A BIRTHday Celebration to Remember

In my last post I told you about the opportunity the Lord had given us to throw a birthday party for a woman from the streets.  I want to tell you about the events of this glorious BIRTHday celebration.

When we arrived at the church we saw this woman approaching.  She was dressed nicer than we had ever seen her and she had cleaned up.   She was apprehensive as she approached, because she had not seen our children since she left our home last year.  As she entered the building she immediately began to cry and wail.    My children greeted her and gave her a hug, which caused her to cry even harder.   For the next half hour or so while we prepared her birthday decorations she laid out on a set of folding chairs and cried uncontrollably.

It was Mike’s turn to present the message of Jesus last night.  As he began sharing, Diane sat next to my wife and just wept as my wife held her.   She then began to cry out to God asking for His mercy, because she had destroyed her life.   She declared her fear of dying and being under the control of her street life any longer.

When Mike began to talk about our response to God’s offer of new life in Christ, she sat straight up and began to follow him with her eyes.   She cried out to Mike to come pray with her, to tell her what to do.   Mike instructed her to pray what was flowing from her heart.   I could see her struggling to speak and I felt prompted to speak against any spiritual force that was trying to prevent her from moving from death into life.  In a tear filled cry for help, she began to confess the choices of her life, naming things that were so painful and so personal.  She then declared her need for God’s grace and asked Him to take control of her life.

Almost immediately her countenance changed and her tears of pain became tears of joy.  She began to speak of the inrush she could feel deep within her and the enormous weight that had just lifted.  She then reached into her shirt and pulled out her cigarettes and lighter.   She acknowledged the battle would be difficult, but she also knew she needed to make her first change starting now.   With that, she handed those things to Mike and asked him to dispose of them.

When everyone had regained their composure, we sang happy birthday and celebrated her life and her NEW life together.

The journey ahead will be difficult for her as she has lived and worked on the street for over 10 years.   I believe this will be the first real opportunity for us to put the mission of Simplicity Solutions to the test, as we will need to help her keep her hands busy and her thoughts focused in a life giving direction.  We will also have the challenge of trying to find her housing that offers a drug and alcohol recovery program.   Discipleship for an individual in her condition has to be holistic, teaching not only the Christian life, but life skills in general.

Here is the other amazing thing about this whole experience.   When she walked back into my life on Wednesday, I was meeting with a Vineyard Pastor who leads ministry at an Assembly of God church.   He was able to provide clothing for her on the spot, because a woman had given him a stack of woman’s clothing the day before (of course the correct size).   The birthday cake, balloons and banner were provided by my friend’s Baptist church that had been challenged 2 weeks ago by an Army chaplain.  Of course we were the third piece, cultivating the relationship through our presence in a tough area.   This truly was a picture of the body of Christ at work.

Birthday Parties for Prostitutes

I met with one of my pastor friends yesterday and he shared with me that he had been haunted by the question a guest speaker had asked in his pulpit the week before.   The speaker told the story of a pastor who had encountered a group of prostitutes in a diner late one night.   One of the prostitutes was lamenting that the following day was her birthday, and that no one had ever celebrated her birthday before.  The pastor having overheard the conversation plans a birthday party for her and she is overwhelmed by the kindness shown.  After telling this story, the speaker in my friend’s church asked this question:  “Is this the type of church that would throw a birthday party for a prostitute?”

This morning I was meeting with another pastor at our church telling him about our ministry.   I told him about the woman from the streets my wife and I had taken in last year.  Not ten minutes later, guess who came walking through the door this same woman.   She had just been released from the hospital and is still on the streets.  She asked if she could give me a hug and when I hugged her she just held tightly to me and sobbed.

After we had prayed for her and began working on her immediate needs, she told me:  “Friday’s my birthday.”  She’ll turn 47 on Friday.  She told me that she had never had anyone to celebrate her birthday with her.   I knew immediately what needed to be done.  I called my friend and told him:  “I think God is asking your church to put up or shut up.”   I told him that we had a birthday party to plan for on Friday.

I find it so amazing how God works and stretches us.

If the gospel comes….

Since returning from Africa, we have been praying about the direction of our ministry here in Corpus Christi.   With our local population being transient, we have struggled to meet the ongoing expenses of the building rent and utilities.   Yet, in spite of the struggles, we also see the need for our presence.   In the past 9 months we have watched 3 churches in our area close their doors.   The crime, addictions and broken lives continue to go on seemingly unchecked.   What were we to do?

