IT’S NEVER TOO LATE
An interview with Stan Pouw
by Eric Elder
I’d like to share a special testimony with you today that I recorded and put on The Ranch website about 12 years ago. It’s about a man who divorced his wife after 24 years, then watched his highly successful business plummet into a million dollars in debt. Then he called out to God saying, “I want to get to know You.” The way God answered that prayer is nothing short of miraculous as God began to turn his life around, helped him to get back together with his wife and discover the Ultimate Dream, eternal life with God Himself. Stan Pouw is not just any man, but he’s my cousin, my friend and now my brother in Christ.
You can watch the video of this interview in either English, or Stan’s native language, Indonesian, as we recorded it in both, or you can read the transcript in English below.
Here are the videos…
And here’s the transcript…
Hi this is Eric Elder and welcome to The Ranch.
Tonight’s message is called “It’s Never Too Late.” I have a special guest with me tonight named Stan Pouw. He’s come to visit us from Denver, Colorado. He has a very special story to share with you tonight.
I just want to ask him a few questions and let you hear how God has worked in Stan’s life and just the amazing miracle of a new birth that any one of us can have when we trust in God and we answer the call of God on our life.
Stan has been through a divorce and God has brought him back together with his wife. He has also brought Stan into full-time ministry. I don’t mean to give away the end of the story, but I want to let you know that your in for a special testimony tonight.
We’re focusing in a verse from 1 John 1:9 that says this:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
So tonight you will hear how God can forgive us of anything and it’s never too late.
ERIC: Stan, I guess I just really want to hear a little bit… if you just want to let people know what your life was like before God called you.
STAN: Well, I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in Indonesia and I came here to the United States when I was 21 years old. I studied here and got my masters from the University of Michigan in architecture.
Coming to the United States was for me sort of a dream come true. I was focusing on getting a large architectural firm, getting married and having a family. I think one of my goals was to have a big house and live a life that was part of the American Dream. So I was pursuing all those things that I thought would bring me happiness.
I started a firm in architecture after I had apprenticed seven years in Denver, Colorado and the firm quickly grew and grew until I had about 55 people. I was involved in the Denver International Airport, did a lot of work on a lot of big projects, built a big house for myself.
Becky and I had three kids and I was pursuing all those things that I thought would bring me happiness. I thought, “If I could just get this large house in Genesee, if I could just get a better car, if I could just get more people and more jobs, I would be happy.”
But I found out that I was very unhappy. Becky and I were continually having fights, I was lured in a trap of focusing on myself. I thought that being the president of my own firm with a lot of important other things that I was doing, I thought that I had it made, that I could do whatever I wanted. And I was seeking happiness.
So, I had to find happiness. In fact, after I had a large house and a big business, I went even as far as looking for other women. And Becky knew that and our relationship got worse and worse. And after 24 years of marriage in 1992, our marriage fell apart and I got a divorce.
ERIC: And that’s about when I came to see you. I had heard that Stan had gotten a divorce. We had met each other casually over the years, but I didn’t really know you well, but I just sensed that was not God’s plan for you.
It turned out that, as we prayed about this, a business trip opened up to Denver. And then the business trip fell through and I said, “No, God, I think I’m supposed to go.” I called my office back and asked if they might need me to go for a different project. They said that would be great and to go to Denver.
And we got to spend a little time talking. I guess I’d like to have you share a little bit about that and how God made that call on your life.
STAN: Well, when Eric came into my life, it was in fact after the divorce. When I divorced Becky, I gave her everything I owned, I gave the houses, and I figured that with my company, I would make whatever I gave to her, I would make it back again.
But I think God had something totally different in mind. It was as if God said, “Enough Stan, you did enough damage by yourself.” And after the divorce, everything I did, Eric, everything, that before was the right decision, this time was the wrong decision.
In a very short amount of time, God took away the profitable business I had, people were leaving right and left. There was a lot of competition to get good people in Denver at the time and some people wanted to start there own business. And when you have a large company, when things are not managed correctly, when there are a lot of things happening that you don’t know, suddenly a profitable business becomes a very unprofitable business.
