Posts tagged ‘salvation’

August 14, 2013

My mom knows Jesus (Nok)

I became a Christian 14 years ago in Thailand, in the Buddhist context. Almost everyone in Thailand are Buddhists. It is not easy for one person to accept Christ. It means a major paradigm shift. Since I came to faith, I told my family about it, hoping that they too will come to know Him one day.

God has indeed done a lot in my family. I saw the softening of the hearts in my family, I even saw curiosity in their life about Christian faith at times. I always felt I needed to move to Thailand soon, because the only way my family would know God is through me, the only person who is a Christian.

But then about two years ago, my aunt and my cousins came to know the LORD. I was so amazed by that. They witnessed to my mom a lot. My aunt said Buddhism never made her happy. And her neighbor kept witnessing to her for four years. One day she just got up and walked to church. Since then, her life and her son’s family have changed, filled with true love and true joy for the first time. And my mom saw that.

Meanwhile, God has already put a lot of believers in her life, myself, my husband and his family. Then came my mom’s neighbor who came to know Christ through Moody Bible Institute team’s visiting Thailand, and then her mom. My mom saw the life before and after, and the joy in them. God also put another witness in her life, a blind masseuse (In Thailand, it is $5/hour of massage). This person while massaging could not stop talking about the goodness of Jesus.

My mom probably noticed how God ambushed her in His grace. These past few months, my mom’s heart has been opened more to the Good News. She visited my aunt’s church regularly, and started listening to the message. When we talked on the phone, she liked to say the Christian messages are really good and easily applicable to my life, unlike the Buddhist teaching. Then, she began sharing with me more excitedly about lessons she learned, such as Jesus is the Good Shepherd. What a joy that brought to my ears!

One day she told me that she was looking for something to fix a pair of pants and came across my old Bible and started reading it. That is when I knew she was close to accepting Christ. Her heart has never been this open before, so that is when I told people to start praying for her. A Korean missionary who does the bible study with my sister (she is still not a believer) wrote me that he would pray and fast for her salvation for twenty days. I myself prayed and prayed, asking the LORD to reap her soul.

Then, this past Friday, all the prayer for 14 years from many many people was answered. My aunt invited her to a revival service at her church. My mom did not want to go but God gave her a dream on Thursday night that she was sitting in a church, so she decided to go. The sermon was so captivating to her that, she could not resist any longer and went to the front to accept Jesus.

When I heard of the news, I was so amazed and I called her the next day, just to check her faith. She believes that she is a sinner (very hard for a Thai Buddhist to accept that) and she believes that Jesus came to die for her to liberate her from sin. She still has some fear about the business, now that she can no longer offer incense and food to or worship the little guardian gods/spirits. What would happen to the business? I asked her if she wanted all the fear and doubt removed and she said yes, so I prayed for her. She was in tears during the prayer (And my mom is a tough woman who does not cry.) I know the Spirit was moving in her heart.

Next day my sister took her out for a special dinner, celebrating Mother’s day one day early. (It falls on august 12 in Thailand). It was so neat that my dad even noticed the change in my mom. He said from now on I will give you a new name, Mrs. Patience (because she is quite an impatient person and liked to fight with my dad daily). My sis said Dad has a new wife (a joke) but that is the same thing with the transformation message that Steve preached today.

The American mother’s day this year was May 12th. That was the day when I called my mom to share with her something in my heart and she said on the phone “Nok, let me tell you what your problem is, you trust your God too much.” Those words really hurt me that when I bear my heart to my earthly mother, she could not relate and even told me the opposite to the truth, that I ought to trust God for He alone is good and sovereign. God knows my desire to have a mother who is both earthly and spiritual. But now, just a few months later, that prayer has been answered. My mom is now in my family of faith. She will no longer told me to not trust God too much, for she too knows the riches of His glory.

Many people told me when I came to Christ that they prayed for their parents for 10 years, some 20 years. I was hoping that it would not take too long, but now 14 years past, I know that the return of joy from this persistent prayer is so worth it. My mom knows the Lord. She is saved. I am amazed at God’s mercy. Praise the Lord. And I believe that my sister and my dad will come to know Him as well.

So if anyone of you have an unsaved loved one, do not give up. Just keep praying and waiting to see with expectancy when God’s wind is moving. And let us be faithful in prayer :> God hears our cry.

