Jay: “Luke 15’s familiar parable about The Prodigal Son is about a son that leaves his father for a life of reckless living. When he comes to his very end, the son decides to repent and return to his father, who compassionately welcomes him back with open arms and celebration – just as our heavenly Father does for us when we wander.
“Ginny and I both grew up in loving family homes that weren’t perfect but pretty close to it. So, the rebellion of our child took us by surprise.
“We began to see acts of rebellion and withdrawal along with more tension in our home when our son was in high school. He received all sorts of accolades and success in sports and was a great athlete. But we started to see cracks in the armor. As we watched our son struggle with addiction, we experienced heartache and separation. I added to the problem as I looked the other way and enabled him. When the almost predictable catastrophe would occur, it would knock us out for weeks and months trying to recover from it or control the situation or even worse as we tried to control him. We weren’t sure God had the situation, so we put ourselves in charge only to see that fail time and again.”
Ginny: “When our son first went to treatment for drug abuse, I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to see anybody. I was fearful people would ask me about our family, and I just didn’t want to talk about it. But the Lord kept telling me no. He wanted me to be open and authentic with the people in my life. Through this time, we realized there were other parents who were experiencing very similar things with their children.”
J: “While the last thing we ever thought we could do was carve out time for a new ministry, our community group pushed us to create a safe place for other parents and families to experience God’s truth and find hope in the midst of chaos. That’s how Watermark’s ministry, The Prodigal, was created. With fear, trembling, and peace from the Lord, we started on the eighth floor of Watermark with four leaders and one attendee. Slowly, the ministry started growing.
“The principles we are learning and teaching others are simply from the Bible – learning to trust God in all things. As our trust in the Lord grew, we realized we could be sad about his choices, but we still have to continue running our own races as Christians and be faithful to what the Lord is asking of us. As the ministry grew, we realized the ‘prodigals’ were not only people who struggle with addiction but anyone with struggles that lead to walking away from Christ through rebellion, sexual sin, gender identity, drug abuse, anger, etc. We also began to realize that prodigals are not just children but spouses, parents, siblings, and friends.”
G: “Before, we tried to be self-sufficient, but we were anxious, and our circumstances controlled our day-to-day joy. Eventually, our journey led us to trust God fully. By God’s grace, the principles learned have prepared us for the rest of our lives and even greater challenges and sorrows, like my debilitating back issues and chronic pain and the loss of our precious granddaughter, Taylor, who passed away a little over a year ago from a brain tumor at age 7. God has used our journey to give us eternal perspective and hope in Christ’s sacrifice for us.”
J: “God uses suffering to grow us. And we are living examples of just what that means. Through intense pain and sleepless nights, Ginny and I have grown in our knowledge, intimacy, and trust in Him. God’s blessing has been allowing us to see God change hundreds of lives and save families through The Prodigal ministry over the last fifteen years. John 16:33 promises us that we will have troubles, but He also encourages us to take heart as He has overcome the world.
“We’ve learned we can be sad yet still live with hope and have joy despite painful circumstances. Knowing God is in control allows us to process differently as we can give those we love to God and focus on running our race.
“If you are wandering from the Lord, know there is new life to be found when you trust in Christ as your Savior. We pray and trust that the Lord is waiting with open arms for all of us, like the father in Luke 15, ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’”
If you have a loved one who is wandering from the Lord, join us at The Prodigal on Tuesdays at 6:30 PM.