It Is Written Puts Down Roots in Collegedale, Tennessee

On May 13, 2015, global Christian media ministry, It Is Written, purchased property at 9342 Four Corners Place in Collegedale. The ministry is relocating from California after nearly sixty years due to the sale of their former location. The ministry is currently operating out of leased office space near Collegedale, but will soon begin building a new media headquarters. A ground breaking will be announced at a later date.

“We are so excited to make Collegedale, Tennessee our new home,” John Bradshaw, Speaker/Director for It Is Written said, “We quickly felt right at home in Tennessee, and we are thrilled to continue to share the love of Jesus with the world from our new location.”

378A1097(edited)

Pictured left John Bradshaw (Speaker/Director of It Is Written) and with Gordon Bietz (President Southern Adventist University).

It Is Written is best known around the world for its weekly television series which has aired every Sunday for 59 years. Today, It Is Written can be seen on multiple networks including TBN, The Discovery Channel, The Hope Channel, 3ABN, and LLBN. The weekly programs feature Pastor Bradshaw and provide spiritual guidance and encouragement on a variety of Biblical subjects.

It Is Written began in March 1956, when founder George Vandeman began a then innovative concept of televising religious programing from southern California. Over the years, the ministry has had the opportunity to share the word of God with many countries including areas where there are very few Christians and where there is great resistance to the gospel.

In recent years, It Is Written has received 32 Angel awards from the Excellence in Media organization for promoting high moral values and has also received three Aurora awards and 12 Telly awards including the Silver Telly. Its most recent Telly award was received in 2014 for the “Eyes for India” television program.

 

Press Phot FInal

From left to right: Jesse Johnson (It Is Written Manager), Marty Hamilton (Associate Vice President Southern Adventist University), Tom Verrill (Senior Vice President Southern Adventist University), John Bradshaw (It Is Written Speaker/Director), Gordon Bietz (President Southern Adventist University), Charles Reel (It Is Written Treasurer), Jeff Blumenberg (It Is Written Trust Officer).

 

 

Pastor Ron Halvorsen (1938—2015)

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that our beloved It Is Written associate speaker Ron Halvorsen fell asleep in Jesus on Friday, May 15. For decades Pastor Ron powerfully proclaimed the everlasting gospel. Thousands and tens of thousands of people came to know Jesus as their personal Savior thanks to his passionate ministry. Ron was truly a giant in ministry. A kind man, who relentlessly lifted up Jesus. He had a thousand stories to tell and he told them so well, always directing people to faith in Christ.

There’ll never be another one quite like Ron. When he stepped in for me when I couldn’t preach in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2013 he was having some health-related annoyances, but he didn’t let that keep him from preaching the message. He wouldn’t let anything keep him from doing that.

Ron would want us to keep doing what we’re doing with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Carol, his wife, expressed how much he loved It Is Written. “He was a wonderful person. Ministry was his life, and he was excited about the speaking appointments he had on his schedule. He had so many sermons he just couldn’t wait to preach,” Carol told me.

Paul’s poignant words in 2 Timothy 4:7 best describe Pastor Ron: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Please join us in praying for Pastor Ron’s family at this difficult time. And also join us in looking forward to that wonderful day when Jesus returns.

One short story: after I learned of his death, the very first person I told said to me, “He preached at our church a few years ago. My sister had been out of the church for 35 years. The Holy Spirit spoke to her through Pastor Halvorsen’s preaching, and she came back to the Lord. Now she’s bringing others to Jesus.”

“Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

—Pastor John Bradshaw and the staff of It Is Written

 

ron

It Is Written programs with Ron Halvorsen:

From Gangs to God: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9710

Making Prayer Matter: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9433

Power of Prayer: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9434

Assurance of Salvation: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9722

 

If you would like to make these programs a part of your collection, follow the links below.

From Gangs to God: https://store.itiswritten.com/tv001238.html

Revelation Today: https://store.itiswritten.com/RevelationToday-Ron.html

 

 

 

A Mother in Israel

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Visits have been made, the special lunches, breakfast in bed, long-distance phone calls, family gatherings… and hopefully the glow hasn’t yet worn off. My family and I were traveling this Mother’s Day, and we overheard many Mother’s Day phone calls between various people and that special mother in their lives.

In 2 Samuel 20, the Bible talks about a “wise” mother in Israel. The city of Abel-bethmaachah was in jeopardy. A rebel loyal to the former King Saul was being pursued by Joab, the leader of David’s armies, and the rebel—Sheba—was hiding there. Joab arrived in town determined to kill Sheba, and as long as he was in Abel-bethmaachah, the entire city was in danger.

