April 13 2010
In 2006, I was on a very long flight from Washington Dulles to Addis Ababa. There were some empty seats a few rows back, so I undid my seat belt and snuck back there to try to sprawl out and get some sleep. As I snuggled in under my tiny flight blanket, God began to speak to me about my ministry. I had been reading through the Gospels the previous week and the stories where Jesus was making efforts to get away from the crowds came to mind. In Matthew 14, Jesus gets into a boat to get away from the crowd and finds the demoniac at the other side of the lake; in Mark 5, Jesus walks through the crowd and stops and asks “Who touched me?” referring to the woman with the issues of blood; and in Matthew 18, there is the parable where the good shepherd leaves the 99 to go after the one. Story after story was coming to mind and the highlighted point kept being that God’s heart was for “the one.”
Then He summed it up for me. Jesus left the crowd to go after “the one”. God is not interested in crowds; He is focused on “the one,” one person at a time. What God was showing me was that He wasn’t interested in me reaching out to the entire country of Rwanda nor the entire Fox Valley at one time, but to reach out to “the one” that God would highlight and bring into focus. That was it. Focus on “the one.” I got up, very excited that God was showing me this; it felt new and exciting and special. As I approached Doug’s seat, I noticed that he wasn’t there. An elderly lady who was sitting in the row opposite his seat explained that he had headed to the bathroom. I thanked her and sat down. She struck up a conversation with me. It didn’t take long before one of the most interesting stories I had ever heard unfolded.She told me that she was returning to Ethiopia from the U.S. and that she was going to be visiting a group of nuns in Addis Ababa. These nuns, she told me, had smuggled her out of Ethiopia when her husband had been assassinated. I was thinking, “ASSASSINATED???!!??” but was trying really hard to maintain some semblance of cool. “Why was your husband assassinated?” I asked. She went on to explain that he had been a General and when a coup had taken over Ethiopia they had had her husband killed. The nuns had hidden her until they could smuggle her out of the country. I asked her if this was her first trip back home since then and she laughed a bit and said, “No. That was a long time ago.” She explained that she had gone back to Ethiopia when the coup had failed.”When I returned,” she went on, “I lived with those nuns for some time. I was assigned to assist Mother Teresa while she was in our land.” I was thinking “WHAT???!!! MOTHER TERESA!!!???” But I said instead, “Really? Mother Teresa? Wow. You got any good stories?” She smiled and said that the time with Mother Teresa that had impacted her the most was actually quite typical for Mother Teresa. They were driving in a limousine to the airport. Mother Teresa had a very large speaking engagement that was being held later that afternoon. On the way to the airport she noticed a young woman lying on the side of the road. The woman was dying and had cancer on her face and in her mouth. Mother Teresa asked the driver to stop and then had this woman that I was talking with, help her get the lady into the car. They drove her to the hospital and made arrangements for her to stay there until she passed away. She said the woman died in dignity and without pain.
As this woman finished her story, I couldn’t help but notice once again I was hearing about leaving the crowd to embrace the one. When Douglas returned, I told him about it. He began to make personal applications to our ministry in Rwanda. When we landed in Kigali later that afternoon someone was waiting to see Douglas. Mydear. Mydear was a young woman whom we had met on our first trip to Rwanda. She had been in dire circumstances and was desperately trying to figure out what to do about her younger siblings that had been in her care since their mother died. Douglas had taken much time with Mydear, speaking to her about the importance of her life and how God had plans for her and loved her and knew about her desperate situation. He had gone on to share the gospel and lead Mydear to the Lord. When we returned, she was waiting there to embrace her new father; to share how deeply Douglas’ love had impacted her life. Everything had turned around for her and she had been following Christ since we had left. As she expressed such heartfelt gratitude for Douglas and I, the Lord spoke to me again. “The One.”
On the trip home, as I hid beneath my tiny airplane blanket again, trying desperately to ignore the fact that I was miles up in the sky with absolutely nothing underneath me, God spoke to me again. This time it was through a vision.
The One: the one Vision
He simply asked me to begin a group called “The One : the one.” He said to ask eight people and gave me each of their names. He said to have them meet every other week for two hours. In these two hours, the entire group was to pray for “the one” for the first hour only. The first “one” was to be chosen after I explained everything and then for two weeks everyone in the group was to pray for this one person. They were to be hearing as well. Whatever they heard from the Lord, in whatever way He spoke to them, needed to be shared at the next meeting with “the one.” Also during those two weeks, the group was to pray about loving “the one” well. Maybe taking them out, maybe meeting some needs, maybe doing something fun, whatever the Lord laid on their heart to do for this “one” for two whole weeks. Then for the first hour everyone in the group would share what the Lord had told them, maybe a scripture, a song, a poem, a word or prophecy and then they would pray for “the one.” For the second hour the group was to each take a minute or two to share their prayer needs with the group. When everyone was finished then the group was to pray for each other. During this time the Lord would reveal who the next “one” would be.
The cycle would go through each member and when the last person was prayed for the group would split into two. These two groups of four would get four more to join and begin again.
The day after I returned home, Gabe Bergen was working in my driveway. He was one of the eight that I was supposed to talk to. I wasn’t sure how this would go over but I explained the entire thing to him. He was very excited and eager to get started. I phoned the rest of the people mentioned by the Lord and each one wanted to do it.
The First The One : the one Begins
They began. Something very unexpected happened. These eight people became super good friends quite quickly. They began to do things after “The One” meetings and on the weekends. They were trying to think of creative ways to celebrate “the one” and found that they were having a great time doing so. A sense of community began to emerge that I was not expecting. When the group split and began again there was a request from some of the kids in our church to start another group. So I prayed about it and two more groups emerged. One was with high school kids and the other with ten- and eleven-year-olds. It was amazing and the kids loved it. The coolest thing was that God was really speaking to these children for each other. He was using their gifts in a very obvious way and even they could see it. They were not holding back at all and God was moving.
We have made some serious efforts to get The One : the one on a tight schedule this year. The next kick off week will be the first week of May. The typical group runs for 16 weeks and there are three cycles each year.
If you are interested in being in one of the groups, please let us know. Each group is prayerfully assembled, each member is contacted, a place and time to meet is set, and off you go.