John Grover is a builder.
Churches, restaurants, medical buildings, assisted living centers, business and industrial facilities, educational centers – there are few things the Pinnacle Forum Partner in Modesto hasn’t built during more than 30 years in the commercial construction industry.
But the most special things he’s building these days are halfway around the world from California.
“The main passion of my life is caring for vulnerable children and poor widows of Cambodia,”John says in explaining how God used a mission trip with his father to give him a heart for the poor and the powerless in Southeast Asia.
Once the Holy Spirit lit that fire, there was no stopping John from engaging and executing on God’s call. In the years since that first trip, John and wife Linda have:
- Formed a 501(c)(3) non-profit called Cambodia Impact.
- Started an orphanage called Antioch Orphanage to find and raise vulnerable children in a home of safety and love.
- Launched a sewing project for poor widows with children, allowing them to better provide for their children.
- Provided leadership training for Cambodian pastors to help develop national leaders.
- Helped build a training center for poor farmers.
- Assisted with other developmental and faith-based activities.
“Caring for orphan children and poor widows is incredibly fulfilling and brings great joy to me as God uses Linda and me to care for some of the vulnerable people in the world,” he says. “I now spend several months each year in Cambodia and now in Myanmar as well expanding the reach of ministry activities and finding new ways to assist the young and growing church. I’m also passionate about bringing children to our orphanage that are at risk for human trafficking so we can provide a safe, loving and compassionate home where they have parents who love them and are providing a good education, good nutrition and a promising future.”
Executing on their God-given calling isn’t without challenges for John and Linda, starting with “the fierce spiritual warfare that takes place the moment we land in Cambodia. The enemy does not want us there and throws up many obstacles to the work we do.” And, they say, the cultural differences are challenging– both as they minister in Cambodia and as they work with donors in the U.S. “We Americans want change to come quickly and we expect results soon,” Johnexplains. ”Change in a different culture is slow, systemic work but will produce fruit that will last for eternity.”
The work in Cambodia is God-inspired and Spirit-driven, but John also credits the support of many of fellow Pinnacle Forum men and women, who have accompanied him to Cambodia, helped design buildings and implement ministries, provided financial support and serve on the non-profit’s board.
And, it all began with two fathers – one heavenly, one earthly.
“After retiring from my business in 2009, my wife and I began to pray about what God had next for us. I was 56 years old, had lots of energy and knew that God had much more for me to do,” he recalls. “My father, who was building churches around the world, asked me to go to Cambodia with him for two weeks. I had no interest in going to Cambodia, but decided I wanted to spend that time with my father, who was almost 80 years old.”
And then, he continues, two remarkable things happened:
“First, I absolutely fell in love with Cambodia. It was smelly, hot, humid, poor and chaotic, but I loved that place! I can only say that God placed His love for those people deep in my heart… there’s no other way to describe what happened to me.
“Second, each night after a long day together my father and I would go back to our hotel. Before going into our rooms my father would grab me in a bear hug in the hallway and pray over me, for my life, my purpose, my family and my walk with the Lord. This did something important inside of me as I was prayed for and blessed by my dad.”
John grew up in a church that emphasized love of God, hard work, family and non-conformance to the world. But it was a strict, structured and rules-based faith that Johnrejected as a teenager, opting instead for a lifestyle of parties and pleasure.
That came to an end when his girlfriend – now his wife of 43 years – gave him an ultimatum: give up your party life or go on without her.
“I remember lying in bed that night under great conviction and then giving my life to Christ,”John says. “This started a journey of reading my Bible, joining a Bible study and learning to walk with God. God has so patiently and with much grace brought me continually closer to Him and continues to show me His love and faithful hand in my life.”
John’s journey with Jesus has been marked by a number of key events – a seriously ill infant daughter, growing a successful business, studying Henry Blackaby’s “Becoming God’s Friend” – that together led him to surrender his life, his family, his work to God. Today, years later, “God continues to lovingly and carefully show me that he is guiding me and caring for me in ways far beyond my expectation,” John says. “His hand in my life has over and over demonstrated that he is far superior to me in controlling the events of my life.”
God’s hand deepened John’s love for Him and for others – starting with his family (he and Linda have four adult children and soon-to-be seven grandchildren) for his church, his community, and eventually for the people of Cambodia.
Over the years John has given generously of his time, talents and treasures to community and faith-based organizations, from City Ministry Network to Advancing Vibrant Communities to Valley Recovery Resources. And he has executed on another God-given passion – mentoring. young men who are poised to lead the next generation of Christ-followers.
God’s hand also pointed John to Pinnacle Forum, where he found “a journey with a band of brothers that brought a deep and abiding closeness” along with a thought-provoking study of “Success to Significance” by Lloyd Reeb. That, and at the same time attending the Halftime Leadership Institute in Texas “really caused me to focus on finding my passion and pursuing what God had for me to do next.”
He sees huge value in Pinnacle Forum’s Four “E” Strategy — encourage, equip, engage, execute.
“A group of guys, learning and praying together is absolutely essential to finding God’s best for one’s life and finding the courage to follow the signposts God puts in front of us. There’s something special about talking through the questions and obstacles one has. A weekly time of encouragement and challenge brings clarity and focus to life – something essential to my journey and I believe for all Christ followers.”
He encourages his Pinnacle Forum peers around the country to “give each other grace as you walk through the big questions of life.”
“Keep challenging one another to confront the things that hold you back from surrendering completely to God and agreeing that his plan is the best plan for your life. Hold each other accountable.
“Always love each other enough to speak truth to them when the world around us won’t. Make sure you have your brother’s back and walk away from any difficult conversation arm in arm with respect and love for each other.”
Most of all, he says, “don’t ever give up knocking, seeking and finding what God has for you. It’s better than you can imagine and so much more fulfilling than the life you would craft left to your own choices. God will likely use people around you to point you to Him and show you the way. Go for it!”
For more information, go to www.CambodiaImpact.org.