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Celebration of Life: Ronald L. Jones

Ronald Lee Jones

27 June 1951 – 16 January 2019

Celebration of Life [1]

23 February 2019

On behalf of the family, I, Yvonne, would like to thank all of you for coming today to celebrate the life of my first cousin, Ronald Lee Jones. He went by many titles: son, husband, dad, poppa, brother, cousin, and friend. He was Ronnie to me, and Ron or RJ to most of you. I bring love and prayers from the other first cousins who could not be here: Kathy, Becky, and Rich; and from Ronnie’s parents and his one surviving Aunt, Helen. I know all family members want to be here but several cannot travel due to health, responsibilities, or distance. We know all of them also loved Ron as much as those of us gathered here. Thank you for coming, and thanks to the family for inviting me to share with you. And thanks to Joe and Kathy for inviting all of us to celebrate Ronnie’s life here at their home where they’ve shared many wonderful times with him in the past.

Everything and everyone, including you and me, has a beginning and an end, except God who always was and always will be. Many of you are familiar with the poem “The Dash,” which refers to the life lived between the beginning and the end. Ronnie’s life from birth to six years old is the part I know best. Then I had the privilege and pleasure of getting reacquainted toward the end of his life. More about that later. Those of you assembled here know even more about the DASH than I do—the part in between. You could tell more stories about Ronnie’s life in the dash and some more colorful ones at that; but I’m probably the oldest one present which, next to his older sister-who is much younger than I, makes me the one who has known Ronnie the longest. So for this moment, the oldest gets the mike!

The Beginning

I’m the oldest of eight cousins on my mother’s side. There were three girls – my mother was the oldest and married at 17. Helen was the youngest and married at 15. Ronnie’s mother Doris was in the middle and married the day after her 16th birthday. All three of these young sisters lived with their husbands and children on the same street—just a few houses apart. When I was barely eleven years old Ronald Lee was born. He joined his sister Barbie who was a couple of years older. With the security of all three families living so close to each other, I was allowed to babysit Ronnie and Barbie while their mother worked a few hours at a Family Grocery store a block away. Since Ronnie was a baby, I got to change his wet and poopy diapers, give him his bottle, and spoon feed him when he was old enough to sit in his high chair. In some sense, I played with Ronnie and Barbie just like I had played with my dolls.

It was a sad day for us when the family moved to Winston-Salem for daddy’s job. Ronnie was only six years old. A couple of years later, a baby sister Susan was born into the family. We cousins were sad that Ronnie and Barbie were so far away, and now Susan would never get the opportunity to be part of the special bond we cousins had growing up at the grandparents’ house on the Kanawha River: watching the steamboats go by and walking through grandpa’s garden and eating fresh tomatoes and turnips after he wiped the dirt off with his pocket handkerchief—also used to wipe his sweat.

When Ron was 13, I moved to Michigan so the news of the Jones family was even more scarce—no email, and long distance calling wasn’t done much because it was so expensive. Nevertheless, over the years, Ron’s mother and sister kept us posted with notes and pictures such as when he and Sherry married, when daughter Kendyl was born; and then some years later we were informed of the arrival of a special grandson, Wesley.

All the while, time continued to race on: this time known as “The Dash” between the beginning and the end. Many of you assembled here met Ron and Sherry during this time.

The End

Three years ago, after several decades of living apart, my travel gave me an opportunity to stop in Winston-Salem and have a surprise visit with Ronnie’s parents, arranged by his sister Barbie. As an added blessing, I got to see Ronnie’s sister Susan and meet her husband, also named Ron.

Last February, Barbie and Rick were vacationing here in Florida at the same time that I was here visiting my sister and brother-in-law who were escaping the winter in West Virginia, and Barbie coordinated for us to get together for lunch with Ronnie and Sherry.

Oh, the anticipation! Uncontained excitement! They were coming! Would I recognize Ronnie now after all these years? There they were! No longer just pictures. Now I’m seeing them in person with my own eyes! Thank you, Jesus! My cousin was lost to me, but now he is found! Sherry fit right in as if we had been together all along.

And there was Wesley. Oh my, what a handsome young grandson. Dressed as if to see royalty. Ronnie said, “Oh I told him to dress up some, but I didn’t mean he had to be all dressed up.” But you were, Wesley! And then when you and I got to talk, I understood why your poppa was so proud of you. You are smart. You are logical. I could tell within a few minutes that you have a brilliant future ahead of you if you pursue it with intention and commitment. I hope you invite Jesus to come along with you on your journey. I hope your mom and grandma live long enough to see His plans for you come to fruition.

