Central Illinois has a lot of corn fields......
I have been here for bout a month now and I am still not entirely sure what the Lord has in mind and fully what my part is to be in it and for how long.
I am in Atlanta Illinois which is in the center of Illinois. A town 15 blocks square with a population of about 1500 surrounded by miles and miles of corn fields. there are 4 churches here a Catholic, a Methodist, a Christian (as in the denomination), and an Assemblies. All but the Catholic play well together and are even doing national day of prayer and VBS as a single body of Christ, and all 3 pastors are afflicted.
Dan Scalf Pastor of the Assemblies Church has heart problems. Pastor Skeet from the Christian Church (name of denomination) just got out of the hospital. Rob the Methodist pastor has his daughter in the hospital with crones and is on bedside vigil as she goes through a bit of a crisis of faith as well as medical issues.
When I first arrive here (after the ride in a van full of woodchucks) I got an empty Sunday school room in the basement of the church and set camp. for the next few weeks I would hear slamming doors, footsteps and other activity upstairs in the sanctuary in the middle of the night when there was nobody there. The feeling of spiritual oppression was incredible.
Pastor Dan has has two visits to the hospital in the time that I have been here for his heart, and I personally have had a multitude of differing medical problems which as usual I pray about and then promptly ignore (I only go to doctors when it will create a stumbling block for others if I don't).
There have been petty politics based around and upcoming vote on if Dan will continue to be the pastor of the church. There has been stress over money because of the small congregation in a big building with an old heating system and the debt it has created after a what now is the end of a winter.
But mostly there has been the slow uphill battle of reopening a church that closed under less than favorable circumstances. God has done amazing things through Dan considering all that had to be fought through to get this far. There is now a congregation of about 30 regulars and perhaps 50-60 if all the new converts showed up at once. Not to mention he has been instrumental in bringing unity among the other congregations and we still hold out some hope for the Catholics we keep inviting them.
Because of all the evangelism background Dan has been able to bring in a lot of other people to speak minister and play worship and there has been a gradual change here. just recently John Lowen has arrived and has begun a regular morning prayer and been going for walks and doing a bit of door to door evangelism. The morning prayer has been very helpful with the eviction of our nocturnal visitors and the evangelism is serving to inspire some of the congregation.
Marsha Mitchell has been here the last few days and will be here till sunday and has been speaking some very good sermons, unfortunatly to a small group but it seems to be making a difference.
yesterday I was contending with God in prayer and fell asleap only to dream about fighting with him to recieve a blessing and anointing for this town to end all this sick pastor stuff, and really get some form of breakthrough and bring the revival this town needs. I awoke from this dream with the words "you have been blessed" ringing in my ears only to find that when I went to rise my hip was out of joint. I spent all last night and most of today limping and as I write this most of the pain is gone and it is just a dull ache but I can feel the presence of God much stronger.
I think this bodes well for the rest of the weekend for this time we have Marsha with us.
I am still not clear as to how long god has me here or when the timing for going to spend more quality time with the gypsies will be but I am anxiously waiting to see what comes next. there are a lot of new converts here, and many seeking more understanding of God's word.
I pray we will continue to get the right people at the right time here to help grow this church into a usefull vessel for the masters use, and not the same old thing that failed before.
I am finding about the same level of opposition here in the USA to the Gospel and the creating of a unified church as there was in Kazakhstan, only the enemy manifests itself differently. I find here in the midwest nobody is arresting you or trying to get you killed but the principalities and attacks against the leaders are almost as strong. After seening my friend hauled off to the hospital twice this month I am reminded how much it is needed to stand behind and pray for our leaders. Most of us only know a fraction of the load they are under.
Well till next time I pray you are all blessed and God continues to show himself to you in your daily lives. Till then follow Jesus and stay away from kids in cornfields with weird 1000 yard stares.
Yours in Christ,
Donald C Phinney II