The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend whose growth and maturity in her faith has been quite dramatic. Mark and I began ministering to her regarding deliverance, and her journey has been both inspiring and genuine. She has not been without her struggles and moments of doubt, but she always returns to seeking Jesus and the Father, and in the process, has come to know Them and trust Them in ways that "established Christians" often don't experience.
Our conversation centered around why it is so difficult for Christians to do Kingdom work. We discussed how familiarity with the traditions inside the Church building provide a sense of security that few Christians are willing to risk or sacrifice. Add to that a fear that if you don't walk in lock-step with man-made doctrine, then you are in danger of being deceived. These two conditions are enough to keep the majority of the Body of Christ from ever seeking more knowledge of God or attempting a Kingdom approach to living. She expressed both her confusion [and her frustration] over why other Christians were unwilling to take a chance, as she had. So I asked her to write her testimony... that readers are probably tired of hearing it from me, and perhaps a fresh voice would speak to their hearts. I have agreed to call her "Mary" to protect her privacy, and I hope you will give her testimony serious consideration and feel free to make comments on what she has to say....
I was raised in the ____ church. (Fill in the blank, because I don't think the denomination matters). I spent 18 years attending every Sunday, yet I now realize that I never knew God. I had memorized a bunch of scriptures and songs, but I had no idea what they meant. In my experience “the church” doesn’t do a good job of teaching the significance of Scripture in the Christian life. It was more of a song and dance. To this day I could probably go to that church and recite the entire service from memory. I thought that was all there was to church, so eventually I felt like I was wasting my time. My childhood and early adult life were not good. I did bad things, and bad things were done to me. I had no real understanding of Grace or God’s love, so I never turned to God. I didn’t think He could, or would, help me.
At the point that I met Mark and Pam I was at my absolute bottom. I was suicidal and I was very resentful towards God for all that had happened to me. They talked to me and tried to help me get through some of it, and after a lot of time and work I was finally free of it all. I think of that time in my life as a starting point. I closed the door on so much bad stuff and would no longer be the victim. I would turn it into good, I just didn’t know what that would look like. I believed that we were all called to do Kingdom work, but I couldn’t see many people actually doing it. Mark and Pam were, and that is probably what saved my life, but I couldn’t imagine myself doing what they were doing. I got involved with another church, but it never felt right. They didn’t talk about Kingdom work and that is what my primary focus had become, so eventually I realized that a modern “church” model probably wouldn’t be a place for me. I was more interested in following scripture than memorizing liturgy.
I prayed about it, and prayed about it. I got a new job at a jail. The job by definition was easy enough. I had to ensure inmates were physically healthy enough to be in jail. I passed out Tylenol most days; some days I assisted the doctor with clinic visits. I soon learned that the Kingdom work would happen around my actual job duties.
The jail would give out Bibles to anyone that asked, and when I started working there it seemed like everyone asked me for a Bible. (I was later told that I had given out more Bibles than anyone else ever had). I would often hand them out, and that would trigger a conversation about beliefs with inmates. Some struggled with overcoming whatever crimes they committed; some struggled with being away from family. One inmate in particular asked me one day if I thought she could be saved. I told her OF COURSE. We discussed Grace, and after a pretty lengthy conversation she got on her knees in that jail and accepted Jesus into her heart. We both sat with tears streaming down our faces.
One instance a man was beating a wall, and in about two seconds time the sheet rock of the wall was completely gone. I was alone with him and he was drunk, and much bigger and stronger than I. In that short time frame God told me to get between his arm and the wall. I thought, are you kidding? This man is going to kill me if I do that! God told me in a much louder and urgent manner to step between the man and the wall. Somewhat reluctantly I obeyed. That man stopped mid-swing and grabbed me to hug me. He instantly was in tears. He had a lot happen to him that day and lost all hope in people, but he saw me stepping between him and the wall and couldn’t believe I would try to protect him from hurting himself. That gesture that God told me to do helped this man in a huge way. He knew that he was capable of being loved, and after that he felt like his life was worth living. The only thing I did was follow what God told me, and trust that whatever the outcome, God would take care of me, and He did.
During this time period in my life the Enemy was working overtime to shut me down. Early on in my job, I had to take sensitivity training because I was told, "You can’t go around talking about God". After that I was a little more careful about who could hear me ... but I just kept going. The Enemy worked harder and harder to shut me down. Eventually I had another job offer, and I was hesitant to take it, but I felt that God had given it to me, so I decided to make the most of it. After accepting it I overheard a conversation about how the administration had already been looking to replace me. God put me into that jail, and then when the time was right, He took me out.
