I'll Never Be The Same
I pray this blog post finds each of you well and feeling extra peaceful today. :) I meant to send out my love, gratitude, and feedback from our last event MUCH sooner than now….(the NEVER BE THE SAME event that was held last March at Christian Hills Church).
Unfortunately, the enemy chose to attack me hard core AFTERWARDS and I was “down for the count” for almost a week with a terrible flu and head cold! Kleenex, Lysol and three jobs later, I am actually very grateful for God’s extended timing, because it allowed me almost 6 months to truly reflect on this past event and to seek the Lord more closely about what may be next for The Sozo Group.
The silence you may have felt in this ministry was necessary. That is because I am only responding to God's calls in planning these types of unity events...and since NEVER BE THE SAME, I haven't felt a call on my heart (or seen an opportunity) to set-up something else in terms of a worship night. But in the last few days, I have had new people reach out with interest and suggestions for planning another unity event. I am praying about it with Christine.
I would like to GO BACK now and simply reflect with you about the NEVER BE THE SAME event. First, I just want to sincerely thank each of you from the bottom of my heart (tears) for being part of this night. The four worship leaders, Sydney Lach (Moraine Valley), Beth Benda (Christian Hills), Renea Taylor (Lakeside Worship Center) and Abby Randall (IHOPU) came rushing from their morning church services to then spend a very long day preparing for the event... (and then an even longer evening) giving themselves FULLY to this endeavor. ALL those who attended were deeply touched by their music and passion for Jesus. God is so good and you ALL acted so selflessly to participate that long evening. I pray you each FEEL my sincere gratitude for participating in this event despite your weariness that night and that God rewarded you HUGE for it.
But I also want to KEEP IT REAL (like I always do…) and share some other observations.. You see, it was SO EASY for my mind to immediately focus on the negatives vs. the positives and wondered if any of you found yourselves doing that to yourselves afterwards? How quickly Satan aims to steal our joy! Shame on me for first thinking about the negatives....but that is what our flesh does sometimes to keep us distracted from the TRUTH of what God accomplished that night.
One of the first things that the enemy used to try and cripple me that night was the sheer number of people that attended. To be transparent (like I ALWAYS am).. I was initially very disappointed in the turnout for this event. I stood up there delivering my open and just kept thinking about all the people who registered online who DID NOT SHOW UP.
After I analyzed the data, we had almost 150 people register between FB and the website that did not attend. I think because my secular jobs were always in marketing, public relations, communications and event coordination… I took the final “numbers” as a personal failure and felt like I let ALL of you down in terms of publicity and attendance. But know that after I prayed about my feelings… my hope was restored… especially after I asked the crowd at-large how many people were NEW to this event and almost HALF of the people in that crowd were not our previous event! (and that IS a big deal!) That means over 100 new people were there out of approximately 250 in total attendance that evening. I quickly sought God (right after my opener) and repented for giving into the enemy over the sheer “numbers” and worshipped very heavily with FULL JOY the remainder of the night (which you all saw and chucked with me about)...
And while the night ran VERY long.. (almost 4 hours before getting into individual ministry time)… I don’t regret a word that was uttered or a testimony that was given. I know the Holy Spirit was moving and that people were touched. There were 9 confirmed “wins” for the Kingdom that night and even if there had only been ONE… it would have ALL been worth it. I had a daughter and husband that saw God’s love, power and freedom in new ways because of that night and hope that your families/friends felt similarly. My husband and daughter are scheduled for BAPTISM at Christian Hills August 23rd!
We also received a few testimonies from people that were instantly healed from physical infirmities and another two that told us the intercessors “were 100% spot on” with some issues they were personally facing. All great feedback to receive! And we know there are MORE people who did NOT report back that received healing. Praise God!
More specifically, I want to thank Beth Benda for opening up her beautiful church for the venue in the first place and for her awesome message about God Knowing Us.
Between that message and then Abby’s soft prophetic vocals and testimony that followed…people fell to their knees! Renea’s FIRE had teenagers dancing at the altar like I have never witnessed and Sydney and Mark opened up our audiences’ minds RIGHT OFF THE BAT to fresh music and truly set the stage for EVERYTHING ELSE TO MOVE.
Further, we know it was a big risk for 4 churches to unite in this manner (but all the teams were fearless about not wanting to put "God in a box" and deserve an extra applaud for being so brave and stepping out of their comfort zones to see what this WORSHIP NIGHT was all about). We pray that despite our church styles and differences, that everyone felt it was a powerful night for the Kingdom.
And lastly, a big thank you to Christine Kohler, my Executive Director… who worked tirelessly in making the promo videos, soliciting intercessors, inviting young people and delivering such a genuine/transparent message. I did feel like I was at a FIRESIDE CHAT! You are a natural speaker and we loved that things stayed SIMPLE and felt the “TIP" acronym was very powerful. (Trust, Identity and Presence).
And let’s NOT forget our sound/tech/AV man RAY… a lay-person and VOLUNTEER at Christian Hills. He did amazing despite the chaos of 4 worship teams. NOTHING would have happened without his help and patience.
We learned a lot from this event as well. We learned that we ran so long that we lost people that had to go to work the next morning because they couldn't stay to pray even if they would have wanted to. We learned what happens when we don’t take the time to properly invite, inform or follow/up with those we so desperately wanted to be there in the first place. We learned that we cannot judge someone’s inner feelings towards God based on their outward reactions “in the moment". There were some people in the audience who looked like “deer in headlights” during the ministry time (not knowing what to think about what was happening!) and others were even more confused when they saw a couple people “slain in the Spirit”. It is hard not to question things we don't understand.
Further, we truly felt the challenges of promoting unity and staying on schedule and yet being sensitive and TRUE to Holy Spirit’s promptings… Sometimes being SO FREE during an event like this or doing things so “differently” among denominations can actually cause more division...and I could literally feel that happening a bit at the close of the night. It's so hard to NOT JUDGE what we do not fully understand spiritually. Christine and I stayed an hour after the event to pray for those that did not understand what was happening (or doubted) some of the “movement" and healing that had occurred earlier that night.
I was so amped up from the event.. that I did not fall asleep until the next day. Part of the reason too was because we could FEEL all the burdens for those that filled out index cards and then threw them in that trash can to BREAK FREE from them. BY THE WAY....we saved all those cards and pray over these requests. Some of the bondage people submitted on those cards had us in tears! We live in a very, very broken world and the evidence is on those cards. People REALLY REALLY need Jesus.
In closing, we know we were BOLD in reaching out to each of you asking for your participation in the first place. Thanks for your obedience to "the cause" and we pray you were blessed and rewarded for your faithfulness. You ALL contributed to setting people FREE that night and pray you felt the love of Presence of God in that sanctuary and that like me, WILL NEVER BE THE SAME as a result of that evening.
In Him, Jess