Thanksgiving, Earthquakes and Emotional Breakdowns

Yesterday I was reflecting about the meaning of being thankful. My mind went to the usual–and accurate–places; I am thankful to God, for my family, friends, etc.

However, the more deeply I thought about it, a vivid memory surfaced–one that I had not recalled for at least two years.

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, Port Au Prince, Haiti was hit with a magnitude 7 earthquake, devastating the impoverished island nation. That day, over 300,000 people lost their lives, 300,000 more were injured and over 1,000,000 became homeless.

Through Divine providence, I found myself in Port Au Prince, Haiti just a few days after the quake. Working with our good friends, Kurt and Debbie Holthus of Hope International Ministries, I was a part of a group of surgeons, surgical nurses, logistics experts and ministers. Our job was to do whatever we could to help.

The first few days on the ground were a bit tumultuous. We were sleeping on the grounds of a walled, half-built elementary school in the city. There were guards standing at the locked gate, keeping watch over our truck and over a million dollars worth of medical supplies as well as our personnel. I was laying on a concrete floor in a sleeping bag and couldn’t seem to fall asleep; there were constant after-shocks and chronic Voodoo drums surrounding us.

As I lay there trying to sleep, I could faintly hear some singing coming from the street in front of our gate.  I nudged my buddy, Pastor Ken Cramer, who was in the next sleeping bag, and asked him if he wanted to join me in checking out the singing in the street. Within a couple of minutes, we were both standing just inside the gate, listening to a group of people sing songs in Haitian Creole on the other side of the wall. Suddenly, I recognized the tune they were singing: Fanny Crosby’s classic, “Blessed Assurance!” By this time, Kurt Hothus had joined us and we convinced the guard to let us out of the gate to see who was singing.

The three of us quickly sat down on the curb, against the compound gates and as our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. There were dirty mattresses neatly fit together in the center of the street, and upon them, were probably 30 or more people singing as their children were falling asleep on their laps. Their houses had been destroyed and they were afraid that further aftershocks would cause nearby buildings to topple down on them, so the middle of the street was the safest place to be.

As our eyes became familiar with the darkness, we could see the people’s condition.  There was a woman with a broken leg; her foot was twisted around and lying on the mattress in an unnatural position.  There were sleeping children with bandaged heads.  Most of the people lying on the mattress pallet were injured in some way.

The three of us found ourselves almost unconsciously singing along to the familiar tune of “Blessed Assurance,” though we were singing in English.  I looked over at Kurt and Ken and they, like me, had tears streaming down their cheeks as the language/culture barrier was collapsing.  Overcome with emotion, my heart felt like it was going to explode with a peculiar mixture of sorrow, pain, empathy, joy and belonging.

As the song came to an end, the lady with the twisted, broken leg began to lead the next song.  It was obvious that the song was particularly meaningful, because the whole group began to raise their hands and cry as they sang this song with more passion than we had yet heard.  I looked at my companions and asked them if they knew what song this was, but they, like me, recognized the familiar tune but couldn’t figure out the English lyrics.

All of the sudden, I was able to subconsciously attach English words to the familiar tune:

…and now, let the weak say, “I am strong,”

let the poor say, “I am rich because of what the Lord has done…”

These dear brothers and sisters were lying injured, on dirty mattresses, in the middle of an unsafe street, with no food, having lost everything singing, “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.”

To say that I was overcome would be an understatement.  I don’t remember ever crying that deeply; it felt like the sobs came from my very soul.

Ken, Kurt and I quickly went and got these folks food and help.  Though we would move the next day–and not see them again, I relived this vivid, life changing memory again yesterday and yet another time in writing this.

Gratitude is not based on how much we have, our present condition or our sense of security.  We give thanks because of what the Lord Has done for us.

Have a blessed, authentic Thanksgiving.

Announcing Humanitarian Partnership with WSI

It is our joy to announce a new, strategic partnership with WSI, a leading provider of clean water solutions in impoverished areas of East Africa.

We had been praying about how Enloe Ministries could be more involved in humanitarian outreach and church planting when we received a call from our life-long friend, John Bongiorno (President of WSI).  John explained how we could work together to reach the wonderful people of East Africa with both Physical and Living water.  We prayed and quickly came to a unanimous ‘Yes’!

Our ministry and focus will remain unchanged, but our humanitarian emphasis will be greatly enlarged.  This partnership will include raising awareness and church participation in WSI’s Water Sunday initiative.  It will also provide unique, new ministry opportunities–including Holy Spirit Conferences–in East Africa.

WaterSunday is an awareness/involvement event that  helps others learn about the need for clean, accessible water in East Africa and gives them an opportunity to get involved personally.  Any organization can host a Water Sunday event, including churches, businesses and social groups.  Water Sunday events provide support for WorldServe to drill deep water wells in impoverished areas of East Africa and open doors for church planting for the national Assemblies of God.

Check out the www.WaterSunday.org website for much more information and media.

19 Years Ago…

Nineteen years ago this May, Rochelle and I graduated from Central Bible College in Springfield, MO.  We did not know exactly what God had for us except that we were called to teach on the Holy Spirit in itinerant ministry.  I began to travel immediately after graduation by myself, then was joined by Rochelle after our wedding four months later.  We ran the wheels off of our little VW van as we drove coast to coast in ministry those first few years!

