Purpose Of This Ministry

The purpose of this ministry is found in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

This ministry seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in everything. We are are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ therefore we declare this Gospel in the highways and biways. We preach about sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment to a lost and dying world. Since Jesus' mission was to "seek and save that which was lost", this too is our mission, being empowered by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to all those who believe.

On this site you will find several resources we believe are honoring to our Lord. We hope these resources will help you take up your cross and follow Jesus - they have definitely helped us. We hope you find our site to be both a blessing and an encouragment.

I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. -Philemon 1:6

-Steve (theway1711@gmail.com)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Trip To Mardi Gras Part 3

The rest of the week, all the preachers got up between 7-9am. We would each spend a little time on our own (or maybe with one or two others) doing our daily devotions. We would then get some breakfast, debrief for the day's events, and head out to contend with those who forsake His law.

On the second day, I was caring some pretty heavy gear (remember, we pretty much packed for an all day event). While walking, I slipped a little and tweaked my back (many of you know that I already have a bad back - this didn't help!). Let me tell you, it hurt. This happened first thing in the morning. I did not bring my back brace. I was in some serious pain. My back always seems to hurt when I stand for long periods of time, now it was hurting before Mardi Gras really got going. I was seriously concerned about how I was going to be able to stand for 12 hours (not to mention there was still 3-4 days left at 12 hours+ each day! I mentioned this to a few of the guys and they prayed over me. I called Tina (my wife) and she began to fast and pray diligently for me. The day came and went, and let me tell you, it was a struggle. I remember when we were done for the day at 12am, I stepped off the street and onto the curb and the pain that shot through my legs and into my back was almost unbearable. My legs were stiff, my back hurt, and I had a major headache from the lack of sleep. My body was messed up because I normally go to bed at 7pm and wake up at 2am. Now I was staying up until about 2am. My body was in pain (and probably confused).

When I woke up the next day, although my back was still tender, it was significantly better. I went to Wal-mart and bought a back brace. The thing about Mardi Gras is that it is a progressive festival, leading up to what is called Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Each day has more and more people and the people get more and more wicked (less clothes, more alcohol, etc). On Fat Tuesday, we go out at 8am and stand all day, no breaks, until 12 midnight. This was a major concern for me because of my back. Tina continued to pray and fast for me and I have NO DOUBT this helped. Each day my strength increased and by Fat Tuesday I had no pain. In fact, on Fat Tuesday I never once got tired and my back had no pain! It was amazing.

Anyway, each day we would go out in teams of 4-8 with our banners and bullhorns. We would take turns preaching, video taping, passing out tracts, holding banners, etc.

Steve preaching while another preacher, Kevin, is doing his part for the Kingdom!

As always, there were those who were sincere in talking to us, and then there were the mockers/haters. One guy would follow us around with his own bullhorn. Each time we would preach he would get on his bullhorn saying, "Blah, blah, blah....blah, blah, blah....blah, blah, blah". See the video below of this mockery or go to this webpage and view the same video: http://www.youtube.com/user/Briancranford#p/u/5/ekoEN9K9gYc

Video of "Blah, Blah, Blah"

This mocker would follow one of our two groups for several hours! So we decided to preach a little differently . We would set up about 40 yards from each other (the small group I was in). One of us would preach until the mocker came over to us with his "blah" statement. At that point, I would stop preaching and the person 40 yards away would start preaching. The mocker would then walk over to them, start his "blah" thing, and we would alternate preachers back and forth. He did this all day. He was no doubt blinded by the god of this world (satan). He didn't even notice that his tactic was not working. In fact, his presence was drawing a crowd for us!! I'll give him credit for his stamina (he did this all day long) but he wasn't too bright. I remember trying to share the Gospel with him and when you looked at me, all I saw was darkness and sadness. It really saddened me. He was so hardened to the Gospel.

Other mockers would stand next to us with their own homemade signs. Their signs said things like, "who invited this guy" (see below insert) with an arrow pointing to the preacher, or "Jesus said, "show me your boobs" or "God loves me for who I am" or "God is not angry" or "Good Adores You" (notice the G.A.Y). The last sign was a "church" sign. Not to mention all the drunks who were in our face, spilling and throwing their drinks on us, getting their girlfriends/wives/friends to flash us. But despite all these "distractions" the name of Jesus was exalted.