An un-named mother in Israel realized that her life was in danger, her city was in jeopardy, and therefore her own children were imperiled. What do you do when your children are in danger? This mother, like most mothers would, decided that she’d do whatever it was she had to do. And so she said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.”

Grim, for sure, but think about what had to have gone through her mind. “This Sheba’s a scoundrel, and he’s endangering us all. And the only way we’re going to turn this around is by convincing Joab that the man is dead. And we won’t be able to convince him without proof. And so that means…” You can imagine her thinking this through, and she realized how awful this was going to have to be. Mothers give life, they don’t take it. For anyone to take a life… you’ve got to cross some pretty significant mental and emotional bridges in order to make it happen. This wasn’t a warrior in Israel, or a soldier in Israel. She was a mother in Israel, but her people were in danger. Her children were in danger, so what did she do? She did what she had to because she was a mother.

Notice how verse 22 puts it. “Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people” The details of what had to have been a difficult conversation aren’t recorded in the Bible, but the end result is. “And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab.” We’re not told how she communicated this to the people, but by the time this episode is over, Sheba has met with a very unfortunate end. And after all this, Abel-bethmaachah was safe. Joab never entered the city, and the people—including the children—were left in peace.

That was a tough call. And very obviously I’m not recommending anyone imitate what this woman did. But this was a desperate time and it called for desperate measures. And it was a mother in Israel who stepped forward and said, “We have to preserve our people, our children, and I’ll do whatever needs to be done to make that happen.”

And that’s what mothers do. They nurture their children in a thousand different ways, they give and give and give of themselves, they aren’t paid for what they do as mothers and their work is more often than not unrecognized. They’re the glue that keeps thousands of school committees and volunteer organizations and children’s groups and sports clubs and who-knows-what-else held together, when they often don’t have time and when they could be doing other things or pursuing other interests. Mothers do what they do because… well, because they’re mothers. It’s what mothers do. That’s what God has placed in their hearts.

 

My own mother is a phenomenal human being who raised seven children, and was simultaneously a nurse, counselor, chauffeur, mediator, psychologist, companion, caterer, financier, doctor, tailor, playmate, motivator, nurturer, educator, decorator, referee, chef, and a thousand other things. True, Dad played a major role, too. I was blessed with two parents who were very involved in my life. But I only had—and thank God, still have—one Mum. Among all she has been, “friend” is probably the greatest of all.

So we recognize mothers a day a year. But we can do better than that, surely. Along with buying flowers or cooking breakfast or taking Mum out to dinner or whatever it might be on Mother’s Day, make sure that’s not the only time you do it. And tell your mother often, “I love you and appreciate you and don’t say thank you often enough.”

Adapted from “A Mother in Israel”, from It Is Written television. Watch it here http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9719

A New Direction for It Is Written

It Is Written’s Executive Committee recently voted to appoint a ministry Manager alongside the Treasurer. In recent history, a Speaker/Director has led It Is Written with other administrative duties being carried out by a Manager/Treasurer. This will result in increased efficiency and improved operating procedures.

Dr. Jesse Johnson has accepted the invitation to become It Is Written’s Manager, joining Speaker/Director John Bradshaw and Treasurer Charles Reel to form the ministry’s administrative team.

Jesse and his wife of 24 years, Nema.

Jesse and his wife of 24 years, Nema.

Dr. Johnson, who holds several masters and doctorate degrees in business, education, and technology, is a businessman and entrepreneur with extensive experience in ministry leadership. He has worked with many local conferences helping them innovate their technology departments as well as the General Conference and has been the President of ASI Mid-America. Dr. Johnson is also an active member of his local church congregation and has been involved in a wide range of ministry initiatives.

“Jesse brings a wealth of talent, experience, leadership ability, and Christian maturity to It Is Written,” said John Bradshaw, It Is Written’s Speaker/Director. “In the past he has helped It Is Written in enormous ways through his wisdom and his vision for ministry. To actually have him on our staff in such an important role is a new day—a hugely exciting day—for It Is Written. His presence on our team has already been a huge blessing.”

It will be a busy role for Dr. Johnson, as he will be adding the duties of his managerial position to his role as It Is Written’s current I.T. Director.

“I’m so excited about this. I’ve always believed in It Is Written and I can see the huge potential this ministry has. I’ve been a board member since Mark Finley was director and have watched It Is Written use the latest in technology for evangelism. I hope to build on that momentum to utilize technology to help spread the gospel to the world,” Jesse said.

Dr. Johnson is married to Nema, and they have four children, three daughters and one son, ranging in ages from 13 to 22 years-old. The Johnson family has already relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Jesse has already begun his work in the office as Manager.

“I see God creating the It Is Written of tomorrow,” Pastor Bradshaw said. “Having Jesse as part of our team is a truly exciting development, it will allow It Is Written to be a more dynamic ministry, and it equips us to take on the growth the organization is experiencing.”

