God’s Word One Text At A Time


By Toni Lepeska

A Southaven woman sends Bible verses via text messaging every weekday to what’s become a list of 250 people, and one text in particular is credited with stopping a suicide.

Holley Gaines, 52, began the ministry 17 years ago before text messaging became the go-to way to communicate. On the cutting edge, she started with a circle of a few family members.
She doesn’t always know how a verse she selects plays into a life. Oh, she’s received prayer requests and replies that the messages blessed a person. But one day, it did much more.

“I can remember holding the gun and holding the bullets, and then looking at my phone,” said Bubba Thomas, who’d become addicted to painkillers after a motorcycle accident.
“Be still and know that I am God.” ~ Psalm 46:10
“To me it meant be quiet, listen, and know I’m here for you,” Thomas said. “I realized God loved me.”
Thomas put the gun away, but Gaines’ text messages weren’t through influencing his life. He went to rehab, but his marriage still was broken. His wife had filed divorce papers.

Gaines kept sending text messages of Bible verses to the couple, with their permission. She never sends messages without permission. Sometimes people change their phone numbers and she gets texts or calls from strangers. “Who is this?” they ask.
Gaines offers to remove them from her list.
“I’ve had so many say, ‘Oh, no, I want you to keep me on there.’ I don’t even know some of these people,” said Gaines, a member of The Summit Church.

Others say they receive just the Bible verse that deals with the situation they’re experiencing at the time. But Gaines said she does not need to know if a verse has helped. She knows God’s word is doing the work it’s supposed to do.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.”~ Isaiah 55:11

Spreading God’s word is so important to Gaines because of the impact it’s had on her life. She was 18 years old when her mother died of cancer. Her loss kicked off a spiritual quest. She began comparing the religious beliefs she’d been taught to what was in the Bible.
She discovered a contradiction. She decided the Bible was right. What she’d been brought up to believe was in error. She committed her life to Christ.

She married and got pregnant. She prayed for that baby girl, for its health, and so grateful she was, she’d told God she would give the baby back to Him.
When the baby died stillborn, she told God she didn’t mean it that way.
In spite of the disappointment, Gaines came to recognize the baby’s life was always God’s. And then she got pregnant again, this time with a son, but the devil on her shoulder told her she’d lose this baby, too. She searched her Bible for comfort.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Gaines told God she’d give the baby boy back to Him.
“That was the hardest thing I had to do,” she said.
At seven months, she almost lost the baby. She had an emergency caesarean section. Joseph weighed two pounds and fifteen ounces.
“You’d not be able to tell it today,” she said. Her 20-year-old son is a student at Mississippi State University.

Gaines, who works in customer service for an auction company, schedules the daily Bible verse in tiers. For shift workers, the verse arrives in the afternoon. For early risers, the texts begin at 6 a.m. in groups. She selects verses during devotional time in the Bible, or by topic.
“I send it out because it’s his word, not my word. All he wants is a living vessel,” Gaines said.
She likes the idea that the verses help people at a time of need or distress.
“Everyone gets down every once in a while,” she said.

Stephanie Thomas’ life wasn’t working out as she planned. She kept reading the Bible verses delivered by text, as did her estranged husband. She started noticing a change in Bubba, but she was hesitant. He was clean now, but was the change permanent? She’d been hurt. She did not want to be hurt again.

Then a verse from Paul’s conversion arrived by text. Stephanie got out her Bible and read the whole story, how the killer of Christians was blinded, then healed, and then became one of the most influential followers of Christ known to the world. If God could do that for one man, then He could do it for her husband.
“I had told people there was no way I’d take him back unless an angel came down,” Thomas said. “I truly believe God used Holley as an angel.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”~ Jeremiah 29:11
That is Gaines’ favorite Bible verse, but it belongs to everyone.
Bubba and Stephanie Thomas have been back together for 10 years now. They’ve been married a total of 23 years.

“She not only saved my life,” Bubba Thomas said. “She saved our marriage. Holley’s a walking angel.”
“He calls me his angel,” Gaines said, “but it’s God that did it.”

To read Holley’s chosen verse of the day, visit desotocountynewsroom.com every weekday and look for “heavenly message for the day” at the top of the page.

Lepeska Toni.desotocountynewsroom@yahoo.com