A Lesson in Staying Power

Linda, Liz, Jeanne and me

On Monday evening we sat at the table of Liz Renaud and Linda Hache in Bridlewood. We simply don’t have enough energy to tell you about the journey we have shared together. The details could fill a book or make for an amazing soap opera series. Most of it you wouldn’t believe anyway.

Liz was first to come our way. I can’t exactly remember the exact details and even if I thought I had them right Jeanne and the other two would straighten me out. I’d get it wrong.

If my memory serves me correctly, Liz was already a Christian when we met her. She had been attending another Free Methodist church in the area but heard about us and decided to give us a look. This is back in the days when we had no “permanent dwelling place not so much as even a place to put the sole of our feet.” We were wandering from skating rink to library to a double-wide community center in a trailer park, to a house on Leacock Drive and then finally to the present location, a church building on Flewellyn Road. We picked up her sister Linda when we finally settled in our church building four years after Liz came on board.

These ladies became a reason for the growth in the early days as they turned out to be inviters as well as authentic, reliable deaconesses. Whatever needed to be done they did it.

Liz and Linda are our friends. They are also nothing alike. Liz calls herself a “Realist” which actually means, “blunt.” No one needs to wonder what she is thinking. The truth is, Liz gets it. She has stuff figured out way ahead of time and calls a spade a spade. I have rarely disagreed with her observation and perspective. She reads situations like a hawk. This being said, she is gracious and forgiving. She gives a “sucker an even break” and knows what it is to have walked in his or her shoes. She would be first to tell you all of the ways she has screwed up, so while she calls things the way they are, she doesn’t judge and gives lots of room for others to learn their own lessons without her help.

There were many times when Liz didn’t have it easy but she never gave up. Today, she makes frequent trips to England where she helps her daughter and son-in-law in their ministry with OM’s outreach to Muslims.

Her sister, Linda, (Well, what can I say?) she’s quite different. Linda is rather dreamy and mystical (in the good way). She loves to worship, read books and meditate. Again, like Liz, Linda exudes love.

Linda has had no easy time of it. She raised four children on her own. Jason, her youngest, is now working as Registrar at Bethany College of Missions in Minneapolis.

Linda was as tenacious as Liz and when the two got hold of the gospel they meant business. They were “steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” They did not faint in doing good but committed themselves first to the Lord and then to His people.

I could say much more, and I suspect they are slightly nervous as they read this hoping that I keep a lot of things to myself. If I told you all of what they have faced you might wonder how they continued to go on. Others have faced nothing by comparison and yet they are off in a corner whining. What is the difference? The difference is simple and everyone needs to get this for themselves. They simply made up their minds where they would stand, come hell or high water.

I wish there were a thousand of these believers in Ottawa who would, after all, continue to “STAND.”

“As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?’”

Since 1512 people have lustily sung Martin Luther’s lyrics to “A Mighty Fortress” but perhaps only a remnant were sure of the truth of the words. Why don’t you read them again as a litmus test for yourself? Remember, the man who wrote them experienced betrayal on every hand.

  1.       A mighty fortress is our God,

            a bulwark never failing;

            our helper he amid the flood

            of mortal ills prevaling. 

            For still our ancient foe

            doth seek to work us woe;

            his craft and power are great,

            and armed with cruel hate,

            on earth is not his equal.

2.         Did we in our own strength confide,

            our striving would be losing,

            were not the right man on our side,

            the man of God’s own choosing.

            Dost ask who that may be? 

            Christ Jesus, it is he;

            Lord Sabaoth, his name,

            from age to age the same,

            and he must win the battle.

3.         And though this world, with devils filled,

            should threaten to undo us,

            we will not fear, for God hath willed

            his truth to triumph through us. 

            The Prince of Darkness grim,

            we tremble not for him;

            his rage we can endure,

            for lo, his doom is sure;

            one little word shall fell him.

4.         That word above all earthly powers,

            no thanks to them, abideth;

            the Spirit and the gifts are ours,

            thru him who with us sideth. 

            Let goods and kindred go,

            this mortal life also;

            the body they may kill;

            God’s truth abideth still;

            his kingdom is forever.

Out to “Little Chicago” on Sunday morning

Smith's Falls Free Methodist Church, a church with life changing impact.

