We all have a story about the African American people. Whether you are a black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Indian, or some other amazing ethos, we all have a story of our interaction with the African American people.
pic. Dr. Roshon Bradley and I mobilizing for Sealed2020
We all have a story about the African American people. Whether you are a black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Indian, or some other amazing ethos, we all have a story of our interaction with the African American people. You may be a black man working hard to provide for your family or an amazing black mama bringing the holy fear of the Lord into your children (and any other children within ear shot). Or you may be an older white citizen remembering when you used words like “colored” to describe African American complexion. Everyone has a story. Since you have come here, I want to tell you my story, about why I believe God has a plan to partner with the African American people to bring revival and raise them up as leaders in missions and prayer in the nations, unto the salvation of Israel.
I was a skinny white boy from upstate New York, who met only a few Black men. But I constantly heard amazing stories told to me by my father and grandfather (who both risked their lives to serve the density of the African American people). They shared how they built homes for the sharecroppers, worked in the fields together, and sold what they made at their roadside stand. My grandfather said the community would have to keep watch through the night because The KKK would shoot at the homes, dynamite or burn the roadside stands, and create any mayhem they could. (I have lots of stories on this and will share later on). So as I grew up, I always loved and respected African American people. In fact, I was taught to serve them with my life, because it was the right thing to do.
When I got to college, most of my friends were black, and I never thought anything of it. In fact on my track team, on away trips I always stayed in the hotel room with all my black friends. Many times, all in fun, they made jokes about my white skin. They would say I am so white when they turn off the lights at night I light up the room. I was just like a ghost floating in the darkness. I know it was all done in fun. In fact I had lots of fun joking back and forth with my friends (who happened to be black).
pic. doing homework in the hotel lobby on a track and filed trip
In 1999, I found myself burnt out and disillusioned about life in the ministry. Upon entering my college years, I had planned on being a lawyer. This way I would live a “safe” American Dream. What was my definition of safe? It is when one stays far away from God’s working in their daily lives, and the pain that comes from serving people is avoided. Basically, I was prideful, hurt, and self-centered. So, I was going to work hard, help people and have money to take care of myself. However, God had another plan.
In my last month of college right before I graduated, God dropped a bombshell in my life. It happened at the most unexpected time. I was walking up to the counter of the law school office confident that I would be accepted, confident that I had made all the right steps to get to this place, and confident that I was in “God’s will” for my life. Upon entering law school, I would work hard for the next three years and be financially set in my life. As I reached over the counter, handing in my application—it hit me—those few simple words that changed my life.
“I have something else for you!” The Lord said.
His voice resounded through me like brilliant lightning exploding on my inside. Those words raced down through my inner being causing something, which I didn't even know was there, to become awakened.
“What,” I replied. “What else did you have for me?” I asked with eager anticipation.
There was no reply, and sometimes the Lord is silent. Not because He doesn’t have anything to say. Usually He has already said something and is waiting for us to diligently search out His meaning. All I had was the very alive word He had just spoken, living and moving on my inside. I had the choice to allow the word to take root inside me, or to reject it completely. I knew this was a divine invitation.
I weighed the options; law school on the one hand would provide me with simple comfort, job security—the American Dream. On the other hand, God had something else for me. How could I deny the life that had come when He spoke those few simple words? It was living and moving inside of me, but growing faint with each passing moment; however, nonetheless He was waiting for my decision.
“Yes” I said into the air, knowing full well He was God and could hear my every thought (I knew I had to say it out loud to make it official).
When I said yes, the word inside me shot forth, springing to life allowing me to know I made the right decision as an excited smile covered my face. His will for my life began to saturate my inner being, and I knew that I knew that I knew I was making the right decision. Looking back, I knew this had nothing to do with me but had everything to do with His Grace, His power, drawing me, compelling me, taking me somewhere my flesh did not want to go; a journey into His destiny for me.
Those next years were a blur. I spent two hard years building up a campus ministry and a church plant. This was the most eye-opening experience of my life. I thought I knew who God was, who I was and I thought I knew a lot about people. I learned I knew very little about either. So, in the middle of 1999 I hit the wall.
The Merciful hand of the Lord kindly and tenderly reached down, from His Glorious Throne, and stopped me from building my own “kingdom” (He is such a good Father). I remember right where I was when it happened. Riding down Interstate 90 in New York. Doing the “work” of the Lord.
I was 26 years old, driving down the highway, in over my head with pain, when the Loving-Kindness of the Lord met me. He said very clearly, “I love you My son.” Then the worst thing imaginable happened to me, and all my years of living did not prepare me for this moment.
God literally took His conscious presence away from me, and in that moment, I thought I was going to hell. One moment He was there—that feeling you get when you are first saved, washed by the blood; the next moment I felt nothing—but an empty dark space. Then I let out the loudest cry for help, and with tears I pleaded with the Lord to restore me, to meet me, to fill me with His presence once again.
Why did I need to be restored? In 1997 (2 years before) I had a dream where I was being restored to the place of serving (or ministry). At the time I was happily doing campus ministry with no thoughts of resigning and being restored. But then it happens! Through a series of circumstances, I began to back slide in my faith as a young leader.
I was backsliding because I did not understand the Love of God. I remember the last message I gave entitled the “First Commandment”(Loving God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength). Half way through the message I shut my Bible and said, “This is very important, but I have no idea what it means.” I did not “really” know God’s love (so did I actually know God?). This was the reason I was about to go into this next season.
The Lord had called me “son” and then He took His conscious presence from me. I could have given up on God and went after other things. Instead I choose to fight to get to know Him more. But the next two years were barren.