But we were still missing one person at lunch: Kendyl. Where’s Kendyl? “Oh, she had to work,” Ronnie said; “but I told her to come right after work.” She had been concerned she wouldn’t have time to change clothes, but Ronnie said he told her: “That’s ok; just come right after work.” And he was waiting… We were eating when I heard him say, “There she is!” He said so much in those words, Kendyl! How he loved you! He was so proud to introduce you and Wesley to us. I missed out on all of your growing up years, but I’m so thankful for that day last February —  seeing your dad and meeting your mom, your son, and you. Look to the future with Jesus in your life and aim for the stars. Use the gifts God has given you that still lie covered. Be proud. Work hard. It will be wonderful to look back and see that your mom is so proud of you, and that your dad would be so proud of you too!

We were all aware that day that this was not just a lunch with family; it was a momentous occasion. A sweet time of getting caught up on life we had missed over several decades. Ron was glowing. Barbie was glowing. I was bubbling. Virginia was glowing. Well, I think Sherry and Kendyl and Wesley were glowing, too, as were Rick (Barbie’s husband) and Jim (my sister Virginia’s husband). There was such an “awe” in that visit. I don’t know how his family and friends saw him, but that day I found Ronnie to be a gentle, quiet, and super sweet man just like the young boy I remembered.

Now it is February, a year later. My sis and brother-in-law and I were looking forward to seeing Ron again this year. Many of you here were also looking forward to seeing him in the past few weeks but, as often happens, circumstances intervened and stopped that from happening.

Two of the younger cousins asked about Ron’s soul. I told them that his sister Barbie had assured me that he believed in Jesus as his Savior, and that she had arrived in time to see him in the hospital and pray with him. I’m sure if he could share anything with you now it would be: Put your trust in Jesus for your eternal life. He had no advanced warning that the end of his life was imminent. As we’ve all come to realize, that day will come to all of us and none of us knows the day nor the hour that our life here on earth will end. For some, illness hangs on for a long time and there is time to plan the end and how to say goodbye to family and friends. For others, the end happens abruptly. None of us knows when our last day will be. And neither did Ronnie.

As the texts came from Barbie, we cousins were sad that we could not say, “I love you,” one more time. All of us were left grappling with the question why? His wife Sherry, his daughter Kendyl, his grandson Wesley, his mom and dad, his sisters, his other cousins, and you his friends. One thing we know: God didn’t give him this physical problem so he would die now. God gives life; He doesn’t take it. But when disease or disaster hits and steals life from the body, God receives those that are His and welcomes them to His eternal home.

Let’s just pause a moment: Those of you who are followers of Jesus, give Him thanks. If you haven’t made that decision, why don’t you just quietly acknowledge in your heart say: Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who willingly shed your blood on the Cross to take away my sins. I surrender my life to you today. Thank you for adopting me as your child. I’m yours forever. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, tell someone today!  The bible says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

Many of God’s blessings – all through our lives—are delivered through circumstances, events, and most importantly through the people that he places in our life. For many, Ron Jones was one of those blessings.

Ronnie is no longer with us to share in food, fun, and fellowship, but the rest of your life he will be speaking to you. How? Not from afar—we cannot communicate with deceased loved ones—but here and there you will hear words he has spoken to you in the past in significant times and places—when things were difficult and when things were wonderful. His presence in your life will always be remembered. No one else can take that place.

There’s a Parable of Immortality by Henry Van Dyke a favorite of Barbie, and she asked me to share it with you

“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There she goes!”
Gone where?

Gone from my sight … that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she goes!” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:

“Here she comes!”

The Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi

O Divine Master,

Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

To Sherry:  My husband departed this earth 20 years ago … and the following verses have been a help to me, and I hope will comfort you as well:

Psalm 123 says

The LORD is my shepherd; (He leads me)

I shall not want. (He supplies what I need)

He makes me lie down in green pastures: (He gives me rest)

He leads me beside the still waters. (He refreshes me)

He restores my soul: (He heals my emotions)

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (He guides me)

Yea, though I walk through the valley [of Ronnie’s] death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. (He protects me)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: (He gives me hope)

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  (He gives me more than enough)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  (He keeps my soul safe when I commit it to Him)

Let’s face it. God is crazy about you!