Within six months from being a profitable business, I was in debt by a million dollars. My son was having trouble. He came to live with me and everything I had worked for was gone. My marriage was gone, my firm was gone, my family life was gone and when Eric called, I was really at the bottom of everything. People were telling me, “Stan, you better declare bankruptcy.”
And so, when you came, it was something that I had not expected. And when you told me your life story, and told me how you were called to God, and asked me what I wanted, I said, “God, if there is anything, I want to get to know You. If you are a God, and you are the God of this universe, I just want to get to know you.”
I remember after you left, I sat in the car for a long, long time. It was nine o’clock at night, it was dark already. And I gave my life to Christ that night.
The next morning, I decided, well, I’ve got to start learning how to find out who is this God. And so I went to a bookstore. I tried to find the books, I tried to find a book to find out what I needed to know and I just picked a book at random that happened to be Billy Graham’s “Holy Spirit,” a red book. And that point changed my life. I started reading the Bible, for the very first time, I started reading the Bible.
When I was divorced I didn’t have a Bible. You gave me your Bible. I started reading that Bible and I started discovering who God was. I started learning. I started reading the whole front to back, Old Testament to New Testament in a matter of three months. I was just going over it very quickly.
Later on I was going back slower and slower and everything changed. My life changed, my attitude changed, and deep down, although I had never changed my mind before, although I had never gone back on something I had decided, I knew I had to go back to my wife, the wife of my youth. It took a lot of time, because it took a lot of time for me to get the courage to come back to her and to ask Becky for forgiveness. And to say, “Becky, you know, I’ve sinned, I’ve done wrong.”
Well, it took about a year and a half before I was able to go back to Becky. When Becky and I talked again, she did what any woman would have done. She said, “I don’t believe you.” And so I understood that I had to prove to her – trust is something that can go away, very quickly – but you have to prove that it is true.
She decided to try me out again and we saw each other. She saw me getting baptized. I tried to find the right church. I finally found a church where I felt that the minister was talking to me. It was the Riverside Baptist Church.
I got baptized the same day that, a week after I first arrived there and God was able to change a wrecked situation. He was able to change something that I had totally ruined and create something wonderful out of it.
When we got married again, the whole family got married again. When we got married again, I learned for the first time how to really love. I used to be, before, a person that couldn’t cry. I had no tears for anybody, I was very stoic. But God opened up my heart, a heart of stone, and made it a heart that was alive for him.
You know, love is not something that you can learn by yourself. Love is something that God can teach you. It’s never too late. I was 52 years old when it happened. 52 years. And now I’m 59 and God has used me in a mighty way. When I got married again, the whole family got married.
And now, my wife is helping me because not only am I an architect, but I am also a minister. God has shown me what He wanted to do in my life. He’s used me to help others that have struggled with an unhappy marriage, that have struggled with a divorce.
It’s never too late. God can do miracles. God is in the business of doing miracles. He still will do miracles. He’s an almighty God.
But we have to learn to put Him first. We have to learn to humble ourselves. We have to learn to ask for forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 says if we are willing to ask God for forgiveness, He will always forgive you. He will always bring you back to Him. He’s a mighty loving God. He’s an ever loving God.
I’ve got involved in a ministry, Eric, and it’s something that I had never thought about. It’s not something that I grew up thinking about. But God called me to a ministry for Indonesians. Now I’m serving Him every day.
ERIC: Now you have 75 or so every week.
STAN: Yeah, we have a ministry called the Riverside Indonesian Fellowship where I minister to Indonesians. It’s a satellite church to the Riverside Baptist Church. I’m now an ordained minister and my life is given over to service. To tell others about how great a God we have. How wonderful a God we have that is willing to forgive us no matter how much we have screwed up our life.
You know, you can’t find happiness in things, in material things, in houses, in cars, in anything. You can only find happiness in a relationship with God. That relationship is the first and foremost thing that is important in anybody’s life.
If any of you that listen to this, if you have a problem, if you feel that you’ve screwed up – and we all have – do not wait. Ask God for help. Ask Him to forgive you and He will come into your life. He will come and live into your heart. He will be a force in your life that’s unmistakable. He will give you peace. He’s the only One that can give you peace.
