Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

dad and den

A Heart for Kids. This story is about my dad’s incredible journey as a heart recipient, but it starts here. My parents have always had a heart for children, but were unable to have them biologically. I was adopted from the foster care system on Dec. 17, 1971 in Phoenix, AZ.   When I was 6, they would later adopt my brother, Ted (5) and sister, Samantha (2).  We grew up in a great Christian household.  Going to church was a part of our everyday life and our parents modeled Jesus everyday. Around my freshman year of high school in 1986, my dad started getting lightheaded when he would go on walks. He was very active, was playing soccer and walking regularly.  He went in for a routine physical and they gave him a shock: He was diagnosed with cariomyopathy (a degenerative heart disease) and was told to “go home and get your affairs in order–you have 6 months to live”. Needless to say, we didn’t believe the doctors. After all, he was very active and didn’t seem any different.  However, we were soon proven wrong.  In the months that followed, his health deteriorated rapidly.

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He would soon be admitted into the hospital and would begin a fight for his life.  At one point, he was kept alive by every machine known to man. He coded 3 times. He saw visions. He couldn’t talk because of all the tubes running in/out of his body. He could only write stuff on a small chalkboard.

The Chalkboard. He was only able to eat ice chips and write on a small chalkboard to communicate. I’ve only seen my dad cry twice in my life. This would be one of those times.  His situation was dire. His health waning.  He was uncomfortable. He was uncertain.  Yet whenever a nurse, doctor, or someone from the medical staff would enter the room, he would motion for his chalkboard.  Did he want the bed raised/lowered?  Did he need his pillow adjusted? Did he want more ice chips?  No.  He would simply write FOUR WORDS: “Do you know Jesus?” That’s a picture I’ll never forget.  A dying man at the end of his life, trying a make a difference in the lives of others for eternity.

Sick Enough to Die, but Well Enough to Live.  The brutal part about transplantation is that in order to “qualify” to be put on the National Organ Transplant List, you have to be sick enough to die (from your condition), but well enough to live (through the surgery). For many weeks, my dad was too sick to survive the surgery.  The outlook wasn’t good. His health was failing fast. As he slowly deteriorated, we called the elders of CCV to come pray for him.  They prayed over him and anointed him with oil.  Soon, his body started to respond. He began to improve. Finally, he was deemed “well enough” to be put on the transplant list.

Don’t Pray for Me to Live.  While he waited for a transplant, he refused to let us pray that he would live. Because he knew, “in order for me to live, someone has to die.” Instead, he encouraged us to pray for God’s will.  So, we did. And we waited. I think everyone should spend time in a transplant wing of a hospital at least once in their lifetime.  Every patient in that unit knows that they will die unless people know that time is imminent. Every other patient in his wing died while waiting for a transplant.

Total Teamwork.  While we waited for word, so many people from Christ’s Church of the Valley came to our aid.  My mom moved to Tucson and got an apartment. Staff, friends and family helped act as a shuttle service, babysitters, and just hanging out.  My grandparents moved into our house and stayed with us so we could continue to go to high school.  On the day we got the phone call, Don Wilson drove me from track practice to UMC just as my dad was being wheeled into surgery.

A New Heart. On February 8, 1988  my dad received a heart transplant. He received the heart of a 43 year old woman who passed away in Tucson.  He would correspond with the donor family a few years later.  The first few weeks were precarious. We waited to see if his body would reject the new organ. Many times, transplants die of early infection or rejection.  In fact, every time we went to see him, we had to “scrub down” for 15 minutes with iodine and step into a sanitized “bubble”.  It was like something out of NASA.

dad post transplant

But my dad “took” to his new heart just fine.  Soon, he was walking and riding a stationary bike.  Eventually, the tubes came out. He was breathing better and more effortlessly than he could remember.  His color was better.  He had more energy.  He couldn’t wait to go fishing.

I’ll be there.  While my dad was recovering in Tucson, we would go to high school in Phoenix, then go visit on the weekends.  I was still in track and running became my ‘escape’ from the craziness of life.  As a distance runner, I had flirted with the 5 minute mile a few times as a freshman.  Now as a sophomore, I could feel this was ‘my year’.  In one of our early track meets, as I rounded the turn on lap 1, there were my parents!  They “snuck out of town” to see my race!  I honestly can’t remember the rest of the race, but it was one of the first times I broke the 5 minute mile.

