Archive for October, 2010

October 13, 2010

the miraculous, non-boring testimony of a goody two shoes

I consider my own testimony of knowing and surrendering to Christ to be a miraculous one to be told.

I was born with Christian parents. I was in Sunday school hearing Bible stories from the womb. My mom, the choir director; my dad, the deacon. We were at every church event, meeting, potluck there was. In all my 27 years of life, I’d guess I’ve missed less than 10% of any church events happening in any church to which I have belonged. We were the first to arrive, last to go for the majority of my life. I have been as well cultured and informed in church and the Bible as I can imagine for one person.

My parents loved me, fed me, cared for me. I have never gone hungry, never been abused, never even broken a bone. The worst ailment I’ve ever had was food poisoning. I haven’t been admitted to the hospital since I had pneumonia as a 2 year old. I have no physical handicaps, not even glasses or contacts. I like healthy food. I have a college degree but never had any debt from it. The most I have ever been in debt was for a car that we paid off in 2 years of on time payments. I have always had a job when I needed one, never been fired, never done drugs, never smoked a cigarette, never been drunk, and have only had sex with my husband. I got A’s and B’s all through my education, pursued interests and hobbies, learned instruments, traveled the US, had real friends, and I’m celebrated and loved on my birthday.

So why, you may ask heartily in all your annoyance at my blessed life, why in the name of everything good would I not believe in a God who loves me? What excuse could I possibly conjure to not enter His kingdom? How could I ever refuse Him and what do I have that would ever block my sight of Him?

Everything, according to Jesus.

A man came to Him wanting an answer to how be might get into God’s kingdom. He was good, had never done anything wrong- he even honored his mom & dad.

Jesus loved him. And so, he told him to get rid of everything- everything else but the kingdom he was seeking to enter.

We’re not told that this good man ever does it. We’re  only told that he walks away with a heavy heart. Then, Jesus describes the possibility for this man to ever enter God’s kingdom to be as likely as a camel going through the eye of a needle. A stinking camel through the eye of a stinking needle.

Impossible.

“Who can be saved, then, Jesus?”, the disciples ask in a marveling plea. Jesus doesn’t respond to their semi-rhetorical question with the expected answer, “no one”. He bypasses that harsh reality and goes straight to the only hope we all have.

“With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”

So, yes, depending on how I told it, my testimony of knowing Christ could be incredibly boring and predictable. I could tell it sheepishly, assuming people may think God did not have to do much to save me- that I was set up for this life of following him, that I almost had no choice. But I am confident that were it not for the miraculous intervention of God, I would be as lost as any empty soul looking for a kingdom that I couldn’t grasp. It is because of His loving power that I have freedom from law, from love of money, from anxiety, bitterness, envy, depression and all of the other spiritual grit that would otherwise have eaten me alive.

It is a miracle that now I can say, like Peter, “I have left everything to follow You!”, and daily receive His far heavier blessings. I’m a camel that went through the eye of a needle, and I won’t hold back from telling you about it.

Jamie

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October 4, 2010

From Russia With Love (Heidi)

Here are some testimonies from Heidi’s recent trip to Russia. Enjoy!

from world-guides.com

From Russia with LOVE

Just got back from RUSSIA!  I had the opportunityto go with a church that I visited on another mission trip two summers ago (Salt and Light Church based in Springs, South Africa).  They sent a team of 3 and I met up with them in Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Our main purpose for the trip was to build relationships and friendships and see if there was an opportunity for future work and church-planting into the nation.  Nathan planned the trip and he had set a goal for us to make about 6-10 contacts for the future.  We returned back to our homes after having visited 4 different Russian cities and seeing that goal doubled-{I think we had over 20!}.  Everywhere we went it seemed we were met with open arms and hearts, welcomed so warmly there and also welcomed back in the future.  We were also able to visit and share in several different churches and at a drug rehabilitation center as well. Here are a couple of quick highlight stories…I had to be so selective.  Just a glimpse here~

o   One night our team stayed in a hostel in Moscow.  Tamara ended up talking with a girl {“Amy”} who was from Canada and had just been traveling on the Trans-Siberian railway. Tamara told Amy (who was currently an agnostic) about what our team was doing in Russia.

