I am Second Blog
“One night at my brother’s house, we decided to tell our stories,” said Lavance Meeks. “We told our ‘survivor of’ stories. It was a lot more powerful than we thought. We had survivors of rape, sickness, fatherlessness, doubt.”
Anyone who was willing shared.
“It was out of a lot people’s comfort zone to share such deep stuff,” he recalled. “But we felt we had to share.”
They thought about filming their stories. Lavance saw some I am Second films but knew his friends needed something closer to home, a story from someone they knew.
“My friends don’t know Tony Dungy[link to film] or Lecrae [link to film],” Lavance explained. “But they know me. I wanted to do my video because these people knew where I came from. They knew my past. They grew up in my neighborhood.”
So despite the warnings and fears, Lavance and others began to film their stories.
“The reaction has been strong,” Lavance recalled. “People call and text me all the time now wanting to talk about fatherlessness, about their own problems and issues. They ask me to talk with their children and family. I’ve told my story at churches, at a youth detention center. I’ve been so humbled by the reaction, by how much people have been inspired.”
“I didn’t do this to get pity. I don’t do this for sympathy. I don’t do this so somebody can come and pat me on my back. I’m not even doing this to diss my dad. I just want people to understand that God is your real father. God said in his Word that he would never leave you or forsake you, that his grace is sufficient. That means that no matter what, as long as you got Him, that is all you need. God has proven that to me.”
Do you have a story? Go here to submit your own story www.iamsecond.com/contact/share-experience
I am Second attended EDGEFEST this year, a premier alternative rock event in the Dallas area, and offered free rides home to those who needed it. There were no strings attached, no fee, just a simple gesture that helped save lives.
Helping dozens of would-be intoxicated drivers catch a safe ride home via a taxicab, the movement helped people realize what living Second is about. Funding and support came from people like you and even new I am Second fans who attended EDGEFEST. The concertgoers who chose to take the free cab ride received information on how to learn more about www.IamSecond.com, and from there, they would find the life changing stories of others who have discovered the power of Second. People who caught a free ride included young adults, teens, one of the concert’s performers and even an entire family!
More change is coming, and it starts with you as part of this movement. Leave us a comment on your thoughts about the catch a free ride effort, then share this blog post with others! How does this inspire you to get out in the crowd and do something small that makes a big difference?
“Being Second as a mom is joyful, it’s hard sometimes, it’s gentleness, it’s being patient, it’s confusing, it’s encouraging…it’s love…it’s rewarding…” -Cheryl Scruggs
Moms have the hardest job. As psyhologist Erich Fromm stated, “The mother-child relationship is paradoxical. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”
They are charged with loving a child that only ever learns to truly appreciate that love once the child grows up and moves out. But through it all Cheryl Scruggs has learned from the ups and downs, the confusion and the break-throughs, the hard times and the good times, that Second is the only way to really be a mom.
Cheryl first connected with the I am Second audience with the rivoting story of her and her husband’s journey through marriage, infedility, divorce, and, amazingly, remarriage. Through the heartbreak and reconciliation, she learned that God is more than a religion, more than a philosophical option, but someone who wants a relationship.
“I’ve learned as a mom,” Cheryl said, “the importance of spending time in God’s word and putting Him first in my life. It’s extremely important to nurture your relationship with [Him].”
Treat yourself or your mom to the black I am Second tote Cheryl Scruggs is using in the short video - 10% off this month only. For more May promos and freebies, check out the promo codes below. Limit one promo per order at www.iamsecondstore.com.
10% off totes/bags (perfect for mom!) no promo code needed
Free 10 pk of IAS Adult Signature Wristband with a $ 40 purchase Code 5402
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Most come aiming for the top. The NFL player draft commences on April 25th and many of the top prospective draftees have hit their workout routine with gusto at Nashville’s prestigious D1 Sports Training center. But Matt Barkley (watch his story at www.iamsecond.com/mattbarkley) and University of Tennessee wide receiver, Zach Rogers, have a different message. They still hope to make the top draft, but in life they aim for Second. Zach sported his I am Second wristband all year while playing for the Volunteers. And Matt has long proudly represented I am Second and its message. Now they have brought their message to the gym. Will they make the first round draft? the second round? Who knows. But in life Jesus is always First.
Don’t miss out on the April Promos at iamsecondstore.com
10% off small group materials, tracts and DVDs no promo code needed
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Hassan startled awake to a rough hand clamped firmly over his mouth. Heart racing, he felt the cold muzzle of a gun in his right temple.
“Don’t say a word.” A masked voice whispered the command in the dark. “Get up, and come with me.”
For several minutes, Hassan rubbed sleep from his eyes as his kidnapper shoved him through the streets of Cairo’s old city. Hassan had no doubt he had been discovered as one who leads Muslims to faith in Christ. Despite his best efforts to tell people about Jesus without raising suspicions, the government had found him out. It was one of the riskiest places in the world to share Jesus with Muslims.
