Dear Ones in Christ Jesus,
So much of what God has accomplished through us in ministry since we began serving in evangelism over thirty years ago, has been learned through trial and error. We simply had a heart to be used by God, so we jumped in with both feet with only scripture as our guide and with the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and the Lord has richly blessed our efforts.
After we had been sharing on the streets for a few years, we spent some time with Ed Human and later with Arthur Blessitt. Arthur paved the way for a new form of street witnessing in California and Ed learned under him. We were privileged to learn from both of these men and we still use many of the same concepts they taught us in our ministry today.
Ephesians 4:7-12 says that after the Lord Jesus Christ ascended on high, He gave gifts of ministry to His Church, “…to prepare God’s people for works of service…” With this scripture in mind, over the next few months we’ll incorporate some teaching in our newsletters on Sharing Christ, in order to prepare you for works of service. Along with that we’ll share some stories of people we’ve led to the Lord as an example.
One of our early converts to Christ was Thomas Trask. I think you’ll agree that Tom’s story is interesting. When he was 9 years old his Father was diagnosed with cancer and he died three months later. Tom was devastated by his Father’s death and the pain he felt for many years did a lot to shape his behavior and affect the choices he made as he grew into manhood.
Raised in Colorado, Tom loved the mountains and developed a passion for the outdoors. He didn’t do especially well in school, although he was a true genius. While in high school, a teacher recognized his high level of intelligence and encouraged him to take the Mensa test. He was accepted into Mensa International at the age of 17 with an IQ of 173.
Tom left home to attend Colorado University in Boulder, but drug and alcohol addiction ultimately caused him to drop out. Eventually he ended up living on the streets, a hopeless alcoholic and heroin addict, begging for money to finance his next high.
He was in and out of jail for minor offenses and officials recognized his addictions and put him on methadone to kick heroin. But methadone itself is highly addictive, so he simply traded heroin for a different habit. He supplemented methadone with other drugs he could get on the streets, including cheap wine.
Sometimes, homeless people were picked-up for drunkenness and hauled off to the mobile home that housed the Alcoholic Recovery Center (ARC) until they sobered up. For Tom, this turned out to be a divine intervention from God…you see the ARC was located down the street from the small Church where Dave was Associate Pastor!
It was a warm Saturday morning when Dave and our son Terry went to the Church to mow the yard (yes, this was part of his job as Associate Pastor!). They were busy working when they looked up and saw a pathetic looking guy coming out of the ARC – and he was heading straight for them! Wise to the ways of the street people, Dave shook his head and said, “Uh oh, this guy’s gonna hit me up for some money.”
Sure enough, as Tom approached them he motioned toward the ARC and said candidly “I just got out of there and I need a drink really bad, do you have any spare change?” Dave smiled and said, “No man, I’m sorry I can’t help you with that.” Handing him his card and looking him straight in the eye, he continued, “But if you ever want to be turned on to Jesus, give me a call”
Tom shoved the card in his pocket and continued down the street. As Dave watched him walk away, he couldn’t help but notice the thick paper-backs sticking out of his pockets. “Wow, this guy must be a voracious reader!” he thought to himself. Little did he know that the street people had given Tom the name, “Professor” because he always had his head in a book.
About 9:30 that evening, our phone rang. “Preacher Dave,” Tom said, “they put me back in the ARC and I’m pretty drunk right now, but I’ve been thinking seriously about what you said. Do you think you can come down in the morning and talk to me?” Dave said, “You bet, I’ll be there at 8:30 sharp.”
Tom was waiting for Dave when he arrived and they sat together on his cot and talked. He told Dave that something happened the night before he met him in the Church yard. He said “I was lying here looking up at the ceiling and I cried out, ‘Show me if You’re God…I don’t know if You’re Buddha, or Jesus, or who You are. I don’t even know if You exist, but show me if You’re there!’”
