Saturday, 18 April 2015

Miracles in a Tough-as-Nails San Francisco Neighborhood ( Charisma News)

Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco—as the famous song goes—but he probably didn't leave it here in the city's tough-as-nails Tenderloin district, otherwise known as "the Loin."
It's an otherwise pleasant day in the fall of 2013. As is their routine, a number of the academy's 120 grade school children walk to recess at a nearby public playground. They know the route along Jones and Ellis Streets is dicey, but they're accustomed to the scene: dealers selling drugs, homeless people pushing shopping carts, panhandlers asking for handouts, and drunks sleeping on broken slabs of sidewalk. This is the Tenderloin. This is home.
"Most of the kids live here," says Marie-France Ladine, the academy's co-founder and principal. "This is a tough place to grow up. They see and hear everything."
Two major crimes take place every hour in this hardscrabble 50-block neighborhood that lies in the shadow of City Hall. Just a week earlier, someone shot a bullet in the night through a window at the academy's storefront on Jones Street, the building shared with the school's parent ministry, San Francisco City Impact.
No one was injured in either incident—not even close. "But we realized that we were vulnerable," Ladine says. "We had to do something more to protect the children."
What did she do? She bolstered existing safeguards, of course. But she also met with her staff and called for a time of prayer and fasting—exactly what her parents, Roger and Maite Huang, did 29 years earlier when they launched City Impact.
Only back then, it was just Roger, Maite and a bag of bologna sandwiches—50, to be exact. Three decades ago, Roger and his wife ventured into the troubled Tenderloin district of San Francisco with their bologna sandwiches and a prayer, and they haven't looked back.
Prayerful Beginnings
Roger Huang was born in Taiwan and moved to San Francisco when he was 12 years old. His father was successful in business but violent at home, regularly beating Roger and his siblings. Roger left home at 16 when the violence became too intense and then lived on the streets of San Francisco, finding shelter in doorways and food at restaurants where he sometimes picked up work.
The Huang family was Buddhist, and Roger remembers visiting temples as a child, but he didn't practice the faith. Rather, he was driven by a desire to succeed financially, to see the American dream come true—so much that he once held down three jobs at one time. He met and married a young French-American woman named Maite, and together they have four children, Marie-France, Philip, Michelle and Christian, three of whom work for the City Impact ministry today.
Maite and Roger came to faith while watching Jimmy Swaggart preach on television. Then they joined a small Pentecostal church in Daly City called Good News Fellowship but soon felt themselves wanting more.
That's when they heard about prayer and fasting for the first time from a visiting evangelist. It was a message that would change their lives.
"When you pray and fast, humility comes in because you have nothing there to offer to God," Roger says. "You are totally depending upon Him."
It's a lesson that would be put to the test, though, as Roger pursued God. North of San Francisco, in Mendocino County, is a former hippie commune called the Lord's Land, which a godly woman named Sabine Ball operated as a Christian retreat center. In those early days of Roger's faith, he often trekked to the center with questions in his heart.
"God was stirring my heart," he says. "I wanted to know: What was my purpose? How could I give everything to God?"
The answer came one night when Roger worked the graveyard shift as a night auditor at San Francisco's five-star Parc 55 hotel. At the end of his shift, he found his car—parked on Turk Street in the Tenderloin—had a flat tire. While waiting for a tow truck, he watched the early morning scene unfold. Drug dealers and prostitutes finishing their day. Delivery trucks depositing goods for mom-and-pop grocery stores and Vietnamese restaurants.
And on the sidewalk near him, a young boy being roughed up.
The altercation unnerved Roger, but he was tired and didn't intervene. Then, on the way home, Roger heard God speak: "What would you have done if that were your child?" God asked.
Roger said he would have done something to help.
"They are all My children," he says was God's response.
The words crushed Roger's heart. He went home and talked with Maite about the boy and the words he'd received from God, and the next morning the entire family got to work assembling sandwiches. Roger took them with him to work, and before he started his shift, he passed them out to homeless people lining the streets of the district.
A meager beginning, for sure, but Roger kept bringing more and more sandwiches on more and more days.
Then one day, while watching a child enter a building, he realized more than homeless people and druggies inhabited the crime-splattered district—families lived there too. In fact, today 37,000 residents occupy 586 high-rises mostly called single-resident-occupancy apartments (SROs). These SROs are mostly one-room units with no kitchen—once hotel rooms—that host entire families in their small spaces with rents running $1,500 a month or higher.
Before long, Roger and Maite were trudging to the district on Saturdays, handing out food on the streets and then picking a building and knocking on doors. Soon enough, all four of their children joined in.
"We would just offer some food or to pray for them," Roger says. "We grew together. I don't even want to call it ministry. It was our lifestyle."
As the Huang family connected with more Tenderloin families, especially children, they began sensing a need for a place for all of the people they met to gather together. At first they congregated on the sidewalk for what they called Super Church, then moved to an abandoned ballroom in the formerly majestic Cadillac Hotel (where boxer Muhammad Ali had once trained). From there, they found quarters in a storefront on the corner of Eddy and Jones Streets, where three young Christian women had launched a similar ministry.
In 1993, City Impact had the opportunity to purchase the historic Musicians Union building at 230 Jones Street, one of the buildings in which they had been renting space. But there was no money for purchase in the ministry coffers.
What did Roger do? He fasted and prayed for 40 days. And God answered.
Unbeknown to Roger, for 30 years a group of Asian Christian women had been praying for God to send somebody to the Tenderloin. They invited Roger to their prayer home, which was 20 blocks up Jones Street, in the affluent Nob Hill neighborhood. When he arrived, they prayed, sang Cantonese hymns, gave him a sack full of gold coins and said, "You're the one we have been praying for."
Their gift served as the down payment on the building that houses the ministry headquarters, the academy and City Impact Church today.
More recently, when the building needed fire code upgrades and faced closing its doors, City Impact leaders prayed and fasted again—and God answered, of course, this time through a team of volunteers from Community Presbyterian Church in Danville, Calif., who offered to help. In the end, the entire Jones Street building was renovated at a value of $8 million.
Praying for Change
In 2004, Roger went on a prayer and fasting "hunger strike" to bring attention to the problems of the Tenderloin. He sat on a chair in front of City Hall for 33 days, protesting the opening of a homosexual strip club right next to City Impact's offices on Jones Street and asking for a crackdown on drug and liquor sales in the Tenderloin.
