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Independence Day 2013

For decades I have used certain days for reflection, goal-setting, and adjusting my attitudes and actions as necessary in order to achieve written objectives prescribed each year for me, my family, and ministry.  The fourth of July is one of the holidays on which I reflect concerning our country and my relationship as a believer-citizen.

Don’t let that hyphenated term throw you.  When I use believer-citizen, I am referencing legal American citizens who are Christ followers.  Definition of terms has never been more important in America, since we have morphed into a nation that is very different at the core than the one birthed 237 years ago.  To anyone knowledgeable of authentic (as opposed to revised-to-accommodate-modern-political-correctness-and-liberal-adgendas) American history, the contrast in character of national leaders then and now is nothing short of alarming.

The header which opened America’s Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, is only the beginning of the contrasts.  The unanimous of “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America” (emphasis mine) has become instead partisan gridlock amongst national leaders, with each of two primary parties blaming the other.  However, a lack of character on the part of those occupying seats of leadership has led to nothing short of dishonesty amongst the ruling elite and distrust by the citizenry who put them into office.

Further, the opening sentence of the Declaration highlights a second significant contrast in the line, “ … to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them … “  Finding it necessary to dissolve the political bands that once tied them to Great Britain, our founders focused on the principles of God’s Word as a compass to guide them and a light to direct them into the future of the greatest experiment of national freedom ever known.

However, the Word that was once a lamp lighting our pathway to righteous national life and freedom is either banned or scoffed at by political elitists whose lack of godly character breeds corruption in almost everything they touch.  When United States congressional delegates operate outside the bounds of honesty and integrity, we hear them bullying their peers with statements such as “You have to pass it (referring to ObamaCare) in order to find out what’s in it.”  That insanity is only superseded by the insanity of an electorate that would return either Nancy Pelosi or Barrack Hussein Obama to office for an additional term.

Almost every line in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is being violated today.  However, there is still hope—if every believer-citizen will use this 237th Independence Day to reflect, reason, and resolve.  Our hope is in neither the Democratic nor the Republican parties.  More than a little leaven has leavened both lumps.

So, as we reflect on how far America has drifted from our founding moorings, we can better understand the negative repercussions that blare at us from every newscast.  Reason tells us that our abandonment of honesty and integrity has led to unprecedented corruption, but an about face—a return to the principles that once made us great—is our best hope.

However, to recognize our errors and to reason our way to a viable solution, will also require a third step—resolve to become once again people of honesty and integrity.  Where does that begin?  I would suggest 2 Chronicles 7:14.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in the life application of that verse?  That will require praying from a broken and contrite heart.  “If my people … called by my name … humble themselves … and pray … and seek my face … and turn from their wicked ways … “  Each of those are steps of honesty, integrity, and repentance, and are our responsibilities as believer-citizens.

Then God’s part kicks into play!  “ … then I will hear from heaven … and will forgive their sin … and will heal their land.

I love America!  That does not make me blind to our problems.  The solution to our problems is not government, but rather God.  The same God on which our founders relied for guidance to greatness.

Dale on Coronado (CA)

Dale on Coronado (CA)


Strange, isn’t it—how we can so easily develop misconceptions about almost anything, especially people, and especially in the ministerial world?

 For years I’ve heard how “impossible” (or at least very difficult) it is to reach the young people of Great Britain or Europe with the Gospel.  However, as I sit here in my usual “office” at Frankie and Benny’s at the Birmingham (England) airport, awaiting a flight to France, and reflecting on last week’s youth camp at Cefn Lea Park in Newtown, Powys (Wales), I’m not sure that I how accurate the assessment of others has been. 

Let me explain. 

Four years ago roughly, Dan Brown of LIFT Student Ministries, along with one of his board members Ben Robinson, accompanied me on a whirlwind exploratory excursion to Great Britain.  Dan has operated a growing number of “LIFT Camps” in the eastern half of American for several years—and quite successfully.  In fact, if memory serves me correctly, I spoke for one of Dan’s camps, even before he called them “LIFT!” in Monticello, Kentucky.  (How could I ever forget that camp, because they had more frogs hopping around the property than were in the plagues of Egypt!  Of maybe it’s my guilt for encouraging several of the campers to collect dozens of frogs and put them in his father Harold’s room that I remember.)