A friend of mine called me for lunch last week and we met.   I shared with him my uncertainty over the next step we were supposed to take and he responded with this story.   He had just come from a meeting with 2 other pastors, who were wanting to turn their focus on to our ministry neighborhood.   During this conversation, one of the pastors related a conversation he had undertaken with a relative who was a drug dealer in the area.   In this conversation, the pastor asked what it would take for the drug dealers to leave.   The relative responded with this answer:  “If the gospel comes we will leave.”  He went on to elaborate that in his lifetime, he had seen the gospel come into an area so forcefully that the drug trade could not continue.   When the pastor inquired if just by planting churches and doing ministry the drug dealing would leave…the man corrected him.   He restated:  “If the gospel comes we will leave.”  He went on to elaborate that he was not worried, because he had only witnessed such a happening twice in his life.

For the next 24 hours, I found myself haunted by those words.   Last Tuesday night as we were praying, I found the Lord giving me a vision and a renewed sense of purpose for the corner of Staples and Coleman.   The vision was simple, the gospel would be proclaimed and lived out at that location 7 days a week.   As others begin to join with us to carry this load, this proclamation will ultimately be done 3 times per day, 7 days per week.   The Lord also impressed upon me that this message was to be declared, even if no one was present.

This Sunday we began this new chapter in our journey.  My wife prayed as I preached to chairs and passers by.   Interestingly enough I had just finished reading God’s Smuggler, one of the stories told in that book was of a minister in Holland who was led to do a similar thing.   It was noted that even when no one was in the building, the message and invitation always seemed to be received and responded to by someone on the street.

2nd Update from Kenya and Uganda

On Wednesday we journeyed to Uganda.  My border crossing was uneventful, although my Washington, D.C. issued Ugandan visa gained a few extra glances.  Pastor Adams said the border official inquired as to whether I might have any money on me.

From the border we headed high into the mountains to the village of Chesower.   Chesower is a small agricultural village that was hit hard by a drought last year.  Upon arrival, I was met by Pastor Bon Labu and John Chebures.  I had met both of them last year through the graduation ceremonies of our Bible college.   Pastor Labu has been ministering in these mountains for over 30 years.   He is a strong man in both character and stature.  He walks up and down the mountains ministering throughout the region.    John Chebures was one of our graduating students from the first class of the Bible college last year.  We were blessed to be allowed to stay in a home that is currently under construction.   Even the owner had not stayed in the home yet.  The toilet facilities were a little more rustic.   The toilet is a series of planks layed across a deep pit with a hole in the planks.   A step of faith to say the least.

After a snack of small bananas and tea we hiked about half a kilometer up hill to the church.   The church is one of three in the village and has about 400 members.  The church is a mud structure with a metal roof that overlooks the surrounding farm land.   I spoke for about an hour in the afternoon on the topic of waiting upon God.  I also prayed for about 75 people.  Pastor Labu shared with me how timely this message had been for him, because he was contemplating leaving the ministry, because of discouragement.  We chose not to have any evening sessions, because it is the rainy season in Uganda.   During the evening I sat with Pastor Labu, John Cherubes and Pastor Adams.  We talked about our countries and cultures, enjoying a great conversation.  As we were coming to an end the heavy rains began.

On Thursday I slept in with the heavy rains still continuing.   About 10:30AM the rains subsided and we headed to the church around noon.   The news of my arrival had spread and on this day it was standing room only in the church.   While we were ministering a low hanging cloud enveloped the church and I was able to capture video of this cloud blowing into the church through the doors and windows.   I believe it was a sign of things to come in the afternoon.   I spoke on the issue of encouragement in both sessions.   In between the first and second session a woman spoke of her inability to conceive a child.   She had never shared her pain with the church.  We were able to pray for her as a group, and I look forward to seeing how that prayer is answered.   After the conference we shared a meal in the home of this woman.  Her home is a mud structure with a tin roof and has calendars from the past 10 years on the walls.   Each calendar celebrates a political or military leader, including US President Obama.

On Friday we enjoyed a beautiful morning and enjoyed our breakfast and banter on the front porch of the home in which we were staying.   The church was not only full, but people were seated on the ground outside of the church.   I spoke 2 messages of challenge to the church and prayed for well over 100 people.   I then met with the pastors for another session which was primarily a place for them to share their challenges and receive counsel.   The questions dealt with people who challenge leadership, church discipline, church finances and personal growth.    Friday evening was again another great time of conversation and laughter with the other leaders.

