Repost: Another “Sophie Muller” Story

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Ricardo with veteran missionary to Venezuela, Buck Smith

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Puerto Ayacucho

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Prayer at dawn overlooking Pto. Ayacucho

 

Here is another story about Sophie Muller. (For more information about her from people who knew her, check out the comments on the post, “The Amazing Story of Sophie Muller.“)   Again, this is in Ricardo’s own words.

“I was born in the jungle and I knew Sophie Muller. She was my neighbor. She lived just like us in a house with clay walls and a palm roof. She ate the same food as we did. She hated the comfortable life. In the last twenty to thirty years she ate very little—maybe an egg a day and some chocolate drink. She was a woman totally given over to walking with God. Sometimes we would get up at 3am and we could hear her singing to the Lord in the next house.

“My mother would go with Sophie on trips sometimes. She saw many supernatural things happen.

“When I was around ten years old one of the most important of these supernatural incidents occurred. It became known by all the tribespeople throughout the jungle. Incited by the Catholic Church, the Columbian army persecuted Sophie Muller. She was put in a jail with double doors and double locks. As she lay there, she could hear the soldiers fighting amongst themselves as to who would be the first to rape her. They decided to play a game, and the winner would be the one to go first. But while they were playing, Sophie fell into a very deep sleep. When she woke up, she was in the middle of the jungle.

“In the meantime, my father had pulled together a group armed with bows and arrows to go and rescue her. As they were paddling up river in their dugout canoes they saw a beach with a big turtle sitting on it. Of course, their immediate thought was food—in fact, banquet! So they pulled up onto the beach to jump the turtle. As they did so they heard a whistle. My father recognized the whistle and went looking. It was Sophie, hiding behind a rock. She had had days of just eating roots and was too weak to even call out. She was covered with cuts and scratches with even maggots on her wounds. So they put her in the bottom of the boat wrapped in plastic and paddled up river past various army groups who were no doubt looking for her. When they came to Sophie’s house there was a team there from the mission. They came out to greet her.

“Don’t be sad or worried,” she told them. “Nothing happened. I’m going north for a few days to recover.”

“Fifteen days later she was back in the jungle.”

The Holy Spirit and DL Moody

I’ve just finished reading A Passion for Souls: The Life of D. L. Moody, an account of the life of the famous evangelist. I found myself surprisingly moved by his life.

DL Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts. His father died when he was only four years old and his mother was left caring for a large family, including twins that were born after her husband’s death. She had to send some of her children out to work at a very early age in order to survive. Barely literate in his early years, Dwight worked as a shoe salesman for his uncle in Chicago.

Following a conversation with his Sunday school teacher, Dwight became a Christian in 1855. He initially worked  with poor children off the streets, starting a Sunday school for them, and then began a church in Chicago which was burned down in the Great Chicago Fire. He was very involved with the YMCA.

His early years as an evangelist, both in the UK and in this country were very effective in terms of soul winning, mostly because of the huge amount of personal effort that he put in. He emphasized the “inquiry room,” where people received personal counseling in how to follow Jesus. After several years of intense striving, when he was near burnout, DL became convinced of his need of the Holy Spirit. Following an experience that he called “the baptism in the Holy Spirit” he became even more effective as an evangelist, preaching sometimes to crowds of tens of thousands, speaking with great power and authority and with increasing results in terms of people finding Christ. The striving that had marked his early days was gone as he trusted the Holy Spirit to work through him. He emphasized the Holy Spirit in all his teaching from this time on.

Here are some quotes from Moody’s book Secret power: or, The secret of success in Christian life and work:

“I think it is clearly taught in Scripture that every believer has the Holy Ghost dwelling in him. He may be quenching the Spirit of God, and he may not glorify God as he should, but if he is a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost dwells in him… Though Christian men and women have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, yet He is not dwelling within them in power; in other words, God has a great many sons and daughters without power.”

“The Holy Spirit in us is one thing, and the Holy Spirit on us is another.”

“We all need it [the filling of the Holy Spirit] together, and let us not rest day nor night until we possess it; if that is the uppermost thought in our hearts, God will give it to us if we just hunger and thirst for it and say, ‘God helping me, I will not rest until endued with power from on high.'”

“The disciples of Jesus were all filled with the Spirit, and the Word was published; and when the Spirit of God comes down upon the church, and we are anointed, the Word will be published in the streets, in the lanes and in the alleys; there will not be a dark cellar nor a dark attic, nor a home where the Gospel will not be carried by some loving heart, if the Spirit comes upon God’s people in demonstration and in power.”

DL Moody’s later years were occupied in providing education, particularly for women. He founded or helped to found four schools including what is now known as the Moody Bible Institute.  He died at home in 1899.

 

 

Commercial fishing (part 2)


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As I investigated the Scriptures on the subject of commercial fishing in the Gospels, several things became apparent.  There are several passages that talk about fishing:

  • Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-19  Jesus calls the four disciples who are fishermen and tells them he will make them fishers of men.
  • Luke 5:1-11  Jesus tells the disciples who had fished all night but caught nothing to put down their nets again into the deep and they catch two boatloads of fish
  • John 21:3-11  After Jesus’ resurrection, seven of the disciples go fishing.  Again Jesus tells them where to cast their nets and they catch 153 large fish
  • Matthew 17: 24-27  Peter uses a rod and line to catch a fish that has money for the temple tax in its mouth.

