The Outreach for Sunday, December 13, 2009 was such an awesome day to behold. I was scheduled to do the camera for the Children’s service with Pastor Joe Manno and the River Children’s Department. I got to the church at 8 a.m. and there was already a beehive of activity all over the parking lots, with buses running and ready to go out for the precious fruit. Tables were set up everywhere with volunteers busily registering children for toys and to attend the children’s service which was being taped for television.
It was amazing how everything was so organized and seemed to be flowing very smoothly. The buses began leaving with the captains and helpers excited about the blessings many people on their routes would receive. Some visitors for the first time would encounter God in such a way that would change their lives forever. The very presence of God falls when adoration, praise, and thanksgiving ascend from hearts full of love for Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and the Savior of our souls.
On Saturday I went out soul winning and passing out flyers for the Sunday outreach. I had been listening to Pastor Rodney’s new CD, “Nothing Is Impossible” for three days when I was riding in the car or doing data entry at church. The presence of God would touch my heart in such a way I would usually end up in tears and then laughter.
Saturday, as we drove the 30 minutes to get to church, listening to the CD, I felt like I was filled with the Holy Ghost all over again. I was trembling, tears were flowing, and I felt I was interceding for the lost. I was blitzed! I had a feeling souls would be touched by His presence as we went out. I led 9 people to the LORD that were in our path, and I could see the changes on their faces after they received the free gift of Salvation that Jesus Christ offers to all. My team leader, Jesse, called me Sunday after the morning service to let me know that one of the men that was saved rode the bus to church. Hallelujah!!!
Pastor Joe made learning the Bible fun with games, contests, and the freedom to be a child. He quickly became a trusted friend as he allowed them to be themselves and to shout and yell instead of having to sit still be quiet. After the games and contests he then told them the story of Jesus and the highest sacrifice he gave for us all. With all attention on Pastor Joe as he shared of the suffering endured by Jesus, all the little hearts were receiving the “Glorious Light of the Gospel”. The count of those that received Jesus for the first time was 154. Glory to the Lamb of God!!
I am grateful to God for joining me to the River Church Ministry. In the deepest part of my soul I have yearned for God to use me to be a witness for Him. My desire has always been to go deeper in the things of God. My life’s goal was to be used by God in the fullest and to touch the lives of people with the love of God. I longed to be used as a mouthpiece to do and to say the things He wanted me to say and to be bold while doing it. I had been looking for a church like the River since I was 21 and now that I am here I truly believe that God has fulfilled one of the deepest desires of my heart. Everything I wanted in a church home the River provided. Since being here I am in awe at how God answered my prayer in detail. Since coming to the River I have been eternally changed from the inside out and I have been used mightily to touch the lives of many people. I am grateful to God for allowing me to be apart of such a Holy Spirit filled church. I believe the vision of Pastor Rodney and Adonica to see souls saved is evident in our church and the vision has passed down to the congregation and has now become the heartbeat of my life. Because of this ministry I now feel revived, alive and energized to fulfill the call of God on my life. As a result, of Pastor Rodney & Adonica and the River church family I now have a passion for lost and a greater hunger for the things of God. I know that since coming here my hunger and thirst for God has heightened and my craving for souls and the things of God will last a lifetime.
Being a part of this ministry has been such a blessing to me. I come from a Church in Sweden that did not have too much outreach activities. So when I started bible school at The River and we had to do soul winning, it was something completely new for me. But after the first person I talked to said the salvation prayer with me, I got very exited. And now when I have gone soul winning for four months, it has changed me a lot. To see these people get changed and filled by the great love of God is irreplaceable. We go door to door and talk to a lot of people and you wonder if they really listen to what you have to say, but then you see them in Church on Sunday and how God is meets them and change them totally, and I would not exchange that for anything in the world.
On Sunday, when we had the big Christmas service, it occurred to me how thankful I am to be a part of this ministry, because here, the one great vision is to let everyone know about Jesus and win souls. And this Sunday when I saw how everyone is working the best they can to meet everyones needs, I just got so grateful to be a part of this, because it has given me a greater love for people. I have always been a loving person who likes to take care of people, but now this has been taken to another level. I have a deep desire in my heart to make sure that everyone gets to hear about Jesus & understand his great love! My heart breaks when I think about that there are people out there who live miserable lives and don’t know that Jesus died for them and can make their lives wonderful. So now I just want to keep reaching people with the gospel, and make sure I am doing the best I can to spread the love of Jesus – and this Church is really helping me to do that.
