A Testimony by Steve Ranz
I was raised in a Catholic home and attended a Catholic grade school and High School which including my freshman and sophomore years in a minor Catholic seminary. I completed my formal education by gaining my Bachelor’s degree from a Catholic College and my MBA from a Catholic University. I maintained my strong Catholic ties well into my adult years. However in 1999 my wife and I received an invitation to attend an event at an Evangelical Church. This invitation led to some questions and within a short period of time we began attending both the Catholic as well as the Evangelical church.
I was struggling between my strong catholic ties and two critical concepts I encountered in the Evangelical church: mainly, that every person needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and that the Bible was God’s personal love letter to each of us. If that were the case, I needed to read the Bible. From today’s vantage point, these facts seem so basic to my walk as a Christian, but back then it was a huge turning point for me.
The Holy Spirit began working mightily to open the eyes of my heart. In a short period of time I began attending a Men’s Bible study and was being mentored by a strong Christian man. In 2004, my wife and I were baptized. When I gave my life over to the Lord there were two Bible passages that He put on my heart. The first was Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” And also Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
About three years ago our faith journey led us to Grace church and a Sunday morning class. Then came an invitation from Brad and Lynn Adams to attend a presentation by John Woodward (of Grace Fellowship International) arranged by Cross to Life Discipleship Ministry in Minnesota. When I heard the presentation and realized the message was based on Galatians 2:20 and the “Exchanged Life,” I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. After that Saturday I acquired and read Dr. Solomon’s Handbook to Happiness. I then read two more of his books and went through the webinar class with John. I also observed John as he took a man through a multiple session Exchanged Life mentoring process.
Back In 2005, the Holy Spirit drew me into discipling and mentoring men within our church, and eventually by 2010 I was strongly involved with prison ministry. I have now incorporated lots of the Handbook to Happiness diagrams and Bible verses into my “toolbox” and I have encouraged a number of men to read the book so that the Holy Spirit could use it to impact their walks directly.
One of the prisoners with whom I have been working since 2012 has read Handbook to Happiness and The Ins and Outs of Rejection at my suggestion. Not only has it intensified his own walk with the Lord, but he has shared the message with other men in the prison as well. In January, 2018 this inmate will be leading a group of 10 men, navigating them through The New Life book by Regional Wallace. The class is called “Your Identity in Christ.” We have supplied books for them to use and we are hoping this becomes a regular part of the Prison Fellowship Academy program. I am excited about this opportunity, and I am in communication with the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections about getting this implemented in other locations for inmates.
I also lead the Every Man A Warrior study group at Grace Church on Saturday mornings and refer to the Galatians 2:20 material there. I recently shared John Woodward’s “Paradigm Shift” article with one of the men to help him understand more of the New Covenant concepts.
I retired last May and was then able to begin and complete the first step of the personalization process to become trained for “intensive discipleship” to men through the Cross to Life ministry here in Minneapolis. I was not sure what to expect of that process. It turned out to be very eye-opening for me. As Linda Gammon and her co-discipler took me through the Main Truths to be Shared in Exchanged Life Discipleship, I uncovered and learned a lot about myself that had been “hidden” before. I am so appreciative of the investment that the Cross to Life Discipleship ministry team made in taking me through this process. I look forward to the next step of observing trained Exchanged Life mentors to further what the Holy Spirit wants to do through me. Praise the Lord!