About the Guest
- Leslie Leyland Fields, author of 'Surprise Child,' talks about the feelings and concerns women have when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/surprise-child/
- Pastor David Nasser tells how his family escaped execution and fled Iran during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/jumping-through-fires/
- Dru Joyce II has been mentor to some of the nation’s best young players, including LeBron James. Hear Joyce tell how love for his son drew him into coaching. https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/more-than-championships/
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David NasserIn the midst of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, David and his family had to leave everything behind and escape from Iran to avoid execution. Beginning a new life in the Unites States, David turned to everything imaginable to find acceptance. However, he only found true acceptance when through the persistent witness of a body of believers, David found salvation and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ. As one of the nation’s forefront speakers, David speaks to over 700,00 people e...more
Dru Joyce IIDru Joyce II is head basketball coach at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. In his 12 seasons, he has guided the team to a national championship, three state championships, nine district titles and five regional crowns, while garnering one National Coach of the Year award. Coach Dru was born and raised in East Liverpool, Ohio. He is a graduate of East Liverpool High School and holds a degree in business administration from Ohio University. After leaving a career in the corporate...more
Leslie Leyland FieldsLeslie Fields writes for Christianity Today as a feature writer and columnist and writes freelance for a number of other magazines and journals. She is also a speaker, and between speaking and writing, she also runs a professional writing business, The Northern Pen, performing manuscript critique. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Cedarville University, a Master’s in English and Journalism from University of Oregon. Leslie lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska, in a house on a cliff over the...more
It’s spring break! Let’s take a road trip. Leslie Leyland Fields, David Nasser, and Dru Joyce II share stories of their epic journeys with God.
Michelle: Long before Dru Joyce was a mentor and coach to basketball champion, LeBron James, he was someone else.
Dru: I was very much a womanizer. I had been involved with a number of different young ladies at the time—three to be exact—just in that time, well, one of the young women told me she was pregnant. I recklessly/very recklessly pushed her out my life. It was not a moment that I’m very proud of, even to this day. I looked into the mirror, and then the Lord just kind of showed me who I really was; and I didn’t like it.
Michelle: How does a prideful, egotistical, loser transform into a mentor of basketball champions? We’ll hear that story as we take a road trip today and learn about God’s faithful provision on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. I grew up in the north, where springtime is a long time coming—beautiful when you finally get there—but it is a long time coming. Each year, as spring break rolled around, I was always envious of some of my friends, who actually got to go someplace on spring break; but my dad was a small town attorney and tax preparer, which meant spring break time was his busiest time. The Hill kids—well, we just stayed put—but I always dreamed about what spring break might be like.
This week is the beginning of spring break for many students; and many are heading to Lake Tahoe for skiing, others are headed to Florida to find some sun, or maybe, like me, you don’t get to go anyplace fun. I have decided that I am going to take a road trip, and I’m going to take you along with me. Today, we’re going to listen to stories that inspire us/uplift us—stories that give us hope for the future—hope for what God is doing in our lives.
Our first stop on this road trip is my old stomping grounds of Alaska. That is where author, speaker, and teacher, Leslie Leyland Fields, is also from. After having four children already, her quiver was full—or so she thought—she was getting back into life after all those years of diapers. She thought that her new life was going one way—all her kids were in school, and she went back to work—but God veered it another way with a surprise at the age of 43. Here is Leslie.
[Previous FamilyLife Today® Broadcast]
Leslie: Yes; I was/I was 43, and I was teaching full time at the University of Alaska. I had four young children. Life was crazy but wonderful/was good. I was stressed at work, and I just wasn’t feeling well. One day, I thought, “Well, I know that I’m not; but I’m going to go get a home pregnancy test just to be sure.” You know, you do what you are supposed to do; you have to wait a couple of minutes. In the space of that waiting, I’m just in absolute turmoil thinking, “This can’t be! Surely, it isn’t. Lord, please don’t. Please, please, please, no.”
I went back into the bathroom and looked at that wand; and there in that tiny little window, just the size of your little fingernail, there it was: this little faint line that kept getting darker and darker. It is in a way like a death; you die to yourself. I had done that four times already.
Dennis: And you felt like there wasn’t enough left to die.
Leslie: Yes; I didn’t know how I could do it again. It wasn’t that I doubted God. It wasn’t that I doubted His supremacy, His sovereignty, His ability. I doubted myself completely; I just felt like, “I don’t know how to do this again.”
Bob: Had you given your husband any indication that this was even a possibility?
Leslie: No, no. I was really kind of in a panic. I was disbelieving and just in a panic; and by the time I told him, I was still in that panic.
Bob: Did you call him, or did he come home, or do you remember how?
