THE EMMAUS WALK PRESENTS
"An Autobiographical Sketch of a Sparrow,"
By Ronald Ginther
SALVATION, BACKSLIDING, MIRACLES AT COLLEGE
I remember my salvation experience at age 15, away at school, in my dorm room (it was a parochial high school of the Lutheran Church). Feeling rejected when I wasn't invited to a dorm room prayer meeing, I went to my room where I could be alone. I had missionary relatives, so I knew what to do. Why not go to God myself? I must have thought. I had resisted stubbornly against doing this many times before, but now at this new school with such an encouraging atmosphere I felt like opening my life to God. I didn't need anyone else to show me how, so I asked the Lord into my heart and to forgive me, and He came in, flooding my throat and chest with a wonderful warm feeling that lasted a week and a few more days.
I backslid when I was a Senior, and afterwards for 15 terrible years. I threw God out of my life, yet He came back to me when I was in college finishing my graduate thesis. He did miracles for me so that I could finish my program successfully and graduate with a M.A. in English.
I went to work for my uncle and aunt who had a landscaping business in Minneapolis, and I attended their wonderful church and the prayer meetings in homes. A wonderful memory is being healed, through a man with the gift of healing whom I met “accidentally” on the sidewalk outside church after a service. I remember being touched by the Holy Spirit, so that I was dancing in the spirit in the church along with others. I worked there from spring to winter, then returned home to Washington State. I was very much blessed by the Christian fellowship and guidance received from my relatives and their church.
A DREAM THAT WOULD BECOME REAL LIFE
At this time of my restoration by the Lord I was given a dream by the Lord, I believe, that showed that I would be leaving lush and beautiful country and then travelling into a barren wilderness for a long stretch, climbing up a mountainside. Finally, the barrenness passed, and I came out into high country, with beautiful greenery along a flowing stream. There were beautiful homes on either side. I asked the people at church and got various interpretations. I believe this dream has been lived out in the 20 years since, because in the 20 years or more since I have gone through: fears, sickness, attacks of relatives and fellow church members, loss of a church, divorce, loneliness, poverty, heartaches over unsaved relatives, long periods of waiting on the Lord, attacks by demon powers, many, many spiritual battles.
A JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, A PROPHETIC WORD, A NEW NAME
If I had stayed in the warm cocoon at Minneapolis, life would not have become so difficult and painful for me, as it turned out, but I felt led back to Washington—the “frying pan.” For a brief time I attended a charismatic Catholic fellowship in Fed. Way, and an elder prophesied that I would “glorify Zion.” I received that prophecy. In 1979 I was given a tour of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. In Israel, I was touched by the Lord several times in a special way. I was baptized in the Jordan, when the Lord spoke to me through Arthur Katz the tour leader’s message, that he would make me a whole man if I submitted to the baptism I had said I would not submit to before we got there. A lady prophesied over me, telling me the same thing afterwards, that God would make me a whole man in Christ, and she knew nothing about me, what I was thinking about my being an immature “half” of a Christian believer. She also gave me a new name from the Lord, which is “Eben.” It means "rock, plummet, precious stone" in Hebrew. The Lord must have known I have loved rocks all my life. In the excavated hills of a Minneapolis suburb development, I used to collect agates and make jewelry, for agates can be beautiful stones, even combined with crystal as they are being formed. I made the jewelry and gave it away to loved ones. For these reasons, and the fact the Lord himself gave me a new name so expressive of what he planned to do with me, I love this name of mine, understandably.
My Baptism in the Jordan River, Ben Israel Tour with Arthur Katz, 1979, with a new name from the Lord coming a few minutes later
A DIVINE HEALING SAVED MY LIFE
In 1982 I returned to Israel for a tour with a group of English people I came to know, and was much blessed. I was healed miraculously when I got sick in Jericho, no doubt from the water. It was truly a miracle. The missionary lady and another missionary were in Bethlehem when I got sick in their house in Jericho, alone without anyone to know about it. They prayed for me, and I was instantly healed. I was painting the inside of the house for them when I suddenly fell sick. I was sick only about an hour, but it was definitely something life-threatening, for it lay me on the bed almost immediately, and then I felt the sickness suddenly “snap”.
