I am Second

15Jun, 2012

Why Bother?

  • I Am Second

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.

Connect with others on I am Second’s Facebook page and share your story.

Want to go global with I am Second? Check out our I am Second Expeditions.

17May, 2012

A Second Chance

  • I Am Second

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.

Learn what it means to become Second.

08May, 2012

Holy Smokes, Batman!

  • I Am Second

Thanks to Brian for this recent post on our Facebook page:

“I went to the local bookstore to get Easter gifts for my kiddos, and the book, I am Second: Real Stories, Changed Lives, smacked me in the face. WOW.

“I devoured the stories in about two days. The thing is, when I got to the last few pages where it talks about Jesus dying for us – I didn’t expect what was coming next. On Easter Sunday, right there and then I opened my heart and ask God to come in and be with me.

Holy smokes, Batman – what a feeling! I have been truly blessed. He sure works in mysterious ways. Now to live it the rest of my days. My life is changed.”

Here’s a report from Mary, who went on an I am Second Expedition to India.

“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!”

Report from Daniel, a youth pastor in Little Elm, Texas.

When I was first asked to take over the student ministry in my church, our Senior Pastor told me “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.” I didn’t completely understand how true that statement was until a couple of weeks ago.

In December 2011 we launched our first I am Second youth group. It didn’t take long for our students to get behind the groups. A few weeks after our first group launched, six students told me they wanted to take I am Second into their public schools. So in early 2012 we launched I am Second in our local Junior High and High School. Soon 35 new students had joined those school groups.

We now have 8 groups. Each group caters to different types of people. About 30 kids have joined our youth group because of groups our students are doing outside the church.

One group amazes me because they consistently have over 25 kids attending each week. This group has inspired the parents to get involved. Each week 4-6 of the parents team up to host the group and provide dinner.
The whole church is getting behind these youth groups. For example, the parents are wearing I am Second bracelets and t-shirts. Their impact is spreading, too, for now we are finalizing a strategy to launch I am Second groups for the men’s and women’s ministries. Several new families have come to our church because their kids started coming to one of the Second groups.

After we train more leaders, we plan to expand the groups in the schools. The schools have given us permission to put up banners during lunch to get more exposure for the Second groups. So we’ll have an official launch soon when these new leaders are ready.

There is nothing more powerful than young people passionately telling others about what Jesus has done in their lives. Our Pastor was right. “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.”

12Apr, 2012

OK, admit it. As you read the title to this post, you were wondering if this is an “R” rated post? Right?

Well, it does have an “R” rating… but “R” in this case stands for “Redemption.”

Jake, a high school student from Texas, spent his Spring Break on an I am Second Expedition to Lima, Peru. Half a world away, Jake teamed up with local church members in a middle class neighborhood in Lima to talk to people about Him who is First.

A glance down the street hinted at fear–there were iron bars covering just about every door and window in sight. Like her neighbors, Hester relied on those bars to separate her and her casita (little home) from those she feared.

But Jake was not deterred. His translator told Hester that Jake had come from the U.S. to share some good news. That led to chit chat, which developed into a spiritual conversation. As she showed interest, that progressed to an explanation, using the EvangeCube, of how to put Jesus first in her life. Hester decided to receive Jesus as her Savior.

Along with his translator and local church members, Jake returned to Hester’s casita to help her learn how to follow Jesus. Jake and his team used an I am Second group to do this. It was exciting to see Hester discuss the Bible the church members, breaking a pattern of isolation that had separated her from the local church.

Equipped with his pre-trip training and preparation, Jake overcame language, culture, age, gender, socio-economic, and even iron barriers. Perhaps one of the few stories about “Spring Break, women and bars” that has a happy and healthy ending.

What bars are holding you back? Why not go a step further and talk with the people in your life? Share the I am Second films with friends. What a gift it is to become Second.

Interested in going on an I am Second Expedition? Click here to learn more.

10Apr, 2012

“I teach United States history to 11th graders at our local public high school. My classes are filled with diverse groups of students. I take my responsibility to prepare these young adults for state testing and graduation very seriously. I also believe real teachers present more than just academic educational materials – we have a God-given platform to reach the next generation and help them break life’s chains. I also take that opportunity very, very seriously.

