(Joanna and Brian Rocker with the Smithlets in the background)
The following is the story behind this song as told by the bride and groom. We met Joanna through our good friend Julia Anne Mullen who married her brother Joel. Joanna stayed in our little cabin for a couple of months while doing a midwifery internship here in Tennessee. We all fell in love with her and were sorry to see her move into another place and then leave the area altogether. When we first met Brian we couldn’t help but pray that God would put the two together. We were by far not the only ones praying for this.
OUR STORY: How God brought us together
By Joanna and Brian Rocker (April 8, 2017 - wedding date)
Blessed be our God and Father and our Bridegroom Messiah Yeshua for this great salvation and freedom which has been purchased for us! Praise first must go up at the beginning of this testimony because through this great freedom I have come to know the beauty of righteousness, holiness, and purity! Throughout these past five years or so of my new life in Messiah I can declare with full confidence that He has been preparing me for this point in time, and I am running in with fullness of joy :) Joanna and I officially met for the first time in the fall of 2014 in Israel while harvesting with Hayovel, although because in a 12 week period I was meeting roughly five hundred people, I don't remember us ever talking. I remember having a few conversations with her dad though, but after they left Israel we did not get reacquainted until early this spring, 2016. For the past three years the Father has been drawing my heart towards the miraculous and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. I have been growing in my understanding of the Divine and seeing Him work miracles through my own hands, something I see as vitally important to the freedom of mankind through the power of the Gospel. I found a training and discipleship center for this specific thing down in Dallas, Texas called Dominion Life which I began to attend in January 2016. Through my time there, growing and being discipled, I began to realize in my prayers for my future bride that my family has a huge call on our lives to walk this understanding out practically, while having a heart for Israel and the work Hayovel is doing there and abroad. But I didn't even know one person who met this description, nor did my family when I asked them their thoughts about this. I just began to pray that Father would bring this woman to me with this same heart and desire so we can accomplish together this Kingdom vision He has been birthing in me.
Growing up I knew from a young age that I needed to live my life full-out for the Father. I did not want to live a "normal life" of growing up, getting married, working, having kids and then one day to die. Even as a 5 yrs old, I remember walking outside praying that God would make me like Elijah, Moses, the prophets of old. I prayed that I would make a real impact in the world for God. As I grew, this desire intensified, and I found myself led specifically to pray for a husband that hears from God, speaks into people's lives and walks in the supernatural. Towards the end of highschool I felt directed toward midwifery as an avenue for my heart for missions. Fall of 2015 God led me out to rural Tennessee to intern with a midwife. I got a lot of excellent experience and was very busy with studying, working for the midwife and assisting with births. I was content in this season and expecting to be there for possibly the next 2 years of my life. Then on 3/13/16 I got a call from a good friend, Paula Smith. She and her family had been family for me while away from my family; their home always open for me to pop in for meals, fellowship, and to play with the kiddos. She informed me that their family was going to make a road trip down to San Antonio for a "kickstarter" hosted by the Last Reformation. The Last Reformation was started by a guy from Denmark named Torben Sondergaard and his family. Their vision is to get Christians off of the couch and into living for our Messiah, like the first believers we read about in the book of Acts. For example, when the Lord told Ananias to go and pray for Paul, this most likely wasn't an out-of-the ordinary experience for him; this was just one day, one snapshot into his life. But anyhow, back to the story, when Paula called me, inviting me to come along, I explained that I was in an internship and on call for births; I couldn't just up and leave on a trip! Later that day, rather out of the blue, I got an email from my preceptor informing me that she felt it would be better for me to find a different midwife to intern under. I was floored. But at the same time, I was like, "Well, I guess I can go to the kickstarter!" lol. So I called her back and a few days later, she and her husband Todd had me and their 6 kiddos packed up in the van and on the road by 4 am. That conference changed my life. I had been to conferences before that talked a lot about working in the gifts and divine healing, etc., but this one was definitely the most practical, hands-on training I had ever been to. For example, Torben taught on healing for maybe an hour, and then said, "Okay, let's do it! Who here needs healing?" A guy that had back issues came forward. Torben prayed for him, commanding healing into his back and then asked if he felt any change. The guy answered truthfully that he didn't. At this point it's common for Christians to back down and come up with excuses like, "Well, it must not be God's timing/will." Torben encouraged us that if we don't see a change after praying once, to not take "no" for an answer. The bible doesn't say "Lay your hands on the sick and maybe they will recover," or "by his stripes you might get healed." On the contrary, these are DEFINITE