By Rich Brown
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Betty Bower is a woman of faith. Her faith in God has carried her far in life and has left a lasting impression on the lives of countless others.
If anyone has put faith into action, it is Bower, 76, a native of Duncan, Okla., who moved to Joplin 37 years ago and bought Maggie's Laundry. She later changed the name of the store to Betty's, which is where she says many of the miraculous experiences in her life have occurred.
Bower has been so moved by these experiences, some of which she describes as life-changing, that she decided to write a book, "Supernatural Happenings at Betty's Laundry."
She dedicated the 237-page book to her seven daughters and their families, which, she said, might have thought of her as having led a boring life filled mostly with hard work. However, before they finish the book, she said "they are going to be so envious of me and wish they had half as much excitement in their lives."
The book actually started out as a small notebook for her daughters. Then Bower realized that it wouldn't be adequate in relating all the supernatural happenings in her life.
Bower said that some of the people who have decided to read her book have done so without having a firm understanding of the word "supernatural." In Bower's terms, "supernatural" is simply something that is beyond explanation and often has characteristics or can be attributed to God.
In the first five chapters of her book, Bower tells of her childhood days; getting married at 16; raising a family in Arkansas; and moving to Joplin and starting her laundry business in 1976.
Although she said she would have been content to continue her life on an Arkansas farm, she said God had a different plan: moving to Joplin and eventually becoming a businesswoman and evangelist.
She said it soon became apparent that her laundry was more than just a business but a place where she, as a Christian, could exercise her faith by encouraging others to put their trust in God. Shortly after she bought the laundry, she said she was witnessing to Baptist ministers about being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Bower said the stories she relates are not exaggerated one word and that witnesses who were present at nearly all the incidents can back her up.
She tells the story of a woman who was in dire need of $150 to pay her rent and stay in her apartment, and then found that exact amount in a dryer.
Another woman came into the laundry while only Betty was there working. The woman told her that her boyfriend, who was just released from prison on child molestation charges, had asked her and her two children to move in with him, even though the children were objecting.
"I told her, 'I cannot believe this,'" Bower said. "'This is such an ungodly, sick-minded, rotten world. Parents are supposed to be taking care of their children and protecting them, and here you are throwing them to the wolves.' I told her that she should get her children into church."
Bower said that a few years later the woman came back into the laundry to thank her and let her know that she had rededicated her life to the Lord and that she had not moved in with the man.
Relating to that incident in chapter 7, Bower writes: "Some people would say that, as a Christian, I should mind my own business. Well, I believe this was the Lord's business. The Bible says if we do not tell a person that they are to stop sinning, and they die in their sins and have not repented, their blood will be on your hands. We are to love especially our brothers and sisters and warn them of their wrong ways, causing them to repent, so they do not have to suffer the consequences."
Bower, who worked as a longtime assistant to Thora Shaw (known as the Jailhouse Mom for her many years of prison ministry), has meant for the book to be encouraging to new Christians. Her hope is that it will help them understand how the spirit of God can lead everyone out of their troubles. She said she wants it to help those who do not know God to put their faith and trust in him.
Book Available for free
Bower said she worked several years on the book, putting countless hours and her own money into it. The book, with 20,000 copies being printed, is free and will never be for sale, she said. Anyone wishing to donate money toward the publishing costs may send donations to Betty Bower, P.O. Box 335, Joplin, MO 64802. She added that none of the donations will go to her.
Copies of the book are available at various churches and other sites, as well as the laundry, 615 S. Jackson St.
Bower is working on a follow-up book, which she hopes to complete this year. More information may be obtained at www.Betty Bower.com or by calling the laundry at 623-5504.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.