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The Audacious Molly Bruno
Amazing Stories from the Life of a Powerful Woman of Prayer
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The Audacious Molly Bruno , written by her daughter Marie Armenia, is a holy and hilarious mentoring resource for women who desperately long for wisdom from a Godly mother-someone who is a living example of practical experience and steadfast faith. It is also a wakeup call for older women of faith, encouraging them to embrace the calling of Titus 2:3-5 to mentor younger women about what’s truly important in life.
“When I think of my mother’s prayers,” author Marie writes, “I remember the prayer she prayed every morning without fail, ‘Lord, please send someone my way today that I can tell about you.’ Everyone (and I mean everyone) who met Molly Bruno fell in love with her. This includes the Kendrick Brothers, who wrote and directed the film War Room. During filming of the movie, they met Molly, calling her the modern-day Ms. Clara of War Room. She inspired them, just like she inspired everyone around her. When she prayed, she got answers.
Molly lived a lifetime of believing she could boldly approach the very throne of God ‘with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ My mother didn’t teach me how to pray any more than she taught me how to breathe. I saw her pray REAL prayers, using REAL words addressed to a REAL God. I learned by observing my mother’s prayer life that the last thing on earth that should be edited is a prayer. Shameless audacity. Those words remind me of my mother’s approach to prayer. She had no fear of God’s displeasure or that He might scold her for asking for impossible things. She had no need to edit her heart to the One she loved. She knew He knew her heart. Having settled this between herself and God, she asked. And asked again. And got incredible answers time and time again.”
The Audacious Molly Bruno will teach you how to pray with fervent hope, deep joy and abiding faith.
Tribute to Our Dear Beloved Friend
One of the greatest treasures of my life during the past year has been the unexpected friendship of a ninety-one-year-old Italian prayer warrior named Molly Bruno.
When I heard about Molly's special relationship with the Lord, her unique prayer life, and her ongoing miraculous circumstances, I wanted to meet her personally. At the same time, we were in the process of writing the script for a movie, called War Room, which was about the power of prayer and, of all things, featured a feisty, lovable old woman who really knew how to get a hold of God on her knees.
When I finally met Molly, I considered it an inspired, divine appointment to see a living representation of the heart and faith we planned to show in the film. I heard about her God-given dreams helping her to know how to pray in light of coming events, her years of serving in ministry with her husband, Joseph, her continued witnessing adventures at Publix to the employees. Molly had me laughing, in tears, and held spellbound with the stories of answered prayer in her life and what it means to walk with God.
As I listened to her, my heart was full. Here is a short, white-haired, unassuming woman with a knowing smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, who has spent countless thousands of hours in prayer, whose family members laugh at the seemingly endless supply of miraculous events connected to her life, and whose morning coffee with Jesus is a sacred daily appointment. She would often shed very tender tears as she talked with me about how much she loved her Savior. You could not interact with Molly without sensing the love, joy, and presence of Christ residing in her. Spending time with her made me want to be a better man and to spend more time with the Lord myself.
After hearing about our next movie, War Room, Molly decided to personally undergird the entire project and our efforts in prayer. From the writing to the casting to the filming, Molly was holding us up and interceding on our behalf. I vividly remember being at the production office in Concord, North Carolina, and seeing our lead actress, Priscilla Shirer, on her knees and in tears as she listened to Molly pray for her over the phone before we began production.
We used Molly's Bible in the film as the main Bible "Miss Clara" prays with. When we stayed up late filming in North Carolina, Molly would stay up late and pray for us from her modest home in Tennessee.
Looking back, I can't help but thank the Lord for the unexpected, priceless blessing to work on a movie and a book about the power of prayer, and to have Him raise up one of the godliest and most prayerful women in our nation to intercede on our behalf the entire time. We completed the movie in March of 2015 and then finished The Battle Plan for Prayer book on the evening of June 5. Molly passed into eternity less than twenty-four hours later on June 6.
The word that comes to mind when I think of Molly is "uninhibited." The Bible talks about how Christ sets us free from guilt, shame, sin, and the bondage of this world. He delivers us from self-centeredness, pride, and the fear of man as we trust Him. He gives us life and life more abundantly beyond the boundaries or limitations accustomed to this world. The Bible says that "we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him" (Eph. 3:12 NASB).
Molly Bruno was not inhibited by her past or the worries of the world. She didn't care what other people thought; she was on a mission to love them, pray for them, and tell them about Jesus. She lived full throttle, wide open, speaking boldly, loving freely, and worshiping God wholeheartedly. I am a better man because of her. Even though I knew her for only a year, I grew to love her more deeply than people I've known for decades. I miss her and am looking forward to seeing her in heaven one day. She will be close to the throne, smiling, worshiping, singing, and loving every minute of it…for all eternity.
