"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thes 5:13 (NIV)
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to death" Rev 12:11 (NKJV)
It never seems to fail that God has a way of making sure that we get the encouragement we need to keep on going at just the right moment. The testimonies we have in our lives serve to not only help us keep going, but also those around us. Just think about how many times you've heard the story of someone else and found strength. Below are some testimonies that we think you will find just as uplifting as we do.
Sometimes our "troubles" are just steps leading to a divine appointment. Here is the testimony of Brother Kenny and how he found healing and forgiveness through his willingness to be a blessing to others.
Kiss the Face of God
Even though we have trouble comprehending tragedy when it strikes, we can always rest assured that God will use it to bring into our lives, and the lives of those around us. This is the testimony of how the death of one young woman brought encouragement to others.
New Horizon's Big Tent Weekend
New Horizon United Methodist Church in Champaign, Illinois, hosted their Big Tent Weekend from August 24-26, 2012. Through the invitation of Pastor Mark Jordan, CGM was privileged to be a part of this wonderful event. We witnessed the Spirit of God show up and change lives. Here is the testimony of Deborah Willhoit, who attended one of the services that weekend.
Indianapolis 500 Outreach 2013
Each year we travel to Indiana for the Indianapolis 500 underneath No Greater Love Ministries to minister to the thousands of people that attend the races. Even though the team was smaller this year, it was still amazing to see how God ministered to not only the lost, but to the team as well.
We were scheduled to be in Glen Carbon, Illinois with our good friend, Pastor Mark Jordon, for a tent revival. After the revival we would be heading to Indianapolis, Indiana for our annual outreach at the Indy 500 races in with No Greater Love Ministries. The push was on to get an early start. It was going to take six hours to drive to our destination, and we were looking forward to visiting with some of our good friends in St. Louis.
We were so heavily involved in our preparations for our tent meeting that we somehow overlooked some very obvious things: like the condition of the tires on the trailer that would be hauling our tent. Someone had blessed us with a new set of tires for our camper trailer but the thought just never crossed our mind to check the tires on the other trailer. The tread still looked good, but those tires were severely weather-cracked and too dangerous to be pulling this 8,500 lb. projectile.
Things were going well until we were just a little over an hour outside of Tulsa when Jim, who was using his half-ton pickup truck to haul the trailer, called us on the phone. He told us that his brakes where acting up and he was having a hard time stopping the trailer. We pulled off at the first exit we could find and tried to figure out what we could do to keep going, but Jim's half-ton pickup just was not powerful enough to make it happen. We were only ten miles away from Miami, Oklahoma so we decided to try to get there before the stores closed.
When we started to pull out, we noticed that Jim did not follow us on to the highway. We turned around to find out what was wrong and discovered that Jim had a flat tire on the trailer. There wasn't much room on the side of the road to work so we were left with no other option but to change the tire there. After a long and exasperating experience, we were finally set to leave for Miami. Although we got an early start, things were not looking very good for us arriving in St. Louis anytime to soon. Talking with the group, we knew that for all of this to have taken place there must be a divine appointment waiting for us.
We managed to find a Wal-Mart, but the tire department had already closed and all the shops in town that could work on Jim's brakes where already closed down for the day as well. We were supposed to be at Pastor Mark's church at 9:00 am the next morning to meet a group of people to set up the tent, but now us making that deadline was looking pretty dismal. The only thing that we could think of to do was to remove all of the tent chairs out of the trailer and put them in the back of Jim's truck. We hoped that shifting the weight out of the trailer would help him stop easier. My mother-in-law lived in Springfield, Missouri, so we wanted to get there where we at least knew somebody.
While we were removing the chairs from the trailer, a man and his wife were walking out of the store to their truck. They approached me and asked if we were going to have a revival right there in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Laughingly, I replied that we weren't but we could if they wanted one. They seemed like very nice people, but have you ever had those moments where you really did not feel like talking? We had asked for a divine appointment and here it was staring us in the face. The circumstances where a little overwhelming for me at the moment and I was having a hard time seeing it coming.
The man spoke to his wife and then told me that they had just bought a new three quarter ton pickup but thought that it was bigger than anything that they would ever need. They then offered to pull my trailer to Springfield, Missouri, which was a little over two hours away from where we where. I was surprised to say the least that these strangers would want to do that for someone they had just met, but the man told me that he wanted to try pulling something heavy with his new truck and thought this was a good opportunity. I told him that I appreciated him understanding my problem and that if I could at least get the trailers to Springfield, then I could continue on to my destination fairly easily.
We hooked up the trailer to his truck and headed out. Driving toward Springfield at 10:00 pm at night, the thought began racing through my head that the only thing I knew about this man was that his name was Kenny, and that he was pulling thousands of dollars worth of my equipment behind him.
