Lisa and John's Testimony
What the Lord Hath Wrought!
God’s Leading in Our Relationship
John Winning the Race? The fastest miler from Washington State and one of the fastest in America in the late 80’s, with a best of 3:54 as a professional track and field athlete, I thought I had attained happiness. When I won and my name was written across the headlines, I was momentarily happy. What next? Maybe earning lots of money was the answer to the emptiness in my heart. It didn’t take long, however, to realize that financial success was not the answer. In 1996 my father died which deepened the emptiness of my experience. Now what?
“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
God’s great heart of love held thoughts of peace for me as He revealed the real plan for my happiness. God began to make Himself known to me through the silent ministries of nature on my long runs through the forests and in the mountains, especially on Friday evenings. He began to awaken in my heart a longing after something I could depend upon—something the world could not give.
The Lord led me to His truth, He brought me to His church, and gave me another race to run—a spiritual “race.” He called me to be a follower of Jesus and join a ministry named Amazing Facts. At Amazing Facts I have found happiness in helping others to join in the “race” in which all can win.
I have learned how God really feels about us and endeavored to share this with others:
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2).
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).
As I continued to study the Bible, I have found that God has plans for our happiness in every aspect of our spiritual “race”—even in our relationships.
Lisa Delight filled my heart as Rachel, my little lamb, bounded toward me, eager for the bottle of warm milk held in my hand. Mother often reminded me that God had a special work for my life—a ministry that would feed His real lambs, the children. Years passed, and the seeds planted in those early years of raising sheep sprang up into Feeding His Lambs Ministries.
My parents’ roll in my life has had a tremendous impact in preparing me for this ministry. They planted my feet upon the Word; they were involved in my choice of friends since childhood; they gave of themselves to me. I had no doubt that I could trust them, and I openly shared with them the convictions the Lord put in my heart from His Word on His plan for a relationship as weighty as marriage.
Our story begins in this context: We both gave God our supreme affections first and were committed and focused on the ministry He had entrusted to us.
The Day We Met
John The morning of October 14, 2004 our administrative secretary poked her head into my office. “You need to meet someone at worship this morning,” she advised. I sensed her motherly care, but how could I express the conviction in my heart? I feel that God must choose for me (Genesis 2:22). I don’t want to take the matter into my own hands, for I believe God will bring my future wife to me. I have determined that, according to God’s Word, I will not move forward in any way without the approval of a young lady’s parents (Genesis 24:50). When I had tried to explain these things, most people would say, “But how then are you going to get married if you don’t walk through open doors like this?”
I went to worship with a strong resolve with the Lord that I would hold firm to the principles He had been teaching me. Then I saw Lisa. She’s perfect for me! I thought. Her demeanor, dress, speech, posture, reason for being here—she holds the same principles as me!
I hurriedly left after worship to avoid the temptation to start a conversation with her. I was convinced that I must proceed according to God’s way so I could be certain she was God’s choice for me.
Back at my desk, God helped me to “fall back to sleep” over the whole situation (Genesis 2:21; Ruth 3:7, 8). I continued with my assigned tasks as webmaster, looking forward to leaving the office at 1 pm on this particular day to work outdoors.
Lisa After I finished teaching at Amazing Facts College of Evangelism that afternoon, I had a meeting with the evangelism director. “Have you considered putting your children’s evangelism materials online?” he asked. I assured him that this was a definite interest but my ministry lacked the resources. “You might want to talk with our webmaster about some possibilities,” he suggested. (I had no idea who the webmaster was at this time.)
John The time came and past for me to leave work, but my supervisor kept coming to me with more requests. I had to surrender this trial to the Lord. Much later in the afternoon, as I was about to leave, the evangelism director stopped by my office. “I would like you to show Lisa, our guest AFCOE teacher, about the possibilities for putting children’s evangelism materials online.” Maybe this is the reason for the delay! I thought. This was a way of meeting Lisa that was in a business context, within the scope of God’s will, and the door was opened and kept open by God and not me.
Lisa When I sat down in John’s office, no glowing revelation told me, “This is the one you will marry.” Instead, to me it was completely a ministry opportunity. I did find that we could communicate well, and I appreciated his insights and tactful leadership in our discussion. The depth of his love for the Lord and the Bible could not be hidden. I thought to myself, Here is someone who understands and appreciates the burden for the ministry that the Lord has laid on my heart. Before I left his office, John offered prayer.
John After Lisa left, I went to her Reflections of Eden website and read:
“Lisa loves the beautiful flowers. She lives with her parents in their mountain home in Washington. Some of her hours of greatest happiness are found in tending her flowers.”
