Blunders & Blessings

Our last concert in Florida was at REACH Sarasota. Lee G, Jennifer Schwirzer, and Christa Deana started out the concert as usual with "The Lamb Wins." Then they went on to perform "Laodicea." All went well until Lee suddenly blanked on one of the verses of the song. He began to sing different words and repeated the verse over and over again, almost free styling to keep from stopping. Jennifer continued passionately playing the guitar, unaware of Lee’s lyrical difficulties. Christa Deana calmly continued crooning “Laodicea,” and I was walking in the back of the church worried, but curious how this would all turn out. Lee kept repeating the verse that says “Knock, knock, hello! I’m at the door, outside your church, do you hear my call?” However, instead of saying this line, he said that Jesus was knocking on the doors of our hearts so that we would be transformed. Lee shared later that this was the first draft of the verse he had written and he kept repeating it until he got the right version so that he could continue the song. Eventually, Lee got back on track and the song ended smoothly. I was relieved, somewhat amused, and hopeful that it would work for good.

After the concert, a man came up to Lee and told him that he had never been to REACH Sarasota before. He said that he came because he was riding his bike by the church the other day and heard a loud doorbell. He thought that God knocking on the door of his heart and wanted him to go to church. Then, he stopped his bike and looked on the ground. What he saw confirmed to Him that God was leading him to visit REACH Sarasota. There on the ground lay a broken doorbell- he even brought it with him to show Lee. Then the man said that when Lee kept repeating that God is knocking on the doors of our hearts, he was convinced and so joyful that God confirmed yet again that He was waiting at the door of this man’s heart. Wow! God used Lee’s apparent “blunder” of repeating the wrong version of the song to reach this man in a powerful way. I am always amazed to see how God is at work in every detail of our lives and work. Even when we mess up, or think we mess up, He can turn it for good. May you be encouraged by this testimony and Scripture:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

This blog post was written by Hillary Givhan.

 

Texico Youth Rally

Last month, The Lesser Light Collective took a trip to New Mexico for the Texico Conference youth rally and it was filled with providences. Even before the conference began, it was clear for Hillary (my wife) and me that God was working. On our flight to Albuquerque, we sat next to a man from Israel. He was traveling because he works for a Jewish theological seminary in Jerusalem and his job is to raise money for the school. We talked for a while about the political state of things in Jerusalem until the flight landed and Hillary and I gave him our card for The Lamb Wins. While I was busy getting ready to leave, Hillary saw him staring at our business card. “The Lamb wins… Hm,” he said. She noticed him looking intently at this little image on the card of a slain lamb above the print, “The Lamb Wins.” For someone familiar with Jewish theology, particularly that of the sanctuary service, it must have had a deep impact to see a slain lamb as a sign of victory. I imagine that through this simple image the Holy Spirit was bridging the gap in his mind between the Jewish theology of the sacrificial lamb to Christian theology of the sacrificial Messiah. This was one of the most powerful instances of the silent witness of The Lamb Wins logo.

After we landed we met up with Alison Brook and ate lunch with Mari-Carmen, a friend who had helped organize the event, and her family. Then we went to the hotel and after some rest, commenced to practicing. The next morning Hillary and I met up with a friend and took a hike up a beautiful mountain in New Mexico. The sloping rocks we walked between were super cool. After we got to the top we had to head back down to get ready for the concert that night. Christa Deana Mitchell would be meeting us right before the show and joining us to sing. She couldn’t fly in earlier than that night because of a rehearsal she had to sing for at her school earlier that day. This put us in a strange situation because we would be doing the first concert without any group practice. But we had all done the songs separately before so we prayed that God would bless despite us and our lack of preparation. He definitely did. The conference, which was held in a gym, quickly filled up with high school aged youth, who excitedly greeted friends as they picked up their Lamb Wins T-shirts made especially for the youth rally and a CD as part of their registration package. I honestly don’t remember too much from that first night but Hillary told me that the youth director couldn’t believe that we were able to perform the songs the way we did without practice. I do remember emphasizing during the narration between songs that God has shown himself to us as a Lamb and that he draws us with his self-giving love, which appears to be weakness by the worlds standards. I do remember that people were very engaged with what we were sharing. Afterwards we did a songwriting workshop that was very interesting. Many of the people who attended were musicians, in fact, one of them had even written the theme song for the youth rally. This budding singer/songwriter gathered her friends to show us the song and get our advice after the class was finished. I was exhausted after all this and felt very weak. I was actually already struggling with a cold and wondered how pushing myself so hard that weekend would go for my health. My cold carried through to the next day but God would use even my cold for His glory.

