One Year: Part One

24 07 2013

One Year.  Has it been a year? As I reflect I can feel myself becoming emotional. This may take more than one rewrite.

To understand where I am today you will have to understand a bit about how this all came about. Just a few years ago I was a happy committed Christian going to a Southern Baptist Church in Memphis, Tn. I have never been a denominational person and in fact have frequently been critical of most denominations. I have always admired the Southern Baptist for their commitment to reaching the lost. Something near and dear to the heart of God. I was challenged by my pastor, Dr. Jeff Brawner, and the ease at which he shared his faith. He was my pastor when my journey began. When very young in the Lord I was a consistent witness for the Lord but had slowly witnessed less and less. I was became very involved in making money, at this point in life, owning multiple businesses and enjoying the American Dream. I live in a tony flat in Downtown Memphis, drove a Porsche and enjoyed the finer things in life. As a Christian I went to church, tried to serve there as best I could and was a pretty good giver. That is what Christianity is about in the West. Right? I was just like everyone else. Living just like any successful American Christian. But then everything changed.

In my quest to share my faith more, I started working at a ministry sharing my faith in one of the poorest zip codes in America with a ministry that also passed out groceries. I was praying with many people to receive Jesus into their hearts. Hundreds over the course of the next few years. But there was a problem. Here is a guy driving a Porsche telling the poor about Jesus. One week, a lady I had prayed with to receive the Lord, was standing outside a long time after the ministry closed. Her groceries were at her feet. I asked her what she was doing and she said her ride had abandoned her. She had the groceries we gave her, but no away to get them home. We loaded them into my car and then it hit me. Even with my Boxsters’ double trunk we had to each hold multiple bags of food in our laps and slowly go to her home with the convertable roof down.  We looked pretty silly.  I felt pretty silly, in my mid engine Porsche hauling groceries in the hood.  I took the bags to her house and then noticed the tiny surroundings she was living in. She thanked me profusely and I left. I would not be exaggerating if I told you that was the beginning of a big change in my life. I stopped at the next stop sign.  I realized that my whole life was geared towards ME.  What did I want, what made ME happy, what made MY friends respect me and think I was cool. I realized I was changing.  I wanted to know what pleased Jesus. I ws tired of always chasing the American Dream.  On that day I realized I had a new heart.  A Kingdom Heart and a Kingdom Dream.  I had found the treasure in the field and I was going to sell everything and purchase that field.  The field that contained the treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, the Kingdom of God.

How do you witness to the poor and not get to know them and serve them? Who were these people God was sending me too. How could I serve them in this stupid sports car? What was the message I was sending by bringing the gospel to them in this impoverished area and then going home to my home of luxury. I know all the theological reasons to justify just about anything I want to justify. That and a dime used to be enough to allow you to make a phone call. But I was not interested in justification for my lifestyle. I had begun to study about the Kingdom of God. It was all coming together. In my studies about the Kingdom of God I had come to realize that Jesus teachings were the teachings of a new Kingdom. Not theology, but a new way to live as a Kingdom Christian and not as a cultural Christian. I began to long for a new form of Christianity.  A cultural Christian really fits in good.  That is what I was.  But I looked NOTHING like the Christians of the bile. Then I found some Christians that were different.  I read David Bercot explaining the beliefs and lifestyle of the early church. I read Marc Carriers books on kingdom expansion. At the same time we did a bible study in my home bible meetings called Radical, by David Platt. Then I met Marc Carrier and visited with him and some of his house church people and wittnessed a new way to live.  In obedience to Jesus.