We’re Not Going To Stop

Over a span of 24 hours It Is Written’s Revelation Today team experienced the highs and lows of evangelism in Edmonton, Canada. On Saturday night, a crowd of people came forward in response to Pastor John Bradshaw’s passionate appeal to follow Jesus. As the meeting concluded, the excitement among the pastors and Bible workers was tangible. However, less than twelve hours later that joy was replaced by indescribable grief.

The next morning, still basking in the thrill of what had happened the previous evening, the team was greeted by the shocking news that the 26-year-old son of one of the Edmonton pastors working with us on the Revelation Today series had been killed overnight in a car accident. What a somber moment it was as the whole Revelation Today team gathered at the pastor’s house to comfort the heartbroken parents. Just like that, everyone involved was poignantly reminded that the enemy of God is not going to go away without a fight.

Crises and problems are always expected when God’s people are loudly and boldly proclaiming the everlasting gospel as they’ve been doing in Edmonton. But this? One of the pastors succinctly described it: “The Devil has just made this personal, very personal, but we’re not going to stop.”

And so on Sunday night everyone gathered at the hall again and Pastor John powerfully preached on the topic of baptism. At the end of the presentation there was a moving baptismal service. It was like a ray of sunshine piercing through dark clouds to remind everyone that God is still God, and that victory is His now and forevermore, in spite of the Devil’s horrible attempts to make people believe otherwise.

Hearts are heavy in Edmonton but the people in the community are not deterred from doing what God has called them to do. Baptisms are scheduled every night of the series until our final presentation on Saturday, May 9. Please keep Pastor John and your fellow brothers and sisters in Edmonton in your daily prayers as they bravely forge ahead.
Edmonton Baptism April 26 (1)

Nepal: An Enemy Has Done This

Nepal_relief_location_mapOn April 25, New Zealanders and Australians observed ANZAC Day, the annual remembrance in honor of those who died in military service, and a time to show respect for all who have served their country.

This year’s ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day was especially poignant as this year marks 100 years since the disastrous World War 1 battle at Gallipoli, Turkey where the ANZACs fought—and died—side by side. ANZAC Day isn’t celebrated. It’s observed. Thousands of people attend services at dawn on ANZAC Day where tears are often shed and relatives of the dead mingle with servicemen and women and dignitaries and everyday people who show up simply to remember.

But in reality, the entire day is a reminder of tragedy. War is a tragedy. Death is a tragedy. Conflicts are regrettable at best and disastrous by any other measure.

We live in a world of tragedy, and the disaster that recently befell the Himalayan nation of Nepal is a stark reminder of this inglorious fact. More than 5,000 people left dead, thousands more injured, massive damage done, the psychological trauma of living with the threat of aftershocks, and a people trying to figure out how life can ever return to “normal” after such a massive tragedy.

Of course there have been bigger tragedies, numerically. But to assess tragedy by such a measure is to forget that as well as affecting nations, tragedies affect people. Individuals. And whether there are two dead, more than 5,000 dead as in Nepal or 220,000 dead as occurred in the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, real people are forced to face tragedy on a daily basis.

Nepal_Earthquake_2015_01These are reminders to us that we live in a battle zone, and that Satan is the general of the enemy forces. Whether it’s ISIS brutalizing innocent people, a mentally unbalanced pilot downing a plane full of unsuspecting travelers, a ferry capsizing or a deadly earthquake in Nepal, the reason behind the constant stream of tragedy is always the same. In the words of Jesus, “an enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28).

We live in a world that was never meant to experience death, or even sickness. We’re so used to existing in such a totally broken, dysfunctional world that anything else can be almost impossible to imagine. God’s original plan for the planet was that tragedy would never occur. But a rogue angel with malice in his heart beguiled our original grandmother into abandoning her faith in God, plunging the world into the misery we now endure.

And it’s everywhere. Heart disease, financial ruin, marital discord, racial prejudice, SIDS, substance abuse, pollution… What we accept as normal is anything but. Things aren’t meant to be this way. “An enemy has done this.”

But there is hope! Before he left the world Jesus made a promise He fully intends to keep. He said, “I will come again” (John 14:1-3). God has promised that there will one day be “no more death, neither sorrow nor crying” (Revelation 21:4) because “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven… and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).

Tragedy, on the scale that has ravaged Nepal, is a clear signal that we are living in enemy territory, and a sign that this Earth—as beautiful and tranquil as it can so often be—is not our home.

I’m writing from Edmonton, Alberta, where I’m currently conducting It Is Written’s Revelation Today seminar, an in-depth study into the Bible and in particular the prophecies of the Bible. On Sunday morning, one of my ministerial colleagues here received some tragic news.

