Jonathan's Story

"Although I am surrendered to God's calling on my life to be an evangelist now, I was not always this way. I spent my first two years at BCM because my parents wanted me to. I believed that there was no such thing as a “calling” or divinely designed plan for my life. I chose instead to believe that I was supposed to objectively follow Biblical principles for my life and then I would honor God with my life. This way of thinking allowed me to do what I liked. I could follow God and do as a I pleased for a vocation. I felt like I was in control of my destiny. Of course, I had to obey the commands given to me in God's Word. Really though, I felt in charge. I did not consider surrender to God's plan important because I did not believe God had a specific plan for me. Rather than openly fight the Lord, I chose to change my view of Him and I had pretty well convinced myself that I was right. This way of thinking did not really make any sense but I hung on to it with great determination because I thought it gave me freedom. In reality I was afraid to know what God wanted me to do with my life. I enjoyed the comfort that came with my position of control. 

Cola Clash TeamSo with the above stated mindset I graduated from Baptist College of Ministry in the spring of 2015 with my Associate's Degree. I was proud of myself for having the character to honor my parent's wishes for that period of my life and I was ready to follow the path of my choosing. I planned to either go to technical school or join the military with the goal of becoming an aircraft mechanic. I was confident of my direction. However, just a few weeks before I graduated, my Dad asked me if I would be willing to travel with the Cola-Clash ministry team. I said I was willing to pray about it. In reality, I wasn't sure how to handle praying about the decision. I knew I needed the leading of the Holy Spirit, but I had reasoned myself out of being able to ask for it. I was a little frustrated because Mom and Dad would not push me either way and, there seemed to be no Biblical principles that applied to the situation. After struggling with indecision for while, I finally decided it was okay to break my own rules just once and I began to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me. After good deal of prayer, God made it clear to me that I should travel. Later on, I managed to find a Biblical principle for why I should travel so that I could feel better about myself. Still, I was a little less sure of my philosophy as a result of having to make this decision. Finally, the Friday before commencement Mr. Bosler (the team leader) confirmed that I was going to travel. I began to prepare myself mentally for three months of what I was sure would be pure hard work and probably a good deal of agony.

Two weeks after graduation I began training for the summer with the Cola-Clash team. I was a little worried about how everything would go but I assured myself that I would be okay. I learned a lot in the first week of training and was starting to feel like the next three months would not be so bad after all. At the end of that week I was heading to church to eat supper with the team when the brakes went out on my Jeep. I was backing down my driveway when it happened, so I managed to use the transmission to slow my progress, but I lost control and went across the road and hit a tree. My Jeep was totaled, and I was a little shaken, but I decided to view the whole thing as an accident. I knew God was trying to show me something, but I chose to ignore Him.

Tube TugWhen we completed our two weeks of training we went to the first church. The church was in Wilkes-Barre, PA. That town could have been called Ghettoville, USA. There were a few nice parts of the town and there were a lot of nice people but as a whole, the place was a dive. But hey, I figured I wouldn't be homesick for Milwaukee, so it was all good.
My first day out talking to teens (we called this recruiting) was hard work but very successful. I got about seventy recruits (that included two football teams). That was the best recruiting day of my summer. The second day rolled around, and I was still nervous about talking to people, but I was starting to overcome my fear. The first session out was a little slow but we got a few recruits here and there. During the second session out, we ended up in a bad part of town (that could be pretty much anywhere in Wilkes-Barre). Through a crazy turn of events I tangled with a rough crowd of older teens and ended up getting beaten up. They cornered me against a fence at the side of the street and laid into me. I didn't fight back; I just got punched in the face over and over again. When they had beaten me to the ground, they left. After they were gone, I sat up and looked at the blood all over the sidewalk. I had not chosen to shed all that blood. Suddenly I realized that I wasn't in control of my life. I don't get to choose how long I live. I don't get to choose what my purpose in life is. I don't get to choose what happens to me. All I can do is choose to either follow God's plan, or disobey it and suffer the consequences.