I would never be the same. My businesses were suffering from the housing fall out and everything in my life was crying for me to address all these material needs and problems in my same old way. Fight for prosperity and my American Dream. The problem was, I now had a new dream.  That Kingdom Dream. I no longer wanted to lay up treasure here on earth. I wanted to lay it up on heaven. I no longer wanted to be a culturally acceptable Christian. I wanted to be a Jesus, accepted Christian. I realized that the early Christians were a wonderful key to understanding scripture. After John the Apostle died, we have the actual writings of men that were disciples of Paul, John and Peter. They spoke the Greek language and Hebrew language among others the bible was written in. They could actually ask people that knew Paul what he meant on certain verses. Their elders knew the Apostles and the men the Apostles had laid hands on and placed in the ministry over the saints. They practiced a different Christianity than the one I knew. I had been taught you could not live the life Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. In fact I was taught that the teaching were designed to prove I could not obey Him. After reading about the early church I realized this was a lie. Simply put, if you take the most literal and plainly rational application of Jesus and the Apostles teachings and obeyed and followed them you would be right at home with the early church.  If you chose to follow the theologians and Reformers you would feel totally out of place. I decided to turn my world upside down. I came to the conclusion that the Kingdom of God was a kingdom that SEEMS upside down to the values of the world. This time, instead of justifying my lifestyle, something I was very good at, I dumped my lifestyle and started over. I decided that that verse about seeking the Kingdom of God first was not just an interesting verse, but a commandment to be obeyed.  So here we go.

The businesses were in disarray anyway. The economy and circumstances from our largest customer put us in a terrible place. It was time to realize this was not the way.  I sold the Porsche and sold off anything of value I no longer needed.  I invested it in the poor saints in my ministry of discipleship with men saved in our grocery ministry. I bought my dad’s big Lincoln that could carry 8 men and a ton of groceries. Now I could take five widows home with groceries and I could be a means of transportation for those without a car.  I quickly learned that many I had “lead” to pray the sinners prayer were NOT disciples. In fact almost all of them were not even nominal Christians. I began to actually start to try to make Disciples of Christ instead of making converts to Christianity. Obviously, this is the Great Commission, not leading people in the sinner’s prayer. I went on a mission trip with my church, Island Community Church to Tanzania. I have never been the same. Somehow, I connected with the people and the country in a way that few do on such a trip. I was excited to share my faith with so many from a new culture but longed to make disciples and not just sinners prayer, converts. I left knowing I HAD to come back. Many people receive a huge calling from God on high saying “GO to Africa”. “Do this and that and lo I will go with you!” Me not so much. I just heard. “I am waiting for you in Africa”. I looked into going the traditional missionary route and was told I needed to raise almost 50 thousand dollars before I could go. So I asked my new brother Marc Carrier about what he thought of the direction I was going. He alerted me to the fact that I could live comfortably in Africa for 500 dollars a month.  As long as I lived like an African, NOT like a Wazungu, white person from the West. That was the encouragement I needed. I began to move forward with a fundraising goal that was thus informed and within a few months knew this was God’s plan for me. I would GO poor, to the poor, to make disciples of the poor to reach the poor. Stay tuned for part two. The actual application of my ministry plan. If you want to sample my journey, read David Platt’s Radical.  Then get three books by David Bercot.  The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down, Will the Theologians Please Sit Down and will the Real Heretics Please Stand UP.  IF you want to put it in practice read the Kingdom Essentials by Marc Carrier.  Email me for the link, it is free.  See you in the next post on phase two of my journey to Africa.

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5 responses

24 07 2013
James B Belleau

Thank you for this Glenn.

25 07 2013
Kim

Brilliant!!!

25 07 2013
Sean

Thanks for sharing your heart and experience with God with us brother. You are a blessing to the Body.

25 07 2013
Marshall

Our Father’s good start with His Son in you!
Will be wisdom to see what He finally does with the “my ministry plan”. {grin}

31 08 2013
Elizabeth (Liz) McEwen

I read this wonderful testimony again, and want you to know that I have shared it with my house group. We started our fellowship a few weeks ago, and are reading many resources in our endeavour to live as authentic Christians. My daughter and I have both left Facebook for now, but will check in occasionally to see your updates. God bless you, Glenn. Not only are your changing hearts for Jesus where you are, but you are encouraging so many others back here in the U.S.

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