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Archive for April, 2012

In loving memory of Gus Hassenrik

Gus is home with Jesus

On February 7, 2012, Gus heard the doctor say that he had cancer in his pancreas and liver, and on March 17, 2012 he left earth for his home with Jesus. Gus was 84 and still looked like he did when I met him nearly 35 years ago. He and Diane have been diligent to walk every day and eat healthy all the years I’ve known them. This year in May they would have celebrated their 47th anniversary. Between them they have seven children, plus one adopted child, 22 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren—more now since this article was written.  Their testimony is one of being totally transformed by the grace of God.

Both had failed marriages early in their life and Gus was a confirmed alcoholic. But they encountered the true and living God and their lives were changed for eternity. What AA did not do for Gus, Jesus did; and, as he testified, in an instant he was delivered from alcohol addiction. Since then, he and Diane spent their lives helping others. Although he rarely mentioned it, he was ordained as a minister by his pastor at the Lord’s House in the 1970’s.

While doing prison ministry they met a pregnant lady who asked them to take her baby at birth and raise her. Their consent did not come easy. By this time, they had raised their seven children and all were married and had families of their own. They cried out to God for His leading and, after dying to self, they agreed. Baby Willetta was born prematurely. She was kept in the NICU for several weeks then released to Gus and Diane. When Willetta was just over a year old, her birth mother was released from prison and Gus and Diane brought her to live with them. Within a short time, she ran back to her former life and ended back up in prison. After a while, Gus and Diane were granted permanent custody of Willetta and finally when she was 12 years old, they were permitted to finalize her adoption. What a happy, happy girl. She loves her parents so much; and Jesus is more than life to her. She is a blessing to her family, her friends, and her church. She graduated from Teen Mania Honor Academy in Texas and spent some time on a mission trip to China.

Over their 46 years of marriage, Gus and Diane continued to be active in church, Bible Studies, and volunteering time for miscellaneous jobs that needed to be done around the church as well as for numerous people at home. His hobby was carving small crosses out of wood and making them into necklaces that he gave away. Many of us had the privilege of spending some time with them in the summer at their cottage in the Upper Peninsula.

If ever a man loved a woman and a woman loved a man, it was Gus and Diane. They did everything together after he retired. They fasted every Thursday for their children. They were on the lookout for people they could help—especially the less fortunate. They brought joy wherever they went.

Thank You Jesus for the life of Gus and Diane Hassenrik. We’ve all been touched by You through their lives. Give us more couples like them! Thank You for the strength and grace you give to Diane as she continues to bring glory to You on this journey of life without her husband.



Happy Birthday to my Sister, Virgina Ruth!

(Written by Yvonne. April 2012.)

With tears streaming down my face, I sit watching. Watching. Two thousand miles away, yet by the miracle of internet I am watching … and reflecting.  It’s Palm Sunday and scores of people, including the choir, are dressed in costumes of Jesus’ time and re-enacting the triumphal entry of the King of Glory to Jerusalem. The voices soar in marvelous harmonies to proclaim “Prepare ye the way.” The children wave their palm branches and shout with glee, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” My mind begins to take a backward journey. I’m intimately acquainted with Jesus—the center of this drama; and I’m acquainted with the lady who wrote and designed this presentation. I’m blessed and proud to call her my sister.

My only sister, my younger sister, my little sister….(she lacked two months being five years younger than I)…wrote and directed many wonderful church dramas over the years. However, more than a decade ago, she was inspired to write, “The King of Glory,” a magnificent drama of the life of Jesus from birth to resurrection. Hundreds of people supported her vision and worked together for months to build the scenery, sew the costumes, learn the music, and rehearse their parts. Over the years, thousands upon thousands of people have come from far and near often waiting in line for hours to get in. While attending, hundreds decided to become followers of Jesus Christ. All who participated or watched will forever hold that experience in their memory.

But who is this author, this Virginia—this sister of mine—whose drama has impacted the lives of thousands of people? Let me take you back to April 1945.

Sunday, April 8, 1945.

Elzie and Nettie Hively were at the hospital where their daughter, Virginia Ruth, was born. Nearly three years earlier, this young couple had lost a son just after birth due to complications from RH factor. Now their newborn daughter was exhibiting some of these same issues, and it looked like she too would die. They called for pastors in the area to come to the hospital and pray for her. I remember vividly the testimonies of our parents about how Rev. Ross Taylor touched heaven with his prayers that day. By God’s grace, prayers were answered and Virginia Ruth lived and miracles in her body continued to come.

So first of all, my sister was a gift from God—and a miracle. Even though she was given life, I’m sure our parents had a nagging concern about her health. Her first year was rough. She had severe colic, and I remember both Mother and Daddy being up with her often during the night as her cries penetrated the darkness. Those nights soon passed and she grew into a beautiful young lady.

Our family was poor but we children didn’t know it. Our parents loved us. Our daddy was an itinerant preacher with bad grammar that faded into oblivion because of his Holy Spirit anointing. We loved him and loved to hear him preach. In whatever small church he was preaching, there were special programs for holidays. Mother saw to that.  And she always included us children—regardless of age. So the seed of communicating the Gospel through drama was planted in Virginia by the time she could talk.

At the age of 12, Virginia felt the Holy Spirit tugging at her heart and responded to Him. So now my sister was a follower of Jesus, the daughter of the King of Kings.

Through the remainder of her school years, Virginia continued to grow spiritually. She made a declaration that she would be a pastor’s wife and mother. She met the love of her life—a high school football star who was planning to be a coach. Even though she thought he was the one, she had to let him go because his plans were not compatible with her calling. She met another young pastor and a pastor-to-be, but neither was a match. Why? Because the one she had thought was the one was truly the one. James Wright changed programs in the middle of college and responded to the call of God to be a pastor. By God’s grace, they got back together and were married. Without question, the marriage of James and Virginia was God’s divine call. So now my sister was a pastor’s wife.

Three weeks ago, they retired from pastoral ministry to pursue their dream of mentoring young pastors and helping small congregations. After forty-four years in ministry, three children, 13 grandchildren, and one great grandchild, I sit here at home in Las Vegas watching the Palm Sunday drama as it is webcast from their church in West Virginia. God called them to plant this church nearly 36 years ago and it has grown to nearly 2000 in attendance—a vibrant church of excellence, preaching the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ, with passionate praise and worship, outreach to a diverse population with a myriad of needs, a pre-school, a Bible college, and two growing satellite campuses.

Our daddy was all for the marriage, but our mother was slow to affirm it. Eventually she, too, came to realize it was of God. Today very few people know her life story, but everyone who knows Virginia can see that God indeed called her to be a pastor’s wife and mother and in those roles she has truly excelled. Very few people actually know about her writing and programming, but her contributions to Kingdom Ministry will live beyond her life. Just as she and I remember being in those little dramas in the country churches, these children and young people will always remember accompanying Jesus down the aisle on the colt and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yes, “The King of Glory Passion Play” is a dream fulfilled that will continue to be performed for years to come.

Thanks, Virginia—my sister—for being obedient to the vision God gave you.  I love you.

Happy Birthday!

From your big Sis, Yvonne

P.S. Next to Jesus, she loves her family most–husband, children, and grandchildren.










Everybody loves VIRGINIA’S TACO SOUP


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