South Asia Team Is Back!

Many of you have asked me about the the team that went to S. Asia over the break to do a CP training. I look forward to seeing them in person to hear the incredible stories of how God used them to equip the local believers there. Until then, I thoroughly enjoyed this detailed update from my friend Jon Dorris, who accompanied the team as a wonderful “Spiritual Father” & guide. I trust the testimonies will encourage you also…

REMINDER: the unique thing about this team & this trip is that God spoke directly to each person involved. They believed BIG things from the Lord, and had great faith to pursue what they sensed Him speaking to them. They arranged and organized this trip entirely on their own. (Yes, a group of twenty somethings!) From raising over $25,000, to hosting info sessions, making travel arrangements, & conducting a Church Planting Training for 41 locals they have proven that everyday believers CAN hear God’s voice, step out in faith, and see incredible Kingdom Growth as a result. We truly believe this trip has sent a message to other young people throughout the country that you don’t need a big “missions organization”, huge budget, already established presence, etc. to see unreached peoples come to Christ!

Update from Jon: (edited for the protection of the locals in the closed country)

North INDIA Mission Trip
REPORT

December 27, 2010 – January 15, 2011

Greetings Family & Friends 1-18-11,

The MISSION
For the last time, before starting the long journey back to America, I stood on the roof of the place where we had been staying, peering across the border which lay less than 10 feet in front of me. While looking into this nation that I had been praying for over the last 8 years, I was thanking God (again) for the incredible privilege that our Team had in spending the last 9 days training the 41 young leaders. They would now go back into their country, armed and envisioned with specific God-given plans to powerfully and lovingly make disciples for Jesus Christ resulting in the creation of church planting movements. Ironically, even though this nation now stood just 10 feet away, God has yet to give me permission to enter it. (To protect these 41 on fire young leaders we will leave this nation undisclosed.)
A few days earlier one of the 41 saw a vision that so appropriately describes what is going to happen (God-willing). She saw the young people bringing revival to her nation, in the form of multiplying candles on a cake spreading the fire of intimacy with God.

The TEAM
Like a proud Papa, I marveled at how well our team of 6 college students conducted this mission. They were the primary ones to lead and conduct this CPx Training (Church Planting experience). All I did was simply fill in the gaps and help them navigate their way through the vast country. They did such a wonderful job of imparting to the 41 all that they had learned and experienced in their church planting and disciple-making experiences at the University of Texas. Highlights of their impartations: The loving Father heart of God; Hearing God’s voice; Experiencing the Presence of God through creative prophetic worship; Team building; Treasure hunting – prophetic – healing Evangelism; Disciple-making, Church planting; and much more.
Our Team wonderfully maintained the John 17 love and unity, which powerfully facilitates the Presence of God. Our daily Team worship times astounded all of us. The Presence of God uniquely flowed among us each day during the Team worship times. Many times one or more members of the Team began getting various respiratory ailments, mainly due to the nasty air pollution, BUT very quickly God’s healing would usually manifest. I wish I could say it was every time, but some symptoms persisted a few days.  Once, during our Team worship times, while we were all praying for another Team member I got instantly healed of a several hour old soar throat. These healings became so common among us on a daily basis, that we lived in this awesome state of joy constantly. Laughter was commonplace. We then would take all this into the larger morning worship times with the 41 trainees. To God be all the glory. He is the Healer, not us.