On Saturday night, his 26-year-old son had been participating in a youth ministry event near the university he attends in the Caribbean. A first-year medical student, he was often involved in sharing his faith and using his musical gifts to bless others and point them to Jesus. But as he drove home that night after an evening of ministry, he was involved in an automobile accident that claimed his life. A 26-year-old with his future stretching before him was senselessly cut down in the prime of his life. He now awaits the resurrection, and his mother and his father—deeply committed believers in Jesus—are now faced with any parent’s worst nightmare: having to bury their child.

Nepal_Earthquake_2015_08Why? “An enemy has done this.” This world, in its present state, is not our home.

But the good news is that ultimately, the enemy does not win. In spite of appearances, he does not win. While we may occasionally be bruised, battered, and bloodied, he does not win! There’s a better day a-comin’. And it won’t be long now.

We may live in enemy territory, but we live with hope. The people of Nepal may also have hope. While this hope does not remove the pain of tragedy and loss, it offers hope in the midst of hopelessness.

Jesus is soon to return to this Earth. Irrespective of circumstances—as calamitous as they may be—God holds out the hope of the return of Jesus. In fact, it’s more than a hope. It’s a promise.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

 

 

Photo Credits

 

The Marathon

ThinkstockPhotos-148101110

A woman was recently disqualified after “winning” this year’s St. Louis Marathon. In fact, organizers say she cheated last year as well, when her third place “finish” in 2014 qualified her for this year’s Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest and one of the planet’s best known marathons.

She apparently ran to the finish line from the course’s last check point, in the fashion of several former, well-known marathon cheats. In 1980, Rosie Ruiz was declared the winner of the Boston Marathon, only to be stripped of the title 8 days later. It was noticed after Boston that Ruiz wasn’t sweating like someone normally would after having run 26.2 miles, she didn’t seem fatigued, she wasn’t in the physical shape of a typical marathon champion and her Boston Marathon-record time was 25 minutes faster than the time in which she had finished the New York Marathon six months earlier. Unsurprisingly, investigations revealed Ruiz hadn’t completed New York either. 

A British runner gained notoriety after last year’s London Marathon when it came to light he had run 9 miles less than the regulation distance. His time for the second half of the marathon was only three minutes slower than the half-marathon world record.

It seems the apparent lack of success for marathon cheats wasn’t a deterrent for the “athlete” who claimed the win in St. Louis.

Contrasting her “effort” in St. Louis is the incredible story of a 39-year-old Venezuelan man, Mickey Melamed, who completed the Boston Marathon this week in the remarkable time of 20 hours. Mickey has muscular dystrophy, which severely impairs his mobility. He completed the Boston Marathon, his sixth marathon, at 5 a.m. the day after it began, almost 18 hours after the race winner. He battled through pouring rain, thunderstorms, and bitterly cold weather in order to cross the finish line. Mr. Melamed doesn’t actually run. His physical condition makes that impossible. Still, he found a way to will himself around the difficult Boston Marathon course.

Completing a marathon is a significant achievement. Rob de Castella, the Australian runner who won the 1983 world marathon championship, said, “If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.” It’s tough stuff. Marathon runners typically train long and hard, and even though thousands of people run marathons every year, there are many others who would if not for injury, pain, or some other insurmountable obstacle.

There’s really only one way to complete a marathon: one step at a time. Often, one painful step at a time.

The Bible describes salvation in a similar way. Matthew 24:13 says, “He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” A life lived with Christ is just that- a life lived with Christ. A person can’t get to heaven in a moment. It’s one step at a time. Often, one painful step at a time. And unlike what our friend from the St. Louis Marathon believed, there aren’t any shortcuts.

In the typical Christian experience there are trials, injuries, disappointments, and failures. Much like marathon running. But quitting needn’t be an option. Even though there are ups and down, victories and defeats, good days and bad days, even though your faith experience can seem like 20 hours of struggling in cold New England weather, there’s a finish line ahead.

Jesus is coming back soon. Ours isn’t too long for an easier journey, or a shortcut to the finish. The privilege of the believer is to hold on to Jesus by faith, believing that sooner than we may think we’re going to spend eternity with Him.

Certainly the comparison between running a marathon and living a life of faith is imperfect at best, even though the Apostle Paul used athletic imagery to teach lessons about faith in God. 

When running a marathon, the only person who can will you to the finish line is you. You rely on your strength, your ability, your planning, your strategy. When it comes to faith in God, one relies on Christ’s strength, Christ’s ability and Christ’s power to get us to our goal.

