Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rejoice! A Report on the 10 Days 2012

Thursday, Oct. 18th was one of the most encouraging days I can remember.

Over four hours through two video discussions and a larger conversation with many of the 10 Days Boston hosts present, we shared “tales of the Kingdom”.  I listened for hours but it seemed like we had days worth of material.  In terms of sheer volume of testimony, and in terms of the encouragement it brought to me personally, the day was unparalleled. 

As we heard story after story, I was reminded of the end of the gospel of John: Jesus did too many amazing things to write them all down! The same is true today when Jesus is in the midst of His people—He does too much for us to keep track of!

JOY!  Friends sharing Stories about Jesus

As I arrived 20 minutes late to our debrief meeting at EGC, I literally found the meeting by following the sound of laughter.  As we continued meeting together, we continued to laugh.  Why were we all so happy?  First of all, it’s because we’re friends and we like being together!  New friends are welcomed easily into the mix.  Christ dwells in all of us individually—His presence is even more special when we come together.

The stories that we shared about God’s work were the other source of Joy.  Throughout the day, I heard story after story of God’s work during the 10 Days.  They’re the kind of stories that make you say, “Wow” or “No Way”.  Sometimes, they just make you laugh.

Honestly, I was “in shock” just from the sheer volume of things God had done.  Even the things that were hard seemed to be encouraging, just another learning experience on our journey together.  I was reminded of how Jesus and the disciples rejoiced when the disciples returned from their first mission trip full of testimonies about the power of God. 

I think Jesus was rejoicing with us as well.

Pastor Dana Baker, Keith Bellevue, LaTonya Brown, and Jonathan Friz discuss the impact of 10 Days in Boston and on the South Shore

Personal Transformation

This Fall, YWAM Boston was really the heart of the 10 Days, serving by leading much of the daytime prayer and also by doing daily outreaches all throughout the city.  Without a doubt, YWAM Boston was the single biggest encouragement to me personally during this 10 Days.  I’m so grateful for them!  It’s been a joy to hear how 10 Days impacted them personally and as a group.

Aaron Cieply (YWAM Boston) shared the personal transformation he experienced and witnessed in others.  His own heart was transformed as he learned how to be a “Mary”, sitting at Jesus’ feet, rather than constantly trying to serve the Lord as a “Martha”.  He shared the revelation he experienced that “Lovers actually accomplish more than workers” and his experience of sharing then getting to share the gospel out of place of rest and a heart full of God’s love.

Keith Bellevue (10 Days South Shore) shared some of the surprises that God had in store for him. “We went into the 10 Days with the intent that we were going to "tear down strongholds" and "take back our land for the Kingdom!" But, by the second day, it seemed clear that the Lord was more interested in truly knowing [us]..., and in so doing it seems our original intent was accomplished…”

Keith also shared his surprise at the turnout and the transformation that followed: “We expected many people to come to the evening gathering at their own church, we were shocked to also see a core of about twenty to thirty people that came night after night with burning hearts from this time of personal sacrifice.” 

 In this group of people, Keith began to witness a steady work of transformation happening day-by-day.  A week in, those who had been showing up night after night were visibly different than when the 10 Days began—God was doing a deep, inner work that was manifest in their faces, their speech, the prayers they prayed, and the way they loved each other.

Encouragement in the Presence of God

One of the most common reports was simply that people left the gatherings encouraged and refreshed by God’s presence.  That may not sound flashy; however, it’s impossible for the Church to do anything without God’s presence.  Encouragement from the Lord is like food that strengthens us from day-to-day.  If we’re discouraged, we’re not effective in any aspect of our Christian life.

Satt Scrivner (10 Days North Shore) said that this was the testimony he heard more than any other.  After their times together, believers would share with him how much they enjoyed being in God’s presence together and what an encouragement the time had been to them.

Pastor Lorraine Anderson (International Community Church) reported how encouraged she was both by God’s presence and by seeing such a diverse group (Anglo, Black, Hispanic, Deaf, Burmese, and more) worshipping together.  Pastor Dana Baker (Grace Chapel), Bishop Brian Greene (Pentecostal Tabernacle), and many others shared the encouragement that came during personal prayer ministry, when God would often speak into people’s lives through a complete stranger. 

Part of the encouragement that came during this time was simply this: We need to find a way to do this more often—it can’t be limited to a “once a year” event.

New Relationships and Open Doors

I was extremely impressed by the perseverance and determination showed by many of the evening hosts in pursuing relationships with others in the Body of Christ.  They exhibited determination, love, wisdom, and unshakeable hope as they lovingly tried to bring others into this season of encountering the Lord together

Part of our unshakeable hope that we share is a confidence that some way, somehow, the Father is going to answer Jesus’ prayer in John 17—“let them be ONE as we are One.”  I believe that God is raising up many in this generation who will persevere with tenacious hope for the fulfillment of this prayer.  Only God can do it (we’re asking for a miracle), but we get to partner with Him through our faith and perseverance in love.

