“The first face I saw when I came out of my spiritual prison was yours.”
Being from a small town (Lewisburg was just voted the coolest small town in America – please forgive my hometown pride), I feel very strongly about being able to visit and give presentations not only in larger churches but also in smaller churches in rural communities as well. This is one of the reasons behind our “freely give” philosophy as a ministry when it comes to our seminars. Many times, a small church cannot afford to bring in outside, high-quality content from time to time, and the effect is evident, so I experience great joy every time we, as a ministry, can donate our time for a whole weekend to a small church.
Susanville was just one of these small churches. Many times, when I arrive in a smaller town, I look up to the heavens and ask, “Ok, God, how on earth did I wind up here?” It is not meant negatively but amazement because many of these places are truly remote. I absolutely love the hearts of the folks you often find in a small church. It’s not a church; it’s a family. Susanville’s members are precious. I was treated with such kindness. Many folks there drive quite a distance to come to church each week, and they were very appreciative to have me there. I truly was made to feel welcome and like a part of the family.
While I was there, I met a gentleman who was truly beside himself to talk with me, and, as he shared his story with me, I came to see why. He had been on a wonderful spiritual journey, but it all started with the breakthroughs that happened in his heart when he began, in his own words, “getting a right picture of God.” He said it was as if he had been in a spiritual prison and at the end of his rope, about to throw in the towel on God, and he made one final prayer of desperation. The next thing he remembers is stumbling onto our Web site. He listened to one presentation and then began downloading everything he could. He shared with me that he just couldn’t get enough of this different way of looking at his heavenly Father. He looked me in the eyes and said, with a solemn sense of gratitude, “The first face I saw when I came out of my spiritual prison was yours.”
His wife, too, thanked me over and over for the changes, that seeing God and His character of love as it really is had brought about in her husband. He was truly a new person. We spent some more time that evening discussing “other-centeredness.” He had many questions but was truly fascinated by the thought of God’s radical, self-sacrificial, other-centeredness being the real transformation that God desires to accomplish in each of our hearts. “Not only are we to see God differently but that new way of seeing God causes us to treat people differently,” he said.
I know that my short description here cannot do justice to the telling of his experience. I wish badly that you could have been there with me and seen the radical transformation that God’s love was making in my new friend’s life. Later that night, as I sat alone in a hotel room contemplating some of the events of the weekend, in all sincerity, I felt unworthy, unworthy to be a conduit of such life-transforming and, yes, truly radical way of seeing God. Many lives are being changed by the message of God’s love through the efforts of this little ministry. Just today, I spent hours on the phone with another new friend who lives in Tennessee who was introduced to our ministry by a friend of theirs who found us online in Norway. God’s heart is so beautiful, if people can only see it. And so, for all the support, prayers, and financial contributions you are making as each of you partners with me here at Renewed Heart Ministries, we truly are making a difference in people’s lives, both here and for eternity. The kingdom of God’s radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered love is being enlarged! And for all of this, I say to you, thank you.
Thank you for your partnership with us. We could not do what we do without you.
This next weekend I’ll be at the Upper Columbia Men’s Retreat at Camp Mivoden in Idaho. Please partner with us in keeping this weekend covered in prayer as well. Your prayers do make a difference.
Love like the sun; love like rain. And let’s, together, keep enlarging the kingdom.
With deep gratitude to each one of you,
Director | Speaker | Author
Renewed Heart Ministries