FRESH MARCHING ORDERS

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to pull away for a day and do what is called a SWAP Meet at Cacapon State Park. It was an amazing day sincerely Surrendering anew to Jesus, Waiting on Him in prayer and the reading of His Word, and Acknowledging areas I had fallen short with Him, so that I can follow the Promptings of the Holy Spirit and do the work He has called me to here, there and everywhere. (A great read on all of this can be found in Steve Smith’s book, Spirit Walk. If you have never done something like this, I highly recommend it.)

One of the takeaways from this time are some specific things I must be doing if I am to help lead others to impact this world with the gospel and see His Kingdom advance. They all come from 1 Timothy and can be summarized in this way:

  • Strongly engage in battle (like a warrior, fight to win) – 1 Tim 1:18
  • Train in godliness (self and others) – 1 Tim 4:7b
  • Guard what has been entrusted to me (keep sacred, holy, pure His Word/His Ways) – 1 Tim 6:20

I’ve been praying and thinking about this a lot since then. And from what I can discern from my prayerful contemplation, I must make a needed shift in how I approach the tasks at hand.

I write these things down in this Blog to help me articulate and navigate some next steps in this journey. See if any of these relate to where you are, too.

  1. Recognize this is WAR! I am His soldier, actively battling to liberate the souls of men and women all over the world. There is no time to sit and passively watch this war devour and destroy so many. Like the brave men and women who heroically stormed the beaches of Normandy and advanced against the German hold on the world until it was crushed in WWII, I must actively take the beachheads of this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To not do so means I am willing to see billions perish without hope. This is unacceptable!
  2. Train in GODLINESS, not worldly tactics. Despite the many advantages to modern warfare, this present war requires a tried and true preparation and practice – complete trust and obedience to God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Only adherence to these lead us to victory over this diabolical enemy. As such, my daily trainings must be more focused than ever on what God says about my real purpose in life as recorded in His Word and through the power of His Spirit.
  3. The only way any of this can be done for the long haul is by GUARDING THE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN ENTRUSTED TO ME: grace, mercy, hope, faith, love, etc. As I guard, hold onto, cherish what is sacred and holy – King Jesus’ character and nature, His plans and purposes, His will for the Nations – I will see the Kingdom of God advance and the liberation of the masses. This is why He still has me here on this earth – to guard and pass on all that He is to others!

Needless to say, it was an incredible time with my Lord, and will be life-changing for me and others as I “SWAP” my way of doing things for HIS WAY!

Interested in joining me in these efforts? Let’s talk, pray, and lock arms together, until there is NO PLACE LEFT WITHOUT THE GOSPEL.

Gary

Shared Obedience Changes the World

For years, I have longed to engage individuals throughout the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ (seriously, it has been a constant desire since 1986). This “call to the Nations” is what led me to take my first International Mission Trip in 1990, led me to change my Biblical Studies emphasis for my undergrad to Missiology, and led me to pursue different mission organizations in the early 90’s as a full-time missionary. But for whatever reason, God never allowed me to do this back then, as door after door was shut.

While serving as a Lead Pastor for the next 18 years, I tried to be involved in “reaching the Nations” by participating in short-term mission trips annually, encouraging church members to participate with me, supporting missionaries that were part of different Great Commission organizations, and praying for an awakening around the world that would somehow finish the task. Despite all of these things, I still had a great longing to be a more active participant in reaching the Nations, but again, God never allowed that to take place.

Then, out of nowhere, God made it very clear to me in 2010 that I was to step down as a Lead Pastor, head to West Virginia and assume a role as an Executive Pastor, and begin serving in a very different role in ministry in “The Second Chair.” That move proved to be the most difficult move of my life (at least up until this point). I struggled with God for several years concerning this because I simply did not see how this would “help make disciples of peoples from every tribe, nation and tongue.” In fact, for the first time in my faith-walk, I questioned if God really knew what He was doing by sending me to what seemed like, “the end of actually changing the world!”

