This is our son who died in the county jail 11 years ago. He accepted Christ as a teen, but hung out with the wrong guys and got involved in drugs. Drugs became his escape. To some his story might seem heartbreaking but it is really a story of redemption. For fifteen months, my wife and I prayed that God would restore and heal our son. He did, but just not the way we had envisioned. Our son spent eight days in jail. God worked in his heart and, on the Sunday two days before he died, he rededicated his life to the Lord. Our pastor visited him on Monday and he shared this awesome decision. The next morning, he suffered a brain aneurysm and passed away. He's now with the Lord, his salvation complete. His story underscores that we don't know what the future holds. The Bible says we are not promised tomorrow. God numbers our days for His purpose. God has given my wife and me His story to tell about our son. Sharing this story has drawn many to Christ. I am a civilian working for the police, and God has allowed me to become the chaplain for our jail. Our jail ministry provides worship services where a number of us are able to bring hope to inmates. Our son's death also opened the door for my involvement in a prison ministry, trying to make a difference in the lives of men who are incarcerated, sharing the message of eternal hope. It is such a blessing to… Read More
How Everyday People Live Out Their Christian Faith
Illustrating how men and women display their love for Jesus in their day-to-day lives.
Little things that may have an eternal impact. Might these stories motivate you to use your talents?
When my husband was deployed a few months ago, our son was very sad. He had never been away from his dad and he really missed him. Of all things, they had a special bond of doing yard work together. A couple days after the deployment, our son said he was going over to our neighbor's house to see if Dean could come out and work in the yard with him. Dean is not a child---he has a wife and three girls as well as a full-time job. But Dean set aside whatever he was doing and started raking the yard with our son. That night, our son came home with the biggest smile on his face. And the next day, our son knocked on Dean's door and out he came to help our son blow the leaves out of the yard. Nearly every day for the past couple months, Dean has been working outside with our son. Not just in our yard, but other neighbors' yards. Dean can sense our son's sorrow of his dad not being there, but Dean is helping take our son's mind off that for a short period every day. And doing something that my son and husband loved to do. Dean is also teaching him to serve and be responsible. Together, they chopped up a tree that had blown down across a road during a storm. My husband and I have three kids and I don't know how I could have handled this deployment if it wasn't for Dean's unselfishness. He's made this manageable.… Read More
You never know where God will lead you on life's journey, but if you're open to His will, it can be quite a ride. I was in the pharmaceutical industry while also serving in the Army reserves for 32 years. When I was retiring from the reserves, a friend invited me to be part of a four-day event at the Kairos prison ministry. I had never been to a prison or an event like that, and I was incredibly moved. So impacted that I got involved teaching a Bible study twice a week at a correctional facility, and a few years later was asked to be on the Board of Shepherd's Fold. This ministry serves the Lord by providing food, shelter, clothing, guidance and love to men and women seeking to change their criminal behavior following their release from prison. It is a six-month transitional ministry with a separate men's and women's facility. We train them to be productive citizens. We help change their thinking and teach them that real freedom comes only by believing and following Jesus Christ. We show them God has a purpose for each of their lives. I got so involved that they asked me to be the executive director. It is incredible to see how God moves here and transforms lives. We have over 100 people in our program. Nationally, the recidivism rate among former inmates is anywhere from 35% to 65%. For our graduates, it is less than 1%. I'm blessed to be part of this each day, and see… Read More
When I was 12, I was raped by three teenage boys. It shook me to my core. I felt scarred, was blamed for it, reacted with rebellious behavior and began running away from home, repeatedly. At 15, I was on the streets and miserable. A man I knew said he "loved" me, and offered me a home. He was nice; he knew I needed food and shelter. It turns out there were four other girls living there. He said we each had to bring in a certain amount of money daily to support our family. He was our husband, daddy or boyfriend based on where we were. I soon discovered I was caught in a sex trafficking ring. He made me sell drugs at first, but soon the drug money was not enough to make my "quota." I had to do what I could to survive and he began to prostitute me. Then, I began using those drugs I had been selling. I was bought, sold, traded and given away to other pimps a number of times. I was caught in this ugly, sick web for 12 years. In 1997, I was released from jail once again, but for the first time, I didn't call my pimp. I called a friend who gave me shelter. And I started to "fix" myself. I went back to school and got a job as a waitress. Even though there were bumps in my road to recovery, I started to make something of myself. I met a lady who wanted to help girls get… Read More
I don't think we, as Christians, were called to "sit and soak" at church, so I explored ways to get involved on Sundays. After seeing all the needs, I started volunteering with the baptism team. On the first Sunday of each month, we get to church early to set up everything for the baptisms: the tables, the signs and the special bags that we hand everyone getting baptized. Those bags include the clothes to wear during the baptism, towels and toiletries. We gather everyone who will be baptized and give them instructions. We even get the privilege of praying with them beforehand. The team is made up of a great group of people that help make the day special for those getting baptized. I originally served as a member of the team, but realized I wanted to help lead the group because of how amazing an experience this was. I love getting to connect with people from all walks of life, and being able to help at church. To get to be a part of this special day in their lives is truly wonderful.