Hassan had moved to this section of Old Cairo two years earlier. Gifted at bringing Jesus into conversions with Muslim friends, he had yet to see anyone in this neighborhood become a Christ follower. But he had tried daily.
Stumbling through one quiet block after another with a gun in his back, Hassan cried out to God, Isn’t anyone awake to help me? But two hours before the morning call to prayer, Cairo still slept. Not that anyone would care, of course. An imam pushing a Christian through this place wouldn’t garner any sympathy for the victim.
The rough grip on Hassan’s right arm shoved him along quickly, jerking him intermittently for course corrections deemed necessary by his captor. As his death march progressed, Hassan’s thoughts drifted to his rapidly concluding mission here in Egypt. He had studied Islam for years—learning the Qur’an, the Hadith (sayings of Muhammad compiled several centuries after his death), and the teachings of most leading Islamic scholars—all for the purpose of knowing the adversaries he hoped God would transform into brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord had birthed a passion in Hassan to reach Muslims, but all of his preparation didn’t matter, it seemed, on his way to becoming another Egyptian martyr.
“Up the stairs.” The harsh voice interrupted Hassan’s musings.
Hassan wondered how his secret had been revealed, and by whom.
Blood pounded in his veins from fear and the exertion of a five-story climb with his captor up the back steps of an aging building.
“We have to jump off this building onto the roof of that one over there. It’s the only way to get in.”
For the first time since leaving his apartment, Hassan looked squarely at his abductor’s face. Only then did he realize the man had blackened his face to obscure his features. Hassan glanced into the gaping space at which the man now pointed his gun and then stared back at the intense eyes spewing from the dark visage.
“There’s no way I can jump from this building to that one!” Hassan blurted.
“You can, and you will. Get a running start.” His captor pointed the muzzle at Hassan. “You go first.”
Whether death would come from a bullet or a fall to the pavement fifty feet below, Hassan didn’t know, but he believed his companion would use his weapon with the slightest provocation. At least the jump—even if it failed—would extend his life a few more seconds. And if he made it across the gap, who knows what might yet save him?
Adrenaline—and angels, perhaps—yielded the most magnificent leap of Hassan’s life. He landed with room to spare, and his obviously practiced kidnapper thumped beside him, pistol still in hand, two seconds later.
The assailant seized Hassan’s right arm again and forced him toward a hatchway in the abandoned warehouse. Hassan was sure he would never again see the night sky. He whispered, “Jesus, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
The man flinched almost imperceptibly at Hassan’s prayer. Hassan noticed the fleeting cut of the man’s eyes toward him. The grip on Hassan’s arm tightened.
“Open the hatch door, and climb in quickly.” The gun again pointed the way.
Hassan saw himself struggle through the opening as if he were a player in a movie thriller. He hoped the scene wouldn’t end too quickly, and once inside the gloomy structure, the plot took a startling twist. He recounts what happened over the next several incredible minutes.
“I stepped into a foreboding room, lit with a single candle, fully expecting my immediate execution. Ten obviously Muslim men stood in a circle and stared at me as I entered. They ordered me to sit down. When I complied, the menacing atmosphere changed instantly. The mysterious group smiled at me.”
The man who had kidnapped Hassan spoke first. “We are imams, and we all studied at Al-Azhar University. During our time there, each of us had a dream about Jesus, and each of us has privately become a follower of Christ. For a time, we didn’t dare tell anyone about this. It would, of course, have been our own death sentences. But finally, we could hide it no longer.
“We each prayed to Jesus for His help to learn what it means to be His follower. Over time, He brought us together, and you can imagine our amazement when the Holy Spirit revealed that there are other imams who have found Jesus as well. Now we meet here three times a week at night to pray for our families and for the people in our mosques to find Jesus too. We know you follow Christ. He led us to you.”
Hassan recalls, “I was speechless. Then I was so relieved, I laughed for several minutes while the group watched.”
The kidnapper finally explained the point of this clandestine encounter. “I’m very sorry I had to frighten you with the mask and the gun, but I knew it was the only way to get you here. It was just too dangerous any other way. I apologize. But now our question is, will you teach us the Bible?”
Want to read more? Find the whole story and more in the new book Dreams and Visions, by Tom Doyle . Click here to get the book.
Stories of people declaring, “I am Second and Jesus is First” are happening all around us and around the world. Muslim, Jew, or agnostic, whatever your background, wherever you are with God, Jesus offers hope. Watch the stories of dozens of people who have found that hope at www.iamsecond.com.