Then four years ago, something happened that brought me to the “end of myself.” While still serving as an Executive Pastor, I was finally working with an amazing international mission organization, sensing this was the direction God had for me and my family for the rest of our lives. But then out of nowhere, a “decision was made” that the role I was playing for this organization needed a change. And just like that, my dream of GOING TO THE NATIONS and being an active leader of reaching people without Christ ’twas gone! It may have been the darkest days of my life when I feared that dream and vision from God had died!

But then IT HAPPENED!

Two different men stepped out in obedience and forever changed my world! The first, my long-time friend and fellow pastor, Jim Goforth, spoke into me words of life that only someone like him could speak to me. Those words on that day were so powerful because they helped me to see, “I can’t do this, BUT GOD CAN!” (Jim, you will never know this side of heaven how much you mean to me.)

The second man, a dear friend and co-laborer in the harvest fields of Bolivia, Rick Ware, did what I never even thought possible. Out of his own intense prayer time, Rick felt led by God to start a ministry that would impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And at that desperate time in my life, Rick asked me to help cofound this new ministry with him.

Yesterday, we celebrated the fourth anniversary of New Life Global Ministries. Looking back over these four years, I see how God has been at work in ways that I only dreamed of and I am simply in awe of Him (really, an awe and amazement that I think had to be what the original followers of Christ experienced as recorded in the Acts of the Early Church).

Maybe I am a slow learner. Maybe I have been reluctant in things He has asked of me over the years. And maybe I simply was not ready to be used to impact the world. I don’t know any of those things!

But what I do know is this – God has kept that longing to be an active part of fulfilling His Great Commission ever before me. And today, we are seeing GOD WORK through us here at home, around our country, and to the ends of the world. The VISION IS BECOMING A REALITY!

And if it were not for so many people who have SHARED moments of obedience to Him with me (like a Jim Goforth and a Rick Ware), I do not believe I would have this high and holy privilege to be serving the King of all Kings in the way that I am today (in the NATIONS).

If you are one who has struggled with seeing something come to pass that you know God desires of you, keep taking steps of faith with Him. But also look around you and see the many others that are also taking steps of obedience with Him. More than likely, they are the ones He wants to link you with, to finally fulfill that specific purpose He put into you.

Celebrating Life

Today marks the 52nd year that I have been alive. It doesn’t seem like 52 years have come and gone as quickly as they have. In fact, I can’t even believe that we are almost at the midway point of 2019 (what happened to the last ten years)!

But what I do know about this day, May 14th, is this is the day that God chose to bring me into this world. And since I do not believe any person is an accident (Psalm 139 says otherwise), I know He has had me here on this earth these 52 years for a reason.

Although I have not always used the days, weeks, months and years that have made up the now 52 years of life, one thing has been very apparent concerning why I have this life – to somehow, someway, magnify God’s greatness through my life so that others will seek Him, trust Him, and learn to follow Him through the acceptance and surrender to His Son, Jesus.

Since I have fumbled and stumbled so many times over the years, not representing Him very well, it amazes me that He continues to give me life. Yet, maybe it is through the struggles that I have experienced (many self-induced) that He uses this thing called “my life” to showoff His mercy, glory and grace.

I think that is part of what Ephesians 2:7-10 (NLT) is saying:

So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

God uses this crazy life of mine, with all the ups and downs, messes and difficulties, even the outright failures that I have had to demonstrate His grace. And believe it or not, the 52 years I have lived serve as a Trophy of His Grace (this is one of the reasons it is truly called “Amazing Grace.”)

In response to such unbelievable grace (The God-Man came, lived, died, was buried and rose again to make me new in Him), I know why He now has me here – “so we (I) can do the good things He planned for us (me) to do long ago.” (v. 10)

You know what the greatest things are that I get to do in this life? Help others know and follow Him. And to that end, I celebrate this day with so many family and friends, not because there is anything great about me, but rather, to keep using this life to help others truly “celebrate life in Christ.”

52 is looking pretty good. And I am thankful.

Until there is no place left.

Gary

Is He Worthy? Is He Worth It?

Have you ever had a song speak to you so profoundly that it changed you? Or have you ever watched a movie that by the time the credits rolled at the end, you were speechless? Both of these things has happened to me over the past few weeks, and to be honest, I’m a mess right now!