I've had some traumatic experiences in my life. But I know God allowed me to go through these to help me grow and use them for His Glory. As an educator, I now use these trials to encourage my students. God blessed me with a sister and we were each other's source of strength as young children. Our life was not conventional; some may even say it was hard; however, I believe some of those life lessons taught me how to be a survivor. As a young adult, my sister was killed in a car wreck. It was a devastating loss. Then in 2010, my friend and I were out for a run at 5:00 am. We had been training for a half marathon for 10 months. A car came over the hill and struck us both. Tragically, my friend was killed. I was flipped in the air and came crashing down on the windshield. I sustained 25 breaks and underwent 8 surgeries. Doctors said I'd never walk and they talked about amputating both my legs, but I objected. I knew immediately that God had chosen me to glorify Him through this horrendous experience. I didn't know how, but I was determined to show everyone that He was real and He was still doing miracles. I was in the hospital for two months and in intense rehab for another ten months. Through this time, I never complained. I wanted my kids and friends to see that what I'd been telling them about Jesus was true. I needed to practice what I'd been… Read More
I was a picture of good health until May 2001. We were vacationing at the beach when I got a call from my doctor, telling me I had non Hodgkin's lymphoma. The news brought me to my knees. I was scared and shaken, wondering how this could be. Me? I took a walk alone on the beach, crying out to God. And on that long walk, I met God like I never had before. In my fear and through my cries, I got a message that this was not the end. He told me I would be alright, but He wanted me to use this to glorify Him in a very specific way, one that was clearly spelled out to me. He wanted me to start a ministry called Operation Jesus. Being in the police force, I had no ministry experience or any idea on how to get this off the ground. But His message had been so strong that I was only supposed to be His vessel. I started by inviting my fellow officers and some city employees to a mid-week gathering where we would have a guest speaker share his or her testimony. We'd also sing some praise songs and have some time for prayer. They started inviting their friends and the ministry grew. We started in an extra room in a church but God's message clearly told me I was to move it to a bar. Yes, a bar. That sure took some of my fellow officers by surprise. But we found a tavern where the owner was open to the idea. We'd move chairs and tables around, and… Read More
Jesus instructed us to use our talents for His glory, and that is what I try to do with my music. I play a variety of musical instruments including the violin, fiddle and guitar, and even some unique instruments such as the Irish bouzouki and bodhran. Music is an integral part of my life and has been since I was a little girl. I wanted to spread the word about God's love in a way that tapped into my passion and talent. So I started a music ministry at the local hospital every Sunday morning. I begin by playing some traditional Christian hymns on the violin. This is soothing and seems to draw people in. Then, I head up to the Alzheimer's unit. I play some more hymns, read from a passage of scripture and then end by playing some religious songs that so many of us know from memory. Songs like "This Little Light of Mine" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." It is amazing to see the joy on the faces of these Alzheimer's patients when I play these songs and hymns. A few of them may not remember their own names but they are singing along to these songs and know every lyric. It makes them smile and has a very calming effect. Many see their physical body deteriorating, but this may remind them that there is an eternal hope. It's a blessing to bring that special hour to them each week.
