To prelude my blog for the week, I encourage you to read Isaiah 58. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2058&version=NIV
This last Monday I went with my friends on the "God's Favor Bus" to Detroit again to serve and minister to the homeless. I must admit I commited to serving on this day, but didn't really want to go, because I was anxious to work on my Fund Development for InterVarsity. I have an ambitious goal of raising 90% of $63,000 by June 1. I'm currently at 24%. I thought, O another day "I" cannot work on this. But I know this is a commitment I've made and I do really love doing this ministry.
God always does something different each time we serve in Detroit. Before we circled up to pray I decided to go talk with one of the homeless ladies that I've met several times before. I'm curious and perplexed by her. At times she seems so random and rythmical with her conversation, almost like a beat poet, that I am not exactly sure what she is saying. Other times she seems clear and concise and almost prophetic. This was one of those times. I don't even know why she told me this because I didn't even bring up the conversation. I just asked her if she would like to join us in prayer. Her response, "now you go and don't worry about not saying anything. Respect your elders and know that God knows your heart. Okay, go now, okay..." I was speechless. I only asked her to join us in prayer and this is how she responds? And what is it that God has been telling me to respect my elders lately. Don't I already do that? Hmmm.... Anyway, we circled up for prayer and I had something on my heart to share but an older man in our group started to preach. I felt a little jealousy in my heart and I remembered what the lady had told me. So I submitted and resisted the jealous tendancy and prayed and listened. After the older man had finished speaking (amazing words from the Lord) I was given the opportunity to share my story.
I also talked with a homeless guy who had only been on the streets of Detroit for one week. He came here from Arkansas seeking to find his estranged wife who left him for someone who lives in the Detroit area. He's only 29 and he was definitely out of his element. Me and another friend pleaded with him and encouraged him to yes contact your wife, but if she is not willing to reconcile, please get off the street and go home to your family. He was deeply hurt and moved I could tell, but he just couldn't humble himself enough to take our words to heart. So he continues to hang out on the streets with people who really don't care about him.
Another encounter was with a prostitute. Our bus pulls up beside her and our crazy bus driver lady (Louise - wonderful woman of God) shouts out, you need anything! The lady immediately repeats, "I know I am doing wrong. I know I am doing wrong." After talking with her and praying with her she did say that she believed in Jesus. But she just couldn't get out of this life style. The marks on her eyes showed just how her "boy friend" treated her. We pleaded with her to let us take her to a shelter. She wanted to be free, but again she wanted to go get her things from her boy friends apartment. We explained that we had clothing on the bus and that she should leave the other stuff behind. The price of freedom is leaving the old and moving toward the new. That's what Christ has done for us.
It breaks my heart to see people who want and need the freedom that Christ offers, but the bonds of sin hold them captive. O Lord that you would set the captives free! Indeed you already have, but please open the eyes of the blind and help the deaf to hear! O Lord have mercy on the people of Detroit!
Why did I ask you to read Isaiah 58? What is a day the Lord finds acceptable? What type of worship does he glory in? How are we as followers of Jesus suppose to live? The word is plain and true. If we are to see change and transformed lives in Detroit or anywhere, the gospel must be proclaimed, the captives must be set free and we must be humble before the everlasting Almighty God!
O Lord have mercy, Jesus have mercy, Lord have mercy!
I remember reading from a book called "The Dream Giver" by Bruce Wilkinson about a young man named "Normal" who lived in Normalsville, or something to that effect. He felt called to go to another land outside of Normalsville, yet there were many challenges ahead of him. He faced "Border Bullies" and "Giants" and had many tests of faith before he would reach the destination that God had called him to. At one point he even had to give up his dream to God.... then he waited. Eventually God gave him the dream back after his faith was tested. Normal had to learn to trust God, to face challenges with faith and to persevere when doubts are thrown at him.
I have felt a lot like Normal during these last few months of unemployment and now raising support for ministry with InterVarsity. I am certain that God has called me to plant new ministries at community college campuses throughout Detroit and Ann Arbor, but I am still faced with doubts and uncertainties. I ask, "Are you sure Lord?" Many people have mentioned and stated, "You sure picked a bad time to try something like this Todd." I appreciate the insight, but I didn't choose this time or this ministry - the Lord did. Who else would choose a time when the economy was so low for me to raise support? Who else is able to bring about the impossible? This isn't just a time of faith testing for me, but for all of us. But I do have doubt, fears, worries and anxiety even though I know that the Lord has called me. Look through the bible did the people the Lord called ever have impossible circumstances to overcome? Yes, time after time the Lord continued to prove that He is our Lord and our God. He is our provider, our sustainer our deliverer and our savior. That my friends is encouraging!
Someone recently sent me an encouraging note that helped me set my focus back on the goal. It is easy to hear the Border Bullies and Giants cast doubts at me. But with encouragement from my wife and others I am able to press on. I strongly believe your prayers sustain me in my efforts to persevere in serving the Lord.
Here is the email:
God has given you many gifts that I believe He would desire to use in ministry. You work well with children and youth ministry is a good fit, but the college years are such a strategic time of life. People make life time decisions then. Additionally the best and the brightest from around the world choose to gain their education on US campuses. That allows you to influence the world more efficiently and profoundly than any other ministry venue. You may well have contact with future foreign presidents, business executives, and kings. Because we have such privilege and access to higher education in this country we easily lose sight of the uniqueness and power that it provides. Pick up your stones and sling them well.
I appreciate the prayers and encouragements. Please do not think less of them as you continue to support me by various means. An encouraging word, a smile, a prayer, though they may seem small can and will lift the spirit of a man, especially with the help of an Almighty God!
What about your dreams and call from God? Have you fallen to the Border Bullies or lost a battle to the Giants? Seek the Lord, pray and ask for prayer and watch the Lord help you defeat them. Our God is Awesome! Do you believe it?
(After thinking about it the character in the books name was "Ordinary" who lived in Normal.)...
Friends & Partners in ministry
I've been at the support raising for almost 2 months. This is all so new to me and I must admit, I am not that comfortable in asking for support. I recognize the call of God on my life to be a witness and to preach the gospel wherever I go - but asking for financial support isn't easy for me. I've never wanted to be a burden on anyone but rather independent, taking care of my own needs. As I've been praying through this support raising process, I've come to recognize - I can't do this on my own. I'm "dependent" on the body of Christ, other believers and friends to support this call to share the gospel with others. Today, I read several devotions - they always seem to come just after I ask God about something. The devotions talked about "asking God, seeking Him and knocking." (James 1:5-6 & Matt 7:7-12) But often times I've doubted what I ask for. God can and will provide if it is His will. And I believe it is His will that I minister to college students in the Ann Arbor/ Detroit area. I am asking God to provide what I need to be able to do the work he is calling me to.
I've been blessed to raise around 9% of my funds so far. That leaves 81% I need to raise by June and another 10% before fall 2010. I am so very thankful!
This link below offers some stories of people who have supported others in various ministries. Maybe some of you will relate to one or more of the stories. I just want you to know that I appreciate your sacrificial giving and generous gifts in supporting my ministry. I cannot do this ministry without you. You work hard for your money and I thank God that you are willing to give. I pray that many college students will grow in the LORD and receive the free gift of salvation through our efforts together. http://www.thebodybuilders.net/srs/latestissues.html
All glory to Jesus!
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