Thursday, August 28, 2014

Drawn by Dreams (September 2014 Newsletter)

SUMMER 2010: Before arriving at I______’s house Mike excitedly recounted how he first met I______, a Muslim friend, and his first visit to I______’s home. After mundane conversation and enjoying food, Mike asked, “Has anyone here had a dream of a man dressed in white . . .” going on to describe Jesus from the book of Revelation. I______’s brother-in-law spoke up, “No, none of us has had such a dream.” Mike thought nothing of it, but when he was leaving, I______ walked Mike to his car. Once alone with Mike, I______ asked, “How did you know my dream?” He went on to explain his dream, and Mike explained that Jesus appeared this way to many people in dreams and that this is how Jesus is described in the The New Testament.

Mike gave I______ a Bible and encouraged him to read it. I______ spoke with Mike often, though always surreptitiously, about his dreams. In one of his dreams he was standing in waist-high water. Then, “I went under the water and came back up.” In another he saw a cave covered in a stone. Then the stone was rolled away and a man dressed in white was sitting on the stone, “And the man was so happy.” In a third, I______ was standing with Mike and Jesus high on a mountain and below was a huge crowd of people, some whom he knew. They were all dressed in white and glowing beautifully. In a fourth dream, I______ was standing in a room in front of rows of people with the Bible teaching them.

As we sat with him, he explained that he had stopped reading the Bible because every time he did, he had a dream. “I am scared,” he said. His father-in-law is an imam, and he was afraid of letting anyone know what God was doing in his life. Mike had not yet explained the full gospel to I______, and I was eager to see what God would do. Mike asked, “What do you think Jesus is telling you?”

“I think Jesus is saying, ‘Come to my home.’”
While God was doing amazing things in I______’s life, I was eager to share the full gospel message with I______. Mike had taken me to visit I______ because Mike was moving to a different ministry and was hoping to pass on the relationship. Neither of us realized the upheaval that was to come. Unfortunately it was an upheaval that distracted both of us. In the ensuing chaos, I lost I______’s address, and I lost contact with Mike as well. Many of us were simply trying to make sense of an increasingly difficult situation. As God redeemed the situation I thought about I______ often. In the following year, as God brought me and the rest of the ministry team into the center of His will and into the move of His Spirit, I prayed often that God would reconnect me with I______. It drove me crazy to think that there was someone out there in a two mile radius who was having such radical dreams of Jesus, but I could not connect with them. I prayed off and on for I______ for three years.
On Friday the 8th, I______ walked into the IHC ministry center asking for me. He wanted me to come to his home to teach him ESL. I was ecstatic, “Anywhere, anytime!”
Days later I went to I______’s home. He was extremely happy to see me, but he said that he was going to call to cancel the meeting. During the night a group of possums had torn through his roof and ceiling and into his house. There were multiple two foot square holes in his roof with rain coming into his house. He said he was so consumed with thinking of how to fix his house and if he was going to have to move that he didn’t think he could focus on learning English today. I told him I understood, but that we could talk for a short time and then I would return later in the week. He agreed, and I quickly began to focus on spiritual things. I told him my testimony, adding that now that Jesus changed my life I want to help people, so I teach people English for free, using the Taurat, Zabur, and Injil (Old and New Testaments) so they can learn to be close to God through Jesus. He nodded, “Yes, I saw you on the street a few days ago sitting with an older man. I know you, so I thought, ‘he must be giving him a lesson about God.’” I laughed and said, “Yes. I know God has been speaking to you and that you have had many dreams.” He nodded yes. Then he looked down and looked sad. “But I disobeyed. I did not listen.”
We continued our discussion and I showed him “The Prophet’s Story” short film in his language. I have seen the movie many times, but I became choked up while watching it, even though it wasn’t in English. I knew the Holy Spirit was working on I______’s heart. When the movie was over I asked,
“Do you believe this?”
He said, “Yes. I believe it.” He looked pained, “But Why did they [nail] him to the cross?” I explained why the religious leaders killed him, adding to the film’s explanation of Christ as the sacrifice for sin.
I asked him, “Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead?”
“Yes. I believe it.”
“Then you need to make a new decision to obey and follow Jesus as King.” I______ looked off into the distance. He nodded his head.
“Ok. Let me [think] about what I am doing [with my life].”
Two days later, I______ made a commitment to follow and obey Jesus as King. He is continuing to have dreams. In one God told him, “Jonathan is your [spiritual teacher]. You must listen to him.” Please pray for I______. There is so much more to this story, you could fill a book with I______’s dreams. While he is sharing his faith with a co-worker, he is scared to share with his family, “I don’t want to destroy my family.” I______ also has a number of serious immorality issues that must be repented of. There are far too many stories to tell this month, and I know the best is yet to come!
Read the rest of the September 2014 Newsletter
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Equipping the Saints (August 2014 Newsletter)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. For the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ – Ephesians 4:11-12
As a full time missionary I strive to be faithful and diligent to devote myself to the ministry of the word and prayer, and to the preaching of the Gospel. When recording the lifestyle of the early church leaders, Luke writes “And daily in the temple and in every house they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” – Acts 5:42. I make it my daily discipline to declare the gospel to those who are far from God, following in Christ’s footsteps to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). However, God designed ministry and the ministry gifts for the Church. He commanded every believer to “Go and make disciples of all nations . . .” but He also gave us the task of the equipping and helping each other accomplish this great mission.
I devote about half or more of my ministry time to equipping the saints to make disciples, to hear the voice of God, and to minister in the power of the Spirit. In the great commission Jesus commanded us to teach disciples to obey everything that He had commanded us. This does not mean that we teach a list of rules or commands, but that we teach every disciple to have an obedient heart to the Word and the Spirit and we pass on His Word and mission. God desires every generation of disciples to equip the next generation for the work of the ministry. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul writes, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul was describing and instructing Timothy to pass on God’s word and to equip believers. And he had at least four generations in mind:
Paul>Timothy>Faithful Men> Others
One of my greatest joys is seeing others equipped and launched into making disciples.
This month I was blessed to be able to see my friend Sean, who I have been training and laboring with in the harvest, baptize two believers and start his own disciplemaking group. This is the fifth “second generation” group that has been started out of God’s work here in Detroit, which means the disciples who I have trained have gone on to start five groups in order to train more disciples and labor in the harvest. One of these groups started because when Sean was trained to pray for the sick, he went to the hospital to pray for a Muslim coworker who was suffering from an undiagnosed disease which, among other things, prevented him from eating for over a week. This man was instantly healed, and now Sean is studying the Bible with him and a number of friends. I am overjoyed at what God is doing through others and that the seed that He has planted in my life is reproducing. This is what only Jesus can do, and I am honored to be a part of His work. I am eagerly looking forward to even greater advancement of the kingdom and many generations of disciples and groups.
Read the rest of Augst 2014 Newsletter.
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