The debut of the Experiencing Jesus Calling Podcast is an introduction to the story of one church and its members’ personal Jesus Calling stories.
Cindy Ryan: And I’m just beginning to see the power of simply giving a book. Giving Jesus Calling to people who are going through a health crisis, or divorce, or grief or some other kind of struggle that you don’t have to talk and talk and talk. You can just say, “Hey, I want to give you this.”
Narrator: Cindy Ryan is the associate pastor of First United Methodist Church, a congregation of over 2800 members, in Grapevine,Texas.
Cindy: In our church, we’ve had a variety of things that have happened over the years including some difficult things, some wonderful things, some opportunities to reach out to our community on powerful ways. And recently, I just realized that probably for the past five years, undergirding all of that, has been the book, Jesus Calling and the way in which that book has resourced us individually and together has been really powerful and life transforming.
The Impact of Jesus Calling on the Grapevine Community
Narrator: In Today’s Experience Jesus Calling Podcast, we’ll share the amazing story of one church and the collective impact that has been made by sharing Jesus Calling within its community. In the following weeks, we will be sharing the incredible, personal stories from both members of this church and manyother Jesus Calling readers around the world. Readers who have had their lives transformed…
Cindy: My name is Cindy Ryan and I joined the staff at First United Methodist in Grapevine in 1996 as one of the pastors. On and off during that time, I have been serving as a pastor on staff, including welcoming new members and helping people connect and serving, and a variety of ways.
I began hearing in the congregation people sharing about Jesus Calling and about how it had helped them personally in their different struggles. I heard groups talking about having the book and that they were studying it together or looking at it together. I had conversations with people where they even said, “Do we each have the same book? Because it seems like it’s personally written for each of us. “While Jesus Calling was quietly influencing members of the church behind the scenes, one faithful congregant decided to put Jesus Calling into the hands of her pastor during what was about to be the most difficult season this church had ever seen.
Pat Shares Jesus Calling During a Crisis
Pat Laster: My name is Pat Laster, and I’ve been here at First Methodist in Grapevine for a little over fifteen years now. In 2011, our pastor, Rev. Ken Diehm, one of the most dynamic and spirit filled pastors that I had ever met had a very brief, but horrific illness. He became extremely ill one day, and the next night, he passed away.
Cindy: We ended our work week on a Thursday like we always didand then on Friday night, I got a call that Ken was in the hospital and that he had a brain bleed. He’s one of the healthiest people I ever knew. It was so shocking and by that Saturday night, he died. The suddenness of it, the shock of it, the impact on our congregation was just huge and devastating.
Pat: On Sunday morning, Cindy Ryan preached at our church. Of course, there was nothing but shock and tears and the whole works as far as a grieving family of church members. She not only did that. She preached his funeral a few days later. I kept thinking, “These pastors of ours are ministering to us. Is there some way, some little tiny something I could do for Cindy?”
Cindy: Pat Laster is the one who gave me the book at the time when Ken died. Pat is a wonderful, quiet leader in our church. She’s a spiritually anchored person and you know how they are, sometimes people in your church who you just know pray, and that you know are grounded in the Word, and she reads a whole lot and so, she’s the one that gave me the book. And again, quietly delivered it I think with a meal to my house in those days after Ken died.
Pat: I gave Cindy a copy of Jesus Calling, because I knew she had been through a really challenging and difficult time. I knew this book, Jesus Calling had been such a blessing to members of my family and friends, and I just felt like it would be for her.
Cindy: I was so shocked and in so much grief that I didn’t pick it up. About 25 people gave me books at that time and so, I had this whole shelf of them. But somehow in the couple of weeks after he died, I picked the book up and started reading it on a daily basis and I started understanding that it was so powerful.
It helped me see the bigger picture. It helps me to calm down. It helped me to trust. I knew right then that it was this powerful tool. And that it was helping me.
Pat: When I read Jesus Calling, that’s what I really got most from Jesus Calling, and other people have told me the same thing. It helps me understand, I can see God in everything if I take the time to stop and listen and look.
Cindy: As a pastor, I think people are looking to us for practical ways to understand faith and to live it out. They come every week looking for resources for real life challenges that they have. I don’t think anybody really wants easy answers but they want tools. They want help. And I believe Jesus Calling is one of those practical tools you can put in their hands in a variety of situations. You can place this on their hands and say, “Just read this daily.” Knowing that it’s short, and it’s simple, and it’s true, and that it’s laced with scripture.
Pat: One of many favorites is the one on April 18th. It’s about being at peace and God’s continual gift of peace, and the fact that He doesn’t give us an overflowing of peace today, and then tomorrow we are ready to go and forget about God. Instead, this reminds me of the importance of taking time every single dayto listen to what God has to say to us. The scripture that I liked so well here … was the one from Philippians 4 about
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, [with thanksgiving, present your requests to God].”
Cindy: I only just can now look back and see the way in which God all along has been trying to give us the word and give us reassurance and giveour congregation practical help. It’s always been there and I suspect God tries in a variety of ways to resource us. I think it’s just incredible to look at our congregation and see the way in which we’ve been provided for. God has been there before we ever even knew how much we would need this.
Pat: I had no idea how giving this small gift of Jesus Calling to Rev. Cindy Ryan, had no idea the impact that could possibly have on our church, on people, and our community until a few months ago when Cindy came to me and started telling me some of the stories. I knew what had happened personally with people I knew, but church wide, I had no idea. This is when I had an overwhelming feeling of, “God, thank you for using me, even now.”
Cindy: What I’ve realized now is that the story of Jesus Calling in our congregation is still unfolding. It has allowed us to rely on God’s provision and to be faithful even after death. I love that the story is still unfolding, we still don’t know what all is going to happen and how far this will reach.
Narrator: And the story does continue…of lives changed by one person’s simple act of faith; the commitment of individuals from all walks of life to spend time in God’s presence daily.
Next time on the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast…we hear from another family at Grapevine United Methodist and what led them to Jesus Calling…
The moving story of one family’s battle with substance abuse and the daily hope they find in the words of Jesus Calling – next time, on the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast.
Our excerpt from Jesus Calling for this show comes from the April 18th entry;
“Peace is my continual gift to you. It flows abundantly from my throne of grace. I have designed you to need me moment by moment. As your awareness of your neediness increases, so does your realization of my abundant sufficiency. I can meet every one of your needs without draining my resources at all. Approach My throne of grace with bold confidence, receiving My peace with a thankful heart. “
Do you have an experience with Jesus Calling that has had an impact on your life? We’d love to hear from you. Visit www.JesusCalling.com and share your story with us.