Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As a young believer, Tony Vuke discovered God’s power in battling addiction.

Tony Vuke: One of the first things God did when we decided to give Him control over our lives is that He took the desire for alcohol away. He reached out. It was nothing that I could have done. I tried and failed. It was nothing that Pam could do; it was nothing that anyone else could do.

We knew that God had heard our prayers. He was involved in our life now, and so the desire for alcohol was just gone. There was a peace that settled into our household that we’d never experienced before.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, July 22.

All this month we are addressing some of the "rubber meets the road," practical life issues. This week, we’ll hear about God’s power to rebuild the marriage, even after a relationship has been destroyed by pornography. Here’s Nancy to introduce the story.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, I’m so delighted to have in the studio with me today Tony and Pam Vuke who are new friends. Pam, we had the privilege of meeting last year when I was on vacation with some friends of mine.

I was with another couple, and we stopped for dinner at a restaurant. We were only there one time, and during the middle of our—actually, before we’d even placed our order—you came up to our table. You’d been working at the resort that had that restaurant, and you struck up a conversation with us.

Tell us how you came to come up to our table, and from your perspective, how we happened to meet that day.

Pam Vuke: Well, Nancy, it was really funny. Normally I’m not in the restaurant; that’s not where I work. But for some reason, that evening I decided to just walk through the dining room, and I saw this face, a familiar face, but I couldn’t put a name with it. Then it dawned on me, “I think that’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.”

I was so excited because you have influenced my life quite a bit through your teachings. My son Tyler, who’s twenty, works with me, and I went outside where we were doing our event, and I said, “Tyler, you have to come inside because I think Nancy Leigh DeMoss is here visiting our property.”

We went into the restaurant, and we were trying to think of a way that I could come up and introduce myself, if it was really you. I said, “Tyler, I’m going to walk past her, and I’m just going to say ‘Nancy,’ and if she responds, I’ll know it’s her.” We couldn’t get the courage quite up to do that, and so I said, “I tell you what. Tyler, you walk around the dining room, come up the steps, get a really good look at her, and let me know if it’s her.”

Nancy: Of course, I had no idea all of this was going on.

Pam: Exactly. So he came back and said, “A hundred percent sure, Mom, it’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.” It was so funny. We chuckle about it now because here he is—twenty years old, this young man, recognizing Nancy Leigh DeMoss in our restaurant. So at that point I decided to get up the courage to come and introduce myself to you.

Nancy: And I’m so glad you did. That was one of the sweetest conversations. It was the highlight of our vacation, that conversation with you.

Pam: Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy: You came up and introduced yourself and just started telling us about the impact of Revive Our Hearts and the ministry in your life and in your family.

Pam: Right. At that point, you asked me how I’d gotten to know about Revive Our Hearts, and I shared with you that my husband, ten years into our marriage, had confessed to me that he was addicted to pornography.

That spurred in me to want to do everything that I could possibly do to help—myself as a woman, my daughters (we have three daughters), and the young women that were brought into my life—to understand how we could dress more modestly and be more pure in heart; to be able to help men like my husband who are addicted to pornography. Your material was so helpful. So I’ve used your material in helping young women and moms in that area.

Nancy: You shared the miracle of grace that God had done in your and Tony’s lives, in bringing you to faith in Christ and in salvaging your marriage after this revelation about the pornography.

I invited you and Tony to come up to our ministry—actually, it was “down” for you, since we met in northern Michigan and our ministry is in southern Michigan. I asked if both of you would come and share with our staff, which you did in our chapel this morning, and if you would come into the studio and share something of your story with our listeners. It was so encouraging to me, and it has been to our staff, and I know it will be to our listeners as well.

So, Tony, thank you for joining Pam, and for your openness in sharing where God has found you and Pam and the incredible work of His grace in your life. Thank you for being willing to come with Pam and share today.

Tony: You’re welcome, and thank you for the invitation.

Nancy: Tony, you grew up in a large family. Tell us just a little bit about that home.

Tony: Well, I was raised in Bloomington, Indiana, the second to the youngest of seven kids in our family. Our home was very structured. For example, at 6:30 every evening, we would sit down and have dinner together as a family, every single evening. I can’t remember a time when we missed it.

Nancy: Of course, that’s almost unheard of today.

