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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Day Unending Life Began

If you've been anywhere around the Passion Movement in the last year you've come to know and love Ashley Akinns. Her huge heart for life, and her embrace of the grace we all so desperately cling to, has changed our lives forever and put a beautiful face on the mission we carry in our hearts . For those of you new to the journey, this was Ashley's first e-mail to us last year:


January 22, 2007

Hi, I feel kinda weird writing this email. And i doubt if it ever gets to Mr Louie Giglio. I am a Senior at The University of Florida. I got a new roommate this semester and she is a Christian and I have never really been into the whole Christian thing because every pastor or speaker that I have ever listened to didn't speak in a language I could understand. I have believed in God and Jesus, but never really understood it because the preachers at the church that I have always been forced to go to every Sunday of my life. They speak all high and mighty and I never really felt connected, and I felt like God was only for the perfect people.
Well my roommate went to this Passion Conference over winter break. And she came back and moved into my apt and she was real and genuine about all her Christian stuff, like I have never seen before in a person. She said that God changed her at this conference, so i was like what are you talking about. And she told me. She told me about how God was cool, and how God really wanted a deeper relationship with her, and she wanted to really love God the way he loved her, so of course I was like well huh? She then said you need to listen to Louie talk about God, so I asked who Louie was, and she put on the Indescribable talk, and then we watched the Passport talk. And in the Passport talk you said that Christians do not have to just hope for the best at the end, that they do not have to do enough good stuff. You explained how to get to heaven in a simple way, in a way that I have never heard before. I actually got it, I got it that it is not about being so good, cause I am not a good person. I have screwed up a lot. But then you said grace, and talked about how is was different than other religions. Because God is a loving and a kind God who wants to forgive me. My roommate then explained that he wants to forgive me.
Now for one of the reasons I am thanking you. One, I am now a Christian. And two, my roommate said that she had never really cared about telling others about how much God loved her before she went to this conference. So though I am not sure who will ever read this. Please tell Louie thanks from me, for talking about Christ in a way that a college kid can understand. I know that Jesus has changed my life and as I get ready to graduate college in May, I am gonna be a different person. I am sorry this is kinda rambling but I just had to tell you that I now know about the Grace of God, and I have life for the first time in my 22 years

Ashley

Well, I have to say reading those words for the very first time was one of my happiest days in the history of "everything Passion." Here was a student who had never come through the doors of a Passion gathering, yet because of someone who had (her roommate, Christa) Ashley found the embrace of the God who made her and gave His all so she would know how much He truly loved her and that He always would. It wasn't so much about Passion, but about the fact that one of the students we so desperately love had found the Savior, and, in her words, knew she had life for the first time in her 22 years on this planet.

Amazing!

Yet, soon our joy was mixed with tears as the news reached us that an accident took Ashley from us a year ago today. She only walked with Jesus on earth for three short months, but Ashley's life was forever changed. And through the kindness of her family, who have allowed her story to be told, God is using Ashley to touch the lives of people around the world. It would seem appropriate to title this entry [Remembering Ashley Akinns - 6/21/84 - 4/29/07], but how could we ever forget her? Her story is forever woven into the very fabric of our hearts, and not a day has gone by in the year so quickly passed that we have not thought about her and because of her thought about what it means to really live. Today is a difficult and precious day, in that it's the day Ashley first saw Jesus face to face. Yet, today is a hopeful day because of January 21, 2007...the day, for Ashley, unending life began.

When Ashley's mom wrote to tell me about Ashley's death she said, "I may never meet you here on earth, but I know that someday I will be able to meet you and give you a hug in heaven, but only after Ash does." Well, from the looks of things, I'm going to be one of many in a long, long line of people waiting to meet Ashley as we all celebrate the One who is mighty to save. Yet, we are all going to have to wait until she's reunited with the ones she loved the most, those whose wounds are deepest on this day... those who miss her more than we could ever know.

To Ashley's family and closest friends, our thoughts and prayers surround each of you today. May her life-loving smile brighten the sadness of this day, and may the arms that so tightly hold her now carry you until you hold her in your arms again.

Louie

46 Comments:

  • this story is amazing and i still get goosebumps thinking about how awesome this story is. ashley seemed to be a great girl. i wish i could have met her.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/29/2008 9:16 AM  

  • That is the first time I had heard that story. And all I can say is WOW. I am sitting here at work, tears coming down my face after reading it. What a great story. And you're right. She got to truly live on this earth for 3 months, and her reward is truly living for the rest of eternity. That is so awesome!

