We’re so grateful for all those who have volunteered their services to this ministry over the years. But what motivates someone to sell their business, donate the proceeds to 3ABN, and move here to volunteer? We sat down with Don and Grace Yost recently to find out.
“I first heard about 3ABN from my mother,” Don begins. “She discovered it just as they were getting started, and she spoke of it often. My sister bought a satellite dish and I watched whenever we visited. Later we purchased a dish for our home, too.
“When 3ABN held a rally at Forest Lake Academy in Apopka, Florida, we made a point of attending, and that’s when I told my wife that I wanted to meet Danny. You see, I had my own automotive transmission repair business, but I was tired of it, and wanted to retire. Now I felt impressed to sell it and donate the money to 3ABN—but I hadn’t told Grace about it, yet!
“We talked to Danny for a few minutes before I told him what I wanted to do. He urged us to come up and look the place over first. Then he asked, ‘Is your wife in agreement with you?’
“Without hesitation, she said, ‘Yes!’ ”
A Different World
Soon Don and Grace were on their way to Illinois with the idea of moving here to volunteer. But while they were impressed by 3ABN, they weren’t so sure about the move. “We’d just built our dream home in Florida,” Grace says, “and it was nicer than I could’ve dreamed for!”
“We were planning to stay there until Jesus came,” Don adds, noting that southern Illinois was just so different from anything they’d ever experienced.
“Then there was the very real fact that we wouldn’t have any family close by!” Grace recalls. “I remember thinking, No Lord, we can’t do this. But the Holy Spirit hadn’t spoken to me; He spoke to Don, and something kept drawing us here.”
While Don and Grace struggled with the idea of moving, over the next year God continued sending them affirmations. Finally they contacted a real estate agent and put their house in Florida up for sale.
“I was retired and I was bored,” Don admits. “I kept thinking, I am sitting here while 3ABN needs so much help! If the Lord wants us there, He’ll sell this house for us! I felt it was the right move and that the Lord would take care of us.”
Then, during their volunteer third trip to 3ABN, they received an offer on their house. “I’d always wanted to work for the Lord,” Grace says, “but my life hadn’t worked out that way. Earlier we’d considered volunteering with another ministry, but we would’ve had to buy a motor home, so we didn’t pursue it. But now we began looking in earnest, and when we found a house, we made an offer—contingent on the sale of our Florida home, of course.”
The sale went through, and Don and Grace began volunteering full-time. However, not long after this they felt they should move closer. After a year and a half they finally found and bought some property, and since their first Illinois house was almost paid for, they used the equity to build their new one.
But building a home on a volunteer’s salary while still paying for the first one soon became a financial burden. “We cut our expenses to a bare minimum, but we still struggled,” Don admits. “We got rid of my truck, our satellite dish, our Internet—even our newspaper subscription. For the first time in our marriage we wondered if we were going to make it, but the Lord was faithful, and we were never late on our payments.”
Grace struggled, too. “I’d been taught to work hard, save money, and pay off my home by the time I retired. But our life wasn’t working out that way. One morning I sat and thought, Lord, I don’t understand this journey. But then the Holy Spirit impressed me with the thought, Grace, it doesn’t make any difference. Jesus is coming soon. That message was so clear in my mind!”
Three years later their first home sold. Then, after finishing their new house, Don returned to manage 3ABN’s grounds and maintenance departments.
Their experience left a lasting impression, however. “I have a peace about it all today,” Don says. “Now I know I could walk away from everything I own, while before, I was tied to some of it. I don’t know what would’ve happened if we’d stayed in Florida, but our relationship with the Lord has become a lot stronger since we’ve been here!”
Through the Eyes of Jesus
Grace says she was surprised when 3ABN asked her to assist in pastoral ministries’ correspondence, since her experience was in management and accounting. But when she began working with inmate letters, the correspondence volume increased dramatically.
“I never dreamed I’d have a passion for this, but today I see inmates through very different eyes,” she says. “In fact, I’m trusting that I see them through the eyes of Jesus! They’ve been through so much. Almost all of them have been abused, abandoned, or have grown up in the streets. I really have to depend on the Holy Spirit for my words. People talk about ‘jailhouse conversions,’ but many of our inmates are in for life. They recognize they now have a better life with Jesus, and many of them tell me that prison was the best thing that ever happened to them. I write to tell them what God can do for them. I try to focus on the joy they can have—and my joy increases!”
“A friend was talking about retiring, and I told him it wasn’t biblical!” Don chuckles. “Can you think of any situation in life where you can work for the One who’s taken care of you all of your life? Now that you’re in a position to turn all your time over to Him, can you think of anything better? And if you want to know the Lord, get out of your comfort zone! You’ll find Him!
“I’ve learned to trust Him more than I ever thought I could. Grace has had some very hard blows in the past few years,” he continues. “She suffered three car accidents in two years—and none of them were her fault. Then she had a stroke and was partially paralyzed on one side, but by God’s grace she recovered completely!”
He pauses, then shakes his head. “I have no regrets.”
“Me either,” Grace whispers. “We are where God wants us to be, and that’s where we want to be!”