TESTIMONIES from the 41
1. One of the 41, which we will call “The great Dancer”, during a corporate worship time started crying after a sister laid hands on him and prayed, resulting in him experiencing the Presence of God for the first time in his life. He then went into a vision (for the 1st time) and saw a Light, then saw Jesus with His outstretched arms beckoning him to come to Him (Jesus). He then felt Jesus hug him.
2. One of the 41 laid his hand on his tumor on his chest during a corporate creative worship time, and felt the tumor continue to shrink during the entire worship time. This radically revolutionized his relationship with Jesus Christ.
(After forming the 41 into small home church groups for the training, ironically one day we forgot to assign one of them to lead worship like we normally did. That day spontaneous creative and prophetic worship broke out among us, with no one leading it (except for the Holy Spirit). It turned out to be the most powerful worship time of the training. During those 2 hours many of the 41 and us experienced God’s loving ministry in wonderful and powerful transforming ways.)
3. At least 3 testified that they came with bitterness in their heart which was blocking them from receiving from God, until the Holy Spirit sovereignly melted it away during corporate worship times. They stayed free and flowing with God from that time on.
4. The great Dancer saw another vision. During worship he watched Jesus’ entire crucifixion detail by detail unfold from start to finish in his vision.
5. During another worship time the love of God fell strongly on Y____, one of our translators, and she began to minister God’s love to several of the 41, who later testified that they came away profoundly transformed from those wonderful times of experiencing God’s love.
6. After I encouraged the 41 to ask God to interpret their visions and dreams, one girl, the previous day, saw a vision of a small seed fall from heaven, then a person (in the vision) next to her said “plant the seed”. She did and saw it grow into a tree with lots of fruit. Then saw many birds coming and eating the fruit and taking the seeds to many other people. This girl did not know what it meant. But then she asked God what it meant. He quickly revealed to her that He wanted her to share certain Biblical truths with an unbelieving friend of hers. She felt like God was saying that friend would get saved and lead many other people to Jesus.
7. Somehow a girl got invited to come to this training but was not yet a follower of Jesus. You could tell it by looking at her countenance. She testified that after watching our Team’s love for God and one another, she knew God was real and invited Jesus to come into her heart and be the Lord of her life, which He wonderfully did. Her smile was beaming the rest of the time. We think this same thing happened to a young man whom his sister invited to come. (He was one of the few survivors of a tragic bus accident which killed their mother and another relative and several friends just 2 weeks before the training. Early on in the training I spent some time talking with this young man as he processed this unfortunate event. Later we began to see him enthusiastically participate in worship and prayer times.)
8. Several times we sent the 41 out in small groups to practice treasure hunting / evangelism in the town where we were. One group met a man who fled from them. Later God led them to a house. They knocked on the door and this same man lived there. They spent the next 2 hours witnessing to the man and his wife. Long story made short, both the man and wife renounced Hinduism and invited Jesus to be their Lord. They came to our compound the next day and wanted to get water baptized.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Twice we had the 41 meet in smaller teams (according to their local regions) and ask God for and develop specific plans of how He wanted them to go back into their country and implement these things they experienced in our training. As we listened to each group testify to the God-given detailed plans and their passionate commitment to one another to carry them out, we were overjoyed knowing this nation was getting ready to see an explosion of the spread of the Kingdom of God among their people (almost all of which are unreached people groups). A couple that helped translate for us will be periodically going back into this nation and encouraging these new evangelistic and disciple-making groups.

PRAYER POINTS
PLEASE PRAY with us for these 41 precious, passionate and dedicated (even in the face of persecution that they know will come) fellow Believers. Pray for the increase in their fiery passion (never a decrease). Pray that they will regularly fellowship and pray with each other. Pray for unstoppable disciple-making and church planting movements to sweep through their nation and on into surrounding nations. Pray for their favor among their lost friends and family and for a great harvest of souls to come into the Kingdom of God. Pray for their protection and provision to do God’s will. Pray for our Team to hear clearly about how we are to follow up with these 41 fellow Gospel laborers (whom we are maintaining ongoing contact via email and hopefully a return trip). Pray there would be no demonic backlash on our Team. We were and are praying for all of you who gave financially and prayed for our mission. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT. THIS IS AS MUCH YOUR FRUIT AS IS OURS. ALL OF US CAN GIVE THIS FRUIT TO JESUS AS A REWARD FOR HIS SUFFERING FOR US!!!

For more information about this trip, or the work being done overseas please send an email to info@intentionalgatherings.com

Advertisements

Advent Conspiracy…

It’s that time of the year again. For the past three years we have pushed for change during Christmas and all throughout the year. We seek for a more simple lifestyle that “requires” less in order to give more. This does a lot of things, but we won’t get into all of that at this point. For now we’ll focus on Christmas. I do not need to say much; the video speaks for itself. Share the video with those around you. Step out of the norm, and your comfort zone to bring change to potentially dangerous “traditions” that may hang out around your family…it may be difficult at first, but it will pay off in the end.

Life “Outside the Walls”…

We are often asked by people all over the world, “what does a typical simple/house church gathering look like?” While many of the house church communities we have started or been a part of cannot be defined by what takes place during a weekly gathering we did feel like our friend Chris Kosho did a great job of capturing a bit of what the life of the King Street House Church looks like on a regular basis…(Much of which takes place outside of the context of the powerful weekly gatherings that take place within this community)

Chris made a documentary film capturing short samples of videos from the past year or so as this community has formed…the unique way this documentary was developed uses some pretty cool technology, which selects random/short video clips based upon your click. Take a minute to peruse the site, and make sure to click on “Film” at some point. Check out a few of the short clips, and take a powerful peek into what God is doing in Austin through some ordinary young people who started taking the Great Commission seriously…

***A pretty cool side note not mentioned in this documentary is the fact that there are several other house churches that have been started as a result of the King Street House Church sending out lay church planters***

“Permission” – Part Two…

(Part one of “Permission” can be found HERE)

In His grace, Jesus has allowed us to be a part of these incredible people’s lives. The King Street House Church family was birthed after a group of these young people went through Student CPx in Austin two summers ago, and then helped me run SCPx Austin this past summer. In the last few months I have had the pleasure of watching this house church community flourish & grow into a healthy spiritual family. There are some things about what is happening with this group of radical young people that I think are worth taking a look at. Below are some things that come to my mind when I think about these close friends. (You read in “Permission” Part 1 about the team of 7 this house church is sending out to S. Asia over Winter break to train University students there to plant house churches)

What is unique about this community?