"Roger is committed to the heart of the hurting and has stayed true to the gospel," says Michael Brodeur, who pastored churches in San Francisco for 33 years and now serves with Jesus Culture. "I know what it costs to see a ministry through in San Francisco, and City Impact is not only surviving but thriving."
Roger has prayed and fasted many times through the last three decades, but he says he rarely hears an immediate word from God.
"It's all faith," he says. "It has nothing to do with emotion. When you pray, you know that He hears you. And you walk away and you know that He is going to do it."
"When I pray and fast," he adds, "the majority of the time it is never to ask for favors. It's always to ask God to restore my brokenness—and then give me His will. Most of my prayer and fasting [has] always been on restoring me, not so much on what's next, because I came from a very broken background. I had to deal with loneliness, anger, hatred, resentment, insecurity."
Today Roger sees himself as pastor to the people of the Tenderloin—including the 8,000-plus homeless individuals who pass through its streets daily.
"Long ago I decided that I want to worship with them," he says. "There is no way that I want to leave them behind when it comes to spiritual worship."
And so since its founding, City Impact has done all it can to stand with the Tenderloin's people. The ministry has opened a rescue mission, a medical clinic, a dental clinic, a thrift store, a homeless cafe, a food bank, several spiritual recovery programs, a school, a church and a small manufacturing business called TLMade that creates jobs while bringing restoration to residents.
What's more, each City Impact program seeks to instill core values in those being served in order to take the gifts offered beyond mere donation. At the homeless café, for example, a person who wants a meal must be seated in the dining room 30 minutes before serving time. At the academy, while tuition is covered for most students, every family must pay at least $1 to demonstrate commitment.
And then there's the Adopt-a-Building program, launched in 2011 by Roger and Maite's son, Christian, with the help of Francis Chan. Christian grew up in the ministry and at one point led its youth, but he left City Impact as a young adult to take a job selling medical equipment. He had it made: a nice house, a wife, two children with one more on the way, and two Mercedes in the driveway. But one Monday morning he received a Facebook message that changed his life.
The message was from Ana, who grew up in the Tenderloin, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Ana had attended City Impact events and was one of their "kids." Now she needed help. As a 20-something adult, she had fallen into sketchy and dangerous hands. She had been trafficked into sexual exploitation and become addicted to Oxycontin. A pimp had held her captive and beaten her, but she had escaped and was now turning to Christian and his wife, Cori, for help.
"Ana told me that when she was captive in that hotel room in that closet, she was naked, beaten for a few days, tormented and victimized," Christian recalls.
She told him all she could remember while she was held captive was that he used to preach that Jesus would never leave her. So she prayed, "Jesus, Christian said You wouldn't leave me, and I need You."
Within days of receiving Ana's message, Christian quit his job. Weeks later he was back at City Impact full time and has since been named executive director.
Upon his return, Christian dove straight into the launch of City Impact's Adopt-a-Building program. Volunteers from 13 churches around the Bay Area come to the Tenderloin each Sunday afternoon for two hours of ministry. After a time of prayer and worship, they fan out in small groups to knock on doors and visit people. Some do canvassing work, others deliver hot meals to immigrant families and offer prayer, and still others help with small repairs in apartments. The ministry has adopted 20 buildings—and has its sights set on many more. Christian envisions 50 churches sending teams to the Tenderloin each week, with each one adopting one or two buildings.
"It's the church's time to shine," he says. "It doesn't matter if you are Baptist or Pentecostal. The most unity I have ever seen is when we go on mission together."
And so unity of the broader church undergirds the effort. Each spring, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church sends a team of more than 600 people to the Tenderloin to work with City Impact for two days, which usually includes hosting a street fair. They close a city block, bring in a worship team and offer free services—including haircuts, food, medical aid, foot massages and prayer.
"These are people who God loves, and we are called to serve them," says Mark Swarner, missions pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian. "Not only do we get to bless the people, but they bless us."
Other churches—including Reality SF in San Francisco; Bayside Church in Roseville, Calif.; The Journey in Boise, Idaho; and Salt Church of Laguna Beach, Calif.—have sent in volunteers as well.
"We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves," says Dave Lomas, pastor of preaching and vision at Reality SF. "The homeless in San Francisco are quite literally our neighbors. They may live on the streets or in the Tenderloin's SROs. Either way, it's a privilege for Reality SF to partner with Adopt-a-Building to serve our neighbors."
Through it all, prayer sustains every aspect and initiative of the work. The staff prays for the slumlords who own the rundown buildings in the Tenderloin to receive changed hearts or for new owners to come in. They pray that the sex club next door to the ministry headquarters will close and that those owners will also have a change of heart. They pray for the safety of the children who have no place to play in the area.
"Ultimately, prayer and fasting has been the thing that is the glue to the family and the ministry," Christian says. "On Wednesdays, it is a day dedicated to prayer. Every department stops their operations and comes in and specifically prays with my dad for their department and whatever personal needs they have.
"It is really an inefficient way to run things, if you think about it in a secular way. However, in God's economy, it is absolutely needed."
Miraculous Answers
When Ladine called for a time of fasting and prayer after the school's brush with gunfire last fall, everyone joined in. Within two days of calling for the fast, she received an unsolicited email from a project manager on the San Francisco Bay Bridge extension who had heard about the school and offered help in any way he could.
Ladine told him about the need for a rooftop playground so the school's children no longer had to walk the violent streets of the Tenderloin for their recess breaks, and he offered to spearhead the project at no cost.
To date, the ministry has raised $75,000 of the projected $150,000 needed for equipment. Volunteers will build it, and the children in San Francisco Christian Academy's K-8 school will finally have a safe place to play.
Ladine says, "Sometimes when we try to do it on our own, we quickly get a roadblock that says we cannot do it on our own and we have to call out to God. He always shows up."
Her husband, Clint, who serves as associate pastor of City Impact Church, agrees.
"A lot of people have written off the Tenderloin," he says. "I'm here to tell you that there is hope."
Steven R. Lawson is a freelance writer and editor living in Southern California. He formerly served as news editor of Charisma and Christian Life. Allison Trowbridge contributed to this story.  