Tony and I started our pastoral ministry in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Tony was the assistant pastor at the Smiths Falls Free Methodist Church. Roy Kenny was the senior pastor at the time, and we learned a lot from him during the almost two years we served there before planting a church at Kanata. During our time in Merrickville and the Smiths Falls area, we met lots of Christians and led others to the Lord, so it seemed important to us to make one trip down to see those who are serving in the Smith’s Falls church today. Last Sunday (Aug. 14), we did just that. The pastor, Angel Valentin, was the man who spoke the day that our son Schuyler gave his heart to the Lord Jesus. When he saw us in the congregation, he invited us up to give a short testimony about our work in Italy and other parts of Europe.

The preacher that day was Randy Williams , brother-in-law to Stewart Crozier (who was among the founders of our church plant in Kanata). We were also able to greet Stewart’s two sisters Leah and Carolyn and his mother Dorothy, who lives in the Smiths Falls area. It was wonderful to see how much the church has grown over the years, with many new faces and families that we don’t know. But among the familiar faces we did recognize were Dave Arbo and his daughter Emily (who is a children’s pastor there), Olive Urquhart, Jeff and Susan Davis, Barb Smail, Muriel Ayling’s sister Linda, and Jim and Rose Evoy (who helped finance our tent that we used for evangelistic services around Ontario and Quebec).

Lunch with Barb at Gerbo's where we first met some 33 years ago

Barb Smail, an early convert to the Lord in that area, invited us to join her for lunch at Gerbos, a well known restaurant in downtown Smiths Falls. Coincidentally, it was at Gerbos that we met Barb in 1978, where she worked as a waitress. It took several years of seed sowing and persistent loving challenge to see Barb give her heart to the Lord. But since making that decision, she has solidly served Him and has been used by Him to touch many other lives. As we sat and chatted in that corner table in the restaurant Tony and I were encouraged to hear her share how faithfully God has led her and sustained her during some really difficult circumstances. Today she is working part time with a Downs syndrome person and witnesses wherever she can to the life-transforming work of the Gospel. As we drove back to Ottawa, we rejoiced in the work of God that forever changes human hearts, and we thanked Him for letting us play a role in seeing that happen in rural Ontario.

J and A... They are fussy about their names on the internet... ha (private joke)

Sunday evening, we had the privilege of joining A. and J. M at a fabulous Italian restaurant on Bronson called Caprese. I enjoyed getting to know them better while we had great pasta dishes made without gluten (something J. needs to avoid). Even the dessert was outstanding.  They are currently attending Chapel Ridge F.M. Church and are interested in doing some mission work in France during her year-long maternity leave from her Canadian government job early next year. They are expecting their first child in January. A. and J. accompanied Tony to Italy a few years ago (Scroll back and you can read the blogs minus their names).

Up’da line: Carleton Place and Maberly

Linda and Jack Marner

After a leisurely morning we drove out to Carleton Place for a visit with long time friends Jack and Linda Marner. We were clear in letting them know that we would be going to the Hoggs’ afterward and pretty sure that they would lay on more than we could possibly eat, so, “go light.” We assured them that coffee or tea would be all we need. You will learn that Canadians are not able to restrain themselves and “tea” might mean exactly what we got, sandwiches, cole slaw, chocolate squares and in every way pretty much more than we could eat, but eat we did as we have as little restraint for eating as Canadians have for serving.

We spent almost two hours going over old times and then praying.

Jack is a really smart guy and I encouraged him to use his intellect, biblical/apologetic and technological skills as well as gifts in written expression to assist those who just don’t always know what to believe.

Fred, Darlene and Julie

At around three we parted company and drove out to Maberly some hour away to see Fred and Darlene Hogg. Fred and Darlene were members of our congregation in Kanata from almost the day we began. Fred initially brought Darlene and their first two children Katelyn and Sandra to Sunday School and then went home, but one Sunday he made the mistake of attending a church service and the rest is history.

Fred and Darlene became leaders in the church. They were with us as we moved from a double wide trailer house (alla community center), to a house (alla church) on Leacock Drive and the final location in a farmer’s field on Flewellyn Road. They helped us build a church building near Stittsville on eleven acres of land.  They eventually had two more children, Julie and Ron. They raised great children. Katelyn and Julie are nurses while Sandra is a graduate in public affairs and policy. Ron is working in sports broadcasting. I always wonder if those growing up in Christian homes attribute their success to the influence of the Gospel? Where would many of these young people be if not for the Christian faith?