Leslie: He came home, and I told him—I gave him the news, and then we both just—we were just stunned. We both just kind of sat down on the couch; and we both just kind of sat there for a while, just quiet/just trying to absorb this news. It was very different; that response is very different from the response to the other four pregnancies. You know, you have to know that the other times—when I got that test stick and looked at that line—I mean, it was just rejoicing, celebrating, praising God.
As I’m looking at that test stick, and I’m crying, and I’m despairing and I’m mourning, part of me already felt guilty; part of me said, “This is wrong. You shouldn’t be feeling this. God is the Maker of life. He has given you a child and look how you are feeling.” Part of me already felt guilty. I just found out I was a new mother again; and already, I was a bad mother.
Dennis: At your age, half of those pregnancies are terminated naturally.
Leslie: That’s right; that’s right. So you don’t know whether to emotionally invest in this child or not. Part of me is wishing and hoping for a miscarriage; but then part of me says, “What?! You’re hoping for death? You’re wishing for death?” It is just this terrible mix. You don’t find the answer until you are about 12 weeks pregnant, and then you go to the doctor. At that point, if they can hear a heartbeat, then there is a 90 percent chance that the pregnancy is good and that the child will develop normally.
Bob: The day you heard the heartbeat, what happened then?
Leslie: The day I heard the heartbeat was really a momentous day for me. I remember, very clearly, going to the doctor’s office and feeling like, “Okay; this is the day that I find out.” I walked in, and the doctor brings out the Doppler. It goes onto your belly, and it has an amplification thing at the end so that everything that is heard inside is just magnified into the room.
The first thing I hear, of course, is my own heartbeat. He’s scooting the thing all around my belly, looking for that other heartbeat; and suddenly, there is this sound. It’s another heartbeat, and it’s not like my heartbeat. This heartbeat is going chuh-chuh, chuh-chuh—
Bob: Whoosh-whoosh, whoosh-whoosh.
Leslie: —really fast; really fast. I realize, now, this not just a pregnancy; this is not just an interruption and a complication to my life. This is a human being. That was a turning point for me.
Dennis: Leslie, this is a hard question to ask you because some of our listeners’ heads turned toward the radio when they heard you just say that: “Yes; you really did, at points, wish for a miscarriage.” With 60 percent of all pregnancies being unplanned, most who choose not to have those children don’t place those babies in other families for adoption; they choose abortion.
You’re a married woman; you have four children. You had some hard conversations with your husband. Did you ever think about that other alternative of abortion?
Leslie: You know, to be honest, I did not. Even in the moment of finding out I was pregnant with my fifth child, I did not. But I need to say that in my sixth, and the last pregnancy, after I had just been through this unplanned pregnancy—just thought I had learned all the lessons God had for me—and I am pregnant again.
Dennis: —two years later.
Leslie: Two years later, and this time, I’m 45/almost 45. Looking at that stick, I did have that moment of saying, “You know, I could just end this; I don’t have to go through this.” There was a voice that sort of whispered this to me. I thought of it; for a few minutes, I thought of it.
Bob: Because there is that thought that: “I just don’t think I can do this again at my age, with—
Bob: —“a baby already in the house, with bills already what they are. How do I do this?”
Leslie: Yes; “How do I do this?”
Michelle: Wow! Can you put yourself in Leslie’s shoes? It is the second surprise pregnancy, and she is 45! We’re not talking about the umpteen diapers that are waiting to be changed. We’re talking about: “Could she survive this pregnancy?” or the fact that if she survived, she would be like grandma age when they graduated from high school.
This is real life stuff, and it’s tough, and it’s hard; but Leslie chose life. She chose life for those two gifts that God had given her, and God has used those gifts/those children to add joy and strength in Leslie’s life and in the Fields family. Leslie shared the entire story of pain, and joy, and all with Dennis and Bob a while back. We have that on our website for you: FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com. It’s an incredible journey of real life/real stuff.
Well, now, we’re going to go down a different road. I love stories of the impossible; you know, when you see no way out, and God provides. I want to share the journey of a family, who didn’t pray for God’s provision, because they didn’t know who He was. I want you to meet David Nasser, who was nine years old in 1979, when the Iranian Revolution rocked his world. Here he is, remembering those days.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
David: I grew up a military kid. We lived on the army base in Iran. My dad was high ranked in the military. Then, in 1979, the Iranian Revolution happened. Over a million people were murdered and executed when the Ayatollah Khomeini and his religious zealots kind of took over our country. I call it religion gone wrong. When the revolution happened in 1979, I was just this elementary kid in a military school in Iran. We just had a front row seat in watching our country just completely be turned over.
Bob: I presume you were, at least, culturally Muslim, if not actively Muslim.
