Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tony's Story...the long version:)

I have to take credit for the long delay in between blog posts. I know that thousands of you....maybe hundreds....errr more like dozens?....ok, just my Mom, have been eagerly awaiting our next post. I have been formulating a great post and story about how much our 3 boys and one special little girl have been an amazing blessing and continue to teach and humble us daily. This post is not that (don’t worry Grandma and Grandpa more to come on that at a later date).

We (mainly Lydia) have been preparing our first newsletter to send out to all our friends and supporters. We wanted to include a piece about someone who has had a meaningful experience on a trip to the DR that prompted them to make a significant change in their life when they got home. Tony jumped out in my mind because of some great conversations we had while in the DR together. We asked if he would share his story with us and below is what he sent us.

I was baptized when I was younger around the age of 10. Early last year I made a decision to rededicate my life to Christ and was re-baptized in March. This time was different then when I was younger because I did a lot of thinking, studying and soul searching about what I actually believed. After changing jobs and moving to a new city, I attended a church in Madison, IN and knew from the first moment that there was a reason for everything and that God had a plan.

As a part of my evaluation of where I stood in my faith, I realized that I needed to do something different. At church we were doing a series based upon the book titled “Crazy Love”. The message in the book about being lukewarm as a Christian and how that makes God sick kept going through my mind. About that time, I was asked by a good friend that I had coached with if I would be interested in going to the DR to help put on a basketball clinic. Without thinking, I said yes because it seemed like something that God had kind of put in front of both of us.

The trip was just an amazing experience. You saw God at work in everything that you did. To try and run a basketball clinic for 40 youths with one court, 2 baskets, not being able to speak the language, and having to bring everything with us for the clinic; I would have thought was impossible. But God made it work and made the clinic a success.

I was also amazed by the other opportunities to see God in action. I think being away from our hectic routines gave each of us the opportunity to see God working in so many different ways.This includes the feeding centers, bible schools and the construction that went on while we were there. I was inspired by the actions of our other group members. Whether it was the time they sat aside for bible study or the way that they played with the children, it was a great example for me.

I am a control freak in everything I do, whether I’m coaching, or acting as the Dean of Students at work, or in my personal life. From the moment I arrived in the DR, I realized that I was not in control and would not be able to get through the week without God’s help. I literally laid in my bunk the first night scared, crying and praying for God to get me through the week. It was the first time in my life that I really felt like I was totally out of control. Learning to turn things over to God was the most valuable lesson I could have ever received. I truly got so much more out of the trip than I was ever able to give back to the people of the DR.

I also got to learn so much about what it means to serve and to love others. The trip forced me to get out of my comfort zone and to just dive in to help someone else, whether it was doing the clinic, helping with the bible schools or playing with the children around the church.

I came back from the trip with a couple of goals in mind. One of my goals was to continue to stay close to God by reading and studying my bible. The other goal was to look for other ways to serve God and others.

The idea of starting an FCA huddle came up a couple of different times and I have always been involved in sports as a coach. I asked a couple of athletes at the school if they would be interested and they both seemed excited. It was very much the same feeling of the trip in that it just seemed like something God was leading me to do. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have never of done this had it not been for the experiences of the trip to the DR. The thing I love about the group is that it provides me so many opportunities to share my faith, helps to keep me on track by reading the bible and researching topics and allows me to work with several athletes for a much greater purpose than just winning a game. It is similar to the trip in that by serving others you are really helping yourself.

Our FCA huddle is continuing to grow we have a pretty strong core of 15 members and are looking forward to growing a great deal between now and the end of the school year. Currently we are holding weekly meetings that primarily focus on bible studies and group discussion. With God’s blessings and guidance we hope that our group can continue to grow and become an active presence on our schools campus.

Story’s like that of Tony’s are the reason why Lydia and I are so excited about our journey into ministry. God is using Tony to write an amazing story. It was a joy to be in and share his story. Francis Chan challenges us not to live “lukewarm”. I hope your story is not lukewarm. May your story be full of laughter, tears, fear, courage and triumph. Most importantly let your story be written by God.

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