Below is a pastor’s personal testimony about suffering, sacrifice and brokenness in the ministry. It is his story from the school of hard knocks and his autobiography. In order to grow into Christlikeness, suffering is not an option, it comes with the turf. As we grow in the image of Jesus, we count the “fellowship of His suffering” as gain. Blessings, Pastor Steve <><
Written by a dear pastor and friend who chooses to remain anonymous:
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in the book of Isaiah 66, verses 1 and 2:
1 “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
As I attempt to write this essay on the subject of broken things, I write from the perspective of one who ministers to those who have been broken; and in this exchange, those who have been hurt can often hurt those who are trying to help them. As one who has spent the majority of my life thus far in the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can tell you at times, sheep will bite the hands that feed them.
During times of conflict or even confrontation, I must remind myself of the words of Christ when He Himself said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 Those who answer the high calling of God to minister to the broken must also be broken themselves. I am not implying that the ministry is to be depressing or desponding, but the man of God is also not to present himself as a Lord over God’s heritage, as one who is puffed up, arrogant, or proud, but we are reminded of this command by the half brother of our Lord. James, who shared the same mother as that of Immanuel, instead chose to identify himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ… [James 1:1] He continued to remind us of the necessity of humility and brokenness in James 4:6 “But He giveth more grace, Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” I personally have had to guard from allowing others to exalt myself to something greater than I am. I have had to decline offers of pastor’s parking in the front of a new building addition we built on our church property in Punta Gorda – I chose rather to suggest we use that spot for visitors. I also had to respectfully decline for a church in Jacksonville to hang a large picture of my wife and I in the foyer of our church, so the first thing the visitors and members would see would be me. I plainly told them if you want to hang a picture of anyone, hang a picture of Jesus there.
However, just as a minister must know how to guard himself from being exalted by those he leads through the service of the Lord, a minister must also know how to conduct himself in the times of brokenness and injury from those he is trying to love. Often times a pastor can find himself in the middle of a conflict or dispute that truly has nothing to do with himself. I recently found myself trying to bring peace between two families within my congregation who are united by a marriage that neither family wanted.
I find myself very often claiming the promise found in the humble brother of our Lord who was known for his knees that were as a camel, when he declared: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” [James 1:5] I have stood on this promise through prayer in every one of the five churches where I have been blessed to serve as their pastor. During times of great difficulty and brokenness I have asked our precious Father to anoint me with this wisdom that He promised to give to those who ask him. In the early years of my pastoral ministry, I had to depend on the Lord to guide me through traditional divides, and try to include members and leaders who we in times past would not use. This included faithful members who had been divorced and remarried before I was even born. I also had the blessing to allow our wonderful female members the ability to have a voice in business matters whereas for decades before they were not allowed. I also had the lot to fall upon me to allow the incorporation of newer praise and worship music like Hillsong’s “Shout to the Lord,” and Jack Hayford’s “Majesty,” to a congregation who prided themselves in holding solely to the standard of the hymnal.
I will never forget when one of our members who himself was a retired senior pastor, who I greatly admired in my childhood, sat before me and told me that because of my going against his traditions, he could make it happen that I would never pastor again, and furthermore he could make it to where I would lose my home, and my wife and young daughter would be homeless. I could not believe my ears, but instead of mistreating this man who was old enough to be my grandfather, I chose to continue to show him respect and honor. The old retired pastor watched as the small church that he had founded in Brooksville, Florida, next to a junk yard and across the street from a crack house, had gone from an attendance of eighteen on our first Sunday to one hundred and sixty six, when we left to go to Fort Myers five years later. Even after we left, I continued to love him and his wife, even inviting him to preach in various churches that I pastored throughout the state. I will never forget shortly before he passed away and years after I left Brooksville, this once pastor of pastors, and leader of leaders, came to me with tears in his eyes at our International Assembly in North Carolina, and asked me to officiate his funeral when he died. Several months later I stood before this man, who had built many church buildings and pastored many churches, and was able to lift up a life, that he too, had to go through a period of brokenness as the Lord lovingly allowed a change in his heart to guide him from the traditions of the past to the truth we find in Malachi 4:6 “And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers….” I will forever be grateful for the lessons I have learned in times of BROKENNESS.
This pastor is prepared for persecution.
Until His Last Breath
Jatya, a pastor in southern India, is happy to show visitors one of his prized possessions. It’s a manila envelope stuffed with old newspaper clippings. The fading pages recount Jatya’s walk of faith through eight separate instances of persecution.
