This is a testimony from quite a few years ago. It might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it is what I feel led to share this morning, this especially in the light of a conversation that I just had with a friend about the powerlessness and much of the wrong-heartedness in the Christian church today. I do remember that I had a tremendous burden specific to this subject when we were in NY at this time. If you read this, you’ll probably understand why. — D
Shortly after agreeing that we needed to go to NYC, my friend Rob and I found out that a church that we had both attended years ago was sending a “team” to NY and this team would be staying with us at the dorms at the New York School of Urban Ministry. Now, considering that many people who are involved with this particular church consider me to be some sort of heretic who deserves to “burn in hell forever,” Rob and I figured that this could get pretty interesting.
Our first encounter on this trip with this group was in the NYSUM parking lot after Rob and I had returned from the Upper Westside of Manhattan. That is where the Lord had led us earlier in the day to meet up with Jose Pena (this “Jose” thing is a rather long and wild story in itself, and therefore it is not something to get into here.). It was in this parking lot that a few “hellos” were exchanged with this church group, along with some other introductions and handshakes. All in all, that part went pretty well, until I went to shake the hand of a pastor from that church, someone who met me with eyes that seemed to be full of religious hatred towards me, even fear. This was so terribly grieving to me, that mean and dark religious spirits could have such a hold on this guy.
At this same time, the “team” leader of the group (not the pastor who I just mentioned) asked us if we wanted to join with them that night in “going on a homeless.” That, I guess, is an expression that they use when describing their hunt for homeless people to minister to. We told them that we needed to go to our room to pray so that we might know what the Father had for us to do that night. With this, we got a “Now there’s the right answer” from one of the men in the group, and we then went our separate ways … for a while.
When Rob and I got to our room, we decided that we’d try to get some sleep (as we’d been awake for over 30 hours at that point), but I just couldn’t sleep. I was terribly grieved by what I saw in the face of that pastor and I felt that I needed to spend some time with the Lord in prayer. I said to Him, “I’m sad, Lord, I’m really sad. You tell us to love even our enemies, but many Christians today can’t even love their own brothers and sisters in Christ.” The Lord’s response to me was, “I’m saddened by it too, David. Pray.”
A heavy burden to pray was then put upon me, and I travailed in prayer for several hours until I felt that I had prayed through to the Father’s heart. When in prayer, it was impressed upon me to ask the Lord to bring the “team leader” to our room that I might share some things with him. This prayer time ended with this very man knocking on our door.
He was in a bit of a hurry, as they had a lot of things “scheduled to do,” but I did have an opportunity to share a bit of the Lord’s burden with him — that our Father desires to have Sons who simply hear HIM and then just do what HE asks them to do .. nothing more … nothing less. We thanked this brother for his invitation to join in with them that night, but we expressed that we felt led another way. He then said that we were also welcome to join them in the “outreach ministry” which they had scheduled for the next day. He said that they had arranged for there to be “music, and face-painting, and all sorts of activities for people to get involved in.” He said that in the midst of the activities there would be people passing out bible tracks, etc., etc., etc.
The word that then came forth through me was, “Dear brother, Jesus told us to go out and make disciples, to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to raise the dead. Nowhere did He ever tell us to dress up like clowns, paint on people’s faces, or pass out bible tracts. We don’t realize just how far we’ve fallen from the standard that was set for us even by the early church. They had an anointing on them in those days that turned the world upside down! Most of the church today though has become not much more than a form of godliness with a whole lot of church programs but no real power. That sort of thing isn’t going to turn the world upside down! That sort of thing isn’t going to deliver creation! No! Creation is groaning for mature Sons of God who are just as much an expression of the Father even as Jesus was 2000 years ago! Zeal and lots and lots of religious busy-ness, no matter how well intentioned, is NOT God’s plan for deliverance of His creation. No. Sons who know and do the will of the Father are the Plan, and that is only going to come about by way of disciples who embrace the cross to the extent that death might be brought to all self in them — even busy, religious, ambitious self!”
