Above, Jenny and Thomas Trock
December 2017 – “Lord, please hold back the rain,” Thomas prayed, “long enough for us to minister to our child.”
As their plane landed in Rwanda during the height of the rainy season, Thomas and Jenny Trock prayed earnestly. Could the monsoons miraculously stop long enough for a home visit with Musa, the little boy they sponsored through Africa New Life Ministries?
The American couple headed to their hotel and waited on God. To their amazement, they awoke to a cloudy, but rainless, day. With their guide’s help, the Trocks headed to the child’s remote village.
Paved streets became muddy roads; muddy roads became deeply rutted cart paths. The Trocks and their guide walked from that point, but the rains held off. The cart path surrendered to a rain-soaked footpath, almost impossible to travel laden with their gifts and heavy packages. Finally, the village came into view, and they met Musa and his mother.
Muslim mom meets Jesus
For the child’s family, the Trocks and the gifts they brought were lifesavers, but the love with which the gifts were given impacted the Muslim mother even more.
“I want to know the God of people who came so far to meet my son and bring us food,” she cried.
For the Trocks, it was sobering. God was so big; they felt so insignificant. Yet, He used them anyway.
“As we sat on their bench, really just a plank,” recounted Jenny, “we felt humbled to be part of that moment. We’d come full circle.
“The very person who introduced us to Africa New Life in a large assembly years back was assigned by God’s providence as our guide. We hadn’t met him personally until now, but his testimony inspired us, and in turn, we were there together as this Muslim woman accepted Christ.”
The joy experienced in such moments compels the Trocks to abandon their own agenda in exchange for God’s. And though they admit total surrender is a daily struggle, it surely makes for exciting adventures.
Married for over almost 25 years now, Thomas and Jenny met while he worked in Jenny’s Mississippi hometown as a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They eventually transferred to the mountains of the American Northwest.
Jenny, an accountant by trade, described Thomas as the bold one. “I’m not the adventurer; he’s the initiator. He has such an adventurous spirit, but I’ve learned to willingly go outside my comfort zone.”
Thomas’s love of outdoor adventures led him to create Mountain Cathedrals (thomastrock.com), where he writes about the wildlife and nature he loves. The website points toward the God of the magnificent creations artfully portrayed in Thomas’s blogs.
“As a scientist, the more I see and discover, it’s obvious there was intelligent design,” declared Thomas. “At the cellular level and even below, so much design points to an Intelligent Designer.
Cell block salvation
“That’s why I created my website,” Thomas explained. “Hopefully, people will see there’s something bigger than what we can explain through human understanding.”
That hope drives every avenue of the Trocks’ lives, including the prison ministry Thomas joined two decades back.
“On my first visit, I remember thinking, I’m never coming back here again,” Thomas laughed. “But one guy came up, shook my hand, and said, ‘Thanks for taking time to come up and visit us.’ His words stuck with me, so I went back one more week.” And he’s still going back.
This ministry birthed Jesus in Prison, Thomas’s book about God saving, healing, and changing men inside those prison walls. Using testimonies and Scripture, the book offers Christ’s hope to people who think they are beyond it.
“Every time I speak in prison, I share the gospel, the simple, timeless beauty of the cross,” Thomas said. “No matter what we discuss – forgiveness, addiction, or whatever – if we don’t share Jesus, it’s all worthless works. He’s our foundation.”
Christ is definitely the foundation on which the Trocks build their service-centered lives. Removing television from their home in 1993 was a turning point in their commitment to investing their lives in kingdom work.
“It’s radical for some, I guess; but Moses, in Psalm 90, prayed the Lord would teach us to number our days to gain a heart of wisdom,” Thomas said. “We pray for wisdom just about every day, and to redeem the time (number our days). Hopefully, we used at least some of the thousands of hours we would have spent watching TV over these past decades to instead seek first Him and His kingdom.”
Indeed, the Trocks have used their time wisely, serving so many with passion and humility. Their love of Christ continually drives them to share Jesus with as many as possible in the time allotted.
Serving seniors, vets, and victims
In their allotted time, Thomas and Jenny travel on mission trips, in and out of America. And both work with senior citizens.
“It’s not really a ministry to the elderly though; it’s friendship,” said Jenny. “We love the elderly and simply enjoy being with them. It’s just building relationships.”
The Trocks also built relationships through ministries like Operation Heal Our Patriots, sponsored by Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse.
“Our hearts were always for veterans. We work with them here in a veteran’s fishing program,” said Thomas. “But through Operation Heal Our Patriots, we spent a month in Port Alsworth, Alaska, as support staff during the ministry’s intensive couples’ therapy for veterans and their spouses.
“The entire town of about 200 people and the staff lined up on the airstrip, waving American flags to welcome the vets and spouses,” Thomas continued. “The vets said, ‘We never had anyone welcome us home. We didn’t even know people cared.’ That scene still brings tears to my eyes.”
The Trocks’ compassion led them to take a chaplaincy course through the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s Rapid Response Team.
“I wasn’t sure I’d be good at the chaplaincy thing,” Jenny confessed, “but I knew I could listen and love people and tell them how much God loves them.”
Through the RRT, the Trocks were deployed to Houston, Texas, where they helped people after the recent devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
“We were both privileged to lead someone to the Lord there,” said Thomas. “We also got to see God do His trademark thing of turning something bad into something good.”
Although repeatedly discounting their efforts, the Trocks obviously live by that same trademark.
“I wish I honored Jesus in all I do, but I don’t,” Thomas admitted. “I truly don’t have a lot of ability, but if I’ll just make myself available for God to use, He makes up the difference in my lack.”
Jenny agreed, “We feel like we do very little, not nearly enough, so we just want to be available. After all, there’s no better feeling than knowing we are exactly where He wants us to be.”
HOW TO KICK OFF YOUR ADVENTURE
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) – trains God’s people for ministry in the midst of man-made or natural disasters.
Operation Heal Our Patriots – an outreach to America’s wounded veterans and their spouses.
Partners with Africa New Life Ministries – reaches Rwandan children with the gospel.