The first clip dates to 1992, when police ordered Jatya to stop sharing Christ with villagers. After he refused to sign a police document, they broke all his fingers. Three years later, he was beaten and thrown in jail for a week. Another time, a Hindu neighbor beat Jatya with a bicycle chain.
After each instance of persecution, Jatya’s response was the same: he grabbed his Bible and went back to work telling others in his village about Christ. After all, he reasoned, everyone needs to hear the Good News!
Give to Help Persecuted Christians
Jatya’s most recent brush with persecution came after he shared the gospel with a young man in his village. An angry mob of radical Hindus surrounded Jatya and beat him until he lost consciousness. VOM paid for his medical treatment after the incident.
For Jatya, the beating wasn’t the important thing about the incident. The most important part of the story, he says, is that the young man became a believer in Jesus! Jatya said he hopes that someday he’ll meet each member of the mob that beat him so he can share Christ with them.
When asked if he was worried about the next time he faces persecution, Jatya quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 — “God has not given us a spirit of fear. …”
“Until my last breath,” Jatya says, “I want to serve and live my life for Jesus.”
Jesus’ body was broken, leading to our salvation. A roof was broken where Jesus was speaking, so a man could be healed. A vase was broken, so Jesus could be anointed with perfume, prior to His crucifixion and burial. Broken pitchers allowed for lights to shine, and for Gideon’s army to defeat the enemy. Simon Peter’s fleshly pride was broken, leading to him to become the first great leader of the Christian church.
During the recent hurricane Irma in Florida, many trees were broken, leading people to help one another. In a fashion similar to snow storms up north, hurricanes allow otherwise busy neighbors to converse and get to know one another, as they often assist each other with repair and clean up jobs. I shared my faith and invited folks to church, who I may not have even met if not for hurricane Irma. The Lord works in ways strange to us. Yes, there is spiritual growth and victories through brokenness.
Note – Exactly thirteen years ago in September, 2004, Hurricane Ivan was churning up the Gulf of Mexico parallel to the west coast of Florida. I stood in line for wood at Home Depot for the windows of our house. I had no way to get the four by eights home, since I drove our Saturn SL sedan. (I took our sedan by faith, not by sight). The folks next to me in line had a pick up truck and took my seven panels home for me. Then they attended our church the following Sunday. Again, and again, and again, the Lord works through adversity, trials and brokenness.
Blessings, Pastor Steve <><
…But Can We Observe A Spiritual Storm Brewing?
Matthew 16:3 King James Version (KJV)
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
This powerful scripture is beautifully congruent with:
Red sky at night, a sailor’s delight,
Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.
We like to watch the weather forecasts and plan our days accordingly. But how many of us plan for the dark spiritual days that lie ahead? We see the storm clouds gathering, and our Lord points out that it is time to think and prepare for that future, faithfully sharing our faith, rather than to worry about temporal things. Let’s make sure that we put first things first! -G. Frear
The Lord of all has shown His plan, Unto each faithful one, Who leaves behind worldly things, As soldiers for His Son.
HURRICANE HARVEY UPDATE
VP Mike Pence Rolls Up Sleeves Alongside Franklin Graham to Help Harvey Victims
Thank you for your support and prayers over the past week as Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been ministering at evacuation centers and homes throughout southeast Texas.
The chaplains were joined by Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence on Thursday in Rockport. They met with Franklin Graham, prayed for the people of Texas and lent a helping hand after one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
We thank you again for the prayers and support you have already given as chaplains have shared the love and compassion of Christ in Texas.
PHOTOS: Chaplains Offer Hope to Texas Evacuees and Residents
Since the hurricane swept over the Gulf Coast, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been there to offer emotional and spiritual care to people who are suffering.
These photos will give you a glimpse into the powerful ministry God is orchestrating throughout Texas.
Franklin Graham addressing a group of people outside a damaged church in Rockport, Texas. “We need Christian men and women willing to come to south Texas to help us. There’s so much need down here,” he said.
Chaplains Deliver Desperately Needed Hope to Southeast Texas
By BGEA • August 30, 2017
Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team arrived in Texas not long after Hurricane Harvey hit. Chaplains are now ministering in Victoria, Dallas, Houston and Rockport, Texas, with more sites to be added.
