The Rock ministry, Never Knew a Father's Love, was started in 2010. But it began long before.
On a cold winter day in 1976, four-year-old Perri Storey watched her father walk out of her home and out of her life, leaving behind Perri, her mom and older brother, Mark, forever.
Perri's father was a man of wealth, but left them with nothing. They lived hand to mouth in a dilapidated house that at times had no gas or electricity. Perri remembers her mom having to heat their bath water on the surface of their kerosene lamp. Perri would see fathers in books or on a TV and wondered why, if she had a family, she couldn't have a daddy.
She would call her father and he would send money from time to time. Perri would have given up the money just to have him come home.
"Being poor was nothing compared to the misery of being rich."
One winter, when there was nothing left to eat, Perri's mom pleaded with her to call her father so he could send money. Calls were made, but none were returned. This infuriated Mark, who was by then 15 years old.
So he hatched a plan. He would break into Perri's father's house, rob it and return with the loot to feed the family. On the night he entered the house through a window, he found him dead. He had died of a heart attack and had been there several days.
When her father's will was executed, he left Perri a considerable fortune. But as Perri recalls, "If being poor was miserable, it was nothing compared to the misery of being rich."
With money to spend, her mom's alcohol addiction grew and Mark became hopelessly addicted to crack. Perri's means of killing the pain of her life was with food. She began to gain enormous amounts of weight which wreaked havoc on her already-tattered self-esteem. They were eating, smoking and drinking their way back to poverty. Perri's mom spent lavishly on a new home and was generous with family members who asked for money. The final blow to their bank account came when Mark, who had started running with a bad crowd, was arrested for and convicted of murder. His felony murder sentence was life behind bars. Appeals were only successful at draining their finances and emotions.
When Perri had first received the money from her father's estate, she was going into high school. By the time she graduated, her inheritance of a quarter of a million dollars was all gone.
Perri was alone, living on a government check of $35 a week, $180 in food stamps and struggling with the shame of going from rags to riches to rags again. Finally, she had enough. She was in college and determined to do for herself what no man could do or had ever done. She was going to be a success and create her own security. Nothing would stand in her way.
"Why, Perri, you're a heathen."
She pursued her degree with reckless abandon, earning top grades and honors. When she graduated, she put two more goals in the cross hairs of her life. She was going to lose weight and move up the ranks of her new job. With unflinching drive and determination, she achieved both, losing nearly 80 pounds and earning five promotions in five years. She was not yet 30 years old, and with benefits, she was earning $140,000 a year. On the outside, it appeared she had accomplished the life anyone would want. On the inside, she was still grasping for something she just couldn't seem to reach.
In the gym on a Sunday, she saw a friend who had just come from attending church. "Didn't you go to church this morning, Perri?" she asked.
"No," was Perri's reply. "I don't go to church."
"Why, Perri," said her friend sweetly, "you're a heathen."
Perri didn't know what a heathen was, but she knew she didn't want to be one. The next Sunday, she attended church with her friend. That morning the pastor read from Galatian 3. "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." And, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith."
That was it! That was who and what she had been longing for all these years. She could find her father at last. She could be an heir. She could finally become the daughter she knew she was.
She turned all of her energy toward the scriptures. Only this time, her pursuits left her fulfilled. The search was over and she couldn't talk to or read about her Father enough.
"Feels good to cry."
She knew with all her joy and excitement for life, she had a purpose, but what was it? Day after day turned into year after year of asking God, what do you want me to do now? Finally, thirteen years after she had began that prayer, her purpose in life appeared before her eyes like an image projected on a screen.
Even the title was sent from God and not of her own doing. Never Knew a Father's Love would be her ministry and purpose. The response has been overwhelming. Men and women who never knew their father's love have flocked to the ministry; each longing to share their pains, dreams and triumphs concerning a father who ripped away a part of their heart when they were still children.
"It has certainly filled a need," says Perri. "It's amazing to know how many people out there felt all the same things I did. And boy, does it feel good to cry together."
And it's only the beginning. There are plans to expand Never Knew a Father's Love to other areas, and judging by the number of interested callers from around the country, it appears the demand is virtually without end.
"I could have suffered my entire life without a father," says Perri. "But my heavenly Father saw to it that didn't happen. I just want to make sure everybody has a chance to have a daddy."
For more information about the Never Knew a Father's Love Ministry, click here »
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