Friday, April 5, 2013

OCC--Friday Evening Global Connect--Skip Heitzig

Back again for another evening session at the Operation Christmas Child Global Connect Conference on this Friday night.  It's still hard to get used to being in such a large group of people praising God together.

The evening began with Dennis Agajanian's amazing guitar rendition of "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus".

Franklin Graham then came to the podium (casual tonight in his baseball cap despite all the SP & BGEA board members there in suits) and said of being at OCC shoebox distributions, "I never get tired of when a little child will tug on your jacket and look up at you with big eyes and say 'thank you'.  So, thank YOU."

Tommy Coomes Band followed with a worship set of 'Everlasting God', Our God', and 'Awesome God'.   It felt a little like deja vu because we sang two of those last evening, but then I realized it's probably not easy to get translations in five different languages of many worship songs.  That could explain a limited set list.  And those three are all great belt-it-out worship songs.

Next, Izabella McMillen introduced a shoebox recipient from Rwanda--Alex Nsengimana, who shared a heartwrenching story of being orphaned at a young age and living with a grandmother and uncle who he then saw killed by a member of the enemy tribe.

After going to the capital city to live with an aunt, fleeing that home and living on the street for two months, and then being in a refugee camp for several weeks, Alex and his brother finally went to live in an orphanage.

It was there that they received shoebox gifts and Alex remembers receiving a comb that he used for three years and also the treat of a candy cane.

As he began to read the Bible he learned of the need to forgive those who had wronged him and he also developed spiritually as he sang with the African Children's Choir.

Just a few weeks ago Alex returned to Rwanda to distribute shoebox gifts with OCC and God opened doors for him to meet the man who killed his family members and offer forgiveness to him.

Alex ended his amazing story by saying, "God is using each of these boxes for His glory and changing the lives of kids.  Your hours and time are not in vain."

After two standing ovations for Alex, Franklin Graham came back to the stage and reminded us to "Pray that God will use these boxes.  And He does."  He then introduced Skip Heitzig, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque and a friend of the ministry.

The Body of Christ---

God is doing two great endeavors--
1)  Evangelism
2)  The Church (Jesus said, "I will build up My church.")

What do people assume when they look at our lives? One hundred million gifts show the world there's a God who loves people.

Skip talked of going to Baghdad, Iraq and driving 24 hours each way from Jordan to get there.  They met with two cabinet members there and the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, "We always thought Christians hated us but I'm overwhelmed by all these gifts for children and now I know you love us."
Skip thanked us for all the hours, the miles, and the prayers invested in shoeboxes and assured us, "It's worth it!"

Shoeboxes are a reflection of the Body of Christ.  Each shoebox is different but they're all for the same purpose--to show the glory of God.  They are only done as we come to work together.

Jesus wants the Body of Christ to be His best representatives of Him on earth and there are four ways for us to do that--

1)  Recognize Variety--
--we have different gifts but the same Spirit
--God loves to create variety in nature and even Jesus' healings were done in a variety of ways
--sometimes we want to create spiritual molds but God requires the right to use people we don't like or agree with
--even those who have the same gifts will use them differently
--don't fight the variety God has planned for the body--embrace it.

2)  Emphasize Unity--
--the head of the Body is Christ and He keeps it together
--what happens when one part of the body won't cooperate?  The whole body suffers
--the world looks at the Body and often sees a spastic, stifled expression of God
--whatever member of the Body you are, that's where God has placed you

3)  Maximize Equality--
--If the whole body was and eye, where would be the hearing?
--the church at Corinth was elevating certain gifts but all parts of the body are useful
--even the parts that seem invisible are important (can't live without those kidneys)
--the church is guilty of putting people on pedestals and setting them up for failure while making others feel inferior
--unnoticed does not mean unimportant

4)  Minimize Self-Sufficiency--
--the eye cannot say to the hand "I have no need of you"
--our society has a 'Lone Ranger' mentality that cannot enter into ministry
--we're part of the greatest organization in the world--the Body of Christ

The God of the universe not only condescended to be born as a baby but He condescends to use us.  We're on the winning team.

"Brothers and sisters, let's give the Devil a black eye.  If we recognize variety, emphasize unity, maximize equality and minimize self-sufficiency we will send him running."

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