Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Life Well-Lived: Cindy Rast

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Dannah Gresh: Cindy Rast was a woman who lived her life to the glory of God. Her daughter, Grace, appreciates the legacy Cindy passed on to her.

Grace Kircher: If you spent even five minutes with my mom, you knew that she loved her husband, she loved her kids, and most of all, she loved her Lord Jesus! I hope and pray that I can be half the wife, half the mom, half the example of a true and godly woman as she was. 

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for May 11, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh. Today we want to honor the memory of a woman used powerfully by God in the lives of many. 

And as we do, we’re hoping to challenge you to think about the legacy you’re living out right now. What are you going to pass on to those who come after you? And I think you’re also going to be comforted as you get perspective from God’s Word on suffering and death.

Nancy: This past December a long-time Revive Our Hearts ministry friend, Cindy Rast, went to be with Jesus, the One she loved the most, after a difficult four-year battle with brain cancer. Cindy grew up in Indiana and Wisconsin. Here’s Greg Lord.

Greg Lord: I’ve always been proud of my sister, Cindy, and just honored to be her little brother!

Nancy: A few weeks after her homegoing, I had the privilege of attending a memorial service for Cindy that was held in Wheaton, Illinois. Her dad, Pastor Ronald Lord, shared at that service.

Pastor Ronald Lord: Cindy brought a lot of joy into our hearts, a lot of love, and a lot of memories—really good memories.

Nancy: Pastor Lord says her joy found its source in God.

Pastor Lord: Cindy had the joy of the Lord up to the very last. She never complained, but she knew that this was all part of God’s will and God’s plan for her life. Well, memories are wonderful. Proverbs 10:7 says, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing,” and I have a blessing because I have memories of a righteous daughter!

Nancy: Again, Cindy’s brother, Greg. 

Greg: Cindy was one of a kind. Even though we lived thousands of miles apart, we were still close. She and I had many conversations over the years, and this was one thing about Cindy: she was always quick to listen and slow to speak.

Even when she was undergoing treatment these past four years, she was always concerned about me. Even with the pain, stress, anxiety, and fear of the unknown, Cindy knew ultimately what was important in her life—it’s to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Dannah: Greg mentioned that he and his sister were separated by thousands of miles. That’s because Cindy and her husband, Joel, have spent the last twenty-two years serving as missionaries in São Paulo, Brazil. As you can imagine, Cindy’s love for others overflowed wherever she went! 

Cindy’s friend: To be a friend of Cindy’s is to walk up the sidewalk and across the porch and to the screen door, where Cindy greets you with her wide, bright smile and a, “Hey you! Come on in! Have a cup of coffee!”

Dannah: This is fellow missionary, Julie Fawcett.

Julie Fawcett: To be a friend of Cindy’s is to laugh—a lot!—until your sides hurt, and you think you can’t laugh anymore . . . and then to laugh some more! To be a friend of Cindy’s is to have a sister and a mentor all in one.

I don’t think Cindy ever intentionally set out to mentor me, but purely through her spiritual maturity and the model of her life, she became my accidental mentor.

Nancy: Cindy’s daughter, Grace, remembers her mom’s kind hospitality.

Grace: You never left her house hungry or feeling unheard. She took care of and mothered everyone within arm’s reach. I can’t even begin to count the number of people who have told me that my mom was a surrogate mother to them!

Dannah: Nancy, can I just pause for a moment and say that, sadly, this is unusual. Women who know how to mentor women are unusual. It’s what the apostle Paul wrote to Titus about, and it’s what you wrote about extensively in your book Adorned.

Nancy: Yes, that takes intentionality. It takes being proactive to watch for opportunities and then cultivate relationships that are honest and Christ-centered. Ultimately, it takes the Spirit of God transforming our hearts to make us that kind of woman. And Cindy modeled that so beautifully. Well, Grace had more to share about her mother, Cindy Rast.

Grace: Everything she touched became better than it was before. If you spent even five minutes with my mom, you knew that she loved her husband, she loved her kids, and most of all, she loved her Lord Jesus! 

