Although the Lord only revealed it to me a few days in advance, I spent March 21st – 31st in the Northeast. Since it was my first time in the area, I learned a lot of important things about our great nation. First, Philadelphians really do love Rocky that much! Second, unlike the rest of the nation, people from the Northeast pronounce the word “tour” to sound like “your” or “pour” rather than “tour” like “pure”. While they may be justified in pronouncing it this way, it was still a stark contrast from my experiences. Third, I paid for more toll roads in a 10-mile stretch than I had in my whole life put together up to that point. All of these things are simply my introductory way of saying that the Northeast tour for Carry The Love was amazing!
In the 11 days we made six tours stops: U Penn (which drew a couple Temple and Drexel students that are on basically the same plot of land), Princeton, Kutztown, University of Connecticut, University of Maryland, and Penn State. While nights differed in terms of numbers, Princeton was only about 12 students because we were meeting with a small group of leaders whereas Kutztown was well over 100 students, each night was powerful in its own right.
Although no one has mentioned this to me, I’m sure it has crossed some of your minds just like it has crossed mine: how could a one-night gathering make any kind of a sustained difference at a university? How is this different from any other worship night that I’ve been to? In my weeks of touring this spring, I’ll give you the results I’ve found.
As a Circuit Riders / One Love / Carry The Love crew, when God speaks to us about our purpose, he often speaks of us as a “catalytic spark” and as a “Barnabas”. By Barnabas, He means the Barnabas in the Bible who greatly encouraged Paul (as well as Mark) in their walks with the Lord. In Hebrew, Barnabas means son of consolation or son of exhortation, son of comfort. Similar to the ministries of Paul and Barnabas when they would go from town to town, encouraging and instructing churches, part of our ministry as Circuit Riders is to go from town to town, ministry to ministry, encouraging them and upholding their arms. We invite people into the bigger picture of what God is doing in America and encourage them that their role in the body is of utmost importance. We pray with ministry leaders and speak life into them to help sustain them for the next season of ministry.
The word often used is “catalytic spark”. Catalytic sparks are the sparks given by a spark plug in an engine that allows the engine to begin combustion and function to propel a vehicle. In respect to a massive vehicle like a Ford F-350, a tiny spark from a spark plug seems insignificant. However, without this spark, the massive potential of this truck would never be realized. All the spark does is ignite everything that is ready for use. As Circuit Riders, we also believe that God uses us as a catalytic spark to springboard people and ministries into the potential God has for them. I think that the catalytic spark and Barnabas words are inseparable because it is the act of encouragement and believing in others that allows them to be activated into their destinies in the Lord.
In the actual story of Barnabas, he changed the life of a disciple named John Mark. Although John Mark was accompanying Paul and Barnabas on their trip, Acts 13:13 says that he left them and headed back to Jerusalem. Later, in Acts 15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas were about to leave on another missionary journey. Because John Mark had deserted them on their previous trip, Paul had no desire to take him. However, Barnabas wished to still take John Mark. Because they couldn’t agree, Paul and Barnabas actually split ways. Although this moment was in no way glorious, God worked it for the good. In 2 Timothy 4:11, we see Paul ask Timothy if he would bring Mark with him when he visits because Paul has found Mark useful. Because of Barnabas’ continual belief in and encouragement of John Mark, he was built up into the kind of man that Paul again found useful. Not only this, but John Mark is actually the author of the book of Mark, the first written Gospel!
I may have gone into a teaching moment there for a second, but the point is that a Barnabas ministry of encouraging and sparking people into their destinies in the Lord can have tremendous effect!
UConn was a great example of how this catalytic spark can look. Prior to arriving, we only knew one UConn student named Nick. However, Nick worked diligently to gather people for the Carry The Love event and we drew around 75 students and staff for the night, representing at least 4 different ministries. Although Nick was pretty tired when we showed up, by the end of the night he was really encouraged by what God was doing. After most of the students pledging to carry the love like Jesus did, we met with a smaller group of students to plan a future event. The students banded together and agreed that doing some sort of outdoor concert event during the first couple weeks of school in the fall would be amazing. So, we are staying in touch with those students to see an evangelistic fall outreach happen at UConn.
A personally exciting part of the Northeast trip was that I had the opportunity to speak twice. I spoke at both Princeton University and Penn St. At Princeton, I spoke on having a heart for the lost and how we as Christians ought to recognize that lost people are exactly that… lost. By having a heart like Jesus did that does not condemn the lost, but rather shows compassion and mercy to them, we can truly love like Jesus did and see that love bring people to salvation. At Penn State, I spoke to the group about being marked by a lifestyle of holiness. God was wanting to release a new level of breakthrough and anointing to see souls saved at Penn State. However, to do that, God was wanting the leaders there to be marked by a lifestyle of holiness and pursuing Jesus. They were stoked on the message and were encouraged to pursue Him more than ever!
Finally, I just wanted to thank all of you who have supported me financially and in prayer. It may sound crazy, but there have been times where I’ve paused and known that people were praying for me. Also, without financial support, I couldn’t do any of this. Thank you for believing in me and in the mission God has for me!