The meaning of 7 Bells
Announcing time with bells aboard a sailing ship is an ancient tradition dating back to the 15th century. It was adopted by mariners because knowing the time was important. Using a bell meant that everyone, no matter where they were on the ship, would know the time — even in fog and darkness. This method of marking time spread by communal usage because all seafarers share citizenship in a single nation: the sea.
The eighth bell sounds the end of the last watchman shift. Seven bells is right before “the end”. In sailor-speak, “8 bells” is the euphemism for death. The sea/mariner analogy is fitting to this ministry because people who need our help are dangerously adrift in life, lost in fog and darkness, approaching the rocks and may be in their final hour. The seventh bell calls out to them that they are not alone; but, time is of the essence for you to accept and receive help.
I’m Wendy, and this is my rescue story.
With 100% certainty I know I would have spent my last 30 years in literal hell if God had not miraculously stepped into my (nearly) final moments here on earth and rescued me. Like so many of you reading this now, I was all about living life only for myself instead of for Jesus, who loves me. Today I live out every day in gratitude and awe because I trusted Jesus and He makes me new every day.
I share my story for those who need real hope and a real Savior. I want to make it easy for you to choose to trust Jesus and our Father God. Because I was lost but now am found, I live to rescue others from the same fear, bondage, depression, hopelessness, trauma and death that I lived through. I know the Healer (God). You need to know Him, too.
By the time I was 17, I was in deep trouble. I was battling overwhelming emotional, mental and spiritual issues and was ready to explode from all my inner turmoil and anger. But no one knew. I didn’t let on. On the outside I was a very good student and graduated in the top 10% of my class. Raised in Iowa. But on the inside… During the first summer after I graduated from High School, I had my first alcoholic drink. It was a dessert-type drink. It made me feel…relief. It was miraculous! I found the solution to my anger: alcohol! Alcohol “fixed” everything for me. It kept the turmoil at bay, as long as I kept drinking.
“I GAVE UP ON CHURCH BECAUSE I KNEW THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD GET OFF DRUGS & ALCOHOL ON MY OWN AND RETURN FOR HELP.”
The next 8 years were a total dumpster fire. I drank constantly, battled eating disorders, and ran with a very bad crowd wherever I lived. I hung out in clubs nearly every night, medicating myself with booze, music and wild parties. But often, I was suicidal.
Not surprisingly, this lifestyle put me in incredibly unsafe situations. I was violently assaulted and beaten at age 23. I didn’t want anyone touching me for many years following that encounter. I was bitter, hostile and withdrawn and drank extreme amounts in the privacy of my apartment. Many days and nights I was alone and blacked out. Somehow I could fully participate in “life” (including my full-time job) for weeks and not remember any of it. I prided myself in saying that I didn’t need anyone to live. I had good jobs, because I became whatever was expected of me and could somehow present well. You can do this when you have no idea who you really are. But it came at a cost: being intoxicated all day, all night, every day.
At 26, my physical self basically shut-down from the drinking and eating disorders and various mixtures of pills. I was ghastly thin, yet very swollen and distorted from the drinking, dangerously dehydrated and shaking violently all the time from alcohol withdrawal. I couldn’t even keep down water. Many thought I was going to die. Many expected me to commit suicide [for reasons unknown to me]. They checked on me to make sure I was alive. Most could hardly stand to be around me because of the death that poured from my mouth in the form of profanity, anger, delusions, and hopelessness.
I was too sick to even try to explain to anyone what was going on in me. I knew I wasn’t going to live very much longer. My mental health was so bad that I couldn’t tell what was true about anything or anyone and suffered from severe paranoia. I went to 12 different churches trying to find hope that I could stay out of hell and the 12 pastors each told me I needed to go to detox and to come see them after I sobered up. I gave up on church because I knew there was no way I could get off drugs/alcohol on my own and then return for help. Living sober was not an option for me with the level of torment in my mind.
My little sister, Renee, experienced a miraculous encounter with God. I was dumbfounded at the change in her and felt such peace and safety around her. I wanted what she had. She gave me one condition to being with her and that was to keep my mouth shut because she couldn’t handle all the profanity and distress that poured from me. She would talk to me about God and her new experience, but I simply was unable to even process a simple conversation in the state I was in. My mind was totally non-functional. I wasn’t showing up for work and two of my co-workers came and forced me to go to Urgent Care. I told the doctor that I was very sick and needed something to help me with stress. He asked me why I was shaking so badly and gave me a prescription for tranquilizers and told me to return the following week for a more comprehensive examination. I knew next week wasn’t likely to come. The next day, my sister came and brought me to meet her pastor, Loren Molskness. He passionately explained (probably) the gospel to me, but I couldn’t comprehend anything he was saying. I finally told him he was wasting his time because my mind couldn’t follow him and then he said, “Jesus Christ can cut right through that.” I heard that. I thought on that for 3 days. In fact, I still think on that, now. I believe that you can lead someone in a coma to Christ because of that statement! I certainly know you can minister to an intoxicated person. Many of them are like me; they cannot wait to be sober to hear Truth. Pastor Molskness asked me what I was holding onto. I still think on that too, when things are restless for me.
