Friday: I have an early start today, leaving the house at 4:20 a.m., in order to fly to Guadalajara via Houston. This will be my second time to be with Iglesia El Vergel. My relationship with this church has become a little bit special to me because they have translated and published two of my books into Spanish: UNRELENTING PRAYER, and now just recently, THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD. (at least I was told it would be printed in time for this weekend) Also, the pastor’s son ministered with me in Poza Rica, Mexico, last December. So even though it’s only my second visit, I feel like I’m traveling today to friends and family.
This is their annual summer conference. The pastor serves in an apostolic capacity for a network of churches, so I’m expecting guests will be present from a variety of places in the Latino world. I am scheduled to speak Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning.
Friday 10:30 pm: Tonight’s opening session was quite difficult. My translator’s English vocabulary is limited, but the hardest part was that she couldn’t hear me adequately in her ear buds. So she frequently asked me to repeat the most basic sentences. The message never gained any sense of momentum because it was constantly being interrupted with repeated phrases. And that meant that I labored extra hard to be strong vocally, which in turn wore me out. Add a couple other challenging factors, and it was a tough night. At the close, the altar filled with folks wanting to respond to the message, so it seemed that the Lord was gracious to work in spite of the human limitations. At the very end of the message, as I’m in the closing prayer, I heard a roar in my ears and my hunch was correct — it was rain on the roof. Whenever it rains on their tin roof it makes a big noise. The Lord held off the rain until my closing prayer. Thank You, Jesus! They had my mic turned up extra hot, so the pounding of the rain on the roof was an overwhelming roar in my ear buds. I was forced to close down the prayer at that point. I guess that was heaven going, “You’re done.” The response time seemed to be very authentic and eager.
Saturday 2:30 pm: Today’s session was much easier. We figured some things out. The receiver pack of my translator was at a wrong setting, and they fixed that, so she was able to hear me much better today. And I switched to a different mic that worked better. Plus, we had no rain this afternoon, smile. So it was much better, immensely easier for my translator. A sense of strong impartation in the message. These are great people to minister to!
And thanks for praying for my voice, it’s hanging in there, just the usual levels of discomfort, nothing beyond that.
The church sanctuary is not air conditioned, they have fans only. The days are hot, but the saving element is that nights are cool. Which means morning walks are delightfully cool. Cool mornings help to lower the temp in the sanctuary. But by the time the room fills, the temperature quickly gets warm. These saints persevere in the room in the midst of the heat. They open up the doors and windows, and then blast the sound system. The singing can be heard for blocks around. In this part of the world, most people have neither heat nor AC in their homes.
Sunday 6:00 pm: Greetings from Houston airport, where I have a layover until my 9 pm departure for KC. This morning’s service was graced with a strong anointing, and the meeting was still going strong when I had to pull myself away and rush off to the airport. By faith I preached into the soil of Mexico.
I am coming home with a supply of the Spanish translation of my CHASTENING book, which they printed in time for our conference. They did an excellent job with the cover and layout (I can’t speak for the quality of translation, smile). I spoke on that topic on Saturday, and afterwards they sold a decent number of those books. The saints really connected with that message. Please offer up a prayer of blessing now on the Spanish translation of THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, that it might touch the Spanish-reading world in a meaningful way.
Sunday 7:15 a.m.: Greetings from Ciudad Juarez municipal airport. This is not the kind of airport that Americans usually navigate. There’s very little here to support an English speaker. So I’m having cultural immersion today. My hosts who brought me to the airport said they will stay at the airport until my plane takes off, just to be sure there’s no problem or delay to complicate my day. Way sweet. They told me on the way here that the crime situation in Juarez is remarkably different from what it was a few years ago. Corruption was rampant, and at one point 20+ people a day were being murdered, many of them execution style — as an example to other businesses that you needed to pay the cartels in order to stay alive in your business. The government sent a man in who turned the thing around. First, he sent all his family to the USA. Then he set up shop and began to clean house, which meant sending a lot of police and military personnel to jail. In the end, in an attempt to kill him, they paralyzed him for life. But Juarez is much more orderly now. My translator told me that one time he came here with a friend, the police pulled them over for going 3 mph over the speed limit, and the cop said, “We can work this out.” The driver said, “Give me my ticket, I will pay it.” The cop kept saying, “We can work this out.” They had to convince the cop to give them a ticket, rather than paying him a bribe. But now things are much better. So here I am in the Juarez airport, where people are standing all over the place because there isn’t enough room in the gate seating area for everyone to have a seat. I rarely drive into Mexico, I usually fly in, so this morning we had a procedure I’m not accustomed to: We pulled over at the border, went inside the Customs office, and filled out paperwork for my entry. It was a wise move, because now I can travel freely without being questioned, I have the right paperwork on my person. Today is a travel adventure, smile.