On early Saturday morning we were supposed to leave for Bukwo on the lower slopes of Mount Elgon.  We received a phone call that our driver had gotten very sick and would not be able to take us.   After several more phone calls another man with a vehicle was located.  When the man arrived he had a small Suzuki Samurai type vehicle.  Pastor Labu and I are both about 6’4” so everyone was laughing.  With creative seating the four of us and our luggage made it into the vehicle.   It had been raining, so the roads were pretty muddy and some of our drive was exciting to say the least.    We arrived in Bukwo at around 2PM and checked into a hotel that was just being completed when I was there last year.   The hotel had a western toilet which was wonderful to see and used a generator for lights in the evening.   The other great thing was that I finally had cell phone service again, so I was thrilled to call my wife and daughter for a few minutes.  I also received an email on my Blackberry from my youngest son who was on a trip with his school to Washington, DC.    The other pastors spent the afternoon and evening planning for the graduation ceremony on Sunday.   The graduation had originally been scheduled for Saturday, but the District was celebrating a festival and the building was being used, so we had to make an adjustment at the last moment.    I spent the evening reading several books I had brought with me.

The light switch in my room didn’t work so they had hard wired my light fixture to the generator.  When I was ready to go to bed I stood on a chair and removed my light bulb.   I also put ear plugs in my ears since the generator was right outside of my room.   A heavy rain came through shortly after I went to bed and I finally went to sleep.

Sunday morning I was invited to speak in the BOC church in Bukwo.   Pastor Adams had said many local pastors had come by asking if I could speak in their churches, but BOC was chosen since it would also host the Bible college graduation.    I was welcomed warmly and was escorted to the pulpit by two women who carried my Bible while they sang and danced.    They also escorted my interpreter to the pulpit in the same manner.  It was a great service and the people were wonderful.

Once the service had ended we prepared for the graduation ceremony.   Before the ceremony I met with a young man I had met a year earlier.   When I had last seen him, he was drunk and ran into the back of a church in Kapchesoy.  He had run over a mile and half from a still where he was cooking beer, after hearing God’s voice telling him to go to the church and surrender his life.    This young man’s face is now full of joy and his mother came and embraced me telling me of the change in her family and in this young man’s home over the past year.    A man in my church had given me a cross medallion that had been given to him some years ago when he turned his life around.   He had asked that I give it to someone in Africa and I knew that this young man was the one.

I also renewed friendship with a district official who had proclaimed in last year’s graduation ceremony that he would become a student.   It was wonderful to see him graduating from this first level of training.   I was able to renew my friendship with many other past students and local pastors.  It was truly a highlight of my journey.    In all we graduated approximately 20 students from this certificate program.   Many of them will continue on in a 2 year diploma program.

During the afternoon we learned that the man who was going to take me into the low lands (where the men walk around naked I might add) had become ill.   We made a decision to head back into Kenya.  At the border crossing the young Ugandan who had approved my entry asked me to pray with him before I left the country.    We arrived back in Kitale around 5PM with a house full of visitors waiting to share tea with me.    I shared tea and then the evening meal with several of the members from Pastor Adams church.   Once the guests had departed I spent about an hour IM with my wife over Skype.   The broadband cards here require you purchase bandwidth, so I could not video or voice conference with her, but I was thankful for the conversation.    I also found myself laughing as Mary, Pastor Adams wife, was upset with him, because she felt I had not received adequate meals and a proper toilet in Uganda.

Today and tomorrow we have nothing scheduled.   We decided to take today as a down day to just recharge our batteries.    Later this week we are scheduled to do a graduation in Kakamega, Kenya, meet with another church in the lower areas of Mount Elgon and meet with our Bible college students in Eldoret.

Once I can get hooked into a sufficient internet connection I hope to post some photographs and video.

First Update from Africa

I arrived in Nairobi on Thursday evening at around 7PM. After collecting my luggage we made our way to the home of Pastor Adams brother-in-law. There we shared a meal with another brother-in-law a sister-in-law and their families, plus some friends who had learned there would be a white man from America staying in the home. Fellowship is so important in the African culture. The eldest brother-in-law took the lead and led us through a time of greeting. Each person introduced themselves, their spouse and their children. We enjoyed a great meal and much laughter.

On Friday we spent all day traveling. We had hoped to reach Mount Elgon to participate in the final day of a conference in which I had been scheduled to be the keynote speaker. The disruption of flights had caused me to miss the first three days of the conference. Unfortunately heavy rains slowed our progress and made the roads up Mount Elgon impassible. Knowing that we would not make Mount Elgon, we stopped in Eldoret for lunch and I was introduced to Pastor Margaret Maheri. Pastor Maheri is the administrator of our newest Redeemer Bible College in Eldoret, and she also hosts a radio program that broadcasts on Saturday nights to an audience of over one million people.