Perhaps this is why so many fail in their Christian experience, why so many drop out of the race often with the finish line in view.  People get weary, discouraged, and overwhelmed by their own weakness.  The Christian is to remember that his or her weakness isn’t a liability in matters of faith, because Jesus’ “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Faith relies on Christ for strength. It takes hold of the One of whom Paul wrote: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

There aren’t any shortcuts in a faith relationship with God, and we don’t need them. All that is needed is a constant connection with Jesus. In His strength even the weakest believer can experience victory. Faith holds on to a God who will never let us go, and who carries us to the finish where he gives us not a medal or a wreath, but a crown of gold.

Almost 300 Baptized so far in Edmonton, Alberta

As spring begins to emerge from the cold of a northern winter, hope is springing up in the hearts of many people in Alberta’s ‘Gateway to the North’.

A three-year-long citywide evangelistic project is reaching its crescendo as John Bradshaw, Speaker/Director of media evangelism ministry It Is Written, presents Revelation Today, a month-long study of many of the major themes of the Bible. Conducted in partnership with more than 20 local churches and companies, the secular city of Edmonton is experiencing an exciting harvest, the result of several years of careful sowing and cultivation.

While the series continues until May 9, four new church plants have already been established, two of which are working directly with It Is Written’s Revelation Today series.

IMG_3007_edit“While Edmonton is known as a difficult city to reach with the gospel, we’ve seen here an openness, a strong response to the invitation to know and accept Jesus,” John said. “The churches have been working for some time and the seeds that have been sown are starting to grow for the Lord.”

Yves Monnier, Director of Evangelism at It Is Written, is encouraged by the strong emphasis on planting new churches in Edmonton.

“Many of those who are attending Revelation Today will become involved with the new church plants,” he reports. “By the time the series is over, we hope each church will have over 100 members.”

During the first week of the Revelation Today meetings, Fountainview Academy Orchestra and Singers have been blessing seminar guests with outstanding music.   During the day the students have visited Edmonton’s Light Rail Transit stations and invited people to attend the series, as well as inviting others through street ministry in Edmonton. Numerous people have attended Revelation Today on the strength of these invitations alone.

IMG_2877_editKeith LaRoy, Outreach Coordinator in Edmonton, has been managing a team of seven full-time Bible workers and assisting pastors and churches during this three-year project. He feels that the Revelation Today series has come at the perfect time in Edmonton.

“This city is young and affluent compared to the national average. As a result, the vast majority of folks are just not interested in spiritual things,” Keith said. “Politically, economically, socially, religiously, I believe that this series could not have better timing. Nothing has ever been done like this before in Edmonton. We sense that God is trying to get people’s attention in this city.”

Bible study enrollment cards have been distributed throughout Edmonton, and to date nearly 300 people have already been baptized. Attendance at the meetings is flourishing.

Many of the Bible workers have reported providential and positive experiences. There have been many encouraging testimonies as to how the Holy Spirit has been moving in the It Is Written series.

  • A Bible worker responding to a request for Bible studies was immediately buzzed into an apartment building when he stopped to visit. He was confused when he was handed a $20 bill, and the lady of the home was confused because he did not have the Chinese food she had ordered! When the misunderstanding was corrected, she gladly began Bible studies and is currently preparing to for baptism!
  • IMG_3127_editThe Edmonton series is being translated into sign language, and sign language speakers have been able follow every word of the meetings.
  • One woman who received a Bible Study enrollment card began Bible studies and is attending the meetings being presented by Pastor Bradshaw – the first time she has ever attended anything related to the Bible. Her husband, a self-proclaimed non-believer, has also been attending Revelation Today!
  • One man who mailed in an It Is Written Bible study request card decided against pursuing the studies, and told our Bible worker he was not interested in attending Revelation Today. However, he showed up on opening night with his whole family and has attended the meetings every night.
  • One of our Bible workers struck up a friendship with a man he was sitting next to in a public library. Eventually they started studying the Bible together. Now the young man is not only attending the series, but is also helping as one of the volunteers during registration. Each night when the meeting begins, he leaves his post so he will not miss any portion of John’s presentation.

As spring heralds new life, new life is being experienced by many who are responding to the invitation to know Jesus personally. Thank you for praying for the work in Edmonton, for Pastor Bradshaw and the nightly messages, and for the many who are finding hope in Christ in preparation for Jesus’ return.

A Mind One Day Made New

One family’s story of coping with mental illness.

By: Connie Vandeman, daughter of the late George Vandeman, the founding Speaker/Director of It Is Written

vandeman coverThe March 11. 2002 Newsweek cover story, “The Schizophrenic Mind,” juxtaposes two faces of the disease. One, the very public face of Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children and two, the hidden face of John Nash, the man behind the movie A Beautiful Mind. An award winning movie and a famous murder trial have finally brought the tragic disease of schizophrenia to the public’s attention. For me, the disease has been a terrifying yet somehow inspiring reality for the past four decades.

