Henry Blackaby says when you see people responding to the gospel, this is an indication that the Holy Spirit is working. Parks has seen some thrilling workings of the Spirit this semester!
One young student that Parks has been meeting with for a year and a half recently prayed to receive Christ. He grew up in a Christian home but realized he did not know Christ in a personal way. He immediately turned around and shared Christ with one of his close friends! He was so excited to be able to do this.
On Wednesday evening, March 1st, we had an evangelistic outreach with Steele Johnson. Steele won a silver medal at the 2016 summer Olympics in synchronized diving with Purdue grad David Boudia. Steele shared about his Olympic experienced and how his faith has affected every area of his life. He said it was fantastic to win a silver medal, but that his identity was in Christ.
Three students with whom Parks has been sharing Christ were able to attend. They really enjoyed hearing Steele share his testimony.
He recently had lunch with a student with whom he has been building a relationship. Parks asked the student if he (Parks) had ever shared his spiritual journey story. He said no. Parks asked him if he would like to hear it. He said yes! Parks was able to share his testimony with him and a clear gospel presentation. He asked him if he had ever heard this before and he said he had not. How cool is it to share the gospel with someone who has never heard it before!
Parks was sitting in the lobby of a residence area recently when a student from India sat down beside him. He ask Parks when he did the Bible study at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house. Parks gave him the info and invited him. He said he had never read the Bible and that he did not have a Bible. Parks gave him a copy of the gospel of John and challenged him to read a chapter at a time and ask God to reveal himself to him. He is very open!
This has been an amazing ministry year. It all started with an unexpected trip to Romania in August to teach a Discipleship Training Seminar. Fernando Frincu, who I teach for in Brazil is from Romania and was home on sabbatical. He felt like there were some good opportunities to teach similar content in Romania and invited a team of us to come and teach. I have not been to Eastern Europe before so this was a little out of my comfort zone, but it all came together as we prayed about it and a team of 4 of us headed over. I was encouraged by the people and the response to the content. I was also amazed by how beautiful Romania was and since our seminars were on the weekends, I got to see a lot of the county side. An unexpected blessing was getting to see Richard Mauney who was a student leader in WDA at Florida State. He has been a missionary in Romania for 20 years and is a great mentor of young men. I loved meeting some of his disciples.
I got home in time to jump into the beginning of the Purdue year, but at the same time became aware of another unexpected opportunity. Some good friends approached the 5 members of our staff team about making a trip to Israel in October. I would not normally make two overseas trips this close together, but since they were giving us this trip as a gift, it did not take Sharon and me long to say yes. The Purdue ministry had gotten a good start, and we were now off again. In two weeks we got to see a lot of Biblical locations in Israel, also Petra in Jordan, and Sinai in Egypt. Seeing so many locations where Jesus walked and ministered was refreshing and has made the Bible so much more alive as I can envision what happened where. So much of the Christian life is just being faithful in the little things, but this trip was truly a mountain top experience.
We returned home to reconnect with our Purdue leaders and move ahead with Alpha Fellowship, our Fraternity/Sorority weekly Bible study. I truly love these young men and women and am blessed by their heart for God. This year I had a good problem in that there were more interested young men than I could meet with weekly, so I was able to start meeting with men two at a time. A couple of our seniors graduated, but I have a great group of juniors who will be returning in the fall. I have enclosed some photos of the end of the year. Our prayer is that we can continue to build on the great foundation we have and do a good job of reaching out to younger students next year. I was ready to slow the pace and get a break at the end of the school year, but have been blessed as I have reflected on what God did this year.
The school year is over and things are hopping around our house as we get ready for Michelle’s wedding and have Susanne (our daughter in law) and Olivia and Felicity with us. What wonderful chaos. Michael won’t make the wedding as he is deployed overseas with the US Marines. Please pray for his protection. May God bless you with a great summer.
I continue to be a Faculty Fellow at Purdue and am assigned to a floor in Tarkington Residence Hall. This enables me to build relationships with the men on that floor. We generally have 10 to 15 men who come weekly on Wednesday evenings for floor dinner at one of the dining halls. They are such a great group of guys to be around and a very close-knit group with great camaraderie. It is so refreshing to see this! An example is every Tuesday evening, they go to the gym and sit in the hot tub and play water basketball and volleyball!
During a floor dinner, one of the men said he went to a religious high school, but that he was not very religious. I asked him to explain what he meant. We had a great conversation about what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ.
Recently, I had about thirteen of the guys over at my house for a Super Bowl party as well as a dinner last semester. They love coming over for a home cooked meal and are such an enjoyable group to be around.
I befriended one of the Tark guys three years ago and have been sharing Christ with him. He is not a Christian yet but God is working in his life. Please continue to pray for these men, that I will have opportunities to encourage them and share Christ with them.
In October, Everette & Sharon, Parks & Julie, and Mary were able to go to Israel! It was an astonishing, unexpected gift from some supporters!
Lon Solomon, a Messianic Jew from McLean, VA, led the tour. He has led over 45 tours! Lon gave great messages at each location, making it memorable in so many ways.
We have always heard, “You’ll never read the Scriptures the same again!” It is true! We can now clearly picture where Jesus was in places like the synagogue in Capernaum or out on the lake (Galilee) or along the shore and the Jordan River. It moved us all to see Jerusalem for the first time. We were able to step onto the Temple Mount (equal to 27 football fields) and see the model of what it would have looked like in Jesus’ time. To add to the experience, Everette & Sharon were also able to go to Mount Sinai and Petra.
The opportunity to add our prayers at the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall) was very emotional and powerful. Especially knowing what happened in that area over the centuries and knowing there will come a day when the Eastern Gate will no longer be blocked. The Lord will come back in Glory!
Our reading and teaching is now richer because of this trip and we will never forget it!