Joseph Herrin (09-08-2015)
Some weeks back I announced in a blog post that I sensed a leading from the Father to attend to some personal needs as I had a number of projects I had been putting off due to the constant call to attend to ministry. Since I posted that writing, I have made progress on a number of projects, bringing them to completion. Some were minor things that nagged at my mind. While some were larger projects which I had postponed for a long time. I did not know that during this same season the Father would move upon the hearts of some brothers in Christ to purchase a car for me, or that a brother would purchase a $2,200 printer to meet the needs of an expanding prison newsletter ministry. During this same season, a brother answered the challenge to develop a software application to automate the record keeping and printing of the newsletters.
It has now been three weeks that I have been using the new Xerox ColorQube 8880 solid ink printer for the newsletters, and for the past two weeks I have been blessed to use the new automated software. The combination of these two ministry improvements has cut many hours off of the time it takes me each week to handle the prison ministry the Father has directed me to carry out. The brother who developed the software for me added some more features to the application this week. Now, when I enter or edit a man’s contact information, as soon as I begin typing the name of the prison the other address fields automatically fill in so that it is no longer necessary for me to repeatedly type street address, city, state, and zip code. With a simple double click, I can also sort on any column on the contacts page (first name, last name, prison name, etc.) so that I can quickly locate a person. The newsletters have never looked as good as they do now. The Xerox printer produces great looking pages. It is significantly faster than the color laser printer I had been using.
One of the first home projects I tackled was a small nagging task. About 6 months ago I had to replace the rooftop air conditioning unit on my bus. The new Coleman AC unit fit the same size hole in my roof, as they are all pretty standard, but it had a much smaller shroud and control unit inside. Because the ceiling of my bus is covered in a foam tile that serves a decorative as well as functional purpose (sound dampening, increased insulation), I was left with a gap around the AC unit where the tile used to go all the way to the edge.
The AC unit is centrally located in my bus, so I would walk by this eye-sore many times a day and tell myself, “I need to get some more foam and trim that in better.” I began by squaring up the edges to make cutting some new foam easier.
Then, using a framing square and tape measure, I transferred the dimensions to the foam tiles I purchased and cut them to fit. I coated the roof and the back of the tile with contact cement. After it had set for 15 minutes I was ready to put it into place. You only get one chance at this with the contact cement, for once you press the contact cement on the back of the tile to the contact cement on the roof, it makes an instant bond. All went well.
I had some tile left over, so I used some of it to serve as a liner/cushion inside my bike trailer. The roads can be a bit bumpy, and this will keep my groceries, or whatever I carry in the bike trailer, from getting jarred too badly.
My next project was a bit larger, and corrected a deficiency in my bus that has been present since I first purchased it back in 2009. The bus has very poor mirrors. It was lacking a full set of driving mirrors when I purchased it, and I found it difficult to locate mirrors that would mount properly to the front of the bus. Bus/truck mirrors also tend to be expensive, so I wanted to make sure I purchased something that would work well the first time.
I have not had to drive the bus much since the Father provided it for me. I moved into the bus on January 1, 2011, immediately after having converted it to a motorhome. I drove it from Macon, Georgia to Perry, Georgia where I set it up at an RV park. The drive was only about 50 miles, but I quickly realized that I could not see well on the passenger side of the bus. This was particularly problematic if I pulled up to an intersection that had a road on the passenger side that approached at an angle other than 90 degrees. I would have to get out of my bus seat, walk over to the door and look, and try to get back in my seat and going before a car approached. This was dangerous, and it needed correcting. I have only driven the bus in Georgia. I drove it to LaGrange to visit a young man when he was released from prison (Nicholas). LaGrange is on the western border of Georgia next to the state of Alabama. I also drove the bus to Jekyll Island, which is on the eastern border of Georgia on the Atlantic Ocean. I determined after returning from Jekyll Island that I would correct the visibility problem before I drove anywhere else.
I don’t remember exactly how the idea entered my mind, but somewhere in my searching for a solution I stumbled upon camera systems that are used mainly by commercial bus drivers, as well as tractor/trailer drivers. A large screen mounts in the driver’s area, and multiple cameras can feed into it. I ended up purchasing a package that has 4 cameras, though I have only installed three of them. It has a 9 inch screen that is adequate to display multiple cameras at once, though the best view is obtained when switching to a single camera which can be done with the press of a button.
I mounted one camera to give me a view down the driver’s side of the bus, and two of them to give me different angles down the passenger side of the bus.
Two Cameras on Passenger Side
I am very pleased with this improvement as I no longer have a blind spot on the passenger side. When approaching an intersection, I can switch to the camera that gives me an angle to see what traffic is on the passenger side approach. No more hopping up from my seat to go peer out the window. These camera systems are not as expensive as some might guess. You can pay a lot for them, but I purchased a system manufactured in China from an Ebay seller for under $350. A good set of conventional mirrors could easily have cost as much, or more.
