Just yesterday, a few of us from Rock Harbor High School went out to lunch after a long morning of serving. We went near the Triangle Square in Newport and grabbed some Rubio’s. As we were there, I felt an urge to go outside and offer some prayers to anyone who needed it. Usually I like to do these less organized things by myself, but I felt like God wanted to expose one of the high schoolers to this side of the Christian life. RHHS is filled with amazing students that God is clearly moving in. There is one student in particular that I have seen God transforming for the past several months and he seems to be edging closer and closer to a personal breakthrough in his life. I try to take any opportunity God gives me to help stir the fire that’s already in his heart. This particular student’s name is Bailey Seal and everyone can see the promise on his life. Once again, every student in RHHS has a clear and special calling, but on this certain day I felt God was highlighting Bailey as someone who was ready for what we were about to do.
With all of this swirling through my head at Rubio’s, I finally got up from my seat, tapped Bailey and said “Come with me.” We walked outside and I told him, “Ask God. Left or Right?” After a few seconds, he said, “Left”.
“Alright. Let’s go.”
As we walked, I asked him if he knew what we were doing, he said, “I think I have an idea.” I told him to pay attention to what God might be telling him. God often has an adventure prepared for us, and we just have to give him our attention as He leads us by the hand. As we approached the Coffee Bean, there was a homeless man sitting at the table outside of it. I asked Bailey if he thought we should pray for him. He said yes.
“Hey man, what’s your name?”
“My names Nate and this is Bailey.” I leaned in and shook his hand. It’s important that we always make an effort to make physical contact with the homeless when we’re ministering to them. We have no idea how long it’s been since they’ve felt the loving embrace of another person. When no one ever touches you or even looks at you it can be dehumanizing. And if our fear of their dirt getting on us is stronger than our desire to get our Christ on him, we already lost the battle. Jesus willingly touched lepers; we should be able to touch a hand with a little dirt on it.
“Is there anything you would like prayer for man? Do you want some prayer?”
“Yea I want prayer.”
“What do you want us to pray for?”
“Money. Food.” (His answers were short and choppy and he didn’t seem to be all together there.)
Just then, a sweet old lady came by and said, “You want food? I’ll buy you a sandwich. I’ll be right back.” I didn’t even realize the perfect timing of that until right now. Before we started praying for him, I asked him a couple things.
“Do you know Jesus, George?”
“You know He loves you right?”
Awesome. We prayed general blessings over him and just poured out any love we had on him. I then asked him if he had any pain anywhere. He lifted his hat and showed me his head. He said he had a head injury and said that it hurt. I couldn’t get many details out of him so I just asked if we could pray for his head. He said yes. I laid my hand on his head and as we were praying, I had a sense that God was allowing George to feel His warmth. My hands didn’t feel warm or anything but I just knew God was doing something. I asked George,
“Do you feel warmth on your head right now?”
“You do? You feel that warmth??”
“Awesome, man. That’s God comforting you. He’s letting you know that He has his hand upon you. Do you feel any more pain?”
“You’re head doesn’t hurt anymore?!”
Awesome. We wrapped our conversation up and continued on our way. I could tell Bailey was pumped after that experience. He wanted to keep going, so we did. We eventually came across our new friend, Armando. He was sitting down in a parking lot with his bag next to him, gazing in the distance. We slowly approached him, and I asked him his name. He wouldn’t tell us and he was acting hesitant. Then I said,
“My name’s Nate, this is Bailey. We’re walking around offering prayer for anyone who needs it. Is there anything you need prayer for?”
“Yeah, I need prayer.” His heart seemed to randomly open up to us.
“What can we pray for man?”
“I need a job.”
“Okay man, what’s your name?”
We then prayed for him and poured out God’s love to him. We affirmed God’s grace over him and just assured him that God loves his heart. He was very receptive. Then, I got a sense of something that I’ve never had before. God wanted us to stop prophesying over him and He wanted to speak to him personally. The gift of prophecy is a beautiful thing and I’ve seen God make his love known to many people through it before. But how much sweeter is it to see God speak personally to the person being prayed for. I jumped on this opportunity.
“Hey, Armando. I think God wants to tell you something. Do you hear him talking to you?”
“What’s He telling you?!”
“He’s telling me to follow him.”
