Our Stories

Our Stories

Learn about the Bethel community through our members' stories. For decades, the LIFEline has featured stories and writings from and about our community.

Below you can read stories and share them on social media. Paper copies are available for pick-up in the lobby, or you can request a PDF to be emailed to you by contacting us here.


2021 LIFELine Theme

This year we are looking back at different "catch-phrases" that have helped to form the foundation for our congregation over the years. The earlier ones are, of course, not familiar to current members. But they are, nonetheless just as powerful today as they were decades ago. We hope you are encouraged in your walk with the Lord as you read how people today are embracing these important themes from the past. 

2021: A Year for Healing Community
This year we are exploring what a healing community looks like in our church, city, and nation.
Learn more about 2021's theme
Mission St. Paul: City-Wide Prayer

By Bryan Ward  (City Director of Rewire and co-leader of MSP)

 

Every city has its foundational moments and events that shape what the city becomes. The history of St. Paul reads like the histories of many other U.S. cities. Indigenous peoples settled and were displaced, a fort was established, the fur trade developed, and the whiskey trade flourished. The first European settled, land was ceded, and in 1941 a Catholic priest had a chapel built, and renamed the settlement St. Paul.

 

As the city grew, a railroad magnate was established, brothels flourished, and the city had a reputation for being “tough.” The city became a haven for criminals, and, in an office downtown, a Minnesota senator wrote the Volstead Act, which began Prohibition. There was urban renewal, the vibrant Rondo neighborhood was destroyed, skyscrapers appeared, and by the 1990’s, there was a rich tradition of welcoming refugees.

 

All of these people and events, and many others, have influenced the city we have come to know and love. Unfortunately, it can sometimes feel like we have little control over the fate of our beloved city. Enter Mission St. Paul.

 

In 1994, a weekly pastors’ prayer gathering was quietly birthed in St. Paul. For more than 25 years, this gathering blessed St. Paul, and helped buttress the work of God in our city. This faithful group would eventually launch Mission St. Paul, a cooperative kingdom initiative to see city-wide transformation. The heart of this initiative…“the whole church bringing the whole gospel to the whole city.”

 

I arrived in Minnesota as a transplant in 2011. I grew up in California but spent nearly 20 years in Russia and South Africa working as a vocational missionary. Not long after I arrived, I was introduced to Jim Olson, who invited me to Mission St. Paul. I’ve lived in several cities, San Diego, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Pretoria, South Africa, but I had never seen such a strategic and dedicated city-wide prayer movement.

 

Beginning in October 2008, Mission St. Paul has gathered local churches to pray through all 17 neighborhoods and all 7 Council Wards of the city. For the last 10 years we have gathered monthly to pray in every precinct of every ward, a task that will take another two years to complete. In addition to this strategic prayer, Mission St. Paul has hosted annual events around the MLK and Easter holidays, where local churches have come together in a spirit of unity across racial and denominational lines.

 

Over the past two years, there has been another shift taking place. We are currently seeking a leader in each ward who will gather pastors/ministry leaders/churches from their ward to pray and collaborate. For years we have had such groups in Ward 5 (Payne-Phalen) and Ward 4 (Greater Hamline-Midway). As these pastors and ministry leaders grow in their unity and love for one another, our hope is that new kingdom initiatives will be birthed, bringing further transformation to St. Paul.

 

Mission St. Paul has been a rich blessing in my life. It has led me to pray with other pastors/ministry leaders I may have missed or overlooked in my daily ministry context. And, it has helped me discover the beauty and challenges of the people and neighborhoods of St. Paul.

 

I have no doubt that Mission St. Paul has been a blessing to the city. It’s not fast-growing and flashy, but rather patient and faithful. It’s like a healing balm that takes time and depth to penetrate the wounds, begin the healing process, and bring new life. As I look to the future, my greatest hope is that Mission St. Paul will continue to influence the spiritual realities and kingdom initiatives that will shape and define our city for decades to come.

