Stories of Faith
a special journey to Jesus
Special to FBC Jenks
May 24th, 2023
Persistence, generosity lead Cheryl Ivey to relationship with Christ
On an early December evening at the young age of 13, Cheryl Ivey sat in her living room working on homework when there was a knock at the front door.
It was a small group of people from a local church called First Baptist Jenks. In their hands were Christmas gifts and food for a Christmas dinner for Cheryl and her family to enjoy … a gesture which would stick with Cheryl for the rest of her life.
This was the first time Cheryl, her three sisters and their mother had celebrated the Christmas season. Cheryl was born into a Jehovah’s Witness family and lived her young childhood years in California knocking on doors with her parents to try and convince people to join their Jehovah’s Witness faith. o with church or Christians, but that wouldn’t stop God on this day.
“I would start the conversation,” Cheryl said. “I mean who could say no to a cute little girl in a pretty little dress, right? The first question I would always ask was, ‘Do you know what God’s name is?’”
Cheryl had committed her life to being a pioneer missionary, which is a full-time missionary for the Jehovah’s Witness church, but her plans would be altered at the age of 10.
“My dad died because he refused a blood transfusion,” Cheryl said. “My mom became very bitter and she moved us from California to Oklahoma (several years later) when I was 13. I desperately wanted to know God, but I didn’t know Him. I worked really hard to be good enough that He would be pleased with me.”
Upon moving to the Jenks-area, Cheryl’s mother left the Jehovah’s Witness faith. Cheryl and her sisters were in school and her mother got a job at that same school working in the library. Cheryl’s mother decided her and her daughters, for the first time, were going to celebrate Christmas and even though they didn’t have much, they were going to do it their way.
The gifts and food that were delivered to them by FBC Jenks left a lasting impact on Cheryl.
“The first Christmas gift I ever received came from First Baptist Jenks,” Cheryl said. “After they left our house that night, I asked my mom why would they do that? They don’t know us. She said it’s just like we used to knock on doors, it’s just what they do. I thought to myself, I’ve knocked on doors trying to tell people who I thought God was, they knocked on doors and are meeting needs and giving gifts.”
“Someone gave us an artificial tree and we put it up in our living room,” Cheryl said. “My mom bought some icicles to put on the tree.”
For the first time in her life, Cheryl had felt the Holy Spirit convicting her. She was unsure of what to do or where to go with that information, so she decided to continue studying her Bible and had plans to move back to California and rejoin the Jehovah’s Witness congregation.
The summer between her junior and senior years of high school at age 17, Cheryl worked as a counselor at a summer camp. God gave her a special love to work with disabled children and she worked with them through school and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. At the end of the week, there was a party for all the counselors from the camp.
“My best friend at the time wanted to go this party, so she drove us and when we pulled up to the house, it was not a party I wanted to attend,” Cheryl said. “My friend jumped out of the car and ran into the house. I slowly got out of the car and walked up to the porch.”
Once she made it to the porch, Cheryl stood there dreading going inside. There was a guy also on the porch named Scott. He asked Cheryl if she was going into the party and she told him she didn’t want to, but her ride was inside. He laughed and told her he didn’t want to go either, but he had driven some friends, so after clearing it with their friends, Scott gave Cheryl a ride home.
“Scott had just graduated high school and he had just finished a class on how to witness to people in cults and they had spent a lot of time studying Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Cheryl said. “He was driving me home and out of nowhere he asked if I went to church and when I said no, he asked if I would go to church with him. I said no because I’m a Jehovah’s Witness. However, he asked he if could call me sometime, so I gave him my number.”
Scott called or came by Cheryl’s house every day for the rest of that month. Every day he would ask Cheryl to go to church and every day she would say no. Finally, Cheryl’s mother told her to either tell him to stop calling and coming by or just go to church with him. Cheryl couldn’t say no, so she agreed to attend church with Scott.
“It was July 5, 1987,” Cheryl said. “He picked me up and we went to church. They had this amazing youth group teacher, I just sat there and he actually taught straight out of the Bible, not like the little blue book of life that told you what to think about what was in the Bible, he just taught. I can remember thinking this is what I want. I want to know what is in the Bible and what God is saying.”
Following youth group, it was time to go into the main church service and this is where the enemy went to work. They went through their worship time and then the pastor got up to speak and the first thing he did was tell a joke about Jehovah’s Witnesses and them going to door to door. Cheryl just shut down after that happened.
“I was so mad,” Cheryl said. “I just thought to myself, they are making fun of us and we are just trying to do what God wants us to do. I have no idea what else was said during that sermon.”
At the completion of the service, Cheryl was ready to get out of there and go home, but Scott’s parents invited her to lunch with them. Cheryl called her mom hoping her mom would give her an excuse to say no, but instead her mom told her, sure that’s fine, just be home by midnight. Scott overheard the phone conversation, so she did not have an excuse to leave for the next 12 hours.
