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Entries in Street Ministry (3)

Monday
Dec292014

Holy Ghost Treasure Hunt

Leader Mark Jones giving instruction from the Word (Click to enlarge)“Lord, help us minister Your love tonight,” a small group of men prayed one Saturday night. They had gathered with the express purpose of having what they called a “Holy Ghost Treasure Hunt.”

After watching a documentary in their monthly Bible study about believers following the Spirit’s leading in street evangelism, these men were inspired to do the same. Mark Jones, Charis Bible College graduate and Night School director, leads up this team. “It’s really exciting,” Mark said in a recent interview. “Our group just keeps growing and growing. The last time we went out, two people were saved and many others were ministered to! People [out there] are hungry to see the power of God—to know He really exists and cares about their needs.”

Treasure Hunters taking down clues as they listen to the Holy Spirit (Click to enlarge)The first time Mark’s team went “hunting,” the Holy Spirit gave them three clues. “We heard the words bird, broken wing, and Country Buffet. Then one of the guys got a picture of a circle with dots flashing at the 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions. We had no idea what it all meant, but we decided to drive over to the Country Buffet and find out.”

As they drove, they began to speculate about what the Lord would do that night. Excitement bubbled up in Mark’s heart while hearty laughter trickled out the car windows. “It was so much fun,” Mark confesses. “I vividly remember that night.” When the men arrived at Country Buffet, they immediately noticed a man standing out front with his family. The kids were carrying balloons, and the dad wore a sling on his right arm.

Preparing their hearts to hear (Click to enlarge)“Trying to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before is intimidating. But we did,” Mark says. They discovered this man was hurt in an accident at work. A huge drill press came down on his arm and crushed it. As they ministered to him, the power of God became very tangible. “Watching a big 6-foot guy break down in tears is a humbling experience. But when we prayed for him, all the pain left his arm and God gave him a word of encouragement.”

As the sun went down, the men returned to their car in a state of semi-shock. “Did that really just happen?” they asked one another. While they relived the experience, the parking lot lights came on, and they could see a blue circle of light with dots of light escaping its boundaries at the 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions. “God always confirms His Word!” Mark exclaimed. As it turns out, the man’s wife was a believer, but he only tolerated the idea of Christianity. That night, his perception changed along with that of the entire men’s group!

Treasure Hunters fellowshipping before a hunt (Click to enlarge)“It’s so cool to experience the power of God like that. Everyone who participates in these treasure hunts walks away with a greater dimension of relationship and a greater level of faith. Hearing from God is not concrete, but when you know you’ve heard from Him and you see the confirmation of His Word, it does something to you. It’s such an exciting way to live!”

Holy Ghost Treasure Hunting is open to any Bible-believing Christian. Our mission is to gather in the presence of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost with the intent of hearing Him and receiving direction and guidance on where to go and who to minister to in our city. The group meets one Saturday a month at the Springs Café, which is on the corner of Fillmore and Hancock in Colorado Springs.

Their next meeting will be on February 7, 2015, at 4:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome! For more information, email Mark: markjones@awmi.net.

Monday
Feb112013

Chris Bratton's Journey to More

CBC-Colorado graduate and street minister, Chris Bratton.
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One year before Chris Bratton became a student at Charis Bible College, he was employed as a heavy equipment operator near Dalton, Georgia. At the time, Chris led several small groups for youth and young adults at the church he attended, but the prayer in his heart revealed his desire for more. His prayers were those of a thankful man; he was thankful for his job and the ministries the Lord had opened to him. He also prayed with a servant's heart, "If You want me somewhere else, I will go wherever You want me. If there is something else, if there is more...I want more." Today Chris is far from Georgia, living his new life of more, ministering the love of God to the people of Colorado Springs.

Chris has believed in Jesus since he was a young boy, but it wasn't until spending time in jail that he truly received Jesus as his Savior. After being arrested four times in six months, on alcohol and drug related charges, Chris lost his driving privileges for five years and spent a Chris, in 2010, on his way to Colorado to soak in the Word. (Click to enlarge) month-and-a-half in jail. While incarcerated, he turned to Jesus and asked Him to help him overcome his struggles with substance abuse. "Every day since opening my heart and surrendering my life, I know His presence has never left me. He has been with me every moment since that day," said Chris.

After his release from jail, Chris began visiting a local church; there he connected with a young adult small group. His involvement with the group helped him find his place in the Body of Christ and further established his walk with the Lord. Three years later, as Chris' true identity in Christ was revealed to him, his leadership skills began to emerge and he started leading Chris found out who God created him to be by spending time in the Word. (Click to enlarge)the group. Chris' style equipped those within the gathering to step forward and engage their faith; he encouraged them to have a voice and participate in the discipleship process. In addition, he began taking small numbers of people out into the streets of the local area to minister to anyone they encountered.