Sunday 6:30 pm: Greetings from Chihuahua airport, where I am checked in and waiting for my plane to arrive. My impression from the monitors is that my flight is delayed nearly an hour. It’s a short one-hour flight to Juarez. Then a 40-minute drive to my El Paso hotel. And then an early Monday departure out of El Paso. No problem, I know how to sleep on airplanes, smile. Had two excellent services this morning. I brought a different message in each service, and both times it seemed that the Holy Spirit was helping the people to connect with the word. Fabulous saints! Then they treated me to a marvelous dinner. I’m coming home full in every way.
Friday 6:00 pm: Greetings from El Paso, where I am settled in my room nicely. I was expecting to go directly from the airport to the conference to speak, but my hosts decided the timing was too tight, so I will be speaking Saturday morning only. So I’ll have the evening in my room, and then will be collected 9:40 a.m. for tomorrow’s morning session.
Saturday 5:00 pm: The Lord helped the speaking of the word, and it seemed to me that valuable seeds were being sown into the body of Christ. This youth conference has been convened for 33 years, and this is the last year they’re holding this event. They don’t know what will be next, but they feel this is the last year for this particular event. It was a privilege to be a part of this concluding event.
Tomorrow (Sunday) I will be collected at 6 a.m., we will drive 45 minutes to the Juarez airport (on the Mexico side), and I will take the hour flight to Chihuahua, Mexico. I’m scheduled to speak in their 11 a.m. and 1:00 pm services. Then I will get a 7:00 pm flight back to Juarez, and then be driven back to my El Paso room. This church is a satellite of the home church here in El Paso. The pastor’s wife in Chihuahua is daughter of the senior pastor in El Paso. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s ministry.
Wednesday: Today I’m zipping down to Dallas in preparation for ministry with worldministry.com. This ministry holds an annual gathering for their pastors and leaders in Dallas, and this year I have the privilege of speaking two of their sessions — Wed night and Thurs morning.
In my preparation I have felt inclined toward the Lord’s chastening (Wed) and moving with the Spirit in corporate worship (Thurs). Thanks for prayer for clarity, power of impartation, strength of voice (I’m doing a lot of speaking this week and need His help).
Thursday 12:30 pm: Greetings from DFW airport, where I am shortly boarding my flight for home. The Lord graced me strongly for both last night and this morning. There was a good response in both services at the altar, and expressions of sincere appreciation. I feel so enriched by being with these excellent pastors and leaders from many states across the USA. I’m flying home with a grateful heart.
Tomorrow morning I turn around and head out for El Paso. The event is a youth conference at a Spanish-speaking ministry in El Paso, under the leadership of a brother names Chris Richards. This event draws heavily from both sides of the border. I’ll be ministering with a translator. I’m scheduled for Friday afternoon immediately upon my arrival (4:30 pm), and then if I have enough voice for it, Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. Having just done two days, I’m hoping I have enough strength for two more days in a row. And then I speak in a church in Chihuahua, Mexico, on Sunday, two services. Thanks for praying me through!
Saturday: This evening I’m preparing my heart for tomorrow’s ministry. Tomorrow morning Marci and I plan to drive 40 minutes north, to minister in the 10 a.m. service at Lift Church. They rent a hall that is not much more than a stone’s throw from the KC airport. This will be my second time with them, and we’re looking forward to returning. Our primary connection with this church is Chris & DeeAnn Abke, who have become lifelong friends, and who lead the worship ministry at Lift Church. We’re looking forward to the ministry and also to the time of reconnection with our friends.
Sunday 5:30 pm: Marci and I had a marvelous time this morning with our friends at Lift Church. The Lord enabled me to speak on Luke 11:5-8, “illegal prayers.” It was meaningful for me to be renewed in that message, and I believe there was strong edification for many. Afterwards we enjoyed a great time of fellowship during an all-church dish to pass lunch. This is a delightful church family with genuine joy in their midst, and Marci and I are looking forward to a growing relationship.
Saturday: Today I have a direct flight to LaGuardia, and will be ministering in Astoria, Queens this weekend. This is my second visit to Ekklesia NY, a Spanish-speaking congregation in Queens. I’m not sure if all their services are bilingual, but they are this weekend at least. Meaning, I’ll be ministering with a translator. Ekklesia is like so many NYC churches, a congregation that jams into a tiny hall they’ve found. They are passionate, eager, delightful saints and I’m really looking forward to my return visit. I’m scheduled to speak Saturday evening and Sunday morning.Then I catch a Sunday 4 pm flight home.
Sunday 3:20 pm: I’m about to head to my gate here at LaGuardia. It’s been a quick and delightful weekend at Ekklesia NYC. The Lord’s grace was with me for both Saturday night and Sunday morning, and the saints responded in great sincerity of heart to the word. I’m so grateful to the Lord that I get to do this, to share from His word over and over.
Tuesday from Minneapolis airport: Great time last night. I wasn’t feeling much movement in the Spirit during the worship time, so I went into it leaning hard on the Lord. And He was enough. The Lord chose to anoint the message, and the room went places in the Holy Spirit. A great night.