Mary Unz's Testimony
Yes, He did … and does! He was so gentle in His leading from way back in 1945 when I, Mary Unz, was born in Milwaukee, WI! This is my story, - this is my song and I praise my Savior – all the day long!
I was brought up as a strict, church-going Catholic, - attending Catholic schools all the way until High School. I did love Jesus – and Mary and St. Therese and all the nuns at Holy Angels on the north side of Milwaukee and then at St. Mary’s in Hales Corners. My brother Bill and I had nun and priest outfits and we played “mass” and also pretended we were the Children of Fatima who saw the Blessed Virgin Mary over a grotto in our backyard on 14th Street. We were super indoctrinated but also very blessed to have at least an inkling of the spiritual life. We could never go out and play until our whole family prayed together. My parents brought us up to follow the Lord as best they knew and I was a very “religious” little girl who read the stories of all the saints and talked to them and prayed all the time. I wanted to be a nun more than anything – a cloistered one at that!
As I grew, finished High School at Whitnall, way back in 1963, I think back and wonder why Tony and Frank Tamel never told me about Jesus and who He REALLY was! They were the high school “jocks” and everyone loved their friendly spirits and the joy they emulated from day to day! I also remember as a little girl on 14th and Atkinson, the “weird” church called Elim Tabernacle down the street. I thought it was a mosque or some strange eastern religion. Turns out that it is where Brother Mattson and his family attended!
The Lord was with me, though, when during college at UWM, I became involved with Opus Dei and decided to live in Kyoto, Japan for a year to teach English as a second language. I was all ready to go, had my Visa and Passport and had studied the country and people and had affiliated with several members there. My mom thought it would be the greatest experience for me but I had apprehensions. I was working at Ace Van Lines on the east side during college and one afternoon, had horrible pains in my side. As it turned out, I had my left kidney removed at 18 yrs. old and that put a stop to my venture in Japan with Opus Dei. What a blessing that was! I know it was the hand of God on me because of all the things I found out about that organization later. It is a cult and once involved you are subject to torture and rules and regulations that are unbelievable. You are forced to take vows of celibacy and a whole slew of other dictatorial debaucheries. I know it was the Lord protecting me, too, because in all these years, I have never had one problem with just one kidney! Thank you Jesus……..
Many other times, I knew that God was with me as I grew……..experiencing the loss of a fiancé in the service, making good friends and having good jobs. I was a party person though and there were many times God took care of me and kept me safe.
And, - then I met Robert Unz…….in June, 1970…….to make a long story short, - we were married October 17, 1970 at St. Marys. It was a short courtship but he was the tallest, handsomest guy with the greatest sense of humor and “He loved me!” No one where I worked thought our marriage would last and they plastered signs all over my desk at Pelton Steel Casting saying “He loves me!” I still have pillow cases embroidered with that saying in my closet today! In 1973 we had a beautiful daughter, Robynn Jean. She was the joy of our life!
We bought our first home, a condo in Greendale, and then built a home in Vernon. We were very much in debt and going to church on Sunday but not really paying attention to the things of God. We were interested in trying to pay our bills but kept buying more and more “toys”.
In our house on Moraine Court, in 1976, God came to the forefront when my brother Brian was in a car accident and broke his neck at the C5/C6 level. I could write pages on that experience but what it did was brought my sister-in-law and I together in the wee hours of the morning reading Revelations and starting attendance at a Bible Study at Elmbrook Church. I was very angry when they told me I would not be Catholic much longer as in my mind I was ALWAYS going to be Catholic. Through the learning experience of caring for a quadriplegic, our family really bonded stronger. That fall, Robynn was diagnosed with epilepsy and was having up to 50 petite mal seizures per day. To top it all off, my husband lost his job as VP of Consumer Lending at First Federal – just 1 year short of being vested in a pension. Robynn was put on medication and we had to watch her every second. She was only 5 and in kindergarten.
