Written by Charles Barnes
Both Isaiah (Is 65:17) and John (Rev 21:1) reveal that God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus Himself, through His resurrection, is the first evidence of this new creation. But Scripture reveals that as God prepared the garden for Adam and Eve, so the new heaven and earth will be prepared for Christ’s bride, and He is at work now forming that bride after the pattern of Jesus, the second Adam. Jesus has been at work throughout the history of Idaho Falls drawing men and women to Himself, giving them new life, forming them into His bride.
That new creation is born of His Spirit and not always clearly evident. But like seeing the effects of the wind, we can observe over time changes in lives and effects of the new birth. We can only guess how many men and women and children in Eagle Rock and Idaho Falls have become living stones in the spiritual house that Jesus is building. And at any moment we choose to observe, we are seeing a work in progress; He is not done shaping and refining those stones He has chosen. In the book that Todd and I are writing, one section will contain stories of Jesus’ work of new creation.
Rob & Vicki Callantine
This following story is—very appropriately—mostly about two lives and a marriage. People can get very messed up, both through situations that they have no control over – like families they’re born into – and through their own decisions, some made as responses to the pain of those hard and hurtful situations. As the Spirit brooded over the “formless and void” earth, Jesus is still creating order from empty and wasted lives. And as Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the cross, so He can come to us in our pain, offering and giving us His love, His resurrection life, and the great value of being included in His family.
Rob Callantine was born and raised in Pocatello. When he was only 7 months old, Rob’s 17-year old mother, his maternal grandparents and an uncle all died in a car accident. His father survived the accident, but was in a coma for 5 days and in the hospital for 6 months. Being in the Navy, his father couldn’t take care of Rob. So he was shuffled between relatives for the next 14 years, never feeling like he belonged. Looking back on his childhood, Rob can see that he was unable to form appropriate social relationships or to give and receive love. During his childhood he was both a victim of abuse and an abuser himself. At age 15 he moved in with his dad, who was then a truck driver and rarely at home, and not a good model for Rob because of his drinking and cocaine use.
In his high school years, having little supervision, Rob drank, smoked marijuana, tried meth and dropped out of school. His promiscuity resulted in a son, and he moved in with his girlfriend. But after a couple years, his girlfriend moved out, taking his son. That left Rob depressed and he got heavily into using methamphetamines. About this time his father moved in with him and the two of them began dealing drugs. His depression worsened, but until his money ran out, he was almost always high. Then he became homeless too. When another girlfriend offered to help get Rob into rehab, he realized he didn’t have any better options.
Vicki was born and raised in Ucon. Her family was one of only a few non-LDS in the community, but since both her parents worked, she had LDS babysitters and from them learned many LDS songs. When she was in the 4th grade, her parents got divorced. Following her mother’s remarriage, Vicki was sexually abused by a relative for several years. What little faith in God she had gleaned from her childhood was destroyed, and she considered herself an atheist.
In high school Vicki’s grades went from straight A’s to D’s as she got into smoking pot and drinking. After graduating from high school, a boyfriend proposed “twice” and Vicki refused twice, but then accepted. They were married in August of 1987, and seventeen months later moved to Guam. While there she gave birth to a daughter. However her marriage was not good, as her husband was unfaithful to her and had a drinking problem.
Vicki started attending the University of Guam, and then came back to the States to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. In a few weeks she came down with a severe case of chicken pox and also discovered she was pregnant. Her husband was not happy about the pregnancy and pressured her to abort the baby, which she did. He then left her for another woman.
Vicki had started on a quest to discover who God is while in Guam, but was resistant when some Christians, whom they shared their living quarters with, shared the gospel with her. In Missoula she continued questioning and praying. In 1995 she dropped out of college and moved back to Idaho Falls. Here she had 8 or 9 visits from LDS missionaries, but when she went to an LDS service and saw that men and women were segregated, she wanted nothing more to do with Mormonism. Later when she became sexually involved with a guy who was young in his Christian faith and laid heavy blame on her for their affair, Vicki was turned off to Christianity too.
In 1999, she got a job at a Maverik Store in Idaho Falls. Her supervisor was Rob. After going through rehab and spending a couple months in a halfway house in Tucson, Rob had come back to Blackfoot and was living at his girlfriend’s parents’ house. Rob was serious about this girl and had proposed marriage to her; she was also working at the same Maverik store. But he hadn’t gotten clean; he and his girlfriend were smoking pot together. Nor was he faithful to her, as he had an affair with Vicki, and she became pregnant.
As Christmas of 2001 approached, Vicki took on a second job, working 80 hours per week. Knowing she needed to stay awake for long periods she went to Rob for drugs, and they began using them together. For Vicki, life got weird very fast. Rob’s relationship with his girlfriend ended, he moved in with Vicki, and the following July they got married. Things were cool when they were high together, but in between Rob was violent and abusive.
