In April of 2006 I was preaching a series of meetings for some churches in central Pennsylvania. It was a lovely little town and our accommodations were in a delightful bed and breakfast. The girls traveled with me to sing and do children’s work. During the week we visited the Pennsylvania Amish Country, which delighted the girls. On a beautiful spring afternoon we visited Gettysburg, which they politely tolerated. In the evening services we sang and I preached and I asked the girls each to give a personal testimony one of the nights of the meeting. Holly was eager to do so, Hannah was willing, but Heidi was resistant, even to tears.
I persisted. I said, “Heidi, you don’t have to preach, just let people know that you love Jesus. No one expects you to be a public speaker. Just share what Jesus did for you when you were saved.” She agreed, but only because I coerced her.
The next month we traveled to Mexico. Lake Chapala about an hour south of Guadalajara is nearly a mile high. The climate there is the most beautiful climate I have ever enjoyed. On the north side of the Lake is a beautiful hacienda with a clay tile roof, marble staircases, a sweeping lawn, and a kidney-shaped pool set in the middle of the stairs approaching the front of the house. The lawns sweep away toward the lake under palm trees. The stately home is our Latin American Center for the Institute in Basic Life Principles.
Our family stayed at the Center during May of 2006. In the evenings we would visit people on the public plazas in surrounding towns, juggle or do animal balloons, hand our watermelon or do skits, or sing to draw a crowd and make conversations with people to nudge them toward Jesus. During our presentations young people gave testimonies of the work of God in their lives.
Heidi was eager to keep out of the spotlight. She was afraid that she would be called on to speak publicly. She is a beautiful girl with waist-length blonde hair. In Mexico she drew a lot of attention. Everywhere we went people wanted to have their picture taken with her. She was kind to people but she was not interested in speaking publicly. If you pressed her about it she could be a little cross. She would tell me, “Dad, I’m not Holly. She doesn’t mind speaking to groups, but I just can’t. Don’t make me.” On the trip she lived in fear that Mr. Gothard would call on her to give a testimony.
I told Heidi, “Heidi, everyone who is saved has at least one testimony of the work of God in their life. They have a testimony of repentance.” She was unconvinced.
One afternoon I sat on the veranda of the house enjoying a cold fruity Mexican drink and talked to Bill Gothard. The temperature was perfect with low humidity and a gentle breeze blew off the lake. I said, “I know you would like all the young people to be prepared to share a testimony, but don’t you think that some people are especially gifted with speaking gifts and others are just not that verbal?”
He looked down and shook his head from side to side. “Yes but when God really does something in their lives they will talk about it, even if it is not their major gift,” He said. I thought about that for a while. I have noticed that even quiet people usually do talk about what they really love and what they are interested in. Maybe he had a point. Heidi survived the trip without public embarrassment.
An Early Morning Message
On the morning of November 17, 2006 my son Chuk and I were ending a three-day fast. I was looking forward to breaking the fast that morning. Maybe that was one of the reasons I woke up at 2:30 in the morning. I got up to read my Bible. I was reading through the book of Acts. From 2:30 to 6:00 a.m. I sat at the table and read my Bible, reading all the way through the book of Acts. I decided that I would enjoy some food at 6:00.
While I was reading I had an experience I love to have. I came to the prophecy from Joel referred to in Acts 2:16-18.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
I noticed something that I had never given a great deal of thought to before. It was as if the phrase – ” – and your daughters will prophecy – and female servants – ” leaped off the page into my heart. I had a powerful sense that these verses would come true in my own family. I wondered in my heart to God as I highlighted the verses in my Bible; “Lord, do you mean to tell me that you are going to pour out your Spirit on all my daughters and that all of them are going to testify of a powerful working of God in their lives?” I held the thought in my heart and continued to read.
When I reached Acts 21 I read there of Philip the evangelist and my heart was stirred when I read there, ” – he had four unmarried daughters who prophesied – ” When I read that phrase my heart was stirred again. “God are you going to do a deeper work in my daughters?” I had a strong sense in my heart that the Lord was communicating to my spirit that morning a very precious message, that all my daughters would have a powerful work of God in their lives and that they would talk about it for His glory. It reminded me of a morning many years ago when I was spending a day with the Lord alone in a park overlooking a dam in Ohio when the Spirit of God led me to a the passage in Isaiah 54:13; “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.”
Sometimes I have a sense that God has pointed out a specific passage to me as a promise. I try to write these times down with some detail so I can look back and track the promises of God in my life. I want to learn to discern the voice of the Father in my life. I made this note in my journal early that morning:
– Rose at 2:30 and spent the early morning reading the book of Acts with greater clarity than ever before. Thank you Lord. At about 6:00 I broke a three-day fast and found riches in the book of Acts.
