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.
Learn what it means to become Second.
I get the joy of spending today in prayer instead of on the mission field, so I´d ask that you join me! I was supposed to be going out to my site this morning, but unfortunately, I got sick this morning. So instead, I not only get to intercede in prayer, I also get to ask YOU to help me do the same. Yesterday, it took my team 3 hours to get to our site… so it´s obvious that Satan is scared by something that is happening in Sipe Sipe! I´m going to type out my prayer, with instructions for you as you pray with me. At e3 (and I am Second), we are HUGE believers int he Lord´s prayer. Nothing is magical about the words of the Lord´s prayer, but the model is valuable in getting our hearts right before Christ as we ask for His provision. Let´s pray for my brothers and sisters on the field!
RELATIONSHIP – ¨Our Father in heaven…¨ God we thank you that you have adopted us as your children. We thank you that you provide for us only as a Perfect Father could, and we trust you because you have graciously spared nothing good from us–including the death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. (Now acknowledge our relationship to Him–that He is our Father)
WORSHIP – ¨…hallowed be your name…¨ Father your are the Holy one. You are the famous one. Nothing compares to You. There is no one like You. You are our provider. You are the Creative one. You are perfectly merciful and just. You are incredible. Your lovingkindness surpasses understanding. Your wisdom is beyond measure. (Now worship Him for who He is.)
SURRENDER – ¨Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.¨ Lord we hand this mission over to You. Lord our service is not because these people need Christ (although they do), but because you have instructed us to do so and have provided a way. Let everything that happens this week be Your will and not our own. Guide our steps with your precious Holy Spirit. Father I pray the celebrations that will come this week because of those who will believe in you will be a glimpse of Heaven. Father we surrender our plans, egos, pride, way of doing things, and our mission to You. We only desire to do Your will. (Is there something in your life that you need to surrender to the Lord? Surrender it now.)
ASK – ¨Give us this day our daily bread…¨ Father we ask You to provide opportunities to share your name on these sites. Specifically Lord, I pray that each site will find a person of peace who is both receptive to the gospel, and influential in their community, so that this work can continue when we´ve left. Father I pray specifically for Jared right now. Both of his team members are sick today and at the hotel. This means he is leading and with the Bolivians by himself today. Give him the words to say and guide his leadership. Father, I pray for all of the Bolivians who work with the churches already, that they will be growing in You this week so that they will be well equipped to share the gospel and to lead when we leave. Father I pray for the American leaders, that you will give them Your wisdom and discernment. Father I pray for quick healing for both myself and Kenny, that we may be able to do Your work tomorrow. (Anything else you can think of that needs prayer on this trip, ask now.)
FORGIVE – ¨…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.¨ Father I ask that we can show your forgiveness to those who we need to forgive. (Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive but haven´t? Surrender that to Him, because ¨… if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.¨)
PROTECTION – ¨And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.¨ Father, Satan is clearly attacking, but we know that even He is subject to You. Protect your children from Satan´s schemes and lies. He tries to put stumbling blocks in our way, but You can protect us. If Satan tries to tempt anyone on our teams to sin, make the way out clear. Father You are bigger and stronger than Satan or his demons, so we trust you and ask you to protect us. (Pray for protection from the evil one)
WORSHIP – Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you for praying with me over the team in Bolivia. We´ve completely surrendered to the Lord and it´s obvious that Satan is scared. All of you that have been praying, have the blessing of taking part in the incredible work being done here by the Lord. I can´t wait until Christ´s return when we can all learn the impact of our prayers and actions. Praise God that He allows us to be part of His plan!
We´re so grateful for all of you!
We love it when people decide to follow Christ through our videos. But we love it when believers who watch are empowered to share even more. Check out this response:
“I just stumbled across your message while checking out Jason Castro Videos on You Tube. It couldn’t have been better timing. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and am in prayer for my family to come to the realization that He is real, and He is enough. I have shared a couple of the videos with my husband and am looking forward to sharing them with more people. Thank you for your obedience to our Heavenly father by putting this together to reach a lost world and share a message of hope and Truth. God bless all of you, Lisa.”
Have you shared with anyone today?
Jon was a long term project. His sister, Vicki, had been praying for him for 24 years. Around the first of January Jon saw the Colt McCoy I am Second commercial running on ESPN. He was out of town, but he went to his computer to check out www.iamsecond.com as soon as he got back home to Boise, Idaho on Jan 7th.
