Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stories from Halloween (Part 4) Bridge Church Friends

From a letter to John Harding:

I had the opportunity to be on a prophetic team a couple of weeks before Halloween. Not surprisingly, the people who came for the "spiritual readings and dream interpretations" were very open to and hungry for the supernatural. (This made our jobs easy and exciting!) We were able to give several people encouraging words. They all seemed receptive and intrigued by how we got this insight into complete strangers.

A moment that stands-out for me, was when our team leader got a word for one of the young women who came for a reading. The word was that her view of her future was being limited by past hurts that were still affecting her. He then offered to stand in as the man who had wounded her and apologize. She was deeply moved and I think we all shed a few tears. She and her friends have since stayed in touch with our team and have shown an interest in finding out more about the supernatural.

What I personally took away from the day was a deep sense of the Father's urgent yet patient love for His lost sheep and the exhilaration of being able to participate in the revelation of that love to them. Giving prophetic words puts us in a place where we are given a glimpse of God's perspective and it forever changes our vision.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Even More Stories from Halloween Outreach '09

Here are three more tales from the October Outreach in Salem, MA. May they bless you as much as the people who were involved in them.

The experience I had at Salem was one of the most challenging times of my life. I tried to force the Lord to work through me and give each person the kind of experience that I wanted him or her to have. The Lord revealed to me the absolute need to trust in Him. Without His Spirit working through me, I am capable of nothing. The times that the Lord chose to use me as his instrument were so powerful, yet humbling. I realized that the encounters were not for me, but were meant for the benefit of the person sitting in front of me. Feeling the love the Father has for his people was so overwhelming and is something that I will never forget.
-Liz Koch
Intern Streams School of Ministry

A young woman came to our team looking to have a re-occurring dream interpreted.  She had dreamed several times over the last ten years about snakes in her bed.  It would terrify her so much she would jump out of bed screaming.  She admitted that she is generally terrified of snakes even in the natural.  We felt the meaning of the dream was simply that her general fear was so great it was ruining her rest.  Upon sharing this with her, she began to open up to us about her fears.  She seemed to have a great deal of trust in us even before sharing the dream but as we talked further her trust grew.  After talking through some of the sources of her fear, she explained to us that she has recently left the Mormon Church of which her family is still heavily involved and even has family ancestry that can be traced to Joseph Smith, the father of Mormonism.  Upon her sharing this, a marvelous shift came in the atmosphere.  Though her experience was marked with harassment for leaving Mormonism both from the people in her life and from the spiritual realm, we suddenly saw in her a courageous and bold seeker of Truth. And in that moment we watched as her concept of God transformed before our eyes.  He went from being a dictator that cruelly demanded things of her to a great big Goodness that Loved her immensely and knew her intimately! The Presence of God became so heavy and sweet as we communicated this to her that all of us were moved to tears.  I found myself filled with awe as God revealed to all of us (including this precious woman) what He felt about her.  It was truly an honor to meet this over comer and to encourage her that, contrary to what others may have pressed on her, she is on the right path as God draws her into her destiny!
-Ali Carter
Staff Streams School of Ministry

It’s October 31 Halloween and the streets are packed with more people than ever. As the night goes on our lines get so busy the wait become about two hours to receive a spiritual reading or dream interpretation. After ministering all day I begin to break down our tents and a man walks up to me. He asked if I could interpret a dream for him. To be truthful I was far too tired and weak to help him but I still agreed. He started by telling me that he had an experience 25 years ago that he has not understood since he has had it. He said others tried to interpret it but did really understand it. Their interpretation didn’t really stick with him. The Dream started out with Him in the back seat of a cop car in hand cuffs. There was also a cop car in front of him. From the side he saw a Buffalo charging the cop car in front and hit it with extreme force. He was so excited and continued to encourage the buffalo to hit the car. Soon the car was off the road and destroyed. A moment later the buffalo was charging the car he was in but just before it hit his car the buffalo changed into the most beautiful Native American women he had ever seen. She stood next to him with a love readapting from her that he had never felt before. He said this love changed him. It was like he tasted of something that was not from this planet. Since that day he has never forgot the Love he felt. He also told me that since then he has never felt a love so real and fulfilling. This man had given me tremendous favor to speak into his life. I then began to tell him that the Holy spirit had given him Justice where he was imprisoned. I was able to share a visitation I had years ago that was very similar to his experience. I told him how God wanted a relationship with him. He wanted to give him the Love he felt from the Native American women. This story taught me a lot, when I am weak and tired God has those he wants to touch. This man had waited 25 years for a interpretation and it amazes me that Jesus touched him so powerfully that 25 years later he was still searching for the answer.
-Lance Carter
Staff Streams School of Ministry

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Stories from Halloween Outreach '09

The following stories are just a few of the many that come from the gang at The Streams Ministries Internship in New London, New Hampshire. This team has joined us faithfully for the last 6 years, and October in Salem has become one of the life changing events for the interns, and a primary training ground for their prophetic proclamations and blessings.