The pastor prayed with me and I left. I was in utter turmoil and within 48 hours, took the overdose of drugs and alcohol that should have sent me to hell. My only thought was that hell could not be worse than what I was experiencing — the greatest lie I had believed so far! I was driving away from where I had been staying so I could be alone to die and was pulled over for a DUI. I was taken to jail where they tried to make sense of my incoherent rambling for 2 hours. My blood alcohol level was .245 and they eventually realized I had also taken pills. The police wanted to take me to the psych ward in another city but were actually too concerned for my life. They asked if I had family that could take me to the hospital immediately. My sister came and took me back to the pastor and his wife. My sister kept saying, “My God is not going to let you die.” Over and over, she repeated those words. The pastor’s wife, Barb Molskness, took me to their basement where she would get alone with God and I remember hearing her crying as I was draped over her shoulder. We were on the floor. She said she had never seen anything like the condition I was in. She knew I was going to die if Jesus did not come and help me immediately. My sister had told her not to pray in the spirit because she said it would freak me out. She prayed herself until she said she had no choice but to pray in the spirit. I can still hear her voice and words to this day in my head: “Come to me, little girl!” She cried it over and over. But the words were different, not like normal words. Later, I realized that what I was hearing was not English.
“MY GOD IS NOT GOING TO LET YOU DIE”. OVER AND OVER SHE REPEATED THOSE WORDS.
I was nearly unconscious, but her spiritual language was being interpreted as it reached my mind and my spirit. God is amazing! She asked me to repeat after her, “I renounce you, Satan.” Twice. She said I went instantly limp and thought I had either died or she pictured in her mind the places in the Bible where a demoniac was freed by Jesus and the person appeared dead. She chose to believe that. She left me to sleep until about 3 hours later, my sister woke me up and I was a totally different person. I was completely physically well, very peaceful, never went through any withdrawal, and didn’t even remember that I smoked cigarettes for 6 months. I have never used drugs or alcohol since that day 30 years ago. I even looked different. People were stunned. They still call me and ask what happened to me. My old friends were so freaked out; many didn’t want me around them, which was painful, but a blessing. My new obsession was to find the One that had healed me; the One that gave me the amazing peace in my mind after years of torment. I have pursued Him ever since more than all else. I went to every Bible Study I could find for years. I was in church every time the door was open. I went out looking for the hopeless from the start. I was just bubbling over with that hope that had eluded me my entire life. I still marvel that 28 years later, I can feel that same excitement about that day. My lowest day and my highest day were the same day for those of you who think it is so bad now that it will take forever to clean up the mess you are in!
Needless to say, my mind needed to be brought under submission to Christ. That is a lifelong process, but here is what works for me every single time my mind starts to rage against me. Get out a pad and paper and start copying out of the Bible word for word. Your mind will submit to the Word of God. I promise. Write until it does. Start with Psalm 119 and my second favorite was 2 Samuel 22. I have Psalm 119 hand written in entirety on my bulletin board at work.
A young woman came to me to tell me she was leaving Teen Challenge to commit suicide. I told her she had to do one thing for me first and that was to write out Psalm 119 and she could leave. She came back the next day, handed it to me, and said she changed her mind. She went onto finish our leadership school and now is working at a Teen Challenge out of state. I still keep her paper to remind me how great God is. I was advised and found out early that the best way to beat depression and anxiety/fear is to serve someone else. I never had to look far to see that someone was struggling. Many times, I just sat with them; went to a movie; sat at a park; went for walks; simple inexpensive things. Listening is a great ministry. I worked full-time, yet decided to find volunteer activities to do instead of sitting home at night and watching TV or just loitering my time away.
I spent 2 nights a week at Youth for Christ with kids who really needed attention and a place to hang out. I spent one day a weekend at the treatment center volunteering in the bookstore or doing crafts with those in treatment. None of these activities required me to be smart or trained in anything. They just required me to show up and show kindness to people that really needed a smile that day. I loved every minute of these times and overcame my depression as a result. I want to tell you that my depression was so severe that it had been a regular part of my life since I was a young and had caused me to think of suicide nearly every day of my teen life and to that point. Knowing Jesus Christ and serving others is the combination that still keeps my life alive and worth living.
