Two weeks ago I wrapped up my fourth year at Cedarville University. This summer, in conjunction with continuing to work full-time as a simulation developer at Wright Patterson A.F.B., I will be taking six online credits towards graduation in May of 2012.
Summer is here, and there are two big pieces of news in my life. The Cedarville students that have been a part of the All Nations Bible Fellowship body of believers have no doubt become some of my closest friends. For four years we have served, learned, prayed, and shared life together in a unique setting. One of them specifically, though, has always stood out to me as a great lover of Christ, servant of others, and passionate evangelist.
My friendship with Jenny developed even further over the course of this past semester. We spent a lot of time seeking advice from friends and mentors, talking with each other, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom in prayer. She invited me to spend last week, after her graduation, with her family in Central New York. This vacation proved to be a week of reassurance for both of us that our relationship seemed God-ordained. Her family agrees too, which is a huge blessing and not taken lightly. Last Friday, on the beach of Lake Ontario, I asked her to be my girlfriend. I am humbled to report that she said “yes”!
I would ask for prayer as we live as neighbors in Dayton (described below) and deepen our relationship more over the coming months to see if we might be compatible for marriage in the future. We realize that it will take an enormous amount of wisdom to sift out the false relationship trends that culture and the media are forcefully burdening us with from the truths of the Bible. Dating will no doubt be an enjoyable time of close friendship, but it must also be an intentional period of seeking wisdom to know if we could be more effective ambassadors for Christ as a couple. Christ is our first love, and Matthew 28:18–20 is our mission. As soon as any person or thing replace Him, we have committed idolatry. We ask for your prayer that we will avoid sin in our relationship, gain wisdom, and continue to serve our Savior as our first love.
This summer, Jenny and I have the excellent opportunity to live at a “Sovereignty House” (faith-based halfway house) that All Nations operates. The house contains six separate apartment units right on N. Main St. next to the church building. A variety of influences and experiences over the past four years have fueled my passion for urban ministry, and this summer will be my first long-term immersion into what I believe to be the mission field God might have for me.
To give you a taste of the community, last night I attended the men’s Second Chance class, a Christ-centered re-entry program to help men and women who were previously incarcerated get on their feet. In a tiny upstairs room of the church building (which itself used to be an abandoned bar that God redeemed for His use), 25 men, most with felonies on their record or have no form of employment, sat under the teaching of Pastor Mann and worshiped together. The young man sitting directly on my left was 22 years old. Growing up, he had stayed out of trouble for the most part but got busted at age 19 when delivering some drugs to a friend. He was instantly convicted of a felony, served three years, and just four days ago was released into the harsh world as a new, unemployed, and largely unloved adult. Praise the Lord that he found his way to the Second Chance program, but there are men and women like him all over this city that are begging for a glimpse of hope.
I realize and am so thankful for the opportunity to grow up in an environment with parents who were faithful to each other, to me, and to God; where I was safe from physical or financial harm; and for now an education and career by which I can provide for myself. It is not enough to realize and claim thankfulness, though, but I must act on it. I believe this looks like serving folks in this city who are hopeless in the name of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve my Savior in whatever humble ways I can. Any positive change that comes about is by His doing alone; I am just blessed and honored to get to be a part of it.
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
— II Corinthians 4:5
To God be the glory for great things He has done. Seriously.