In the second program on Sabbath morning, I emphasized in the narration that the devil has worked through the papacy but he can also work without the papacy and he does the most damage through professed Christians who don’t trust God. I stressed the importance of being born again, completely transformed by the grace of Christ and the Word of God. I experienced freedom as I spoke, but by the end of the program my voice was completely shot. I could hardly talk and tried not to. This presented an issue because we had one more program to do later that night. Fortunately, there weren’t too many songs I had to sing, but there was still quite a bit of narration left for me to do. Over lunch, Deana offered to step in for me in doing the appeal at the end of the last presentation. I believe this was providence because what she shared touch many hearts, including mine. The Holy Spirit fell upon that place in a powerful way and as Deana shared her personal testimony of being in High school and discovering the power of the Word of God, many came forward weeping by the time she made the appeal. Afterwards she ministered personally to one of the girls in that audience and I know God used her that night to draw people to Jesus. God also used Hillary afterwards to minister to a girl who was barely sleeping at night because she was working so hard to keep up with all of her classes at school and make the grade. Hillary witnessed to her about health and the importance of glorifying God in our body. It was awesome to see and I also saw this meeting as providential.

  The next day we did some sightseeing in Old City where Alison was able to get a Mexican blanket, which she was looking forward to buying the whole trip. Later that night I had the joy of attending a birthday celebration for multiple people who had helped organized the rally. The food and conversation was outstanding and we had a great prayer for the youth and adults involved with the conference before I left. They loaded me up with Emergen-C for me and the rest of the team. Then bright and early Monday morning, Alison, Hillary, Deana and I all went to the airport to go back home. On the first flight, Hillary and I met a chiropractor. We opened up conversation with him when I was telling Hillary a story of an experience I had on a flight in the past. The story went like this: I was sitting in the middle seat and the person on the end would not let me get up to go to the bathroom because it was against the rules. I had to throw up, and he still wouldn’t let me go because of an announcement they had made over the speakers! Our seat-mate on this flight back to Philadelphia overheard me telling Hillary the story and began to laugh. I figured from this point that he’d be open to talk. We spent the first half of the flight hearing him talk about his passion for what he did, and really selling me on it. He began by saying, “I’m going to tell you something about health that will change your life forever…” He said that health is not defined by how we feel but how well our body functions and that the most important part of our body is our brain because it controls the rest of our body. He told us stories of how the person who founded the chiropractor profession had done an adjustment on someone who was deaf and they were able to hear after the adjustment. This amazing process of connecting nerve endings in our bones allows our brain to send signals to our body with more ease. I’m sold and can’t wait to go to a chiropractor (something Hillary had been trying to convince me to do for months).

But the second half of the flight was when we really saw God work. We found out that this man was going through a divorce and that when he got home he was expecting to see the divorce papers from his wife. We were able to listen to him as he talked openly (something he said he never does on plane rides) and encourage him to give his marriage another shot. I actually shared an article with him put out by Lightbearers that I had found helpful that talked about this very issue. He was a Christian and we all prayed together and continue to pray for him. It was pretty amazing to have such a meaningful conversation with a complete stranger on a plane ride.

Then on the next plane, we met a man who was in the Navy. He wanted to know about our faith, so we tried to tell him enough without telling him too much. I let him know I could talk about this all day and didn’t want to talk his ear off. He was very receptive and said that he had gone to a few Seventh-day Adventist church services at his navy base. We are continuing to pray for him as well. Then on our train ride back to Philadelphia from the Newark, New Jersey airport, we met a man from England who had just moved to Pennsylvania with his wife. Our conversation started when he asked about an audio bible that I carried around my neck. He had become Christian in college and we talked about our testimonies. We hope to meet up with him and his wife in the future. He has since then listened to The Lamb Wins music and told me through email he liked it.

