Friday, January 29, 2016

Abe Story Part 2

Here is part 1

Around the same time as the Christmas Connections event, I was again in the East Unit at the Hutchinson Correction Facility with my colleague Daren Busenitz.  Each time I go into the prison to teach, I try to listen carefully to what the Spirit wants and usually do a teaching on prayer and our identity in Christ. This week, I felt clearly that I needed to teach on the healing power of God and give action steps for the guys to practice in the days following.  

Before entering the prison, I texted a team of intercessors to cover the evening in prayer. Every response was filled with expectant belief that God was going to respond and move. As Daren and I walked into the room, there was a tangible peace and presence. We opened with worship and then I taught for about 45 minute on God’s power and how he still wants to use us to heal just like his disciples did.  Following the teaching we gave space for the Lord to move and I showed how they can pray and lay hands on the sick.  
One brother needed prayer for his ankle, so I had several of them come up to lay hands on his ankle. After they prayed three different times this brother’s ankle was completely healed.  Praise God!!! 

I told them that Faith was lived out by RISK.  It takes some risk to step out and pray for healing and for people we do not know.  I released them in prayer and told them I would come back in a month to hear stories of what God would do through them.  The next night I received this story from Brother Abe. It is so powerful to hear how God moved in their midst as they took a risk. 

Just yesterday at our bible study with Bro. Matt, he challenged us to walk in our God given authority in Christ and in the Power of GOD. We had a wonderful night of prayer and healing. For the last 6 months it seems we have been talking about God's kingdom, setting our affections on things above and not on the things on this earth. We have been talking about the two Kingdoms: The KINGDOM of GOD and the kingdom of the devil. For so long we have been operating under the devils kingdom. We literally have given the wily one our keys. The Keys our LORD and Savior died for on our behalf. The keys He has handed over to us in Acts 1:8. I am talking about the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. We were challenged yesterday to be bold in Christ to be who God calls us to be; to pray for another and lay hands on another- believers and UNBELIEVERS.

Well today at work, Bro. Gentry step out on faith and took the RISK. I overheard a co-worker of ours say that his back was hurt. Take in mind he is not a believer. I talked to bro and told him, we are going to ask him if we can lay hands on him and pray for healing. You should of seen the look bro gave me. He was hesitating at first but willing at the same time. He was like if he agrees than okay. I talked to this individual and told him what I overheard him say, and asked if we could pray for him. He was like, man I accept all prayers. I may not believe in who you believe in, but i believe in the power of prayer.

The first time we laid hands on him just like Bro. Matt said, I felt some heat released through my hand while Gentry and I both prayed. Gent was fired up after that. About 30 mins to an hour later, I asked him if he noticed any difference. I let him know it is alright to say no if he didn't. He said no. I than told him about the bible study we had last night and how we were challenged to step out on faith and take a risk. I then told him that we will pray again but this time I would like for him to explain what happened. In the process of explaining what happened he told us that the pain moved from one area to another. Bro. Gent and I looked at each other. After a few more questions, we prayed again. This time for me, the heat not only was on my hand but I felt it through my arm. You want to talk about a wow experience. 

After this prayer, the guy walked off. Gent and I shared with each other what we experienced. So at our lunch break, the guy told me, man I feel better. I still have a dull pain but not so pinpoint and painful as it was. He was like man this is crazy. I told him we have one more prayer to go and I believe you will be healed from this. So the next time, I asked him another series of questions, not only did he feel better but the pain moved to another location of his body. Bro Gent and I went in again praying. This time I felt this heating sensation through my shoulder, flow through my arm to my hands. We will know tomorrow how he shall feel, pain or no pain. Regardless of pain or no pain. He asked me a question; He asked if God will honor our prayer even though he doesn't believe. He didn't even realize God had already did with the diminishing of his pain. In my last prayer, I told him face to face. That my prayer was that HE will come to know that GOD LOVES HIM JUST AS HE LOVES US. The first prayer was said in silence, the last two were out loud and it is the MIGHTY AND GREAT NAME OF JESUS WE PRAYED. What a day, I have to tell you. GOD is so, so, so, so good.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Abe Story Part 1

For the first time, my parents have finally gotten a glimpse of the man I am through the eyes of you guys and that means so much to me. You have no idea- oh they know that I changed, that I talk different, act different. But somewhere in there was a seed of doubt, but i believe GOD has erased all doubts yesterday.

I received this email from my good friend Brother Abe from the Hutchinson Correction Facility.  Over the last two years, Abe and I have developed a friendship and recently I was able to meet his family and hear more of his story.  We are the same age and would have graduated high school in the same year.  He has been taking TUMI the past 3 years and the Lord is using him in a powerful way.