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Fearlessness in spreading the gospel!

1 Shall I for fear of feeble Man,
Thy Spirit's Course in me restrain?
Or undismay'd, in Deed and Word
Be a true Witness to my Lord?
2 Aw'd by a Mortal's Frown, shall I
Conceal the Word of God most high?
How then before Thee shall I dare
To stand, or how thine Anger bear?
3 Shall I, to soothe th' unholy Throng,
Soften thy Truths, and smoothe my Tongue?
To gain Earth's gilded Toys, or flee
The Cross endur'd, my God, by Thee!
4 What then is he, whose Scorn I dread,
Whose Wrath or Hate makes me afraid?
A Man, an Heir of Death, a Slave
To Sin, a Bubble on the Wave!
5 Yea, let Man rage! since thou wilt spread
Thy shadowing wings around my Head;
Since in all Pain thy tender Love
Will still my sweet Refreshment prove.
6 Saviour of Men! thy searching Eye
Does all my inmost Thoughts decry:
Doth Ought on Earth my Wishes raise,
Or the World's Favour, or its Praise?
7 The Love of Christ does me constrain
To seek the wand'ring Souls of Men;
With Cries, Intreaties Tears, to save,
To snatch them from the gaping Grave.
8 For this let Men revile my name;
No Cross I shun, I fear no Shame:
All Hail, Reproach, and welcome Pain!
Only thy Terrors, Lord, restrain.
9 My Life, my Blood I here present,
If for thy Truth they may be spent:
Fulfil thy Sov'reign Counsel, Lord!
Thy Will be done, thy Name ador'd!
10 Give me thy Strength, O God of Pow'r!
Then let Winds blow, or Thunders roar,
Thy faithful Witness will I be:
'Tis fix'd! I can do all through Thee.

