Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lazarus Yeghnazar

Have you ever wondered what is it like to live in a Muslim country? What it looks like to help others move from Islam to Christianity? Listen to the personal story of Lazarus Yeghnazar and how he is working to bring Jesus to Muslims around the world.
Lazarus Yeghnazar from CCV on Vimeo.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Outside-in estate ministry

Mez McConnell, is the Senior Pastor of Niddrie Community Church, Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the founder of 20schemes and has been involved in full time pastoral ministry, both church planting and revitalisation since 1999. He has worked in inner city areas in England, Scotland and Brazil and has a passion for training men and women for ministry in this context. He has written 2 books: Preparing for Baptism: A Personal Diary (Grace Publications Trust), and Is There Anybody Out There? (Christian Focus). Mez studied Missiology at Moorland Bible College, England and Pastoral Theology at Bryntirion Bible College, Wales. He has been married to Miriam for 15 years and has two lovely daughters,Keziah and Lydia. 


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

'Body Facts' published by DorlingKindersly.

 'Body Facts' published by DorlingKindersly
It has been a while since I read a book about human biology. In fact the last time was when I was studying A- Level Biology and had to read 'Biology:a Functional Approach' by M.B.V. Roberts.This little book has had the same effect on me as 'Roberts.'
To read again about the wonders of the body was to again fill me with worship for our most amazing Creator. These are some of the facts:

1. The adult human body contains 50 trillion cells.
2.Three billion of the body's cells die every minute: most are renewed.
3.About 10 billion white blood cells are made every day and help fight infection.
4.The average adult has 206 bones.
5. More than half the body's bones are in the hands and feet.
6. Bone is five times stronger than a steel bar of the same weight.
7.The skull contains 22 bones.
8.The body has over 600 skeletal muscles.
9. All the body's nerves laid end to end would measure about 75 km ( 47 miles).
10. Nerve signals can travel at over 400 km/h ( 248 mph).
11.One brain cell can connect with over 25,000 other brain cells.
12.The human eye can detect a lighted candle 1.6km (1 mile away).
13. A person can see up to 10,000 colours.
14. Blood and circulation:The circulation system contains around 150,000 km ( 93,000 miles) of blood vessels.
15. The heart pumps about 13,640 litres (3,000 gallons) of blood per day.
16.Respiratory Facts:THe lungs contain about 2,400 km (1490 miles) of airways.
17. Each lung has a total surface area of 180 metres squared ( 646 feet squared).
18. Sex and Reproduction: Men's semen contain 300 million sperm.
19.Only 50-150 will reach the egg as it travels down the fallopian tube. Of these only one will fertilise the egg.
20.Do you think you are a loser? WITH ODDS OF 300,000,000 TO 1 AGAINST YOU BEING BORN, YOUR SPERM WON -TO PRODUCE YOU! YOU ARE A WINNER. Winning the lotto would have been far easier!

Be amazed and filled with praise, for we are indeed both fearfully and wonderfully made.

Do you feel down or discouraged or unimportant? You are a living miracle!

Monday, 11 May 2015


I have been sharing a lot on the story of the Good Samaritan. Let’s look at Luke 10 beginning at verse 25. Jesus often told stories to communicate a truth. In our days we tried to give an answer, even if we didn’t really know the answer. Jesus, the Son of the living God often answered with a question. In verse 30, Jesus replied with an illustration:

 “A (Jewish) man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and was attacked by bandits who robbed him of his clothes and money. They beat him up and left him half-dead by the side of the road.”

Wow! A friend of mine from Nigeria had almost an identical experience, this is happening even today, so this is relevant. “By chance a (Jewish) priest came along and when he saw the man lying there he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.” This seems incredible doesn’t it? How can a man just pass by someone who is beaten up and lying on the side of the road? “Then the temple assistant came along and also passed by on the other side of the road.” What a sad and pathetic situation! “Then a despised Samaritan came along and when he saw the man he felt deep pity for him. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan helped him.”

Samaritans were considered enemies of the Jews and were considered to be like scum. They were the people down the road with whom the Jews had no dealings with, like a Dalit or an “Untouchable” in India. So this despised Samaritan comes along, kneels down, bandages the man and puts him on his donkey and takes him to an Inn where he could be taken care of. The next day he gives the innkeeper two pieces of silver and tells him to take care of him. The innkeeper is assured, if the bill runs higher, then he will be paid the difference next time he passes through. What a powerful and revolutionary story! The story of the Good Samaritan is a favorite story of children. As adults, we sometimes just gloss over and read the story.