The first came through a song written by Andrew Peterson in 2018, but one that I had not heard until the release of a new album by Shane and Shane. It is called, “Is He Worthy?” Listening to this song describe the soon to come choral anthem that will be sung in heaven as depicted in Revelation 5, my heart leaps with joy because of what this song declares. In the midst of everything that is broken, everything that is wrong, everything that is impossible, there is One who is worthy to change it all – King Jesus! And simply understanding the worth of my Lord, I find myself not only singing this song over and over again, but praising my Lord because He alone is worthy!

Read these words and see if they stir your heart the way they do mine:

Do you feel the world is broken? (We do)
Do you feel the shadows deepen? (We do)
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? (We do)
Do you wish that you could see it all made new? (We do)

Is all creation groaning? (It is)
Is a new creation coming? (It is)
Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst? (It is)
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? (It is)

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this?
He is

Does the Father truly love us? (He does)
Does the Spirit move among us? (He does)
And does Jesus, our Messiah hold forever those He loves? (He does)
Does our God intend to dwell again with us? (He does)

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is!
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
He is!
He is! 

Thank God that HE IS WORTHY!

But another question that is similar, yet, completely different, has come to mind this week while watching a movie. I first read the book, “The Insanity of God,” shortly after it was published in 2013. And when the movie, “The Insanity of God,” came out in 2016, I went with a small group of friends that are now the ones who I serve beside each day as part of New Life Global Ministries. (Needless to say, this book/movie has had a profound impact on my life.)

If you have never heard of this work before, “The Insanity of God” is the true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken. After the death of their son, this ordinary couple journeys into the depths of the persecuted church, asking the question-IS JESUS WORTH IT? As you discover in the book/movie, the Ripkens were taught by these believers in persecution how to follow Jesus, how to love Jesus, and how to walk with Him day by day even when it doesn’t make sense. If you have not read the book or seen the movie, please do.

Thinking about what I saw and heard again this week in the rewatching of this DVD, I find myself asking the question over and over again, “Is Jesus worth following Him into the nations? Is He worth the ongoing trust and faith that He will provide whatever is needed in this work? Is the Lord worth giving up on all that I/we have known as followers/a family to this point in life to now run hard to complete the Great Commission? Is Jesus worth it?”

I want to say, “Yes, He is worth it!” Yet, if I am completely honest, so many times I deny the Lord of His worth (just like Peter – John 18:15-27). However, answering this question in light of the Revelation 5 question and answer, that changes everything for me. Because HE IS WORTHY, HE IS WORTH IT!

I write these words today for one reason: accountability. May whatever life is left in me and for me here on this side of heaven demonstrate that HE IS WORTH IT because HE IS WORTHY!

Gary – March 27, 2019

“’Jesus is worth it!’” He is worth it all! Begin a spiritual journey of your own. Discover for yourself the incredible peace and power that you too can experience when you live by faith resurrected. It will change your life and it will turn your world upside down. I know this all sounds crazy. But I assure you that it’s not. It’s just . . . THE INSANITY OF GOD”
― Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected

The Making of Our Connecting Flight Miracle!

March 8, 2019 – Gary A. Willett

 

I can’t believe what just happened! We made a connection flight from an international entry to a domestic flight in 1 hour and 5 minutes. For those that do not fly very much internationally, that is a miracle!

Why do I say this? Because unloading at Boston airport on a sold out SATA flight from Ponta Delgado (Azores) does not take place quickly. And getting through customs always takes time (usually considerable time). Then getting your bags, going out of the secured terminal to run to the complete opposite side of Logan International Airport easily takes 45-60 minutes. And finding an agent at Southwest check in (after they already closed at 9:00) doesn’t happen. And going back through security in 3 minutes – a miracle of miracles! And having two old guys run to the farthest gate on Terminal A (I’m still out of breath), well that’s just funny. And having a kind, Southwest agent greet you at your gate saying, “You made it! Welcome to your flight home,” that’s just special.

65 minutes. International to Domestic. Through Customs in 2 minutes. From Terminal E to Terminal A. Recheck to a different airline in 5 minutes. Security in 3?!?! Thank You, Jesus, for hearing our plea to make this last flight of our long journey home.

