I Serve a Miracle Working God

December 14, 2020

Remarkable answers to prayer have occurred throughout this Jamaican woman’s life.

By Shelia Ricketts

I

was born in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, the youngest of eight children. My early years were uneventful and I did well in school. Then when I was about ten, my mother died, and everything changed. One of my sisters took me to live with her in Kingston, Jamaica, because she needed a babysitter. She beat me and was abusive, so I ran away many times. Finally, I told her I would kill myself if I had to stay, and she sent me back to my father. There, another sister took me to babysit for her, and life did not get any better; though she did not beat me, I was treated very badly.  

In 1964, when I was nearing my fifteenth birthday, a girl invited me to a young people’s meeting at her church. Not knowing what to expect, I was hesitant about going, but went anyway and sat in the back. At the end of the meeting, the pastor started singing, “Too Late, Mercy Gone.” I had not intended to pray, but the song reached my heart and tears ran down my face. I went to the altar and cried out to God. When I got up, I felt different; a burden had been lifted from me, and there was peace in my heart. As I walked outside, I felt as if I were walking on air. The next morning, when I woke and looked out the window, the trees seemed greener and the sun brighter, and there was a definite change in my heart.

I began attending that church, which taught all of the Bible doctrines, and about two years later God sanctified me. It was a definite experience; I felt clean, as if I had just been born and had never sinned. Before long, God also filled me with the Holy Ghost and fire. I got involved at church and helped where I could. When my Sunday school teacher was absent, I would teach the class, and eventually I became a teacher too, and then the Sunday school superintendent.

When I attended evening church services, my family locked me out of the house. Sometimes people from the church saw this and took me in, but other times, I slept on the veranda.

At home, life grew more difficult. When I attended evening church services, my family locked me out of the house. Sometimes people from the church saw this and took me in, but other times, I slept on the veranda. I held onto the Lord during this time, and the Bible became my friend. I would often sit down and just get lost in God’s Word—people would be around me talking, but I would not hear them.  

As my life at home grew worse, I prayed and wrote letters to God, asking Him to take me out of the situation or help me bear it. The Lord answered those prayers and sent a Christian man named Alan Ricketts who asked me to marry him. Though my family was very much against it, we married in January of 1968 when I was eighteen. Since then, my husband has been a tower of strength for me.

We raised six children, and there were some difficult times, but the Lord always saw us through. On one occasion, we were living in a rental house and having trouble paying the rent. One morning, I just lifted my hand to God in prayer and said, “Please take us out of renting a house.” At the time, the government was giving away houses, and someone called and said, “I have a house for you.” There was a small cost, which we also could not afford, but an aunt agreed to pay it for us.

I heard a Voice say, “I am going to bless you. Receive the blessing humbly.” I looked around to see who spoke, but the bus was very crowded and noisy. I realized it could only have been the “still small voice” of the Lord (1 Kings 19:12).

Another answer to prayer came when our third child was ready to enter high school. It was not free as Primary school had been, and as each child advanced, the financial burden grew. My son and I took the bus to register him for classes, and on the way, I heard a Voice say, “I am going to bless you. Receive the blessing humbly.” I looked around to see who spoke, but the bus was very crowded and noisy. I realized it could only have been the “still small voice” of the Lord (1 Kings 19:12).

From that point forward, the children did not want for anything—not clothes or lunches or tuition; the Lord provided all. For example, the next week one of my sisters came from the United States with a huge duffle bag filled with clothes, shoes, and money. After my children took what they needed, there was enough left over to share with the neighbors.

In 1981, something happened at our church that my husband and I did not agree with, and we decided not to return. Instead, on Sundays, we held Sunday school with our children and then worshiped and prayed as a family. During this time, I told the Lord we would not be part of another church, because of what had taken place. However, He had other plans.

My husband’s aunt had a shop, which was where I worked. One day, an Apostolic Faith paper came there. It was titled The Light of Hope, and this drew my attention, because we were in need of hope. I read the testimonies and enjoyed them. Then I read the doctrines and was surprised to find they were the same as those of the church where we had been attending. After showing the paper to my husband, I wrote to the headquarters in Portland, Oregon, telling them we would love to have an Apostolic Faith Church in Albert Town.

