All I can say is “WOW!”

You never know what, or who for that matter, to expect on Sundays at Simplicity – Corpus Christi.  With Mike and Kim being out of the country right now, we feel like we’re “incomplete” to begin and we will be glad when they return this coming weekend.

Shortly after we arrived this morning, a man rode up on his bicycle and asked if we could bless him.  We spent time praying for him and gave him a sack lunch and some coffee.   As he and I were talking, a woman we had last seen a year ago appeared with a friend of  hers.  This woman has struggled with drugs and alcohol for years, living on the streets estranged from her family.  Her greatest desire is to have a relationship with her 16 year old son, but her addictions drive the wedge deeper and deeper.  She allowed us to pray with her and the Lord gave words that I believe will be significant in His working in her life in the days to come.

We were joined for service by a young, soon to be married couple that I believe will become co-laborers with us in this ministry at some point.   With them was a young lady who has only been to church 5 times in her life (3 of those were funerals).   Before service was over we were also joined by a man I met a few months ago.  Although this man has not beaten his addictions, he sees where our first encounter has begun a process of transformation deep within him.  I prayed for him again today, but felt a new certainty about his ultimate deliverance from the addictions that have held him in bondage.  I look forward to the day that my certainty becomes a reality in his life.

November Recap

It has been several weeks since I have updated the blog. It seems as though life has been extremely hectic since returning from India. I guess we could best call this post a November recap.

Early this month a man entered our lives who was different from some of the others we had encountered on the streets. Although his story was similar and his circumstances were not uncommon, his level of confidence and his seeming determination set him apart. For 2 weeks we worked with him to find a solution for housing and employment. This man was so magnetic, that we were even meeting others, whom he was meeting in the shelters and out on the street.

Unfortunately, his desire to change was not as strong as his desire to take the easy road. We were all devastated as his choices became apparent. God also showed me just how much further I need to come as well. When it comes to personality and temperament, I am high justice and low mercy. When the deceit of this man came to light, I did not allow my justice to be tempered with mercy…reflecting back, I realize that my reactions to his actions left few open doors to continue to influence his life. These lessons are painful.

During the month we have been joined by some new faces, who are stirred by our passion and philosophy of ministry. This has always been one of the directives that the Lord has given us…showing others how to cut out the distractions of “church life” and return to a strong focus on Jesus. Through these interactions, the Lord is raising up co-laborers, who I believe will journey beside us for some time to come.

We have also be visited by a great number of people from the street, past contacts and other acquaintances. God is obviously doing something special in us and through us. It will be exciting to see what the end product ends up looking like.

This has also been our most difficult month since starting Simplicity. Carol and I did not have the money to pay our rent this month, and were very blessed when one of our new co-laborers stepped in and met this need for us. For the first time in our lives we were also unable to pay either car payment, the home in PA went into foreclosure and we currently owe the IRS about $400. God has taken us to a place of complete lack and brokenness….a place that when we read stories like Job, we hope He never does to us. I don’t regret the journey, for I see how much God has been molding and shaping us, but it has taken an emotional and physical toll on both of us. The Lord continues to assure us that this time of intense testing is almost done. This has been echoed by several close to us who intercede regularly for our family and ministry.

The Lord continues to guide me in my business building efforts. I would liken this to farming. I am doing an awful lot of plowing and sowing….in God’s perfect timing these efforts will become all that they are meant to be. It will be very obvious that God’s hand was behind all that has transpired. My role has simply been to “cast my bread upon the water.”

Reflections, re-acclimation and renewal

I’ve been back from India for just over a week now.  My body is finally getting back to normal and the case of Delhi Belly that hit me upon my return home is finally gone.  I’m finally sleeping at normal hours and getting back into my normal routine.

As I’ve taken time to reflect on my time in India, there are a few things that stick out:

First of all, God used my absence to bring about some strengthening in those around me.

My first Friday out of the country, Mike and Kim learned that their brother-in-law had been killed in Afghanistan.   Mike and Kim were able to be a source of strength to their family, even though they did not have my presence to draw from.   Mike and Kim were forced to lean on the Lord in a way they had not had to draw on His strength before.  Carol also felt led to join some meetings that I normally attend, and also led out with our monthly overseer’s meeting.  This was a large growth step for Carol as well and she now sees her role as my ministry partner much more clearly.

I believe the second primary purpose of this trip was my influence on some key people:

My interactions with Tom and Santhosh, in particular were part of a molding, shaping and directional process that the Lord is taking them through.  In the case of both of these men, I watched God take them through some stretching of their comfort zones and standard modes of operation.  Additionally, in two of the cities where I led meetings, the pastors came under conviction about their need to work cooperatively towards the purposes of God’s kingdom.  In the wake of our meetings, these pastors have committed to working together towards the fulfillment of God’s plan for their individual communities.

The third key issue was the reminder of the completeness of God’s power and strength.

On two particular occasions, I was speaking with almost no physical or mental strength.   On both of those occasions, I spoke not with force or vigor, but the power of God was incredibly overwhelming.  On the first occasion a demon manifested in a man as I was speaking and threw this man into the adjacent river.  He was immediately delivered from the demon and received the life giving touch of Jesus that night.   The second time I gave the invitation after making a very simple gospel presentation and I watched as over 30 people came forward to give their lives to Jesus.

It was good to be back home on Sunday.  Sunday was the first anniversary of the launch of Simplicity – Corpus Christi and the Simplicity Church Network.  We all marveled at how quickly the year has gone, and how much God has molded, shaped and changed us in this first year.   We also decided to replace our big orange water cooler outside with some of the sack lunches we have put together.  Sunday we set out 6 lunch bags with Vienna Sausage, fruit cups,  and crackers.  By the time church was over, only one bag was left.

Tuesday was a great day of victories as well.  Carol and I were short on making our house rent.  Our rent is $1,000/month and we only had $179 to our name.   We asked some people who are close to us to pray with us over this need.  One of those individuals told Carol, “I’m praying that someone will show up at your doorstep with a check in hand.”  Not 10 minutes later this same individual called back and said she would be bringing a check by…she ended up being the answer to her own request.

Tuesday evening we were praying at the church when we heard a knock on the door.   A young man entered and said, “I believe God sent me here.”   We then told him how he got to us and he agreed…I told him we were praying for him to come, we just didn’t know it was him that we were specifically praying for.  This man has been in Corpus for 2 weeks.  In the past his life has included many pitfalls, and of course he found himself in the epicenter of those things here in Corpus Christi.  He knows he has a call on his life, but his frustration with his circumstances had led him back to some places he swore he would never go again.  After speaking into his life we offered to walk with him as he works to rebuild his life.  Over the past two days I have had the opportunity to help him find new housing arrangements and to begin looking for work.   While I was in India, the Lord spoke to me about someone he was raising up to become the leader of Simplicity – Corpus Christi…something in my spirit, says this man may eventually be the one God was speaking to me about.