1) It is completely lay-led (There is no paid staff) – There is something powerful about a group of people who are pursuing the Kingdom in radical ways when there is no paychecks or any kind of financial gain attached…They birthed, lead, and pursue the healthy growth of this family out of the pure love for Jesus in their hearts.

2) It was birthed by women in their early 20’s – I almost did not mention this because it seems so normal and natural to me – like, “so, what’s the big deal?” However, after thinking through it I realized how unique and POWERFUL this really is because of the negative view that MANY have towards women in “leadership” or “ministry” in the American Church. Anyone who sees what God is doing in this community would have a tough time arguing their opposing view-point about women not being able to be in positions of leadership/authority in the Kingdom of God.

3) It is healthy, producing NEW disciples, and releasing people to walk in their gifts (Men are being raised up to lead) – This has not been easy, and without much pain, mistakes, failures, etc. I’ve seen and been a part of communities with “strategies for multiplication”, and others who are complacent; both are dangerous. The strategic ones bring death to relationship for the sake of sticking to a formula, and the others never see the beautiful power of the Gospel working in the lives of new people. This community seems to walk out a decent “balance”. They are quick to recognize when things are “off” and fix it. They hear God’s voice, and have faith to obey what He says. It’s hard to be a spectator in this community.

4) They have a deep desire to see new house churches planted all over the place, and have already seen a few planted since August! I have been in many different streams of church planting all over the world in the past few years. Nowhere have I seen twenty year-old’s who have BIRTHED and are leading new churches where new believers are being Baptized as a part of the natural DNA of how they “function and grow”. Not only that, but they are sending others out in two’s to start new “spiritual families”. They don’t have it all figured out, & are not perfect, but what God has done with them in the past year puts most “church planting strategies” I’ve seen in my life to shame. God seems to be showing off through the lives of some humble/passionate young people.

5) The power of God is present. I have also been in various environments in the past few years that seem “spiritually dead”, as well as others that are freakin’ CRAZY, which seem far from the nature and character of God. AKA: very conservative & highly charismatic. This community can be placed in neither of those camps. However, the power of God through the work of His Holy Spirit displayed through the obedience of these radical followers of Jesus is not arguable. They are seeing supernatural physical, spiritual, and emotional healing take place. They are seeing the fruit of the Spirit displayed in people’s lives (Gal. 5:22-23) as well as the power of the gifts of the Spirit on a regular basis. They are not afraid.

6) They walk in a humility & refusal to pursue personal gain/attention that is like nothing I have experienced in most of my life.

I suppose I could go on and on. I want to make it clear that I am not bragging on anything other than the miraculous work of Jesus in the lives of these people. We like to call out the Christ-like qualities of Jesus we see in people as a way to edify them, and bring glory to Jesus. We are not “puffing them up”, but recognizing the redeeming work of Jesus in their lives. Obviously, I care about these people a lot. I am so proud of the Jesus I see in them, and wanted to share them with you a bit. I hope it has encouraged your Spirit.

Big Transitions Ahead…

Jesus never lets us get too comfortable. He’s always drawing us closer to Himself. This process OFTEN involves the removal of certain comforts, or things that have allowed complacency during our short stay on this earth. This seems to happen a lot with us. It is usually painful, and involves a chunk of our flesh to be burned away. We are so pumped about this latest shift in life, both for our family, and for Intentional Gatherings as an organization. Over the next few weeks I will be blogging in detail about the events leading up to this transition, but in the meantime I recorded a short video for those of you who keep up with what goes on in the lives of the Snow family & I.G. as an organization. It’s about 5 minutes long. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, and stay tuned for future blogs about “why in the world the director of a non-profit would give himself a complete & permanent pay cut…”

If you’re in the Austin area and know of any job openings shoot me the leads! =)

“Sometimes Love Does Not ‘Feel’ Good”

Jesus has been teaching me a lot lately about abiding in the Truth of His promises no matter what the circumstances. A lot of what He was revealing to me seemed very elementary and cliche’, but powerful nonetheless. These revelations also came in handy in some relationships I have. I hope it blesses you…

“…He wants us to cling so tightly to His promises, and believe in them so much that nothing can phase us – nothing can touch us – and no situation can steal our affections toward Him…”

