It’s amazing what happens when you begin a journey with very little planned; other than going places to love people. Every direction seems to be an opportunity and every place is filled with incredible people who are looking to know God deeper and love others, even though they have never before met.
The first evening, we arrived in St. Louis Missouri where I had been invited by a pastor named Joe James to attend a Prophetic Conference. I found Joe on Bethel’s iGlobalLegacy.org social network of people passionate about God and seeing cities transformed. I sent an email to him letting him know about us and what we were doing and that we’d simply love to connect. We met in the conference, embraced, and it was as if instantly meeting a family member. In my experience this is a common occurrence between people who have been born with the Spirit of God. As Paul said “we know one another in the spirit, not by the flesh” and this verse has rang very true in my life and in the relationships I’ve made with people along explorations of hope. God is One Spirit. And in His Spirit we are all connected. Even though we haven’t met in the flesh, it’s as if we’ve known each other before in realm where time does not exist. Then, when a connection is made, we share stories of experiences we’ve gone through – in the flesh.
At the prophetic conference the first song the musician played was called “Prepare the Way.” Have a listen to it or watch the video below.
Listening to the words in this song I couldn’t help but feel that this song was directly speaking to me and the mission I have to carry out in this life. That by exploring places with the light God has placed within us, we are breaking ground for the Kingdom of Heaven to come in greater measure as evidenced on the earth. The music was produced by a single gentleman on the piano, however; towards the end a woman sitting behind me began playing a flute. The spontaneity, and beauty in her talent, filled the music with another layer of creativity and greatly impacted the audience. I love spontaneous things that happen and the power music has on each of us.
The speaker on this night of the conference was Mary Lindow, “…an unusually versatile talent with a humorous and joyful expression and also as a willing servant of the Lord…” Mary gave a message filled with so much revelation into the heart of God that I couldn’t if I began to write about all of it I would have a 300 page book (perhaps I should do that?). She is a trained classical musician who would sing spontaneous prophetic songs over individuals in the audience – and her words greatly impacted many. Her music at times was as if you were sitting in a theatre watching a musical.
When the conference ended I approached Mary to thank her for her message and ministry. She instantly asked if she could pray for me and gave me words which have brought much light to my future direction and things I will do in the future. She said that I would fly “under the radar” and would accomplish much that was unseen, delivering supplies to people in need in areas where access was unavailable. These simple words have brought about a great deal of pondering.
We left the conference about 11 pm and went to Denny’s with Pastor Joe. Joe is from Wales, which is most likely my number 1 place I would like to go (I’m not welsh but my name is welsh and I’ve always felt drawn to go there). Joe shared his story with us about what God had delivered him from and the freedom he now carries for others. He wouldn’t fit the “norm” of what many of us might think of as a “pastor.” He has tattoos and instead of focusing on simply building a huge church, he is focused on being a place which exudes the presence of God. With that mindset it doesn’t matter how many people you have, the impact will be mighty. He said “the world doesn’t need just another church, it needs God.” I believe his church will be something different and unique, something that the city of St. Louis will be completely transformed by.
Joe invited us to stay in his spare room for the night and take us to breakfast in the morning. His kindness was overwhelming and so encouraging to us for continuing our journey the next day. We ate breakfast, shared more stories, and were soon on our way to Chicago!
In Chicago we came to the home of Rene’e and H.T. Neighbors. There’s always an excitement in meeting people I haven’t met before. They were parents of a friend, so I did have some knowledge of who they were, but there is still that anticipation of what people might be like when you actually meet them. This would turn out to be another time of meeting people who had such a simple and genuine love for others.
Mrs. Neighbors ministers to women in prisons and is a tremendous prayer warrior. She spends hours in the morning with God, learning more of who He is, and thus; giving more of who He is to others. The first night in Chicago the four of us went to dinner and shared some great conversation. H.T. is a rock solid man of Godly character. I was amazed that after 24 years of marriage (I think it was 24), I would have thought they were as in love as they the date they met (probably much more in love now). When I asked what their secret was H.T. simply responded with “God.”