Lo and behold! We were invited to a Shaklee meeting and started our own business and met many wonderful people. Our friends, Margie and Dennis, sponsored in under us and we formed a close relationship with them and our main topic was not Shaklee, but JESUS! Margie took me to a charismatic prayer meeting at St. Leonard’s in Muskego where I heard praying and even singing in tongues for the first time in my life! It was like listening to Angels. I wanted that joy and that beauty in my life. Shortly after that my mom and I started attending Women’s Aglow luncheons. I remember vividly, talking to God at my kitchen table at midnight in April of 1981 and reading a pamphlet I was given at the Aglow meeting. It said, of course, to accept the Lord as your personal Savior and to ask Him to come to dwell in you and that you would start speaking in an unknown language. I had no doubts, fears or inhibitions and just as I expected, the Lord filled me with His powerful Spirit that night! My life has never been the same since!
The Word says that the Holy Ghost is the Teacher of all truth and God wanted me to have it all! Dennis owned a used car lot in Milwaukee where Jim Core came in to buy a car. He just happened to be from Parkway. Before I knew it, I was in Margie and Dennis’s living room going through Search For Truth. WOW was I excited! Poor Bro. & Sis. Core, - I just would not leave them alone. They were so great putting up with my exuberance and all my questions……..even at 11:00 at night, God would enlighten His word and I would call them to tell them what God had just shown me. By this time, our house was in foreclosure and I was just positive God was going to keep our house. I’m sure glad He knows what is best for us! In January of 1983 I was baptized in His wonderful name in the bathtub at Margie & Dennis’s. It was the last lesson in Search for Truth and I was NOT leaving that house until I was under the blood of Jesus! I remember coming up out of the water and seeing nothing but white! It was unreal and beautiful! I felt soooo clean and pure! I wanted to tell the world and when my brothers and friends wouldn’t listen I just could not understand why they just wouldn’t jump into the water! That was the happiest year of my life!
Robynn and I started attending Parkway Apostolic Church in Oak Creek. It was a very long drive and my huband got perturbed that it was so far away. We found a little church near bye that was an off-shoot of Parkway in Vernon. The Pastor there was from Italy and had never spoken a work of English when he came over to the U. S. One day God had him get up to preach at a small gathering and immediately he began speaking perfect English, with never a lesson, - and has been preaching ever since. That small group of saints prayed over my daughter and one week later her EEG test at Childrens’ Hospital came back just perfect! The doctor was astounded as he said he felt it would have developed into grand mal seizures eventually. We never thought she would even drive a car! HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD! She got off her medication and never ever had another seizure!
Then, Bob got a job at Emil Ewald’s in Oconomowoc as a Finance Manager. There was a man who needed a car and needed financing – who just happened to be Pastor Richard Kielley! There are certainly no coincidences with God! Bob and he started talking and Bob asked him if he baptized in the name of Jesus! When Pastor Kielley said “oh yes!”, Bob cut the church ad out of the yellow pages and brought it home to me. The next thing I know, Pastor Kielley was meeting Bob on Fridays for lunch and soon we were walking into the back door of their little house on Jefferson St. for pork chops (Bob’s favorite) and fellowship. Immediately, we just fell in love with them. They were the gentlest, kindest, most non-judgmental persons we had ever met. Robynn and Sharyl (in fifth and sixth grade) and little Michael had such a good time playing together in their basement. I knew right away the Lord was calling us here.
We were so blessed, - our house sold to the first couple that saw it and we were not foreclosed on. We rented a little house on Daisy Lane in Oconomowoc and moved in a week before Christmas in 1983. We had nothing, - no money, no food, no Christmas gifts and boy, you would have marveled at how the people at church rallied around. It was the best Christmas we ever had. Bob took pieces of wood out of the rafters of the basement and we made Jesus plaques for gifts; Robynn glued cotton balls to the front window in the shape of a tree and we put lights on it and just sang and danced to the glory of God……..”Jesus, Name Above All Names”, “Glory and Honor to Jesus” and “I Really Enjoy Living for Him”…….”Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory” (Sis. Kielley’s favorite!). It was beautiful! The Christmas service was so warm and loving and God’s presence was there with all His choirs of Angels – with about 40 people in that little church on Oakwood St.