A week later the missionaries, Minnie Kemery and a young missionary girl with her, came to the house and asked me how I was and told me they were told by the Spirit I was sick and they needed to pray. They had prayed, and it was the same time I was healed so instantly! I was weak after that for days, but I was able to do the painting I went there to do. God is merciful! He saved my life for some purpose of His.
PENNILESS IN CAIRO!
Foolishly in the natural sense, I went down to Egypt on my own from Israel, taking a bus. It was one of the first buses to be let through, due to the peace treaty brokered by Jimmy Carter between Israel and Egypt. I had no money left, but the Lord delivered me from Egypt after a week there, staying in a hotel where I had no money to pay the bill. The U.S. consul helped me in every way to contact my family. They sent the money I needed.
It was probably my mistake to leave the missionary's home in Bethlehem where I was known to go there, to find a friend (an Egyptian pastor) whom I thought could help me, at least with a place to stay while I contacted my family. But unknown to me he was sick for quite some time, and so he failed to send anyone to the hotel I written to him about. I had planned to be picked up by this friend and not have to run up a bill there.
But it all worked out in a very different way. I had to "die to myself" for three days waiting for God to help me make contact with home. I fasted and prayed in my room the whole time. It was an ordeal, but back in Bethlehem while praying I had gotten a dream or vision from the Lord that indicated that I should go to Egypt, and I had gone on faith, my heart in my hand because I had no money after buying the bus ticket (I earned the money painting the house in Jericho, which was given to me though I wasn’t asking for money—the Lord told the missionary lady to pay me!).
Well, God proved to me he is a great deliverer, and I found out a little of what the Hebrews went through so painfully, though in a modern setting.
Dropped off at the Hotel International which I had chosen of two possibilities offered me at the bus company, I was in the hotel lobby waiting for my pastor friend to come, and waited and waited. Then I looked into the display case in the lobby and saw the exact same picture of the tracts of the Resurrected Lord Jesus that I had just bought in Jerusalem before I left. I had dreamed that I would see evidence of the Full Gospel Businessmen in a hotel lobby in an Arab country, and there it was right before my eyes.
It was a terrible fix for me to get myself in, landing in this city and at this hotel without any money, but this framed picture of my tract's illustration under glass at the hotel front display case gave me the courage to check into the hotel.
The management wouldn’t have let me check in if they had known my lack of money, but another miracle occurred that prevented them throwing me out into the street. Somehow I let slip to the girl at the front desk I had no money but was waiting for a friend to pick me up. The word went out that I was stranded, with no money, and an American! Everyone was appalled, for everyone in the lobby immediately got involved. Yet some wanted to help in some way. They all asked if there was another American. Yes! There was—one! He was called and came down, and it was a black man working for the Arabs in Saudi Arabia, hiring Egyptians for their oil fields. He saw me, I saw him, and he hesitated a moment, for he was a black man, and I was a white, then extended his hand to me.
That clinched it. He was taking me, a fellow American, under his wing, so to speak. He was going to help me. Since this man was important, he was hiring Egyptians to work the oil fields in Saudi Arabia, the hotel would then let me stay until I could get money from home. He later told me that somebody (I thought, probably a white man) had helped him in the past. Otherwise, I would have been rejected by him, left without help in this Moslem country where I couldn’t speak the language.
He proved good at his word. He gave me money, five Egyptian pounds, which was a considerable sum then, to go in a cab to the consulate, which I couldn’t find on foot in this jam-packed metropolis of 11 million people. There I received all the help I needed.