Last week was very dry for me. I was getting a bit “down” and frustrated wondering “why” I couldn’t “feel” Him, etc. I kept asking “why would He not want me to feel His love all the time!?” It was in those frustrations that He just reminded me how small my understanding of His love is. He wants to know me and me to know Him in such a deep and intimate way – a way that I simply do not understand at this point, but that He wants to teach me. He spoke to me that He was developing FAITHFULNESS and maturity in me during this “dry” season. He wanted to know that I wasn’t just around for the “good ol’ mushy feelings”, but ALSO the “tough/dry” times (which, by the way, are ALSO His love! haha! He totally blew the lid of the box I had put His love in) You see, He spoke to me that a love that is merely a feeling is a shallow and immature love. Sometimes, love doesn’t “feel” good at all. I liken it to this…

When Morgan and I got engaged we were all bubbly, gushy, and FULL of PURE BUTTERFLY “FEELINGS” toward one another. It was great. It was definitely love. However, it was a very limited/surface picture of the love that Jesus wanted to develop in us over time. We didn’t really KNOW each other in such a way that would even allow us to truly LOVE each other. Jesus wants to KNOW us in the ways that allow us to LOVE Him more deeply – yep, that means that there will be times we don’t feel Him at all. Now, Morgan and I still have butterflies for each other =) hehehe. However, our love has matured into something much deeper and more beautiful than it was when we got engaged. It doesn’t “feel”, on the surface” as “good” at times, but we both know it is a special and DEEP kind of love that allows us to know and pursue one another in ways that we NEVER could/would have when we “felt” all gushy during engagement. Make sense? I know you all know this. I just thought I’d share something fresh on my heart Jesus has been teaching me. He blew me up last week with His desire to produce maturity and faithfulness in me that goes so much further and deeper than emotional feelings. He wants us to cling so tightly to His promises, and believe in them so much that nothing can phase us – nothing can touch us – and no situation can steal our affections toward Him.

“Just Look At The Math”

This is a post written by my buddy Aaron Saufley. You can frequent his blog by CLICKING HERE. He and I share a lot in common, so when I read this post I couldn’t help but ask him if I could “steal it” to post here on “a holy discontent”. I’m a sucker for a good analogy about the church…

From “The Road Less Traveled” on September 9th, 2010:

I’m always looking for ways to help other churched people understand why I’m a simple/organic/house church guy, because I get asked about it quite often.  I often have used construction terms–the structure of the traditional church needs a lot of metaphorical scaffolding (programs, finances, staff, etc.) to hold it up, where as a simple church doesn’t need any of those things.

I may have found a new one.  And it involves my least favorite subject ever.

Math.

I always hated geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus (which, thank God, I avoided taking).  I just don’t get the idea of adding letters.  And I want to get to a final solution, not a final balanced equation.

So here’s the idea when it comes to church and why I’m not a traditionally structured church guy anymore:

2 + 2 = 4

13x – 21y(7z – 43) = 4

These two equations are essentially the same, because they both equal four.  The difference, however, is obvious.  One is much simpler than the other.

When it comes to the church, I truly believe most Christians want the same solution–more people following Jesus.  The problem, however, is that we build an equation that is way too complicated.  We’re convinced that with enough finances, staff, and programs, we can figure out that solution.  The only wrench in the gears are the variables (for those of us who’ve forgotten how to do math without a calculator, the variables in the above equation are x, y, and z).  If we can just figure out the variables, then we’ll have the magic formula–a new program, a great idea from the latest how-to-grow-a-large-trendy-rocker-church book, another staff member, a new location, a viral marketing campaign, etc.

When the equation is too complicated, we focus on the variables and forget about the real solution:  Jesus.

The church isn’t a bunch of programs, resources, staff, events, and cool marketing.  Plain and simple, the church is about Jesus.  The church is the people of God doing life together on mission with Jesus.  The church is the people of God letting Jesus live His life through them, whatever their circumstance.  The church is about helping people to become better followers of Jesus.

That’s it.  Pure and simple.  And that’s what organic/simple church is all about.

I’m convinced a great majority of churches need to take a hard look at themselves and simplify.  Big time.  There are many programs that are dead that need to be cut loose.  There are many programs and events that are causing too much sideways movement (they’re meant to do the same thing).  The church needs to drop a lot of weight and get back into “fighting shape.”  In order to do that, ego and agenda must be put to death, and this question must be asked and acted upon:  What is the simplest (notice I didn’t say easiest) way to help people become followers of Jesus?

The time is long past for churches to stop adding, adding, adding.  It’s past time for some major subtraction to begin so that the multiplication of disciples can commence.