Archive for September, 2008

A GLORIOUS REVIVAL SUNDAY! – MISSION UPDATE

Posted in Mission Updates 2008 on September 29, 2008 by filerofish

What a glorious revival Sunday this has been! We had a full house today as the Almighty One of Israel issued a challenge to our small congregation to grow in our faith and commitment to him. God is beginning to move sovereignly among His people, and there are sings that point to a beginning of personal restoration and transformation. A few are resisting the will of God, and that is clearly made manifest in their behavior and attitudes. But even they have no where else to go. They have no other choice but to confess their sins and surrender to God in all sincerity and humility, or run the risk of loosing out on His many blessings all together. But that’s a difficult choice they will have to make on their own.

The initial process of building up the faith of the believers has already begun. This phase of the revival will probably take some time, so we need to be patient as we wait upon the Lord’s mighty hand to move. His Spirit is working on the hearts of men and women for sure, but we may not see any visible evidences of this until a while later. Meanwhile, we are rejoicing in those testimonies of answered prayer that are already being reported. I will touch some more on this later.

Our recent trials with Kimberly’s health problems drove me to deeper prayer and to a closer walk with God. Miriam and I learned that even in the darkest hour of our desperation, God’s love shines through and He gives us supernatural hope as we wait upon the fulfillment of His promises. For the last two weeks, I have also been ill with a form of bronchitis that has probably been exacerbated by seasonal allergies. After my first round with antibiotics, the doctor has put me on a treatment consisting of antihistamine, decongestant, and a mild dose of Dextrometorphane. When I cough I feel like I am going to faint. I tire easily and I find it difficult to keep my focus. But in the midst of it all, the Lord has been faithful to show me things about my relationship with him that require my attention. Aren’t God’s tender mercies a magnificent blessing born out of his eternal love for us?

Another blessing that God has allowed me to receive is news of the expanding influence of my ministry. During the mid and late 80’s I was involved in a short-lived revival among the young people of my own generation. With God’s help, we managed to build a High School youth group consisting of over 30 kids (I know that doesn’t sound like much in America, but it is quite a victory where we are). At that time, I was privileged to baptize over a dozen of my peers. The group was growing fast, and the Lord was adding to his church those who He was saving. However, opposition was lurking just around the corner. A disgruntled youth leader became envious, and she began to sow seeds of discord among the flock. In less than a month’s time, the entire group had virtually disbanded. Needless to say, I was devastated by this turn of events. Since I did not fully understand the dynamics of intercessory prayer at the time, I didn’t know how to handle the situation, so I basically gave up and moved on as best I could.

Brother Esteban was among those who made a personal decision for Christ during that season. He is a very talented man who made a career in professional music during his youth. Then he moved on with his life and got an education. When the Fender guitar factory came to town, he found a job with the company and eventually married. He and his family have been attending a Charismatic center for years now, but I have noticed that Estaban still remains true to his Bible-based convictions that he received when we were together in church. I remember asking him one day if he had witnessed any real miracles during a typical “miracle crusade” that was held in Ensenada a few years back. His response was, “what miracles?” That’s when I discovered that he had not subscribed to the false manifestations that have become the hallmark of this type of movement.

Recently, I sent out an email in which I issued a call to the remnant church in Ensenada, asking every person on my contact list to unite in a city-wide grassroots prayer movement. The first one to respond was Esteban. In his off-the wall humorous style, he asked me if what I had written was a cut-and-paste job or if it was coming from my own heart and pen. I assured him that it was my own reflection on the present state of affairs in the church and in the community. He was pleasantly surprised and said that he had been profoundly blessed and refreshed by what I had said. In a second email, he said that he had begun to spread the word among his own friends and contacts, and some of them had already responded positively to the idea. Maybe we are on to something here, and we don’t even realize it yet! Anyway, the point that I am trying to make is the one can never know just how broad our influence has been or can be unless we are willing to take the risk and follow directions from the Holy Spirit. I must say that I am truly encouraged by this response.

