Train a Child in the Way He Should Go
Guest Editorial: Ted, Kathy, and Chris Green

Jon shares how he walked away and how God brought him back
 
 
Jon shares how he walked away and how God brought him back

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Jon Green is restored to the Fellowship, just before he and his mother Kathy baptized his wife Trisha into Christ - that is a modern-day miracle!

Chris, Kathy and I wanted to share the perspectives we’ve gained as God begins to gather our family – literally – from the “four corners of the earth.” God promises us in Zephaniah 3:20“At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord.” We will begin with Kathy’s perspective, then Chris, then I will close it out:

Kathy: Luke 11:10-13 reads “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. ‘Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’” When the boys first stopped following Christ I was so overwhelmed with sorrow I did not know how to move forward in the Kingdom. How was I to save other souls when the souls that were knit to me were far away from God? How was I to be close to God while my heart was broken? At that time, I truly just wished God would take me so I did not have to figure it all out. Then it got worse-Jon went to Afghanistan and despite my prayers was given the most dangerous job in the most dangerous places.

Before Jon left when I talked to other men that had served over in the middle east they would reassure me that it is not as bad as everyone thinks and truly not everyone is in harm’s way everyday that is over in the middle east. After he was deployed and I would tell military people about his deployment they would not know what to sayone man that was always trying to encourage me when he found out where Jon was and what his job was just said “mmm ,how much longer does he have?” The worst was hearing the pure fear in my son’s voice and knowing I could not let on that I heard it.

All of this forced me to draw near to God. He was the only one that could help and I had to figure out how to call on Him. Through multiple scriptures starting with Luke 11 then continuing on to read 1 John 4 that God is the definition of love, I reasoned like Abraham when God asked him for his son. If God is love then the over-whelming love I have for my sons comes from God. I am not God so what I feel is only a small portion of how much God must love my sons.

After this God and I became partners. I remember praying, “OK God, you know how much I love Jon and I would never let him get killed while he is apart from you and my love is imperfect – therefore God who cannot lie I expect Jon to come home safely! Also I do not want you just to send an angel but your archangel of war to protect my son! Oh, and finally God please make sure you get it through Jon’s head that you are protecting him!”

As Jon shared at his baptism not only was he spared in several close calls but also all his battalion was spared –something that had never happened before during war time! My God is so AWESOME!

Then, as Luke 11 teaches, God went beyond anything I could have imagined. He brought Jon back and his beautiful amazing wife to Him. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving for a whole day when I tried to pray all that would come was tears and the words “thank you.” I could say nothing more to my God who had given me such an amazing gift. I now look forward to my two other sons coming back to God. I no longer am tossed around spiritually and emotionally based on what they do nor have I closed my heart to my sons as I see many do. God has taught me to love them daily regardless of their actions. I know God and I are partners and that He will NEVER STOP working to bring my sons back to him!

Jon shares how he walked away and how God brought him back

I want to end by saying none of this could have happened without the support of both the Portland and the LA church. First, for fixing my broken heart and then to all the people in both churches that reached out to Jon and Trisha. I am so grateful to be in a movement of a family of churches that have one purpose – to bring back all God’s children. I request prayers for all my family to once again be one in Christ.
Chris: Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” It is amazing to see how incredibly God works! Through countless prayers and petitioning, God has been faithful. When I first became a disciple my first goal was to see my brothers become disciples as well. I have prayed continually since then, along with my parents, that God would make our family whole. Through the past few years I have seen amazing changes in my brothers’ lives and in my life as well. There have been extreme challenges, and great joys, all of which have been a blessing from God. Seeing Jonathan restored today, and then to have him baptize his wife, just shows that God can do more than we can ask or imagine! The timing of their restoration and baptism show me that not only does God answer prayers, but that he truly sets the times and places for all of us. Knowing that as Trisha goes to Afghanistan she will have a huge support group here in Portland, and will be able to draw close to God and help those around her to do the same. At the same time Jon will be able to have support from the amazing ministries here as well. I am so grateful to the men and women who helped study with Jon and Trisha, and I thank God for always being faithful! Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” I am eager to see the plans God has in store for the rest of my family. To God be the glory! Amen!
Ted: In Luke 15:1-7 Jesus talks about a shepherd who has lost one of his hundred sheep and poses the question to his disciples, “does he not leave the ninety- nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” For the last few months I have gone after the lost sheep of God. First, there was JB Firman, then Michael Smith, and finally Mikey Mathis-all restored back to their Father with the help of many. Just as Jesus described in the parable of the lost son, there was great rejoicing and parties for the repenting sinners. We gave a gift card to buy some clothes (the robe) and a gift certificate to a local restaurant (the fattened calf). That’s how we celebrate 21st century style!

