THE JOURNEY With God
(By: Dan Israelson)
Thank you for the Precious Testimonies ministry and the time you've placed into your website helping minister to others. I have been greatly encouraged from reading Norm's testimony and others on your site.
I first heard of you guys from John Oliver Calvert's testimony which you linked to Vimeo. Thank you for allowing Mr. Calvert to share his awesome experience. What most touched me about this video is when he spoke about how Jesus came to earth to show us how to properly live in relationship with our Heavenly Father. Mr. Calvert mentioned how Jesus went to a solitary place and spent time alone with the Father so He could be more in tune with Him. Man, that is so powerful and true! This is fundamental to my purpose and current journey.
My testimony and journey so far: I was raised in the Assemblies of God fellowship and came to know the Lord in the 6th grade at a bible camp. People were falling in God's presence (slain in the spirit) and I was very skeptical. I went to the altar with stubborn legs, saying, 'No way am I going to fall'. God pushed me to the ground and I laid there for hours weeping in His presence. There was no love that I had ever felt before, that was as powerful as that evening. When the service was over, I ran into the woods in Lake Stevens, WA and just cried my eyes out to a God I just met. The security officers were shining their lights into the woods and yelling out, "Dan where are you?" And I just stayed in that river with the Lord, completely ignoring them.
It didn't stop for a couple years. I could really hear God's voice in my spirit and I had a hunger to be in conversation with Him. I obtained a key from a church worker, and would often walk to the church and sneak in at night so I could be in solitude with God. However, there was one night that changed my relationship with God during that time. The Lord whispered to me, "Dan - you will nail my hands and feet to the cross. You will hurt me." And I cried, "No Lord - I would never do that to you, I could never hurt you. I love you too much." It bothered me that Jesus would say that to me. I never really processed why God said that to me at the time, but my heart became hardened soon after and then it began to make sense.
My love relationship with the Father dimmed to Sunday and Wednesday church fellowship services. Then I went through a crime spree, stealing from others and not caring about it anyone. I spent time in jail and a counselor I was court assigned to, couldn't get through to me. I was hurting inside so much because I was distant from my Heavenly Father. Desperate and hurting ... I cried out to God in 1996. "Lord I need you; I miss you, please speak to me and break my hardened heart."
It wasn't an instant process but He slowly showed me how stealing wasn't helping His people. It was hurting them. So I gained a new passion to serve others instead of taking from them and did volunteer work for the church and went on missions trips to help out.
After high school, I fell in love with a christian girl. We were both saving ourselves for marriage and it all seemed perfect. I planned on marrying her and starting a life together, but on a Wednesday night I heard a voice inside say, "Dan I want you to break up with her." When I told her, she said she heard the same thing about me. But a week later, I missed her and got angry with God. I questioned how He could take a beautiful thing like love away from me. I tried to get my relationship with her back, but she had already moved on. My heart was a mess for awhile. I worked several different jobs after high school but had no purpose - no direction in life. I often got upset and quit over small details, or walked in late and got fired because I didn't care.
Then in the summer of 1999, I went to another bible camp. The speaker was a prophetic evangelist and he shared with me a word from the Lord. "God has called you to work with youth." Alright - I had a direction, a purpose, and a reason to get up in the morning.
Shortly after, my parents inherited a large sum of money and said they would pay for my first two years of school. I looked at various ways I could work with youth and decided to study psychology and become a school counselor. For two years, I studied at a community college and me and Sigmund Freud didn't get along too well. I soon learned that there is no biblical foundation in secular counseling and left school with no degree.
But I was confident that God had given me a passion for youth so I took a job at the YMCA as a teen facilitator for a couple years. I really enjoyed the stories of the teens and could relate to their struggles. God was preparing me for something else. I received a phone call from YFC (Youth For Christ) in 2003. They were looking for a ministry intern to work in a drop in center for at-risk youth. With no youth ministry experience, but just a big heart for kids, they hired me and I was able to share the message of Christ to hurting teens. It was a great two years with YFC. I led a small group, drove kids to church and planned activities with them. I also got to be their counselor and guide them through their decision to follow Christ.
