The Pursuit of Revival

I do not remember the last time I sent a note out to you. I am writing this from Kentucky where I am in the midst of a short Sabbatical. I would like to share some of the why’s I felt the need for this time; what I have encountered in the Lord during this time; and what I trust the fruit of this time will be.

Two years ago I entered into a business venture that I believed was a ministry opportunity and answer to some prayers. In July of this year I sold that business. In the two years of working this venture, I did not really make any money but completed some Kingdom purposes that the Lord brought across my path. Those purposes had mostly to do with the discipleship of some dear men and women in the business environment. The experience certainly was a discipleship walk for me also. It meant that I engaged in another 20 to 30 hours a week of effort while working to continue the existing ministries at NACC.  Between NACC and business efforts it has been an exhausting two years. This is one of the primary reasons I took this time of renewal. With the business ownership demands behind me it is time to stop and seek the Lord and His will for the next few years. I am so needy and grateful for this opportunity to step aside from all works for a few weeks. I am thankful to each person who has stepped up to pick up the responsibilities that I normally carry. Various brothers and sisters have picked up the responsibilities for English and Spanish ministries, men and women’s home ministries, food bank outreach ministries and children’s weekly FIESTA.

I stepped out of my responsibilities on September 4th. My first several days were consumed with physical rest and preparing to leave. On Friday the 8th I drove out of town. Thus began the second phase of my renewal, moving from physical rest to soul recovery. Stress is a weight not easily set aside. I found myself in great hunger to just be alone with the Lord and for His ministry upon my soul. The hunger of my soul to enter into the presence of the Lord began with laying all my thoughts and concerns at His feet. Once Susan and I were at a lakeside cabin in the Hot Springs, Arkansas area I felt a huge hunger and thirst to be in the Lord’s presence and soak up His presence and ministry upon my soul. I found myself unable to rise up from a window side chair where I could pray, soak up the scriptures, sing worship to the Lord and meditate on His presence and voice. Sue went walking, swimming and even fishing. She inquired if I would join her. I was terrible company to her. I declined and sat still in the Lord’s ministry for 10 to 12 hours every day of that week, rising only for night sleep, meals and basic needs. The Holy Spirit gave me a greater appreciation for the scripture of Psalm 42:1-2 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?  The ministry of the Holy Spirit is very powerful and renewing. We must set aside more than just a few minutes to prioritize this work He offers us. At first it was like rain on a drought stricken land, just soaking in and in before it could begin to flow into other parts of me. It is this overflow that overpowers me and brings repentant cleansing, strengthening and the fulfillment that I need.  

We arrived in Kentucky on Friday the 15th at the home of Carol and John Mark. Carol is Susan’s niece. Carol and John Mark have offered us an upstairs room where I can be alone. As I write this I am upstairs, in the house alone. Having experienced some of the healing and renewing in my body and soul, I am now using this time to seek renewal of my spirit. My spirit renewal is a work of the Holy Spirit through bringing me into greater intimacy with my Lord and Master, the great Son of God, Jesus. This is a time of repentant prayer and surrendering to the Lord. I sense that I do not have a great vantage point of view of how the Lord has judged me in these days. I seek the greater purity of Christ through considering the scriptures’ judgment of my fruits. I fear that I have let my perspective of the Lord become framed by my humanness. I fear that I have not trembled in the presence of the sovereign and great God of heaven and that I have tried to reduce Him to be like me and within my understanding. I fear that I have walked a long path by the sight of my eyes and not in the certainty of faith; a path that the Lord has prepared for me to complete. It is a path that requires me to cling to Him in order to walk out. (Hebrews 11:1 & Ephesians 2:10)  I offer these thoughts as a form of confession (James 5:16) to the Lord and to you my brothers. It may guide your prayers over me in this time. As I worship the Lord through prayer, scripture and song, I enter deeper and deeper into His repentance and intimate presence. Through this His Spirit renews me and lifts my spirit up. James 4:8 & 10