What we need to understand is that Jesus, after he told this story, asked the question, “Now which of these three men was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by the bandits?” The man replied, picking up at verse 36, “The one who showed mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” If only he had not said that! This is a great challenge when it says clearly, “yes,” now go and do the same. We have to start doing some thinking. I have made many mistakes in my Christian life and God has been very merciful. We can’t possibly learn all the lessons in God’s Word just in a year or even 10 years.

When I first launched into ministry I was not that concerned about peoples’ physical needs in terms of my own ministry. I prayed for people often if they were ill and was concerned in my heart, but I made the mistake of thinking that other organizations like World Vision or Tear Fund, medical missionaries, agencies like the Salvation Army and later on people like Mother Theresa—they answered the Good Samaritan call and it was their ministry. My ministry was literature evangelism, winning people to Christ, training people, planting churches and leadership. We were overwhelmed with what we were attempting to do, much less take on other tasks in terms of peoples’ physical needs. That was 61 a great mistake on our part. It took people from the two-thirds of the world and people like Tony Campolo and Samuel Escobar, men and women from many different countries, a deeper study of the Word of God and a re-look at stories like the Good Samaritan to completely change me in regard to this great challenge. There are many people today lying by the side of the road. We cannot pass them by, nor can we just give them a tract or a Bible and say, “See you later.” We must somehow respond to the challenge of Jesus concerning peoples’ physical situation. If you are already overcommitted, this message needs to be contextualized into your situation; I am not wanting you to just take on more in terms of deeds and action, but I want you to take this message into your heart and your spiritual DNA and share it with others who may not be overcommitted, and not yet even be saved. This aspect of our kingdom message appeals to non-Christians. Many non-Christians are the pace setters in some of the things I am going to talk about. When we, maybe not even fully understanding it, at least sympathize with them and have some discernment (Christians often lack discernment in these areas) we are going to find them more open to talk about Jesus.

Britain is one of the most humanitarian nations that has existed in history. It is part of the culture and DNA of the nation. Even as the nation has tended to part and leave the basics of the Christian faith, the challenge of giving has remained within the culture. All different charities are trying to raise money. You and I, if we want to make an impact in post-modern Britain, have to learn to affirm people who as yet don’t know Jesus, but are doing good things rather than constantly come across negative about anyone who is not a Christian. The amount of prejudice against Christians today is greater than it had been before, for many reasons, rather than get very upset and blame this person or that person, especially those in government, we need the Holy Ghost’s discernment to understand the new culture in which we live.

 There are innumerable global scourges around us, but let me list here just seven. What I am talking about here is not about individuals, but clusters of people.

1. Children at Risk The first person lying by the side of the road is a little child—millions of little children. One billion children are at risk, about one-sixth of the earth’s population. Many of them are dying. Many groups in the world are responding to “children at risk,” but research by Viva Network and Patrick McDonald has shown that there is an awful lot of work yet to be done. We are speaking of children who are sold into factory slavery, and thousands of children in the age of 11 or 12 who are sold into sexual slavery. We are talking about street children in places like Brazil, where sometimes even the police pull the trigger and murder them. We are talking about millions of AIDS orphans in Africa and other countries. Th ere are new books coming out about children, some of them are living right down the street, sometimes abused by their own parents. If you do not think that is an issue then you are living in a cloud and you need to come down to earth. If you don’t think that happens to those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, then you obviously have not been involved in much personal ministry with people. “Children at risk” is overwhelming and it is time for the church to speak out and to reach out and do what the Good Samaritan did in Luke 10.

2. Abused Women The second person lying by the side of the road is a woman, an abused woman, a woman at risk. True Grit by Debbie Meroff , I believe, is probably the most significant book that we have ever published by Authentic Media. Th is is a book about women and what they are suffering. We have reprinted this book many times over by now. It is unbelievable to know what is going on in Europe in the area of sex trafficking; even President Bush has been speaking out about this, as well as other global leaders. We need to have a more biblical, revolutionary view of women and their suffering. The abuse of women under certain religious systems is unbelievable. What went on in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule? Very few Christians spoke out about it.

