PHARMEKEIA: DRUGS, THE DEMONIC REALM, AND BABYLON THE GREAT

A TERM PAPER
SUBMITTED
TO DR. DON McCURRY
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
MCSM 639 FOLK ISLAM AND POWER ENCOUNTER

BY
John Caleb Alarid

Springfield, MO
October 2016

 

Drugs are the gateway to the demonic realm. The word pharmacy is derived from the Greek work, pharmakeia. The word is translated in the King James Version of the Bible as sorcery (or witchcraft, in the New Living Translation). At the time of the writing of the Bible, in the Greek speaking world, there was a strong connection between drugs and witchcraft. Strong’s defines the word as medication, magic, sorcery, and witchcraft. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines pharmakeia as “the use or administering of drugs, poisoning, sorcery, magical arts, deceptions and seductions of idolatry”. According to Vines Expository Dictionary, phamrakeia primarily signified, “the use of medicine, drugs, spells;” then, “poisoning;” then, “sorcery.” In “sorcery,” the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers. The word, pharmakeia, is found several times in the New Testament. In addressing church at Galatia about the deeds of the flesh, the Apostle Paul states,

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery (pharmakeia), enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The word is also mentioned in the book of Revelation chapter nine, “and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.” In Revelation 19 the word is mentioned in connection with Babylon,

Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer… for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”

Babylon is symbolic of the world system, energized by Satan and opposed to the Kingdom of God. The word pharmakeia is also mentioned in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in Isaiah 41:9,12 in reference to the fall of Babylon. The text states that there will be an increase of this type of witchcraft in the end times. There is a connection between drug use, the satanic one world government (Babylon) and a new age of heightened consciousness. At the tower of Babel, mankind was united to become great apart from God. They would reach the divine their own way. Mystery Babylon is a united world system in the last days opposed to the God of the Bible. Pharmakeia is a tactic, the sorcery, used to influence and deceive mankind into following this satanic system. The United States is facing epidemic proportions of addiction that is widespread across all races, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite tough anti-drug laws, a recent survey shows the United States has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world. Addiction to drugs is a scheme of the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy humankind. However, this is the same ploy Satan has been using since the beginning.
In Genesis chapter 2, we see that “the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” God put man in the Garden of Eden to watch over and tend it. The Lord God warned Adam that he may eat from any fruit from any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For if he ate of this tree he would die. Later, the serpent comes into the garden in Chapter three and seeks to entice Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. This tree was not needed to sustain them naturally. It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it had to do with the expansion of consciousness. The serpent pointed them to the one tree that was forbidden. In chapter three the crafty serpent raises doubt by asking Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” Eve responds that they may eat fruit of any trees in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they will die. Eve goes one step further than God, stating that “they may not even touch it,” (which is the birth of legalism). “You will not die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened and as soon you eat it and you will be like God.” The serpent directly contradicts the command of God. The serpent is related to Satan as we see in Revelation, “The ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world.” The serpent is a being that was used by Satan to deceive Adam and Eve. Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
The serpent contradicts God by saying they would not die and they would be like God. Eve saw the tree was beautiful, the fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give. So she ate and gave some to Adam, who was standing there with her. Then their eyes were opened and they felt shame at their nakedness and tried to cover themselves with plants. Satan deceived Eve by saying they would not die; but rather, they would be like God (or be their own god). However, this was deception for they ended up fearful and ashamed. There are several lies here regarding eating the forbidden fruit—they won’t die, they will be like God, and to tap in to mind expansion (hidden god-like knowledge). Her eyes were opened but only to realize her shame. She did not become omniscient as God; she became shameful of her disobedience.
Just as Satan got control of Adam and Eve through deception, he is trying to do the same to the human race on a mass scale. This offer of mind expansion through a forbidden fruit is happening today. As stated above, drugs are mentioned several times in the New Testament, especially in connection with the final hours before the second coming of Jesus. The verses prohibiting mind expanding drugs in the New Testament are found mostly in Revelation, except for one in Galatians. In Galatians chapter five it states that those who partake in pharmakeia will not “inherit the kingdom of God.” In Revelation chapter nine it speaks of the people that were not wiped out by the plagues continued to “worship demons and did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft (pharmakeia) or the sexual immorality.” The use of drugs is always connected to the worship of demons and sexual immorality. Furthermore, those who partake of mind altering drugs will not inherit the kingdom of God, according to Galatians chapter five. Their end is the lake of fire. Those whose robes are washed in the blood Jesus will enter heavenly Jerusalem and eat of the tree of life. However, “outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshippers, and all those who love to live a lie.” Hence, mind expanding, altering substances are clearly forbidden in Scripture.
Throughout history medicine men, shaman, voodoo priests, and brujos have used drugs to enter the spiritual realm. In fact, to this day, the Native Americans take peyote for spiritual purposes. They claim it connects them with God. Timothy Leary, a professor from Harvard began to introduce young people to the psychedelic drugs, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), in an effort to expand their minds. Leary has been referred to as the “pied piper of the 60’s moral revolution”. There are more people using drugs now than in the 1960’s. Leary started what he referred to as a new religion, the League for Spiritual Discovery (LSD), with LSD as its sacrament. Leary was the main instigator. He handed out drugs on Harvard and other college campuses to naïve kids. The mantra of the 1960’s, coined by Leary, was “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” These drugs were never intended as party favors. Their intention is mind expansion and spiritual experiences.
Timothy Leary was a follower of Aleister Crowley, the most highly regarded Satanist of the last century. The Law of Thelema is summed up as “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” This “law” is the exaltation of self over God. This view is related to moral relativism of our day. The Law of Thelema was developed in the early 1900’s by Aleister Crowley. Crowley believed himself to be the prophet of a new age. A being, or demon, by the name of Awiass dictated the text known as the Book of the Law to Crowley. It is the view of this writer that the being was a fallen angel or Satan himself. In chapter two of this Book of the Law, the entity told Crowley,

“I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.”

This was the foundation for a religious system known as Thelema. This was in the early 1900’s, even before the drug revolution. The entity that spoke to Crowley claims to be the Snake that gives knowledge and pleasure. This is reminiscent of the snake in the Garden of Eden. The use of drugs and alcohol is said to be worship of the snake, or Satan. Awiass, just like the ancient serpent, seeks to exalt self and sensual desires over the commands of God. Crowley’s disciple, Timothy did an excellent job of carrying on his mission. The work of Crowley is clear on the inside cover of his book, Magick, it states, “For establishing contact with extraterrestrial entities, spirits, demons for the purpose of extending human consciousness and expanding life to cosmic proportions… the whole of Crowley’s doctrine is based on the Book of Law in which the future of humanity, the establishment of a new world order is outlined.” This new world order, contacting demons and raising consciousness was the mission of Crowley. One of the wasys to raise consciousness is through the use of strange drugs It is clear that the use of drugs is much more sinister than we are led to believe. It is not simply about doing your own thing. Drugs, following sensual desires, and worship of demons go hand in hand, according to Crowley. In his poem, Leah Sublime, published in 1920, Crowley states,
Leah Sublime,
Goddess above me!
Snake of the slime
Alostrael, love me!

Our master, the devil
Prospers the revel.
Stab your demonic
Smile to my brain!
Soak me in cognac
#### and cocaine.

Crowley makes a clear connection in his writings the connection with drugs and the demonic realm. He associates cocaine with demons getting into his brain. Cocaine can give one a euphoric, invincible almost God-like feeling. Leary believed he was completing the mission of Aleister Crowley in ushering in a new age of human consciousness where everyone would “do their own thing.” Crowley’s teaching, “Do What Thou Wilt” and propagation of drug use for mind expansion are widespread. In the United States, our government leaders and politicians are influenced by this satanic teaching.
Robert Anton Wilson, a friend of Timothy Leary, was the editor for the Playboy Magazine forum. Wilson was also a follower of Crowley. In his book, Cosmic Trigger, “In Switzerland, during his exile, Leary was shown a deck of Crowley’s tarot cards. To test his divinatory powers, Leary asked, ‘Who am I and what is my destiny?” Then he cut to a single card and got the Ace of Discs. The Greek words for “the great beast” appear in the center of this card and the number 666 shows in this card. Leary called himself “the beast” since childhood. Leary believed this meant he was Crowley reborn and he was to complete the work that Crowley began to prepare humanity for cosmic consciousness. Leary believed he would follow this Satanist to usher in a new world order. Lying signs and wonders and pharmakeia would be a big part of this in the end times.
The battle cry of the hippie movement of the 1960’s was, “If it feels good, do it.” With no standard of morality, unrestrained passion led to debauchery, free sex, and drugs. Doing their own thing and following their own desires to be like God was the same temptation the serpent used in the Garden of Eden. By introducing the young masses to drugs in the hippie movement, Leary believed he would usher in this new age of consciousness in opposition to the God of the Bible.
In fact, the Church of Satan was started by Anton LaVey. Lavey wrote the Satanic Bible, published in 1969, which was just a reworking of the Crowley’s “Do What Thou Wilt” philosophy. LaVey became frustrated with the teachings of Christianity and its high moral values. He could not repress his carnal desires, and so decided that carnality should be given full reign. It is a religion rooted in hedonism. The view that one can choose their own morality and be their own God goes back to Genesis chapter three. God had told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. Satan caused Eve to have doubt regarding the clear command of God. Satan went on to lie to her regarding the consequences and told her that God was holding out on her. She could be her own god if she ate the fruit of the tree. The desire to be self-sufficient apart from God, the lust of the eye and flesh caused the fall of the human race. Hence, it is no surprise that the mantra of modern day Satanism is, “Do what thou wilt.” Satan is a liar. He has been lying from the beginning. King Solomon’s word ring true, “There is nothing new under the son.”
These drugs were used to make contact with the demonic realm. Albert Hofman is the Swiss chemist that discovered LSD in 1939. In his book LSD: My Problem Child, he describes an experience being demonized while using LSD,

“The dizziness and sensation of fainting became so strong at times that I could no longer hold myself erect, and had to lie down on a sofa. Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pieces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms… Even worse than these demonic transformations of the outer world, were the alterations that I perceived in myself, in my inner being. Every exertion of my will, every attempt to put an end to the disintegration of the outer world and the dissolution of my ego, seemed to be wasted effort. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed; trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me. It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will. I was seized by the dreadful fear of going insane…”

The man that invented LSD claimed that it opened the door to him for demonic possession and led him to the edge of insanity. It is apparent that this drug opened the door to another realm and demonic activity.
Rick Strassman, a medical doctor specialized in psychiatry with a fellowship in clinical psychopharmacology research, was a Professor of Psychiatry for eleven years at the University of New Mexico. He was permitted to administer DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) to humans for research from 1990 to 1995 at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine in Albuquerque. DMT has been used by Amazonian Indian cultures in religious rituals for thousands of years and 1931 DMT was first synthesized in a lab. This was the first legal study of psychedelic subjects in twenty years. He studied over sixty people who volunteered for the study for a monetary compensation. Strassman wrote about his experiences and those of the volunteers in his book (and later the film by the same name), DMT: The Spirit Molecule. The most striking similarity is the subjects reported contact and communication with what they believed were real intelligent beings. Another similarity is that subjects come into contact with an alternate reality or another plane of existence. These consistencies of other worlds and their inhabitants were reported regardless of age, gender, language or religion. Rick Strassman stated that both he and the volunteers in the DMT studies he conducted felt that the “most intuitively satisfying” explanation of these experiences was that DMT somehow allows a person to perceive genuine “parallel realities” inhabited by independently existing intelligent beings. Psychedelics such as DMT, magic mushrooms and LSD open the door to that realm. Marijuana is also a mild psychedelic. Cocaine, meth and other drugs are mind expanding drugs as well. These drugs fall under the category of psychopharmaceutic drugs that open the gate to the demonic realm. It is interesting that spiritual names are given to these drugs. LSD is sometimes called “Instant Zen”, PCP is called “Angel Dust”, Mushrooms are called, “Divinatory Fungi”, and alcohol is called spirits. Even marijuana causes us to have thoughts that are not our own and alcohol gives a propensity to do things that we would not do if we were sober.
Marilyn Ferguson, is considered the Apostle of the New Age Movement. Her book, “The Aquarian Conspiracy” written in 1980, is considered to be the bible of the New Age Movement. This movement is pantheistic as they do not seek God as revealed in a sacred text or as exists in a remote heaven; they seek God within the self and throughout the entire universe. Universal religion is another one of their beliefs. Since all is God, then only one reality exists and all religions are different paths to that ultimate reality. They maintain that as this New World Order, the Age of Aquarius, unfolds it will increase in power, influence, and membership. They believe that a profoundly mystical experience will lead to the acceptance and use of New Age beliefs and practices. This experience is brought on through hypnosis, meditation, and use of psychedelic drugs. The goal is a utopian, one world government that will put to end wars, disease, hunger, pollution and poverty. Furthermore, they believe that all gender, racial, religious, and all other forms of discrimination will cease. People’s allegiance will not be to a certain religion, tribe or nation; but rather, replaced by a concern for the entire world and its people.
The New Age is modern day occult based practices and philosophies seeking to bring about a one world religion. This is reminiscent of the Tower of Babel where the world came together as one to reach God on their own terms. Its purpose is to discover the god within us all because everything we need to know is within us. This is the same lie Satan told Eve in the garden- you can be god-like. In her book, Ferguson points out the importance of the use of psychedelic drugs in the 1960’s to initiate people into New Age consciousness and world view, from a Christian world view to an Eastern religion world view. She states, “For a great many the trigger has been a spontaneous mystical or psychic experience.” She goes on to say that it is impossible to underestimate the use of drugs to bring people to this new age of consciousness. The people of the hippie generation, that were influenced by this “Aquarian Conspiracy” in the 1960’s, are now running the United States. Through drugs these individuals were opened up to the New Age mindset and Eastern mystical thought.
It is the authors experience that drugs open up the user to the demonic realm, which leads to insanity, which leads to suicide (death). “When men ignore God’s warnings and enter a forbidden realm, they may witness materializations, levitations, and luminous apparitions, as well as experience spirit rappings, trances, automatic writing, magic phenomena, clairvoyance, oral and written communications and other forms of spiritist phenomena. Such are not miracles. I grew up in a Christian home but fell completely away from the God of my father’s when I started at the University of New Mexico in 1991. I began selling acid, pot and cocaine. We would drop lots of acid and smoke marijuana all day long. I noticed that my world view began to change through my interaction with the other realm. I thought I had been set free from the small minded view of one religion. Each time I would do acid, I would enter right back into that other world where I had left off the previous trip. One time while I was on acid, I thought I was invincible. I was driving my red sports car at a high speed. I would run through red lights believing that if I hit another car, I would simply go right through it. By the grace of God I did not die that night.
Soon I began to snort cocaine, then free basing it, and then using it intravenously. I would here metallic crickets after shooting cocaine. I would see shadow creatures and people following me. I became extremely paranoid and even slept with a pistol. To ease the paranoia and hallucinations, I began using heroin and valium. This led to a ten-year addiction leading to incarceration and losing everything. I ended up spending two years on the lam, running from the law for a stabbing charge. During this time, I was using lots of cocaine and heroin. I experienced out of body experiences and unintentional astral projection. Many times I would awake with sleep paralysis and see the face of a demon. I could not move or say anything. At other times, after shooting cocaine, I would see little demons with the voices of little children laughing at me. Things would move in my room. Shadow creatures would follow me around. I would repeat the voice in my head that said, “I hate my life.” Many times I would put a pistol to my head and want to blow my head off.
After about five years of addiction, I was taking one hundred and thirty milligrams of methadone daily, plus heroin and cocaine. I became very sick. I was barely able to walk to my car and drive three blocks to the methadone clinic. For several weeks, I would go to the methadone clinic, come home, and lay down all day in pain. Eventually my father came to see me. He was shocked. I was a skeleton of a man and looked deathly sick. He convinced me to go to my brother’s house. My mother was staying at my brothers at that time. I stayed in her room. Unable to get out of bed, I was forced to withdrawal from opiates. However, I continued to be sick for several weeks. I did not sleep for days and would sweat profusely. I was unable to get up out of bed. My mom would change the sheets daily because they would get drenched with sweat. At night I would see and feel demons pulling me down into hell. During this time there was a thin line between this world and the next. I felt that if I died, I would spend eternity in hell. Finally, my sister in law decided that they needed to take me to the emergency room. At the emergency room they found that I had endocarditis and my blood had gone toxic. The doctor said that if I had not come in that day, I would be dead by morning. I spent seven months in the hospital with a pic line shooting antibiotics right into my heart. Upon my release from the hospital, I started using drugs again.
Years later I walked into a Christ-centered recovery home, where I was set totally free from addiction and the torment of demons. After graduating the program and attending the school of ministry, I was a sent as a missionary, church planter to Manila, the Philippines. In Manila we encountered many demonized people. The Lord used me to walk people through the process of liberation from demonic torment. I have an unusual boldness and authority in dealing with demons. I understand the reality of it because I was once there too. The connection between the demonic realm and demonic experiences is widespread.
Mariah Freeman is the former executive assistant for Don Wilkerson, brother of David Wilkerson-founder of Teen Challenge. This is part of her story regarding demonic activity.

I began using drugs at 12 years old. The major demonic activity started pretty much instantly. At 13 I attempted suicide, due to feeling worthless (I wasn’t on a drug at that specific time). I was diagnosed with a lot of mental illnesses (bipolar, depression, borderline personality disorder). I was put on a lot of psychotropic medication, which I believe caused even MORE demonic activity and more suicide attempts.

One night while laying in my bed I felt a cold, strong presence. A deep voice started talking to me. He said I was worthless and that God wasn’t going to save me. I was so scared. This was when I maybe 18 years old… trying to get sober.

I have many suicide attempts in my past, and all of them I believe were demonically led. Sometimes I just felt this urge so strong to kill myself. It was my mission in life to die. Sometimes I would hear a voice tell me what to do and how to do it.

While getting clean at the Walter Hoving Home (my final rehab!) I experienced major oppression. Every night I would lay in my bed and know what was coming for me. Demons would jump on my bed and take my pillow and try to suffocate me. I would wake up gasping for air and literally feeling the weight on my body. One time I saw a demon with a cape while I was using the bathroom. He was standing right behind me and it was like I was stuck and couldn’t move.
Mine and Mariah’s stories are all too common. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Drugs lead to demonic possession, which leads to insanity, which leads to suicide. The enemy tells the same lies he did in the garden. First, “You won’t die.” Drugs sometimes make the user feel invincible. The new world order does not believe in death but rather in reincarnation. Secondly, “You will be like God.” People use drugs to become connect with God or nature (pantheism). Thirdly, “The knowledge of good and evil.” This expanded consciousness brought on by eating the forbidden fruit. This paper has shown that drugs are used to expand consciousness. Finally, “You will be like god.” The enemy told them they did not need God telling them how to live. They were their own god. While on drugs, many people feel like they invincible. Sometimes they have super human strength. Some jump off buildings or drive into other cars, believing that they are omnipotent. The devil is a liar and he has been lying from the beginning.
The world system, mystery Babylon, is set up against the Kingdom of God. In Revelation eighteen the Bible says, “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Sorceries are the drugs that are the tool of the Babylon’s merchants. Through this sorcery they deceived the nations. The world is addicted to drugs, legal and illegal. Pharmaceutical companies and drug cartels are among the richest and most powerful organizations in the world. “America is the most medicated nation on earth, with some 70 percent of Americans taking prescription drugs—yet we have worse health outcomes than other industrialized countries.” Only ten percent of the population uses illicit drugs in the United States. Most of the country is on some sort of drug. There is no doubt that there is a connection between the use drugs, demons, and a Babylonian one world religion/ government. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light. And the God of peace shall shortly crush Satan under your feet.

