Monday, January 21, 2008

Geography Is Irrelevant – Part II

We were leaving one location and heading to another. We had been invited to minister to a group of young men, ages 13-18 at a boy’s home in the mountains of North Georgia. These are kids that have seen some terrible things. Many of them have been abused and/or neglected and their parents have lost custody or given up custody for one reason or another. I knew walking in there that we would need to come “packing” the power of God, as these kids would not be impressed with just a good message. No, the message would have to come with Power!

I’ve said for many years that ministry to kids is a proving ground of sorts. The question is, “do you have the anointing with you?” If you don’t, then the only way to capture the attention of young people is programs, games and “fun”. Nothing wrong with pizza parties, but it’s hardly training to walk in the power of God and make a difference on the earth. See, adults will be polite. If you are unanointed, they will still smile and encourage you. Kids… not so much, Kids will mercilessly let you know that they are bored. I remember several years ago when my wife and I were preaching to a group of kids ages 7-12. I was giving them everything I had and thought I was doing ok. Not great, just ok. One of the younger kids around 8 years old raised his hand and asked me very politely when I acknowledged him, “Mr. Ryan, are you done yet?” Very humbling.

So I knew that these kids would be a challenge. That age range (ages 13-18) coupled with the life experiences that these kids have had would make a very tense ministry situation; one that would REQUIRE the power of God. No power = no effect. But the flipside is that if God showed up, it would be something memorable.

And if you are a regular reader of this blog you know that God showed up!

When we arrived, it was obvious that the young men at the home weren’t expecting us. I don’t think that they were told that we were coming until we arrived and once we arrived they didn’t know what the heck we were doing there. They eyed us suspiciously and greeted us icily. They were told to gather in the living room and did so begrudgingly. We weren’t exactly a small group, there were 7 or 8 of us and we didn’t exactly fit in. We were asked beforehand if we could come by and hang out before the meeting to get to know the boys. I declined the opportunity and here’s why. My thought was that I knew it would take some serious prophetic revelation to open the group up spiritually. If we had spent some time hanging with the boys then the stuff that the Lord gave us could be tainted with natural knowledge. So we walked in the home, shook a few hands and started the meeting with absolutely no knowledge of the kids we were getting ready to minister to.

Like I said, the kids were far from interested in being there. We were pulling them away from their fun on a Saturday. But we had something to give them! They were slouched over in their chairs and on the couches. Some of them were fighting falling asleep. A couple others mocked us, whispering not so quietly to their friends and laughing right in our face. Nice, what a great way to start. The director of the home simply told the boys that we were there to speak to them and they should listen to us. After a very brief introduction it was my turn to talk. I started politely at first, telling the kids why we were there (to preach and demonstrate the Gospel of the Kingdom of God) and started telling them a few testimonies of what God had done in the last 24 hours. It was awesome stuff, deaf ears opening, 13 year injuries healed, etc.

It went over like a lead balloon.

These kids couldn’t care any less. They went from disinterested and quietly mocking to irritated and openly mocking. They were making faces, falling asleep and intentionally disrupting things with their questions and comments. But I have dealt with kids this age before. I know that one thing and one thing alone will get their attention. Power. Forget what I said, it’s what we would do that would capture their attention. Now was the time. We were about to lose the meeting and have a small scale riot. This is the moment and the time that most would have given up, wrapped the meeting, shook and few hands and gone home with their tail tucked between their legs, bound and determined to NEVER expose themselves to such a hostile ministry situation again. And it was hostile. Every fiber of your flesh is screaming for relief from the awkward silence. Your face gets flushed from embarrassment and it’s all you can do to keep talking. Every eye is on you and you get NO assurance from your team. They are feeling as bad as you!

So what do you do? You lean on the arm of God and swing for the fences!

I looked dead in the eye of one of the young men. He was very obviously a ring leader of bad things. He was the most open in his mockery and was openly challenging our spiritual authority. I saw very quickly that if we could capture him, then the rest of the room would fall. I addressed him personally and began speaking not to the room, but just to him. I told him flatly that he was a disrespectful and mocking little twerp. But that was easy to see. What I was pressing in for was some gold, hidden deeply in the mines of his heart; I was looking for something of value. And I saw it! The Lord showed me that he was like Peter in the Bible. Great things would happen as the result of his boldness, IF he could conquer his cowardice.

I looked him in the eye and told him, “There was a man in the Bible that was much like you; a chicken. He had convictions, but lacked the courage to stand by them, like you. When faced with public scrutiny, he denied those he loved the most… like you.” All the air was sucked right out of the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I was dressing down the ringleader and very publicly. I could hear the air being sucked in between the teeth of the directors of the home. No one had EVER talked to their kids like that! If it wasn’t for the shock, I think that they may have sent me packing right then and there… But I continued…

“Yeah, so this guy was a chicken and a wimp, like you. He had convictions, but lacked the courage to stand by them, like you; and then he betrayed his best friends when faced with peer pressure, like you… but that’s not the end of the story.” I had their attention, now for the prophetic revelation. “But this man, Simon, would not remain Simon, but his name and his nature would be changed and he would be called Peter. Peter means a rock, an immovable object. He would later be called a Pillar of the church and through his bravery and conviction would lead and guide the church for decades.” Everyone in the room went from slouching in their seats to literally sitting on the edge of their seats, from disruptive to attentive. They knew this young man’s history and bore witness to what was being said. “How did this guy know these things about him???

The prophecy was simple, “God is about to change your nature from cowardly to bold, from fearful of men to the fear of God and he will give you the courage to stand for what you believe in, even in the face of intense persecution.” Bulls-eye. The word hit the kid right between the eyes. It also unlocked the prophetic and my team jumped in, giving word after word to the once mocking young man. We went around the room, giving words to every single one of the kids, calling out destiny and purpose in their lives. Several of the words were alarmingly accurate and extremely detailed. One of the kids loved computer and received half a dozen words about computers. Another loved to work on cars and was given a word that he would run a car shop. Another one of the kids was the “scrapper” in the group, always getting into fights and he received several words about wrestling and fighting with God. It was awesome.

The kids sat in rapt attention for 2 hours as they were prophesied over again and again. They hung on every word. Some teared up as the secrets of their hearts were laid bare. They were absolutely rocked! THEN I was able to preach this Gospel of the Kingdom of God and call then to repentance and lives of laid down love before God. They responded. One of the kids after hearing about the healing power of God stood up and got right in my face saying, “If what you’re saying is true, prove it!” I told him quietly, “that’s what we’re here to do”. He stretched out his hand which was swollen and inflamed. He had hurt it playing basketball earlier that day and demanded that we take away the pain. Our team gathered around, praying for the hand. After about ten seconds we stopped and I asked him to check it out. He stretched out his hand and his eyes got as big as saucers… “OH. MY. GOD. IT WORKED! IT WORKED!!!” He started bouncing around, telling everyone in the room that it worked! All the pain went away and within a few minutes so did all the swelling. The rest of the kids jumped out of their seats and started asking for healing.

We went around the room, praying for all the kids individually. Many were healed, several were delivered and most every kid in the room dedicated themselves to serving the Lord. We’ve been invited back to work with them some more and I will write up the details as they come in.

Nothing is impossible with God… even teenagers!