CompetitionsWhen my recruiting group figured out where I was, they came and picked me up, and we headed back to the church. When we got to the church I got cleaned up, told Mr. Bosler all about what had happened, and then called my Dad to tell him. Then I went to my room and I was all alone. I thought through everything that had happened. It seemed strange, but although my head was throbbing, I had peace and God gave me great clarity of thought. I realized that my view of God had been wrong. I understood that God had not wanted me to be beaten up but He had done what was best for me. I needed to learn that I didn't control my life, and God had been kind enough to show me that. I understood then that God took a very personal interest in my life. God loved me enough to punish me. He wanted me to know Him in an intimate way, not like the distant and mathematical relationship that I had been seeking. Right then I knew His presence like never before. I simply cannot put into words the awesomeness of that time that I shared with Him.

That week we had forty kids saved. That was the highest number of the summer. We went on to the next town and saw quite a few more kids saved. During this period of time, I was open to the Lord's leading in my life in all areas. I sought guidance from God for the daily decisions of life as well as for His plan for my life. I really believed that God wanted to speak to me personally and I listened for Him in my devotions and all day long. I found that the Holy Spirit did give specific leading if I asked Him to. The life of following God's plan for every day proved to be a free one. It was not always easy. In fact, often it meant I had to do hard work; but I was really free. In the past I had viewed ministry as a drag and not something I would want to do (although I insisted that I was surrendered to the Lord). Over the course of those two weeks, I began to see that full time ministry is an amazing way of life.

Ministering in ChurchesWe traveled to the next town that Saturday, and since it was not very far away we got there early in the afternoon. Josh (one of the team members) and I went to our host's home, and after meeting the host we got settled. We had a lot of free time that evening so I read the book of Esther. As I read I realized that Esther was the only person in the world who could have done what she did for the nation of Israel and that God had prepared her specifically for that task. God used that book to show me that He has a specific task for everyone to carry out. For me that task is to spread the gospel through full time evangelism. I realized right then that God was calling me to preach. I didn't even think of arguing, I just surrendered. The freedom that comes with surrender overwhelmed me, and once again I knew God's presence in an amazing way. I didn't think about it until later, but I surrendered to come back to BCM at the same time that I surrendered to preach.

Over the course of the Summer, I saw God work in amazing ways. Two hundred and eleven teens got saved as a result of this tour. I saw God use the gospel to save all kinds of kids. Football players, geeks, popular kids, nerds, a cutter, a Satanist, and any other kind of kid you could imagine got saved. God can use the gospel to save anyone, and He can use me – the guy who used to think God didn't have a plan for him – to do some really awesome things. Although my summer was somewhat special, it did absolutely nothing to change who I am. I'm nothing special. I'm not a spiritual giant. I'm not a great prayer warrior. I fail miserably all the time. I become more aware of my weaknesses every day. I'm just another regular old person. I'm just like you. When I see myself for who I am, a weak and average human, I realize how amazing it is that God chose to use me. By God's grace I did what I did this summer. On my own I would have done nothing. It was God's grace that allowed me to travel. It was God's love that allowed me to get into a car accident. It was God's love that allowed me to get beaten up. It was God's grace that called me into the ministry. If you have trusted Jesus Christ to save you from your sin then you have experienced His love and grace as well. Surrender to His plan for your life and you will experience His love and grace again. When you see how impossible it is for you to carry out God's plan for you, take heart; He has provided you with endless opportunities to experience His love and grace.
God does have a plan for our lives, and it is an amazing one. We are very foolish to think that we can run our lives. We don't control what happens to us; God does. Not only is our way a hard and unhappy path, by contrast; God's path is full of freedom and joy. My challenge to you is to surrender to God. I challenge you to let go of your plans and ask God to show you what He has planned. His plan may seem frightening. His plan may seem hard. But when you follow His plan you get to walk in His presence and in His presence is the greatest of joy." ~ Jonathan, Junior

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