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No Longer Slaves; The Pauline Theology of Adoption

No Longer Slaves; the Pauline Theology of Adoption

By Hannah Alarid

            The first Sunday service of our church we sung the song “No Longer Slaves”. Together—this congregation of ex-convicts, ex-prostitutes, addicts, outcasts, orphans, foster children, and the like—belted out the simple, two-line chorus together:

I’m no longer a slave to fear,
I am a child of God.

Over and over, we repeated the chorus until the melody and words were branded in our minds for the days following. After service a young lady, who had been battling a meth addiction shared her experience with us. During that song she felt all her fears and insecurities about herself fall away, as the realization that God accepted her as his daughter broke through her chains and bondages. It doesn’t take a theologian to understand why that concept would be compelling to the out-casted criminal, the enslaved addict, and the fatherless gang-member. To find that you can be free, and yet belong at the same time, is one of the most compelling gifts of the gospel. The apostle Paul writes of this amazing gift called adoption in his letters written to various churches during the New Testament era.

Chronologically, Galatians is the first letter in which Paul introduces his theology of adoption. He writes in Galatians 3:23-26, 29: “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith…And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. ” Here is the beginning of a contrasting language we will see continually throughout the metaphor of adoption—captive, imprisoned, law, enslaved versus offspring, heirs, and promise. In just the next few phrases Paul begins to reveal in more clarity this relationship we have with God the Father through Christ.

In Galatians 4:4-5 he continues: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” The Greek word that Paul uses in this Scripture, and continually from this point on when referring to this metaphor, is huiothesia. This word is translated to adoption or sonship. There has been debate or which translation is more accurate. When compared to ancient Greek lexicography dating back to the New Testamental era, it becomes evident that “adoption” is the expression that Paul wanted to convey. The reason becomes clearer as when we understand the Greco-Roman practice of adoption.

In the Greco-Roman world of Paul and the Galatian church he wrote to, adoption of children was a familiar practice. The following rights of an adopted child are unequivocally liberating when applied to our personal relationship with God the Father: “(1)…an adopted son was taken out of his previous situation and placed in an entirely new relationship to his new adopting father, who became his new paterfamilias; (2)…an adopted son started a new life as a part of his new family, with all his old relationships and obligations cancelled; (3)… an adopted son was considered no less important than any other biologically born son in his adopting father’s family; and, (4)…an adopted son experienced a changed status, which his old name set aside and a new name given him by his adopting father” (72, Longenecker). What a magnificent picture of the Father restoring a lost humanity! Paul adds on in verses 6-7, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

The doctrine of adoption is a miracle and a gift. To be adopted by Christ implies not only a change of situation, but of status, belonging, and identity. To have been lost, and then found…to have been a slave, but now called a child of God. I thank God that we, the once out-casted, the once imprisoned, the once abandoned, and the once fatherless, can sing together:

I’m no longer a slave to fear,

I am a child of God…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Longenecker, Richard, N. “The Metaphor of Adoption in Paul’s Letters.” The Covenant Quarterly 72.3-4 (2014): 71-78. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

Hawthorne, Gerald F., Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, eds. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity, 1993. Print.

The Holy Bible ESV: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2001. Print.

 

MISSIONAL HELIX and CITYREACH SPRINGFIELD CHURCH PLANT

The Missional Helix is an intentional strategy for ministry formation and an essential component of successful church planting. Developing practice of ministry is “understood as a helix because theology, history, culture, and strategy build on one another as the community of faith collectively develops understandings and a vision of God’s will within their cultural context”.[1] In defining ministry formation we may look at it as a spiral made up of the local church and the Holy Spirit. As the spiral moves upward it crosses four distinct points—theological reflection, cultural analysis, historical perspective, and strategy formation. The spiral grows to new heights and repeatedly crosses the four points, as ministry understanding and experiences develop. In this paper I will use the Missional Helix to develop a strategy to reach northern Springfield, Missouri with the good news of Jesus Christ through a church plant, residential discipleship homes and community outreach.

THEOLOGICAL FORMATION

The first and foremost for any ministry formation is theological reflection. All ministry decisions must be rooted in sound biblical theology. Many church planters are more concerned about being culturally relevant than biblically accurate. “Too many church planters, while acknowledging the Bible as the Word of God, allow culture rather than Scripture to shape their core understanding of the church”.[2] Theological reflection will cause the ministry to be focused on the mission of God in the world rather than the latest fad of popular culture. We must do the hard work of biblical exegesis and the application to our cultural context. The principles will remain the same but the application may change. We must always start with and return often to Scripture in the task of ministry strategy formation.

The church exists to glorify God by enjoying Him and calling all the peoples of the world to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible is a missionary book revealing God’s plan of redemption in history through Jesus Christ. The unifying central theme of the Bible is the glory of God through the advancement of His Kingdom.  The theme of Kingdom is woven throughout the Old and New Testament. “The Bible tells this story of an advancing Kingdom, the mission of the triune God: providing redemption, finding the lost, and then using them to mediate kingdom blessings to those yet lost.”[3] The Old Testament reveals the failures of Israel and the futility of the human race to live for God until Jesus Christ comes to break the power of sin in the believer’s life. Throughout Scripture we see the world is for the favorite, the rich and the powerful; but God is on the side of the underdog.

God’s chosen instrument to bring deliverance to his captive people was Moses.

Moses was born into a Hebrew family but through divine intervention is adopted into the house of Pharaoh as a baby. He grows up as a prince in Egypt and got the best education available at the time— trained at the Harvard and West Point of his day. “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds.”[4] His adopted grandfather, Pharaoh, was considered a god. He was a member of the most powerful family in the most powerful nation of his day. At age forty Moses chooses to be identified with his captive people and knows he is called to set them free. In fact Moses looks like the deliverer; however, God sees a proud, self-sufficient man who needs to have complete dependence upon God.  In his zeal to bring justice to his people, he kills an Egyptian. The penalty for killing an Egyptian is death. Pharaoh finds out and tries to kill Moses, so he flees as a fugitive to the desert.  He spent the next 40 years on the backside of the desert caring for sheep and goats. This was a humbling situation for Moses, as the Egyptians despise shepherds. God used the next forty years to work out humility in the life of Moses. “God reserves the greatest victories for the vessels that have known the greatest brokenness.”[5] God’s priority in the lives of his people is fruitfulness rather than comfort. Through the prophet Isaiah God said, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”[6] This time in the desert was Moses’ furnace of affliction and training ground.

It is a Biblical principal that God delays His promises and uses desert experiences to prepare His man/ woman for the greatest victory of their lives. After forty years on the backside of the desert, Moses’ dream of being a mighty deliverer had died. Now eighty years old, Moses was not much to look at from a human perspective. After the dream to be a mighty deliverer was not only unlikely but dead, God looks down and sees potential in this underdog. Out of obscurity arises Moses—God’s champion. God uses Moses and by mighty signs and wonders he delivers the Hebrews from captivity. God intervenes in history to preserve the people from whom the Messiah would come.

God chooses the unlikely and unqualified because then he alone gets the glory. Sometimes God’s heroes have gone through much pain in preparation for their call. In his classic work, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer states, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” God’s raising up the underdog is a common theme throughout scripture— for example: Joseph, the prisoner; Rahab, the prostitute; Jephthah the son of a prostitute.  God is not necessarily interested in increasing our giftings and abilities to the point where we are fit for the task to which He has called us. He is more interested in getting His servants to the point where they realize their own lack and inability to do what He has called them to do. When Moses was great in his own eyes, God could not use him. However, after forty years of preparation in the “furnace of affliction” Moses comes to an end of himself and only then is he ready.

The promised Messiah and King of heaven and earth did not enter earth in pomp and grandeur. The gospel of Luke portrays the humble surroundings associated with the birth of Jesus. In Luke’s portrayal of the birth of Jesus attention is given to Mary and the shepherds who were told by angels that the Messiah was born. The emphasis upon a woman and despised shepherds would have shocked the reader of that day. The account of Jesus humble birth is consistent with the rest of Luke’s gospel. “For the focus is on those who were least expected to be recipients of God’s salvation: the powerless, the poor, the sinners and the outcasts.”[7] Another example of the emphasis on the social outcasts and the powerless is apparent when contrasting the Beatitudes of Mathew and Luke. Mathew’s gospel declares, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”[8] However, Luke states, “Blessed are you who are poor.”[9] For Luke, the message of Jesus focuses on the economically and socially poor. The first century society regarded the rich as those blessed by God while the poor were supposedly outside of God’s favor. Jesus included those who were excluded by society.

Jesus begins His ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 which expresses that His ministry would include the poor, the prisoner, the blind and the oppressed. Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth, the city where he was raised, and stood up to read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He deliberately found a specific passage and proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[10] Jesus touched the leper and paralytic. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He offered the free gift of salvation to those who were least expected to receive divine favor—a sinful woman, a tax collector, and a criminal that was executed next to him on the cross. “The world of the 1st century, like the world of the 21st century, based its security on certain things: human commodities, social status, family and ethnic ties, power and human accomplishment. Jesus challenged the human tendency to find security in such things.”[11] Reliance on wealth and social status is the problem. Some wealthy and powerful people were also followers of Jesus. The Lord’s offer of forgiveness and salvation was for all regardless of their social or economic status.

In Luke 15 Jesus offers a defense of His gospel to the outcast. This follows after the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24 which speaks of the entrance of the outcasts into the kingdom and the exclusion of the religious elite. In Luke 15:1-2, the religious leaders                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               of the day ridiculed Jesus because He sat down to eat with the outcasts of society. They said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”[12]  Table fellowship is a serious matter anywhere in the world and this is especially true in the Middle East. To invite someone to a meal was a great honor. “It was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood, and forgiveness; in short, sharing a meal meant sharing life.”[13] In the East at this time, much like today, a nobleman may pay to feed the poor and hungry but he would not sit down to eat with them.[14] The religious leaders were scandalized by the fact that Jesus sat down to eat with blatantly immoral people. The religious leaders thought, “If He (Jesus) is who He claims to be, he would be with us instead of these scoundrels because we are the religious leaders of this community.” Jesus shares three parables in response to the complaints of the Pharisees: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the gracious father. “Jesus underscores the joy of finding something precious that has been lost.”[15] Jesus attracts sinners while the Pharisees are too self-righteous to associate with them. According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.

In the first two parables, Jesus uses the examples of a shepherd and a woman— two of the second class citizens of the day.  “Together the three parables form a tightly knit unit with a single, strongly Lukan theme—God’s love for outcasts and sinners.”[16] The first parable deals with a shepherd who lost a sheep. In the Old Testament the figure of a shepherd was a noble symbol. Moses and King David were shepherds and God is considered a shepherd in Psalm 23. However, in the 1st century Jewish society shepherds were part of a proscribed trade. They were considered unclean. “For the Pharisee, a ‘sinner’ was either an immoral person who did not keep the law or a person engaged in one of the proscribed trades, among which was herding sheep.”[17] Jesus addressed the parable to the Pharisees and states, “Which one of you?”[18] This would have been offensive to the Pharisees to be referred to as a shepherd. Jesus points out that a shepherd will search for a lost sheep until he finds it. The lost sheep of Israel are being found.  The second parable deals with a woman who loses a coin in her house. The village woman searches diligently until she finds the coin. Again there is much rejoicing over the lost coin that is found. Jesus intimates that the Pharisees should rejoice that lost sinners are found. In both cases there is much rejoicing just as there is much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

The third parable is about a loving father and two lost sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father grants his request. The younger son converts his inheritance into cash and heads for a distant land. Once there he squanders all his money in reckless living. Then a famine comes to the land and the young Jewish boy is forced to work for a Gentile who sends him to feed swine. The boy comes to his senses, repents, and goes back to his father. The father receives the prodigal son back and restores him to full sonship. However, the older brother vehemently objects to his father’s love toward his outcast brother. Unlike the other parables this one ends with the older son outside the house refusing to rejoice in the lost that has been found. Jesus uses this parable as a defense of his ministry to the outcast as well as an invitation for the grumbling Pharisees, like the older brother, to join in the celebration for the lost that has been found.

The mission of God is to seek and find the lost. Many times the ones that are most receptive to the good news are the outcasts of society. God uses the foolish and poor of this world to do great things in accomplishing the Missio Dei. When God uses the outcast and the marginalized, He alone gets the glory. Proper orthopraxy (i.e. ministry to prisoners, addicts, the poor, and other marginalized groups) should and will flow out of an orthodox Christology. Know and believe who Jesus is and then do what Jesus did.

Every believer has been brought out of darkness into the light of Christ and is commanded to go back and share the good news with those still lost. “The concluding commission of Mathew 28:16-20 places the Christian mission firmly within an eschatological framework: mission is the church’s primary task between Christ’s first coming and his return.”[19] Our only reason for being in this “already and not yet” time period is to make Christ known. In western Christianity many are more concerned more about their family, career, comfort, and hobbies then reaching the masses of lost and dying humanity that they see every day. This is not the model for Christianity that we see in the New Testament. The priority for the church and theology is mission. There is much work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard.

The preceding theological reflection gives the basis for reaching north Springfield. North Springfield is the poorest and most crime ridden of all neighborhoods in the area. The focus of this church plant, a CityReach Network church, will be to reach the unchurched and marginalized in this zone. This will be a church deliberately geared toward reaching the addict, ex-convict, prostitute, poor and other marginalized groups that are sometimes overlooked in Springfield. The CityReach church plant will reach this demographic and then train and equip these new disciples to be agents of change in this community and beyond. God uses unlikely people, in overlooked places to do extraordinary things.

CULTURAL ANALYSIS

The second element along the Missional Helix is cultural analysis. “Cultural awareness enables missionaries and ministers to define types of peoples within a cultural context, to understand the social construction of their reality, to perceive how they are socially related to one another, and to explain how the Christian message intersects with every aspect of culture (birth rites, coming of age rituals, weddings, funerals, etc.).”[20] Springfield, Missouri is in the Bible Belt. Statistics show that 56% of the Springfield population is affiliated with religious congregations. More than half of the adherents belong to large evangelical denominations—Southern Baptist Convention (39%) and the Assemblies of God (14%).[21] Although many residents claim to be Christians, their daily lives do not bear witness to this profession. There has been just enough religion to inoculate from a genuine encounter with Christ. The world view of most residents of northern Springfield is theistic; however, a secular world view is on the rise.

The drug and crime culture is dominant in north Springfield. The culture has been conducive to production of illicit drugs since moonshine was cooked in the Ozark Mountains during prohibition.  Now methamphetamines are cooked instead of moonshine. Missouri has held the infamous title of “Meth Capital” of the nation off and on for many years. This is based on the amount of methamphetamine lab busts.[22]  Missouri is also number seven in the list of states in the nation for deaths related to drug overdoses.[23] Also, heroin addiction and possession arrests were on the rise in 2014. According to law enforcement there has been a massive increase in heroin on the Springfield streets. Much of the heroin is coming from Chicago via St. Louis or directly from Mexico. Springfield police seized more heroin in the first six months of 2014 than in the previous four years combined. Captain Millsap says, “Our two major issues we deal with in narcotics right now is still meth– and now heroin.”[24] Meth labs in the area have nearly disappeared as “Mexican meth distribution has grown exponentially.”[25] Federal authorities say that addicts prefer buying the more potent and less expensive meth produced in Mexico’s super labs then producing it themselves. Mexico drug organizations are flooding the Springfield streets with their better, cheaper product in an attempt to completely take over the market.

Violence and property crimes are also on the rise in Springfield, which coincides with the increase of drugs on the city streets. More drugs always mean more crime. This past year on November 15, 2014, three people were shot and killed at a north Springfield hotel.[26] Also, 97% of the more than thirty thousand incarcerated inmates will return to our communities throughout the state. “Each year there are approximately 20,000 inmates released back into the community.”[27] National statistics show that 50% of those released will reoffend and be sent back to prison within three years. Many of the twenty thousand released prisoners will end up in Springfield. Springfield was recently listed as number five of the top ten most violent small cities of the world.[28]

Since my arrival in Springfield nearly five years ago to attend Central Bible College, I have seen a drastic rise in violence on the streets of Springfield. There have been dozens of violent deaths in that past few months due to domestic violence, drugs, and crime. I have lived in Northeast Springfield, specifically the Midtown Neighborhood in the 65803 area code, since my arrival in town. In the 65803 zip code 41.3% of the population had income below the poverty level in 2011 and 17.3% were 50% below the poverty level. Like the rest of Springfield and Missouri, the population is at least 85% white. Also, childhood hunger is higher in Springfield than any other city in Missouri. More than half the students in the Springfield public schools receive free or reduced lunch. There are actually seventeen elementary schools where the statistic is over 70% and seven elementary schools above 90%. According to Byran Klaus, president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, “The unholy trinity of meth, poverty, and domestic violence is in intense form in north Springfield.”[29] The mission of City Reach Church is to engage and transform the culture in north Springfield.

 

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Historical perspective is the third component of the Missional Helix. It is common for North Americans to ignore this aspect because of their short national history. However, this is a mistake, as an understanding of the history will provide many insights that will assist in the development a church planter’s strategy. There is much to the famous quote of Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” Springfield was founded in 1830 by a Tennessee homesteader, John Polk Campbell. In 1838 Cherokee Native Americans were forced off their homelands onto reservations. The infamous Trail of Tears passed through Springfield, Missouri.

During the Civil War much of the Missouri population was divided in its sentiments. Missouri was a border state which had two state governments during the Civil War, one seceded and joined the Confederacy while the other remained loyal to the Union. Missouri supplied soldiers to both sides—at least forty thousand joined the Confederate South and over one hundred thousand joined the Union North.[30] In April of 1906, only forty one years after the American Civil War, three innocent African American men were lynched on the square.

Horace Duncan, Fred Coker, and Will Allen were forcibly taken from the jail by a lynch mob, including thousands of people, despite the attempts of the sheriff to stop them. The men were dragged to the square where they were hung and burned, as the elated crowd watched the savage murders. The next day, Easter Sunday, brought thousands of onlookers in their Sunday best to view the remains of the slaughter from the night before. [31] Racial tensions culminated at the 1906 Springfield Town Square lynching. Prior to 1906, many prominent people in the region were black; including, lawyers, doctors, minister and police. However, after the lynching much of the black population left changing the racial makeup for years to come. The black families that stayed stuck together. The Hispanic population in Springfield is less than 3%.  Although there is still a lack of racial and ethnic diversity there has been progress in recent years. In Revelation, John states that he saw “a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.”[32] Christ-followers should lead the way in and be a model of racial harmony and diversity. In this way we make earth look like heaven.

The Assemblies of God and several other Pentecostal denominations emerged from another happening in 1906—The Azusa Street Revival. The revival took place at a little mission on the poor side of Los Angeles. It was led by a one -eyed, African-American by the name of William Seymour, a student of Charles Parham. The distinguishing mark of this movement was the belief in tongues as the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The revival went on for three years with incessant meetings, day and night. “The revival transcended all boundaries and brought together men and woman form diverse religious, ethnic, and national backgrounds.[33] Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and Asians worshipped God together in complete unity. This revival led to the founding of the Assemblies of God in Hot Springs, Arkansas in April of 1914. Evangelism and mission has always been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. “The second General Council, held in Chicago in November 1914, resolved to achieve ‘the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.’”[34] Today the Assemblies of God is the sixth largest international Christian group and the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, with over sixty-six million adherents. Pentecostals were historically outcasts of religious and secular society. “One reason for this rejection was that most of the first Pentecostal churches were planted among the poor and disinherited classes.”[35] The other reason is the Pentecostal belief in Spirit Baptism with speaking in other tongues and the supernatural aspects of the gospel; such as, divine healing and prophecy. Today the Assemblies of God in the United States has great racial diversity. “Its Hispanic percentage of over 21 percent is greater than the nations, and its black membership, nearly 10 percent, almost equals the national percentage.”[36] There is also four percent of the fellowship which is Asian. In fact forty percent of the denomination is non-white.