We will leave here on Friday the 22nd and head to Columbus, Ohio to stay at my brother’s home. Zeke and his wife Cathy have graciously offered us another hideout of sorts. My mother lives with them so that will also be an opportunity to visit her. I desire to use this next week to look forward into the will and plans of the Lord. Trying to look forward into God’s will and plans is a very difficult, if not impossible effort. I will therefore only share what I am hoping on. I am hoping that my relationship with Him will continue to deepen and that through that continuous surrender to Him I might be faithful to stay close to Him and go where He goes and participate in what He invites me (us) to participate in. I have many questions about the next five years (if the Lord grants me that time). I have questions about the ministries of NACC. I have questions about the Spanish church ministry of Iglesia Familia de Dios. I have questions about the men and women’s ministries. Where are we to go with the food and benevolence ministries? I also seek to understand what is yet before me personally, unknown and undone. In my next week I hope to begin seeking the Lord on these questions. I feel like I see through a dark glass where some things are before me that I cannot fully or clearly see. The Lord has challenged me with some questions and revelations, but I do not yet fully understand his comments to me.

In some visitations with the Lord I have written what I receive. I think in that moment that I am ready to return and pick up the work of ministry. Yet I know that the Lord is not done with what He desires to complete in me in this time of renewal. What I do know with absolute certainty however is that to maximize this opportunity I must keep drawing deeper and more surrendered into the Lord Jesus. He must continue to break and cleanse what is wood, hay and stubble in me; that which is unusable to Him and His reign. Success will be measured in that relational growth. I must surrender more, get out of control more, so He can rise up as Lord and King in me and fulfill His desires and will through me. I must grow in relational strength with Him so as to be faithful to Him and maintain my pursuit of His righteousness and His Kingdom with absolute priority. (Matthew 6:33) I must know Him better to participate deeper in what He is doing. This is how we grow and renew and do things we’ve never done or even considered before. Let Jesus rule through us and demonstrate His power and glory. For this we were called, saved and purposed. We are children, disciples of Jesus Christ. He is our hope and future. For this desire, calling and purpose, I have attempted to write from my heart, so that you would be encouraged to also continue in this quest of God and His glory.

I pray the Lord’s blessings and love be powerful upon you today!

Your fellow servant of the King,

Rick Banda

Faithfulness to the faithful

I thought I'd share a story that reminded me of what God's doing in our church.

In Jim Cymbala's latest book, "Storm," he includes a chapter in which a woman named Avril shares her testimony. In summary, when her 3 month old baby girl died (SIDS) she called out to a God who she had a sense of but had never known. She promised God she'd take her two other kids to church if God would just take her baby to heaven. God told her, "she's already here," so she took her kids to church. From there she began following and serving the Lord, but ended up in homelessness, husband left, couch surfing, and then eventually women's shelter. As she continued seeking the Lord she eventually got an apartment and was hired on at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. She still had no money and relied on things people donated to her. As she got stuff beyond what she needed she began passing on to other people through "blessing fellowships." She'd invite people over to dinner then allow them to "shop" through items she neatly laid out as if in a boutique. She continued serving God in this way, feeling called to people who were in a place she had experienced, and God began growing and growing her ministry.

Here are a couple excerpts she wrote I found really powerful and reminded me of what God's done for us:

"Everything continued to grow. I found unused storage space at the church and claimed it as a place to temporarily hold the things I was accumulating. The church also allowed me to use its vans when making especially large deliveries. One day a sister from church called and said, 'I have a freezer I'm getting rid of. It's in really great condition. Can I donate that?' 'Let me get back to you,' I said. No one had ever asked us for a freezer, and we really didn't have a place to store it. I needed time to think about it. Just two days later, a young mom with a bunch of kids called and wanted to know if I had a freezer! 'It would really help us keep our food costs down if we could buy it in bulk and freeze it,' she said. So no one had ever asked for a freezer, but as soon as one was offered, it was matched with a need. This kind of thing happened frequently. God was faithful." (p. 53)

"It was if God multiplied everything and I couldn't get rid of the stuff fast enough. The more I gave away, the more people gave me. I couldn't outgive God." (p. 53)

She continued to describe her complete inadequacy to fulfill the ministry herself. Every need she had, she presented to the Lord. And every time He took care of it.

I hope this is encouraging to you as it was me. We are not alone in these darkening times. God's faithful continue to serve Him and declare His name across the earth. He knows his faithful servants, provides for them, and brings them into intimate and miraculous life with Him. Doesn't matter, man, woman, young, old, Black, White, poor, wealthy. We all have an opportunity to have this if we fully surrender all we are and have to Him. What an amazing trade off. Thank you merciful Father.

Be blessed today,

racheal