The truths that I have learned at BCM came alive as I applied them to reaching lost teenagers and counseling Christian young people. I am currently in my fifth year of schooling at Baptist College of Ministry and I can honestly say that the preaching and teaching that I have received throughout those years have been life-changing. There have been times, however, when I have not lived out the truths that I was hearing. In this past semester, and even before, I was really struggling with why I did not have a stronger sense from the Lord on His will for my ministry after college. I was also unsure of what my plans should be for my last semester of school. Unfortunately, in trying to determine God's will, I had neglected God Himself. I had an idea of what I thought would be good, but I was confused that God did not seem to share my opinion.
Around the time the Spring semester was starting, I realized that the next event on the BCM schedule was the Spiritual Awakening Conference. After hearing message after message on sin and surrender, the Lord broke through my hardened heart and showed me the deep roots of bitterness against my parents that I had let grow there for so long. It was very soon afterwards that I sat down with my parents and confessed my sin to them. For the first time in a long time, the Lord was able to reveal the next steps of His perfect plan to me, without being turned back by a blocked channel. Now, everything was in order for amazing miracles to occur.
Soon after the end of the Spiritual Awakening Conference, I was approached by Dr. Jim Van Gelderen about traveling with the War of Special Forces to Florida during the next two-week block. This came as quite a surprise to me and I told him I would have to pray about it. I knew that for me to get off of work from my security job for two weeks would be a miracle, so I decided that that would be the determining factor in deciding whether or not I should go. As I expected, my boss refused to give me the time off, so I told Dr. Jim that I probably would not be able to go. Despite all this, however, my parents received a strong sense from the Lord that it was His will for me to go, so they told me that I should quit my job and prepare to leave. Of course, this was a huge shock to me, but I followed through and called my boss. He was certainly far from being thrilled with the news, but amazingly, he told me that I would still have a job when I returned. God was calling me to surrender, but still providing my needs.
The next two weeks traveling with the War of Special Forces was an incredible time of realizing my own weaknesses and claiming God's strength. I am naturally a very shy person (a shock to some), so walking around a Christian school cafeteria meeting students, recruiting unsaved worldly teens on the streets, and leading them all as a unified team was certainly a formidable task for me. Thankfully, the Lord was my team leader and He simply told me what to do.
The first week of the tour was at First Baptist Church in Land O' Lakes, Florida and the Lord did a great work there. During the War nights, many outside teenagers came and responded to the salvation messages. One Christian school student that I had led to the Lord brought several friends to the War the next night and 3 or 4 of them got saved. Another student invited his atheist friend who attended all three nights. Every night he rejected the invitation to receive Jesus, but many of the students and leaders were praying for him. On the last night during the invitation, I asked him if he wanted to go back, but he refused, so I gave one final plea and then went to the counseling room. When I reached the room, to my amazement, I saw the atheist walk in. He had been under so much conviction that he could not say "no" any longer. I was then able to see him gloriously saved. Another Christian school student had made some key decisions during the week and had confessed some sin hindering his walk with the Lord. On the last night, he was taking home an atheist friend of his from the War and was able to lead him to Jesus. It was truly an amazing first week.
Our second week was spent in Arcadia, Florida at Heritage Baptist Church. This was a much smaller town and a completely different atmosphere from that of the previous week. From the start, we realized that there would be significant challenges in getting through to the ten Christian school students and in breaking Satan's grip on the community. Gradually, throughout the week, the students began making genuine decisions. One boy, ironically named Devon, had been struggling with the Lord over his salvation. As I counseled him, he told me that he had prayed to be saved many times, but had never fully trusted the Lord instead of his works to save him. On our very last day at the school, he prayed and trusted Jesus alone to save him from his sin. Other students also made significant decisions to get rid of sin and surrender to God's will.
The first War night went fairly well and we saw at least 15 saved. The second night, however, was a stark contrast. Seemingly, everything went wrong, and it became very apparent that Satan was fighting hard to destroy the work that God wanted to do. With equipment not working, kids getting injured, teens disrupting the service, and only one little 9-year old responding to the invitation (who simply wanted to make sure of the salvation he had received the previous day), the entire night seemed like a failure. Nevertheless, the Lord used it to show me the reality of the spiritual warfare and to intensify the prayers and efforts of the whole team to see Christ win the victory for the week. Thankfully, the Lord did win, and the final night saw more souls saved, including the older sister to that little 9-year old boy.
Of course, the whole trip would have been well worth it if the only thing accomplished was to revive my own walk with the Lord. But praise the Lord, He did so much more. In allowing the Lord to change me, I was then able to counsel many Christian school students to victory and lead six souls to the Lord. I am now trusting the Lord to continually guide me in His will for my future, as I have now seen what He can and will do through a clean channel and a yielded vessel.