Four years ago we met a young man through the college ministry that my husband has been leading. His name was Ryan Poland. He was the sweetest young man I had ever met. His smile would draw you into a world you had never been before full of dreams, aspirations, hopes, and love. His fierce passion for God’s Word and learning God’s Word and teaching God’s Word were unmatched by any young man his age. This love for Scriptures didn’t come naturally to him. It came through what was the most besetting suffering that one had to endure: addiction. Specifically addiction to heroin. I remember sitting with him on my front porch one warm summer afternoon listening to him talk about all the things the Lord had been doing in his life. How he had been almost 100 days clean without using. How he loved reading and understanding what God had to say about Himself. And how God’s Word met him in the face of his hardest addictions. I asked him as we were sitting in church one day if I could see his Bible. Well worn pages and ink scattered each page as ravenous notes were etched in the margins. Every page thanking God for who He was, how He was meeting Ryan in the midst of such pain and suffering, and praising God for His mysterious character and love.
One night, Brian and I were watching a movie when he received a phone call. It was about 11pm. He left the room to take the call, so I knew something was wrong. The man on the other end proceeded to tell Brian that Ryan had died earlier that day from a heroin overdose. This set in motion what would be the submission to the call of ministry that Brian boldly walked. “This will never happen again on my watch, I’m quitting my job to do full time ministry.” These are the exact words that echo through my mind and have for the past 5 years. God is gracious…
This experience in my life has taught me so many things about being the Bride of Christ for one another. Specifically in the area of discipleship…
“Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?'” -Genesis 4:8-9
In the fallen world in which we now live, we do not care or love or nurture the life of our brothers and sisters. But because of Christ and the Gospel, that question, “am I my brother’s keeper?” is answered with a resounding YES! We care, nurture, help sustain the life of our brothers and sisters because we ourselves have been reconciled to God and we live out our identities as being His children in how we care for our brothers and sisters. I don’t just mean caring for their basic needs. I don’t mean just having coffee and doing a Bible study together. I mean being my brothers and sister keeper… As a woman I do this through the womanhood God graciously gifted me with. I nurture life in the face of death that comes knocking on our door every day through sin, oppression, temptation, suffering and all the other yucky things in this world.
So, because Ryan was taken home to be with the Lord, my husband realized the huge responsibility to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers. I realized the eternal impact that we are to have in helping one another endure and sustain the spiritual lives of our brothers and sisters until Christ returns.
Our new role in which we will be doing that is at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Monticello, Florida where Brian has recently accepted the call to minister to the people in that small town through being the Family Pastor on staff. My keeping of my brother’s and sister’s lives will be different. A different location. A new family to be grafted into. A new set of dangers the enemy wants to scare us with. But, where our duty lies, where He calls us, is the safest place for us to be. I am unworthy to be the wife of a pastor, shepherd, servant. I will be taking on a new role as well as the School Supervisor at Lighthouse Christian Academy. This is a school for troubled teen girls ages 13-18. So… Ready or not… here we go! To Monticello!