The next project is not in the order in which I accomplished it, but it is related in theme to the camera project, so I will mention it next. The Toyota RAV4 that was recently gifted to me came with the original CD/Cassette/Radio combination unit in the dash. I do not own a smart phone, and have relied upon a traditional GPS system when traveling to find my way around. I gave my 5-6 year old TomTom GPS to Nicholas as the screen seemed to be shrinking over time. (My eyes are not as good as they once were.) It had a small 4.3 inch screen, and I had difficulty making out detail on it.
I thought of purchasing a larger GPS as 6″-7″ screens are now common, but I did not like the idea of sitting it on the dash where it would block the view out the front windshield. I sat in the RAV4 and looked around to see where the best place would be to mount a GPS. The ideal place was right in the center of the dash where the radio was located. Many Japanese cars use a standard dash opening called a Double DIN, or 2.0 DIN. I found that there are an array of GPS units that will fit in this standard opening, and some of them have other features that are desirable. After considerable searching and model comparison, I found a reasonably priced unit that has a 6.2 inch screen, and it functions as a GPS, a CD player and radio, a backup camera, and has Bluetooth to synch with a phone for hands free calling. The backup camera was especially appealing, as it is often hard to see what is directly behind when driving a small SUV. This unit switches to camera view automatically whenever the car is placed in reverse.
Jensen VX 7020
I did not relish the idea of installing the unit myself, as there are a lot of wires to hook up, and I would have to run wires from the backup camera mounted over the rear license plate, to the dash of the car. Trying to do a neat job of hiding wires in a car can be a challenge. It requires patience and resolve to do it right. I contacted Best Buy to see what they would charge to install the unit. They quoted me a price of $99 to install the head unit (GPS/CD/Radio) and another $99 to install the backup camera. So I decided to save $200 and install it myself. I was emboldened by reading reviews of people who said they installed the system themselves in about 2-4 hours. Well, it took me 2 days, but when I was done, everything looked professionally installed and all the features were working as they should.
Backup Camera Displayed in RAV4
I will (sheepishly) admit that I did back into the burn barrel in our yard before I got the backup camera installed. It will be hard to miss seeing it now that the backup camera is working. The large screen GPS is also a very nice feature. While I was making improvements to the RAV4 I also mounted a towing package with hookups for lights so that I can pull a small trailer.
While I am talking about the RAV4 the Father chose to gift to me, I would mention something I learned about the significance of the name of the vehicle. Yahweh has spoken profound things through the names of the vehicles He has given to me in the past. The bus Yahweh gave me to convert to a motorhome was manufactured by Carpenter. There is a panel in the bus that says “Body by Carpenter.” The presence of a parable in the words “Body by Carpenter” is not difficult to discern. Yahshua is referred to as a Carpenter, and He does have a Body. Some people are given the task of taking an old, derelict body in ill repair and building it up into something useful and functional. It seems fitting that so much ministry is now conducted from within this bus, whether reaching out to men in prison, or to people all across the world through the Internet.
Before Yahweh gave me the bus, He had given me a camper van. It was an Xplorer Van with a Pioneer sound system. Vehicles often signify the ministry of a person, or group, as they are utility vehicles. They serve specific functions. Yahweh spoke to me and showed me He had called me to be an explorer and pioneer, walking down certain wilderness paths before a much larger remnant from His body must do the same. Yahweh has sent some individuals out ahead to be able to guide others through the wilderness paths they too must follow.
Having observed the significance Yahweh conveyed to me through previous vehicles, you may understand my interest in seeing what Yahweh would give me when some Christian brothers recently contacted me and said the Lord was leading them to buy me a vehicle. I wanted to avoid cherry-picking a particular vehicle for its name and the significance it might convey. I wanted the Father to choose the vehicle, and He clearly did. If you missed the blog post that spoke of the Father’s working in this matter, you can find it here.
I can say in truth that I did not see any significance at all in the name of the vehicle Yahweh gave me until after the fact. I could not think of any meaning to be derived from the name RAV4. A man who came to visit me after the Father moved upon the brothers to give me this vehicle suggested the acronym “Redeemed and Victorious.” Although that has a definite appeal to it, it is not something that I am bold enough to claim at this time. I think it is better to wait until my race is run and then let the Father judge. So, despite this acronym being a positive one, I did not receive a witness from the Spirit of Christ that this was the intended meaning Yahweh wanted to convey to me.
The day after I posted the blog describing how Yahweh gifted me with this vehicle, a brother in Christ wrote to me, and in what he sent I discovered the significance of the name. There was a definite witness of the Spirit, and I marvel at what the Father has revealed. A brother in Christ by the name of Bill sent me an e-mail, and the only thing it contained was the following.
a rabbi, especially one who holds a position of authority or who acts as a personal mentor.
(in orthodox Judaism) a title of respect and form of address preceding a personal name.
I had no idea that rav was the Jewish term for a rabbi. I had heard of rabbi and rebbe, but had not encountered the title rav. I did some further checking after Bill sent me these words and found that the Jewish term rav can also be expressed as rab. As the definition above states, it is a title of respect and refers to someone who holds a position of authority and acts as a personal mentor. As many Christians know, the word rabbi is often rendered as “teacher” in the New Testament.