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Just Like Family

By Josh Levin

 

Four years ago, Jen and I embarked on a new journey with our family. We moved from Arkansas to Minnesota, and joined International Association for Refugees because we wanted to respond to the global refugee crisis with obedience to the Biblical mandate to “love the sojourner.” We helped launch the ministry of Jonathan House – a place of shelter, hope, and healing for asylum seekers in the Twin Cities. The name comes from 1 Samuel 23:16: “And Jonathan…went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God.” This took place while David was a political asylum seeker.


After buying our own house in St. Paul, finding our church home became a top priority. One quality we were looking for in a church was that it would be a place where Jonathan House residents could also feel a sense of belonging. Our search ended when we visited BCF. A place where strangers become friends, and friends become family. The church’s motto mirrors what our ministry is all about.


Over the past few years, several residents have attended church with us, and each one has met someone from their country of origin or someone who spoke their native language. Some attend regularly. You have provided transportation, meals, opportunities for people to enhance their English skills, and most importantly, friendship and a place of belonging.


Nor have interactions been limited to BCF. Vital connections extend to All Nations Family of Churches. Some ANFC pastors interpret for us on a regular basis. ICF has been a source of Christ’s love and hope to some residents.


As IAFR missionaries, we endeavor to help people survive and recover from forced displacement. Although there has not been a formal declaration of ministry partnership between IAFR and BCF, you have made valuable contributions by supporting the rebuilding efforts in the lives of those asylum seekers who have stepped through the doors of the church. And it has all happened naturally, organically. Like you would expect a family to function, I suppose.



Asylum Seekers at Jonathan House Find Community at BCF

The story is reprinted with permission from the International Association for Refugees’ (IAFR) blog, www.iafr.org/blog, written by Tom Albinson and SJ Holsteen.





 

A stepfather and stepdaughter were detained at the US border. The authorities separated them. He was sent to a men's detention center. She was sent to a women's detention center. He was later transferred to a county prison in Minnesota and ultimately released to live at IAFR's Jonathan House - a safe place of refuge for asylum seekers in the US. She wasn't as fortunate and was kept in a remote prison in Texas from which she had little access to legal resources and little hope of being released on bond.


At church one Sunday, the stepfather shared with IAFR's Josh Levin how painful and traumatic her continued detention was for both of them. Josh offered to pray with him.


Just two days later, the phone rang. It was his stepdaughter. She had unexpectedly been released from immigration detention that day - 1 year and 7 months after being imprisoned simply for having crossed the border to seek safety in the US.


Our friend was overjoyed to share the news with the IAFR team - and he thanked Josh for his prayers.


This stepfather is among the residents who have found shelter in one of our two Jonathan House locations in the Twin Cities. Our local team not only provides residents with much needed shelter - they walk with them through this uncertain chapter of their lives.

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Editor's Note: Glimpses of God in Our City

By Liz Kimmel

 

We have so many talented members at Bethel whose experiences and insights we have been blessed to share in past issues of the LIFEline. For this issue we have made a slight departure from our usual practice of soliciting only writers from within our congregation.

 

Because of our theme this time—Presenting Christ in Minnesota's Capital City—we wanted to give you the opportunity to hear first-hand from several ministry partners we work closely with on a regular basis. Some of these partners are a part of our congregation, as you will notice from our cover story about IAFR (International Association for Refugees) by Josh Levin. We also have a Merge Twin Cities update by Karen Underwood and several SALT stories (Somali Adult Literacy Training) told by Julie Thompson.



 

We are very thankful to hear from one of our former pastors, Bob Forseth, who served our congregation 50 years ago. It was his declaration at that time that we are remembering through our articles today. His vision was that we would be a church who presented Christ to our neighbors. We have made a slight adjustment to the original vision to include the whole metropolitan area.

 

We are so blessed to live in an area that is diverse and welcoming to the nations. We are grateful to partner with each other to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. And we are thankful to be able to fellowship freely with brothers and sisters from around the world.