Franklin Graham visited some of the hardest-hit areas of Texas on Thursday. He paused to pray with a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain who has been ministering to residents
Chaplains are delivering emotional and spiritual care alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteers in Victoria, which is located between Corpus Christi and Houston. Help send chaplains into disaster zones to offer hope in crisis.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team shares the hope of Christ during times of crisis. “We see this as an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and care for people, for them to know that God hasn’t forgotten them,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.
Vice President Mike Pence, along with his wife and second lady Karen Pence, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, visited families impacted by the disaster.
Gov. Abbott also signed a proclamation declaring Sunday (Sept. 3) a day of prayer in Texas. “As we gather today here at this church, it’s important that we remember that the greatest power that exists is the power of God and the way that God can touch and move all of our lives,” he said.
Franklin Graham spent time with Texas residents and the chaplains who have been ministering to them.
Flood rescues after Harvey have been intense and ongoing as floodwaters recede.
An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed in the Houston area alone.
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain David Barlow shares a smile with firefighters in Victoria. (see photo above) Often, first responders are deeply affected by the work they’re called to do in times of crisis. Continue to pray for these men and women on duty across Texas.
With Samaritan’s Purse volunteers working in the background, chaplains take a moment to pray with a homeowner affected by Harvey in Victoria, Texas. (see above)
A week after Hurricane Harvey crashed into Texas, more than 1 million residents are displaced.
Police and emergency personnel are working around the clock to rescue flood victims. Large pockets of land are still underwater across the state.
A 9-year-old reads from the Bible (picture above) as a chaplain listens inside a home. Officials say thousands of people are still stranded in their flooded homes and officials are asking residents to be patient as they wait to be rescued.
Chaplains circle up to pray while visiting the home of residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. (picture above)
Though they’ve been displaced twice from hurricanes, this family remained joyful in the hope of Christ. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” —Psalm 5:11, ESV
Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, has set a record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, according to the National Weather Service. Two weather stations in the Lone Star State have reported total rainfall over 48 inches.
On Wednesday, the tropical storm continued to pound the Gulf Coast with torrential rains, flooding and strong winds. The full force of the storm’s impact has begun shifting to western Louisiana.
Rapid Response Team chaplain Mike Mattingly comforts and prays for Felix Cavazos, a victim of Hurricane Harvey.
Hundreds of chaplains are standing by to deploy in multiple sites across Texas. Will you keep the people of Texas in your prayers?
After installing the above article, it was learned that President Donald Trump declared Sunday, September 3, 2017, to be a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. How timely, how appropriate and how refreshing. What a beautiful contrast to the previous administration who ignored the One True God of the universe, through cancelling the National Day of Prayer and annually holding Ramadan in the White House. May the Lord bless Donald Trump.
Pray For Revival In America!
If grace is a kingdom
I’ve stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all of the mistakes I’ve made
But I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown?”
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring You so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
The misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me
Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
Publishing: © 2017 Atlas Music Publishing / House Of Story Music Publishing / Two Story House Music / Highly Combustible Music (ASCAP) / Housermania Music/ (ASCAP) (admin. by Amplified Administration)
“If one does not understand brokenness, then they do not understand the Bible, salvation, or Christian growth and discipleship.” Pastor Steve
A Few Biblical Examples Of Brokenness:
1)The Apostle Paul
2)The Life Of Our Lord And Savior Jesus Christ, Especially His Experience From Gethsemane To Golgotha, Leading To Our Opportunity For Salvation
3)Old Testament Joseph
5)The Prodigal Son Verses His Elder Brother
6)The Contrast Of The Publican And The Pharisee Praying In The Temple
7)Job’s Amazing Suffering
1 Peter 4:12-19 King James Version (KJV)
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
King James Version (KJV)
Life Principles Bible Notes
Jeremy Camp’s life was filled with suffering, prior to the ministry that has placed him in the public eye across the globe. His wife Melissa died on February 5, 2001. That was the springboard for his music ever since. Now one can sense pain and suffering as a theme in all of his music, yet he finds his strength in the Lord. His music is an autobiography. His mere presence on videos, pictures, appearances and songs connotes one who is like his Savior – “a Man of sorrows.” …or like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Underlying his melancholy exterior, however, is a total inner peace and trust in his Lord. He is a marvelous reflection of our suffering Savior and the Lamb of God. Key the following link for his story:
The Christian Broadcasting Network
CBN is a global ministry committed to preparing the nations of the world for the coming of Jesus Christ through mass media. Using television and the Internet, CBN is proclaiming the Good News in 149 countries and territories, with programs and content in 67 languages.