Johann Joseph Winckler ( Translated by John Wesley)

Shall I for fear of feeble Man,

Indeed, how ridiculous in the grand scheme of things that we should fear man! The fear of man brings a snare and as a great commander declared, we have nothing to fear but fear itself! How then can we fear man in the light of our fear of God! Yet we often do. Satan gets inside our head and rattles it until we are wracked with pain.The fear paralyses us from moving, from opening our mouths lest we be laughed or mocked or molested by those around us.Such was myself as a teenager. With heroes such as John Wayne and all the macho actors on the TV screen-Yet when I came to the Lord I was too scared to tell anyone. The booklet that I was given at the front door of my house, on praying the 'sinner's prayer' with two 'door to door' evangelists, instructed me to tell someone within 24 hours. I was nearly going to give up immediately, due to fear. I then decided I would tell just one person then be forever a secret disciple. So I told the one person I thought would give me the easiest time- my mum! Fortunately the Lord was gracious and patient with me and before six months was out he had taken away that fear. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

The True Vine (5) . John 15.9-10

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Here again we have a precious promise from Christ. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. " If we could write this in gold on every wall and billboard across the land! We would do well to meditate upon this promise until its truth becomes part of our very DNA and saturates our soul and mind. Do you feel unloved? Here is a promise direct from the mouth of the Son 'As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you '- we are loved as much as the Father loves the Son! We are also to live in that love. To do this we have only to keep the commandments which the Son has kept and will in turn help us to keep. What is the commandment he wants us to keep? To love one another.

'The True Vine ' (4) . John 15:7-8

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

What an amazing promise here from the Lord. Not only of the possibility that his disciples may abide in him and that his words can abide in them, but because of that, because of the oneness and the change of the disciple becoming like the Master, his very desires will be in concert with the will of God and his very desires will be granted.It would seem that the desire of the branch would be much fruitfulness, which in turn would bring glory to the Father. Let us therefore, as we abide in Christ, ask that we may bear fruit to the glory of the Father.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

'The True Vine'(3) John 15.6.

'If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.' 
Many people with a sensitive conscience, when they read this verse say to themselves, 'that is me, I don't bear any fruit, I'm therefore not abiding in Christ, I'm cast off because I'm a withered branch and will be burned.What is the point of trying to be a Christian-I might as well give up now.' But such are the lies of Satan! He ever seeks to discourage those who are children of God, however well or or poorly they are doing. Did our Lord not call him the father of lies and also in the book of Revelation he is call 'the accuser of the brethren'. The truth is that those who are reading these words and are seeking to be fruitful, are not withered branches, however weak they are. Those who are truly withered have therefore turned their back on Christ and his message and hardened their hearts against the Holy Spirit. The message of our Lord here is not to condemn, but to encourage the believer to continue abiding in Christ at all costs.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

'The True Vine' (2) John 15, verse 5

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.''

What great truth and encouragement we have here as Christians. Christ our Saviour and Friend is in this metaphor, the vine, and we the branches that sprout from it. Here Christ does not refuse to have us near to him but in essence he says 'you are part of me, your life flows from me, my Spirit flows through you'. As the letter to the Hebrews says of Christ 

' - For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers', Hebrews 2:11. He invites us, and expects us to make our home in him, as he also expects that we will let him make his home in us. If we could only grasp this truth, many needless worries and concerns would vanish - as one hymn writer put it: 

'Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What thy Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine? ' 
Henry Lyle

The result of this abiding is certain - much fruit. Certainly it will come at harvest time and not before its time, so we need not force it, but it will come. Is the fruit ours  and our glory? For sure, without the vine the branches can produce nothing. We do have our part to play- we must abide and let no obstacles prevent the life from the vine flow into the branch - but of ourselves, without the life of the vine, we are a mere stick!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

'The True Vine' (1) in John 15

 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

What amazing words of the Master we read here: 'I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser'.  We know the love of Christ towards us ( 'the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me', says Paul). We are each a branch and he is the vine to which we must be joined! Is that not glorious news? Can we trust him to be the life from which must draw? Of course, we can trust him perfectly. Can we trust the Father to be the vinedresser, or gardener? Again, His love towards us is so great that he sent his son to save us! Can we trust him to prune the branch of which we are? Yes, we can. We need not be frightened of the gardener's knife because our heavenly Father is the gardener. Though sometimes painful, it is for our good so that we can produce more and better quality fruit.If you are reading this and desire to be a fruitful Christian, do not fear that you as a branch have been discarded by the divine gardener and are ready to be burned. If you were such, you would not be wanting to do the Master's will or reading his words! How does he prune? Sometimes he does this through our circumstances and relationships, but often through reading and obeying his word.In the natural world the seasons regularly take their toll on the plant, sometimes causing it to suffer damage, but at other times it may cause it to become stronger.

