Saturday, March 15, 2014

"I Found Christ Here!"

The last you heard from me was in November, which is shameful, not because I think you have nothing better to do than read my blog, but because God has been working in ways that really should be shared. As you know, John became the director at The Gem, a family fitness center, in November. He has worked tirelessly to organize and streamline a confusingly multi-faceted business. The facets seemed more like tentacles at times, and we've been wrapped up in them more than we've liked. That being said, all the hard work and sacrifice has been worth it, because the place has changed a great deal for the better. There is a new mission statement identifying Jesus Christ as the center, a new staff who seem more like a family to each other and to us, and a renovated building, as well as completely reorganized programming. Everything feels new and alive and purposeful, and our membership has quadrupled! We're still recovering from sizable financial issues which almost closed the place down last year, so we're not yet in the clear but hope to be very soon.

All of that is well and good, and we envision The Gem becoming a booming business and a household name to the surrounding communities. But those of you who know us know that's not exactly what feeds our souls. We want to see people come to know Jesus Christ, either for the first time or more fully. That's why, of all the exciting stories I could tell you about these past few months, I want to share this one first:

Of all the mountains John faced when he stepped into the leadership role at The Gem, there was an undeniable spirit of dissension among some of the group class instructors and members. It was a web of gossip and backbiting that had gone unchecked between the time the previous administration left and John stepped in. We prayed that God would clear out the negativity, then John confronted it head on. There was a tangible reaction, and a few instructors quit while some of the members even cancelled their contracts. God is faithful and soon enough there was a new peace that settled over the place. John and I began to pray about what would fill the hole that was created by the percentage of withdrawal we experienced in the aftermath.

Before long, as quickly as some had gone, others who left because of the dissension came back--instructors and members alike. LaRae was a favorite Zumba instructor who quit The Gem last fall to manage a restaurant. When she heard about the changes taking place at The Gem, she came to check it out for herself and asked for her job back. John informed her of the new mission and our vision to make it a more family friendly environment. She was inspired on her own accord to put together a playlist of Christian music to incorporate into her dance routines and presented the songs to John. She took a pay cut but said it was worth it to do what she loved and to be in a good family environment.

During a recent staff meeting, John asked the question, "How are we going to convince people who came and left before November to give us another try? What is different about this place now?" LaRae was quick to answer that it was very different and much better. He pressed for details that might be shared with a skeptic. She searched for words and finally and articulately exclaimed, "I found Christ here!" We visited her family's local church weeks later to see her baptized.
That was just last month and we've already seen the Holy Spirit work in her to make her more into the image of Christ. LaRae has even been moved to share her faith with others at The Gem by doing devotionals with her students.

We're excited to work alongside LaRae and to get to know her better. We also want her to know you, her new Christian family, better so please feel free to comment and let her see a glimpse of the faithful support she has worldwide.


  1. LaRae, Congratulations on your decision to live the abundant life! God has more blessings and resources for you than you will ever know. We love you and are so happy that you get to hang out with the Jewell family. Come visit us in Brazil! Love, The Blume family

  2. LaRae, I am so happy that you have decided to follow Jesus and to help lead others to Him. No one can go through life alone. It take a family. I'm glad you are a part of our family. God bless you!

  3. This is so wonderful to hear!

  4. I am so proud of you guys I love all so much

  5. Awesome work. So happy for you guys!