ENCOURAGE EVERYONE IN THE HILL CITY AREA TO HAVE A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST!
(Falling Through the Cracks)
I was raised in a middle class family in a small town in central Nebraska by good parents with a younger brother and sister.I was baptized (sprinkled) as an infant and my parents were very active in the local Methodist church.We attended the church every Sunday and only missed church when we were traveling to see family or on vacation. In the eighth grade I was confirmed with all the other eighth grade students in my class.Other than memorizing some scriptures and the books of the bible, I never learned much from the experience.
As a teenager, I was very active in the church youth group and enjoyed the weekly/monthly activities and the friendships that developed.When I was 18, I heard the “salvation” story for the first time from a speaker at an off-site youth group event.The speaker was not a traditional speaker associated with the church.I was extremely interested in what the speaker said and accepted Christ as my savior at this event. Looking back on this event, I can now see several problems that occurred in the weeks and months that followed.After accepting Christ, I did not have any follow-up discussions or mentoring from anyone else in my life.I was also in a transition period in my life since I was in the process of leaving home to attend college.Being a new follower of Christ without any mentoring on a college campus is not a good situation.The impact of that salvation message was in my heart, but there was no spiritual growth or change in my life.I actually drifted further away from the church due to my strong interest in science and mathematics.The logic taught to me from college lectures and textbooks confused my understanding of bible doctrines and beliefs.Satan had an enjoyable time watching me drift away from my spiritual core.
My college life quickly developed into a pattern of attending class, studying, and partying.I wasn’t a major partier, but I was usually in attendance encouraging other people around me to do stupid and crazy things.I always knew that this lifestyle wasn’t proper; but, I continued along this path.This was also a low point in my life.I tried to handle everything myself and continually bungled relationships, coursework, and responsibilities. I proudly attributed the successes and accomplishments in my life to my efforts (and only my efforts) and the failures were totally due to other people’s incompetence. At times, I was really a challenge to work with.
After a couple of years in college, I was invited to an evening student church event and again heard the salvation story from a special invited speaker.Once again I was inspired and accepted Christ; however, once again, I did not have any follow-up from a mentor or friends.I quickly drifted back into my former comfort zone.
When I was in graduate school working on my master’s degree, I met my future wife (Lori).She came from a strong bible believing family that quickly accepted me. When we decided to get married, Lori wanted her brother (a pastor) to marry us.Her brother insisted that we participate in pre-marital counseling and he thought it would be best if someone else did the counseling.A pastor friend of Lori’s brother (Doug) agreed to do the pre-marital counseling.Once again, Doug went through the salvation story in great detail.After we were married, we attended Doug’s church for about two years.This time I had some strong follow-up from Doug.Doug was always inquiring about my faith and was always suggesting additional books to read that were addressing many of the faith questions, particularly in the area of science. My faith quickly grew, once I had follow-up from people (Doug and Lori) that could answer, or address, my questions and encouraged me.
After completing my doctorate, we moved to Colorado.A friend of Lori’s brother (Russ) had a church near our new home and we attended Russ’s church.It was a very small church (40-50 people) and Russ quickly started to mentor me with detailed bible studies and eventually church leadership courses.Russ was the soundest biblical scholar that I have ever been around and he continuously challenged me on fundamental biblical doctrines, church history, and personal faith.Russ, Harvey and Jeff (other men in the church) helped me become a better individual, husband and young father. They were fantastic mentors and role models in my life. We eventually moved to Ohio and found a small bible believing church.The pastor of this church (Dave) quickly determined where I was at spiritually and swiftly had me baptized.
Since that time I have continued to grow spiritually and have tried to help other people grow in their faith. I believe that God controls everything and you can accomplish anything with prayer and guidance from Him.All successes are due to Him and all failures (or what I think are failures) are part of His plan for my life and/or other people’s lives. I am an example of someone that repeatedly fell through the cracks after accepting Christ due to a lack of proper follow-up from other believers.I want to improve my skills with teaching and leading new believers so that other new believers will not drift back into their previous comfort zones.
Hill City Area Ministries, Inc.
A South Dakota Non-Profit Corporation
Income Tax Deductible IRS 501 (c) (3) Organization