In verse 4 we have even more wonderful words, perhaps some of the most precious in the Bible: 'Abide in Me, and I in you.' This is an invitation from our Lord to intimacy. Not only are we invited to to live, dwell, abide in him, but also he wants to live within us.There may be other verses which are equal in benefit and blessing to us humans, but certainly none greater. We could do no better than to meditate on these words until they go deep down into our soul. Paul's prayer for the Ephesian Christians was that Christ should dwell in their hearts through faith, as well as being 'rooted and grounded in love.' To know Christ within would chase all feelings of inferiority  and lack of self worth-in fact may well make us see ourselves like the old Cornish Tin miner, turned preacher, Billy Bray who called himself 'the king's son'- and so he was.

 'As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me'.Here we see the only way we can bear fruit, It is to abide in the vine and draw the sap and life of his Spirit into our lives, or as we read for the communion service in the book of common prayer : 'and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.' 
We should say to the Lord each day 'I am feeding on you, the heavenly manna, I am helpless without the nourishment that comes from the true vine of God'.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Qualifications for Soul Winning: D.L. Moody

1. Shake off the vipers that are in the Church, formalism, pride, and self-importance, etc.
2. It is the only happy life to live for the salvation of souls.
3. We must be willing to do little things for Christ.
4. Must be of good courage.
5. Must be cheerful.
God had no children too weak, but a great many too strong to make use of. God stands in no need of our strength or wisdom, but of our ignorance, of our weakness; let us but give these to Him, and He can make use of us in winning souls.
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3.
Now we all want to shine; the mother wishes it for her boy, when she sends him to school, the father for his lad, when he goes off to college; and here God tells us who are to shine - not statesmen, or warriors, or such like, that shine but for a season - but such as will shine for ever and ever; those, namely, who win souls to Christ; the little boy even who persuades one to come to Christ.
Speaking of this, Paul counts up five things (1 Cor. 1:27-9) that God makes use of - the weak things, the foolish things, the base things, the despised things, and the things which are not, and for this purpose, that no flesh might glory in his sight - all five being just such as we should despise. He can and will use us, just when we are willing to be humble for Christ's sake, and so for six thousand years God has been teaching men; so with an ass's jawbone Samson slew his thousands (Judges 15:15), so at the blowing of rams' horns the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:20). Let God work in His own way, and with His own instruments; let us all rejoice that He should, and let us too get into the position in which God can use us.
There is much mourning to-day over false "isms," infidelity, and the like, but sum them all up, and I do not fear them one half so much as that dead and cold formalism that has crept into the Church of God. The unbelieving world, and these skeptics holding out their false lights, are watching you and me: when Jacob put away his idols, he could go up to Bethel and get strength and the blessing - so will it be with the Church of God. A viper fixes upon the hand of the shipwrecked Paul; immediately he is judged by the barbarians some criminal unfit to live; but he shakes it off into the fire, and suffers no harm, and now they are ready to worship him, and ready too to hear and receive his message: the Church of God must shake off the vipers that have fastened on hand and heart too, ere men will hear. Where one ungodly man reads this Bible, a hundred read you and me: and if they find nothing in us, they set the whole thing aside as a myth.
Again, a man who has found out what his true work is, winning souls to Christ, and does it, such is the happiest man. Not the richest are this - least of all those who have just got converted for themselves, and into the Church - lost what pleasure the world could give, and found none other. Job's captivity turned away when he began praying for his friends; and so will all who thus work for others shine not in heaven alone and hereafter, but here as well, and now.
But you say "I haven't got the ability." Well, God doesn't call you to do Dr. Bonar's work, or Dr. Duff's work, else He had given you their ability, their talent. The word is, "To every man hiswork." I have a work to do, laid out for me in the secret counsels of eternity; no other can do it. If I neglect it, it is not true that some other will do it; it will remain undone. And if, for the work laid upon us, we feel we have not the ability or talent necessary, then we have a throne of grace; and God never sends, unless that He is willing to give the strength and wisdom. The instruments He often uses may seem all unlikely, yet when did they fail? - when once? and why not? Because He had fitted them out as well.
He sent Moses to Egypt to deliver His people - not an eloquent, but a stuttering man. He refuses a while, at last he went; and no man once sent by God ever did break down.
So was Elisha a most unlikely man to be a successor to the great prophet Elijah. Men would have chosen some famous man, some professor in the school of the prophets. God took one from the plough; but He gave him what was needed. Elisha had but to keep by his master to the end; and he received even a double portion of the Spirit. And if we want to get it, we too must keep by the Lord, nor ever lose sight of Him, should He, as Elijah Elisha, in one way or another try our faith.
And further, we must be ready to do little things for God; many are willing to do the great things. I dare say hundreds would have been ready to occupy this pulpit to-day. How many of them would be as willing to teach a dirty class in the ragged school?
I remember, one afternoon I was preaching, observing a young lady from the house I was staying at, in the audience. I had heard she taught in the Sabbath-school, which I knew was at the same hour; and so I asked her, after service, how she came to be there? "Oh," said she, "my class is but five little boys, and I thought it did not matter for them." And yet among these there might have been, who knows, a Luther or a Knox, the beginning of a stream of blessing, that would have gone on widening and ever widening; and besides, one soul is worth all the kingdoms of the earth.
