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Former tent revivalist promoting woman’s story of three decades of domestic abuse

North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville residents who liked going to tent revivals in years gone by, might remember Rev. Ronald Childress.

For about 30 years, he traveled across the state, including the local area, spreading the message of faith he feels so passionately about.

However, this holiday season, Pastor Childress is spreading a different type of message. But he isn’t the leader of this cause. Rather, he is a support system to one of his church members, Evelyn Fort Stewart, 86, of Mountain Home, who recently published a book detailing her 32 years of suffering domestic abuse at the hands of her late husband.

The book is called “Behind Closed Doors.”

“Evelyn Fort Stewart is an 86 year old Arkansas author with an important message to share,” said Jaine King, church secretary at True Connection Ministry in Gassville. “It is well-known that abuse increases with the pressures of a decline in economy and the holidays.”

King said she admires Stewart for getting through her many struggles without any support system.

” Miss Evelyn only has a 7th grade education but she does have her novel completed, Behind Closed Doors, and it is on,” King said.

Childress is the church’s pastor and has written a song to promote Stewart’s book.

Stewart said her childhood dream was to be an author and she is glad to get her story out because it is an important message for today’s generation.

“I am 86 years old and lived through 32 years of domestic abuse. Things have changed over the years, some changes are good, some not so good,” said Stewart.

She believes young people need to be taught about relationships.

“We have nearly overdosed our young people with sex education but we have failed to train them to ask the hard questions. Marriage/living together isn’t just about sex, it is about every day life,” said Stewart. “I need the parents’ attention for just a moment. Have you taught your child to look for the signs of an abuser and trained them to ask themselves the hard question, ‘Am I committing myself to a potential abuser’?”

Stewart added, “It only takes but a few minutes to walk into a nightmare but it can take years to get free, if you get out alive at all.”

Stewart said she wants to get the message out because she doesn’t want anyone else to go through what she did.

“I have made my nightmare an open book,” Stewart said. “It is my desire to be able to put one of my books in every safe-house in America. Please don’t turn your back on someone that is in trouble. Listen to your neighbors and friends with your heart. They may need your help. If you can’t find the right words, feel free to share my story.”

King said the book will help people do a better job of recognizing the signs of an abuser.

“We’re failing to teach them to evaluate the character of the person they are considering as their significant other,” King said.

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