David: Absolutely, Bob. We were exactly that. We were culturally Muslim; but when the revolution happened, there was no middle ground; the church became state, if you want to call it that. Our country was overthrown by religious people.
I remember those days. I remember the revolution happening, and soldiers coming to our school and reading my name out at a school assembly. I remember standing in front of the school when he read my name out, and he took a gun out of a holster and pointed it at my head.
Dennis: You were nine years old.
David: I was nine years old. He said, because of Allah/because of the revolution, I was just going to have to be a kid he was going to have to kill. It was because of who my father was. When you are nine years old, and somebody tells you, “Because of God, they have to take your life,” you’re wrecked by it. I was confused as a little kid. I mean, I was this kid, who just grew up in a military army base, and played soccer, and hung out. Then a revolution happens; and the next thing you know, soldiers in our school trying to take my life.
The school principal got between me and the gun and told him to come back another day. For all I cared, the brother did not need to come back another day. [Laughter] I went home and told my parents what was happening. I’ve seen my father cry three times my whole life; that was the first time. He sat me on his lap and cried, and said, “Son, the revolution is happening. They are really coming after you because of who I am.” My dad told me that day: “They are not going to have that opportunity again. You’re not going to have to confront that man again.” We began to plan our escape.
We got two-way airline tickets, like we were going and coming back; and we got the homework assignments, like we were going and coming back; and got a house sitter, like we were going and coming back. We weren’t coming back; we were running for our lives. I remember that. I remember holding my dad’s hand in the airport/in the Tehran airport. If you’ve seen Argo, it’s that airport/that movie. His hand just kept shaking. He kept saying, “This was not smart. They are going to find out we’re escaping, and they are going to kill us right here.”
I look back and see how God even, then, just took us out of Iran, put us on the plane; and we started flying up toward Switzerland. When we got to Switzerland, we just went to the American consulate. They applied for political asylum, which is just a fancy way of saying we wanted to become refugees. They said, because of his position in the army in the past, and my dad—and because of what he had been going through—“We need to find asylum in the United States”; but at that time, nobody was allowing Iranians into the United States because we were from the wrong place at the wrong time.
David: We were stuck in Europe; we were stuck, basically, in Switzerland. For nine months, to be honest, we tried legally/we tried illegally—every way, Dennis, and the doors wouldn’t open up—until one day, my mom got us together. She said, “Hey, we’ve been trying to go to America. We’ve exhausted all these different avenues.” She said, “I’ve got another idea.” She said, “Have you ever heard of Jesus?” I’d never heard of Jesus. She said—she showed us a picture of a white guy with a beard and a mullet—she said, “This is Jesus; He’s American. We need to ask Him to let us into His country.”
I know that is horrible theology—but I’m just telling you—I’m not telling you that’s the prayer that took; I’m just telling you we bent our will, we bent on our knees, and we submitted ourselves to—we said, “Jesus, please let us into Your country.” A week-and-a-half later, the doors opened up.
Michelle: The power of prayer/the power of answered prayer—God hears all of our prayers—isn’t that/isn’t that amazing? It’s amazing how God draws our journeys, almost like GPS, and Google Maps, or something. He took a family from Iran, who prayed to this American Jesus, and landed them in Texas. Now, it wasn’t all roses after that; you’ve got to hear the entire story. We have that on our website: FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com. Today, David Nasser is a pastor and a nationally-known speaker. It’s amazing to hear all that God has done in his life. It’s humbling; it truly is.
Hey, I think I see a rest stop coming up here; and we’ve been on the road for quite a while, so we need to take two minutes. Be back in two minutes; we’re going to travel on up to Ohio, and we’re going to hear from a basketball champion. Stay tuned.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. Today, we are listening to great stories of the power of God in an individual’s life. We’ve been on a road trip because, you know, it is spring break. We’ve visited Alaska; we’ve visited Iran, which turned into Texas. Now, we’re going to stop over in Ohio.
Does the name, LeBron James, mean anything to you? Even if you don’t follow basketball, I’m sure it’s all over your television screen. You’ve probably heard that name, at least, once or twice. There was a man, who had considerable influence in LeBron’s life and in the lives of many young men. That man is his high school basketball coach, Dru Joyce, who is a nationally-renowned AAU Basketball coach. In some sense, he helped to breathe life and purpose into many of the young men that he worked with, including LeBron.
And like all of our lives, he has hit some detours and some road blocks that he has had to maneuver around; but let’s go back to hear how Dru Joyce got his start. Here he is, talking with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Dru: In some ways, I was brought up in church. My father didn’t attend very much; he attended some. My mother made sure that I attended. I think that as I grew, and I got involved in sports, I just saw other men/other dads—my father was never much of an athlete, and he really wasn’t involved—but other men were involved in coaching.
