This past weekend we (The River) hosted the second annual Hope Fest, a community missions outreach held at a local low-income apartment complex. In the final days of preparation, some of the ministry leadership began to sense that the turnout may not be what we had originally hoped for, but that the Lord was encouraging us to move forward with all the passion and vigor as though there would be 100% participation from the residents. We sensed a burden for individuals (although we had no idea which individuals) that seemed to grow heavier as the event grew closer.
As it turned out, there were fewer people there than at last year’s event. In fact, at the No-Walls Worship service, there were more worship team, ministry team and volunteers on site than residents. But that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay.
One of our team members, Sarah, was supposed to leave on a family vacation prior to Hope Fest, but felt so strongly that she was supposed to stay and be a part of the Hope Fest that her family postponed their departure until the day after Hope Fest ended. A couple of weeks prior to the outreach, we were praying about KidzFest (the Saturday morning children’s event), and Sarah stepped in and said she felt she was to take the Bible activity time. What she did not realize was that her obedience had a prophetic element to it and ignited something in the spirit that would permeate the entire event.
Sarah’s theme for the Bible activity with the kids was the love of the Shepherd for His sheep, and how He would leave the ninety-nine to go after a single lost lamb. She did a beautiful job of illustrating this and bringing it into real-life application for the kids, even donning a shepherd’s costume as she told her story.
Hope Fest ended, and I called Wendy (pastor of The River) while I was on my way home Saturday night. I shared with her what was on my heart – that if one person was eternally affected by what took place over the weekend, it was all worth it.
“It’s kinda like Sara’s message with the kids,” I said. “He will leave the ninety-nine to go after the one.” Wendy’s reply: “Well, he went after the one.”
She began to share with me what had taken place that night with a young man, a self-proclaimed atheist, who had been brought by his girlfriend. Throughout the evening, it was obvious the Lord was working on him, and while he has not yet given his life to the Lord, we believe it is only a matter of time. By the end of the evening he was obviously enjoying himself and was almost engaged in the worship. The Shepherd has His eye on that one.
The testimonies are beginning to trickle in of several “ones” that the Holy Spirit latched onto this past weekend. More details on those later, as we are still compiling them.
Until then, here’s the thing. You are the one. You are the one He will leave the ninety-nine to come chasing after out of a deep and passionate love for you and the insatiable desire to see you where you belong – with Him. You are the apple of His eye, the love of His life. You are His favorite.
No matter what today brings, remember this: The Good Shepherd Himself watches over you day and night. You are what He is all about. This assurance brings with it great hope, great peace, and great purpose.
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
He will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121: 5-8