Cheryl, Scott and his parents went to lunch at a restaurant near Woodland Hills Mall and after they were done, Scott’s mom asked Cheryl if she wanted to go to the mall for a little bit, so Cheryl agreed. After a few hours at the mall, Scott’s mom looked at her watch and said, well it’s time to go back to church.
“I told Scott I didn’t want to go, I went to church with him once and that’s enough, I’m not going back again,” Cheryl said. “He said all the youth meet after church at the youth pastor’s house and we are going to have pizza and play games and he asked me if I would come to that, so I agreed.”
When Cheryl and Scott arrived at the youth pastor’s house, suddenly something became apparent.
“I came to the realization that they had all been praying specifically for me since Scott had met me at that party,” Cheryl said. “After we ate pizza and played some games, we all sat in a circle and the youth pastor just asked for people to share a story about what God has done in your life or a prayer request.”
“These kids my age started talking about how God was working in their life and I have never had that connection with God. I was shaking. I knew this is what I was looking for, but it’s not what I wanted because of what the pastor said that morning.”
Around 10 p.m., Cheryl told Scott it had been a long day and she was ready to go home. As Scott was driving her home, he told her he couldn’t let her out of his truck until he asked her one question. She said she didn’t want him to ask the question, but Scott was persistent and was not going to let her out of the truck until she answered one question. Finally, Cheryl agreed.
“He asked me if I were to die today, what would happen to my soul,” Cheryl said. “Do you know if you would go to Heaven and be with God forever? I told him no, I will not go to Heaven because I am not one of the 144,000. If I have done enough good works, then after I die, I will be resurrected, but if not, I will just die and that will be the end, there will be nothing else.”
Scott then asked Cheryl if he could show her in her Bible that she can know and be with God in Heaven. Cheryl agreed that if he could show her that in her Bible, she would listen to what he had to say. As they opened her Bible, he asked her, if she was going to live forever in paradise, how would that happen? Cheryl said well, you have to make it through the battle of Armageddon and if you survive, God will let you walk into paradise.
Scott asked do you know what it would take to get through and survive the battle of Armageddon? Cheryl didn’t have the answer, so he turned to Revelation and they began to go through several of the judgments during the tribulation. They learned that only half of the earth’s population survives just a portion of the judgments.
“I was shocked,” Cheryl said. “I was terrified and he was reading it from the Bible I thought I was studying and I had never seen that before. He said he didn’t think I had a very good chance at making it and I started shaking again. Then, he said you know there is a way to escape all of that because our souls are eternal and you are going to go to one place or another.”
Cheryl told Scott she didn’t believe in hell, but he responded with, “you know in the New Testament, Jesus talks more about hell than he does Heaven because He came as a deliverer.”
He took her to Luke 16, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Cheryl had always been told it was just a story and Scott said it’s not just a story because God used a name of a real person. All the other stories called parables, it’s a father, son, a widow, but this is Lazarus and a rich man. As they read through it, he said look there is a place of torment and place of peace. They read about Jesus’ death on the cross and how He was not just a martyr, the vail was torn in two and the sky was darkened.
“I asked a lot of questions and he was able to turn to passages and answer all my questions out of my Bible,” Cheryl said. “It was 3:30 a.m., July 6, 1987 and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior sitting on my front porch. I was baptized that following October. For Him to put everything in place starting with a Christmas gift from First Baptist Jenks, it’s a God story.”
Cheryl finished her senior year of high school, attended Oklahoma State University for a year and then transferred to a Christian school in Florida. Following her graduation from college, Cheryl had decided to stay in Florida and that is when she met her eventual husband, Richey. He was a youth pastor and working on his master’s degree.
After they got married, they moved all over the country. Richey pastored churches in North Carolina, Wichita, St. Louis and New York. He also went back to seminary in Tennessee.
“When God moved us from the church in New York, we didn’t have anywhere to go,” Cheryl said. “I had family here in the Tulsa-area at the time, so we moved here. We rented a house in Churchill Park, and as we were moving in, we saw this church across the street and decided to try it out. It was 2011 and (Senior) Pastor Rick (Frie) began talking about celebrating their one-year anniversary of being in the new building. He was telling some stories of where they used to be and as I was sitting there, I suddenly realized, this is First Baptist Jenks.”
After the service, Cheryl and Richey went home and discussed what they thought about the service and about the small group they had visited. Richey said I don’t think we need to talk anymore about it, he said I think that is our church, no doubt about it.
“We joined the next week,” Cheryl said. “In 2013, (Pastor) Rick asked Richey if he would consider coming on staff to take care of the facilities for the church. I started working in the kitchen some and they hired me as the receptionist and I started teaching a women’s class. Those are just some of the amazing things God has let me do through this ministry. We have four children … Joshua, Benjamin, Luke and Annalise. The three youngest have have accepted Christ because of this church. From my first conviction to now, this church has been key in my life.”