 Somehow, I felt that if I could get Dan here to see what I was seeing in the potential of reaching young people for Christ—and it worked!  Few men (or women) that I know share the level of burden or passion for young people that my friend Dan Brown has.  I see it and sense it increasingly.

Our first year camp was actually quite small—but the results of young people coming to faith in Christ as their Savior were quite large!  I also remember thinking that it was the toughest youth camp that I’d ever been involved with, simply because of the behavior of my of the young people who attended.  Several of them came to us from social services, and were known to be “problem teenagers.”  But we loved them, and I think they sensed that, and responded accordingly.

The second year of LIFT-UK the numbers climbed in every way.  An impact for Christ was growing—and the impact was affecting young people from not only Europe, but also on the American college-aged staff of LIFT … and on me!  Many of the first-year campers returned and the spiritual growth in them was self-evident.  Once again by week’s end, many campers had made significant commitments to God for salvation, holy living, and Christian service.

This year the groundswell continued with even greater evidence.  First, we jointly operated LIFT-UK 2010 with the BBF-GB youth camp, a collection of ministry partner churches scattered around Great Britain, but representative campers also came from other European countries.  In the analysis of the executive director of Cefn Lea Park, this was the largest gathering of a group of Christian teenagers in the history of the conference centre!

At times the crowd noise was almost deafening, especially when you have nearly 300 campers and staff all assembled in the dining room, everyone talking, laughing, dishes clattering, etc.!  And to listen and watch this crowd in action during the praise and worship time was almost beyond description—especially if one is expecting the misconception to be the reality!

And the behavioral difference over a three year period is also notable.  While are a couple of layers of workers between me and the campers these days, I do believe that this was the most well-behaved crowd to-date.  The difference that Christ makes in the spiritual lives is readily seen from one year to the next.  The pastors and other Christian workers were all abuzz with excitement with the spiritual advancements!

While I can’t say that the volume of decisions made by young people coming to faith in Christ, surprised me, I must admit that it just doesn’t fit the misconception.  What did arrest my attention was that on opening night, rather than somewhat typically closing night, most of the young people who accepted Christ as their personal Savior during did so that first night!  By the closing assembly on Friday morning, 42 teenagers had come to faith!

But that isn’t all—great as that is!

At the conclusion of his Thursday evening message, my friend Ed Trinkle, speaker for the week who did a masterful job of connecting with the audience, plainly asked all from the audience who were ready to say to God, “I’ve been allowing you to speak to my heart and I’m now ready to ‘lay it all down’ and serve you full time for the rest of my life,” to stand to their feet, then come and gather in front of the stage for special instructions, prayer, and then counsel.

I was in tears as I stood at the top level of the auditorium and counted 76 teenagers standing in front of that stage in response to Ed’s clear instructions!  When it was all sorted, and the individual counseling was concluded, 40 young people had truly committed themselves to ministry and service for Christ!

That kind of scene, with that kind of result, just doesn’t fit the misconception that so many in kingdom work have.  Each of us who have been a part of this new phenomenon believes that we are on the leading edge of a new wave of the working of God amongst the young people and churches of Great Britain!  And we’re witnessing it firsthand!

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join several of us praying for the 42 teenagers who are new believers as they return to their homes and friends?  We understand the spiritual battle that will surely take place in their hearts and minds.  Several of them will certainly struggle in the months to come as they decide daily whether to follow the old life or the new.

Would you also pray for the 40 young people who committed their lives to service for the King of Kings?  They too will be waging war to live out that which they committed on that closing night of LIFT-UK 2010.

Finally, would you pray that the Lord would continue to use me in leaving a lasting impact on an entire movement of God to reach young people in Europe?  There aren’t a lot of 60-year-olds who still pursue a vision aggressively in youth ministry—but I’m asking that you pray for one—me!