God moved upon my heart to pray that my sons and daughters will prophesy – and have the power of the Holy Spirit upon them. Oh, God that the Spirit of God would fall upon my sons AND all four daughters that they would speak forth the work of God, the supernatural work of God upon their lives. I knelt and prayed for each of my children and Lois.
It reminded me of one of my favorite family-promises of the Bible in Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
That morning on the way to work I told Heidi what I sensed the Lord was telling me. She was tolerant but not enthused.
Journey to the Heart
In late January Holly and I led our first Journey to the Heart. The best way to describe the Journey to the Heart is to say it is a ten-day intense retreat to seek the Lord. It was a powerful experience. Heidi and Hannah were interested in going but they were not invited on the first one. In February each of us were asked to lead the Journey’s again. Holly the women’s and I the men’s, of course. Heidi and Hannah were invited.
It was a beautiful week in the Northwoods. The Conference Center is nearly 3000 acres. In the middle of the property is beautiful Wolf Lake. On the north end of the lake on an elevation is the split level home used for the women’s Journey to the Heart. Across the lake on a picturesque peninsula called Duck Point is the house where the men live during their Journey. One morning I was there enjoying a Cliff Bar and a cup of coffee when I heard Holly’s voice at the door. It was very early and I was surprised and happy to see her.
“Dad you have to come out to the van. Something wonderful happened last night. The girls are here. They can’t wait to talk to you.”
I got my coat and went out to the van. It was Friday morning. On Thursday the girls had been examining their hearts for over four days. Holly scheduled a time for each of the girls to take an hour and a half walk around the lake and spend time with the Lord. Hannah had a special sense of the nearness of the Lord on her walk. She wept when she spoke of it.
The girls had been up most of the night. The Spirit had come down on the little house across the lake. At bedtime Heidi went to bed. Holly and Hannah stayed up talking about the day they began to pray together confessing sin and talking openly with one another about past hurts.
While they were praying together and confessing sin Heidi woke up. She didn’t move for the long time. She just listened to her sister’s honest confessions and humble, eager prayers. There was a sense of the presence of God in the room. Heidi joined the conversation and began to open her heart to her sisters. She began to confess sins and hurts of her past that she had kept to herself. She admitted that on her walk around the lake she struggled with strong doubts about her salvation. She had prayed a childhood prayer but it was not with a consciousness of her sin or the assurance that she had been forgiven.
Holly asked her if she wanted to trust Christ and she rolled out of bed onto her knees and poured her heart out to the Lord. She sincerely confessed her sins including a lack of love for others. In the van that morning she told me that because of secret sins and secret hurts that she had kept from me there was a wall between us. The wall came down when she was saved and she had a deeper warmth in her spirit. She had a love for others that wasn’t there before. She had a desire to pray and a hunger for the Bible, clearly a burst of affection for God. She talked to each of the members of the family and sought their forgiveness for past wrongs.
The Fulfillment of the Promise
Word spread about what happened to Heidi. When we returned to Headquarters Mr. Gothard was eager to hear a report about what happened on the Journey. He called on Holly and she gave a testimony. When she was done he called on Heidi. She willingly walked to the platform and openly and clearly shared what God had done in her life. It was a very special moment for me.
That was Monday. On Thursday night our family was scheduled to preach and sing and testify at the Pacific Garden Mission in downtown Chicago. Holly introduced one of the songs with a testimony. During my message I called on Heidi. She shared a meaningful testimony of the work of God in her life. There were 300 men there. They listened to her carefully. At another point in my message I called on Hannah to testify. Her testimony of the Lord’s work was sweet. It was a beautiful, happy night. On the way home our hearts were filled with joy.
Sunday morning in Momence at First Baptist Church I called on the girls again and they willingly came to the pulpit and told with great effectiveness what God was doing in their lives. The thing the Spirit prompted me to claim early in the morning on November 17 he did.
I am enjoying a deep fellowship with my daughters every day and I feel like we are a ministry team. I know one day the Lord will do the same work in little Hope’s heart. Then I will have something in common with Philip the Evangelist.
I wonder how many of our children are conforming to the behavior we expect and parroting the answers we expect, but they have not had an encounter with the Living God. Deep brokenness, humble confession, and genuine salvation solve a multitude of confusing and difficult problems. My Dad used to say, “There’s nothing wrong with him a good dose of salvation wouldn’t cure.”
Glory and praise forever to our merciful God!
I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3)
March 7, 2007