Our local Children's Hospital uses these shiny Radio Flyer wagons throughout their facility. They are a wonderful distraction for the kids---parents wheel their child around the building to give them a much-needed break from lying in a hospital bed. They're also used in place of luggage racks so people utilize the wagons to move their suitcases in and out of the hospital. Whenever I'd visit Children's Hospital, I would wonder who did the upkeep on these wagons. It turns out one of the men in my church was doing it, and he recruited several church members to join him. I was floored to find out there are over 500 Radio Flyer wagons in our hospital, so there are always a number of them breaking down. We gather every Wednesday afternoon and tackle the repairs. We'll fix the flat tires, replace the loose parts, and even straighten the ones that have been hit in the parking lot, left there when someone took a child to the car to go home. It will take us anywhere from two to four hours every week, depending on the number of wagons. We are "behind the scenes" guys. Only a handful of people know we do this. In fact, all our work is done in a basement room that we call "The Shop." But we enjoy each other and even find time to eat dinner together after we're done. It's a great way to give back. The Bible tells us to help each other, especially people that aren't as fortunate as us or that are going… Read More
I’ve had a physical disability my whole life. I was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), which means a lack of muscle mass. My arms and legs are affected. But I don’t “see” disability. I don’t dwell on what I can’t do. From early on, I learned to accept my limits, to know challenges will always exist, but they don’t have to be obstacles. I can chase dreams, love life, and embrace the story I am living. Does it look different? Do I need help to achieve those goals? Yes. That’s part of my normal and I don’t mind welcoming others into my world. We all need community and life is better together. Nowadays, I blog about living with a disability. I share my story because this is something I can do---to spread awareness, build understanding, encourage others, and show I am normal. Yes, I have limits, but I love the way God made me. I wouldn’t erase my disability. This is the life God has given me and the story I have to tell. And every day, I have so many reasons to be thankful.
I never thought I'd quit my job as a fire fighter and go into full time ministry, teaching unemployed young men the art of wordworking. But I felt the Lord's calling and you don't say no when you hear that voice. I planned on being a fire fighter my entire career but my life changed once I got saved by a friend at the station. I started reading my Bible every day. I got to Matthew 4:19, and I felt like the Lord was speaking to me directly. He was calling me to share the Gospel with people. But what could I possibly do to fulfill this? I prayed and what became abundantly clear was that I was passionate about several things: Jesus, working, people and building things. I had built a few pieces of furniture and sold them to fund a mission trip, so I wondered if woodworking may be the vehicle to help me reach out to people. On my off days, I started working with a couple guys who were having a very rough time in life, teaching them the art of wordworking. We built a couple pieces of furniture together and they sold right away at a consignment store. Maybe we were on to something! A few friends saw the positive effect this was having on these young men, and wanted to help me reach other guys who may be unemployed or struggling. So we started Magic City Woodworks. And it grew over time, so much that I… Read More
When I was in college, I worked for a non-profit that served infants who had special needs due to prenatal contact with drugs and/or alcohol. I was immersed in this inner city population for eight years, and I fell in love with these small children. They were such a light to my life. Once I had my own children, I took a hiatus from work, but knew I would go back eventually when the time was right. When I did return, my intention was to pick up where I'd left off, but the commute was too long for me as a mom. Instead, I started working for an autism diagnostic center that provided speech therapy. During this time, my church was in the process of expanding their special needs ministry. My name came up for consideration and they approached me shortly after. I had no intention of leaving my job, and I even prayed against this new opportunity. But God kept calling me. Once I finally accepted the position, it was clear Jesus wanted me here. Doors really started to open. I've been here for three years, and can honestly say it's been the most important work in my entire life! God has been amazing through this process. Kids who are non-verbal are learning Scripture! Our church congregation is seeing that each child has a purpose and that they are amazing individuals who are not to… Read More
The Lord has given me a passion for helping women and marriages that are on a journey of healing and restoration. Eighteen years ago, as a broken single mother with four children, I clung to Jesus. I could never praise Him enough for sending family and friends to walk with me through this very dark chapter of my life. They never condemned me. Words of wisdom, healing, love, encouragement and truth were like manna from heaven. As I experienced healing day by day, I began to cry out, "God, if I ever get my sanity back and think straight again, please use me like You have used others in my life." Just as Psalm 107:20 says, "He sends forth His word and heals them and rescues them from the pit of destruction," God brought healing to my soul and turned my life around. I had to first acknowledge my sin, then find out where I had allowed substitutes for Him. I realized that all along, Jesus created us to know Him as our first love, whether we are married or not. So, after a seven year journey, I began to find my identity in Christ. God was redeeming my life! As a divorced woman, I wondered if there was a man who could know everything about me, and still love me. But God knew me, and He brought an incredible man into my life. We have no secrets and he still loves me. I used to say if God can heal me, He can heal anyone. Not only did He… Read More