The headquarters put us in contact with the island overseer of the Jamaica work, and on January 17, 1982, he and several representatives came and met with us. They told us there was a branch church in Troy, and we planned to commute there for worship, but the overseer encouraged us to start a church in Albert Town. It was agreed that the Troy pastor would oversee the work, visiting regularly to preach, and I would assist him. Before leaving, the men held a church service in our shop, and one person prayed and was saved. Not long after that, we moved our shop to a little rented space and began holding services there with twelve people in attendance.

The Lord blessed our little group, which was built on prayer and witnessing. We went person to person with magazines and tracts from the Portland headquarters, and these were a tremendous help. The congregation grew quickly and soon we needed a permanent place to worship. There was an empty lot nearby, but when we asked about it, everyone said the owner had been approached many times and would not sell. I believe the Lord had placed a “fence” around that property for us, because when we talked to the owner, he sold us the property. Right away, we built a church on the land, and still worship there today.

I became the pastor at Albert Town in the early 1990s. There have been many challenges since then in maintaining a church and home, but the Lord has always been our Provider. One time my husband and I could not pay the electric bill in our home, so we paid just enough to keep the lights from being shut off. The next month, we were in the same situation, and the next, and the next, so the remaining balance grew. Finally, I went to the Lord and said, “Here is the bill. I can’t pay it, and I need You to help me.” I left it in the Lord’s hands, and after a short time, a letter came from the Portland headquarters. There was money in the envelope, and the letter said the Lord had laid it on someone’s heart to send me $100.00. Another letter just like it came the next month, and each month after that until the electric bill was paid in full. Then, when we had no more need for it, the money just stopped coming!

The Lord has also been my Healer. When I was about forty, He healed me of an old injury I had received while living with my sister at the age of fourteen. One day she hit me over the head with a tin, and it caused a gash. The wound never healed properly, and over the years it reopened often. I saw many doctors, but it did not get better. Then a doctor said he was going to send me to the hospital to have the wound cauterized. I went home and prayed, “God, You are the greatest Surgeon, and I am your daughter.” From that time on, the wound did not reopen. God had healed it.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit Jamaica and took the entire roof off of our house, and the furniture went with it. We put on a temporary roof, but each time the rain fell, it leaked. For a year and four months we lived under that water.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit Jamaica and took the entire roof off of our house, and the furniture went with it. We put on a temporary roof, but each time the rain fell, it leaked. For a year and four months we lived under that water. I kept setting aside money for a new roof, but it was never enough. One day, I put some money in an envelope and took it to the church and prayed, “Lord, this is for my roof.” It was in faith that He would supply the rest. Then someone called and said they had all the lumber and zinc needed for our roof at a small price if we could transport it. We did, and some brothers came from the church and said they would not stop working until they had put the roof on our house. They worked for one full week, and in the end, the roof was replaced for only one-tenth of what the price should have been. The Lord has been so good! He has always been there, and He works miracles.

The Lord continues to bless the Albert Town congregation. In 2000, the Lord laid it on our hearts to go to Sawyers, twelve miles away, and witness there. Sawyers is a rough place to live, and there is a prominent sorcerer based in the town. People go to him and pay money to get answers or good fortune. We did not know anyone there, so we started by holding meetings in the town square. At the beginning of each service, there was a feeling of spiritual darkness in the air, but the Holy Spirit always came through. Eventually, there were nine people coming to the meetings, and we moved into a small rented space. Later, we were able to lease a nice plot of land, and services were held under tarps until a church building was constructed. Now we are praying the owner will allow us to hold camp meetings there. The workers from Albert Town continue to assist at Sawyers, and the congregation is growing.  

It has been a long road with many challenges, but the Lord has been so good. I give Him thanks and praise for the many blessings in my life. My husband has been a support to me in the Gospel, and all of our six children are saved and have helped to build the Albert Town work. I love the Lord, and am happy serving Him.

About the author

Shelia Ricketts is the pastor of the Albert Town and Sawyers Apostolic Faith Churches in Trelawny, Jamaica.