Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stepping Out In Faith

Stepping out in faith can sometimes be a dangerous thing to do. We can never know how a person (or, as in the case of the story below), a group of people may react to our attempts to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

I received an email notification this morning which had a link to a website that shared a unique, yet awesome story. It truly shows that God can use anyone, and anything, to reach the lost for Jesus. Even a man who had suffered through a difficult childhood.

The following story genuinely demonstrates the wisdom and knowledge found in the words of Jesus Christ Himself:

"...With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (see Mark 10:27)



From: All Things Possible Ministries

Dear Friends:

I am writing this letter to you from a view of 32,000 feet. That's right, flying in the jet stream going home after another fast and action packed trip! Flying over head, I've always been inspired by the view of the farmland and their crops. And, when seeing the farms, with their red and golden fields ready for the harvest, I am reminded of our work.

Our work of reaching America's hurting youth, the ones that are most often incarcerated, is definitely not something Eileen and I ever planned or saw ourselves doing.

Going from living the island lifestyle in Hawaii to responding to an invitation to go on staff with "Focus on the Family" and then finally being put right in the middle of a ministry reaching our nations incarcerated youth is quite the journey. I want to share with you how we founded All Things Possible Ministries.

It started on a Friday "date night" when my bride and I were leaving a mall in Colorado Springs in 2003. That is when a carload of very loud and rowdy gang bangers pulled up next to us with music blaring. It was one of those times when you clearly sense the Holy Spirit impress you to do something. It was in that moment; stopped at a light, I knew I was suppose to share Christ with these kids.

I asked Eileen to roll down her window, in our very intimidating minivan, and I leaned over and yelled at them to pull over into a parking lot. They ignored me at first and probably thought I was nuts. The second time I got their attention by asking them if they were afraid of an old man? That worked! They abruptly pulled over and piled out ready to "get it on". Eileen, near full term with our fourth child, simply bowed her head in the seat and prayed for the safety for her ADHD husband of 15 years.

Well, we met half way and I stopped them by telling them I was a master of martial arts and that the current reigning United States Nation Karate Champion was a young man I had trained. They all looked at me like I was crazy, so I told them at the red light I could see the guy in the back seat was holding a Bali song or Butterfly knife. The knife opened from the middle, to expose the blade and I told them to let me show them how to properly open and close this martial arts weapon. By the grace of God, and my wife's "emergency phone call to God" from the van, they did not attack me. Rather they retrieved the knife from under the back seat, (it was illegal) and allowed me to perform a short but convincing demonstration by twirling, flipping, opening and closing the knife faster than a switch blade.

The Holy Spirit's prodding in my spirit worked because now I had the platform. Their attention was captured and God allowed me the opportunity to share the story about the real Master, Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross for their and my sins.

Three of the four youths responded openly to the truth of a loving God who made a way for them. It was a miraculous and happy ending! Well, yes and no.

To my shock the fourth young man, (who I'll call Joe) had really big and wild looking hair. It was waving in the air and as he approached he began spewing filthy profanities at me, the likes of which would make a sailor blush. Joe then started attacking Jesus, the Bible, and screaming there is no way that God could be a loving Father. Joe vehemently rejected the message and threaten me to such an extent that his friends had to physically restrain him and calm him down.

Joe asked me why, if God was so loving, did he allow him to be raised in a family who has only known the gang life and has been made to suffer all his 15 years of living?


I hope at this point you're asking yourself what would you do in this situation?

Many of you might say, "Victor, don't pull over a group of gang members!", and I would say, "I agree, unless you knew God was directing you."

But here is where the story really gets interesting. I told Joe that the truth remained the same. God is a loving God! He is righteous and He does desire, more than anything for him to repent and to surrender his life to "The Master". So Joe could fulfill all God had planned for his life; which is the same for all of us "a future and a hope" as He says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
This young and deeply hurting angry young man shouted his last obscenities and stomped away. The remaining three actually apologized for him and then thanked me for caring enough to share with them. We then slapped hands (the street way) and we each went our own way.


Not in God's economy as He always works things in His perfect timing.

Fast forward three months when I am asked by a great brother and warrior in Christ to come to a youth prison and share my story and do a martial arts demo. I did. To our surprise there were 75 youths in this facility and sitting on the very back row was that "big hair" kid, Joe. That's right! I was both shocked and amazed to see him sitting on the back row. I went on to perform a weapons demo in which I unfortunately hit my assistant in the chin with the nunchucks. Whoops! This guy bled profusely and yet allowed me to take another swing and accurately knock the pencil out of his mouth; needless to say I had the full attention of all the youth, the guards and even the Warden.

With rapt attention I went on to share about the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in my life in the midst of hardship as a kid growing up. Well to my shock and delight when I gave an opportunity for these harden, hurting, angry youth to receive forgiveness from the Lord Jesus; 53 of the 75 stood to signify their need to be forgiven and their desire to follow Jesus!

Truly the signet ring seal of the Lord was embossed on my heart when the kid in the back row "big hair" stood to surrender to Christ Jesus. I walked to the back and he looked at me and I asked "Do you remember me?" He said, "Yeah." Then I asked him, "Why today?" and I will never forget what this old man of 16 years said.

"Mister I am tired of living my life on my own and you said Jesus could live in me and help me"

Do you see why we do what we do?

A.T.P. reaches into a bountiful harvest field. A field that Satan has convinced most of us is a waste of our time and resources. He wants us to be afraid of these kids. But we know that God loves them and that Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. Just like the one sheep, the Good Shepherd left the ninety nine to go after the one. We are following his example by doing the same.