One of testimonies from this year was related to the Catholic/Protestant divide.  During the 10 Days in 2011, my good friend Christ (rhymes with ‘wrist’) Otto had a profound experience with the Lord. The gist of it was this: 10 Days was supposed to reach out to the Catholic Church, something we had not attempted to that point.  John Spaddacini, a Roman Catholic friend, helped us immensely by making contact with many potential hosts.  However, as we approached the final weeks, all the doors we knocked on were still closed.  We held open one day out of 10 “in hope” that God would do something “last minute”.

As our final leads fell through, we decided to call for a “day of mourning”, inviting Catholics and Protestants to fast and pray as we sought the Lord to break down this historic, cultural, and theological divide.   We held a silent vigil at St. Clement, a 24/7 Catholic prayer and adoration center in the heart of Boston.

Bishop Brian Greene (Pentecostal  Tabernacle), Dr. Vito Nicastro (Archdiocese of Boston), Aaron Cieply (YWAM Boston) and Jonathan Friz (10 Days) discuss signs of God's work during the 10 Days Boston.

Dr. Vito Nicastro, director of Ecumenical affairs for the Archdiocese responded to this invitation by fasting, praying, and meeting us there.  He was touched that 20 young people (YWAM again) showed up to pray in a place that was so distinctly Catholic and foreign to them. As he later shared, Catholic teaching on “Unity” says that it is only a “work of the Holy Spirit”.  The official teaching states that any “unity” effort worthy of the name must be rooted in “prayer, fasting, and repentance.”  Evidently, we both had the same ideas about what would bring about real unity!

Emails and long phone conversations between Vito and many other evangelicals followed.  Protestants were invited and many came to a historic meeting on the Physician Assisted Suicide bill which included about 60 leaders from all three major streams of the Christian faith: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox.  Friendship, love, and trust are budding.  Both sides are hopeful about what might come.

Next Year: Growing Deep, Going Wide

Sept 4-14, 2013 are the dates for the 10 Days next year.  Once again, the month of September will be a “month for unity” with UNOW on Sept 28th and the Convoy of Hope city-wide outreach on September 21st. Here’s how we think God is leading us for next year:

Going Deep

Without a doubt, there is a relationship between time spent in God’s presence and personal transformation.  If you want to be like Jesus, spending lots of time with Him can’t hurt.  Next year, we hope to see more and more people setting apart all or part of the 10 Days to “seek God’s face”.  That means taking time off from “normal” life to discover “real” life. 

As Bishop Brian Greene pointed out, people will wait in line overnight, sleeping on the ground in the cold to get something as trivial as an iPhone.  They’ll “lose track of time” playing a video game.  We believe that God is so much better, so much more fascinating than anything this world has to offer.  An iPhone can connect you to the world, but only the Holy Spirit can connect you to the God of the Universe. We’re hoping to see more and more people discovering the goodness of Jesus as they consecrate all or part of the 10 Days for prayer. 

Mark your calendar now—set a date with the Lord.  Whatever you decide to do, experience suggests strongly that you won’t be disappointed with your decision.

Going Wide

This year, for the first time, we had three “city-wide church” 10 Day gatherings and two smaller 10 Day gatherings happening at the same time.  I believe this is going to continue to spread in years to come.  We believe that this vision is something that God wants to establish as a regular rhythm in city-wide churches around the nation and the world.

Deep and Wide

Deep is real, Holy, and permanent.  Wide is exciting, encouraging and promising.  What really gets me excited is when Deep and Wide come together. 

We’re envisioning many people, many cities, many nations “dropping everything” to seek God in unity as city and regional churches on an annual basis during the fall Biblical feasts.  I’m imagining certain cities almost “stopping” for Sabbath-like 10 Day seasons of repentance, fasting, transformation, and renewal. 

“Well, that’s impossible!”  We say that this kind of thing is impossible, but I think what we really mean is “it would take a miracle”.  Personally, I’ve been spending a lot of time with people who don’t seem to understand that “things are impossible” since they keep seeing God doing miracles when they step out in faith.  Personally, I’m betting on those guys and their God over “impossible”. 

How would God respond if an entire City took a day, or even 10 Days to seek His face together? And what if this was happening not just in one city, but in thousands of places around the world?  If this what happened this year is the result of a relatively few people saying “yes”, what could the Lord do if entire cities went deep with God together?  I’ve never seen it happen, but I’ve seen enough to get an idea of how good it would be.   We’re going to see this someday…and rejoice!

--Jonathan Friz, 10 Days Boston