I could write a book about all the experiences at Abundant Life! Bob and Robynn went down into the water at Fowler Park one Thursday evening in June of 1984 where Pastor Kielley and Brother Blank baptized them together. At Junior Camp, Robynn received the Holy Ghost and I was never so ecstatic as when Sis. Kielley called us from camp that evening to tell us! In October of that year, Bob was filled with God’s Spirit!
Then, I was asked to work at ALCA as a Monitor! What a privilege and what a growing experience God gave me! He is seen through the eyes of a child and these little children (and big children) taught me so much about living for God! It taught me daily disciplines and scripture memorization and how to incorporate everything you do into God’s way…..and how to let go and let God! Those were a wonderful two years. In Ladies’ Ministry, I also learned from my fellow saints…….the phenomenal spirit of working together to encourage each other, pray together, laugh together, make pies together, have luncheons and other fun events……..there are so many momentous moments, it would take another book to write them all down. God molded me and shaped me through placing me where I never thought I could be or would want to be.
To back up a little, when we were still on Moraine Ct., Bro. & Sis. Core gave a Bible Study at my parent’s home in Hales Corners to 17 people, including Marsha (now Pickl) and Rusty Cordle, my sister-in-laws, Arlene & Nora and Eileen Vanden Boom. My mom had spoken in tongues shortly after I was filled and we shared that closeness until the day she went to glory! Marsha and Rusty and Eileen all got baptized at Parkway and Arlene received the Holy Ghost and they are all living for God! Much has sprung from that Bible Study and many many lives continue to be touched because of my parent’s openness and love. My Mom got baptized at Parkway too and in 1984 my Dad got baptized at Abundant Life on a cold and rainy day. The boys at school hauled buckets of hot water up to the baptismal because the heater didn’t work. When I look back at what God has all done and how His arm was stretched out and is still stretched out, I am so amazed and it gives me so much faith to know that His work is not done and there are so many lives to touch yet!
My husband was not real faithful for a long long time and I want to tell you people whose spouses are not saved to NEVER EVER stop praying and just keep “loving them into the kingdom” as Pastor Tamel told me. It is “without the word” that they are won to the Lord! By your faithfulness and surefootedness, in time, they will be won to His truth.
It took a “heart stopping” occurrence to bring Bob to commitment. In 1999, on my mom’s birthday morning, March 10th, he went into cardiac arrest at work. He was actually dead for 4 minutes and they called him Lazarus at Elmbrook Hospital. There was no known cause as his heart was in good shape and he was in good health. You can read his testimony on line. From that point on, he lived for God and there was never a day that he did not read God’s Word and pray and very seldom did he miss a service. He was a changed man and very laid-back and not intense and take-charge as he once was. I often think it was like being married to a totally different man. I had to learn to take over on much I had not done before such as handling our finances, etc. because he did not want any stress in his life anymore. He had gone through several tough job experiences with lay offs, company closings and buyouts, etc. He was not going to supervise 40 people anymore, was not going to travel, - he just wanted to go to work and come home and forget about his job and I didn’t blame him. I was just glorifying God that he was alive!
In the meantime, our daughter had graduated from Mt. Mary College as an Occupational Therapist and decided to “see the world”. She signed up with an agency that placed you for 3 month assignments in different locations across the country. Talk about bringing a mother to her knees, that sure did! From Tupelo to Mobile to Richmond to Winston-Salem to the Big Apple! This little girl that graduated in a class of 2 (her and Mike Lauersdorf) from Abundant Life Christian Academy – drove from Mobile, Alabama in her Blazer with her cat named “Fella” all alone to New York City where she worked in a Jewish Nursing Home in Canarcie – Brooklyn! God was watching over her “big time”! He sent her friend, Amie, to live there too and she took an assignment in Brooklyn as an OT also. At that time, Robynn was weak and Amie was strong (a reversal from college days) and they started looking for a Pentecostal church. One they found was on Staten Island but every time they crossed the Verrazano Bridge they had to pay $7.00 so they couldn’t afford to pay $14.00 each time they went to church. They heard about a church on Long Island called Bethal and that they had a large group of young people there. The rest is precious history! Marc Careccia asked the hand of our daughter at Christmas in 1999 and they were married at Abundant Life in October of 2000.
