The Second Missionary Journey
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:17-18).
By John David Hicks
Christianity is not religion, tradition or a program. Faith comes out of a relationship with God. Christ-ianity’s foundation is based on trust in a person. Paul said, “I know in whom I have believed,” not what I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12). Faith is born out of a relationship with God. The Christian Faith is a deliberate commitment to a person, Jesus Christ. He is “the way, the truth and the life,” the reality on which you risk your existence, not some passive assent to a doctrine. Because you “know whom you have believed” your faith will put His word into practice. You will act on what you believe. “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).
The definition of "obey" means to "hear." The Hebrew word for "obey" is shama; the Greek word is hupakouo. Both mean "to hear" or "to hearken." The direct meaning is NOT to do what you are told like we use in our culture, but to hear out of relationship. Another lesser used Greek word for obey is peitho which means to persuade, trust or believe; [to induce one by words to believe]. Paul defines this in Philippians 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Jesus pictures this for us in Revelation 3:20 NASB, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” This is about relationship. In Bible times and many countries of the world when you come to the door, you don’t knock with your hand on the door, but you say, “Hello, is any one home.” When they recognize your voice they let you in; if they don’t recognize your voice they ask, “Who is it?” The door is only open out of relationship.
If this is true [and it is] then it ratchets up the understanding that it is all about relationship, not performance. Performance is doing what you are told, relationship is hearing, comprehending and receiving the heart of the other and desiring to please out of love....not because you have to. When my wife says to me, “The grass needs cutting.” It is out of relationship and love that the job gets done.
Paul says this in Galatians 2:20, that the life he now lives, he lives by the faith OF the Son of God...not [as some translations have it] faith IN the Son of God. We are saved by faith IN Jesus but our life is lived out by the faith OF Jesus. Kind of takes a load off trying to grit our teeth to conjure up faith, doesn't it?
Remember when Jesus was transfigured, the Father's voice boomed out, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, HEAR HIM." To obey is to hear....and to hear is to have relationship with him. Therefore, obedience comes out of a loving relationship, hearing Jesus and responding to him because you love him, not because you HAVE to keep some sort of required commandment that is performance based.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us… let him use it in proportion to his faith” (Romans 12:6). Everything you receive from God is a gift and is received by faith; from answers to prayer, salvation, healing, miracles and direction. It is sometimes easy to forget this; especially in a culture where you want for nothing. When Jesus said in Matthew 19:24, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” Jesus is referring to the difficulty that wealthy people have. When all your needs are met, there is not the daily necessity of depending upon God.
Because the God’s of our culture are convenience and comfort—Faith is difficult for those who don’t regularly practice it in their daily lives. Faith comes out of a relationship with God. Revelation is the by-product of this relationship. When God calls He gives direction. The Bible says: My sheep hear my voice and follow me; in all your ways acknowledge me and I will give you directions; without me, you can do nothing. This speaks of God’s guidance in your life and ministry. God calls us to Himself for relationship. God blesses and deliverers you so you can minister to others.
The second principle is when God calls He also makes a way for you to complete his call on your life. Sometimes this comes in the form of other Christians blessing you through donations; other times it is finding more money in the bank. Sometimes though, people wait for the provisions instead of taking steps of faith and believing that God will provide in His good time. When you only do what you can afford—that is PRIDE—dependence on yourself. This is not the Biblical example of faith. Remember Abraham who packed up all of his belongings and left not even knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8)? When you are full of yourself, you will do only what you think you can. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The humble pray and depend on God because they know that apart from God you will accomplish nothing (John 15:5).
When you combine these two faith factors, direction and provision, the Lord who calls you will open the doors before you (Revelation 3:8). God has chosen to accomplish His mission to the world through Christians that will depend on Him. He has chosen to accomplish His purpose through you. He has placed you in a spot in the world and has called you to minister his grace and love to the people around you. You may need to step out in faith, not knowing all of the plans God has for you. This is faith.
From July 5th to the 28th of this year, I was in two countries in Africa. I held five pastors conferences in Rwanda and The Congo. Many of you contributed to this ministry and made it possible for me to go. Yet, I discovered time and time again, that I needed to depend on God in order to make my trip successful. It was God who called me, and it was God who would provide for me at the last minute. And it was God who had a plan for me to learn and to grow in the fellowship of other ministers of the gospel.
My five conferences went well. Many pastors came, and we had a great time in fellowship and searching into God’s word. But it is how the African Christians challenged and taught me that has most impacted my life. I held three conferences in Rwanda, in the towns of Kigali, Butare and Gisneyi. In the Congo I was in Goma and Bukavu. I was originally set to also do a conference in Burundi, but it had to be moved to Rwanda due to civil conflicts.
The countries of The Congo and Burundi are in civil crisis. War had destroyed many homes, churches, schools and clinics in the rural communities. People have witnessed the murder of family members and the theft of their possessions. Many women and girls have been raped. Young people have been forced into the rebel army. I met a man who was from the Congo and at the age of 14 was forced to join the rebels. He escaped to Rwanda. He is now 24. It has been ten years since he has seen his family. The situation in Congo is not only desperate but heartbreaking.