We finally arrived in Kitale around 5 or 6PM. Jet lag had hit me hard so I went to bed and told my hosts that if they didn’t see me at dinner, I would be alert again in the morning. Needless to say I didn’t wake up until around 5AM on Saturday.   Pastor Adams wife was afraid that they had offended me with the accommodations, I explained jet lag and promised to be at dinner from here on out.

Saturday morning we made the trip to Mount Elgon, arriving shortly after the conference closing session. The pastors were gracious and re-assembled to hear from me. We had a great time of fellowship and the word the Lord gave me brought inspiration to many of them. Mount Elgon had been ravaged by a violent clan that had pillaged and killed many a few years ago. People are now beginning to return to the mountain and new church planting is happening at a furious pace.

On Saturday afternoon we traveled to Eldoret. We had been invited to share a meal with Pastor Maheri. When we got to her home, we found her visiting with a friend. Within a few minutes this friend begin to speak with me and the Lord began to touch her heart. She told me that she wanted to find God, or for God to find her. I learned that her father had been a pastor, but he had died at an early age. When her father died, her mother left the family and this woman had been forced to grow up all alone. As we spoke the Lord showed me that this woman was angry at Him for taking her father. When I said this to her she began to weep bitterly. We spent more time talking about God’s love for her and in the end I prayed over her. She left agreeing to spend time pouring out her heart to God. I believe I will hear from her in the near future and that she will have a great story of restoration and redemption.

From Pastor Margaret’s house we went to the radio station. I begin with a youth program that ran from 10PM to midnight. The host, Tobias, and I had a discussion on the challenges that young people are facing. The Lord led me to talk about the compromises in the areas of sexuality and faith that young people are being asked to make. I also talked about the church’s shortfall in speaking openly on these issues, because they are taboo and uncomfortable. After this show was over I hosted Prayer Marathon with Pastor Margaret. Prayer Marathon is a 5 hour call in show where people share their prayer requests and they are ministered to over the air. During our 5 hours we had nearly 100 requests come in. Since Saturday we have heard from many people who were blessed as they listened in.

On Sunday I spoke in Pastor Adams church operating on 2 hours of sleep. The church is just about a year old and already has a congregation of nearly 70 people. We were joined by Esther Wachira, the wife of the pastor who had hosted me in Kitale during my visit last year. Esther shared a recent conversation she had undertaken with a lady delivered from witchcraft. This woman talked to her about the active opposition that she and her fellow practitioners took against the church. These individuals would go into churches and seek to create division in all areas of the church through the use of demonic activity. The one thing this woman told Mrs. Wachira is that the people in the church do not pray and therefore they are easy targets. Pretty sobering word isn’t it. Next an 8 year old orphan that the Wachiras are raising shared a word from Matthew 5. This young man is very astute and he became my buddy the rest of the day. After the service, we held a graduation ceremony for the students of the Redeemer Bible College that operates in Pastor Adams church. During the afternoon, several pastors with whom I had developed a friendship last year came by to see me. It was a great time for renewing our acquaintance.

My greatest challenge so far has been finances. Our transportation has cost much more than it did last year, and we have less to work with. We are seeking the Lord’s guidance to raise the funds necessary for us to finish out our speaking engagements.

My other big challenge (primarily mental) was the usage of the Kenyan squat toilet. Last night I put on my big boy pants and conquered my fears. May not be what you wanted to hear about, but the milestone was huge none the less.

Yesterday, I went to a local hotel to meet with the man who was my driver last year.  I had brought him a study Bible and Bible dictionary.    Pastor Adams had received several calls asking if we could do a meeting today with some local pastors.   We explained that we did not have any money to rent a room or provide lunch, but that we would meet with anyone who wanted to.   During the afternoon I ended up spending time with a handful of pastors who showed up at my table one by one.   It was great to see God work and we didn’t even have to spend any money.

Today we were supposed to head into Uganda, but we needed fuel for the van. Wouldn’t you know neither of my bank cards would work at the ATM today. So I figured I would go to the local cyber cafe and send myself a Western Union. The internet wouldn’t open the site (at 2 different cyber cafes). Finally Adams caught a ride back home and picked up a broadband card which he reloaded with credits. Finally this afternoon I got the Western Union sent to myself. Unfortunately we missed the first day of the conference, but we should be in place for the next 3 days. While we are in Uganda, Adams and I are going to make a couple of motorcycle excursions to visit some of the remote churches and pastors.

Africa Itinerary

Here is the itinerary for Africa:

Friday, Apr 16

~ 1p, Depart CC

Saturday, Apr 17

~ 7:25p (11:25a our time) Arrive in Nairobi, Kenya

Sunday, Apr 18

~Minister at David’s church, (Nairobi)

Monday, Apr 19-

~ Travel to Eldoret and have lunch with Redeemer Bible College students at Eldoret Technical Institute. One of the students wants you to dedicate her grandchild during that meal. The media will be present to take coverage and you will have time to share our vision on media on SAYARE RTV Eldoret.

