‘All These Things...’
I started the spring semester a new person no longer uncertain about my reason for living. I wanted every person in the world to hear about God’s Son and the forgiveness of sin and eternal life that He offered to each one. I was convinced and convicted of the need to take this message to every person in the world. I wanted to be a servant of Christ sharing His Gospel in foreign lands!
Unfortunately, the Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) staff member who was meeting with me, did not seem to share that same vision for my life. And to be honest, I don’t blame him! Through the entire fall semester, he had faithfully met with me and patiently fielded my questions and criticism about the Christian faith. I was told later by another staff member that he was just about to terminate our weekly appointments when I finally did something positive by attending the winter retreat at Camp Pu`u Kahea. But his opinion of me was fixed by the months of antagonism I displayed before taking my stand for Christ at the Camp.
This was made evident to me when the spring retreat named Senior Panic, a one day seminar explaining the full-time ministry opportunities in CCC, was convened. Attendance was by invitation only! Traditionally, only the most committed graduating seniors were invited to join the full-time staff of CCC. Needless to say, I wasn’t invited. After all, I had just made my commitment a couple of months ago!
But Christ had changed me and my heart burned with the desire to serve Him. Call it naiveté or blind zeal, I decided to invite myself. I called the staff member and asked if I could attend the retreat. I sensed the caution in his voice as he prodded to discern my motives. But finally he relented and resigned himself to my attendance.
I remember entering the home where the legitimate invitees were assembled and my feelings of inadequacy and humility as I joined them. I wouldn’t have been surprised if some of them were wondering, ‘What the heck is he doing here” but they welcomed me warmly.
I was captivated by the vision of Dr. Bill Bright, Founder and President of CCC, Int’l, and his goal of reaching every person in the world for Christ. I would love to be a part of a ministry like that. But there was a problem. I would not be graduating in the spring, because my grades in my zoology major were too low, the result of my pre-Christian life style, competing with the pre-med students in my biology classes and my lack of purpose. Finishing that degree did not look hopeful, and since Campus Crusade required at least a four year degree, my chances of joining the staff were slim at best.
I then set my sights on transferring to a Bible College to earn a degree I was more motivated to study for when I was approached by the campus Director, who told me that I could be extended a special exemption if I still wanted to join CCC (though I’m not sure if that kind of exemption is still available today). Against the advice of some who rightly counseled me on the importance of having a college degree, I chose to apply to CCC staff.
What I didn’t know was that applying and being accepted were two different things! Furthermore, I would have to personally travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, and finance 5 weeks at the CCC summer staff training at Purdue University to find out if I was accepted! Talk about testing one’s faith! I emptied my savings account, received a generous donation from the church I attended and cashed in the savings bonds that my parents had kept for me and bet everything on a chance to serve God full-time.
When I arrived in West Lafayette, after a harrowing Indiana Jones type flight from Chicago at night aboard an old propellor driven plane through a full blown midwestern thunder storm, I was greeted by a darkened dormitory room that lit up with each lightning flash and exploded with the kind of thunder unheard of in Hawaii. It looked and sounded as though the lightning was striking just outside the window!
The next morning, after meeting my roommate, Sam, and his friends, Paul and his wife Jeanie, who were also applying to join the CCC staff, I began to have doubts about my chances. They were incredible, attractive and talented Christians (Paul was an Olympic caliber gymnast) who had much to offer CCC and were further ahead in their walk of faith than I was. How could I possibly pass the interview and application process after being a committed Christian for only a few months?
The day when they posted the lists displaying the names of all who were accepted unto the CCC staff was still a few weeks off, and I was in heaven attending the classes of the Institute of Biblical Studies (IBS) which every applicant was required to take. But the ’day’ finally dawned, and I got my first glimpse of its importance as I made my way to the student center where the lists were posted. Groups of people were coming back, some excited about what they saw, but many in tears as well. One group of heartbroken applicants made me depressed. It was my roommate and his friends. I stopped to talk with them and learned that all of their applications were denied. When I finally left them to continue to the student center, I could not help but think, ‘If Sam, Paul and Jeanie weren’t accepted, what chance would I have?’ My conclusion? Absolutely none!