My brother Ron has been suffering from schizophrenia, the chronic, paranoid variety, since age 21. He’s now 60 years old. Ron is the middle son of George and Nellie Vandeman; I’m their youngest child and only daughter. Since both of my parents have now passed away (George in November 2000 and Nellie in July 2001), I’ve prayerfully come to the decision to share Ron’s story. I think they would both agree, were they here, that his story will prove to be a blessing and a source of encouragement to families struggling with mental illness, particularly Christian families.

Schizophrenia remains one of the most tragic and mysterious mental illnesses. Its cause is largely unknown, and doctors and scientists cannot accurately predict who will contract the disease. Only one percent of the population suffers from schizophrenia, but that percentage translates into approximately 2.5 million Americans. The disease is no respecter of persons. It transcends economic status, religious beliefs, education, and the emotional stability of families.

Old notions held that poor parenting was to blame, with the finger of guilt pointed at the mother. I remember my mother sobbing, feeling that somehow she was to blame for Ron’s illness. However, it has been discovered that the disease is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not the mother’s fault; it’s not the child’s upbringing; it’s not anybody’s fault. The neurons in Ron’s brain probably took a wrong turn during fetal development.

Why Ron? Why our family? I struggled with the “why” questions for years dealing with Ron’s illness. Now I’ve come to the comforting, life-changing acceptance of these three facts: my brother had a beautiful mind; he’s living with a tortured mind; but, thank God, his mind will be made beautiful once again.

At Andrea Yates’s murder trial, a doctor testified that she suffered from a combination of schizophrenia and depression when she killed her five children. John Nash, on the other hand, in the early stages of his illness developed his Nobel Prize-winning economic theory. Hence the great paradox of the disease. It can inspire great feats of creativity in one person while the voices, the psychic pressures, can drive another to commit murder.

The Family Secret

vandeman2Ron was a perfect child. I remember my mom telling me that. He was the perfect baby and almost never cried. He excelled in school. I remember her saying, in hindsight, that he was almost “too good.” Ron won the Columbia Union temperance oratorical contest when he was a student at Takoma Academy. He was popular, a vice president of his senior class. He was the son that my parents hoped for, and they dreamed would be the minister who followed in Dad’s footsteps. He “had it all”: good looks, charm, a beautiful Christian experience, and did I forget the p word? Yes, he was perfect!

The details of his breakdown and the subsequent journey over the next 40 years could fill a book (which I may write someday). Schizophrenia typically manifests itself in early adulthood and is triggered by a stressful event. For Ron, it was a complete nervous breakdown at age 21 while he was in college. My father flew to California to bring him back to our family home in Maryland, where our family embarked on a long, perilous journey into the unknown. Along the way there were small miracles, new treatments, major setbacks, amazing friends, and a loving church family. We kept his illness a secret for many years, except to our closest friends and my parents’ colleagues. It was at times embarrassing, horrifying, and baffling. And every morning and night, day in and day out, year after painful year, my parents’ prayers and the prayers of so many friends ascended to heaven for “Ron’s complete recovery.” Long before we knew the official diagnosis of his illness, we prayed for the miracle of God’s healing.

A Father Attacked

Along the way, Ron spent time at Wildwood Lifestyle Center in Georgia, at Harding Hospital in Ohio, in a variety of state hospitals for the mentally ill, and much of his time at home. During those years my father led the It Is Written television ministry, held evangelistic meetings, traveled worldwide, preached, and wrote books. My mother spent her time assisting Dad, raising me, and doing the thousand and one other things she did so well. All the while, all of us were also dealing with, living with, Ron’s disease. I was 7 years old when Dad brought my catatonic, broken-spirited brother home from California following his breakdown. I was 30 years old when Ron tried to kill my father.

On April 11, 1985, Dad nearly lost his life at the hands of his own son. It resulted in the most dramatic miracle in our family’s history. As a family, we never spoke of it publicly or wrote about it. Because of the publicity surrounding the event, my father alluded to the incident only briefly in his autobiography, My Dream. Yet in order to tell even a small part of my brother’s story, it’s too important of a miracle to omit.

There are a number of reasons I’ll never forget that April day. I had given birth to my son Craig just 16 days earlier. Craig, my husband, and I were scheduled for a photo shoot at the Thousand Oaks office of It Is Written on April 11. We had some wonderful pictures taken that morning. A favorite of the family is framed and sitting on my desk; it’s a group shot of my mom, my husband, Dad holding the baby, and me. Every time I look at that photo I’m reminded of God’s miraculous intervention. That picture could very well have been the last picture of my dad ever taken. The attack occurred just 30 minutes later.

