In the post ★ Thought for the Day – What’s Your Story? ★ , I shared about the resent Missions Trip to Zaragoza, Mexico I went on with my church to partner with a local church called Ranchos Dos Countries. Today I want to build upon that and tell you about an amazing God story that happened while I was there. Before I do that, I want to give a little context about the trip because I was not even supposed to go. Our church had a meeting several months earlier in which they talked about all the different opportunities available for the year. My daughter heard about the student trip to Mexico and wanted to go with the other teenagers. But at the time of signups there was not a lot of information and I was uncomfortable to send her out of the country for the first time. So we decided to go on the family Missions trip instead. Though it was not my plan to go, it was without a doubt the plan of God that I’d be there as I would find out just two days after getting there. But to get there I had to go through much spiritual warfare. I have been on a high pressure project and the timing of the trip could not have been worse in regards to executing the work but it was exactly what I needed!!
My part on the mission trip was to share my testimony of how God has changed my life with the men of Zaragoza. If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know full well that I have made many mistakes and had a very dark life before accepting Jesus as my savior in 1998. So when I was asked to share my testimony, I accepted the responsibility without hesitation because I love to share how God used my wife to lead me out the life I was enslaved in. But unbeknownst to me, this time God wanted me to share an unabridged testimony. I have shared openly about the past problems with drugs, alcoholism, partying, depression, pornography and the night I almost committed suicide. This time however, God placed on my heart to share about the abuse that happened in my teenage years , which up until this point I had only shared with a handful of people. Though I believe I had been healed from the abuse, the stigma and shame kept me from being 100% open and transparent with others about this trauma. Now people who know me personally would not agree with that assessment probably, but for me I want my life to serve as a warning to others, and that cannot be fully realized if I hold back any part of the story that God has carried me through. And let me tell you, I am so thankful I did, because I believe that there was still some amount of healing that needed to be done which happened that week in Mexico!
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So…back to the God story I want to share with you. I was ready to air all the dirty laundry and leave the “baggage” back in Texas, those thoughts of condemnation and shame which have weighed me down, and go full throttle to minister to the men in Mexico. I was warned that because Zaragoza is a small community where everyone knows everyone, it will be a challenge to get the men to share. In addition to that, inside my head there was spiritual warfare right before I started to speak because of the age gap between most of the men and me, most being 20 years older than me, God showed up in a powerful way and cut right through all the blockades! As I sat in a small one room schoolhouse
with (16) leather-faced men who had been hardened by the sun and by life, God worked through me to reach these men. Strongholds were broken and breakthroughs were made that I have never seen before!! The truth of James 5:16 (ESV) was realized in a mighty way…
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
As I shared my story and confessed my sins and opened up about the abuse, God softened the hearts of these men. They saw that regardless of what has happened in the past, He can heal and deliver anyone from any bondage of sin, shame or guilt. Tears flowed in that small schoolhouse as man after man confessed sins and regrets of past mistakes. The greatest moment for me though was when the last man to speak shared that he was sexually abused too!! It was incredible to see the raw honesty and deliverance from the enemy that happened!!! And all I had to do was be a conduit for God’s love, grace and forgiveness to flow. Charles Stanley has this great life lesson on the verse from James we just read, he said…
“No Christian has ever been called to ‘go it alone’ in his or her walk of faith. We cannot obey God without being in regular, close fellowship with other believers. He has designed us so that many of our needs can only be met through mutual interdependence.”
Jesus Himself needed fellowship with others. Almost immediately He started His ministry, Jesus invited men to follow Him and become His disciples, see Luke Chapter 5. So if Jesus saw the value in surrounding Himself with others shouldn’t we?? This is something that in the past two years I have been doing and I have seen such tremendous growth and strengthening in my faith walk. And it is that sharpening that enabled me to finally break free to share what I did. I just finished a Bible reading plan called “Play The Man” from Mark Batterson and he made this powerful point:
“A man of conscience is a change agent—a force to be reckoned with. As Andrew Jackson observed, “One man with courage makes a majority.” He’s not blown here and there by trending winds. He’s anchored to the Word of God, and that anchor holds him through ups and downs, through thick and thin.”
When you’re a man (or woman) of conscience you can overcome sin and adversity in life but you must be dialed in to God! To be a change agent, a force to be reckoned with, you must study God’s Word because that is where true freedom will come! I will close with this truth from John 8:31-32 (NLT)…
“Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””
The truth will set you free!! What I experienced in Mexico with those men you can experience too IF you are willing to be a conduit for God to speak through. You don’t need to a seminary degree or to know the Bible cover to cover, it’s just about being willing to be transparent with your struggles and available to share the truth of God’s Word that will encourage and transform people’s lives!!
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