Terry Strouss: At Peace with God
By Aaron Little
The 700 Club
“It was always a rough childhood from the very beginning. My mother and father both had numerous adulterous affairs on one another.”
Terry Strouss doesn’t have fond memories of his childhood in Pennsylvania. His parents constantly fought with each other. He says, “My mother told me that she knew that she had to leave him. She had to get away from him when one night I jumped on his back and started beating him on the back saying, ‘Leave my mommy alone or I’m going to kill you!’”
By the time Terry was six, his parents were divorced, and he moved with his mother to Detroit. There she married a mafia hitman who had a tremendously negative impact on Terry’s life.
“He was a very violent man. He not only beat my mother daily, but he abused her sexually in front of me every day.”
A year later, Terry’s father brought him back to Pennsylvania to live with his grandparents. He spent the next decade growing up in a stable home where he was involved in church. Over the years Terry remained close with both of his parents, but he struggled to find peace.
“When I went to live with my grandparents, I had an anger in me that was uncontrollable. When something wasn’t working right, I would very calmly go get a hammer and beat it flat and destroy things.”
But Terry understood the anger wasn’t right and kept going to church.
“This boy asked me, point blank, ‘Have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?’ And I said no. He explained the significance of that. So, I asked Jesus into my heart at age 12.”
Terry struggled to forgive his stepfather for the abuse. He graduated high school and seemed to adjust well into adult life. He got a job at a small television station.
“There were a lot of decisions that I was making that were destructive in nature.”
Terry met and married a woman he worked with, but soon, the stresses of life began to test the young couple.
“My ex-wife and I started having problems in our marriage. I bought a motorcycle. It was really out of rebellion, because I knew she wouldn’t like it. Our marriage was basically falling apart.” It wasn’t long before Terry’s wife moved out. He continues, “At that point, I decided that I could live my life without God. I really felt disappointed by a lot of people in my life, and God became one of those disappointments.”
Terry looked to his motorcycle buddies to find a sense of community. “It was a lifestyle that I shouldn’t have ever gotten into,” he recalls.
Then Terry got a call from an old friend. Her marriage was also falling apart, and Terry invited her to move in with him. Soon, she was pregnant.
“We got married in 1989, and at that point, she began to feel a need for God because she was looking at this baby that she didn’t know how to raise… But I had no interest. I had no interest at all.”
But when Terry’s wife was six months pregnant with the couple’s second child, they were involved in a motorcycle accident.
“It was almost like she was lifted off the back of the bike, the bike went one way, the car went the other way and she was just dropped [with] 50 or 60 people standing around watching. One man came over next to me, knelt down on the ground beside me and my wife and said, ‘Oh Father, help them.’ I knew that he was a Christian. He said, ‘What can I do for you?’ Just as sarcastic as I could be I said, ‘Well, I guess you better pray,’ and he did surprisingly right there, right then. I meant for him to go home and pray. He prayed, and he came to visit us in the hospital the next morning. They only kept her overnight just to monitor the baby -- the baby was fine. They sent us home in the morning.”
They were released from the hospital the next morning. Although Terry was thankful his wife and unborn child were all right, he was far from being at peace with God.
“‘God, you let me down.' And one night, just as clear as a voice speaking in the room, I heard Him say, ‘What are you doing for Me?’”
Terry knew it was time to stop running from God.
“I had to take a second look at what I walked away from, and so I went back to church one Sunday morning with my wife. I just felt like God was calling me back.”
In 1996 he attended a Promise Keepers’ Rally.
“The man on the platform said, ‘As we forgive those that have hurt us, it’s not for those that have hurt us; it’s for us.’ That unforgiveness and bitterness and hatred and all those things that I had held onto for so many years, it ties us to the event that caused the scar and the emotional wounding to begin with. I said, ‘OK, God, I’ll try You at this. I choose to forgive that man. I knew I had forgiven that man. When I could say, ‘Lord, if he was still alive, if he was still here, I would tell him about You and I would want him to be in heaven with me through eternity.’”
It’s been more than a decade since Terry found a peace that changed his life.
“Jesus said, ‘I’ve come that you might have life and have it more abundantly,’ and that abundant life comes out of a relationship with Him. It comes out of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It comes out of the healing of emotional hurts and traumas in the past that only He can bring.”
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