The prophetic history of the Assemblies of God is nothing short of amazing.  Rachel Sizelove came to Springfield in 1913 to visit her family. One day as she was praying she had a vision of “a sparkling fountain in the heart of Springfield. The fountain sprang up gradually and began to flow to the east, west, north, and south until soon living water covered the entire land.”[37] The following year the Assemblies of God was formed in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The headquarters was first started in Ohio, then moved to St. Louis, Missouri until it finally moved to its permanent location in Springfield. This year the Assemblies of God celebrated one hundred years of existence. It is one of the few denominations that is growing in the United States with twenty four years of continual growth. [38]  Rachel’s vision has indeed come true. By the grace of God the next one hundred years will be even greater (if the Lord tarry) and the fellowship maintains its historical dependence on the Holy Spirit and manifest presence of God.

PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

In this section I will use the first three elements of the missional helix on myself. A church planter must know himself/ herself as much as he/she understands the place in which they will plant. As was stated in the Theological Reflection at the beginning, the Bible describes a loving and seeking God who reaches the most despicable of sinners and transforms them into vessels of honor to mediate salvation and Kingdom blessings to those yet lost. God humbles the lofty and raises the lowly—saving both. However my passion is for the unchurched and marginalized of society.

My passion to reach out to the marginalized of society stems from my own struggle with addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. My parents were missionaries to Latin America when I was a child. My father grew up in Mexico, and my mother is from San Diego, California. They met at Elim Bible College in New York. After graduation, they went as missionaries to Costa Rica. After several years on the field, my family returned to the United States, and my parents got divorced several years later. I grew up with my father’s side of the family in the Southwest portion of the United States and Mexico. My heroes were my uncles, who drove luxury cars and had lots of money.  I later followed in their footsteps. Through my affiliation with Chicano gangs and connections with the Sinaloa Cartel, I quickly became a major player in the “dope game” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were responsible for sending large amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana to the Midwest and East Coast. However, like my uncles, I was continually in trouble with the law because of criminal activity and heavy drug use.

In 1998 I stabbed a guy who attacked me at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time, I was on probation for other charges, and it was likely that I would be sent to prison for many years. I fled to Phoenix, Arizona where I heard about a Christian recovery home by the name of Victory Outreach. I went into the rehab with the intention of “kicking” my costly heroin addiction and then moving to Mexico in order to avoid prison time. However, the Lord had other plans.

The home was structured with work, prayer, fasting and teaching.  After three months, I surrendered my life to the Lord in a radical conversion experience. Several months, later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and received my call to ministry at the Southwest regional men’s rehabilitation home conference. To this day, I remember the service. The evangelist’s name was Philip Lacrue, and the title of the message was, “The God of Second Chances.” At the end of the message, the evangelist invited all those who felt the Lord was calling them to full-time ministry to come forward. Although many went forward, I did not. I obstinately told the Lord, “I am not going up there unless you speak to me.” At that moment, the presence of God came upon me, and I began to weep from deep within. Tears rolled down my face like never before. I said, “Yes, Lord, “and stepped out of my seat and began walking down to the altar which appeared to be covered with a gray mist. When I stepped into the mist, I began to speak in tongues for the first time. The tongues came out like a waterfall; I spoke in tongues for three days. This was the early part of 1999, and my life has had many ups and downs since then but I will never forget the night God empowered and called me to the ministry.

After graduating the year-long program at Victory Outreach, I became the director of the men and boys home. A year later, I went to the Urban Training Center in Los Angeles. Upon graduation, I was asked to join a missionary team headed to Manila in the Philippines for two years. In Manila, I trained national recovery home directors and served as assistant director of the Urban Training Center, the school of ministry. I also led a church planting team that started a work in the Tondo barangay (neighborhood) of Manila. Tondo is known to be the most dangerous section of metro-Manila. In fact, I mentioned my plan to plant a church in Tondo to Steve Long, an Assembly of God missionary in Manila at the time. He told me not to do it because it was too dangerous. Many foreigners that go into that neighborhood are kidnapped or killed. I took this as a confirmation for me to go and plant a church there, as I want to go where no one else is willing or able to go.  At the end of two years, I returned to Los Angeles to attend the Victory Outreach world conference in Long Beach, California. After the conference, I planned to go to Phoenix, to be on the pastoral staff and work as a national evangelist for the organization. Instead, I was arrested at LAX on a fugitive warrant out of New Mexico for the stabbing in Albuquerque years before. I became discouraged and eventually fell away from God for two years.

I was sent to prison in 2007. My first year in prison, I was sent to solitary confinement for suspicion of smuggling narcotics into the facility. In a lonely prison cell in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I got down on my knees and asked the Lord to forgive me and come back into my life. I said, “Lord, I no longer have any aspirations of doing great things for you. I just want the peace and joy I once had in you. Would you forgive me and come back into my life?” The Lord gloriously returned. I was in solitary confinement for five months. During that time, waves of what felt like electric liquid love flowed over me. The presence of God was tangible. I read my Bible and prayed eighteen hours a day. Also, the Lord began to restore my call and showed me some things he would do through my life in the future. I said, “No way, Lord! You got the wrong guy. There are people out there are who are more faithful, talented, and righteous than I. I am a failure.” The Lord responded from Mathew 20:15, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own things?” I responded tearfully, “Yes, of course, Lord. You are God.”

While in prison, I served as the inmate church pastor. God moved in incredible ways, and many came into the Kingdom. Upon my release, I finished my parole in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In late 2010, I was speaking at an Assemblies of God camp meeting. After one of the services, an old pastor came up and said, “You need to go to Central Bible College.” I had never heard of CBC nor had I ever been to Missouri. However, the Lord confirmed it, and I came to CBC in 2011. I met my wife Hannah at CBC, a graduate of the Long Island Teen Challenge program. Later, I graduated with a B.A. in Church Leadership and an A.A. in Bible, summa cum laude. I am twelve credits from completing the MA in Intercultural Ministries Master of Arts program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

One of the things the Spirit whispered over and over while I was prison was a statement from the book of Judges, “Then the Lord raised up deliverers.”  I believe the Lord will raise up an army of outcasts in these last days out of the prisons and off the streets to preach the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ with great boldness and evidenced by signs and wonders. These outcasts who were once committed to their addiction, gangs, and sinful lifestyles will be even more dedicated and sold out for the cause of Christ. The CityReach church plant and Hope Homes will train up men and women just like me to go out and change their world for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. This is not just another church plant—this is a God-given mandate.

I have taken several personality tests. The widely used personality test, DISC Profile, identified me as a “D.” This type of personality is a determined doer who is result-oriented and takes authority. According to the Myer-Briggs personality test, I have an ENTJ personality. The ENTJ’s are natural-born leaders whose life motto is “Everything’s fine—I’m in charge” and “Let’s make it happen.” These personality types makes great church planters. According to Myer-Briggs, the ENTJs are efficient, energetic, self-confident, strong-willed, charismatic and strategic thinkers. However, they can also be impatient, intolerant, stubborn and even dominant. I need to be cognizant of my weaknesses and surround myself with a team to make up where I lack.

When everyone had given up on me, the Lord came to my rescue. After the Lord met me in prison, He began to speak to me about an army He will raise up out of the prisons of the world to preach the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness and power. Vincent Vangogh, the post-impressionist artist had applied to be an evangelist among poor and depraved coal miners. His application was denied. Van Gogh said, “One of the roots or foundations not only of the Gospel, but of the whole Bible is, ‘Light that rises in the darkness.’ From darkness to light. Well, who will need this most, who will have ears for it? Experience has taught that those who walk in darkness, in the centre of the earth, like the miners in the black coal mines, are very much impressed by the words of the Gospel, and believe it too.”  Those who have been marginalized by society: the poor, the prisoner, the addict, and prostitute are often more receptive to the gospel message. Sometimes you don’t know that God is all you need until God is your only option. “The common people heard him gladly.”  Truly he that is forgiven much— loves much. My own struggle with addiction and search for the Divine and meaning in life has developed in me a compassion to reach out to those in the same position I once was. Although, many of my friends from Bible School and seminary have taken positions on staff at affluent churches with a large base salary, I am compelled to reach the addict, criminal, prostitute and other hopeless people. I was a hopeless dope addict, but now I am a dope-less hope addict.

 

STRATEGY FORMATION

            The final aspect of the Missional Helix is Strategy Formation, which is the ministry praxis for the given environment. The strategy is “the practice of model formation for ministry shaped by theological reflection, cultural analysis, and historical perspective and by the continued practice of ministry.”[39] In order to develop solid ministry strategies that work in Springfield, Missouri, the team at CityReach Church will continuously return to the four elements of the Missional Helix. The question should not be, “Does this work?” but rather, “Does this model “reflect the purposes of God within this historical, cultural perspective?”[40] The four elements will work together to inform our ministry practice. The Helix Metaphor forms an intentional model for making decisions and forming ministry patterns. The Missional Helix process will eventually become instinctive, as we bridge the gap between theology, theory, and practice. The pastoral team of CityReach Springfield will utilize the Missional Helix as an organic aspect of our ongoing strategy formation and self-evaluation.

In light of the theological reflection, history and culture our strategy formation will focus on three areas: recovery houses (Hope Home), community outreach, and life giving worship gatherings. The mission of CityReach is to reach the one who is far from God and to help them become a passionate follower of Jesus. The Hope Home will provide a place of hope and freedom for people dealing with life-controlling issues and/ or those recently released from prison. The focus is spiritual discipleship and life disciplines. We are currently raising funds to start the home this summer (2015).

The Springfield Hope Home is not just a rehab or halfway house; it is a training center for future world changers—urban evangelists, church planters and Hope Home directors. God is preparing an army of outcasts, out of the prisons and off the streets, to go across this land boldly preaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with signs and wonders following. The marginalized will be the unlikely deliverers in these last days. An individual that comes out of a gang and/ or addiction understands how to be totally dedicated to something. When God reveals His love and mercy to one of these outcast, they will be bold and fully committed soldiers in the Lord’s Army. God is able to turn a negative attribute into a positive for His glory. Truly, those who are forgiven much are that much more grateful and loving.  Furthermore, someone who has been marginalized by society for years and even decades is not afraid to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God in the face of opposition. The culture may attempt to silence and intimidate them in the name of political correctness or relative truth. However, a person who has been marginalized by society and/or spent years in prison will not fear speaking the truth in the face of verbal attacks and even threats of prison. Like Paul, they understand, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  These world changers have nothing to lose and only heaven to gain. My personal testimony is evidence that these homes work.

Community outreach will also play a major role in the success of this church plant. CityReach Springfield (CRS) exists to reach the ones that are far from God. We do not want to grow through transfer growth. The church can’t expect lost people to come to church. We must engage our communities. CRS will impact the community through outreaches: Rock the Block, Live Dramas, Day of Hope.

The most important aspect of strategy formation is to have a relationship with the Lord that is vibrant and active. Guidance comes in our times of prayer and meditation. We must have discernment and hear from God in the formation of any strategy. My journey to start this church began seventeen years ago when the Lord set me free from aN intravenous heroin and rock cocaine addiction and called me into ministry. The Lord led me to come to Central Bible College. In 2010, after speaking at an Assemblies of God camp meeting, an old pastor came up to me and said, “You need to go to Central Bible College.” I had never been to Missouri but the Lord confirmed that this was his will. I came to CBC the following year. At CBC I met and married the love of my life, Hannah-Rose. Several years ago we began to feel a burden for the north side of Springfield, Missouri where we now live. God has opened the door for us to plant a new church here.

I am partnering with CityReach Network (CRN) and the local Assemblies of God district to plant a church in north Springfield, MO in March 2016. My wife and I are fruit of Christ-centered recovery homes. In 1999 I graduated from a Victory Outreach men’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife is a graduate of the Long Island Teen Challenge. We know from personal experience that the Hope Home can transform broken lives. We are excited to see what God will do in the next few years.

Works Cited

AG.org, “History of the General Council National Office,”

http://ag.org/top/about/headquarters/historyHQ.cfm (accessed May 5, 2015).

Alarid, John. Interview with Dr. Byron Klaus. Personal Interview. Springfield, MO. March 25,

Bailey, Kenneth E.  Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the

            Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008).

City-Data. http://www.city-data.com/city/Springfield-Missouri.html (Accessed April 28, 2105).

Clein, Lindsay. “Heroin Use on the Rise in Springfield”. Ozarksfirst.com (accessed October 7,       2014).

Filmer, Jenny. “1906 Lynchings Grew From Racial Tensions,” News-Leader, April 14, 2006,

http://archive.news-leader.com/article/20060414/NEWS01/604140328/1906-lynchings-grew-from-tensions-racism (Accessed March 20, 2015).

Gundmann, W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Volume II) (Grand Rapids, MI:

Eerdmans Pub Co, 1964).

Herzog, Stephen. “Police identify victims in triple homicide”. http://www.newsleader.com

(accessed April   17,2015).

Köstenberger, Andreas J.  and O’Brien, Peter T.   Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: a Biblical           Theology of Mission (Downers Grove, IL: Apollos / Inter-Varsity Press, 2001).

Landis, Mike. “Missouri Will Likely Remain Nations ‘Meth Capital’ in 2013”. Ky3.com.

(accessed November 16, 2014).

Lemke, S.W.  “The Academic Use of Gospel Harmonies,” In Holman Christian Standard Bible:

            Harmony of the Gospels (2007).

McCormack, Simon. “The Most Violent Small Cities In America: Law Street.”

www.Huffingtonpost.com (accessed April 21,2015).

McGee, Gary and Rogers, Darin J., “The Assemblies of God: Our Heritage in Perspective,”  

            IFPHC.org, https://ifphc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=history.main (accessed May 14,15).

Missouri Civil War Museum. http://mcwm.org/ (accessed April 20, 2015).

Missouri Department of Corrections. “Missouri Reentry Process”. www.doc.mo.gov

(accessed April 17,2015).

Rodgers, Daren J. “Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released,” iFPHC.org,

https://ifphc.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/assemblies-of-god-2013-statistics-released/

(accessed April 12, 2015).

Rollins, Jess “Meth: From Mexico to the streets of Springfield,” News-Leader, June 9, 2014,

www.news-leader.com/story/local/ozarks/2014/06/07/meth-mexico-streets-springfield/10187755/ (Accessed May 10, 2015).

Sorge, Bob, The Fire of Delayed Answers: Are You Waiting for Your Prayers to Be Answered?

(Kansas City: Oasis House, 1996).

Stein, Robert H. Luke (Volume 24) (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 1993).

Synan,Vinson. “Reviving the Classics,” charismamag.com, http://www.charismamag.com/site-

archives/1491-212-magazine-articles/features/14836-reviving-the-classics (accessed

April 12, 2015).

Thompson, Richard. “The Social Outcast in Luke’s Gospel,” Master Tool Kit, December –    February 2015, 68, accessed March 15, 2015,            http://www.mastertoolkit.com/vcmedia/2375/2375512.pdf.

Tooley, Mark. “Assemblies of God: A Growing U.S. Denomination.” Christianpost.com,     http://www.christianpost.com/news/assemblies-of-god-a-growing-u-s-denomination-   121681/ (accessed May 5, 2015).

Trust for America’s Health. “Missouri has the Seventh Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in        the Nation”. Healthyamericans.org. (accessed November 12, 2014).

York, John V., Missions in the Age of the Spirit (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing             House,2000), Kindle.

Van Rheenen, Gailyn. “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.”              Missiology.org. http://www.missiology.org/?p=157 (accessed November 2, 2014).

[1] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” http://www.missiology.org/?p=157 (accessed November 2, 2014).

[2] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.”

[3]   John V. York, Missions in the Age of the Spirit (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2000), Kindle location 272.

[4] Acts 7:22 (NIV).

[5] Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers: Are You Waiting for Your Prayers to Be Answered? (Kansas City: Oasis House, 1996). 121.

[6] Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)

[7] Richard Thompson “The Social Outcast in Luke’s Gospel,” Master Tool Kit, December -February 2015, 68, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.mastertoolkit.com/vcmedia/2375/2375512.pdf.

[8] Mathew 6:20 (NIV).

[9] Luke 6:20 (NIV).

[10] Luke 4:18-19 (NIV).

[11] Thompson, 68-69.

[12] Luke 15:2 (NIV).

[13] Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 143.

[14] W. Gundmann. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Volume II) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1964), 57.

[15] S.W. Lemke, “The Academic Use of Gospel Harmonies,” In Holman Christian Standard Bible: Harmony of the Gospels (2007): 139.

[16] Robert H. Stein, Luke (Volume 24) (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 1993), 400.

[17]  Bailey, 147.

[18] Luke 15:4 (NIV).

[19] Andreas J. Köstenberger and Peter T. O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: a Biblical Theology of Mission (Downers Grove, IL: Apollos / Inter-Varsity Press, 2001), 108.

[20] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “MR #25: From Theology to Practice: The Helix Metaphor.” http://www.missiology.org/?p=203 (accessed November 10, 2014).

[21] City-Data. http://www.city-data.com/city/Springfield-Missouri.html (Accessed April 28, 2105).

[22] Mike Landis. “Missouri Will Likely Remain Nations ‘Meth Capital’ in 2013”. Ky3.com. (accessed November 16, 2014).

[23]  Trust for America’s Health. “Missouri has the Seventh Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in the Nation”. Healthyamericans.org. (accessed November 12, 2014).

[24] Lindsay Clein. “Heroin Use on the Rise in Springfield”. www.Ozarksfirst.com (accessed October 7, 2014).

[25]Jess Rollins, “Meth: From Mexico to the streets of Springfield,” News-Leader, June 9, 2014,

www.news-leader.com (Accessed May 10, 2015).

[26] Stephen Herzog. “Police identify victims in triple homicide”. www.newsleader.com

(accessed April   17,2015).

[27] Missouri Department of Corrections. “Missouri Reentry Process”. www.doc.mo.gov

(accessed April 17,2015).

[28] McCormack, Simon. “The Most Violent Small Cities In America: Law Street.”

www.Huffingtonpost.com (accessed April 21,2015).

[29] John Alarid. Interview with Dr. Byron Klaus. Personal Interview. Springfield, MO. March 25, 2015.

[30] Missouri Civil War Museum. http://mcwm.org/ (accessed April 20, 2015).

[31] Jenny Filmer, “1906 Lynchings Grew From Racial Tensions,” News-Leader, April 14, 2006,

http://archive.news-leader.com/article/20060414/NEWS01/604140328/1906-lynchings-grew-from-tensions-racism (accessed March 20, 2015).

[32] Revelation 7:9 (New Living Translation).

[33] Gary McGee and Darin J. Rogers, “The Assemblies of God: Our Heritage in Perspective,” iFPHC.org, https://ifphc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=history.main (accessed May 14, 2015).

[34] ibid

[35] Vinson Synan, “Reviving the Classics,” charismamag.com, http://www.charismamag.com/site-archives/1491-212-magazine-articles/features/14836-reviving-the-classics (accessed April 12, 2015).

[36] Mark Tooley, “Assemblies of God: A Growing U.S. Denomination.” Christianpost.com, http://www.christianpost.com/news/assemblies-of-god-a-growing-u-s-denomination-121681/ (accessed May5, 2015).