And to those individuals, pastors, and churches who invested financially and prayerfully through our ministry, you can know that your investment has yielded history-making and eternal results!  Thank you!


Don’t Forget to Remember

On Monday, 31 May 2010, many American’s will celebrate a national holiday, forgetting the true meaning or purpose of the day itself.  However, throughout this great nation, thousands upon thousands of families will remember—in fact, it’s impossible for us to forget, because buried in a cemetery somewhere is a casket that holds the remains of a loved one who paid the supreme sacrifice that we might be free. 

"On behalf of ... a grateful nation," my daughter-in-law Patty

However, this day of remembrance must never be limited to a few moments of emotional energies spent merely missing  our friends and loved ones whose lives were cut short during their military service for our country.  We surely must contemplate a bigger picture and the grander scheme of the future looming before us.

For example, we must remember the principles and precepts that lead to the birth of this great nation.  As I write this, I’m seated in my hotel room in Enfield (CT).  In just a few hours, I will address an eternity-bound audience, reminding them, not only of America’s Fallen, but of the price that has been paid from the inception of America—as early as the 1620s.  The founders and the fallen so strongly believed in equality, self-governance, and the rule of law, that they were willing to pledge the lives, fortunes, and sacred honor—risking it all, sacrificing everything for freedom.  In so doing, they kept their honor.

America is a nation at-risk because we’re sluggish in remembering the critical ingredients that have made America great.  Few Americans will reflect any more than I on the people who have fallen—those for whom we have set aside this special day.  But we must remind ourselves that this American holiday is not only about remembering the personalities, but also the principles.

Here in Enfield (CT), two local high schools have scheduled graduation ceremonies in a local church facility that best accommodates  these events—parking, seating, staging, restrooms, etc.  However, the ACLU has filed suit, seeking an injunction, preventing the use of a church facility, with their usual insanity, crying “Separation of church and state!”  Somewhere along their educational track, they must have overlooked a few lessons from history class.

The first public school in America—the Boston Latin School—located only a few hours from Enfield (CT) in Boston (MA), was founded by Reverend John Cotton on April 23, 1635.  Five of the fifty-six signers of the American Constitution attended this school.  Can you imagine?  But the ACLU wasn’t around in those days to protest, threaten, intimidate, and file frivolously insane lawsuits, trying to protect young America’s students from religious symbols and the New England Primer and the Hornbook. 

But the insanity of this distorted thinking by a relative handful in America can only be exceeded by the insanity of good American citizens continually tolerating it!

Perhaps the great need of America today is not another “bailout” from Washington, D.C. but a revival of old-fashioned patriotism—a patriotic fervor built on critical personal ingredients, such as …

Great character.  The good character of leaders past will not suffice for today.  They have all run their leg of the relay race of life.  The baton has been placed into our hands, and we must boldly rise to the occasion, becoming internally what the Good Book instructs us to be, enabling us to do what people of good, godly character should do.

Great conviction.  It is high time that people who profess to know God determine to live like we actually know Him.  Like David of old, facing the giant Goliath against all odds, we must ask ourselves, “Is there not a cause?”  William Bradford thought so, but today’s history revisionists choke on his Mayflower Compact of 1620.  Barbara Fritchie thought there was a cause when she withstood Stonewall Jackson with those famous words, “Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag,” she said!

Where are the men and women of modern America who are willing to stand, and having done all, stand?  Conviction is the bottom line of all my thinking.  It is what I have concluded as vitally important—important enough for which to live and die. 

Great courage.  Without character, we become dishonest and self-centered—which unfortunately and increasingly describes our country, including many of our “leaders.”  Without conviction, we lose our bearings—our moral compass.  Again, regrettably, this describes our nation—adrift morally.  And without courage, we fail to act on that which we profess to be and to believe.

In two short decades, America has gone from a nation with a president who could courageously say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” to one who apologizes for America to every rouge nation wherever he travels!  That makes those of us with good character, conviction, and courage rather nauseous!

