Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Battle for Souls in an F-150 and La Modelo Prison

When my son Nolan was three months old I led my first person to Jesus.  Her name was Kathryn Collins and we have now been married three years.  I had been struggling with anger, hatred, and bitterness toward people who had wronged me in the past, so Kat and I left Nolan sleeping in his bassinet with my Dad at his house and took off at three a.m. in the morning to joy ride and pray for healing.  I was desperately seeking God's deliverance, but every time the evil was about to leave, I held on to it.  It was as if I wasn't ready to let go of that demonic spirit that was controlling my thoughts.  In my mind I wanted to be healed but my heart wasn't turned to God.

I was praying fervently.  The 1993 white F-150 was filled with the Holy Spirit as it powered through the early morning darkness.  The presence of God was so thick that it was like the air was heavier.  I was praying in the Holy Spirit (tongues) and God was communicating with me.  I felt urged to pray this prayer, "God I give you my mind, my body, and my soul."  I looked over at my girlfriend who was clearly puzzled about what was going on.  Even though she told me she was a Christian, she'd never had an encounter with Christ before (she couldn't remember a time when Jesus came to her and she made a decision to follow him) so I wondered if she was saved.  Well when I looked over I told her to pray the prayer with me, I mean she should have no problem right?  She's a Christian.  I said, "Lord I give you my mind, my body, and my soul."  She said, "I give you my mind and my body."  I said, "Kat that's not the whole thing, you forgot to say soul."  I then repeated what to say and asked her to pray with me.  She said, "No!"  I was startled when I heard this.  I thought what's the big deal?  So I just ignored it and kept driving, and praying.  Well about thirty seconds later Kat began to weep bitterly.  I pulled  the truck over, got out, opened the door, hugged my future wife, and said these words, "Welcome to the kingdom of God."  My wife never looked the same after that night.  She has a sparkle in her eye now.  She has the presence of Jesus in her mind, body, and soul.  That night had nothing to do with me, or with what she prayed.  In fact she didn't pray!  God came and revealed himself to her in that truck, in the silence after she refused to pray the prayer I asked her to, she responded to the God who called her name and invited her into the kingdom.  You see no man can save anyone.  Only God.  The Father had allowed me the privilege to be there when my future wife surrendered her life to Christ, little did I know that in Nicaragua three years later God had two more souls waiting to be added to the Lamb's Book of Life, and I had a direct role to play in them.

God delivered me from marijuana, Bi-Polar, tobacco, porn, and anger, pretty rapidly and then he called me to minister for Him.  But in the Fall of 2009 my life was in shambles.  I had been clean from tobacco and porn for two years, marijuana for three years, and then I had doubt about my call and what God is (I got the faith kicked out of me).  I started smoking cigs and looking at pornography.  I didn't smoke weed but I just about spit on what God had done for me by succumbing to the lust of the eye (porn), and lust of the flesh (cigs in my lungs).

My Dad wanted me to go to Nicaragua with him and the church.  He said he'd pay the whole way.  I reluctantly agreed because I didn't want to miss to much school.  I made a promise to God (which I've kept) that I would not smoke cigs, drink wine-coolers, and look at porn on Dec 23rd 2009.  The oath to God entailed letting my hair grow for one year.  And if I was to sin, it would all come off!  The trip was in the first couple of weeks in Jan (around the time we celebrate MLK's b-day).  I did not pray if I should go, but I know now that God has a plan.  Even though I didn't know what I was getting into, God did.  He orchestrated the whole thing...I walked into a God trap!  

When I got there I still had a stony heart.  But around day three God opened my stony heart to Him.  The way it happened was amazing.  Our bus broke down and there was this guy by the road.  He was under a street light reading the Bible.  We would later find out that he had been coming there every night reading the Bible for three hours under this street light.  Well the bus broke down and some member of the team went to talk to him.  The guy accepts Christ and it turns out he's a mechanic!  He comes and helps with the bus and we get back on the road.  The amazing thing about this story is that it was like we lived out a Bible story in modern times.  In this story in Acts a eunuch is reading the scripture when Philip asks him, "Do you understand what you're reading."  The man says, "How can I unless someone explains it to me."  This is what happened to this man in Nicaragua.  He was seeking God and only needed someone to tell him about God.

My problem at this point was my heart.  Everyone was praising God for the salvation and I felt bitter.  Why couldn't God use me to get someone saved?  I've only been given this honor once by God.  Why is stuff happening around me but not through me?  Everyone got back on the bus and I told my friend from Nicaragua about how I felt.  He is so funny, he said, "Turn your heart to God."  I was like, "How do I do that?"  He was telling me to open my heart to God and let Him in.  At this point God really started to move in me.  When we went to the prison (which would be the ultimate battle for souls, the culmination of preparation all week), I was ready.