AWESOME. This was so amazing to watch. Bailey and I just had the privilege to witness God call a man out of his sin and into his arms. I suppose this would have been a good time to lead Armando in a prayer or something, but I’m still learning. I trust that God is causing the seed in his heart to grow. As we made our way back to the rest of our group, we felt confident that God just touched a couple hearts. There’s nothing more fulfilling than spreading the Hope and Love of Jesus to people. There are so many broken hearts out there and it is such a privilege to co-labor with God and watch Him encounter his children. God does all the work and we just get to sit back and enjoy the ride.
This video featuring Todd White explains it far better than I ever could.
Matthew 28:18-20: “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Most Christians know about the Great Commission. We understand our call to go out and make more Christians. However, there are many issues with the way we look at the call to evangelism. The concept of evangelizing is a complex one and I don’t claim to be an expert. However, I do believe that the Bible is a bit clearer than we make it sometimes. There are three main errors in thinking regarding evangelism that I would like to address.
1. Jesus didn’t say to make Christians, He said to make Disciples:
I don’t believe there should be any sort of difference between being a “Disciple” and being a “Christian”. Unfortunately, however, today’s average American Christian seems to resemble a radically different image from the Biblical Disciple. There are many reasons for this but I will tackle one main facet. I want to be clear before any one gets offended. I love alter calls. I love when pastors invite people to raise their hand and accept Christ into their hearts. I think those are sweet moments and I believe they are legitimate. However, the Christian experience is not meant to end there. Grace is free. By faith and faith alone you are saved. However, salvation isn’t meant to be our end goal. Salvation is necessary so that God will abide in us. God’s ultimate desire is to be with his people. What many of us miss is the fact that salvation enables us to live a life as a powerful Disciple of Christ. It’s hard for many Christians to walk out their new lifestyle because they don’t have anyone discipling them. Jesus said to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” I believe the Holy Spirit has the power to grow a new believer into the person God has called them to be, but God created us for community. We are not meant to be lone-wolf Christians, we belong to a sheep-pen. Through fellowship, we can become better Disciples as we live to follow Christ in community. So I encourage everyone to find a community of like-minded believers to help you on your journey. I also encourage everyone to provide the people that you’re witnessing to with a community that they can get plugged in with.
2. The Great Commission isn’t a chore. It’s a joyous privilege:
Many of us feel burdened by the command to go forth and expand the Kingdom. Many of us feel stressed and pressured to go outside and preach on the streets or do things that fill us with anxiety. Yet Paul declared it pure joy to do the work he did. Respected missionaries like Heidi Baker and Todd White are filled with joy for the rigorous evangelism they do. Personally, I feel the most alive when I witness other people encounter God’s Love for the first time in their lives. I live to be used by God in the ways that the apostles were. It’s the desire of Jesus’ heart for us to go and change the world. He said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) Jesus was joyful to do the work that He saw His Father, so we should be too. I don’t expect this joyful expectation to just “turn on” as you read this, but I encourage you to pray for God to warm your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to cause you to be compelled by Love. There is true transformation in the Spirit’s work.
3. Fear is never an option:
There is a reason Jesus preceded the Great Commission with “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This declaration is meant give us assurance and courage. I often say that a Christian who has lost all fear is the most dangerous thing on earth. It’s a beautiful thing what a Christian can accomplish when they find strength in God’s grace. What is there to fear in this world as a Christian? “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Many times our fear comes from the fact that many of us don’t have a true revelation of the Father’s goodness. All fear is from the enemy and it is his only tool he can use to prevent us from expanding the Kingdom of God. The Christian is so strong that the only way the enemy can stop us by getting us to stop ourselves. Remember that God has given you wherever the soles of your feet shall tread (Joshua 1:3, I am not using this verse out of context, this rule applies spiritually). Abide in Christ’s authority.
4. Remain Normal:
For some reason Christians can tend to get weird. I’m all about being a “fool for Christ”, but only when it’s necessary. There’s no reason to amp up the spiritual language while ministering. There’s no reason to sway and act abnormal when we minister to strangers. Our life and actions are meant to model that we are “Not of This World” – not our weird antics. I wish churches would give social-skills classes for us, because I have seen too many Christians ramble in an ignorant way, which can drive the non-believer farther away. The worst is when we don’t even listen to the person we are speaking to. Sometimes we just repeat what we have been taught to say in an impersonal way which makes us sound like some churchy robots. If we don’t rely on the Holy Spirit to speak through us (Luke 12:12) we rely instead on our knowledge. But always remember that “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). If it is only our head knowledge speaking and not our heart’s wisdom, it will be hard to plant a successful seed. Remain in love and remain normal and the experience will be smoother for everyone.