[37] AG.org, “History of the General Council National Office,” http://ag.org/top/about/headquarters/historyHQ.cfm (accessed May 5, 2015).

[38]  Darin J. Rodgers, “Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released,” iFPHC.org, https://ifphc.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/assemblies-of-god-2013-statistics-released/ (accessed April 12, 2015).

[39] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.”

[40] Ibid.

“GOD OF THE OUTCAST” by John Alarid

“Underdog.
I wince everytime I say the word.
Especially in connection with Jesus.
Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus.
I can not help but conclude that although the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful.
God, hallelujah in His mercy, is still on the side of the Underdog!”

“Underdog” by Audio Adrenaline

MISSIO DEI

The Bible is a missionary book revealing God’s plan of redemption in history through Jesus Christ.  The theme of Kingdom is woven throughout the Old and New Testament. “The Bible tells this story of an advancing Kingdom, the mission of the triune God: providing redemption, finding the lost, and then using them to mediate kingdom blessings to those yet lost.”[1] The Old Testament reveals the failures of Israel and the futility of the human race to live for God until Jesus Christ comes to break the power of sin in the believer’s life. Throughout Scripture we see the world is for the favorite, the rich and powerful; but God is on the side of the underdog. This paper will summarize God’s mission in history according to Scripture with particular emphasis on his treatment of the marginalized of society. He is the God of the outcast. The praxis portion will deal with my personal testimony and mission to reach the castaways—believing that God uses unlikely people, in overlooked places, to do extraordinary things. Many times God’s champions are the ones with the odds stacked against them, the foolish, the weak, the lowly, the ones expected to lose—the underdogs.

Primeval History

The Bible can be divided up into three sections: primeval history, Genesis 1-11; God’s dealings with Abraham and his descendants, Genesis 12-Acts 1; and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost to the New Heavens and New Earth, Act 2- Revelation 21. The first section is described as the universal section. The Bible begins with creation. “The creation of the world initiates history, the human struggle, and the salvific adventure of Yahweh.”[2] God created the world and Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the human race, and placed them in the Garden of Eden.  They were created in the image of God and “installed as his vicegerent over all creation with a mandate to control and rule it on behalf of its maker.”[3] God gave them the freedom to obey or disobey His one command. “The primeval paradise was characterized by beauty, utility, and the moral test symbolized by the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Gen. 2:16-17) that was forbidden to Adam and Eve.”[4] The command was not to eat of the fruit of this tree or they would surely die. Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation and rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit. Sin entered the world because Adam and Eve doubted the trustworthiness of God’s character and chose independence from God, which led to direct disobedience. Adam and Eve were judged and expelled from the Garden.

The situation seemed bleak but there was a glimmer of hope in God’s judgment of the Serpent. God tells the serpent “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”[5] The Septuagint renders “the seed” as a singular, masculine pronoun.[6] This foreshadows the coming of Jesus into the world to destroy the works of the devil. Scholars describe this as the “protoevengelium, the first glimmer of the gospel.”[7] After Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden tree they attempt to hide from God. God comes into the garden and asks Adam, “Where are you?”[8] This same theme is echoed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who came to “seek and save the lost.”[9] From Genesis 3 to the end of the book of Revelation we see the pursuit of a loving God to redeem lost people.

Genesis 3-11 develops humankind’s decent into abject wickedness. God sends a universal deluge, which destroys the human race except for righteous Noah and his family. This section concludes with the scattering of the people at the Tower of Babel. “There is as sense in which the Creation story is the first element of the Christian gospel. It is ‘good news’ to find personal identity in the fact that one is created by God.”[10] As Creator God, He alone is the rightful King of heaven and earth.

Patriarchs

Section two includes Genesis 12 through Acts 1. This section deals specifically with Abraham and his descendants, the liberation of the Hebrews from Egyptian captivity, the Kingdom of Israel, and the coming of King Jesus into the world to free his people from sin and death. After a series of human failures, God calls one man, Abraham, into relationship with Him and promises that through him “all the families of the earth will be blessed.”[11]

Abraham is called the father of all who believe in Romans 4.  His faith was tested and tried. At age seventy-five he is given the promise that he would become a great nation, having many descendants. At the time Abraham had no children and Sarah was barren. It is not until twenty five years later when Abraham and Sarah were beyond the child bearing age that the promise is fulfilled. Then, when Abraham is ninety-nine years old, the Lord appears and repeats the promise that he would have many descendants. He tells Abraham a son will be born to Sarah and kings would be among their offspring.

At this point the fulfillment of this promise is impossible and laughable. In fact, Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Nine months later Isaac, the son of the promise, is born. God likes to wait until the fulfillment of promises are impossible from a human perspective. This makes it impossible for people to take credit for the fulfillment of God’s promises. This is a common theme throughout Scripture. There is always a process between when promise is given and its fulfillment. During the process one learns to trust the God of the promise despite outward circumstances.

The Bible is not silent about the shortcomings and trials of the patriarchs and other people of faith. Hebrews 11 is commonly referred to as the Hall of Faith because it lists the heroes of the faith in the Old Testament. Sixteen people are listed in the chapter by name. Included in this list are liars, adulterers, a prostitute, a murderer, a barren woman, a convict, and a man consumed by fear. These believers, “whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle,”[12] and performed mighty exploits. The heroes of the faith were not without weaknesses nor did they begin mighty in battle. They were taken through a divine process where their weaknesses were turned to strengths and they became mighty. Abraham lied by saying that Sarah was his wife to save his own skin. Isaac follows in his father’s footsteps, fearing for his own safety, he said his wife is his sister. Also, Isaac showed favoritism to Esau over Jacob, which caused severe problems in the family. Jacob was a deceiver, who tricked his father Isaac out of the blessing and his brother, Esau, out of his birthright. It is encouraging for believers today to see that God used these imperfect vessels to accomplish his will.

The Fugitive

God raised up Joseph, a former convict and slave, to become the second in command of Egypt. Through his position he saved the lives of his family, so the nations could be blessed through the line of Abraham. However, after Joseph dies, the Egyptians enslave the Israelites. The people cry out to God. He answers and comes “down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”[13] God shows compassion for his captive people in Egypt and calls Moses to be the deliverer. When God wants to do something on the earth, He raises up a man or woman to do the job. God’s plan is men and women of faith. According to E.M. Bounds,

“What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use… The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods but through men. He does not come on machinery but on men. He does not anoint plans but men…

Natural ability and educational advantages do not figure as factors in this matter; but capacity for faith, the ability to pray, the power of thorough consecration, the ability of self-littleness, an absolute losing of one’s self in God’s glory and an ever-present and insatiable yearning and seeking after all the fullness of God-men who can set the Church ablaze for God; not in a noisy showy way, but with an intense and quiet heat that melts and moves everything for God. God can work wonders if He can get suitable men.”[14]

God’s chosen instrument to bring deliverance to his captive people was Moses. Moses was born into a Hebrew family but through divine intervention is adopted into the house of Pharaoh as a baby. He grows up as a prince in Egypt and got the best education available at the time— trained at the Harvard and West Point of his day. “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds.”[15] His adopted grandfather, Pharaoh, was considered a god. He was a member of the most powerful family in the most powerful nation of his day. At age forty Moses chooses to be identified with his captive people and knows he is called to set them free. In fact Moses looks like the deliverer; however, God sees a proud, self-sufficient man who needs to have complete dependence upon God.  In his zeal to bring justice to his people, he kills an Egyptian. The penalty for killing an Egyptian is death. Pharaoh finds out and tries to kill Moses, so he flees as a fugitive to the desert.  He spent the next 40 years on the backside of the desert caring for sheep and goats. This was a humbling situation for Moses, as the Egyptians despise shepherds. God used the next forty years to work out humility in the life of Moses. “God reserves the greatest victories for the vessels that have known the greatest brokenness.”[16] God’s priority in the lives of his people is fruitfulness rather than comfort. Through the prophet Isaiah God said, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”[17] This time in the desert was Moses’ furnace of affliction and training ground.

Many times God delays His promises and uses desert experiences to prepare His man/ woman for the greatest victory of their lives. After forty years on the backside of the desert, Moses’ dream of being a mighty deliverer had died. Now eighty years old, Moses was not much to look at from a human perspective. After the dream to be a mighty deliverer was not only unlikely but dead, God looks down and sees potential in this underdog. Out of obscurity arises Moses—God’s champion. God uses Moses and by mighty signs and wonders he delivers the Hebrews from captivity. God intervenes in history to preserve the people from whom the Messiah would come.

God chooses the unlikely and unqualified because then he alone gets the glory. Sometimes God’s heroes have gone through much pain in preparation for their call. In his classic work, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer states, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” God’s raising up the outcast is a common theme throughout scripture— for example: Joseph, the prisoner; Rahab, the prostitute; Jephthah the son of a prostitute.  God is not necessarily interested in increasing our giftings and abilities to the point where we are fit for the task to which He has called us. He is more interested in getting His servants to the point where they realize their own lack and inability to do what He has called them to do. When Moses was great in his own eyes, God could not use him. However, after forty years of preparation in the “furnace of affliction” Moses comes to an end of himself. Now he is ready.

Prostitute’s Son

After the death of Moses, Joshua leads the Hebrews into the Promised Land, Canaan. The Hebrews follow God wholeheartedly and begin to conquer the land. However, after the death of Joshua the Israelites fall away from God and are beaten down by their enemies. There is a predictable cyclical pattern in the book of Judges— the nation serving God; they do evil; they are defeated by their enemies; slavery; idolatry; cried out to God; judges are raised up; God delivers His people; and then, the nation serves God. God raises up deliverers during this time to set liberate his people from the hands of their enemies. During the life of the deliverer, the Israelites follow after God; however, when he or she dies they fall back into sin and idolatry. God raised up many unlikely heroes throughout the book of Judges—i.e; a woman prophetess named Deborah, fearful Gideon, and Jephthah, the son of a prostitute and outcast from his people.

In Judges 10-11 we see the story of the underdog, Jephthah. The Israelites once again did evil in the sight of the Lord and worshipped false gods, so God turned them over to their enemies to oppress them for eighteen years. Finally, things get so bad the Israelites call a prayer meeting and cry out to God, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.”[18] They turned away from their idolatry and asked the Lord to rescue them. God used Jephthah to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of their enemies, the Ammonites. Jephthah became a mighty warrior despite or possibly because of tremendous obstacles. His father is Gilead but his mother is a prostitute. Jephthah’s brothers told him he had no part with them or inheritance in his father’s estate because he was the son of another woman, a prostitute. “So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.”[19] The Israelites plead with him to come back and help them. They make him commander and chief and Jephthah and his band of outsiders lead the Israelites into victory over their oppressors. Jephthah is another unlikely hero whom God raised up in his mission to bring blessing to the nations through Jesus Christ.

A Murderer and Adulterer

Then God raised up David to take Saul’s place as king of Israel. David is the youngest son of his father Jesse and the unlikely candidate to be king. In fact, when the prophet Samuel comes to the house of Jesse to choose one of his sons as the next king, David is not even invited to take part in the decision. After Samuel goes through all the  older and more kingly type of brothers, not one of them is God’s choice. But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”[20] The young, ruddy shepherd boy is chosen as the next king of Israel. However, before he becomes king he goes through many years of tribulation as a fugitive on the run for his life from king Saul. During his time as a fugitive he found refuge in the cave of Adullam, where “all who were down on their luck came around—losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts.”[21] These outcasts later became David’s Mighty Men who performed mighty exploits in the name of Jehovah.

Later in life David commits adultery and kills the husband of Bathsheba because she becomes pregnant. David is recieved by God because he repents and turns fully to God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. David is called a man after God’s own heart. Despite his inadequacy and failures, David establishes the kingdom of Israel and God promises to establish his throne forever. This promise is fulfilled in the coming of the greatest Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Suffering Servant

The promised Messiah and King of heaven and earth did not enter earth in pomp and grandeur. The gospel of Luke portrays the humble surroundings associated with the birth of Jesus. In Luke’s portrayal of the birth of Jesus attention is given to Mary and the shepherds who were told by angels that the Messiah was born. The emphasis upon a woman and despised shepherds would have shocked the reader of that day. The account of Jesus’ humble birth is consistent with the rest of Luke’s gospel. “For the focus is on those who were least expected to be recipients of God’s salvation: the powerless, the poor, the sinners and the outcasts.”[22] Another example of the emphasis on the social outcasts and the powerless is apparent when contrasting the Beatitudes of Mathew and Luke. Mathew’s gospel declares, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”[23] However, Luke states, “Blessed are you who are poor.”[24] For Luke, the message of Jesus focuses on the economically and socially poor. The first century society regarded the rich as those blessed by God while the poor were supposedly outside of God’s favor. Jesus included those who were excluded by society.

Jesus begins His ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, which expresses that His ministry would include the poor, the prisoner, the blind and the oppressed. Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth, the city where he was raised, and stood up to read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He deliberately found a specific passage and proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[25] Jesus touched the leper and paralytic. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He offered the free gift of salvation to those who were least expected to receive divine favor—a sinful woman, a tax collector, and a thief that died next to him on the cross. “The world of the 1st century, like the world of the 21st century, based its security on certain things: human commodities, social status, family and ethnic ties, power and human accomplishment. Jesus challenged the human tendency to find security in such things.”[26] Reliance on wealth and social status is the problem. Some wealthy and powerful people were also followers of Jesus. The Lord’s offer of forgiveness and salvation was for all regardless of their social or economic status.

Defense of the Gospel to the Outcast

In Luke 15 Jesus offers a defense of His gospel to the outcast. This follows after the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24 which speaks of the entrance of the outcasts into the kingdom and the exclusion of the religious elite. In Luke 15:1-2, the religious leaders of the day ridiculed Jesus because He sat down to eat with the outcasts of society. They said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”[27]  Table fellowship is a serious matter anywhere in the world and this is especially true in the Middle East. To invite someone to a meal was a great honor. “It was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood, and forgiveness; in short, sharing a meal meant sharing life.”[28] In the East at this time, much like today, a nobleman may pay to feed the poor and hungry but he would not sit down to eat with them.[29] The religious leaders were scandalized by the fact that Jesus sat down to eat with blatantly immoral people. The religious leaders thought, “If He (Jesus) is who He claims to be, he would be with us instead of these scoundrels because we are the religious leaders of this community.” Jesus shares three parables in response to the complaints of the Pharisees: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the gracious father. “Jesus underscores the joy of finding something precious that has been lost.”[30] Jesus attracts sinners while the Pharisees are too self-righteous to associate with them. According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.

In the first two parables, Jesus uses the examples of a shepherd and a woman— two of the second class citizens of the day.  “Together the three parables form a tightly knit unit with a single, strongly Lukan theme—God’s love for outcasts and sinners.”[31]

The first parable deals with a shepherd who lost a sheep. In the Old Testament the figure of a shepherd was a noble symbol. Moses and King David were shepherds and God is considered a shepherd in Psalm 23. However, in the 1st century Jewish society shepherds were part of a proscribed trade. They were considered unclean. “For the Pharisee, a ‘sinner’ was either an immoral person who did not keep the law or a person engaged in one of the proscribed trades, among which was herding sheep.”[32] Jesus addressed the parable to the Pharisees and states, “Which one of you?”[33] This would have been offensive to the Pharisees to be referred to as a shepherd. Jesus points out that a shepherd will search for a lost sheep until he finds it. The lost sheep of Israel are being found.  The second parable deals with a woman who loses a coin in her house. The village woman searches diligently until she finds the coin. Again there is much rejoicing over the lost coin that is found. Jesus intimates that the Pharisees should rejoice that lost sinners are found. In both cases there is much rejoicing just as there is much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

The third parable is about a loving father and two lost sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father grants his request. The younger son converts his inheritance into cash and heads for a distant land. Once there he squanders all his money in reckless living. Then a famine comes to the land and the young Jewish boy is forced to work for a Gentile who sends him to feed swine. The boy comes to his senses, repents, and goes back to his father. The father receives the prodigal son back and restores him to full sonship. However, the older brother is vehemently objects to his father’s love toward his outcast brother. Unlike the other parables this one ends with the older son outside the house refusing to rejoice in the lost that has been found. Jesus uses this parable as a defense of his ministry to the outcasts as well as an invitation for the grumbling Pharisees, like the older brother, to join in the celebration for the lost that has been found.

A Promiscuous Woman

Jesus again seeks out the outcast and marginalized in His dealings with the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42. The text states that Jesus found it necessary to pass through Samaria on His way from Judea to Galilee. The route through Samaria was usually avoided by the Jews in order to avoid contact with the Samaritans rejects. Samaritans were despised half breeds to the Jews. Samaritans were the offspring of the tribes resettled in the northern kingdom after the sacking of Samaria by the Assyrians.

Jesus disregards the racial and religious prejudice of the Jews by going through Samaria. Jesus deliberately went through Samaria and stopped to rest at Jacob’s well about noon, while the disciples went into town to buy food. Jesus knew that He would find the marginalized going for water at noon and this was part of the divine agenda. This was the hottest part of the day in the Mediterranean world and only those wishing to avoid people would come for water at that time.

A Samaritan woman comes to fetch water while Jesus is there. Jesus breaks through cultural barriers and Jewish custom to offer forgiveness and life to this woman. “Not only did the Jews avoid contact with the Samaritans but Jewish men avoided speaking with women in public—even their own wives!”[34] Jesus not only speaks with the woman but also asks her to draw him a drink of water. Jews would not share the same dishes with Samaritans. The woman is surprised at Jesus request. Jesus then carries on a conversation with her delving in to deeper theological truths and the thirst of her soul for God. Jesus first related her need for water to the ethics of her sexual behavior. Some people today think that Christianity should stick with a message of salvation but stay out of moral and ethical issues of one’s personal life. This is not the pattern we see in the life of Christ. He deals with the tragic nature of her sinful life with compassion. Jesus understand that this woman is a victim of her circumstances. She had been married five times and was now living with a man outside of marriage. In this culture a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason. She had been used and abused by men all her life. But now Jesus comes on the scene and reveals himself as the Messiah to this marginalized woman.

Jesus reveals His identity as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman as he never revealed himself to the Jews until the last moments. This outcast leaves her water jar and runs to the town to tell the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”[35] The Samaritans came and asked Jesus to stay with them. He stayed there two days. Many Samaritans believed in Jesus as the Savior of the World. The first convert in Samaria is a woman. Interestingly, another woman named Lydia is the first documented convert in Europe.[36] Jesus not only revealed himself to this Samaritan woman with a checkered past but used her to bring salvation to an entire village.

Thug Becomes a Church Planter

God humbles the lofty and raises the lowly—saving both. However, the emphasis of this paper is on God reaching and using the outcasts of society. My passion for the marginalized of society stems from my personal battle with an intravenous heroin addiction, involvement with street gangs, drug trafficking and many years in prison. After hitting rock bottom several times, I finally surrendered my life to Christ. When everyone had given up on me, the Lord came to my rescue. After the Lord met me in prison, He began to speak to me about an army He will raise up out of the prisons of the world to preach the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness and power. Vincent Vangogh, the post-impressionist artist, had applied to be an evangelist among poor and depraved coal miners. Vangogh said, “One of the roots or foundations not only of the Gospel, but of the whole Bible is, ‘Light that rises in the darkness.’ From darkness to light. Well, who will need this most, who will have ears for it? Experience has taught that those who walk in darkness, in the centre of the earth, like the miners in the black coal mines, are very much impressed by the words of the Gospel, and believe it too.”[37] Those who have been marginalized by society but have encountered the Savior of the world are less likely to be intimidated by the culture or state. Truly he that is forgiven much— loves much.