My pastor friend, when I finally found the church by being taken there by a Christian Arab family I met at a downtown Cairo Methodist church, said he was so sorry he had not helped me, but I saw God’s great delivering power in how things had worked out. If he had helped me immediately, by showing up or sending someone to meet me at the hotel lobby, I would not have seen it. But I must have tested God a bit too, and so I vowed not to go anywhere overseas again without more than enough finances. I had set out with barely enough money, and spent too much on souvenirs, and then didn’t return to England on my ticket, choosing to go to Egypt instead to search for my pastor friend who wasn’t responding to my letters. But God came through for me despite all my blunders. Through it all God was making me a whole man, and I hope God was glorified also in his work in my life, turning me into that whole man painful bit by painful bit.
GETTING MY DEGREE FROM HARD KNOCKS UNIVERSITY
Back again in Tacoma, Washington, I attended and graduated from Bible college. At that time I met a lady who was recently saved, but was very active in churches in Enumclaw. I attended a church one of the Bible school teachers started, but it turned into a bad church, because of his wrong leadership. Before it grew evident to me what was happening to the church and what idolatry I had fallen into, I was married to another Bible school student, but the pastor gave a bad message at the wedding, saying that it was better not to marry, citing Paul, which made my wife question thereafter if we should have married, making her think God was not for our marriage.
I was delivered by the Lord from the bondage of this church some years later, but my wife remained with it, and she divorced me, because she wanted a ministry in a new church in Oregon) and she thought I stood in the way of it.
I still pray and believe God for her restoration and deliverance from spiritual bondage. She had real prophetic gifts from the Lord, and a gift of knowledge and maybe one of wisdom too. But she, regarding herself as the spiritual oversight, would never submit to my headship in the family, and would not let me pray and be a cover for our household. She was a very talented person, and had trained Arabian horses for racing and shows, and was an expert bowler, and a painter, and a bookkeeper, and who knows what else? She was also great at management in business. She was saved, and her son from her first marriage with her, so I know that is taken care of.
WORK EXPERIENCE AND TRAINING
Except for my one year at high school in Washington State, I was high schooled at Augustana Academy, an excellent Christian school in rural SouthDakota that year after year won a high scholastic rating. I was not doing well at my hometown Puyallup high school any more, due to the terrible peer pressure and harassment I always got in school. At the Academy in South Dakota I flowered, though I wasn't exceptional, scholastically.
I went out for debate and oratory, and even was allowed to join Choir my last year which went on tour all over the state and also was the choir at the National Luther League Convention in Milwaukee.
At various colleges after the Air Force, I worked on my B.A. and then later my M.A. in English, graduating at Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington, in 1975. I wasn’t able to settle down to teaching, not until long after, when I found it impossible to get jobs, whether in teaching, or at Pacific Northwest Bell, or janitorial work, library work, etc., etc., despite my high scores on tests.
Due to Affirmative Action being so strong in Washington, I was forced to resort to being self-employed at landscaping, and also did guard work, and caretaker work on an estate in Sumner (the estate gardening job was my best work experience in life).
I also started writing in college, gave it up, then returned to writing, finishing my first book, "Walk in the Light," a biography for a Romanian pastor about his life and miraculous escape from Communist Romania in 1974. It was unpaid work. It took a year to do the book, which I have since put on the Internet [It is since then put on Kindle, with a Study Guide, as an e-book].
Writing, by the way, is something I somehow knew I would do as a life calling when I was nine years old. I write Biblical poetry, too, and wrote science fiction as a Christian to bring people to the Lord who never attend church and never read the Bible (using Biblical characters and real events, however), and also help people write their books (this is, I feel, my calling in life too). I am not really interested in teaching anymore in a classroom, because I want to concentrate on writing as long as possible. Perhaps through writing and websites, I can get across what is on my heart to communicate.