promises that are not going to change due to "atmosphere" or how "anointed" you may feel in a given moment. So he persisted and prayed for the guy again and again, just short prayers, checking with the guy after every time. The guy's eyes lit up and he gave percentages; "it actually does feel 40% better!" By the time Torben was finished praying for him, the guy said that his back was 90% healed. This showed me that the guy was being totally honest and this was not staged. If it had been, the guy probably would have fallen over and been like, "I'm healed!" haha! But no, he was completely honest and by the end, didn't say 100%. But I say if you've had back issues for like 20 years and your back is 90% healed, that's a big deal! What if Torben had given up after the first time or two? After a few examples like that Torben said, "Okay now it's your turn! Everyone who needs healing, line up against the wall. Everyone still sitting, you guys get to pray for them!" At this point I have to confess something. About a year prior I went through a rough bit, feeling unattractive (okay, fat) and started dieting and exercising excessively. By the time of the kickstarter, I had not had a cycle for about a year. So I lined up on the wall and prayed fervently that God would send a woman to pray for me, lol. He did! She put her hand on my womb and commanded healing in Jesus name. It was really weird, I felt a warmth enter and fill my womb. But that was it and I completely forgot about it until exactly 29 days later when I had the first cycle in about a year. Although this is awkward to speak about here, I feel that it was an important preparation for marriage with my beloved, as we desire to have children to rock the world with. Real Rockers. :-) Not only did that conference heal my body, it also gave me a kick to be more bold for praying for the sick and sharing my faith. When I returned back to Ohio for my brother Jacob and (his lovely bride) Bethany's betrothal, I was privileged to visit with the Phelps and Massey's. Upon recounting what the Father had been doing in my life, Jacob Massey said, "Well, that sounds like Brian Rocker!" I asked who that was, and they reminded me of a young man that we had worked with in the olive groves back in 2014. They recounted about how Brian had prayed for Samuel at the previous harvest, and the miraculous healing of Samuel's right hip, right wrist, spine, two fingers and shoulder, etc. :-) I had heard briefly about this before, but had not connected it to the young man I had met previously. Some reason I had pictured an older gentleman with a long white flowing beard running through the vineyards praying the prayer of faith, lol. I happened to mention it to dad when we got home. :-)
So Joanna's father contacts me in March while I am at Dominion Life and asks me questions about the miraculous and what I have been learning and growing in. So for the next couple months Mr. John and I stayed in contact sharing insight and testimonies. He asked me if I would be at Family Week in Kentucky for the Hayovel Passover celebration. When I told him I was planning to be there, he asked me if throughout the week I would go with his family to bring the healing of God to the camp. I told him yes, and was blessed to spend quite a bit of time with Mr. John and his family. This is where Joanna really came into the picture for me. Her family and I spent a lot of time together at family week, ministering healing for people, sharing testimonies over meals, etc. This was how Joanna and I became reacquainted: doing and talking about one of the biggest things the Father has been placing upon our hearts individually. However, it wasn't until one morning towards the end of the week that I felt Father speak to me about Joanna. It was during one of the praise and worship sessions where Joanna and I were across the gymnasium from one another, spending time with our Heavenly Father. I noticed a gentleman coming in with a cast on his leg. I knew I needed to pray healing over him, and so I rushed across the room towards him. About the time I made it over I noticed Joanna coming towards us as well. As she was running over to pray for this guy as well I caught myself looking at her stunned. Was she really this passionate about setting the oppressed free as I am? This is when I noticed the Father speaking to me about Joanna for the first time. He began to remind me at this moment of all the things I had been praying over my future bride about, and the things I asked Him to prepare in her for the life I feel He has called us to. He highlighted to me these areas in Joanna: things I had been learning about her throughout the week spending time around her and her family. All this revelation passed through my mind in that moment, and it was all I could do to ask Father to stop so I could focus as I prayed, lol! It was after this moment that I really began to question if I truly heard from Father here. I noticed I struggled the rest of that morning and afternoon around her, to not give away anything I felt I may have received from Him. I chose to take this into prayer. Throughout the summer I stayed in contact with her family, calling her father on a constant basis and video chatting with the family as we shared testimonies of miracles, etc. I had no intention in our conversations of anything except to share testimonies with her family. I believed if Father wanted this to happen He would reveal clearly that it's the season. While I felt I did hear from Him at Family Week, I needed to know it wasn't just some momentary feeling or thought, but truly His voice. By the end of summer, however, I knew that He had presented Joanna Lansford to me based on my specific prayers. I had no idea that Joanna and her family were also praying and considering me for marriage.