Tony: Yes, it really is, and the daily routines of our household were the same. It was very predictable, very stable, very secure. We went to church every Sunday.

Even though we went to church, God was never talked about at home. I totally missed the whole meaning of the gospel message. So as a result of going to church over and over and really not understanding the whole concept of God or salvation or what He actually did for me on the cross, church was meaningless. I didn’t know God and didn’t really care to know God. By the time I became a teenager, I was a little resentful.

Nancy: Tell us about your teenage years, because Pam has mentioned that there ended up being some addiction to pornography. Where did all that start?

Tony: Well, when I became a teenager, my parents were pretty much uninvolved in my life. I was left to make decisions and to figure out life on my own. During the teenage years there was a lot of confusion, a lot of questions. I felt like all the adults in my life were distant and unapproachable. So I was literally left to find out things on my own, without supervision, without guidance, and also without the Lord in my life. It’s really not good ingredients for a teenager.

It’s not hard to figure out what kind of road I did choose for my life. I figured that as long as it brought me pleasure and made me happy and if I wasn’t hurting anybody, then why not be involved? So at a young age I got involved in drinking and partying, an immoral lifestyle, and pornography. All of those things became a big part of my life at a young age.

Nancy: So you’re in this relatively stable family, but with another life that ended up sowing seeds of real destruction as you approached your adult life.

Tony: Yes.

Nancy: And then, Pam, you were growing up in a very different kind of home. Tell us a little bit about that.

Pam: Well, my home was completely different than Tony’s. Where his home was very structured and very secure, my home was anything but that. I was raised as one of five children. I was second to the youngest. We were raised in a very small town in northern Michigan—that’s where I grew up.

My parents saw to it that we went to church every Sunday, but that was primarily my mom’s doing. I was not raised in a Christian home. I knew God, but He was very distant in my life. My mom was a stay-at-home mom when we kids were younger, but as we got older, she decided to work away from the home. My father’s work took him away from our home during the week, and he would just come home on weekends.

Both of my parents drank and would do that often when they would go out with their friends. When my father would drink, especially liquor, he became very violent and very abusive. Several times, as young children, we witnessed my father abusing my mother. I can remember at a young age lying in bed and being woken up by their fighting after they’d been out with their friends. I’d just cry from the fear and from being afraid that my dad was going to abuse my mother.

Nancy: And you actually saw that kind of thing take place?

Pam: Several times, more often than I would like to admit. We all saw that as young—actually, even as we got older, we would see my dad abuse my mother. We would try to interfere to help my mom, but we were never allowed to.

We were afraid of my dad. He was the type of person that you didn’t want to make angry or disappoint. We were never really allowed to share our feelings or our thoughts or opinions with our father, especially if they differed from his. He always made us feel very small. He’d belittle us and just get angry if our opinions were different than his.

So being raised in that type of atmosphere, I grew up with a lot of fear and a lot of insecurity in my life. That carried on into my adult life. It just had a very negative impact on my life and the relationships I encountered later on in life.

Nancy: Did you find yourself looking for love or for relationships that were different than what you’d experienced in your home?

Pam: I always tried to find my dad’s love and approval. I think every child wants that type of relationship, especially between a father and a daughter. I can remember when I was growing up, when my dad would come home on Friday evenings, I would meet him at the door and want to take his boots off—to unlace his boots and take his boots off.

He used to love it when I would shave him, so that was always a big deal for me to lather up his face, and he would sit there and I would shave him. Or I can remember that we had this old workshop out back, and in the winter months, my dad would go out there and putter around. He was a big fisherman and hunter. He liked to hunt. When he would work on his snowmobile, or when he would clean the fish after ice fishing, I would always be out there, even though it was really cold.

I just wanted to be by my dad, at his side, working with him and trying to gain that love and approval, but never being able to do that.

I’d been in several relationships prior to meeting Tony that were very hurtful. When I met Tony, I was at that place in my life that I wanted to meet somebody who was going to love me and accept me for me, somebody that made me feel safe and secure, and that I knew I could totally trust. I was nineteen when I met him. For the first time in my life, I felt like he was that person who just loved and accepted me. We dated for a little over a year.

Nancy: I understand that pretty early on, Tony, Pam was convinced that you were the one she was going to marry.