I was shot when I was 17 years old, and paralyzed from the neck down. In a matter of seconds, I went from a healthy young man with his life in front of him to someone whose dreams were shattered. At first, I was angry---at my circumstances, at the man that shot me and even at God. Why would a loving God want me to live this way? How could He let this happen? Slowly, that anger gave way to a deep and dark depression. I didn't want to live if I couldn't walk again. I planned my suicide. But that morning, in my darkest time, God spoke to me and changed my whole perspective. He told me that I needed to learn to live again before ever thinking about learning to walk again. I was crying out to Him about my hopelessness and discouragement, that there wasn't any help or resources for someone like me. And then He planted the idea that altered my life. Why couldn't I provide that hope and encouragement to others who were paralyzed. After a lot of research, my buddy David and I began an information referral service for individuals who were paralyzed. We connected people to resources that… Read More
My faith has undergone a major transformation lately. I've "known" Jesus since I was a little girl, and growing up, I usually had all the right things to say. For most of my life, I've gone to church and heard church leaders describe and interpret Jesus for me. But that is not how one develops a personal relationship with the Lord. My revelation is that I need to sit down and get to really know Him. Now my prayer every single second is, "God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father, and King, I want to know you for myself, not through someone else's eyes." I've come to realize that I need to know God in a more profound way. Mother Teresa was once asked, "When you pray, what do you say to God?" Her response, "I don't talk, I simply listen." The interviewer then asked, "Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?" She said, "He also doesn't talk. He also simply listens." This is so simple, yet profound. Listening. When do I just sit down in solitude and listen, and allow His presence to fill the space? The controlling part of me wants to earn God's grace and love, instead of silently feeling it. For the first time in my life, going to church is not the only priority. I want to know Jesus, like I do my husband. I want to know Jesus' emotions and how He walked on this earth when He came. I want to try and enjoy His love without thinking I… Read More
We lost our son in 2005. He was just 20 years old. He was shot by his roommate as he was coming over to our house to celebrate Father's Day. He had recently graduated from a drug rehab program. But like so many young people afflicted with this disease, he couldn't break away from his old "friends." We have no idea why he was killed, and we still struggle, every day. You're never the same once you lose a child. It changes the way you live, it changes everything. But seeing how God has worked in our lives and in the life of our family has been miraculous. We were all brought to our knees, and decided the only thing we could do was to put all our trust in the Lord. Something like this either draws your family together or it tears it apart. And our family has been strengthened. We are always there for each other. We wanted to reach out to others in some way, and make something good out of this. So for the past several years, we have been going to two of our local shelters, and sharing our story. We help minister to the men and women who may be suffering from the same addiction as our son. We tell about the Lord's saving grace, about the hope we have because of His promises, how He changes you and what the Lord has done in our lives. And we have forgiveness for his roommate who is still in prison. We don't understand how we… Read More
I have two adopted children and they are my world. My husband and I used to be a part of this foster-to-adopt-program, and the process, although absolutely worth it, was excruciating. After experiencing some very difficult circumstances, we decided to tell our social worker not to contact us for a few months about adopting. However, Jesus had other plans. Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." One day, as I was walking back to my car from my kids' school, I waved to another mom walking up, and "pop". My arm slid out of its socket. Then crazy pain. I bellowed out, and then all at once a team of people flooded in my direction, including our assistant principal. They called the fire department, but thankfully, about thirty seconds before they arrived, my arm slid back into place. I was so embarrassed, not only about my very loud shriek, but also because I had dislocated my shoulder just waving to another mom! The physical therapists had a good laugh at that one. Three weeks into slogging through my physical therapy sessions, I get a call from our social worker. I'm initially pretty shocked, but as she tells me about a very low-risk private adoption. I get a tiny bit hopeful and then panicky. The baby is due in six weeks, and we feel so conflicted. My husband and I have some very long deliberations about this speedy decision. There are so many concerns: our exhaustion, fear, rejection and… Read More
For years, my husband and I taught Sunday school. We were both very outgoing and loved to pour ourselves into other people. We found a great way to do this was to lead a class of married couples. At first, it was rather intimidating, having to speak in front of others, knowing that our marriage had its share of struggles. But we loved the Lord and honored Him in our marriage, and that is what we wanted to pass on to these younger couples. For over thirty years, we led various small groups of people that were usually much younger than us. It was so much more than the time we had in class. We got to know everyone on a very deep and personal level. We invested in them. We'd check in with them all the time. We'd get together and pray when they faced a challenge. We'd share meals together and really get to know their families. These couples became our "Christian children." The bonds we formed have lasted a lifetime, and have been such a blessing. My husband passed away six years ago after almost 57 years of marriage, and my health has deteriorated. I now live in a retirement community in an independent living apartment, and can't make it to church because of my physical pain. But even though I'm not able to see these dear friends as often as I'd like, I can still pray for them. And I do, every day.