This brother seemed to be cut to the heart. His cell phone then rang. He apparently was urgently needed as more arrangements had to be made for tomorrow’s activities. Rob and I were shortly thereafter led off as the Lord directed us. We weren’t involved in ministering to the homeless that night, but were directed another way altogether.
The next morning, while most of the people in the NYSUM men’s dorm were still asleep, I was given another opportunity to meet with someone from this particular church group. I had been getting scripture verses about “Give them something to eat” throughout the night, and I knew that this had to do with teaching and sharing, but I needed for the Lord to set up the meeting with the one (or ones) who could receive what I had to share. There was a commons area on our hall, and there, on one of the sofas, sat the brother who had commented earlier about my need to go to our room to pray. This fellow was in prayer at the time, so I just quietly sat down opposite from him and waited for him to open his eyes. When he finally opened them and saw me sitting across from him, he surprised me in that he launched right into a rebuke! This fellow said to me …
“Brother, I’ve never seen ANYTHING like what I saw last night! Those people out there literally have NOTHING! We have so much! Let me tell you, brother,” he said, “I didn’t need to ‘go to MY room’ to pray about ministering to the homeless or not last night, I just went! YOU need to do that too! You don’t need to pray about such a thing, brother! YOU just need to do it! Don’t be scared or intimidated. Just do it!”
I then smiled at this man, and simply said, “Dear brother, much of my life is spent ministering to the homeless and to needy people out on the streets of our cities. I travel pretty regularly to NY, Boston, Toronto, San Francisco, and many other places sharing the love of Christ and bringing hope, vision, and provision to the sick, the poor, the addicted, and the homeless. We didn’t join your group last night simply because the Father wasn’t leading us to do that. Last night the Holy Spirit led us to the Upper Westside where we came across an old church building from which we could hear music coming forth from the basement. As led by the Holy Spirit, we went and tried the basement door which was open, and we then walked right into a bit of a glory cloud! High praises were being sung by the people there, many of whom were on their knees and in tears before the Lord. The Father had led us to a worship service of Haitian Christians! Now we couldn’t understand much of what they were praying or singing, as they were speaking in Creole and French, but we understood the language of the Spirit, which was great love flowing from the people to God, from God to the people, and from all the people to one another. There was a tremendous brokenness and contriteness of heart on most all of the people there. Rob and I both knew that this was pleasing to the Lord, as His presence was very strong in that place. We were made quite welcome there too. Even though we walked right in on the middle of their service, and though we were the only two white guys in the place, we were warmly greeted and WE KNEW that we were among family there. We stayed for quite a while and soaked in presence of God with our brethren. THAT is where the Lord wanted us to be last night, brother. The Father wasn’t calling us to minister to the homeless last night, although He is putting a burden on us this morning to head out to the streets, and I suspect that this is because He desires for us to minister to some of His little ones out there TODAY.”
This brother was pretty quiet at this point. He really seemed to be “all ears” now. A door had swung wide open for me to share with him the truths about walking with the Father as Sons, about the ministry of the end of this age, and about the ministry and the purposes of the Father for the church in the age to come. This dear brother now seemed literally captivated by the things that he was hearing. A word of wisdom from on High was flowing to him in great measure, and great grace was being given to him so that he might receive that wisdom into his heart. Our meeting lasted for an hour or so, and it ended after I laid hands on him and prayed as the Spirit directed me. This brother then, with tears in his eyes, gave me a really big hug. God had really touched him. Something was supernaturally imparted to him and he knew it. He then headed off to his room where some of his brothers who were still not very fond of us waited for him. This man’s feet seemed like they weren’t even touching the floor anymore when he walked back to his room. He, Rob, and I were all in a very high place in the spirit then. It is a beautiful thing when brethren dwell together in unity. God pours Himself all over us at those blessed times. Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to find such unity in these days of religion, division, and ugly sectarian strife.
Through all of this, I never got this fellow’s name. Pray for him though, will you? I’m not quite sure just yet how God is going to use him in the religious community that he is a part of, but I know that it only takes a small spark to cause a VERY BIG FIRE.
Send a consuming fire through the sects and denominations of Christendom, Father. In the Name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus.