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.
Last night, I chose to sleep on the sidewalk on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, California.
There are homeless people sleeping on the streets literally about every 10 – 15 feet. Why? It would be easy for those who haven’t experienced it to say they are lazy or they should all get jobs at McDonalds, but many hold that viewpoint because they’ve never experienced homelessness and lack compassion in their hearts – and the lack of compassion in our society is the true source of homelessness.
When we see a problem, why is it for many of us our initial response is to find who to blame? Let’s put aside that as it adds nothing to the solution. Let’s put on compassion, open our heart, open our home, open our wallet, and start making a difference in someone who is worth just as much as anyone else. See beyond the appearance. Love, – D.R>
This morning I was in Monterey, California and chose to go to Big Sur. After spending the previous two nights at an open 24 hours Denny’s, sleeping for about 30 minutes on the beach of Monterrey, and being heavily caffeinated on Starbucks and Denny’s coffee, I needed a change in scenery.
I found the first bus leaving Monterrey headed south to Big Sur, and used my dwindling $4 for the ride (I now had about $5 left in total). If you’ve never heard of Big Sur, I suggest you search through images of Big Sur on Google. From all of my hiking up and down the west coast, Big Sur was certainly the most spectacular sight to behold.
I had been hiking through Big Sur for about 2 or 3 hours, when I came to a place of road construction. Because the road was closed to one lane, it made it impossible for me to continue hiking while cars were passing through. I stopped to wait. I was standing beside the road, when a streak of blue passed by with two young women in their mid-twenties. As they drove next to me, in their brand new Mustang, the young lady in the passenger yelld “Ya wanna hop in?”
My choice was obvious. I ran to catch up with them, literally “hopped in”, and we drove around the windy roads of magnificient Big Sur.
Like myself, the kind young women who had offered a ride to me didn’t have much of a plan. Eventually, they would make it to Los Angeles, hopefully before that evening to go to a concert in Long Beach. After asking me a couple of times if I were a serial killer, they offered for me to ride the entire way to LA with them, if I would like. Since I always like to go with the flow, that seemed to be where the flow was going.
Improvisation is defined as being “a creation spoken or written or composed extemporaneously (without prior preparation).”
It is those created works which happen, unexpectedly, that truly excite the human spirit within me. When you have no expectations you will always live in a place of adventure and in a world where all things are possible. The only thing I do expect, is that life will continuously get better, because of the eternal gift of life I’ve received which only grows with fruit. This afternoon I was reading the book of Colossians which said “…the word of the truth of the gospel; which has come to you, as it is in all the world; and brings forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.”
As I pondered this written word I began to consider that once truly knowing the grace of God, our lives begin to produce fruit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, etc. The relationship between grace and what we produce in our lives is of great interest to me. The system of this world behaves in a way that is opposing to grace in order to produce a good work. Many believe that if we punish bad behavior people will discontinue behaving badly. However, grace looks upon bad behavior not merely as a superficial action, but a symptom of something deeper within the heart – which only grace itself has the power to change.
I approached my campsite in Florence, Oregon and met a man in his 70′s with long, dazzling white hair, who was reading a book. He introduced himself as “Sky” and we began to get to know each other a bit.
Sky had traveled around the world 4 times, most often without any money. He was a street musician from the 60′s era who would go from place to place playing guitar on the streets to earn his food money for the day. I spent three days of time with this person and all he spoke of was the love and freedom of God. He presented truth in an incredibly simple and non-judgmental manner that was truly refreshing. He spoke of the Holy Spirit and the limitless possibilities of what He is capable. We shared stories of what we’ve seen God do in our lives and the lives of others, shared meals, and shared revelation we’ve both received. It was an incredible three days in Florence.
There was also a homeless man there. I say “also” because Sky wasn’t homeless, his home was the earth. It was interesting viewing these two different people, in seemingly similar living circumstances. Sky had no doubt that everything he needed was always provided for by God, and he spoke with confidence in the truth. The other man was bitter towards the world and spoke of the struggles and difficulties of being homeless. I am in now way meaning that being homeless on the streets cannot be a difficult way to live, but the interesting dynamic was that Sky greatly enjoyed life, while the other man was struggling through life.
Over the past few years I’ve taken many trips “into the unknown.” What I mean is, I’ve started a journey, traveling from place to place without destination, without much money, and without knowledge of how I would survive.
I always remember the first step, which is often that hardest to take. Each time I take that step, fully realizing I have just crossed over from everything I knew, into everything I did not know. This step then begins a battle between excitement and fear, and though fear may appear more prevalent at times, excitement and sureness have always won.
It’s incredible what God can do when we step into the world of the unknown. A world where He is completely our total reliance. I remember walking along highway 101 in northern Oregon one evening, the sun was moments away from giving way to darkness. I had about $8 to my name and it looked I would be walking another 6 or 7 hours until approaching the next town of Astoria. Right at the time a truck pulled over and asked if I’d like a ride into Astoria – perfect timing.
I arrived in Astoria at about 9pm, still without a clue as to how or where I would sleep. When someone from Astoria has told me about a place that was “a step below a hostel and a step above a homeless shelter.” It sounded perfect to me. They gave me directions and I pursued to find the establishment where I might sleep for the evening. When I found the building I spoke with some gentleman outside who said I’d found the place, but I’d have to speak to the house manager about staying for the night. Luckily they said, he was there, finishing up a Bible study. I walked through the front door, made my introduction, and secured a couch for the nigh, before heading to Portland in the morning.
That is just one story, from the many cases on my two month long Explroation of the west coast, this past summer, where nothing seemed to be coming to my aid, in a time of seemingly distress. Yet I never felt incredibly stressed. There were moments of fear, but they were brief. I continuously practiced the thought in my head that “I’m doing great!” I wasn’t hungry, I had water, I had clothing, and if need be I would find somewhere to sleep at some point.
Why should I fear the world around me?
This past summer I spent two months on the west coast of the USA. I traveled those two months from Los Angeles to the northern Oregon border and back to LA, on a journey that would see many new relationships found, precious moments shared, and an adventure of a lifetime. Luckily for me, adventures of a lifetime are one thing of which I am a wealthy man. I flew to LA from my hometown of Oklahoma City with a one-way plane ticket I managed to land for only $85. The extent of my plan being to land in LA at around 11:15, find a bench in the airport to close my eyes through the dark of night, and begin my journey of the west coast at sunrise. That first night saw no sleep. I layed beneath some chairs in the corner of an airdock waiting room; nearby where some kids apparently in high school were conversing about the three songs which continuously repeated over the airport speakers. Where were they going? Why were these “kids” in an airport at 2 in the morning? These questions would go unanswered. I checked the sunrise time for LA that morning and decided I would go outside about 30 minutes before liftoff! My first steps outside of the airport brought me in front of a bench occupied by two security guards, lending their heroine protection to the airport guests. What painstaking work it must be to secure an airport at 4am with 4 guests who inhabit an airport at that time. I’m curious if cigarettes are provided to give security guards enough activity at that time? Anyways; I gave a moment to thought of my direction on which to embark… North.