Kenny and his wife, Michelle, followed us right to my mother-in-law's house. We unloaded the camper trailer and attached our truck to the tent trailer. The plan was that my twin brother, Dane, Mike, and I would finish driving through the night to St. Louis so we could be there early in the morning. We would get there by 5:30 am and get a couple of hours of sleep before everyone else arrived to put up the tent. Jim, John, and Roy would come on up in the morning to help us after they got some good rest.
It was 12:30 in the morning and we were standing outside of the house when Kenny asked me just what kind of work I did. I explained that I was in full-time ministry and that I was also a volunteer chaplain in seven prisons throughout the State of Oklahoma. He then asked me if I went to the Oklahoma State Prison in McAlester, I said yes. Then he asked if I went to Death Roll and, again, I said yes. The last question he asked was a "bomb-shell" question. He asked me if I knew a certain inmate on Death roll (I prefer not to mention his name for confidential reasons). I told him that I had ministered to him a few times.
Kenny then explained to me that this man had murdered his daughter and granddaughter (In this testimony I do not want to share the details of the crime other than to say it was hideous and very gruesome). As we stood face-to-face on the street, I was overwhelmed with the exchange of dialogue that was happening. I asked him, "What did you do?" He replied that he was a Christian and that he did what he was supposed to do and forgave him, but he that wanted to be standing next to the man when he told God on judgment day why he did this to his daughter and granddaughter. Kenny also said that his brother had committed suicide just weeks before this terrible tragedy and that he had been a Christian for only a short time before all of this occurred.
My problems seemed to diminish as I looked in to his eyes and saw the hurt and pain there. I asked him if he believed that the chances of us standing there on the street in front of my mother-in-law's house at 12:30 in the morning were just a coincidence. We both agreed that this was a divinely appointed time set by God.
I grabbed him by the hand and said, "Let's pray." So, Kenny, his wife, Michelle, Dane, and Mike joined in and we prayed, "Father we know that we have done the right thing and forgave him. In addition, we know that you have forgiven us. However, we are having a hard time forgiving ourselves. We know that we are not supposed to hate, and we are angry with ourselves for even feeling this way, but there is tremendous pain still there and we need you to help us to forgive ourselves." The tears began to flow as the pressure of all that pain began to leave and he began to receive a healing that can only come from the Father.
After we prayed I told Kenny that every person that was touched by God underneath this tent would be in direct response to him helping us, and that every person that would receive from the Lord in Indianapolis at the races would also be in direct response to the fact that he had helped us to get to our destination. The tears began to flow again as the presence of the Lord swept over him once more, washing away even more of the pain that had controlled him for so long.
That night was filled with such a sweet presence of the Lord that comforted us both as we went our own separate directions. He called me that next day to see if we made it to St. Louis safely. Other than being a little tired, we had arrived safely and the tent went up as planned. That morning, Dane and I drove back to Springfield to pick up the other trailer, which was a four-hour trip one-way. Needless to say, we were exhausted and looking forward to some needed rest before the revival began, but the story doesn't end there.
After a greatly successful time of ministry we were heading back home and as we approached Miami, Oklahoma, we called Kenny and Michelle to ask if they would like to join us for dinner. They said that they had already had dinner but wanted to see us and would be there shortly.
Sitting at the table, Kenny told us that this was one of the greatest experiences that he had ever had. He explained that he had called his mother, pastor and another brother, and before he could tell them what had taken place, they asked him what was so different with him. They said his voice sounded so different that it was even noticeable over the phone. He said, "I met this group of men in town and helped them get their equipment to Springfield." Kenny told me that he and his wife had laughed all the way to Springfield thinking about how good God was that He was using us to help you. "Then," he added, "after you prayed for me, my wife and I cried all the way home." He said that he received something that he had been looking for but could not find. He told his mom over the phone, "I am free for the first time since that terrible incident; I am finally free!"
Later on, I arrived home late one evening and caught the news channel just as it was about over. There was a woman being interviewed about a murder that had taken place, but I did not catch all of the details. As I watched the interview, I thought about how Kenny had been on my heart all day, but I had not had time to call him. I noticed that the woman was very bitter and said that she could not rest until the man that had killed her sister and her niece was executed and sent to hell. Then I'll be darn if they didn't show the person's picture that was involved on the TV and it was the case with Kenny's daughter and granddaughter. I called him the next day and he told me that the woman was his ex-sister-in-law and that day was the third anniversary of the crime. I realized then that I was going to be praying for a long time for this family. I pray that they will not let this man control their lives, even reaching out from the grave after he is executed.
