Monday, December 03, 2012

Liberia Mission Trip

At our church, LifeTree Fellowship, we have a branch of ministry called Our World Missions. My wife Juli and I recently went on a mission trip to Liberia, connecting with Samaritan's Purse. Our team was lead by missionary Gary Ham. Below is a narrative written by Gary about the 2 week trip:


On every mission trip there is something new that you learn about God, about yourself, and about the call to service in global missions.   During this recent trip to Liberia, occurring over the first two weeks in November 2012, I learned a deeper meaning of and application for what the Apostle Paul meant when he told the believers in Ephesus to “stand.”

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place… Ephesians 6:13-14

The Greek word from which we derive the word stand is Stete, pronounced in English “stay-tay.”  It is very likely that the Apostle Paul used this word because it was broadly recognized during that time as the battle cry of the elite Roman soldiers who in battle stood their ground, refusing to surrender or give up ground.  Paul’s use of the word intended to convey to Christians this radical call to persevere in their faith, and to stand fast and firm when engaged in spiritual warfare. 

Traveling often to the mission field, I am fairly accustomed to spiritual warfare.  What I mean by spiritual warfare is the believer’s struggle against obstacles and hindrances that are experienced in ministry which are above and beyond the norm, and which have their source and origins in the demonic realm. 

Our U.S. team had a very exciting and productive trip to Liberia for the first eight days of our work there.  Collectively, we had ministered in about 6 different towns and communities, preached and taught on various subjects to 400 church leaders and ministers, in forty 40 different settings.  God had called our team to Liberia to help equip pastors, leaders, and missionaries in the work of the ministry, mainly in rural and remote areas of the country.  But in the opening night of an evangelistic festival where we were serving, in a community known to be a stronghold of devil worship, there were signs that we were not going to be unopposed in our work; a hornet’s nest of spiritual activity had been stirred up.       

As we sat together on the platform, enjoying the opening of the program, the flood lights went partially inoperative.  Soon after, problems with the sound system developed. The program continued, being led by the host ministry team, showing no signs of discouragement or concern.  But then, the worst came.  A major rainstorm quickly gathered itself and moved upon the area with torrential rain and winds.  The great majority of people who were in attendance scattered for protection from this assault.  I for one was contemplating doing the same.  After all, serving as the guest evangelist, I wondered if I should be putting myself at risk of catching cold or something else that would hinder my ability to minister effectively.  But the word of the Lord came to mind, “Stand,” don’t leave the platform, persevere—“Stete.

The Festival Director, a man of great faith, Pastor Gentry, gallantly took the microphone and began to lead everyone in intercessory prayer and a series of shouts of praise and worship unto the Lord.  Worship and praise became mighty weapons of warfare against the enemy who was attempting to disrupt the festival and discourage the people.  This was a call to action, not for the faint of heart, a call to stand up to any and every challenge that could hinder the salvation of hundreds of lost souls, many who had walked for hours in hope of hearing a life-changing message!

What a wonderful moment to also see the U.S. ministry team worship God in the midst of driving rain and winds, taking a bold stand of faith with Liberian brothers and sisters to overcome their common foe.       

The people who had come to receive from the festival began to rally and praise God, sensing that a more powerful Presence was at work to triumph over the stormy weather.  Suddenly, the winds and rain subsided. In less than 20 minutes, the weather changed from torrential rains, to a drizzle, and then to a complete stop; when God’s people took a stand, the Lord answered with a miracle!

A young girl in the audience reported to the ushers that earlier she had seen what appeared to be “a large dark woman” with outstretched arms who was literally pulling rain down from the skies! But as the shouts of praises and intercessory prayer began, the little girl said that this ominous person, who apparently was an emissary from the domain of darkness, mysteriously disappeared.  The apostle Paul said that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).”

The people returned to the field, a much larger number than before the rains began. Additionally, the lights and the sound system began to work properly. Expressions of thanksgiving, joy, and praise took the service to a higher level of faith and expectancy.  As the altar call was given at the end of the service, 260 people walked to the platform to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  To God be the Glory!

