Opportunity to Study

From Idolatry to Irresistible Grace

My name is Todd Terpstra, and I am thankful for the opportunity to study online for free at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible classes, Click Here). I am a 57-year-old father of 5 wonderful children. My home was in Chicago, IL, USA. Married for 33 years, my wife and I separated recently.

I grew up in Reformed church circles and was exposed to the gospel from infancy. I became aware of the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart around the age of 12. Convinced of the saving grace of God through Christ Jesus, I have been richly blessed with the gospel life since.


Like the Israelites of the Bible, we accumulate idols over the years. However, we are much better at hiding them because these idols are of the heart. Such was the case with me. As a selfish person leaning toward the worship of myself, I fall into what the world calls depression, but it really is self-pity. My worship became so self-centered that my own needs, wants, and desires became most important. Most recently, my health spiraled downward with several surgeries as treatments for old injuries were ineffective. My marriage and family life fell apart. In self-pity, I withdrew from all responsibilities, and in frustration, became irritable and angry to the point of name-calling those I loved the most.

Instead of turning to my heavenly Father for help and seeking His Word for a light on my path, I turned away from Him. I did not seek God’s grace through the worship of God at church. I stayed home and worshiped myself and all those idols of the heart that I accumulated over the years. Instead of taking counsel with those God sent to rebuke and encourage, I dismissed them and their counsel.


After about a year of this bad behavior, my family asked if I would enter a program for help. I said yes. Or, rather, the Holy Spirit, who I could not quench, said yes.

A year ago, I entered the Gateway program in Holland, MI, and recently graduated. One by one, those idols of the heart were smashed with help from staff. New idols were quickly broken down. With help, I returned to active Christ-like service in the community. God restored hope and a close walk with my Savior. A new humility took root. A new and stronger trust in God’s plan has taken hold of my heart. The Holy Spirit once again has fertile ground in my heart in which to do wonderful work. How gracious is our God! His restorative work is powerful! How healing is His forgiveness! His grace is irresistible!

Doors opened for me to continue in a transitional program offered by Gateway. With my disabilities, I have part-time work and an opportunity to study further with Gateway. The Holy Spirit pressed on my heart ministry with the homeless and downtrodden in society. He has called me to help with my God-given gifts and qualities.

Study at CLI

The opportunity to study with both the Christian Leaders Institute and Gateway for mentoring, accountability and encouragement is a huge blessing! I now have new goals to reach certification in life coaching, perhaps even a degree. I find that the generosity of others in offering free schooling is enormously helpful. My own situation is very tenuous, and I trust God will use this opportunity to equip me and bless others! Thank you so much, CLI and Gateway, for being such a blessing to students such as myself.

I hope you may find some encouragement in my story. I pray for you right now that the Lord uses CLI to work mighty works in your life so that God may better equip you to do the work of His Kingdom! God bless you all and all glory to the triune God!