Don’t You Ever Give Up Hope

This Christmas it has been seven years since we first came to America and started feeding the homeless people on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. Every Wednesday and Sunday after church, but also a lot in between. Even before the church was established, our family has served tens of thousands of people, and if somebody asks me if it has been worth it, I will always say “yes”.

Honestly, I don’t think about it, I just do it. If I start to think too deeply about what we are doing I might start to lose courage. Orange Blossom Trail needs a lot of change, and we all know that it’s not the food, that will change the community. It is Jesus Christ. My focus is so strong on Jesus Christ and the vision that I refuse to look back and faith in him keeps me alive and strong in all the daily problems.

I have many pastor friends now in America and sometimes I have to pinch myself in the arm when I hear about their problems, how I wish I sometimes could swab problems with them. Just last week alone, two of the people that come to our church regularly have died out in the street, but still, I am convinced that I am graced to do this job.

There is a Reason, Pastor!

Let me give you three fresh testimonies that kept me going this past week:

In our church we have this homeless man that I have fed for seven years, he always sticks to himself, he has a long beard and white wild hair, and not so long ago he told me why. “There is a reason, pastor. I want people to think that I am crazy so that they will stay away from me”, he explained. “I am not crazy, but I am so hurt by people, I just want to sit on an island alone and die”, he said. This man has been expelled many times because he has been drunk and aggressive, but last year he detoxed himself off one bottle of vodka a day and has been sober for a long time. Now he has decided to follow Jesus, and Sunday he was in our service for the first time ever and got baptized in front of everybody. Even I was astonished to see him take that turn. For many years it seemed like nothing was happening but now, all of a sudden, he is changing big time.

My Other Sheep

One of my other “sheep” have been coming to our Community Cafe for a long time. They are always around, and they are always high and drunk. They live in a different world of substance abuse and we have had many problems with one of them in particular. No matter what I say, they will never listen, so I must admit that I kind of wrote them off, still knowing that “nothing is impossible with God”.

This week I saw the impossible. I was outside the Community Cafe talking to one of the guys, and when I came into the building everybody was real quiet. I had to look twice when I saw my “case impossible” speak in front of everybody. “So many people have died out here, but this church has saved my life”, he said. “This is our street, and we must stand together to change our community. We can do it. If they could change me, you can change as well. But it takes faith in God and faith in the church”, he said.

I was stunned. This man has threatened me and my family and my volunteers over and over again. Recently we gave him the “last chance”, he has been asked to leave the facility several times, but now I am happy that we had faith, patience, and longsuffering enough to love him through. Now he is pulling people into the church.

We Saved his Life …

My last “case impossible” is a young man that I don’t remember “not high”. A few months ago he told me that he was starting in school, A young man that I do not remember “not high” on drugs told me a few months ago that he was starting to go to school. I took the time to talk to him but it looked like the word was just going in through one ear and out of the other. I also prayed with him, and next time I saw him around he was sitting down, talking to another young drug addict about Jesus Christ. “You know me from the streets”, he said, “but I have changed, ever since pastor prayed for me and I started listening to him, my life has changed. I am going back to school. This pastor saved my life!” he said.

I almost fell off my chair, I had not seen that one coming and I realized right there that our word is like a living seed. We must preach whether people like it or not. We must not stop speaking about Jesus Christ. The word is alive and has mighty power to save.

When I came home Friday I was still in awe. Two of the most impossible cases were testifying in front of other people that I had saved their lives and I did not even know it. The third “impossible” guy was baptized on his first Sunday in church. Wauv, I never get tired of serving Jesus Christ.

Happy New Years from all of us here in Orlando. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Don’t ever give up hope!

Miracle Crusade in Ecuador

Coming home from the last miracle crusade in Ecuador my wife would pick me up at the airport and ask me a ton of questions. I was gone for a week, and even though we have had our daily updates through Facebook, it seems like my wife always wants to know everything. Not so much about the trip, but more in details about the people, the miracles etc. Questions like, how many people got saved, what did you preach about, what was the biggest miracle and so on …

As usual, I let her talk because I don’t know how to answer! After preaching my brains out several times a day I am so tired, not to mention the travelling and the past two days of only a few hours of sleep. What was the biggest miracle? Was it the little blind girl that got her sight back, the deaf ears that opened, the man with the kidney problems that got healed, the woman that was crippled by arthritis who suddenly had no pain, the man that was delivered from unclean spirits or the owner of the kayak rental and his family that got saved.

Every person is unique, created in the image of God. You can’t compare miracles, so why even try? All I can say is that I am so thankful that I was invited to be in this crusade and see the mighty move of the Holy Spirit. It was awesome to see how peoples lives were touched and forever changed. The meetings were held in a big basketball stadium. First night 250 people came and the second night 600 people came. More than 150 prayed the prayer of salvation. If we had continued one night more, I believe the place would have been full.

Our son Hector was with me on this trip and I saw God’s gift over his life unfold. He was preaching for the first time and was ministering with words of knowledge and prophecy. After he preached he received a special invitation to go to the jungle to share the Word amongst the tribal people. He was picked up at 3 am in the morning to get to the village. They gathered around the fire before sunset for worship, bible study and prayer. They welcomed him like a king, brought him gifts and painted his face. He was the only white man visiting. Every family gave him a drink to show him honour and he was officially adopted into their tribe. When he came back to the hotel, he still had the paint on his face, and at the evening meeting, the indigenous people had prepared another ceremony for him. Here they put a crown on his head, and next thing, they did the same to me, as a token of honour and love.

Preaching the gospel is a privilege. As a young man, I gave my life to Christ so that He can live His life in me and through me. Now I live my life for others to see and experience the life of Christ. It is such an honour to serve him and I don’t take it lightly. Going to Ecuador, to the exact same area where American missionaries got killed by Huaorani tribesmen in the 1950’s for preaching the gospel, was a privilege. We were literally walking in the footsteps of the men that were killed and the wives, that went to the jungle to fulfil the mission of their passed husbands, preaching the gospel to the tribal people. We went to churches established by people who were saved through their testimonies. What we witnessed over this past week was the fruit of the sacrifice they gave, as we were passing on the baton for the coming generations to be saved.