We have met some of the nicest people here. Almost every house we have looked at is owned or has been shown by a Christian. We have met Christians and seen Christian bumper stickers every where we’ve gone. I commented on this to one of the homeowners whose house we looked at, and he said, “Oh, yeah, Jesus is Lord here.” I was amazed! I liked the sound of that.
Last night we were invited to the home and family Christmas party of a wonderful couple with an amazing ministry of giving homeless and troubled people a temporary home while God is dealing with them. Many people who have stayed with them have ended up getting saved. They let us come to their beautiful home and soak in the decorations and trappings of a family Christmas for the night. They heard my message and called me right back and invited me without stopping for a moment to think about it. They just knew that they wouldn’t want to be in a hotel with 10 children at Christmas time, so they blessed us with a change of scenery and a change of diet. Their names are Morgan and Joyce Ilgenfritz. Morgan even came to pick half of us up in his van since we turned the rental van in Tuesday.
They told us bits and pieces of their story, but then they gave us two books that have been written about them. And they gave us a book that their daughter-in-law wrote. She has 16 children. So, guess what I’ve been doing today? I’ve been reading about these amazing people who opened their home and hearts to us.
They have had 411 different people stay in their home over the past 30 years. The books about their ministry are called I Was A Stranger and… by Anthony J. Bachman and Divine Appointments by Bonnie S. Grau. They call their house the Lighthouse. It is a house with 19 rooms that God gave to them through Joyce’s job as a personal nurse to an elderly man who happened to have a huge house and a very bad disposition so that no other nurse could handle him. He asked her to move into his house with her family and take care of him as long as he lived. It was a very trying time, but it ended up providing the means for the ministry they would have for the next 30 years. God just sends people to them. They never advertise or try to get anybody to come to them. Their story is full of divine appointments and God’s provision as they obey Him every time He tells them to reach out and help a needy person He puts in their path.
They told us they weren’t afraid of large families because they have a son who has 16 children. They told us a little about them. In fact, two of the 16 children are living with them right now. One is 22-year-old Hannah who is attending nursing school at the college 4 blocks from her grandparents’ house. So she is able to save money and spend lots of quality time with her grandparents while getting her education. The other is Esther.
Joyce was a wonderful hostess and gave us gifts for our children even though she had only heard of us one hour before we showed up at her house. Morgan was a generous host, too. We enjoyed our time with them. The kids have been playing with the puzzles they gave us and writing with the Christmas pencils and eating the yummy food they sent with us.
We watched a movie with them, “Christmas Child” by Max Lucado. It was really good. Megan Follows and Stephen Curtis Chapman were in it. Then Joyce loaded us up with gifts and Morgan took us back to the hotel. What an amazing couple with a wonderful ministry!