As Jon watched film after film, he was amazed how Jesus changed lives. Jon called Vicky, who lives way off in Atlanta, to see what she thought of the site. “It’s good, keep looking at it” she told him.
Jon spent 6 hours . . . yes, 6 hours . . . looking at videos. Then his heart could not hold back . . . he fell to his knees and talked to Jesus. Confessing. Worshipping. Putting his faith in He Who is First.
“Find an I am Second Group” caught Jon’s eye on iamsecond.com. As he clicked on the page, up popped a Google map right around his house. Jon didn’t know it, but that part of the website had gone live just 3 days before. But in God’s providence there already was a group registered near him. Probably not another one for 500 miles, but God had a group right there for Jon to find.
Jon connected with Jeremy, the group leader. Then tried out the group two days later. He loved it. “People there really are pumped about Jesus,” he told me on the phone.
Jon called Vicky to tell her the good news that he now believed in the Good News. Vicky’s joy overflowed to Mike R, one of her prayer partners. Mike R sent it on to Scott, one of our Board members who lives in Orlando. Scott knew I’d love the story, so he sent it on to me.
The rejoicing went from Boise to Atlanta to Orlando to Charlotte, where I was when I got Scott’s forward of Mike R’s forward of Vicky’s hallelujah email message. As I joined in the email celebration, Mike R asked where I am Second is headed next. When I responded that actually I was in Charlotte that very moment discussing launching there, Mike R mentioned that Apartment Life, the ministry he’s with, had just started work there.
A few hours later . . . I’m sitting across the table at a Starbucks in Charlotte talking to Nick, AL’s brand spanking new regional leader. Discussing how we might partner together. All because Jon trusted Christ in Boise a few days before.
The fingerprints of God . . . all over that whole thing. I can’t help but believe in a sovereign God who WILL accomplish His plans, and often in a way that only He gets the acclaim for pulling it off.
Also challenges me NOT to give up when praying for someone. For we never know when or how God will cause the spiritual dominoes to fall.
Here’s what Vicky told us later—
“I want to personally thank every person involved with this website for helping to bring my brother Jon to Christ. Jon and I were not raised together. We share an earthly father who struggled to give either of us what we needed emotionally. But now, after I have been praying for him since he was 15 years old – 24 1/2 years of prayers, God has drawn us together as children of the same heavenly father. A father who can love Jon in a way that he has never experienced before.
“The work that you are doing has such great eternal impact. My brother who was lost up until this day is now absolutely blown away by the love of Christ and his new life in him. And I have the privilege of sharing this with Jon and having new life breathed into my own spiritual walk – if DOES matter what we say, what we do, where we put our efforts, and how we nurture these over the years.”
People are looking for hope and change and God. Would you like to be there when they come looking? Register your group or ministry at http://iamsecond.com/join/.
-Mike, I am Second Coach
It’s a day like today that makes me thankful I’m Second. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the people I’m fortunate to have in my life.
I’ve had an amazing two weeks that have been slam-packed with trainings, a staff retreat at a new part-time job, a dance competition, and deadlines on the side. Everything seemed to be great and I’ve been praying to Lord I feel like constantly to direct my steps as I’ve had information overload. Yesterday though, I felt like every time I turned a corner I was slipping up. I emailed one of my accountability partners today about my stress and learning to not over-commit and she sent me a prayer via email. Taking that time to pause and look to the Lord was exactly what I needed to get my head in the game. Do you have Christian community around you to build you up on those days that you need encouragement? Are you helping pick your friends and family up when they need to be reminded of their Savior?
I don’t know if you struggle with living your life in over-drive like I do, but if you do, then you need to hear this: A fifteen minute retreat into prayer with your Lord (Even in the middle of the day!) won’t kill you. In fact, it will give you strength for the day. Moreover, YOU NEED IT.
For everyone who isn’t living in community: Do you have friends to call when you’re down? Are you living in Biblical community with people that can remind you of truth? What’s holding you back? Who are the believers in your life that you can be intentional about doing life with?
My I am Second group is one of my greatest places of refuge because I can see my friends growing closer to the Lord.
If you’re interested in starting an I am Second Group, or want to work on your prayer life, find materials here: http://iamsecond.com/getinvolved/GroupTools.html.
As project manager of the I am Second movement for e3 Partners I have been known to keep some late nights. Sometimes it’s prepping for a presentation or a day of video interviews. At other times it’s sending e-mails to folks going over the checklist of tasks to accomplish the next day.