There is obviously more than one way the disciples are fishing.  In the Luke example, they were in a boat and let down their nets.  In the John example, they throw out their nets.  In the Matthew and Mark examples they were fishing from the shore.  Further investigation reveals that although in English the word net is used in every example, in the Greek, different words are used signifying different types of nets.  For example, in the Matthew and Mark examples a specific purse net is described.

Commercial fisherman (which is what the disciples were) would have understood that you use different kinds of nets depending on the circumstances and the kind of fish you want to catch.

So in terms of the harvest where we are fishers of men, there may be different ways that we approach  “catching fish.”  What may work in other nations may not be best here in the West

There is one more passage.  This comes in Matthew 13 where Jesus tells a parable.  The kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net (literally a dragnet or seine which is a type of net used to catch large numbers of fish) let down into the water…

The question I am pondering these days is, “How do we ‘let the kingdom of heaven’ down into the community around us?  Especially here in the West where people are jaded and inoculated against the Gospel.  What kind of fishing net will catch a multitiude of fish?

Any ideas?

Scary statistics

I’ve been compiling some statistics re the state of the church in this country for a book I’m helping to write.  I know you can make numbers prove anything, but is there a general trend? The question I’m trying to answer is this: Is the church in the West in crisis?

Here are some I found:

  • Of the self-identified Christians in the United States,  64% say they have confessed their sins to God and asked for his forgiveness, but only 3% say they have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted themselves to his will, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.
  • Less than one-half of one percent of adults aged 18 to 23 has a biblical worldview, compared to about 9% older adults. These figures can be doubled amongst “born-again” Christians. (A Biblical worldview is defined by believing in absolute moral truth, the accuracy of Biblical principles, the reality of Satan, God as creator and salvation through faith in Jesus.)
  • In the average year, half of all churches do not add one member per year through conversion growth.

While many churches are thriving, many more are struggling.

So what do you think?  Are we in crisis?

Guest post by Michael Tummillo: How are things at work?

 

Mobile home parkPhoto credit: Let Ideas Compete (Creative Commons)

I was managing a mobile home park in Texas – 185 homes located about 45 minutes south of downtown Dallas – the only mobile home park owned by a big property management company in North Dallas. Single, divorced, I had long before made up my mind that I was going to allow the Father to use whatever I had available, even if all I had was time. Even if all I had was a job. Like Moses, who gave God the staff in his hand, all I had to offer Him was my job. I had no computer, no phone, none of the tools of ministry I am now utilizing.


I had resided in the park for 8 years with my wife and children. After she divorced me, I stayed there and, when working at WalMart, suffered an accident (a ton of dog food was dropped on my foot) which caused me to remain at home while I healed. One day, the park manager's groundskeeper was caught digging in her purse. She fired him and asked me if I would like the job. In time, she was promoted and I was offered the park manger's position. While I was there, that mobile home park experienced incredible revival. Not only spiritually, but physically, residents planting trees, building nice decks, cleaning up and beautifying their lots. Even the bank that owned the property commented on what a wonderful "spirit" they could feel in the park when they inspected it. 

What made the difference? For starters, I was "prayer walking" at night before I'd ever heard of that. I anointed every post, mailbox and stop sign with oil and claimed that park for the Kingdom of God. I placed encouraging Gospel tracts on car windshields. As time went on, people either committed their lives to Christ, began attending church, with me or elsewhere, or they moved out. The profile of our resident population transformed as one resident was sentenced to prison and a practicing witch's house burned to the ground. In their place, retired ministers and devoted followers of Christ began moving in and our occupancy increased to nearly 100%. Bible studies popped-up. Neighbors started reaching out and getting to know each other. Flying kites, riding bikes, having cook-outs… the Spirit of Peace was downright tangible. 

Some things I did on a "natural" level included a newsletter I created (remember, no computer) as well as a logo for the park to unify us all as a community. I developed the habit of praying for daily divine appointments back then. As park manager, ministry opportunities took place daily right there in my office/residence as visitors would sit across from my desk and pour out their hearts – often quite tearfully – including repairmen and sales people. I always had Gospel music playing softly in the background. One man, a Mormon, told me he could feel the presence of God in my office. When I inquired as to whether he felt that same presence in his church, he stopped to think and finally whispered, "No, not like this." Not only did he become a resident a few days later, but he eventually left the Mormon church and joined a non-denominational church nearby.

This revival wasn't limited to that park. It wasn't long before property managers from our company's apartment complexes throughout Dallas began calling me with Bible questions (no email back then). On occasion, several made the long drive from Dallas just to have a Bible talk. 

