Gordon Griffith was dedicated to the Lord at VMC on October 19, 1986. He is one example of how the partnership between parents and the church, plays out over time. Gordon is the youngest of three brothers. His early years were filled with turmoil due to abuse in the home. He attended Sunday school at VMC, and Ventura Missionary Preschool and School as well. These ministries and the people associated with them helped provide stability, contributed to his spiritual foundation and so much more.
At the age of six, Gordon's father left the home. Things settled down, but now he was part of a single parent home. Finances were extremely tight, and they were left to heal from all that they had been through. Gordon's mom knew the statistics about children who were victims of abuse, but she also knew how big God is, so she had hope. It was a time to re-focus and trust Him with the futures of her sons. Within hours of pouring her heart out to God about Gordon and his brothers, she read Isaiah 54:13, "And your sons will be taught of the Lord, and the well-being of your sons will be great." This became a promise she held onto over and over again. Also within hours of that prayer, a book entitled, "The Tale of Three Trees" showed up on her desk at Ventura Missionary. The inscription inside read, "The three trees in this story remind me of your three wonderful boys. May they each grow up to find their own special way of serving God. Love, faith and hope." The book left a lasting impression on Gordon's family as it so beautifully describes how God uses even difficult things to carry out His purpose in each life. Sometimes we think that things are far from where they should be, yet all things play a part in God's story for us.
This family's story included quite a few years of very limited resources. Gordon learned first-hand that God is our provider, often through His people. Many of the blessings the family received were so timely, personal and without solicitation, that God's involvement was undeniable. God was guiding His people, they were listening, and three little boys were learning how big God is and how much He loves them.
But it wasn't just physical provision. One church family invited Gordon and his brothers to their ranch every Saturday for a couple of years. The boys saw first-hand what a loving family looks like as they were mentored by the parents and the young adult sons (two of whom had been Youth Interns at VMC) and taught life skills, including gardening, cooking, catching gophers, cutting hair...and following Jesus.
As he grew, Gordon became a part of two, long-term life groups. Gordon says, "One of the things about VMC is that even though it is considered a large congregation, it still felt like a family. I have had mentors, like George and Tracy Maxson, and Dylan Wilcox [his life group leaders], who have been there for me, whether giving me counsel when I encounter trials or celebrating alongside me in life's accomplishments. Spiritual formation happens by involvement in people's lives through the good, the bad and the ordinary, while always pointing to Christ...Formation happens through consistency and repetition, and growing up, the VMC family was always there to teach me in the way I should go."
Gordon was introduced to missions at a young age, because his mom worked in the Youth Department. For many years this family went on youth trips to Mexico. As young boys, they worked right alongside the teens - their big brothers in Christ - who were doing construction. hosting Vacation Bible Schools (in Spanish), interacting with people living in the dump and in impoverished neighborhoods, sharing the love of Christ. Little did Gordon know that years later he would be serving on the other side of the world, sharing the love of Christ with other cultures. Today, Gordon and his wife, Grace, are VMC Missionaries, serving in Southeast Asia.
Gordon says, "Everything in my life has prepared me for missions. I played guitar in the 11 am service at VMC, which equipped me to lead worship in a variety of places in Southeast Asia. I played volleyball at Ventura Missionary School and Buena, and then played the sport with my students in a refugee camp overseas. As a middle school and high school student I was on the custodial staff at VMC and learned how to clean, fix, paint and build things. God is using that experience, along with the discipling I received from godly people, to equip me to disciple young men in another culture who have no father, training them how to be a man, how to follow Christ, resist temptation, how to fix things around the house..."
Because Gordon himself grew up without a father, he has a perspective and empathy for those he is serving. He says, "What stirs me to minister to the lost is the compassion that God has shown me throughout my life through people like those at VMC. I have gone through very difficult times, which have given me the compassion, patience and perseverance to come alongside others, who are also going through difficult seasons. I have seen God's mercy and grace in my life, and I know that God desires others to experience this love. Life without Christ would be meaningless. As I discover who I am in Christ, I am discovering who I was created to be and what my purpose is. We do not know who we are until we know who we are in Christ. And as I consider all those people who are lost and suffering, I reflect on who I am in Christ and what He has done for me. As the saying goes, 'It takes a whole village to raise a child.' For me, it took the whole VMC community to raise me up to where I am today. Without those in the church family being obedient to Christ and being there for me, I would be quite a different person today."
Gordon is currently taking online classes through Fuller Seminary to receive a Master's Degree in Intercultural Studies. He has been married to Grace for two and a half years. Her home church also helped to form her passion for ministry and compassion for the lost. She is a wonderful ministry partner to Gordon and the work they are doing on the mission field. When asked what God has been doing in and through them in Southeast Asia, Gordon said, "God has been teaching my wife and I to depend on the Holy Spirit's leading. Our head can often compete with the Holy Spirit for our heart. When we think with our mind, we say that there is no way, but when we trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God is faithful to complete His work through us. We often think that we are not right for the job, but God reminds us that it is not us alone who are doing the work. We are currently ministering among street kids who see someone like me, a white American, as a piggy bank, and I think, 'God, why me?' but God has used us to come alongside these boys through the good times and bad, and we have seen changes that we never expected. And just as it was never just one person at VMC, but a whole community obediently playing their part, we have seen a whole community obediently playing their part to bring God's transformation into these kids' lives."
God is still writing the tale of this "third tree." And God knows the plans that He has for all of us, "to provide a future and a hope." (see Jeremiah 29:11)
Our next Baby Dedications are on Mother's Day, May 14. To dedicate your child(ren), sign-up here.
Note: Gordon and Grace are hoping to visit VMC so that you can meet her, and so that they can share about their work on the mission field. Please pray for God's perfect timing for this. To give to their ministry through VMC, note, "Gordon Griffith" on your donation.