I scanned the wall covered with the list of names. I’m not sure if I was breathing when I finally found my name and peeked to see my fate, I was stunned to read that I was accepted. It was clear that in my case, my acceptance unto the staff of CCC was not based on merit but on the mercy of God.
After four years reaching students at the University and six exciting years in Papua New Guinea, it soon became apparent that I lacked the Biblical training to take people further in their quest for spiritual maturity. I needed to go back to school. That opportunity came when my wife and I were granted a one year sabbatical to attend the Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon, to complete the one year Graduate Certificate course offered there. Normally open only to students possessing a Bachelor’s degree, I sent in my application any way, as I did when I applied to join the staff of CCC, with complete reliance on God’s Sovereignty and Will for my life. We were steered in this direction by two amazing Christians we met in PNG, Doug and Jana McConnell. They had completed that course before coming to PNG as a missionaries and recommended it highly to us.
The day in Port Moresby that I received a letter from the school was reminiscent of the ‘day’ in the student center at Purdue. I opened the letter slowly and read that I was accepted into the program. I am certain Doug’s letter of recommendation helped immensely, but ultimately, I knew God had extended His mercy and grace to me once more.
The year was everything I had hoped it would be in terms of Biblical training, and a surprising change for our three children, John-Mark, Kawika and Kara, the latter two who were both born in Port Moresby. They went from the tropical heat of PNG to the snowy playground of Mt. Hood. The studies were a joy and I studied hard to complete the year with a straight A average. What a difference studying a subject you have a passion for makes! But my joy was short-lived when we failed to raise the necessary financial support to return to PNG.
I went back to PNG for the final time to bring the bad news to all of our friends and ministry partners, and to ship our personal effects back to Hawaii. I was amazed to find how much the ministry had expanded in our absence as our trainees multiplied themselves through others they had discipled. But the highlight was traveling with 125 Papua New Guineans to Australia for a world wide Campus Crusade conference in Brisbane and being housed with them at a Christian Sports Centre where they roller skated for the first time and were treated with great hospitality by the Centre's director who allowed us access to many of the facilities at the Centre, and a generous discount on the sport equipment which many of the Papua New Guineans appreciated. I wish I had had a video camera because it was one of the most enjoyable times I ever had. It was an exciting and fitting way to close the chapter on our PNG ministry and gave me one last opportunity to fellowship with these fantastic Christians.
The flight back to Hawaii was depressing as my dream of serving God overseas seemed to be at an end. But I distinctly sensed God promising me that I would one day be involved in another international ministry, teaching and training people worldwide. Considering my poor support raising skills, I was wondering how God would manage that!
In the mean time, I became involved in church planting and eventually was hired by the Maui County Water Quality Laboratory as a lab tecnician, and eventually rose to my current position as a water microbiologist, a position that normally requires a Bachelor's degree. Today, God has provided me ‘all these things’ that I gave up to serve Him when I chose to honor the desire He placed in my heart to reach the world for Christ. Through His mercy, God has opened door after door that should have been shut to me.
And in fulfillment of the promise God gave me on my last flight home from PNG, He opened the door to reaching the world from Maui through the use of the Internet, something that wasn’t even available when He made that promise. Through this website, God has enabled me to teach and train Christians worldwide, reaching countries I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined ministering in. From church discipleship groups, to youth ministries, to evangelistic outreaches, to prison ministries, people from every part of the world have visited the websites, downloading material for their personal ministries as they reach the people in their own countries with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Christians in other countries have graciously translated the initial study into Spanish, Hindi and Chinese, allowing more to utilize the studybook! God is merciful and faithful, and will add ‘all these things’ to anyone who will seek His kingdom first!