    By Anonymous adam, at 4/29/2008 10:06 AM  

  • It's crazy how you can miss people you've never even met...
    Ashley's family will be in our thoughts and prayers
    Thanks for continuing to remind us of this amazing story.

    By Blogger hosannainthehighest, at 4/29/2008 10:11 AM  

  • Wow i was there in atlanta when you read her letters and it touched me then as much as it does now I'm going to get in line when i get to heaven just to get to meet her because that is such an amazing story. I just pray for a peace over ashley's family and praise God for letting her be up there.

    By Blogger Josh, at 4/29/2008 10:22 AM  

  • my thoughts all day so far have been about ashley - although ive never met her or her family, she has changed my life and so many of my friends lives as well. i know for sure i will be waiting in that line someday...

    By Blogger TK, at 4/29/2008 12:01 PM  

  • I heard this story at Passion Atlanta and was amazed. This story still gets to me. I only hope that I can touch someone's life like that.

    By Blogger ivyo, at 4/29/2008 1:50 PM  

  • anna, jeff, jacob, mike...all of us in the Passion family are thinking about you today.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/29/2008 2:50 PM  

  • there's no words to describe this story...but is not even about the story, is about the God behind the story, His grace and how through Christa , Ashley came to know Christ...this is so encouraging and when i heard this at passion dc and heard it again at atlanta it just hit me so deep inside my heart cause it makes me want to live fully for my Lord and not waste time...i want others around me to see Christ and not just me, thank you for the inspiration adn the encouragement...thank You Lord for Your amazing grace

    By Blogger brokenbutsinging13, at 4/29/2008 2:56 PM  

  • I have holybumps reading this. Unbelievable story. Thank our gracious Savior for saving her before her earthly life ended!

    By Blogger Rachel, at 4/29/2008 3:29 PM  

  • praying for this family today. they are great people. i've gotten a chance to meet jacob and anna over facebook. incredible people. my prayers are with all of you.

    By Blogger Joe, at 4/29/2008 4:02 PM  

  • Ashley's family is in our prayers today and everyday.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/29/2008 4:03 PM  

  • It nearly brings tears to my eyes to hear this story each time I do. Even though I never knew Ashley, it'll be so cool to get to speak with her and hear her story, as we sit together w/Jesus someday. I've spoken with Christa a few times through Facebook, and it is no wonder that Ashley opened up the way she did. Christa (a.k.a. Fruitcake) is an example of how we all should lead or lives. That girl lives every moment 4 Him!

    By Blogger smo diggity, at 4/29/2008 5:27 PM  

  • I have heard this story so many times, yet it still brings tears to my eyes. Our God is Mighty to Save - Amen!!

    Praying for Ashley's family too - thank you for letting us be a part of your journey.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/29/2008 9:39 PM  

  • so thankful that Ashley made the decision to have Jesus in her life

    praying for Ashley's family and friends today
    His peace~

    By Blogger Kimmer, at 4/29/2008 11:16 PM  

  • Amen! He IS mighty to save!
    Thinking and praying for Anna, Jacon, Christa and the rest of the family and friends...

    By Blogger teagirl79, at 4/30/2008 9:17 AM  

  • I first heard of Ashley and in fact my first memory of Louie was when you shared her story at Northpoint (I heard it through a podcast as I live in Colorado) I cried through the whole thing!! But it touched me and blessed my life. Along with many others it gave me hope and has encouraged me to keep hard after Christ! Thank You Ashley's family!! My prayers are with you all! My heart breaks with yours today as I remember a life taken young, but she is with Chirst and is still testifing to HIS goodness.

    By Blogger Barefootin, at 4/30/2008 10:28 AM  

  • It is amazing how many people can remeber Christa, Jacob, Anna, Jeff, and Mike .... but Christa was not the only friend Ashley had she had a ton of friends before January of 2007 that also miss her as well

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/30/2008 11:26 AM  

  • Praying for Ashley`s family!

    I love that her story has touched so many people from all around the world.

    To know that she is home is a sweet and comforting thought. To know that someday we shall meet her in heaven. But until then rejoice in the Lord always. And make all of your moments count for His kingdom.

    By Blogger Liz, at 4/30/2008 3:17 PM  

  • praying for all of Ashley's family and all those who loved her.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/01/2008 12:31 AM  

  • this story has challenged me to go out and influence my friends at North Texas for Christ. amazing testimony!

    By Blogger Brett, at 5/01/2008 1:46 AM  

  • Any clue of 'fruitcakes' whereabouts?