“I have been showing an I am Second film each Friday in my classes. I pray all week about which one I should feature. God has been faithful to impress upon me just the right one.

“Many of my students listen to hip hop music, so one of the first films I screened was about Lecrae. I have 2 boys that started listening to Lecrae, and they are now learning about Christ through his music’s message. Our school is known as an athletic powerhouse, so the videos from well-known athletes are particularly relevant while presenting positive role models that themselves have become Second. As we came upon the holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, I showed the Ken Hutcherson film. What a powerful testimony about how hate and prejudice can be tamed by Christ. You could have heard a pin drop in my classroom at the end.

“Recently I screened the Ashley Rawls I am Second film. When it was over, my students started asking questions about Jesus and salvation, about grace and mistakes . . . . Wow! At their request I shared the gospel of Jesus with that class.

“I can clearly see God is working in my students’ lives. I Am Second is helping me share about He who is First in a greater way!”

– A “Second” 11th Grade Teacher

Are there people you “teach” formally or informally? It’s easy to share I am Second films via Facebook, Twitter, and the Email App. Just click “Share This” on the bottom right corner of each film page at iamsecond.com.

05Apr, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions. Fail.

“I’ll pray for you.” Fail.

“Yes, Lord, I’m gonna . . . .” Fail.

Want to get past making commitments you can’t seem to keep? Want to develop healthy habits of helping people? Take I am Second’s [22] Day Challenge.

Sign up here. You’ll get an email every day for 22 days. It will have one of the I am Second films to watch. As you watch it, think about who you know that needs the encouragement in that film. Then forward it to them.

There’s also a daily challenge to take a Jesus step that is prompted by the film.

The [22] Day Challenge is patient with you, too. If you don’t have time to open the email… it waits. We all have those days when we’re pressed for time, so it gives you a break. If you haven’t gotten to it in 3 days, it sends you a reminder. It waits until you restart it by viewing a film.

People say that it takes 3 weeks to develop a new habit. Take the Challenge. Develop a new habit of thinking about how to bless someone else each day.

Looking for something to get your church all on the same page? Lead a youth group? Host a small group? Have a Second group? Challenge everyone to take the Challenge with you. It’s more fun to do it with friends.

    Here’s what others are saying:

  • “I loved the challenges. I reconciled with a dear old friend that we were not on speaking terms for the past 7 years. It lightened my heart and had a very positive outcome.”
  • “It brought our middle school and high school youth groups together to focus on Him by focusing on others…. and making self be Second! My husband and I have done youth ministry for 20 years and found this top notch and top quality as well as inspiring!”
  • “Challenges led me to be active in my faith.”
  • “The films get you out of your comfort zone and remind me that beyond the smile there might be a hurting person.”

Click here to sign up to take the [22] Day Challenge.

This article originally appeared on the I am Second Insights blog. You can also follow that blog via twitter.

29Mar, 2012

Are you tired of being a spectator? Do you want to get in the spiritual game as a player? As we travel on I am Second Expeditions around the world, we see spectators turn into players as they help start I am Second groups.

Recently, we asked leaders from an I am Second Expedition to Colombia how effective the Yo Soy Segundo (I am Second) discipleship groups were in that country. Here is some inspiring feedback:

“Yo Soy Segundo is real, practical, and helps develop the spiritual the life not only of the new believer, but also the people from the church.”
– Bernardo Gonzalez

“The highlight of this expedition was leaving the evening meeting as four groups of Colombians were avidly pouring over a story from the Bible and discussing the six questions from the Yo Soy Segundo model. There were 15 new believers in those groups!”
– Mike Tremble

“The goal was always to connect those we met with to their local church. We only go where we are invited and where they want us to help. It was always good to leave knowing of that connection.”
– Bill Albert

“Yo Soy Segundo is the bomb! It turns the spectator into a participant! They are equipped with the necessary tools to fend for themselves. Their self-worth is nurtured, giving them the confidence they need to overcome the fiery darts that the enemy will soon be throwing at them, trying to discourage them when their pastor or leader isn’t around. The sooner they learn to feed themselves [the Bible], the sooner they’ll too be feeding others as well!”
– Edwin Varga (translator coordinator from Cali, Colombia.)

Go Global! Learn more about I am Second Expeditions and how God can use you to help start I am Second groups in other countries. Get in the game. Be a player.