Although I was a debater and orator in high school and college, and though I taught a couple years in colleges in Oregon, Kansas, and Washington, I am not a public-oriented person, and have a hard time projecting myself before people without a prepared format or speech. I find my gifts are best expressed in writing, because I am so introverted. I love church life, but I am not comfortable with witnessing on the street or even one to one, though I am willing to do it when led by the Lord. I want to make my life count for the Lord, even if I am a timid person. The Lord knows that. I want more boldness from the Lord. But it is a nightmare to be pushed into things I am not prepared for. Sometimes that happens. I can grow from the experience, but it is a nightmare for me. I don’t know if the Lord will let me off the hook, public-wise, so I must be open to His leading me into public roles even if I don’t want them. His will is uppermost in my heart.
IDENTIFYING SOME SPIRITUAL GIFTS
My spiritual gifts seem to be: discernment, knowledge, prophecy. I have received dreams, that woke me up, that involved me praying for women, commanding: “Be loosed!” from whatever spiritual oppression was their problem. I told this to the evangelist at a Baptist church, but he had nothing to tell me about it. But I received the same dream twice. The command came out of my mouth audibly, waking me up from a deep sleep! One dream involved setting my own ex-wife free from her own bondages. With the two women, the one I recognized, the other I did not, it was the same thing going on: deliverance. I never seek to do this sort of thing. It was the Lord, because I could not have thought it up for myself, and I wouldn’t want to do it anyway. I am so timid, I wouldn’t choose such a ministry for myself. I haven’t heard anything more from the Lord about this, so maybe it was only for those two times of prayer. Today I have no wife, house, family, or career! But I still look to the Lord for my advancement, which will testify to them that the Lord is with me.
JOSEPH'S EXAMPLE IS MY TEMPLATE
All my Christian life since the Lord restored me to himself in 1976, I have looked to the example of Joseph and the ordeals he had to endure. I have been treated in much the same way, cast into a pit of reproach, as the younger brother. I look to God, however, for advancement, for when it comes it will glorify God, not men. I have to be wary of becoming bitter because there is this separation in the family between me and my brothers. I am grieved by it, and pray constantly for the barrier to be removed. They don’t see God’s blessing on me, materially; consequently, they don’t see any real spiritual integrity in me. But yet I suspect they know I am walking with the Lord. But since the material blessing is lacking, they can’t accept me. They resist any spiritual leadership I can give in the family, although it is painfully clear they not doing their part as spiritual leaders.
GOD'S DIRECTION IN MY LIFE
Seeking the Lord's purpose for my life in a deeper way about a year ago, I was driving down to the ocean and on the way the Lord, I believe, spoke to me that my heart was in doing my Christian ministry websites. I have a Christian family heritage website, an on-line Bible school starting, and one that is science fiction (mentioned before), and a ministry center for publishing on-line the books, magazines, poetry, drama, and music of Christians which is called Butterfly Productions. Much of this work has been done for purely for ministry without any financial return; however, the websites have cost me thousands, and I am trying to make this ministry self-supporting and possibly a source of additional income for myself in time. I have to develop the sites sufficiently to bring enough visitors, and also cause them to want to contribute to them for their maintenance and improvement. This is, the Lord showed me, my heart desire, reaching people for Christ (saved and unsaved) through these websites and the Internet. The family heritage website alone has had over 32,000 visitors [it is many more times that since this account was written--Ed.]. There is potential to reach many more through the others as well. I am working almost every free night off from work late into the morning on the websites, which is what this work requires.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS I MAY HAVE TO BLESS OTHERS
As for prophecy, the Lord gave me repeatedly scriptures to read in various churches, and I also prophesied. I haven’t received any prophetic words to give since I left church where I was married back in 1983. Maybe that gift needs to be stirred up. I still get scriptures that seem to speak right to where the church is at the moment in a meeting. I have gotten them at Praise Chapel, but the structure of the service does not seem to permit giving such scriptures. A couple times I have given them anyway, but it is difficult for me to get them out when so much else is going on. I went to a charismatic church in Minneapolis, which was a church that has since produced about 20 other churches, and there was much prophecy by the members. I miss that. I would like to see more here, not just visiting prophets and prophetesses coming occasionally to bless us. Prophecy for exhortation, encouragement, and direction (not End-Times stuff) is the kind of prophecy I am speaking about. Prophecy seems to come out in my writing (and has!), and been confirmed by actual world events. I prophesied the takeover of the Socialist (communist) government that overthrew Haile Selassie the old emperor. I had no idea it would take place, but I wrote that it would happen, and it did. That was just one instance, which occurred way back in college in 1972 when I was writing my creative thesis, which was science fiction [that series, I threw away after entering Bible school, however).