Right after talking about a shepherd going after the lost sheep, Jesus talks about the return of a father’s lost son to him. In Luke 15:11-25, Jesus says there is a son who left home for a distant country where he sinned against heaven and his father. However, through hard living “he came to his senses” (v 17). While studying with JB, Michael, and Mikey I repeatedly asked God to remember my sons and bring them home. God helped soothe my pain by being able to help other parents’ children be restored to God. By studying with these lost sheep I learned not to shut down emotionally but to open up my heart again to feel their pain and to love them. Doing God’s will always opens up our hearts and heals us!

After Jon was deployed to a distant land (Afghanistan) I remember looking out the window from our dining room table where I could see the sidewalk leading up to our door. I cannot tell you the number of times the thought came to me, striking like lightening in my mind and travelling through my heart, “Is this the day the two military men will come to my door to say, ‘We regret to inform you that your son, Jon…?’” I had to block it out and focus on a thousand other things and pray.

Mother and son in the waters of baptism together!

I remember several years before when he tried for the first time to enlist in the Army, I went down to the recruiting office and asked them to cut Jon loose and to take me in his place. Instead of laughing they respectfully said I was a little too old (57 years) but thanked me for my interest. I thought of Paul who in Romans 9:3 says, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race.” You see, I had reasoned whereas Jon might be able to survive the Army physically, he wouldn’t make it spiritually. I knew I couldn’t survive physically, but spiritually I would. The only thing I had to offer was my life but was willing to sacrifice that if it meant Jon would live spiritually. To save God’s lost sheep and our own children it will take that kind of unconditional love and willingness of heart to sacrifice oneself for their good. In Philippians 2:20-21, Paul says of Timothy, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” I believe as we “go after” other parents’ lost sheep, God sends shepherds after our sons and daughters. We must be willing to be long suffering and wait upon the Lord who works things out in his own time and not according to our schedule!

Jon’s new crew!

We are called to know Christ, not to know about Him. We are called to know the power of His resurrection, not to measure it or quantify it. We are called to share in his sufferings, not to read about the suffering of the martyrs. This can only come through experiencing it! Too many of us hold back from obtaining this because we are not willing to embrace the pain and the self sacrifice that is required to experience Christ. The lost sheep do watch us from afar and they consider the outcome of our way of life. Is our faith worthy of imitation and does it inspire them?

As we write this article our son’s wife, Trisha, who Jon baptized immediately after he was restored, is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan for 9 months. Although there is no guarantee that she will survive physically, as it is a very dangerous place to be, there is no doubt in my mind she will survive spiritually. She is an awesome, sold out disciple!

When Jon was restored I said to him that in Luke 16:27-28, Jesus tells the story of a rich man in hell who pleads and begs for Lazarus to be sent to his father’s house. The man explains his request saying, “I have five brothers. Let Lazarus warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” I said to Jon, “You too have brothers, and two of them still need to come home. I beg you to go after your brothers! Because I know your heart, I am confident that you will!” To the other fathers and mothers out there, who like my wife and I, long for the day our families will be one in Christ my best advice is to let your heart feel the pain and not shut it out. It is there for a purpose. Your test begins the day your child or spiritual child walks away in their heart and you can feel it. From that moment, God is calling you to believe His promise in Proverbs 22 and KNOW if they have been trained in the way they should go, then as they get older they will come back. There are other sheep out there still needing to come home, but they have lost their way. Let your hurt move you to help ease the pain of other parents who, like you, long for their children to come home to God.

There are sheep who need your heart reaching out and calling to those who are weary to come home. There are some sheep that have not physically left home but in their hearts they have been gone a long time and are very far away. Not all sheep are children-one of them may be you as you are reading this article. We are trying to reach as many lost sheep as possible. Please hold on until we can get to you or better yet, come to your senses and
today set out for home. Even while you are a long way off, your Father sees you and is filled with compassion! He has the robe ready for you as well as the fattened calf. And your family is ready to celebrate! To God Be The Glory!

Ted, Kathy, and Chris Green

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