Monday, November 29, 2010

Encouragement from East Palmyra

East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church.  At this church, I professed my faith in Jesus Christ.  My parents are members of EPCRC and my friend Nick is their pastor.

Recently I received some encouragement from East Palmyra, New York.  My mom sent me a clipping from the East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church bulletin.  

Listed under the heading Our Praises and Prayers were printed these powerful words:  

Rejoice with Rick Admiraal as Calvary Christian Reformed Church of Pella, IA has called him as the new prison pastor.  Pray that Rick will be a faithful minister of the gospel among the prisoners and that God's kingdom will grow as many respond to God's call with repentance and faith.  

After a little bit of research, I found that Rev. Nick Monsma wrote the announcement.  Nick & I used to be carpool buddies at Calvin Seminary.  He & I both lived in the Holland/Zeeland area and commuted to the seminary in Grand Rapids together.  I give thanks to God for Nick's kind words.

I turned over the clipping from the bulletin and found this Word from the New Testament:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  
Philippians 4:13

Needless to say, I was greatly encouraged by both the announcement and the Bible verse.  Praise God!

Tulip Time Towns

Windmill on the Pella Town Square
While reciting the places I've been (see post below), I came to the realization that I'm connected with no fewer than Three Tulip Time Towns.

Currently, we live in Zeeland, Michigan.  Zeeland is right next door to Holland, which hosts its annual Tulip Time Festival from May 7 to 14, 2011. 

De Zwaan Mill on Windmill Island in Holland, MI

The windmill above is called De Zwaan.  It's located on Windmill Island.  My running buddies and I used to run over that old bridge and past the windmill.  I think it's about a mile from downtown Holland.

Orange City Windmill (Vogel?)

Way back in 1966, I was born in Orange City, Iowa.  I don't remember much about that town since my parents moved back to New York in 1970.  However, I did preach at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Orange City on August 9, 2009.  It was meaningful to me because this was the church where I was baptized as an infant.  Orange City hosts its annual tulip festival on May 19-21, 2011.

The Vermeer Mill in Pella

Of course, now we're heading to Pella, Iowa.  Pella hosts its annual tulip festival on May 5-7, 2011. 
We've found a home to rent on Main, just north of the downtown square.  Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Pella will become the calling church.  My children will be attending Pella Christian Schools.  

It's about a 23 mile commute from Pella to the prison in Newton.  Pray that God will establish his church - The New Life Prison Church. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Places I've Been

You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!

Dr. Seuss
Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I'm off to Iowa with my family of four.  It's not just me.  My wife Rose & I have two children: John & Annaliese.

It won't be the first time I've lived in Iowa.  I was born in Orange City in Sioux County, Iowa to Peter & Lois Admiraal.  In fact, it says so on my birth certificate along with this D.O.B. ~ November 10, 1966.  

In 1970, my parents moved to Western New York (and took me along).  Our house was located out in the country near Marion, NY.  My brother Dave was also born in Iowa but my two sisters, Suzanne & Kristen, were born in New York.  We attended East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church.  I also was a student at East Palmyra Christian School through 8th grade.  Then it was on to Newark High School where I competed in track & cross-country for the Newark Reds. 

In 1984, I graduated from Newark High School.  That fall, I was off to Michigan where I attended Calvin College.  I ran track and cross-country for the Calvin Knights.  My parents and many of my aunts & uncles found their spouse at Calvin College.  That didn't happen with me.

My first real job was in New Mexico.  I taught math at Rehoboth Christian High School.  I also coached track and did a whole lot of running myself.  In 1989, a beautiful young teacher named Rose moved to Rehoboth to teach fourth grade.  It didn't take long before we were dating.  Not long after that, I gave Rose a diamond ring.   June 29, 1991 was our wedding day!

In 1993, we moved to Zeeland, Michigan.  We wanted to be closer to family, especially as we began thinking about having kids of our own.  Rose's parents live in Grand Haven, Michigan which is only a half-hour drive north from Zeeland.  God gave us two children.  John was born in 1995 and Annaliese in 2001.  I first worked as a math teacher at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Michigan.  Then I worked at two civil engineering companies in Holland, Michigan as a Computer-Aided-Designer (CAD).  At the same time, I volunteered in prison ministry and absolutely loved it.  The Spirit began to work on my heart.  A change was in order.  In the fall of 2006, I began studying for ministry at Calvin Seminary.  After four challenging years, I graduated from seminary this spring.

God has provided a calling.  At the end of December, we'll move to Pella, Iowa.  With God's help, the prison church will be planted in January of 2011.  The dream of New Life Prison Church is becoming a reality.   Praise God for this new opportunity in a New Place.  God has been with me as I've moved to different places in the continental United States.  And I have no doubt that God will continue to be with us in future days and years.  Jesus said, "Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age."  (Matthew 28:20)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks

On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful to God for his goodness to us.  It reminds me of graduation from Calvin Seminary this past May.  My wife Rose & I were making decisions about the cake.  There were decisions to be made.  How big?  What type of frosting?  Pudding filling or cream?  Then finally, what should we write on the top?  It didn't seem enough to just spell out Happy Graduation! or Congratulations, Graduate!  Instead, this Word from the Psalms captured our gratitude to God and was spelled out in cursive on the cake.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever. 
(Psalm 107:1)

Today I could spell out a million and one things that I'm thankful for.  And maybe I'll still do that eventually.  But today I'll just share this song with you.  I couldn't get it out of my head when I rode my bike yesterday.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Green Light Go!