THINGS I LIKE TO DO
The ministry I enjoy is writing, doing the websites I mentioned, and doing helps around the church. I want to see religious dramas performed. I love dancing in the spirit too. Prayer is also vital to me. I pray a lot each day. I love scripture, and read it every day. I love Bible study. I love learning about the Lord and getting to know Him better. I want more spiritual growth. I am afflicted with a low tolerance for stress, and get nervous very easily, but the Lord helps me, though I am such an introvert. I am in a very good church, and it is very encouraging to me. I hope to be a fruitful member of it. I just haven’t decided what I am best at doing, only God will show me in time, I pray. I love getting other Christians together with us, so that we can experience more unity in Christ. That is on my heart to encourage. I am grieved by separation and disunity. I want to be used in evangelism, but I am attempting to be used in my websites in that respect. I have a heart mostly for the unsaved, to reach them through books they will read when they will not attend church or anything Christian.
I want to earn a good living, so that I can support myself, pay off my big debts, and be solid witness to my family and community. I am 61 [when this was written for my pastor in a ministry course I was taking under him] now, and still not the whole man I should be, but God isn’t through with me yet, I believe. I must have a heart like David’s, I believe, for I stay almost constantly, for hours daily in fact, in the Psalms. He became a very rich man, blessed by God. Joseph was also blessed by God in every way. I am holding to God’s promises. As I seek God and His righteousness my life, subduing my flesh with his power, I yearn to see the promises that came true for people in the Bible come true for me, that I may never have to go out of this life unfulfilled, seeing evil all my days (death of my father, poverty, separation from my brothers early in my life and continuing till now, divorce, a false church, debts, a low-paid job). God is the Answer, I believe, if I don’t give up, as I am often tempted to do.
On the blessing side, I have a wonderful Christian mother, though it is difficult to deal with her at times now that she has reached her nineties and I have entered my sixties! I have a wonderful new church. I am excited with what is going on in it. I love the fellowship at Praise Chapel. I am happy to give bread out to people, and do what I can around the church. I still have my health, with only some problems that I need to take care of when I can find the income. God has given me a vigorous body, and I still can use it actively. My mind is good, able to grasp many subjects at a time, and I can use it for God’s glory. God is my helper. My heart desire is that He get the glory from my life--for I know for sure He has given me everything that I have in life that is worth having.
Note: This autobiographical sketch was written when I was mere greenwood, age 61, and now I am 64, by God's grace and mercy! However, I still find this a current enough portrayal, and perhaps it can be encouraging to someone, just to know that God will never, never forsake a child of His depending on Him, despite what the circumstances say, or even what a crowd of worries, anxieties, and doubts try to say to a suffering person who feels very much alone.
The following poem, "The Sparow," is anonymous, and has been on the wall at my mother's home for many years. It seems to speak about both her and myself, and I include it here to bless someone who sees little reward in this life and many challenges, yet finds God is faithful and sufficient for each day and its trials and tests.--Ed.
I am only a little sparrow!
A bird of low degree;
My life is of little value
But the dear Lord cares for me.
He gave me a coat of feathers--
'Tis very plain, it's true,
With never a speck of crimson,
For it was not made for view.
But it keeps me warm in winter,
It shields me from the rain;
Were it bordered with gold or purple,
Perhaps it would make me vain.
And now that the Springtime cometh,
I will build me a little nest.
With many a chirp of pleasure,
In the spot I like the best.
I have no barn or storehouse,
I never sow nor reap;
God gives me a sparrow's portion,
But never a seed to keep.
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