As we approach this Memorial Day 2010, let’s concentrate on and honor our forefathers and the fighting men and women of this nation for their courage, their vision, and their sacrifices.  Let’s remember how precious our rights and freedoms!  Veterans, we honor your service, your courage, and your countless sacrifices at sea, in the air, and on distant fields of battle.  May God continue to bless the great nation, as we give Him reason for doing so.

BTW, do you pray?  America is in desperate need of the prayers of men, women, boys and girls who are on speaking terms with God to plead for the future of the nation we love.  May each of us be found faithful at our post in prayer!

Leave a Well in the Valley

Well, it’s official now!  We’ve had our first book-signing for my new book, Leave a Well in the Valley!  And now I will hit the road for a few weeks doing a few more of those–primarily in churches.  The itinerary at the moment for May and June takes me to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Michigan, Tennessee, and Illinois, before heading to Great Britain!

If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, let me encourage you to do so.  Here’s why it will be beneficial …

No one is immune from trouble and trial, disappointment and discouragement–and going through various valleys during the journey of life.  We need others from time to time to encourage us when we feel like What’s the use! and giving up in a given circumstance and quitting.  Leave a Well in the Valley is the kind of book that can breathe encouragement and hope into a weary traveler!  There are people all around us who are discouraged and hurting because of some circumstance they’re facing.  So, after you’ve read the book, pass it along to someone who could use the encouragement.  In fact, many people are purchasing multiple copies in order to pass them along to others.

Here are a few of the comment that people are making about Leave a Well in the Valley:

I just finished Dale Peterson’s book, “Leave A Well In The Valley.”  This is a must read.  Dale deals with many valleys of life that all of us walk through at one time or another.  We may not walk through all the valleys that Dale describes but all are devastating.  The transparent way Dale deals with each situation is refreshing.  The scriptural solutions are terrific.  I don’t often recommend books but this one is a keeper.  – EC, Austin, TX

Another gentleman wrote:  I’ve almost worn it out reading it and crying.  Good job bro! – GC, Birmingham, AL

One businessman said:  (I’m) flying to Greensboro, NC for the week. Taking my copy of “Leave A Well In The Valley” by Pastor Dale Peterson. Everyone needs a copy of this inspirational and enlightening book. A true blessing to all that read it. – GW, Detroit, MI

As I discovered in the process, writing a book is hard work–and the work isn’t over when the book goes to press!  But as I receive comments like those above, I must tell you that every moment of labor becomes worthwhile when I see others encouraged and inspired!  It’s also a humbling experience when that for which you have prayed and worked actually happens!

If you’d like to investigate the book before purchasing, you can do so by following this link to Google Books:  

If you’d like to purchase your own copy of Leave a Well in the Valley, and perhaps additional copies for hurting family or friends, ask for it at your local book shop or purchase online.  Here are some options for online purchases:

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you ask God to use this book as a source of hope and inspiration to thousands, perhaps millions, of hurting people around the world?  Heartache and disappointment and defeat surround us.  But a copy of Leave a Well in the Valley might just offer the ray of light for someone’s darkness, the glimmer of hope to replace someone’s defeat. 


More for the Kingdom

Once again, I sit in an airport – Amsterdam’s Schiphol, hurriedly typing a note to update ministry friends and partners on what is happening recently.  Hurry as I might, I know this will not get out to until I am in Amsterdam, or even back in Detroit, but I wanted to share the latest news with you.

Two weeks ago, in our BBF-GB camp in Cefn Lea Park (Wales), with approximately 144 campers total, we were privileged to see 15-17 campers come to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  Due to other responsibilities, I was not at the camp for the closing ceremonies on Friday morning, and I have been given two different numbers.  However, on their own testimonies, at least 15 young people came to faith in Christ.

After a brief visit with my middle son Jordan in Oxford, where he has been working this summer at Oxford University, my journey took me back northward to Huntingdon-Alconberry, where I was privileged to spend time with Carol and Jose Esquibel and the wonderful congregation of their labors.  I truly anticipate future ministry opportunities with this gracious family.  Their immaculate church complex is located across the street from the Alconberry Royal Air Force base, and it was truly a pleasure to interact with both RAF military personal as well as a few American families who serve on the same base, some as DOD contractors.

