Something that I try to do, but haven't been so successful at in the past; but something that I am really trying to do this year is trying to invest a lot more in prayer. I would like to say I am good at praying and I pray often, but I'm not. I'm weak; my mind scatters quickly. However, on the way into Boonville, I felt I wanted to pray for the city in general. Here's a fact about Uzima Outreach. It started in prayer. In fact, my best friend ST and I just had a talk about this.
He said to me, "Uzima started with a few of us on our knees in prayer before the Lord. We are getting back to that and I can't tell you all the crazy things the Lord has been doing because of it."
To be honest, Needle2Square didn't exactly start like that. But that is how it will end. With me and all the staff of N2S on their knees. With that said, I have really invested into praying just before I get to a city. Specifically praying for the city and the people and for opportunities to share. I honestly have seen a difference . Now, I never really know what to expect so I try and be ready for anything; whatever is going to come my way. While in Boonville, I had an opportunity to stay at this host family's home. They have tons of goats. It's a beautiful farm. They fed me. They were amazing and kind and generous and fun and happy. Towards the end of one of the nights, I got to talk with one of their daughters. She is about 20; she is going to school--super smart, very creative, very artistic. I mean she can draw just about anything. She is a really happy person. Her room is filled with hundreds and hundreds of books, any kind of book series; all the popular ones...books everywhere. She also has over 500 movies, and she has watched all of them. We were talking, and what I love about my project is the "why" question. Because I get to explain and bring my faith into the project. You can't talk about my project, you can't talk about Uzima, you can't talk about Needle2Square really without getting to this point where people want to know the underlying, What is all this about?" I always get to come back to my faith and, of course, that always brings more questions and we get to go into deeper issues. There are always questions that people have about the Gospel. It has forced me to have a deeper knowledge about it. If I don't, people are quick to dismiss what I say. And then, it's my turn to do some questioning and ask them some questions.
One night we were up late talking; talking about the Lord, sharing my faith. What I hear so often is people want to be happy. But I propose this, you can't have happiness without purpose. You can't just live a cushy comfortable life and be happy. That's not the source of happiness. You need to have purpose. Purpose, identity is what gives you happiness. She talked about school and what she is going to do when she grows up but in her answer I could see this deep sense of not knowing. I could also see that she was trying to make here family happy. People want her to be a nurse, people want her to do this or that. And I felt like it was my opportunity to kind of share what I know about purpose. I explained to her that I lived a pretty good life for the most part. Playing music and touring. It wasn't without its tragedies, however, it was pretty good. I explained my relationship with God and about faith. We talked about the Gospel. She used to be Catholic and she finally broke down at one point and said she was angry at God. She talked about wanting to commit suicide. She had attempted it five times. She talked about seeing people be hypocrites in the church. And that is something that I always get, this hypocrite kind of comment. "There are so many hypocrites in the church." And I always think, "Was your faith based on other people or based on your personal relationship with the Lord? Is it based on what the pastor tells you or do you have a personal relationship with the Lord?" Because if it's based on what other people do, like your pastor, or your friends, I am convinced that the weeds of life will choke out the seeds that were planted in your heart. In fact, that is low-hanging fruit for the Enemy. He sees that and thinks, "Their faith won't last"! Are the roots of your faith planted deep enough? For me... it doesn't matter what everybody else does. There is a song that I remember back from the late 1990's, early 2000's within the church community, and there is this line that says, "Though 10,000 fall by my side I will still stand, for You are my God." So here's my question to you. If your pastor falls, do you fall? Are you following God or a man?" People always say, "The church hurt me." Okay, but did God purposefully try and hurt you? Is this God trying to hurt you or did a fallible, sinful man or group of people hurt you?
I had this girlfriend once who had a sister and the sister and I never got along. In fact, the whole family didn't like me. But does that mean I am mad at her (my girlfriend) and I take it out on my girlfriend if the family doesn't like me? Does that mean since they don't like me I don't like her? My point is this, I wasn't in love with her dad, I was in love with her. I wasn't in love with her sister, I was in love with her. Are you in love with the people of the church or the programs at the church? Are you in love with the pastor or... ARE YOU IN LOVE WITH GOD? That's the reality. That's the question. Long story short, that night we debated a lot of different things and in the end we got out her Bible that had never been opened. Brand new. Beautiful. I put a marker in Psalm 103 and I handed her the Bible. I said, "Listen, the enemy is going to come for you now. He is going to try and steal the Truth that has been spoken into you tonight. The enemy and sin will keep you from this Book and this Book will keep you from the enemy and sin." I told her, "This is the Lord's love letter to you. This is His love letter." And I watched her grab it and there was that moment where she held it tightly and I prayed right then, "Lord, please don't let the enemy steal this moment. Don't let him come for her heart." She told me, "I don't want to wake up in the morning and not feel this way. I don't want to wake up; I don't want to lose this." And I just pointed her to God and that Book, the Bible. Lord, please keep her safe. Protect her heart and mind from the enemy.