by Abigail Christmas
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” John 14:12-14 (NIV)
Greater things…it appears that the Director of Out of Darkness, Jeff Shaw, has been trying to instill this concept to our team. It has become the general theme of recent team meetings and gatherings. What if we not only believed and received Jesus’ words, but were audacious enough to act in authority of His words? So last week, as we were sitting at a Starbucks in stormy Phoenix, Arizona preparing for our first night of Super Bowl street outreach, Jeff appropriately challenged our team with John 14:12-14. Our goal was simple – do greater things so that the glory of God would be known in the city of Phoenix.
For our first order of business, just as Jesus commanded control over His storms (Mark 4:35-40) our team commanded the storms to stay away from our area of outreach – it could rain, just not between the hours of 9 pm and 1 am. And the storm obeyed! We were able to minister in our designated area and the rain didn’t reappear until we were back in the van. That night, like we do in Atlanta, we also wrote Princess Night letters to the girls we hoped to meet, addressing them “Beautiful Girl” or “Precious One”; generic and safe. But we can do even greater things, right? So the Holy Spirit gave us a specific name. Through nothing but faith we obeyed. Walking near a hotel, a young woman caught our eye. She hesitantly told us we could pray for her family, and when we asked her name we were blown away that one of our cards was addressed specifically to her. We saw greater things on her face as she tried to logically contemplate and decipher a rational explanation, only to realize that it was the most obvious answer that made the most sense – Jesus saw her, knew her, and sent a message of love just for her.
Upon my arrival home I have repeatedly been asked whether or not our trip was successful. Well, I think that depends on your idea of success. Yes, we went to Phoenix to reach individuals who were being sexually exploited….and we did! But our mission was not in how many rescues took place or how many hotline calls came in. Rather our purpose was to do greater things so the glory of God would be known – for every woman, man, and child. Our mission was to share the love of Christ with the hurting, weak, forgotten, and poor.
We saw greater things as one of our fellow Phoenix Dream Center team members lead a local store employee to Christ in fluent Spanish. We saw greater things in a woman who visited with our team members on the street for 30-45 minutes, which is unheard of; usually we get 30 seconds. We saw greater things as the Holy Spirit cultivated strategic ideas for outreach, and then witnessed the effectiveness as dozens of women allowed us to pray for them; roses in hand, tears streaming down their faces saying they thought God had forgotten about them and then there we stood. We saw greater things as we prayed with a young woman who was hopelessly abandoned and watched as she decided she was ready for immediate change, stating she felt safe with us. We saw greater things as prayers poured in and protection overflowed. And greater things as we watched a group of exchange students on outreach go from reserved and timid to being as bold as lions!
Near the end of the week we stood on a prayer mountain overlooking the city we were sent to minister to. Our prayer was that the Holy Spirit would fall on Phoenix! That He would leave a mark and change the city forever, cultivating the seeds that were planted. And that His presence would remain long after we were gone and it would be His name that was renowned! We left with the reputation of being a people of peace amongst fear, unity in the midst of chaos, and most of all love and compassion in a world fueled by shame. None of this is possible in and of ourselves, but it was understood that the Holy Spirit was that difference living inside of us. However, our mission is far from over – we believe for even greater things right here in Atlanta…