One Nazarene pastor who attended my conference in the Congo told me a sad story that is inconceivable here in the United States. He told me how the rebels came into his village and found out that he owned a cow. A cow in the African context is a symbol of wealth and authority in the community. The rebels came to his home and the pastor was out ministering that day. But the rebels found his wife and three girls at home. They killed his wife, two daughters and shot a third one in the neck and left her for dead. Then they took his cow.
Stories such as this are common. And as I listen to story after story of tragedy and heartbreak, I am humbled that in the face of this madness, these pastors continue to minister and continue to serve God. Their songs, dances and praise melt my heart as I stand in awe at their faith in the midst of unimaginable circumstances. I can say that I have never had to face the adversities that these Christians have faced, and I wonder would my faith hold up as strong as theirs? God called me to minister to them, but it was these Christians who challenged me to a deeper, more genuine faith no matter the circumstance. I was humbled by their faith.
Rwanda is no longer at war, the streets are safe and there is a stable government. Rwanda is turning their tragic history around but the wounds take a long time to heal. Now, AIDS has claimed the lives of thousands, leaving numerous street children orphans. The Churches are ministering to these orphans. The statistic now is that every 10 seconds there is a new orphan in Rwanda. They have little or no electricity or running water; poverty and malnutrition are widespread. Yet the pastors are faithful and they sing about God’s faithfulness to them. And again, I am humbled in their presence, amidst their songs of praise.
A Canadian Missionary once said: “I cannot pray that part of the Lord’s that says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I have a salary, food, medical insurance and a retirement. My daily needs are met; I have no need. But these people have none of this! So when they pray for God to give them their “daily bread,” they really mean it. “Of the pastors and people that I met in my time in Africa, over half will not eat today. A fourth will eat only one meal. And only the wealthy will eat two or three meals a day. Most orphans eat a meal every other day and many have starved to death. How is it that we can really know how to pray those words if we have never experienced what it means to be in need?
The missionary continues, “And for me to pray: “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” when I have not experienced rape, murder and the theft of all my possessions; I truly do not know what it is to forgive like they have to. “ But in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, the Lord’s prayer is real to them. Can you imagine learning to forgive those who have murdered your wife, murdered your children and left them for dead? No, I have no idea what it means to forgive on that scale. And yet, story after story surfaces about Christians who have reached out to their persecutors and have extended to them God’s grace and forgiveness. Forgive our debtors? Do we really have a concept of what that means? How hard that is? What is demanded of us to let go of hate? Yet, the African Christians that I met on my journey know from experience. And I am humbled.
These African Christians have been through things that are unimaginable. Yet suffering is not unique to the human experience. John Wimber wrote in one of his books: "Don’t be afraid of pain. All my life I’ve been afraid of pain. But pain’s not so bad. I’ve been in the valley and it’s not so bad. In fact the view is wonderful. You never get to see Jesus quite as well as you do in the valley. It isn’t prosperity that gives you the complete, the in-depth, the intimate view of Jesus. It’s pain. It’s in the midst of pain, it’s in the midst of heartbreak, it’s in the midst of the rendering of relationships, it’s in the midst of tragic circumstances that you get the heart of God revealed to you. So don’t be afraid of pain. If God’s allowed it he’ll have purpose in it. . . I love and know my Savior today more than I have ever known him. And I am now 31 years in the Lord. I’m so grateful for cancer. I’m so grateful that I went through it. Because I could never have known Jesus the way I now know him. And frankly I could never have known my wife the way I now know her." I believe that the African Christians have a deep and passionate faith because they met with Jesus in the deepest of valleys. They met God there and came to know him. Their faith is genuine, their praise profound.
In the famous movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell the “Flying Scot” later became a missionary to China and dies there under the Communists. He wrote: “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.” Even among the ruins of your life, God is there. He is among the tragedies of your life, and he is faithful. It is up to you to follow him out of the valley of death. As Lamentations 3:21-23 states, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
God is at work in the world through His body, the church. The church has always had its most effective ministry to the hurting and broken of the world. It is not those who are well who need a doctor, it is the sick and traumatized. But it is also where God meets us with His presence. It is in the valley amidst the suffering that God makes himself known. In Romans 5:3, Paul writes, we “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” I see the end result of suffering in the African Christians, for they all have character, hope and perseverance for the things of God.
When I think of the Great commission, I think of the mission of Jesus. Jesus’ mission was to reach people with the “Good News” of reconciliation to God: to proclaim that God is among us, and knows of our suffering. He is present in our midst. It is our mission to proclaim this message. To be Jesus to our world is what it means to Love God and others.
I have prayed to the Lord of the harvest that he will give me the provisions and equip me, gift me and send me into the world. That is why I asked my prayer partners to pray with me Acts 4:29-30: “Lord…enable your servants to speak your Word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your Holy Servant Jesus.” The going to Africa has deepened my faith and my appreciation for the faithfulness of God. My praise is more profound, my song is of hope and my dance is with joy.