– Nok

 

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Wow. An amazing story of God working to bring salvation — a perfect follow-up to what Steve preached on Sunday.  Let’s trust for more stories like this one!

February 27, 2011

Reborn, Into a family (Danielle)

Danielle sent me each of these testimonies in January, hoping to replace the first with the second one, but I think the two together give a moving look into the story of her journey with God over the past year. Thank you for encouraging us Danielle!

Reborn… (testimony #1)

I consider myself a born-again Christian; and a very new born-again at that.

I am still getting used to praying, reading the bible, and hearing God speak to me.

I grew up in a Christian home but unfortunately never got the true teaching I should have gotten.  For various reasons, I never grew up in the church nor had that core group of Christian friends.  Growing up, I always said I was a “Christian” but never really knew what that meant.  During high school, I had a major falling out with Christ.  I started hanging out with the wrong crowd as they say.  My grades started dropping.  My priorities in life were diminished.  I started hating life, hating my family, hating God.  I became in the mindset that life wasn’t worth living.  Why be alive in a world where I didn’t care for anyone or anything?

I cannot explain how or what triggered my mindset away from this negativity.  I left high school behind and entered college where I proudly said I was a Christian again, though still not realizing what this meant.  My last semester at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was lucky enough to find a new group of friends who happened to all be Christians. Perfectly, I found them during the best time ever.  I was spending my last semester in school with a “Yes, can do!” attitude.  I would say yes to a majority of the invites sent my way.  They asked me what church I was going to and I admitted I hadn’t been to church since I was the wee age of four.  They invited me to Church in the City so I went.


After a few months at the church, I realized this was where I was supposed to be.

On April 18, 2010 I asked Jesus back in my heart.

On September 8, 2010, I decided to get baptized in chilly Lake Michigan.

God is so good.  He is answering my prayers.  He speaks to me, shows me love, provides me blessings.  I cannot be happier having Christ in me.  I look forward to an eternal life with God’s love shining brightly in me.

~~

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23

…Into A Family (testimony #2)

I was privileged enough to be taught by Francois. He is awesome.
The worship band had a practice and teaching with him during his visit here in January.  We sang songs to Jesus and filled our hearts with His love.  The last hour, Francois decided to pray and prophesy over us individually.  He made his rounds with each person while I stood anxious for my turn.  I was fantasizing about the words he would give me; something amazing I hoped.  Or what if he got to me and gave me some lame two minute prophecy with no song to go along with it?

Francois finally stood in front of me and began his prayers.  I immediately starting crying, overcome with God’s love.  He started out by saying that this time in my life was a new season; a season filled with a new and fresh start.  God has been showing me new things and providing me with new things.  This was amazing to hear because I just asked God into my heart on April 18, 2010 and reassured it with a baptism in chilly Lake Michigan on September 8, 2010.

I am not to get frustrated, prophesied Francois, at the pace God is giving me blessings.  There have been a lot of new relationships, new opportunities, and new goods He has blessed me with instantly.  But I am not to get upset with God if He is taking a longer time to deliver His blessings.  In mid thought, Francois became silent.

I was afraid my turn was over.  No, please, that’s it?  That’s all I get to hear?

Luckily, he spoke up and makes a request to the rest of the worship team.  He asked them to just pray over me through the spirit out loud.  Fifteen or so people started praying, filling the room with such beautiful noise of tongues, words, and singing.  Again, the tears poured out, more heavily this time.  After the prayers silenced, Francois said he did this to show me the love and support I have right here.  He told me to stop fighting my battles alone because I have just witnessed the support that will help me.  He then asked one of the ladies if they could just hug me as everyone prayed over me again.  As I balled my eyes out, two of the most wonderful women hugged me and whispered, “Thank you, Lord” in my hear.

God does not call us to walk along the battlefield alone, so why am I?  I have been trying to be Miss Independent all my life so struggling spiritually has always been my own battle.
Christianity is a new thing for me so everyday is a new experience.  I cannot be happier to have God as my daddy.  I am thrilled to see what He has in store for me and for the amazing relationships He will bless me with.