I have always had an internal struggle when it comes to reaching out to the homeless. I grew up in a suburban town in New Jersey and I didn't encounter many homeless people there. When I moved to Southern California to attend college, that quickly changed. Southern California has one of the largest homeless populations in the country. It broke my heart that there are people who are hungry and don't have a warm safe place to sleep at night. I wanted to help but I was warned by others not to give homeless people money--only food--because money might enable their addictions. But the few times I offered to buy them food, I was "told-off" by the would-be recipients. This created a fear in me of helping, so I did nothing. But in the last few years, I can tell God has been working on my heart and to mold me into someone different. A few months ago while my mom was visiting, we had a conversation about my past struggles to help the homeless. The next day while I was at work, she went to Costco and loaded up on socks, granola bars, water bottles and applesauce. The plan was to put together "blessing bags". I was floored by her act of generosity and thoughtfulness. This gave me the courage I needed to start handing out, and eventually making, these bags on my own. I now keep these "blessing bags" handy in my car to offer up to anyone who may want them. Now, every recipient is so grateful. I'm no longer scared to approach the homeless. I now say hello, flash a smile, tell them that God… Read More
I am a recovering alcoholic. I've been sober now for 27 years and that's truly by the power and grace of God. Alcohol almost killed me. It destroyed my first marriage and I got in a horrible car accident when I was under the influence, breaking my hip. But fortunately I got into a 12-step program, and it was there that I established a true relationship with the Lord. My life has never been the same. Being part of a fellowship of other alcoholics is like taking your medicine if you're a diabetic---it's vital for your health. And I feel led to help others that are going through the same struggle. As part of my church’s mission program, I visit a local homeless shelter and rehab center. We serve the meal and conduct a chapel service. I reach out to the guys that have this addiction. I'm totally open with them. I share my testimony so I can instill hope in them that they, too, can turn their lives around with the Lord's help. Everybody goes through some type of struggle, and we can help one another through these dark times if we make ourselves vulnerable and "there" for others. The Lord brought me through the wilderness. If these guys put their trust in Him, they can come through it too, and lead a productive life.
