Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ministry Update - May 2012


My name is Jamie. I am fourteen years old and live in Brainerd, Minnesota. Steve and Martha Harrison are my grandparents and Molly and Adam VanHeel are my parents. I come from a strong Christian family so you would expect me to be the same. Wrong. Well, at least until a week ago. Before then, I struggled to know who I was because I kept looking to find myself through my friends, guys, school, and secular music. I always had temptations and I would often give in to them. I knew that I wasn't what God wanted me to be but I always thought that I would ask for forgiveness in the end.

Well, I know who I am now. I am God's servant, a missionary, and a committed Christian. I don't need a guy, I don't need bad music, I don't need unsaved friends; all I need is my Jesus. I found my purpose and from this point on, I am giving up EVERYTHING; everything that I thought was me. I want to live out what God has planned for me so that I can be who I am supposed to be. I want to be different. I want people to know me as the girl who is the radical Christian - I would be honored to have that title.

You might wonder how I made this change of heart. Well, let's just say God gave me a wakeup call. On May 6, my friend gave me a ride in his new car after church. Unfortunately, we were going too fast around a corner. Before we even knew it, the car flew into a ditch and rolled over several times. I knew I was going to die. I knew this was the end. I remember wondering if I was going to make it to heaven. No, no I wasn't ready. Heaven is a perfect place and I was a sinner who knew that I was doing bad things and was just going to wait to ask for forgiveness at the end. Well, all of a sudden, the car stopped rolling... and I was still alive.

At first, I couldn't move; I was so confused because I was still here. Then I realized that God saved our lives and didn't want us to die. I climbed out of the car window and called home. They brought me to the hospital to see if I had any injuries but miraculously, I only had a sprained arm. I couldn't stop thanking my Jesus for saving me. God really opened my eyes and showed me that my purpose wasn't to mess around and not take Him seriously but to follow Him, trust Him, and do what I was created to do.

Before I didn't feel like I was anything but now I know that I am something. God has given me a greater sense of purpose. I want to make a difference and I want to be different. I have been waiting my whole life to have this kind of courage. Because of God, I now have purpose, strength, and life!


Recently, Martha and I had the privilege of attending the annual Teen Challenge banquet here in Brainerd. Around 600 came to the famous Cragun's Resort where we heard the testimony and music of Sheila Ray Charles, the daughter of Ray Charles. It was a very successful evening highlighted by the testimonies of several students in the program. The local director of Teen Challenge also shared a story that touched us all. He spoke about a young man who had recently joined the program.

This young man had come from a typical bad past - addictive lifestyle, crime, and incarceration. Fortunately, he had given his life to Christ and became anxious to know the Lord's will for his life. He sought and was granted an opportunity to enter Teen Challenge as an alternative to his jail sentence. However, a requirement was imposed that he had to report to the Brainerd Teen Challenge facility by a specific date and time or a warrant would be issued for his arrest. Arrangements were made to transport him from St. Cloud to Brainerd a couple days before the deadline - a distance of sixty miles.            

When he didn't show up at the Teen Challenge facility at the expected time, concerns grew. It was not uncommon to see individuals have a change of heart just prior to entering the program but this was not the case. This young man's ride had failed to pick him up. Knowing he had to get to the Teen Challenge facility regardless of his misfortune, he took a radical approach. He began to walk the entire distance!

He walked for miles, day and night, and developed a severe case of sunburn. At one point, a patrol officer stopped and questioned him. The young man showed him the official papers of his Teen Challenge assignment. The officer kindly gave him a ride to the next town. Unfortunately, he still had many more miles to go. But this young man wouldn't give up. He couldn't imagine doing anything else except fulfilling God's call on his life. Miraculously, he finally made it to the Teen Challenge center - just before the imposed deadline.

The Teen Challenge director summed up the story by telling the dinner guests that this young man illustrates the power and motivation of a changed life. It is what makes the ministry worth all the time and effort.

This past Tuesday, several of the Teen Challenge students came to our B.U.D. praise and worship service. One of them was this young man. As I met him for the first time, I discovered a key detail of his story that wasn't shared at the banquet. He had actually met Christ at the Crow Wing County Jail when a ministry volunteer shared with him on a Sunday evening last fall. It turns out that this ministry volunteer was Adam, my son-in-law, who was in the service! Now, by God's grace, they were reunited, worshipping the Lord together as transformed brothers in Christ.


We are so excited about a project we have been working on for you. A new ministry website is in the development stages and will soon be accessible. It will provide many fresh and powerful tools to strengthen your walk with the Lord. We promise to let you know when it is ready. We still have some dates available to share at your church or Bible study. Please call 612-598-3270 if you are interested.

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