August 22, 2016
Sioux Falls Seminary develops servants for their participation in the kingdom mission. Over the past several months, we have been focusing on what this means in light of Ephesians 4:12: “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” This week, we take a look at the idea of “remaining faithful” by honoring a 1993 graduate who encouraged others to remember the work that God has given them to do.
Alumnus Randy Reese of Hartford, SD, (M.Div.), who passed away unexpectedly on August 11, 2016, was one of the seminary’s alumni who serves others and builds up the body of Christ. He was also a dear friend, former employee, and partner in ministry of the seminary. Through VantagePoint3, he poured his passion into developing lay leaders and providing a community and space for individuals to grow deeper. Randy remained faithful to the call God placed on his heart and inspired others to do the same.
On the VantagePoint3 website, he described his participation in God’s mission by saying, “I experience deep joy when I see people discover more fully who God is, who they are, and what God has called them to do. I play that out at VP3 by helping to ensure that collectively we as a team and as an organization are architecting resources and processes to help deepen and empower people in churches and other organizations…. Besides all of that, put a good pot of coffee on and I love to sit and have good conversations.”
His work and joy for the leadership development of others will be remembered by everyone that he met, especially his wife, Susan Reese (Professor of Spiritual Formation at Sioux Falls Seminary); son, Liam; the VantagePoint3 team; and the many members of the body of Christ whom he served. As we remember Randy Reese and his faithful service, we share his recent VantagePoint3 blog post, A Faithful Run. His celebration of life service is also available below.
I’m on the other side of the marathon I ran in Winnipeg, Manitoba June 19th, healed up and oddly enough wondering when I could do the next one.
Some have asked, “Why run a marathon in Winnipeg?” It was my birth-place and it fit my schedule. To be honest I was hoping it was not going to be my death-place on June 19th, although that would have made for a cool story.
Some have asked, “Why run a marathon?” I ran my first and only marathon about 20 years ago when I was feeling prompted to “sell the farm” and move to Southern California to pursue my doctorate at Fuller Seminary. I knew then, and in part prompted during my marathon run that the Lord was up to something in my heart that would somehow connect to what the Lord was up to “out there.” About a year ago I felt a prompting to get ready to run another marathon curious if the Lord was going to prompt me again, and just to see if I could do it again.
For those of you keen on such things I ran the Manitoba Marathon in 4 hours 36 minutes. My goal was to hit somewhere between 4:15 and 4:30. Not bad for 54. If you’ve done a marathon you know that the halfway point isn’t 13.1 miles, but mile 20. For me it felt like up to mile 19 was a long warm up for the next 6.2 miles. Although I had to stop a few times after mile 19 from cramping and feeling like I was going to flake out from the humidity, I eventually made it across the finish line exhausted but deeply satisfied.
The Lord did prompt a few things at various miles during the race:
• At mile 9: I need the encouragement of others to run the race well. Susan is at the top of the pile as my encouraging and attractive cheerleader. Having Liam and my sister Cynthia and brother-in-law Kevin cheering me on was so good. I recalled the number of friends, family…saints really who have encouraged me on. So grateful for how the Lord has blessed me with people rich in love and encouragement.
• At mile 16: I was running through a grove of trees that arched over the road from both sides of the street. Reminded me of a pathway to a prayer garden at the Catholic church I grew up in as a young boy. For whatever reason I was the only person in that short stretch of road. A nice and much needed breeze was making its way through the treed-hallway. I felt the Lord’s presence and deep love for me. One of those moments when you know your Father is just dang proud of you. I was reminded the Lord loves me just because.
• At mile 19: The third prompting was simply this, “I want you to continue to run the race I’ve set before you. Be faithful to who you are and what I’ve given you to do.” At that point my legs started to cramp up. I thought, “Shoot, if this is my race I’m going to stop and walk for a bit.” Can’t tell you how good it felt to stop and walk. Although I did not want to stop and walk (for those of you runners out there you know why) I had to do so from time to time or the next 6.2 miles. But in the end it was all good—I finished the race!
A few weeks away from the Manitoba Marathon I think the one thing that stands out from the experience is the importance of remaining faithful to one’s walk with the Lord, to those around you, and to the work you’ve been given to do. I’m learning that faithfulness breeds gratitude and gratitude love. I know I have a ways to go, but I feel like I’m becoming a more grateful person, and one more concerned with how I am loving.
Remaining faithful is not a “syrupy” thing. It is hard and at times grinding, but very meaningful and very right. Remaining faithful to the ministry of VantagePoint3 has brought its share of rich satisfaction, fearful discouragement and a very present unseeing sort of faith. Many times I feel like we should somehow be further along than where we are as a ministry organization. That may be more my concern than the Lord’s.
I am also still in a lingering state of gratitude and surprise for the remarkable way many of you have supported me and the ministry of VP3 financially in your marathon sponsorship. Since a marathon is 26.2 miles I had a goal of raising $26,200. That was my “faith goal.” You gave $32,500! Thanks for believing in me and in this good work of VantagePoint3.
I would encourage you sometime this summer to do something physical, a hike, a climb, a ride, a run, a swim. Ask the Lord to nudge you with what may be good for you to hear in your own journey these days. Say thanks to your cheerleaders. Remember the Lord gets a kick out of you. Continue to run the race set before you.