The Hoggs are quick to acknowledge God’s grace in their lives and if I had time in this blog I’d tell you about their grandson Luca Ruggiero’s miraculous recovery (most Ottawa news carriers reported it). Hit by a car broadside, Jimmy and Katie’s little three-year-old boy took the brunt of the impact and in so doing wound up on life support at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). As the news got out that Sunday night and Monday morning, the entire church of Ottawa went to prayer on his behalf. Not expected to survive, Luca made it and is now on his way to recovery. Though this will no doubt take a lot of time and care – perhaps he will never be what he might have been – he is a miracle and a blessing. See the story here:

http://ottawa.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110409/OTT_luca_recovery_110409/20110409/?hub=OttawaHome

Joel Williams

As we drove into the drive of their recent acquisition, an austrian styled home off Highway 7 south of Maberly, a young man hung around the edge of our conversation. I should have known him but out of context I was clueless. Once introduced to us, I was embarrassed because I did know the fellow. I have known him since he was in diapers. Joel Williams is now thirty-one. He is the son of old

Enjoying

Merrickville friends, Fred and Rosalee. Fred was simply one of the best musicians and songwriters I have ever known and now his son follows in his footsteps. A graduate from Humber College in guitar, Joel spent a few years playing country music in a touring band but now, settled in the faith, is a worship leader for Northgate Church (Calvary Chapel) in Perth, Ontario. As the evening progressed and Fred grilled steak skewers on the deck we sat around listening to Joel pick and sing. 

When Jeanne and I were at Chapel Ridge Church for the 25th Anniversary, I preached a message that wound up on the internet. The message was entitled “Like Jumping to Catalina Island.” When Joel heard it, he wrote a song by the same title and put it on his MySpace page. You can hear it with some other tunes at  http://www.myspace.com/joelliamsmusic  . I was honored. He and his dad are in the process of making a CD together and we can’t wait to get a copy.

Julie, Fred and Darlene’s daughter, arrived back from a soccer game and joined us for a good visit and dinner. Julie is now a nurse. Now in her twenties, we have known her since she was a baby.

I just can’t wait on this one

This blog entry doesn’t fall into chronological order but in the interest of arousing jealousy, I have decided to put it in early.

I had  planned with Mark Peterkins to make this our day to visit White Lake about an hour from Ottawa. I try to get there as often as I can and for about four months of the year it ranks as my favorite, must see and be places when in the Ottawa Valley. For the most part I have had good success fishing this lake. Apparently it has good stocks of pickerel (walleye), pike and small mouth bass but for the last several years I have caught nothing but large mouth – LOT’S of LARGE MOUTH.

My son in the faith, Mark and I launched his boat from Pickerel Bay at about two in the afternoon and by six in the evening had landed about twelve bass in rough, choppy waters. We did try to fish the edges or behind the shelter of an island but still found the brisk wind hard to reckon with.

Our launch

I will be honest and tell you that Mark picked off about five of the seven keepers but he had the unfair advantage of being at the helm with his right foot demonstrating a clear, self-interested bias as he directed us from place to place. He continued to leave me aft as he pitched a purple, rubber worm into one hole after another pulling out bass as he went. Most of the catch fell in the one and a half to two-pound range. The water is so clear and clean that I have at least one plate full every time I am here. Even as I type Jeanne is rolling the fish in egg, flour and cornmeal.

Friday

I slipped out of the door before 6:30 and went on out to Bell’s Corners where I would sip coffee at “Second Cup” until 7:15 when I would drive out to meet up with a Men’s Breakfast Club group from Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. They’ve been meeting for a number of years and I have imposed on their generosity a number of times in the past. Randy Morris always (without fail) invites me.

It was fun eating eggs, bacon and toast with these five or so guys. Randy Morris, Randy Haw, Stephen Kidd, Mike, Rob Walker, Jeff Robertson and David.

Bev, Alison and Chuck

Later, in the afternoon we ventured over to visit with some of our oldest and closest friends the Frankishes. Chuck is a doctor and was still at work so we managed a long catch up visit with Bev and Alison. Their son, Ian, though only in his third year is accepted to medical school in Calgary and already hard at work so we missed him (regrettably).

Finally, after a trip to Starbuck’s and back to their house again, Chuck arrived and Bev busied herself in making a huge meal of grilled chicken, steamed carrots, broccoli, salad, rolls and lots more that I forget right now. We spent a long time at the table and then, after we had covered most things and moved toward small talk, I turned them on to the comedian Brian Regan. We watched and giggled our way through about ten YouTube videos. Chuck’s favorites had to do with emergency wards, visits to the doctor and so forth.

