Summary: Everyone needs a mentor and friend to accomplish all that God calls them to do.

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“Friendships – the way to Thrive Spiritually”

Acts 9:10-19

What is it that helps you survive and thrive spiritually in a world that is not friendly to Christians? Most of us would have to answer: Family and friends. Our family and friends have been our primary encouragers to survive spiritually. For many your family and friends are found in the life and ministry of the local church.

Do you remember the name Dirk Been? If not his name, you most likely know his story. Dirk grew up in a strong Christian family on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. As a boy he had aspirations of being an actor. When he went off to a Christian liberal arts college in Seattle, Dirk began to take his faith seriously. In addition to his classes, he began to volunteer in urban ministry outreach projects. His natural athletic ability resulted in his being chosen captain of the Seattle Pacific basketball team. Following graduation, Dirk accepted an invitation to join the staff of Interbay Covenant Church, where he served as youth pastor. In the fall of 1999, Dirk sensed the Lord closing the door to his position at the church. He knew that he had a call on his life to be “in ministry,” but he wasn’t sure how it would all pan out. As Thanksgiving approached, he decided to drive home to spend the holiday with his folks before traveling the country in search of his next ministry assignment.

Upon arriving on the family farm north of Madison, Dirk made a devastating discovery. Somewhere between Washington and Wisconsin, his ATM card had been stolen. His life savings were wiped out. As he sat around the family Thanksgiving table passing the turkey and dressing, Dirk’s attitude wasn’t as sweet as his mom’s candied yams. Just what did the Lord have in mind? The money he’d planned to use to set out on his nationwide trip was gone. He had no choice but to hang out at his folk’s house and help with the chores.

One night after supper, Dirk watched the news with his dad. He became curious about a reality TV show that would be filmed on location in Borneo. Interested would-be contestants were encouraged to apply. While he nibbled on leftover turkey, the passion inside Dirk that had been caged since his performances in high school musicals began to stir. The next day, instead of doing his chores, Dirk made an audition video and sent it to Hollywood. After a meaningful college experience and a fruitful youth ministry, could this be the next adventure the Lord had in store for him? As he reflected on the seemingly unrelated ingredients in his twenty-four years of life, Dirk felt like a human kettle of Mulligan stew. Yet, somehow he found it easy not to worry. Continuing to do chores on his dad’s farm, the truth of Romans 8:28 buoyed him with confidence. God was in the process of stirring together the events in Dirk’s life in order to accomplish his plan. Within six weeks, Dirk received word that he’d been chosen to be one of the sixteen castaways on the hit TV series Survivor.

And you probably remember what happened next. If you were among the 26 million viewers who watched Survivor each Wednesday night that summer (I wasn’t one of the viewers), you know that Dirk made a name for himself . . . and the Lord. No, he didn’t walk away with the million dollars, being the lone survivor. In fact, he was voted off the island after only 15 days. But Dirk Been, the vocal Bible-toting farmer, used the platform of a network television show to share his faith. To this day, Dirk continues to be sought out as a speaker for churches and youth groups. And when he gives his testimony, he is quick to acknowledge how the Lord brought about a divine detour in his life that he wouldn’t trade for anything. He believed it was all part of God’s sovereign plan for his life.

The truth is Dirk Been was more than a survivor. He learned firsthand how to thrive spiritually by trusting God and guarding his heart long before he was voted off the island. He learned it at his parent’s farm in Wisconsin when he thought his future had been shipwrecked. He discovered the secrets of thriving spiritually.

Acts chapter 9:1 “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”

Acts 9 records how Saul an enemy of the church became Paul a friend of the Church.

Saul started out as a radical revolutionary – a terrorist to the Christian Community. Saul was enemy number one on the Jerusalem Wanted List. Saul was the Bin Laden of his day. Saul was the leader of the stoning of Stephen in Acts chapter 7.

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