Join us for 21 days of fasting and prayer beginning Sunday, January 13, 2013. You can find out more over at rockwilmington.com.
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This Christmas break has been incredible for me physically and spiritually. I’ve taken time to turn my brain off and just be. That has been refreshing. Over the last several weeks, I have taken our garage from the first 5 minutes of a Hoarders episode to a workshop with space for Jen’s Expedition. I built cleaned out, threw away, swept, organized, constructed shelves, organized some more, built a massive workbench and spent way too much money at Home Depot. But, it’s done and I’m enjoying this new workspace. Sometimes you need a change of scenery to get a new perspective.
I felt like I should be taking time away in intense prayer and seeking God for 2013. But, I have to admit that I’ve been pretty worn out. More than anything else, I needed rest. I needed to pull back and just… be. I did spend time talking with God as I worked in the garage. It was not so much intercession and pressing in to God. I did not seek anything from God. It was more just walking with Him and relaxing.
Then it happened. As I was working on one of my garage projects, God began to show me His heart for ROCK Church in 2013. It’s big. Really big. It’s a new perspective. It may get a little chaotic. That’s ok. I believe it will be freeing for many. I know it will be for me. My heart has been turned upside down and I am filled with anticipation.
I have not even had the chance to share it with Jen. I’m going to tell her what’s in my heart tonight. I can’t wait to hear from her. I’m looking forward to sharing with my staff and I can’t wait to share it with my church family.
I’m thinking the garage may be my new favorite place to hear God speak.
Today, I made some very difficult calls to some amazing people at ROCK Church. Their compassion made the calls easier. But my heart is still heavy because I have been deceived by a trusted friend in ministry.
A little over three years ago, I traveled to Nigeria with Ricky Leonard to witness his ministry first hand. Ricky ministers throughout the world. God is using him in an incredible way to lead many to Christ. His heart and generosity inspire me to do more and take bigger risks for the Kingdom. Ricky introduced me to a young pastor named Ezekiel Oyewole who was doing great work in a very dangerous part of the world. ROCK Church partnered with Ricky Leonard Ministries to send expensive well drilling equipment to help Ezekiel’s ministries. I recently returned to minister with Ricky and Ezekiel this past year.
On Sunday, December 8th I shared about a tragic attack on Christians in Nigeria. We had received reports from Ezekiel that a crusade had been attacked by Boko Haram terrorists and 67 people had been killed with others wounded. Among the wounded were several of his team. Ezekiel sent photos of his team in the hospital with serious wounds. He forwarded photos of the fallen bodies of adults and children. It was all heart wrenching and I believed the church should act to help Ezekiel and his team in Nigeria. So I shared what I knew and gave people the opportunity to respond.
Then Monday rolled around and my heart sank even further as we realized the photos were not of the attack Ezekiel had purported. They had been harvested from the internet so that Ezekiel could perpetrate a hoax. This past week Ricky and Mary Leonard, along with others, have worked diligently to discover the truth and give Ezekiel a chance to prove his claims. Ricky has spoken with other prominent pastors in Nigeria, scoured local Nigerian news websites, spoken with Ezekiel and prayed that truth would be revealed. As we have searched, it has become painfully clear that this was all fabricated to fraudulently gain money from churches and ministries in the United States.
Let me be very clear, Ricky Leonard Ministries had no part in fabricating this story. Ricky and Mary are two of the most generous, sacrificial, humble and honest people I have ever had the privilege of serving with. Their character and integrity bring honor to the Kingdom. I believe in their ministry and ROCK Church continues to support them wholeheartedly.
Ricky is working with other ministries on the ground in Nigeria to attempt to recover the well drilling equipment. We love and pray for Ezekiel. However, we will not support ministries that twist truth into lies for their own gain. When I stand before the people of ROCK Church, I want you to be able to trust that your financial contributions are going to people we can trust.
Today, I called and personally spoke with or left messages for those who gave to help with medical and ministry expenses related to this incident. I expressed my sorrow and apologies for the whole situation. The gracious heart from those I spoke with remind me how blessed I am to pastor such generous, loving people. We want to be open, honest and worthy of the trust so many place in me, ROCK Church and Ricky Leonard Ministries. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for your trust.
“Can we have a ROCK Church Thanksgiving meal for everyone?”
This was the question I received from Barbara Miller just a few weeks ago. That is a big request. But it was followed up with a powerful statement.
“Just say yes and I’ll take care of everything else. I’ll make all the arrangements and we’ll just invite everyone who comes to church to join us. We’ll pray over whatever we have and believe that God will multiply it.”
That was all it took. That is why I love our church so much. The heart to serve. The heart to believe that God would use it to do something amazing. So that’s what we did today.
It. Was. Amazing.
Barbara, along with the amazing team she assembled, activated our Small Groups to take care of the details. Many people brought food, drinks, paper goods, ice, table clothes and whatever else that was needed. There were many who ate that did not have to do a thing. They just came and ate and laughed and bonded. It was an amazing picture of family and it was beautiful.
So, after an amazing day of worship, hearing a powerful message (at least I hope it was) and witnessing 9 people surrender their lives to Christ, we celebrated with some of the best food this side of Heaven. We had faith that there would be enough food, we prayed that God would multiply it. Guess what? Hundreds came through the line, nobody left hungry and there was a lot of food leftover.
Sometimes, you just need to say yes, get out of the way and let the people do the work of ministry. In fact, as pastors and leaders, we should do that a lot more often than we think.
Check out some of the photos from today. While you’re at it, head over to the ROCK Church Facebook Page to tag away! I love our church!
You can give by going to rockwilmington.com/give-online and clicking GIVE NOW. Please designate all contributions for the Water Fund.
I shot a video about our special Growth Track especially created for all of our Dream Teamers. Check it out…