Every believer has been brought out of darkness into the light of Christ and is commanded to go back and share the good news with those still lost. “The concluding commission of Mathew 28:16-20 places the Christian mission firmly within an eschatological framework: mission is the church’s primary task between Christ’s first coming and his return.”[38] Our only reason for being in this “already and not yet” time period is to make Christ known. In western Christianity many are more concerned more about their family, career, comfort, and hobbies then reaching the masses of lost and dying humanity that they see every day. This is not the model for Christianity that we see in the New Testament. The priority for the church and theology is mission. There is much work to be done in the Lord vineyard.

My specific calling is to go back to the prisons and streets to bring hope to those who find themselves in the same predicament I once was. My passion is for the prisoner, criminal, prostitute, drug addict, gang member and other marginalized groups that are sometimes overlooked by the church. Since my arrival in Springfield over four years ago, I have been preaching regularly at the local jails and prisons. Last year over three hundred male convicts surrendered their lives to Christ in my services. God is on the move. Lamentably, many who receive Christ while incarcerated end up falling away once they are released. There are many obstacles for a released convict. Many lose hope and give up—going back to their old lives.

I am planning on starting Hope Homes this year in north Springfield, Missouri. These discipleship homes will help men and women recently released from prison or out of life controlling addictions to live as fully devoted Christ-followers. This will be a nine month residential program. The homes will teach spiritual disciplines, life skills, work ethic, and Biblical studies. It is my firm believe that God can not only save and transform these outcasts; but also, He will use them to turn the world upside down. This is more than a rehab, it is a spiritual boot camp. I will partner with the local Assemblies of God district and City Reach Network out of Pittsburgh. Following the establishment of the discipleship homes, my wife and I and team will launch the first City Reach Network church in Missouri to reach the ones far from God.

The mission of God is to seek and find the lost. Many times the ones that are most receptive to the good news are the outcasts of society. God uses the foolish and poor of this world to do great things in accomplishing the Missio Dei. When God works throught the outcast and marginalized, He alone gets the glory. Proper orthopraxy (i.e. ministry to prisoners, addicts, the poor, and other marginalized groups) should and will flow out of an orthodox Christology. Know and believe who Jesus is and then do what Jesus did.

Works Cited

[1]   John V. York, Missions in the Age of the Spirit (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2000), Kindle location 272.

[2] Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, ed. Sister Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988), 154.

[3] Andreas J. Köstenberger and Peter T. O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: a Biblical Theology of Mission (Downers Grove, IL: Apollos / Inter-Varsity Press, 2001), 26.

[4] Arthur F. Glasser with Charles E. Van Engen, Dean S. Gilliland, and Shawn B. Redford, Announcing the Kingdom: the Story of God’s Mission in the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2003), 39.

[5] Genesis 3:15 (NASB).

[6] Glasser, 41.

[7] Köstenberger, 27.

[8] Genesis 3:8 (NIV).

[9] Luke 19:10 (NIV).

[10] Glasser , 34.

[11] Genesis 3:15 (NASV).

[12] Hebrew 11:34 (NIV).

[13] Exodus 3:8 (NIV).

[14] E. M. Bounds, The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds: Power through Prayer, Prayer and Praying Men, the Essentials of Prayer, the Necessity of Prayer, the Possibilities… Purpose in Prayer, the Weapon of Prayer (London: Wilder Publications, 2009), Kindle location 14498.

[15] Acts 7:22 (NIV).

[16] Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers: Are You Waiting for Your Prayers to Be Answered? (Kansas City: Oasis House, 1996). 121.

[17] Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)

[18] Judges 10:10 (NIV).

[19] Judges 11:3 (NIV).

[20] I Samuel 16:7 (NLT).

[21] 1 Samuel 22:2 (Message).

[22] Richard Thompson “The Social Outcast in Luke’s Gospel,” Master Tool Kit, December -February 2015, 68, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.mastertoolkit.com/vcmedia/2375/2375512.pdf.

[23] Mathew 6:20 (NIV).

[24] Luke 6:20 (NIV).

[25] Luke 4:18-19 (NIV).

[26] Thompson, 68-69.

[27] Luke 15:2 (NIV).

[28] Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 143.

[29] W. Gundmann. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Volume II) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1964), 57.

[30] S.W. Lemke, “The Academic Use of Gospel Harmonies,” In Holman Christian Standard Bible: Harmony of the Gospels (2007): 139.

[31] Robert H. Stein, Luke (Volume 24) (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 1993), 400.

[32]  Bailey, 147.

[33] Luke 15:4 (NIV).

[34] Gerald L. Borchert, John 1-11 (Volume 25A) (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 202.

[35] John 4:30 (NIV).

[36] Acts 16:14 (NIV).

[37] Irving Stone and Jean Stone, eds., Dear Theo (Garden City, New York: Signet, 1969), 32-33.

[38] Andreas J. Köstenberger and Peter T. O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: a Biblical Theology of Mission (Downers Grove, IL: Apollos / Inter-Varsity Press, 2001), 108.

CHURCH PLANT PROSPECTUS-SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of PTH 530: Church Planting at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

PROSPECTUS: Freedom Outreach—A Church Plant Movement

by John Caleb Alarid

21 November, 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION WHY DOES THE CHURCH EXIST?

The Glory of God , The Kingdom of God, and Our Missional Assignment

  1. WHAT DOES GOD WANT TO DO?

Mission, Vision

  1. WHO AM I?

Biography, Personality Type

  1. WHAT AM I SENT TO DO?

Demographics, Freedom Outreach, Freedom Center, Urban Training Center

  1. HOW WILL WE ACCOMPLISH THE TASK?

Healthy Church Launch, Healthy Church Life, Connect, Grow, Serve, Go, Worship Missional Helix

  1. WHO WILL DO IT WITH ME?

Prayer Partners, Board, Church Plant Team

  1. HOW WILL WE EVALUATE THE PROGRESS?

ADA and SSSIK Analysis

WHY DOES THE CHURCH EXIST?

The Glory of God: The church exists to glorify God by enjoying Him and calling all the peoples of the world to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The Westminster Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The unifying central theme of the Bible is the glory of God through the advancement of His Kingdom. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”[1]  

The Kingdom of God: The church exists to extend the rule and reign of the invisible Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ over all aspects of life and culture. The church is a tool to advance the Kingdom of God during this “already” and “not yet” period between the first and second coming of Christ. Ultimately the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our LORD and He will reign forever. “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.”[2]  

Our Missional Assignment: The Church’s sole purpose for remaining in this fallen world is to bring people into a loving and committed relationship with Jesus Christ. Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Christians are to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all creation. Believers reason for existing is to make disciples. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”[3]  

1. WHAT DOES GOD WANT TO DO? 

Mission: The mission of Freedom Outreach is to evangelize and disciple the hurting and marginalized of Springfield, Missouri with the message of hope and the plan of Jesus Christ through outreach, residential recovery homes, and life-giving worship gatherings. Ultimately, the men and women who are reached, trained, and equipped will be sent out as urban church planters to transform the world.

Vision: Freedom Outreach exists first to reach out to the marginalized of our Jerusalem (Springfield), then to Samaria (the inner-cities of the United States), and then to the world. Our target group is the marginalized of society—the criminal, addict, prostitute, ex-convict, and gang member. Freedom Outreach believes that God will raise up an army of outcasts in these last days to boldly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and miraculous signs will follow. The first daughter church plant coming out of the Springfield Freedom Outreach will be in St. Louis, Missouri. The launch date for the St. Louis church plant is June of 2018—three years after the Springfield Freedom Outreach launch date.

2. WHO AM I?          

Biography: My passion to reach out to the marginalized of society stems from my own struggle with addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. My parents were missionaries to Latin America when I was a child. My father grew up in Mexico, and my mother is from San Diego, California. They met at Elim Bible College in New York. After graduation, they went as missionaries to Costa Rica. After several years on the field, my family returned to the United States, and my parents got divorced several years later. I grew up with my father’s side of the family. My heroes were my uncles, who drove luxury cars and had lots of money. I later followed in their footsteps. Through my affiliation with Chicano gangs and connections in the Sinaloa Cartel, I quickly became a major player in the “dope game” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were responsible for sending large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the Midwest and East Coast. However, like my uncles, I was continually in trouble with the law due to criminal activity and heavy drug use. In 1998 I stabbed a guy who attacked me at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time, I was on probation for other charges, and it was likely that I would be sent to prison for many years.

I fled to Phoenix, Arizona where I heard about a Christian recovery home by the name of Victory Outreach. I went into the rehab with the intention of “kicking” my costly heroin addiction and then moving to Mexico in order to avoid prison time. However, the Lord had other plans. The home was very structured with work, prayer, fasting and teaching. After three moths, I surrendered my life to the Lord in a radical conversion experience. Several months, later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and received my call to ministry at the Southwest regional men’s rehabilitation home conference. To this day, I remember the service. The evangelist’s name was Philip Lacrue, and the title of the message was, “The God of Second Chances.” At the end of the message, the evangelist invited all those who felt the Lord was calling them to full-time ministry to come forward. Although many went forward, I did not. I obstinately told the Lord, “I am not going up there unless you speak to me.” At that moment, the presence of God came upon me, and I began to weep from deep within. Tears rolled down my face like never before. I said, “Yes, Lord,”and stepped out of my seat and began walking down to the altar which appeared to be covered with a gray mist. When I stepped into the mist, I began to speak in tongues for the first time. The tongues came out like a waterfall; I spoke in tongues for three days. This was the early part of 1999, and my life has had many ups and downs since then but I will never forget the night God empowered and called me to the ministry. After graduating the year-long program at Victory Outreach, I became assistant director of the men and boys home. About a year later, I went to the Urban Training Center in Los Angeles. Upon graduation, I was asked to join a missionary team headed to Manila in the Philippines for two years. In Manila, I trained national recovery home directors and served as assistant director of the Urban Training Center, the school of ministry. I also led a church planting team that started a work in the Tondo barangay (neighborhood) of Manila. Tondo is known to be the most dangerous section of metro-Manila. In fact, I mentioned my plan to plant a church in Tondo to Steve Long, an Assembly of God missionary in Manila at the time. He told me not to do it because it was too dangerous. Many foreigners that go into that neighborhood are kidnapped or killed. I took this as a confirmation for me to go and plant a church in Tondo as I want to go where no one else is willing or able to go.

At the end of two years, I returned to Los Angeles to attend the Victory Outreach world conference in Long Beach, California. After the conference, I intended to Phoenix, to be on the pastoral staff and work as a national evangelist for the organization. Instead, I was arrested at LAX on a fugitive warrant out of New Mexico for the stabbing in Albuquerque years before. I became discouraged and eventually fell away from God for two years. I was sent to prison in 2007. My first year in prison, I was sent to solitary confinement for suspicion of smuggling narcotics into the facility. In a lonely prison cell in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I got down on my knees and asked the Lord to forgive me and come back into my life. I said, “Lord, I no longer have any aspirations of doing great things for you. I just want the peace and joy I once had in you. Would you forgive me and come back into my life?” The Lord gloriously returned. I was in solitary confinement for five months. During that time, waves of what felt like electric liquid love flowed over me. The presence of God was tangible. I read my Bible and prayed eighteen hours a day. Also, the Lord began to restore my call and showed me some things he would do through my life in the future. I said, “No way, Lord! You got the wrong guy. There are people out there are who are more faithful, talented, and holy than I. I am a failure.” The Lord responded from Mathew 20:15, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own things?” I responded tearfully, “Yes, of course, Lord. You are God.” While in prison, I served as the inmate church pastor. God moved in incredible ways, and many came into the Kingdom. Upon my release, I finished my parole in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One weekend, I was speaking at an Assemblies of God camp meeting. After one of the services, an old pastor came up and said, “You need to go to Central Bible College.” I had never heard of CBC nor had I ever been to Missouri. However, the Lord confirmed it, and I came to CBC in 2011. I met my wife Hannah at CBC, a graduate of the Long Island Teen Challenge program. Later, I graduated with a B.A. in Church Leadership and an A.A. in Bible, summa cum laude. I am now in the Intercultural Ministries program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and hold credentials and a correctional chaplaincy endorsement with the General Council of the Assemblies of God. One of the things the Spirit whispered over and over while I was prison was a statement from the book of Judges, “Then the Lord raised up deliverers.”[4] I believe the Lord will raise up an army of outcasts in these last days out of the prisons and off the streets to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with power. These outcasts who were once committed to their addiction, gangs, and sinful lifestyles will be even more dedicated and sold out for the cause of Christ. The Freedom Center will train up men and women just like me to go out and change their world for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. This is not just a church planting assignment. This is a God-given mandate. I have taken several personality tests. The widely used personality test, DISC Profile, identified me as a “D.” This type of personality is a determined doer who is result-oriented and takes authority. According to the Myer-Briggs personality test, I have an ENTJ personality. The ENTJ’s are natural-born leaders whose life motto is “Everything’s fine—I’m in charge” and “Let’s make it happen.” These personality types makes great church planters. According to Myer-Briggs, the ENTJs are efficient, energetic, self-confident, strong-willed, charismatic and strategic thinkers. However, they can also be impatient, intolerant, stubborn and even dominant. I need to be cognizant of my weaknesses and surround myself with a team to make up where I lack.

3. WHAT AM I SENT TO DO?                                        

I am called to plant a church (Freedom Outreach), recovery homes (Freedom Center), and a training center (Urban Training Center) in Springfield, MO. This movement will make disciples of the unchurched and marginalized in Springfield, MO. The church and recovery center will reach and train future pastors, church planters, rehab directors, and church leaders to reproduce the Freedom Outreach model in urban centers across the nation and around the world. Springfield is the third largest city in Missouri. The target communities will be in an area referred to by the locals as the “ghetto square” which includes portions of the 65803, 65802, and 65806 zip codes. The ghetto square includes the neighborhoods north of Grand Street to Kearney Street and west from Glenstone Avenue to Kansas Expressway. For the purpose of demographic study, we will look at Springfield as a whole and the 65806 zip code. Demographics: Springfield, Missouri Demographics:[5] Population By Races

RaceTotal population Population164,000 % of Total100
White Alone 141,526 88.7
Black or African American 6,524 4
Hispanic or Latino 5,851 3
Two or More Races 5,044 3
Asian 3,015 1
American Indian 1,233 Below1%
Native Hawaiian PacificIslander 267 Below1%

Median Age By Sex

Both Sexes 33
Male 31
Female 35

Missouri has held the infamous title of “Meth Capital” of the nation off and on for many years. This is based on the amount of methamphetamine lab busts.[6] Missouri is also number seven in the list of states in the nation for deaths related to drug overdoses.[7] Also, heroin addiction and possession arrests are on the rise in 2014. According to law enforcement there has been a massive increase in heroin on the Springfield streets. Much of the heroin is coming from Chicago via St. Louis. Springfield police have seized more heroin in the first six months of 2014 than in the past four years combined. Captain Millsap says, “Our two major issues we deal with in narcotics right now is still meth– and now heroin.”[8] Violence and property crimes are also on the rise in Springfield, which coincides with the increase of drugs on the city streets. More drugs always mean more crime. In fact, on Saturday, November 15, 2014 three people were shot and killed at a north Springfield hotel.[9] Also, 97% of the more than thirty thousand incarcerated inmates will return to our communities throughout Missouri. “Each year there are approximately 20,000 inmates released back into the community in Missouri.”[10] National statistics show that 50% of those released will reoffend and be sent back to prison within three years. Many of the twenty thousand released prisoners in Missouri will end up in Springfield. Five people were killed in five days this month (November 2014). Springfield was recently listed as number five of the top ten most violent small cities of the world.[11] 65806 Zip Code- Detailed Profiles:[12] Zip code 65806 compared to state average:

  • Median household income significantly below state average.
  • Median house value below state average.
  • Unemployed percentage above state average.
  • Median age significantly below state average (26 years old vs. 38 yeas old).
  • Renting percentage significantly above state average.
  • Number of rooms per house significantly below state average.
  • House age above state average.
  • Number of college students above state average.
  • Percentage of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher below state average.

In the 65803 zip code 41.3% of the population had income below the poverty level in 2011 and 17.3% were 50% below the poverty level. Like the rest of Springfield and Missouri, the population is at least 85% white. Freedom Outreach: Freedom Outreach is a Spirit-empowered, disciple-making church for the marginalized of Springfield, Missouri that will have passionate worship services, anointed Bible teaching, and the gifts of the Spirit in operation. Freedom Outreach will unashamedly preach and teach the whole counsel of God in an atmosphere of love and discipleship. Freedom Outreach is an organic movement that multiplies through planting churches, missional communities, and Freedom Centers throughout the urban centers of the United States. We will continually train and equip new leaders for the propagation of the gospel. Our mottos are “Come as you are, but don’t stay that way”, “Let’s do life together” and “You’re a world changer”. Tim Keller has deduced five primary purposes of the church form Acts 2:42-47.[13] Freedom Outreach is committed to these purposes:

  1. Worship/ Prayer- The early church devoted themselves to “the breaking of bread and prayer”.[14] Throughout the history of the church, worship and prayer have been integral parts of the community of believers.
  2. Learning- The early church devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.
  3. Fellowship/ Community- The early church was intentional about devoting themselves to fellowship. Community was natural and organic. They did life together.
  4. Outreach/ Evangelism- People were converted daily in the early church. There was outreach in both word and deed. There was personal evangelism. Also, the outside community witnessed their love, worship and power, which drew in the unsaved.
  5. Mercy/ Social Concern- the first century disciples sold their possessions to distribute the proceeds to members who were in need. This ministry of compassion began among the Christians, but we know from history that the church also shared with those outside its community. In fact, the Roman Emperor Julian noted, “Nothing has so contributed to the progress of these Christians as their charity to strangers.”[15] The church must reclaim mercy-based ministry in obedience to Jesus and in order for our “light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mathew 5:16).

