Today began with a trip to several old Coptic churches in Cairo, including the first church formed by the Apostle Mark in coming to Egypt around 40AD. It’s truly amazing to be so close to some of the places where the founding fathers of our faith and even Jesus Himself were. Egypt has such a rich Christian heritage, and I am confident that the Lord is going to bring all of His promises to pass (see Isaiah 19) related to the nation!
Our next stop was at the "cave church", located in a large amphitheater carved out of a massive rock face. The story of how this church was formed is fascinating - check out this link to read more on it. The most prominent feature upon entering the area was the massive carvings on the rock, including the birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and second coming of Jesus (see photos page). These were all breathtaking. The church itself meets in an open-air setting and can seat approximately 20,000 people. It was beautiful.
After leaving the camp fairly early, we drove to the Monastery of St. Macarius, also in Wadi Al-Natrun. It was founded in 360 A.D. by St. Macarius the Egyptian, who was spiritual father to many monks. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this monastery is that relics of John the Baptist and Elisha were said to be found below the northern wall of the monastery’s main church during renovations in the early 1970’s. John the Baptist was the greatest man born of a woman according to Jesus, so if we did indeed see where some of his relics were held, that would be crazy. Some of the pastors here in Egypt believe that this is fact, but others aren’t sure. Either way, it was still thrilling. We were led on a tour by one older monk and got to talk to another 60-year old monk who had been living there since he was 27. Unbelievable!
After leaving the monastery, we headed to what so many foreigners think of first when they hear about Egypt - the famous Gaza Pyramids. I can’t begin to describe how massive these structures are. It’s unbelievable that these pyramids were constructed with such meticulous detail thousands of years ago. They are much bigger in person than in photos. Each stone used to build the pyramids weighed about 2.5 tons! Imagine trying to move several hundred thousand of them. Apparently it took over 10 years for the largest pyramid’s completion. And that was with thousands and thousands of workers. Wow.
Today was the last day of the conference at the venue in Wadi at am 8,000 seat soccer stadium out in the middle of the desert. And when I say desert, I mean desert. For those of you from the southwest US, It’s not quite like the Arizona desert – it’s a lot more sandy and there is much less vegetation. There’s a small lush green area in the middle of the complex, but outside of that it’s pure desert sand. It’s been a hot last several days too, with temperatures reaching near 100. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Cairo and spending the rest of our time in Egypt there.
This morning, Justin led worship and Wes Martin spoke on the Sermon on the Mount. He spoke with great clarity and called those attending to humility, meekness, purity with their eyes and purity with their speech. He continually invited them back to beholding Jesus in the scriptures and asking the Holy Spirit for empowerment and grace as the only way forward in living a holy life. In the evening, Luke led to finish out the conference and Wes spoke on the life of John the Baptist and John the Apostle, calling the attendees to believe that God truly enjoys them like John the Baptist and John the Apostle confessed. We all felt that there was a massive breakthrough in the Spirit, and I am sure it had to do with all of your prayers.
Wow. This conference just seems to be growing and growing! More buses keep arriving, and the morning session was even more packed out than last night’s! There are people coming from all over the Middle East to be a part of the conference. We are truly witnessing something historic!
If you have not been able to listen to any of the conference live, be sure to visit this website to listen to the archives!
There are only a few links on the page, so if you can’t read Arabic (don’t worry, I can’t) just hover your mouse over them to see what they link to in English.
Today, Luke Wood led the morning worship again and did most of the set in Arabic! “How Great is Our God” seems to be developing as the theme song for the conference. It was easy for us to learn in Arabic, and the crowd already knows it – so they engage their hearts with the Lord whenever we sing it! Jen Roberts spoke the morning teaching and was very passionate to declare the love that Jesus has for us in our weakness and immaturity.
IHOP’s international onething conference in Egypt began today with approximately 3,000 attendees at the afternoon session and what seemed like double that amount of attendees at the evening session. Luke Wood led worship tonight, and a good part of his worship set was done in Arabic rather than English. He did a great job, and many of the people began cheering when he started singing in Arabic! Luke is leading again tomorrow morning, and then Justin Rizzo will be leading tomorrow night. He’s going to be singing in Arabic as well and is perhaps a bit more nervous than Luke, but I am sure he will do fine. They both have been practicing hard so that they can be a blessing to the worshippers who come.