 

God bless you as you take a tour around the Cities through the eyes of friends who have shared Jesus in such a wonderful variety of ways!

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A Walk of Faith

By Ken Holmgren

 

How can I know that Jesus is real?

 

This is the very pertinent question that calls for an answer as we consider the focus of this LIFEline issue: “Where Christ Is Real.” As I recall how I have come to enjoy a growing relationship with the very real Person of Jesus Christ, I can identify three very trustworthy witnesses.

 

First, the witness of Scripture points me to the reality of Christ. I was blessed to grow up in a home and a church where the reality of Jesus was strongly believed, formally taught, and clearly proclaimed by family members and church mentors who modeled trust in God’s Word. For a brief season, the subject matter in a college history course afflicted me with doubts about the veracity of my childhood belief in Scripture, but the central biblical message that God revealed His love for me through Christ proved to be unshakeable

 

Second, the witness of changed lives shows me that Jesus is a real Person who transforms people from living with hopelessness and despair to living with purpose and joy in relationship with the God who made them and loves them. I saw this in many close family members, perhaps most notably in my uncle Bill, whose frequent sharing of how Jesus had changed his life three decades earlier continues to live in my memory. Many men and women at my home church and here at Bethel Christian Fellowship have given a credible witness to the life-changing presence of Jesus.

 

Third, the witness of the Holy Spirit faithfully convinces me of my sin, God’s gift of righteousness for me, and the victory I can experience over sin and evil through faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and confirms the bedrock truth of Scripture that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, came to Earth to live among sinful humankind, suffer the eternal punishment I deserved for my sins, and rise from the dead to guarantee the gift of eternal life for me.

 

As I was reading Hebrews, chapter 11, recently, it seemed that God put His divine highlighter on the phrase “seeing Him who is unseen” in verse 27 (New American Standard Version). In this verse, the writer of the Book of Hebrews tells how Moses, the great Israelite leader, left Egypt by faith and endured because he saw God, who is unseen but very real. Even though we cannot see God with our limited, human vision, we can, like Moses, see our very real God with eyes of faith.

 

So how can I know that Jesus is real? As I listen to the trustworthy witnesses of Christ, I hear the voice of God calling me to enter into a personal relationship with Him. My knowledge of God has to move from mere intellectual awareness of Bible stories and the testimonies of others to a heart response of faith in Jesus and surrender to Him. As I turn from my sins and receive His forgiveness, I begin to walk in a daily love relationship with Him. I find that Jesus Christ is real because He has actually come to live and abide in me.

 

Is Jesus real in your life? He is inviting you to come and experience the precious truth that He is real indeed.

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Smoky Room

By Emilie Wall

 

I was walking my dog, Recis, on our normal route the other day and there was a passerby smoking. As he passed me, I held my breath and thought to myself, “Why do people smoke in public?” You see, I have asthma and it is triggered by smoking, cold weather, and other environmental things. However, there was a time when I didn’t know I had asthma.

 

Several years ago, when I lived in an apartment that was supposed to be smoke free, one individual didn’t like following said rule. The smoke came right through the vent into my bedroom and it was the worst at night. This went on for a couple of months. As time went on my lungs became worse and breathing became more difficult. My roommate at the time would wake up from me coughing (There are two different types of asthma: one where you wheeze and the other where you cough. I was the coughing kind.). She thought she’d have to take me to the emergency room, but that didn’t happen with her.

 

I asked the building manager to do something, but he did nothing to remedy the issue. I went to the doctor to see if there was anything she could do. She diagnosed me with environmental asthma, but it wasn’t until a couple years after that when I realized the severity of my asthma. I took my doctor’s note to the building manager and told him that I would be leaving with no penalty because they were breaking their lease agreement. He agreed to let me out with no consequences. 