If you have an immediate prayer need, please call our 24-hour prayer line at 800-945-5640. CBN’s ministry is made possible by the support of our CBN Partners.
Jeremy Camp: Melissa’s Dying Wish
Melissa Camp’s Tribute Page
Interview: I Still Believe
Audra Smith Haney – 700 Club Producer
Award-winning musician, Jeremy Camp leads worship all over the world every year. Jeremy says his success was born out of a life filled with personal suffering. It began with his marriage to Melissa, a marriage Jeremy entered into knowing that the woman he loved was dying.
Jeremy remembers the day he met Melissa. He was leading worship for a church group in San Diego.
“I was singing and I looked up, and there was Melissa with her hands raised up so high. You could tell she was really worshipping Jesus,” remembers Jeremy. “I kind of joke around [now] and say, ‘I hit the wrong chords and sang a little flat.’ ”
After only a few months of dating, Jeremy was in love.
“I said, Melissa, I need to tell you something, ‘I love you.’ But she said, ‘I don’t feel the same way.’ ”
However a few months later, Jeremy received a call from Melissa, who gave him some devastating news. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”
“I remember walking into the hospital, and she had just found out she had cancer, and she was smiling. I was like, ‘Why is she smiling?’ ”
“She [Melissa] said, ‘I am doing okay, because I have been thinking, if I were to die from this cancer, if one person were to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, it would all be worth it.’ ”
“I was driving home that night, and I was crying, and all these emotions were coming up again. I said, ‘Lord, if she tells me she loves me, I will marry her.’ I don’t even know why I said it. It was just God preparing my heart.”
Jeremy remembers, “So, about two weeks later, I got a phone call. She [Melissa] said, ‘I need to talk to you.’ She said, ‘I know now why God wanted it to be just me and Him because He wanted to prepare me for this. But I have been praying for you for a long time, and I wanted to let you know, ‘I love you.’ ”
“It was like, we both just knew. We just knew,” says Jeremy.
Five months later, Jeremy and Melissa wed. However, during their honeymoon, Melissa started having serious stomach pains.
“So, we got back to the doctor when the honeymoon was over and the doctors pulled me aside. They had done some tests on her. They said, ‘The cancer is back.’ So I was like, ‘What can we do?’ There is nothing else we can do. It is all over her body. The doctor told Melissa she had months, maybe weeks, to live.”
“I remember her [Melissa] saying, ‘Jeremy I just want to worship the Lord right now.’ So, of course, I would pull the guitar out. It’s those moments, and we had more of those moments, where it’s not about our circumstances when we worship the Lord. He is worthy to be praised no matter what we are going through.”
On February 5, 2001, at 21-years-old, Melissa died.
“I was on my knees and I remember her sister saying, ‘She is with Jesus now.’ A grief fell over me that I can’t describe. The weight of her suffering is over, but the grief is she’s gone. We always had worship music playing in the background. I remember the Lord speaking into my heart and saying, ‘Jeremy, I want you to stand up and worship me.’ I remember standing up and raising my hands.”
“That was such a good act of obedience for me, just saying, ‘Lord, I don’t want to do this, but I know this is why I am here.’ ”
“I remember not wanting to ask God, ‘Why,’ but I finally did, and God always spoke to me. He said, ‘Jeremy, I don’t always want you to know why, because I want you to have a testimony of walking by faith.’ And I had written that song previously on our honeymoon, Walk By Faith.”
“And I look at these songs that come from it, Walk by Faith and I Still Believe. I wrote two weeks after she went to be with the Lord,” says Jeremy. “I have seen story after story of God using this whole thing to show His faithfulness to encourage people. That blows my mind realizing that Melissa made that statement, that if even one person accepts Christ. I hear thousands and thousands of stories. I remember being on my face after that realization and God said, ‘Jeremy, ‘Remember.’ ”
“When I get distracted, when I lose sight of what is going on, God will say, ‘Look at how many thousands!’ ”
Today, Jeremy is re-married and his thriving ministry is shared with his new wife, recording artist Adrienne Camp.
“From that, you have the ministry of God bringing us together — Adrienne and I, and what we have together to minister to people. And from that, two beautiful girls, who have changed my life radically. My encouragement… .do not lose heart, because our affliction is just momentary and what He is preparing for us, what He has in store for us, it will blow us away.”
“Imagine no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain… and one day we will forever be with Jesus,” he says.
…his songs to follow-