Around this time, I joined a new church fellowship which was in the same town as the ministry and I was mentored by a youth pastor who led a group of college guys passionate about Christ. The youth pastor held us accountable to pray one hour every day in solitude and read four chapters in the gospels of our choosing and then write everything down in a notebook. This was hard at first because it's tough to find complete solitude with God. I ended up clearing out my bedroom closet and putting a desk lamp in there. It still wasn't an empty church fellowship building, but it was something.
One night in March of 2004, while praying in my prayer closet, I received a supernatural vision from the Lord. It was so strong that my physical body was literally shaking in what I believe can only be described now as a taste of His Glory. In the vision, I was falling through three layers of see-through gold shades, and heard a voice in my spirit saying, "The Son is the radiance of God's Glory." When I reached the third layer, my body began to shake with excitement. I also noticed a skeletal structure rising on a hill.
I prayed for an interpretation of the vision and God showed me that we are vessels of His glory. Then found this verse: "The son is the radiance of God's glory" (Hebrews 1:3). The closer we get to his SON, the more we RADIATE in HIS GLORY. I was literally falling into the Glory of God in the vision. My body couldn't handle it so I began to shake. He said that the structure you saw is not a church building -- "It's a place where people can become real with me." "It's a place where people can find solitude with me." And "It's a place that is free from distractions." I soon realized that God was giving me a new direction in my journey. He wanted me to build a place where people can find solitude, away from their routine lives, similar to what I had at my empty church growing up and similar to what I experienced in the woods in Lake Stevens, WA.
YFC had to let me go after two years for financial reasons. God closed the door and I started looking on how to become a carpenter. I applied at the local carpentry union in Washington State because I felt that God wanted me to learn how to build. The day I was supposed to go in for an interview, I was loading my quad on my truck and I sprained my foot. I missed my interview and Jesus shut the door. I soon learned that Jesus did not want me to become a carpenter. I began praying again and earnestly asking Him what the prayer buildings should look like. I have drawings and sketches from 2006 from what he told me. It became a regular part of our conversation and it still is. I mentioned them to a close friend and he said, "Maybe God wants you to become an architect." Then something just clicked inside and I said ... "Duhh."
I browsed the internet for architecture schools and found the only evangelical architecture school in the nation: Judson University in Elgin, IL. I wrote Judson a letter describing my interest in becoming an architect and received an acceptance letter soon after. In 2007, with no prior drafting or art experience, I enrolled into the architecture program.
The first few years were tough because I was an older student and had been out of college for seven years, plus I had to learn how to do art. I caught on fast though and when I was stuck, the Lord helped me with dreams and gave me some gifted colleagues to work with. My professors were stunned by my progress as I moved through the years. I shared the vision with several professors and students over the years and implemented many of the ideas for places of prayer into my projects. They thought I was strange and were skeptical when I told them Jesus helped me with my designs. I made more mistakes and fell short many times while being in school, but I had a purpose that was keeping me going.
In 2010, I shared my spiritual journey and the vision with a local pastor and he was blown away. In April of 2012, the same pastor called me to his office and said, "Dan, I want you to design a christian homeschool in downtown Elgin, and on the top floor, put that vision the Lord has shared with you." So for the last five months I've been designing a real building that will one day be built in the city where I went to college. Jesus had a plan all along!
I am dedicated to designing places of prayer for people of all ages. Ever since receiving the vision in 2004, the Lord has shared with me many ideas for designing places of solitude in every community, whether it be rural, suburban, or urban. Ultimately, it is Jesus' desire that we are in an intimate relationship with Him so that we Radiate in His Glory and continue His ministry here on earth.
Thank you for allowing me to share...God Bless!
Dan's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)