It was 7 AM. I had come to church early to spend some time praying in the newly built sanctuary of Bethel Life Center in Wichita, KS. It was July 1998 and I had served as the Music Pastor there for more than six years. The worship music was playing, I had read some of God’s Word and I could feel the presence of the Lord as I had so many times in that holy place of worship. Then something happened to me that had never happened before. I had read Jeremiah 29:7 which says:
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
As I began to pray for my city, the Holy Spirit came upon me in a very unusual way. I can only describe it as a deep intercession, a travail by the Spirit of the Lord. I fell down across the prayer altar, weeping deeply and crying out at the top of my lungs, “God, give me Wichita! God, give me Wichita!” It was nothing manufactured in the recesses of my mind. This cry was different. It was from a different place. It was so strange to me. I remember thinking, “Where is this coming from?” I knew…so did He.
Every decision in my ministry and for my family has pivoted on this encounter with the Lord since that day. As with any call, it has been tested, resisted and even mocked. But God has proven Himself faithful to it every step of the way.
In July of this year, it was once again tested. In the midst of a very dark time of loneliness, rejection and fear, the Lord again spoke. “I’ve called you to Wichita. Every other option will be barren for you. Get up and walk like you’ve been walking since I called you…as if you’ve never missed a beat.” His voice was so strong and clear and still resonates deeply today.
Let’s face it. I’m not the only pastor in Wichita. God has a plan and specific purpose for each pastor and local church. Each local church has its own, unique fingerprint in the city. My 22 years of ministry in Wichita have produced life-long friendships and covenant partnerships that continue strong to this day. I believe that God’s church in Wichita has never been stronger. Local congregations are reaching more people with the Gospel than ever. My friend, Mark Hoover, who pastors NewSpring Church witnessed over 7,000 in attendance last Sunday. Lives are being changed! No one will ever convince me that God isn’t moving in Wichita.
God loves Wichita. We are getting a lot of attention. We’ve got great college basketball. The Dream Lifter recently landed at the wrong airport. Aircraft orders are up from all over the world. It seems that Wichita is landing in the national news a lot. I’m anticipating there will be a day when we are making headlines because of greater unity among the churches that leads to a drastic decrease of crime, divorce, child abuse and poverty. It can happen. God wants it to happen.
God loves this city and I love it too. He’s placed a burden upon me as he has so many others. Thanks to all my Wichita brothers and sisters who are doing their part to see God do His thing! Let’s keep running this race together. He’s doing it…just open your eyes and watch.