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that the reason why we have undergone so much opposition in the Lord’s work here in Mexico for decades, is because the devil knows of the enormous potential that exists. He knows of the threat against his dominion if God moves into town and takes authority over the principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph 6:12). As brother Salvador openly confessed during a public prayer time today, Mexico’s centuries-old sin of idolatry has been cleverly re-packaged in the form of paganized Christianity. Of course, he was alluding to prevailing religious traditions that have kept the nation enslaved throughout its history. In a moving expression of his faith, Salvador called on the Lord this morning to deliver his people from this darkness. He openly wept as his heart cried out God for the deliverance of His fellow Mexicans. Does God hear prayers like this? Both the New Testament and the present revivals that are sweeping the globe suggest that the answer to that question is a resounding “YES.”

As a result of a series of video documentaries testifying of revival and national restoration that is taking place in many other parts of the world, our Wednesday night intercessors have been able to capture a fresh vision of the kind of almighty God that we serve. There is nothing impossible for Him! He is above and beyond our circumstances, and He transcends everyone and every thing. We are also re-discovering that God does in fact answer the earnest prayers of His righteous ones, if we are only willing and ready to renounce to all those things that are displeasing to Him and seek his face with every fiber of our being. He is faithful to all of His promises, and he will surely answer when we call! We must never question His power and His timing.

Brother Abraham came forward this morning after the service to share a personal testimony of answered prayer with me. He said that the Sunday that I thanked God for having healed Kimberly, it was like God had spoken to his personal need to walk in faith. Abraham is one of the newest believers in church, but he is learning fast what it means to be a true Christian. In his pre-Christian life, he had been enslaved to demonic oppression as the result of witchcraft that had been used against him. I remember that one of the reasons why he was undecided about making a personal commitment to Christ was because he feared what might happen to him or his family if he did. We prayed for him one evening, asking God to set him free from his bondage and fear so that he might be free to follow Jesus. God answered our prayer and he and his wife were baptized into Christ shortly after.

As expected, trials followed his decision and he soon became unemployed. No matter what he did to find a job, he just couldn’t secure an income for his family. Weeks went by and there was no solution in sight. The refrigerator and the cupboards remained empty, and there was no food on the table. As a result of my testimony of answered prayer, He began to cry out to God in faith for work. He told me today that God has heard his cry, and he now has more work than he can handle. For a week now, he has been able to keep his frig full and enjoy regular meals with his family. Praise God! Now that is what I call faith!

Toward the end of our meeting, I called upon the adult men in the congregation to step forward and join me on the platform. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what inspired me to do this other than the direction of the Holy Spirit. I reminded the congregation that God has established order in his house, and the no true lasting revival will take place until this proper order has been re-instated. So I prayed for these men and asked the congregation to pray with me as we petitioned God to build them up in faith, grace, love and knowledge. For some reason, I sense that this could very well be a defining moment for the future of this revival. When the men in church become sensitive to the Lord’s will, who knows what might happen!

Finally, I presented an invitation to those who have not yet made a personal decision to follow Christ. No one came forward this time, but I have a strong hunch that spiritual obstacles are going to be falling to the ground very soon, and we are going to see a flood of conversions rather shortly. I can already see the seeds sprouting all around!

Love,

Phil

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NEW CHAPTER OPENS WITH BAPTISM – MISSION UPDATE

Posted in Mission Updates 2008 on September 12, 2008 by filerofish

Beloved,

On Wednesday the Colonia Jalisco church rejoiced with Dora as she surrendered her life to her Lord Jesus in baptism. Dora is the sister-in-law of Narciso, one of our more faithful members. She had been coming to church on a semi-regular basis for over a year. I distinctly remember my very first impression of her as she walked into one of our meetings. She was very quiet and somewhat aloof. Her eyes never met mine and she hardly ever said a word. I could tell that she must have gone through a lot of pain during her life just by the physical scar that was visible on her face. I tried my best to get her to respond, but all of my attempts failed. So, I decided to allow the Holy Spirit to work in heart through the teaching of the word.