The book of Hebrews talks about the hall of faith of men and women who served God with extraordinary faith and passion. Those unique warriors for God's kingdom were relentless in their pursuit of Him and of taking as many people to Christ as they could while they still had breath. Molly Bruno is definitely one of those, of whom the world is not worthy.
For the skeptic who says that God is not real and prayer does not work, Molly's legacy stands as living proof that there is a powerful God in heaven who is involved in the affairs of men and women and works mightily on behalf of those who are willing to trust Him.
As the Lord willed, we released War Room and The Battle Plan for Prayer all around the world to call people back to our Savior and back to their knees in prayer for our families, cities, and nations. Molly's investment in us and her legacy of prayer will live on through the film and the book as they literally call millions of people to faith and faithfulness in Christ. Truly, "precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones" (Ps. 116:15 NASB). Our condolences, prayers, and love go out to her dear family.
—Stephen Kendrick, Producer and Co-Writer of War Room,
on the passing of Molly Bruno
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
My family tree is deeply rooted in Italy, but I didn't grow up in Naples crushing grapes with my feet. I'm a third-generation American who grew up walking the concrete of New York City, surrounded by the love of a robust Italian-American family—and lots and lots of food, including homemade meatballs.
When I was a child, moms did most of the cooking. This could be why so many mothering metaphors relate to food items. Think about two of the most spoken: "as homemade as apple pie" and "that's chicken soup for the soul." Apple pie is basic and sweet. Chicken soup is warm and comforting. Mom stuff.
However, when I think of my mother, I envision hot, juicy meatballs rolling around in a huge pot filled with bubbling tomato sauce and Italian sausage. My mother, Molly Bruno, was the Michelangelo of meatball making. Just thinking of the aroma that used to waft from her meatballs makes my mouth water. As an Italian-American, I believe that the meatball is a radically underappreciated food. Why? Meatballs take a lot of work and time.
A great meatball is created from a bunch of ingredients—and so is a person, which is why my metaphor holds together. It's like a potter putting the clay on a wheel to form it into something better than just a lump of clay. God transforms us from what we were and makes us into something better and far more desirable to those around us.
So, how do you make a meatball, metaphorically speaking? It's not rocket science, but it does take some know-how.
You must soften the meat. This may seem like a brutal process to an inexperienced observer—to crush and grind the meat—but it's the only way to make it pliable enough to form a meatball. Softening it so that it can be made into something new is the whole point.
God does the same thing with our hearts. We know we feel dead inside. Our hearts are like stone. He gives us new hearts. He softens them, and the process, though crushing at times, transforms us into new creatures.
A meatball must be seasoned, and salt is the primary seasoning. I don't know why salt gets first place, but it does. A meatball without salt is a meatball without flavor. And if a meatball has no flavor, what good is it?
Salt gets little respect in the seasoning world. In recent decades, we've discovered how to mine salt inexpensively, which is why you never see a salt charge on a restaurant menu.
But salt wasn't always so easy to get. Throughout history, it was so expensive to mine that people referred to it as "white gold."1 Some historians tell us that Roman soldiers were paid in salt. The word salary is actually derived from the Latin word salarium, which means payment in salt.2
In the Old Testament, salt was used to seal covenants. God gave the "kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt" (2 Chron. 13:5). God also required salt in some offerings: "Every offering must be seasoned with salt, because the salt is a reminder of God's covenant" (Lev. 2:13 TLB).
Salt is a reminder of God's covenant? That's what Scripture says. And Christians are the "salt of the earth"? That's what Jesus said.
Our lives are the salt reminding the world around us that Jesus offered Himself as our offering to God. Christians who have been given and have received new hearts represent a new covenant that began with the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We are the salt that reminds the world that God is willing to forgive, forget, and welcome them into His forever family. And to resurrect us when we die.
A meatball without salt is tasteless, and so is the world without the Body of Christ. Jesus was saying something amazing, priceless, and beyond human comprehension when He told His followers, "You are the salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13).
But meat and salt do not a meatball make. The meatball maker must add extra ingredients (milk, bread, eggs) to keep a meatball pliable—and to keep it from falling apart when it hits the hot oil.
God gives us new hearts with new life, and then His plan is to make us look like His Beloved Son, Jesus. When God works to form us into the image of His Son, He adds the ingredients we need to keep us soft hearted, and He adds ingredients that will keep us from falling apart when life gets, well, hot: "When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isa. 43:2).