Dad excused himself from the photo session to go home, a 10 minute drive from the office. He had promised to take Ron to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new ID card. Ron didn’t have a driver’s license, but he needed to carry an identification card. He had been living at home with my parents for a few weeks following a bout of hepatitis. He normally lived on his own in a small apartment in Glendale and took new medication for the treatment of his schizophrenia. We had all been pleased at how the new medicine seemed to control his behavior.

My mother decided to stay at the office and visit with my husband and me and play with her newest grandson. They had come in two cars, so Dad drove home alone. The baby began to get restless, and I wanted to get him home for a nap. We lived 30 miles away and left the office shortly after Dad left. My mother arrived home just 15 minutes after Dad.

The whole incident lasted only a few minutes. Dad parked the car in the driveway, opened the garage door, and dashed into the house to get Ron. As he entered the house, he called out for Ron to come out to the car; then Dad walked back out the door to get in the car. In hindsight, we all shudder to think what would have happened had he stayed in the house even a few more seconds. As he walked to the car, he felt a blow to the back of his head. Later he said he thought the garage door had fallen on him. The blows continued and propelled him into the street, where he ended up lying facedown in the gutter at the end of the driveway. Ron was on top of him, brandishing a six-inch knife from the kitchen.

At the exact moment that Dad was driving into his garage from the office, Harold Reiner was sitting at his computer in his home just a few blocks away. Instead of going to work in his office that day, he was working from home. Harold had been my father’s associate years before and was a close family friend who knew of Ron’s illness from its inception. As he was sitting in his study, he got a sudden overwhelming feeling that he should go to Radio Shack. He got up from his computer and, still in his bedroom slippers, went to get in his car. He didn’t even stop to put on his shoes. As he drove down his street to the intersection, he turned left instead of turning right, the shortest route to Radio Shack. When he drove by my parents’ home just a few seconds later, he saw Ron stabbing at Dad repeatedly in the gutter.

A Rescuer Sent by God

Harold later told us that strange things go through your mind during a crisis like this. He admits that he never would have physically intervened had he come upon two strangers. He would have called for help, but he wouldn’t have jumped out of his car and rushed to assist had he not known Ron and Dad. He remembers taking off his watch and throwing it back into his car. He doesn’t know exactly why he did that, except that it was a brand-new watch, and he didn’t want it to get scratched in the confrontation. It was as if the whole event were taking place in slow motion. The scene was chaotic and horrifying, yet Harold remained calm and had absolutely no fear. He pulled Ron off my father and ordered him to sit on the curb.

“I’ve just killed my dad,” Ron said.

“No, I don’t think you have, Ron,” Harold answered. “We’re going to have to get him some help.” Ron had always liked Harold. When Harold calmly instructed him to sit on the curb, he obeyed. Dad was in shock and bleeding from his back and face. Harold gently placed Dad in his car and returned to Ron. Together they went back into the house, and Harold called an ambulance. Ron wasn’t agitated. He just did whatever Harold asked him to do.

Ron told Harold that he was going to get a lot of money and run away to New York. Harold listened to him, placated him, and agreed with everything Ron said. He was given exactly the right words to say to keep him calm. Any other person would have been terrified in those circumstances, but Harold understood Ron’s illness and the “voices” that tormented his mind.

Just then Mom drove up to the house. When she arrived, police cars were already on the scene and an ambulance on the way. Harold gently asked her to go and be with Dad in his car. She understood in a horrifying instant what had happened, but she didn’t want to believe it. The police arrived and drew their guns. Harold spoke calmly and asked that they put the guns away. Ron would go with them peacefully, he told them. While an ambulance rushed Dad to Los Robles Medical Center, Harold was able to deal with the police and assist them in taking Ron into custody.

My father was released from the hospital after only two days. Miraculously, he had suffered only minor cuts and bruises on his face and back. The knife wound in his back had missed his vital organs by a fraction of an inch. Physically, he recovered in about two weeks. Emotionally, it took a while longer. Being assaulted by one’s own child remains one of the most unfathomable things to comprehend.

The Father’s Forgiveness

vandeman3Did Dad forgive Ron? Of course. He forgave him the instant it happened. In fact, Ron begged his forgiveness during Dad’s first visit to him in prison following the attack. Dad understood the nature of the chemical imbalance in Ron’s brain; he knew of the voices that tormented him. Another “cause” became clear when we discovered that Ron had stopped taking his medication for a number of weeks prior to April 11. Ron was taken to prison for a brief time, and he pleaded “no contest” to the charges filed by the state. He has resided in a halfway house in Ventura for the past 17 years and is back on the medication that helps to control his behavior. After 1985 he continued to see my parents several times a year, but always under supervision. One result of that fateful day was that my parents became even more cautious and aware of the potential for future violence. Nothing, however, diminished their love and capacity for forgiveness.

