Grants Pass Shares Him At Home and in the Philippines
"Call upon me and I will show you great and mighty things ye know not of," seemed to be written in the sky as the Grants Pass, Ore., Church has exploded with relevance following the Operation Global Rain prayer plan. The church has been catapulted by the power of the Holy Spirit into outreach ministry, quickly filling the calendar for the entire year by early March.
A ShareHIM team was formed and meets once a month planning both sowing and reaping events, as suggested by ShareHIM. Personal Ministries and Health Ministry teams are actively going forward also.
January found the church packed for a series by speaker Cheri Peters. Then in February the church hosted a series with Blondel Senior on child rearing, CHIP, and then Neil Nedley's depression series. March was the month to send Donna Griffith and Gloria Wilson to the Philippines with the NPUC/ShareHIM/Quiet Hour. NEWSTART cooking classes were offered in April, as well as our first ShareHIM evangelistic series presented by Steve King, layman from Grants Pass.
The trip was quite an experience for me. Although I enjoy public speaking, I have never preached before. I can't believe I even considered being a lay evangelist, and I was too naïve to know that such an undertaking would challenge me to the max. But praise God I went with Griffith who had done this before in Moldova and Bolivia. And I clutched ShareHIM's word that ordinary inexperienced people like me had preached—reaching out to a lost and dying world. "It's the message," they said, "NOT the messenger."
The trip was long and exhausting, but I survived. My travel weariness paled as I saw the great needs of the people. I was totally unprepared for the extreme poverty, and yet the Filipino people were content, kind and most gracious. I have never been treated with such respect as I received there. I could not help but love them as my own family, and they responded in kind.
Our "home base" was San Pablo City where our NPUC group stayed. From there we traveled in groups of four to our respective churches, Griffith at Liliw and me at Nagcarlan.
Now this was no small feat, as traffic laws are of no consequence. Public transportation is Jeepney, tricycle (motor scooter with side car), van and bus. There are no bus stops. The buses just stop in the road, and the cars behind zip around them, whether someone is coming the other way or not! And the drivers will cut off vehicles when they pull back into their lanes.
Preaching seemed strange to me. I felt so unqualified to be preaching and questioned that anyone would listen to someone who was basically reading a script and showing slides. Was this really God's idea, or had I just done my own thing? No matter. I was sure God would bless my efforts. I prayed diligently and pored over each day's lesson before leaving for my church each afternoon.
Seeing my church packed with standing room only each night was unbelievable. When I went on visitation, I learned of two people who had been planning on suicide. The meetings changed their minds, and my heart was warmed. Then I knew I was where God wanted me.
Never before have I seen people give their heart to Jesus, sealed with baptism, where I had been involved in helping them make that decision (besides my children). The joy of seeing this is more than words can express. It cannot be related, only experienced.
It was worth it all—the long trip, the cost, the exhaustion of preparing and preaching every night for two weeks. It was well worth it, and I made friends for eternity. I praise God for the privilege of leading others to Jesus Christ.
Back in Grants Pass, my fellow church member King also got to experience the challenge of being a lay evangelist. His setting was a little different, as he braved holding meetings right in our own Grants Pass church, where he knows everyone.
The Lord blessed King's efforts and enhanced his God-given talents. He was a natural at inserting personal experiences to illustrate what he was talking about and pointing them to Jesus Christ in every meeting. He was not discouraged that there was a small group, and he preached from his heart. Even the church members found new understanding and enjoyed the focus of his meetings.
The Holy Spirit is ALIVE and working mightily in Grants Pass. I'm sure He is eager to do the same in all the other churches. If any of you are teetering on the edge of a decision to do ShareHIM or not, I say, "Go for it. You can do it. If we can do it, so can you."