Through his church Chris also found a mentor, a man well acquainted with Andrew's ministry. This friendship introduced Chris to more of God's true nature. While Chris had been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit before coming in contact with Andrew's teaching, it was Andrew's message on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that helped him understand what God was doing in, and through him.

With his new revelation, he realized that the desire for something more that had risen in his heart was from God. Chris praying with two boys in a park in Simla, Colorado. (Click to enlarge)He spent significant time praying his prayer, "...if there's more...I want more..." and things began to change. "Things started shifting, and doors that were open, started closing. It was a beautiful thing. I got laid off and pulled out of the ministry I was involved in. I never questioned what the Lord was doing—I knew in my spirit greater things were coming," recalled Chris.

Chris' mentor mentioned CBC, and suggested Chris check out the school's website. The first time he visited the site, he sensed the Lord leading him to attend. Every time he went to the site, the Holy Spirit seemed to flood his body, and he began to consider moving to Colorado. While still contemplating Chris and a friend ministering to a young man in downtown Colorado Springs. (Click to enlarge)the move, Chris and some friends attended Andrew's 2010 Gospel Truth Seminar in Atlanta. At the GTS, one of Chris' friends paid for his registration to attend CBC.

Two years at Charis further solidified Chris' relationship with the Lord and fueled his growing passion for street ministry. "The Word that was planted during my first year amplified the way I was able to communicate with people," said Chris. The Lord used Isaiah 61:1 to quicken Chris' spirit and call him into ministry. "This verse has come alive in me and given me a heart for people. I was a drug addict for ten years, Visible joy. Chris had just finished ministering to the young man in the Heat jersey. (See photo above).
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and I have been released. Now I can release others through lots of love. I get to demonstrate God's love to the world, just like Jesus," he said excitedly.

Since his graduation from CBC, Chris has taken his revelation of God's unconditional love for him, and has begun to minister to any and all who will listen. For the past several years Chris has been ministering late at night, on the weekends, in downtown Colorado Springs. Though he said he usually has a handful of Charis students with him when he heads out at 12:30 am, he will also hit the streets by himself if the Lord leads him to do so. Whether he goes with a team or without, Chris Chris also serves as the Small Group and Outreach Pastor at Pulse. This photo was taken at a Pulse Children's Festival, held in the fall of 2012.
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normally ministers for several hours before calling it a night—or morning. Chris said he and his teams are usually well received by the late-night crowd, and that they see many hearts and bodies healed through their ministry. As he meets people on the street, he is aware that they are not encountering Chris' own intellect, knowledge or opinion, but rather Christ operating in and through him. "They are encountering Jesus, face-to-face, and that's what captures the human heart—it is the love of God that leads them to repentance and relationship."

Chris has also hooked up with a growing body of believers in Colorado Springs called, Pulse, a ministry founded by fellow CBC graduate Justin Knapp. Today, Chris serves as the Chris performing a wedding ceremony. (Click to enlarge)Small Groups and Outreach Pastor for the predominantly twenty-something's gathering. His groups, shaped by his call to street ministry, are preparing to operate as evangelism outreach teams. Chris' vision includes multiple teams serving the community throughout the week, in addition to the late-night out reach currently happening on the weekends.

Chris said, "I used to make money for a living and do ministry on the side. Now my primary focus is meeting with people and sharing the love of Christ. I sow into people, people sow into me and God brings the increase. Thank you CBC for putting God first and for equipping the saints for the ministry the Father has for each of His children."

Thursday
Nov152012

Matthew Reed: Walking Into His Destiny

Colorado native and Charis Bible College graduate, Matthew Reed, during a recent ministry trip to London. (Click to enlarge)A string of poor decisions can quickly lead a person down a path of destruction; that is what happened to Matthew Reed. At the age of sixteen, he was in a rollover car accident in which he suffered a severe injury to his ankle. During his recovery he became depressed and began using drugs. This choice to use, eventually led to full-blown drug and alcohol abuse, followed by visits to rehab centers and back to using again. Right in the middle of what seemed like an endless cycle, a pastor in Kansas invited Matthew to a Charis Bible College Men's Advance in Colorado Springs. Matthew attended the event and since then, has never been the same.

Matthew speaking at Pastor B's (Bill Ummel) church, Praise Fellowship in Ransom, Kansas in May of 2012. Pastor B (red circle) introduced Matthew to Andrew's teaching by taking him to a CBC Men's Advance in 2009. (Click to enlarge)At the age of 19, Matthew's parents caught him with drugs. He had flunked out of college and was sitting in his bedroom when his mother and father found him. It was in that moment that he realized he had a problem, and his parents made arrangements to have him admitted to a rehab center near their home in Colorado.