Following the morning services and a wonderful noon meal in the Esquibel home, I raced back to the White House, where Dan Brown and the LIFT-UK 09 team had already settled in.  After a day of rest for them, we headed northwest to Cloverley Hall Christian Conference Centre and the LIFT-UK 09 camp.  These camps focus primarily on evangelism, and we were not disappointed in the results!  The spirit of God was self-evident in less than 48 hours, and by the closing of the camp Friday morning, 30 young people became Christ followers.  But it didn’t end there!

I just received word a few minutes ago from Dan Brown, who spent the night last night in the Birmingham area near the airport to catch earlier flights, that another young man had accepted Christ as Savior after camp was over, and over the telephone!

Fifteen teenagers one week, and thirty-one young people another – a total of 46 new heavenly-bound people … because you prayed and invested financially.  Somehow, at the end of the day, that all seems to me like a wise investment of our lives and financial resources.  Thanks for being a part of it, even by proxy.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you now pray for these young believers?  Would you also pray for those pastors and Christian leaders in the area churches who have the awesome privilege of following through with discipleship?  Would you also pray as we endeavor to multiply the number of camps in the next few years?  Imagine the impact for the kingdom!

Got to run catch that flight now!  Cheers!

Absentee Birthdays

It was as though Providence handed me a few minutes of sunshine in the midst of a rather dreary, rainy day here in Michigan.  Just for the twenty minutes that I visited the Great Lakes National Cemetery, it was like God tore a hole in the clouds so that He could watch to see what I might do or if I would share with Him the thoughts of my heart and mind.

I’ve only been there a few times … Memorial Days and Veterans Days … but for some reason unknown even to me, I felt compelled to drive out to the northern edge of Holly, Michigan, and spend a few minutes to respect and reflect on this 30th September.  Today, my oldest son Justin would have celebrated his 34th birthday had his life not been cut short by a freak accident in the sands of Anbar Province.

But standing there, reflecting, by that simple grave marker, I realized once again that my brief visits there are not so much about Justin … not so much about me … as they are about life.  You see, I can stand there, looking at the dates etched into that stone, and reflect on what once was … Or, I meditate as I pause there, considering the last three lines … “Loving husband, devoted father, brother & son,” and wonder what might have been …  Or, as what is normally the thought process for me, after considering those types of very personal things, I look around me at the sea of grave markers, and realize that a lot of dads and moms, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters will experience “absentee birthdays” each year.

To say to my friends and family, “I miss my boy” is an understatement of my heart.  But the great reality that we who still dwell in the land of the living must grapple is this – life goes on … and so must we.  We must look to the future, plan toward the future, anticipate with great expectation in the future.  And, BTW, a great future for you and me will not be ushered in by the politicians at any level of government, but when a citizenry of great character lives out the principles on which the United States of America was founded.

America’s men and women in uniform have been laying down their lives for a quarter of a millennium now … but we’ve become a nation, I fear, that has well-nigh lost sight of principle, and has become obsessed with an insatiable appetite for “prosperity,” a prosperity that is increasingly elusive … considering the current financial climate in America.  And as I considered the price paid by our veterans alone, I can only pray that the Lord would help me to do my part as a citizen, as a Christian, as a minister, to help bring our nation back from the brink of bankruptcy … not a financial bankruptcy, but a moral and spiritual bankruptcy.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you not use this moment to pause and ask the God of Glory to guide our national process through the leaders at all levels of government?  Coming into the November elections, we’re hearing a lot about change … from both parties.  It would be an awesome change if truth, rather than a distortion and pretense of truth, should come to prevail inside the beltway!

And while you’re praying, if you would, pray for the entire Dale Peterson clan over the next couple of weeks as we pass through the anniversary of Justin’s birth (30 September), death (01 October), and funeral (09 October).  Pray, too, for the many families around the country who also come to those emotionally-charged mile-markers along the road of their family life … those absentee birthdays.  We’d be grateful. 