In December we hosted an event called Christmas connections at Morning Star Ranch. Our desire was to connect with the families of the TUMI students from Hutchinson Correction Facility.  Abe’s family was one of the families that came, and throughout the weekend I was able to hear from his parents their side of Abe’s story.    

Abe’s father shared with me how in 1993, his other son, Abe’s brother, was shot and killed. This devastated the family and left Abe angry and bitter.  A couple of weeks after his brother’s death, Abe was involved with the crime that imprisoned him. There were two others involved who were tried as juveniles and released by age 21; however, Abe, only age 17 at the time, was charged as an adult and given a longer sentence. I will never forget Abe’s dad expressing with a heavy heart how he lacked the money for a good lawyer, and how in that one month, he lost two sons.

For the first years in prison, Abe was angry and bitter and rejected anything to do with God. However, God pursued him and Abe finally reached his breaking point and surrendered his life to Jesus. By God’s grace, Abe was able to receive complete forgiveness and also forgive those who had hurt him throughout his life. He has continued in discipleship for many years throughout his prison sentence, and now after taking TUMI classes and being trained as a pastor he has as clear call to pastor and minister.

That night after listening to Abe’s dad share his story, I was able to tell his parents about the potential we see in Abe. I shared how we see him growing to be an amazing man of God who will be a part of His Kingdom growing in the city. We also shared more vision about World Impact, and TUMI and how Abe is a part of what God is doing all over our country. He is just 1 of 1400 inmates taking TUMI classes and studying to be a leader. 

The following morning I received the e-mail from Abe and just wept as I read it. The healing that is happening is wonderful! 

Bro, they had a marvelous time. Normally when I call home. I talk maybe about 15-20 minutes. You know the phones are expensive. This time however my mom had a lot to talk about, how comfortable she felt. How lovely it was and she was so glad that they went. Man it is truly awesome for real. That is the best visit I had since I have been down and no one came to see me. I told my mother don't worry about coming to see me I rather for them to go there.
My dad for the first time that I can ever remember told me that he was proud of me. I never heard those words cross his lips. Not that I can remember. Heck we talked for about 20-30 mins alone on the phone which hardly ever happens. Our communication is through my mother. We have always had the relationship that if we don't talk in person we don't really talk only send messages through my mother. He comes to see me, so we talk a lot then. But for the first time, they have finally gotten a glimpse of the man I am through the eyes of you guys and that means so much to me. You have no idea, oh they know that I changed, that I talk different, act different. But in somewhere there was a seed of doubt but i believe GOD has erased all doubts yesterday. Thank you Jesus. They already know I am going to Wichita once released; God through you made it an easier transition for them. I am so elated for real, you have no idea brother. My dad kept saying, they have a lot of love for you. They think extremely highly of you, he was like I was really taking in and what they were saying. For the first time I was listening. To hear and see your belief in me sparked something in him. He was talking about going to the man's retreat. My mom mentioned about going to the women's one but she go to the one next week. She is coming though.  I've said a great deal; send my love to all the family, thank you all.

Abe’s story is one of many across our country where God is bringing reconciliation among inmates and their families.  Continue to pray for our inmates and their families, that as these men grow in their walks with Jesus the gospel would reach their families and bring deep healing in their relationships.  Tomorrow, I will share with you more on how God used Abe recently as he prayed for healing for a fellow inmate. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"One by One"

This past weekend was the Midwest SIAFU Men’s Conference at Morning Star Ranch in Kansas. As I got settled there, a young man caught my attention and smiled at me. He said, “Do you remember me?” Of course I recognized his face, but I couldn’t place his name and remember where I had met him.  I thought that I probably knew him from my time ministering in the prison at Hutchinson. I found out his name was Tony and that he had just been released that Wednesday. He had spent nine years on the inside, and he had been out for three days and found himself at our men’s conference. Now 31, he had been incarcerated since he was 22.

The rest of the conference we spent time getting to know each other better. We talked about life inside and then about adjusting to life on the outside. He told me that he wanted to grow to become an urban missionary like what I did. He wants to make a difference with guys on the streets. He had been at the revival we did in June (read about that here) and had also heard me teach a couple other times at the prison.

One of the personal burdens I feel for the guys I work with is that they may experience the love of the Father. So many of these men have deep wounds from male figures that are hard to heal from. Often they need a deep and profound encounter with the love of the Father that can provide healing from the past. So whenever I lead prayer and ministry times with guys, I normally include a time where we pray for them to encounter the love of the Father.  

On the last night of the conference, we closed with a worship, prayer, and testimony time; it’s a powerful time where they can get right with the Lord. As I was praying for this time, I felt the Father clearly say, “Lead them to me, and I will bring healing.”