It was a great time of fellowship and we wish we had more time on this visit – time to drive the five hours to their gorgeous cottage on Georgian Bay. However, our agenda has been set by the Lord. We are here to see as many people as we are able and hope to encourage them in the Lord. This little trip to the cottage will have to wait for some other time. The Frankishes are like family and the invitation remains open.

An Uptown Evening with Marianne

Downtown Ottawa is beautiful. When you’ve been away, you forget how spectacular the Parliament buildings, the Rideau Canal, and the unique shops around Byward Market are. On Thursday morning (Aug. 11) we drove down to try to find a bagel restaurant we remembered from years ago, but alas… it was no longer in business. When we walked through the Byward Market we did find another place that featured Montreal style bagels (if you’ve never had a wood-fired, Jewish style bagel, you’ve missed something) and had breakfast there.

David beheading Goliath

After checking out some stores, we walked on down to the National Art Museum located just blocks away. We couldn’t believe our luck – the Caravaggio exhibition was in town! Tony had wanted to see this Italian painter’s paintings (from the 1400s) in a collection for years, but the lines for his shows are always very long in Italy (because of all the tourists). So here we were, in Ottawa, Canada, seeing his paintings with no waits. Sometimes the blessings of God come in unexpected, small ways. His love for us is so amazing!

The French Bakery... Yummm

After a couple of hours we were pretty tired and ready for a coffee break. So we walked back to the Byward Market and sat down in a French market that featured amazing desserts, Obama cookies, fresh salads, soups, and really good coffee. We were pretty full from breakfast so just had some fresh fruit and a small salad with our coffee. Everywhere you look in downtown Ottawa, you see a kaleidoscope of ethnic people. Some are tourists, but most are residents who have come from all parts of the world.

The vendors who man the stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, and Canadian favorites like maple syrup are mostly from Quebec but some farmers from Ontario also come in each day to set up and sell their home grown produce.

Jeanne with Marianne

One of our good friends from our time spent pastoring Chapel Ridge church lives downtown. Mary Ann Dooner, sister of Tracy Peterkins, owns a really cute townhouse in the Glebe, within walking distance of Bank Street. She has worked for the government for years and now has the luxury of working at home.

Classic Irish Pub Fare at Patty's on Bank Street

We arranged to meet her for supper on Thursday evening. She knew of a good Irish pub just blocks from her house where we enjoyed fish and chips and other

Over cappucino and gelato at Luna Stella

great entrees. After catching up with each other’s lives, we wandered on down the street to try a new ice cream  shop that just opened. The owner is from Rome and makes his own gelato, so we were not disappointed with our dessert of hazelnut gelato. Sadly, Mary Ann just ordered a cappucino. Oh for her self control! Sitting around in her charming townhouse that evening, Tony and I were reminded once again of the faithfulness of God to keep good friends close even when separated by many miles and lots of time in between our meetings. As we prayed with Mary Ann about her future, I wept as I thought about God’s promises to us – that He would be with us in every stage of life, even to our senior years (what Scripture calls our “gray hairs”). Thank you, Lord, for good friends who have continued to trust you and for your faithful care over all our lives.

Small Burning Bushes on the Backside of the Desert

When I was called to preach I had this idea that I might (by God’s grace) be the next Billy Graham or Jimmy Swaggart (thankfully, not). Well, it hasn’t quite gone that way – at least, so far, it hasn’t gone that way. I normally (actually, I never) preach to conference halls or stadiums full of expectant and admiring mass gatherings. My work is ALWAYS in a basement, a home, a tiny, hard-to-find church in the country, café or hot, stuffy, upstairs rooms that sits atop something like an auto body shop.

Like anyone, I would love to preach to huge audiences but the Lord told me a long time ago that I am called to serve “the back side of the desert.” I suppose someone has to go there and most people won’t, preferring to be the key note speaker at major events. My rule has always been to take whatever invitation comes my way. This means small churches in places like Parham, Ontario to Svinvoll (Pigville to be precise), Norway; Wyoming, Minnesota; and a hundred other places that barely show up on a map.