We are so grateful to God for His faithfulness as we celebrate the completion of our 19th year of full-time ministry.  We could not have made it without our family and faithful prayer partners — thanks for your love and support!  Thanks for believing in God’s call on our lives; we love you so much!

As we begin our 20th year of traveling and teaching on the Holy Spirit, will you join us in believing the Lord of the Harvest to call many more into the ministry?  Will you agree with us for an increase in fruitfulness and souls?  Will you pray for an increase in the anointing upon us?

We are believing God for the strength, protection, wisdom and sensitivity needed to enter our second decade of ministry — and believing Him for the greatest harvest we have yet seen.

Thanks for standing with us in prayer!

Love and Gratitude,

Tim

Disengaged from Corporate Worship Experiences: A Study in Humility

Our experiences with the Holy Spirit generally happen in one of two venues: in a group setting or when we are alone.

While we value and appreciate all experiences with God, many times we neglect to see a major positive side effect of receiving in a group setting; namely, humbling ourselves before others.Experiencing God in a group setting has a different prerequisite than it’s more private counterpart; the group setting demands a different type of personal humility. In order to be a part of a community, you must lower your guard and humble yourself publicly on some level. Participating with others as you experience God demands that we lay down our pride–and hopefully its accompanying pretense.

If your spiritual life is only ever expressed in private, you are missing something wonderful! Even if you are wired in your personality to be very shy or reserved, there are ways you can open up and participate in a corporate setting. It doesn’t demand that you be the center of attention; conversely, it demands that you enter in and cooperate with what the others are doing. You actually stand out less!

I dare my shy friends to just take a small step out and participate a little more than you are currently allowing yourself. Even a small step is progress! Pray out loud during the corporate prayer times; sing along with the worship songs, raise your hands, allow yourself to enter in on a new level. Simply do more.

I frequently ask myself this question in worship, “Is my pride comfortable right now?”

Now, not everyone who avoids spiritual community does so out of timidity. Some disengage from corporate worship all together; they don’t merely attend as a disengaged spectator–they don’t attend anymore at all! I am deeply disturbed with a growing trend of people disconnecting from corporate church gatherings. I understand that they have possibly been hurt by some past church experience or leader. In listening to many of these folks, I have discovered that the premise for “de-churching” is ALWAYS based on negative experiences, NOT what the Bible says:

“ And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT

Do you see how this goes hand-in-hand with not wanting to humble yourself?

“I don’t want to ever go there again…”

“They don’t treat me with respect there…”

“They don’t recognize my gifts…”

“That church is full of hypocrites…” (Good! Then we can all fit in well!)

Do these sound familiar? The next step is stepping away. Then, exalting our negative experiences over Scripture, we feel justified by our excuse–surely we are the EXCEPTION to the Biblical mandate of corporate worship!

By that point, pride has a deep foothold. Maybe if we planted ourselves in the place we know we belong, we would reap the benefits that we really desire?

Perhaps it’s time to reassess our spiritual routine…AGAIN! It requires constant attention and calibration…for all of us.

What do you think?

Interview with Dr. George Wood

Here is our recent interview with Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

We discuss issues relating to the rational mind and the working of the Holy Spirit, particularly Spirit baptism.

Missions project in Indonesia

Hi everyone.

Many of you know that we as a family and as a ministry are deeply invested in Indonesian missions and humanitarian aid.
Click here to see the exciting project that is almost completed!
This Children’s House is a miracle in progress.  Please take a moment, look at the pictures and add it to your prayer list!

Aftertaste: The Lakeland Healing Revival

In my two previous posts on Lakeland and Todd Bentley, I encouraged prayer for the leadership there–particularly Bentley.  I want to continue that call and add another subject to that prayer list: disillusioned people.

Since the apparent fizzling of the media attention and the troubling announcement that Bentley and his wife are separating, there are a whole host of people asking the age-old question, “how could God use someone who didn’t have it all together?”  
The answer is, of course, simple; God only uses imperfect people.  This does not excuse doctrinal error, immorality or lack ethics or compassion; it is simply a fact.  Everyone who has ever been used in a divine way is flawed–except Jesus, of course.
I used to be a harsh critic until realizing that I could not live up to my own standards of perfection.  I chose to become a realist after this revelation.  That guards me from holding people in too high regard while insuring that God gets the glory for His good work in and through us.  
From the beginning of the Lakeland movement I’ve tried to focus on the positive.  I will still choose to do so because there are already enough places to read about the bad.  I certainly did not ever endorse Bentley’s brand of “Neo-Latter Rain” theology or shock value tactics, but I refuse to kick someone while they are down.  Like it or not, God used Todd Bentley in Lakeland and there is fruit.  
Bentley’s family is in a crisis right now and we need to earnestly pray for them. If you were an avid supporter, please do not let your disappointment keep you from praying for restoration. If you were an outspoken critic, please demonstrate your Christlikeness by holding up a weak brother in prayer.
Let’s be part of God’s healing process in Todd Bentley’s family by adding him to our prayer lists and humbly recognize that we too are carrying treasure in earthen vessels.