 

So, where am I going with all of this? As I was holding my breath, thinking, “Why do people smoke?”, a second thought came to mind. Smoking, to a person with asthma, is like sin in someone’s life. Holding our breath as we walk through someone else’s smoke doesn’t affect us very much, if at all. If someone sins around us and we “hold our breath,” their sin doesn't become a problem for us. We keep going on in our walk with the Lord and we breathe just fine.

 

However, if we linger around someone else’s sin (or someone hangs out with us in ours), the impact becomes even greater. Jesus is the Breath of Life, and we need to be breathing Him in continuously. The more we stop breathing in fresh air, the more polluted our air becomes and the harder it is to breathe. When we linger around sin, we are more likely to sin ourselves. We start to justify our actions and our thoughts. It isn’t until we are out of the sinful situation that we can start to breathe again. Fresh air enters our lungs. We are no longer gasping for air, our lungs begin to heal, and eventually we can breathe normally again.

 

I love how God has made our bodies to heal, but it isn’t without action. God has made us to heal spiritually as well. As we spend time in prayer, fasting, and reading His Word, we begin to heal our souls of things from our past. For some, additional help is needed. However, in many situations, we can repent of our sins and the Lord is faithful to forgive us for them. It isn’t enough to just say, “I am sorry” and continue hanging out in a “smoky room.” We need to leave the situation to regain perspective, repent, and seek forgiveness.

 

We may be freed and forgiven from our sins, but we are not free from the consequences of our sins. After I moved out of the apartment, my lungs began to heal, but I had to go on a special diet for a period of time to detox, use a steroid inhaler (which I still take), and carry a rescue inhaler just in case. It wasn’t enough for me to just move out.

 

Spiritually, once we leave the “smoky room” there are some things we need to do. It isn’t enough to just leave the sin, pray, and seek forgiveness. We need to take a “steroid inhaler” every day, and we need to take our “rescue inhaler” with us as well. What those are depends on the sin or the temptation. It will look different for each individual. “Steroid inhalers” may be spending time in the Word every day, praying, and joining in fellowship with other believers. “Rescue inhalers” may be fasting, mentorship, accountability, counseling, certain rules that you’ve set up for yourself, etc. All these are good things whether or not you are facing a “smoky room.”

 

May we breathe in the Breath of Life daily and continuously. 

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When Christ is Real

By Kimberly Eridon

 

In music

In making music at the quarterly pub gospel sing

In missing making music with others at the pub sing

In books I read that make me laugh

In books that make me think

In books that let me cry

In books I have to avoid because I can't handle what they require

In books I slowly, thoughtfully push my way through

    because I need to learn from them

In the book of Romans where I have been reading the same chapters

    over and over

In shows I watch

In voices of the audiobook readers

In the sound of slamming doors and shouting and swearing from the neighbors

In loud, startling, frantic barks of the neighbors' pet in our pet-free building

In the smoke filling my house from the neighbors' cigarettes

    and the deep coughs it causes me

In the rough and gravelly voice that keeps breaking from all the smoke when I try    

    to sing

In songs I sing along with

In songs I can't sing along with because of the tears

In careful conversation with my parents and their growing fear and extremism

In online work meetings when I am doing a great job

In online work meetings when my brain isn't functioning,

    and I can't even speak coherently

In the voices of the podcasters who help me think about the world

In the laughter I create in others

In hours when my sister isolates herself more and finds excuses not to talk

    until I give up

In the grief we are all living through in a fallen world

In bed when I'm still awake from the pain

In the desk chair where I have to rest after too short of a time standing

In the shoulder that slips out of place all the time when it's irritated

In the knee brace that keeps my leg straight

In frustrating pain in my knee and ankle when I move

In my couch when I am elevating and icing and resting

In the friend who comes over masked up to fix the exercise bike

    that's the only way I can do rehab

In the text from the friend with mental illness who hasn't answered in too long

In the brothers who brought distilled water during the shortage

In the sister who is calling church members like me to help us stay connected

In the pastor who responds thoughtfully in a time of crisis

In times I spend worshiping along with online church services

In words I can't write because there's too much physical pain,

   and I can't bear facing the voice recognition software and all the corrections

    I will have to make

In words I write and the pain that follows and intensifies

    because I just need a little longer to finish

In the beauty of the falling snow seen from inside a warm place with blankets

In moments of creativity

In moments of blankness

In my house where I live alone

In the chair every week when the Squirrel Small Group meets online to share    

    wisdom and struggles and joy with the people of God who have chosen to be a    

    regular part of each other’s lives

In moments when the pain blots out everything

In beautiful places full of soaring carved stonework and stained glass

In the furnace (whether He saves me from the fire or not)

