2005 Monthly Letter
Dear Partners in Bringing the Lost Back,
a New Year's story of a Prodigal Daughter made new by God's
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
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!
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!
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!"
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
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.
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.
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!)
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?
you for the privilege you give me of being a vessel of His
Grace and Providence!