Upon hearing that I would be available to preach the week of August 7th, my agent and good friend Pastor Ken Roth of Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church, scheduled me to preach on Wednesday night at a Haitian church plant in the east side of Ottawa. When we arrived in front of a community center the parking lot was packed with cars. There happened to be a carnival on the same evening so I jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs to a small room where singing was already in progress. I entered the room where there were as many microphones as there were people. We were still in a David and Goliath situation with the neon lit rides having far more appeal than conga drums and synthesizers. Nevertheless, the Haitians went right ahead singing with all their might until about twenty or so people arrived. An hour and a half later, I rose to preach for about thirty minutes with translation.

I was surprised at how similar the Haitian meeting was when compared to the Congolese services I led in Charlotte some months before. Though continents apart they turn out to have a lot in common. The style of music and French language were almost identical. I doubt if they know this and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if they could have a shared experience of visiting each other’s churches.”

After the service we stayed for sandwiches and soft drinks and then made our way back home by 10:30.

Mutually Encouraged

Paul writes to the Roman Christians that he longs to see them “so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12). As Tony and I were preparing for our trip to Canada, this was the verse that the Holy Spirit kept bringing to my mind. I knew that as we reconnected with dear friends who served with us years ago and also met new friends who’ve joined the church in recent years, we would be as blessed by the experience as those we came to encourage by our presence. And this has proved true already!

Henk and Irene Wolthaus formerly with Operation Mobilization in Germany

Our first Sunday in the Ottawa area was wonderfully refreshing. Tony preached at Chapel Ridge, the church we founded over 25 years ago. (Ken Roth, the senior pastor, was on vacation.) The text he preached from was 1 Peter 4. You can see the video of the message at   http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/16496964… Following the service, Irene and Henk Wolthaus, missionaries serving with OM who are now living in this area, invited us to their house for lunch. We were joined by Sarah Jackson and a lady from Australia named Karen. The potluck they put together was a feast. But even better than the food was the fellowship we enjoyed around the table, sharing our spiritual journeys and exalting the Lord Jesus.

The mutual edification didn’t end there, either. That evening we enjoyed another wonderful meal at the Peterkins’ house, where we got reacquainted with Mark and Tracy’s three growing children, Stephen, Ben, and Megan. Mark and Tracy are almost as close as our own children, so we had a delightful time catching up with each other’s lives over the past few years. Just before we left, they all (including the kids) anointed Tony with oil and prayed for his sore shoulder, the shoulder that has been bothering him for months. He woke up the next day reporting that he had slept better with less pain than he had in a very long time! God had answered our prayers offered in sincere concern for a brother in Christ. It was a beautiful example of how He plans to use our time in Ottawa to build up His body, both physically and spiritually.

Sandy and Doreen Cameron

Sunday was just the beginning of a wonderful week of Christian fellowship, prayer, and spiritual encouragement. On Monday afternoon and evening we visited our dear friends the Camerons. Doreen prepared a delicious meal that we enjoyed as we reminisced about shared experiences, common friendships, personal challenges, and God’s faithfulness to all of us. We cried together, laughed together, and prayed for one another around the table. Does it get any better than this? It’s a little taste of heaven I’m sure.

The Tuesday night Bible Study minus a few vacationers

The following day (Tuesday) we were able to attend an excellent Bible study hosted by the Gallaghers and taught by Ralph Kellett. It was another evening of bearing one another’s burdens and sharing concerns through prayer as well as being built up by studying the Scriptures. Tony and I can relate to what John wrote in his third epistle… “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (v. 4). To see our “spiritual children” going on with the Lord, faithfully serving Him and helping others in their faith walk, is such a joy. These are the things that you can’t know unless you take the time to revisit places where you have served before.

There is another kind of joy in breaking new ground and meeting new people, seeking to introduce them to the Savior. This kind of ministry is often what Tony and I are involved in overseas. But I have also enjoyed ministering to Christians who are established in their faith and just need to be encouraged to “keep on keeping on” – to continue to fight the good fight in the midst of tremendous discouragement at times. As we minister to them, we are encouraged as well. It’s truly a win/win situation! Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to see your love in action.

Jeanne surrounded by her many fans!

First Rule:

“Do not believe everything you read on the internet.”

Minto’s advertising was likely true…. thirty years ago.

