Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Seeds of Jesus Bearing Fruit!
During my second summer of interning in Jamaica, back in '07, I met my first Rittman/Smithville team. It was an incredible group and an even more amazing week, one that as I look back was a defining moment in my life. I saw the Holy Spirit convicting many, many souls just as I had experienced His work in my heart 3 years before. Although I had witnessed God working all throughout my life, never had I experienced anything like that week. Through being confronted with questions and confusion that I had never experienced before and in moments of weak and broken despair, I witnessed the faithful provision of God come through boldly and triumphantly, and as I reflect, this was a pivotal moment in my walk. Memory is a bit fuzzy but I think there were a few that "the Lord added to the number which were saved" (Acts 2:47) during that week, and then a few more within the first few days that they landed back in the States. Over the next year or two quite a few more came to faith in Jesus Christ, but there were those special few who had not yet surrendered. Some relationships come and go, and others seem to stick, regardless if you keep in touch on a regular basis or whether its just a couple times a year. Julie Lanz and Dan Kipfer are two of those divine relationships God has blessed me with, and I've seen many ups and downs and times of spinning their wheels, but in the last two weeks I have received messages from each of them proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through His propitiation...wow! But not only them, I have received and heard news of several others (from the '09 trip) in the last few weeks and months surrendering to the the cross! What an incredibly indescribable event! Though we see it time and time again, a sinner coming to repentance and faith in Jesus is just as joyful and unfathomable each and every time. My heart never gets tired of seeing God at work, and sometimes it just takes a little longer, reminding us to be patient and never give up, always praying and giving thanks (1 Thes 5:16-18)!! Matthew 21:44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.
Julie and Dan
Dan and I
Julie and I
Julie's dad, Vern and I (Vern made the banisters at my parents house, a very skilled craftsman)
Leah Gasser, Roxanne Gerber, Julie Lanz and Abby Tieche (all came to know Jesus at different times)
Dave (pray for him, he doesn't know Jesus yet), Julie and Dan (twins if you couldn't tell)
Matt, Julie, Abby and I at Cedar Point reunion in '07
Jules and I, so much fun that day!
Dan made a trip out to my house one weekend in '07, goofy kid!!
Jesse Rufener (good friend from a trip to Jamaica in '05), Leah, Dan and my "cousin" Jana Widmer at the '07 Volleyball Invite in West Lafayette
Snowboarding trip to Vail and Keystone in December of '08 with Dan and a bunch of other fellas
Snowboarding, what a way to bond with friends!
Julie came out in December of '09 to visit Ionda when he came home with me.
So that was my first team, back in 07. But then there is the 2009 Rittman / Smithville team. Yet another awesome group of kids, many who didn't know Jesus, and I was blessed to once again see God work in so many of their hearts. In the last several weeks and months, more have surrendered to the Lord!
Todd Gasser (Leah's brother) began his walk with Jesus last year! Here is being a goof at the JDV work site.
Love this pic! These guys made a regular habit of cracking us up. Scott Lanze (Julie's brother, pray for him, he has not been broken on the Rock!), Todd, Kirk Gasser (just came to faith in Jesus a few weeks ago) and Mitch Maibach (surrendered last year)
Bethany Indermuhle (aka "Lil Sis") and I at the work site. She's always been a very bubbly personality but as of a couple weeks ago she's now bubbling over with the Joy of Jesus in her heart!
Meet in Jamaica. Reunion at Cedar Point. That's the routine with these Ohio teams. Here Kirk and Todd are making a memorable picture at CP in '09, just a few months after their trip to Jamaica.
Red heads! Phil Klopfenstein is another Jamaica connection, but he came on the Mansfield/Latty trip to Knockpatrick in the summer of '06. He has not yet let go and let God, please pray for him that he finds true peace and joy and that the Lord will continue to work in his heart.
Matt and I riding on Kirk's strong back! So thankful for his heart.
Wow, God is good. Now for a few thoughts. Is it Jamaica itself that makes this change in hearts and minds? Absolutely not! Is it the interaction they have with the Deaf that opens their minds? No. Is it the amazing scenery and beautiful landscape? I don't think so. None of these things, in and of themselves, are able to take a soul from the pit of miry clay and set their feet upon a solid Rock. Sure, its a fresh perspective. When we are simply living day to day, we become soft. And so many appear to need a change in surrounding in order to recognize a personal need for change of heart. But recognition of the need to change does not guarantee a change. We need the Holy Spirit. We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to pierce our hearts and minds, just as a two-edged sword pierces our flesh and bones (Heb 4:12). We need Him. Not just those who have not surrendered. We all need Him. Daily. David prayed in Psalm 119, Search me, o God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Perhaps you need a change in surrounding to recognize a change you need in your heart. Maybe its spring time in the midwest and the change in color brings new life to your heart and soul. Maybe there are changes in your family or job. Change is good, if we let it have its perfect work. We all simply need a recognition, today, that we need to be changing. Some promptly heed this recognition and go to the throne of grace and mercy to find help. Others wait a year or two or three or four or more. What will you do? Ask, Seek, Knock. Our Father desire to give you good things, maybe not the material things you once desired, but something deeper, something that the gates of Hell cannot stand against! Only you can know for yourself, and its only through Him that you can truly find it!
Praise God for His grace and loving kindness!