I would just like to share my testimony of what the Lord has done in the last several years of my life, as well as offer a small prayer request.
About three years ago the Lord severely disciplined me as I walked outside of His will for my life, and attempted to secretly move from North Carolina to Minnesota to pursue a ministry opportunity there. I was going secretly, because I knew my parents would not let me go if they found out my desire. I had ordered an airplane ticket, and had already put in a two-week notice in at my job when my parents just so happened to stumble across my plans to move just days before me actually going. Being that we live in a world where nothing happens by accident, I quickly came to realize after much turmoil that this was the hand of the Lord disciplining me. I came to see the arrogance of my heart and the error of my ways as the Lord quickly pulled out everything from under my feet, leaving me broken in all sorts of little pieces.
At this time in my life, I had attended the local community college with plans of originally transferring to UNC Charlotte to pursue a computer programming degree. I had entertained previously the idea of attending Bible college because of my call into ministry. But it wasn't until this time that I felt led of the Spirit to actually attend. So, picking up my own life and shutting up myself much in prayer for the next 6 months as I took a semester off from school, and worked full time at the job where I withdrew my two week resignation from. Starting in the Spring semester of 2003, I officially began attending Lee University's Charlotte Center, and began pursuing a Bachelor's of Christian Ministry with a concentration in Biblical Studies. Over the last two years I have worked diligently towards the completion of my degree, which I am now informed that I will receive in two weeks presuming I have passed all my classes this final semester.
During this time God has greatly humbled me. I originally went to Bible college with the intent of simply getting what I called my "circumcision of academia." I have now got that, but I've also received so much more. I entered Bible college with a rather cocky, know-it-all type attitude. After many hours of intense study and debate with others, I am much more humble. While Bible college did not wreck my personal theology, it did better help shape it. I was exposed to a wide range of thought, some good, some bad. Such exposure caused me to further search the Scriptures concerning many "gray" areas I had in my theology before entering. Bible college helped me widen and deepen my knowledge of the Scriptures, and in some areas, made me all the more sure of various doctrines I held going in. Many have entered Bible college with a strong faith, only to leave with a wrecked faith. I can say with confidence though that this was not my experience, and that I have left Bible college with a much stronger faith, and greater zeal than I had when I entered.
I am thankful for the professors who greatly poured their own lives and knowledge into me, and were often more like pastors to me than simple university professors. They saw to it that they filled my head with the required academic knowledge, but they also saw to it that my soul was also nourished during this time. They often provided me counsel when at times I had none others to turn to, and also provided me with a countless hours of fellowship over lunch and dinner between classes. We prayed with each other, cried for one another, and were much like a family. I've attended some of their churches and have heard them preach outside of class, and likewise, they have come to hear me preach and visit my own church. They've encouraged me and given me much wisdom, and likewise, when I needed a good kick in the pants, were there to faithfully do that as well. They were never harsh with me, even when I was with them when we seriously butted heads over theology, and were always loving towards me. They truly taught me a lot about better controlling not only what I said, but how I said it. By their example, I learned how to be a better Christian and I saw the character I need to still reach for before I ever consider being an elder in a church.
Over the last couple years in Bible college, the Lord has dealt with my heart greatly, and has further provoked me in regard to my ministry. Once during a powerful move of God we had in class, a small group of pastors surrounded me, laid hands on me, and fervently prayed that I would become a herald of Christ. I felt at that time as if something was imparted into me by God, and began shortly thereafter to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the streets to whoever might pass by. I began preaching in my own town and saw resistance from local authorities immediately. Since then I have preached the gospel to thousands of people in the greater Charlotte area. I have taken it to the very center of Charlotte at the Corner of Trade & Tryon outside our biggest skyscrapers. I have preached it at shopping centers, as well as one community college and UNC Charlotte. I have seen many people blessed by God in open-air preaching. I've helped provoke other Christians to do the work of evangelism, and have heard of a few backsliders repenting, and have even heard of one conversion. Such work has not been without personal cost, as I have received some mild persecution.
God has since called me in the last eight months to attend another church in the area, and to leave my old one. Over the last year, since I began to seriously do open-air ministry, I have seen my own ministry within the Church flourish. I have regularly been asked to preach at my current Church, and have in the last month been made the Singles Pastor. The move from my previous Church was not without much difficulty. My former pastor and I had a very different philosophy of ministry. My last church though Pentecostal, was much more formal and business like. There was no room for spontaneous prophetic utterance or speaking in tongues or personal testimony. My new Church is also Pentecostal, and while there is structure in our services, it operates largely with an open-service mentality, where everybody is encouraged to share as the Holy Spirit leads them, in an orderly fashion.
Over the past couple years I have gone from the mentality of seeking to establish my "own" ministry, and trying to get men to see me. As a result, I had a fear of man that often led me to quench the Spirit in my own life, and I saw little to no fruit. Instead of seeking to establish my own ministry and trying to publicize myself, now I have sought to only see Christ established. As the apostle Paul said, he did not go around preaching himself as Lord, but rather he went around preaching Christ as Lord and himself as a bondservant. He didn't look to establish his own ministry, rather, he sought to see Christ formed in others, and to see the name of Christ named where He was not previously named. This is a drastic difference from what we see in the politic heavy Church of today where ministers are more interested in securing ministry jobs for themselves, and seeing their names put in the lights. Such error I was entering into when I attempted to go to Minnesota to pursue ministry there.
Now instead of fearing man, I fear God. As my fellow ministry friend Jesse Morrel says, I now preach "for the audience of One." I now fear God and not man. Every time I preach, I preach so as to never preach again. I preach as a dying man unto dying men. I preach for no others approval save for the Lord's. I preach with no other aim other than to edify the saints and convert sinners. I don't preach with my eye on attaining another time in the pulpit or ministry position. I preach as if I will never be invited to preach again. I preach the crucified Christ as Lord, Whom is alive from the dead.
There have been many other wonderful things to happen in my life, perhaps too many to number. The Lord has blessed me with all the heavenly blessings that there are in Christ. I have seen my share of trials, but such times only served to show Jesus alive in me.
Currently I have plans of starting work on a Masters degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary next fall as I pursue a Masters in Biblical Studies. I would like to one day teach at a Bible college. This summer I have plans of being more active in my street ministry as I will be free from my studies and the weather will be much more favorable for such activity (it is not very fun to preach in the cold or the rain). I am also looking to continue working heavily on the Christian Steps web site and sending out e-mail devotionals. I am considering remodeling and doing away with some articles on the Christian Steps site. I also have plans on launching another web site dedicated to street evangelism, called Street Preachers Corner, where I will look to network other street evangelists so that they might minister together, as well as provide articles and other literature that will help equip other evangelists in this regard.
Please be in prayer for me, as I am praying for God to open the finances necessary to being able to minister full-time. I would love to go out several hours each day and knock on doors and preach in the streets, but because of my current job situation, I am unable to do so.