Still Running.  Since all this, my dad is still running. He will celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary this June. He has been able to enjoy seeing all his kids graduate from HS, get married and start families of their own.  He is a grandparent 12 times over. He has worked on staff at Christ’s Church of the Valley for 32 years, and through his life and ministry, he continues to ask people, “Do you know Jesus?”  I am proud to call him my father.  This one’s for you, dad!  Happy 26th Anniversary.

Philippians 3:12-14 says, “Not that I already have obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 

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Chilean mining disaster

On Thursday, August 5th 2010, 33 miners at the San Jose mine in Chile became trapped under several tons of rubble when the mine caved in. They were over 2000 feet beneath the surface.

Initially, the outlook wasn’t good. Even if they had lived through the collapse, they would most likely starve to death before being found.  So bleak were the circumstances, that when other miners heard about their plight, they came to the site and hammered 33 crosses into the ground, fearing the mine had become their tomb.  (after all, they 8 people had died in the mine years prior to this accident)

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On the slim chance that they could locate the miners, crews drilled 9 holes into the ground in hopes of finding any evidence of their survival.  Miraculously, 17 days later, one of the drill bits hit a hollow spot deep below the earth where the miners had gathered. As the tiny drill bit retracted from the chasm, attached was the message “We’re great down here in the refuge—the 33”.

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What ensued was one of the largest search and rescue operations in world history.  Chile would enlist the help and expertise from countries around the world. They would combine their resources. They would coordinate their efforts. Their plan was radical: drill down to them and build an escape capsule large enough to hoist them out. NASA would design the capsule. The process took over two months.  It cost tens of millions of dollars.

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But finally, 69 days later, with 1700 journalists from 39 countries assembled,  all 33 of them were pulled to safety one by one.  And when they reached the surface, who do you think was more excited?  The ones who had found life again?  Or the rescuers who had given it to them?  The answer is: BOTH of THEM!

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This remains the single most-watched event in human history, captivating a worldwide viewing audience of over 1 billion people. Why?

Because the world loves a great rescue story!

John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

What’s your response?  Have you “staked a cross in the ground” and given up on reaching your lost friends & neighbors? Is it easier to “stay on the surface”?

Let’s be a part of God’s great rescue.

What will it take?  The largest coordinated effort in history.

What if EACH ONE REACHED ONE?

This was Jesus’ plan.  He started with a FEW and he’s counting on YOU.

Eternity is worth the effort!

Dramatic Rescue from a Burning Car

This dramatic video shows an incredible rescue operation by average citizens.  They knew if they didn’t respond, this family would die. At no concern for their safety, they plunged into the fire to save them.   They fervently fought back the flames.  They desperately worked to free them from the wreckage.  It was an awesome achievement!  Spiritually speaking, I notice these parallels:

Jude 1:22-23 (NIV) 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them…”

James 5:19-20 (NIV) 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NIV) 22…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1. Do I have the same sense of urgency for those who don’t know Jesus Christ?

2. What am I willing to risk to help bring someone to Jesus?

3. Do I treat eternity like it’s a life-and-death matter?

Jesus has asked believers in joining his rescue operation.  He has taken the pain for us. He has “snatched us from the fire”.  Let us live with urgency. Let us point people to the life-saving nature of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16-17 (NIV) 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Penn’s Video “Gift of a Bible”

“How much do you have to hate a guy NOT to tell him about heaven?”  Devout atheist Penn Jillette (from Penn & Teller) poses a great challenge to all believers.  Here, he gives pause to reflect the impact of one man’s gift:

1. He respects those who are outspoken for their Christian [or any] beliefs.

2. He respects those who express a genuine care for others. [in this case, for eternity]

3. He respects those who intelligently, cordially conduct themselves.

What’s your excuse for not sharing the Good News?

In his book, “The Unchurched Next Door” Tom S. Ranier says,  “82% of all unchurched people would “MOST LIKELY” visit a church if invited by someone they know.”  Sadly, “less than 2% of Christians have invited someone in the last year.”  Staggering.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

I showed this video at our church to remind our people about how sometimes the little things we say or do can make a big difference.  I hope this inspires you to share the Good News.  Keep praying for Penn.  He is a talented man, and I hope to see him in heaven some day.