Special Forces – Riverview, FL

Jim Van GelderenSpecial Forces Updates

In 1988 I went to the Bill Rice Ranch for a few days to visit my aunt and uncle. They both had labored there for many years. That week Pastor Bob Kelley was preaching, and I remember being impacted by his preaching. In fact, my aunt gave me the recordings of those messages. I have listened to them many times. Recently our team went to Providence Baptist Church where one of Bob Kelley’s daughters, Mrs. Goforth, is the Pastor’s wife. It was a blessing to be there. God worked in many lives, and we were encouraged with what the Lord is doing there through Pastor Goforth.

Ryan, the Super Seal’s captain invited three big guys who came Thursday night. He recruited them all at Bloomingdale High on Tuesday. Two of them were saved on Thursday and the other one got assurance and counsel on victory over sin.
One young man was especially excited when Ryan asked, “If you trust Christ to save you, how will you know He did?” He replied emphatically,

“Well, because I believed, and the Book says if I believe, then I’m saved!”

After he was saved, he waited with Ryan for the other guys to finish. When another young man came out, he was not solid on his follow up answers when Ryan asked, “If you died right now, where would you go?” Ryan asked this young man who had gotten save earlier to explain to this young man who was not sure how he can know he was on his way to heaven. He simply replied with a big smile, “Because you believe man, and the Book says, ‘If you believe, then you’re saved!’”

He returned Friday night, and the smile was still there. He gave a testimony that showed his burden for others to get saved as well. Ryan asked him afterward, “If God called you to be a preacher, would you do it?” He replied without any hesitation, “I will do anything God tells me to.” He came to church on Sunday morning and evening.

On Friday, there was an invitation for those who had made a decision during the week and were not ashamed of the decision, but truly desired the decision to be lasting and knew they would need God’s grace for that to happen. Over half of the student body responded. After a few minutes of the students praying privately, I opened it up for a corporate prayer meeting. I asked the students to pray “declarations of dependence” or “I need You, God” prayers. For over 30 minutes with little dead space those students cried out to God! It was a little bit of heaven. One young lady cried out, “I’m tired, Lord!” expressing her dissatisfaction with self-dependence.

On Friday night several gave wonderful testimonies. Below are a few lines from a few of the testimonies.

“When I was homeschooled, I would take the Teacher’s Key and . . . my workbook and I would just straight-up copy answers right off of that and that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. And I had to go back and talk to my parents and it was hard. There’s going to be some difficulties with that. I’m probably going to get punished, but it’s worth it to tell your parents that when you mess-up, to tell God. And I had to get right with God and I’m so happy I did!”


“Thursday, Dr. Jim talked about covering sin and it really got me thinking. I had a lot of sin that I hid behind my parents’ back because I was mad at them. I was bitter towards them. I started diving into music that I shouldn’t be listening to, hanging out with friends I shouldn’t have ever befriended, started watching things I know was wrong with the TV, with internet. . . . It really got me convicted. And I was so scared to talk to my parents because I didn’t know how they were going to act. I knew it would break their heart. You know, I was scared and I didn’t really trust God to give me the strength to talk to my parents. So I delayed a day and I ended up just putting my dependence on God and I trusted Him and I told my parents. And all that baggage that I felt, that I kept hidden within myself and they had no idea…all that baggage was left and it was one of the best feelings I ever felt! I felt so close to my parents . . . I felt closer to my God and it was just great!”


“I never really had a relationship with God that was actually a ‘good’, I guess you could say. It was . . . check off the list, do your devotions, ok, pray. . . This week I realized that no matter what I do, I can’t be a good Christian, like no matter what I do. I tried so hard. . . My devotions were dry and I couldn’t get out of it. But this week. . . God showed me that I need Him! Every aspect of life! Even already this burden is off of me! And it was great!”

One of the young men who got right with God earlier in the week was vocal for the Lord the final evening after the testimony service. His team captain related, “Come Friday night, there was a group on the Ranger team from ROTC at the public high school. That young man went around witnessing to each one of them. He started asking them if they knew where they’d go when they die, and encouraging them to come to church. It was just exciting to see a young person from the Christian school who got sin taken care of and said,

‘Alright, God, I’m ready to be used of You.’”

It was a memorable week. There is so much more that could be related. Many young people were responsive to the Lord!

About the Author
Jim Van Gelderen

Jim Van Gelderen

Dr. Jim Van Gelderen is president of Minutemen Ministries, vice-president of Baptist College of Ministry, and evangelist out of Falls Baptist Church. He and his wife, Rhonda, travel the country in evangelism. They have three daughters.