I have a friend named Joshua. He inspires me. In fact, the name of my firstborn is going to be Joshua. I didn’t name him after my friend, but Joshua likes to think so.
Joshua grew up in Florida with a good Christian family on a farm filled with horses, dogs, cats and llamas. Then in his teenage years he hit a rough spell. He got into the wrong crowd and began to be acquainted with drugs and alcohol.
Fortunately for Joshua, he had one of the most powerful forces in the universe – a praying mother. Noemi prayed for Joshua. She even went without food praying for him.
One time, in an effort to get Joshua close to the youth pastor, Noemi told Joshua the church was offering work in the kitchen. When Joshua took the job, his Mom secretly funded the job without Joshua knowing about it. She got his bank account info and put the money directly into his account.
Turns out the effort worked. Joshua was put in the midst of church folk who loved on him, prayed on him and eventually lead him to Jesus.
Joshua attended a church service that unbeknownst to him would be life-changing. Just the night before he was drinking but during the sermon Joshua was moved. Already plans were set to baptize several candidates. But God wasn’t done with Joshua.
Instead of proceeding with the other baptisms, Pastor Scott made an appeal, There’s someone here who needs to get baptized.
In front of everyone, he pointed at Joshua. Miraculously, Joshua came to the front. The congregation cheered. They had been praying for the soul of this young man and now he was responding.
In the baptismal tank, Joshua took off his necklace and gave it to Pastor Scott. It was a necklace he cherished and was dear to him. But it represented his old life and now he was going to give it up. He handed it over to Pastor Scott. As they embraced in the baptismal tank, Joshua wept.
Just leave it all here, brother, Pastor Scott whispered. Just give it all to Jesus.
When Joshua emerged from the watery grave, he raised his arms to the skies and the congregation applauded.
Shortly thereafter, Joshua gave his testimony to about 1,000 people. Afterward, someone offered him the opportunity to learn medical ministry. His tuition of $5,000 would already be paid. He jumped on the opportunity and quickly discovered his passion would be meeting the combined physical and spiritual needs of people.
Within a couple years he got a job as a Bible worker at a church in Northern Idaho. It was a small church with about 50 members in attendance each week. The church paid him a sacrificial wage and Joshua would sleep at the church.
Joshua was a catayst. Spirit Lake Church soon became one of fastest growing Adventist churches in the region. He went door-to-door offering free health coaching. He put on exercise programs for the community. He put on evangelistic meetings. Joshua was a shaker and a mover.
It’s hard to pick out which quality I admire the most about Joshua. Here are a few.
His love for souls
Every year Joshua puts on an evangelistic series and preaches in the community. After one such meeting, he commented to me, These people are ripe, Brother, he grinned ear to ear. You can see nothing brings him more joy than bringing a soul to Jesus.
His sacrifice spirit
Joshua came up to Northern Idaho and worked on a sacrificial wage. In fact, he had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. After marrying his beautiful wife, they both moved into the church where they stayed for a year. Personally, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like if multiple people had the keys to my house in my first year of marriage.
His fearlessness in getting things done
He needed extra money over the winter. So he put up a Facebook Ad and went to work shoveling snow off people’s roof. Turns out the first job was a roof that was about 20 feet high – a bit more dangerous than he expected.
Or the time when a church member he had introduced to Christ was moving from Northern Idaho to North Carolina. It was going to cost her $7,000 to move her animals across the country. Joshua offered to do it for her for half the cost. Together with his wife and mother, they jumped into a car with 3 chihuahuas, 1 german shepherd and a cockatoo. It was like a traveling zoo. They drove 36 hours straight and only slept for 2 hours.
Joshua takes his work very seriously. The preaching, teaching and healing of the gospel gives him a sense of urgency. Yet when you’re around him there’s lightness and a humor that’s infectious. He puts you at ease and you can just be yourself.
One of the surprising things about Northern Idaho was the type of people I would meet who inspire me. Joshua is one of them.