I often get letters here from moms who are struggling to answer questions about suffering for their children. Today, I’ll look back on the life of my friend, Clint Bidleman, whose short life had an eternal impact, and we’ll look at what God is doing today through His people. His plans are good. You are loved!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Acts 3:17-20
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Hey, everybody. This is Heidi St. John. How are you guys doing? Today is Wednesday, January 15th. It’s the Freedom Rally day here in Washington State, and we’re going to cover a lot of ground today. Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Thanks for tuning in today. I have pre-recorded this podcast in an effort to be able to be out of the studio on the 15th of January. If you’re getting this podcast downloaded in the morning and you live anywhere near Olympia, Washington, I’m going to be there today for the Freedom Rally that starts at noon on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia, Washington. And if you’re interested at all in protecting your freedoms, if you’re interested in protecting your right to choose whether or not your children will be mandated to be vaccinated … You guys, you’ve heard me talk about this before. My kids are vaccinated, but I believe that where there is a risk, there should be a choice, and parental rights are being stripped away from parents at an unprecedented rate.
So there’s a lot of things going on right now, not the least of which is comprehensive sex education, which is making a return to Washington State with a vengeance. And if you guys don’t hear anything else I say today about comprehensive sex education, hear this: comprehensive sex education is not sex ed. It’s not. It’s sexual indoctrination. It is teaching children things that they do not need to know and are not equipped to understand or even process. So, that’s coming back to the Washington State legislation this year, and so we really want to be out ahead of it saying, “No, our family, our choice.” So I want to encourage you to join me in Olympia today on the Capitol steps starting at noon, coming out, make a sign. Come and visit your legislators. You’re going to have an opportunity to do that. So you don’t need to make an appointment. You can come to the rally and then come by and see your two representatives and your senator. So bring in an envelope, and then check it out. If you want more information on what it takes to visit your state legislation or if you want more information, I will link back to that in the show notes today. If you want more information from the organizers of this event, you can email them email@example.com.
I got a question the other day from a mom whose son has had a child friend of his die recently. It was a kind of a heavy question, and I got to thinking about the people that I have lost in my life, some of them when I was very, very young. One of them I lost, one of my best friends, when I was in high school and then another very good friend in college, and I wanted to talk about it today in light of all the questions that we get. So I’m going to read the question for you, and then we’ll answer the question and sort of talk about what it means to exist in the grip of grace.
We’re going to talk about death, but I want you to sort of see it, the broader picture, because God’s in all of it. And there’s a reason why the apostle Paul tells us not to lose heart. So let’s start there. 2 Corinthians 5:16. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day, for this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comprehension because we look not to the things that are see, but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
And I got to thinking about my friend Clint Bidleman and his best friend, Paul Anderson, who runs Skatechurch here in Portland, Oregon. Fantastic human being, Paul Anderson and his wife Heather. And I asked Paul about Clint sometime ago when I was writing a book, and Paul reminded me about his friendship with Clint. I met Clint in Bible college, and Paul and Clint became inseparable friends in the eighth grade. They grew up in San Luis Obispo, California in the skate culture there in the late ’70s and early ’80s. And both of these boys emerged as top freestyle competitors on the Central Coast Surfboards skate team. This is where, obviously, Paul’s passion continues today as he oversees Skatechurch here in Portland, Oregon.
And for Paul and Clint skating, and drugs, and alcohol, and stealing wood to build skateboard ramps went together. But at the age of 17, they both underwent a radical lifestyle change when they individually came to know Jesus as savior and Lord through the bold witness of obedient Christians. And I love that Paul recognizes that their witness was bold. That’s what it took. It took a bold witness. So by 1987, the 23-year-olds were sponsored amateur freestyle skaters attending a Portland, Oregon Bible college and informally skateboarding with local neighborhood skaters. Eventually, Paul and Clint went on to start Skatechurch, which is an outreach dedicated to sharing Christ with the skate culture in Portland. With the ministry just beginning, the two young men were excited about all that God had ahead.
God’s word tells us that while we make our plans, the Lord directs our steps, and sometimes those steps lead to suffering. In 1986 during his freshman year at college, Clint learned that he had contracted the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion he had received three years earlier after a near fatal motorcycle accident. When the blood donor died from AIDS, the hospital called to let Clinton know that he should be tested. And as you guys have guessed, the test was positive.