Tuesday, Apr 20

~ Travel to Mt Elgon but stop at Kamukunywa at Pastor Peter Wasai who recently joined our network, then to Chebich where we will have our lunch and ordain Pastor Peter Wasai and Pastor Dan as we also receive them into the fellowship. After lunch, we will travel to Mt. Eglon.

Wed-Fri, Apr 21-23

~ Minster in Mt. Eglon, pastor’s conference in the daytime and preach publically in the evenings

Saturday, Apr 24

~ Redeemer Bible College Graduation, Kakamega (Mtunga town)

~ 10p-12a (2p-4p our time)- live youth show at Sayare (radio) (in Eldoret)

Sunday, Apr 25-

~ 12a-4a (Sat 4p-8p our time)- ministering and praying for peoples’ needs (radio)

~ 4a-5a (Sat 8p-9p our time)- Live Morning Devotion (radio)

~ Sunday service (10a-12p, 2a-4a our time)- at Pastor Adams’ church for service, will include a small graduation ceremony (1-2p, 5-6a our time) for Redeemer Bible College (in Kitale)

Monday, Apr 26

~ Travel to Mbale, Uganda via Malaba border

~ 11a-5p (3a-9a)- two sessions ministering to pastors and church leaders hosted by Bishop Patrick (Impact Ministries)

~ Sleep in Kapchorwa

Tuesday, Apr 27

~ 10a-11a (2a-3a our time)- Meet with students on Kapchorwa campus

~ Travel to conference venue in Chewower, arrive at 2p (6a our time)

~ Have lunch there, meet pastors as they arrive

Tues-Fri, Apr 27-30

~ Conference at church in Chewower

Saturday, May 1

~ Redeemer Bible College Graduation in Bukwo 10a-1p (2a-5a our time)

~ Travel to Kitale

Sunday, May 2

~ Sunday service at Driver John’s church (their chauffer for the two weeks) from 10a-12p (2a-4a our time)

~ have lunch and travel back to Nairobi

Monday, May 3

~ 10:20p (2:10a our time) Depart Nairobi, Kenya

Tuesday, May 4

~ 6:30 pm Arrive in CC

Please be in prayer for our students in Kapchorwa, Uganda as we learned of the death of one of their classmates this morning.

Testing the defenses

In my last post, I talked about the spiritual battle that ensued in our Tuesday prayer time last week.   Saturday night we held a Christmas open house for those who have taken an interest in our ministry.

The man who had brought such a spirit of distraction with him on Tuesday showed up with a “friend” accompanying him.  This second man brought with him a demonic presence unlike any I have ever encountered.  As this man would speak, he would begin to speak unintelligibly.  He would call himself by different names and he would throw around Bible verses like a rapid fire machine gun.

When I asked him, who Jesus was?   He gave a myriad of answers, but never said “Jesus is Lord.”   The spirit within this man began to directly antagonize me and challenge me.   “Who do you say Jesus is?’   “What makes you a follower of Jesus?”  “What is your favorite Bible verse?”

The Lord told me to be quiet and not contend with this spirit.  Over the next few moments, this man patted our children on the head and touched each wall, each table, etc…  The Lord instructed me to begin worshiping Him, so I began to sing the words that the Lord was giving me.  Immediately both of these men got up and left.

The Lord showed me that this was a testing of the spiritual defenses of our ministry.  We prayed over the children once these men had left and spoke a word of blessing upon them.

We wrestle not against flesh and blood

Last Thursday we had a guy walk into our Organic Group who just wanted to talk incessantly and pull us away from our Bible study.  It took nearly an hour before he chose to leave and the whole time he was there, you could feel a spiritual battle going on.  As soon as he left, I remembered this man had been encountered a year ago and continued to interfere as I tried to minister to a hurting man at one of the local missions.

Tonight when I arrived for prayer, I found Mike engaged in conversation with a man.  About 10 minutes later, the man from last week re-appeared and began to commandeer the conversation.  The Lord instructed me to begin worshiping Him.  I sang for the next two hours.  Singing until it hurt….the defiant spirit within this man refusing to yield to the glory of God.  The Lord continue to tell me that I could not quit until both of these men left, as the first man was drawn in by the spirit of the 2nd man.

After 2 hours both men left and we continued to worship, but I was exhausted.  I have never been in such a prolonged, intense spiritual battle as I was tonight.

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.

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.