When I was 12 years old, my parents sat me down and told me we were moving. They were becoming house parents at Big Oak Ranch, a Christian home for children needing a chance. It’s one thing to talk the talk, but another thing to actually commit your life to making a difference, and that’s what my parents decided we were going to do. My parents showed me through this sacrifice that life is all about what you do to serve others using the gifts God has given you. We stepped out of our “comfort zone” as a family, and committed to serving and loving God’s children that weren’t fortunate enough to receive that love from their own parents. Over the course of those eight years, I had the chance to be a brother to about 20 boys between the ages of five through eighteen. This incredible experience shaped me into who I am today. I learned to see the value in every person, no matter their circumstances. My biggest role in the ministry was to be the best example I could be to these kids who did not grow up having the good example to follow. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This wonderful upbringing taught me to never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and watch what God can do through you when you take that step.… Read More
I always had nursing in the back of my mind as a career, but I chose a different major in college. After receiving a bachelors degree, I wondered what I would do. My husband and I brainstormed my next step, but nursing kept tugging at my heart. I was nervous because I'd have to go back to school and basically start over; then once I became a nurse, I'd be liable for lives. As I searched my heart and prayed with my husband for answers, some doors started to open. The confirmation came when my husband, like a Nike ad, said "Just do it, what do you have to lose!" So I did. I went to school, got my second degree in nursing and I've been a nurse now for six years. I've worked in different units: some where the loss is significant like the ICU units and some not as critical. But the Cardiovascular ICU for heart babies is where God touched me the most. Watching families go through hell, not knowing if their child was returning from surgery, or seeing them lose their child altogether, impacted me greatly. As I watched others suffer, I would continually pray, "Lord, how do I love these families in the midst of tragedy?" I heard an answer while working with one very special family. Their child had a chronic heart condition, and was given three weeks to live. A few days into that third week, she passed. Watching this family endure such tragedy and being there for them changed my life forever. My passion for nursing… Read More
The challenges of caring for a child with special needs can be overwhelming. Care must be provided at all times. Our son, Aaron, had cerebral palsy, and we took loving care of him for 27 years until he passed away in 2009. Our loss devastated us, and we searched for how to make sense of it. We knew God had a plan, we just didn't understand it during that period. We didn't know what to do next, but from our personal experience, we always knew there needed to be some relief for the parents of children with special needs. While we were taking care of Aaron, we didn't have any time to pursue this idea. But God started revealing His plan to us. A woman came up to us at church and said "The Lord is telling me that you have a dream. I don't know what it is, but it's time for you to pursue that dream." Wow! With that nudge, we started to investigate the possibility of providing a ministry dedicated to providing respite for parents and guardians who have children with special needs. So we started Aaron's Staff in 2010. Volunteers give their time to provide quality care for these children and their siblings while their parents take a Saturday night out for themselves. It's open to anybody in the community, not just fellow Christians. And it's not simply babysitting. The children take part in a program that includes arts & crafts, story time, music, recreation and movies, all of which is Christian-based.… Read More
My heart is and always has been teaching the youth. Teenagers are in the most vulnerable time in their lives, and I feel I should help make straight as many paths as possible. It says in 1 Corinthians 3:11, "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." There are so many bad influences out there in the world today. We see this so often in movies, songs and video games. It is easy for our youth to take a step back from moral values and make bad choices. I feel it is up to me and all Christians to step up and teach our youth God's Word, and help them establish a life worthy of our Lord. I use the analogy of an old car going up a hill: it takes so much effort to get it to the top of the hill; yet with perseverance and hard work, it makes it. Such is a life with Christ. It takes perseverance, dedication and hard work to live the life He set out for us. But too many children today take the fast ride down the hill, with no work or dedication, conforming to the worldly ideas, and missing out on what God has for them. My mission in life is to reach as many teenagers as possible, whether on the street, in a park, in a gym, anywhere; and let them know they can have a life that is filled with power, gifts, rewards and peace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I fought off becoming a Young Life leader most of college, but after graduating and returning home, my heart changed; I began to appreciate that Young Life truly goes where the teens are. Young Life teaches its leaders to listen, invest time, and hopefully earn the right to speak about Jesus' love and the truth of God's Word. I'll never forget my very first meeting as a volunteer---this young girl marched right up to me and introduced herself. I could see right away that though she was young, she had an old soul, and in that moment, I knew our relationship was going to be special. I learned of her compassionate nature and how she truly cared for others. She started coming to Young Life faithfully as a freshman, and she would even campaign to her other classmates about it! She told me about one friend she'd known since middle school, and she was worried about her because she was headed down a dark path. She told me how special this girl was. After hearing this, I knew we had to get involved. I met this girl not long after our talk, and all three of us started hanging out regularly. We would grab coffee, dinner, ice cream and talk authentically about anything and everything. Over the years, we walked through life's intense stuff together: high school stratospheres, boys, heartbreak, family issues, parents with cancer, fear, hurt and many other things. Our relationships grew exponentially over time. I was their leader at first, and then we all became best friends.… Read More
It has always been my desire to find inexpensive, meaningful ways to get Bibles into the hands of people willing to take one. I became a Christian a little later in life, and reading scripture has had a deeply profound impact on my life. I went from not knowing about true unconditional love, grace, and acceptance, to experiencing all of these things and more through God's word. My desire now is for others to experience this as well. Since there are a lot of homeless people living near me, I thought it might be a cool place to start sharing God's love letter. The only barrier for me was cost. But one day while shopping at the 99-cents store, I came across a bunch of small Bibles. I knew I had to buy them. So for the past few years, I've kept a large stack of Bibles in my car, with a dollar stuffed inside each one to hand out. Now, if anyone asks for money, I offer up money and a Bible. The Lord wants us to step out of our comfort zone and share the "good news". I guess this is my way of taking those initial steps! My hope is that each person receiving this feels God's love and acceptance, just like I did.