This comes from one of the Leaders, Brandon Crummer:
I was standing outside of our ministry tents with a group of us that were doing “healings” and “spiritual encounters.” A lady came out from being ministered to and said, “It was okay, but I wish they had said something about my eyes.” I overheard her say that and then I asked her, “What’s wrong with your eyes?” She then began to say, “No, it’s ok I am not going to worry about it.” Again I said, “No seriously what’s wrong with your eyes I really want to know?” She began to tell me how she has Macular Degeneration and is losing her eyesight. I told her that my Grandfather has the same disease and was one of the first people to receive all the experimental tests. This instantly gave me favor. I then asked if I could pray for her. As I prayed she took off her glasses and began to look around. At first she said it was a little better but the second time I prayed she yelled, “Oh my God I can read that guys shirt!” While praying, I watched as the cloudiness in her eyes began to shrink to just a small spot in the corner of her left eye. As we prayed one last time she cried, gave me a big hug and then disappeared into the crowd.
-Brandon Crummer
Staff Streams School of Ministry

My experience at Haunted Happenings in Salem, Massachusetts was a life changing one.  I’ve never felt so much overwhelming love in my heart for complete strangers before.  I went into this outreach doubting the Lord’s ability to move and left with a much greater knowledge of His unconditional love for His people. I remember one woman who came into our tent who was oppressed by a demon, lonely,  depressed, and lost. We got to minister to her for almost 45 minutes and she left released from the demon that was following her, alive in her new life in Jesus, and overflowing with the Joy of the Lord. Her countenance was completely switched around by the time she left our tent.  The funny thing was, she asked for an encounter with Jesus!  She was so open to a touch from the Lord and ended up asking Jesus to come into her heart and change her forever.  I cried for about 20 minutes after that encounter.  It no doubt touched her life, but it surprisingly touched mine deeply as well. All we had to do was be there.  We both left Salem with a new revelation of God’s love, and I am so, so grateful for it.  I will never be the same, and I’m sure every person who walked into our tent, whether by happenchance or on purpose, were forever changed as well.
- Jourdan Meyers
Intern Streams School of Ministry

For me, the Haunted Happenings outreach was a first for many things. I quickly realized that in addition to never traveling to Salem before, it was a bit intimidating attending my first formal outreach and giving my first prophetic words in an environment swarming with psychics and witches. Once we began to minister, however, I saw how the thirst of the people in Salem for deep spirituality drew the presence of the Holy Spirit in such a thick and powerful way. I no longer needed to worry about performing because it was not me touching those people anyway. My weakness, combined with their hunger, was a perfect situation for the Lord to pour out His love on them. Whether it was the lady who walked away with her glasses in her hand after being healed of Macular Degeneration, or the countless people whose jaw hit the floor when they found out that the Lord knows and loves them, God was thoroughly demonstrating love to His people in very powerful and intimate ways. Many who came expecting the typical festivities of an October weekend in Salem were surprised to find that the Lord had other plans. They entered our tents with mere curiosity and exited completely changed from the experience, as was I.
-Kyle Koch
Intern Streams School of Ministry

Friday, November 13, 2009

rehashing halloween by g13

so i'm way behind on the halloween rehash and i'm disinclined to write at the moment that i have had to bribe myself with the king of kong in order to push this puppy out. so please forgive my errors, failure to praise everyone and any other unintentional offense.

first, it was a remarkable
halloween season. on the first saturday i served (10/16) i had my requisite, "oh God, i really don't want to do this!" moment, but thanks to the steady presence of rennie and old practice, i quickly got in groove and enjoyed the season thoroughly.

for the first time, this year a number of our friends and family invested in our efforts. dozens of our friends partnered with us to raise $800 so that we could match equal
exchange's gift and make our hot cocoa slave free. that was excellent (and expect the ask will be repeated next year so that we can take our cups down the bio-degradable route)! my own family and close friends donated $1100 in operating support to our little adventure. those dollars came in quite handy during a year when The Gathering has found it difficult to keep our heads above water, much less purchase supplies for the outreach. we were seriously humbled by the generosity of our friends and family. thank you for honoring God by setting us free to serve!