Our future in 2008 looks to be an incredible year of opportunity! There are several creative projects on the calendar that only the Lord could have ordained and given us favor for. With faithful national and international saints covering us with prayer we can only win more youth for Him!

Thank you very, very much for making the sacrifices in prayer and financially you've made to partner with us. Together may we fulfill that which the Master has called us to do.

Because of Him, because of them,

Victor and Eileen Marx

All Things Possible Ministries, PO BOX 21568 Waco, Texas 76702

HT: Laiglesforum

Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mar 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.

Mar 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.


Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine:

This post touched my heart deeply and tears came to my eyes as I was reading it. What a blessing you have provided to the world this day.

My first speaking engagement in a Level 3 (high security) women’s prison here in Columbia, South Carolina was this month. It was at the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution. What an amazing experience for me considering I had never been in a “prison” in my life! I did spend 10 days in a county jail for my third DUI in Florida during the early 80’s, but I would not consider that a prison.

The greatest blessing for me was when so many of the inmates identified with my testimony of homosexuality and drunkenness. One even showed me scares on her arm and she told me she was a “cutter” also. It was a joy to tell her Jesus can set her free. Keep being salt and light to the world, my “little” sister. God is smiling and I love you dearly. (ss)

Matt W. said...

What an awesome story. Praise God for "laborer's" such as these, and I pray He uses stories like this to motivate more to go forth into His harvest.
Thank you so much for sharing this story today.
God Bless,
Matt W.

Stephen said...

All of those without Christ are in a "prison" if you will -- a prison of sin.

Evangelism is a requirement of Christ's Great Commission - we are to "Go and tell." Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17) Silence may be golden, yet our actions must follow our "telling."

We don't do the saving or the changing, the Lord does.

One man plants, another waters, but "God giveth the increase."

Homosexuality tragically is rampant within prison environments. Many straight men and women are forced into a corner they would have never gone.

At SBM, we have a faithful group of men and women who are "Prison Pen Pals." We receive letters on a regular basis for materials and Bibles or just correspondence within inmates - people who have done everything to first degree murder, and willingly write them and send them materials. This has been part of the ministry for almost 8 years now.

I received a call from a pastor this summer that a homosexual came to Christ and was now incarcerated. He asked me to come to NY and meet with this man.

I gladly made the several hour drive, however, the guards made ME feel like I was the criminal when I got there! I didn't let that discourage me though.

I went with the pastor, and we were told only ONE of us could go in -- my loafers (shoes) had metal rings that set the alarm off, and they wouldn't let me in.

The pastor and I did some quick thinking and I said, "Give me your sneakers.. please!" We switched shoes immedaitely (that POOR man!!!) and I went in to a holding cell, then to a special room with all of the other inmates and families.

Michael was the man's name -- and how my heart broke for him. We hugged and sat down, separated by a big wooden wall.

He shared his story of molestation, physical abuse by his "father" - who he found out later was not his father. The mother cheated with his brother and his UNCLE was his real father.

This man, 33, looked like he was 45. He became a male prostitute and lived on the streets, was a drug abuser, and molested a child. He was on the sexual offenders list and never registered. Drug lords were looking for him to literally KILL him because he owed money, thus the reason for not registering.

After an hour, we prayed, hugged again, and I assured him I'd ship him some materials and keep in touch.

He is out now, registered, living somewhere safe.

I tell this story by no means for my glory, but responding to the words of Christ: He who visited the one in prison, also visited Me (paraphrased.)

Matthew 25:35-40 (KJV) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

We are all to say YES to the opportunities the Lord puts before us. This should be our willing "Yes, Lord" as Ambassadors for Christ. But for the grace of God... that might be us behind those prison walls and cells.

Bless you, Christine

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

I truly believe that when a deeply devoted Christian woman, such as yourself, takes that "step out in faith" and ministers to suffering, hurt, and Jesus-needy people; miraculous results occur.

Your comment shows me how much it transformed those you reached out to that day. In the process, our Lord also blessed you!

Having the opportunity to present the Cross of Salvation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His subsequent resurrection - the joyful Gospel of Life - touches the hearts of those who may have resigned themselves to hopelessness.

I don't think that there is a greater way to feel significant on this earth than that!

God bless you this day!


Christinewjc said...

Hi Matt W.,

Yes! It's a great story of transformation. So are the stories that Susan and Stephen also shared!

God equips us for certain ministries on this earth. Sometimes, it is through "trial and error" that we find out where we "fit" and where God can use us mightily.

You wrote:

"I pray He uses stories like this to motivate more to go forth into His harvest."

I second that great prayer!

God bless you!

Christinewjc said...

Dear Stephen,

You have a wonderful heart for the Lord that motivates you to "step out in faith" for the downtrodden, sexually broken, and hurting people in this world. How great is God's love being shown through you!

That man has so many "strikes," so to speak, against him. Many people might have been willing to minister to him up until they learned of the child molestation accusations. I confess that it would have been extremely difficult for me to do that.

So often we hear that pedophiles cannot be "cured" of their sexual brokenness. That may be true, in the physical, scientific, and statistical-research findings sense. However, it's NOT TRUE in the spiritual realm where Jesus lives!!

His transformation power knows NO BOUNDS! It is only people who do not know Him personally that doubt the regeneration of the human soul through the Holy Spirit's indwelling!

We can't explain it to them. It can only be experienced through the transformation power that belongs to Christ alone.

God bless you for your wonderful outreach to this man whom most would label as "hopeless." There are no hopeless people in Jesus' Book!

Love to you and your family!