Finding the Way Finale:
How Isaiah Changed My Lifeby Dan Stolebarger, Director of Koinonia Institute
This article concludes the series I began several months ago, which became my Doctoral Dissertation to Louisiana Baptist University. It is my personal pilgrimage of where I have been, where I am at, and where I hope to go! In other words, it is my journey and my attempt to find The Way...
As a young follower of Christ, I was passionate about the Lord and I had a strong desire for His Word. As the years went by, I was always on the “cutting edge” spiritually, but by the time our Community disbanded and the doors closed on the church that we had planted, I entered a time where I felt as though I had experienced all there was to experience when it came to Christianity. Even the Bible became old hat. My Bible was all marked up and that somehow gave me the feeling that I knew it! I was coasting spiritually and I was growing into quite the Pharisee.
It was at this time that my friend, Gordon McDonald, became pivotal in my life. Gordon and I had lived in Community together and, when both the Community and the church dis-banded, he went on to be a part of Koinonia House and I went on to Horizon to coach and teach.
Gordon signed me up to receive weekly tapes from this guy named Chuck Missler. The tapes kept coming but instead of listening to them, I just tossed them into a box. You see, I thought I already knew the Bible! I continued in my dry wasteland.
One day as I was going to work, I put in a Chuck Missler tape; it was on the Book of Isaiah. As I listened to that tape, the Holy Spirit shook me out of my slumber and slapped me back into re-ality. As I listened to Chuck’s expository teaching on Isaiah, I realized how little I knew and how far I had to go! I was spell-bound and I could not get enough. I began to pour over the Word and listen to each and every one of those tapes. I purchased a wide-margin Bible so I could write down all those notes. Be-cause of that tape, I was transformed!
Over the months (and now years), I have made it my goal to be a life-long learner and hopefully one day be a scholar of God’s Word.
As I devoted myself to the Word, my ministry was reborn. As we fast forward to my days at the Rock, I remember the first trip to Ethiopia that Chuck Missler and Bob Cornuke were heading up, “The Ark of the Covenant Expedition.” After reading the flyer I knew that I had to go. That trip, as memorable as it was, allowed me the opportunity to get to know Chuck Missler as a friend.
Over the next few years we traveled together to sites such as Ephesus, Malta, Corinth, Rome, Cairo and finally to the trip that is seared into my very being—Israel.
I will never forget what Chuck said to me when I was heading off for my first visit to Eretz Israel. He said: “Dan, you are going to have a strange sensation when you get off the plane at Ben Gurion. When your feet hit the ground you are going to feel like you just arrived HOME.”
Knowing Chuck over the years, I thought that this was just one of his colorful illustrations! But you know, when my feet hit the ground that very first time, I really did have that feeling of being home and since that time, I have not been able to get Israel off of my heart!
Over the next couple of years it was my honor to bring Chuck to the Rock Church as a guest speaker, where he was always welcomed. It was during one of those times that Chuck shared with me a weird story, and then made me an offer that I knew, if I didn’t accept it, I would regret it the rest of my life. It was a challenge that has brought me to where I am today. The challenge was to come and help build an Institute that would have its focus on “everyman” with an appeal for all who have ears to “raise the bar” spiritually in their lives. This, plus a charge to lead two trips a year to the Holy Land!
After much prayer and discussion with my wife, I went to my Senior Pastor at the Rock and sought his advice. We took a week to pray and then he told me he believed that God was be-hind all of this and he would give me his blessing!
Our next stop was to be Coeur d’Alene, so my wife and our youngest son left our other two boys, my mother and my Small Group, and we moved up to Idaho in the summer of 2005.
And so we come to my current destination. KI is now a reality and it is my prayer that those who join this Fellowship will have found The WAY. I am thrilled to let you know that this dissertation was accepted and approved by Louisiana Baptist University and on May 2, 2008, I graduated from LBU with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies.
The journey continues and the final destination will be when we see Him face to face and only then will we have finally found THE WAY Home.