    By Blogger Cristina, at 5/01/2008 5:14 PM  

  • A truely amazing story, proof that God is still on the move and using passion for His Glory.
    And thats what so many people across the Globe love about this movement,- it is communicated in a sound yet understandable level, with such an honesty and heart for those you speak and engage with.


    Prayers and Love from Ireland.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/01/2008 7:16 PM  

  • Praying for all those who knew Ashley. Her family and all of her friends.




    Fruitcake lives in Florida with her husband Jeremy. She is on facebook as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/01/2008 7:31 PM  

  • it's an amazing story that has touched so many people and made a difference for so many of us...

    Thank you Jesus, for saving us from the lowest places!

    By Blogger Anna, at 5/01/2008 10:41 PM  

  • Praying for Ashley's family and friends. This story has changed my life!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/01/2008 11:28 PM  

  • Nobody has had more of a positive impact in my journey with God more than Louie. I just thought you should know that. I've been watching the bonus talk from the Passion 05 DVD tonight (for the billionth time), and I just had to say something.

    Good grief Louie, thank you.

    Please take advantage of this world wide web, and offer everything you've ever said for free. I know you have operating expenses, but this is too good to have a price tag as an obstacle.

    And if you're hiring, I'm your guy.

    By Blogger Ryan Guard, at 5/02/2008 3:37 AM  

  • It is amazing to hear about a life being changed, but more amazing to know that her story is being told in different parts of the world and lives are being changed. What an awesome God we serve. I pray that the family will find comfort in the comforter.

    By Blogger Jenny, at 5/02/2008 9:09 AM  

  • Good day Mr. Louie, my name is Robert, i stay in ermelo,south africa.
    I am a big fan of your indescribable series, and was also saddened when i heard about ashley.
    It also made me realise that we can be taken at any time, and we should be ready for it.

    i would like to apologise for any spelling mistakes and grammar errors, i'm afrikaans.

    I gave my heart completely to the Lord last year august, and ever since had wonderful experiences and hardship.

    I would like to ask you for assistance in the following:
    I started praying for God to send me my wife, and approx. 2 weeks after i met a wonderful girl, everything went very well, and then suddenly everything went wrong. i prayed and asked the Lord to give me some indication that it might be her, and i received quite a lot, i wrote everything down, and it was about 2 pages back to back that i received.

    What started to puzzle me, was that she got someone else about 1 month after we met, that just happened very unexpectedly. and since then her boyfriend didnt want us to keep in contact and so i lost contact in total.

    I would like to ask you to give me advice on this, and help me to pray for this, i feel it sort of gave me a barrier in my trust in the Lord, i really do feel that it might be her, but i dont want to tell God what is best in my life.

    I've tried to turn away, not stand in faith for her anymore, but then a voice inside my head, which i think could be the Holy Spirit, tells me that if i can't stand in faith for her, what makes me think i would be able to trust God for someone else.

    I would appreciate any input, oh yes, i also received Hebrews 10:23 - which talks about standing in faith.

    If you, Mr. Louie Giglio, receive this message, can you reply to me on my e-mail address robert_cronje@hotmail.com, i had difficulty getting your e-mail adress.

    Feel free to ask me questions, i really see God working in you, and would also like to have that passion for the Lord.

    Kind Regards
    Robert

    By Anonymous Robert, at 5/02/2008 2:47 PM  

  • I was at Passion Atlanta and heard this story! And its just the same sitting here reading it again, its like I can still hear Louie telling us all about it. And just as her mother said everyone will be waiting in line to hug Ashley!

    By Anonymous Hilary, at 5/03/2008 8:23 AM  

  • Thank you Ashley's family for allowing us to hear this story. We are praying for you and all of Ashley's friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/03/2008 1:04 PM  

  • Hi there!

    I've just heard about Ashley last night watching the "HOPE When Life Hurts Most" DVD. I'm truly touched by the way God reveals His grace and glory through her story. We serve an amazing God!

    Prayers from South Africa!

    By Blogger Hanno, at 5/03/2008 5:47 PM  

  • I still remember the first time I heard you talk about her story when I was watching one of your talks. It brought me to tears and to this day it still does. I showed that talk to a friend of mine who I had been speaking to about God for a while. Her story brought him to want to know this God. Death is such a sad and heartbreaking experience but with and through that devastation, God does what he does and shines. Your recent talk about our lives being the soundtrack to his story touched me. To think these small experiences in one life empower chapters of his story. So thank you Mr. Giglio for sharing your stories, experiences, and words.