I think that was where I first saw that father/son or even that adult mentorship opportunity; but as I grew, and had children of my own, it was just that father instinct; I just wanted to be involved in my son’s life. God took something that was very small and humble, and He made it what it is. I never really thought about going beyond being that rec league coach; but as the opportunities presented themselves, I ran to them, and grabbed ahold of them, and tried to do what I believed was the/what God would have me to do.
Bob: When you were a player/when you were a young man, was there a coach or two in your life that had a profound impact?
Dru: Yes; in high school, my coach at East Liverpool High—was a very small city, with not a lot of professional/especially African-American professional men—one coach that I had in high school football and track: a young African-American man, just out of college. What I really appreciated about Coach Hernandez—he was just so open with us, and he was honest—he shared with us, and it wasn’t about the sport. It was those moments, when we were acting as kids and kind of thinking maybe in a wrong way, he steered us back and kind of made it clear to us that: “You’re part of something bigger than yourself here. You need to understand the opportunity that sports may give you.”
I appreciated that about him and wanted to emulate that lifestyle. Honestly, that was my desire, graduating high school: was to go to college, get a degree, teach history, and become a football coach.
Dennis: And you could have used somebody—
Dennis: —a coach, who believed in you—at that point. You went all the way through high school and into college. And you made a mistake—
Dennis: —that ultimately, in the providence of God, resulted in something special. Share that story.
Dru: Yes, I was very much a womanizer. I had been involved with a number of different young ladies at the time—three to be exact—just full of myself/full of my ego. I was doing what I saw everyone else doing, but nothing positive.
In that time, I ran into one of the young women, who is now my wife of 36 years. You know, I pretty much felt like I had made a decision: “I’m going to stop all this playing around, and I’m going to be committed to that relationship.” However, another of the young women told me she was pregnant. I was raised that: “If that happens, that’s a responsibility. You should marry the woman, and take care of the child, and raise the family,”—that’s what you do.
Dennis: It was your responsibility, as a man. If you’re going to father a child, you’re going to be the child’s father.
Dru: That’s it; there was no second-guessing that. I shared with my wife, Carolyn, that this is what had happened. As much as I would like to be with her, this was what I had to do—this was what I had to do—there was no way around it.
Dennis: She was not your wife at that point.
Dru: No; she was not. She would want me to be very clear about that, too; she was not.
Anyway, the young woman and I went back to Ohio University for what would have been going into my senior year. I don’t know—honestly, to this day—I just realized that she wasn’t pregnant; I don’t know the details. But I recklessly/very recklessly pushed her out of my life. It was not a moment that I’m very proud of, even to this day. The relationship ended, and she went back home.
I was in the little apartment that we had; and I was washing my face. Honestly, I looked into the mirror, and the Lord just kind of showed me who I really was; I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it; and I cried out to the Lord, “What have I become? Who is this person?!” I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I realized the hurt that I had caused a lot of different people in just living my own selfish way.
I did what I only knew to do: I fell to my knees. I cried out to the Lord to come into my life and save me and to help me, along the way, to become the man that He would want me to be; because I had really made a mess of it, trying to be the man I wanted to be. In that moment, I accepted Christ.
Bob: There was enough spiritual foundation that had been paved in your life that, when the time came, you knew where to turn.
Dru: Yes; as I said, I had one foot in the church and one foot out. But I knew enough that we have a Lord and Savior, and that He’s there if we choose to allow Him in. I made that choice in that moment.
Michelle: The journey of Dru Joyce. You know, the mighty man that we see today, mentoring LeBron James and coaching AAU championship basketball teams—just like in your life and in my life, that’s not always the case [immediately]—sometimes, God needs to refine us, and work on our hearts, and grow us and develop us; it’s a journey.
Isn’t it so great to see men and women of God, who are living for Him in every pocket of our society? If we’re humble and willing, like Dru was, He uses us, all along our journeys, to infiltrate the world for Him for His great name. Hey, we’re going to have more from Dru Joyce coming up in a few weeks—another destination—but also you can go to our website now and hear the entire story of Dru Joyce: that’s at FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Well, next week, when we get back from our journey, we’re going to talk about home—ha!—home. We’re going to talk about the keeping of home. Now, don’t worry; it’s not a call from your mother about the cleanliness of your room or anything. I’m going to be talking with Barbara Rainey and Jen Pollock Michel; and it’s going to be a great time with our recliners kicked back, watching the game. Oh no! I’m sorry; you’re going to be listening to FamilyLife This Week. Hope you can join us for that.
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I’m Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
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