He says:

Don’t panic. I’m with you. I love you.

There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:10).

Let us Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that you are close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). You look mercifully upon those who are gathered here and grieving at this time. You are present with them in their sorrow. I pray that your strength will sustain their weakness; and your peace will fill their minds with perfect trust in you. Thank you, Father, for the victory of Jesus Christ our Lord over death and the grave, and for Your promise of the Resurrection to eternal life. Through the name of Your Son and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.


Once again: Thank you for coming to celebrate the life of our dear Ron.


Share the peace of God with one another… With a handshake or a hug… As we continue to celebrate!


*The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

By Linda Ellis, Copyright © Inspire Kindness, 1996,


[1] Home of Dear Friends in Bradenton FL 34209

[2] By Linda Ellis, Copyright © Inspire Kindness, 1996, 

Remembering Ruth Hicks

Remembering Ruth Hicks…

Nearly thirty-five years ago, Ruth Hicks introduced herself to me at a conference. A discussion ensued and I found out she was a friend of Sharon Wilson and Nola Brunelle who were on staff at our school, New Life Christian Academy. Little by little, I drew out of her that she was not only an evangelist but also an accomplished musician—both in voice and piano. That fall, we welcomed her on our staff where she assisted the classroom supervisors, taught piano, and directed vocal ensembles for almost four years. Ruth was humble yet a tremendous encourager with deep spiritual roots and amazing biblical wisdom—a gifted lady. She loved her daughters and her grandchildren sacrificially with a godly fervor. For several years now, she has been singing in Heaven around the Throne.

One time Ruth was invited to go to California to speak. She had a train ticket, a box of crackers and peanut butter, and water–her only food all the way there. En route to the train station for her return trip to Michigan they asked her if she needed anything. She said she had to tell the truth: No she didn’t NEED anything. They had taken care of her lodging and meals while she was there. She had a return train ticket and leftover crackers and peanut butter. When she arrived home, she was rejoicing that she had been given the opportunity to share the gospel and that was recompense enough for her.

Ruth composed many original songs. On several occasions, she spontaneously wrote a song in response to my husband’s (Pastor Karl) message. I (Yvonne) have an audio of her singing several of these songs which I will try to get on youtube. So check back again later.

Click on her name for the lyrics to “Ordinary Person.”  Ruth Ariston Hicks 

Click on her name for a note to Yvonne reflecting her positive spirit.  Ruth Hicks

Below: Ruth with her piano students, and with Kindergarten students in the 1980’s.

JULIUS EWALD KARL: Stories from his life

JEK: Julius E. Karl’s Life in Photos – click here:

JEK: The story of His Life from Birth to Marriage

“Till death do us part” came in January 1999 after 31 years and 2 months of marriage ending Julius’ nearly 14-year fight with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Since that time, I [Yvonne] have chosen to focus on the positive and spend the rest of my life praising God for His mercy and grace. I take to heart the Apostle Paul’s words: A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes … In [Paul’s] judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is–and I think that I, Paul, also have the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:39-40).

Thank You Heavenly Father for bringing Julius and me through 31 years of marriage “to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” till death parted us in this life. Thank You for Your grace that was greater than all of our problems and for faith in You that held us together till the end. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

November 24, 2017, we would have celebrated our 50th Anniversary, and in his honor and memory, here is the story of his life from birth to marriage. It’s a story of overcoming hardship inflicted by war, living in four different countries, pursuing education to the highest degree and, through it all, loving and serving God, the Father of Jesus Christ.

Special thanks goes to Julius’ youngest sister Frieda, for contributing her written memories of the Karl Family’s life and for verifying specific dates and events. Some of the information was written and told by Julius himself before he died. Finally, Yvonne draws from stories Julius told over and over again to his family and friends. While somewhat in chronological order, there are overlapping stories and some repetition to bring clarity to the events.

Each chapter is short and listed separately below. It should open when you click on it.


