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Attending Connection 2015 in Anaheim was enjoyable in many different ways: family, friends and, especially, the theme, “Sent.” I love the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15, NIV). Having pastored for a number of years now, I am always excited to see the joy come over a new believer who is experiencing true freedom for the first time.

Jim Van Dyke

My wife and I were able to go to Disneyland with our three daughters and three of our four grandchildren. It was our grandchildren’s first trip to the theme park. My two granddaughters, both 3 years old, held onto us for dear life as they experienced the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The pirates, cannon fire and yelling were terrifying to them! Next we rode It’s a Small World, which is considerably calmer. The difference was dramatic—from fear to joy; from nervousness to singing and laughter.

I instantly remembered taking my youngest daughter to Disneyland and doing the same ride sequence. When she and I got into the Small World boat, she had a death grip on my arm, but when she got inside and saw kids singing and dancing, she let go of my arm and started to smile. Then she grabbed me and said, “This is great!” I sat back and saw all of the joy come over her as she sang with them for the rest of the ride. When we got out of the boat, she said: “I have to tell my sisters and mom about this! They need to come and see!”

The Pirates ride offered to a small child fear, loud noise and chaos. John 10:10 states “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy” (HCSB). Many people in our communities are being stolen from every day. They are lied to and intimidated; many have no hope. The second part of the verse quoted above says, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

This world offers a scary ride to some. It’s full of darkness and things lurking around corners to steal from them and to cause them to be intimidated and fearful. But Jesus offers a life of abundance, joy and freedom from fear. The gospel message is the greatest story ever told and takes us all on the ride of our lives. When people understand this kind of joy, they can’t help but to be full and overflowing with the grace of God and tell all who will hear of their amazing adventure.

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is senior pastor of Sunnyside Foursquare Church in Clackamas, Ore.