Local Fort Worth youth pastor, Craig, trains and mobilizes his student to tell their story and start Second groups in their schools using I am Second films and small group materials. Several groups start almost immediately. Within 6 months, 20 students had started Second groups in 15 different schools and were seeing lives changed right before their eyes. This is Craig’s story…
“Lucas began a group at [his local] high school with some of his basketball team that met at his friends house before practice. The group had met two or three times and the kids began to find accountability and support from the Lord and each other. But one day the father of the boy who lived in the house sat in on the meeting. It was that Sunday for the first time in 15 years that family went to church as a result of the testimony of the group.
“Hannah (a HS junior) began a group at [her] high school. She is the only student from our church that attends this school so she was on an island. That did not stop her. She advertised, promoted and got the word out about her group. The first time she met (last Monday) she had over 40 students show up. They divided by grades and she appointed leaders to each group to ask the questions. All of a sudden multiple groups were started.
“All this to say that God is good and we are excited about where God is going to take us.”
SIX MONTHS LATER
“I wanted to give you an update on our youth group. As of this last week we have over 20 students beginning groups in their schools. We have 15 different schools represented. The impact on our kids has been amazing. They are really beginning to own their faith. I can not thank I AM SECOND enough for all that you all do.”
Download I am Second Group materials free here.
Get the I am Second Church Kit and learn how you can launch your whole church, youth group, or ministry.
Bare walls, an old carpet, and holes where light fixtures were being installed greeted us as we stepped into the new I am Second Nashville office. An old-school projector splashed the I am Second logo onto the side wall where it was being painted on. The Nashville launch had been two years in the making but the day had finally arrived and the city buzzed with excitement.
We passed several billboards as we drove in from the airport, each with the simple and enigmatic I am Second logo, daring the Nashville populous to ask, “Then who is First?” A cadre of local churches and ministries had committed to join the I am Second launch with a church wide I am Second campaign using the newly released Church Kit (check it out here).
Each would build on the citywide momentum established by billboard, radio, and various advertising outlets. I had flown in from Dallas to work with Angie Clawson, I am Second Nashville Director, in getting these churches and ministries trained and up to speed in launching the I am Second campaign. The first training started early that evening. Pastors, small group leaders, and other ministry leaders from around the city gathered to learn more about the movement that had landed on their doorsteps.
(Connect with the Nashville team by emailing email@example.com.)
“The billboards went up this week but already just this morning I had two people ask me what it meant to be Second. They saw my I am Second wristband and wanted to know more. Never before had I had such obvious opportunities to share Jesus with strangers,” one of the trainees said at the training opening.
We walked through all the tools contained in the church kit including the graphical support, small group materials, gear, book, and much more, but more than anything we talked about the power of story that the church kit utilized.
Everyone has a story. Simple or profound. Every person has a story both powerful and important. One that needs telling. One the world needs to hear. The I am Second church kit empowers and unleashes hoards of people to just start telling their story. Whole churches, entire ministries, and small groups can all be empowered to start telling the story of why Jesus is First in their life.
As more trainees flowed in with similar stories of more spiritual conversations being sparked by the local advertising, the bracelets, and T-shirts, the excitement became even more tangible. They began seeing that the potential of unleashing thousand of people around the city to share their story, the message that Jesus is First in Nashville.
Several years before, I had witnessed the launch of my home city, Dallas, with similar excitement. We had no written tools. No book. No Second group materials. And only 12 short films on a fresh new website. Nashville loaded with 4 years of I am Second experience, a host of valuable new tools, 90+ films, the new I am Second church kit, and a goal to bring on board 50 churches this year, promises to be an even more exciting event than I witnessed in my own city.
Keep up with the excitement and follow the Nashville movement? Like the Nashville Facebook page here.
When three students at Guyer High in Denton caught word of a Second student group in a neighboring town, they had to see it for themselves.They were seeking a way to reach more people for Jesus and felt that I am Second could help.
“We want it to be a movement in our school; something that inspires people.” — Megan Washam
With permission from their parents to skip first block, they drove out to Hebron High on an early Friday morning and met with leaders of their Second group. Convinced that I am Second could work for their school, they returned with a renewed passion and began praying that God would do amazing things through them. He did.
“It’s just the atmosphere…God being present in the school, it makes such a difference.” — Suzie Palmer
WIthin weeks they moved from a small group to 30 students, then 40, then 60 and so on until they could no longer be contained by the class room that once held their meetings. Every Friday morning these students arrive an hour and a half early to worship, share stories, and pray together for each other, their school, and their leaders.
“God is doing great things here and we’re just happy to be a part of it.” — Tiffany Walker
Seeing a group of 20-somethings roaming the West End of Dallas in the evening is a pretty common sight. Seeing them stop and chat with strangers is another thing, especially when those they are conversing with are homeless.