In the years of reaching out for the hem of His robe

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Jesus Shines in the Dark

By Pastor Dave Ogren, US Missions Director, Great Commission Media Ministries

 

I am so very grateful for Bethel Christian Fellowship's continued, faithful support of our ministry, for many years now. You have helped us make Christ real, in dark, difficult places all over the world. Thank you so very much for partnering with us in the Gospel.

 

One part of our ministry is the media evangelism campaigns we have done in some 107 cities all over the world – places like Russia (40 cities); India (5 major cities including Kolkata); 3 in Nepal; Erbil, Iraq; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Beirut, Lebanon; Israel; Guyana; Suriname; Paraguay; Havana, Cuba; Juba, South Sudan and many more.

 

Our last media evangelism campaign occurred last December/January before COVID-19 hit all over the world. We had 1,000 churches involved in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and did our usual life stories from right in Dar es Salaam: people whose lives were changed by the Gospel; life testimonies on secular television, radio, billboards, newspaper ads, social media – all going for an entire month and all listing our call center number and web site. By the end of the month, we had 143,000 calls come into our call center. Amazingly, 70% were Muslims. The churches since have been following up on all these people with our follow-up book that we print for every city with about 10 of the testimonies and very simple evangelism/discipleship materials included.

 

Because of COVID-19, our next 4 media evangelism campaigns are on hold until international travel is allowed. We hope by summer to begin campaigns in Eastern Ukraine and Mongolia, to be followed by a national campaign in Thailand with 5,000 pastors and churches.



 

Even though we had been restricted in our media campaigns, our satellite television broadcasting from our studios in Finland has continued unhindered. Every day, 5 days a week we are broadcasting on 16 satellite networks exclusively into the Middle East ... from Morocco to Pakistan into places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq ... in Arabic, Farsi, Amharic, Somali and Tajik. We have wonderful Christian people who speak these languages as their first language and come into our studios to preach, teach, do discussion groups and worship music. We average 1,000 programs a year and are presently receiving 250-300,000 RESPONSES a month!

 

The data is staggering ...100 million people are viewing our programs with 35 million Facebook views and 40 million YouTube views. As you imagine, our staff of 16 full time workers in Egypt, who are responsible to delegate the follow up throughout the Middle East, are literally swamped with work! One man from the Arab Emirates recently wrote: "My family is fanatically Islamic and they tell me that Christians are bad. You however have begun to teach me the truth! It's difficult to access your web pages because the government tries to block it. Please help me!"

 

And so ... we continue to do our best to make Christ real in dark and difficult places all over the world. We have discovered that the light of Jesus shines very bright in these dark places. Thank you for helping us! God bless you.

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An Element of Joy

By Jennifer Levin

 

"Phrases like Worship Service or Service of Worship are tautologies. To worship God means to serve him. Basically, there are two ways to do it. One way is to do things for him that he needs to have done - run errands for him, carry messages for him, fight on his side, feed his lambs, and so on. The other way is to do things for him that you need to do - sing songs for him, create beautiful things for him, give things up for him, tell him what’s on your mind and in your heart, in general rejoice in him, and make a fool of yourself for him the way lovers have always made fools of themselves for the one they love. 

 

A Quaker Meeting, a Pontifical High Mass, the Family Service at First Presbyterian, a Holy Roller Happening - unless there is an element of joy and foolishness in the proceedings, the time would be better spent doing something useful."