    By Blogger Sonia, at 5/04/2008 11:36 PM  

  • wow, at home here in Australia on my laptop listening to Louie tell his incredible stories, both funny and tear jerking. Ashley's stories are amazing, really shows how precious life really is! Does anyone know if i could send him an email?Would like to that's all. God Bless you!

    By Blogger Bowie J, at 5/05/2008 5:57 AM  

  • Ashley's story impressed me and my wife deeply. I was a volunteer @ the DC Regional...and I bought Louie's talks just so I could have Libby hear about Ashley.

    Peace and hope to her family.

    By OpenID greylias.com, at 5/06/2008 11:44 AM  

  • This story has changed my life and the way I live it... Thank you Ashley & family.... You won't know until we reach heaven how much this story impacted my life...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/07/2008 8:32 AM  

  • I cried when I read ashley's letter over a year ago. I wept when I learned of her death. I was reminded of the untimely death of another of God's saints, my good friend Dan. He like Ashley only walked with the Lord a short time but it was enough to change lives and when he died at the age of 23 his death spoke louder than his life. God was glorified and his legacy lives on in my life and others who knew him.

    Ashley's life will not be forgotten because God has burned her story into our hearts and connected that story to HIM. I can't think of a more beautiful legacy to leave than one that sounds the name of God to a lost and desperate generation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/09/2008 12:19 AM  

  • I've heard this story multiple times and it never ceases to amaze me. I'm so thankful for God's grace! Some people at my Church & I have been talking about & praying about how we want to be fruitcakes too. :)
    Ashley's family & friends are in our thoughts & prayers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/09/2008 12:31 PM  

  • I saw a thing on ESPN about a Florida football player who was kicked off the team for using a credit card of a girl who died a few days before graduation.

    I pray that it isnt the Ashley in this story.

    I am so proud of Ashley for not shrugging off the fruitcake but letting her explain herself.

    I am proud to be a fruitcake

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/13/2008 11:36 PM  

  • Ashley's story just keeps on moving person after person day after day. This past Friday I went for x-rays. While waiting, we were discussing the pictures of my bones when the x-ray tech said, "I don't know if you are religious or not, but that reminds me of a Godtube video I got on email today." She said it was about a cell adhesion molecule called, "uhhh...", and I asked, "Laminin?". She brightened and said, "Yes, that's it." We continued talking as we walked down the hall to the front desk. I told the x-ray tech about the DVD "How Great is Our God" and that it was the DVD that described Laminin in detail. I also told her about another DVD that I thought she would like, entitled "Indescribable". She was interested! When we got to the front desk, the x-ray tech told the lady working behind the desk to ask me about Laminin. She continued, "You know that Godtube I was watching earlier? Well, she can tell you more about it." Then the x-ray tech went to the back room for a few minutes to get my
    x-rays packaged for me to take to my doctor appt today. While she was away I was writing down the names of the DVDs I'd mentioned so the ladies wouldn't forget the titles and where they could purchase them. I don't know why I blurted this out, but I said to the lady behind the desk, "Well, actually there is another DVD at the Christian bookstore that you can buy. It's called, "Hope, When Life Hurts Most" and it's also by Louie Giglio. Her eyes filled with tears as she put her right hand to her midchest and said, "It is me. My 20 year old son committed suicide two weeks ago." I was speechless and began to weep right there in front of her desk. She then added, "Thank God your doctor sent you here today!" I don't know all the story behind why she was moved so much, but I do know that the Holy Spirit was there. My husband and I went and bought all three DVDs on Sat. and I took them today and dropped them off so the workers there could share them. That is, except for the Hope DVD which I said belonged to Christy, (the lady who lost her son). Later at my doctor appt today, I told him that I didn't know if he was a man of faith or not, but I felt that he needed to know that someone was thanking God that he, (my doctor), sent me to have x-rays that day. It was the message of hope. I can't explain it, but somehow God just keeps adding more people to Ashley's story,(which is really a part of the greatest story which is Jesus!). I can only imagine how happy Ashley is now. Just being with Jesus making Him famous more and more everyday!!!