Our churches relate to a group of churches world-wide called “New Covenant Ministries Int’l” and Amy actually had a friend [who she said is one of the only Christians that she respects] who also went to an NCMI church in Canada! “Small world”.  Or maybe rather:  “Big God”.  ~

Amy was excited because on the Trans-Siberian she had been reading the Bible as a piece of literature and she was looking to find some people that she could speak with about her thoughts.  We stayed up late into the night and had an amazing talk with her about God, Jesus, the Bible, reality…and all kinds of other topics.  She was amazingly open with Tamara and I and wanted to stay friends-she even invited me up to visit her in Canada since I don’t live far away when I’m home in Chicago.  We got information to find her on facebook and plan to keep in touch. The next morning I read one of the prophetic words given from Salt & Light that spoke about us as a team being open to ministering to people of other cultures-not just Russians.  It said something about meeting “a Rahab” and to me it seemed that the whole word just pointed to the conversation we had had the night before.

o   In St. Petersburg, Russia [besides happening to “run into” Amy and her boyfriend-we were now an overnight train-ride away from where we had seen them in Moscow] we had a chance to leada Bible study with a church group.  We learned that this church also has found “treasure hunts” (which you can learn more about by googling-Bethel Church in Redding, CA) to be an effective way to reach out to their city.  Basically in a treasure hunt, you spend time in prayer and ask God to give you words of knowledge about people that you will meet that day/night.  Then when you find them, you step out in faith and speak to them and hopefully pray with them too.

I have done this several times with friends in Chicago and it is always an adventure.  Our team decided to do this together the last full day that we were in Russia.  We had several things written down but got back to our host home without having prayed for anyone.  Once there we realized that Johann (a friend from church who was staying with us) had 3 of the “clues”…and he was feeling sick because of kidney stones and not being able to sleep.  It seemed that Jo was our man!  We prayed for him and then that night he took us to the train station to head back to Moscow…St. Pete’s is the city where it seemed the doors really opened up to go back in the near future.  I felt very at home in the church we visited there and the city even reminds me a little bit of Chicago!

o   The last “story” I’ll share is kind of a smorgasbord of three.   Together they communicate something that was reaffirmed to me about how God has a plan for our lives and how He directs our steps when we surrender to His will.

The day we flew into Moscow (July 31st) I noticed a lady standing in line at Customs.  On the day we flew out(August 14th) she was also on my flight back!  I was able to speak with her in Washington DC as we waited for the Chicago flight.  She was not a born-again Christian but we spoke a lot about Jesus, the Bible, her calling, the end of the world and she was very open and desirous to discuss these types of things.  I was able to pray with her and even share a word that I felt God gave me for her…this grew my faith in how God speaks to me about people-they often will just stand out to me for some reason.  What a divine appointment to see her both times and then have that really good discussion and a chance to pray~

The second little story is how I almost lost my purse!

I left it in a restroom stall at the airport for a couple of hours.  When I remembered and ran to get it the stall that it was in was locked.  I waited and waited for someone to come out-just praying fervently under my breath.  I was to board my flight soon and it had my passport and customs paper in it-I needed these to fly!! Finally the lady who was cleaning the restroom knocked on the stall door and realized that it was locked from the inside with no one in it.  She got it open and there was my purse, still hanging on the hook.  I could have cried.

I don’t know if a person or an angel locked that door but what it spoke to my heart is the same either way. Even in chaotic situations (even if it had been stolen)-God can intervene supernaturally.  We can trust Him in every situation.  This reminds me of a Corrie ten Boom story that I don’t have room to tell.

And the last story goes back to the beginning of the trip.   While sitting in service at the first church we visited in Moscow I realized something… ten years before I had received a newsletter from a lady working with a church in Moscow, Russia.  I have kept that letter and read it over and over again because of how it spoke so much to my spirit.  The lady was now living back in the states with her husband and children but I realized in that church service that I was sitting in their pastor’s church in Moscow!  The sermon preached that morning also confirmed so much to my heart about God’s call for me and about Russia.

All of these things and events leading up to them just affirmed in me the revelation that I do hear my Father’s voice and have been hearing it…even since I was a little girl.

John 10:27

And so the adventure is to be continued… “to Russia with love”.

With such Love,

heidi

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

~Proverbs 16:9