Using his Bible, Dave showed him about Jesus and Tom said, “I never knew this. No one ever explained the gospel to me before…” Soon they were on their knees praying and Tom gave his life to Christ. He was 24 years old.
There was an immediate and miraculous transformation in this man and his countenance literally glowed! Instantly God delivered him from alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Dave offered to take him to Teen Challenge and Tom accepted. That same day he began an intensive 18-month period of rehabilitation through scripture memorization. When Tom finished the program, he went on staff as a Counselor and had a huge influence in the lives of many young people. Later in his life, Tom received a degree in Computer Science and became a software developer.
Several years ago Tom was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver….a painful reminder of his past after 25 plus years of being clean. He underwent extensive chemotherapy for the Hepatitis and eventually resumed his normal routine.
In December he complained of coming down with the flu, but continued working. Two days after Christmas, he met his two sons, Sam and Peter for lunch, but returned home feeling sick and went in to lie down. Shortly after, he got up and frantically told his wife Liz, “Call 911, I can’t breathe!” Immediately he passed out, falling into her arms.
Thomas P. Trask passed into the presence of Jesus on December 27, 2006. The cause was advanced cirrhosis of the liver. He was 56 years old. He lived 32 of those years faithfully serving His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Liz said Tom loved singing praise songs to the Lord and those are precious memories for her….Sam and Peter said they never saw their Dad waver in his faith. Tom remained an avid reader until the end of his life. He always seemed to be at the library checking out or returning books. As a matter of fact, in the days following his death, his family returned 25 books to the library – and that was just one week’s worth of reading!
Please pray for Liz as she copes with her great loss. Pray that Sam and Peter will embrace the strong legacy of faith passed on by their Father at his death and that Tom’s Mother and Step-father will come to know Christ.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
Part I: Make Yourself Available to God
Looking back at Tom’s story, we realize the importance of making ourselves available to the Lord. Remember that the night before Tom met Dave in the Church yard, he had cried out to God to reveal Himself to him. God was able to use Dave because he had made himself available to Him.
We shudder to think what might have happened if Dave had avoided Tom. What if he had gone inside so he didn’t have to talk to him? The truth is many of us do things like that. We’re afraid we won’t know what to say, or we’re just afraid of certain people, so we make ourselves unavailable. But if we ask God He will give us the words to speak and the boldness to step out of our comfort zone.
Making ourselves available means we’re sensitive to people we come in contact with, realizing that God is orchestrating our life and putting people in our path, from casual encounters to those we live and work beside. The more available we make ourselves to Him, the more He will use us. This follows the same principle of Luke 6:38; “Give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down…”
Making ourselves available means seeing people as God sees them. People hide behind masks and sometimes those who act like everything is great are the ones hurting and needing God the most. God is not impressed by outward appearances…He looks at the heart. When we look behind the masks people wear, we lovingly see that they are just like us and need a Savior. I Samuel 16:7; John 3:16-17
Making ourselves available means commitment. Perhaps there is someone you know or will meet who is crying out to God. Are you available for Him to use you in their life? If you would like to be, then pray this prayer:
Dear Lord, give me discernment and help me see people’s hearts and their needs as you see them. Help me realize that the people around me are not there by accident, but are there for Your purposes. I give my fears to you and ask You for boldness to reach out and tell others about You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Next month, another true story & Part II of Sharing Christ
Thank you for your prayers for us and our ministry. Your financial support is a huge blessing and we realize every month that for many of you, your giving is sacrificial. Bless you and thank you for giving and praying. We send you our love and ask the Lord to richly bless you. Until next month…
Your servants in Christ,
THE GOSPEL TO THE AMERICAS
El Evangelio a las Americas
Dave & Barb Leonard, Directors
Post Office Box 852307 ∙ Mesquite, Texas 75185-2307
Telephone 972/288-9669 ∙ FAX 972/216-0675
We are a non-profit organization. All gifts are tax deductible