BY SHARI FERRIS, COORDINATOR - ACCOUNTS PAYABLE
We met in a most unlikely place: a dark laser tag center with neon lights and loads of sweaty middle-school aged boys. He sat by himself in the corner with his cane. Waiting for the birthday party to finish, I was intrigued. Any elderly man brave enough to attend this type of party was one I wanted to meet. I introduced myself and learned Mr. Ruda had come from Pennsylvania to live in Fishers with his son and family for a year while undergoing chemotherapy. He had been a middle-school history teacher and coach for 44 years, served in the army and possessed a broad range of life experiences, even claiming the Pennsylvania table tennis championship in his age category!
In the coming weeks I had the distinct impression that God wanted me to further engage with Mr. Ruda. I confess I resisted these promptings for some time.
But Lord, heís sick! What am I supposed to do with him? Exactly what would this look like?
My doubts seemed reasonable to me so I prayed for him. To my surprise Mr. Ruda stopped by my office at the church after menís Bible study one morning and told me he would never forget the day we met and the conversation weíd had.
Ok Lord, youíve got my attention. So whatís next?
Mr. Ruda had recovered enough to begin feeling lonely and bored and upon inquiry one of his family members suggested taking him out for breakfast. This, with Godís help, I could do!
Sitting in view of the cockeyed Stetson hat and smile of Bob Evans, we spent time laughing and getting to know each other. Our Friday morning conversations became spiritually significant. I prayed furiously that Mr. Rudaís heart would be open and mine would be courageous enough for Godís work. Mr. Ruda would be moving back to Pennsylvania in the next few weeks and time was pressing in. He wondered about how and why we are saved and expressed honest doubts like we all have from time to time. Sharing the gift of Godís grace with him brought immense joy to my heart. We can know Jesus as Savior and gain freedom from the exhausting work of trying to be ďgood enoughĒ to please God.
In Godís perfect timing the message at Grace the very next evening, The Bread of Life, addressed what God really wants from us. Knowing clearly Godís call, I sat with him during the next service and boldly asked him if he had entered into a relationship of trust and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. Chains of a lifetime of working to earn Godís acceptance were falling.
After reading Godís word together, Mr. Ruda decided he was ready to proclaim his new life through the symbolic act of baptism. God then did even more than I asked or imagined. Mr. Rudaís son, and grandson, inspired by his courage, made the bold move to be baptized with him the day before he moved back home. Praise God for his faithfulness to use quite an unexpected friendship for His holy redemptive purposes! ††
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Ms. Shari,My opportunity to study with Mr. Ruda each Monday morning was one of my great honors. Although he sat quietly thoughtful most of the time, we knew he was learning so much from each Bible study. He is such a delightful gentleman, one we miss greatly.Through your response to the Holy Spirit, you courageously approached him and brought him to know Christ Jesus personally. What a privilege to bring someone to a relationship with Christ, even to the verification with his baptism.We, the Monday Morning Men's Bible Study class, continue to keep Mr. Rudy in our prayers.Again, thank you for being the eyes, ears, hands and feet of our Lord to one of His children.
Posted by Don Litwiler on April 29, 2016 @ 12:34 am
What an incredible story of God's prompting and God's pursuing love. Shari, I rejoice with you as you said yes to God and watched Him work to bring one so dear into His kingdom. Awe inspiring!!
Posted by Cherri Gaza on April 28, 2016 @ 10:31 pm