JEK-Chapter 01-His Immediate Family

JEK-Chapter 02-A Child in Time of War

JEK-Chapter 03-The Faith of My Parents, written by Julius in 1988

JEK-Chapter 04-Youth, Education, and Christian Commitment

JEK-Chapter 05 – Growing up and War Comes, by Frieda Karl, youngest sister of Julius

JEK-Chapter 06 – Escape to Freedom, by Frieda

JEK-Chapter 07 – Leaving Germany for Canada

JEK-Chapter 08 – College Bound

JEK-Chapter 09 – Julius seeks and finds a wife

JEK-Chapter 10-How Julius met Yvonne – The CHOG Connection

JEK-Chapter 11-The Wedding and After

JEK- Julius Karl-The end of his life journey

JEK: Julius E. Karl’s Life in Photos –

JEK-Chapter 12-Short Stories

JEK-Dissertation Abstract IU – for PHD 1974

Papers Julius wrote for B. A. Classes in 1965

JEK AutoBio 01-65

JEK AutoBio 06-65

JEK-My Education 01-65

Tribute to Wally Holz (June 2014)

Wally and Heidi    (As written by Yvonne for Wally Holz’s Celebration of Life service on Saturday, June 14, at 11am, Dodge Park Church of God, Sterling Heights, Michigan. Wally went home to be with Jesus suddenly on his birthday, June 8th, 2014. He was 71 years old.)

Good Morning. I am unable to be here today, but I was asked to make some comments about Wally. I am the wife of the late Julius Karl a cousin to Heidi, therefore a cousin to Wally. I am Yvonne Karl.

Wally and Heidi have been dear friends of mine for almost 50 years and are like brother and sister to me. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. We were like magnets to him and he made every one of us feel as special as the next one. We’ve been through a lot together, and there’s no end to the stories we could tell.

As most of you know, Wally was sensitive to the needs of people and found it difficult to say no when they needed help. He took Jesus’ words seriously and looked after the widows. I know, because I am one. At his request, I made a “Wally-do” list and each spring when he and Heidi came to visit, he asked for my list and went about completing each item and checking it off. Then he would say, “Is that all?”

Last March when they visited me at my home in Las Vegas, I had an injury and wasn’t able to walk far. Wally pushed me in a wheel chair so I could go with him and Heidi and Erika to see the sights. Because he had a little trouble hearing, he would stop the chair, step around in front of me, and get on one knee so he could talk and hear my response. At one point, Heidi snapped a picture. We laughed at the potential headline.

Wally also looked after orphans–like my daughter Caroline (and some of you here today).“In many ways,” she writes, “Onkel Wally took on fatherly responsibilities after my own dad died. When I bought my house, he taught me how to mow the lawn since I’d never used a mower before. He spent hours on the phone late at night talking me through the steps of installing a ceiling fan. He reassured me I wouldn’t electrocute myself if I followed his instructions exactly—he was right. He also gave great financial advice. He was a giving, sensitive, and jovial man who strove to be Christ-like in every area of his life.” I can sense many of you saying, “Yes. That was Wally!”

Wally’s integrity—his UNwillingness to lie; his determination to be honest—caused him to be slandered and persecuted; but God who knew his heart, saw him through and blessed him abundantly. With tears in his eyes, Wally talked about how good God had been to him. His heart was overwhelmed with love for Jesus and Jesus’ love for him.

He was so proud of his children, Heidi Lynn, Anita & Mike, and Richard & Helen—each one successful in life—but most important to him was that they continued to be disciples of Jesus Christ. When he spoke of his grandchildren, he unconsciously squared his shoulders and flashed a big smile. Obviously, his grandchildren were the best.

When he spoke of his wife, he beamed with love. After they retired, He still enjoyed getting dressed up and going out with her—whether to church, to a restaurant, or on a cruise. “Whatever you’d like, Heidi,” he was heard to say—and he meant it. She was the apple of his eye and he lavished her with gifts. Really, he spoiled her. I remember one Thanksgiving he had placed a very special gift in a place he thought she might find it easily and open it in the presence of the guests gathered for dinner. When she seemed not to notice it, he called me aside and gave me directions. I went to the gift and called to her: “Heidi, what is this?” She came quickly, saw it was for her, and nervously opened it while he stood back to enjoy her reaction. Some of you were there and remember that moment. He loved Heidi from the moment he met her and that love never waned.

When they came to visit me in Las Vegas, Wally never failed to have a Bible question for discussion. One of our many topics was death and dying. He had no fear of death and said He was ready to meet Jesus anytime but he wondered what it would be like. Well, now he knows! He has crossed over the timeline that divides earth and heaven. There is no clock or calendar in heaven. Before we know it, we’ll be joining him in the Presence of our Savior. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…for they rest from their labors…” (Rev.14:13). God has taken Wally’s mortal body and given him a glorious body like his own” (Philippians 3:21a).

