Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways
acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making a Difference

I was greatly privileged to recently meet three individuals, then later a fourth, who have no doubt changed my life in a way I'm not even sure I can explain.  Let me introduce the Engage Revival Team: Xavier, Josh, Daniel, and Ryan.  (Ryan is not pictured as we did not meet him until later.)  Four amazing individuals who I am proud to know.

I've been pondering on this post for almost two weeks now, trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to say.  Or maybe it would be more accurate to say it this way - - what God would want to say through me.

Our church held it's first revival June 12th through the 16th.  A Sunday through a Thursday.  Different parts of the day were for different ages and then evenings were for everyone.  This revival came to be only three weeks before the event was to take place.  I have to admit, I did not go into the notion of a revival with much of a smile on my face.  My lack of a smile had two sources.  Worries actually.  I tend to do that.  You can ask my hubby about it - - he knows I'm a worrier and he'll agree with me on this.  I sometimes borrow trouble.   Unnecessary trouble at that.

My first concern.  It was so last minute.  And those sorts of things sometimes put my mind in a tale-spin.  If we're going to do it, let's do it right!  Plan, advertise, organize, etc, etc.....But, that is not how this revival was to take place.  It WAS last minute, had minimal planning, and very little organizing.

What was worry number two you ask?   Isn't it obvious?  I worried about whether or not people would come?   How embarrassing would it be for this group of young men to give up time away from their families to come down to the little town of Sinton, Texas and only talk to us because no one else came?   I was worried about what they would think of us?  What's wrong with this church?  All those notions and more plagued my thoughts.   Would Josh, Daniel, Xavier, and Ryan be disappointed in the results?

As I sit here now and think back over that week and the days that followed, I realize that my heart is SO full!  It's so full, that I am struggling in writing this post.  I can't figure out where to start.  How can I share this so that you will feel even a morsel of what I'm feeling?  I'm not sure, but I'm going to give it my very best try.

Revival week was over flowing with blessings.  Did people come?  Yes, we had a few more in numbers than normal.  Was it as many as we'd prayed for?  With great humility I can now say it really doesn't even matter.  I learned first and foremost that a revival is for the church members themselves as much as it is for the community surrounding it.  If a revival reaches ONE person, it was a success.   I think we can claim many success from that week.  

Meeting the members of the Engage Revival Team was such a pleasure.  I had no idea just how much these four young men would change my life, and the lives of many of our faith family.  It began with watching them engage themselves with our children.  The love they showered on each and every one of them was real and true.  Anyone who is around kids for any amount of time knows that not ALL kids are lovable ALL the time, but you wouldn't know that from the positive attitudes of these guys.  As I lead Wednesday night's for the kids, I can only pray to have a smidgen of the positivity that these guys had as they interacted with our children.  If I can do that, I will find success.

I watched them engage themselves with our youth.  They explained the witnessing process and then took them out into the community to show them how to witness.  Hearing the testimonies of our youth as they stood in front of church and shared with us bits of their time out in the community was such a blessing!!  I promise you, not a dry eye was in the house.   Additional blessings came in the witness the Engage Team was to our youth as they were forced to deal with rejection.  That has to be the single-most fear all of us have when it comes to witnessing.  Having the door slammed in your face, the blatant rejection from those hiding inside their homes doing their best to avoid you.  Our youth learned that it's okay when those things happen and to keep doing God's work is the priority.

I watched them engage themselves with our families.  They each gave up their own free time to come to our home and attend Caleb's 6th birthday party.  They could have gone anywhere and done anything, but they chose to spend time with us.  Did I say we were blessed this week?  Oh, yes...I did say that.  It's definitely worth repeating though.

I listened to Josh's sermons and prayers every evening and couldn't get through a service without shedding tears.  Some of the highlights for me were when Josh preached from Isaiah 6:1-9 and talked to us about asking God to Search Me, Break Me, Stretch Me, Lead Me, and Use Me!  How powerful is that to ask God for the specifics!!  How about his sermon from Psalm 51 - and more specifically Josh's words; Sin creates memories of sin that stay with us.  Consequences.  God gives us this gift so we will not go down that road again.  Another sermon that asked us just how devoted to God we really were touched my heart so very much.  And the night of small groups gathering around, praying for each other for our families?  How can it get any better than that?  Praying for one another heart-felt prayers.