As Clint’s body deteriorated, I had the privilege of witnessing the Lord at work in and around him. We became friends because we all went to Bible college together, and I loved Clint, his personality. He has a great sense of humor. His love for the Lord was absolutely contagious. And watching him suffer was a very difficult thing to do.
One evening, he came over to our house for dinner and I served the usual student supper, right? We were all starving students at the time. So I served up some grilled cheese and tomato soup. And when the plate was passed to him, I’ll never forget as long as I live because Clint looked at me and politely declined, and he said, “Hey Heidi, I’ve got these reminders that I’m heading to heaven. The bad thing is they keep me from enjoying tomato soup. Got any baby food?” And Clint’s remarks, they were so sweet, but they were availing an awful truth. Because the reminders that he was talking about were painful, open sores in his mouth, and they had made eating anything acidic almost unbearable.
So as I search my pantry for something that he could eat, I watched Clint playing with our toddler in the other room. His eyes were full of joy. And while the rest of us railed against the obvious unfair nature of the disease that was ravaging his body, Clint was at peace. He trusted God. He wasn’t worried about the future or complaining about the pain that he was surely experiencing. Why? Because God’s unfailing grace was holding him tight.
A few weeks later, Clint was admitted to Providence Hospital in Portland. And on one of our visits, he asked Jay if he would lead worship. By this time, Clint’s labored breathing and persistent struggle with nausea had made it hard to sing, and so he whispered the songs with us. And as he did, the presence of the Lord filled that room in a way that I had never experienced. It was miraculous. And through our tears, we watched as Clint closed his eyes and lifted his face toward heaven. And to this day, you guys, it remains one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen. What a hope we have in Jesus. We know that this world is not all we have. Praise the Lord. He broke the chains of sin and death. And the Bible teaches us that He is preparing a place for us to be with him forever.
Our friend Clint passed away in 1993, but his famous 180 track remains in use as a memorial to his faithful service to Christ and his love for skaters. And our friend Paul Anderson’s incredible ministry to the skate community continues to this day. In fact, since it was founded, over 12,000 skaters in the greater Portland area have heard the gospel through the ministry of Skatechurch. Isn’t that incredible? I often think about it. Glory to God. Glory to God. And it’s so comforting for me to know that at some point soon we’re going to see Clint again.
This is the hope that we have. Our hope is in Jesus. So moms, when you, when you see the struggle around you, when you see the death, and the dying, and the suffering, and so often it feels unfair, remember that your hope is in Jesus. Your kids need to know that your hope is in the Lord. Our hope is never misplaced when it’s placed in the Lord. And I think this is true when we struggled through Bobby’s hospitalization. It was true then, and it’s true now. It was true when I was suffering in an abusive home as a child. I remember many times when, Lord, why are you allowing this to happen? But God says that He has a plan and a purpose. And sometimes, you guys, we don’t understand the plan and we don’t understand the purpose, but it doesn’t change the reality that God is still on his throne.
And you know, Clint could have thrown his hands up and gotten better and angry. Clint said … You know, he could have said, “You know what? Forget this. Shine this. I don’t believe in God. Why would God allow this to happen to me? I’ve been serving him my whole life,” but he didn’t because his hope was in Jesus. And that’s really what the apostle Paul was trying to say. He’s saying don’t lose heart. When you guys look at what’s happening around you, don’t lose heart because everything around us is wasting away. It really is. We have an opportunity to be salt and light, to be the gospel for such a time as this for however long the Lord allows us to speak His name and to bring hope into the world. It’s part of why we’re here at the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center. It’s part of why we started this place in the first place.
And speaking of the homeschool resource center, and I want to tell you guys another really cool story. About 15 years ago, Jay and I began to pray that God would give us the opportunity to shepherd a facility and a ministry that would be a lighthouse to parents who wanted to pull their kids out of the public school system but were afraid to do it. There’s something I’ve noticed, and I said this a lot in the podcast. So at the risk of repeating myself too much, I’ll say it again. 20-some-odd years ago when we started homeschooling, we were really running to something. It wasn’t anything I ever set out to do. I never thought we would homeschool, but we ended up doing it. And we homeschooled our children because we saw a benefit in it. We were really running to something, more time together as a family, better educational options, the opportunity for us to disciple our children, to train them in righteousness.