Or it could be reviewing the latest rough cut of a feature conducted by our outstanding video partners Scott Mayo and Sam Ditore. It could be perusing the latest photographs by Trey Hill and Stanley Tongai; reading a blog entry by Shannon Culpepper or Victoria Childress: getting a peak at the latest creativity from Adam Leydig and Kristin Baxter; going over notes from meetings with our visionaries and strategists Nathan Sheets and Mike Jorgensen, organizing an event with Kristin DeRight and Bobbie Arnett; going over web applications with Rod Bayron and Josh Widener; hearing any number of ideas with curriculum writer Doug Bender; deciding on Google adwords with Rebekah Russom; or interfacing with our numerous outside vendors and are incoming staff Andrew McAlyea and Chris Plekenpol.
I spend a lot of time thinking about my I am Second colleagues and the great work they are doing. But last Friday night I was up late thinking about someone else. In fact I was praying for him.
I was praying for Ralph Brown because of his latest blog post on the Crosstheatlantic.com website. You see, Ralph and his brother Bob embarked at the end of July on an incredible journey—sailing a 21-foot flats boat (designed to run in very shallow water) from Florida, up the coats of the US and Canada and then across the Atlantic via Greenland, Iceland and other islands in between. He left on June 24. Now about two months later, over two thirds of the way there, Ralph’s blog asked me to pray for them.
They were almost to the Faroe Islands (in between Iceland and Ireland), racing ahead of some monster storms. They were battling 10 foot high waves in their little boat and 12 hours earlier were 104 miles away from their next stop. I was eagerly waiting for their next blog post to inform us that they had arrived safely. So in the meantime I prayed for their safety so they can accomplish their mission of sailing across the Atlantic in this vessel and eventually on to Germany. And as things turned out, they needed my prayers, as 10 miles from docking they become lost in some of the most dangerous waters anywhere. Only by God’s grace and help did they survive.
Yes, they are setting new world records with this trip. But there is much more significance to it. I urge you to go to the website and read about their story. You’ll read about a man passionate about honoring three fellow soldiers who were killed attempting to rescue Americans being held by Iran 30 years ago. This trip is to remember their valor, and to raise money for wounded heroes who similarly have put their lives on the line.
I am Second and our friends at Interstate Batteries were impressed enough by Ralph’s perseverance and passion to help sponsor the boat for this crazy adventure. We felt that doing so could help raise awareness of the mission to the point that others could get involved as well. Some companies, including Panasonic’s Toughbook computers have done so in small ways. And there have been individuals who have donated for gas and other expenses. But to really be successful in raising money for wounded heroes they need to have grassroots support of many people to buy a t-shirt and have the proceeds go to the wounded heroes.
Ralph’s slogan for the trip is “Do more than just say thanks.” What an I am Second attitude that is! When conviction comes into our lives, is our response to be just the bare minimum? When Christ wants to unleash us in ministry or outreach, are we to be lazy in our approach?When we are compelled or blessed by the Lord, we are to do more than just be grateful. We are to be obedient to His involvement in our lives and follow it to the fullest
I urge you to join in praying for their mission. They need it!! Also, please go to cross theatlantic.com, check it out, read their blogs and buy a t-shirt. Do more than just hear about the trip. Please support it.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom
every family] in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” –Ephesians 3:14-19
That passage makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Look at how passionately and how thoroughly Paul is praying for others to know Christ! It’s not a “Dear Lord, please help me be a light in my friends life that he may be saved. Amen.” No no no. He passionately is praying that they will fully understand who Christ is and that they will “be filled with all the fullness of God.” How often do we pray like that? How often do we even hope like that? When I see someone who I know doesn’t know Christ, my desire is meager, “I hope they’ll find themselves one step closer toward You.” But what if I prayed like Paul, who had an incredibly fruitful ministry. What if I prayed that those who don’t know Christ that they have the Spirit in their inner being? I would argue that the way we pursue those who don’t know Christ would change. More than that, Christ could answer those prayers. Here are the next two verses:
” Now to
him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
He can do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” So don’t be afraid to shoot for moon in your prayer life! My challenge is that you think of three people today that either don’t know Christ or who have fallen away from Him, and you say this prayer for each of them. Let me know how it goes!
If you haven’t ever felt this yourself, or don’t know Christ personally, let me say that this is my prayer for YOU. If you need to talk or have any questions, please call us 1-866-633-3446, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.