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Monday
Nov072016

Freedom in the Dominican Republic

Charis Bible College prepares second-year students to go and declare the glory of God to other nations by sharing His wonders among all peoples (Ps. 96:3). These mission trips are not just prayer walks. Those who go—students whose lives have been transformed by the Holy Spirit—carry the “Charis experience” with them, taking the love and power of God and sowing it among the people they come in contact with. On one particular trip, the destination was the Dominican Republic—one of two nations located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago, nestled in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

With the help of their hosts, Tim and Trena Johnson, the students visited many different places, and their testimonies awakened the reality of the Gospel for the listeners. Students truly had the opportunity to learn the meaning of Christian outreach. They were not sharing just stories from a book; they were sharing the true love of God flowing from their own lives. They visited a prison in Santo Domingo, and Charis student Sylvia Wells opened her heart and shared her testimony with the inmates:

“A few years before I came to Charis, my twenty-three-year-old son, Kyle, was involved in a hit-and-run accident and was left to die on the side of the road. Being found by a policeman, he was then rushed to the hospital, where he died several hours later. The man who hit Kyle was drunk at the time of the accident. He was arrested just days later and received a light sentence for what he had done. My son was born again, and in spite of the circumstances, I knew that God’s Word promises that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Because of this truth, how could I be sad, knowing that my son was now in the presence of the God I love?”

She continued, “I forgave the man and chose not to harbor bitterness toward him. I was free to celebrate the life of my son without focusing on the loss. Later, I found out that the man was struggling with guilt and depression because of what had happened to my son and our family. I wrote him a letter and extended forgiveness to him. I told him that Jesus died for him so that he could be forgiven and free. The man was very grateful for my letter. I’m sharing with you today how God helped me to forgive the man responsible for my son’s death—because you need to know that God’s forgiveness is available for you too. My son’s race is over, but yours isn’t. God still has a plan for your life. Don’t give up!” With those words, seeds of forgiveness, redemption, and hope were planted in the lives of those inmates.

During the same trip, Dominican children also received ministry. The visit from the Charis team to a mission where children gather for a meal and Bible study was the highlight of the day for many involved. The children were able to see that God loves them through these students taking the time to show that they cared. Ed and Michele Liquete, the team leaders, had the opportunity to minister to a Canadian girl who was struggling with drugs. They also helped others rededicate their lives to the Lord. Like Jesus, the Charis team went about doing good and destroying the works of the devil (Acts 10:38).

If you would like to help take the Gospel of Christ to the nations through the missions trips taken by Charis students, go to our
website: iamworldoutreach.com.

If Sylvia’s testimony or the work done in the Dominican Republic ministered to you, please comment below.

Thursday
Nov032016

Shared Experience—It’s the Heart of Christmas

I was six years old the year I found a long, rectangular package with my name on it under the Christmas tree. The box was wrapped in candy cane-stamped, pine-green paper, and inside was a doll. She had caramel-colored hair, a white blouse, and a red, Scottish-plaid beanie and skirt. I named her Tammy.

After dinner and baths, I sat on the floor in pajamas with my little sister. My parents and older siblings were there too. The darkened room created a theater effect. The television played a movie about Heidi, her grandfather, and an ornery goat. Christmas lights twinkled off the surface of our shiny floor like stars reflecting on a lake. We passed around bowls of popcorn, and Tammy sat on my lap. Nothing can ever take away the sense of belonging I had in that moment. For me, family identity was formed on holidays, during our shared meals, or on game nights. Those shared experiences were embedded in me as a child, creating points of connection.

Last year I attended Charis Bible College’s original production The Heart of Christmas. My son and I went with several families from his school. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with my son, a familiar warmth rushed through my senses as soon as the lights fell.

The Heart of Christmas, an original play written by Adam Stone and Elizabeth and Robert Muren, focuses on a family who passes their Christmas traditions down through a book, as the world changes rapidly around each generation. The book is the story of a “fourth” wise man who becomes separated from the other three wise men. He spends his life looking for the Messiah, whom he missed the opportunity to honor as a babe in Bethlehem.

The stage of this multimedia play is divided into one set featuring a two-story house and one set that displays all the action that occurs outside of the home. The family’s living room takes on scenes from the past up to the present, while the main stage portrays scenes from the book. With stage changes, the main stage also becomes the historical site of world events. Background action and crowd scenes are projected onto large screens behind the set, giving the production a larger-than-life feel.

If you’re looking for a shared family experience, The Heart of Christmas will transport you and your loved ones to a magical moment where cherished memories are formed and holiday traditions are made. The early-bird price is $21 for adults, but be sure to order by November 9. After November 9, regular adult admission will be $25. Children from 5 to 11 years old are $15, and children under 5 (on an adult’s lap) are free.

Plan to come to Charis a little early that day to enjoy Christmas festivities, photo opportunities with a professional photographer, and Charis’s scenic mountain property, The Sanctuary. It’s a holiday experience you won’t want to miss.

Don’t forget: Early-bird prices will only last through November 9. Go to www.HeartOfChristmas.org and order your tickets today!

Monday
Oct312016

How’s Your Spiritual Radar?

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”

Proverbs 25:2 (Amplified Bible)

When I was in college, I took a social science course for one of my required electives. As my professor began to introduce certain theories, I felt my spirit push back against those concepts. I immediately sensed that what I was hearing was slanted. Praying in the Spirit had become a normal part of my life at that point, and I had been learning how to tune in to my spiritual senses. So, I knew something was up.

In Andrew’s book The New You & The Holy Spirit, he says,

“I pray in tongues often without receiving anything from the Lord at that moment. However, when I need it a week or a month later, I’ll ask God for the interpretation of what I’ve been praying in tongues. At that point, I receive exactly what I need from the Holy Spirit” (p. 109).

Because of what I believed the Holy Spirit was showing me, I decided to take my professor’s theories and “search out the matter” (Prov. 25:2). What I found out was quite interesting. When I researched the founders of these “accepted” theories, I discovered that some of them had been either involved in or influenced by the occult. I know now why it did not sit right with me—the new spirit in me (John 16:13). As I continued with my classes that semester, I did my homework and studied for tests, but remembered what the Holy Spirit had shown me. Because all studying is a form of renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2), I felt like He was guarding my heart against internalizing a distortion of the truth.

This is not to say that I dismiss research from people just because they’re not Christians. The hard facts they present may not be wrong, but I do pause when a researcher or scientist takes on a fallen worldview (Eph. 4:17-19). Eve originally learned the facts from Adam, but her perception of them was eventually skewed because of a deception she embraced (Gen. 3:1-7). Even with good facts, anyone can be deceived without the Holy Spirit, whether they work in medicine, academia, politics, or some other field.

Besides the help of the Holy Spirit to discern spirits, Andrew mentions other benefits to praying in tongues:

“Whenever you pray in tongues, you cause yourself to rest, you build yourself up on your most holy faith, and you keep the love of God active and alive in your heart. As you speak forth hidden wisdom and believe for interpretation, revelation knowledge will open up and supply answers you couldn’t get any other way” (p. 111).

Although some Christians dismiss or downplay it, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is vital to your relationship with God. He wants to make Himself known to you in your everyday life. In my case, He wanted to protect me from what I normally wouldn’t think I needed protection from.

Dig deeper with Andrew’s The New You & The Holy Spirit teaching. You will learn how salvation through Jesus changes you and how the baptism in the Holy Spirit takes you to the next level in your Christian walk. It’s available in CD, DVD, book, and study guide formats. You can also watch Andrew teach it on the Gospel Truth broadcast.

Share a comment below if you’ve had a similar experience.