After 8 years of sobriety and volunteering; I knew I wanted more. I wrote a letter to Minnesota Teen Challenge offering to do janitorial work for them on weekends. They called me for an interview in 1999 and this resulted in an offer to be staff for the teen girls program. I went for the interview from my town of 20,000 in southern Minnesota to Minneapolis. I left that interview knowing there was no chance I would do this job. The ministry was in the hood and I felt unsafe. I decided that there was no way I could live or work in such conditions every day. After a night at home, I realized that while using and living for myself, I had lived in far worse conditions and was fine with it. I had become so comfortable with needing convenience that I was faced with how selfish and entitled I had become. I would serve Jesus, but needed to do it in a nice, pretty, acceptable way.
“I HAD BECOME SO COMFORTABLE WITH NEEDING CONVENIENCE THAT I WAS FACED WITH HOW SELFISH AND ENTITLED I HAD BECOME. I WOULD SERVE JESUS, BUT NEEDED TO DO IT IN A NICE, PRETTY, ACCEPTABLE WAY”
I vowed to God that night that if Teen Challenge called me, I would accept. They did; I accepted and that started the greatest ride of my life thus far. I worked with the teens for one year. This was the most intense year of my life. I had to learn to love them no matter what they said or did to me. This was the greatest lesson of my life. It taught me that my choice has to be to love no matter how hurt or angry I feel with anybody anytime. The executive director of Teen Challenge approached me in the year 2000 about connecting with the jails/prisons of Minnesota and helping men/women get court ordered to Teen Challenge instead of time in jail/prison. I was so afraid of not being able to do it successfully, yet so much wanting to share Jesus in the jails. I decided to throw my fears into the wind.
I had been told by my brother’s pastor that God doesn’t use pew warmers. He guides moving targets. I wanted to be a moving target. I was in about 35 different jails/prisons a month sharing with adult inmates daily for nearly 10 years. It was amazing. I am forever changed by all the things I saw God do to those who were somebody’s husband, father, son, brother, mother, daughter, sister. I aimed to show them how Heaven looked at them. God, in turn, made my life so rich through my time spent with them. It was the best time of my life and so many joined me in my pursuit of Jesus. Many have become evangelists like me! I live in awe of them! I was employed by Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge for 20 years, most recently serving as an external Chaplain following 8 years as the Women’s Director. I resigned in 2019 to start 7 Bells Refuge to focus on crisis rescue and prayer ministry. Watching a life being transformed keeps me speechless and further transforms me. I marvel at God giving me such a great seat in His grand show going on here on earth.
I met my husband in 2005. We got married 15 months later in 2006. I was 42 when I married for my first time. Kevin had become the best friend I could ever want and I trusted him so much that I knew he would be a great husband to me. He has been that and more. I never imagined myself married, but I have loved every single day of being married to Kevin.
Kevin was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in his throat and lymph glands after we were married 8 months. We could never have planned for this very difficult time period. I learned how to walk a totally new way. I learned that agreement in prayer and confessing life and the Word of God for my husband were powerful. I learned to choose my companions very carefully. I learned that God is able to do what doctors only hope can happen. I learned that my husband was more important than anything else in my life after Jesus.
I have a whole new chapter to my life; one that seems as compelling to people as my deliverance from addictions. I get many calls from people who get that call saying they have cancer. They want to know how to make it through. I know the One who can help them on this very difficult journey. He has given me yet another reason to shout His name from the rooftops.
My life is a great story. I am very thankful today. I have lived longer than anyone ever thought I would!!
It is a privilege to have been able to share this with you. I have 30 years of sobriety and Jesus. 30 years of Jesus has meant 30 years of never needing anything else, again.
Isaiah 43:1-3. Says… ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’ “
Don’t miss heaven! Only those who have been “born again” will be allowed into heaven according to Jesus. Don’t ever believe that you can do anything good enough to make heaven or bad enough to miss heaven. Jesus did it all. We either give our lives completely to Him or we keep rights to ourselves except for lip service to Him which He despises. He begs us not to choose self-rule, but won’t force us to spend eternity in heaven with him if we want to choose the way of Satan which is to do life on your own terms, even while calling ourselves Christians the whole time.
I am passionate about the truth of the Bible which is rarely shared in this current day. If you aren’t absolutely sure you will go to heaven when you die, you need to run to someone to help you before it’s too late. Jesus says we can know for sure! Never hesitate to cry out to Him, or reach out to me.
I tell my story so you know the God that I live for; the hope that wakes me up each day, and how I miraculously lived to see today. I find my own story so amazing. I never get tired of telling it. God has used it over and over and over again to pull someone from the edge of death. I feel privileged to be chosen by Him and cherish what He has done with all the wreckage I created with my life. I live every day desiring to give hope to someone who really needs to know that God can restore their life from the worse situations imaginable.