You know, looking back, Becky and I talked over the fact that I have changed so dramatically. And we were talking about is that something that we could have done ourselves and we both decided that, looking back, you can see God’s hands in everything that we went through. We can see God’s hand in bringing me down so from a proud person I learned how to be humble. From a person that was interested in myself, I learned to love God first.
I learned how to love. You know, this is an amazing thing. I thought love had to do with doing a few things, saying a few things, but I didn’t understand that love means giving of yourself. And seeing how another person loves you.
You know, for the first time, I realized that Becky truly loved me, that she was able to take me back, although I had hurt her so much. And yet now we have a better marriage, better than ever.
Now, for the first time, we’re totally open. We’re able to love one another, freely, openly. And we’re able to get to know one another and communicate openly.
It’s a gift, it’s a gift from God, the ability to love one another. It sounds kind of trite, it sounds easy, but for me it was the most difficult thing to do. And now, I’m teaching others that we first have to love God and God has to then show us how we can love our fellow men. Those are the most fundamental things. But I’m here to say that there is nothing that God cannot do in your life.
ERIC: If someone watching us just wanted to experience God the way you’ve experienced Him and really get to know Him the way you did, what would be just the simplest explanation you could give them for how they could take that first step?
STAN: The first step is to realize who you are, that you are a person with a lot of sin. And then you have to ask for forgiveness from God. You have to repent. You have faith in God and you have to surrender your life to God. Surrendering means saying, “God, no matter what I have done, Lord, You know what I’ve done, and I’m asking You for forgiveness, and I’m asking you to come live in me.” And God can then change your heart of stone into a heart of blood, a heart full of love. And God will change everything about you. You will become a new person in Him.
All the things that I had before, I might look the same, but inside of me they all have changed. I used to be, before, for pro-choice. And now I can’t think anything other than pro-life. I don’t understand how I could ever have thought about pro-choice.
Before, I used to focus on myself. You know, the basic problem with all of us is that we tend to focus on ourselves. And what we really need to do is focus on God and then focus on somebody beyond ourselves. What God has called us all to do is to serve Him and then love others. Love God and love others. And the only way to do that is to think beyond yourself.
So if you learn how to deal with others, and learn how to give yourself to others, then you’re fulfilling what God wants out of your life.
ERIC: We’re going to take a few minutes to pray and I’d like to give people just some quiet time. I’m going to play a little bit on the piano for just one or two minutes and let them just let these words soak into their heart.
Maybe they’re a person who is already a believer in Christ, but they’re going through a struggle that they feel like they’ve gone too far and they feel like they can’t be forgiven of something that they’ve done. Maybe they just need to know that God can still forgive that, too.
Maybe they’re a person who has been through a difficult marriage or even a divorce and God wants to call them to reconcile with that person. Maybe they’ve been on the edges of sin, or are fully enmeshed in sin and they just want to step out of that and step into the light.
Or maybe they’ve never put their faith in Christ, they’ve never answered the call of God on their life and they want to do that now.
We’re going to give you a chance to pray on your own about that for a minute or two and then Stan and I will come back and we will just say a prayer for you right here whatever your situation might be. We’re just going to pray and ask God to speak into your life. So as I play, just let these scriptures be on your heart. You can read the scripture again from 1 John 1:9 on the screen and you can ask God what He wants to do in this time we have left together.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
ERIC: Let’s pray together.
Lord, we just thank you for calling us. Thank you for calling me, Lord, thank you for calling Stan. Thank you for calling those who are watching and feel drawn to you right now. God I pray for anyone going through a situation that they feel is too much for them to handle. I pray that they would be able to put their trust in You, put their faith in You. For anyone who wants that relationship with You like Stan has, I just pray that they would listen to his words, for they are words of Yours, God, and I pray that they would act on those and respond to those.
Lord, I pray for people who are struggling with divorce, are struggling with putting their trust fully in You, that as Stan prays right now that those people would hear the words that he speaks as being from a man who has seen the other side and he has come through. And he has now seen what reconciliation looks like with his wife and with God through Jesus. Lord, just let them listen to his prayer right now that they can be made whole.
