the troubled young men who live there.