Here’s a great story from an I am Second Expedition.
“Our team gathered in a home in rural India. We first shared about Malaria using the MalariaCube, and then split the group to do Second groups. One went to the back of the house and the people that remained in my group were four old women, none of whom could read. One of the young girls that could read translated and also participated.
“As I looked around the room, I thought to myself that maybe we should just find another house and a younger audience, as obviously these four “old women” wouldn’t understand. Because they were hard working women, we read the story of Martha and Mary. The four chatted among themselves and didn’t seem to be paying attention. I began feeling this effort was in vain. Each time as we asked follow-up questions about the story, the women chatted with each other – and chatted – and chatted. Oh boy – why bother?
“Despite my expectations, when we asked the old women how they would share what they’d learned, they responded that they had plenty of opportunities to connect with others while working in the field. Because they couldn’t read, I figured they’d only be able to tell part of story, and probably only once. That’s where I had it all wrong.
“The group hushed as one woman,(I call her and “Indian Martha,”) recounted the Bible story in great detail, adapting for their culture where appropriate and applying the story to their real lives. They may not read, but they had amazing listening and memory skills! It turns out all the chatter was simply them having discussions about the scripture, and there was no need to include me. WOW!
“God once again was glorified as He showed our team that the same Holy Spirit that lives in us, lives in each of these old women. I learned (again) to never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit!” – Mary W.
In 17 months, five of my close family members passed away. In addition, my husband and I both went through challenging job changes. As we prepared for employment transition I was fighting a respiratory infection and found a bump on my neck. I sensed God instructing me to get an ultrasound, so I made an appointment.
The night before the ultrasound I attended a women’s event at our church. I prayed silently at the altar, “God, you know what’s going on and what I’m concerned about. Please speak to me tonight.” Right there, a woman placed her hand on my neck and prayed for me.
After the ultrasound I heard from my physician: “It looks like an enlarged thyroid. We need to get you in to see an Endocrinologist. Let me make a call to schedule an appointment for you.” Within minutes the assistant called back and marveled, “I’ve never been able to get someone in so quickly. There’s an appointment for 2 o’clock this afternoon. I highly recommend you take it.”
Recently my husband and I headed out for some dinner and conversation. On a “whim” we chose to go somewhere we’d never been before. It was a cool place – part bar, part restaurant.
A few minutes after we arrived and were seated, an older gentleman came in and sat a few seats away from my husband at the bar. We continued our conversation while the gentleman sat by himself.
Then, clear as day, I heard: “talk to him.” My husband heard it too, “talk to him.”
I fought it, but the message on my heart was insistent. “Talk to him.” Finally, my husband reached over and introduced himself to the man. He was receptive and mentioned that he was a former helicopter pilot for the Marines. We had a nice chat, but it didn’t seem important, yet. Then, the elder man’s son and daughter-in-law arrived. The son had waist-length, jet-black hair and wore shades indoors. The woman was dressed in a suit, but also had wild hair, piercings and tattoos. They sat next to us and we exchanged introductions.
I was born in Puerto Rico in a private clinic, because my mother was hiding her pregnancy. Shortly thereafter we moved New York City and my life of struggle truly began. At the age of 5, I was hit by a car and later molested. At 6, I was physically bullied to an inch of my life. My mother and stepfather sold drugs and neglected my sister and I, so we were shipped back to Puerto Rico to stay with my elderly grandparents, who already had custody of several of my cousins. Instead, we turned to the streets.
I caught my first case (I was arrested and prosecuted) at the age of 10. As a young teen, I’d already started having sex, smoking, drinking and doing drugs. I cursed God for abandoning me. After joining a gang and being arrested time after time, I became the most wanted fugitive of my town, and fled to the United States.
Satan had a grip on my heart and my downward spiral continued. I jumped back into gang life, drugs and guns. The arrests continued until I was facing 5 to 10 years in prison – when I was just 17 years old. In jail, a pastor brought me a Bible, telling me that all my life’s answers were inside. With anger and self-pity I challenged God to prove His love by providing me another chance at life, promising that if my prayer is answered, I would sing His praises for the rest of my life. I’m sure I’m not the only incarcerated person to try and make that deal.
Miraculously, a month later a judge granted me parole. I’m convinced it was God’s hand. On the outside my “old life” came calling right away, but I remembered my prison pastor’s words, “the moment you step outside of this place, that’s when you’ll discover if your decision for Christ is real.” God protected me in His own ways. When I was 21 years old, I started my walk with Jesus.
Now for HIS glory, I can say, I am a happily married man and the father of three wonderful kids. I have a good job, I am a teen pastor, a teacher of His word, a basketball coach, and I am involved in the I am Second movement here in NY. Take it from me, no one is beyond God’s redemption. While I do not deserve it, I happily accept His grace. My name is J.M. and “I am Second.”
What struggles do you face? Guess what – you’re not alone.
Like many young married couples, David and Bria Bickerstaff were going through life distracted by the daily needs of their blended family. With two young children and one teenager, life was full of activity but meandering in meaning. Up until two years ago something was clearly missing.Then they both attended I am Second’s 2nd birthday celebration, at which they encountered uplifting stories of how God had and was continuing to work in the lives of people through I am Second’s outreach. From the music of Matthew West to the appearances of 32 “seconds” from the website, the Bickerstaff’s hearts were drawn towards the movement. What’s more, at that event, Bria began a relationship with Jesus with night by accepting Him as her Lord and Savior.
