After the service we held an emergency board meeting to install me as president of Joyful Sound Ministries. This was such an emotional time for me, never once had I thought about being the president of Joyful Sound Ministries, let alone before I was 40 years old. Once we finished the business portion of the meeting, we were discussing dates for the Oregon memorial service, and as we were talking about dates I said “We can’t have the service at end of December or early January because I will be in Japan” (I meant to say Australia, since eight months prior, we had booked tickets to visit Abby Dec 10 thru Jan 14th). The words just slipped out of my mouth. I quickly corrected myself, “I meant in Australia.” Right after I corrected myself, Pastor Alvarez spoke up and said “Brother are you prophesying?” (I had no idea Heather and I would actually be in Japan January 1-10th 2020.)
I am having difficulties starting this letter, I am not sure where to begin. I know for certain I want to thank each and everyone this letter reaches. My Heart’s desire is to thank all the lives that my parents touched individually and in person, but I am not sure I would be able to accomplish such a feat before the Good Lords return. I remember watching my dad doing the New Year newsletter and never once did the thought cross my mind that I would be writing this letter one day.
As many are aware that our dad, Henry Gruver, was taken into Heavenly Glory October 10, 2019. Seven of the thirteen children were gathered around him the last week of his earthly life. We all witnessed God’s great mercies and loving kindness to His children. Godly reconciliation was brought to each one of the thirteen kids, it was so beautiful to be a part of. We all deeply miss our mom and dad but are in awe and amazement of the Holy Spirits comfort.
Isaiah 61:3 comes to mind:
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
The Holy Spirit has begun such a great work in our lives, and we are so excited to be carrying the torch and mantle our parents left for us. After I brought my dad back from Canada in June of 2018, I was asking him what he wanted done with the ministry if the Lord was to take him home before his 120th birthday He would never give me a direct answer the only thing he would say is “I pray the ministry continues on”. I would think to myself I don’t see any of us kids taking it over, I am way to busy with the businesses my wife Heather and I own and operate, and I am so afraid I know I could never fill your shoes. My dad wouldn’t pressure any of us, and he never talked about any other ministry we could partner with. I would leave those conversations somewhat upset and thinking, please just give me one name or desire that you have for vice president of Joyful Sound Ministries so I have some direction.
My sister Becky called me October 5th 2019 and said “you need to come to Arizona if you want to be with dad while he is still alive, his organs are shutting down I don’t know how much time he has left”. I, along with so many other believers, thought “it’s going to be ok; he will be healed and come out of this with an amazing testimony.” When I arrived the next day, the reality hit home; we all knew God was calling him home. As much as we did not want to let go of our dad, the presence of God was so sweet in my sister Christine’s house. Abby, Becky, Christine, and Doug were with our dad 24 hours a day the last weeks of his life. Worship music played all day and night and His Holy presence was ever felt! The veil was so thin in that room…Heaven was so close (my eyes are blurry with tears as I am typing this letter). My brother Peter had such an awesome experience in the last hours of our dad’s life. Peter was given a vision showing our dad’s homecoming. This experience has brought such joy and peace to our hearts.
After our dad passed away, Abby, Mark and I had the privilege of driving our dad’s car from Arizona to Iowa. As I was driving on October 15th at 2:40am, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me: “You will be preaching in Japan.” I felt it so strongly, and I told God, “If this is You, I need it confirmed with my wife Heather.” After we arrived home and were getting ready for the funeral in Iowa, those words and the calling to Japan were constantly on my mind. I continued to give it to God, asking Him to confirm it with Heather. A week later we had a beautiful funeral service in Iowa with Pastor Joshua Alvarez, Doug Suter, Pastor Brad Westercamp, Peter, and I speaking at the service. Once again, we experienced the Holy Spirit giving us “His oil of joy” as all 13 siblings were together in Iowa.
We scheduled the Oregon memorial service for Saturday November 23rd. However, as the date approached, I was really struggling with going to Oregon. I was very busy with our businesses, and we had less than two weeks after Thanksgiving to be ready for our five-week trip to Australia. The enemy was doing everything in his power to keep me from the Oregon service, and he was almost successful, as I booked the ticket just one week before going. I soon learned why the enemy didn’t want me in Oregon: it was life changing. Peter and I had the privilege to share at Pastor Alvarez’s Saturday evening church service. This was the first time in my life I didn’t prepare a message but watched as the Holy Spirit spoke through me. I have listened to my dad countless times say he prepared the words he thought to speak, but only to go a completely different direction. Heather had stayed home in Iowa with our kids, so before the service started, I told her to watch us online. As she was preparing dinner, she heard the Holy Spirit speak to her saying “Agree with him in the ministry. Agree with him in the ministry”. She shared that with me after the service was over, and I knew I had my confirmation!
We came home from Oregon revived. God moved in all our lives (Christine, Cindy, Peter, Becky, and Me) in such a mighty way. I knew something changed in my heart, but I still had no idea what God had in store. As Heather and I were preparing for our “holiday” in Australia, I was thinking about a trip to Japan when and who could go. Also, if we would be able to meet up with Akira (dad’s interpreter last 14 years). After a conversation with Becky around December 2nd, I felt the Holy Spirit asking, “why not go to Japan from Australia?” It’s the same time zone, and Abby could watch our three kids (Carter 12, Henry 10, and Gracie 2). I began fasting and praying about it, and excitedly watched the Holy Spirit arrange all our steps. It was truly awesome! The schedule came together within days, and before we knew it, on January 1st (our 18th wedding anniversary) Heather and I were on a 9 hour flight from Brisbane, Australia to Tokyo, Japan.