Away in America, a young lady was sent to a boarding-school, and was there led to Christ; not only so, but taught that she ought to work for Him, By-and-by she goes home, and now she seeks, in one way and another, to work for Him, but without finding how. She asks for a class in her church Sunday-school, but the superintendent is obliged to tell her that he has already more than enough of teachers. One day, going along the street, she sees a little boy struck by his companion, and crying bitterly. She goes up and speaks to him; asks him what the trouble is? The boy thinks she is mocking him, and replies sullenly. She speaks kindly, tries to persuade him to school. He does not want to learn. She coaxes him to come and hear her and the rest singing there; and so next Sunday he comes with her. She gets a corner in the school of well-dressed scholars for herself and her charge. He sits and listens, full of wonder. On going home, he tells his mother he has been among the angels. At first at a loss, she becomes angry, when a question or two brings out that he has been to a Protestant Sunday-school; and the father, on coming home, forbids his going back, on pain of flogging. Next Sunday, however, he goes, and is flogged, and so again, and yet again, till one Sunday, he begs to be flogged before going, that he may not be kept thinking of it all the time. The father relents a little, and promises him a holiday every Saturday afternoon, if he will not go to Sunday-school. The lad agrees, sees his teacher, who offers to teach him then. How many wealthy young folks would give up their Saturdays to train one poor ragged urchin in the way of salvation? Some time after, at his work, the lad is on one of the railway cars. The train starts suddenly; he slips through, and the wheels pass over his legs; he asks the doctor if he will live to get home; it is impossible. "Then," says he, "tell father and mother that I am going to heaven, and want to meet them there." Will the work she did seem little now to the young lady? Or is it nothing that even one thus grateful waits her yonder?
Another thing we want is, to be of good courage. Three or four times this comes out in the first chapter of Joshua; and I have observed that God never uses a man that is always looking on the dark side of things: what we do for Him let us do cheerfully, not because it is our duty - not that we should sweep away the word but because it is our privilege. What would my wife or children say if I spoke of loving them because it was my duty to do so? And my mother - if I go to see her once a year, and were to say - "Mother, I am come all this way to discharge what feel to be my duty in visiting you;" might she not rightly reply - "My son, if this is all that has brought you, you might have spared coming at all!" and go own in broken-hearted sorrow to the grave?
A London minister, a friend of mine, lately pointed out a family of seven, all of whom he was just receiving into the Church. Their story was this: going to church, he had to pass by a window, looking up at which one day, he saw a baby looking out; he smiled - the baby smiled again. Next time he passes he looks up again, smiles, and the baby smiles back. A third time going by, he looks up, and seeing the baby, throws it a kiss - which the baby returns to him. Time after time he has to pass the window, and now cannot refrain from looking up each time: and each time there are more faces to receive his smiling greeting; till by-and-by he sees the whole family grouped at the window - father, mother, and all. The father conjectures the happy, smiling stranger must be a minister, and so, next Sunday morning, after they have received at the window the usual greeting, two of the children, ready dressed, are sent out to follow him: they enter his church, hear him preach, and carry back to their parents the report that they never heard such preaching; and what preaching could equal that of one who had so smiled on them? Soon the rest come to the church too, and are brought in - all by a smile. Let us not go about, hanging our heads like a bulrush; if Christ gives joy, let us live it! The whole world is in all matters for the very best thing - you always want to get the best possible thing for your money; let us show, then, that our religion is the very best thing: men with long, gloomy faces are never wise in the winning of souls.
I was preaching in Jacksonville, and, at the house in which I stayed, my attention was attracted by a little boy, who bore a different name from the household, and yet was in all things and in all respects treated as one of themselves; to the other children he was "brother," and they were "brothers" and "sisters" to him, and with them he came up to the mother for the same good-night kiss.
By-and-by I asked the lady of the house who it was. She told me the father of the boy was a missionary out in India; some years before, father and mother had come home with their five children to have them educated. After being home a short time, the father resolved to return to India; wishing to leave the mother with the children till their education should be finished. She wanted to go back with him; he opposed to it, saying it was hard enough for him to leave them, for her it must be impossible. Still she wished to go, - she had received and been some blessing in India, and she would give up even all for Christ.
Ultimately it was arranged that the children should be received into various families, - treated as part of them, - and that father and mother together should return. So with the boy the mother came to this friend's and stayed a few days along with him. The night before she had leave, sitting with the lady of the house, she told her how anxious she was that her boy should receive the impression that his mother had for Christ's sake cheerfully left him behind, and that for this end she wished to leave him without a tear at parting. The struggle this would cost the lady well knew, especially as the boy was of a peculiarly amiable disposition.
Next morning, passing the door of the mother's room, the lady overheard a sobbing, struggling prayer for strength to do what was on her heart to do. In a short time the mother came down with smiling, cheerful face; and looking so, she took leave of her boy, to go by rail some miles further on to bid a like farewell to another of her family. She went with her husband to India.
A short year after, a still, quiet voice came to her, to come up to meet her Saviour. And would not a welcome await her there, who had so loved Him here, and so cheerfully served Him?
"They that be wise shall shine, as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3). The Lord help us as humbly, devoutly, and cheerfully to abound in His work!
--Sermon delivered by Dwight L. Moody in Dr. Bonar's church, Edinburgh, Scotland, 7th December, 1873.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