From that point on Bria’s life reflected a major change. She radiated joy, filled with a passion for God and the desire to share him with others whenever she had the opportunity. The couple attended more I am Second events and began to bring its principles into their family.
Never was this more evident than throughout 2011. One tragedy after another came about- loss of family members, accidents, other near-death experiences. Yet their faith held. And became even stronger as Bria battled breast cancer. In February, 2012 Bria lost the physical battle, but entered heaven for her eternal reward.
At her memorial service her pastor said, “The most comforting thing we know for sure is where she is right now. When Bria took her last breath, she didn’t leave home, she went home because of her personal relationship with Christ.”
In her final years Bria encouraged everyone to know Him and become Second. Today, she continues to serve as an example. What a blessing she decided to follow Jesus in time.
Don’t delay. Learn what it means to become Second.
“Pastor Gireesh was skeptical. Since he had never used I am Second methods before our team arrived, he wondered if it would work in the the villages there in India. But soon his doubt turned to delight!
“Each morning, our e3 Partners Expedition members, local believers, and interpreters met Pastor Pastor Gireesh and his wife, Shobha, along with their two sons, Aaron (14) and Asher (10), to participate in a Second group before we headed out for the day. I was on a team with 10-year old Asher. One day, when it came time for “Live and Tell,” Asher spoke up confidently announcing, “I am going to tell my friend about Jesus. I will use my mom’s phone and call him tonight.”
“The next morning, 10 year-old Asher led our I am Second group. After everyone finished sharing how they had lived out the commitments made the previous day, I asked Asher if he had called his friend. He boldy answered, “Yes! I called my friend and told him about Jesus.” Afterwards, the friend’s father got on the phone and thanked Asher for telling his son about Jesus – and asked for directions to their church. That Sunday, Asher’s friend came to church with his father and mother. All three prayed to receive Jesus that day! The father told Pastor Gireesh that he had long wanted to come to a church, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.
“Asher was obedient and kept his commitment. God was gracious and gave Pastor Gireesh a new family of believers to shepherd!
“Pastor Gireesh gushed about the spiritual growth of his own family as well, during the e3 expeditions and I am Second group meetings. He quoted Joshua 24:15 several times, ‘But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’
“May we all be as faithful and bold as young Asher!”
Chaplain Albert started an I am Second group in one of the pods (dorm rooms) at the Dawson State Jail in downtown Dallas, Texas. We were privileged and inspired to join them as he presented certificates to more than 25 brothers in Christ who had participated in 10 group sessions. In his humble orange jumper, one young inmate revealed, “Finally, I have something that my kids can be proud of their Dad for.” Tears welled in his eyes and his voice cracked with emotion. Hard time. Hard life. Hardened hearts penetrated by the grace of God.
Prison missionaries? Yes! Each is challenged to start their own I am Second groups as they are moved to other pods, and some to other prisons around Texas. The Spirit of the Lord will not be kept outside walls made by men. Pray for God to “grow them in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
My I am Second journey began at a NASCAR event. A big billboard truck with a T.V. screen was playing I am second films. Amidst the high-octane excitement they caught my attention and made my heart race for the Lord. I picked up some of the literature there and passed it along to my friends. Then, this past summer our church’s youth group went to camp where they too were introduced to I am Second. God was up to something.
Unexpectedly, I was laid off from my work as a millwork superintendent. I was praying that God would show me the green light to do what was next for me. That’s when I found the online group leader training for I am Second groups on the website and signed up. We had a great teacher and group of people in our sessions. The highlight for me was the “Live and Tell” at the end of each session. I was so supercharged when we went through the “My village” session that I made a list of 50 people that need Jesus. Actually, I talked to 66 people that week. If I was working, I’d never have had the time. Go God Go!
Earlier this year we started an I am Second group that kicked into overdrive and split into two groups by the third week. We invited the leaders of a teen and young adult bible study to our group and they caught on to the movement immediately. Now they lead a small army of young adults, as many as 45 people from high school age to their early 20’s, at a local fish camp. They’re identifying leaders to branch off and lay the track for more small groups. Go God Go!
God took the challenge of my job layoff and turned it into fuel for His race to the kingdom of Christ.
– Chris P.
Get Connected. I am Second small groups are designed to connect people with one another and with God through an authentic, action based discussion group. In an I am Second group you’ll be encouraged to discover your purpose in life through Jesus.
Everyone at our leaders’ conference sat in stunned silence as the young college student shared these words. Nancy was coming regularly to a Second group at the Univ. of North Texas. She told us how she studied the Bible with the others in the group, and even made commitments about how she was going to do what it said. But she freely admitted that she still was wrestling with whether to put her faith in Christ, particularly because of some of her lifestyle decisions.
So when asked why she was involved in the group, even though she was not sure she believed what was being discussed, Nancy said, “Why wouldn’t I want to go where I feel loved? I’m not against Christ, I’m just not sure about Him.”
How many other people around us are like that? Just waiting for someone to show enough interest to engage them in the conversation?