There are some people who live prophetic lives; they live the reality of heaven here on earth in a way that truly leaves a lasting impression on everyone they meet. My mom was one of those people. For her, nothing on this earth—though she would say her family came pretty close—but nothing on this earth was ever truly enough. She longed for more, for what only heaven could give.

There was no number of hymns, no amount of Scripture, or meditation on the truth that could satisfy her longing for more of Jesus. Everything in her life reflected that. She built a home centered on the love of Christ. She raised a family filled with the truth of God’s Word. She mentored countless people, served the church in innumerable ways, shared the gospel with everyone she could, just because she knew that is what truly mattered! She lived her life with her eyes raised to heaven, her mind fixed on things above.

Dannah: That’s Grace Kircher, daughter of our friend, Cindy Rast, whose life was challenging, convicting, and inspiring all at the same time. And in the providence of God, Cindy came across something you had written, Nancy. Here’s her friend, Denise Deal, to explain.

Denise Deal: On December 5 of 2011, Cindy read Nancy’s Wolgemuth’s article “The Counter-cultural Woman.”

Dannah: Denise says what Cindy read struck a chord in her heart.

Denise: She wrote it down in her prayer journal. Nancy had written, 

When we say we want to be women after God’s own heart, we want to be women who in every area of our lives are controlled by the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, the gospel of truth of Christ.

Living that out—what it means for Christ to be in us, what that looks like—is what makes an impact on a lost culture, on a lost world, and on the world that desperately needs to see Christ incarnated and lived out through all of life.

Dannah: In 2015, our team spoke with Cindy. Here she is.

Cindy Rast: At the beginning of 2012, one of my friends said, “Cindy, let’s do a study together.” And the four of us began studying True Woman 101. I thought, “The women of Brazil need to hear this . . . and they don’t have this accessible to them. So I said to my husband over the course of several months, “Oh, this needs to be in Portuguese!” But I thought, Who am I?

Dannah: Even though it felt impossible, Cindy’s desire for True Woman 101 to be translated into Portuguese never left her. One day, as she was sitting down to lunch, she turned on Revive Our Hearts. She heard the host of Aviva Nuestros Corazones, Patricia de Saladín. She was recounting her burden for Spanish-speaking women to hear Revive Our Hearts in their own language.

Cindy: I was listening, and my heart was just resonating with everything they were saying! And I got down onto my knees, and I really cried out to the Lord and said, “What do You want? What do you want from me?”

And He said, “I want obedience.” 

Then I argued with Him. I said, “But who am I? I’m Cindy Rast. I don’t speak very well—I don’t even speak this language very well! How can I do such a great thing? How can I do this?” 

And then it was so interesting. I had a piece of paper there and a pen, and He just started bringing to my mind three different publishers that I know personally. All of a sudden, as I started to list these things, He said, “Obey.” 

So I said, “Okay, yes, Lord.”

Dannah: Cindy’s step of obedience launched a journey of seeing God bring this big goal about. With trembling fingers, Cindy picked up the phone and left a message at Revive Our Hearts, sharing her passion.

Cindy: I remember thinking, This woman is going to think I’m this crazy woman from Brazil! And I just said, “I really believe the Lord wants True Woman 101 translated into Portuguese. Can you contact me?” 

Dannah: The Revive Our Hearts correspondence team was thrilled to hear from Cindy and began talking with her about the translation process.

Cindy: That began my relationship with Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: Cindy went on to contact several publishers and multimedia companies in Brazil. While she waited for answers, she prayed, and finally a publisher agreed to take on the project! 

Cindy: Over the next few weeks, the Lord just opened the hearts of several women, who had heard the story, to give. They gave enough money that we could contract with the audio-visual company to begin translation and producing the True Woman videos into Portuguese.

And so, now a little over a year later, we have the copy of True Woman 101, Mulher—Sua Verdadeira Feminilidade: Design Divino in Portuguese.

Dannah: Even though Cindy felt inadequate, God did more than she ever could have asked or imagined. She continued asking Him how He would have her invest in the women of Brazil “for such a time as this.”

Cindy: I see it as the Lord. It’s just kind of like He is putting all these puzzle pieces together, and He’s preparing the soil of these women’s hearts “for such a time as this,” to receive this message. My prayer and my heart’s desire is that this message of True Woman 101 will spread like fire!