Kenny and I are hooked together for eternity. We often communicate over the phone or whenever we are traveling through the area. I received a call a few days ago and Kenny said that he had a meeting he was doing at the church but the band that he had scheduled canceled and wondered if we would be available. I told him, "You can count on me." Later that evening after the meeting over and as we were loading up to come back home, he hugged my neck and said, "Thank you for giving me back my life." I was greatly touched by the sincerity of this man, Kenny, and I thanked God for allowing me to be a part of his life. I know that without God orchestrating this, none of it would have taken place.
So when you find that you have trouble and don't understand why, keep your eyes open because maybe there is a Kenny walking up to you to see if he can help you. Kenny has given me a greater understanding about how God loves us and will use us if we will only let Him.
Kiss the Face of God
Tragedy would strike repeatedly against the people of Honduras as violence was sweeping across the nation. We were looking forward to returning to this beautiful country but news from some dear friends of ours made it a very difficult trip. Pastors Ladie and Omar's daughter, Loraine, had been shot and killed.
I could not believe the report and was praying that it was not true. We prepared ourselves for the worst but were expecting the best to happen. Before we arrived, the Lord led me to the first chapter of the book of Joshua. Four times in the first chapter the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to be strong and of good courage (Josh 1:6,7,9 and 18). God sent His presence with them as they faced insurmountable obstacles and, yet, they overcame them all. My heart went out to these pastors and I wanted to be there to comfort them. We had come to know them very well and they are like family to us.
Their daughter, Loraine, had interpreted for us on many occasions and the thought of her being gone was hard for me to comprehend. Life in Honduras can be exciting but, at the same, time very dangerous. All kinds of thoughts can go through one's head and we needed to stay focused on God's Word to help us through these rough times.
After arriving in the city of San Pedro Sula, we spent two days getting our bus ready for the four-hour ride to La Ceiba, a city along the coastal waters of the Caribbean. We were scheduled to speak in two churches that night so we didn't have time to contact our friends and let them know that we were in town until the next morning.
We went to see Pastor Ladie at her home and spent several hours there with her and her children. Omar was at work so we had to wait to see him at a later time. She told us what had happened the day of her daughter's death. I originally understood that someone had come up to her car and shot her in the face, which is something that happens a lot there. If someone wants your car, you just give it to him or he will shoot you. However, we found out that wasn't what happened to her.
Loraine was the worship leader and had left the church to get a guitar for the service. At the same time, a man was being shot at as he was running down the street. A stray bullet hit her in the face and she was killed instantly. She was 22 years old and very beautiful. Pastor Ladie said that you could hardly see where the bullet had entered. The wound looked like a mosquito bite; it was so small. In some strange way this was comforting to them and to us to know that her face was not destroyed.
When I finally got to see Pastor Omar, he told me that just two weeks before this incident took place Loraine had asked him what it would be like to kiss the face of God. He said he really didn't know how to reply. Shortly after the funeral, the family received a phone call from a lady in the United States that had read the news report about their daughter's death. They did not know who this woman was but she said that she began to pray and went into intercession for them. She then told them that she had a vision and the Lord showed her that just before the bullet struck their daughter, she saw Loraine's spirit leave her body and that she didn't feel anything. The lady added that Loraine now knows what it's like to kiss the face of God. There is no way, other than God giving her divine insight, that she could have known the conversation that took place between Omar and Loraine.
I wanted to think that this was an isolated incident; but I soon found out that this same kind of tragedy was taking place all across Honduras. The churches were petrified and desperately looking for a solution to this dilemma. They were closing down the services early and busing people home so that they would be safe from danger. Some churches were even locking the church doors during service and only letting people in that they knew for fear that someone coming to the church would cause trouble. But the people began crying out to God and the dunamis power came to their churches. Many people were saved, delivered, healed, and set free from fear as God openly showed His manifested presence on their behalf.
When we arrived in Honduras, we found a church hiding behind closed doors. When we left three weeks later, we witnessed a triumphant church decked out with the glory of God, seated with Him in authority and power, and the peace that passes all understanding.
Our friends still need our prayers and support, now more than ever; but they are continually strengthened by their faith in God and His undeniable love demonstrated through this terrible incident.
The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus said that He have come to give you life and that much more abundantly. Just like in this awful situation, God will turn bad things toward the good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. His purpose is that we become children of God and have an everlasting life that was purchased by the blood of God's only Son. God was not the one that came to kill Loraine that night, but He paid for her life and she is with Him and, now, she knows what it is like to kiss the face of God.
New Horizon's Big Tent Weekend
My husband, Rick and I knew that God called us to New Horizons UMC a couple of months ago. When we arrived at the tent meeting there was a lady welcoming guests, so we introduced ourselves. The lady said, "Deb, do you know who I am?" I had suffered from a heart attack two years ago and have struggled ever since. As it turned out, she was the cardiac nurse that did CIP on me when I had my heart attack. I had never met her after that and never knew her name. I shared with her what I had gone through since the heart attack.