The next day we went to Chicago to connect with a ministry called Jesus People, USA. “In 1972 JPUSA began when a ragtag group of Christians wanted to change the world for Jesus. Now more than forty years later, they are still at it. What started as simply inviting folks in for a meal became a feeding program. What began as a phone call from a mother looking for housing eventually became a shelter, and now a complex of ministries dedicated to housing and resource services. Working together, ordinary people have been able to accomplish extraordinary things.”
We met the young lady at the front desk and quickly struck up conversation. She was actually from Moore, Oklahoma and we shared a good friend in common. We asked if there were opportunities to serve and were introduced to Tim, who said they did have some dishes that needed to be washed. We spent the next hour or so washing dishes, seeing the people who would come through the kitchen for a meal, and met some of the residents.
We left on the morning of day 3 headed for Philadelphia. On the way I was invited through Facebook by the pastor of Gateway Victory Church in Wooster, Ohio, Keith Smith. We were invited for a quick meet & greet and prayer. We arrived at his church where had agreed to meet and as soon as I saw him I knew this was a man of incredible love for people. He had spent years growing up within a church, but everything changed once He found that God was a powerful God and had so much love, healing, and supernatural abilities for His Kingdom to invade earth through those who believe. He had discovered a book which greatly impacted him called When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. Here is a short video from Bill speaking about “Living an Empowered Lifestyle”:
After sharing our stories with Keith he invited us to join him for a meal with a house church called Wayne County House of Prayer. His House of Prayer is place where people come together to become equipped in their gifting and transform their city for God. I have rarely been in an environment where the prophetic and spiritual intensity was as thick. The entire time we spent in this house was such a ministry to us, and it was an honor to make friends in the small town of Wooster. As soon as we arrived in this town I felt something I had not felt before. I met a man named Matt Clark, who is a rare breed. His curiosity has produced tremendous insight into things of the spiritual realm. I greatly loved getting to know him and see his heart. He shared so much encouragement with me about who I am and what I am doing. It’s great when someone shares truth of the beauty that is within our hearts with us.
I believe something BIG is happening in Wooster. Something that people will go to from all over the region to find – the Spirit, love, and power of God.
We awoke the next day with the intent of making it to Philadelphia. We arrived 45 minutes west of Philly in the town of West Chester, PA. The next morning we attended East Gate Church from an invitation I received from Timothy Berry, whose ministry is called Berry Blessed Ministries. At this point in the journey we had reached a wall, a point to choose whether or not to continue our exploration, or head back to Oklahoma. During the service the decision to head back became the decision where peace was found. The people of East Gate Church are pursuing healing for their region and have a great desire to impact the world. Their pastor shared stories of healing which took place on his recent visit to Australia, and it was an honor to join them for Sunday morning services. I met a man and his wife who, during musical worship, invited us to partake in communion with he and his wife. This man held so much passion within his heart, and was strong because he had become weak. He carried tremendous power to change environments with his actions and his soft-spoken words.
After the service we chose to head back to Oklahoma. We drove straight through, and arrived back in Oklahoma 1 week after leaving. Explorations of Hope rarely have a pre-defined length of time, and we go as the wind blows and as doors are opened to take. There are so many things that happened along this one-week journey which I believe it impossible for me to capture with words in a blog post. The connections which were made with so many in this week have tremendously impacted me, as I hope we impacted others with friendship, prophetic words, encouragement, and inspiration of dreams. I will never forget some of the things imparted in the Spirit, the intangible things which natural words cannot fully capture. The kindness that others showed us in support of our exploration will never be forgotten. Kindness when shared, in such ways that can seem so unnatural in the way the natural “survival of the fittest” world, change something in our world and have lasting impact as we carry that kindness to others.
So, now, I am back in Oklahoma. I believe this will be a short visit back to my birthplace, and I am looking forward to sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. I believe the next exploration will happen very soon, though I am not quite sure on direction. Doors open in an instant, and when they open, I go.