Dwayne Roberts spoke tonight and had a translator with him speaking everything in Arabic. He did a great job and interacted with him very well. He spoke on the need for the knowledge of God and how we were meant to live in fascination with God. It was evident that many were deeply impacted by the message. Dwayne invited them all to respond to the Lord in a powerful ministry time.
After an uneventful and long 8-hour flight from Atlanta to Paris, and then another long 4 hour flight from Paris to Cairo, we’ve finally arrived in Egypt! There were no major hiccups along the way, and customs even went smoothly. Praise God!
The onething event is being held at a sports camp about halfway between Cairo and Alexandria in the middle of the desert. The camp has a covered soccer stadium that holds about 8,000 people, and they are expecting to come close to packing it out at the Friday’s bigger sessions. Everyone is buzzing with excitement about what God is going to do. Many believe that this gathering will be historic, gathering the most number of Arabic youth and young adults attending from around the area (including some from Dubai and Jordan) to a Christian meeting – something unprecedented for hundreds of years. What a privilege to be a part of something like this!
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my trek to Cairo, Egypt for the onething conference there. I'm super excited - I've never travelled internationally before! I'll be heading there with Luke Wood, Justin Rizzo, and other members of the onething team. Dwayne and Jen Roberts and Wes Martin will be speaking at the 4-day event, and we'll be leading worship many times (even a few times in Arabic, believe it or not). After the conference, we'll be ministering at a church in Cairo for a few days and doing a little bit of sightseeing before returning home.
We've received word that the conference will be drawing some 4,000 Egyptian young adults, possibly many more. It's truly a groundbreaking conference and they're estimating that it's probably going to be the largest gathering of Christian youth and young adults in Egypt since the monks back in the early first century.
I count it as an unbelievable privilege to go and serve the Egyptian church during this time. Our team has been praying for the conference and the Lord has really highlighted the issue of servanthood particularly to my own heart. It's so easy in our typical American consumer mindset to go somewhere, "do our thing", and take off. But I want to go and be among them as one who serves so that they see Jesus in me, just as Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Jesus loves the church in Egypt, so much so that scripture prophesies many things about the Lord's redeeming work in Egypt prior to and following Jesus' second coming. So to partner with them in servanthood is to partner with Jesus.
Well, after almost 2 years of the same website design, I figured it was time for a facelift and an upgrade to Drupal 6, the content management software that runs my website. I can’t begin to tell you how version 6 radically improves some of the features to make my site so much easier to manage and provide you with more relevant content!
First, some of the major changes in addition to the site’s facelift – you’ll notice a "music" section for prophetic musicians, including a page describing how I use my laptop on stage at IHOP – something many of you have been waiting for. I’ve added lots of new recommended resources, revamped the photo and audio section a bit, and added lots more ways to get my site’s content by RSS feeds.
I have not updated my page in a while, so I want to apologize to those of you who followed my blog on a regular basis. Regular postings will resume! With the time I would have used to blog over the past few months, I’ve rewritten much of the content on the "About" pages, because I wanted to bring some more biblical clarity to the calling of an intercessory missionary. In addition, many other intercessory missionary websites have just copied my content on that page directly, so I wanted to reword it with clear and simple language that was unique to my site.
I wanted to give those of you that were interested an update on my stolen laptop - it happened over a month ago when I was in Orlando for the onething conference.
The laptop was stolen directly from our "green room", the secured area in the host church where the worship team and speakers spend time briefing, praying, and eating our meals at the conference. I initially thought that the church's insurance company was going to cover my loss, but because of a series of logistical circumstances they are not able to. So, I'm back to raising funds to buy another Macbook Pro that is able to run all of my music software.
Well, I'm here in Orlando, Florida at the onething conference here, and Matt Gilman led worship tonight. It was a powerful time!
But the bad news is that my laptop was stolen out of the green room. (I'm using Justin Rizzo's laptop to write this...) I went to go worship in the auditorium for about 30 minutes and when I returned to the green room to get some water, I noticed that my laptop was gone.
I know this is an attack of the enemy, and I know that the Lord is watching how my heart responds in the midst of this little bump in the road of life.
I am confident in the Lord. He provided the laptop for me almost a year ago when my old one died, and I'm confident He will provide again or return the old one. My treasure is in heaven, and the things that I have in this life are nothing compared to what Jesus will reward me with on the day I see Him!
I bless whoever it is that stole my laptop! May the Lord bring conviction to your heart and then encounter you with His kindness and His goodness.
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