My apologies for failing to publish The Navigator last week!
In addition to weekly duties and preparing to preach a conference in Ft. Worth, there were more-than-usual church members who needed counseling and to be served.
That said, I must share with you some news that will set your spirit on fire. It’s a story of what Almighty Christ is doing in our midst. While the focus of the world is on Russia and Ukraine, consider the following and you will be reminded that, regardless of the shape of our world, we have a King who has not surrendered his throne.
You remember Jim Hardwicke. He spoke at last October’s Appreciation Banquet. The Lord has allowed him to teach and preach all over the world, to many remote people groups. Jim taught be how to share my faith. And his heart is still to reach people with Jesus’ good news. (By the way, that’s what Sammy’s sermon is on next Sunday.)
The story he shared yesterday on social media is not embellished. It is true. And it is powerful. Pray about sharing the story with your class. It will prepare their hearts for Sammy’s sermon.
A few days ago, Michelle and I received this absolutely stunning report from the Jesus Film Project (an organization very worthy of your support). You will be shocked.
“This firsthand report comes from a part of Africa that is in great chaos. Large, heavily populated areas are ravaged by terrorist groups and militant fighters. There is broad persecution of believers and many churches have been burned.
A woman here, whom I will call ‘Carla,’ for her protection, was determined to become a suicide bomber. She hated Christians and threatened to pour boiling water on them. Soon, Carla intended to earn the favor of her god by murdering all who were not radical enough.
So, she planned a suicide bombing that would rock the government and kill many innocent people in a local market. The day approached for her sacrifice. But shortly before, Carla fell sick. During the night she experienced a profound and very real dream.
A Man in dazzling white stood before her. His face shone as brilliantly as the sun, but she could not see past the intense light. However, she did hear His voice, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. You will preach the gospel.’
When she awoke Carla was greatly confused and shaken, but healed from her illness. She knew it was Jesus who spoke to her. She went to a Christian woman she knew, telling her about the powerful dream. That woman explained the gospel and Carla prayed to receive Christ. She was transformed by the power of God—from death unto life—made a new creation in Christ.
A few days later, Jesus reappeared to her in a second dream. He said, ‘Carla, go and share this good news with the regional commander.’ She knew about that commander. He was ruthless and led the most notorious radical group in the area, responsible for the deaths of thousands.
She told her parents about the mission Jesus was sending her on. They told her she was crazy and would certainly die. Carla confidently responded, ‘I was ready to die for a false religion. So, I am happy and prepared to die for Jesus.’
But how was she to reach that commander? She did not know. He was heavily shielded and protected by several layers of security and checkpoints. Then Carla ‘just happened’ to run into a man who was connected to the radical group. She asked him to take her to his headquarters. With great hesitation, he agreed. The two got on his motorcycle not knowing what would happen.
When they arrived at a camp and checkpoint, the first of four, there were about 250 fighters. Carla openly shared the gospel with them! She said that she was on a mission and wanted to approach their commander. They scoffed and told her she would be killed. Undeterred, she continued her long journey. It took her 10 hours, and she went through three more checkpoints, each with armed fighters. Before the last checkpoint, the man who had taken her refused to go any further. She was on her own and somehow, made it through alive.
Arriving at his headquarters, the commander strangely granted her an audience. Prepared to die, Carla explained the gospel, saying that Jesus had sent her. ‘Jesus wants you to know that He is the way, the truth, and the life,’ she told him. Rather than kill her, the commander went to a table in his office, sat down, and began to weep, saying, ‘Three days ago, Jesus appeared to me in a dream. He told me that I was on a path of destruction. I must change my ways. If I don’t, I will be destroyed. Then he told me that a woman was going to come and tell me about the gospel!’
Carla was stunned and explained as best she could that Jesus was the true and living God, that He gave His life and was raised from the dead to give all who will believe forgiveness and eternal life. The commander believed. Carla led him to the Lord.
He then gave orders for all his officers to come to the camp, three truck loads. When they arrived, he told them the truth, that Jesus was the true and living God. Carla coordinated with Jesus Film staff in the country who sent video tablets containing both segments and the full ‘Jesus’ film in the local language.
Every night since, there have been showings of those segments of the full film. And every night, new fighters are coming to the camp to watch and believe—some from Yemen, Sudan, Iran, and Turkey—all fighters given to their cause but instead meet Jesus. Rather than being trained to kill, they are watching ‘Jesus’ every night! At last count nearly 1,000 people have given their lives to Christ and renounced terror. The commander has even had to relocate and go into hiding from other radical groups for his supposed betrayal.
But the best part is that, under his influence, the doors have swung wide open to sharing the gospel with tens of thousands in this dangerous area. Staff leaders are saying there is a movement of evangelism unfolding that is, in their words, ‘beyond belief—skyrocketing opportunities.’”
Michelle and I have talked personally to a number of former unbelievers from such countries who have had similar dreams of Jesus—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).