By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Second in a series 

A “fiat” to God can open people’s hearts and free them from addictions, Judy Holston testified at a Day of Healing, sponsored by the Office of Charismatic Renewal of Healing on Aug. 10 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge.  

Holston, a member of the inner-healing prayer team of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, shared her own personal and inspiring story of redemption.  

She opened by recalling how the trauma of war haunted Holston’s husband, Tommy, a Vietnam veteran.  

“He was a broken, tortured soul here on earth. No matter how hard he tried, life seemed to dish out a rough hand,” said Holston. “He was bitter and resentful at times, yet loving and kind at times. It was a roller coaster of ups and downs. Drugs re-entered the picture and life was never the same. He called his times of drug use his ‘insanity.’ ”  

The Holstons were married 14 years when Tommy was in the oilfield and took the same drug he had used in Vietnam.  

“He left his family. Our children and I were devastated,” Holston said, adding that is when the real roller coaster started.  

She said Tommy would get cleaned up and have a great job but something always managed to happen to bring him back to drugs.  

“In the process of his abandonment of our family and in my devastation, I drew closer to the Mother of Sorrows, the suffering in Christ,” Judy said. “The pain was real, the rejection was overbearing at times, and I carried it for a long time.”  

One day God reminded Judy he already suffered and asked her to move on with joy and peace.  

“My position as (Tommy’s) wife was to pray for him, but I could not save him. God made himself real to me and my life journey changed. It has not been the same. He gave me a second chance, a fresh start and a new beginning,” said Judy.  

She loved her husband with a deeper, agape love.  

“That is when I started my crusade of prayers. No matter how many times he hurt me or was cruel in words or actions, I made a determined effort to forgive and I prayed fervently for him and my children, for they had reached the teenage years and were broken themselves,” Judy said.  

Judy and Tommy became friends and he talked with her about Vietnam and his problems. 

“Yet he noticed a changed in me and my love of the Lord and my love for him, and it scared him,” Judy said. “He kept saying, ‘I am not who you think I am.’ The ‘real Tommy’ was searching to be free despite his pain and misery and couldn’t understand God was showing me who God intended him to be.”  

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Judy Holston


He told his buddies the biggest fear was that he would wake up and “Judy’s prayer group would be praying over him.”  

“He got confirmation from one of his drug buddies, who said it wasn’t him that was so afraid, it was the demons driving him,” Judy said. “(Tommy) called our prayer group to pray with him two weeks before he died. He spent the rest of his life writing letters to his buddies, witnessing to them and writing prayers.”  

Tommy was raised Baptist, but respected Judy’s Catholic faith.  

When Tommy’s minister visited him to “ready to go home,” he told the minister that gifts of blessed prayer cloth and holy water from Lourdes did more for him than any pain medicine.  

The weekend before he died, Tommy told Judy that Jesus appeared to him and gave him a key and said when the time was ready to open the door. All that week he positioned his hand as if holding a key.  

“The morning he died he said, ‘I have to go, he’s here, I have to go, he is at the door.’ He took his oxygen mask off and laid down and died peacefully,” Holston said. 

After a retreat, the Lord brought a song to Judy’s heart she had not thought about in a while, and she realized the door was Tommy’s heart.  

“He had built such a wall around his heart because of the war that the morning he died he had finally opened up his heart and gave the Lord the last thing he held in his heart. The Lord was finally able to set him free,” Judy said. “He lived a broken, tortured life, but minutes before he died, he let Jesus in. I fully believe he died a free child of God and those demons that drove and tortured him lost the soul they thought they had.”  

Judy told attendees God wanted to answer their prayers.  

“God is wanting to do the same for us. He wants to set captives free. The choice is yours,” Judy said.  

She noted in the picture of the Good Shepherd knocking on the door, there is no doorknob on the outside.  

“Jesus cannot let himself in. He stands patiently waiting for us to open the door,” Judy said.