Danielle

December 12, 2010

O, Ontario! (Steve)

So good to see below how we are all having an effect on other nations through enabling people from our church family to travel and use their gifts. Two of our treasured elder & wife duos, the Sudworths and the Doans, recently travelled to Canada and spent this time of mutual ministry and refreshment Steve describes below. Read on to see how we are contributing to God’s kingdom in Canada!

November 24, 2010

Ontario Ministry Trip

I’m writing this from Toronto airport getting ready to board my flight home.Traveling to other churches to partner with them in seeing the King exalted and His Kingdom advance into the nations is a huge privilege but it’s not what grips our heart the most. Our greatest delight and joy is leading Church in the City along with the team of elders and deacons, seeing our city transformed little by little and enjoying life with each of you. Chicago is home. It is where God has called us and where we give ourselves wholeheartedly.
I visited 3 churches over the past 6 days. Hue, Vanessa, Debs and I started last Friday in Mississauga (a city about 40min west of Toronto), spending time with James and Leigh Colgan who lead LifeHouse Church. One thing that God highlighted at each of the churches was the value and importance of building relationships above church meetings. It’s so easy to slip into a “meetings mindset” where we assume that is the only time God ministers to His people. No! Every time we gather –whether as church on Sundays, a connect group during the week or over a meal with friends and family – God wants to move and minister to His people.
Sunday at LifeHouse was awesome! Their leaders ministered to the 4 of us during the prayer time before church and so we went into the Sunday meeting refreshed, full of faith and expecting God to do much. It was certainly a powerful time. Hue,Vanessa and Debs ministered powerfully in the prophetic, calling a number of people out from the congregation and speaking powerful and accurate words of life and liberty over them. I had come prepared to teach something but during the worship felt God lead me along another path. It was a stretching but I followed the leading the Spirit and after my message a young woman responded to the invitation to receive Jesus for the first time.
Debs, Hue and Vanessa flew back to Chicago Sunday evening whilst I went to Waterloo (about an hour further west). Fred and Catherine Serez lead the Father’sHouse. That’s the church Nate & Jamie took a team from CITC to for the youth event LiveAlive. I met with their core team Sunday night. What a great group of people! I ministered on Going After the Promises of God.
On Monday I flew to Ottawa to spend 2 days with Kirk and Jan Slow who lead Liberty Church, which is a year old. We met Tuesday night with their core team and God moved powerfully that evening, challenging the church from the word and then confirming His word with signs following (one woman was healed of allergies).What’s so awesome about Liberty Church is the small group that have gathered are predominantly over 60 but man-o-man, are they on fire! As we prayed for the sick they were radically involved, praying in the Spirit, trusting God for miracles…it was awesome to see.
Each church has invited us back in 2011 so I’m planning to take 2 teams; the first team in the Spring and the other late August for the youth event LiveAlive. Please let me know if God stirs your heart to come along. Thanks for releasing us this past weekend. I heard church was outstanding and Chris, Mark and Nate did an incredible job leading and facilitating ministry. The joy of working in team is that we can be more effective in more places through more people.
Much love
Steve

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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September 17, 2010

Free to Love (Dennis)

Dennis told us this testimony this past Father’s Day of his salvation and how God healed his relationship with his father. Thanks for passing on such an incredible story of how God brings His kingdom in our lives, Dennis!

I became a Christian in August 1966 through the witness of my sister, Rachel, who accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord a few months earlier. I was twenty. Two years later, the Lord spoke to me and said that I needed to tell my father that I loved him. At first, I said no.  Here’s why….

My earliest memory as a child, I must have been about three, is my mother sitting in front of her vanity’s mirror, combing her hair and telling me she hated my father and wished she had never married him. There is not much from Sigmund Freud that I ascribe to, but I do know that his transference theory – transferring one’s emotions to someone else and they receiving them as their own – is right on.  My mother emotionally and spiritually transferred her hatred for my father to me, and I unknowingly received them as my own. From that point onward a wall was formed, which I now know was demonic, that kept me spiritually and emotionally estranged from him. Mom telling me that she hated Dad when I was three was just the beginning of how she criticized and ridiculed him throughout my childhood and teenage years.

