This week before Easter there is no question that I am struck profoundly with the price that God paid through the beatings, nail pierced hands, and ultimately His death on the cross. His Son, Jesus died so that He might pay the penalty for our sins. His sacrifice and suffering were our free gift of salvation and everlasting life. We rejoice in the fact that the empty cross is evidence that Jesus paid it all and then rose from the dead and is now at the right hand of the Father. It seems too good to be true, like a dream. It is however a reality that we are all sinners and that the one way we can be forgiven and have eternal life is to confess that we have sinned and ask Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. It is with great joy that I share That our Kids camp last week in the hood had 6 children pray to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. It was great have the youth from Second Baptist in Houston come and serve our city. It is wonderful as well that because of our neighbors concern for my health, they will be joining us for worship this Easter Sunday. God works in wonderful and mysterious ways. But amongst all these great blessings there is a burden that is growing in my heart for those who still find themselves homeless and without hope in these turbulent times. Recently, one of our staff members from BridgeBuilders went to a conference on homelessness here in the city where they have you spend the weekend in a controlled and supervised environment among the homeless. You live as though you too are homeless for two days with other homeless people. Our staff member was overwhelmed by the need and met a young man named Roosevelt and began to listen to his story. At the age of 11 his mother left him and his father and said she didn’t want to be his mother anymore. By age 16 his father abandoned him as well. He lived in the house until it was foreclosed and then would stay with friends each day until they found out he was homeless. He started making wrong choices and selling drugs to survive. He had no parents, no place to live, and no income. Ultimately by age 20 he would find himself sleeping on a mat in a homeless shelter. He determined to finish his H.S. degree without his parents or a place to stay and he did. Our staff member heard him describe how he turned to God in his time of need and cried out to God to help him and meet him at his point of need. To his amazement he met Joni, our director of employment. She told him that she wanted to take him out of the shelter, give him a new family (the BridgeBuilder’s family), and find him a job. She and a friend rented him a hotel room and we are now finding him a place to live. It’s just like the love of God to send Jesus to Earth to walk among us although He was sunless and God Incarnate to deliver us from our sin and eternal separation from God. Joni was not homeless, but she is a child of God sent among the least to set them free and give them a brand new way of life. How I pray for Christian employers to be awakened to the life changing impact their jobs can be to people in our ministry. I am prayerful that we would leave the edges of our fields so that young men, like Roosevelt, might find a job and sense of worth, which he has been lacking for a long time. The phrase that hit me the most when Joni was sharing Roosevelt’s story with me was that, he felt like at any moment he was going to wake up from his dream and realize he was back on his mat on the floor of the homeless shelter. He is so overwhelmed that he is loved unconditionally and has a new family in Christ and a future and hope in Jesus. We should all rejoice this week that we who know Christ are living a dream compared to those who don’t know Him. You and I know there are light and momentary afflictions in this world, but they are nothing compared to the hope of glory that we have in Christ Jesus. We are so blessed. I hope we will never forget where God found us so that we will reach out to those who are still living in hopelessness and are lost. Please join me in making the dream of God’s people a reality one life at a time. If you would like information regarding being a mentor or become a BridgeBuilders 300 ($100/month to support the ministry), please contact Mary Anderwald at email@example.com or 972-715-8401. Medically, I still feel great thanks to your fervent prayers and the mercy of God. He is so good to us. He is our everything and more than enough. We had the joy of praying for multiple families this past week as we visited others in the hospital between my lab work and my latest CT scan. We will get results later this week and will post them on Good Friday! He is good all the time!
Many times in the journey of faith there are those mountain top experiences where you sense the presence of God and a clearer understanding of His purpose. So often in the scriptures we see God speaking and moving in mighty and miraculous ways through mountain top encounters. Perhaps one of the most significant encounters was when Moses met with God and was given the 10 commandments. Amazingly, his face was still glowing after being in the presence of God. We all know what happened in the valley; the people wandered greatly and had no thought of God or their leader.
There is something very significant to me about being in the mountains. I sense God’s presence here in the majesty of His creation. We have spent this week on spring break with our family in Ruidoso, NM. This is our delayed senior trip for Daniel that we did not take this summer because of the cancer diagnosis. I am extremely grateful for and proud of Daniel. He is currently at UT, San Antonio and will transfer to UT Austin next year. He serves with my brother and parents in BridgeBuilders, San Antonio. The Lord continues to use him at UTSA in Chi Alpha to witness on campus. The uniqueness of this trip is that we have come here for years because Laura’s parents lived in Cloudcroft, about 45 miles away. Each time we would come and bring some good books about faith and prayer, my journal and my Bible. These would be some of my sweetest times with God because of poor internet service as well as poor cell phone service. In essence, a forced time to be still and know that “I am God.”
