When we first started doing the local leg of a brand new concept called Iron Sharpens Iron National Men's Conference in March 2007, we had no clue what we were doing. We were just a bunch of guys from Business Men in Christ (BMIC) investing about $3500 of our income to bring a Discipleship men's ministry to town, which ran with the big dawgs in Colorado, New England or Orlando, Florida. Tom Cheshire, who spearheaded that in 2007 has since moved on from BMIC and now leads the successful Relevant Practical Ministry for men, which focuses in growing this movement to disciple men across central Illinois.
As the leader of the Prayer and Marketing Committee that first year, my job was to run two prayer rooms - one with men and women praying all day as intercessors for the day long conference - and the other with another minister and myself, open to men only, to counsel and pray with them.
That first year, less than 10 days out, we only had 45 men register. On conference day, over 550 men showed up! This year, 14 days out, we only had 175 registered. Today, over 920 showed up. All the classrooms for the 16 Equipping Seminars were so packed, we had men overflowing out the doors! God showed up and showed us Who was in charge! Not us!
But the most rewarding part of this ministry for me each year, the privilege of ministering - first at the Chapel before the Conference starts with main speakers, leaders etc and communion with them and secondly, praying with and counseling with men from all backgrounds and stripes! Each year the needs get more critical and intense! Each year, we see and are blown back by the hurt, problems and issues some men are finally 'fessing up top and facing out there.
|DR. EARL POWELL (RIGHT) WITH BEARS CHAPLAIN|
RAY ELROY, FORMER DB FOR BEARS/LIONS/COLTS
Today Dr. Earl Powell (who has been ministering with me for 6 years now) and I and occasionally some other leaders, prayed with and counseled more men in the space of a few hours than we ever did in one year! Without naming names, we dealt with issues of bi-polar; alcohol and drug use; living in sin with women; unforgiveness and more.
Even more stunning that counseling and spiritual warfare with some demons some guys were battling was what happened in a seminar my friend Sam Mehaffie was conducting. Each year we bring him back for a reason. The reason is we have more and more boys from 12-18 years old who are brought there and have no father; or a father in name only...or are dealing with emotional neglect etc. It is uncanny! I ministered to a 13 year old named Isaac who is already dealing with all kinds of temptation and a couple of us to a most heart-breaking case - a giant of a kid, crying his eyes out because his dad just left his family for another woman, breaking his kids heart.
This guy, Chad, had never heard about Abba Father - Daddy, Father God - loving him so much that Jesus the Son took the hit for him. We believed, prayed into and cried out for a long time for God to send a Godly man alongside this teen to be his spiritual father. We try not to leave these poor boys hanging but hook them up with resources to start them off. These boys, and increasingly they are from wealthy or good suburban/urban families - never heard this kind of talk in their churches, from their pastors or parents!
|WITH CHICAGO BEARS CHAPLAIN RAY MCELROY|
The question remains - what on earth are they hearing?!!! Has the church become so focused on playing games, they threw out the ONE THING Jesus commissioned us to do - MAKE DISCIPLES! Everyone is to blame for this, include us who are finally doing something about it.
This summer, our Decatur branch guys are doing a summer boys camp to teach young men that Sexual Purity is demanded by God for Righteousness but it is going to be out by a private lakefront, so they can have fun while learning. Many of these kids/teens have never been outside the inner city. So that's exciting. Folks we have to do something because our next generation of men, now still boys and older teens are in huge danger. The corrupt and morally bankrupt public education and political systems, and increasingly - the church body - are failing our future men big time. They, every single one - from president to pastor - will be called to account for this travesty one day. This is in the Book, don't doubt it!
I ask you to pray for all the men we personally ministered to, one on one today as well as all those broken teenage boys who never knew that God believes in them. If only we can catch some of this generation before they slip through the cracks into the bad part of eternity, it will make all of this more than worthwhile! It is more than worthwhile, because our Savior, Jesus Christ, is MORE than WORTHY of our Praise! Amen.