It’s wonderful how God connects us with new people. In this case, through Amanda (our young missionary from IHOP), which itself had been a God connection, I was introduced to Daniel. Daniel is the son of Russian immigrants who live in Orlando. His heart is as big as any I have seen, though. His desire to follow God wherever He leads got him a stint with the large ministry Christ for All Nations, best known for its founder, evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, and he was personally mentored by its current president, Daniel Kolenda. And here he writes me and asks if he can serve our ministry in any way for a week or so.
At first I wondered how I could use a guy with such a background, but when I got to know him, I saw that his values are a great fit with mine. His whole approach to ministry in general, and evangelism in particular, is to just allow the presence of God to be in the lead and do whatever God is doing. That was Jesus’ method, who said, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). That jives with my value of moving naturally out of God’s initiative, being yourself in the Spirit, or, put otherwise, being Jesus, like he made you.
On the other hand, I had to admit that it was a huge challenge to me, and that I was frightened of the whole process, knowing that it would push me to go outside my comfort zone, because I am decidedly not an evangelist.
For that week we kept Daniel, along with his sidekick Vadim (also from Orlando and Russian/Ukrainian parents) pretty busy. He led two of our Master Classes, I helped find him two churches to preach at, he spoke to the young adult orphans who meet here weekly, and they led a day-long seminar called “Presence-based ministry.” (Click on the link to see some pics, even though the site is in Russian.) This was everything and more that I had hoped for. The climax of the day, as I had feared, was going outside and looking for God encounters with people. Everyone came back with wonderful stories of how God touched hearts and built relationships with strangers. People got prayed for, people cried, people opened their hearts to us. It was fantastic. We had similar results when we had our seminar on Disciple Making Movements, and I trust that this is God’s nudge that we are on the right track in moving (if slowly) in this direction. The key was that it’s not about forcing an agenda on people. It’s just loving them and inviting God’s presence into the interaction.
As for me, I struck up a conversation with a lady feeding birds, and we got into a lovely conversation about her life, years spent living in India, her husband and son (both dead). By the end she invited me into her home, showed me around, and said she’d love to have my family over. That was big for me.
Thanks, Daniel, for bringing us a breath of the fresh wind of the Spirit. We’ll be building on that for quite a while.