"Fellowship with him."1 John 1:6 C.H.Spurgeon

When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with him, that we were made one with him, and his interests and ours became mutual and identical. We have fellowship with Christ in his love. 
What he loves we love. 
He loves the saints--so do we. 
He loves sinners--so do we. 
He loves the poor perishing race of man, and pants to see earth's deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord--so do we. 
We have fellowship with him in his desires. 
He desires the glory of God--we also labour for the same. 
He desires that the saints may be with him where he is--we desire to be with him there too. 
He desires to drive out sin--behold we fight under his banner. 
He desires that his Father's name may be loved and adored by all his creatures--we pray daily, "Let thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven." 
We have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. 
We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when he is reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for his sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us. 
The disciple should not be above his Lord. In our measure we commune with him in his labours, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love. 
Our meat and our drink, like his, is to do the will of him who hath sent us and to finish his work. We have also fellowship with Christ in his joys. 
We are happy in his happiness, we rejoice in his exaltation. 
Have you ever tasted that joy, believer? 
There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side heaven than that of having Christ's joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for his Church shall sit with him upon his throne, as his well-beloved bride and queen.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Open Air Preaching -John Wesley

It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?

Here Mr Wesley bears his soul again! It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Of course the devil does not love field preaching, or open air preaching, or street evangelism, or gossiping the gospel, or speaking to someone outside a church building about their soul's destiny and their need to put all their trust in Christ! Why? Because he knows that if we limit the preaching of the gospel to church buildings, the majority, the huge majority of those who need the gospel and who it was intended for, will never hear it, and he will be happy! But if we take up field preaching, open air preaching, street evangelism, gossiping the gospel or speaking to all and sundry outside a church building about their soul's destiny, and their need to put all their trust in Christ, he will be in trouble.
Neither do I, states  Wesley, because it is difficult, laborious, filled often with rejection, scorn and even violence, as opposed to the easier option of a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But, says Wesley again. But where is my zeal, says the little five foot three inch human dynamo? Here he gives us the reason! Where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?
It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than have a comfortable time. It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than become a famous preacher.It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than make a grand living out of preaching to the rich.

When he preached to the coal miners in their thousands, on hearing the love of Christ for them for perhaps the very first time, their tears would flow down their dirty black faces forming little white gullies- as the blood of Christ would also flow over their hearts, washing away the stains of sin, and making them children of God. It was for this reason that he fought his national inclination for the easy Christian life and went out into the highways and the byways in order to compel them to come in.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. John Wesley

Here John Wesley makes a bold statement. He believes he can make the gates of Hell shake set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth with only one hundred preachers. He is not looking for a million preachers,or a hundred thousand, or ten thousand, or a thousand, or even five hundred preachers for that matter. He is looking for a mere- one hundred preachers. But here I ask, what sort of preachers is he looking for? Is he looking for very religious preachers? Is he looking for the wonderful eloquent preachers or degree educated preachers? Is it preachers who have read and know the Bible in its original language? Is it preachers who have been Christians a long time? Is he looking for old preachers or young preachers, for rich preachers or poor preachers, for married preachers or single preachers? Is he looking only for male preachers? No,no,no! 

He is looking for preachers who fear nothing but sin. These preachers  don't fear man. They don't fear a loss of reputation. They don't fear being forgotten. They don't fear becoming poor. They don't fear violence and they don't fear death. They don't fear Satan but they do fear sin! They hate it and will run from it. For them it is poison. For them it will not destroy them but it will injure them. For them it will bring hurt to the relationship they have with their Master. Like a poison, if not dealt with, it will make them spiritually sick and if untreated could kill them. If they take of this poison they must immediately seek healing and forgiveness and restoration.