In January of 2004 Bob was diagnosed with cancer. I prayed, as well as many many others, for his healing. One night Bro. Mannes and Pastor Kielley and Bob and Sis. Joan Mannes and I drove to Appleton to the Ladies Retreat for a healing service. Sis. Snow was speaking. I was just so sure Bob was healed of cancer, as well as Sis Joan. On August 5th he went to glory at AngelsGrace Hospice. In thinking back, as long as I prayed for his healing, God kept him but about a week before he died, I started praying for God’s will to be done and then God took him. No more pain, no more suffering but……..I know in my heart, he did not die of cancer! God spoke to me in prayer and said there was “no cancer in him”! I believe the medications and treatments did him in and plainly, the Lord wanted him to assist Him in building those mansions for us! Bob loved to build and fish and do electrical work……he really did not like being in an office on the phone and doing collection work. Now he is FREE! I miss him every second but God answered my prayers and I KNOW where my Bob is! And, someday, we will be reunited! What if he had not been saved? I would not have a heart of joy! Only God can restore a life and turn it around and create a man of excellence. “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Ps 37:5 is that promise!
Now I am alone physically but NEVER really alone. My sister-in-law, Jackie, came down for weeks at a time to help care for Bob and my friend Eileen, a nurse and sister in the Lord, spent many a nights with us too. The support of my brothers and sisters at Abundant Life through his months of illness was unbelievable! Every single day, one of our Pastors would come to our house to visit and spend time with him, - and others such as Brian and Rich Meyer and Pastor Dwight Davis. Also, Bob asked God to put two humungous angels around me all the time and they are Sam and Max! And, they are here! Jesus has supper with me every night; He walks with me; He talks with me; He meets my every need! He knows my hearts desires and even the desires I don’t know I have! He gives peace like a river, - the Oconomowoc River flows right past Bob’s grave where there are usually two white Swans swimming bye. Although I know Bob is not there, it is comforting to know that he fished in that river and is now at total peace and rest!
I have my daughter Robynn and her Marc serving God and two terrific grandsons, Ethan and Aaron who bring joy to my heart! I visit them as often as I can in North Carolina. God has blessed me with a great job right in Hartland for a company owned by a godly man and a brother in Christ, Kevin Marti. The people I work with are so good to me and I pray that someday all of them will know Jesus intimately.
There is much to add to my story, my song………..”Oh, how I love Jesus!” I thank him for my forever friends, Pastor and Sister Kielley! Without them, I would not be here and would not have the strength I need to go through this life. Their tenderness and hugs are always there and God uses them at just the right time to love and encourage me. I feel so selfish when it comes to them because I want to “give” so much to them to show them how I love and appreciate them every single second………although, you know what?, - I kind of think they do know that!
There is not a second that I don’t feel loved first of all by Jesus, my very best friend, and my husband and then by my Pastor and his wife and my other Pastors who are also such blessings to me, Pastor Steve Kielley who told me I could eat an elephant, and Sis. Lisa and Pastor Showalter and Sis. Showalter – and my friend Pastor Michael and his wife Sis. Donna……………….and all my friends and family………I appreciate each and every person at Abundant Life and would give my life for any one of them! Almost it is overwhelming! It is the very ESSENSE and PRESENCE of GOD in each one of them that I feel! His Kingdom is surely love and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost!
I have learned throughout my walk with Him that each and every night we need to repent and each and every morning we need to renew our calling and election…..and…..we need to “pray (talk to him) without ceasing” all day long about big things, little things…..everything! My most important prayer is that He make me sensitive to His voice so I can do what He wants me to do and say what He wants me to say and to please give me an undying burden for the lost.
THANK YOU JESUS………I HAVE A LONG LONG WAY TO GO; I NEED LOTS AND LOTS OF SHAPING AND MOLDING YET, BUT I TRUST MY LIFE IS TOTALLY IN YOUR HANDS!