26-year old David Miranda doesn’t find this as unusual. He and a group of friends, many recruited from nearby Dallas Baptist University, make it a habit to camp near the West End DART Rail station and reach out to the residents, and those without residences, of that area of town.
It all started when Miranda, who was born in Sulphur Springs, TX and now runs a interpreter/translation business in Dallas, was inspired by his encounters with I am Second to use the movement’s t-shirts to reach people in Downtown Dallas’ West End. Finding this tool to work, he soon involved DBU students, most who are 3rd generation Hispanic, to join in his adventures. They utilize both I am Second and Yo Soy Segundo gear/materials to start conversations in both languages.
With supercharged energy, the work of the group soon expanded from Sunday night sojourns to planting a church that meets on Sunday morning that provides food, clothing and worship services. The impact on the community as a whole is growing, and the new West End Church, as they call themselves, is as diverse as you’ll see. What can be found in these unexpected places? Jesus.
60-Days-of-Second: Follow along as 15 bloggers journey through 4 readings each from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Together they will blog through 60-Days-of-Second. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.
Day 28 by Kate Conner
“The mark of a follower of Jesus, of one who lives Second, is not perfection (though that will come in the end); it is the fight, the struggle to turn the tides of our desires towards the Maker of our souls” -Live Second, 43.
I have an addiction. Like all addictions, it’s ugly. When I write it you’re going to make some judgments about me, no matter how hard you try not to. No matter how hard you try to remember that we all have our baggage and that Christ died to save me, when I say,
“I am addicted to having and wanting expensive things,”
some presumptions are going to force themselves into your minds.
You might presume that I grew up in privilege, and in a sense, you’d be right. I’ve learned that “privilege” is enormously subjective, but I’ve also learned that the suburb in north Raleigh where I grew up places me in the very upper echelon of global society. Maybe even American society.
I got a car when I turned 16, and my parents paid for it. When I crashed it the following year I got another car. I traveled a lot; I went to France on an exchange trip when I was in the 7th grade and to the Bahamas for a family wedding when I was in the 11th. I had nice prom dresses that I didn’t pay for, and, while I still have a sizeable student loan, my parents paid for three-quarters of my private 4-year college education. This was absolutely the norm in the community where I grew up. My family was not wealthier than my friends’ families – in fact, we had a lot less than some of them.
I’ve never struggled with anger, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, substance abuse, gossip, or eating disorders, but I struggle against materialism and consumerism still.
After five years in full-time ministry. After five over-seas mission trips which exposed me to third-world poverty. Three years after God gave me an enormous burden for cross-cultural missions. After three years of moving towards minimalism, three years of deliberately increasing my giving. After years of living meagerly on one income with 2 kids (and one on the way), it’s lurking under there – in my sinful parts like a dark, dirty cancer.
A.W. Tozer wrote this about sin, specifically materialism and greed:
“The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple.”
This is true of all sin, and it is at once terribly depressing and wonderfully encouraging.
It’s depressing because it hurts. It’s depressing because it’s exhausting. It’s depressing because we don’t ever get to stop fighting. It’s depressing because we might never stop wanting whatever terrible thing it is that we want. (What is it for you?)
But it’s wonderful because we are not alone. This addiction, this struggle, this desire that will. not. go. away. is what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
It’s wonderful because Paul is a pillar of the Christian faith; he wrote 13 books of the Bible. He served God so fearlessly and faithfully that when we read accounts of his life and faith he almost sounds superhuman. It’s wonderful because, as Doug writes in Live Second, “The mark of a follower of Jesus, of one who lives Second, is not perfection (thought that will come in the end); it is the fight, the struggle to turn the tides of our desires toward the Maker of our souls.”
I recently wrote a post about how much I LOVE living in a teeny, tiny house – how it is one of my new favorite things. There are a lot of surprising, magical reasons, but upon further reflection, I think one I didn’t list in my post was that it keeps me fighting. It’s not a bloody, battle-weary kind of fighting; it’s a peaceful, joyful, falling-in-love-with-my-cozy-home kind of fighting. The tiny house forces me to do that which I know I SHOULD BE DOING anyway, and they payoff is nothing short of miraculous. Deep, abiding contentment. I love this little home more than any other place we’ve ever lived.
I’m at peace today, despite my dirty little longing for fancy clothes and a new car. I have peace because God is huge and vast and omnipotent and His selflessness and generosity in me is enough to conquer the selfishness hiding there a million times over.
His forgiveness is complete, perfect, enough (for my addiction, and for yours).
He’s on my side. He’s for me. He’s with me (and you).
He’s my shield and my sword and my portion in the fight. And His grace is sufficient, Hallelujah.
Check out Kate’s regular blog at kateelizabethconner.com where she writes about stuff: funny, serious, good, hard, embarrassing, inspiring stuff. Tell Kate what you think below.