But Wesley is looking for preachers who not only fear sin but also those who desire nothing but God.Preachers who don't desire money, who don't desire  fame, or power, or influence. God alone is their desire. God alone is their goal. God alone is their first love, their prize, their first thought in the morning and their last thought at night!

Must these preachers be clergy, trained and educated in their own denominational establishment? No, says Wesley - they need only the call of God- plus a fear only of sin and a desire only for  God.

Monday, 27 October 2014

You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance. John Wesley

'You have nothing to do but to save souls'.
So were Wesley's word to his preachers- the first and greatest priority was to reach and win souls for Christ. Let all else go!
'Therefore spend and be spent in this work.' 
Put all your resources into this venture, be it money, time or whatever, into the work -even to the very last cent or minute
'And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most' It is a time perhaps when resources are slim and there is great demand. Don't waste your time on those who neither need you nor want you-like Paul and the Jews, like Wesley and the Anglicans, like the religiously satisfied. Pray to the God of heaven to open up doors of opportunity, to give you divine appointments that your time would be most effectively used among those who are hungry and thirsty.
It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society;
We must not even be sidetracked to teach and pastor and lead, but rather 'to seek and save that which is lost'! Others can do the teaching, the pastoring and the leading-the evangelists must do the evangelism and make it their main aim. As Wesley concludes, not other forms of ministry must be their focus  -
 'but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.

Reckon then that to acquire soul-winning power, you will have to go through mental torment and soul distress. You must go into the fire if you are going to pull others out of it, and you will have to dive into the floods if you are going to draw others out of the water. You cannot work a fire escape without feeling the scorch of the conflagration, nor man a lifeboat without being covered with the waves.”C.H.S.

What? Is reaching men for Christ not easy? Sadly many who have been won to Christ easily will not stay on the road when things get hot and dangerous. Did Christ not suffer persecution, pain, rejection, betrayal, the cross- and all for the benefit of those he would save? Should we expect a flowery bed of ease? No way, not if we want to go his way, To be fit to reach the broken, we  often have to have experienced brokenness so we can empathise with those we reach, We also must become hardened like a soldier, or fireman that we can face the difficulties that come against us and not give up on the face of battle. Might we suffer in the warfare? I think we will despite having the armour on - all the saints did-Paul, Peter, the Master himself was bruised greatly for our iniquities- should we as his followers expect less than that? AK

To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in the world. And with every soul you bring to Jesus Christ, you seem to get a new heaven here upon earth.” C.H.S.

Here Spurgeon is saying in effect, to become really happy we will reach and win people to Christ. I like that, and believe it with my whole heart.In fact, when people do come to Christ we are blessed beyond measure and it like experiencing something like heaven on the earth. The reason for this that we experience this is it is Christ's life radiating from the life of the new born Christ one. Let us experience this more and more.

'I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unravel all the mysteries of the divine Word, for salvation is the one thing we are to live for.' Charles Spurgeon

What does Spurgeon mean here? First of all he is stating that the most important thing in a Christian's life is to reach and win people to Christ. It is the greatest thing we can do: more important that having the knowledge and complete understanding of the Bible, which, would be most wonderful for any Christian to know. It is therefore more important than earning a great amount of money in one's job, or being the most competent person in our profession of law, or medicine, or Banking, or insurance, or sport, or politics or whatever! Nothing surpasses the imp0rtance of winning people for Christ. Did not our Lord say  'I have come to seek and save that which was lost', surely then we could do no better that follow the Master and learn to become skilful 'fishers of men.'

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Evangelism: Early Church Methods: A.W.Tozer

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.—Acts 4:32-33
A friend of mine went to see a man who was the head of a local communist cell in a local communist headquarters where they send out literature. The communist said, "Come in, Reverend, and sit down." He went in and sat. "Now, we're communists," he said, "you know that, and you're a minister. Of course, we're miles apart. But," he said, "I want to tell you something. We learned our technique from your book of Acts." He said, "We learned how to win and conquer from your book of Acts." And he said, "You who believe the Bible have thrown overboard the methods of the early church and we who don't believe it have adopted them and they're working."
What was the method? It's a very simple method of the early church. It was to go witness, give everything to the Lord and give up all to God and bear your cross, take the consequences. The result was in the first hundred years of the Christian church the whole known world was evangelized. Success and the Christian, 10-11.
"Lord, we're too selfish, busy doing our own thing. Give us a spirit of love, of unselfishness, of willingness of pay any price for the sake of the Gospel. Do it for Jesus' sake. Amen."
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Reprinted from Tozer on Christian Leadership by A.W. Tozer, copyright © 2001 by Zur Ltd. Used by permission of WingSpread Publishers, a division of Zur Ltd.