The Feminist Movement, though having many positive and negative points, were the first to speak out on the suffering of women in Afghanistan. In God’s mercy the Taliban was removed. What about female circumcision? Have you ever read anything about that or do you prefer not to read things that are unpleasant? Friend, let me tell you something, if you do not want to read things that are unpleasant, then whatever you do, don’t read the Bible. Some of the most unpleasant stories I have ever read, including rape, are written in the Bible. I believe one of the marks of authenticity of the Word of God is that it does not gloss over sin even when it is committed by a great leader like David, a man after God’s own heart, who was guilty of murder and adultery. You and I need to speak out about things like female circumcision. I think the Danish Government was the first to want to get a law against this. I can read pretty heavy stuff without getting ill, but I have never been able to finish what I have attempted to read about female circumcision, it is so sickening. It is so disturbing that women could be so abused and it is growing and still going on. Hundreds of thousands of women are going through this unbelievable ordeal.

 3. The Extreme Poor

The third person lying by the side of the road is, what we call, the extreme poor. There are many poor people, and it is sad that many Christians with just one clichĂ© write the whole thing off , even misquoting from the New Testament. If we study the Bible and listen to men and women of God down through the years going right back to William Booth, we know that God has a bias towards the poor. Some of you come from a poor background, and you should never ever be ashamed of that. You should never feel inferior in this society that it is still a class and racist and “caste”ist society even though we do not like to admit it. Some of the greatest people in the world came from the poorest background and some are still poor. What about the Dalits of India known as the Untouchables? There are 250 million of them which is more than three times the population of the British Isles. In the past few years the Dalits have started to move, they are leaving Hinduism by the thousands. Many have become Buddhists while others are knocking at the door of the church. In OM alone we have planted over two thousand churches in the last couple of years mainly for Dalits and many are experiencing the reality of the Holy Spirit. In India we have decided to be involved with the extreme disenfranchised and poor under the leadership of Joseph D’souza (he has written a book about the Dalits). We decided to involve in human rights, not in every aspect because it is such a huge area and one can easily get beyond their boundaries. A new movement (All India Christian Council) was born with Joseph D’souza, the leader of OM India, who was made the head of the Board. It is separate from OM, with all different agencies and churches, mainly Bible-believing people, to speak out in connection with the persecution of Christians in India, (especially after Graham Staines and his two sons were murdered) and the cause of the Dalits. Human rights: concern for human rights and defense of human rights are a part of God’s kingdom. Guess what? Most Christians who are not involved with human rights still believe in it, because they get really upset when one of their neighbors does something that is a breech of their human rights. I am amazed at what upsets 65 the average person. It is usually trivial, but often is connected with human rights without us realizing it. We all believe in justice and human rights. It took me years to grasp this, but we are not just called to evangelize the world; we are also called to build the kingdom everywhere. Th at is overwhelming and you have to find your place and get guidance. If you can capture the whole vision in your heart, that will enable you to respond better to your particular part of the vision, no matter how small that may be. The global poor should be a priority and there is much that we can do. Th e church, more than ever before in history, is responding to this challenge. Th e story of Tear Fund is one of the greatest Christian stories in the British Isles as is the story of Bob Pearce founding World Vision and then Samaritan’s Purse and hundreds of other less known agencies around the globe.

4. People with HIV/AIDS

The fourth person lying by the side of the road is the person with HIV/AIDs. Forty million have been infected and 20 million have died. Millions of children have been orphaned and whole societies are burgeoning under the weight of so many dying so young. Rather than standing by and judging, let us respond in love and action. (Many have HIV and don’t know it.) Let us also take advantage of this opportunity to share the gospel. We have found that, because death is so imminent, AIDS patients are very open to the gospel. I would urge you to read Aids and You by Patrick Dixon. It is being supplied free around the globe. I took Patrick to meet with 50 Africans and others in Uganda who were concerned about this huge pandemic and it is overwhelming when we think of the task. Th e church is on the move but there is a lack of finance in this battle. In the western world you can get expensive medical cocktails, so people can live another five or ten years, but so many in India and Africa do not have access to these medications and medicines. We know Seven Global Scourges 66 Drops from a Leaking Tap of a few cases where God has intervened and healed people. I don’t believe that we should limit our response to that huge problem only through prayer, though prayer has got to be a part of it. God sometimes does unusual things. We must mobilize the entire church for prevention. In Africa almost every church has people with HIV/ AIDS in their congregation. You don’t die of AIDS, AIDS runs your body down so that any one of 50 different illnesses takes you in the end—many die very young.

