God Be With Us Till We Meet Again…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..”-Romans 1:16

They come for many reasons.

Today was another first.trail8272015

On another Sunday, I was called to be at the Trail. Last week, a congregation held their church service inside the Church in the Cave exhibit. Today it was a group from the Concord area coming to tour. Although it was a Sunday visit, it didn’t diminish my feelings for being at the Trail on what is most people’s day of worship. To me, it was another way of honoring God, and so, where two or more or gathered, there He would also be; and so it was.

When the group first booked their reservation, they were within our limits of just one tour guide, but over time, the party grew until it was clear by this morning, that I too would get to lead a tour once again; meaning, we would have two separate groups. Brother Barry, our original guide for the original smaller group, had just returned from the valleys, so I was anxious to hear him lead once more and to provide insight only one having been to that faraway place could divulge. So when we began the introduction, I asked that Barry lead that segment for both groups, which he was glad to do. His introduction was so overwhelming, so complete, my heart questioned if I was going to be able to be up to today’s task in the shadows of such a magnificent guide. Silently, as we moved from the topographical map to the movie room, I lifted up a prayer asking for wisdom and guidance for the right words. God would hear my plea and soon, I would be back in the moment.

As we left the movie room to embark on the Trail, Barry asked the visitors who were some of his good friends from the area along with some of John Bradshaw’s family, the host of “It is Written,” to follow me. My heart leaped with fear and humility. Barry had offered his beloved and esteemed guests to my care, and now the honor was placed on my lap. Again I prayed, “Lord, please be with us and help me to allow your Word to be most evident.” In the blink of an eye, there was a surge of energy pulsing through my mind as all of the history and scripture began to surface in my head. Again, He was listening.

We walked through time, …as time stood still.

Moment by moment, God allowed me to share the history of the people of the valleys, the Vaudois. From my sharing of the possible first encounter with the disciples, while standing in the Barbas College to the singing of hymns in the Church in the Cave, my dedicated group of visitors began to learn about the past and their host. Slowly, monument by monument, my heart poured out to them as the story came alive in my mind and the scriptures continued to intertwine the words from my mouth.

Concerned about the time, I was hesitant to share my testimony once we entered the Ciabas Church, but once more God spoke, and I listened. There my story of faith, realization, and discovery allowed for me to tell the tale of how my own understanding of the Waldensians came to be. There I had to ask the question, “If you were never told of Jesus, as I was never told about being Waldensian as a child through adulthood, how might your world be different today?” Then to carry it a step forward, “How can you go into the world and expect those around you who have never heard of Christ, to act any differently?” It was then I explained how many of my own family had fallen away from their ancestral faith. They had never known of it, so what was there any different in their lives to change them? What did they have to stand for? And yet, they had everything to lose. Would they have been different had they known all along? Would they have made the same decisions in life? Had we been told, at least we could have had a choice. Likewise, those who received the invitation to accept Christ, they also have a choice to make once they are asked. Once our conscious mind is awakened, God gives us the free will to select which path we will take.

It is up to us to choose.

The centuries passed and before we knew it, our tour groups were reunited at the Community Oven. My day began just after sunrise, rekindling the fire in the massive stone structure in preparation for the baking of the bread. As weary as my body was, there was no hint of it in that instance. My wife and son met us at the oven, and together we shared the bread with our guests. My heart leaped with pride as I watched Tron’s carrying on the family tradition, alongside our brother in Christ, Barry, under the shelter of the maple tree near the end of the Trail; a nearly perfect ending to the end of a picture perfect day.

As my dad use to remark on such days, “The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the birds are all singing; …beautiful, just beautiful.”

Yet, there was one more special treat that God had in store.

As the tour came to the conclusion, we all made our way back to the Visitor’s Center. Barry and my family had to leave, but most of our guests remained to eat their lunch. Meanwhile, I stayed off to the side cleaning up and providing support as needed. When they finished, the group came toward the front of the Center to say goodbye.

They all gathered before me, united as together as a family would do before bidding farewell. It was then one of them made the announcement that they all wanted to say goodbye to me. They then began to sing the hymn, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” My heart leaped once again. In an instance, I was a small boy once more, back in New Harmony hearing my grandma and my Aunts singing in church, their sweet voices united in one accord. Before I knew it, tears began streaming down my cheeks as they concluded in sweet, blissful acapella harmony. It was another precious gift from God; another first.

The words were gone; I was speechless.

One after another, I shook their hand’s goodbye, trying to apologize through my tear filled eyes.

We concluded with a picture on the front steps, me and my new found family; brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, we said goodbye, until we meet again. What a sweet heavenly day that will be.

As one lady reminded me as she left, there are so many without the very thing we are blessed to have because of what Christ has done for us; Hope.

Yes, today I was blessed once more.

There is hope.

Thanks be to God.


Filed under Inspirational, Religion

9 Responses to God Be With Us Till We Meet Again…

  1. Delores Heracklis

    A truly memorable day, one I won’t soon forget. God bless you for your discipleship and your love for Christ that you freely share with others. Your words touched my heart.

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  2. Mystina Zummach

    It was a very blessed day. We all enjoyed the information and sites. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your life to share your heritage with us. In answering God’s call you have blessed many lives. Thank you for letting God use you. May God richly bless you and your family. And God be with you ’til we meet again.

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  3. Thank you for the beautiful, kind words. Your visit is still enriching my spirit even today. Blessings, – Timothy

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  4. Micaela Leopard

    Even though this visit was made over a month ago, I am still touched and rejuvenated spiritually from it. I am a homeschooling 12th grader and just wrote a descriptive essay on this amazing experience. The Lord truly used you to inspire me and many others that blessed day. May we all stay faithful to our Redeemer until that day when we meet in the heavenly Kingdom!

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    • Thank you Ms. Leopard for sharing your experience. It is truly a blessing to hear that the story and faith we share here at the Trail inspires folks beyond their time here with us. If you have time and are interested, share your essay here on this blog for others to see.

      Thank you again for the uplifting testimony and may God continue to keep you and bless you.

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      • Micaela Leopard

        Thank you for sharing your faith so willingly.

        Trail of Faith essay:

        We arrived at the Trail of Faith before most of the church group, my dad and I. How I have looked forward to this trip to the replica of a Waldensian settlement! While walking to the visitor’s center, I think to myself, “What an amazing experience this is going to be.” Could I have been any more correct? One by one, fellow church members arrive for our 10:00 am tours; familiar, smiling faces greet me, and my heart is filled with joy and appreciation for these incredible people the Lord has placed in my life. As everyone comes, we congregate around the front of the visitor center to listen to Brother Barry, an Adventist tour guide, share some information on when and where the Waldenses settled in the mountains of Italy. After this instructive lesson, we all move to the cafeteria room right next door which has a projector screen on the wall for us to watch a fifteen minute video summary of the Vauduios. While watching the brief film, I realize that this experience might be more emotional that I had anticipated. The Lord seemed to be impressing on my mind what these people so long ago had to suffer in order for me and other people around the world to have the written word of God.
        Brother Barry then split us up into two groups; one to go with him and another to go with Brother Timothy. My dad and I were in the group with Timothy Tron, the director of the Trail of Faith. First, we walked up to the Barbas College which is a replica of the college where the Waldensians that were studying the Bible to translate it and make copies lived. Mr. Tron told many stories and made us feel as if we were living back in that bygone era by asking us to close our eyes as he narrated a scenario of hiding in the top floor while peeking out of the gun hole to check and see where the intruders were going. He also told us that it took three hundred sheep to have enough sheepskin to write one Bible, and it took a year or two to write a whole one; “Imagine if someone came to take that Bible from you, threw it in the fire, and then tortured or killed you,” he told us. The whole room was silent as we imagined ourselves in that situation. Walking down the steps from the college, everyone seemed to be more emotional than when we first walked in.
        Next was the cave. The builders of this cave had tried their very best to make it look like an original one from the Alps by constructing it with the exact same materials from the far away land of Italy. Quite a few folks were nervous that the cave would be very small inside, but as we entered, there was a wide space for us all to gather in. Mr. Tron told us about how the Waldenses sang and worshipped in these kind of caves. So, eventually, we all decided that we knew the lyrics to “My Jesus, I Love Thee” and commenced to sing in unison. The acoustics in the cave were absolutely wonderful, the song was so heart-touching, and thoughts flooded my mind of how people hiding in caves like this so many years ago were incredibly brave and fearless in spite of severe persecution because they loved Jesus supremely.
        Beside the cave was the church. We made our way to the front and sat down in the pews as Mr. Tron expounded on his personal testimony to us. He hadn’t found out that he had Waldensian ancestry until he was thirty-nine years old. His love and passion for sharing Jesus and the Word of God with others was very prominent and also contagious. After the church, we climbed up a short hill to an outlook. This short trek was to help us attempt to conjure up an idea of what it would have been like running through the mountains. Even with a hand rail, it was tough to make our way through the brush, mud, and weeds. When we made it to the top of the lookout, the view was breathtaking. Our group made their way down to a couple cabins and monuments. One cabin was a schoolhouse room and the other a cabin filled with belongings and pictures from Brother Tron’s family. The monuments held much historical meaning.
        Soon, we were overwhelmed with the smell of fresh-baked bread. Mr. Tron’s wife and son were there to help serve the bread out of the outdoor oven to both groups. It was a delicious old recipe. The crust crunched as we bit in, and the doughy center melted in your mouth. The two groups made their way to the saw mill, and Timothy Tron explained to all of us how the Waldensians had to learn how to work with wood when they came to the mountains of Appalachia, whereas stone-work had been all they were accustomed to. He cut a long piece of wood to show us how the mill worked.
        We then split up into two groups again, and ours headed to the last stop: a monument. As our amazing tour guide wrapped up the tour, we headed back to the visitor’s center to eat lunch. Good fellowship and much wanted food and water was enjoyed by all. Everyone received a gift bag with brochures and a piece of wood cut in the mill. As we all gathered at the door to leave, we told Mr. Tron that we’d like to sing a song for a farewell. In sweet accord, our voices joined together to sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” Tears began to streak down Brother Timothy’s face as he closed his eyes and mouthed the words. O how hard it was not to join in his tears! After reliving such inspiring and touching history with him, my mind and heart were full of joy and faith that we would see each other again in a heavenly Kingdom and meet the Waldensians of old who had helped to pass down this blessed hope through God’s Word. Until then, we’ll carry on with a song in our hearts as we march to Zion because our Redeemer is faithful and true.

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        • WOW!!!

          Such a beautiful and precious essay. Your words so perfectly described that day, so much so, that I felt myself holding back my emotions once more.

          It is truly a blessing to know that God allowed us to touch the hearts and minds of our guests that day.

          Yes, what a glorious day it will be when we all get to heaven.

          Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and may the good Lord continue to keep you and bless you.

          Thanks be to God,

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