Later that night, she was with my husband, Rick, and I when I went to the front for prayer. When I was asked what I would like healing for, I could have told my whole story and asked for a new body, but instead I said that I would like to walk. After an hour worth of praying, according to Rick, Jim (also known as Fuzzy) from CGM, came up to me and said, "You know, by His stripes you are healed." Fuzzy told me to stand up. Then, with Rick and Fuzzy at both sides, I walked to the back of the tent and back to the front. Rick said I was like a feather. I hardly even remember it! When I left the tent, I was hardly touching my walker! I was able to walk across all the bumps in the grass, where before I had a lot of trouble.
When we went to church the next morning, I used my cane. Now mind you, this was big because I had gone from a cane, to a cane/walker, to a walker, and a scooter for longer distances. At the time, I hadn't used a cane for over a year and half! The following Sunday I took communion up front and not in the pew like we had for over a year and a half. Praise God!
I received more strength too, which wasn't supposed to happen. I can now stand normally to keep my balance and have more strength in my neck. I can also raise my arms and I'm not dropping items due to lack of strength in my hands. The muscles in my eyelids are stronger so I can see better and can actually read. People have also told me told my voice is stronger.
Along with all of this, I also had healing in my spirit. Because my life had been so limited, I had dealt with what my purpose was on and off again. I had also had some periods of depression due to going through stages of grief. But I have continued to rise above it ever since!
I am thankful that I can plant my feet on the floor every morning. I can take care of my personal needs and with assistance I get out most days. I can be involved at our church. I still use the walker around the house to transport things on the seat like food or laundry or when we are out in busy places. I also still use my scooter for long distances. But I can stand straight now when before I had gotten to the point I was leaning over. I can also walk much more quickly and I don't have the periods of fatigue.
Since that night, I for sure have been God's mouthpiece. Some people may question it, but every time I share the Holy Spirit covers me, and others say they feel "goose bumps!" I know my primary doctor was sure surprised because none of this was supposed to happen. I'll take all the healing He will give me! We are expecting more of His transforming power upon me in the future!
Indianapolis 500 Outreach 2013
May 23-May 26, 2013
We had a tremendous time of ministry in Indianapolis this year. There were only seven men on the team that were able to go with us from Oklahoma, but God always provides us with tremendous testimonies when the numbers are down.
It seems to me that people are really hungry for the Lord these days, and God is ready to give them just what they need. We were blessed by seeing many of our friends as well, and God showed us how much He loves us through each one of them.
Our band was set up just out side of Acapulco Joe's where we were ministering to the people through songs and preaching as they walked by us to go to the parade. The No Greater Love teams were gathering up on the same street corner to catch the bus back to the church. There were clowns everywhere and then I saw a women standing on the other side of the street right in the middle of them all. She was singing along with us on every song.
Now normally I am very cautious about inviting people that I don't know to come and help us sing. But I felt good about her and invited her over to help us. I was totally shocked as she began singing "Amazing Grace" with us and she stopped the crowd dead in their tracks. That woman could sing, and then she preached a powerful message as well! It was one of those times that I will never forget. We were praying for the sick and saw many people receive what they needed from the Lord.
On the way home we were having trouble with our bus. It sounded like one of the idle tension pulleys was going out. There was no place to get one since it was on a Sunday evening, and Memorial Day weekend too. So we were praying that we could get it back to Tulsa before having to fix it.
About fifty miles west of St. Louis, out in the middle of nowhere, it went out on us. We pulled off on an access road and a man by the name of Mark pulled up in a white pickup truck to ask if he could help us. Our driver, Roy, said that he thought it might be an angel. We got the belt off the part and drove the bus across the bridge to a gas station that was open all night.
It was after 8:00 pm and all of the auto parts stores where closed. There was nothing around us for at least five miles in either direction. Mark came back to the gas station with his nephew who was a manger of one of the auto parts stores in a near by town. They took the part with them to see if they might have it in stock.
This was not a normal part that you would find in any auto parts store and the possibilities of getting one ordered in on Memorial Day was slim to none. Well, we did the next best thing that we could think of and pulled out our guitars and started worshiping The Lord.
People that knew Mark were getting worried about him. His wife knew that he was helping some men fix a bus on the road, but had not heard from him in a while. So she sent some people out looking for him. Every time I opened my eyes there was someone else standing there worshiping God with us.
Believe it or not, Mark and his nephew returned with the part and while we continued worshiping God, one of our team members, Mike, put the bus back together again. A young couple was gassing up their vehicle and they came over to worship with us as well. They were on their way to Wisconsin and asked for prayer for their baby, which is due to be born in a few weeks.
To finish off this testimony, when I ask them how much the part was they said that it was free and they wouldn't let me pay them for it. God is so cool and is always working things out for our good; praise God!