we also had a wonderful, diverse group of friends serve beside us throughout the season. for the first time in six years of serving at haunted happenings several friends from our christian churches, churches of Christ tradition came out to serve beside us. i hope that
tim and the sojourn crew as well as jessica from manchester know that their presence meant the world to me. deep down in the part that i don't like to talk about at parties, i think i wrestle with rejection issues, so the distance that has developed between me and the ccoc has often pained me. so the presence of these friends was nothing short of sacramental.

jessie and libby browning and the good folks from their home church in beverly monked up on halloween and spent six hours in the street laying hands on and blessing people they had never met. i didn't have the courage to do anything more than serve hot cocoa during my first experience in 2003, so i was amazed by their boldness! i am also thankful to my hetero-life partner james for reprising his rector role and accompanying this group for the first couple of hours. james, you are the only one i want wearing my habit.

on hallows eve and
halloween the incomparable anita coco and her not for sale crew offered people an opportunity to experience "death by chocolate" for a second year. this was the second year to host this event, we had over 300 guests attend and many, many more folks than last year were interested in discussing fair trade and acting upon what they had learned. extra props to the guy whose name i'm forgetting who made the kickin' sign for this event. it really made a difference.

did i mention how amazing
carrie erwin was throughout the whole halloween season? i had no idea how she would take to it, but within minutes of starting she was barking at guests in the street, anchoring the cocoa booth, dancing with strangers dressed as gasoline. seriously, she was amazing.

paul, joyce, jeff c and other first time volunteers were amazing as well. did i mention how impressed i was with carrie erwin?

ben corey, the independent baptist from maine carved an unexpected niche by becoming the master of the Jesus deck and a spot on dream interpreter as well. i wasn't sure how much time he could commit, but he consistently under-promised and over-delivered and we were all so blessed by his presence.

joe riffe, who i think is mortified by the picture above, led a prayer room for us, stepped out of his comfort zone to bless strangers and talk to reporters and provided some of the vital, Spirit-filled energy we needed to make it through the last two days of the season. thankful for him.

my remarkable Friends' friends
callid (like "salad) and kristina worked beside us on the big day. kristina works for an organic farmers cooperative in upstate new york so she was a perfect facilitator for death by chocolate. callid has treasures of past experience that i was unaware of - such as performing street magic - so he was a wizard on the streets. for instance, callid composed my favorite bark of the season: "come to death by chocolate. a terrifying experience that will completely change your life! or not." there were a number of small moments, such as kristina's discussion of the almost paramilitary training that activists from the civil rights movement had to go through in order to be assigned to a lunch counter, that i treasure from their visit. they also left us with a bottle of amazing upstate new york wine. please come back soon.

this season i realized, much like i have been realizing at work lately, that my days as a non-stop, hands-on street minister or service deliverer are on the wane and i am being led into more of an administrative role. this transition is bitter-sweet for me - right now it's much more of the former than the latter - since i have grown to love laying hands on strangers*, helping young adults find jobs, finding the perfect h1 n1 pitch that simultaneously repel and attract people to our cocoa booth. however, it is clear that my role is more about training and deploying than about being front line all the time. a friend named
tim hawkins recently quoted another friend who said that discipleship, or training up people in the way they should go, is 99% encouragement. if that is the case, and i suspect it is, and administration has any part to play in discipleship, and i think it does, then i have a lot of growing to do.

i could go on, by explaining in great detail what an honor it is to serve beside pastor phil wyman or outlining the many, many unexpected lessons i have learned from my benediction laden brethren from the bridge church and streams ministries, but that is enough for now.

i hope that gives you a little taste of what the season was like. now that we're a couple of weeks beyond it and
i've had a chance to rest, i cannot think about october without cribbing little preston: "again, daddy. again!"

* that doesn't sound quite right.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stories from Halloween (Part 3) Three short stories

Today's stories come from Mike Crockett from The Gathering, and from one of the Bridge Church gang in Beverly. Below are the posts as they were sent to me. They exemplify the change which often happens in us as we seek to help others.