The temperatures were hot (over 90) and the air very humid when we arrived in Ottawa. From the beautiful photos and glowing descriptions given to us over the Internet, we were looking forward to getting settled into our short-term furnished apartment. We’d been told we’d have air conditioning, high speed Internet, and a fully equipped kitchen. But when we walked into our 7th floor apartment with no drapes, flimsy venetian blinds, and large windows facing the west, we knew we were in trouble. The place was like an oven. The “air conditioning” they had promised turned out to be a very small wall unit that blocked the doorway leading out to the balcony. It was obvious it wouldn’t be able to cool down our bedrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms because it was barely making a difference in the main room. We knew we’d be pretty uncomfortable if we didn’t act fast.  

A quick trip to Canadian Tire netted us two large and very noisy fans to move around the apartment wherever needed. They stirred the air and also blocked out the street noise. To our surprise, we found we had landed in a building that was now being used as a student dormitory for Algonquin College (just down the street). Not only was the air conditioning a disappointment, but we also had no working telephone (and no cell phones that we could use), no Internet access, a broken coffee pot. Clearly, the place needed work and it was just one day away from the weekend. Tony sprang into action and soon we had most of the kinks worked out. The management even promised to reimburse us the cost of the fans. We could live with the big hole in the kitchen linoleum, the rock-hard beds, and the dated and mismatched living room furniture. Our month-long stay in the Ottawa valley had begun!

Merrickville – where our journey started

Locks on the Rideau at Merrickville

More than twenty years ago we lived in the small, historical village of Merrickville, Ontario on the banks of the Rideau Canal. In those days it was simply a quaint, little out-of-the-way place that people accidentally drove through, but today it is a popular tourist destination where on most summer weekends is packed with “day trippers.”

    

Paul Laberge

On Saturday, we had the idea to drive the forty or so miles down to pay a visit to our friends, Paul and Ann Laberge. I have remained friends with Paul longer than I have with any other person. I met him in 1969 when I was a graduate student at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. He was one of the first people who I met there and learned that he only lived five blocks from us in St. Lambert, P.Q.. We hung out together and when I finally moved to Ontario some two years later, he went off to teach high school art in New Foundland. We lost track of each other for a time until he came back around, moved with his wife Penny to a farm nearby us and we struck up the friendship again. Paul lived with us for a time and on weekends he was often at our place or we at his. To our children, he was a kind of Uncle Paul and still is. Later he separated from Penny and lived on his own for a time.

Paul worked for me when I started Adinfinitum ( a creative design house) in 1975. He was the first person I told after I had become a Christian and a week later, Paul also became a believer and he remains so even to this day. He subsequently married Ann, moved in to Merrickville had two children (now grown and married) and has lived in the same house along the canal for thirty years. He is a now a painter of landscapes so we also have this in common. We stopped in and spent a couple of hours.

Ross and Muriel Ayling Home. Converted here in November 9, 1975 First meeting place

Later we walked around the village and took photographs of the locks, the

First meeting place

upper Canada architecture and a few of the buildings that have special meaningto us. For instance, beyond taking photos of the busy streets, I took a shot of the house where we were saved, the small building we met in and our house on Colborne Street, now re-modeled and recently used as a Bed and Breakfast.

Our home on Colborne from 1978 to 1984

In this little town of 900 we saw a small group of nine grow into a large and dynamic congregation of almost two-hunndred in less than tree years. Several hundred people made commitments to Jesus Christ and the church became quite well-known for a period of time. Often sixty people would come out to Bible study and stay until 2 in the morning. Even thirty years later most folks from those Revival days remain in contact with each other.

Jeanne with our old friend of nearly 40 years, Denny Ayling

While walking to my car, I had this inner compulsion to go into the Mainstreet Restaurant just to take a peek. There sitting in the corner was now, seventy year old, Denny Ayling. Denny was a fixture of Merrickville and for all of his life he has shuffled up and down the streets. Denny lives in a group home and he is what some might call “retarded” but don’t be fooled by his eyes that don’t quite track, or his shuffle and unusual posture. Denny is as sharp as a tack.

Surprised, I walked over to him and said, “Denitt, do you know who I am?” He finally set his right eye on me and replied, “Tony, Tony Hedrick, how are you?” Denny was in the room the day Jeanne and I became Christians, and though by some standards he might be considered the “town idiot,” Denny was our brother in Christ and dear friend. To this day he continues to be unwavering in his faith and life. He talked of the Lord and His coming. I love his steady uncompromised witness for all of these years. Truly, God “makes the simple to become wise.” By the way, give Denny any date in history and he will tell you what day of the week it fell on.