As the weeks and months went by, Dora showed very little visible progress although she

did remain faithful in her attendance. Narciso’s wife Lourdes played a key role in helping her work through the many questions and issues regarding the Bible. It is evident that they enjoy a special friendship that has provided the proper environment for the discussion of spiritual concerns. Dora’s husband is an immersed believer who has not come to church for years. I don’t know just how much of a help he has been to her in her journey to find God.

During our family camp this summer, Dora offered to help in the kitchen where she was able to make friends with some of the women. Those encounters must have had an important impact on her life because she began to manifest a totally different attitude. She become much more open, relaxed, and even had a smile on her face. Brother Hernan also ministered to her on various occasions during casual conversations. She surprised everyone when she said that she wanted Hernan to baptize her on her birthday. That date came, and she followed through on her decision.

I was blessed to see brother Hernan take the lead, because I could tell that he was overjoyed to have this privilege of ushering in a new birth. It was nice to set back for once and soak it all in. I did lead in the singing though and took these photos that I am sharing with you. This experience also helped to confirm the notion that each and every Christian has been called to evangelize the lost, baptize believers, and disciple the Lord’s flock. I am convinced that the key to the future growth of the church will be to empower individual Christians to fully engage in this ministry on a regular basis.

Dora’s baptism marks the opening of a brand-new chapter in the history of our church. She is the first of a glorious harvest of souls that is coming shortly – possibly before the end of the year. Please be praying for Dora as she continues to grow spiritually in her walk with Christ. Thank you for making it possible to reach precious souls in Mexico with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ!

IN OTHER NEWS

  • The Great Task Ahead of Us Earlier this year, I learned that thousands of Mexican migrant workers would be returning to their homeland as opposition to undocumented immigrants continues to rise in the U.S. This massive exodus represents a huge burden on the beleaguered Mexican economy, thus heightening the already deteriorated security. It could also be the start of an anticipated great revival as many of these returning expatriates have already embraced the gospel or are sympathetic to it. This is an unexpected development for sure, but it also underscores that vital role that we will be playing in the months ahead. A lot of work will need to go into seeking out possible converts and new members. There are several ways that this may be accomplished, but we will require resources that are unavailable to us at the present time. Please pray that God would provide for the following needs:
    • Personal support. Miriam and I are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the basic bills and put food on the table, much less pay for unforeseen expenses such as medical costs and others. Under these conditions, it is impossible to have a savings account or plan for the future. We are literally living one day at a time
    • Health and encouragement. This year has been full of trials it seems. We have been under constant attack from all sides, yet we continue to stand firm on our commitment to serve Christ as best we can. Nevertheless, we are exhausted and burned out. We need to be infused with a renewed sense of joy and encouragement in order to be able to face whatever comes our way.
    • School of Evangelism and Christian Ministry. For many years we have seen the enormous need for a training program that might effectively equip servant-leaders for the church in Mexico. The lack of personnel and funding has made it impossible to implement this project, although the task of finding the appropriate teaching aids and materials is near completion. We already have the disc duplicators (used) for producing the many hours of audio courses either in mp3 or normal CD format. We also have the original text material do go along with the audio. A small digital video camera is available to record certain selected courses on DVD in the near future. That would represent a huge upgrade in our ability to be effective on a wider scale. Our immediate goal is to create an intense interest among our potential student body, backed up by localized seminars, conferences, workshops, and campaigns. Once that is done, we will need to back up our offer with at least the firs five courses for immediate use in a group or individual study setting. As you can probably tell, this is a major undertaking that will possibly require my full attention in the near future.
  • Kimberly’s Health Update Praise God, My daughter’s MRI results came back clean, with the exception of her sinusitis which we already knew about. She is receiving a medical treatment for that condition. We are running a few more additional lab tests to see if there are any other pathogens that might be causing the headaches. I can’t even begin to describe how relieved Miriam and I are to learn that her brain is in perfect condition. If she did have any lesions, they are gone now. Thank you for your solidarity and earnest prayers. God is still on the throne, and He answers our prayers!