From Mike Crockett:

Dennis and I (dressed in a Monk’s robe) met with Nancy, who asked for a “spiritual reading.” Nancy was a committed Christian who was going through a difficult period in her life, caring for a loved one. She also was distraught about what she felt were failures in her life and had been teased and bullied by fellow classmates years ago in High School, something that was difficult to get over. Nancy was also in her 30s and wanted to have children and didn’t see this as a possibility with her spending so much energy caring for a loved one. I shared with Nancy that sometimes, life just stinks, without rhyme or reason. I mentioned the FOOTPRINTS poem and the passage in Isaiah where sometimes all we can do and all God asks us to do “walk and not faint” instead of “run on wings like eagles…” I shared with her the difficult adoption experience my wife and I had which turned out for joy and shared with her that I had gone through difficulties similar to hers, particularly after graduating college, and described God had brought me through. She was so encouraged to know not just I but millions of Christians around the world often feel, like Nancy, that they suffer in silence. Dennis prayed with Nancy and we talked for a while longer. Nancy left the Vault overjoyed. -----

Diane shared with me a dream of her and her two youngest daughters driving in a car. In her dream, a boy her older middle school daughter liked waved from the side of the road. Her daughter, who didn’t want to be embarrassed by having a boy she liked see her, hid in her seat. Suddenly, in Diane’s dream, the car went in reverse spontaneously and landed in a lake. The car began to sink, and water began to come into the sinking car. Diane was afraid. The boy her daughter liked called from the side of the lake, “You guys need help?” Then Diane woke up. She shared with me she was afraid of the dream, and felt it might mean a bad event in the future – event death. I shared with her that even though, in her dream, the car sinking in the water, that it did not mean death. I demonstrated that a dream with an encounter with water, particularly a large amount, even a fearful encounter, can speak to a significant spiritual encounter in ones life. The boy her daughter liked could represent someone, or even multiple individuals, such as a community, who are ready to help her and her family through life’s difficulties. Diane left greatly encouraged, feeling her wonderful experience with us in the Vault was worth any amount of time waiting in line.

From one of the Bridge Church Gang:

I was able to minister to an older military vet who had been through a lot in his past in the war.
He was testing the ministry team to see if we were accurate or not. After we ministered to the others in his group we asked if we could get a spiritual word for him. He agreed and we all were able to connect and give him some encouraging words from God that were accurate. This opened up a little discussion afterward and we were able to encourage him to be the man of God that God had made him to be. We were using his language and I believe that all three in their group were blessed by our encouraging and life giving ministry to where they were in their walk with God that day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stories from Halloween (Part 2) from the Prof. Carlos Z

The following stories come from the Prof. Carlos Z., one of the crew from The Gathering. Carlos worked with the Bridge Church gang from Beverly interpreting dreams, and doing what we call Spiritual Readings. Here is what Carlos had to say about his experiences:

Two stories come in mind when looking back and reflecting on Halloween.

The lst instance occurred on Saturday the 24th. I was on a team with Drew and Beth from the Bridge Church and we were doing Spiritual Readings for about an hour. A woman came who said that she had a dream. The dream was an invitation from God to join him on his earthly kingdom. I did not realize that she connected with me, and Drew said "Carlos why don't you begin and help this woman invite Christ into her heart." She had already agreed to accept Christ because of the revelation from the dream and the spiritual readings. You must understand I had never said the sinners prayer or accepted Christ in the typical way, so I felt awkward in trying to do it with this woman. But I went forward like a child trying to not look stupid in front of a class. I was blown away and she thanked us. A week later she returned and thanked me again. I was in awe how the Holy Spirit helped move this woman into a relationship with Christ.

The other story occurred the following evening. Two young ladies from Americorp in Maine had come to us. They wanted a spiritual reading. They had waited almost 30 minutes since I did not feel comfortable doing one by myself. No one was around at that time. because they were tearing down the sound equipment from the stage. I asked Matt the Pirate if he could jump in since these women had waited and I felt bad. He said that he had not done anything like it in almost a decade. I him it was okay just to give it his best shot. I explained to the two young ladies what a Spiritual Reading was as we started. The moment Matt looked at them and opened his mouth the Holy Spirit surrounded us. Unbeknownst to us these ladies needed spiritual healing from a lot of pain. Both the words from Matt and myself helped these girls heal. Tears rolled down their faces and ours. They had pain from their work and from personal issues in their lives. We inspired them to turn to Christ as the Redeemer and Comforter in times of trouble, and we spoke blessings them to continue their work in Maine. I was left speechless and felt blessed to be able to help these two girls. Also I thanked Matt and told him he has gift that he should open.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

James Shewey Talks about Mormonism

Tonight is a teaching and discussion on NRMs (New Religious Movements) and world religions. Tonight the discussion is on Mormonism.

It is 7pm. The Gathering gang is typically a little late so we are waiting a few minutes to jump into the teaching. Nancy is here. Tim is visiting, because he liked the topic and he is quite eclectic in his view of religion. James, and his wife Nicole who will teach on Jehovah's Witnesses are here. Mike and Will are here as well.

