Testimony of Healing - Ethel Briley
(as told by Betty Pittman)
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Ethel Briley (September 24, 1914 - July 27, 1984)
I would like to tell you a testimony on healing. My mother grew up on a farm and started smoking at a very early age. I think around thirteen, if my memory is correct. Tobacco was the main crop of the age for many North Carolina farmers then. Through the years, I could see that smoking was affecting her lungs, for she would get very short of breath on exertion, often coughing excessively at times. She was eventually diagnosed with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease. Sister Briley, as she was called later, was not a religious person, but she had a tenderness in her heart for Jesus. I can remember as a child, seeing her read our big family bible. On occasion, you could hear her sing some of her hymns she liked so much. One of the most touching scenes was hearing her praying for her children, especially the ones in the military. Tears would flood down her face as she poured her heart out to God. She never went to church but in her heart there was a deep feeling and respect for the things of God.
I, too, had a yearning in my heart for the things of God. One day my mother and I were at home alone when we heard a knock at the front door. There he was, this young man standing at the door with such a sweet smile on his face. I had seen him at school, but he was older than me and had graduated from high school at this time. He started telling us about this wonderful experience in God, the baptism of the holy Ghost with speaking in tongues, that he had received and how it cleansed him from sin and made him so happy inside. He told us it’s a promise to all who seek Jesus with their whole heart. Needless to say, my heart jumped right on it and I wanted it, too. My mom hesitated, and when he asked us to go to his prayer meeting in the country, I said yes, with mom’s permission, of course.
The months went by and I continued to go to these sweet prayer meetings in the country with the young man, Earl, whom I eventually married. Mama stayed at home and every time I came home from the meetings, I would tell her about them. She would listen and hug me, and sometimes cry. One Sunday night, I came home from the meeting and mama was waiting for me at the front door. When the door opened, I grabbed my mama and said, "I got it mama, I got it!" I was crying and she was crying as we both stood there hugging. It was a very sweet and touching moment for me and her.
By this time, my mama was having more problems with her health. She had very sick spells of coughing and shortness of breath. One night she was in the living room alone, my dad was asleep, and she was having such a hard time. I came in to her and put my arms around her and started praying for her. The Spirit fell in that little living room as I was praying in tongues, and it touched my mom. She started crying. I started crying. God had really knit our hearts together as mother and daughter. Our spirits were a lot alike in many ways.
As the months went by, I could see her getting more interested in the things of God. She started going with Earl and me to the prayer meetings in the country. Mama loved to see the Spirit falling on the saints and she loved to feel the presence of the Lord too. We also would spend time at home with her talking about the Lord and reading the bible. Sometimes, Earl and I would play our guitars and sing some songs for her and daddy.
One day when I was at her house, she told me that Daddy had come to her and ask her for some cigarettes. He had smoked all of his life and wanted to know if she had any, so she went to the closet where she usually kept them. When she opened the door, Daddy saw all these cigarettes and said, “Where did you get all those cigarettes?” She said, “I guess I haven’t been smoking them!” Now, the kids would usually by them cartons of cigarettes on occasion and she would put her's in the closet. She was shocked herself to find out that she had not been smoking any cigarettes, nor had she even missed them or wanted them. She had fallen so much in love with the things of the Spirit and the fellowship of the saints that smoking them never crossed her mind.
A few months later, a dear brother in the Lord, Michael Hayes, came to see us from Kentucky. We had a gathering on a Tuesday of that week. While he was singing the song, “Mansion in the Sky”, we heard this wonderful sound of someone praising God in the background. I looked to see who it was. There was my mother shouting and praising God! The Spirit was flooding her soul and she was rejoicing in the sweet holy Ghost. I don’t think I ever saw anyone love to feel the Spirit the way she did. Her health was poor and when the Spirit would fall on her, it would take away most of her physical strength, so she would stop and rest for a minute and then go back for more.
What memories for me to have of my dear sweet mother. God gave us some good years together and I’m so thankful for all He did for her. And she never ever smoked anymore. Nor did she have to battle the craving for them anymore. All of that was gone. She was thirteen or so when she started smoking and God took the desire from her in her early fifties. It was a miracle from God. I watched her love for God and the things for God grow in her heart day by day and I have seen through the years in others, as well as my mother, if you set your heart and affections on things of God and not of this world, He will take care of you. He will put the right desires in your heart.