At these five pastor’s conferences, I tried to minister to the special needs of pastors that live in extreme hardship, to encourage them in the Lord. I again shared the authority of vision, prayer, faith and the power of the Gospel. That we are to say with Paul, "...our gospel came unto you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake" (1 Thess. 1:5). Here are some reports from the districts about what happened.
REPORTS FROM THE DISTRICT SUPERENDENTS IN AFRICA:
Northwest Rwanda: I want to thank almighty God who greatly used John David Hicks to train pastors from Kigali, Gisenyi, Butare,
Burundi , Bukavu and Goma. They have informed me that the seminar has had a positively affected on their ministry. The pastors report
that many of the people John prayed for have recovered from sicknesses and injuries.
When John came to my District, it was blessing, an opportunity of grace. It was an occasion for the pastors to gather in order to receive God's word; that word helped them to use their faith and know that they were given authority and power to destroy the devil's power. Then, they were urged to keep serving and praying for the sick in their respective churches. Together with John Hicks, they got to pray for sick; the thing that was evident was that God answered the prayers of his ministers. The testimonies of those neared testify so.
1. My name is MUREKEZI Fidel; I went to Mombasa via Nairobi/Kenya five months ego. During this travel I met with an accident so badly that my right arm bone broke; I spent 4 months in Hospital, surgery was done on me 3 times without any good result, then they inserted an metal artificial bone in my arm just to help me but it was in vain, I could not move my arm or sleep, but after John Hicks prayed for me on Sunday 13 July 2008, just after one night I succeeded in raising my arm lifting things, clapping my hands in worship and praising publicly. I was completely healed. I give Glory to the Lord for his love and his power to heal me.
2. My name is UWIMANA Agnes; I work with Youth in Mission in the Great Lakes area of Rwanda and the Congo. I met with John Hicks and Rev Simon Pierre at Kigali July 08. I had a serious need: I hurt and ache so bad that I could not sleep, at night evil spirits would come to keep me down in pain. Then the night following prayer I slept well, and from that time on nothing has been troubling me and I'm so peaceful. I thank and praise God for his healing. --Rev. Simon Pierre Rwaramba, D.S Northwest Rwanda
South Kivu District: God used John David Hicks to be a great blessing in Bukavu Rwanda! What a wonderful time we had in ministry
as he shared the Word of God with our beloved pastors and lay people for God's glory.
After his wonderful teaching on prayer and faith we experienced church growth and many testimonies. Some of them linked to the people's healing service and what happen to one lady.
That lady called CATHERINE, the wife of our evangelist named GUSTAVE, had terrible pain for more than 12 years. She had her legs swollen and with some wounds. However since Saturday 19/07/2008 she is now sleeping and feeling that she is healed. She made her testimony on Sunday July 20 shouting that the Lord has done a miracle for her and she can't keep it silence.
We thank God for that and may God continue receiving His glory forever and ever more. Blessings upon you. –Rev. Chishibanji Célestin, DS South Kivu District, D.R. Congo.
Burundi West District: My pastors and I were blessed by the message preached on Sunday and the Pastor’s Seminar. John David Hicks
taught about the purpose of God in creation; the techniques of spiritual warfare and effective prayers; the reasons for sin and suffering,
and the destiny of Christians and the spiritual authority of the believer. Lastly, he taught about “healing,” from the book of James.
He finished by praying for the Pastors who were sick; some of them were healed and others experienced total healing during the night.
After his departure, the pastors and I were amazed to see how God used his messages to accomplish God’s will. Our hungry and thirsty hearts from Burundi, Africa were satisfied. We pray that God will extend John David Hicks’ life and that he may come back to Africa to bless many people. –Rev. Ntahobari Luc , DS Burundi West District
North Kivu District: We were very blessed by your presence in Goma /DRCongo. Your teaching and prayers are now showing a great impact across the whole North Kivu District. We praise God for Him sending you in our District to train us about the ministry of faith encounter. God has answered your prayers. Example Pastor Rumazimisi’ wife who had problems of delivering two days later she gave birth to twins without surgery. Praise God for that. We will continue to report to you the marvelous things our Lord is doing in our local churches. May God bless you. --Rev. Balibangaka Katambu Jacques, DS D/R of Congo, North Kivu
TO MY PRAYER PARTNERS:
I would like to say THANK YOU to my prayer partners for your prayers and support! In a land stricken with AIDS, death, and despair God came in a fresh way to encourage and bless His people. Thank you for helping me to be a light in a dark world. I have an invitation to come back to these countries and to go to four more African countries next year. I will have to let God provide. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Your Brother in Christ,
John David Hicks
MOTOR CYCLE PROJECT: Last year many people help me provide 43 bicycles for pastors. This helped the pastors have a greater ministry and all the churches grew. The need now is for motor cycles for zone leaders and orphan workers. All of Rwanda is made up of big hills and mountains. There are few paved roads and great distances that have to be travailed; a motor cycle works best. We need 17 motor cycle—vespa that cost $800 each. This would be a good project for a Sunday School Class, Home Bible Study or Family. Pray about it with me; will you. June and I and her cousin Sue bought the first one. Here is a picture.