Meet Margie Hercker who serves in prison ministry and attends the Bittners’ community group. Be sure not to miss her embarrassing moment. It’s a good one!
Margie, can you tell us when and how you started attending Covenant Fellowship Church?
Sure. I grew up attending St. George’s Church in Glenolden. My older brother was saved in a church in Florida and began to encourage me to attend a Baptist church with him. I did this for several years and this was where I was first introduced to salvation through grace alone. I felt led to look for a different church and one day, on highway 95, I saw a billboard for the Alpha Course. I did a search and found that it was available at Covenant Fellowship. The rest is history.
That’s great! Where do you live now and what community group do you attend?
I live in Boothwyn, PA and attend the Bittners’ CG in Aston.
Tell us about your family.
I am the youngest of three and the only daughter. My brothers are 10 and 12 years older than I am, so I grew up with brothers who were hippies. When I was three years old, I attended Woodstock with my two brothers and parents in our Volkswagen bus. On the way to Woodstock, my dad picked up two hitchhikers and they painted flowers on my face. Although my husband and I don’t have our own kids, we’ve been Aunt and Uncle to many. We even fostered my niece’s kids for three years.
Do you have an interesting family tradition?
Yes. We play a game at Easter called Aper. Each person gets a dyed egg and takes turns hitting the other person’s egg. The person that is left with at least one uncracked side WINS!!! (Bragging rights only.) One year, my brother used a ceramic egg and no one knew……
What is your most embarrassing moment?
While shopping at Walmart, I had on a cute hair extension for a ponytail. After shopping, I walked back to my car and felt someone trying to grab my hair extension right off my head. I started screaming for them to let me go. I then turned around to find that the extension had gotten caught on a car antenna. Then I saw the folks all around cracking up laughing! I quickly untangled the extension and jumped in my car hysterically laughing.
Can you tell us about your job?
I work in health insurance and spend most of my time working with insurance companies to get claims for patients covered. I love talking to patients and helping them understand their insurance, but my favorite part of my job is when I find medical policy buried deep in a plan that provides coverage for someone who thought it wasn’t available.
What are your “five favorites in five words”?
Worship, marriage, animals, outdoors, RVing.
What ministries do you serve in at CFC and how have you have seen God work in one of those ministries?
Ushering, guest reception, the recovery meeting, prison ministry…….I’ve seen God work in all of them, but mainly in prison ministry. Currently, my husband and I are mentoring a young lady who was a student in my classroom at the prison. She is blossoming more and more every week and has a passion for the Lord that is amazing.
What are you currently studying and learning in your devotional times?
I’m currently in a ladies’ Study Together group and I’ve enjoyed studying Colossians and 1 Peter there. My husband and I like to work through the Bible study booklets from the church bookstore.
What is your favorite verse or passage of scripture, and why?
Ephesians 2:8-10. I wasn’t saved until I was 40 years old. Understanding this verse has changed my life: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
If you could talk to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give her?
I would let her know that God has great plans for her and she’s going to be amazed at how He will use her. I would let her know that everything is happening for a purpose and He will redeem it all one day.
When and how did you come to Christ?
Growing up, I attended Catholic school. My family never really attended church except for holidays, so being a Catholic wasn’t a huge part of my life outside of school. My eldest brother was married and moved to Florida with his wife, and several years after he had moved, he was saved in a Christian church there. He and his wife came back from Florida and tried to explain salvation to my parents and older brother. I was still pretty young, but I did listen to what he would say. I knew something had changed in him but, I was too young to really care.
Then, I met the most handsome man in all of South Philadelphia! We married in 1989 and started our life together. We both had issues with drugs and alcohol, but we also wanted to stay in church. During our marriage, we started to explore other denominations. It wasn’t any kind of longing or passion, but just a gentle idea in my head. My brother invited us to a Baptist church he was attending, and that was the first time I really understood grace. We stayed at the church for several years and then my father passed away. I went to our pastor for comfort and sadly, he responded with a harsh answer that my father was in hell.
Because I wanted to find out for myself where my father was, I started to read the Bible. As God planned, I was home all day and God used my time by leading me to a website entitled, “Are You Really Sure You Are Saved?” The site was a study of God’s Word. I found myself so immersed in the Bible that when my husband would get home from work, I was still doing the lesson. Around that time my eyes were opened to what it really means to be a Christian. I started to repent from my sinful lifestyle and read my Bible constantly. A few more years went by and I saw a billboard on 95 to attend the Alpha Course. It was at the retreat that God spoke to me and revealed His plan for my life. Then, two years after that, my husband came to Christ.
What is one situation you have faced or are facing? Share how God moved, or is moving, in the midst of this experience.
I was married at 23 and for the first 20 years of my marriage, my husband was an addict. We had a wonderful marriage, but my job was to conceal his addiction from everyone who knew us. His addiction became worse as time passed and I started to attend AL-Anon. It was a support group for spouses of men and women addicted to drugs and alcohol. The group was supportive, but they also leaned toward protecting yourself from the addict. They went as far as suggesting I start to hide money in case I needed to leave suddenly. I knew I loved my husband and leaving him wasn’t ever going to be an option. My thought was he was either going to end up in prison or dead. Nights that he didn’t come home, I would call hospitals to see if they had any accident victims or drug overdose cases. I worried constantly about my future and about what would happen to my husband. I found myself mentally preparing for where I was going to live when the inevitable happened. Every day, I wondered if this would be the day I get the call that he’s gone. It was a feeling that only other family members of addicts can understand. It felt like my husband was slowly committing suicide right in front of me and there was nothing I could do.
Then I attended Alpha. I accepted that my husband was an addict and whatever happened, God was in control. I stopped calling hospitals when he didn’t come home and even went to bed and slept on nights he stayed out. For two years, my life became more and more about living for Christ and less and less about controlling my husband. It was at the Alpha course that I first shared that my husband was an addict. Then, two years after I was saved, my husband lost his job because of his addiction. At Covenant that Sunday, a prophetic word seemed to be directed straight at us. It was this: “In this room is a couple and the husband was just fired from his job. I think God wants to assure you that He is in control and everything is working for your good.” The person who shared this came and sat directly behind us. I turned to her in tears and said, “My husband was fired yesterday.” We hugged one another and said…”Praise God!” We were praising God because my husband had lost his job. Imagine that!
So while my husband was doing intensive outpatient, he decided to attend the Bridge Course. One day, he came home and told me that he was an addict. He started attending AA meetings and leading prison AA meetings. Now this man teaches about the saving power of Christ in prison and to other addicted men and women. For the past 9 years, I’ve watched God transform him into a new creation and it still doesn’t seem real sometimes. I am so unbelievably blessed and privileged to be Mrs. Joseph Hercker.