Return to Radical

Dear Church family,

We have been invited to participate in a movement wide time of prayer and fasting October 9-11. What comes to mind when you think of prayer and fasting? I’ll be honest, I love to eat, and the idea of giving up food isn’t one that excites me. However, when I think of giving up food in order to press into the presence of God with my community, allowing my flesh to become weak and my spirit to grow strong: now that gets me fired up! 

As leaders in the Antioch movement have prayed about this time, the phrase "Return to Radical," has felt like a word from the Lord for what this time should be about. Times of passionate prayer are always a great time to recommit ourselves to Kingdom living and to return to the radical lifestyle that Jesus invites us into. With this, there are three prayer points that we will keep before us in this time based out of Acts 4:31. 

"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" - Acts 4:31

Pray that we return to radical both personally and corporately in the following areas:

Return to Radical INTERCESSION: Acts 2:17, Acts 2:42, Acts 4:23-31

• Personal Devotion to Jesus

• That God would raise up intercessors in each of our local churches

• That God would raise up intercessors for the unreached

• That God would fuel our intercession with powerful dreams and visions to show us what to pray

Return to Radical FELLOWSHIP: Acts 2:42, Psalm 133, Hebrews 10:25, Galatians 6:1-2

• Relational healing from offenses and hurts

• Transparency and confession where it needs to happen in our churches

• Racial unity amongst our churches and in our nation

• Denominational unity in the body of Christ

• Commitment to gathering together in unity

 Return to Radical EVANGELISM: John 5:35, Colossians 4:5, Acts 2:43, Isaiah 35:5, Luke 4:18

• God to raise up evangelists in our churches who are a bold witness for Jesus

• That God would removed blinders off the eyes of unbelievers around us

• God has raised up an appointed time (kairos) where people in our nation are hungry for Jesus. Pray that our churches boldly make the most of this opportunity

• That the church would respond to social crises and natural disasters with boldness so many people can meet Jesus

• Pray specifically for our 16-25 year olds that God would propel them into a lifestyle of radical evangelism. Pray for that they would be "burning and shining lamps" (John 5:35).

• For signs and wonders to accompany the preaching of the Gospel

• Radical Church planting amongst the totally unreached

I want to invite you to jump in with me during this time of prayer and fasting. I believe that God has something for our church specifically, and the Antioch movement as a whole, that He wants to impart as we intentionally set our gaze on Him. 

We have a great resource (see below) that we are including which will be especially helpful if you choose to fast. Additionally, I want to encourage you to ask God in the next few days the following questions: “What would You have me fast from?” and “What would You have me fast for?” He may have you fast from solid food, meats and sweets (only eat fruit and vegetables), media, or anything else that might be a sacrifice for you. Regarding what to fast for, you may desire personal breakthrough in your own life, your relationship with God, or for challenging circumstances, or to just ask God to renew a promise that He has spoken over your life. Choosing ahead of time what to fast from and for will give you vision and expectancy for your time and will encourage you along the way. 

I know that this time will be unifying for our church! I can't wait to hear the testimonies of what God does in and through us during these three days. In order to encourage unity during these days, we are going to be gathering during the following times to worship and pray: 

Monday and Tuesday from 12:00-1:00pm at church offices (3613 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge 70808)

Wednesday from 7:00-8:30pm at Christ Covenant Church (1700 Lee Drive, Baton Rouge 70808)

I hope you will join us for these times! They're sure to be powerful. 

Blessings,

Donny Martin

 

Share My Story: Jonathan Snyder

We are kicking off our new series "Share My Story" here on our blog! Each post will focus on the testimonies of different people in our church. We are excited to share these with you twice a month and we are positive that you will be blessed and challenged! Our first story is by Jonathan Snyder. Jonathan works on staff at Antioch as our Administrative Pastor. We are so thankful for the multitude of ways that Jonathan serves our church! When not working, you can find Jonathan eating Canes, on some random traveling adventure, or hanging out with friends. 

I was raised in a religious family and had an agreement with God: if my little league team won our basketball games, I would attend mass. Up until fifth grade my attendance was exceptional because my team did well. During my sixth grade season though, my team had a few hiccups. That year at confession, I explained to the priest that while I was sorry it had been so long since I attended mass, my team lost by twenty-eight in the first round of the playoffs and God didn’t hold up His end of the bargain. The priest laughed.