~ Frederick Buechner

 

As I consider the theme of where Christ is real, especially regarding worship, I find myself drawn to consider the lives of the saints in the past, both near and now distant, who have had a profound impact on my own life. Perusing my bookshelf, I see Adoniram Judson, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, William Booth, Loren Cunningham, Amy Carmichael, and many other heroes of the faith, even a book by my dad, Steve McCormick. They lived during different times, in far- flung places, were members of varied denominations, sang different songs.

 

In Frederick Buechner’s definition of worship (see the quote above), from his delightful book Wishful Thinking - A Seeker’s ABC, I see how this seemingly disparate group of folks has profoundly shaped my own walk with Jesus. They lived out their worship with radical faith, obedience, and joy. Some saw the results of their labor while still here on earth and some had to wait for eternity. All have inspired me towards deeper devotion, trusting obedience, and passionate service.

 

Among other things, I’m a singer and musician. Yet even I sometimes think we place more importance on that form (and performers) of worship than we ought. There are as many unique, creative expressions of worship as there are people in the world. How do I experience the reality of Christ in my singing and playing? Primarily, I try to keep Him central to the whole business. Songs I find powerful vary, some old, some new, but to me the reason for their power is nonnegotiable: the character of God, His works and ways. Singing those truths bring His presence. 

 

Why? Honestly, I think that’s more to do with getting us realigned to the reality that He is always with us. Proclaiming who He is opens our eyes and reminds us, “Hey, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus are here!” Not only do truths about God remind us that He is with us, they put our own situations in perspective. Over and over, I enter a worship time, whether corporate or personal, feeling overwhelmed and unable to see the forest for the trees, if you will. Over and over, I leave those moments of looking into Jesus’ face and giving voice to His attributes, having gained new hope, fresh perspective on life with all its challenges, and more thankful for who He is.

 

And joy...JOY! If you’ve been in a room with me while I worship you know I get kinda loud.  I love Buechner’s reminder that love makes us look a little foolish sometimes. I think there’s nothing better than a great big room full of people singing and shouting their hearts out to Jesus. Worshiping regardless of what baggage they brought with them that day. Regardless of how they feel or sound. With regard for the One who is worthy of our worship. So, when do I experience the reality of Christ in worship? When I’m busy doing His work here on earth, partnering with Him in building His kingdom. When I’m using the gifts He’s given me to turn the spotlight onto His character. When I’m proclaiming who He is.

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Following God's Call (Pt. 2)

By Pearlie Phillips

 

Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and l will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for l am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30

 

These words of Jesus brought much joy and peace to my spirit. The words demonstrate His truthfulness, His power, His freedom, His peace, and His rest in my life and in the lives of the ones I ministered to on the different missions He has given me throughout my life. The Holy Spirit has done a deep work in me. His love has revolutionized my life.

 

If I glory, I glory in the Lord for what he has done for us. The Lord has brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) and He has a purpose and a plan for each of us – a plan which is good and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

Part of God’s plan for my life included time spent overseas, ministering in prayer and testimony in some wonderful parts of the world. During these times I learned that depending on and hearing the voice of the Lord and leaning on the Holy Spirit's guidance was as crucial as breathing. I learned just how real Christ could be!

 

JERUSALEM

I served in Jerusalem for 16 years. My friend and prayer partner always set aside time to pray on the eve of Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath). This time was especially important because around 1-2 PM, the shops all closed and the buses stopped running. Families came together for a special time of remembrance.

 

One day, as I stood at the bus stop, heading toward her home, I literally heard in my spirit the voice of the Holy Spirit, saying, “Pearlie, do not take this bus.” I tried to argue with Him, but through past experience, I had learned to obey. I said, “Okay, Lord.” I obeyed and took the next bus.

 

When I arrived, my friend’s husband called and said, “Have you heard? A bus has just blown up.” He told us to turn on the tele and we saw several bodies lying in the street. What a sight! The bus that I should have taken was the one that had blown up. My friend and I were in awe. We fell on our faces and thanked and praised the Lord and the Holy Spirit for saving my life.