We cannot make it through the troubles of life on mental discipline alone. We need something formed within us, something that becomes part of who we are in our inner being. We need something new, miraculous, and holy. We need something that will help others see Jesus walking with us and working in us so that we begin to resemble who He is. We need the Holy Spirit. We need what He cultivates in us: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5:22–23).
Next, the meatball maker works all the ingredients together until the mixture is ready to be formed into a meatball. A genuine meatball maker knows mixing the meatball is a hands-on process. Our heavenly Father is a hands-on loving Father with every one of His children.
Since each of us is an original creation of God, He's hands-on from the moment He gives us life in the womb. King David acknowledged this, saying, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body" (Ps. 139:13, 15–16).
But we also learn from David that God is with us for more than just the moments of our creation. In the same psalm, David described God's hands-on involvement in his daily life when he said to God, "You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely" (Ps. 139:1–4 NLT).
Our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves. David explained this in Psalm 139:7: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?"
When God created me, He saw me writing this book. When He created you, He saw you reading it today. In Psalm 139:16, David reminded us of God's hands-on involvement in every aspect of every person's life: "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God is the original hands-on Creator. His hands never leave us. "Your right hand will hold me fast" (Ps. 139:10).
At this stage of the meatball-making process, it's time to apply the heat and the oil. A great meatball is soft inside and firm on the outside. The exterior crust is necessary or the meatball will simply disappear into the sauce.
One of my favorite Bible stories is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three men faced a literal fire because they would not bow down and worship the golden image King Nebuchadnezzar had made.
I love the all-or-nothing attitude of these men when they said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…and…even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up" (Dan. 3:17–18).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were my childhood superheroes. Stop and think about all the people who did bow down to the golden image even though they knew they were compromising God's law. Almost everyone compromised their commitment to God. These cowering people saw God greatly honor and deliver the three men who stood their ground.
But by no means did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walk through the hot fire alone. Jesus was there walking in the fire with them. King Nebuchadnezzar saw Him with his own eyes. And when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego exited the fire at the king's command, "The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them" (Dan. 3:27).
People who can take the heat are people who are not afraid of the future because they know that God already has a plan in place for every day of their lives. Jesus told us that the world would hate us because He has chosen us, and because we love Him (John 15:18–19). He wants us to persevere and stand our ground—even when life gets hot—and He is with us every step of the way. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Finally, although a meatball is in the sauce, it is not of the sauce. It never loses its separate identity. It never becomes the sauce, no matter how much the sauce surrounds it. The meatball maker never intends for the meatball to give up its new and unique identity and be lost in the sauce.
When God creates a new heart in us, we take on a new and eternal identity, even while we continue to live in the same place we've always lived. We are in the world but we are not of the world. The apostle Paul explains it this way: "Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Cor. 5:17 NLT). "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom. 12:2).
Something about Molly
For most of my adult life, people have been encouraging me to write a book about Mom. She was hilarious, filled with God's power and love. She prayed for people and got answers to her prayers. She was a nuclear-powered witnessing machine.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) who met my mother fell in love with her. I'm still, two years after her death, repeatedly told how blessed I was to have her.
But lots of people have mothers their friends adore. They don't necessarily write books about them. So why am I writing one? What changed? Well, the world did. These days, more women, for a variety of reasons, are focusing less on careers and more on the basics of being someone's mother.3 And many of them have no personal example to follow. Their moms were career-minded mothers who believed prioritizing the roles of a wife and mother was not necessary. So they didn't. And now, the daughters of those mothers have become wives and mothers. And they're desperately trying to figure out how to do it right.
How do I know this? The Internet. A quick review of the top ten blogs4 written by and for women reveals that the focus is on traditional subject matter: marriage, childbirth, parenting, cooking, fashion, and crafts. Conduct an Internet search for the word mentor and you'll discover that the business world is adopting the process God created for women all along: find someone who has been there and done that, listen to their advice, and follow that person's example (Titus 2:4).
God created the mentoring system and has kept it in place for thousands of years. Jesus said that His life on earth was an example for us to follow (John 13:15). The apostle Paul took it a step further when he wrote, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
In that spirit, I offer my mother's life as an example for younger women to follow. She was, as I wrote this, ninety-two years old, so almost anyone who picks up this book is a younger person.