We had great conversations and more than a few people seemed to take a genuine interest in the things we were talking about. The preaching would draw the crowd, which would give the other preachers a chance to have one on one conversations with those standing around listening to the preacher. There were many times while I was videotaping that I looked around and EVERY other preacher was in a conversation with someone (and this happened for a span of 5 days, 12+ hours per day)!!
Example of Steve preaching with other preachers in the background having conversations

Probably the saddest part of the trip was the amount of "christians" that were participating in this festival. Time and again we were in conversations with someone who claimed the name of Jesus, but lived their life otherwise. God is their final judge, but their "fruits" were rotten (and Jesus said you would know them by their fruits). They loved the things God hated and hated the things God loves. They didn't think "partying" was a sin. They didn't think having "fun" was a sin. They thought they were a Christian because they go to church, or they were baptized, or they prayed one time for forgiveness, or they go to confession, or they read their bible (or have read the bible). None of those things makes anyone a Christian. Being a Christian is when someone believes in Jesus and Jesus becomes EVERYTHING to that person. The Spirit of God comes into this person and they become a child of God. Sin convicts them, they hate sin. They begin to walk in holiness, there is a super-natural change that takes place by which a person become born-again, entered into the family of God. Of course, they are not perfect, but they strive for perfection, to keep God's commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. They love His word, take Him at His word, and read His word with deep conviction and love. This is what TRUE repentance and faith looks like. So anyway, that was the saddest part for me - the myriad of professing christians who were still in their darkness. There were even a lot of "christian" ministries out on Bourbon Street. Some were preaching the true Gospel (repentance and faith), others were preaching a very watered down message. A message that does not require a person to be holy.

So finally Fat Tuesday came (the BIG day for Mardi Gras). Bourbon street was already packed when we got there at 8am. People dress up in all kinds of costumes. Some are pretty "neat" others are downright nasty (sexual). Woman walk around with painted on shirts, men have nothing on except a jockstrap and paint. The sad thing.....people were walking around with their kids!! Sad! So we got there at 8am and stayed until midnight, with only one little break between 5-6. As I stated, I had no pain and did not get tired at all. Bourbon Street was packed but we set up in our usual spot with our banners, bullhorns, videotape, etc. Mardi Gras ends officially at 12am. Masses of police begin to move people off the streets. A huge water truck drives down the street spraying water all over. There is a little pocket between the people and the police. One of our groups set up 6 banners and walked the whole route in front of the police. I guess it was pretty neat. I wasn't part of that.

When Fat Tuesday was finally over, we all packed into our vans and headed back to "camp". We got back around 1am. William (the cook who was a HUGE blessing) made us BBQ ribs with twice baked potatoes and mixed vegetables. Once we got done eating, I jumped back into a van and was dropped off at the New Orleans Airport for my 6am flight back to Duluth. It was about 2:30am. I tried to sleep at the airport but that didn't work.
My flight left at 6am from New Orleans to Memphis. I arrived in Memphis and had about a 30min layover. My next stop was Detroit. The flight from Memphis did not take off on time. We were delayed about 40 min. on the runway. I only had a 50 min layover in Detroit to catch my flight to Duluth. If you've ever been in the Detroit airport, you know that it is HUGE. Super long corridors and, of course, my arrival gate and departure gate were no where near each other. I landed in Detroit at 12pm, my flight left at 12:20. Every second while waiting to unload the plane seems like an hour. I finally got off the plane, carrying my luggage which weighed about 40 lbs., and RAN through the airport. I was in concourse A, gate A72 and had to go to concourse C, gate C38. There is a tram (like a train) that is in the airport. It connects the concourses and is much faster than running. I saw the sign for it and ran up the escalator. This is no joke, it was like a movie. As SOON as I got to the top of the stairs, the doors closed and the tram was off. I stood stunned for a moment, read the sign (which said next tram in 3 min 30 sec and began counting down), and decided to RUN back down the stairs, heading for concourse C. I just kept running and running and running and running. At one point I stopped and read those TVs that show the departures and arrivals, to make sure my gate didn't change. IT DID, but thankfully it was closer rather than further away. It was gate C27 now. I finally reached the destination at 12:15. I asked the agent if they were boarding, which she replied "yes, I'm about to close". I asked her if I could go to the bathroom, she said "hurry". I had to go BAD (which made the running even more enjoyable). Would you believe it, the bathroom was closed. So I ran back to the gate, boarded the plane, went to the bathroom, and finally sat down...I was heading home...and I was sweating, big time...not to mention I had been up since 7am the day before!!! Once again, I was going on 48 hours of no sleep!
When my plane finally touched-down in Duluth, I was welcomed with a sight only a father/husband can relate to...my wife and 3 children waiting for me, with BIG smiles!! I love it!
Proverbs 12:4
An excellent wife is a crown to her husband.
Psalm 127:4
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.

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