But, families today are not running to something so much as they’re running from something. They’re running from a school system that is bent on teaching their children that gender is a social construct. They’re teaching our children that there is no God. They’re driving a wedge in many cases between parents and their children. And a lot of these parents don’t know where to run. So Jay and I seeing that this was coming began to really pray that God would give us a building that could be open five days a week where a mom could come or a dad could come, and we’d have a coffee shop, and they could get a great cup of coffee, and look at a bookstore, and get curriculum. And if they needed help with math for their kids or they wanted a dance class, or a choir class, or music, or band that they could find it in an environment that was Christ-honoring and that was coming alongside the parents. And three years ago, the Lord began to answer that prayer in the most amazing way.
A friend of ours, his name is David, heard about what was going on. I had called him when Obama … I was actually in Chattanooga at the time. We were living in Chattanooga for my speaking season. Our whole family was there. And I called my friend David and I said, “Hey, President Obama has issued this bathroom bill, which is going to make schools very dangerous, especially for young girls. Dangerous for boys, too, but especially dangerous for young girls.” I said, “I feel like we need to give parents an option and an alternative.” And that conversation led to an amazing, miraculous thing. I’m telling you guys this because I want you to rejoice with us.
So on the 26th of December, Jay and I went down to a title company here where we live in Clark County, Washington, and our friend and his wife gifted a 25,000 square foot building to our ministry, which we now own free and clear. And that’s a miracle. I say this to you because we serve a miracle-working God. He’s listening, and He’s listening to us in our needs today. He sees what’s happening in the culture in the same way that He was listening to my friend Clint as he was suffering and dying. He never left Clint. He never forsook him. His plans for him were good, and God is still using it.
And you know what? He’s listening to you, too. He’s listening to your prayers. He was listening to Jay and I as we sat outside on a covered porch in Tennessee praying for the families in our area saying, “Lord, give us help. Give us protection. Help us give parents options,” and he provided in the most amazing, miraculous way.
So I’m going to ask you to do something sort of different today in light of this. Jay and I were thinking the other day, “How can we … How do you even say thank you to someone who listens to the Lord and says, ‘You can have this building,’ which he could have sold at any time for quite a bit of money, but he donated it so that homeschool families would have a resource here and so that parents would have the opportunity to take back control of their children’s education?” And we would love for him to hear, he and his wife to hear from you. We’d love him to hear thank yous from all around the world.
And I’m hoping that somebody somewhere listening to this podcast today will say, “You know what? What’s in my hand? I have something that I can use for the glory of God.” This was David and Donna’s sort of attitude about everything. What has God put in our hand that we can use? In the time that God has given us, how can we bring glory to God?’ Clint’s time on this earth was pretty short. And you know what? The thing that he had that God gave him is still being used today. And we don’t know when God will call us home, but I just want to encourage you guys be praying about what God would have you do.
We would love to hear from you. I hope you can send us your letters. I would love to hear what God has done. If you can send a thank you note to our friend David and his wife Donna, if you can do that, send it to me, Heidi St. John care of Firmly Planted Family. Our address is 11100 Northeast 34th Circle, Vancouver, Washington, 98682.
And can I just remind you again, you guys? We serve an amazing God. So even as we get off the bench and onto the battlefield, make your request known to God. He knows your heart. He sees what’s happening. He can answer prayers. You can transform a nation. God delights in working through our brokenness, through our tears. The Bible teaches us that man looks on the outside, but God is different. He looks at the heart. So I want to encourage you today to be thankful for what God is doing. It’s okay to talk to your kids about hard things because our hope isn’t here. Our hope is in heaven. And praise the Lord. We get to see glimpses of how good God is every day through people like Clint Bidleman and David and Donna Madour. Then, Andrey Ivanov, and Jay St. John, and Melissa Crabtree. I’m thinking of all the people that work for us here at MomStrong International and Firmly Planted Family. And you guys, God is still at work.
Pray for us today as we’ll be going to the steps of the Capitol, Olympia, Washington. Pray for our nation, that we would come back to God, that we would be proactive in defending our freedom. And part of that freedom is the ability to say our eyes are on God. We trust in God. As the Psalmist said, “Some might trust in horses and some might trust in chariots, but we don’t. We trust in the name of the Lord.”
We hope to hear from you guys soon. We love to get your cards and letters. We loved all the cards that you sent to us at Christmas Card Palooza this year. And many of you sent in donations. That just absolutely blew us away. There were times that we opened up those cards and the staff here would literally cry at your generosity and kindness, so thank you for that. Thank you for your support of this ministry. Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to direct and guide your lives. We can live unafraid and unashamed. As my friend Bill Jack would say, stay faithful, everybody. Thanks for listening today, and I’ll see you back here on Friday.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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