Why the Church Is on the Outs
Traditionally, the church is the place where women have been more likely to find older, godly mentors who will obey God's call to be an example to others. However, our daughters and granddaughters (and their husbands and children) are leaving the organized church in droves. Barna research confirms "nearly six in ten [59 percent] of young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away from either their faith or from the institutional church at some point in their first decade of adult life."5
Why the mass exodus? The answer may surprise you. The Barna report states, "When comparing twenty-somethings who remained active in their faith beyond high school and twenty-somethings who dropped out of church, the study uncovered a significant difference between the two: those who stay were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church. Seven out of ten Millennials who dropped out of church did not have a close friendship with an adult and nearly nine out of ten never had a mentor at the church."6 The Barna study proves that older people mentoring younger generations is a simple system created by a God who knows what works with people and why.
The more the world seems out of control, the more people are desperate to connect with someone who has lived life with a strong and steady faith. My mother was such a person. Her anecdotes about answers to prayer and her unmitigated witnessing wherever she went so charmed a friend of mine that she told her employers, who are movie producers, about Mom. They were interested in speaking to Mom because they were creating a character in their next movie—Miss Clara—who is an older, praying woman who mentors a younger woman. We set up a Skype session with Mom and the movie producers. They used her life as a character study for their movie character.
Mom loved talking to people who wanted to talk to her about Jesus. Anything about her life that may cause another person to love God more was her primary goal before she saw Jesus. And seeing Jesus was Molly Bruno's ultimate goal. That is another reason I chose to write this book when I did. I wanted Mom to read it before she saw Jesus.
And I want you to read it before you see Him too.
The Recipe for Being Real
Her children arise and call her blessed.
Four minutes before the sniper started shooting at my mother from the roof of the house next door, she was sitting at the kitchen table in our New York City home, reading the newspaper. I was fifteen years old and had just gotten home from a youth group meeting at church. I kissed Mom "hello" and went to my room to change my clothes.
We both knew the ritual that would follow: I'd find my way back to Mom, where I would talk nonstop about every detail of my evening. Long before she was finished listening, I would be finished talking. My mom's patience says a great deal about her motherly love and listening skills, because trust me, I can talk!
When I was finished telling her every single thought inside my head, Mom would hug me, pray for me, kiss me on my face a few times, and then we would both go to bed. On the night in question, my father, always an early riser, was already asleep. Mom and I had no way of knowing how different that night would be.
When I opened my bedroom door four minutes later, the house was completely dark. Through the utter darkness, I heard Mom whisper loudly, "Marie, don't turn on the light! Get down on the floor. Someone is shooting at me from the roof of the house next door!"
"Get down! Get down! There's a sniper shooting at me!"
I hit the floor. A sniper? Shooting at my mother? It was the late 1960s. Our country was being shocked every day with more and more violence, assassinations, street protests, and every kind of disorder. And, obviously, on that night, it had reached our home on Wadsworth Avenue.
Mom was hunched on the floor underneath the kitchen window. I crawled over to where she was kneeling. She carefully pulled back a tiny corner of the crisp, freshly starched curtain and pointed to a spot on our neighbor's roof.
"See the rifle?" she whispered.
I definitely saw the rifle.
I assumed that behind the rifle, hiding in the shingled darkness of our neighbor's roof, lurked an unseen psychopathic killer targeting my meatball-making mother. But why, why, why?
"Let's go get Daddy!" I suggested.
My father, a pastor at the time, was a dignified, elegant, intelligent, and highly respected man who would certainly know what to do about a sniper shooting at his wife and daughter. My mother disagreed.
"No!" Mom protested. "Let's call the police! He's also shooting at the cars on the highway at the end of our backyard!"
Mom crawled on her hands and knees to the kitchen wall phone to put in a call to the New York Police Department.
I sat frozen with fear and listened as Mom said, "Officer, this is Molly Bruno. There's a sniper on the roof of the house next door…Yes, a sniper. He's shooting at me and at the cars on the highway behind our house. Thankfully, the Lord protected me."
Even under duress, Mom never missed a chance to give glory to God for His faithfulness. She gave the police officer necessary details: our address, phone number, and the address of the house next door. When she finished her emergency call, we both crawled to the bedroom to wake my father.
She woke him with nightmarish sentences.
"Honey! Wake up! A sniper almost killed your wife tonight! He's shooting at me and the cars on the highway from the roof of the house next door!"
Dad sat straight up in bed—poor man—and said, "Whaaaaaaaat?"
He then jumped out of bed and crawled on his hands and knees into the kitchen, as my mom suggested for his safety.
Watching my distinguished father crawl through the house on all fours heightened my sense of being in a terrifying crisis.
