June 8, 2018
OPEN DOORS AND ADVERSARIES
When people ask me how ministry in the California State Capitol is going, the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 16:9 often come to my mind:"for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
“A wide door for effective service has opened" in Sacramento!
I thank God for the many opportunities for outreach and discipleship in the California State Capitol. A day rarely goes by when I am not rejoicing in yet another demonstration of His incredible power and mercy and grace.
- I continue to lead and teach three weekly expository Bible Study groups inside the Capitol, including one for Legislators and two that are also open to staff and lobbyists and other leaders. This year we are finishing off our two-year study through Genesis, and God’s word is bearing wonderful fruit in lives!
- We have launched a weekly Sunday Bible Study inside the Capitol. This is a new missions outreach we are trying, and every week there’s another story of how God used it. Two weeks ago I was privileged to lead a man who has not attended church in twenty years to Christ. We often exit our room in the Capitol to find another group outside, which is an opportunity for further conversation about the Lord. One week it was an atheist fair which gave me the opportunity to help a young woman and her boyfriend take steps toward Christ, then a large Muslim gathering, and this Sunday will be a huge gay pride parade.
- A State Leader rededicated his life to Christ this week and is resolved to be a better husband and father.
- A Democratic Assembly Member was recently baptized and joined a local church and is attending our weekly Bible studies.
- A Republican Senator meets with me weekly for private prayer and Bible discussion in his office and then escorts me into the highly restricted floor sessions where I can speak with other legislators and staff.
- A Republican Senator called me and asked for five more copies of a daily Bible Devotional I distribute in the Capitol to give to others.
- A former Democratic legislator facing difficulties has come to Christ and calls me often for prayer and biblical counsel.
- A Lobbyist came to Christ and meets with me weekly for discipleship. He told me last week, “I can’t believe how my perspective on everything in my life and work is completely different now!”
- A homeless woman by the Capitol who I have spoken with and prayed with often found full-time employment and housing.
- A former legislative staff member who works for an advocacy (lobbying) firm and attends our meetings told me this week, "I used to not really think much about anything, but now I find myself filtering everything through a Biblical lens!"
In short, doors are opening and God is at work in truly wonderful ways!
At the same time, “there are many adversaries,” or at least challenges and difficulties.
- Anti-Christian activists posted many angry comments online when they heard about our ministry. A couple of the posts were concerning enough for Capitol security to assign extra armed officers to one of our Sunday meetings. I thank God for the California Highway Patrol and Assemby and Senate Sergeants at Arms, who do such an excellent job guarding our Capitol!
- Political polarization between Republicans and Democrats is greater than ever as our state and federal governments are at odds, making bipartisan gatherings even more challenging than usual.
- Meeting rooms have been unusually scarce in the Capitol this year. However, as a result we have met in new places, including the Governor’s Conference Room, Assembly committee rooms, Senate hearing rooms, and the Capitol dining area, and each new location has brought new visitors.
- Everyone in the Capitol is increasingly busy and fatigued as the session and campaign season progressfinding it even more difficult to pause in their work to think about God.
- This year of #MeToo sexual harassment accusations means many are on one side or the other of stressful investigations.
- Some Christians shun us because our ministry does not engage in political action.
- The multi-faith environment in the Capitol, where the Assembly opens every floor session with a bell and calming words from a Buddhist chaplain and the Senate with a prayer from a Roman Catholic nun or Muslim imam, can make it easy for some to dismiss the Good News of Jesus as just more religious talk.
- The Capitol is filled with activist and protest groups on a daily basis, so our message can be crowded out.
With all this going on, can you see why I so appreciate you and your prayers and support? Without your help, these doors might not open and the difficulties would certainly wear us out. But with your help, doors are opening and we keep advancing through them and seeing God do great things! Thank you!
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Your Missionary/Pastor to the California State Capitol and beyond,