I want to start out by apologizing for the lack of blogs. I have been rather busy lately, and these posts have gone by the wayside. I want to finish them up, and WILL do it. I apologize in advance for the lack of details in certain parts and the lack of enthusiasm that might be there. It WAS three months ago and life has started to change. I hope these are still as entertaining as the first ones were.
There is no way I could have planned how the outreach started. There was no way in my mind that I would have planned dancing like a goofball in front of everybody to start the event, but it happened, it was fun, and I was in a great mood. After I sat down, the event began.
Suresh came up to the front of the crowd along with the translator, Daniel, and welcomed everyone to our event. We began by celebrating the birthday of one of the little girls in the crowd. She was brought up on stage where one of our team members prayed a blessing over her. We then sang happy birthday to her and presented her with a birthday cake. The cake was cut up and passed out to everyone on stage.
Our MC, Nate, was then introduced and a lei was put on him. He introduced the rest of us so that we could each get our leis. After we were officially greeted, we got up and sang worship songs for the crowd. Travis then got up and shared his testimony with the crowd. When he was done, Melanie got up and shared hers.
After Melanie was done, it was finally my turn to go. All of the preparation for the message I was going to present along with all of the mental preparation and nervousness was about to pay off. I took my Bible and walked up to the table. I was welcomed in a peculiar way: the children had remembered me as the guy dancing earlier and were waving their hands in the air to greet me. Looking back at it now, it’s funny, but they wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t go up there and dance for them. It was another side-effect of being forced to dance like an idiot, and further proof that God was going to use my discomfort for his glory.
I welcomed the crowd and told them my excitement for being there with them. I then went into the message that God had laid on my heart, and that I had prepared especially for them. I was in the unique position to present the Gospel to a bunch of people who had never heard of Jesus before, so I wanted to choose something good. It was amazing what God had laid on my heart, and it all fit together so well, that I was proud of the work that I had done in preparation.
I started out with The Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15:1-7. It’s a parable that Jesus tells about how a shepherd will leave his flock to go searching for one lost sheep, and when he finds him, he will be full of joy. The parable ends in verse 7: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” I then paused from the scripture and talked about how each of us was a sinner. How all the people on stage had fallen short of the Glory of God, but there was hope. I told them that there was good news: God had given us a shepherd that would search for us and rejoice when he found us.
I went into John 10:11, where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” I then went on to talk about John 10:14-15 and how Jesus was our good shepherd. I talked about how he died for our sins to forgive us and conquered death for us; about how we are forgiven for our sins because of this. I presented the gospel to the people there the best I could. I finally brought my points home by reading Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…” I told them that Jesus was my Good Shepherd and that I would fear no evil because of it.
This is me preaching the Good News. I don't look it there, but I'm all fired up.
All during the talk, though, I was getting more and more excited about what I was doing. I wasn’t nervous at all. In fact, I was all fired up. I was excited and passionate about what I was talking about, and it was an amazing experience. I remember the talk so much for the feelings that I had while I was doing it. I just felt called for that moment to share the Gospel with those people. I look back at that night and can say without a doubt that the Spirit was upon me and using me to speak to those people. I felt like a Pentecostal pastor: full of conviction and excitement for the Lord. Looking back, it was such a wonderful experience for me, but at the time I was completely immersed in that moment. At one point, I was talking about the love of Jesus, and said, “He loves me and He loves you and you and you,” pointing out into the crowd at individual people.
I finished the message part of my time up there and said, “Now is the chance for you to accept Jesus as your Good Shepherd. Now is the time for you to accept him into your life. I want you to stand if you would like to do this.” My translator, Daniel, started translating. He started talking for a minute, then two. I was surprised, because I didn’t think what I said would take that much translating, but he continued. At first, only a few of the children in the front stood up, which disappointed me a little bit, because I had hoped that a lot of people would come to know the Lord. As time went on, Daniel kept talking, and more and more people stood up, including all of the children in the front rows.
After a few minutes of waiting for people to stand, it was my cue to commence with the prayer of acceptance. I told them to repeat after me, to themselves or out loud; whichever was comfortable to them. “Dear Jesus,” I started. Daniel translated and to my surprise, all of the people standing up repeated out loud. I was shocked and laughed a little during my prayer. It was such a blessing to hear those people, especially all of the children. I went through a prayer of acceptance of the form, “Sorry, thank you, please” that Jonny had taught me before I left. In its simplified form it is: “Sorry for what I have done, thank you for dying for my sins, and please enter my life.” At the end of my prayer, there were about 30 adults and 30 or so children that gave their lives to Christ. It was such a blessing and as I pointed out to the crowd, “There was much rejoicing in Heaven that night for all of the sinners who had repented that night.”
Me leading the people praying to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Notice the smile on my face: that's joy.
I wasn’t done, though. I still had one more thing to do: lead the call for a prayer of healing/blessing. I told the people in the crowd about one of the times in the Bible where Jesus had healed people and said, “Your faith has healed you.” I told them how people lowered their friend into a house so that he would be healed. I then lost my place in my Bible and couldn’t find what I was looking for. I was scrambling and turning the pages frantically, but when I did find it, I finally told them Luke 11:9-13. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Team B praying over the people after the event. This picture uniquely shows almost the entire team.
Team B praying over the people after the event.
With that, we told the people to come up to the front and ask for prayer with faith that God can heal and can provide for them. Many people from the crowd got up and came to the front. The team lined up and prayed for any who asked. We prayed for women and men and for little kids and for mothers and their babies. It was a powerful night, and since I was so full of the Peace from the Spirit, I would have gone on for a while, but Suresh told us it was time to go, so we had to leave the wonderful event.
When I was done with that event, I was tired and so proud of how I thought it went, but I wasn’t sure if it was as good as I thought. As we walked out to the car, people from the team congratulated me for a job well done. They complimented me on the message that I gave and how the whole thing went. I was excited. This type of experience was one of the reasons I went on the trip, and it had actually gone better than I thought it would.
We got in the van and drove away. Everyone was exhausted, but I was still excited about what had just happened. We pulled up to a railroad crossing, but the gates were down, which meant that we had to wait. We waited for a few minutes, but there was no train in sight. The driver turned off the car and a few of us got out and stood around talking. It was late. The area was dark, save for a few lights in the railway house. We just waited in the calm darkness. After about twenty minutes of waiting, the train drove past us. We piled into the van, the gate was lifted, and we drove on home.
We got home, got ready for bed, and then went straight to sleep. We had a busy Sunday ahead of us and an exciting one for me: I would be giving my second sermon ever.