The story was splashed all over the local television news, with follow-up stories in the newspapers in the days ahead. All hope of keeping Ron’s illness a secret from the world ended that day. It’s still a painful story to relive, but God’s dramatic intervention that beautiful spring day makes it an important one to share.

We later discovered that Ron had been planning the attack on one or both of his parents for a couple of weeks. He had decided that April 11 was the day and that whoever walked into the house first, Mom or Dad or both, he would kill. Although it may seem strange to find things to be grateful for about that day, there were many small miracles that took place, culminating in the dramatic miracle of God’s deliverance. I’m thankful my mother stayed to visit with us at the office and went home those few minutes later. Ron was a large, six-foot-two-inch, 200-pound, 44-year-old man at the time. Dad’s walking in and then out so quickly forced him out to the street, where Harold could intervene. We all know that God impressed Harold to go to Radio Shack at that precise moment. Why Harold and not another good samaritan? He was the one person who knew Ron and exactly how to handle him.

Dad thanked Harold privately for his role in saving his life that day, and Harold, in his sweet, self-effacing way, gave all the credit to God. God was certainly not finished with my father yet. He had a brand-new grandson to watch grow up, and he had seven more wonderful soul-winning years with the It Is Written ministry. And his story didn’t end with his retirement. His contributions to the church and to his family were enormous. I thank God for the 16 additional years of his life; I thank God for using our dear friend Harold Reiner; and I thank God for the lessons I’ve learned from my schizophrenic brother.

Odd, maybe, to thank God for Ron’s illness. But I’m grateful for the compassion, understanding, and acceptance of the mentally ill that I’ve gained from my experience with Ron. I no longer expect or anticipate that he will be completely healed on this earth. His disease is being managed, and I’m grateful he is in a place well suited to deal with his special needs. I’m grateful that I no longer ask the “why” questions about Ron.

What I’m sure of is that my brother’s original “beautiful mind” will be made new once again, in that place where there will be no more evil “voices,” no need of medication, no pain, no fear, no uncertainty, no tears, no more tortured minds: Heaven!

_________________________

Note: Ron Vandeman was well enough to attend the funeral services for his father on November 12, 2000, and for his mother on July 28, 2001

Ron Vandeman passed away at the age of 68 – on April 5, 2010

Greetings from Bolivia!

Dear friends,

All is going well in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where teams of It Is Written partners are conducting five evangelistic meetings. In spite of the the expected minor technical/translator issues, everything is actually going exceptionally well. Thank you for your prayers. By the way, the mission informed us that they are expecting over 800 baptisms during this week. John and Robert are both conducting extremely successful evangelism caravans in diverse parts of the country.
Next week (yes, next week) John is starting (April 11) a month-long evangelistic series in Edmonton, Alberta. The pastors and church members have been hard at work preparing everything for opening night. More than 380,000 handbills are being mailed this weekend and coming week. In addition to that, our media director has arranged for the airwaves to be inundated with advertisement for the meetings. The church members are also presently inviting their friends and acquaintances to attend. Please pray that many people will decide to attend and hear the everlasting gospel.
The Edmonton project coordinator, shared with me an exceptional story today. One of our Bible workers received a phone call this morning as he was getting ready for the day. The person calling was a lady who indicated she was returning a missed call from his phone number. He told her that he had made no phone calls that morning and that she must be mistaken. However, just before hanging up he had an amazing inspiration. He asked the lady whether she’d been thinking about God that morning. She said YES. Immediately, he told her he was a Christian and wanted to share something very special from God. Thus, an arrangement was made for him to provide her with a Bible study lesson. And just like that, a wrong number might turn out to be a soul for Jesus.
Good things are happening in Edmonton and a lot more in the works.
Have a blessed week,
Yves Monnier
Director of Evangelism
It Is Written
Another colorful friend in Bolivia. This man sang - beautifully - for the gospel meetings.

Another colorful friend in Bolivia. This man sang – beautifully – for the gospel meetings.

We were warmly welcomed a few minutes ago in Tarija, Bolivia.

We were warmly welcomed a few minutes ago in Tarija, Bolivia.

In Riberalta, Bolivia we were blessed with a great night. The adults with me are all deaf and speak sign language. The man beside me was baptized. Inspirational!

In Riberalta, Bolivia we were blessed with a great night. The adults with me are all deaf and speak sign language. The man beside me was baptized. Inspirational!

Another warm Bolivian welcome!

Another warm Bolivian welcome!

The scene at our meeting in Monterro, outside Santa Cruz, Bolivia. What a great evening.

The scene at our meeting in Monterro, outside Santa Cruz, Bolivia. What a great evening.