As I got up in front of the guys, I felt especially burdened. I talked about how our father wounds can give us an orphan spirit. This is simply a feeling that we are alone and lost and without a dad. Even though we may be in Christ, we still feel lost and feel as though we are orphans. I invited the guys be open and to trust that God was going to move and that the love of the true Father would encounter them that night. I could sense the faith in the room grow as they nodded, hungry to experience this.

As we had a prayer time and ministered, there weren’t many dry eyes. The Spirit of God was tangibly moving throughout the room. We then had guys come forward who wanted more prayer. Tony came right up to me and we just hugged and prayed together. As the tears came, he kept saying how he doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes from the past. He has felt like a failure his whole life, but now desperately wants to change. My heart went out to him in a deep way. I sensed such tangible love from the Father for him.

That night after praying with him and so many others, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I thought about the millions in our cities who we are desperate for this encounter with the Father. But there is great hope. God is moving in our prisons and our ministry is providing opportunities for these guys to grow and become leaders. One by one, God is changing the lives. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Divine Appointments

In the past month, I have felt God tug on my heart to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading for me to pray and minister to those He brings across my path.  I have clearly felt the Lord asking me to be more willing to step out in faith.  The other night, I was asked to help with some prayer and ministry with my friends Pastor Jerry and Tharen.  We were praying over a house and a man who was struggling named Nate.  As we were praying, we felt the Lord’s presence in a special way and experienced some breakthroughs for Nate.  

After the prayer time, we felt led to go out and walk along the river.  I was in an area of Wichita where I had never been before and there were many people walking by the river.  My spiritual antenna was up as we were talking, walking and praying.  As we went by the river, I saw a young man that I felt a tug to pray for.   As I approached him, there was some fear in my heart as I wondered what he was going to think.  

I asked him if I could pray for him about anything and he shook his head yes with a lot of emotion.  He told me he was just released from jail that day and he had nowhere to go. He shared with me that his name was Ryan and he was a Christian who had grown up in the church in a good family but had found a life of drugs and ended up doing time in prison. For the past year and a half he had been in and out of prison.  He was preparing to spend his first night homeless when we ran into him. As Ryan shared his story with me the tears were flowing as he realized the Lord was with him and noticing him.  He told me he literally was just praying and wondering if the Lord still cared for him. He figured the Lord had given up on him after so many failures.  I reassured him of the Lord’s love and we had a powerful moment as I could sense the Lord’s spirit ministering to him.  

After talking and spending some time in prayer, I brought Ryan back to our group where I introduced him to everyone.  It was awesome to see them immediately embrace him. They invited him to go to church with them and help get him connected.  What was especially powerful was to see Nate embrace and connect with Ryan. They have similar stories and so they were able to connect in a deep way.  God is in the process of setting Nate free and now he was being used to minister to Ryan.

We got him some food and a place to stay for two days so he could figure out his next steps.  We closed the night taking communion together.  As Pastor Jerry led us in prayer and as we served the elements, it was dramatic to watch Ryan being accepted back into the family of God. It was as if the prodigal son was returning home.  As the tears came, I embraced him and assured him of the love of the Father.

Two days later, I met with him again and spent some more time getting to know him. He mentioned to me that his buddy Carlos was in town and Ryan wanted me to meet him. He told me that Carlos had accepted the Lord on July 4th and was recently released from prison.  As I was introduced to Carlos, I saw that he fit the part of someone who had spent years in the streets and in prison. He had tattoos all over his body and a rough exterior; but as he shared his heart, I could tell his life had been touched by the Lord.

He shared with me that he grew up in the Wichita and his first ten years of life were filled with extreme abuse and violence.  By age 14 he was on the streets, in gangs, using and selling drugs. In 1998, he was arrested and for most of the past 17 years he has lived behind bars.  In his last year in prison, he got connected with someone who kept sharing Christ with him.  He learned that Jesus could set him free from his past and from all of his sin.

So on July 4th, the day of freedom, he gave his life to Jesus. He said he felt a high like he had never experienced before in his life. He was released from prison three weeks later and now has moved to a small town to live with his wife and kids. He has connected with a church and pastor, and he is now in the process of building a new life. Every day is a battle for him, but he is fighting those battles by depending on Jesus.

All of these men know they have a tough road ahead of him. The odds are stacked against them from the world’s perspective; but these are the kind of men the Lord is raising up all over.  In one moment they can be forgiven and set free.   Men like Nate, Ryan and Carlos need the body of Christ to love them, take them in and give them support. Everywhere we walk, we are surrounded by people who are waiting to experience the love of Jesus.  Let’s be mindful of the people we see when in public, and then let’s be obedient to the gentle and small promptings of his Spirit.  You never know who you might have the privilege of meeting.