Overwhelmed, I fell on my face in my cubicle and worshipped God, saying, “Lord, she IS perfect for me! However, if anything is going to happen, You will have to make it happen. You know I must have her parents’ approval before winning her heart and they live in Washington.”
I prayed to God about this and determined to trust that my heavenly Father would do what was best. I would keep a distance and watch to see if this relationship would be within God’s will without Lisa even knowing that I was doing this. By the grace of God, I was determined to avoid drawing out any feelings from Lisa until both her parents and I were sure that it was the Lord’s direction for us to begin a committed relationship toward marriage. I could not, dare not, raise any expectations in Lisa’s heart that I could not, without God’s approval, fulfill (1 Corinthians 6:8).
God Does the Impossible
Lisa A “business” E-mail from John followed up our visit, revealing in even stronger language his support of the principles from the Word that lie at the foundation of Feeding His Lambs Ministries. I told my parents all about the visit, and they encouraged me to continue following God’s leading in this ministry opportunity.
John We exchanged a few brief E-mails on business matters when Lisa was not on the road doing evangelism, and I waited and prayed—prayed and waited. One day, I was particularly troubled. It seemed impossible for me to meet Lisa’s parents and with them determine if God was leading us to be together. During my special prayer time after lunch, I earnestly prayed to the Lord about Lisa, wondering if maybe I should try to put her out of my mind. After praying, I went to my office and the phone rang. “And before I had done speaking in mine heart” (Genesis 24:45), nearly the first words I heard were, “So, what do you think about Lisa?” It was the family who had agreed to be my spiritual guardians. There was nothing I could say but, “She’s perfect!” “Remember a long time ago,” the mother went on, “when I told you that I thought the Lord had someone in mind for you whom you didn’t even know?” After a long pause, she continued, “And that was Lisa!” I was stunned, then overwhelmed with what God had just done. The very one He brought to me, without any intervention on my part, was the one my adopted spiritual guardians had approved of much earlier.
To me a question that has held great weight has been the counsel and approval of the godly authorities the Lord has placed in my life. When Pastor Batchelor wrote to me and counseled me to consider Lisa and then my spiritual guardians gave their whole-hearted approval—both before I even inquired of them in the matter—I knew the Lord was confirming His will to me (2 Corinthians 13:1).
Lisa Discussion regarding the ministry project grew to the point where John finally suggested in an E-mail that it might be helpful if we talked on the phone. “Your parents should be on the line too since they’re so involved in the ministry,” he commented. I really appreciated this. In the months that followed, my parents and I became better acquainted with John as we talked and E-mailed about ministry related issues and projects.
John The “business” E-mails were not easy for me to write. I wanted so badly to show Lisa that I was interested in her, but by God’s grace I refrained. On several occasions, before sending the messages, God was faithful to point out subtle things that leaned toward winning her affections so I could take them out. Sometimes I had to scrap entire letters.
Lisa Through our communication about ministry matters, I learned a lot about John. I gained a real appreciation for the depth of Bible principles that actuated his advice and permeated his life. Other points of mutual interest also filtered into our conversations all together. Both my parents and I came to look forward to his communication, for the unity we shared was so sweet and refreshing. Little did I know through all of this what God had placed in John’s heart.
John Finally the day came when I felt I had to speak to Lisa’s parents about my true feelings for Lisa. Unknown to Lisa, God used one of the ministry related experiences she shared in an E-mail, to remove all doubt that she was the one to stand by my side. I wrote an E-mail to Lisa’s parents, telling them of the prayer that was on my heart. “I have seen the Lord leading in the direction toward a union between Lisa and me,” I explained, “and I have learned that dating is not the way God leads His people into relationships. I would like to talk with you, and see if you think that the Lord is leading in this direction, too. I will pray that the Lord will give you wisdom to follow His guidance no matter which direction He leads.”
Lisa A few weeks after this, ministry appointments took us to California. I still marvel at how God’s hand arranged it all! Three child evangelism workshops, all close to where John lived, were scheduled three weeks in a row. John attended the first workshop and helped with another. He was courteous, yet reserved. I didn’t feel like he tried to gain my attention or place himself in my company. Instead, I sensed a definite distance. This made me unsuspecting of the depth of interest God had put in John’s heart for me and proved a real safeguard for my emotions. I was thankful for this because I didn’t want to get caught and fall into the “defrauding game” that goes on in dating and courtship today. I had asked my parents to protect me from this.