  Freedom Center: The Freedom Center, an urban monastery model, is a residential Christian recovery and discipleship home for the marginalized of the urban centers. The marginalized will include addicts, recently released prisoners, gang members, prostitutes and the criminals in the target community. Of the 20,000 thousand inmates that will be released from prison each year in Missouri, many will come to Springfield. Without a drastic change in their lives, more than half will commit new crimes and be sent back to prison within three years. The Freedom Center will accept men and woman out of prison. This will benefit the community by lowering the recidivism and crime rate. The Freedom Center will be loosely based on a monastic lifestyle and ora et labora (Latin for pray and work) which is associated with the Rule of St. Benedict. The Freedom Center will provide a twelve-month highly structured, Christ-centered environment for men and women. “Historians and scholars have long recognized…the difference between the Greek emphasis on the individual and the Hebrew concept of community”.[16] Discipleship and life transformation happen best in the context of community. Jesus walked and lived with his disciples for three years. The early church grew in the context of community –house churches. In our fast-paced, work-centered, individualistic, microwave and materialistic society, which is only accentuated in the urban context, we do not have time for spiritual formation. Waiting on and hearing from God are not on our list of priorities. The Freedom Center (FC) will provide the balance of work and spiritual formation in the context of community. There will be a fixed schedule of work, prayer, chapel, class, quiet time and evangelism. F.C. is committed to the five purposes of the church listed above. This community will emphasize the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues according to Acts 2.[17] The supernatural aspects of Pentecostalism, the empowering of the Spirit for service and evangelism, and the charismatic gifts will be taught and embraced at the center. By the end of the year, the men and women will have developed an intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is vital for victory over sin and addiction. The men and women who graduate will have the spiritual disciplines and life skills needed to lead successful and godly lives. A Biblical picture of this model is David’s cave of Adullam as recorded in 1 Samuel 22. This was a bandit’s hideout where the marginalized of society gathered around David, while he was on the run for his life. These men were discipled unto God in a community with David, a man after God’s own heart. These outcasts were later renowned throughout Israel as mighty men of valor. Discipleship happens best within a community. Some things are caught not taught. The prerequisite of home directors will normally be that they have been delivered from deep darkness, set free and on fire for God. Home directors will preferably be ex-convicts. This may be the only position where checking the “prior felony convictions” box could actually be beneficial. The F.C., like the cave of Adullam, will be a training ground where outcasts are turned into world changers. The Freedom Center operates on the foundational belief that God raises up the “foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”.[18] There are many examples of this happening throughout Scripture. In Genesis there is the story of Joseph who is taken out of prison to become the prime minister of Egypt, enabling him to save the lives of many including his own family– the line of the coming Messiah. Rahab, a prostitute, is the hero of Joshua 2 and shows up in the family tree of Jesus in Mathew 1. In the Book of Judges, Gideon is found scared and hiding from the Midianites in a wine press when the Angel of the Lord calls him a “Mighty Warrior”. After much encouragement and many signs, Gideon leads the Israelites into victory over their enemies.[19] In modern times we see gang members, like Nicky Cruz, whose lives are transformed by the power of God. Nicky has been used powerfully for many decades in bringing thousands of people to the feet of Jesus. This author, John Alarid, a former heroin addict and drug dealer, was affiliated with a Mexican cartel but now preaches the gospel.[20] God likes to empower the weak and unlikely ones of this world to do great exploits so that he alone gets the glory. The Jews expected their Messiah to come as a Warrior King to destroy their enemies and reign on an earthly throne. Instead He was born in a manger and died a criminal’s death. Yet by His death and resurrection he saved all those, who would receive Him by faith, from judgment and death. God says through the prophet, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”[21] God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called. It is a pattern in Scripture and life that God uses the unlikely in ways the world would not expect. The Freedom Center is not just a rehab or halfway house; it is a training center for future world changers—urban evangelists, church planters and Freedom Center directors. God is preparing an army of outcasts, out of the prisons and off the streets, to go across this land boldly preaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with signs and wonders following. The marginalized will be the unlikely deliverers in these last days. An individual that comes out of a gang and/ or addiction understands how to be totally dedicated to something. When God reveals His love and mercy to one of these outcast, they will be bold and fully committed soldiers in the Lord’s Army. God is able to turn a negative attribute into a positive for His glory. Truly, those who are forgiven much are that much more grateful and loving.[22] Furthermore, someone who has been marginalized by society for years and even decades is not afraid to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God despite opposition. The culture may attempt to silence and intimidate them in the name of political correctness or relative truth. However, a person who has been marginalized by society and/or spent years in prison will not fear speaking the truth in the face of verbal attacks and even threats of prison. Like Paul, they understand, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”[23] These world changers have nothing to lose and only heaven to gain.  

Urban Training Center: Freedom Outreach will start a school of ministry for members of the church and Freedom Center graduates. The training center will offer theological training, mentorship and hands on ministry. The students will take Berean ministerial courses through a Global University on-site study group. Once the students finish level one of the ministerial program, they will apply for credentials through the local Assembly of God district. Students will work closely with the pastoral team in doing the work of the ministry. Upon graduation the students will be launched into an area of ministry in the local church or sent out as part of a church planting team to reproduce the Freedom Outreach model in urban centers across the nation and around the world. The Urban Training Center will train and equip pastors, church planters, and church leaders to lead on mission.  

4. HOW WILL WE ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION

Healthy Church Launch: The public launch of Freedom Outreach will be Sunday June 14, 2015 with two hundred people in attendance and a launch team of fifty people. In January of 2015 we will find a property and start the Freedom Center for ten men with life controlling issues and/or those being released from prison. From January to June the core group will continue to build our network and let the city of Springfield know we are here! I will personally visit local pastors, city planners, the chief of police, local rehabilitation centers and news reporters. I will set up an appointment in January with Ken Chapman, the Re-entry coordinator for the State of Missouri Department of Corrections. Ken and I have met at several conferences in Missouri related to my position at Prison Fellowship Ministries. He told me he would allow inmates to “home plan” (parole) to the Freedom Center and to inform him when it is open. My wife, Hannah and I will need to attend two Association of Related Churches (ARC) conferences to finish the application for funding. My brother Brian Alarid, lead pastor of Passion Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has offered to be the sponsoring church for the funds. We expect to receive $50,000 for the public launch in June 2015. The money will be dispersed three months before the launch date. Another important aspect of our network will be to find an “Antioch” to partner with. Antioch was the sending church for Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. City-Reach Network is a possibility. Brian Bolt, who met the Lord at Victory Outreach in southern California (as did I), utilizes their model of planting recovery homes with the church plant. I have spoken with Brian many times and my wife and I have taken the personality test with the City Reach Network. Another possibility is partnering with Victory Outreach. Victory Outreach would be a natural fit, as this is the ministry where I met the Lord in 1998. I was in full-time ministry as a missionary and church planter with this ministry for four years. I recently spoke with my former pastor, Tony Garcia, who is the regional director for the Southwest Region of Victory Outreach. He offered finances and manpower if I decide to launch a Victory Outreach Church in Springfield. If I go with Victory Outreach, I will have to surrender my credentials and chaplaincy endorsement with the AG, as it is against the policy to be ordained in two ministries. I have also met with several other local networks including Pastor Ted and Leo of Life360 and Darlene Robinson at the national office with Missionary Church Planters and Developers. I will continue to fast and pray each week for specific direction in this area. We will continue to be intentional about connecting with the unchurched in North Springfield. My wife and I have a list on our phones that includes the people we come into contact on a daily basis that do not know the Lord. We pray each night for the city and the people on the list. It is important not just to know their names but also their stories in order to develop a relationship. Building relationships and meeting people must be intentional. We will use the Healthy Launch Funnel, which includes four different levels of a funnel. From the bottom up there is the launch, relationship, networking and awareness. The rule is that one will need be in relationship with two times the launch goal number, six times the launch goal in networking and sixty times the launch goal at the awareness stage. Hence with a launch goal of two hundred, we will need to be in relationship with four hundred; in network with twelve hundred and twelve thousand will need to be aware of Freedom Outreach. We will use many different approaches to get our name out in the community. The men’s and women’s recovery homes will be utilized to go street witnessing three times a week. They will hand out flyers and put up posters advertising the Freedom Center as a free recovery home. The advantage Freedom Outreach has in its evangelism is that we can offer prayers and a place to go. The homes offer a safe place free of charge, where people can go to get off drugs and out of their destructive environments. They can immediately get off the mean streets and enter a loving home. The most important marketing tool will be the lives of men and women in the center whose lives have been transformed. We will have “Rock the Block” outreaches every week at different neighborhoods in Springfield’s “ghetto square”. This entails having various activities for families in the neighborhood; such as, face painting and jumper rooms for the children, free haircuts for the men, free manicures for the ladies and BBQ for everybody. Also, there will be live music and rappers, testimonies and a clear presentation of the gospel message. The weekend before the public launch we will hold a large, live evangelistic drama at the Gillioz Theatre. A friend of mine in California, Tony Velasco, has much experience writing evangelistic dramas for Victory Outreach. I have also assisted in writing several dramas. Tony has agreed to assist in writing a drama called “417” (Springfield area code). The drama features a young man who moves to Springfield from Baskerville, California to live with his mother. He starts using methamphetamines occasionally but eventually he starts pushing drugs and addiction takes over his life. After a friend is murdered at a local hotel, he surrenders his life to Christ. We will promote the drama with flyers, outreaches and social media during the entire month leading up to the event. I will contact my friend T-bone, a famous Christian Hip-Hop artist, to see if he can fly out to be a part of the event. We expect to fill the Gillioz Theatre with one thousand souls each night, Thursday through Saturday, leading up to the public launch on Sunday June 14, 2014.

Healthy Church Life “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”[24] A healthy church is a growing church. This includes the numerical growth of the church, growth in the amount of active volunteers, and spiritual growth of the individual believers. A healthy church’s is environment will excel in these five areas: Connect, Grow, Serve, Go and Worship. Connect: “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”[25] Freedom Outreach is a church that is intentional about community. Connection with each other and the lost in our city is at the core of our DNA. Our name says it all. We are a church that reaches out and stays on mission. We are a community who does life together. We connect and grow together through Sunday worship services, small group discipleships (Life Groups), recovery groups (Living Free), community outreach, and by serving on the Dream Team, which is the name of our volunteers. There will be a new members dinner with the pastoral team once a month. New members will be encouraged to be baptized in water, join the Growth Track and serve on the Dream Team. Grow: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[26] Freedom Outreach is intentional about discipleship. We are a disciple-making church. Steps to Becoming a Mature Disciple: Step 1: Nonbeliever to Believer Step 2: Believer to Church Member Step 3: Church Member to Growing Christian (Sprit-Filled Christian) Step 4: Growing Christian to Serving Christian (Spirit-Gifted Service) Step 5: Serving Christian to Witnessing Christian (Spirit-Empowered Witness) Step 6: Witnessing Christian to Multiplying Christian (Disciple-Maker) As soon as someone makes a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, they will be encouraged to do three things—be baptized in water, join a life group, enter the Growth Track. The Growth Track is based on the Church of the Highlands model. The Growth Track is a catalyst to help new believers become fully-devoted Christ-followers. The Growth Track leads people from their initial decision to accept Christ to healing and growth into a fulfilling role on the Dream Team at Freedom Outreach. The four classes are Church 101, Essentials 201, Discovery 301, and Dream Team 401. Church 101 will start each first Sunday of the month and will introduce the history and mission of Freedom Outreach. Essentials 201 will take place the second Sunday of the month. This class takes the class through the essential beliefs of Christianity. The Sixteen Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God will be covered in this class. Discovery 301 will help participants discover their unique personality, gifts, and God- given purpose in life. Dream Team 401 is a training session in an area of ministry of the participants’ choice. Serve: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[27] Freedom Outreach is a serving church. We emphasize the importance of gift-oriented ministry. Each member serves in an area of service on the Dream Team, serves the community through missional activities and allows the God-given gifts of the Spirit to operate in their lives for the building up of the church. The Dream Team is a group of believers that have discovered their gifts and passion and are actively serving in them.[28] Go: Jesus “said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”[29] We are all called to do the work of an evangelist. Every believer is called to be “salt and light” in their area of influence. Also, church members are fulfilling the Great Commission by serving in a missional church. Freedom Outreach exists to reach and disciple the lost and hurting of our city. We are intentional about this mandate. Our goal is not to develop a church for people who are already Christians. We are committed to doing the arduous task of reaching the marginalized of Springfield, Missouri and eventually the world. It is important to note that Jesus’ command includes preaching the gospel and making disciples. Evangelism and discipleship are two sides to the same coin. The Freedom Center is a place where the lost and hurting can come join a family, be healed and transformed into fully devoted Christ -followers. Also, as a church we will be involved in various outreach and compassion ministries in the community; including, street witnessing, Rock the Block, prison/ jail ministry, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree outreach, gang intervention, and poverty relief. By participating in the personal evangelism and discipleship, church services and outreaches our members are fulfilling the Great Commission. Worship: “My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.”[30] We worship God because He is worthy of our worship. Freedom Outreach is filled with people whose lives have been radically set free and transformed by the power of the gospel. In Luke 7, we see the differing attitudes of Simon, the religious leader, and a sinful woman. Simon did not even give Jesus water to wash his feet, but the sinful woman wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Her worship of Jesus was extravagant. Truly, those who have been forgiven much also love much. This passion and love for God is expressed in our worship services. Freedom Outreach creates an atmosphere where people can connect with God in community worship. Worship is not a once a week event. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul encourages believers to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, for this is our spiritual act of worship”. It includes every aspect of our lives. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”[31] Believers should not compartmentalize their lives into the sacred and secular. Daily devotional times are important. We should also be cognizant of the presence of God throughout the mundane and even the spectacular aspects of our daily lives. Worship is a lifestyle of obedience.

Missional Helix            

Freedom Outreach will use the Missional Helix, which is an intentional strategy for ministry formation and an essential component in successful urban church planting. Developing a practice of ministry is “understood as a helix because theology, history, culture, and strategy build on one another as the community of faith collectively develops understanding and a vision of God’s will within their cultural context”.[32] In defining ministry formation we may look at it as a spiral made up of the local church and the Holy Spirit. As the spiral moves upward it crosses four distinct points—theological reflection, cultural analysis, historical perspective, and strategy formation. The spiral grows to new heights and repeatedly crosses the four points, as ministry understanding and experiences develop. The first and foremost for any ministry formation is theological reflection. All ministry decisions must be rooted in sound biblical theology. Many church planters are more concerned about being culturally relevant than biblically accurate. “Too many church planters, while acknowledging the Bible as the Word of God, allow culture rather than Scripture to shape their core understanding of the church”.[33] Theological reflection will cause the ministry to be focused on the mission of God in the world rather than the latest fad of popular culture. We must do the hard work of biblical exegesis and the application to our cultural context. The principles will remain the same but the application may change. We must always start with and return often to Scripture in the task of ministry strategy formation. The second element along the Missional Helix is cultural analysis. “Cultural awareness enables missionaries and ministers to define types of peoples within a cultural context, to understand the social construction of their reality, to perceive how they are socially related to one another, and to explain how the Christian message intersects with every aspect of culture (birth rites, coming of age rituals, weddings, funerals, etc.).”[34] The urban church planter must understand the worldview of the target culture. Many times church planters will superimpose their worldview unto the target audience and interpret reality from their own perspective. “This intellectual colonialism results in transplanted theologies, reflecting the missionaries’ heritage, rather than contextualized theologies, developed by reflecting on scripture within the context of local languages, thought categories, and ritual patterns”.[35] The first step is to analyze the culture form a worldview perspective. There are at least four different worldview perspectives: secularism, animism, pantheism, and theism. Worldview analysis is only one of the ways to analyze the culture. The landscape of cities is constantly in flux; therefore, urban church planter must be cognizant of the changes and careful not to analyze the cultural in strictly general terms, such as, modern or post-modern. “From now on, nearly all ministry will be cross-cultural amid the urban pluralism caused by the greatest migration in human history from Southern hemisphere to the North, from the East to West, and above all, from rural to urban”.[36] The urban church planter must realize that in one city and even just one neighborhood there will be multiple cultures and languages represented. By understanding the different influences upon the target culture, the church planter can develop a strategy for communicating the gospel in a manner appropriate for the specific city or neighborhood. Historical perspective is the third component of the Missional Helix. It is common for North Americans to ignore this aspect because of their short national history. However, this is a mistake, as an understanding of the history will provide many insights that will assist in the development of the church planter’s strategy. For example, a young Bible School student went out and purchased a tattoo of a spider’s web on his elbow in order to reach out the “tattoo sub-culture”. However, unbeknownst to the seminarian, the web on the elbow represents more than art to this subculture. It represents the amount of years one has been incarcerated. Instead of being relevant, the tattoo ended up being an insult at worst and a joke at best. Those who had spent many years in prison did not accept his ministry. Furthermore, people have been killed for having tattoos they do not “deserve”. The student should have studied the history of the tattoo before putting it on his body. Also, the historical perspective will assist the church planter in understanding the syncretism of his target culture. For example, in Latin America and the Caribbean, there is a mixture of Catholicism and the native religions. Many forms of witchcraft, like Santeria, will use Christian symbols but they are demonically influenced. The modern cultures in North America have syncretized Christianity and secularism, which has caused many to abandon the revealed truth of the Bible to embrace relative truth. In the West, we have sacrificed Truth on the altar of political correctness. To appease the culture, many Christian churches have succumbed to this syncretism. Last year the Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Rev. Gary Hall, came out in support of same sex-marriage. Rev. Hall hailed the Supreme Court ruling that found the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.[37] On November 14, 2014, the National Cathedral, for the first time, “invited Muslims to lead their own prayers” in the cathedral.[38] This is reminiscent to Manasseh, the wicked King of Judah in the Old Testament, who took an image “he had made and put it in God’s temple”.[39] Within two years the National Cathedral went from supporting same-sex marriage to allowing the worship of demons in the sanctuary. Allah is not the Christian God Yahweh of the Old Testament. The apostle Paul makes it clear that anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus has is God come in the flesh is of “the spirit of the antichrist”.[40] The claims of Jesus and orthodox Christianity are exclusive, as he claimed to be the only way to heaven. The lead pastor of the largest Assembly of God church in the United States, Wilfredo de Jesus (affectionately known as Pastor Choco), recently stated, “We are called to change the culture not to become like the culture. We need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be bold and courageous.”[41] We are called to transform and lead the culture. Some people are offended by his straightforwardness. For example, he truthfully states that homosexuality is a sin at a time when the culture is adamantly stating the opposite. Many church leaders would rather remain reticent than take on the hard questions of the day. In fact, many Christian denominations are sanctioning gay marriage and even appointing homosexual clergy. The Hispanic community is growing at incredible rates in the urban centers of the United States and the world. In fact, the Assemblies of God owes its statistical growth in the United States to its Hispanic churches. In 2012 the white adherents decreased while the Hispanic churches grew.[42] According to Ray Bakke, the largest cities in the world are no longer having a white and black problem because they are brown and yellow.[43] Maybe church planters should consider adopting this transparency and boldness into their presentation of the Gospel in the cities of the world. At the moment Springfield, MO is 86% white. Freedom Outreach exists to boldly proclaim the gospel and reach the marginalized of Springfield, regardless of race, culture, language, or social status. When Christian leaders are unable to say with certainty what the moral standards are according to Scripture, everything else we attribute to Scripture will also be questioned. The church planter will need to investigate the historical perspective to understand the nature of the syncretism he or she will be facing and discover the most effective and Biblical way to present the Gospel of the Kingdom to his particular urban context. Recently, Brian Houston, the leader of Hillsong, one of the largest and most successful global megachurches, declared in an interview that his church is in “an ongoing conversation” about same-sex marriage. [44] After much criticism from the evangelical community, he released a press report stating he does believe the teachings of Paul regarding homosexuality. Christians are commanded to tell the truth in love. Boldness was an attribute of believers in early church. The same disciples, who fled in fear when Jesus was arrested and crucified, were bold unto death after the resurrection and coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Peter denied he even knew Jesus to a servant girl. However, on the morning of Pentecost, Peter courageously proclaims to a crowd of thousands that they are responsible for killing the Messiah. Peter commands the multitude to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and three thousand surrender their lives to Christ. If we accept the book of Acts as normative and prescriptive for the church, than boldness should be a characteristic of Spirit- empowered believers throughout the church age. The final aspect of the Missional Helix is Strategy Formation, which is the ministry praxis for the given environment. The strategy is “the practice of model formation for ministry shaped by theological reflection, cultural analysis, and historical perspective and by the continued practice of ministry.”[45] In order to develop solid ministry strategies that work with the particular context, the church planter should continuously return to the four elements of the Missional Helix. The question should not be, “Does this work?” but rather, “Does this model “reflect the purposes of God within this historical, cultural perspective?”[46] The four elements will work together to inform our ministry practice. The Helix Metaphor forms an intentional model for making decisions and forming ministry patterns. The Missional Helix process will eventually become instinctive, as the church planter bridges the gap between theology, theory, and practice. The pastoral team of Freedom Outreach will utilize the Missional Helix as an organic aspect of our ongoing strategy formation and self evaluation.  

