It’s simply amazing to see just how far God will go after anyone who shows the slightest inclination of wanting to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. All four Gospels of the Bible teach us that the Heavenly Father (in His sincere and unapologetic love for us) will pursue anyone who really wants to know Him. God wants to have personal relationship with each one of us but only if we are willing. He will not force himself on us.
Certainly this was the case with me. In elementary school I participated in Sunday school at the local Presbyterian Church. My dad was an usher at the church and my parents regularly took me to church at that age. The gospel message was never really fully presented to me in the Sunday school setting. As I grew older, I lost interest in God completely.
Looking back, I sincerely believe my neighbor, Max Foresman, was praying for me during this time period. Foresman was a retired Army Chaplin who served in the military during World War II. He regularly imparted advice to me and would sometime mention God to me in our conversations. I suspect my Grandmother, Charlotte Von Steuben Lees, may well have been praying for me also. She traveled 3,000 miles to attend my church baptism as a baby on July 23rd, more than four months after I was born. My Grandmother, who was also a Christian, lived far away in Philadelphia, Pa. Still, I always had fond memories of seeing her every two or three years when she visited us in California or we saw her in Philly. Sadly these visits were few and far between.
My high school years were a happy time for me. My parents had given me a solid foundation by teaching me some important fundamentals like the golden rule and being considerate of others. Still I lacked any spiritual insight in life. By the time I entered the second semester of my freshman year in college I made the mistake of associating with the wrong crowd and made bad choices. By my sophomore year in college I began to regularly use drugs. I quickly became a lost person in my own lost world.
In November of the following year I was in a terrible car accident while driving on a surfing expedition to Santa Cruz (CA). I look back on and am still amazed I didn’t lose my right leg when my ’69 Ford Van collided with a guard rail. The rail split through my vehicle like a spear. For the next 3-4 months I began questioning my own mortality and the direction life was taking me.
Little did I know at the time that there were several friends (Charmaine and Larry) from Campus Crusade for Christ who were praying for me. Just around that time, there was a series of events that I found out about years later that would play a contributing part in me making the most important decision in my life, that February. Could it have been divine providence?
By January of 1971, I found out that my roommate of 18 months was leaving the school. His absence from my small 3rd story dormitory room gave me even more time to contemplate the state of my life during those dark days. Six weeks later on February 12th, 1971, Larry came and knocked on my door. As we sat down in my room that night, he pulled out a small yellow pamphlet entitled, The Four Spiritual Laws.
For the next 15 minutes Larry carefully read the pamphlet to me. For the first time in my life, the Biblical message of salvation was clearly explained. Deep down in my heart, I knew that Christ was who He said He was. I knew that by His death on the Cross, my sins would be covered with grace… The decision to accept or reject His love gift was clearly presented to me that night.
That evening I decided to acknowledge my condition of lack and of sin. I acknowledged that I needed God and His grace and His forgiveness. I believed that Jesus Christ was now my Lord and Savior.
It was a miraculous turning point in my life. I knew, right then, Jesus was who He said He was. As I left my dormitory room later that evening I was filled with absolute joy. I knew I had found something worth sharing. I knew Christ was and is the answer! Gone were the drugs, gone was the crazy lifestyle – I had Jesus and that’s all I needed. I no longer had any desire to do drugs – I no longer had the desire to swear.I just wanted to know Jesus!
I was a complete novice in my new belief. Larry had encouraged me to read the Bible… I also knew I needed to share my new found friend with others – and I did. I also knew I needed to go to a church – but which church, I had no idea. My girlfriend (and future wife, Lori) and I visited the nearest church we saw. It was there that we heard a young girl sing about “the blood of Christ.” I thought to myself, what kind of a church would sing about blood of all things. I thought it was weird. But something told me to be polite to the family whose youngest daughter sang the song. Her parents were Frank and Adina Friesen. It was this introduction that would lead us into their home hundreds of times over the next 2 ½ years.
Frank and Adina Friesen were devout Christians from the province of Manitoba, Canada. Coming from a strict Mennonite background, the couple was spiritually renewed by the charismatic movement during those days. Their renewed zeal and faith in Christ encouraged the young family to leave their Canadian hometown and immigrate to the United States. In a later move, as they drove through northwestern Oregon, Adina felt that God was urging them to settle down in the small town of McMinnville. The town, located one hour’s drive from the Oregon coast, was home to Linfield College, a small Pacific Northwest school founded in 1859, which “happened” to be the very school I was attending at the time. The couple soon had a profound effect on my life that I wouldn’t soon forget. They taught me about prayer and encouraged me in my new walk with Christ. The Friesen family was definitely a Godsend to me and the many students that regularly visited their home. In all the many prayer meetings and Bible studies these wonderful people had in their home, I can think of at least five people who attended these meetings who later went into full-time ministry.
If you have any doubts about the reality of a personal God, you need to read the amazing true stories of the people in this book you are holding. I pray that you come away with the sincere recognition of how much God really cares for you. I pray that you, too, will see why you need a personal relationship with your Creator. God can and will make a difference in our lives, despite our shortcomings and personal circumstances. You need to say yes to him.
For all those people who have friends, kids or relatives who have never been open to hearing about the Risen Savior – I do hope you share this book with them. I am eternally grateful that my college friend took time to share Christ with me. For that reason, I pray you use this book to share your faith in Christ with those around you. I believe these sixteen amazing stories will encourage you as they have encouraged me.
The stories in the book demonstrate just how far a loving God will go to reach anyone. They are miraculous accounts of people who have gone through different journeys in life. They have all discovered what a difference a loving God can make. My prayer is that you find, in the pages of this book, the reality that God does really care and you can have an eternal relationship with him too, by starting now!