5. People without Clean Water

The fifth person lying by the side of the road is the thirsty person. Water is becoming increasingly scarce. Thirty percent of the world has no access to clean water. Many have to walk miles to get clean water, and so often the ones who do it are children whose bodies are not designed for such back-breaking work. Big cities are running out of water and are shipping it in at great cost, while in other parts of the world the dysfunctional water systems are breeding grounds for disease. May each of us be part of the effort to see more people getting clean water, as we seek to preserve the precious water at our disposal. My concern is for the people in poverty-stricken areas of the world where there is drought and other difficulties leading to no access to pure water. They drink impure water from the river and many of them will be dead within the year. You and I can do something about it. Christian agencies are being raised up that primarily work to make available pure water. Non-Christians are doing it as well. Would you pray for these people? Would you pray for the release of money because it takes money to drill wells, and to make a water-purifying-machine from very basic components. It is incredible what can be done when we exercise a little sanctified imagination. Th at has always been one of my prayers for God’s chosen people. If you are one of the unenthusiastic types let me tell you there is still hope for you, don’t give up. Even if you are my age, there is still hope that a fire would be lit in your heart. Let us serve the thirsty people, the sick people, with simple pure water.

6. The Environment

The sixth person lying by the side of the road, this is going to really surprise you, is the planet earth, the environment. I was reading sitting in a train, and a man sitting behind me asked, “Are you George Verwer?” We talked and I discovered he was a Christian from Sunderland. He had heard me preach in Dublin in the seventies and somehow it struck a cord in his heart. He shared how his work is in connection with the environment and I was able to tell him that I now preach about that. I preach about the environment and the need to be concerned about the Rain Forest, the air we breathe. Asthma is getting out of control in the British Isles and this is linked with the environment. God is concerned about all these things and we can do something about them. It is a shame that so many evangelical Christians not only have little concern for the environment, but are sometimes known as antienvironmental. How can this be when our Creator God has asked us to care for his creation? Pollution of the earth is totally unacceptable. Th is is an issue that our young people care about, and if we don’t connect with them on valid issues such as preservation of the environment, how then can we expect them to listen to us at all? Why do so many people throw rubbish all over the place? Have you ever taken a walk and seen all the rubbish? Sometimes my wife and I go for a walk and I take a bag and pick up rubbish as I go. Little things count with God! Th e Bible says if you give someone a glass of water you will get a reward. Are you out of the box enough to think that picking up a discarded bottle/can that could hurt someone, a child as they could cut or injure themselves, might get you some kind of reward? Hey, are you willing to think out of the box? Do you know what that means, those of you who are older? Out of the Seven Global Scourges 68 Drops from a Leaking Tap box is a young expression. It means that you are not just conforming to the same old ways; it means that you are willing to be different. Brothers and Sisters, let us start thinking about the environment, because that is also going to enable us to talk to many young people who have made this a big thing, maybe they have made this too big of a thing. If they don’t know Jesus and are only concerned about animals and the environment then they are making a big mistake, as they will never get to heaven through doing these good works. But by talking and listening to them, sympathizing where you can, you may see them come to know Jesus. It is so worth reaching out of your own comfort zone even to people who do not understand. I am a pilgrim; I am a struggler. I fail and I constantly have to crawl back to the cross and re-read books like Calvary Road and be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit.