Once again, mom pulled back the same tiny, crisply starched corner of the kitchen curtain. She pointed to the sniper, saying, "See? There he is. There's his rifle!"
My father replied, "Where? I don't see a rifle."
"Right there," she pointed, "right there at the corner of the roof."
"You mean that thing moving back and forth?"
"That's not a rifle, hon. It's the branch of a tree."
Mom and I took another look at the "sniper" on the roof. Either the sniper had some kind of secret power that allowed him to instantly transform himself from a Molly-targeting psychopathic sniper into an innocent tree branch, or we saw an innocent tree branch and assumed it was a Molly-targeting psychopathic sniper. We went with the latter.
"Ohhhh," Mom and I said in unison, our mouths open wide with disbelief at our hilarious blunder.
My dad was smiling when he said, "Never a dull moment around this house." He then went back to bed.
Mom and I hugged each other while uttering peals of breath-robbing laughter.
"How funny!" we said to each other. "It must have been a car backfiring on the highway."
It was all fun and laughter for a minute or two, until reality banged on the front door of our brains and reminded us that the NYPD was on its way to storm our neighbor's house. I wondered:
- "Molly Bruno's legacy continues to radiate her bold, courageous, resolute love for Jesus Christ. She lived the gospel and loved everyone with Christ-like compassion. My life is changed, challenged, and enriched because of Molly; yours will be too. Thanks to Marie for this honest, fun-loving, and compelling portrait of Molly's faith journey!"—Brenda Harris, communication/prayer associate, Kendrick Brothers Productions
- "Faith inspires faith-that's why I encourage you to read this powerful story of Molly Bruno, whose prayers touched heaven and changed lives!"—Dr. George O. Wood, Chairman, World Assemblies of God Fellowship
- "Marie Armenia and her husband Phil are two of the dearest friends my wife Angela and I have. Marie's mother Molly was a dear friend of ours as well and very influential in my life. She was what I referred to as the "real deal." A no-nonsense, plain-talking woman of prayer and faith. I am sure her prayers have buoyed me through many of life's storms. I know this book will be a blessing to everyone who reads it. I am sure that the influence Molly had on everyone she came in contact with will be the same in written form. She talked to Jesus like His true friend and interceded for us and many of our friends both day and night. I know that she would be pleased knowing that her life lives on in the pages of Marie's book. May the blessing she was to everyone she met fall on you as you meet her through Marie's powerful stories."—Guy Penrod, Grammy Award winning Christian singer and artist; member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame; former lead singer for The Gaither Vocal Band; Host of DayStar Television's Emmy Award winning Gospel Music Showcase
- "The Heavenly Father afforded me a great blessing... being born to Molly Bruno. Mom served faithfully as a pastor's wife, and influenced countless women by her Godliness and matronly guidance. Everything I've done in my own life has been shaped by my Mom's strong principles and rock-solid character. As in Ephesians, she was a 'giant of a warrior... fully armed and ready to do battle.' Marie has captured it all in this book about a wonderful Godly woman, our Mom, Molly Bruno."—Nick Bruno, Dove Award Winning music producer, member of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and president, Nick Bruno Productions
- "Tasting the delicacies within these pages made me hungry not merely for meatballs, but for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the God who created all the delicious ingredients necessary to make things "just right." Marie Armenia has cooked up a smorgasbord that will satisfy you today and will keep drawing you back for more."—Ken Abraham, New York Times bestselling author
- "THE AUDACIOUS MOLLY BRUNO is full of wit, spiritual insights, practical life lessons, and a mouth-watering meatball recipe to boot! My Aunt Molly loved and followed Jesus like few others I have ever met, and in this book Marie beautifully shares her mother's life-changing lessons that can only come from someone who spent decades feasting on God's Word and walking with the Savior. Get this book and grab a seat at Molly's kitchen table. I promise... you won't leave hungry!"—Rev. Dr. Michael Luciano, Executive Director, Calvary Baptist Church, New York, N.Y.
- "I absolutely loved Ms. Clara in the movie, War Room. She was spunky and direct, smart and funny. She had a way with people. Even when I watched the movie, I wondered what kind of mother she might have been, and what kind of children she might have reared. Can you imagine my excitement when I discovered that her daughter was my neighbor? The character Ms. Clara was inspired by Marie's mom, Molly Bruno. I've had the privilege of meeting Marie, seeing Molly's Bible (the one Ms. Clara held in War Room), and hearing about Molly. What an incredible life and great example of a woman who loved her Lord and lived for His good pleasure.
- On Sale
- Apr 17, 2018
- Page Count
- 272 pages