Dad was a large strapping man and a super athlete.  During his senior year in high school in 1927, Dad won a full football and basketball scholarship to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. His dream was to become a physical education teacher and a coach. The Great Depression of 1929 shattered his dream.  Financial pressures forced him to drop out of school and move back home to Toledo, Ohio, to help his father run a laundry business. Dad never fulfilled his dream of becoming a coach, but that did not keep him from playing sports.  Athletic federations and neighborhood sports booster leagues were popular in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.  As soon as Dad returned home from college, he started playing football and baseball  with his neighborhood buddies.  One was Jack LaPorte, who had a beautiful younger sister, Sylvia. Jack’s father, an Italian immigrant from Naples, loved having the team over for homemade Italian food and wine. Wilford Belkofer met Sylvia LaPorte at one of those feasts, began dating and married in the fall of 1936. Somehow between 1936 and three years after my birth in 1946, they fell out of love.

I’m not sure of what caused their marital problems. But I  do know that Mom suffered severe post-partum depression after my sister, Rachel, was born in 1937, which was the beginning of mental and emotional problems Mom suffered the rest of her life until she died in 1985. Dad died eight months earlier; both were 74.

During the 1950’s, Mom’s  life became  a roller coaster of highs and lows, long stints in mental hospitals and shock treatments to snap her out of crippling depression that followed  manic episodes. Eventually, she was diagnosed as bipolar. Many of her bouts with depression and hospitalizations happened during the Christmas season, leaving me to be cared for by an Aunt Jo who lived next door. Sometimes my paternal grandmother would move in with Dad and me to help run the house with my aunt until Mom came home. Haunting memories of going to visit Mom in the mental ward, and the clanging of the nurse’s keys as she unlocked the huge metal door that kept patients from escaping, grip me to this very day. So do memories of the patients What I remember most are their  eyes. Lifeless. Expressionless. Blank.  Frozen. It was as if a dead person, a zombie if you will, was staring at me.  And I saw the same deadness in Mom’s eyes. I now know that Valium,  a drug that is used to supposedly stabilize emotions,  is what stripped the life out of the Mom’s and the other patient’s eyes.  And along with the Valium came shock treatment therapy

Whereas Valium is a quieting agent, shock treatments activate the nervous system and literally jolt the patient out of depression. What looks like earphones are placed on both sides of the temple, and bolts of electricity run through them directly into the brain. You can see why it is called shock treatment therapy.  Indeed,  shocking the brain with electricity energizes the nervous system. And  it also  temporarily erases the short-term memory. It’s based on the theory that erasing the short-term memory will help the patient forget what made the depressed. And valium is supposed to keep them stable when the memory returns. This is one huge problem, however: Most people don’t know why they are depressed. And for most people it’s a never ending cycle of sinking into deep depression. Receiving shock therapy.  Feeling better for awhile. Falling back into depression – actually caused at least in part by the valium. And back for more shock treatments.

That pretty much sums up  my mother’s life in a nutshell.

During the time that Mon functioned fairly normally, which could last a year or two, Mom subtly relentlessly vented her bitterness for Dad on me.   Routinely she would say things like he was a sloppy dresser. He ate too fast and had bad table manners. He was always in a hurry and made a mess around the house.  He neglected making house repairs. He talked too fast and stuttered. Never once did I hear Mom praise him and say she loved him.   I don’t remember Dad criticizing Mom. Neither do I remember he praising her. Dad’s method of defense was silence, except occasionally when he blew up and vented his pent-up feelings. What happened one evening at dinner is an example.

Mom made it a habit during dinner to silently get my attention while we were eating and with her eyes and facial gestures let me know she thought Dad was eating too much and too fast. The tension around the table hung over us like a curtain every time we gathered to eat. One evening as usual Mom had gotten my attention and was silently mocking and ridiculing Dad. Though he and Mom did not make eye contact,  Dad felt what she was doing and exploded. He jumped up from his chair, picked up the dining table and toppled it over.  Food, plates, glasses, and silverware  flew everywhere.  Terrified, I ran outside in tears. From that day onward for the next five years, I refused to eat dinner at the table. Instead, I ate on the floor in front of the TV. It was the only way I knew to protect myself emotionally.