For days at a time, Rob and Vicki would lock themselves in their bedroom, turning on the television to provide background noise to hide what they were doing from the kids. As they got high, they would often listen to Rick Brown on TV, preaching from the Bible. By New Year’s Day, 2005, they were ready to get off drugs and get their lives together. But for Rob it lasted less than two weeks. Vicki went 55 days without using drugs, but when she heard her ex-husband had committed suicide, she again used the excuse that she needed to stay awake during the drive to his funeral in Denver.
A few months later, Vicki’s mother, who knew about her drug abuse, made Vicki an offer to come live at her house. Vicki thought about it for a couple days, got high one last time, and after verbally pushing Rob to violence, took the girls and left him. After staying a week and a half at her mother’s, she went to the Haven Shelter. While at the Haven, divorce papers were prepared, but Vicki decided to wait to turn them in. Rob went to live with his dad in Pocatello, but that environment was so saturated with using and dealing meth, he didn’t stay long, as he knew that to get his wife and family back, he would need to get off and stay off of drugs.
So in early 2007 Rob came back to Idaho Falls, staying in a motel for a few days and then at the City of Refuge. There he met a man who talked about Jesus as if he knew Him personally, and that impressed Rob. Calvary Chapel was teaching their Pure Word classes at the City of Refuge on Monday nights, and Rob went. The leader of the class took Rob out for coffee two weeks in a row, and the last week Rob was at the City of Refuge, he stayed off drugs.
Using some tax refund money, Rob got an apartment and celebrated by getting high. After the first night in the apartment, he realized he still wasn’t clean, and wouldn’t get his family back. Rob got so low that he decided to buy a cheap gun and end his life, but in despair he cried out to God, “If there’s any way You want anything to do with a piece of trash like me, now’s Your chance. But You better do it now as I have no more hope.”
Jesus took him up on the challenge, with some very clear, specific instructions:
“Stand up!” Rob did.
“Go in the kitchen!” Rod did.
“Throw your drugs in the trash!” For the first time, Rob understood that his drugs were trash.
“Go back into the living room. I have always loved you; you have always been one of my children.” Never had Rob felt such acceptance.
“This pain and destruction you’ve been causing was never My plan for you. I sent My Son to die for you. If you will give Me your life, I will blow your mind.”
To Rob at this point, giving God his life was a no-brainer, and the moment he did, he was overwhelmed by God’s love, and by a sense of being cleansed. He remembers, “I felt like I was underneath a waterfall; I felt crushed and cleansed under the weight of God’s love. I broke down in uncontrollable sobbing.” Rob finally fell asleep, and when he woke up, he relates that life had color and warmth that it hadn’t had before, and that he was filled with hope and confidence that he could do the right thing. Rob was born again.
Calvary Chapel was holding their Easter Service in the Civic Auditorium that year, and Vicki agreed to meet Rob there for the service. Vicki had been attending Calvary Chapel for several months. But as Rob tried to explain to her what had happened to him, she thought, “Rob got high and he’s crazy”, and refused to take him seriously for nine months.
Rob was soaking up all he could find about this new relationship with Christ, asking questions at Pure Word classes, reading books recommended by a Calvary Chapel pastor, and living at Calvary Chapel’s halfway house. He got a job working for one of the leaders of Pure Word that gave him more opportunities to ask questions. At first he found verses in the Bible he just had to share with Vicki, but he learned quickly he needed to patiently give her time. Yet Rob still had a deep sense of loneliness and a longing to be back with his family. Vicki had been going to counseling, but wasn’t showing signs of coming back. So Rob was brought to another place of surrender to God’s will, allowing God to do whatever He wanted with Vicki and their marriage.
A week later she called and told him, “I think I’m ready.”
Rob saved up his money, found a house to rent, moved into the house in March, 2008 and Vicki and the girls joined him the following month. When Calvary Chapel had their annual baptism at the river the following August the whole family got baptized, declaring their faith in Christ and their new life through His death and resurrection.
Both Rob and Vicki now work with the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission. Rob started in May, 2012 at the Ark, and later served as supervisor of FAITH Housing. He is now lead supervisor of the City of Refuge men’s shelter. When Vicki was asked to be a case manager at the Ruth House in April, 2014, she wasn’t sure she was ready for the responsibility, but she was willing. A couple months later she was handed the position of supervisor of the Ruth House, which she’s been doing with the Lord’s help – since.
Jesus takes the dust of the earth—lives that have been hurt, broken, destroyed—and breathes His new life into them. That’s what Rob and Vicki know from experience and what empowers them daily as they work with people at the Ruth House and Ark and City of Refuge. His ways are not always obvious. Was it Jesus who held Vicki back from turning in the papers to divorce Rob, and gave Rob the persistence to pursue his marriage after Vicki walked out on him? How many people did He send to each of them as a witness of His grace and healing love? Jesus not only gives new life, and brings people out of what destroys life, but He also restores relationships—such as Rob and Vicki’s marriage—and invites us to share in His work of inviting people into His family and building the house of living stones in which He Himself dwells.