Nancy: And, Dannah, I’ll never forget running into Cindy at the end of one of our Revive conferences in Indianapolis. She held up the hot-off-the-press copy of True Woman 101 in Portuguese! She was so thrilled, so excited.

A little group of us there, just at that coffee shop in Indianapolis, gathered around, laid our hands on her and on that book and prayed and dedicated it to the Lord to be used in the lives of women in Brazil. It was an incredible moment! It’s so encouraging to see what God can do through one woman like Cindy who just makes herself available to Him!

Dannah: Yes, nd Cindy made the most of the time. She had no way of knowing it then, but it turned out that she only had five years of life left. Nancy, in just a moment we’re going to hear what you shared at Cindy’s memorial service, but I think it’s important to point out the resources that were such an encouragement to Cindy and to others. 

The whole ministry of Revive Our Hearts in both English and Spanish, which gave birth to the Portuguese Revive Our Hearts . . . all of it is made possible through the support of our listeners.

Nancy: Absolutely, Dannah. None of what we did then, none of what we’re continuing to do now, would be possible it if weren’t for friends like you who are lifting us up to the Lord in prayer and undergirding this ministry with financial support.

Dannah: And the month of May is important in the Revive Our Hearts calendar.

Nancy: It really is! The end of May is the end of our fiscal year, so that’s when we close one year of ministry and we get ready to start a new year of ministry, so our budgeted needs in May are typically much greater than other months of the year. And this year is no exception.

Dannah: In spite of COVID-19!

Nancy: Yes, in spite of the pandemic. In a sense, our need is that much more pronounced because of COVID-19. And I know that’s also true for many of our listeners. Listen, I don’t know what your situation is; you may have lost a significant portion of your income; you may have dealt with sickness; you may be grieving the loss of a loved one. 

These have been such difficult days for many! As we share Revive Our Hearts’ need for additional funding this month, I don’t want you to think that we’re asking you to support Revive Our Hearts financially if you’re trying to figure out how to feed your own family. If you’re in that situation, I pray that God will bring His people into your life to help minister to those needs.

So, I want to encourage you to do what we’re doing as a ministry, and that’s to pray! Tell God your needs, ask Him for His provision. I’ve thought so many times recently of how, in a time of famine, God sent ravens to bring food for His prophet Elijah. 

And then, when the water in the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to a poverty-stricken widow and supernaturally provided for her so that she could be a part of Elijah’s needs being met . . . as God met her own needs as well.

You may be facing greater than usual needs yourself right now. Your church may be facing greater than usual needs. And at the end of our fiscal year, the needs are also great here at Revive Our Hearts.

So take these to the Lord, lay them before Him, ask Him for His provision. I’d be so thrilled if you would join us in asking the Lord for His provision for Revive Our Hearts during this important month. Then as the Lord provides and prompts your heart, would you consider giving a gift to help support this ministry at this time?

This may not be a time when you can give a special gift. That’s totally okay. But there may be others for whom the Lord has provided those resources, and it would be possible for you to give. Thanks so much for doing just whatever the Lord puts on your heart.

Dannah: And as our way of thanking you for your donation, we’ll send you a copy of a new Revive Our Hearts book written by Erin Davis. It’s called Uncommon Compassion. These are days when we all need to be reminded of God’s compassion for us and how we can show His compassion to a hurting world.

Erin’s book will do that in a way that’s both biblical and winsome. And again, it’s our way of saying thank you to you for your gift of any amount to help the work of Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: And, Dannah, you and I both know Erin Davis well. She’s written this little book. You and Erin have been co-hosting the special Revive Our Hearts program called Grounded during these days of the pandemic. 

And I want to just say a huge “thank you!” to you and to Erin for the way that you have demonstrated the compassion of Christ to so many of our listeners during this time. 

If you haven’t gotten to hear those live Grounded videocasts, they’re available at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can go there and listen to some of them. They’ve been terrific programs! You can also go to that website, ReviveOurHearts.com to make a donation at this time or you can give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. 

Thank you so much for whatever the Lord puts on your heart to give during this important month!