“Very truly I tell you, WHOEVER believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, emphasis added)
Jesus wasn’t lying when he said that. God takes great joy in watching his creation represent him well. He loves when we take initiative and ask him to use us. We owe the world and encounter with God! As carriers of God’s Holy Spirit we cannot be content with living a life in the shadows. We must step out onto the battlefield and regain our calling. As the Church we are Christ’s representatives. In other words we are re-presenting Jesus to the world! (See 2 Corinthians 5:20) This is the most awesome mandate for our lives. I think the reason many of us don’t go out and risk things for the Kingdom is because we lack faith that God will actually do something or we don’t feel worthy enough to present the gospel. These are two lies that I long to address another time, but my hope and prayer is that this blogsite will set a fire in your faith and help you realize the glorious call that God has put on every believer’s life! I love you all. I believe in you all. And more importantly God believes in us all.
The first time I saw the power of the Holy Spirit (besides the seemingly odd Benny Hinn videos) was during my senior year of high school. That year I had started the Cubs of Judah Bible study outside of the local Starbucks back in Vista, Ca. I didn’t even realize what we were doing then, but looking back on it now, this group of average high schoolers was shifting the atmosphere of one of the darkest places in our city. The homeless sat and talked with us. We ministered to the drug-addicted. One time the Starbucks even brought us free food! There are too many stories from that Bible Study to share, but all you need to understand is that God changed lives through us. God provided the most amazing group of friends who were so full of faith and loyalty. I don’t think they will ever understand just how much they all mean to me. God made such an impression through Cubs of Judah, that even when I left to go to College, leaders Tyler Ross and Jacob Caringer allowed the group to run for another 2 years!
There was one intense moment from Cubs of Judah that impacted me forever. I am going to attempt to tell the short version. One day after our study, I saw a homeless man wandering towards us. I recognized him as the same man that we had just met a week prior. At first I selfishly avoided eye contact. Sometimes it can be draining talking with the homeless. They have a lot to talk about! But God prompted me to talk to him. I swallowed my selfishness and obeyed. I walked up to him and said, “Hey man, you remember me!?” He looked at me in the eyes, recognized me, and then immediately collapsed onto me. I embraced him and asked him what was wrong. As he cried, he repeated, “I can’t find my wife. I lost her. I can’t find my wife!” She was with him when I met them just a week before this moment. I told him, “Don’t worry man you’ll find her.” I humorously thought, you guys live here she can’t be far. Then he said, “Even worse, I don’t feel God. I feel pain. He left me.” He was frantic about this fact that God seemingly abandoned him. I didn’t know exactly what happened to him or what he was referring to, but when he said that, I was filled with compassion. I had this eerie seriousness come over me and I sternly said, “Let’s pray.” He consented and I laid my hands on his shoulders and began to pray passionately and full of confidence. This is where the Holy Spirit just took over. I couldn’t even remember what I said in the prayer, all I remembered was repeating, “God, fill him with your Holy Spirit. Fill him with your Spirit!” Remember, I did not grow up doing this kind of stuff. I did not grow up in a super-charismatic Pentecostal church. I never spoke in tongues or anything like that. I only read my Bible.
Suddenly in the middle of the prayer, I kid you not, this dude starts shaking! He gripped my shoulders with a strength that I didn’t know he had. This was new to me, but I kept on praying. Then he started breathing heavily and speaking in tongues! Then I realized, oh snap I think God is actually filling him with his Holy Spirit! When I stopped praying, the man started to fall backwards but I caught him and held him up. He looked at me with this gaze of awe in his eyes and stepped away from me. A smile slowly began to appear on his face, then he burst into joy.
“Woah, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit before but it’s been a long, long time. I felt like Samson! The pain is gone! I feel God in my heart! I feel peace! Jesus! JESUS!!!”