I never remember gathering as a family to talk about things like school, sports, religion, politics, or whatever else families talk about.  We never laughed. Joked. Told stories. Or shared what our days had been like. For all practical purposes, we were strangers bound only by the same last name. Even as a young child, I felt the need to be rescued, but from what I wasn’t sure. Physical abuse victims have tangible knowledge of what they’ve suffered. And that can help them to identify the pain and move forward into healing and wholeness. The deadly silence that filled my home was, in many ways, more damaging than physical abuse – because I didn’t have anything tangible to link my pain to. I only knew that I hurt inside and I wanted to be freed from it. Figure skating became a way of escape.  escape.

When I was twelve, I started taking roller skating lessons, At fourteen, I was given my first dance partner and competed in the sport through high school and into my 20’s. My partner and I became a champion team  and rose to the top level of roller dance skating. The hours of practice during my teenage years gave me an excuse to stay away from home. Getting my driver’s license at 16 and having a car gave me another way to escape. One can imagine how popular a 16 year old with a car be. I became “The Chauffer ” for my friends, which grew in numbers as more and more of my high school peers learned that I had a car. Driving around with my friends. Dating.  Practicing skating. I didn’t understand it at the time, but they were my excuses to stay away from home.  I was on the run – from what I didn’t know. I only knew that it hurt to be at home and staying away helped to deaden the pain.

Dad worked as a pipe fitter at the Standard Oil Refinery about two miles from where we lived in Toledo, Ohio. Mom’s medical bills were huge, and Dad worked a second job to make ends meets, several years as a cab driver and five as a bar tender.  I think working two jobs allowed Dad to be away from home and not deal with Mom. It also meant that he did not have to deal with me. I am sure he felt the animosity I carried against him. He may have even resented me. And why not?  Resentment ruled our home.

My sister, Rachel, was led to Christ by a Christian couple she met at a New Year’s eve party in 1965. In August of 1966, Rachel led me to Christ. The change in my life was dramatic and noticeable, so much so that my friends would ask what happened to me without me having to say a word. God’s anointing rested so strongly on me, even unsaved people felt it without knowing what it was.

Immediately with my conversion, came a ferocious hunger for the written word of God. Both sides of my family were staunch Catholics and believed that only Catholics went to heaven. In less than two months after reading the Bible, I knew that wasn’t true and started attending an evangelical church.   To say that  Mom and Dad were very angry about it is an understatement.  Dad was especially hostile.  One evening he saw me reading the Bible, snatched it from my hand and threw it on the floor. He said that too much religion would make me crazy and he just wanted me to be a normal twenty-year-old and read something like Playboy. As time wore on, however, neither he or Mom could deny the change in my life. Dad and I shared the same barber, who I found out was also a Christian. About six months after I received Christ our barber told me that Dad told him that he was unhappy that I left the Catholic church, but he could not deny how much I had changed. I was more respectful to him and Mom. I was getting good grades in college. I stopped curing and smoking and partying with my friends. And for that he was grateful.

Yes, I was a different person.  But for the most part, the wall that separated Dad and me remained. About a year-and-a-half after my conversion, the Lord told me if I wanted a relationship with my father I was going to have to tell him that I loved him. My response: “No way!” Why should I tell Dad I love him, when he’s never said that he loved me,” I  snapped back to the Lord. He snapped back and said, “Did you first tell me that you loved me?  Or did I love you first?” I felt like God had landed a “one-two punch” and split my heart wide open.  But instead of going down for the count, it lifted me into reality.  All that I could say was, “Yes, Sir.  I will do whatever You say.”

The next night, I had a date to see the Supremes. That morning, I was surprised to find that Dad had placed a $5 bill in my wallet  (In 1968, that was equivalent to $25 or $30 today.) with a note that read: Have a good time, Dad. I was pleasantly surprised.  Dad just didn’t do things like that, especially write a warm and loving note.  The Holy Spirit used it to soften my heart for what would happen before I left for my date.

Before I started to get ready, Dad helped me carry my stereo upstairs to my room. There we were, Dad and me. Alone! I knew that it was no or never to tell him I loved him. I wanted to run. Hide in the closet. Fake like I passed out. And I also knew I had to do it, because the Lord told me to.

As I stepped towards him, I was met by the unseen wall that separated Dad and me for years. I froze in my tracks. Just as Dad started to go downstairs, I somehow pressed through the years of bitterness and resentment , yelled, “Dad.! Please stop! I threw my arms around his neck, kissed his cheeks and said, “Dad I love you. Thanks for being a good father.” Stunned and taken off guard, Dad just grunted and walked down the steps. But I knew the work had been done.

For the next twenty or thirty minutes, I lay on my bed and cried tears of joy and repentance.  I did it. I obeyed the Lord and that ugly, horrible wall crumbled. The bitterness. Resentment. Anger.  They were cleansed away by the blood of Jesus.  I was free.  And heaven rejoiced! And my relationship with my father was changed forever.

During the next weeks, I couldn’t get enough of Dad. And I sensed he enjoyed being with me. Going for a ride in the car.  Shopping. Watching TV. We didn’t talk that much. We didn’t have to. The wall was gone.  We were finally bound by a father-son bond.  Enjoying the glow was enough. And we enjoyed the glow until he died in 1985. But not only that,  Dad had a minor heart attack in 1971. When I reached the hospital, I found Dad in intensive care, under an oxygen tent, with fear in his eyes. Right then and there, I asked him if he wanted to receive Christ as His Savior. He said yes and followed me in prayer to invite Jesus to be his very own Savior and Lord. Now Dad and I had the same Father. And once again heaven rejoiced over us.

Fourteen years later, as I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dad called me at work.  As soon as I heard his voice, God’s presence enveloped me like a blanket and my heart overflowed with love for Dad. It was so overwhelming,  I could barely speak as tears of joy filled my eyes.  We chatted for a few minutes and before we hung up Dad said, “I love you son.” That was the last thing he said to me. The next morning, Dad had a severe stroke and died two weeks later.  His good-bye words of love were a gift from the Lord.

Truly, I had  experienced the reality of Malachi 4:6, He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of their children to their fathers. Truly, I was at one with my father’s heart and he  was at one with mine. What a joy it will be for Dad and me to thank our Father when we meet in heaven – because I obeyed the Lord and told Dad I loved him.

September 8, 2010

Like Moths to the Flame

I have to say, I love this story below.  Can every day of life be like this, please?

Send me some testimonies people, I am not about to let this blog go dry! What has God done or been doing in your life?

photo courtesy Jamie Tubbs

August 2010

On Wednesday, Heidi, Brittney, and I were all working at their
apartment when the fear of finances and various things came up. We
decided to pray for each other and declare God’s favor and truth over
each circumstance. It ended up being a very powerful time. Heidi had
the idea to go grab their downstairs neighbor, Gina, who has a bad knee
and had wanted them to pray. I was able to share the testimony of
knees being healed in Belize just 2 weeks ago, and I think her faith
was boosted. There is power in testimony! So we declared healing to
her knee and she couldn’t test it because she would have to go for a
run to find out. Another hour or 2 passes, and it’s about 6:25. I’m
about to pack up to get ready for prayer meeting, when Gina comes
upstairs and asks me to teach her nieces the 10 Commandments. I was
hesitant, but she insisted. A couple minutes later, 2 Puerto Rican
girls, ages 12 and 14 walk in awkwardly. I ask if they were in trouble
or something, but they weren’t. I humorously explained to them why I
didn’t really feel like teaching them the 10 Commandments, because God
isn’t just there for us to keep the rules and that He’s actually a
loving friend and Father to us. They perked up instantly and started
asking questions. This led into me sharing the entire Gospel with
them, and they had never heard it before! Soon, Heidi, Brittney, and
Karen joined, slightly confused why I was sitting there with 2 young
girls and my Bible open. The girls soaked everything up like a sponge
and they accepted Christ! They even shared with us how they both had
had dreams about God. One has had nightmares, but then this white
light comes and the fears leave. The other girl had a dream where she
saw Jesus on the cross surrounded by all these demons and she had to
dress up like a demon to keep from being targeted, and she made eye
contact with Jesus and He showed her His love. Fortunately, these
girls only live half a mile away and so Heidi, Karen, and Brittney
plan to disciple them! It’s so cool how we often go out to find lost
sheep yet here’s an example of them coming to us! Like moths to the
flame!

-Tommy

August 11, 2010

Love and Acceptance (Jon)

Here is an AMAZING testimony from Jon on how God has been working in his life over the past year. Incredible! Thank you, Jon. It’s so exciting to see God’s hand on your life. I live for this stuff! Keep Jon in your prayers as he has just graduated and is moving out to LA to pursue opportunities in film.