Tony: Yes. It kind of scared me. Two weeks into our relationship, she looked at me and said, “You know what? You’re the one I’m going to marry.” How was I supposed to react?

Nancy: How did you react? Did that scare you a little bit?

Tony: Oh, yes. I had to step back and think, What did she just say?

Nancy: So it took you a little longer than two weeks to be sure?

Tony: Well, I was the type of person that had to put her through the test. I had to see how she was in different situations before I would ask her to marry me, and she passed the test.

Nancy: So you needed three or four weeks?

Tony: At least three or four weeks, yes.

Pam: That just goes to show you how different our personalities are, and our backgrounds. People get a chance to know me right away because of my personality, and Tony’s a little more laid back and more reserved. So I think it was quite a surprise when I threw that one at him. I think I should have waited a little bit.

Nancy: But you did marry.

Pam: We did.

Nancy: About a year after you met?

Pam: Yes. We had dated for a little over a year, and we got married. I was just shy of twenty-one and Tony was twenty-three. Our first year of marriage, we moved about a half-hour south of where I was raised. In our first year of marriage, we bought our first home, bought a business, had our first baby—our first daughter—and fifteen months later, we had our second daughter. So you can imagine, not knowing the Lord, not having Him in our lives, and with all the responsibility and stress of raising a family, that things weren’t looking too promising for us.

Nancy: Tony, how would you describe those early years of marriage? Lots of changes. What was the atmosphere like in your home during those days?

Tony: Early on in our marriage, my drinking and my irresponsibility became a big wedge in our marriage relationship, so there were some definite struggles that we were facing early on.

Nancy: How did that irresponsibility manifest itself?

Tony: I can remember Pam being home with our two little ones and being pregnant. I would tell her that I’d be home at a certain time, and then I’d get with my friends and be drinking and show up three hours later, without having any kind of consideration or . . . I was living for myself. Those kinds of things were going on.

Nancy: Which wasn’t exactly, Pam, the kind of secure, stable, trustworthy environment you had hoped for after the home you had grown up in.

Pam: Not at all. I can remember thinking about two years into our marriage. I saw and witnessed what my mother went through with my father, how my mother stayed with my father. I was not going to live that kind of life. I didn’t want that kind of life. And at that point, I told Tony that I was going to leave him if things didn’t change.

Tony: That was hard. That was hard for me. I think that was the first time I realized how bad I was messing up—not only messing up my life, but now I’ve got my wife involved, and my kids. My family’s future was being affected by my actions, my decisions, and the way I was living. That was very difficult for me.

Pam had her bags packed, and she was ready to leave me. The whole idea of divorce was very humbling for me. I didn’t want to go there, and so I was kind of backed into this corner. I knew I had to change, yet I knew that in my own strength, I didn’t know how to get there. I knew I needed help.

Looking back, God uses destructive things to bring us to a place of repentance, and that was what was going on. There’s a series of events that took place in our lives that brought us both to that place of saying, “God, take our lives and help us.” Pam was pregnant with Danielle, our third child, when we gave our lives to Jesus Christ, accepting Him as our Lord and our Savior.

Nancy: And there wasn’t any person involved, or church service, or other means that God used. Were you pretty much on your own there?

Pam: No. There were some people that were influential in that. Tony had two brothers that had given their lives to the Lord, and I’d watched their lifestyle. They didn’t drink, and they didn’t party, and they weren’t doing all the things that Tony and I were doing, but they had such a peace in their homes and in their lives.

That struck me as being different, and I was thinking, “How can they have such a peace?” Those are things that I wanted desperately. It was God in their lives that was giving them that peace, so that spoke volumes to me. That was a big influence to me.

Nancy: They made Christ believable.

Pam: They did. Through their lives and their actions.

Tony: Even though we didn’t understand what they had. We didn’t understand the whole message of the cross; we didn’t even know what “born again” meant. It was just a really honest and sincere prayer: “God, help us. We’ve messed up our lives. We know we need help. Help us.” We were sitting in our living room praying that. And God, in an incredible way, just got involved in our lives.

Nancy: He heard that prayer.

Tony: He heard the prayer, and He started revealing Himself to us, breaking down our preconceived ideas of who He was. We had total misconceptions.