On Sunday, December 13, our church, the River of Tampa Bay, my wife and I helped out with a large outreach to the local communities of Tampa Bay. One of the tools our church uses to bring in the lost is our bus ministry. My wife and I have personally been soul witnessing on one particular route, route 3, almost every Saturday. The bus we were on serviced this route. As we were driving from the church to the bus route 3 area to drop off the local residents, I struck up a conversation with an older man. He had an interesting story as he told me about his family and the Pentecostal church they owned back in Tennessee and how he had gotten away from the Lord for many years while he worked for the circus hustling people. He said that he gave his life to the Lord in 2006 and gave all indications that he was saved. I began to share my testimony with him, about how God had brought me from a long way. I spoke of the goodness of God. I spoke of winning souls in his area. As we passed, certain areas I told him about the different people I had meet and seen saved. Street after street. Block after block. I noticed that he had a Spanish soul winning script and asked if he had an English one. He did and I asked him if someone had prayed with him using the script.
He said no, so I thought I would do some training with him so that he might possible use the script himself. I went through the script and he answered no if he would go to heaven. I figured he was just working with me on the script. It was not until we were half way through the prayer of salvation that I realized for him, it was real. At the end of the prayer I asked him if he really prayed the prayer. He said yes. I presumed that he was either witnessed to either on the way to church or answered the alter call at church. Sometimes you just never know. Luke 15:7.
The ministries of Rodney Howard-Brown have truly changed my life. I am one of five students that carpool everyday from Kissimmee to go to school in the River School of Worship in Tampa, so unfortunately we were unable to attend this past outreach on Sunday morning because we attend a home church during the weekend. I have been going out on the streets though for the last few months telling people about the love of Christ and about the coming gift outreach. I didn’t think at first that the gospel soul winning script worked but I have had a total change of heart. I have seen people’s lives changed just by them repeating the simple words and hearing the words that they speak gives hope.
It’s amazing the hunger that people have when you go to them where they are; people that would never go to the church because they don’t know that they need Jesus. Pastor Rodney and his staff have equipped me to do so much more than I thought I could ever do. I have gone out and seen people healed, I have seen people filled with the Holy Spirit, children touched by the power of God, whole families dedicating their lives to the Lord and so much more. I am so thankful that the Lord placed me in a ministry that has such a heart for the people. There is such a love for those that are normally forgotten by the “upper crust” of the church. You can just see the gratitude in their faces because they thought they were left to fend for themselves but now they know that there are people that care. My life has been forever changed. I have gotten past my initial discomfort of speaking to people that I don’t know and I have finally understood where the heart of people truly lies. It is with the people . . . Thank you Pastor Rodney!
On Sunday, 12/13/09, I was in kids church doing the Security and I was stunned I mean absolutely slapped stupid, the hunger on them kids was incredible and once they got inside it was a whole another story they were excited, but the kids church workers got them sitting and when it came time for Joe to come up them kids were crazy I mean the involvement of them kids was totally mind-blowing!!! I was of course in and out of the building but every time I could I would try and see all three age groups. I remember one little girl in the 3-5 yr olds and she was so scared she was crying these sad “alligator tears”, and she wouldn’t play with any of the other kids so I left for like half hour, when I got back she was sitting with one of the workers and smiling, I left that room with tears in my eyes.
Than later on I was going to the back of the kids church, they’d just gotten done with the kids’ altar call, so all the kids who accepted Jesus were in the hallway and two lil kids stuck out, one little girl tugged on my suit coat and said “Jesus loves me”, I said “He always has.” than one little Mexican boy hugged me and said with tears that he “Jesus is my best friend”, man I was done after that I cried and said inside “Lord your so good, to see these kids so happy with meeting You”, the looks on there faces were priceless and that little boy, he was like 9 or so he was a tall little boy. But you know that’s not the first time I had this happen to me, back in September I went to Tampa General Hospital to visit the children’s ward and it broke my heart b/c that day God dealt with my heart, I thought to myself “all the money in the world can’t raise that little boy from that bed and from that day on I asked God to break my heart all over again for kids and showed my need for the Holy Ghost.