Dear Pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here…The Easter season is coming and my prayer is that we will all have “a word in season” for those family and friends who may be spiritually searching. I would love to hear in the weeks to come any stories of people who come to Christ through our churches and Fellowship family.
Below is a wonderful story that will warm your heart.
The Rendles were Fellowship International missionaries for many years in Colombia. Don was especially used of the Lord in starting prison ministries and chapels in some of the toughest prisons in the world. He and Sharon still visit Colombia from time to time. But as a Chaplain Don still maintains a keen interest, and recently shared a wonderful story about Ray. Take the time to read the story below:
“We rejoice in what Jesus Christ achieved in one man’s life—our friend Ray. We have been giving a lift to Ray for over a year, driving him back and forth to our Sundaychurch services in Courtenay, BC, where our church is located. Often we stop for lunch after church and treat ourselves to an A&W combo meal, which Ray loves. We have talked a lot to Ray about his life from Crime to Christ. On the last Sunday in December, he stood up in our church to give his testimony. We tried on many occasions to encourage him to give his testimony at our monthly men’s breakfast at church, and he would always reply “No, I don’t want to bring any attention to the terrible, terrible life I have lived!” to which Sharon would reply, ‘Ray, it’s not going to bring attention to you, but to our Lord who deserves the Glory from your miraculous story!’
“Last Saturday I drove Ray and Jay to the men's breakfast. After a hearty meal, Derek, our MC, asked me to give an update on the one CD song entitled Higher Power sung by our missionary family as a fund raiser for our prison ministry. Sharon and I played these prisoner songs at our home at the celebration of Ray's 65th birthday dinner. Ray has been very impressed with our lives working in the prisons of Latin America and especially of our son singing the song Higher Power described Ray’s life of alcoholism, drug addiction, break and enters which contributed to his broken home and lives of his family. We played the song Higher Power and then Ray held his Bible high and began to share his testimony at the breakfast. He told of the preceding years of his life as he waged an ongoing war against living life in and out of prison. Arrests had piled one on top of one other with staggering frequency to add up to more than 15 years behind bars in various institutions across Canada. While it was true that he actually spent a large part of his time in detention, he was always able to either get out on bail, or persuade the judges that they should place him on probation. He would be arrested over again for possession and sales of dangerous drugs and he spent a lot of his time alone thinking about his collapsed life. He needed to think.
“Without his awareness, the soil of his heart was being cultivated by the Spirit of God who came into his life as a camper at Camp Imadene in Duncan, BC, where he asked the Lord to come into his life as a kid. Interesting to him was that both Sharon and I attended that camp as children where we, too, saw God's tremendous power at work, where so many kids are saved. Ray became weary and had insufficient will to change his own life and turned to the power of God as he thought of the tender moments of his Sunday School experience at the Brethren chapel in Courtenay, and particularly of his camp decision. To wake up from his terrible life, he uttered three words that echoed, "Help me God!" which brought about Ray's glorious transformation for this down-and-outer to find hope and acceptance.
“At his baptism, Ray commented briefly with Pastor Peter as they faced the congregation that he knew how people get so far down that they give up hope. They may give up on themselves, but it is important that somebody tells them that God will never give up on them. There are no people too far gone for God.”
Let’s pray for the “spiritual seekers” that we will connect with this Easter. I’m looking forward to hearing the stories.
Let’s also pray for our Fellowship Chaplains, who are daily touching the lives of people in work places, marginalized communities, prisons, police stations, airports, hospitals and truck stops, to name a few places. Our chaplains are doing amazing ministry.
Have a blessed week,
P.S. – Our current FAIR project is an aid program to change the trajectory of 10 families in the slums of Kolkata, India. Visit our website for more details, or to donate online. Consider making this an Easter offering in your church.