Randy Gruber

Randy GruberI spent the first 22 years of my life without God or Christ in my life. Although I was blessed with a loving family and good opportunities for advancement in this life, the Lord graciously sent into my life a number of experiences that caused me to realize my frailty and to search for the true meaning and purpose of living in a world that ultimately takes the life of everyone born into it.

My first memories reflect some basic, fleshly insecurities. My first recollection as a child is falling on the steps while holding my mother’s hand, resulting in a number of stitches. Then, my next memory involves a concussion I received at the hands of my best friend while attending kindergarten. These experiences left my heart a bit troubled, but the years that followed were lived in a normal middle class environment with little concern about my soul.

Then, suddenly, my otherwise peaceful life was disturbed by two more major concussions. The first occurred in my senior year of high school and caused me to rethink why I should discipline myself and accomplish anything worthwhile. The second occurred in my sophomore year of college and caused me to redirect my educational goals from Medicine to English to Philosophy and, finally, to Religion. I graduated from Westminster College in Fulton, MO with a degree in Comparative Religions.

Obviously, the search was on for the true meaning and purpose of life. With many opportunities to learn the truth, I found myself enslaved to the many lusts and lies that were now present within my life. The Scriptures clearly teach that it is shameful to speak of the things which are done by those who walk in darkness, so I will not speak specifically of the evils that I had allowed to enslave my life. These are the very things of which I am now ashamed.

While teaching at Cleveland High School, I met a young girl Sally Frankel and her family. They actually believed that Jesus Christ was a real, historic Person Whom they claimed to know and obey. One day this young girl challenged me to read the Bible and allow it to judge me rather than I judge it. This was a very novel idea to my proud heart, but I took her up on the challenge. Over the Christmas break, I began to read carefully through the New Testament. After several days I found myself under deep conviction for my sins before God. I wondered if there was any hope for me. Several days later the Lord Jesus Christ spoke very personally to me through Philippians 3:20-21. My heart rejoiced that Jesus is truly alive and that He would be returning for me in order to resurrect my body so I could be with Him forever. Having believed in Him, I closed my Bible and looked into heaven and said, “Thank you, Lord!” My sleep that night was peaceful.

The next morning I awoke and immediately returned to my Bible reading. It was like reading a brand new book. The message was coming through strong and clear. Everything seemed so simple and alive, yet my critical mind made me question if I had really come to know the Lord through His Word to me. Therefore, I took a week

off from teaching after the Christmas break in order to return to Westminster College. There, I visited the chaplain Bill Huntley and asked if I could stay with him until I reread the entire Bible. I was more than welcome and within four days or so the task was completed. I knew for sure that God had spoken and that I now knew the truth about myself and life. Jesus Christ my Lord is the way, the truth, and the life!

That next year I returned to school to receive a Masters degree in Education with an emphasis on counseling from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. My intent was to be a counselor or teacher in a public school.

Walking with Christ proved adventuresome and eventful. I spent the first years of my life as a believer in careful study of God’s Word while working as a counselor or teacher in both public and private schools. During those years, a number of young men including myself established the Emmaus Correspondence School in St. Louis (1974). We had a deep desire to see men and women taught about our Lord Jesus Christ.

A friend’s brother was arrested and sent to jail and then to prison. I was asked to visit him, a request that led me to become deeply involved in prison ministry in 1984. Knowing a definite call on my life to a discipling ministry using the Emmaus courses, I soon found myself totally involved in the distribution and grading of the courses as well as in writing the students in answer to their many questions.

While reading 1 Samuel 22:1-2, I soon learned from the Lord that His desire was for offenders to become involved in this prison ministry. The thought seemed impossible, yet the Lord within the next five years opened the door for an inmate run office inside of Potosi Correctional Center (1992). What began with one office, two inmates and one computer has, over the past 20 years, expanded to two offices (the second one in Southeast Correctional Center), 18 computers, and over 30 inmates.

Today, we distribute courses in English and Spanish. The offenders grade and distribute courses to men who are incarcerated in Missouri, Illinois, North and South Dakota, and Hawaii. At this writing we have an average of about 2,300 students with a distribution of about 34,000 courses a year. Our office in St. Louis, MO handles all the courses that are sent in by women. Over the next few years we believe that the work as established could easily double with our present staff and offices.

The offenders not only grade and comment on the courses and answer questions submitted by students, but they also take on projects that help further the correspondence work worldwide. Some of these projects include: a Commentor’s Guide (to help instructors comment on the courses), Captive’s Corners (to help students understand a number of teachings from the Scriptures), and course development (writing and publishing our own discipleship materials).

Today, I am thankful to my Lord for counting me faithful to be put into this ministry. My prayer is that we who serve Him will be found faithful in His service when He returns. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5