Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ministry Update - May 2011

STEPS TO TRANSFORMATION

Many years ago, I remember ministering in Los Banos, CA. We were a team of young zealous Christians that believed God could transform a small city. While there, I remember the number one drug supplier became a Christian through our efforts. My first convert was a Satanist. In one year, many troubled youth came to Christ through our various local outreaches. One young man, Robert Duran, remains a close friend. The impact on the community was substantial. According to local police statistics, overall crime dropped 23.5% while juvenile crime dropped 38%!

Now I find myself relocated to northern Minnesota and ministering in a community similar in size to Los Banos. Brainerd has been hit particularly hard by the recent recession. Unemployment has been near twenty percent. Every year, long winters give way to a summer party atmosphere that creates more trouble for this fragile tourist area. Numerous bars continue to feed the chronic alcohol problem. The area has faced deep spiritual darkness but the dawn is beginning to break.

In the past, I have mentioned the weekly pastor's prayer group. This gathering has fostered a city-reaching and kingdom expanding vision for the community. One of the results is that several congregations recently came together for a Good Friday service. Only the local high school was large enough to accommodate the over 2600 participants. That is twenty percent of the city's population! The service was beautiful and powerful. Jesus was lifted up and we were drawn closer together.

However, God is also reaching out to those outside of His flock. Recently, a sheriff's deputy was called to the scene of a local family in crisis. The deputy successfully stabilized the situation but knew it needed follow up. Since the deputy was a Christian, he called me to help lead this family to the only one who could heal their broken hearts.

Normally, my ministry is directed to the sheriff's officers and staff. However, in this situation, I agreed to meet with the family. I asked one of the local pastors from our prayer group to accompany me on the follow up. As we met with the couple, God marvelously used the pastor to minister into their lives. Tears flowed as the power of God brought hope and direction. They responded with openness, a desire to attend church, and receive marriage counseling. It was a clear example of how law enforcement, the chaplaincy, and the local churches can work together to transform our community.

I LOVE YOU MORE

A tribute to my mom on Mother's Day -

To see my radiant mother today, you would never think she went through such hard times in her life. I love her wisdom, her joy, her zeal for God and her unction that is so contagious. What I love most about her though, is her journey. A journey that is a testimony to all who travel her same road and never stop walking..........

My mother suffered for many years when I was far away from the Lord. I am sure there were many days she could barely get out of bed. Many nights she cried herself to sleep and other nights she stayed up as long as it took to make sure I was safe at home. Her constant prayer to the Lord was, "Please, just give my daughter one more day." Through all the fears, all the doubts, and all the hurts, she kept on walking for me.

I imagine she may have uttered the same words our dear Savior whispered within His heart with every step He took for us. "Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal" (John 12: 24-25 MSG).

Though darkness tried to overtake her, with each step planted, she was able to declare the notable line in the movie, Fireproof, "I love you more." My mother made a decision one day; a choice that would change her life and my life forever. She decided to die, but not just a quick easy death. She walked a long, difficult, and often lonely road. Her footsteps of suffering paved the way for the footsteps of my victories. She had to die to her uncertainties, her pride, and her own ambitions so that I would find life. She chose to love me more.

Now as a mother of a teenager and three younger children, I more understand my mother's love and sacrifice. Consequently, when I face situations in my life that test my commitment to God and family, I find myself taking one more step and whispering, "I love you more."

Thank you mom for loving me more!

~ Molly

ESTABLISHING A KINGDOM CULTURE

We continue to see many positive effects from our book, The Clash of Kingdoms. As a result, we have decided to write a study guide that will assist many of those who want to teach the principles found in the book. If you have not obtained a copy of The Clash of Kingdoms, do so now below and help expand the Kingdom that cannot be shaken!