Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tramatic Time for us

Hey Friends,
Well it has been a long time since my last post. My plan was to post a long Christmas/Thanksgiving/New Years Summary of my life. Much has taken place since my last post. My life has been extremely busy. Danielle and I put more then 60 hours of driving from Detroit, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, and many trips to the Windy City for shopping and site seeing. Chicago is beautiful at Christmas.

Thanksgiving was great with my brothers James and Joseph, and Mom and Dad. It is awesome how God has blessed my parents in the past year. My mom has lost almost 150lbs in almost a year. My father is senior Pastor at First Missionary Church of Clarkston, Michigan. Which is the same town as Kid Rock.

Christmas was great also. Spending time in Indianapolis with Danielles parents and little bro Micah. It is crazy to see your little bro-in-law be 15 years old and tapping 6.2---and I know he isn’t finished growing!!

The many showers of gifts from our families, friends, church family, and youth ministry blessed Danielle and me. We are truly blessed, and look forward to seeing our family again.

At the beginning of January we went to LOGOS5 with a group of student in our youth group worship band. Danielle and I did not offer this trip to our entire youth ministry, because we wanted to invest the time, and energy into a few. So we took 10 students to LOGOS05 and had an awesome time. We were challenge to read God’s Word through in a year.

For me the most challenging time for me at LOGOS5 was the talk my Maralin Lazalo [sp –sorry]. She challenged my heart, and my passion to tell people about Jesus.

While at LOGOS5 I was asked to program a Battle of the Band with IWU. Danielle and I used this as a leadership development project for our students. They did an awesome job setting up the stage, passing out bead necklaces and showing other high school bands where to set up, and what to expect. I was so proud of them, and how much patience they had, and willingness to serve.

I start grad classes in about a month through Indiana Wesleyan University. I am excited about this next educational adventure.

Also, my friend and mentor Chris Conrad has recently moved to Indiana to take a new position at the Wesleyan Church headquarters. So I have been in search for a new mentor. Which is nothing new for me, because since the age of 18, I have had a mentor. Someone who was usually an, older, wiser person who I could rub shoulders with. To learn from them the wisdom and knowledge they have gained through the years. So, when I first came to Wisconsin, Chris adopted me and took me under his wing. Monthly we would try to get together and share our hearts about marriage, ministry, and personal growth.

My father planted a church when I was 12. The drop zone style of church plant was very hard, and difficult for my family. I am grateful for the experience, and much of who I am today, and my passion to tell people about Jesus, is because of that stage. But the idea of church planting has always been a passion of mine, but also a deep fear. Chris, helped me move passed that fear, and tone my vision for church planting. Thank you Chris!

So, since, I was with out a mentor, I began my search again for a new person to learn, experience and gain wisdom from. I found Mark Vincent from Design for Ministry (which can easily be found on the www). Mark’s children have attend our youth ministry for a few years now. Mark and his wife Lori both have done youth ministry, and many different ministry leadership positions. These are two people Danielle and I, would consider heroes. Mark has agreed to meet with me for the next 6 months as I start my grad work, and begin a new step in my method of disciple making.

Danielle is starting her 2nd semester as Children’s director of Our Savior's Wesleyan Church. It has been awesome to see her pour into these kids, and really sink her teeth into a new type of ministry for her, leadership development. We have both grown a ton, in our ministry styles in July. Sharing an office space, and ministry goals has opened so many new doors for marriage growth. We have learned to work together in a deeper way. We really depend on each other a bunch! I really don’t know how to do ministry with out her.

With all this said---I have to tell you the real reason Danielle or I have not posted. As many of you know Danielle not only works for Our Savior’s Wesleyan Church, she also works for our local school district as the LINKS After School program director. Every Wednesday a bus pulls up to the church’s front door and 15-20 7th and 8th grade students unload for an afternoon of hilarious games, relaxing, homework help, and mentoring. I help out too by training, and encouraging the sr. high student mentors. Danielle has had this program for almost 3 years.