I then ministered to him a little longer, and then he proceeded to walk away full of joy and laughter. This sweet moment with God seemed to eradicate any fear he had just minutes before. I didn’t exactly know what just took place, but it felt like I was in the book of Acts. That moment showed me as a 17 year old that the Holy Spirit is the real deal and He is indeed in all of us as Christians. I’ve only shared that strory with a few people, but that experience marked my idea of evangelism in a new way. I now understood that God can and will break chains of evil off of people as long as we step out into faith. I encourage you all to step out in boldness for the sake of the world.
After I prayed for those two people I thought maybe it was time to head back. But it wasn’t. I sat outside the TK Burgers and stayed still in the Lord, enjoying His Presence. Sometimes we Christians get so caught up in the doing that we miss that God only wants us to recline on him (John 13:23). There’s no hurry in the Kingdom. God is outside of time.
As I have said, God speaks to His children. Why would Jesus ever declare that His sheep know his voice if he didn’t plan on speaking to them? (John 10:27) With that said, when I minister, sometimes I ask God to show me the person’s name before I speak to them. When a stranger knows your name, it proves that God knows your name. There’s no greater joy than realizing that the Father notices you.
A couple walked out of the TK Burger’s and I asked God to put the man’s name on my heart. The name I heard was Ken. Somehow I knew this wasn’t his name, but I could also tell that there was something significant behind it. Stick with me. I ended up ignoring that quick moment, but that name was sure to show up again.
I got up from TK and ready to go back, I felt God tugging me to keep walking down Bristol St. As I walked past the gas station on my right, I noticed a man at his parked car, looking rather frustrated. It made an impression on me, but I ignored it. I felt the Lord leading me across the street, so I crossed, keeping my eyes and ears open for people to minister to. Suddenly I saw the same frustrated man in the distance on my side of the street again. It was as if we crossed the street at the same exact time. He was walking toward me, with a limp, and I approached him. I was certain that God had set this up. Then, in an almost humorous way, we called out to each other at the same time..
Me, Him: “Hey!”
Me: “Hey man, can I help you with anything? Can I pray for you?”
Him: “Well, my car ran out of gas and I’m asking around for some help with money so I can get back home. I need about 40 bucks to fill up the tank. Anything will help.”
The moment he said “40 bucks” I realized that I had exactly $40 in my wallet. I instantly made up in my mind that I would give it to him. What is beautiful about that moment was that I didn’t feel pressured to give him any money. Instead I was actually excited to be able to help him and show him the Love of God. I am being reminded right now of 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” As a Christian, giving and helping people is not meant to be a chore, it’s meant to be a joyful act. This is because our conscious knows that every kind-hearted act has the potential to bring people closer to God.
Me: “How ‘bout this man, I’ll give you 40 dollars if you let me pray for you.”
Him: “(Laughs a little) Sure man that sounds great!”
Me: “What’s your name?”
Him: “Ken Cole.”
(I prayed for him, asking for God to bless him, heal his limp, etc. Then gave him the money)
Him: “Wow thanks man. What is your card number? I’ll send the money back to you.”
Me: “Don’t worry about man.”
Me: “Yeah bro, it’s from the heart!”
Him: “Wow. Thank you so much…”
He was absolutely shocked after this encounter. He couldn’t believe that this just happened to him. He actually told me that he felt like something told him to walk my way (I’m actually getting teary eyed right now). The fact that he felt led to walk my way shows the careful hand of God on both parties. I clearly had his attention so I asked him about his relationship with God. He began to confess that he believes in a God but he felt bad about not going to church. He said he was too busy to go to church because of his job. I told him that Jesus isn’t hiding in a building and that he should pursue a deeper relationship with Him. He asked me what I was even doing. I told him that I was just trying to be available to show people some Jesus. He proceeded to tell me a little more about his life, and I had the privilege to minister to him. He then asked me what church I go to, and I proudly said “Rock Harbor”. I gave him directions and everything. It was time for us to depart and I know he was able to make it safely home with a story to share.
This encounter was such a beautiful illustration of the work of God’s hands. Each detail showed the precision of God’s involvement. Ken walked away with a deeper understanding of God’s provision. And I walked away knowing that if you make yourself available, God will take you on an adventure. God is faithful.