Although I had met Brian at the Harvest back in 2014, it seemed that the young man I met at family week had grown spiritually by leaps and bounds. I was amazed by his heart of worship and passion for setting the oppressed free. Brian paced in the back of the Tennis Center during worship in the area that I would normally have liked to have been, lol. He had vision, something I wanted most in a man. Long before I met Brian I was led to pray for a husband that knew how to heal and hear from God. He challenged me in my own faith to new heights that I had not yet reached, and I greatly enjoyed his willingness to tutor my dad, brother, and I as we walked through the camp looking for people to speak healing into. Brian kept in touch with our family (mainly dad) over the summer, continuing to encourage us into believing for the miraculous and seeing ourselves as the new creations that we are in Yeshua. I grew more this last summer in boldness and faith than I had ever before. One day this Spring after FW, I was at a thrift store when I felt an inkling to approach a kind, older, black woman. After she had made several rounds up and down the aisle I was on, I finally got my courage together to tentatively ask her whether there was anything I could pray for her. She immediately knew exactly what I meant, and eagerly requested that I pray for her back and knees that were hurting. I simply did what I had been taught: laid my hands on her knees and commanded healing into them. I then stepped back and asked her to test them out. At this moment I saw one of the first obvious healings Yeshua performed through me. She got this look on her face and said, "Actually, they're a whole bunch better!" Her daughter who had been edging away suddenly smiled and looked less uncomfortable, lol. The lady said, "How'd you do that? Do you have a card? Can you touch my back too?" I gave her a big hug, declaring that it was just Jesus and that He loved her very much. I then commanded healing into her back, after which I watched her straighten out, take her coat off, and declare, "Now I really feel like shopping!" lol. I could tell you many similar stories of incredible things that Yeshua can and wants to do through each and every believer (Mk 16:17). It's really interesting, because my whole family senses that a lot of this spiritual growth in our family has occurred since my oldest brother, Joel, passed away last winter in a plane crash. It's almost like something shifted, and we all recognized that time is growing short; that we need to live each and every day full out for the gospel of the kingdom. As weird as it sounds, when we met Brian at family week, it almost felt like the Father was restoring my lost brother to us. Brian actually looks and has some similar mannerisms to Joel in his laughter, sense of humor, and passion for life. Joshua commented that he really enjoyed talking and discussing things with Brian, something he had missed being able to do with Joel. I had never seen dad attach to a young man like he did to Brian. It seemed like Brian always showed up at the right moments; like when dad and I were at Walmart during the windstorm, Brian helped Mom put up the awning on the camper and got her unstuck so they could make it to the Tennis Center. I guess I can relate to Isaac, who the scripture said was "comforted after his mother's death" (Gen 24:67).
Besides all of this, the words started pouring in, something that had never happened to me before. When I was walking out the door of Paula Smith's house to drive to Family Week, she casually commented that she knew that I would be getting married soon and that she looked forward to coming to my wedding, lol. While I was at Family Week, two mother figures dear to my heart separately gave me words that "my time is soon" and that she heard God tell her that I am "a rose ready to be picked". I was kind of like, "God, that's nice, but will you please tell the guy, not me!” On the last day of Family Week dad went to go say goodbye to Brian. I stayed in the camper, helping mom pack up to get ready to go. Dad encountered Brian on the path up the hill and discovered that Brian had been on night shift since 3 AM and hadn't gone back to bed, choosing to help families to pack up their rigs instead. Not only that, but at this point it was near lunch time, and he still hadn't had any breakfast to eat! I heard all this through the camper window, as well as dad's earnest instructions to come up to our camper so we could feed him. I immediately started frying some eggs and turkey bacon. He came in and sat down, and asked me questions to get me to share about my experience at the kickstarter. It was so good to be able to share what was on my heart. With all of this going on, needless to say, this summer was kind of hard. The only thing I could do was keep on presenting and re-presenting the whole situation to the Father. A few Family Weeks back I had heard God specifically tell me that He wanted to be the one to write my love story; that it needed to be something that He made happen, with no initiative on my part. So I simply spent a lot of time in prayer and fasting, crying out to the Father. Some of the things I heard the Father whisper to me include:
"If you ever doubt your worth, just look at your price tag; you are worth the blood of Yeshua. Stop trying to be good enough; you already are. Stop trying to win man's approval when you have God's. Creation groans for the Sons of God to realize who they are."
"Even after you get married, I will still be the one you and your husband will seek. So seek me now while you are single. I will always be first & foremost."
"I have declared you clean. Stop measuring yourself by others' standards. When you come into agreement with what I say about you and live by my standards, then you will be truly free." When I asked the Father what standards he had for me, I felt like he specifically put two things on my heart: (1) To keep the Father first (Love the Lord your God with all your heart…) and (2) To honor my father and mother.
"You will be more of a joy to your husband if you find contentment before you marry. You can never be loved more than you are right now."
So I held on to these things and just waited…
At the start of the Harvest this fall I had received consent and encouragement from my family to move forward in speaking with Joanna's father about my desire for marriage. I chose in my heart to wait until I returned from Israel. That was until I sought guidance and prayer from Brayden and Tommy Waller. It was the weekend before Yom Kippur, and I shared with Brother Brayden my desire, and he felt that the two of us had hearts headed in the same direction, and he was excited thinking about the possibility! That had me really excited because I trust his judgment. The day before Yom Kippur the staff and volunteers went to the Mediterranean Sea to do baptisms leading into the Holy Day. While out there at the beach I approached Mr. Tommy with my desire, and his first reaction was a shout of joy, expressing, "That is so perfect! I can totally see that!" He then asked me if I called Joanna's father yet, to which when I answered "no." He encouraged me to go ahead that day. So Yom Kippur commenced, and that night I called Mr. John and asked for Joanna's hand. He told me that he would talk to his wife and go from there, getting back with me soon. I was joyful that I finally did it, yet I figured that I would have to wait awhile. I laid down to sleep less than an hour later, and when I did I received a follow-up text from Joanna's father telling me, "Just talked to Joanna by phone and she broke down crying." Lol, I was confused: what was she thinking? Was that a good cry or a bad one? It helped when he told me that she wanted to pray and fast over Yom Kippur before giving me an answer. Again, I was super excited, but that seemed like the longest day and a half in Israel waiting for Yom Kippur to end at her time in Oregon.
Summer drew to a close, and nothing had happened to fulfill the words spoken over me. My parents encouraged me to go ahead and travel out to Oregon where I had been offered an internship as a student midwife at Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center, so I packed up and headed out. I remember specifically asking God about Brian one day while walking. I felt like He asked me two questions back, (1) Is Brian chasing after me with all his heart? (I replied, that yes, he was.) (2) Is he keeping Torah? (Again I replied that, yes, he was). Then I literally felt like I saw God give me a thumbs up sign; it was so funny! Another day while listening to God, I heard "I will send for you at the set-apart time." I wasn't sure what that meant, but I pondered it in my heart. Brian and my family were part of a messaging group where we shared testimonies and he shared stories from Israel. On Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShana, I felt led to draw back and seek the Father by staying off of whatsapp and other social media during the Ten Days of Awe. So I had purposefully cut Brian off for a while by the 9th of Tishrei, yet continued to have dreams about him while sleeping. I was actually at the birth center on a busy clinic day when dad called me. I happened to check my phone at lunch break to see a missed call and a text from daddy saying, "Someone has asked for you. Call me when you can." I stepped outside just in case it was serious, and it's a good thing I did; when daddy told me, I cried so hard that the office manager came running out to see what was wrong! I told her that I was just happier than I had ever been in my whole life. I immediately knew without a doubt that my answer was yes, but with the timing and everything, I felt it would be right to spend Yom Kippur in prayer and fasting before giving my official answer. Looking back, Yom Kippur certainly is a "set-apart" time! lol.
I waited with such anticipation that whole day, praying for Joanna, praying that His absolute best would be given to her. I know I am not yet walking in the place where I want to be, as the Word of God in the flesh manifesting His perfect unfailing love, yet I received assurance from my Heavenly Father that my trust is to be fully in Him and not in myself, and I am to lead her in that same understanding. I am so thankful for Abba, loving Him immensely for Who He is, with a heart of gratitude for being with me and giving me the blessing of being Joanna's husband!
And then the following morning after Yom Kippur commenced at 4:00 am in Israel on the Biblical Mountain of Blessing, and nightfall was beginning in Oregon. I prayed and worshipped that morning before breakfast with hopeful expectation that I would hear from Joanna soon. Sure enough, I just sat down with my breakfast when I received a text from her father asking me to give him a call. I remember getting up with a huge grin on my face, leaving my food behind, running around the meeting tent to Tommy and Sherri, and sharing with them the text. They smiled wide and encouraged me as I made what was one of the most important phone calls of my life. And to my joy, Joanna's father gave me his permission to call her, explaining how she wanted to talk with me personally. He expressed his joy that he and his wife love me and are blessed that I have asked for Joanna's hand. And so I called her...Joanna, what a beautiful sound to my ear to hear your answer on the phone: your voice beaming with a resounding "Yes!" You quoted Genesis 24:57-58, where Rebecca was asked if she would go with the servant to marry Isaac, and she said she would go. Besides being redeemed back to my Heavenly Father through the work of Yeshua, this is the greatest blessing that has ever been granted to me. I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with you, sharing in our victories in ministry together as we bring the fullness of the Gospel in power to the nations, loving the least of these, and serving in the great redemption taking place in the Biblical Heartland of Israel. I am looking forward to sharing in this with my soul mate and best friend. Thank you, Sweetheart! I love you Joanna Lansford :)
This story of God bringing me my true love definitely isn't something I earned by following standards or being "good enough". It's just simply been chasing after God with everything, and Him giving me the desires of my heart. To all those out there waiting on Abba, be strong! He's got your best in mind. Seek his kingdom first, and all these things will be added to you.
I LOVE YOU BRIAN ROCKER and am SUPER excited to run alongside you!
CHAZAK CHAZAK V'NIT-CHAZEK! Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!