This year we are back in Ruidoso and it is simply amazing how the Lord worked through some wonderful Christian friends that I performed the wedding for their daughter. Her husband’s family, who live in Ohio, have a beautiful 3 story home in Ruidoso, NM with an amazing view of the mountains. It was always our dream to stay here close to Ski Apache and go skiing as a family. We are overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of this amazing Christian family that we have only met for the wedding of their son who has invited us to use their home for the week. It brings me to tears that God would do all of this for us to rest and meet with Him. It is more than we could have ever dreamed possible. Each night we have the kids do our devotionals for the family. We are studying the early church of Acts. Each night 2 of the kids will take a passage and teach us the Word of God. This for me is a joy beyond words to hear the next generation teach the Word of God.
This has given me time to slow down and hear from the Lord regarding many things but, specifically time to begin writing a book, which Velma will co-author, about our journey of faith. It’s amazing how the words have just come to me of recounting so many experiences of God’s faithfulness. I have been skiing this past week and felt great. Normally, I will take a break in the afternoon to read at the lodge. This year it was to begin writing our book. As God always does, He brought a lady who sat down at my table and asked what I was writing. I said I was co-writing a book with Velma about our story. She was struck by this and said she had been praying about writing a book. She shared that her husband died of cancer four years ago and left her a widow at the age of 40 with four small children. She wanted to write to encourage other young widows in similar situations. I marveled that her story would be so relevant to my own life. I shared of my cancer and she was amazed that I was skiing and doing so well. I encouraged her to begin writing her book while she was on the mountain. So often, we waste our mountain seasons by not capturing what God is doing and beginning the work that He has called us to do to help others through their valley experiences. In my case it was to begin writing a book that the Lord had laid on my heart to do for several years. I had the joy to pray for Tina in the new season of her life. She is a wonderful Christian lady that the Lord has blessed with a godly man and a new marriage. She is ready to tell her story so that others may be encouraged in their journey of life.
I pray that we will each take advantage of our own mountain top experiences to seek God and His purpose and begin today the ministry that will encourage others through the valleys of life. We are still feeling great because of God’s mercy and your believing prayer. God alone is worthy to be praised for He is our Creator, Savior, and Healer.
This past weekend my oldest son, Michael turned 22. It is inconceivable to me that he is graduating from U.T. this May and is getting married this summer. We had an amazing weekend together as a family. When Michael’s fiancée asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said for Daniel, my son who is at UTSA, to come home to celebrate with us. It was great to have dinner Friday night as a family. It was filled with laughter, sibling banter, and the typical loud Fechner discussions. As we were celebrating this great evening together and God’s continued goodness to us I couldn’t help but reflect on the day before and the truth of the scripture, “in whatever state you find yourself, count it all joy.”
It was my honor last Thursday to speak at the Missions Commissioning service at Prestonwood Christian Academy. Each year hundreds of students and sponsors are sent out to local, national, and global missions. It is thrilling to see the younger students praying for and gathering supplies for the older students who will be sent out to share the love of Christ. This year as I was preparing to speak the Lord led me to share a very simple charge with the students. First, that when they go, they would see with the eyes of Christ what He sees. We so often judge, based on race, poverty, education, and the decisions of prior generations, the people we are to love and to serve with the love of Christ. We often go and transact with them but don’t truly love them and long to build a relationship with them. I am humbled that God didn’t send Jesus on a mission trip for one week but on a mission to save us from ourselves. He walked among us, touched the leper, went to the rich man’s house, healed the sick and ultimately gave His very life so that we, who were nothing, might have everything through Christ. I asked the students not only to see with the eyes of Christ the people they were ministering to but also to ask the Holy Spirit to search them and see if there be any wicked way in them. When you go and see the needs of others it should convict us as it does me, of our selfishness, greed, and carnality. How can we continue to justify our self indulgences when we see children dying from lack of clean water or food or shelter? We not only must see, but we must love others more than ourselves with the love of Christ.
Ultimately, I shared that we are the very hands and feet of Christ to a lost and hurting world. The Lord gripped all of our hearts when a children’s choir from Uganda sang and led us in worship right before I spoke. Their joy and pure worship brought us to tears. This ministry is the fruit of our Awana ministry and our amazing Children’s ministry. These children who have nothing flew across the ocean, many for the first time, to sing for us at Prestonwood. They convicted all of us by their sweet and joyful faces that know that Jesus is more than enough. We saw in them the love of Christ and His goodness to send them across the ocean to speak blessing into us. I then had our students come to the altar for me to pray over them and the children from Africa began to pray blessings over them before I said a word. It is a beautiful thing to see these children of the least count it all joy simply because they can be used by God to encourage us to see as they see, love as they love, and to go as they do to the nations of the earth. I have included pictures of these amazing children.
Medically, we are a month away from our next CT scan. This will be our first indicator of the progress that the Tarseva with my continued treatments from Germany is making against the cancer by God’s grace. We are counting it all joy in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. We are simply following the example of the children of Africa. We love you and thank you for your continued prayers. We celebrate with you our good God.