Puppet Ministry History
Delight yourself in the Lord and
He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Beginnings are important. I want to tell you how the puppet ministry began. Each year, we share with over 70,000 children, teenagers, and adults across five continents. However, it is important for you to know that this ministry was not begun by adults, but by children. God used the faith of two little boys to touch the children of the world for Jesus Christ.
The two little boys were our sons, Josh and Matt. When they were both ten and eleven years old, they came to their father and I and told us that they were “ready.” They told us that they were ready to tell people about Jesus. In truth, they had been doing that since they were very little, but they were looking for a more organized effort.
We had a dear friend, Hank Schum, who the boys had seen do puppets and tells stories with chalk. The boys loved “Uncle Hank” and were thrilled when their father suggested that they could do puppet shows. My husband insisted that I could tell stories and I insisted that this was not possible. I am so happy that I yielded to my husband’s belief in me, or I would have missed out on so many great adventures.
Everyone told us that you could not build a ministry on young people. They said that they were too undependable. Our sons and their friends traveled with us for ten years, through most of their university years. Then, as they graduated, married, and went to another city to study for their master’s degree, we began traveling with other young people.
God has faithfully provided so many teenagers that love Jesus to partner with us in ministry. Their energy and faith have enabled all of us to personally experience the wonders of a great God. The things we have seen God do amaze me. If you want to read some of the stories, please go to our updates page. I think you will be really excited and rejoice!
This year, in 2009, we celebrate God’s faithfulness across twenty years of ministry. Mike,my husband and I always loved the verse of scripture in Psalm 37:4 that says, “Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” We had the same desire… to see children all over the world come to faith in Jesus Christ. Together, we had wonderful adventures.
In September 2005, I went to Moldova and Mike stayed in America to work. We both found it especially difficult to say goodbye, even more difficult to than normal. After a busy day of ministry, working in an orphanage and at a prison, I received a phone call from my pastor. He told me that Mike had been in an accident. I knew the rest of the story. Our friends were taking care of Mike and everything would he fine. However, that was not what my pastor Travis said to me.
He said, “Linda, Mike is with the Lord.” Then he began to cry. What do you do on the worst day of your life? You lean on Jesus! No, I did not understand God’s timing in Mike’s death, but I trust in God’s plan. Mike and I planned to grow old together, and die in each other’s arms. God had a different plan. I trust the Father. Mike was our leader, our heart. I did not want the job of Director, but I have it. Please pray that I will serve faithfully. I trust that the Father will give me the skills that I do not possess.
My husband loved Jesus with all of his heart! I know that I will see him again. God’s Word says that there is no marriage in heaven, but it does not say what there is. I will wait. I want to see God my Father, and Jesus my Lord. I want to run into my husband’s arms and say, “Honey, I finished well.”
Each year I speak to thousands of teenagers. I often tell them the following story. I tell them that I will tell them a great love story. Immediately, I have the attention of all the girls and the boys are afraid not to listen because the girls are listening. I tell them the story of two rings. They are Irish claudaughs; one is silver and one is gold. In the center of the ring, there is a heart. The heart stands for love. On either side of the heart, there are hands that stand for friendship. On top of the heart, there is a crown which stands for loyalty.
When my husband gave me these rings, he got down on his knees and kissed my fingers. I always ask the young people how old he was when he did this very romantic thing. Across five continents, they always say, “He was seventeen, eighteen years old.” They never guess more than twenty.
The truth is that when Mike gave me these rings, we had been married for over thirty-two years. A little over three weeks later, Mike died in a car accident. He was trapped in his truck and could not get out. Mike burned to death. I know that the Father was with him. I know that the Lord Jesus comforted him. I truly believe all the words in God’s book, the Bible, are real and true, with the power to change our lives.
I loved Mike more than I have words to say. I still wear my wedding rings. I wear his ring on a chain around my neck. I know that Mike truly loved me and being loved well gives you strength. More important than the love we had for each other was the love we had for Jesus. Loving Jesus is what gave us a great love story.
Now, I have the opportunity to tell the children of world about true love, about Jesus Christ. Please pray for me as I seek to follow and obey my Father.
When a man loves Jesus, he has no unhappy endings. Mike’s death took him to the Father and Son that he loved more than his own life. It is a sweet thing when a believer dies.
The Sunday after Mike’s death, I was back at my church. We always share praise reports at the beginning of the service, thanking God for His kindness to us. That Sunday, I gave Mike’s final praise report. I stood with tears in my eyes and said, “I want to give Mike’s final praise.” I thought of the joy and wonder that were his reality that morning. I said, “Praise God, I’m home!”
Many years ago, our sons Josh and Matt began the puppet ministry so that they could tell people about Jesus Christ. This remains our passion. Please pray for all of us as we seek to creatively share the hope that only Jesus brings with a lost and dying world. Ask the Lord to help us to truly see the children and to love them well. May all of us live lives that bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In His love,
Linda Summer, Director – The Agape Puppets