Here is a video clip of my testimony in Palanca.

If you've ever seen Lock-Up Raw on MSNBC you'll know what I'm talking about...sort-of.  On these documentaries they usually take us into the prisons in America.  They show about the gangs and the way of life in a prison.  Rarely do they show a third world prison in which there are thirty guards for 2,000 prisoners.  And half of the guards are in watch towers, such was the prison I would be in.  At any point the prison could be over thrown by the shear number differential of guards to inmates.  Needless to say it was kind of scary.  When we were pulling up to the prison, I was genuinely scared.  But as we passed the fence into the inner ground I had an immense peace.  God gave me peace and it was strange.  I should have been on guard, but I was at peace.  The medical team set up shop in the clinic, the dentists set up, and we had the women set up to give the medicine after the doctors evaluated the patients.  In the atmosphere there was a presence above our heads.  If I could describe it any way it would be in the form of horses of two opposing forces.  Imagine the Holy Spirit as the dust kicked up by the horses when the horses fling the dust up in the air charging at the enemy.  That was the feeling of the Spirit in the place.  And by the way, Jesus' army was winning!

La Modelo Prison Nicaragua

As the prisoners were going in to see the doctors we had prayer lines on each side praying over the people before they saw the doctor.  Five of us came together and set out to do it orderly.  We designated who would pray.  I was to be the third person to lead the prayer, so the third guy in the line was my guy.  Naturally I looked to see who I was going to be praying for.  The first guy was huge.  A typical prisoner with huge muscles and a wife beater tank top (wow what a testimony I thought, what would it be like if this "thug" came to Christ, what witness of who God is, He calls anybody).  The second guy was equally intimidating.  But the third guy was like twenty to thirty years older than me.  He came up to my shoulders.  He had long black hair.  It was like grandpa over there.  I wanted to pray for the thugs, for the great "testimony."  But God had other plans.  The other men before him were prayed for and they just wanted prayer for their families, no biggie.  We prayed over their families.  So it was my turn now.  I asked him his name in Spanish, he said Alejandro.  I then began to use the interpreter because I don't know Spanish.  I asked, "Do you know who Jesus is."  He said, "Yes."  I assumed he was saved and asked, "Is there anything I can pray for you about?"  He said, "I want to pray to receive Jesus in my heart right now."  I was stunned.  This guy told me he knew who Jesus was, but it didn't click with me that just because he knew who he was, that didn't necessarily mean he was saved.  I prayed the most simple and Spirit-led prayer in my life, "God I thank you for my brother Alejandro, I love him, You love him, I pray you put Your Holy Spirit in him right now."  And at that moment with my eye's closed I felt in my spirit the Holy Spirit coming down into the room and resting in the man I was praying for right where my hand was on his heart.  The man was was crying, the interpreter and I were crying, it was amazing how God moved.

We ate lunch.  And then came the time I had been looking forward to since we got there.  We were going to the cell block to hand out medical kits.  My Dad had told me he was going to try to get me on that team and he did.  We set out with hundred of bags loaded in suitcases deep inside the prison.  When we reached the cell block the prisoners were in their cells.  Sometimes there were over five men in a cell made for two in the United States.  But the crazy thing was that the prisoners could at any point simply lift the door off the hinges and come out of their cells.  Some doors locked, but some didn't.  The prisoners knew it was better to stay in the cell than to get punished for not following orders.  Well they directed all of the "good" prisoners into bathroom/shower area.  A few team leaders preached to these prisoners and many were touched and gave their lives to Jesus.  It was so great to see the hardcore guys crying out for God because of the sin that separated them from God.  In the end many would walk away unchanged, but the few who received Jesus' forgiveness of sin were forever changed.  We handed out the medical kits and left.  As we were leaving the interpreter I told you about earlier saw one of his friends in the prison and threw him an extra medial kit, this almost started a riot because all the other prisoners only got one kit.  We left and headed for the bus.  That night we slept at the missionary camp and we came back to Atlanta the next day.

I shared this story because ultimately God is the one who draws people unto Himself.  We are just the hands and feet.  If we attempt to make it all about me and "my" ministry we will be met with defeat, bitterness, and jealously because nothing will happen.  God has allowed me the joy of being there while leading people to Christ, but He is to receive the credit.  I really hope God has called me to missions because this trip touched me so much.  I love you all who are reading, and keep the hungry/thirsty/strangers/unclothed/sick/imprisoned on your mind.  I leave you with this scripture
Felix (on the far right) actually accepted Christ on this trip
Me tossing Jose Francisco in a stream
Me tossing Eddie
Edgard, the interpreter present with Alejandro and I (also my best friend down there).

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