God was there each and every day/night and I felt it!  The Holy Spirit was present and accounted for!!  Every one of his messages touched my heart and made me think about ME.  I was convicted and knew God was working on me at those very moments!!  Isn't that what a revival is for?  To awaken us from the dead?  To remind us what being a Christian is really all about?  To help us shed our complacency?  A revival does all those things and so much more!

Thursday, the last night of the revival was a special night.  Our church rented the Lazy V so we would have more room for fun, fellowship, and worship.  After a meal of burgers, hotdogs and all the trimmings, Daniel blessed our hearts with many songs of praise for our Lord and Savior.   Xavier read scripture and Josh presented a short message and invitation.  As much as we'd hoped for professions of faith it did not happen on this night.  But, rest assured, seeds were planted.  Anyone who was listening heard the Good News and so much more than night.  Our church family saw lots of new faces among the youth and our prayer going forward will be that we will see those faces again at a later date.  This night was also a time for us to share with the Engage Team just how much they meant to us, the impacts they had on us, and whatever we had on our hearts.  Many who spoke couldn't get through their words without tears.  Including me.  None of us were looking forward to the good-bye....

Even though they were hard, the good-bye's were not going to be the end.  We all knew that.  Because after becoming friends on Facebook, sharing phone numbers and such, we knew we'd be keeping in touch.  Our faith family had grown.  Friendships were made and bonds were fiercely new and strong.  This feeling was not going to go away any time soon.

A phone call several days after our revival was over revealed that the next stop on their journey, the revival in Red Rock, was turning out to be an amazing event!  Blessings had continued into the week with a couple professions of faith and many confessing sin.  Even with all the goodness they experienced, our new buddies missed all of us at NBF.  They asked if they could come back to see us on their way to the next church revival.   They truly wanted to share the work that God had done at the Red Rock revival with someone and who better to share it with than new Christian friends?  Friends that you know will treasure the results and whose hearts would be filled with joy.

It wasn't an easy task for these young men to come back to Sinton, Texas.  They literally drove hours out of their way to come back to our faith family.  The connection we all had with this team was so strong.    What an affirmation that what we felt when they were here the first time was real and true.  They felt it, too, or they would not have wanted to come back.  Friendships like that are rare.  

In a nutshell?  God is an amazing God.  Work that is being done for Him does not have to be greatly planned and organized by us.  Let Him be in control, let Him do the planning and organizing and He will use you and work through you - - you only have to make yourself available to Him.  Get your sinful self out of the way and let it happen!   Servants of God are everywhere and watching the commitment of these four was so powerful.  They are changing lives everywhere they go.  They are making a difference.   They definitely made a difference for me, for  I am a better person for having met them.  I will never look at things the same way again.  These young men inspired me greatly.  Their servants-hearts overwhelm me and I believe that is the reason I have struggled to find the right words to share this experience.  I want to do it justice.  Not just offer some contrite happy thoughts for others to read.  Our revival WAS life-changing for myself and so many others.

The Team as they showed our little one's how to work as a team.

Left to Right:  Randy, John, Caleb, Daniel, Pam, Josh, Allie, & Xavier.....

The Engage Team hugging on our pastor who proclaims himself to be a non-hugger!!

Josh preaching a short message and invitation the last night of the Revival at the Lazy V.

So, I challenge you to do your research and make your way to the next revival opportunity.  Put ALL your reservations on the shelf.  Open your heart and mind to receive God's Word in a mighty and powerful way!  Allow someone to make a difference in your life!

Then, maybe, at one time or another an opportunity will present itself for  us to go out and make a difference for someone else!

In that day you will say:  "Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.  Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.  Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

Psalm 12:4-6

In His Name,

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