Growing up I had this determination to be a good person. I remember winning a citizenship award at my school in fourth grade. I didn’t understand how a nine year old could be a good citizen, but I was voted one. I think my actions originated from the theological idea “good people go to heaven,” therefore I wanted do my best to be a good person.  

Fast forward to eighth grade, my parents began going to another church. Without my knowledge, they registered me for something I had never heard of: church camp. I remember trying to get out of going because I knew no one, but the trip was non-refundable. It was either I start a lawn care business to repay my parents or board a bus to Texas with fifty strangers my age, reluctantly I chose the latter.

On the first night of camp, the Gospel was presented in a way that I had never heard. While I grew up knowing that Jesus died for “the world,” I was introduced to the idea of Jesus dying for actual people. He died for people with names, faces, personalities, histories and sins. Every sin Jesus bore on the cross had a name attached. They were real thoughts, attitudes, words, actions, anger, lust and more. While I believed my good actions outweighed my bad, I realized I was one of those people Jesus died for. He didn’t die for bad people, instead He died to make spiritually dead people alive. I was:

Jonathan: performance driven - lustful - prideful - imperfect - spiritually dead

I had never considered Jesus dying for me personally, so I decided to give Him a chance. It’s a night that I’ll never forget or regret. In the natural nothing new happened, but without me even realizing it was a day of crossing from death to life (John 5:24), of turning from an enemy of God to a son (Romans 5:10) and where I was equipped for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).

Since following Jesus I’ve experienced the highs of being part of helping bring clean drinking water to thousands in third-world countries, the lows of my parent’s divorce and everything in-between. While the highs and lows will happen to us all, I am learning each day that life isn’t about trying to have more high moments than low ones. Rather it’s about our journey of meeting Jesus in each situation and the world taking note and experiencing the same life.

My story is that Jesus has transformed me from my attempts to be a "good person" living "the good life", to being a person that knows he is covered by the blood of Jesus and that Jesus really will be with me in every part of my journey. 

Celebration Sunday: 5 Years as a Church

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We had a fantastic time celebrating five years as a church this past Sunday! We are so thankful for all that God has done over the years and took time to reflect on stories of His goodness. In his message, Donny highlighted the faithfulness of God and His specific work among us over the years: looking back to when we met in a house which was eventually filled to the brim with 120 people, on to the Radisson Hotel, and finally to the Dunham School. It's amazing to think back on the salvations we've seen, the healing and community God has brought, and the powerful times of being there for each other in moments of pain and hardship. Praise God for how He has knit together this local body of believers! After church we celebrated baptisms and enjoyed a delicious lunch together. It is always a joy to fellowship as a church over a good meal, especially with perfect fall weather. It enriched our faith to witness the two young women who were baptized, publicly proclaiming their commitment to Jesus! What a great day! We are looking forward with great hope and faith to all that God has in store as we move forward as a church! 

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Engage the Nations Testimonies

It is amazing that a simple “yes” to Jesus can change the world. 

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus’ last words to His disciples are “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

His last words are our first priority. His parting vision is our mission: to make disciples of all nations. As we partner with Jesus to preach the Gospel and make disciples, lives are transformed. As lives are transformed, cities are transformed. As cities are transformed, nations are transformed. The world is changed. And all we have to do is say “yes.”

This summer, eighteen people from our church said “yes” to Jesus’ call to go and make disciples in the nations! Our interns took to the streets of Tijuana, South Africa, South Asia, Detroit and Sicily. They ministered to the poor, the lost, the unreached, the refugee, and the broken. We are in awe of all God did in them and through them! We could never fit every powerful story in this one post, but here are a few:

Tijuana: In May, we hosted a Vacation Bible School in a certain neighborhood of the city. On the last day, a fourteen-year-old boy named Cristofer came, and through a conversation with a team member he accepted Jesus as his Savior! He began to go to one of the Lifegroups we started in that neighborhood every week, and eventually he started coming to church on Sundays. Since he didn’t have a ride home after the morning services, Cristofer would just hang around the church until youth group in the evenings. Those afternoons were where our friendship formed and discipleship happened. We read the Bible together, talked about life and family, and would sometimes go to our favorite ice cream place! I saw his life change before my very eyes, growing in love and maturing in faith. During my last week in Tijuana, I shared how in the Bible, people whose lives were changed by Jesus would respond by getting baptized. After praying about it for a few days, Cristofer told me he wanted to get baptized! So after church, we piled into our pick-up truck and headed to the beach. On the last day of our summer in Tijuana, I got to baptize Cristofer, which was a physical representation of the transformation Jesus had done in his life. 