All over the world God is calling His people to preach and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the advancement of His Kingdom in the earth. But evil forces and powers which are in the spiritual realm will oppose this calling and Christians are exhorted to be ready to war against them.   The saints of God are assured of obtaining the victory if they would persevere in the face of trials and adversity and always stand up for the honor and glory of God’s great name.  This too will be the battle cry of an end-time generation of believers in Jesus Christ, “STETE!”

Gary E Ham, Executive Director 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Faith or Failure?

This past weekend I had my Isshin-Ryu Karate Black Belt Test! It was supposed to be 2 days, 4 hours each day. In actuality it was 2 days, 6 hours each day! The Endurance testing was very intense…actually everything about it was very intense. In some areas I felt like I peaked in performance and others I fell short.

After the first day, just due to the sheer volume of pushing my body, my lower back became very tender and fatigued. When I finished at 4pm, I had to rush home, shower and get to church. I had already planned on Chris speaking for me. Plus John O was giving his Haiti medical report. I did lead worship however. The whole service went great but my back was still quite sore.

I asked Mary Ann Emerson to pray for me. She did with Wayne and Paul. I received my healing by faith, not just for the next day, but also for complete deliverance from years of low-back issues. I fully expected to wake up the next morning fully restored.

It was sore all night as I slept. I took Ibuprofen and had Juli rub some sort of analgesic on it. When I woke up in the morning, it was still stiff and sore. I got up, showered, ate, took Ibuprofen, rubbed in the analgesic…praying and speaking scripture the whole time, such as:

            “By His Stripes I was Healed…”  I Peter 2:24

            “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me…”  Philippians 4:13

Fear kept trying to take hold…what if my back goes out like it has in the past?! I would be instantly done and would not be able to finish the test without at least a week to recover and have the Chiropractor put it back where it belongs…

Furthermore, two of the five Senseis testing us flew in to be there for the test. The next one isn't scheduled for another 4 months.

It was an amazing battle in my mind. I did however choose to side with my spirit and the Word of God rather than fear. I got in the car, turned on some worship music, and shouted praise to God like a fool on the ride to the dojo, knowing, “He inhabits the Praise of His people!”  Psalm 22:3

Guess what happened as soon as I walked into the dojo for part 2 of my test?!


No change. No relief. No miraculous healing. This one was going to be a faith-walk...kick...and punch...

I pressed on, trusting him for the next 6 hours to keep me in place. “By Him all things consist (hold together)”  Colossians 1:17

With each requirement I gave it my all! Whether it was a flying scissors takedown on a Sensei 50 lbs. heavier than me, or grappling with the same, or my flying sidekick…I continued to trust Him. Every time I walked into the bathroom to refill my water bottle, I thanked Jesus for being with me and being my strength.

I did have to stretch it out a lot throughout the test but thanks be to God! He came through for me. The test ended with us doing 500 mountain climbers, a killer exercise, but I did it!

Funny thing, today my back feels awesome but my whole body aches…in a “good” way! Multiple bruises and cuts but I feel great. I have learned again through this that no matter how badly you feel like giving up or quitting, in Christ, there is always more strength to draw upon!

            “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Word in Season

Recently the Lord has sent LifeTree a dear woman in the Faith. Mary Ann is truly a spiritual mother in the body of Christ. She has been such to Juli and me since about 1996. We are so excited to have her as a part of the LifeTree family!
A few weeks ago, in her prayer time, she wrote a word the Lord had given to her. It is so profound, a word in season. I believe it is for all of LifeTree. I have asked for her permission to share it with you:
I will cause you to break through any demonic opposition. Through your prayers to Me, My Power can flow. Never forget that My Word and My Holy Spirit are your source of Power. Stand strong in Me and in the Power of My Might. I am a Mighty Man of War and I will fight your battles for you. You can depend on My Power and Direction. I will be the Strength of your life.
Meditate upon My Word. Speak forth My Word with your mouth. I am the source of all Victories and Breakthroughs. My Word contains Wisdom and Strategies for your warfare. As you study My Word, I will lead you forward to Liberty and Victory over every demonic force that comes against you. As you call upon me, I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.
- Your Father God
Be encouraged!!