John As I listened to Lisa’s presentations and learned more about her, I saw many more reasons why the Lord had chosen her for me. Her love for the Lord and her focus heavenward was seen in every aspect of her life and message. What an ennobling influence she would have upon me! Insights into how God could increase our usefulness by working together flooded my mind.
Lisa During the time we were in California, my parents and I stayed with John’s landlady, a distant relative of our family. John joined us for family worships and meals and spent time helping me with the website for Feeding His Lambs Ministries. Like Jacob “went near and watered the flock” of sheep for Rachel (Genesis 29:10), so John came near to our family in God’s appointed way—through his help in my work of Feeding His Lambs.
Throughout our entire visit, real peace and simple joy pervaded my heart. Our time was filled with rich fellowship in ministry as well as working together in John’s garden and hiking in the mountains. In the many and varied subjects that entered into our family’s conversations with John, I was daily more amazed at the unity we shared in every area! As I look back upon this time, I see God fulfilling His promise in my life: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).
John After Lisa and her parents returned home, the communication between her parents and me increased dramatically—and my prayers intensified. In the course of our dialog together, we exchanged more than 60 pages of documents. We covered evidence from God’s Word and providential leadings that Lisa was the one appointed by Him for me (Genesis 24:33–48, 66). We discussed in great detail the points of our compatibility to each other. Two ministries would also be affected, and so the blending of Lisa’s and my ministry was considered at length. Still more documents posed and answered all remaining questions.
Lisa On a little side note: Not long ago, I asked John on the phone, “How did you feel when my parents were going through all those questions with you? Was it like chief interrogation?” I could tell he was smiling as he replied, “Indeed it was! No imposture would have ever gotten through that grilling! But I had peace because I felt like the Lord was working this out and it was amazing how we were in agreement on so many things.”
Continuing with the story: I knew John was communicating with my parents, but I didn’t know the details. In the past I had figured out when other young men had communicated with them, and I knew without a doubt that I could trust them to act most wisely in my behalf. What a peace and trust I could enjoy because of this! At times, I would see Mother and Father’s faces across the room as they read their E-mail, and it made me wonder. . . . I didn’t worry, however, for I continued to claim the promise of Isaiah 64:4: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” I was committed to waiting upon the Lord, for only He knew best how to make all things beautiful in my life (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
John After several weeks of intense communication, one of the long awaited phone calls came (Genesis 24:49–51). Lisa’s parents gave me their full approval to marry Lisa if God also led her to that decision (Genesis 24:57, 58). “We will give her your proposal Friday evening,” they assured me. I was happy for this arrangement, for it gave Lisa the opportunity to decide alone with God. Now all I had to do is wait and pray!
Lisa On our family’s usual Friday evening walk, I sensed something unusual in the air. At our favorite point overlooking mountains and valleys, I sat down upon a rock. Come what may, I wanted to be on Jesus, the solid Rock. After Father led out in a special Scripture reading, Mother handed me a pretty pink gift bag that had been hiding among the tasseled grass. I opened it and first saw a beautiful rose and then the printed E-mails from John. Mother and Father couldn’t find words, yet I knew what the E-mails meant if my parents were giving them to me. John has asked to marry me. I felt numb to any emotional flight of feeling, but yet a calm, sacred joy took up its abode in my heart.
I sat in silence, leaning upon the rock. I wondered how I could ever come to a decision of saying “yes” or “no.” There was no doubt in my mind that John had the qualities of a godly young man, one whom I definitely respected and with whom I felt I could communicate. But marriage—all I could see was the weight of the decision.
Back at the house, I wrapped up in a blanket on my little deck overlooking the silhouette of the mountains against the darkening sky. After a season of prayer, I read the exchange of correspondence between John and my parents, their questions and his responses, the account of the providential leadings and the revelations of the Word. I recalled the time Pastor Batchelor had come and talked with my parents and me, suggesting that we pray if John might not be God’s chosen for me. Then I read the words John had penned after many hours of prayer, “It is my desire, and I believe within God’s will, to be married to you, Lisa. I believe that our union would help each of us heavenward, be a blessing to both of us physically, spiritually, and mentally here as well as in the afterlife. Our union would also be a benefit to God’s cause in Feeding His Lambs Ministries, my work as lay-pastor, and future evangelism.”
I laid down the papers and bowed in earnest prayer. Father, I see what You have done, but I want You to give me a personal revelation of Your will. Please don’t let me follow my own heart. I want You to “guide my heart in the way” (Proverbs 23:19). Speak to me directly from Your Word.