5. WHO WILL DO IT WITH ME?

The first step is prayer for the right team. The next step is to find three to five intercessors that will pray throughout this process. My brother Pastor Brian Alarid (founder and lead pastor of Passion Chruch in Albuquerque, New Mexico), Pastor Tony Garcia (founder, lead pastor of Victory Outreach in Phoenix, Arizona), and Jane Bailey (Placer County Chaplain in California) have agreed to be intercessors and advisors for Freedom Outreach. Also, I have begun to make a list of twenty-five potential prayer partners and a list of ten potential team members. “It is essential to note that the gathering process has a huge impact on the formation of the DNA of the church.”[47] It can be challenging to develop a church plant team because there is not much to offer them except vision. It is important to be led by the Spirit in selecting the team. This launch team will set the DNA for the entire organization for years to come. Team members must be in step with the vision and mission of Freedom Outreach. Not everyone is called to work with addicts, criminals, prostitutes and the like. Team members must view those we minister to as future world changers not just another charity case or personal project. This is not negotiable. For this reason, many of the team will come from rough backgrounds; however, this is not a prerequisite to be on the team. In forming a church planting team the temptation is to draw as many people as possible. However, “The secret of any organization’s success is choosing the right people to play key roles…. One of the most important aspects of successful leadership is putting together a group of people to carry out the mission.”[48] Getting the right people in the beginning will prevent many problems in the future. Freedom Outreach can’t afford to have people with wrong motives, pride, unresolved issues, immature Christians or those that do not have an intimate relationship with the Lord. This is true for any church plant team but specifically for Freedom Outreach because we are going into the front lines of the battle where the spiritual warfare is the most intense. Jesus prayed all night before he chose his team of disciples. In Acts 13, we see the believers as a group of apostles and teacher praying, fasting, and worshiping. Then the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”[49] Prayer, fasting, and listening to the voice of the Sprit will be the manner in which the team is chosen for Freedom Outreach. In order to serve on the Freedom Outreach church planting team one must know that they are called to this type of ministry. Also, they must be faithful in at least these three areas: faithful to the Lord, faithful to the church planting team, and faithful to the Great Commission. These three areas are interrelated. Potential members of the team must have a proven record of faithfulness to the Lord. “It is extremely important that teams consist of members who will be faithful to the team, who have a history of being faithful in their commitments and serving with others, and who, like Barnabas, have proven themselves time and time again to be faithful to their brothers and sisters.”[50] Finally, the team member must be fully committed to the Great Commission. This will keep the mission in the cross hairs in times of opposition and difficulty. The essential roles that need to be filled on the church plant team are a worship leader, men’s home director, sound person, financial administrator (with knowledge of grant writing), and a media/ public relations person. There are several specific people who are great possibilities. Dave Vernon is the kitchen manager at Cross Pointe campgrounds. He comes from a background of addiction and in the process of becoming licensed with the Assemblies of God. He is a potential men’s home director. The worship leader must be someone who is able to recruit a band and motivate his or her team to attend practice and serve faithfully. At this point, there are a few possibilities for a worship leader but nothing is certain. We will continue to pray for direction in finding the rest of the team. May the Lord of the Harvest send in the laborers to His Harvest field.  

6. HOW WILL WE EVALUATE OUR PROGRESS?            

The benchmarks for evaluating the church plant in the first year will include whether or not we stuck to our mission. Freedom Outreach exists to reach and disciple the lost and hurting of Springfield, Missouri and eventually the urban centers across the nation and around the world. If the lost are not coming to Jesus each week—we have failed. If our church consists mostly of transfer growth from other established churches—we have failed. There should be an average of at least three people coming to Christ each week. This translates into 156 souls saved each year. This is not unreasonable and should be the low-water mark. At the end of the first year, at least 50% of the people in the church will be new believers or those who have rededicated their lives to the Lord. Other evaluations will include the lives transformed by the Freedom Center, community transformation and outreach. At the end of the first year there should be seven men on track to graduate the one-year men’s home program. Also, many will have come in and out of the home during the first year. At the end the first year Freedom Outreach will be a household word. People will begin to send their friends and loved ones to the men and women’s home to find victory over addiction. Many inmates will begin to use the Freedom Center as their home plan. We must evaluate the state of the Freedom Center often. The Freedom Center is not a halfway house or a mission. The structure must remain rigid and the atmosphere conducive to life transformation. Tough love is absolutely necessary. Men and women who are not serious about going on with God or are causing dissension or confusion will be dismissed from the program. The goal will be to do one “Festival of Hope” per month. This will be a church wide event to help establish a missional culture. The men and women’s home will do street evangelism two to three times a week. The women’s home and women’s ministry will go out once a weekend to search for Twilight Treasures—women of the night who are in bondage to prostitution and/or drugs. Each of the outreaches will be evaluated. If they are not bearing fruit we will fine-tune the outreach until it is successful. The launch team will meet every Tuesday to evaluate the previous week. Evaluations will include the Sunday worship service, the Freedom Center, and the outreaches. When the door closes for the weekly Tuesday morning staff meeting, people are invited to speak their whole heart and be painfully honest. The only requirement is that others be treated with respect and when the meeting is over—we leave the disagreements at the door. Nobody is allowed to have an attitude, gossip, or complain once we leave the room. We are on a mission to snatch souls out of the Kingdom of Darkness. The mission trumps our individual issues. Every three months we will implement the APA Analysis and the SSIK Analysis.

The APA Analysis asks three questions:

  1. What do we need to achieve?
  2. What do we need to preserve?
  3. What do we need to avoid?

The SSIK Analysis asks four questions:

  1. What do we need to start?
  2. What do we need to stop?
  3. What do we need to improve?
  4. What do we need to keep?

Finally, each member of the launch team needs to continually ask the question, “Is our church culture based on the Miseo Dei? Are we the missional church we are called to be?” This mission includes reaching and teaching the lost and intentionally raising up leaders to transform the world. Freedom Outreach is an end time harvest movement that will stay on mission until Jesus Christ splits the sky. At that time, the One whose opinion really matters will evaluate us. May He say, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

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Rainer, Thom S. and Daniel L. Akin. Vibrant Church: Becoming a Healthy Church in the 21st Century. Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2008. Rodgers, Darin. “Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released.” Virtueonline.org. http://www.virtueonline.org/assemblies-god-2013-statistics-released (accessed November 2, 2014).

Shawchuck. Norman and Gustave Rath. Benchmarks of Quality in the Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994. Smith, Fred. Learning to Lead: Bringing Out the Best in People. Carol Stream, IL: Word, 1986.

Thompson, Allan. What Salvation Is. Bradenton, FL: Booklocker.com, Inc., 2014. Trust for America’s Health. “Missouri has the Seventh Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in the Nation”. Healthyamericans.org. http://healthyamericans.org/reports/drugabuse2013/ (accessed November 12, 2014).

U.S. Census Bureau. “How Many People Live in Springfield in 2013 and 2104”. Suburbanstats.org. https://suburbanstats.org/population/missouri/how-many-people-live-in-springfield. (accessed November 14,2014). Van

Rheenen, Gailyn. “MR #25: From Theology to Practice: The Helix Metaphor.” Missiology.org. http://www.missiology.org/?p=203 (accessed November 10, 2014).

Van Rheenen, Gailyn, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” Missiology.org. http://www.missiology.org/?p=157 (accessed November 2, 2014).

Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995. [1]

1 Corinthians 10:31 (New International Version). [2]

Mark 1:14-15 (NIV). [3]

Mathew 28:18-20 (NIV) [4]

Judges 2:16 (NIV) [5]

U.S. Census Bureau. “How Many People Live in Springfield in 2013 and 2014”. Suburbanstats.org. (accessed November 14, 2014). [6]

Mike Landis. “Missouri Will Likely Remain Nations ‘Meth Capital’ in 2013”. Ky3.com. (accessed November 16, 2014). [7]

Trust for America’s Health. “Missouri has the Seventh Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in the Nation”. Healthyamericans.org. (accessed November 12, 2014). [8]

Lindsay Clein. “Heroin Use on the Rise in Springfield”. Ozarksfirst.com (accessed October 7, 2014). [9]

Stephen Herzog. “Police identify victims in triple homicide”. newsleader.com (accessed November 17,2014). [10]

Missouri Department of Corrections. “Missouri Reentry Process”. doc.mo.gov. (accessed November 17,2014). [11]

McCormack, Simon. “The Most Violent Small Cities In America: Law Street.” Huffingtonpost.com. (accessed November 21,2014). [12]

Onboard Information. “65806 Zip Code Detailed Profile”. city-data.com. (accessed November 15, 2014). [13]

Tim Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012). 135. [14]

Acts 2:42 (NIV) [15]

Missio Dei Life 2014. “Philosophy of Ministry”. Missiodeilife.org. (accessed November 15,2014). [16]

Ray Bakke, A Theology as Big as the City (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1997), Kindle location 533. [17] Acts 2:4 (NIV). [18] 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV). [19] Judges 6-8 (NIV). [20] Allan Thompson, What Salvation Is (Bradenton, FL: Booklocker.com, Inc., 2014), 135-45. [21] Isaiah 55:9 (NIV). [22] Luke 7:47 Contemporary English Version [23] Philippians 1:21 (NIV). [24] Luke 2:52 (NIV). [25] Luke 2:52 (NIV). [26] Mathew 28:19 (NIV). [27] Mark 10:45 (NIV). [28] Church of the Highlands. “Dream Team”. churchofthehighlands.com (accessed November 12, 2014). [29] Mark 16:15 (NIV). [30] Psalms 71:8 (NIV). [31] I Corinthians 10:31 (NIV). [32] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” Missiology.org (accessed November 2,2014). [33] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” [34] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “MR #25: From Theology to Practice: The Helix Metaphor.” www.missiology.org (accessed November 10, 2014). [35] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” [36] Ray Bakke, A Theology as Big as the City (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1997), kindle location 67. [37] Meredith MacKenzie. “Washington National Cathedral Bells Peal Today in Celebration of Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Rulings”. Nationalcathedral.org (accessed November 14,2014). [38] Michelle Boorstein. “In a first, Washington National Cathedral to host Friday Muslim prayer service”. washingtonpost.com (accessed November 14,2014). [39] 2 Chronicles 33:7 (NIV). [40] 1 John 4:3 (NIV). [41] Wilfredo De Jesus, interviewed by Mark Hausfeld and seminary class, Chicago, IL, October 22, 2014. [42] Rodgers, Darin. “Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released.” Virtueonline.org. (accessed November 2, 2014). [43] Mark Huasfeld, “Christ’s Missionary Method” (lecture, Maranatha Assembly of God, Chicago, Illinois, October 20,2014). [44] Michael Paulson. “Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage.” nytimes.com (accessed November 11, 2014). [45] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” [46] Ibid. [47] Martin Robinson, Planting Mission Shaped Churches Today (Monarch, 2006) 67. [48] Fred Smith, LearningtoLead: Bringing Out the Best in People, Carol Stream, IL:Word, 1986) 93. [49] Acts 13:2 (NIV). [50] J. D. Payne, The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012), 64.

John Alarid’s Story

The following is an excerpt from Allan Thompson’s latest book, “What Grace Is”:

“I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ for real this time. With new spiritual eyes, I saw a whole other world that I couldn’t see before. I finally knew that God not only loved me, He liked me! . . . I didn’t want drugs anymore. I had a hunger and thirst for God’s Word instead, and I would spend all my spare time reading the Bible. I was a new creation.” – john alarid

 

John Alarid is now forty-one. He says, “There were many times when I was sure I would not even see thirty. My life was repeatedly spared when others around me died. I do not understand this. Why me, God?”

Is John a veteran of action in some foreign war? No. He is a veteran of a much bigger war—the war Satan brings against humans through drug and alcohol abuse.

John’s earliest memories are of living in a small house in Costa Rica where his father was a missionary teacher at a Bible College. As a child there, John would occasionally wander off on his tricycle, causing his parents much anxiety. He recalls, “I have always been a loner and a bit of a rebel. My normal instinct is to do things my own way. That has been a source of much pain for me, and for many others.”

When John was four his parents came back to the United States to raise money for their missionary work. While raising funds in Southern California the family spent a day at Disneyland. John found a shooting gallery set up like an old west saloon. There were coin-activated electronic rifles to fire at various targets placed on objects such as bottles and chair backs. After John used up several quarters, his parents were ready to leave. They entreated him to go, but he stubbornly refused. Finally, they left him sitting on a stool while they went to Tom Sawyer Island.

John had no money and soon lost interest in aiming at targets with a gun that couldn’t work, so he wandered over to a little grassy area under a tree across from the gallery. As he stood there, he felt the presence of a Being. At four, he did not know it was God, but he prayed and asked Jesus to come into his heart just like he had heard people do many times at his father’s mission services. “I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was personal, not something I just heard others do,” John says.

“At four years of age, not understanding what I was doing, I asked the God of the universe into my life and He came. In most of the years since, I have lived a life of rebellion against God, but I rejoice that He is faithful even when I am not.”

The next year John’s parents took him to a revival service. The evangelist animatedly paced the platform as he preached. John says, “The atmosphere was electric with what I would later understand to be the presence of God. The evangelist looked straight at me several times then a thought started to flood my mind—it was, ‘One day you are going to do this.’ ”

John’s parents divorced in 1983 and he and his brother, Brian, stayed with their father in Albuquerque. By then, John had become a rebellious teenager. Later, when his mother and father decided to remarry, the whole family moved to Warren, Michigan. John’s rebellion escalated. He was thrown out of one school for arguing with a teacher. At a private school, he skipped thirty straight days of classes choosing instead to hang out with some friends and smoke marijuana. John was arrested for shoplifting and was drinking heavily most of the time. He had a part time job at a fast food restaurant where he and some of his fellow workers conspired to create a scam which netted them forty to sixty dollars a night. Somehow, despite all his issues, he managed to complete his tenth grade class work.

Fed up with John’s behavior, his parents sent him to the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in Roswell. The military regimen was good for John. He learned discipline, and he made straight As in his classes. Still, with a fake ID, he would rent hotel rooms on the weekends and get drunk.

One of his bunk mates at NMMI was a devout Muslim. John, who had drifted completely away from his Christian heritage, admired the fact that his fellow cadet was so devoted to his faith and willing to stand for something despite ridicule. Through their close friendship, John begin to question whether Jesus Christ was the only true way to heaven. He started to believe in relative truth. He thought what his friend believed was good for him and what his parents believed was good for them. “I started to think that if we were sincere in our beliefs then our version of reality was actually real,” John says. “I justified my actions based on this new view of the world. I could now do anything I wanted with impunity. For me, that was great!”

Then trouble came. The campus police searched John’s car after he and his roommate had an altercation with some local high school boys. The police found their hidden handgun and shotgun and John was suspended from school. When he called his dad and told him the news his dad cried on the phone and said, “Why do you keep doing this to me?” John says, “I had no answer.”

His dad enrolled him in Menaul School in Albuquerque, a faith-based private academy. John then “fell in love” with a girl he met there. He and his new girlfriend moved in together in an apartment paid for by her dad. John enrolled at the University of New Mexico (UNM) with a full scholarship based on his excellent grades at the military institute and Menaul.

Drugs were rampant on and around the UNM campus. Breaking up with his girlfriend, John moved into a house with an older former student. John threw wild parties and got heavily into the drug scene. With his entrepreneurial skills, partially honed at the fast food restaurant, he became a dealer, primarily to the dorm students who had the desire and the money. John started going by his middle name, Caleb. Because John is half hispanic on his father’s side and half Norwegian on his mother’s he picked up the nickname, Coyote. A coyote is also a mixed breed: half wolf and half dog.

His own drug use became so obsessive that the drugs began to change his thought processes. But, something within him clung to his upbringing in the church, and one night, totally inebriated, he gave God an ultimatum. John said, “God, You have made yourself real to my parents. If You will show up and talk to me I will believe. If not, I am going my own way.” God did not show up. John says, “I had never felt more alone in my life, but I reasoned that since God had not shown up I was free to live life my own way and, I continued to do so.”

John had all the trappings of a wealthy drug dealer. He was given preference at the bars, drove a brand new sports car, carried a handgun, and had shoulder length hair and a long goatee. He walked around, always followed by an entourage, and was invited to all the parties on and off campus. “Guys would detail my car for drugs. Girls would clean my apartment for drugs. I was the man and everything revolved around me,” John says.

Feeling invincible, he began to use crack cocaine. He became paranoid and thought people were constantly spying on him. He says, “Here I was nineteen years old and turning into a monster. I started to hang with a rougher, older crowd. I was a major player in the Albuquerque drug scene.” John was also involved with Chicano gangs and received drugs directly from cartels in Mexico. Being fluent in Spanish was a great asset.

John’s paranoia became even more extreme. He stopped going to classes because he decided they were a waste of time, and because he was afraid to be out in public. He would often stay at different hotels for fear of his house being raided. Finally, he began to have drug-induced seizures. John had no peace. He was continuously nervous and high. “I felt like I was going crazy. I was a shell of a man I was so skinny. I was trapped.”

Finally, John was set up by an acquaintance and busted. He was thrown into the Bernalillo County Detention Center where he spent the weekend sleeping on a concrete floor next to a toilet in an overcrowded cell.

On Monday, the judge released John to his dad. Instead of this being a turning point in John’s life, he chose to remain in his cocaine addiction and withdrew from his classes at UNM. John was delusional from the cocaine, alcohol, and Valium he was taking. He couldn’t even talk straight. Instead he mumbled so much he could not be understood. He wanted to stop the madness, but something kept driving him to the total self-destruction that was surely coming.

John’s dad got him back into NMMI, but John continued to use and sell drugs and failed most of his classes. His house caught fire because another person there was smoking in bed, and John lost ten-thousand dollars in cash and all of his personal belongings.

Then John started shooting heroin, something he vowed he would never do. He was placed on probation for his cocaine trafficking charge, but still continued his drug and alcohol abuse. Then he was sent to the Meadows, a drug rehabilitation facility in Wickenburg, Arizona. As soon as he was released, he got drunk. He was given a DWI and sent to jail for a few days, and then was sent to Teen Challenge, a Christian-based drug and alcohol rehab center founded by Reverend David Wilkerson. This particular facility was a working pig farm near Spokane, Washington. John hated being there and slopping pigs, but says, “I did begin to have a few moments of clarity there.” Despite his moments of clarity, John was kicked out of the program for not following the rules. His parole officer was notified, and John was met at the airport by the police and spent several months in the Spokane County Jail.

When John got back to New Mexico the Holy Spirit was really after him. John says, “Everywhere I went all I could hear was people talking about Jesus and God.” At one point, John felt like God was literally in the car asking him to stay with Him. The cars in front of him and to his side both had Christian bumper stickers. There was a huge billboard on the corner featuring Jesus holding his arms open. It seemed to John that Jesus was saying, “John Caleb, come to Me and I will give you rest for your soul.”

John, still headstrong, had different plans. He says, “This was too much for me. I was so distraught I could hardly drive. I pulled over and said, ‘God, if this is You, please leave me alone. I don’t want You right now.’ ” God’s presence quickly faded.

After six months, John’s probation period expired and he was back to heavy drugs. He paired with another heroin addict and got into identity theft. One day, completely high on heroin, John was driving on the interstate from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. He began to fall asleep and swerved off the road a couple of times when suddenly he heard a voice from the back seat exclaim, “John!” He looked back and thought he saw an angel sitting there. He then pulled off the interstate onto a two-lane road and slowed to forty miles an hour but still rear-ended a pickup truck. Fortunately no one was badly injured.

In 1998, John was convicted of commercial burglary and was given a deal by the judge to enter a rehab program for at least a year. His dad drove him to Denver to go to a facility called Cynicore. On the drive, John began to suffer severe heroin withdrawal with cold sweats, shakes, and horrible body pains. He was hospitalized, but upon his recovery he checked into a hotel room and injected heroin again. Then his dad convinced him to go to Victory Outreach, a Christian rehab in Denver, where he stayed briefly but soon left and returned to the Albuquerque drug scene.