 

I am alive today because of the Holy Spirit’s voice. I shall never forget that day! I am reminded of Psalm 31:1: In thee, o Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in thy righteousness. Lamentations 3:23 says, “Great is thy faithfulness.”

 

Later I was asked to share this testimony in some of the churches, and several people came to the Lord. All glory and praise to the Lord! I shared it with a Jewish friend, and he said that it sounded like when God opened the Red Sea for the Israelites. I shared it with my home church through a periodic newsletter, and they all gave glory to the Lord. We rejoiced in the Lord together. 

 

SCOTLAND

Glasgow, Scotland, is an incredibly unique city, with a lot of history and art. It is also one of the rainiest places in the UK, with very little sunshine. It felt to me like a very somber city, and spiritually I sensed that people were walking in darkness. I knew the Lord had called me there. And I knew the Lord was directing me toward people who needed to hear the Good News. Psalm 36:9 states, “For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light.” His word brought me light and hope in my spirit. I knew He could do it for others. Hallelujah!

 

One day I met a believer who was involved with Glasgow City Mission, a ministry to street prostitutes in the red-light district. If anything would cause one to share the Gospel, it was this part of town. I could sense the heart of God for the girls, and tears filled my eyes. This new friend asked if I would like to come with her one night. I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit and said okay. Little did I know what I would encounter.

 

That night I joined my friend and prior to the meeting she shared my testimony with the leaders. They heard how I accepted the Lord in my life and of my miraculous deliverance from a sinful life. They heard how Jesus gave me rest and peace. They said, “We know the Lord sent her here.” They asked if I would be willing to share my testimony at the meeting that night.

 

After I shared, some of the girls came up and asked what they needed to do to be saved. They said that they, too, needed deliverance from a sinful life. They wanted peace and rest. I told them they needed to repent and ask Christ for forgiveness and ask Him to come into their hearts. They did these things. Then the leaders and I showed them some scriptures about salvation and encouraged them to find a fellowship of believers.

 

Later, one of the girls pulled me aside and said, “I have kids, and this is the only way I can pay rent. I need someone to help me say ‘No!’ Would you please come outside with me?

 

I thought of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9. For though I be free from all men, yet I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain more….to the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, that I might save some (verses 9, 22). I said yes with tears in my eyes. The leaders and I prayed, and they said, “We will keep a close watch over you.”

 

The police patrol the area every hour, so I felt safe. As I stepped outside with her, a car pulled up and the driver said, “Oh, I got two tonight – get in.”

 

I spoke out and said, “She is no longer available. She has a new man in her life, and his name is Jesus – He has set her free!” 

 

Just then the police drove by and asked if we were okay. Together we said yes, and the girl, with great joy said, “I have accepted Jesus in my life.” The police said that was all they needed to hear. All glory and honor to the Lord! I was reminded of John 8:36: If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. I remembered the day Christ set me free, and I am still free! Hallelujah! And He certainly was real in this situation.

 

After this, the mission asked me to come back every night to share my testimony. Other girls came and listened. Some gave their hearts to the Lord. We celebrated every night. Luke 15:10 says, …I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents…there is joy in the presence of God’s messenger over even one sinner.

 

 

WHEREVER HE LEADS

I praise the Lord and the Holy Spirit for being real to me and real through me in that dark place, and in the lives of the ones to whom I ministered. John 10:10 says, I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.

 

Whenever I would visit my friend in London, I’d take a train to Glasgow to reconnect with the mission and my friends there. Since I’ve been living in the US, I have not been able to return. My heart yearns to see them all again, and I pray that the Lord would provide a time to do so.

 

1 Peter 3:15 says, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready to always give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. We all need Christ and the Holy Spirit to be Real in our lives, in our churches, and in our communities. With Him living in us, we can share the peace and rest, freedom and power that only He can bring.

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