I can remember, prior to giving our lives to the Lord, knowing I had to quit drinking. I quit for two weeks, yet every day I was desiring alcohol, and the desire was so strong in me that every day it was a battle. One of the first things God did when we decided to give Him control over our lives was that He took the desire for alcohol away. He reached out. It was nothing that I could have done. I tried and failed. It was nothing that Pam could do; it was nothing that anyone else could do.

We knew that God had heard our prayers. He was involved in our life now, and so the desire for alcohol was just gone. There was a peace that settled into our household that we’d never experienced before.

I can remember having just a strong hunger and thirst—both Pam and I—for God’s Word, and to really find out who this God is that we were just introduced to. We immediately got involved in a church that taught the Word of God. And really, it was at that time when we started seeking God—not for our purposes but for His purposes and plan for our life—that we felt hope, and we felt more secure in our relationship and where we were heading.

Nancy: We’re going to continue with this story on the next Revive Our Hearts. There’s a lot more to it, but let me just say, I know there are those listening today who’ve been hearing Pam and Tony’s story, and maybe your life is in confusion; it’s disoriented. It may be in your marriage, it may be in other relationships, in the workplace, or just in your own personal life.

I hope that you’ve heard carefully what Tony and Pam shared about coming to the place where they were at the end of themselves, at the end of their rope. They couldn’t fix life themselves, and so they looked up. They turned their hearts toward Christ, and without any big theological terms, or any deep theological understanding at that point, they just said, “Help, Lord. We need You, and we surrender our lives to You.”

God is a God who hears that prayer. He hears the cry of the person who is desperate for Him. Today may be the day that God is pricking your heart, revealing Himself to you, and calling and drawing you to Himself. I would just invite you to stop where you are, with or without your mate, and to say, “Lord, help. I need You. Come into my life. I surrender my life to You. Come and take these broken pieces and make out of my life what You intend for me to be.”

God will hear that prayer, if it’s prayed from your heart. Today could be for you the first day of a fresh start—a new life. God will make you a new person, as He did with Tony and Pam Vuke.

If you’ve cried out to the Lord that way today, could I just ask you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and send us an email? Jot us a note, and let us know that you have cried out to the Lord in that way.

We would love to pray for you and to send you some materials that will help you take the next step in your walk with the Lord—because it is a walk. It’s a journey, and we would love to rejoice with you in what God has done in your life and to help you take that next step. So let us know, “I’ve cried out to the Lord today. I’ve asked Him to come into my life,” and we’d like to connect with you.

I hope you’ll join us the next time on Revive Our Hearts as we hear the next chapter in the ongoing story of God’s grace and His dealing in the lives of Tony and Pam Vuke.

Leslie: If today is the first day of a new life for you, as Nancy just described, we do want to hear from you. Again, the website is ReviveOurHearts.com.

Click on “contact us” and let us know about your newfound faith. At no charge, we’d like to send you a booklet that describes what it means to walk with God day by day. Or call us at 1-800-569-5959 and we’ll send the free material.  

We’re able to offer these resources at no charge and provide the kind of program you’ve heard today because our listeners give. When you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, it will be multiplied in many homes and hearts across the country.

When you donate any amount, we’d like to say thanks by sending you one of Nancy’s books, Choosing Forgiveness. She’ll show you why forgiving others is crucial. She’ll show you how to have the power to forgive when it seems impossible. And she’ll walk you through a process of being free from unforgiveness and bitterness.

Ask for Choosing Forgiveness when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com

Tomorrow we’ll continue the story of Tony and Pam Vuke. They had a new faith and a new freedom from alcohol, but there was another huge area of bondage that would come to light. I hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Pam: Tony came home a admitted to many that he had been addicted to pornography for the first ten years of our marriage. I was absolutely devastated because he had become a person that I became very vulnerable with; that I totally trusted and loved. 

I can just remember thinking to myself, How can somebody say they love you and do something like this to you. I think the thing that was so hurtful to me was that he kept that from me for ten years, so I felt very confused at that point in our lives. I felt very betrayed. I don't know if I would trust Tony again. Anything he said to me I was always questioning it and wondering if he was telling me the truth.

So we worked really hard at trying to put the pieces of our marriage back together again. We did make some progress, but it was very difficult.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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