    By Anonymous Vicky, at 5/19/2008 11:51 PM  

  • Ashley's story just keeps on moving person after person day after day. This past Friday I went for x-rays. While waiting, we were discussing the pictures of my bones when the x-ray tech said, "I don't know if you are religious or not, but that reminds me of a Godtube video I got on email today." She said it was about a cell adhesion molecule called, "uhhh...", and I
    asked, "Laminin?". She brightened and said, "Yes, that's it." We continued talking as we walked down the hall to the front desk. I told the x-ray tech about the DVD "How Great is Our God" and that it was the DVD that described Laminin in detail. I also told her about another DVD that I thought she would like, entitled "Indescribable". She was interested! When we got to the front desk, the x-ray tech told the lady working behind the desk to ask me about Laminin. She continued, "You know that Godtube I was watching earlier? Well, she can tell you more about it." Then the x-ray tech went to the back room for a few minutes to get my
    x-rays packaged for me to take to my doctor appt today. While she was away, I was writing down the names of the DVDs I'd mentioned so the ladies wouldn't forget the titles and where they could purchase them. I don't know why I blurted this out, but I said to the lady behind the desk, "Well, actually there is another DVD at the Christian bookstore that you can buy. It's called, 'Hope, When Life Hurts Most' and it's also by Louie Giglio." I also added, "If you know someone who is hurting, maybe you could tell them about it." Her eyes filled with tears as she put her right hand to her midchest and said, "It is me. My 20 year old son committed suicide two weeks ago." I was speechless and began to weep right there in front of her desk. She then added, "Thank God your doctor sent you here today!" I don't know all the story behind why she was moved so much, but I do know that the Holy Spirit was there. My husband and I went and bought all three DVDs on Sat. and I took them today and dropped them off so the workers there could share them. That is, except for the Hope DVD which I said belonged to Christy, (the lady who lost her son). Later at my doctor appt today, I told him that I didn't know if he was a man of faith or not, but I felt that he needed to know that someone was thanking God that he, (my doctor), sent me to have x-rays that day. It was the message of hope. I can't explain it, but somehow God just keeps adding more people to Ashley's story,(which is really a part of the greatest story which is Jesus!). I can only imagine how happy Ashley is now. Just being with Jesus making Him famous more and more everyday!!!

    By Anonymous Vicky, at 5/20/2008 12:25 AM  

  • I head about this story during Passion Atlanta and I was in tears. I think about how a year ago I would be despising god for letting something like this happen. In truth one of my biggest problems with god was the problem of evil. I couldn’t understand why a god of love would do that. I look at god now and I give thanks. I think about Ashley in heaven able to worship the greatest thing ever and how god’s used her story to encourage so many others. I think of his grace, how he can save someone in lowest of low and use them to touch a world. I think of what a great god I have to save a wretch like me. I think of how amazing is his grace.

    Ashley’s family is in my prayers

    By Blogger lingga, at 5/21/2008 1:12 AM  

  • I heard this story during Passion World Tour here in Sao Paulo a couple of days ago, and it was really touching... I want to be a Fruitcake as well!!! And I want my life to count for God's greater plan, it doesn't matter how He's gonna use me...

    I was wondering if Ashley's journal is posted somewhere on the web... could anyone tell me? Because I really wanted to tell her story (in all its details) to my friends at church.

    OR, is there a talk in which Louie tells her story thoroughly (as he did here in Sao Paulo, reading the pages of her journal)?

    I'll check back here for any answers... thank you all, God bless!

    By Blogger rodrigoab2003, at 5/25/2008 10:39 PM  

  • thanks so much everyone for your comments and the prayers for my family.

    By Blogger Jacob Summs, at 6/15/2008 12:42 AM  

  • A trail of tears down followed the trip up. I made the mistake of not constantly praying. I’d tell you the rest but I have graciously accepted the prayers of those not wanting me to be caught up in soap opera for the rest of my fucking life. I’m writing this with the hope someone out there will be inspired to stop gossip. We are always in a spiritual battle. If our allegiance is in or to the weight behind any aesthetic gem like Dr. or C(U)FO, any label like Ed Hardy or rock star (or two), or to the taste of a virgin wreck, or an x who cheated, or an obvious statement in a speech we’re writing for the sake of clarity then our slavery to image will pull the ambiance mask over US

    By Blogger bonomsa, at 6/30/2008 8:01 PM  

  • Im not sure if it will make it to you Louie, but Ashley's story is so relevant to those of us honored to teach today's high school students in our public schools. I have spoken to my principal and would like to play ashley's story on DVD from one of your conferences. It would be of special meaning to have a recording Forward Conference 2008 in Atlanta July 11, 2008. Just hearing your soul pour the pain and then peaceful release this young lady had after discovering God's love for her brought me to my knees; and I am certain it will reach many young people when I show it. Thank you so very much.Les
    chiefles@alltel.net

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/13/2008 11:17 PM  

  • Is there an update to Ashley's story anywhere? I know God has continued to use her story. I wondered if it has been updated anywhere.

    By Anonymous Dave Elledge, at 7/14/2008 11:52 PM  

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