Was there resistance? Absolutely, even from a few so-called "Christians." But God favored me greatly. One day, when I was at the headquarters in North Dallas, as I was speaking with the owner, an intimidating woman of great wealth, two detectives walked in and took her 22-year old daughter away in handcuffs for check forgery. After they left, my boss collapsed in her over-stuffed leather chair and tearfully asked , "Mike, what would YOU do?" Suddenly, she was morphed into a hurting, vulnerable mother in need of help. So, I did what was required of me – comforted and counseled her, and received great favor from that woman for the remainder of my 3 years managing that park.

Bear in mind, I had not yet attended Bible College (something that was later paid for, anonymously, on my behalf). I was not "officially" in ministry. I wasn't a church deacon, an elder… I was just a guy who loved Jesus and who understood that we ALL have a ministry. I didn't know it, but I was being trained for the ministry Father had planned for my future. 

What is He requiring of YOU where YOU spend the majority of YOUR time? You're surrounded by hurting people every single day. Start there. Remember, YOU are the church – it's the people, NOT the buildings and NOT the denominations. Our mission is to love one another.
Michael TummilloMichael Tummillo is a Workplace Chaplain in Texas and founder of the international ministry, The Church @ Work (TCAW). A one-finger typist, Michael has had an online presence since 1999 and has reached millions with his email devotionals, and other Internet activities. His goal is not to push religion but to push people, giving his ministry away and encouraging followers of Jesus to share the love of God in the place they spend up to 70% of their lives: the workplace. You can contact Michael at miketummillo@me.com.

When organic missions is effective

This video is several years old, but it's really, really good.

A few years ago, reports coming in from the field to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptists were showing something new. An rapid and seemingly almost spontaneous multiplication of new disciples and new churches was occurring in several unrelated parts of the world. As they examined these movements, which they called church planting movements, they found several features common to each.

This video documents some of what they are seeing. For a longer, 12 minute version of the video exploring the principles involved, check out their site and find the video, Like and Mighty Wave in their search engine. 

 

 

 

Guest post by Ed Waken (part 2) The truth, adventure and mystery of evangelism

Ed Waken

 

I am privileged to have Ed Waken, an evangelist, write this outstanding post on evangelism. What could happen if we didn't view spreading the good news as a chore, a somewhat socially embarrassing spiritual duty to be performed, but instead an adventure with Jesus. You can read part 1 of this post here. Ed is a leader in a network of organic churches in Phoenix, AZ, and works closely with Neil Cole in CMA.

 

 

The Adventure

The church needs to rediscover what has been stolen from them.  We need to give back the cold, distanced and dutiful methodologies[1] of evangelism for the more adventurous, risky and romantic renditions that only Jesus can create and place in our souls.  The church needs some fresh adventures in understanding how serious Jesus is at getting the message into the souls of people.  When we think about engaging people with the truth we should capture the understanding that Jesus is a customizer of methods, not a cookie cutter. 

Jesus will take a believer with all their experiences and fears and have them cross the paths of not-yet-believing people who are a perfect fit for the customized approach Jesus gives the believer, at the perfect time.  This requires trust and obedience but it is exactly what Jesus promised.  Jesus said He will give us the right words at the right time, every time (Luke 21:13-15).  This takes the level of our faith and evangelism to a whole new meaning of adventure. 

The Mystery

I can count fifteen people who shared Jesus with me in some form or fashion before Ralph shared the same truth with me and my life was transformed radically.  Who was more important in my choosing to follow Jesus, the fifteen or Ralph?  Was Ralph more gifted or skilled or persuasive than the others?  Did Ralph ‘close the deal‘ because he has an anointing?  I believe that all sixteen of those who told me about Jesus are equally vital to my process of turning to Jesus.  All salvation experiences are mysterious.  Some are dramatic, some are mundane, others cannot be marked by an event.  Salvation is always a supernatural event where the God of the universe enters the life of a human being permanently.  When the rich young ruler heard what was required by Jesus to gain eternal life, he became very sad.  Jesus’ disciples asked him if a rich man can’t be saved “…then who can be saved?”.  Jesus answered, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (Luke 18:18-27). 

Enjoy the freedom of not knowing what God is doing in a soul – enjoy the mystery.  Be assured, however, that God is doing something in the souls of those with whom you share His truth.  Trust in His God perfect and powerful ability to draw people to repentance in the way they need.  Obediently follow His lead, even when it doesn’t make sense because most mysteries do not make sense. 

The bottom line regarding evangelism is to enjoy it (weird huh?).  Jesus is an artist of the soul.  He created you specifically to engage the people He brings in your life with His truth.  Enjoy His adjusting the delivery of the message to fit the current need of the one listening to your words. 

If we learn to enjoy sharing the life of Jesus with others as He leads us, we will most assuredly share that life more often and with more passion.  The Scriptures teach that the more we sow, the more we will reap.  The power behind people coming to Jesus is not in any delivery, method or medium.  The power behind people coming to Jesus is always in message (Rom. 1:16) so give away the message often and with joy and enjoy watching God at work.


[1] God can, has and will continue to use a more formal, methodological approach to giving out the Gospel.  It is not wrong to do so; however, it has robbed the fun of spiritual reproduction from the ordinary believer.  The giving out of the Word will never return without an effect on the one hearing the truth.