Two years ago a young lady in the 7th grade came to the after school program. Her name was Clare. Clare was a bright, talented young lady that displayed a unique ability in art, and design. She would always wear clothes that were not in-style, but were her style. She would always use the church parking lot as her canvas. Danielle and I would supply the side walk chalk. When people were sad or down, she would offer to draw their picture. Which always brightened people’s day.
For three semesters of school Clare came to LINKS. Every Wednesday, she would walk off the bus and into our lives. We laughed together, and often times shared stories about how we each grew up. Clare was always invited to our Youth group, but she could never convince her parents to bring her.

Clare, graduated the 8th grade and went into the 9th grade. Which means she no longer could come to the after school program. Which meant Danielle and I lost touch with her since Sept.

This past Monday night, Clare committed suicide in her brothers bedroom. This was a kick in the gut for Danielle and I. Our hearts have been broken. Many feelings of guilt, and “what if’s” run through our minds. We have not slept a full night yet. Last night we went to the funeral, and today, I did not go to work. We have been living in shock.

However, in the midst of this storm, God has been speaking to us. Through His Word, long times in silent prayer, and talking it out with other believers, Danielle and I are mourning, and being stretched.

For Danielle, it has been a constantly in her thoughts, she has had a really hard time sleeping, and constantly is thinking about the whole situation. For her it is like an ache in her heart. She tries to find relief, but has found she just needs to go through the pain of this loss.

For me, I have gotten boldness out of all of this, as if someone has released a hungry man deep in my soul. I have never had a greater passion or fervor to tell people about Jesus. Every time I meet someone, or have a chance to have meaningful talk with someone, I am driven to tell him or her about things that matter. I want to tell them about Jesus.

I am torn up inside to think that Clare may have come into my church, through an outreach my church had, and I may have not told her about Jesus. Sure I may have been a nice guy, and even driven her home once. But did I ever really come out and challenge her stance in life. Did I tell her about Jesus? Or just play fun games with her, play Christian music, and hand her a flyer with the next great youth event CRM was having? Did I tell her more about my youth ministry than I did Jesus?

Danielle and I have been blessed to have a growing vibrant ministry. Every student we have has been a blessing from God. And we work our tails off weekly to disciple, develop leaders, develop methods of discipleship, and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has doubled the size of our ministry every year since we have been here. Not because of anything we have done, but because of the huge need this community has. But often times I fall prey to having a heart that cares more about the marketing of youth ministry than I do of the evangelism of Jesus Christ. THIS WHOLE SITUATION HAS BEEN AN AWAKENING.

Tonight, there was a student led candle light vigil at the local park. Danielle, a group of students and myself went. With my candle in hand I asked God for an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. Just someone, who is lost, hungry and hurting. As we arrived their must have been 40-50 student huddled together trying to stay warm on a cold Wisconsin night. As we began to light our candles, Megan, the group organizer asked if I would share. She said, she was not sure what to say, but knew something needed to be said.

Tonight, at Field Park in Mukwonago, I told them about Jesus. I told them that His love is great. I told them that His healing goes deep, and that life doesn’t have to end. I told them of salvation and new birth. I told them nothing about my youth ministry, or about the cool event we are having on Saturday. I just told them about Jesus.

Pray for us friends. We are hurting, hungry, and ready to move from this heartache. God’s been moving and breaking new ground in our hearts. I am not sure exactly for what reason. My prayer for you, is that if you get the chance, and if you don’t get one, make one, but tell someone about Jesus. You may not have them next semester.


nate richardson said...

john i will definately pray for you guys and clare's family. it is a shame that anything like this had to happen.

Jodi and Paul said...

Great insight! So sorry it had to come through such an unfortunate situation. We'll be praying for you and your "new ministry"! :)

J & D Freed said...

Thanks for the prayers, Danielle and I hope to grab a few days away next week to refresh. This is been a hard hard week. - jf

kory said...

appreciate your honesty and insight into what God is doing in your hearts. in my prayers.

Brian B said...


wow is all i can say. Nate and I just chatted about it and that is a fear we always live with of "what if" with one of our kids...that could easily happen to any student nowadays...praying for you guys and let me know if there is anything we can do...