In Albuquerque, he stabbed another addict who attacked him. Panicky, he asked a girlfriend to drive him to Phoenix where he entered another Victory Outreach Center to hide out. “As my senses cleared during the first few months there, God could, and did, begin to show Himself more fully to me,” John says. “I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ for real this time. With new spiritual eyes, I saw a whole other world that I couldn’t see before. I finally knew that God not only loved me, He liked me!”

John continues, “My world view was changed overnight. I now would not use drugs or steal because it would offend my Creator. In fact, I didn’t want drugs anymore. I had a hunger and thirst for God’s Word instead, and I would spend all my spare time reading the Bible. I was a new creation.”

In 1999, the men from Victory Outreach went to Glorietta, New Mexico, for a “Men of Conviction” conference. During the conference, an evangelist asked all the men who felt they were being called to full time ministry to come forward. “I sat in my seat and said to God, ‘I am not going forward unless You speak to me,’ ” John recalls. “I suddenly felt the presence of God all over me. I  began to weep like a little baby, something I never had done, even as a child. I said, ‘Ok, Lord’ and got out of my seat and walked forward. As I walked I saw a mist over the altar. When I stepped into that mist I began to babble in a language I had never learned or spoken before. The words just flowed out of me. I was consumed with love for all those around me.” Later at Victory Outreach, John heard God tell him three times, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord; feed my sheep.” He considers this his mandate for ministry.

John went to the Victory Outreach-affiliated Urban Training Center School of Ministry. While there, he evangelized at the Santa Monica Pier.  One night, as he stood outside a shooting gallery there, he heard God say, “Do you remember that day we first met?”

John later went with a group to the Philippines where they spent two years opening a school and a church. “This was my most victorious time,” John remembers.  “We would perform drama at public schools and go from hovel to hovel in a dump where people lived in wretched conditions. Because of the gangs the dump was also a very dangerous place.”

After that, John flew back to the United States and was immediately arrested at the Los Angeles airport and extradited in chains back to Albuquerque where he stood trial for some of his past offenses. In 2005, he was sentenced for receiving stolen property and for committing identity theft. He went “on the lam,” grew discouraged, and backslid into drugs. “It was the most horrible time of my life,” John agonizes. “I was constantly tormented by little demons all around me, grabbing and pestering.” Finally, in 2007, he was picked up and sent to prison for eight years.

While in prison John was rightfully accused of smuggling heroin in and was thrown into solitary. John was there five months and spent almost every waking hour praying. He begged God to take him back, and then God reviewed John’s past for him and showed John his unworthiness. John sobbed out to God, “You are right. I am not worthy. I have been unfaithful. You are after the wrong guy!” The Lord said, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want to do?” God then restored John and he came out of solitary a completely different man. He wound up serving less than four years because of good behavior and was released in June 2010.

John began to attend an Assemblies of God church in New Mexico and an elderly, retired pastor, after hearing John speak at a camp meeting, suggested he go to Central Bible College (CBC, now part of Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri.John graduated from CBC with a B.A. in Theology and Church Leadership.

In December 2013, John married “the love of my life,” Hannah-Rose Milan Tayo, who he met while at CBC. John will complete his M.A. in Intercultural Studies at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield in 2016. He served as faculty at the Assemblies’ Global University for two years and is now planting a church. John and Hannah will be launchning a CityReach Springfield in north Springfield on March 13, 2016 and have just opened a Hope Home for men.  John laughs, “While on drugs and alcohol I couldn’t even speak or think straight, and now I’m attending seminary and preaching.”

John’s dad has relocated to Branson, Missouri, near Springfield, and he and John have a close relationship. John’s brother, Brian, is a pastor in a non-denominational church in Albuquerque. His mother, Carla Heinecke, lives there and attends Brian’s church and John is deeply grateful for their love and support as well.

“No one is more aware of the love and grace of God than I,” John says. “He has spared me to glorify Him through proclaiming his Gospel message. I will do that to the best of my ability for the rest of my life.”

John’s “Why me, God?” is no longer a mystery.

THE DAY OF THE LORD

DAY OF THE LORD:
AN EXEGETICAL, BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

ASSEMBLIES OF GOD THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
[Research paper submitted for partial fulfillment of BTH530; contact me for the complete bibliography and footnotes]

By John Caleb Alarid

I. Introduction

The “Day of the Lord” (“the Day of Yahweh”) is a central feature of the prophets’ message in the Old Testament. This phrase and such closely related expressions as “the day of the anger of Yahweh,” or “Yahweh has a day,” occur over two dozen times in prophetic books. Similar terms, particularly “that day,” “the day of,” or “the day when” occur over two hundred times in the writing prophets and two times in the Psalms (Ps. 110:5; 137:5). DOL is an expression used by OT prophets, as early as the eighth-century prophet Amos (possibly earlier depending on the dating of Joel and Obadiah). The DOL expression is used to signify a time when Yahweh actively intervenes in history to punish sin that has come to a climax. The DOL is a theophany or visitation of Yahweh.
It’s earliest use in Amos 5:18-20 shows that the phrase was already a standard one in popular culture. To the people it meant the day when Yahweh would intervene in history on behalf of Israel to defeat her enemies, irrespective of Israel’s faithfulness to him. The Israelites believed their election by God guaranteed their future, and so they had no need to repent. Israel’s false confidence is seen too in the hope associated with the DOL. The people expect a day of victory and vindication, but Amos and Joel in particular warn the people that it will be, rather, a day of defeat and judgement (Joel 1:15; 2:1-2; Amos 5:18,20). Amos and other prophets declared that the DOL will be a time of judgement and punishment upon Israel for her offenses in breaking the covenant (Amos 1:1-3:2). God will deal with the sin of his people and the other nations.
This punishment/ judgement may come through an invasion (Am. 5-6; Is.13; Ezek. 13:5), or through some natural disaster, such as a locust invasion (Joel 1-2). All lesser interventions come to a head in the actual coming of the Lord himself. At this Day truly repentant believers are saved (Joel 2:28-32), while those who remain enemies of the Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, are destroyed. There will also be physical effects on the world of nature (Isaiah 2).
“As the Old Testament prophets looked ahead, by the Spirit of God, to the future interventions of God they usually did not distinguish between near term and long term events. They could not see the time gap in between the two and so would merge them, including the two comings of Christ, as Isaiah did in 61:1-2 (see Jesus’ quotation of it in Luke 4:17-21 where he stops before the last phrase because it refers to His second coming). Jesus left out the part about the vengeance of our God because that refers to his second coming and the DOL.The ultimate DOL will be the time when God finally cleanses the world of sin and removes all evil. This will be a dark day for the wicked but a day of blessing for the righteous.
The DOL and similar terms often occur in the NT contexts referring to the second coming of Christ. In reading the Greek OT (or LXX), Jews and early Christians very likely rendered the OT expression “Day of Yahweh” as the “Day of the Lord”. The NT builds on the OT understanding of the DOL which points to a time when the Lord Jesus will return as the Righteous Judge and Warrior King to destroy his enemies (the wicked). At the same time, He will vindicate, save, and reward the righteous. The New Testament warns that all persons will be judged at the last day (Romans. 2:1-6; Hebrews. 4:13; Jude 14-15). For this reason we should live holy lives in the fear of the Lord, looking forward to the return of the Lord.

II. Day
Word Study:

Yom is by far the most frequently occurring expression for a unit of time.

The Hebrew word for day, ‘yom’, is used more than 1400 hundred times in Scripture.

“Day” can refer to more than one day; such as, to a period of time as in Gen. 2:4 and Psalm 118:24.

The term “day” is also used in a variety of extended meanings. The term day is used, for instance, to indicate a period of an action or state of being.

Therefore, it is not necessary to define day as a twenty-four hour period.

III. Day of the Lord in the Pentateuch

A.
Although the phrase the DOL does not appear in the Pentateuch, there is an understanding of a “Day” or time when God will punish his people.

Exodus 32:34- “ Now go,lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin” (NIV).

This passage reaffirms the OT principle that the person who sins is accountable for his own sin (Dt. 24:16). “The time comes for me to punish” is literally “in the day of my visitation.” Perhaps this is the beginning of the Day-of-the-Lord warnings so prevalent in the latter prophets.

B.
The flood story in Genesis 6-9 points to the eschatological day at the end of time when God will punish the wicked and reward the righteous. The similarities to the DOL are the fact that Yahweh intervenes to destroy the wicked and save the righteous.
Genesis 6:5-8- “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created…for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the eyes of the Lord (NIV).
But Noah found favor with God, being a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God, (Gen. 6:9, NIV).”

IV. Day of the Lord in the Historical Books

The historical books do not contain the phrase DOL. However, there are many stories of God intervening to give Israel victory over their enemies in the conquest of Canaan, including the day the sun stood still in Joshua. The Canaanites lived in wicked rebellion against the will and purposes of God.  The Lord had predicted that Abraham’s descendants would claim the land when “the sin of the Amorites” reached its “full measure” (Gen. 15:16b NIV).  This “full measure” of sin was attained by the Canaanites in the generation leading to the Jewish conquest. The Lord punished the sins of the Canaanites by giving them over to the Israelites.
The people of Jericho were completely destroyed because Yahweh intervened by causing their walls to fall down. However, Yahweh also required a similar kind of wrathful judgement against his own people when they sinned. Following the battle of Jericho, a soldier named Achan took in plunder “a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels” (Joshua 7:21).  He did so in direct disobedience to the divine command that “All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury” (6.19). For this sin, the Israeli army was defeated in the first battle of Ai.  When Achan admitted his disobedience, he and his family were taken to the Valley of Achor where they were stoned to death and then burned (7:25). These passages shows that Yahweh intends to punish wickedness on the earth, even among his own people. Before the battle at Jericho, Joshua saw a man standing with a drawn sword. When Joshua asked, “Whose side are you on, ours or our enemies”. The angel (possible theophany) said, “Neither.” This points to the fact that God will punish sin among all people, including his own people.

V. Day of the Lord in the Writings

A.
The phrase the DOL does not appear in the writings. However there are references to the coming King who will judge in righteousness. In Psalms 96:10-13, the Psalm moves to its climax. The cry, “The Lord reigns!” was a message to all Israel like the message of the lone runner in Isaiah 52:7, here a host of messengers spreads it to the world. The decisiveness of the Hebrew verb and the exultant response in 11-13 point to a new assertion of sovereignty. It announces God’s advent, the Day of the Lord. The coming of the Judge is here a cause for joy. The Lord comes to establish “righteousness” and “truth” on the earth. The judgement of God includes both vengeance on the ungodly and the deliverance for the godly.
Palm 96:10-13- “Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
 The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant,and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness
 and the peoples in his faithfulness” (NIV).”

B. Psalm 110:5 (NIV) points to a day of wrath; “The Lord is at your right hand[a];
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.”

C. Proverbs 11:4 (NIV) refers to a day of wrath; “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.”

Observe that righteousness not wealth will deliver one from the coming destruction.

VI. Day of the Lord in the Major Prophets

The DOL is a frequent prophetic theme emphasizing the certainty and decisiveness of the Lord’s historical judgement in the future. It can be conceived in local or universal terms. In this chapter it seems to move from one to the other. The first oracle (13-14) of Isaiah is against Babylon, which was not a world power during Isaiah’s lifetime. Isaiah saw judgement from the Lord upon Judah coming from Babylon, rather than Assyria or Egypt. Foreign foes were instruments of God’s judgement on His people for their sins.The terror of the coming judgement is emphasized. A banner is raised (Isaiah 13.2 NIV) to call various nations to fight against the Lord’s enemies. But these armies come from the “ends of the heavens” (13:5). This is not merely historical judgement but an eschatological one. The description of universal judgement and destruction from the Almighty points to the eschatological DOL.

Isaiah 13:6-9:
6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
 it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
7 Because of this, all hands will go limp,
every heart will melt with fear.
8 Terror will seize them,
pain and anguish will grip them;
they will writhe like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at each other,
 their faces aflame.
9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
 and destroy the sinners within it.

VII. Day of the Lord in the Minor Prophets

A. Summary of the Day of the Lord in the book of Joel

The actual phrase the DOL (yom yahweh) appears sixteen times in the major and minor prophets. Thirteen of those are in the minor prophets (Joel 1:15;2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18 [twice], 20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7,14 [twice]; Malachi 4:5). There are similar phrases throughout the Old Testament as noted in the introduction. There is no need to interpret every instance of the DOL in the Old Testament as referring to the time of Christ’s return. In reality, the expression is not as specific in the OT as it is in the NT, and it applies to multiple days of the Lord. The DOL in the OT did point toward the ultimate DOL. In the NT the concepts of the DOL in the Old Testament are pulled together into an ultimate DOL. The “Day of Yahweh” is used five times in the book of Joel.
The overriding theme in the book is “the Day of Yahweh”. Joel speaks of the DOL in relation to the events of his time (locust plague) in one place and the distant future in another and even points to the eschatological DOL. The expression is applied to different situations: a natural disaster in Joel’s day in the form of a locust plague and drought, judgement on Israel’s enemies in the context of the pouring out of the Spirit and judgement on nations that have oppressed Israel. The first one is not eschatological, while the latter two are. The book has three main messages, which are from different times in the prophets life.
The first (1:2-2:27) speaks of a locust plague that devastates the land. Joel makes it clear that the plague is punishment from God upon his people. He calls the people to repentance and implores them to turn to God, so that their circumstances will change. Joel declares that it is possible for Yahweh to change his mind and bring restoration if the people would heed the warning and turn back to God.
The second message (2:28-32) says that God’s spirit would be poured out on all people, irrespective of social class or gender, so that they would engage in prophetic activities and experiences. Once again, the DOL imagery is used in 2:1 and 2:11 pointing toward the distant future. It would be a time of wrath against the enemies of God. However, all who call upon the name of the Lord would be saved, implying that those who did not call on the Lord would be destroyed. This passage is quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21). Peter declared this passage from Joel was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out. However, it is the beginning to be fulfilled and its ultimate fulfillment will take place at Christ’s second coming.
In the third message (3:1-21), Joel describes a time of wrath against the enemies of God’s people. The Israelites had been sold into slavery to the Greeks by their enemies. The Lord would repay those nations for their evil deeds. The DOL is once again invoked speaking of a day of wrath against the enemies of Israel. Toward the end of the passage it shifts to a future time of peace, holiness, and God’s presence.

B. Joel 2:

The DOL is mentioned three times in Joel 2.

1. Joel 2.1-“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand.”

2. Joel 2:11- “The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number,and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?”

3. Joel 2:31 – “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

The description of the plague continues in chapter two with a twist. The locust plague is now compared to an invading army. This attack is so awful that is must be connected to the DOL (1,11), which was already announced in the first chapter (1:15).The locusts are real and not merely symbolic. However the reality itself is so great as to carry overtones of an even larger reality. It is the harbinger of the ultimate DOL when God will exercise universal judgement.
In Joel 2:1, we see that a trumpet (ram’s horn) was blown. This would have been the standard signal of approaching danger or general summons in Israel. The connection between the trumpet blast and the DOL is reminiscent of the trumpet that sounded when God came down on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:16). Furthermore, several places in the New Testament speak of a trumpet blast at the second coming of Christ (Mathew 24:31; 1 Th. 4:16-17; I Cor. 15:52). Also, verse 2 has a reference to “darkness and gloom”. These terms signify the divine presence within the midst of his people (Genesis 15:12; Psalms 18:11). The darkness and gloom wording is also used to portray coming judgement and destruction (Isaiah 13:10). In verse ten we see the earthquakes and darkness which are signs of theophany (Ezekiel 32:7-8), which the Day of Yahweh brings. Nearness and certainty of its coming (imminence) are also emphasized in verse 1.
Joel 2:11 emphasizes the fact that this army belongs to Yahweh. The army is doing Yahweh’s bidding. The numbers and strength of Yahweh’s army are also emphasized. In verses ten and eleven we see a merging of the locust plague with the great DOL. The language reminds us of other OT descriptions of vengeful theophanies (Jeremiah 10:10). Yahweh’s voice thunders as in Psalms 18:13, adding another dimension of terror and dread. Verse eleven sums up the preceding verses in this chapter. So great and terrible is this Day and the God that orchestrated it that no-one will be able to endure it. Here endure means to cope with it successfully or victoriously.
Joel 2:12-27 speak of repentance which leads to restoration. Yahweh will relent from judgement if his people will repent and turn to him with all their hearts. The in verse twenty-eight the Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, which is fulfilled, at least in part, in Acts chapter two. On the Day of Pentecost only part is fulfilled— the outpouring of the Spirit and salvation to those who call on the name of the Lord. The celestial wonders of Joel 2:30 were not seen. These passages have an already/ not yet nature to them. The prophetic perspective blends the present with the distant future and the present merges with the eschatological at an unclear time. Hence, Joel’s day in 2:28-32 was all future, but from the Day of Pentecost on it acquired an it’s here and it’s coming quality. The prophetic perspective was much like looking at the mountain peaks from two distant mountains. From the viewers perspective there is no distance between the first and second mountain peaks. They appear to be one. However, there is a deep and long valley in between the mountains. In the same way the writing prophets many times merged the first and second advents of Christ. In verse thirty and thirty one we once again see the signs of a theophany—wonders in heaven, fire and smoke. These will all precede the great and dreadful DOL. There is an emphasis on the cosmic proportions of the DOL in the final DOL in chapter two of Joel. These yet unfulfilled cosmic signs point to the ultimate Day of Yahweh.

VIII. Conclusion/ Application for believers today

Paul stated that “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (I Corinthians 15:19 NIV). But we fix our eyes not on what is seen for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. We look forward to the Great Day of the Lord, when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ. This will be the day of God’s ultimate triumph.
The Day of the Lord becomes clear in the New Testament. The DOL is the second coming of Christ. Paul and Peter proclaim the DOL as part of a hope that transforms believers toward holy living (I Thess 5:4-8; 2 Peter 3:11-15) In fact, the apostle Peter devoted an entire epistle, his second, to reminding believers of the imminent return of the Lord. He reminded believers how they should live in light of that coming. Peter encouraged his readers to “recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets”(2 Peter 3:2) concerning the Day of the Lord.
As leaders in the Body of Christ, we are responsible to declare the whole council of God. When pastors neglect eschatology it negatively impacts the sanctification of their flock because they also neglect our hope. Hope and holiness are intrinsically connected. Paul states that we can say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and live godly lives in the world “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14 NIV). John states that believers should live holy lives so that they are not ashamed at his appearing (1 John 2:28). He goes on to say in John 3:3, that “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” Knowledge of this hope gives us the right perspective and causes us to be obedient in our walk with Jesus.
The world may mock and challenge our hope and faith. Therefore Peter states, “you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.They will say, “‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’”(2 Peter 3:3-4). The delay of the Day of the Lord is the mercy of God, as he gives time for the wicked to repent for it is His will that none would perish. The world mocks because there is no indication that any change in the order of things is forthcoming. The very idea that God intervenes in any way in the world is considered foolish. The coming of Christ to judge the earth is reproachable in this era of relative truth. The absence of any hope in the return of Christ leaves one without any foundation for present morality and ethics. If Christ will not return, “let us drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”. Relative truth logically leads to anarchy where everyone does what is right in his/her own eyes.
However, one day we will all stand before the Judge of heaven and earth to give an account for our lives. It will be a day of judgement and recompense for unbelievers. But for us who believe it will be a day blessing and reward. In the last chapter of the Bible, Jesus says, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done (Revelation 22:12).”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.