900 Days

by DanWolgemuth on June 21, 2024

It was January 1, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. A day to mark freedom and liberty, for all.

For all.

But the proclamation took 900 days to resound into the deaf ears of slave owners in Texas. 900 days of continued separation from family. 900 days of isolation and cruelty.

On the cusp of the signing of the Proclamation, black churches across the country participated in ‘watch night’ services. They awaited freedom with anticipation. But freedom was illusive for many. A proclamation without an implementation, a promise with a delayed fulfillment.

On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger marched his troops into Galveston, Texas with General Order #3 in hand to officially loosen the grip of slavery in the last remaining slave holdout. His troops were made up of black and white soldiers. And together they made good on the signature that had long since dried from the pen of President Lincoln.

Initially June 19th was commemorated as the Day of Jubilee. A clear nod to Leviticus 25 and the day of liberation and forgiveness. A day of unified celebration. A day to mark both lament and jubilation. A day of confession and conviction. A start, not a completion.

For 900 days slaves in Texas lived in the “now, but not yet”.

Over time the celebration changed names. From Jubilee to Juneteenth. A day to live into the instruction of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; and mourn with those who mourn.”

Watch night. Jubilee. Juneteenth.

The anticipation and realization of the gift of freedom.

An invitation for all of us to rally together in unity. In celebration. With hope.

It was June 19, 1866 when the first freedom celebrations were held, primarily in Texas. And yes, most predominantly and appropriately in churches, because the dignity of all mankind is gifted by God, not a function of a presidential signature.

Frankly, there was a bit of confusion for me around this milestone. Perhaps, more appropriately ignorance or suspicion. Perhaps that’s true for you.

But now, more than ever, we as the church must come together under the instruction of Jesus in Luke 4…

​        “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
​​              because he has anointed me
        ​​to proclaim good news to the poor.
​              He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
        ​​and recovering of sight to the blind,
              ​​to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
        ​to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (ESV)

The proclamation of liberty. Long before Lincoln. Liberty from the lungs of our Savior.

The mix of lament and jubilation.

A commitment to the imago dei.

Image bearers. From Washington D.C. to Galveston.

June 19th. Jubilee. Juneteenth.

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The Numbers Only Tell Part of the Story

by DanWolgemuth on June 14, 2024

It was 1944 when a fledgling group of young leaders with a Kingdom-sized vision began to coalesce around an idea. A mission. A dream.

Eighty years ago, Youth For Christ was born, launched, and propelled into action. Within a few years, the mission had spread throughout the globe.

In the small Canadian community of Brantford, a local leader by the name of Evon Hedley managed an expanding ministry footprint by hiring a local administrative support staff person. He needed competency, commitment, and missional vibrancy. He got it.

On March 1, 1954, Evon hired June Thompson. June was three months away from her twentieth birthday and was ready to embrace the challenges in front of her.

In just over three years, Evon had been asked to expand his leadership reach by joining the global staff of Youth For Christ in Wheaton, Illinois. He accepted, but only after offering June Thompson a whopping $3,699 annually to stay at his side.

She accepted.

June served the mission in a full-time capacity for 66 years, before moving into a part-time role in 2020, where she served for two years. After 2022, June served an additional two years in a volunteer capacity.

The math preaches. A total of 70 years with Youth For Christ. Over 87% of the missional history of YFC directly connected to June Thompson. It’s a staggering statistic, but far more, it’s an inspiring story of what one life can mean to an organization.

June Thompson was the first face I saw when I walked into my office in early April of 2005. She welcomed me. She supported me. She encouraged me. And yes, there were days that I needed her prayers and wisdom more than I can possibly communicate.

She was there. Always.

If I was in the office, she was in the office.

If I was at an airport on the east coast trying to navigate flight cancellations and rental car mishaps, she was there. At all hours. At any hour.

If I needed a hotel room on the spur of the moment, she was there.

But her executive support skills only told a fraction of the story. Her passion to see the mission advance was her guiding light. She wanted young people to experience what she knew and lived. That is a profound and life-changing relationship with Jesus. And because of that, she wanted to make sure that nothing stood in our way. Nothing.

Of the first nine Presidents and one Interim President of YFC, June supported six of us. Six!

Always with grace and dignity. Always with warmth and honor.

Today, June 14th, 2024, June Thompson turns 90 years old. For years she cloaked her age. But no more. Like rings on a giant sequoia, June has earned the accolades she is now receiving. Through thick and thin. Through forest fires and drought. Through uncertainty and chaos.

June.

Ever confident. Always understated. Forever professional. Eternally driven.

87% of our YFC history has her fingerprints.

And because of that… thousands of young people who will never know her name, know her King.
Happy Birthday, my friend.

We love you.

P.S. – It isn’t just her age that she is prepared to disclose to the world. It’s her name as well. On one occasion, I asked June what her middle name was? She looked at me without a blink and said, “June”. A few moments later I asked what her first name was, and she declined my invitation, by only teasing me with the initial. “O”. That’s right… O.J.T.

So, on the occasion of her 90th birthday, with her permission, we celebrate our friend, our mentor, our companion and guide… Orla June Thompson.

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The Gift of Good-Bye

June 7, 2024

On April 22, 2020, Eunice Cargo moved out of Peakview Assisted Living and moved in with us. The uncertainty of a pandemic, and the lack of personal interaction fueled our desire to make this happen. My mother-in-law was convinced that this was a temporary relocation, and that she would be back at Peakview in time […]

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A Faith That Doesn’t Need To Be Fixed

May 24, 2024

Early this morning I woke with a number of friends and family members on my heart. These are people that I love and pray for… regularly. They are also people who have been exposed to the Gospel message, but who either actively or passively resist, and at times reject the message altogether. My guess is […]

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Hidden…

May 10, 2024

“Do not let your adorning be external… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV) The hidden person of the heart. Imperishable beauty. A gentle and quiet spirit. Did the Apostle […]

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Not For Sale

May 3, 2024

On March 16th, I received an email with the following Subject Line: “Dan, quick question”. The email was sent to me from Nathan Willis, a name that was close enough to a few other individuals that I know, so I opened it. The opening of the email read as follows… “Hi Dan, I hope you […]

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A Maserati in Amish Country

April 26, 2024

Over the past 19 years, I have rented a lot of Alamo cars. On Monday evening at Philadelphia International Airport, with an Alamo agent walking in the parking lot at my side, I got asked a question I’ve never been asked. It started with this observation, “Sir, I know you rented a small SUV (which […]

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Confession

April 19, 2024

I was on my feet on Saturday night at Colorado Community Church, when we repeated, in unison, the classic liturgy of confession. “I have sinned… in thought, word and deed.” At the moment, I resisted the opportunity to specifically name what needed to be named. It was a general confession. A blanket admission. The kind […]

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It Started in 2017

April 12, 2024

On August 21st, 2017 Mary and I stood in an open field on the east side of Denver peering at an open sky through appropriately darkened lenses. A solar eclipse was at approximately 65% throughout the Rockies, but that was clearly enough to capture our hearts, our imagination, and our plans for 2024. This was […]

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Another Anniversary, But Not Just Another…

April 5, 2024

It was 46 years ago, in Franklin, Michigan, that I caught my first wedding glimpse of Mary Christine Cargo. My bride. If I pause, I can still see that image, feel those feelings, and experience those emotions. But a wedding is only the beginning. Cliché. Probably. But true. What happens after “I do” is what […]

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