I did not grow up a Christian or in a Christian household. But my spiritual life dramatically changed when I met my future wife, since she was very grounded in her Christian faith. She is a teacher and has always worked with young children, so loving kids was always in her heart. Even before we had our four biological children, we always talked about adopting a child at some point. We thought a good first step would be to become a foster family to kids looking for a forever family. Our family ended up fostering two brothers, and I could tell during this time that the Lord was working on my heart. Most of the families who thought about adopting the boys wanted to separate them. That just wasn't acceptable to us. The longer the process took, the more apparent it became that God had His hand all over this. After a lot of prayer, we both became very open to adopting both boys. Since adopting them, it is easy to see that they helped our family more than we helped them. We all banded together. Everyone chipped in. It brought our family closer. That is how the Lord works. We learned it's not about blood, but it's about love and compassion.
I have been fighting sex trafficking in Boston for the past eight years. My exposure to this horror began in college. I heard a presentation from the founder of "Not for Sale" about modern day slavery and human trafficking. I couldn't believe how much was happening right here in the United States. I was shocked and horrified. I heard a clear calling from the Lord to get involved somehow. I began an internship and naively thought all I needed to do is tell everyone, and then it would stop. I soon realized human trafficking is overwhelmingly complicated. I encountered my first "survivor" of commercial sexual exploitation while interning. She shared with me the first time someone tried to buy her, it was a police officer. Wow! My world shook a bit. If a police officer is buying girls, then who is helping them? Who can they trust? I began to see a devastating truth: many people know about it, are participating in it, and benefiting from it. After college, I got involved full time. I saw clear gaps in this fight against trafficking. There was and is a desperate need for survivors to have safe housing, and a need for a place to teach those who want to get involved. Most of the experts in the field are too busy to teach. I discovered the ugliness of the politics behind funding, because if a grant runs out, the work stops. This was all so frustrating. I felt I needed to help connect people: those who wanted to get involved needed… Read More
Indonesia 2014. I was on a tiny island on a mind-blowing surfing trip, and there I felt God awaken my heart to something new. No cell service or wi-fi was accessible for miles. All safety nets were gone, but I felt free, completely free. This trip was like nothing I had ever experienced. A few months later, I injured my back, and couldn't do anything physical. I was in chronic nerve pain for three months, which felt like a prison. This was one of the most difficult seasons of my life, yet I experienced a new sense of freedom in this unlikely place. I drew into Jesus. His presence was palpable, and it was there that he birthed a new dream in my heart. I discovered a connection between Adventure and Freedom. I realized that adventure can unlock something in a man. It seemed to me that if a man feels fear, but steps through it knowing the risk, he will find freedom! With this new idea, I set out to provide opportunities for risk and adventure, inviting men to question their fears. My first Adventure Freedom journey began January 2017, the stormiest day of the year. Ten guys crammed into a 41' sailboat, and set sail in the rain, sailing 13 hours through the night. Our destination was a deserted island off the coast of California. At the beginning of our trip, I quoted Yvon Chouinard, the Founder of Patagonia, who said, "The adventure doesn't begin until something goes wrong." Well, it turned out I unknowingly led these guys… Read More
When you are a young social worker who calls on families in a poor neighborhood, you see a number of things that break your heart. Some of these families have so little in life. One of my families has five children and just one toy between them to share. Kids learn how to deal with other people through play and toys, since it engages so many of our senses and builds confidence. But this family had just a single toy. My heart was heavy for these kids who had so little. I prayed about what to do, and felt like Jesus was leading me to a creative solution. I decided to get all my friends together and do a toy drive. Everyone was thrilled to take part, especially when they heard about the families that would receive the gifts. Once the drive ended, we gave each social worker in my office a couple toys for every child they dealt with and had them personally present them on their next house call. It brought so much joy and happiness to these kids and their parents, as well as every social worker. It turned out to be such a simple act, but heartwarming for everyone involved.