God bless you and another "Happy 2022" to all of you!
My next two videos are about the importance of doctrine and a personal testimony about a brother in our church becoming debt-free. I imagine the debt-free testimony would be more exciting to share, so here's a preview for it and hopefully this video is posted by the end of the week. 😉
I'll purposely use different names to protect the identities of these two brothers.
"Allen" is a 25 year old brother in our local church who attended our church for a year and half in 2015 and 2016. I baptized him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and he faithfully attended church and accepted the Message of the Hour.
But in 2016, he had a mind battle and left the church without a word of warning. Our church was shocked and saddened. I was criticized by one church member for even helping Allen in the first place, but I knew it was the Christ-like thing to do. I never regretting helping Allen because I knew I was to treat others as Christ treated me.
Allen went completely into sin, the occult, and drug abuse. He claims he should have died many times from drug overdose, but there was a God Who loved Allen and spared his life each time. He moved back forth between Akron and the western USA, running from the presence of the Lord.
During his five year absence, at least three of my little girls faithfully prayed for Allen. Each Sunday and quiet Wednesday night service, one of my little ones would raise her hand during prayer request time and say, "Daddy, pray for Allen to return to our church." There were many times I didn't know if it was possible, but I led the church in prayer nonetheless, making our requests known unto God.
Finally, finally, after five years, Allen returned to Akron last month. There was much rejoicing and laughter as we praised God for His mercy. Allen also brought his girlfriend, who was hungry to know God better.
I told my little girls that Jesus hears all their prayers, just like Jesus said the Father heard all of His prayers.
"And I knew that thou hearest me always." JOHN 11:42
Our church instantly put Allen to work, giving him a job, but we couldn't afford to pay him a full time salary. We're a very small church. As I talked with Allen, I learned about his thousands of dollars of debt he incurred through his drug use. I prayed with Allen and asked the Lord to send money to make him debt free, but I had no idea the answer would come so quickly.
One day after I dropped off Allen at his apartment, I was at a stop light. Allen's debt was heavy on my heart. I whispered a prayer to Jesus in my car, something like, "Dear Jesus, You own the cattle on a thousand hills. Can you please send Allen the money he needs to get out of debt?" The light turned green, I drove on, and that was it.
I considered taking out a personal loan to help Allen get out debt. I wanted him to see the love God had for him because he left all he had out west, dropped everything to come to Akron and have a home church, to follow Jesus Christ, and seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He and his girlfriend rode for over 40 hours on trains with very little food because they could not afford the "first class" food menu. They put the Word of God above everything, so wouldn't God honor their faith?
Yes, God would honor their faith in an amazing way. He did it by way of a viewer of our YouTube videos from England, who I'll call "Peter."
Peter, who humbly calls himself an "old man," said he has enjoyed your YouTube videos and saves them. I've never talked to Peter, nor met him. I've never been to England.
While listening to a recent sermon of mine, Peter heard me share a prayer request for a financial need. That's when Peter's faith went to work. The Holy Spirit put a certain amount of money on Peter's heart to send to me. Peter did not know the extent of the debt, nor the details of it. But Peter knew Jesus loved the person in need, or Allen, in this case. And Jesus knew Peter loved Him and could be persuaded to help another young believer.
One Tuesday morning, I opened my email and saw an email from Peter with a love offering for thousands of dollars. I instantly knew this was Jesus Christ answering my humble prayer from my car at the stop light. I was overwhelmed and wept tears of joy for God's love for Allen.
I didn't tell Allen right away because I wanted to let the money clear in my account. It cleared around the time of our weekly mid-week service, or Wednesday.
I felt God's leading to incorporate this amazing financial love offering into the sermon. My title was a second sermon on "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved."
At the end of the sermon, I shared how you and I must put our name into the phrase of "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved." I said that I see myself as "Jesse, the disciple Whom Jesus loved." Allen said he closed his eyes and pictured his name in that phrase: "Allen, the disciple whom Jesus loved."
When Allen opened his eyes, he saw my PowerPoint with those exact words: "Allen, The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved," for I had prepared the sermon notes ahead of time. For the next 10 minutes, I told the testimony of Peter's amazing love to make Allen debt-free, just as Jesus Christ made Allen sin-free through the washing of the water of God's Word.
It was a most memorable service, one I will never forget. Allen, the church members, and I wept and rejoiced at God's amazing love for Allen.
Allen shared how his debts kept him up at night. He'd worry and fret about how he could pay off his massive debts. But now he would worry and fret no more. Jesus had brought peace and freedom!
I have never seen a love gift like Peter's financial love offering for Allen. It was truly a most sacred experience and such a wonderful testimony of the love of Jesus Christ in both Peter's life and Allen's, that I felt led to share it.
Peter essentially did what Saint Paul did for Onesimus, paying his debt to his owner, Philemon. Paul said it like this in Philemon 1:18:
"If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;"
I hope to get the testimony video out by this weekend, and Peter, if you're reading this, THANK YOU for following the leadership of the Lovely One, the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter thank you for being like Paul and paying someone else's account. You have eternal rewards in heaven awaiting you. We could never repay you, but I know Jesus Christ will certainly reward you in this life, and in the life to come. Jesus Christ loves you, Peter. And so do the saints at Bride of Christ Fellowship!
Friends, be encouraged that God hears EVERY SINGLE PRAYER you pray. Trust in Him. Love Him. Worship Him. Keep praying to Him. He is so mindful of your needs and He will answer in due season.