Heidi, many people express sorrow for your loss, but you didn’t lose Wally. You got separated from him, but you know where he is. Jesus has received Wally into his heavenly home, but He also knows your heartache and pain at having your husband torn away from you. He weeps with you just as He wept with Mary and Martha over Lazarus’ death. He’s aware that there is huge empty spot in your life now. Fifteen years ago, I faced this void: a future without my husband. At that time, I grabbed onto the awareness that “because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow.” I can tell you after 15 years, that Jesus still comforts and strengthens the widows. He often does it through other people—like He did through Wally. You are loved, and you will not be left alone.

Having said that, If Wally were here today and could speak to this assembly, he might well say: Family and Friends, King David reminds us in 1 Samuel 20 verse 3: “There’s only one step between all of us and death.” Be ready at all times to take that step for it might come when you least expect it—just as it did for me. Then he might quote the lyrics to the old Church of God hymn by Charles Naylor, to remind us that The future lies unseen ahead…It holds I know not what;
 But still I know I need not dread…For Jesus fails not. So follow Him with rejoicing;
 He will safely lead you to your eternal home—as he has me.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for the life of my dear cousin Wally–husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. Thank You for his convictions and ideals, his influence and labors, and his dedication and love for Christ and his family. We rejoice to remember how he met with You each day in the pages of Your Word. Thank You that he has fought the good fight of faith and You have welcomed him to his eternal home. We commit his wife and family to your care and comfort. May they remember and cherish Wally’s life of discipleship and his love for them. Let them feel your Presence as You strengthen them by your power in the days ahead. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Picture Below: at Wally & Heidi’s house in Farmington Hills, Michigan, 1998.

Wally 2

Comments by my daughter Caroline on picture above: In memory of three men who played a significant role in my life: Onkel Wally (center) who died early today (June 8, 2014) on what would have been his 71st birthday. Onkel Willi (left) who died in January 2014. And my dad (right) who died in 1999. Ich vermisse euch…  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints – Psalm 116.15

Below: Wally’s Family the night before his Celebration of Life service. 13 June 2014

L to R: Daughter, Heidi Lynn; Son, Richard; Grandson Devin (Richard’s son); Daughter-in-law, Helen (Richard’s wife); Son-in-law, Mike (Anita’s husband); Daughter, Anita; Grandson, Justin (Anita’s son).

Front Row: Granddaughter, Monique (Richard’s daughter); Heidi Karl Holz (Wally’s wife of 48 1/2 years); Granddaughter, Breanna (Anita’s daughter)

Holz Family




It’s Shoutin’ time for Jessie Kirk

Click on the title below to read my memories of Jessie.

Jessie Kirk’s Shoutin’ Time

The Karl and Jones Story

Retired pastor/counselor Dr. Jerry & Jean Jones were in our wedding 46 years ago. The following article was written when they returned home to Indianapolis after spending a week in Las Vegas with me in April 2013. To see some pictures and read about our story, click on the title below:

Karl-Jones Story – Jerry and Jean visit Yvonne in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 2013.

Karl-Jones Story 0413 – Jean and Jerry in Julius and Yvonne’s wedding November 24, 1967.

Remembering the Santrocks

Remembering John and Ruth Santrock

At 2PM tomorrow, September 2, 2012, at the First Baptist Church in Nitro, friends and family will be celebrating Ruth’s life and saying good-bye. When I was in high school, John was my principal and Ruth was the office secretary. She continually looked past my insecurities and encouraged and affirmed me.

Out of thousands of students under John Santrock’s leadership as Principal, I am one of those who can trace the joy of my professional life back to him. It was his recommendation that secured for me the WV Legislature’s Teacher Training Scholarship that paid my college expenses. Without it, I would not have been able to complete college when I did, if at all. (See photo below.)

When I graduated from college early three years later, he gave me my first teaching job at my alma mater, Nitro High School. After three years of teaching, with his recommendation and encouragement, I left the comfort and familiarity of that job, my family, my friends, my town, and my church and moved to Michigan to complete graduate school. That was the beginning of the rest of my life story. I am deeply grateful for my dear principal, Mr. Santrock, who expressed an unwavering faith in my abilities and aspirations.

He died in September four years ago at age 89, and his dear wife Ruth’s funeral is tomorrow, September 2, 2012. Theirs was a love story—raising a son and a daughter, and influencing thousands with their compassion and unabashed devotion to each other and to Christ. His was a story of bravery in war: shot, imprisoned, escaped, and awarded a Purple Heart.

