Monday, February 13, 2012

Ministry Update - February 2012

Since our ministry began in the Brainerd Lakes Area, we have reported incidents of God's miracle-working power in the county jail. Karen Sikkink was one of the early converts that God miraculously touched. She recently celebrated a full year since her incarceration. Karen will soon be receiving training so that she can return to the jail and minster to the women inmates! This is her testimony.

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH

I first came to know the Lord when I was thirteen years old. However, I was sent to a group home due to behavior problems. I stayed there until I was sixteen and was sent back home. By this time, drinking and drugs had become a part of my everyday living.

A few years later, I moved to St. Paul after my marriage failed. I had several arrest warrants because I could not stay sober long enough to comply with my probation. I lived there for seventeen years. By this time, I had become a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict who was constantly in and out of jail, drug treatment centers, and prison. I remember calling on God to get me out of my situation but I would go right back to my old lifestyle when my prayers were actually answered. I really wanted a change but was uncertain how I was going to do it.

I moved back to the Brainerd Lakes Area in 2006 with my daughter who was about two years old. I wanted to give her a better life but I just couldn't do that with the lifestyle her dad and I had. Her dad ended up moving to Brainerd about a year later and we both got a job and established stable housing for her. Tragically, my daughter's father died February 16, 2009 and my life completely fell apart.

I went right back to the alcohol and drugs and I could feel my life spinning out of control. I remember calling on God (once again) but this time I was completely broken and it wasn't to just get out of a bad situation. On July 12, 2010, I was arrested for a felony DWI and placed in the Crow Wing County Jail. There God blessed me with some people who showed me a better way to live. I discovered I needed to surrender my life back over to the care of God.

Since I got out of jail, the Lord has blessed me over and over countless times. He has restored in me what I thought I could never reach. Thank you Jesus! I give all the glory, praise, and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ because through it all, I was never alone. I just had to let God be in control.



Brainerd has recently had the highest unemployment rate of any city in Minnesota. This unfortunate fact hit home when our son-in-law, Adam was given some unexpected news by his employer.

VINE AND BRANCHES

Recently, I was working at a job that I felt was secure. I had grown confident that the company was dependent on the work I was doing for them. To my surprise, I was "terminated" along with several others when the company lost some major contracts. That was hard for me to deal with. I had bills to pay and a family to feed.

When we face hard situations, it is tempting to make decisions based on human understanding. We sometimes think God is not moving fast enough or we can think we can do it on our own. When I got the bad news, I wanted to take the first job that I could find but I knew I had to put my trust in God. I sought Him to know what His will was for me. I knew if I remained in Him, He would provide for me.

As I pressed into God during this challenging time, He made things happen. First, He provided a job for me for a week. Then I was given a full time job with overtime opportunities. I had asked the Lord to provide a new job for me and my family and He did. God is so faithful!

In John 15:1-17, Jesus teaches that we are the branches and He is the vine. Life comes from Him. He feeds us and helps us grow outwardly as we remain dependant on Him. If we become anxious or self-sufficient, we will soon wither, die, and fall off. We must remain in Him, because He is our only source of life and strength.



WHAT ARE WE TRAINED FOR?

When a young soldier goes to boot camp, he/she is not given a tourist brochure with recommended restaurants and places of interest located on the battlefield. They are not orientated on the personal benefits of visiting the war zone. That would be foolish and disingenuous. Rather, they are given combat training regarding the dangers they will encounter and how to overcome life-threatening situations. As a result, when they experience the dynamics of war, they are not surprised or unprepared.

The Western Church may preach that Christians are at war but we generally focus on increasing our creature comforts and benefits. When we do experience spiritual battles, we often struggle with discouragement because we were not trained to expect it. We see conflict as an intrusion into our well-deserved lifestyles. The problem is that we have been taught to expect the bounties of peace rather than the hardships of war.

Jesus properly trained His disciples. He told them "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). He did not minimize the battle they would face. Consequently, when the disciples faced numerous adversities and struggles, they were thankful Jesus had prepared them. They were emboldened by His life and straightforward teaching, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).


COMING SOON: DAVID RAVENHILL

We are pleased to announce that David Ravenhill will be coming to the Brainerd Lakes Area February 17-19. This strategic ministry opportunity is being hosted by several local churches that have been praying for revival. Please contact us if you are interested in attending. We also covet your prayers for a fresh move of God's Spirit during this time.