The new prison church in Newton, Iowa was given a huge Green Light this past week.  On Monday, November 8, Calvary Christian Reformed Church of Pella, Iowa had their annual congregational meeting.  At the meeting, Calvary voted in convincing fashion to call me as the new prison pastor.  

Praise God!  

After a few days of prayerful consideration, I penned the acceptance letter below. 

Dear Friends of Calvary CRC,

With great joy, I received the letter of call from Calvary this past week.

I graciously accept.

Your willing response to become my calling church is affirming; it confirms my internal call from the Holy Spirit.  Praise God for his goodness!  And I praise God for Calvary's willingness to play a key role as we reach out to those in prison.

Although planting the New Life Prison Church will present a challenge, the grace of Jesus Christ will sustain us.  It is also a great comfort to know that this community of faith is ready to walk alongside.  Please pray for my family in this time of transition.  Lord willing, we hope to arrive in Pella the week after Christmas.  Continue to pray that God will bless the new prison church.  May this dream become a reality by the power of His Spirit.  In eager anticipation, we wait to see what God will do next.

In Christ,

Rick Admiraal

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have Life, and have it to the full."  (John 10:10)

The President of the council at Calvary CRC, Mr. Roger Jansen read the acceptance letter at both morning services.  Rose & I had the privilege of watching this online.  She said it gave her goose bumps.
You can watch it too if you want.  Endure the 30 second commercial then fast forward to 2:07 of the video feed.

Thank you so much for praying for us (see previous prayer post below).  And please continue to pray for our family in this time of transition.

New Life Prison Church

New Life Prison Church is a church plant that will start up in January of 2011.  Presently it is a gospel seed buried in fertile ground but soon it will begin to grow.  

God will make it grow.

Sunlight will warm the soil thanks to our Creator.  The Water of Life will make the soil wet with grace.  The Spirit will breathe renewing breath of Life.  By the power of God, this church plant will grow in an unlikely place: a prison!

Why the name New Life Prison Church?  My hope is that the new church plant will be a community where we can celebrate new life in Jesus Christ.  It also will be green with growth.  Christ will transform the hearts of men so that they will grow in his grace.

Below are some key stopping points in the Word.

NEW: He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new!  Then he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.  Revelation 21:5

LIFE: Jesus said, "I have come that they may have Life and have it to the full.  John 10:10

PRISON: Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.  Hebrews 13:3

CHURCH: The Son of God "is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."  Colossians 1:18

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pray Always

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 
(Luke 18:1)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  
(I Thes. 5:16-18)

Please pray as November 8 draws closer.  On Monday, the congregation of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa gathers for their annual congregational meeting.  At this meeting, they will decide whether to call me as the new prison pastor for the New Life Prison Church.  Pray for discernment as they seek God's will.  Thank you for all your prayers.
Rick & Rose Admiraal & Family

By Faith ~ Imagine a New Prison Church

On Sunday, I preached at Faith Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa.  Pastor Ryan Faber asked me to preach at the community-wide Reformation Day celebration.  This was an honor and I'm glad I said yes to his invitation.

Here is the sermon audio:  

Below are the final few paragraphs from the final part of the sermon entitled 

Faith in our Day - Right Here, Right Now:
           Instead of peace, violence seizes the day.  Society responds by putting violent offenders in prison.  Answering the question of crime, we incarcerate many.  In the United States, there are nearly 2.5 million individuals in prison or jail.  In the great state of Iowa, there are nearly 9,000 prisoners.  That number is far too high: Iowa prisons are overcrowded; they are 23% over capacity according to the Iowa D.O.C. web page.
            Prison focuses its efforts on punishing the violent offender.  But total rehabilitation is necessary so that the man of violence becomes safe.  Unless the inmate meets Christ in prison nothing will change.  Change must come from within.  For true transformation occurs only through faith in Christ.  In Christ, lives can be changed by the power of God through the Gospel of Peace.
            That's where the prison church comes into view.  In Christ, the prison church has the power to transform inmates.  The key values of the prison church, community and discipleship, promote peace in Christ.  Through its steady presence, the prison church aims to fortify the faith of inmates so that they can grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord.
            Despite obstacles & despite opposition, the church marches forward in faith.  To counter violence in our society, the church of Christ proclaims the Gospel of Peace.  In faith, we march forward trusting in a completely trustworthy God.  The effort of planting a new prison church requires faith because it tests our imagination.  The Spirit compels us to imagine a future that is unlike the present.  A future in which the dream of New Life Prison Church becomes a reality.  A future in which lives of inmates are shaped into the image of Christ.  And the Spirit strengthens our faith by providing us with hope.  In the power of the Spirit, we recognize that our future is held firmly by the faithful hands of our good God.  People of God:  As we move into the future with hope, empowered by the Spirit, we will live by Faith.