It's been a challenging couple of months and this past week has only escalated the difficulties that our nation faces.
This past week has been exceptionally hard for my family as we lost a dear friend + college pastor to glioblastoma.
I will never forget the first time I met John. It's a long story (for another time), but I traveled to Myrtle Beach with a group of Mizzou students that I had just met. This group of students was led by a man named John Drage. At the time, I was struggling in my faith and was trying to figure out who God was in my life. When I met him, his joy + love for the Lord radiated. It was infectious and drew me in.
Because of his influence in my life (as well as the entire group from Mizzou), at the end of the summer I transferred to Mizzou and helped them start a church on campus called The Rock.
For a few years I listened to his sermons, watched him share the Gospel with college students, and pray for revival on the campus of the University of Missouri. I loved being a part of this campus ministry and as I graduated from college, I got a job and remained involved at the Rock.
After about a year of this, God made it really clear that He wanted me to do ministry full time. I'll never forget when I told John about my decision. He was calling to ask me about stepping up and helping lead a small group of college students. When I told him I wanted to go on staff, he was giddy.
While I was raising financial support to go on staff, he would call me regularly to encourage me — he was a great encourager. He was the one I would call when I felt stuck + things got hard during the support raising process.
And then, after raising support, I had about 6 months until Matt and I would get married. These ended up being 6 months I will never forget. I got to live with John + Amy...in their home, with their four kids, and dog and watch them live life. I saw them serve each other, sacrifice for the Lord, and open their home to love on others.
I saw them live sold out for Jesus.
As I've been reflecting on all of this, I just keep thinking about the life my friend lived and I wanted to share with you one thing that people who knew John would say about him...
He had more scripture memorized than anyone I know.
I remember him playing a game where he would look at the clock and say a verse with that scripture reference. For example, it's 7:03pm...and he would recite Proverbs 7:3.
John would encourage college students to do the same, saying he would take them to a steak dinner if they memorized a list of 99 verses that he put together.
Friends, even as his health was failing, he was recalling scripture. It was powerful.
He didn't just memorize scripture, he lived it. He and his family continued to proclaim the name of Jesus even through cancer. You can see more of his story here.
All of this has made me more convinced that surrounding myself with truth from scripture is necessary. His words are precious + making it a priority + a lifestyle to etch them on my heart is vital. When that truth is memorized, no matter where I am or the state of my health, it cannot be taken from me.
As you read this, would you please pray for his family + friends? We will be saying goodbye over the next few days and it's going to be extremely difficult.
Would you also commit to memorizing scripture with us? Pick a verse and commit it to memory. If you're not sure where to start, we're partial to our EtchLife foundational verse...
My teachings are as precious as your eyesight — guard it! Write it on the back of your hands, ETCH it on the chambers of your heart. Proverbs 7:3 MSG
In case you would like to memorize the 99 verses with me, I'm sharing it with you 🙂. (it was a challenge John first put together in 1999, hence the "99 in '99" title) 😉
P.S. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to jump in to memorizing this list with me. I'd love to share in it with you along the way. ❤️