STAN: Oh, Lord, thank you Lord, for allowing me to get this gift that You have given. Lord, I pray for all of those people that are going through troubles right now. Lord, there are so many that have difficulty with their partners. And Lord, they don’t feel that they love their partner anymore or are not loved by their partner. And Lord, we want to ask Your guidance to show them that love is not a feeling that goes away. Love is a commitment. It’s the same commitment that You have for us. It’s the same commitment that Christ has for His church. And Lord there’s nothing that can take us away from Your love. And so teach everyone Lord, teach everyone that is feeling real low, feeling despondent, feeling hurt, that if they turn to You, if they’re willing to turn to You first as You’ve said in Matthew 6:33 if we seek You first, O Lord, everything else will be taken care of.
And Lord I know that it seems impossible, but we have a God that works with the impossible. We have a God that works miracles in relationships every day. And Lord, teach us to be humble. Teach us to be willing to ask for forgiveness. Teach us to change our proud hearts into loving hearts, forgiving hearts, and hearts that are full of willingness to change.
Lord, before You called me, I was full of self-love, full of interest in myself, but You changed that. And Lord I pray that for those that are feeling these very difficulties right now. It might be that their wife has left them. It might be that they’re in the middle of a bitter fight. It might be that their partner has cheated on them. O Lord, it might be a myriad of other things. There is nothing, there is absolutely nothing that God cannot fix. If we are willing to turn and repent and ask God to come into our life.
And that is really the most important thing, that if we learn to seek Him and to ask Him into our life and then everything else will be solved. This is what is the truth in my relationship. And if you are willing to humble yourself, you can experience peace, a peace that passes all understanding. You can experience love, a love that is from God, a love that is overpowering, a love that is all-forgiving, a love that is willing to seek not it’s own, but seek the other’s comfort.
Oh, there’s so much that we can learn about love, but it cannot happen unless we seek Him first, unless we have a relationship with Him. And Lord, I pray that every one, no matter how much they feel lost in a relationship, or no matter how long they have put off this relationship with You, that You will rekindle that fire. O God, only You can rekindle this and strengthen us and comfort us. And Lord we pray that You will supernaturally change every heart that’s seeking You.
And Lord we pray for all of those that are hurting, and we pray that You can change everything for Your glory, for Your glory Lord. Because all of this is for Your glory. We ask You this in the name of Jesus, Almighty Savior, Amen.
ERIC: Amen. Stan, I know that’s been encouraging to people and it’s wonderful to hear. Here in my Bible you had written – when I gave you this Bible the first time – you wrote, “Visit by Eric Elder” and you dated it and you called this Bible a “Gift of God.” Then when you got back with your wife – you had given me the Bible back – I had written here that I got a call from Stan and Becky that they were back together again.
After all that time of praying and just seeing God answer that prayer for a situation that did seem impossible. Certainly from the outside, your wife didn’t want to get back together, your in-laws didn’t want you to get back together, you didn’t want to get back together, but God wanted you back together. And the only way you could do that was to fully surrender to Jesus Christ.
So this always encourages me just to look in here again and even when I face difficult prayers to say that God does answer even those impossible cases.
I hope you’ve been encouraged by this tonight too. We hope that you will check out the rest of The Ranch. If you’d like to pray a specific prayer, you can go to the Prayer Page at The Ranch and know that others will pray for you about your situation.
Thanks for coming and I hope you’ll join us here again at The Ranch.
If you enjoyed our recent series on how to keep trusting in God even in the face of significant loss, you can now get a paperback version for yourself or family or friends. The book is called “Making the Most of the Darkness” and there are 3 easy ways to get a copy: 1) Buy the book directly from Amazon at this link, 2) Make a donation of any size to The Ranch from this link and we’ll send you a copy as our way of saying thanks, or 3) If you’ve already read these messages (as we’ve shared them online during the past year) and want to write a 1-2 sentence review on Amazon from this link, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of the book! Just email us your name, address and a link to your review. Your reviews help to get the word out about the book so we can get God’s Word out to even more people. Thank you!