Pastor Nick Fox was preaching at Rock Harbor a couple months ago, and he mentioned that it is an adventure to follow Jesus. Honestly, for the common Christian, this may not sound like the most revolutionary truth. We’ve heard it. We believe it. But when he said “following Jesus is an adventure”, it hit me in a deeper way. My mind began racing with curiosity. I thought, What if we literally, followed Jesus? What would happen, if a Christian went outside and just listened to the Father’s voice and went where he called them? Personally, I believe God speaks to all of his children. Not just the “gifted ones”. If you are following Jesus, God speaks to you. Just open your ears. Once you understand that God speaks to you and He wants to lead you on an adventure, my idea shouldn’t seem as crazy to you anymore.
The moment I had some time on my hands, I thought I would try this new approach to ministry. Reading the Gospels, you see that Jesus always seemed to know where to go. The disciples saw amazing things because they literally followed Jesus as he walked. If Jesus got in a boat, they got in a boat. If Jesus went to a synagogue, they went to the synagogue. Jesus, as the Author of Life, is the master of adventure.
I was at the anti-mall in Costa Mesa a few hours before church and I saw this as an awesome opportunity to go reveal the Father to some people. I had nothing to lose. I was very aware that maybe nothing would happen. But I also knew that God just might do something awesome. The reward of bringing someone closer to God far outweighs the risk of having awkward encounters with strangers. Once you lose the fear of death, everything else is easy.
I started walking down the street with ears open to see where God might be telling me to go. I felt he wanted me to cross the street, but not yet. Then I felt him say, “Now”. I think the best way to describe the way God was speaking to me during this time would be to call it Holy Spirit nudges. Right when I got to the other side of the street, I looked ahead and saw a guy on a bike heading my way. He stopped at the stoplight that I was heading to, it was almost like bait. I approached him and gave him a friendly greeting,
Me: “Hey buddy how’s it going?”
Him: “I’m good man, you?”
Me: “I’m doing great. Is there anything you might need prayer for?”
Him: “Oh, just blessings man. Anything would help!”
Me: “I notice you got a brace on your knee could I pray for that?”
(His light turned green)
Him: “I gotta get going man, but yeah just pray for blessings! Anything helps brother!”
Me: “Alright man! Have a good day and God bless!”
As he rode away in his bike I just prayed that God would touch His life in a way that would bring him closer to Him. I started laughing and thanked God for giving me an easy warm up. It was a really smooth encounter. I kept walking and asked God if there was somewhere he wanted me to go. I felt like he actually said, “Go get you some coffee.” I wasn’t too sure if that was God or my addiction speaking, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take the chance. As I walked into Cafecito Organico, one of those hipster coffee shops, the first thing I saw was a guy with crutches sitting down. I was like, “Alright God that might’ve been you after all.” I bought my coffee and started procrastinating. I was getting really nervous. Doubt started creeping in. I can’t do this. What if nothing happens? What if everyone thinks I’m weird? Then affirmation came. You can do this. As long as love is involved it’s a success. They probably will think you’re weird, who cares? So I went up to the guy who was speaking with his girlfriend…
Me: “Hey guys how are you all doing?”
Them: “We’re good how are you?” (slightly confused)
Me: “(nervous laugh) I’m good. Do you mind if I ask what happened to your leg?”
Him: “Oh it’s a torn ACL man.”
Me: “Oh really? That sucks bro. Would you mind if I prayed for it? Would that be too weird?”
(I kinda mumbled out of nervousness)
Him: “Ha What?”
Me: (crap I have to say it again) Uh, I’m a Christian and I’ve seen God heal people before, would you be okay if I prayed for you?”
Him: “Ha yea bro I’m down for new things!”
(I got so stoked that this was his response and I was a bit more confident now)
I laid my hand on his shoulder and asked God to heal him. Nothing seemed to happen. I asked him if he went to Rock Harbor. He said no. I briefly told him about the church down the street. He seemed pretty open to it. I didn’t ask him to test his leg out or anything, I just wanted to get out of there at this point. It was a pretty cool experience though, and I felt a substantial seed was planted. You never know what God might’ve done in that guy’s life after that moment. My hope was that it put some curiosity in his heart to find out more about this Jesus guy that this random dude at the coffee shop was so confident in.
So far I got to pray for two people. They were delightful moments, but the most fruitful encounter lay ahead.