Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mardi Gras Mission Trip - Part Two - GUEST POST**

The following is a guest post from one of our mission trip team members, Jeff Sobieralski.  I believe this was my second time meeting him, but my first time really getting to know him and minister with him.  He was such a wonderful man of God and had this great intellectual side, not to mention he had a hidden talent for making up rap songs of Bible stories while we were stuck in traffic in the van for 2 hours.

We sent all the atheists and scientifics to him :)


March 19, 2014 at 9:25pm

People often ask about my eyes because of the recent complications with them. Through these trials God taught me an important lesson. I had always imagined that blindness is darkness, but I learned that when a person loses sight, he doesn’t just see darkness, he does not even perceive what is missing. For example, ask someone to hold up some fingers behind your head. Then tell them how many fingers you see. You can’t; not because you are seeing their hand as darkness, but because there isn’t any signal outside of your vision range to send from your eyes to your brain. And that is what happened when I lost part of my peripheral vision. I no longer see things that are next to me. I don’t perceive darkness; I can’t even discern what I’m missing.

“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT)

In a way, spiritual blindness or “spiritual darkness” is like this; those who are spiritually blind cannot even perceive what they are missing. The light of the Good News is completely blocked from an unbeliever’s brain, unless the person is humble (seeks) and God removes the veil of darkness from him (so he can find).

The spiritual blindness was much more apparent at Mardi Gras this year than I had noticed in the past. There was incredible wickedness, and yet so many people could not perceive the Light missing there.  Most believed that Christians are “anti-science” and having faith in God is “unreasonable.” However, those I spoke with not only received reasonable answers for the hope that we have, but they also learned they were misinformed. They found they were the ones blindly following beliefs without examining the facts to make informed decisions. The great news I can report, is that when someone was humble enough to receive the Gospel, it was shared!
This year I joined a team of twelve passionate, humble people.  We lived in community, and spent the days worshipping God and praying: for the city, for divine appointments, for wisdom and for softened hearts (versus the hardened “I’m a good person,” or “I’ll repent on Wednesday”); and the nights out ministering.  My personal continual prayer is that the false sense of peace that unbelievers/hypocrites have concerning the direction of their lives would be removed. That the light of the One, who is eternal life, would be revealed and glorified! And that I may be an instrument used to help return the lost sheep home.

Although I had many encounters, there were three individuals who stood out to me: Tom, the Bio-med student, who thought he knew more about life at 20 than all the “unscientific Christians” in the world. Stuart from Great Britain, a wealthy, promiscuous, world traveler, who loves the party scene. And finally, Elton, the father of two, who was an ex-minister, homeless, and a drug addict.

Saturday night, as I stood on the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon Streets, my friend Pastor Lance, brought a young man over to me whom he introduced as Tom, a Biomed student from Duke University.  Tom had some deep scientific questions he wanted answered before he was willing to consider Christianity. Tom recited standard arguments used to try to show Christianity is wrong, and when I recognized that he was just enjoying challenging me and didn’t really care what the answers were, I shifted the questioning over to him by asking him to give me real evidence for molecules-to-man evolution. Since Tom didn’t have an answer, he changed the subject by asking about “The Shroud of Turin.” I politely explained that though I believe that the “Shroud of Turin” is a cloth, and likely nothing more; however, I haven’t done any research on it because the truth of my convictions doesn’t stand on whether it is really the cloth that Jesus had on Him in the tomb.  I added that I wasn’t here to try and stump him, but that I wanted to help him get information he might not have yet and think it through. It was at this point Tom became open to hearing and having a great conversation. Lance took over and spoke with him for more than an hour and was able to pray with Tom before Tom left. To God be the glory!

Also on Saturday night I met Stu, from Great Britain. He challenged Christianity contrasting what the majority believes, quoting what he heard from the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. Although Stu could repeat what he’d heard, he hadn’t thought about the facts themselves, and was surprised to hear some of the many assumptions that go into secular science Ken Ham hadn’t had time to share during the debate. However, when Stu continued to disparage the intellect of Christians, I informed him that if we were not going to continue a cordial exchange of information the conversation was over. The Spirit must have been drawing him because Stu stopped the attacks and asked to hear more of my evidence and convictions. I explained the authenticity of the Scriptures through the manuscripts, archaeological finds (over 24,000), fulfilled prophecy, and the continuity of the Scriptures over thousands of years and their agreement throughout. I am continuing an exchange with Stu via email.  Pray he will submit to Jesus.

Finally, on Sunday, as we were finished for the night (or should I say morning), we were heading back to the van when I heard a voice whisper across the parking lot asking if I had a bottle of water to share. The man introduced himself as Elton, and as I handed him a bottle of water, I smiled and mentioned that I had Living Water to share with him too. Pastor Lance came over, and Elton shared that he used to be in the ministry, but heroin and crack were his current gods and he could not seem to get away from them. He had a Bible in his backpack and still prayed that he could be freed. However, Elton also admitted that he wasn’t really ready to go into a program anywhere. Unfortunately, this addiction has cost him contact with his two children, who he seemed to care about dearly. We prayed for Elton and let him know about a local ministry that could help him when he is ready to give up on the drugs and start anew in Christ. The ache for the pain and sadness in Elton’s eyes still show up in my thoughts daily.

Although there were many, many more encounters I would love to share, I would have to write a book. J  So, I end this letter with a very special thanks to the prayer warriors, for the monetary support, and for the thoughtful encouragement many of you gave me leading up to the trip.

“I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” – Philippians 3:18-19 (NLT)

With warm regards in Christ,

Jeff Sobieralski

"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."  - Philemon 1:6 (NIV)

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