Daily I would awake for a two-hour devotion before work and contended to read my Bible more. Inside of me was a hunger for more of God. For years, I had fed that hunger with: TV, music, food, exercise, “I just need to relax”, alcohol, a new girlfriend, “move to the other side of town”, “maybe I should try the other church”, “this time I am gonna do it”. I tried everything but nothing fulfilled the hunger deep on my inside.
Why? The longing was put inside of me by God. He made me. He loves Me. He has great plans for me. He wants to be with me forever, and only He can fill the void in my life: God, the Father, deep on my inside, wanting a deeper relationship.
In those two dry and barren years, I tried to be faithful in every arena of my life. I was trying to prove to God I was worthy to do ministry again. Just like when I was a little kid giving candy to the bullies so they wouldn't beat the weaker kids up; I tried to live holy so that God would like me and let me back into ministry. Basically, I was striving to get God to like me. And, I felt if I suffered for a few years God would then like me again and let me back in (but you can’t earn God’s unconditional love ). Then the Lord met me in the most significant way.
He touched me with His love. It was pure, real, and tangible (I could wrap my hands around it). I kept asking Him to let me do ministry and He kept asking me, if I would receive His love. However, I did not know what love was. It was a battle: my will to do “ministry” vs. His love for me. Then I battled my desire to “earn” my way towards God accepting me vs. His affections for me. Also, I wrestled with my thoughts of, “Is my sin worse than the others, so God can’t love me” vs. “His Blood can take away my sins”.
The battle continued because Jesus was not first in my life, people and ministry were. I thought my success and identity were wrapped up in what I did for the Lord not who I was in the Lord. I kept telling God, I can do a lot for You if You just gave me: people, bigger buildings, more money, greater influence, and Holy Spirit Power. But He just wanted to call me “son”.
In fact, the Father calls Jesus Son. I always thought it was just because They were in the same family. My Dad is my dad because we are in the same family. But God wanted to give me the affections of a loving protecting Father towards His child. And give me the authority of a son to inherit all His riches (have you ever thought how much money God has?). He wanted to give me His love and money and, instead of receiving God’s love and protection, I wanted to go do ministry. (Basically try to find my fulfillment in what I did; Ben the pastor).
His Love won…when I gave in. Slowly, day by day, I let His love in. He was so kind. He met me so many times. Sometime I could not feel anything, but just when I thought I could not make it anymore, he would show up and touch me with His love.
Once, my future wife gave me a recording of Mike Bickle teaching on the Song of Songs. It was amazing! The revelation that God shared through the book literally changed my life. God loved me! God liked me! I did not have to earn His love! In fact, I could not earn His love! He just loved me for who I was. And nothing I could do for Him would make Him love me anymore.
(To be honest with you I just asked Jesus into my heart and was baptized because you were supposed to do that—so you didn’t go to hell).
No one had ever told me to repent. Sure, people said “repent” you sinner. But no one ever told me repentance is turning from our sin and going…where? Well you are running straight into His Mercy. His mercy is new every morning. Repentance leads you into the most loving embracing arms of a Father. Your Creator, your eternal Friend, the One that was not created, created me for love. He Created me to be with Him, He wants to be with me. Forever! Today! Right now!
pic. Roshon remembering the Bible I gave him when he was a student athlete and I was a campus minister to the athletes.
I began to see everything in my life differently—through the eyes of love. God loved me! When I read my Bible, it was not because I had to. Instead, I wanted to, and the words leaped off the page and touched my heart. Reading the Word was not a chore; it was a mind-blowing experience; words coming alive and revelation of who He is and His love towards me abounded.
When I worshipped, it was not just what I had to do on Sunday. Instead, I was touching the heart of God and entering where the angels dwell, while new songs would evolve. I jut loved to gather with all the saints and lift up our voices together.
When I prayed, it was not to convince God I was good enough for Him to give me something. Instead it was JOYFUL! I prayed and fell in love with My Father and His Son Jesus. Prayer became what I longed to do, morning, noon and night. It was what I did while reading my Bible. It was what I did while walking down the street. It was what I did for my friends. I love meeting Jesus—hearing His heart towards: The Father, myself, and people—and then praying this will back to Him.
Prayer was not about me getting a new car, new home, new TV, new job. Prayer was about a relationship with a Man named Jesus. He told me His will—in the Word and in my heart by revelation. Then I prayed it back to Him. And He gave me a car (not really new, but it was what we needed). He gave me a TV (not what we needed but He gave it to us). He gave us a home (we have to work hard to pay the bills). And He gave us a new job as Intercessory prayer missionaries (we thank God, but we did not expect that).
We did not enter into prayer to become prosperous. We entered into prayer to minister to Jesus and fall in love with Him. He is worthy of our praise, and He is the Way! He is the Truth! He is the Life! Prayer is not a means to the end. It was the end. And my reward in this life and the age to come is Jesus and His Father—period.
Several months later, I was married to my lovely wife. Outside of Jesus, she is the single greatest joy in my life (my children are third). We would gather together every morning to pray. It was amazing. Then something happened to our family. God encountered us in a very special way.
This encounter had to do with the end of this age into the next, and described His will and desire for the African American people before He comes. This encounter is very real. Meaning it was not a thought or desire. I was “taken” to a place. Where, to be honest I don’t know. But I was there. And my encounter is only a part of His much larger story for the African American people and the humble Nation. But it is a part! My desire is to just share my part and hope that together our parts will let His Kingdom come.