One may assume that an extended stay in rehab will straighten a person out, but this was not the case for Matthew. The stresses in his life and residual pain from the car wreck perpetuated his need to get high. Failed physical rehabilitation from his injuries led to severe back problems and more physical pain, culminating in more depression. His repeated choices to turn to drugs and alcohol, even after getting sober, put him in situations that led him to make other poor decisions. During this spin cycle of indiscretion, Matthew hooked up with the wrong kind of friends, became a father, and spent nearly a year in jail for assault and battery. "I went through cycles of being sober and dealing with pain, and after six months or so, I would start drinking, which lead to drugs, which eventually lead back to rehabs and sober living homes," said Matthew.

Matthew and his wonderful daughter, Autumn. (Click to enlarge)While in a rehab facility in 2004, Matthew had an encounter with God. He received Jesus as his Savior, and he felt the tangible love of God for two week's time. Matthew began to think about going back to school, but he couldn't see a way to pay for tuition, and he still had his back issue which prevented him from sitting for long periods of time. Eventually, the desire subsided and Matthew slipped back to old ways of thinking. He chose to turn away from God.

Because of his constant back pain and his drug addiction, Matthew was unable to work, and he became increasingly desperate. In 2008, Matthew was in need of help again and he chose to return, for the third time, to a ministry-based rehab in Arkansas. While driving through Kansas, on his way to the facility, he was arrested for drug possession. Matthew standing in Budapest with the first man (center) he ever led to the Lord. (Click to enlarge)Matthew was booked, spent three weeks in jail, and was also sentenced to one year probation.

In early 2009, Matthew's probation officer introduced him to Bill Ummel, a local pastor in Kansas. Nine days after meeting "Pastor B," as Matthew refers to him, Bill brought him to the Men's Advance that changed his life. "Ever since the arrest, I had white-knuckled sobriety because of my probation, but it was Pastor B and his church that loved on me, and turned me back on to God—I haven't used since," said Matthew.

At the conclusion of Matthew's probation, he returned to Denver, Colorado. There he maintained contact with Bill and his church family back in Kansas. "I still talked to Pastor B weekly, and he Street ministry with European Initiative in Berlin. (Click to enlarge)said that if I would go to CBC-Colorado, his small church of 20 people would pay my tuition. They just finished paying for my three years," Matthew said with a grateful heart.

His time at Charis was productive, and as a result of studying God's unconditional love and grace, Matthew has seen great recovery in his own life and in countless lives around him. While his back issues are almost completely healed, his time in school provided even more recovery. Matthew said, "CBC was such a healing journey for my faith and my mind. I had become so retarded that at one point, I couldn't speak or look at people. CBC has given me a future and hope. I'm free in ways like never before."Matthew stands with the Olympic torch from the 2012 London games. (Click to enlarge)

It was during his two CBC mission trips to Germany that Matthew realized his passion for street ministry. "My second trip to Berlin with CBC was truly amazing. This trip is where I truly saw the fruit and value of sharing Christ on the street," said Matthew. He went on to say that it was through these trips that he became comfortable and confident walking in his identity in Christ and letting Jesus work through him.

His trips to Germany also connected him with a ministry called European Initiative (EI). During the summer of 2012, Matthew returned to Germany to serve as an intern with EI, and he traveled with the organization to minister in Budapest and London. While he saw great things in London during the Olympics, it was in Budapest that he had a personal breakthrough. "Budapest is the first time I ever lead anyone to the Lord—it happened three times that trip," he said with excitement.

Matthew and Thor (right) ministered healing to this man's ankles, and prayed for him to get off the streets.
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Now, at 32, Matthew's passion for street ministry has grown, and these days he is ministering in a variety of capacities in the Denver area. One venue he and several friends frequent is the 16th Street Mall in the city's downtown. On one occasion he saw a woman sitting curbside on a horse-drawn cab, waiting for a fare. As the woman let Matthew pet her horse, the Lord gave him a word of knowledge about a problem with the woman's wrist. As their conversation continued she shared that she also suffered from upper and lower back pain. After he ministered to her she was completely healed and humbled by the love of God.

Matthew has become comfortable with street ministry and in his words, "Manifesting Christ in all situations." (Click to anlarge)"We hold up signs that read 'Free Prayer,' and we minister, pray and love on people. We've been laughed at and mocked, but I've personally seen many healings and salvations," Matthew said.

Matthew recalled that his first year at CBC was difficult, but his perseverance paid off. "I couldn't physically pay attention during night school, but God got me through and bombarded me with the Word every night. CBC saved my life and was such a healing atmosphere for me. I came to school a broken mess and in complete bondage, and I left three years later walking into the destiny God has designed for me."