We arrived in Japan the evening of the 1st, navigated our way to the hotel, and the next day Akira picked us up. We had four hours of precious fellowship, driving with Akira to the city of Iwaki, where he pastors a church. From the first moment of meeting Akira, I knew this would be a very special time of not only ministry, but healing. We arrived in Iwaki and had three days to fellowship and prayer walk before I was to preach Sunday the 5th. Those three days were so precious. We met so many precious believers who would pour out their love and condolences. This brought healing that I did not know I needed. The fellowship also filled us up to overflowing! By Sunday, it was like I couldn’t contain it anymore. I had to let His Love, Words and Spirit out! The preaching flowed without fear or anxiety. I was awoken almost every night, and as I would commune with Almighty God, I would receive the word for the next day. We had a morning and evening service at Akira’s church, and after the evening service we prayed for almost everyone. When the anointing comes on Heather, her hand starts to shake, and the Power of Jesus is evident. We finished the service close to four hours after we started. His presence is so sweet, we are ever so humbled to be His servants, what an honor it is.
Monday morning, we left for Osaka to meet with the owner of the hospital, my dad had been visiting for 10 years or more. We arrived that afternoon and met with the owner, her personal assistant and a radiologist. The three of them have been having prayer meetings together for the last 3-4 years at the hospital. When we met them, there was a sense of overwhelming joy and sadness radiating from their faces. All three of them thanked us, with tears, for our sacrifice and allowing our dad to come and minister to them. I too was in tears sharing how God had brought Heather and I to Japan. The change in their lives from knowing my dad was so evident. It was so beautiful, but difficult to put in words.
The radiologist began to share a testimony that started a few years back. He said they told my dad that there was apartment complex nearby that has had a high rate of suicides in the past month (I believe five in less than a month). That got my dad excited (not the suicides) but the fact that there was a covenant with death that had to be broken. They took him to the apartments and began to prayer walk. As they were doing so, he looked over at my dad, who was standing by a tree that was dead. Next to the dead tree was a tree that was alive, and my dad began telling the people that there was a curse and great darkness coming from the dead tree, and the curse had to be broken. They prayed and broke the curse. A few months later this man was walking by the apartments and realized there had not been any suicides, PRAISE GOD! He also looked at the cursed tree and saw one flower budding. Another 4-6 months passed, and he was walking in the area again, after a typhoon had hit the city. He walked past the cursed tree that was not only alive BUT the tree that was next to it had broken branches from the typhoon. PRAISE BE TO GOD the curse was broken they said no suicides to date! Hallelujah! Hearing testimonies like that from my dad was always awesome but hearing them from the believers that were there with him, is even more amazing. If you ever felt the testimonies my dad shared were a bit far-fetched, I can report that if anything, my dad left out other details that made them even more amazing! What an honor and privilege it is to be able to continue God’s work that my dad so humbly and faithfully walked in for over 50 years of his life.
After we left the hospital, we had dinner with a precious pastor who poured out his love for my dad, his life was so dramatically changed for the Glory of God through my dad. With tears in his eyes he graciously extended an invitation for us to come and speak at his church next time we are there. The following day we had a weekday service at 2pm. We arrived at noon to be greeted by a handful of believers who prepared lunch for us. As we were eating the room just kept filling up, by 2pm it was full. We had a powerful time of worship, which made the preaching flow so easily. The Spirit of God was so strong, I believe it was because they were hungry for His presence. To have 30 or more people at a 2pm service on a Thursday afternoon would be amazing in the US, but in Japan a large church is 30-40 people. I would estimate over ¾ of the church was there and most had to take time off work. We finished up just after 6pm.
The following day we headed to Tokyo for our last meeting, which was being held at a government building that the church was renting. We only had the hall from 5-7pm. As we arrived the hallway was filling up rapidly. The church that was hosting the meeting only has 10-12 members and after we started worship every seat was filled and more had to be put out. The small room was packed with over 40 people. We met a woman who had been to Woodbine 20 years ago during the camp meeting, and it turns out my sisters and I worked with her kids during the youth programs. Worship began and they sang the old song “Power in the Blood” wow were the tears flowing! My mind was full of memories of my mom playing her auto harp and singing that song. Even though the words were in Japanese I was able to sing along from memory, that worship time was so wonderful.
Once we were done it left under 45 minutes for preaching and that is with an interpreter, I couldn’t help but think my dad would hardly be past his introduction in 45 minutes. Once again, the Holy Spirit was ever so faithful, the preaching flowed like never before. Akira asked me afterwards what I thought of the service. I said I pray it went well, thinking did I say something that was off or offended people. He went on to say he was able to interpret very easily, and he thought I was operating more freely, there was a big change from the first few messages just five days before. GLORY TO GOD.
By the end of this short trip I came to the realization that this precious brother Akira, was the closest friend my dad had on earth. They spent the last fourteen years together for 5-6 week stretches. He knows my dad and loves him dearly. As we were saying our goodbyes, it felt as if I was telling my dad goodbye before he would leave for one of his trips to Japan “I will see you in a few months, Lord willing”.
ALL Praise, Glory and honor to the King of Kings for He is worthy! We are ever so humbled to be a part of His kingdom work. We are so blessed to be a part of something so great! Heather and I humbly ask for your continued prayer support as we seek God’s will for our lives. We would ask that you would join with us in prayer for our construction business (SWI Windows, Doors & More) to be purchased or that God would send a Godly person to come and partner with us. We know we can’t enter full time ministry until we are released from SWI. We know “ALL things work together for the good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).