Out-Bound Again

Usually on Monday’s I’m in an airport somewhere, heading back to Detroit.  Today (Monday), I’m out-bound from Detroit, heading for an important meeting in Washington, D.C. with two of my three board members, David Brown, pastor of the First Baptist Church of East Longmeadow (MA), and David Stokes, pastor of the Fair Oaks Church in Fairfax (VA).

The third board member, Rick Cochran, pastor of The Bridge Church in the northern Indianapolis (IN) area is not able to make it for the meeting.  Let me explain and enlist your help.

Not quite two years ago, Rick had to undergo open heart surgery and, although the surgery went quite well, he has never quite felt “quite right,” to use his term.  A few days again, Rick emailed with some reservations about how he was feeling and asking me to pray for him.  Last night, we talked at length … and I did not like the symptoms that he described over the phone.  I strongly suggested that he not make the trip, but rather make a trip to either see his cardiologist or to the closest emergency room.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, I would really appreciate you praying for my friend Rick Cochran over the next few days as the medical team sorts out what is going on with his cardiovascular system and takes appropriate steps.  I’m sure that his wife Jill and his three children would also appreciate your prayers as well.

And while you’re praying, ask the Lord to infuse Dave, Dave, and Dale with fresh vision and wisdom as we discuss strategy for the future of my ministry in Great Britain and the securing of the funds to make several projects happen on that side of the pond.


A Living Hero

On this seventh anniversary of one of American’s darkest days – September 11 – I am reflecting on many things … the events of that fateful day … the carnage … the hatred that was directed toward America … the innocent men, women, and children who died … the brave men and women who gave their lives trying to rescue the perishing …

But my mind had already been pondering these things for several days already.  For example, earlier this week I sat for a few minutes in the visitor’s center parking lot at Michigan’s Selfridge ANG base, waiting for a new friend to arrive.  There had been a miscommunication and my name was not on the list of visitors with authorization to come on base, so I was waiting on SgtMjr Timothy Lamar to come escort me on base.

Within perhaps five minutes of my phone call to his office, the SgtMjr passed my Suburban, yelling “Dale?” as he did so.  After parking his motorcycle, he jumped in the truck with me.  We shook hands and introduced ourselves to each other, and we headed to lunch at Mulligan’s, a small restaurant that is still (for the time being) a part of the aging military installation, operated by the National Guard, but which also serves as home to a US Marine detachment as well.  But I digress …

The United States Marine Corps has a reputation amongst Americans and the American military as a whole.  They’re known as “The Few, the Proud, the Marines,” but they can also be some of the most humble, “gentle giants” that one could ever meet.  Such a Marine is Tim Lamar … a husband, father of four … and veteran of three tours in Iraq and 26 years in the Corps … so he will dispute with me when I say this, but … oh well …

While Tim Lamar is “just dad” to four awesome children … and perhaps has a “honey-do list” waiting at home at the end of the day from his wonderful wife because he’s “just a husband” when he sheds the “utilities,” dons civilian clothes and rides that bike home … he is a living hero to me.

Maybe it because my oldest soon Justin, a career Marine of 15 years, a captain only a few months from making Major, gave his life in the sand of Iraq.  Perhaps it’s because my youngest son Joshua, is oh-so-close to making Sergeant in the USMC (Reserves).  Yes … I’m partial to the USMC … I’ll admit it!  But there are reasons far beyond my own two sons.  There are Marines like Tim Lamar.

Tim, originally from Holland (MI), has spent the last 26 years of his life as a Marine.  He’s seen the truth and realities of Iraq … you know, the kind of reality that CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and the like never seem to discover … or if they do happen to capture some footage, it seems to get lost in the shuffle before it hits the television screens of the world (sic).  But during our conversation before, during, and after lunch, I discovered that Tim embraces a value system that not only resonates with me personally, but a value system that is rooted in the very principles upon which this great nation was founded over 230 years ago.

What a privilege to spend a couple of hours with another of the unsung, living heroes … the men (and women) whom we as Americans often take for granted … our military.  So, the next time you see one of America’s men and women in uniform, why not take a moment to shake their hands and thank them for protecting our borders and keeping us free?

And, BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you pause right now to pray, thanking the God of Heaven for Marines like Tim Lamar, and asking Him to protect and strengthen those who keep us free?  And, if you’re already praying for SgtMjr Lamar, go ahead and pray for me.  We’re going to be working on a date when I will address the Marines stationed at Selfridge ANG in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.


It Finally Happened!

I had returned from England just four days earlier … just in time for the world’s “largest car show” – the 14th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise.  Tuesday evening Debbie and I had dinner at Peabody’s in Birmingham (MI) and had cruised Woodward, commenting that there were at least as many cars and cruisers out that night as there had been for the first two or three official Dream Cruises!  The 1965 Olds Cutlass that I had rescued from a fence row in eastern Tennessee ten years earlier was lookin’ good and running well.

Then ...

Then ...

Wednesday evening, I took my youngest daughter Joy and my first granddaughter Emma to dinner at Redcoats in Royal Oak (MI) and again cruised the famous Woodward Avenue.  Rain showers slowed the volume of cruisers in the early evening, but by the time dinner was over, classic and muscle cars were everywhere! 

Thursday evening … yep, you guessed it … I was back out there, making my way from the loop (Wide Track) in Pontiac (MI), down Woodward Avenue through Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, and Royal Oak for another evening of sheer joy … watching about everything that Detroit ever built drive the route that so many much younger cruisers drove in the 1960’s to hang out at Ted’s Drive-In at Square Lake Road and Woodward Avenue.  The crowd was swelling, far exceeding the number of those attending the first years of Dream Cruises … and the official Woodward Dream Cruise was still two days away!

Friday evening, Debbie and I were joined by my good friends Mike and Shelly Wallace, from Davisburg (MI).  Mike has often helped me in the restoration of the Cutlass, so I thought it only appropriate to invite he and Shelly to a cruisers’ dinner at Fuddruckers (yep … burgers, fries, and Cokes!) … and to cruise Woodward until the local police departments shut it all down at 9:00pm.

Saturday morning … (It’s the official day now) … Debbie and I met at Bob Evans for a mid-morning breakfast, which should tell you that I’m not a die-hard when it comes to cruising.  (The die-hards either had camped out along Woodward on Friday night or found their parking spots for the day between 2:00 and 3:00am!)  Anyway, after a leisurely breakfast … hang on, Sloopy … we headed east into the Loop in Pontiac.  The smell of burned rubber hung in the air.  Black tire marks were everywhere along the new concrete of Wide Track Boulevard, which turns into Woodward Avenue.  Gasoline fumes burned our eyes and nostrils … the wonderful aroma of premium, racing, and leaded fuels reminiscent of the 1960’s … when we paid 19-25 cents per gallon for premium!

As we made our way south on Woodward, traffic had come to a virtual stand-still by 15-Mile Road in Birmingham, so I did a U-turn (legally, of course) and worked my way back to the now-vacant lot where Detroit’s famous Fox & Hounds Restaurant once stood.  The staff from the Detroit Skating Club had secured the lot for a fund-raiser for the day, selling water and tee-shirts … and allowed Debbie, who is the DSC office manager, and me to park on their site.  Once parked, we purchase some water and tee shirts, pulled our lawn chairs from the trunk of the car, and sat along Woodward, watching the cruisers!  Ah!  What bliss.

But that only lasted for a little while, since Debbie and I had an appointment with a jeweler at 3:00p, so at the last possible minute, we packed our chairs back into the trunk and wound our way via side streets to our appointment … to pick up a couple of very important pieces of jewelry, and tuck them safely in Debbie’s purse. 

Now a bit hungry, we drove slowly back west to Commerce Township to have a quiet dinner at one of Debbie’s favorite restaurants – It’s A Matter of Taste.  Seated at our hightop table on the patio overlooking Union Lake, we had a wonderful meal together.  The weather was perfect – warm, low humidity, and although we were in the shade, the sun was still high and glistened on the water as various types of pleasure crafts circled the lake.