My next job seems like there will be even more opportunity for Kingdom work, but I needed to learn all those things I did while working at the jail to be more effective in my new job. I am stepping out on a limb because the job is something that, while I am qualified for it, I know pretty much nothing about it. I trust that God will help me figure it out as long as I am doing His work along the way.
If you have further questions as to how to get started, or don’t believe you are capable, please talk to someone about it. It is such a wonderful feeling to serve God, I want to share it with as many people as possible. I am a completely different person than the person I was when I met Mark and Pam. If He can transform me into something He can use, He can change you too!
I want to make a comment on one aspect of Mary's story. She says she couldn't imagine doing what Mark and I were doing ... in our conversation, I reminded her that there is one Body, but it has many parts. No one should compare themselves to another, thinking they are less. Where God is taking Mark and I, will probably not be where He wants to take you. And what we are doing for the Kingdom is no greater in the Body than what He will assign you. After all, the hand is just as important to the body as the foot; they have different functions, but both are important. How effective would a body be if it had all feet and no hands, or vice versa? So I assured Mary, that her journey is just as important to Jesus and the Father, as mine and Mark's. He certainly led her to do spectacular deeds for the Kingdom that He has not instructed us to do!
And I know many of you may be asking, "How did Mary get the courage to follow Jesus's lead?" Or you may think that there is no way you could ever discern His will [like she did], or even hear His voice. But the answers to those queries are in Mary's words ... if you open your heart to Him and let Him know you are ready to work for Him, He will give you the opportunities. You just have to be willing when they come. And I think that is probably the biggest stumbling block for most Christians. They don't really want to upset their comfortable life -- What if they fail? What if it's too hard? What if it costs them more than they are willing to sacrifice? If those are your questions.... as I'm sure they were Mary's, too ... then ask her [in the comments section] how she overcame these stumbling blocks. As she says, she wants to share how wonderful it is to serve with Jesus. And we both want you to join us as willing servants of the Living God!
Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven".
Great testimony! What, might I ask was her spark to move into doing and not just hearing or being religious. I find that those who see Kingdom as detailed in the text and really grasp the message [that the church has either shied away from or willingly kept that veil of blindness on because of fear], are excited about going forth and doing. My greatest frustration is lack of teaching and resources. I loved her story! Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I will ask her to respond to your query about what sparked her to do Kingdom work. Here is her response...Delete
I knew that Mark and Pam saved me with their Kingdom work, but I didn't think I could do what they were doing. I prayed and prayed and the opportunity to go to Haiti seemingly fell into my lap(more like God orchestrated it). That trip was a huge turning point for me. I trusted God enough to do things that were way outside of my comfort zone, and I almost didn't come back! While I was there I learned so much about myself and others. I experienced God in a way I had never known before, and I couldn't wait to share that with others. Ultimately I failed at Haiti, but later I realized that it all happened exactly to God's plan and there was a reason. I also learned that failure isn't always a bad thing, sometimes it is exactly what you need. The more I can see God working through me the more excited I am too step farther out of the box and trust Him to lead me. For years I used drugs and alcohol looking for a feeling that I could never find, Kingdom work provides a peace that I couldn't find in the bottom of a pill bottle. Once I started I couldn't imagine stopping, even when it was really hard to keep going.ReplyDelete
I remember Mark having long discussions with [Mary] about whether she should go to Haiti or not. Like she says, God orchestrated the opportunity, and the question was whether she should take the chance. But her old life was no longer acceptable to her and she was looking for more of what God was doing inside her. So she took the leap of faith and went where God told her to go. And she's right... she didn't want to come back, and when she did, she went through a period of frustration with American Christians and our sense of entitlement and our embrace of a comfortable culture. In other words, the lack of Kingdom work by the Western Church was extremely disappointing and disheartening. But Mark counseled her to channel that exasperation into action; to concentrate on herself and how God could use her to do His Kingdom work. And that's exactly what she did and has continued to do!Delete
Pam, just got around to reading this and your 'leading' is spot on. Your 'reasoning' is not. Those of us (I include myself) who have ears to hear and eyes that see appreciate and are encouraged by you, not tired of hearing you nor from you.ReplyDelete
Mary, I know exactly the thoughts and feelings you had at that 'jail' ... you may be called out to the ministry of highways and byways, as I have alluded to being called to do. I ride a bicycle 2 miles from my farm to a local Starbucks practically every morning. 3 weeks ago, I felt I needed to go up at night instead. I have shared with a graveyard shift at 7-11, stripes, man on the street, a woman needing money...it is my 'bicycle ministry'. I'm praying for God to send forth laborers to help me in this harvest. Your ministry to those in the highways and
byways has begun it seems. Welcome home ��
Thank you for that encouraging word for Mary! This is exactly what new "Kingdom workers" need to hear! I will make sure she receives it!Delete