Additional Photos After Testimony
4935 cdd Building on the Rock
Cyber Daily Devotion
Volume 20 Number 134
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Romans 10:13-14
“For ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
Hello, we are Tony and Jill Geselle with Tree Top Kids Ministry in Scandia, Minnesota. I’m Tony and my life started in Rochester, Minnesota as the middle child of three. My dad was a Pastor with the Assemblies of God Church while mom was super busy as a Pastors wife and homemaker. When I was six years old we moved to the Twin Cities when my dad took an administrative position at the denomination headquarters. We grew up a church family getting to know many of the Pastors and congregations throughout Minnesota. We spent as much time as we could during the summer at the Church Bible Camps.
It was while I was at a Royal Ranger camp out, when I was 7 years old, that my life changed. We were around a campfire as others were sharing their testimonies of what Jesus had done in their lives. It was here that I heard about God’s forgiveness and salvation. My grandfather’s friend was there and together he shared the love of Jesus with me.
From then on I had a new focus of who Jesus is. I loved God and sought to serve him in my local church.
In my teenage years apathy moved me away from Jesus. I was doing enough on the outside to make people think I was following God, but my whole heart was not His. My plans for life included joining the Navy as a diver. Their program sounded good to me. As I was preparing to sign up, my parents suggested a different idea.
I was an accomplished football player in high school, and they suggested I look at a Christian college that could use my talent. I played two years of college football at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a guard. During this time, God called me back into a deeper relationship with him. After 2 years of college football I heard the Lord say, “Let football go.” I did.
Jill’s path to this point was much like mine. Her parents had hearts to follow Christ and raised her to do the same. She had a deep relationship with God from a very early age. God called her to missions and she gave everything she had for it. She traveled all through her high school summers on different missions trips around the world. She came to Bethel to seek a degree in the medical field that would be a launching pad for her ministry overseas. While at Bethel she served long stays in Mongolia and Zimbabwe. She loved the people and became the hands and feet of Jesus.
Our paths crossed early in college. We became great friends while going to church and bible study together. We pushed each other to go deeper with God. We never dated in college, and didn’t see much of each other after graduation. During this time, Jill was working at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. She was getting great experience while paying off her college loans and preparing to go anywhere God would point out.
I graduated college with a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. I traveled to Argentina spending six months learning Spanish and serving missionaries that ran a Bible school. This is where God renewed my dream for a farm for kids. I thought it would be in Argentina or some other location in South America. But God directed me to go to Chisago City, Minnesota, where my parents were now pastors of a church. I was to be their youth pastor.
October 2000, God used the words “You don’t have to cross an ocean to find a mission field” to call me into ministry at the Stacy, Minnesota Trailer Court.
At that time, Jill was releasing to God any demand for marriage, kids or dreams of her own. That is when God brought us together. We started dating late in 2000 and we married in December of 2001. We joined Tree of Life Church and bought a rundown trailer in the Stacy, Minnesota Trailer court. We fixed the trailer up and moved into the trailer court to begin what God was beginning in us.
One of our first surprises was to find that the local drug dealer lived next door! We observed a continual flow of adults to his door. We saw generations caught in destructive cycles of behavior. What God was showing us was that we needed to break this chain and see new generations living healthy Godly lives passing down a heritage of life, faith and family. The trailer court kids are the generation God was sending us to.
It was time to act. We befriended a few children and introduced them to the love of Jesus Christ. We created an atmosphere where they could be children. Then we fed them. We taught them basic life skills. We read them Bible stories. And then invited them to the Tree of Life church on Sunday and Wednesday night.
It took time, effort, patience and love. We started with three children. Then we had a car full. Then a van full. Then another van. And another. Soon we had a bus full . At the height of this ministry we had access to 8 trailer courts and our youth group swelled to over 80 children. Not bad for a church of 40 committed Christians over a 7 year period.
The Lord spoke to us through scripture as we daily sought him for strength. Luke 2:52 became our foundation: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Jesus as our example increased in Wisdom – Mental health — Stature – Physical health — Favor with Man – Social health — Favor with God – Spiritual health. We developed after school programs in these four areas for the children.
In 2010 we received a word from the Lord to prepare for a farm. We transitioned out of a staff position at Tree of Life Church leaving behind a dedicated group of trained trailer court missionary specialists. We now focused our attention on the Stacy, Wyoming and Forest Lake, Minnesota areas.
Our next seven years the Lord took us on a roller coaster we didn’t expect. We began raising money and sharing the vision of a farm for kids. A farm where they would come to on a weekly basis to develop in the 4 key areas.
Ministry came together quickly, and we put an offer on a farm. Everything was good to go. Then at the last minute two people superseded our offer and we could not make the purchase happen. That farm was not to be. Six more years of disappointing farm shopping followed. It was a disheartening experience, but we remained determined and committed to what God had said.
Then came the opportunity to buy the Tree Top Kids Farm. The flood gates opened wide. The money was raised immediately.
And volunteers started to connect. It began when a friend volunteered an entire day for his whole work crew. Professional builders who knew what to do and how to do it. Renovations started in a big way. Many hands make for light work and youth groups arrived to cut trees, bush hog and clean up. Fences were erected.
Our latest project is a new 40 x 70 foot pole barn. A volunteer cement crew is on the way to build the pad. Another volunteer crew to set the poles. Another to fit the roof and one more to add the siding. Pastor Bill it is happening so fast that probably by the time you publish this we will be in the middle of construction. To God be all the Glory.
We are providing a firm foundation built on the Rock — Jesus Christ. Introducing and explaining parable after parable in the Bible in a practical way. Offering hands on experiences to pull kids out of the poverty cycle. With visual and practical applications that show the Gospel in action.
Pastor Bill tell your readers thank you for the Cross. Since the beginning of this ministry the Cross has been the focal point. And now everyone who drives in will see our first impression: A beautiful new Cross. THANK YOU.
My favorite Bible verse is Colossians 1:6 “The Gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world-just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.” NIV
The farm is our tool to help youth truly understand God’s Grace…. and then watch it bear fruit.
The Cross to me means that Jesus paid the price for my soul. Salvation to the fullest for all eternity. This is what the farm is all about. Not just for self-help. This is about Jesus and salvation one child at a time.
I mentioned miracles as I was interviewing Tony and he immediately gave me the opportunity to interview Hudson, one of his four adopted children. Hudson says when he was 18 months old he picked up a Citronella Candle and took a drink. His mom Jill was watching, she was too late to stop him.
They called 911 and after Hudson was unable to breath rushed him to the hospital. His prognosis was bleak as he drank kerosene which went directly into his lungs. Prayer, prayer and prayer was called for. He turned blue and he was unable to get any oxygen. His doctor put him in a three-day coma. During the coma he was completely unresponsive. Only prayer was sustaining him.
Three days later he woke up. On the 7th day he went to a see a specialist in the hospital. There was no sign of any trauma in his body. To God be all the Glory! Hudson is proud to tell anyone that Jesus healed him.
Tony tells of a group of young girls who would mock the teaching of the gospel and worship, but still wanted to come to the farm every week. The leaders continued to love and teach all the girls. But God was doing things under the surface. The girls started to reveal that they were searching things out and reading the Bible on their own. Then one of them went to a summer Bible camp. Upon her return, you could see a different young woman had replaced the old. Everything about her was different. She was Joyful! When Tony saw her, he asked, “what happened to you”? She joyfully responded, “Lets just say I’m way into Jesus now”. Praise the Lord!
Prayer: Father thank you for the way You creatively open doors as we patiently wait on You. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!