When the meal was finished and the dishes cleared from the table, I took Debbie by the hand, looked her in the eyes, and asked a question that has been years in the making – “Debbie Johns, would you marry me?”

Now right here, you have in insert 2-3 kisses … then her final answer, “Yes! I would love to marry you!”  (to which many of our friends will say, “Well, it’s about time!”)  But I continued, “Then could I finally slip this ring on your finger?” and I produced the engagement ring which we had designed together.  She had not noticed that I had slipped it from the box and into my pocket earlier.

With a beautiful ring in place, eyes glistening, and smiles from ear to ear, we kissed some more!  And the engagement was sealed!

Now, inquiring minds want to know … “When’s the wedding?”  Well, at this point in time, we really don’t know … but hey … if it took us five years to get engaged, it might just take that long to get to the alter, too!  Stay tuned … and just be thankful that it finally happened … the engagement that is.

To top the evening off, we slipped back into the Oldsmobile, held hands, and headed back to Woodward Avenue to finish what we had started earlier in the day … the 14th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise …

Wanna see the ring?

The Ring

The Ring

Wanna see the car?  And meet Debbie?

Debbie and The Car

Debbie and The Car

BTW … do you pray?  If so, would you pray that we will be loving and wise as we cruise down the back-stretch of life together?  Thanks!  Cheers!

What A Victory!

We planned.  We prayed.  We executed the plan.  We prayed all the more.  And the Lord has given an increase!

With one week of youth camp yet to go (BBF Junior Camp), I couldn’t resist sharing the great news with you, because so many of you reading this have invested financially and prayerfully in the youth ministry efforts here in Great Britain this summer.  As briefly as I can, let me update you on what has been happening.

I arrived back at the Birmingham (England) airport a few weeks ago to the news that earlier in the morning, thieves had broken into a storage unit here at The White House and stolen parts to the marquees (large tents) used for camper dormitories.  Within 72 hours, and inventory was completed, replacement components were ordered, and funds came in to cover the $10,525 loss.  So … in spite of tremendous difficulties, we gained the first victory.

The first week of camp was our annual BBF (Baptist Bible Fellowship) Senior Camp.  The cooperation among the participant churches, their campers, and staff is a beautiful thing to behold.  Although the number of campers was down this year (60+), six young people placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior!  (And what a joy it was for me personally to pray for these campers … by name … each morning during my morning run/walk, and to see God answer those prayers!)  Victory #2!

Last Sunday was a fruitfaul day at the Kingmead Baptist Church, as well.  My friends and ministry partners, Brandon, Mick, and Rick Vigneulle arrived from Birmingham (AL) and we ministered together in the church, where my good friend Damian Pickett is the pastor.  During the two services last Sunday, nine teenagers and 20-somethings put their trust in Christ.  Victory #3!

Last week we were joined by Dan Brown and his LIFT Student Ministries team for a week of camp … 60+ campers aged 12-18 … with only 3-4 Christians who were registered.  While we had our share of “rowdy” teenagers, and even though a couple of them had to be sent home, by the close of camp last Friday, thirty-two teenagers had been lead to faith in Christ!  Victory #4

Earlier this morning (Sunday, 10 August) Brandon, Mick, and Rick headed to the airport for their flight back to Alabama.  Later today, Dan Brown and the LIFT team will head to Birmingham (England) and stay at a hotel near the airport to catch an early flight tomorrow morning.  And even though we still have a junior camp next week, they don’t need me … so, I’m heading toward home to get some rest myself.  Camp ministry, rewarding as it may be, is hard work!

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you now join me in praying for these 42 young converts who have chosen to turn from darkness to light?  This is a fragile but important stage in their lives as they are cared for spiritually to nurture their growth.  Would you also pray for the area pastors and churches who will now assume the responsibility of this ministry of nurturing?

Finally, would you also pray for our future ministry here in Great Britain.  These last several weeks has been a time of ground-breaking and already plans are under way for additional camping ministry, ministry in the public schools, and even talk about new church-planting!  The future is bright.  The youth are reachable!