Dannah: Today we’ve been hearing about the life of Cindy Rast, and I think it goes without saying that all of us need to grow in showing love to others and in following God’s call on our lives, just as Cindy did. Her example is one we should each seek to emulate.

Nancy: Yes, and that’s something that Cindy’s daughter, Grace, wants to be true of her own life. I think this is so fitting here, the day after Mother’s Day, to hear a daughter so sweetly honoring the memory of her mom, even though she can’t explain all the reasons for her mom’s cancer and death.

Grace: I want to be able to wrap up this situation, this tragedy, in a nice little bow. I want to be able to tuck in all the loose ends and all the things that don’t make sense. I want to wrap it up in a nice little present that’s pretty to look at . . . but I don’t have a bow.

I can’t say anything that will make sense of this. There’s no way to spin this situation that will make it right. But I do have the Cross. I turn to the Cross and know that there is no pain, there is no hurt that Jesus hasn’t already known and held on the Cross. 

So today, somehow we celebrate, because even now my mom is in her Savior’s arms! And just as He is holding her, He promises to hold all of us as well. I hope and pray that I can be half the wife, half the mom, half the example of a true and godly woman as she was.

She has left a mighty legacy, and for that I am eternally grateful . . . and humbled.

Nancy: What a beautiful picture of both grief and trust! You know, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. We can cry tears of sadness while still hanging tightly to the God who sustains us.

Dannah: And, Nancy, during that service you were asked to share, as well.

Nancy (speaking at Cindy Rast’s memorial service): A verse came to mind as I was thinking about just the things we’ve been hearing today, and the picture that has emerged as I’ve heard so many stories about Cindy’s life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 says that, “A good name is better than fine perfume.”

We’ve heard about this good name in the stories that have been told, the eulogies given, the reminders, the memories—a good name. And that name is like fine perfume. There’s a fragrance about a true woman of God that impacts all of us! 

I love that part of the verse, but then the second part of the verse and the one that follows it are the ones that I find maybe not so easy: 

A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind , and the living [that’s us] will [take] it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:1–2)

What does that mean, and what would God’s word be for us—the living—knowing the testimony and the beauty of the life of his precious woman?

What is it for us to take heart today? Why is death better than birth? This seems counterintuitive. It’s not the way we would have written that verse . . . because death is not what God intended. It’s not what He designed, it’s not what He created. It actually is an enemy! And that’s why we grieve. Even as believers in Jesus we grieve the loss of this precious sister!

The story that God has written for Cindy’s life is not the story any of us would have written. Fifty/fifty-one years old . . . all of this seems wrong, untimely. It’s not the script we would have written for her! And isn’t it true that often God’s story for our lives and the lives of those we love is not the script, not the story, that we would have written?

At times, on this broken, fallen, prodigal earth, we experience heartache, loss, disappointment, pain, and unfulfilled longings. But I love the reminders throughout Scripture that God is not indifferent to our sufferings.

In fact, I’ve been listening to the Bible on a Bible app just a little bit each day (listening through the Bible). This morning the passage came to Exodus chapter 3. I was getting ready, over in Michigan, doing my hair and makeup, and I heard this passage in light of the purpose of this service today.

God says to His people in Egypt, “I have observed the misery of my people . . . I have heard them crying out . . . I know about their sufferings” (Ex. 3:7 CSB). He expressed, “I have paid close attention to you and to what has happened to you.”Here’s a God who knows. But He doesn’t just know . . . He cares! And He doesn’t just care, He acts and moves to bring about our deliverance.

He says, “I have come down . . .” Wait, just that much: God in heaven has come down, knowing our misery, our pain, our hurt. He says, “I have come down to rescue them . . . and to bring them from that land [of slavery and mourning and grief] to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 7:8). 

You see, all that Old Testament stuff in the book of Exodus was a foreshadowing, a foretelling of a much more momentous moment in human history . . . when God Himself would come down to enter our pain and our sorrow and even our dying, when He would come to this earth to take on the enemy of death.

You see, as we look at the stories that God is writing in our lives, in our homes, in the lives of those we love, perspective makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it? God sees the beginning and the end and everything in-between. But all we can see is this tiny, little present moment that hurts so badly!