 7. The Lukewarm Christian

It has been many years since I started to share on the 7 Global Scourges and eventually I based the message on the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. I started to add “lukewarmness” about which I have been preaching for 53 years in a different message. In some messages Number 6 is “The Unborn” and Number 7 is “Th e Environment.” These are listed on the back of my business card that I distribute and this is the list on my website; (I hope you can take a look at it!) I have always believed that abortion is wrong. Mrs Payne, who was in OM spoke on this 30 years ago. I went on a Pro-Life March back in the eighties in Omaha, Nebraska with a local church. When my good friend Dr. Francis Schaeffer went into this in a major way towards the end of his life, I wondered about this, especially as I was living outside the USA, where people generally are more liberal in their thinking and often react to what they feel is “American pro-life extremism.” I made a big mistake in my failure to speak out about 69 abortion and I thank the Lord that a few years ago after reading, praying and seeing our whole Movement become more holistic that I took the step to become more pro-active in this important area. Abortion is a horrendous thing. Have you seen photos of a fetus after a few weeks? No one has the right to take the life of that little child. I highly esteem women and I know that there are very complex situations at times, but they do not have the right to take a life. Most men and women of God are in agreement on this, yet, often we are silent. I then linked up with Randy Alcorn who has helped us fl ood his book, Why Pro-Life around the world. We are helping to translate this into languages, some of which almost have nothing on this subject. I would be happy to send it free to anyone who asks for it. Th is book is very down-to-earth and does not just hit people with Scripture verses as that doesn’t always mean much to those who are not believers. I would urge every one of you to become more committed and active in this area of challenge and that you will be able to read this book. However, it is true that lukewarmness among the Lord’s people is probably the greatest single global crisis in the body of Christ. It is not an either–or situation, but both. So, the seventh person lying by the side of the road is the lukewarm Christian. I believe that lukewarmness in the church is greater than all of the other problems. There is a danger in thinking that somehow all the problems are out there. In reality, often the problems are here. Lukewarmness is a scourge. I had been in meetings where a high percentage of people in the meeting acknowledged that they were lukewarm. Th ey stood up to repent, ask for forgiveness and pray the verses in Acts 4:31 “to go forth and speak the Word of the Holy Spirit” with boldness. Don’t confuse basic lukewarmness with battling lukewarmness. We all at times battle lukewarmness. I have to battle lukewarmness just as I have to battle with wrong attitudes and impatience. Don’t Seven Global Scourges 70 Drops from a Leaking Tap succumb and give in. Don’t stop studying the Bible because it is boring. Perhaps the one exception to this is the person suffering from chronic medical depression, a very unique kind of illness. Those people need unique, special attention, concern, and prayer; but most of us do not fall in that category. However if it is a matter of struggle may you get the care that you need. It is not an easy road and many godly people have gone through that. My own wife went through depression for a year and by his mercy she came out of it. I am talking more about spiritual depression which comes about in neglecting the Word, prayer, getting discouraged or allowing bitterness to come in. My wife and I have had many disappointments in our lives, but we know that disappointment can be God’s appointment to do better things for his kingdom. Many of the things that keep us from lukewarmness are not necessarily positive things. Negative things can really keep us on our toes. So we learn from our pilgrimage how to respond to the environment and circumstances. Until we keep our spiritual temperature at a place where it is not dependent on the weather, spiritually-speaking, we will never be God’s marathon runners. Spiritually the weather does change, doesn’t it? For us as God’s people to mainly think about ourselves or even our own family and not reach out to the lonely, confused and bereaved is a great mistake and a breach of the teaching of Luke 10. May God enable us to receive his Word. May he keep us from feeling totally overwhelmed and enable us to understand that even the smallest thing we do for any of these people lying by the road side will be honored in the kingdom. Many of you have already been doing this for years and pouring funds into global missions. May God bless you. Th e new ship, Logos Hope will be more involved in the HIV/AIDS crisis, global poverty and in proclaiming this message that I have shared. Can you imagine the multiplication impact through prayer as we share these concerns? I don’t remember who said, “It is easier to cool down a fanatic than to wake up a corpse.” So let’s not worry about becoming too enthusiastic for the global poor, too enthusiastic regarding HIV/AIDS, too enthusiastic concerning the problems of the environment. I don’t think that too much enthusiasm is going to be our biggest problem. Let’s take God’s Word with all of our struggles, weaknesses and vulnerability; let’s respond, making sure we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s not let lukewarmness get a hold of some areas of our lives so that we in turn can minister to all these groups of people we have spoken about. A new generation of young people is here. Instead of condemning them, because they would rather play a video game than hear a boring sermon in the local church, we should try to understand video games and the huge impact that they have both for good and evil on our culture. This generation of children generally are more interactive. They don’t just only want to listen, they want to get involved in the action. If they would be saved, they could be the generation that finishes the task of world evangelism, because they are willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved. As I meet young people, I tell you, God is working in this post-modern generation. Do not become one more old-age wet blanket just because they don’t want to sing the same hymns that you were singing when you went to Sunday school in 1908 or whenever it was. Let us pray:

 Our God and Father you have brought this Word to my heart. I have shared it and I cannot run away from it even though (maybe) I have tried. Lord, I believe that you are going to raise up those who will pray more concerning all these things, those who will help release more finance, those who will help release more workers. Lord of the harvest we pray as we are taught in Luke and Matthew let us send forth workers into the harvest field.

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.