JC man led to host Leavell benefit

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com
Bruce Davis of Johnson City has been an ordained minister since 1968. He pastored a church in Gate City and then went into evangelistic work. A heart attack and a stroke left him in a wheelchair for five years.
"For five years, all I did was pray, 'Lord, if you just give me my voice, I won't ask you for anything else.' But He brought me out of it," Davis said.
Three years ago, he got started in Internet evangelism. "I felt like there were so many people out there hurting. I wanted to have an outlet where they could send their prayer requests and they could express their needs.
"So many have told me that it's so much easier for them to come to me through the Internet and submit their prayer requests, or tell me the problems they're having without doing it with their pastor and then having to go on Sunday and face him after that."
News of Davis's prayer ministry spread. He joined a couple prayer circles and "once they found out I was a minister, they just started submitting their prayer requests to me personally. It just finally grew to where I'm in constant contact with about 450 -- these are the members that are there every day. But all total, there's well over 3,000 people in there, and they all contact me," Davis said.
He met Lynda Leavell and her husband, Eddie, of Boyd, Texas, through the Internet. Davis said the Leavells "have had such an impact on my life, especially Lynda, that I'm 10 times the Christian and the minister I was before I met her."
Davis is spearheading an Oct. 11 benefit at Keystone Community Center in Johnson City to raise funds for Lynda Leavell, founder of a Texas prayer ministry. She is 20th on a waiting list at Baylor Medical Center for a liver transplant. Costs for follow-up care are astronomical, and in the meantime, the Leavells continue to incur mounting medical bills as Lynda duels with death.
Though he's never met the Leavells personally, Davis says, "with the contact and the communications that we've had for almost two years, I couldn't love my blood relatives any more than I love them.
"It's one thing when we see somebody around us in need, to go and reach out and do what we can for that person; but it's really a blessing in itself to reach out to someone that you've never laid eyes on, and to help."
Davis said Lynda is amazed that people in Tennessee are so concerned and are willing to show their love for someone they have never met. "She said it was so humbling to know that so many were praying for her and are willing to reach out to help her through this difficult time in her life," he said.
She and her husband prepared a video of thanks which will be played at the benefit, to be held noon to 11 p.m. Oct. 11, at Keystone Community Center in Johnson City.
"We're going to be having a bake sale, if I can persuade some people to bake the cakes," Davis said. "I've had some merchants donate some gifts. We'll be raffling those off to raise some money. We'll have a cakewalk, and at the end of the program there will be an auction for whatever is left." Every dime that comes in will go to the Leavells.
There will be lots of gospel music throughout the day, including Carolyn Bell of Burleson, Texas; Dale Johnston, a singer from Springdale, Ark.; Bob and Ardetta who have a broadcast daily on WLFG-TV; David and Julie Kodak of Roan Mountain, Nancy Harris of Kingsport, Brenda Bires, of Bluff City, and Janice Johnson of Erwin.
"I'm trying to get a choir together to come over and help out, but if I can't get a church to bring their choir, then I'm going to ask everyone in the audience to join in and we'll all just have a hoedown," Davis said.
Persons wanting to assist with the benefit or to donate food or items for auction can contact Davis at 926-4914; or write him at Faithful Way Ministries, 305 Hillcrest Drive, Johnson City, TN 37604. Items may be brought to the community center anytime after 9 a.m. Oct. 11.
Donations also may be made by major credit card through PayPal using a link found on Davis's Web page (www.faithfulwayministries.org) or by mailing to: Eddie and Lynda Leavell, 306 S. Agnew, Boyd, Texas 76023.