He Hears You

By First Dallas Staff

In 2021, NBC News headlines reported, “Wrongfully Convicted Dallas Man Released After 34 Years in Prison.” Debra “Dee Dee” Spencer, his wife, reflected on the long years of uncertainty, saying, “If I had known at the time that God already knew the outcome of what was going on, I could have handled this differently.” 

It was 1987 when Ben and Dee Dee got married, and Dee Dee was a few months pregnant. Ben would usually bring Dee Dee lunch to her work, but on March 26, he had a headache and stayed home. “When he woke up to go to the doctor’s appointment, there was a knock on the door. The yard was covered with police and police cruisers,” recalls Dee Dee. The police ransacked the house, searching for evidence. She continues, “That day, Ben was arrested for capital murder—a crime he did not commit.”

“After Ben was taken, everything fell on me. I had to keep working and have the baby alone,” Dee Dee says. Despite the strain of separation, they took marriage seminars and renewed their vows during the time of Ben’s incarceration. Ben was immersed in the Word and consistently pointed Dee Dee to the Lord; however, she said, “Ben felt he needed to go ahead and divorce me so I could live my life and have a fair chance at raising our son.” As a result, throughout the many years of Ben’s incarceration, she navigated motherhood, her family’s health struggles, and endured the passing of her parents alone.

Through these unimaginable hardships, Dee Dee’s relationship with God was tested. Doubts crept in, and Dee Dee found herself questioning the very foundation of her beliefs. She was haunted by a single-word question: “Why?” Why did she have to raise their son, BJ, as a single mother? Why had God taken Ben away from her and her family? Why did their hopes and dreams change in an instant? These doubts led her to the biggest question of all: “Does God even exist?”

Despite her challenges, Dee Dee clung to hope. “I discovered First Baptist Dallas when I was praying for a new church,” she shares. Since she began attending in 2005, she says, “I received love from the church and the people in it; however, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my story.” It wasn’t until the Sunday before Ben’s hearing that she cried out to God, saying, “I cannot take it anymore.” Realizing she had to trust God completely, Dee Dee surrendered herself to God and shared her story with her church community. One week later, Ben came home.

“On the day of Ben’s release, I saw him walk out in his jail uniform, and I sat there watching him apologize for any inconvenience he might have caused the court,” Dee Dee recalls. After the judge granted his P.R. bond, she couldn’t help but think, “Is this really happening?”

Since then, “We have put our family back together,” says Dee Dee. They got remarried on January 10, 2022, 35 years to the day after their original wedding. Dee Dee continues to remain involved in the First Dallas Choir and Women’s Ministry, and her husband, Ben, is highly involved in the First Dallas Prison Ministry, where, just this year, the team facilitated 113 professions of faith and 18 rededications at the Dallas County Jail in the first quarter of 2024.

Dee Dee offers a word of encouragement to those who are struggling, saying, “Keep pushing and keep praying because He hears you. He hears you in His timing, but His timing is always perfect.” Just as she once wished she could have seen the outcome God knew early on, every story, including ours, is written with unseen chapters of challenges and victories. Knowing that God is in control of the ending, like Dee Dee, we find the strength to face each day with faith and perseverance because He is faithful.

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