UpBuilding Men, Women, and Children in Practical Christianity

January 2005 Monthly Letter

Dear Dear Partners in Bringing the Lost Back,

Happy New Year!

Here's a New Year's story of a Prodigal Daughter made new by God's Providence!

After years of hoping his church would host an UpBuilding Weekend, it finally happened. The small Methodist church is located in Vandergrift, PA, about an hour northwest of Pittsburgh.

Due to the birth of a granddaughter, the couple that was to house me had to bow out of their commitment. A family with three teenagers living at home volunteered to house "the traveling missionary!"

While becoming acquainted, Joanie, the mother, informed me that a twenty-year daughter (whom she didn't name) had two years prior left home one day without telling anyone where she was going!

The family was devastated and horrified! Finally, after two months, the daughter contacted her family, informed them that she was okay, and was now living with a boy friend in a neighboring town. She had left home to get away from what she termed "the strict legalism" of her parents. She expressed little remorse for the way she had left but great satisfaction in her courage to "break free."

The family was relieved to know she was alive! Her parents were saddened by her comments and by their own conviction of letting legalism rather than love rule their home! Extended pastoral counseling has since helped them come to grips with forgiving themselves, repentance, change, and redirection! But still the daughter did not come home!

As Joanie related this story to me, I said, "If there is any way you can get your daughter to come to the women's session tomorrow, I would encourage you to do it. I know what the Lord does during this particular session in dealing with deep family hurts of the past. Let's pray that she will come!" We did.

Joanie called and invited her to come "My car is broken down." was the answer. "I'll come and get you," Joanie responded. And she did. The daughter (her name still unbeknown to me) sat in the front row. One of my teachings is on learning to pray for a person using the Scriptures to formulate our prayers. I always pick someone to role-play how this is done. I picked "Amy" (by her name-tag) to be my partner!

Another teaching is on God's forgiveness of us and His empowering of us to forgive others. Each woman is given a small posit-noteŽ to write on it the name(s) of anyone needing to be forgiven. This is followed by a time of going outside the building and burying in a small hole the paper. We note that Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins and with Him were buried all those sins.

Many women cry. I believe tears of cleansing. Joanie and Amy, though not standing together, cried.

After the session Joanie, her husband, Glenn, Joni and Barbie their two daughters, Amy and I got into Glenn's van to take me home for some rest. I thought Amy was a friend of either Joni or Barbie and thanked her for her willingness to role-play praying with me. She said it was "very meaningful" for her.

When we arrived home, Glenn gave Amy an envelope containing a family love letter he had written during the men's session. I give each man time to write individual letters to his family members to affirm them and express to each his love and how pleased he is with them. (I suggest that the letters be mailed not given since everyone loves to receive mail!)

Amy read Glenn's letter. She began to weep. Joanie joined in. They called to me and revealed that Amy was their daughter, now reconciled by the Providence of God! We formed one big circle and all wept together! Tears of Absolute Joy-the Joy the angels have when one who is lost is found!

Reread this letter and count the ways of God's Providence (coincidences?) I count 14 of them! How about you?

Thank you for the privilege you give me of being a vessel of His Grace and Providence!


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