And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
[New American Standard]
So Yahweh gave me a car, a vehicle signifying ministry, and the name of the car means “Teacher!” Does not our Father do all things well? I am amazed! The vehicle was paid for by 5 brothers, and it cost precisely $5,000. The ministry of teaching Yahweh has given to me is one of grace. It is supported by His grace, empowered by His grace, guided by His grace.
The car has a place up front for a license plate. In Georgia cars do not have front license plates, so people generally use the spot to display a personal message. I am thinking of getting a custom plate that has the word RAV in Hebrew characters, and the word “TEACHER” in English below them. If a reader who is familiar with Hebrew would like to save me the trouble of identifying which Hebrew letters spell RAV, I would be appreciative. If you do so, please identify each letter by its name (like “aleph,” “bet,” etc.). I have not yet decided whether I will have the Hebrew word RAV spelled in modern Hebrew Script, or Paleo Hebrew, so I would like to compare the characters. Also, if you contact me about the proper spelling in Hebrew, please indicate the direction of the letters as Hebrew is written right to left, but many times people print it in English left to right to conform to English practice.
I would interject a word of apology here. (I use the word “apology” in its original sense which means “a defense.” This is the meaning still applied in theology classes when a person takes a course in apologetics.)
I know it may seem vain, perhaps even carnal, to some readers for me to speak of having a custom tag made for this vehicle Yahweh has given to me. Some may judge my actions as unbefitting a son of God and a minister, and I have weighed these thoughts myself. What I have concluded, however, is that there is an appropriate time and place to respond to Yahweh in a child-like manner. Christ said,
“Most assuredly, I tell you, whoever doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it.”
Christ is not seeking to convey that the people of God should act in an immature manner, for Yahweh certainly desires mature sons. What He is conveying is that there must be a certain childlike innocence, humility, and lack of pretentiousness in those who come to God. We should maintain a wonderment and joy at being able to call Yahweh our “Abba, Father.” We should continue to respond to Him as children who take delight in Yahweh and His ways.
Since the time I surrendered to follow Yahweh wherever He would lead me, beginning back in 1999, He has given me an Xplorer van, a bus that says “Body by Carpenter,” and now a RAV4. In every case HE deliberately chose vehicles that would express some significant message and meaning as it relates to my life and the calling He has placed on it. I have been humbled at what Yahweh has done, while at the same time I find it a source of joy and rejoicing. I delight in the intimate ways in which my Father in heaven speaks to me, encourages me, and guides me. In desiring to put a custom plate on the front of the car that has the word RAV in Hebrew letters, I am testifying “Look what the Lord has done!” He speaks even through a vehicle. Undoubtedly, the person this will minister the most to will be me, for the majority of people who see the Hebrew letters, or the word TEACHER, will not understand their significance. But I will, and Yahweh will! So please bear with me in my childishness, for I find joy in being identified as a son of Yahweh, and I rejoice in His voice and how He speaks to me. I would that He would speak similarly to everyone who reads these words, and that you too would want to rejoice in what He says to you.
I often ponder the “mundane” things of life, and find much significance in them. The name of a vehicle is one example. (The number 4 denotes humility, so I would assume that RAV4 speaks of a humble teaching ministry, not one that the world will recognize or that the majority in the church will applaud.) I have even pondered there being a significance to installing backup cameras on my bus and car at this time. Yahweh does not want us to live in the past, but He does want us to see clearly what lies behind us. We can find much encouragement as we remember all the things Yahweh has brought us through.
Moving on to another project, this next one is a task I had been dreading to tackle. I had originally installed my battery bank that serves as a back-up power system in my bus, under my bed because it seemed a convenient place to locate it. However, when I encountered a problem with the battery bank some months back, I discovered how difficult it was to access the batteries, the wiring, and the various fuses, bus bars, shunt, and other items that are part of the system. I realized that I needed to relocate everything to a place where it was more accessible. This location ended up being in the bathroom at the back of the bus, underneath an area I use to hang my clothes.
I did not relish the job of relocation as there were a lot of wires and connections and devices involved, and it is at times difficult to wrap my head around all of it since I am not a trained electrician. I am what one would rightly call “a jack of all trades, but master of none.” I steeled myself for the task, and prayed repeatedly for the Father to give me grace. The project went remarkably smoothly. Yahweh truly did give me grace and I was ecstatic to have the battery bank located to an accessible place, and at the same time be able to easily identify what the problem was that had taken the battery bank offline. It ended up being a fuse that was rated too small for the task. All I had to do was replace it with a more adequate fuse.
Battery Bank – Out Where I Can See It
Close-up of the Wiring
It is hard to express how happy I was to have this relocated and everything working again. Yahweh has been gracious in helping me to complete numerous projects at this time. It has truly been a season of abundant grace.
My labors continue on apace. I have not yet cleared my to-do-list, but I am much closer to doing so.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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