Detroit: This summer, I learned about the power of prayer and how it brings breakthrough.  In our last days in Detroit, two miracles happened in the lives of people we had been consistently praying for. The first one was with a restaurant owner that we had been investing in almost daily, but we had yet to see anything happen. On our last full day, we decided to eat there one last time to say goodbye. As I was leaving, he asked me to pray for him. He said to me that he knew that we were different and when we talked to God things happened. I prayed for him, and I knew in that moment that was one of the reasons why I was called to Detroit this summer. The second miracle was with one of our friends from Bangladesh. He was really having a hard time and needed direction, so we just kept loving and praying for him. We knew God had a really big plan for him, and we got to see it on the very last night that we were in town. That night our friend from Bangladesh gave his life to Jesus. God showed me this summer that nothing can happen without prayer. Even when we do not see it at first, when we call on Jesus, He moves in powerful ways.

Italy: In Italy, there was an abundance of male refugees, but very few girls. The team had been praying for weeks for women to show up.  My team was in the city where we normally did outreach, and I was not expecting to see any women.  I saw one of the men that we had formed a relationship with earlier that summer and began to chat with him a bit.  He then directed us to come meet his daughter (who he described as being small and cute).  So my team walked with our friend to go meet his child, fully expecting to get to play with a little girl.  When we arrived, I shook hands with his 21-year-old daughter who was the first girl I had seen in 3 weeks! They invited us in to sit around their table and talk.  I was so nervous because I wanted to share Jesus with this girl, but didn’t know how to casually bring him up, so I prayed, “Jesus help me. I want to talk about you.” The girl, Awa, looked at me and said, “Tell me your life story.” So I got to share my testimony and the gospel with her. The entire time I was talking she was on the edge of her seat. I got to explain how Jesus loves us no matter what we do and if we never did anything else in our whole lives, that He would love us just the same as He would if we lived a perfect life.  She told me how she had always heard about God being mean and wanting us to be perfect, but how she wanted to know the God that I know. I got to give her a Bible and encouraged her to seek Jesus for herself and connected her with our long-term team. It was a beautiful moment. I got to see God’s faithfulness right in front of my eyes. We had been praying for women to come and I got to meet with a woman who was hungry for Jesus.

South Africa: Before leaving for South Africa, one of the promises that we heard God speak for Antioch Cape Town was that we would see waves of Muslim families coming to the church and turning to Jesus. The church in Cape Town recently moved to a new area of town called Salt River, a lower income area of town with many Muslim families. As we began to talk to the people of the community, one of the needs that we heard consistently is that the children in the area needed a place where they could play safely rather than becoming involved with gangs and substance. To help meet this need, we started an after-school Kids Club at the church on Thursday afternoons. The first week, we had four children show up - all of them Muslims! A few weeks later, over thirty kids came to Kids Club! Beyond that, many of them began coming to church on Sunday mornings, bringing family members with them! In addition to Kids Club, we started a group for high schoolers on Friday nights. There we got to teach the students how to hear the voice of God for themselves, how to read the Bible, and many gave their lives to Jesus!

South Asia: I was introduced to a guy who wanted to learn more about following Jesus. When we met, he brought a friend who knew more English than him and could translate. We did a lesson about the gospel and how to share it. After the lesson, his translator friend gave his life to Jesus and began faithfully meeting with me, sharing the gospel with his friends, and spending time with Jesus. Unfortunately, the guy that I originally met with was unable to meet up again until hours before I left South Asia. We were able to catch up on his relationship with Jesus and how sharing with others had been going over this past several weeks. He informed me through the translator that he had been reading the Bible but had to give it away to a friend who he had shared with and wanted a bible. He then said he would need twenty-seven more bibles. He went on to explain that he has been sharing with all of his friends since our first meeting and they all want to follow Jesus and needed Bibles! Right now they are meeting with a long term team member, getting baptized, and have become a house church.

"Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habbakuk 1:5

Thank you to each one of our interns who chose to spend their summer saying "yes" to Jesus and engaging the nations. We celebrate every healing, salvation, miracle, encounter with God, prayer answered, seed that was sown, and person who was loved. We are utterly amazed!