Then on our next train from Center City, Philadelphia we met another girl named Delaware (Hillary’s home state) who would have been stranded for hours in a bad neighborhood because of getting on the wrong train. She was trying to get back home that night, which was the same place we had just left—Newark, New Jersey! We offered her a ride back home. On the ride Hillary witnessed to her about Christ. She told us that the things Hillary was telling her about the great controversy between Christ and Satan sounded familiar. We found out she had heard a similar story from a show called Supernatural. However, she told us that on the show after the rebellion in heaven, God kicked the rebellious angels out of heaven to the earth and then abandoned them along with the entire human race. Hillary told Delaware that God had not left us and that all the good things in our life come from God and the fact that He is with us and interested in our lives. Isn’t it interesting that the media is educating people with the version of the great controversy narrative that Satan would like them to believe? I hope we helped Delaware to understand more clearly the character of God and if it is His will, he will continue to do the same thing through The Lamb Wins ministry for people all over the world. Thank you for your continued support and for helping to make this hope a reality.

Snow Storm Serendipity

The snowflakes looked like streams of glowing fiber-optic string in the car headlights as we zoomed cautiously down the highway back to Philadelphia. It was Friday night and we had just done a vespers program of The Lamb Wins at Blue Mountain Academy in Hamburg. Jennifer and I talked about the possibility that the concert the next morning at the Indonesian Pioneer Memorial Church in New Jersey would be cancelled due to the bad weather. Jennifer also told me that Deana, who had performed with us at Blue Mountain Academy, would also be coming to the show the next morning. Little did we know that God would end up using what would look to us like disadvantages to his advantage. After waking up early the next morning I called Deana to confirm that we were meeting at Jen’s before heading to New Jersey as a group. She didn’t pick up. I figured she was getting ready or on her way so I decided to get ready myself before heading out to my mom’s snow-covered car. While driving to Jen’s, I called Deana again. This time my phone call woke her up.

“Deana, are you coming to the concert?” I asked.

“Jen called it off because of the snow!” Deana said groggily. After a short discussion, we realized she had dreamed Jen had called the concert off. Then Deana rose and checked out the streets around her house. She found that her streets had not been plowed and she would be unable to drive until they were.

Moving forward, Jen and I left from her home and arrived about 90 minutes later at the church to meet the other singers--Ranny, Krystal and Roxanne. We needed to know if Deana was coming or not because it would affect which songs we would sing. I called her.

“The streets still haven’t been plowed, so I won’t make it!” she said, “But I’ll pray for you!”

It turned out that her prayers may have accomplished more for the Kingdom than her presence and her amazing voice could have.

Earlier that day when we arrived at the church, the parking lot was full of snow. The elders were shoveling away, when a young man named Carlos saw them. He decided to come over and help, even though he had just finished shoveling his own church’s parking lot across the street. They invited him to stay for church and he said he would. He went home to change and began to have second thoughts about coming, but decided he would stick to his commitment. He ended up being tremendously blessed by the service and signing up for The Lamb Wins Revelation Bible studies!

After the service, we all had lunch followed by a screening of The Lamb Wins documentary. After the documentary we had a question and answer session with the director of the film, Justin Mclaughlin, myself, and Jennifer. Carlos asked us a few questions during the session but after it was done, I ended up talking with him personally. The conversation we had ended up being a huge blessing to me. He told me that he was especially blessed by the raps that I did in The Lamb Wins. Being an avid rap fan before becoming a Christian, he had struggled ever since his conversion to find rap that was speaking truth. I resonated with his frustration. He longed for quality music,  finding lyrics that would almost be what he was looking for but yet always missing the mark, even if ever so slightly. I could tell that the rap on The Lamb Wins was meeting a need as he told me again and again to keep doing it and that God had really used it to speak to him.

Please pray for Carlos and for me, that we may continue to grow in Christ and that God can continue using The Lamb Wins and my rhymes for His glory.

- Lee G