7:09 and Joanne just arrived, and Mike followed by bringing in popcorn. Oh yeah! Popcorn and a Mormon. Carrie arrived just in time for the popcorn.

7:15 and we are off and running.

James worked with LDS kids in California, and took them to Utah and was involved in interfaith dialogues at BYU.

He asked the question about what we had heard about salvation. Not much was known by the group except by Mike and I. Currently the church teaches that salvation is "by grace alone."

There is now a wandering dialogue about the beliefs and practices of Mormonism.

James has brought the discussion into the point of Christology. The Triune nature of God is being considered against the Mormon idea of God being triune in purpose. A review of church history and the Trinity is following the development of the doctrine of the trinity.

7:37 James just read the Nicene creed.

Monarchism is being discussed: That the Father is above in power and authority over the other members of the Godhead.

Modalism: There are three faces to God, masks we might say, which show the different characters of the trinity.

After some debate between a couple people about whether it is important believe some of the specifics of Christianity, or whether all people have the Spirit of God.

I jumped in and mentioned some of my disagreement with some very harsh Church Fathers who established hard lines of heresy, and potentially kept very well meaning seekers from being seen as followers of Christ.

A discussion is now going on about relationship as a means of pursuing sharing our lives with one another. Mike asks what the dynamics of that relationship looks like.

8:13 After James mentions the Mormon belief that all people can become gods, Tim excuses himself. He has been a little uncomfortable since he had a little debate with one of the others about what constitutes true spirituality. I saw this coming about 5 minutes before it occurred.

Follow up and concluding discussions include dealing with Mormon missionaries, and the Mormon belief that the Fall of Man was necessary and good for humanity.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Stories from Halloween Outreach in Salem (Part 1: those who joined us this year)

Over the next 2 weeks I will relate some short stories, and give thanks to the people who have helped us make this year's outreach over the month long Halloween season in Salem, MA.

Halloween in Salem began on October 1st with the Halloween Parade. We handed out fliers to invite people to the Halloween Children's Day we host each year. During this same time friends from around the United States were preparing to come to join us for outreach at the end of the month during our most busy days.

This year we were joined by Steve Pate and Justin Henk from Church on the Coast (The Carlsbad Foursquare Church) in Carlsbad, CA. Steve has been here on and off since the second year of outreach in 2000, and Justin was here for the first time. Allan Henninger was here as well. Allan is a former YWAM leader, and also a former Foursquare Pastor now living and serving in the Los Angeles area. If it was not for these three guys we would never have been able to accomplish the task of running the stage and live music we provide for the city as smoothly as it went.

Janine and Laura who are teachers of the Streams Ministries Internship Classes were here from Tennessee. The Streams Ministries Internship from New Hampshire, and some of the interns from Canada joined us for three weeks of outreach. Together the internships sent about 15 people to help serve. The Bridge Church from Beverly Massachusetts led by John Harding sent prophetic teams to serve throughout the month of October. The Bridge Church in New London, NH came with their Pastor Scott Evelyn. Pastor Scott is one of the initiators of the dynamic outreach to The Burning Man Festival. Rob from Coeur d'Alene, ID who organizes The Burning Man Festival outreach also joined us. These people were involved with prophetic ministry, healing prayer, and free spiritual counseling services to the thousands of people on the streets of Salem.

Grace Fellowship (a CMA Church) in Danvers, MA under the guidance of Anita Coco sent a group of people to run a Not for Sale event in the basement vault of The Gathering.

The First Church of Salem and their pastor Jeffrey Barz-Snell organized a 350.org event on the 24th.

Other friends who came to serve included: Tim Hawkins and Nine of his group from Sojourn Collegiate Ministries in Boston. Jesse and Liby Browning an Marcos Reyna from a house church in Beverly, Ben Corey who was an awesome Jesus Deck reader from Grace Chapel in Lexington, and of course the infamous James Wilcox.

The musicians who played on our stage included Mamadou Diop and his band (as well as the drummers he has trained who formed a drum circle), Grateful Ted and Peter Tintendo, Paul Phillips with Tom Conlon and The Petty Thieves, Judy C(ooper), Jim Trick, Lisa Press and her husband Simon, Sarah Vanilla who goes by Lush now, Paul Duffy and the Front Street Coffeehouse Open Mic gang, Debra Crosby's Talent Quest TV Show, Hail Plankton, Dave Mangione and the Vic Morrows, Eric Brown and his band Phatmaxx, and Brian Serfes and DJ Xpress with the Salem Beatbox Championships.

The next post will give thanks to all the gang from Church on the Coast who made this year come together, and have been the backbone of outreach for 11 Halloween seasons now.