For those—especially from my hometown Nitro and home county Kanawha—who might be interested in reading more about the Santrocks, check out this article written by their granddaughter after his death:  You can also find a list of their son’s published books on (John W. Santrock).

Read more about their life here:

John –

Ruth –

Photo: Mr. Santrock presenting me (Yvonne) the Board of Legislature scholarship at our awards ceremony, May 1958.

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


ELEVEN WEEK REVIVAL at MFC – March 20-June 3,2011


 MARCH – JUNE 2011

What a glorious season these past eleven weeks! I was present with you nearly every one of the 89 services. I had a close-up seat. You didn’t see me, but I saw you! I prayed with you, laughed with you, worshipped with you, cried with you, and shouted with you. As I watched the services night after night, I was reminded how the angel was sent to an obscure village, to an unknown girl named Mary. The angel delivered the message to her that she had been highly favored of God and would be overshadowed by the Holy Ghost to bring forth Emmanuel. Mary appeared to others to be just an ordinary young woman, but she was serving an extraordinary God and yielded her body for His purpose.

Likewise, God saw the seemingly insignificant town of St, Albans, WV and a group of devoted disciples. Up to March 20, 2011, Maranatha may have appeared to others to be just an ordinary church, but they are devoted to an extraordinary God who highly favored them and overshadowed them. They provided the spiritual womb and God’s Spirit, through the grace and blood of Jesus Christ, birthed sons and daughters for the King, and they’ll never be the same.

May Maranatha’s unified praise to God be the same as Mary’s song: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior… For He who is mighty has done great things for us, and holy is His name.”

I marveled that unbelievers came to church on weeknights. Jesus was being lifted up and He said, “If I be lifted up [on the Cross] I will draw all men unto me.” We watched Him add to the church daily those who were being saved-more than 650 by the end of eleven weeks. In addition, many received miraculous healings and deliverance and marriages were restored. There were no popular preachers brought in to draw crowds. Each service was different as were the local speakers: different people, different styles, different topics—but the same Spirit. While the focus was souls being saved, those of us who listened were taught and inspired. Services could not be advertised because they were announced from night to night. If another person made a profession of faith in Christ, they had service the next night.

Outside the church walls, reports came of people responding to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and leading people to Christ in the doctor’s office, in the grocery store, in the parking lot, in the barbershop, in the pizza parlor, in the workplace, and on the road. Jesus touched their lives. They were changed.

Thank God for revealing the knowledge to those who pioneered the Internet. How marvelous that I as well as people all over the USA and several other countries were able to attend these MFC revival services via the webcast. And thank God for a pastor and staff who were willing to invest the necessary time and resources to use these tools to reach the world with the Gospel. As a result, people were saved in other states and countries.

These eleven weeks will be talked about and remembered for a lifetime. As Mal. 3:16 says: “Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name.” And they all say, “Not to us, but unto God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost be all the glory” (Psa. 115:1).

Thank God for the hundreds of people who came faithfully each night to the services, for the many who came for pre-service prayer, for the MFC staff and volunteers who were at their stations each service. Sacrifices were made. People came from work to church without dinner. The focus for eleven weeks was on winning souls to Jesus, and He honored that focus. The season may have ended, but bringing folks to Jesus will continue.

May God accomplish Kingdom purposes through Maranatha and move her on from glory to glory so her latter days will be more glorious than the former. These eleven weeks have been like a pre-revival. There’s more, so much more, to come.


The above account was written the week after the revival ended at Maranatha Fellowship, 2910 Kanawha Terrace, St. Albans WV 29177. Pastor James Wright. Associate Pastor, Darren Powell. Worship Pastor, B.J. Roberts. The services were live-streamed, and I was able to listen/watch the services at my home in Las Vegas – 2200 miles away from St. Albans WV. It began on a Sunday night when several people gave their hearts to the Lord. At the end of the service, someone passed a note to pastor asking if this was the beginning of revival. He received that note as from the Holy Spirit and made the announcement that there would be service the following night and every night thereafter that another soul came to Jesus. The revival continued nightly Sunday through Friday for 11 weeks: March 20-June 3.

(c) C. Yvonne Karl * * Las Vegas NV * 89113-4628 * June 2011

UPDATE:  As of July 2017, I now live in South Carolina.


Below: First week of revival

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