“Hey Anthony, I am so sorry, but the Pastor wants to talk with you.”
As Sonya Leal, the leader of YWAM “The Valley” startled me out of worship on our last day of ministry in McCallen, TX, I thought, “What could have gone wrong already?” We had four services that day and this was the 8 a.m. service that I desperately needed the worship time to get re-fueled and focused for the rest of our day.
“No worries, where is he?” I responded.
“He is in his office. I think he wants to ask you to preach.” She said.
I shouldn’t have been surprised given the Hispanic culture we were in. Over the previous week it had grown common as each day unfolded to have a service-or two added for that night, asked to add a worship set, told there would be no translators available, or even have the service cancelled altogether because of “double booking.” Most of the things that I have never run into working with Anglo churches in other parts of America. For that, and other reasons, it made this Outreach feel like a foreign location.
As I walked into the pastor’s office the atmosphere was solemn. He was leaning against a desk, visibly vulnerable. He spoke straightforward, “I apologize for the late notice, but I was unaware of the size of your team coming to my church. I want to ask you something, would you feel comfortable sharing with my church this morning? But,” he paused, “before answering, it is important for you to know something. The people are in turmoil, they are fighting amongst each other, and they are wounded. I know your team has an emphasis on missions, but would you please minister to my church?”
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I hesitated. Not because of the short notice, nor the appeal, but because of how open and up-front he was about the issues plaguing his church. This was an important request the pastor made, that carried immense implications. I said, “Yes,” totally aware of the formidable responsibility I had before this Pastor, his Church, and God.
Luckily throughout this outreach we went from speaking engagement, to service, to church meeting; all-in-all totaling 19 different opportunities for preaching, ministering, and sharing over the course of eight days. So we spent hours that week, in between these services, asking God what He would have us share at the next meeting on the schedule. What did He want to communicate to the people we were encountering in “The Valley.” The day before this story we were in one of these intercession times asking God what to speak about for that evening’s services and one of the guys on our team, Wes, spoke up. “Well, I know this doesn’t have to do with tonight, but I feel like Anthony is supposed to preach tomorrow.” He had my attention. Wes continued, “And whatever you’re going to preach about, God is going to speak to you.”
This helped explain what was going on internally for me during that moment. We were gathered around waiting on God to speak and I felt like God was highlighting a significant verse for me in my journey I had not thought about in awhile-1 John 3:16. It says, “By this we know love, the He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” So not knowing, or having any scheduled preaching time on the horizon, I moved forward with two things: a buddy saying I would preach the following day; and two, the verse that I should preach over.
And sure enough that is exactly how it happened. The pastor asked; I preached over 1 John 3:16; and the altars were filled at the end of the service.
This picture was taken during the altar call at the end of the service. Wes, on stage with the beard, had a message for the church, as well as the Pastor, which is seen in the sport coat with his grey head bowed. Wes felt like God told him that this church had lost their “warrior cry” for what God was calling them to. The enemy had stolen their voice , so as a prophetic act we were to re-capture that fighting spirit. So impassioned, we called on everyone in the church to scream at the top of their voices as a symbol to Satan and to God that we were committed to fight for all God has placed on our hearts! And that is what we did.
Afterwards the Pastor beckoned Wes and I. We sent the rest of the team onto the next church service that began shortly after, and the two of us joined the Pastor for breakfast. He was moved. The Pastor said that morning, “God exposed a lot in my life.” He could see how he had been operating and leading his church out of intimidation in recent months, but moving forward all that was going to change. Hallelujah!
I could go on and on about the victory in that church , but the point is, God had His way that morning. There was breakthrough and chains were broken. We were obedient; stepping out in extremely uncomfortable ways. But it was exactly the way God wanted it. And God did what we could not – He brought revelation, perspective change.
I have never been a part of a team where God spoke so clearly and consistently throughout an outreach as He did while in South Texas. It was revival. We spoke at 19 different gatherings from Sunday to Sunday. And before each opportunity we asked God what was on His heart for the people. He spoke. We obeyed. He moved. Salvations, healings, and lives set on a totally new course of direction.
That’s what happened in South Texas.
Stay posted for what’s coming next.
Until next time.