Hey all,

So I realized lately that I haven’t really shared my testimony with anyone at church in the city, excluding Tyler and Tommy, and in the past I have been reluctant to share it because I’ve been ashamed of it; however after the past few weeks I’ve gotten incredible breakthrough.

When I was about 3 years old my parents divorced and about two years after that, my father got remarried to a very conservative Christian woman who introduced me to Jesus, but it was never anything I took completely seriously. When I was about 6 my Mom converted to Judaism, and I converted with her, not completely understanding what all of that entailed. When my dad and stepmom found out they grew incredibly angry with me, and thus began a constant battle between my parents about how I would be raised. My stepmom would manipulate me by telling me that my Mom would be going to hell, and would try constant techniques to try and get me to convert my mother to Christianity as well as myself. I learned nothing of grace or mercy. My step family said all I had to do is believe in Jesus and his resurrection to get into heaven, but they made it seem more complicated than that. They made Jesus seem like someone I had to please, to beg forgiveness from, and that if I sinned and didn’t repent, there was no hope.

As I grew up I spent my week going back and forth between church and Hebrew school, until I had my bar mitzvah. After that Hebrew school ended and so did my attendance at church.

My Mom got remarried when I was 14, and for the most part my new step dad wanted very little to do with me since I wasn’t really into sports he just sort of gave up on me, while my Dad was there, he wasn’t really open for deep discussion. I had two fathers and yet still had no father figure.

When I was 15, I became incredibly confused about my sexuality. I had dated a few girls before then, but still had this odd confusion going on. My Mom and stepdad really didn’t care and I refused to tell my Dad and stepmom. Even after this supposedly liberating event, I still didn’t feel like this was the kind of life I wanted for myself, and also having heard constant homophobic remarks from my stepmom and her family, I thought I was doomed. I thought to myself, ” great if I had a hard enough time pleasing Christ before, now I’m doomed”. Since I felt barred from Christ, and my self esteem had been shattered, I began to look for love in other places. I started to surf hookup websites on the web, meeting strange guys and watching a constant stream of pornography. It was one of those “looking for love in all the wrong places” cases. I continued this through most of high school, little did I know I was destroying myself. I had friends who all were in relationships and I was the constant third wheel. It took a huge toll on my self esteem, ” why can’t I be one of these people in an awesome relationship?” I would think to myself. So I would continue going to hookup, hoping that I might find someone that way. The unfortunate thing is that many of my friends encouraged me to keep going throughout it. Friends whom I found out only later would constantly put me down of envy and jealousy.

Throughout this I would continue to pray and ask God for forgiveness, but I found no reason to stop, I was still doomed any way ( at least I thought so), even though I still loathed that aspect of my life.

When I entered college, I decided to try the Christian thing again. I met a great group of people who seemed to genuinely want to befriend me, but in the end I got scarred and gave up on them. I isolated myself, hanging out with only a few people that I met, and now that I was on my own, the hookups became even more rampant.

However, these Christian friends I had met continued to seek me out. I refused to reciprocate because I thought they could never accept this dark part of me, and they would give up on me or shun me as others had.

It was the end of my sophomore year when all this finally came to a breaking point. After a year of rampant hook ups with strangers, I got a call from one of them telling me they had just tested positive for stage 2 syphilis. I freaked, I found the nearest testing facility and went. I didn’t do my research very well and went to this pretty run down place called the core center near rush hospital. It was the scariest experience of my life, I was poked and prodded in every which way. After my blood test the doctor leaned over the table looked me in the eye and said, ” what will you do if it’s positive?” of course after the testing comes the week long waiting for results. Thank God in the end everything turned out negative.

It was after this I decided to give Christ another go. I took a shot at group of guys I had met freshman year. I went to bible study and sent all of them a message telling them what I had been struggling with, and God rewarded my trust. They all just loved on me and drew me nearer.

But it was Tyler who stepped out, and took me under his wing. I learned about grace and Gods love for me. It was the first time in a long time I felt that someone wasn’t giving up on me. Of course this is about the point when all of you come into the story, and finally on July 25th of last year, with Tyler at my side, I gave my life to Christ.

So I know this was kind of long, but I thought it important that I share it with all of you. Especially since it will be a year this month that I began my relationship with Jesus.

Yours Truly,

Jon