And we realize as we soak in the Word of God, that our individual stories—our pains, our losses—they are part of a much bigger story. What we see now is not the whole story. If we could only see what God sees—and today, what Cindy sees—if we could only know what God knows—and what Cindy now knows—don’t you think our hearts would be at peace?

We would realize by faith what we will one day know by sight, that the story God is writing in and through our lives—even through these losses and pains—that story is good! It is beautiful. For those who are in Christ, suffering and death are not the end! Now we know these things, but at moments like this we have to counsel our hearts again according to what we know.

Suffering and death are not the final chapter, because in the end, God will bring life out of death and beauty and joy out of sorrow. Brain tumors and death and tears will not have the final word. Jesus said to His disciples in John 12:24, “You put a seed of corn into the ground; it would take root and it would bear much fruit” (paraphrased). 

We’ve heard witness of the fruit of Cindy’s life while she was here on this earth, but as I’ve listened to these stories, I believe with all my heart that the greatest fruit of her life is yet to be seen!

Can you envision the day that she prayed for and longed for, when all the women of Brazil would experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ!? This is what she prayed for, this is what she lived for, this is what she longed for! And God is raising up behind Cindy, I believe, an army of women—some of you among them—who will be part of seeing that dream, that longing, come to fruition. 

In the meantime we wait, we trust. I think of the words of George Matheson, that blind poet of England who went through a heartbreaking season in his life. He wrote that amazing hymn out of that journey: “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.”

I’m thinking of that last stanza; he said, 

Oh joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall, tearless, be.

C.S. Lewis talked about this earth as the place that he called “the Shadowland.” He talked about the Shadowlands being a place of suffering, but the reminder was that the Shadowlands, the suffering in this place, is all temporary. It will not last forever! It is only a shadow of what is yet to come.

As I was thinking about this service this morning, a scene came to mind (many of you are familiar with it). It’s the very last page of the very last book in The Chronicles of Narnia series: The Last Battle. Don’t you love that title? And in this scene (the very end of the whole series), Aslan, the lion, is with the children in his home.

The children have reached Aslan’s country, and they see around them all those who have gone before them, but it’s still kind of unreal to them, because they’re not accustomed to this. And so Aslan says to Lucy and to the other children, 

Your father and mother and all of you are, as you used to call it in the Shadowlands,”dead.” The term is over. The holidays have begun. The dream is ended; this is the morning! 

And then that chapter ends with these words: 

And as he spoke, he no longer looked to them like a lion. But the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them!

And, for us, this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after! But for them [and for Cindy], it was only the beginning of the real story. All their lives in this world, and all their adventures in Narnia, had only been the cover and the title page. Now, at last, they were beginning Chapter one of the great story, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever, in which every story, every chapter is better than the one before! 

The Scripture says it this way, in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings [our tears, our loss, our pain] are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (CSB).

So until that day when faith becomes sight and prayer becomes praise, we say, “Lord, we trust You. We trust You to write our story; we trust You to write the stories of those that we love. We trust that You are good; we trust that You are faithful. We trust that Your great redemptive story is one that will one day be of such glory and wonder that we will fall in worship and say, “Oh, Lord, You have done all things well!” Amen!

Dannah: Amen! And that’s the host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, speaking last January at a memorial service for Cindy Rast, who was one of our Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors in São Paulo, Brazil.

Nancy: Yes, and I want to encourage you to pray for the Rast family: Cindy’s husband, Joel, who continues as a missionary in Brazil, and their three children, Grace, Alex, and Christian. And would you pray for the work of Revive Our Hearts as it is continuing in Brazil?

This work was so dear to Cindy’s heart, and she has left behind a core of women who are determined to take this message to millions of women throughout Brazil and beyond! Our team met with them just recently, and we are thrilled to see what God is doing in expanding the outreach of Revive Our Hearts there in Brazil.

Dannah: And again, if you’re able to help us support the work in Brazil and the rest of the world carried out by Revive Our Hearts, you can donate by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

In the last few months, we’ve seen the world stagger under a global pandemic. We have yet to see what kind of fallout there will continue to be, but there is an abounding, never-ending source of hope available to you. And we’ll talk about that hope for uncertain times tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Reminding you that suffering and death are not the final chapter, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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