A precious chain of golden Scriptures began to unfold. The Lord first reminded me of the promise He had given me the previous Sabbath: “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). But Lord, I asked, how do I know, FROM YOUR WORD, that marriage to John is this “good thing” chosen by You for me? He directed my attention to Proverbs 18:22: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” Lightning flashed across the night sky, but a deeper light shined into my heart. Marriage to John is the “good thing” You have for me, Lord! To assure me of this, He pointed me to James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Just then, as if to set His seal upon His words to me, the “Father of lights” set the mountains aglow again from the lightning. My decision was made, Yes, Lord, I will accept John as Your perfect gift to me!
Sabbath seemed to be the perfect time to share my answer with John. After all, marriage and the Sabbath are the twin institutions given by God for the benefit of humanity (Isaiah 58:13, 14; Hebrews 13:4). So Sabbath evening I called John but only reached his voice mail.
John I was in the mountains, spending some time alone with the Lord. However, the mosquitoes became so active that I finally decided to escape to my car. There, on my cell phone, I found a message. It was from Lisa. I nervously called Lisa, and her cheerful voice, as usual, comforted me. Lisa greeted me with “Happy Sabbath.” She continued, “My parents gave me your proposal. My answer is ‘yes’ for I know this thing proceedeth from the Lord (Genesis 24:50) and God has fulfilled His promise to me: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.’ (James 1:17). I believe YOU are the heavenly Father’s PERFECT GIFT to me.” I stood there amazed, almost speechless. I didn’t know what to say except, “Praise the Lord!” I probably said that a few times. I then told Lisa about how the Lord had revealed His will to me and she shared her story with me.
Later Lisa’s parents came on the line, affirming our decision and consecrating our relationship to the Lord in prayer.
Lisa Before signing off for the evening, John had a special prayer with me, then told me in the most endearing tone, “Lisa, I love you!” I somehow managed a weak “Thank you” and we said goodbye. I sat, numb in silence, contemplating the impact of the major shift in my life.
Binding Our Hearts
Lisa When I made the decision to marry John, I didn’t feel that I had “fallen into love.” Love was a principle in my heart, attracted by the qualities of character that I saw in John. I did consider if I could really love John as my husband and felt sure that in time God would bind my heart to John with the ties of His true, enduring love.
John After our engagement, I felt a great sense of relief because now I could really tell Lisa how I felt about her. I could do this with confidence since God had led the way and approved of this relationship for marriage that was being built according to His principles.
We began to study and talk together on the phone quite frequently, so much that I had to raise the monthly allotment of cell phone minutes on more than one occasion, as well as purchase a phone calling card.
I have been so blessed to study the Bible in the morning before work with Lisa and the book Adventist Home in the evenings. We are discovering that we have even more in common than either of us originally anticipated or even thought possible. It has been so uplifting to me to know that the Lord has truly brought Lisa to “stand by my side” as together we fight the battles of life and stand for His “Truth and Righteousness.”
Lisa Though more than a thousand miles have separated us, the Lord has caused the beautiful plant of love to grow in our hearts. The times of our visits together—strengthening one another in the Lord, serving the Lord together in ministry, and finding delight together in the beauties of nature—have been only a foretaste of the richer joys to come. Our morning and evening worships together over the phone have given us an excellent framework for heart to heart discussions on many important subjects.
John We would not have a story to tell if it wasn’t for the wonderful parents the Lord has given us. I wouldn’t have been comfortable marrying Lisa without the support of my mother. My sister also thought highly of Lisa which was important to me as well. And as for Lisa’s parents—there is no better Father- and Mother-in-law that the Lord could have found for me.
Many of these pictures were taken by Lisa's mother.
Lisa My parents’ commitment and sacrifice to follow the Lord’s principles have made it possible for me to have a most joyful experience in life—taking God’s path to the marriage altar. John’s mother has become a real friend to me, and I have enjoyed my times with her. There is truly no better way than knowing our parents are certain that God has chosen us for one another!
John I am still overwhelmed with God’s goodness and love to me in giving me Lisa. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. . . . Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all” (Proverbs 31:10, 29). Surely, I don’t deserve such a gift as her, but God has been using my relationship with Lisa to teach me more about His love for me, which is made possible by the sacrifice of His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Together The special day you will share with us—our wedding on October 14, 2005—will be the first time we hold hands and kiss. God has united our hearts and will soon unite our lives. Together with our parents, we invite you to come and rejoice with us, for the Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad! (Psalm 126:3.)
John Quade & Lisa Panasuk • PO Box 1275
• Kettle Falls, WA 99141
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