Now let me share the real reason I wrote this post. Making a flight in record time is nothing for God to do. And yet, He cares for His beloved followers so much that He blesses them at times with such insignificant things as making the final connecting flight home after traveling 15 hours to get to this point. But even greater,

He loves it when we cry out to Him in complete dependence, regardless of what we are petitioning Him for, because this shows our utter need and trust in our Lord.

And my miracle of making Southwest Flight 1915 from Boston to BWI tonight is just one of many ways I have seen my Father in Heaven care for me the past 10 days while serving Him in Cape Verde.

I think I’m going to keep trusting Him for miracles, no matter how big or small they are.

Humbled by the care of Abba Father!

Gary

#willettbyfaith
#themiracleofmakingflight1915
#ibelieve

Train, Train, Train

Training to train others to train others works!

This is Adilson. He was working on Saturday and Sunday so he did not get to be in our trainings. But because his family was, they trained him on Monday on all that we did. And yesterday (Tuesday), he went out with us. He knew EVERYTHING and was able to help train a new follower of Christ at the first home we visited, as well as train others in sharing the gospel. Train to train others to train others!

For those who wonder, “What are you training people to know or do?” Simple: to FOLLOW JESUS! And like those who first followed Jesus, HE WILL MAKE FISHERS OF PEOPLE out of those who follow Him.

If you desire to be trained in biblical, simple, easily reproducible and reproducing tools that help you follow Christ and make more healthy, multiplying disciples of Christ, contact me at garywillett@gonlgm.org and I would be overjoyed to train you to train others so that they can train others, too (2 Timothy 2:2).

The Doors are Open

Many people speak to the indifference this world has towards the things of God. Looking at some of the things that have taken place in our own country over the past few months, it would be easy to come to such a conclusion. However, I am finding more and more doors open to the gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed than at any other time in my life. And I believe the two have something to do with each other.

Are there great atrocities and injustices in this world today that are deplorable? Absolutely! Just listen to or read a daily news feed and you will hear of senseless murders, recent overdoses, children being removed from parents due to neglect, fires that have destroyed homes, villages in distant areas experiencing forms of genocide, a car accident taking a beloved police-officer, a 16 year old dying from an asthma attack, politicians pushing for new laws that go directly against God’s Laws, and on and on I could go (these are all actual stories from news feeds I have read during February 2019). Yet, each of the people who are part of these heart-breaking stories have something in common – the need for HOPE.

Thankfully, those of us who are in Christ have hope. And it’s a living hope because the One for whom we put such hope in is alive – the resurrected Lord Jesus! And believe it or not, this “Living Hope” is not only needed by all who are struggling in this world, but wanted, if only someone would show them how to experience such hope, firsthand.

As I work in different places around our world today, seeing so many hurting, desperate, hopeless people in each place I go, I now realize that all of those hurts and struggles and injustices are actually open doors for me to share and show God’s love. And guess what? God’s love trumps the world’s woes!

What door is in front of you right now that you need to unlatch the lock and walk through with the hope of Jesus? Whatever it is, just do it! And as you do, you will be used by God to help someone’s hopelessness be changed into eternal hope. There are few things in this world that brings as much joy as bringing hope to someone who has been hopeless. Now is the time to walk through those doors.

Gary

Until There is NO PLACE LEFT

July 18, 2018

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Osvi, Rodrigo, Gary

“Why do you keep coming to Bolivia?” That was a question asked of me last week by a young man named Rodrigo as my Bolivian partner, Osvi, and I prayer walked a community called COBOL where he lives. It’s a question I am often asked whenever I am in Bolivia. And the answer is always the same, “I go wherever the Lord opens doors for me to share the good news of Jesus.” And with that, conversations began with this young man who has experienced many hurts in life in such a short time (mother abandoned him when he was 8, father criticized him as a young teen for exploring Christianity, and a pastor failed him big time just a few years ago).

3 Circles - 2 Authorities - Follow the King
3 Circles – 2 Authorities (God’s Word & God’s Spirit) – Follow the King

Unfortunately, many that I meet in Bolivia are just like Rodrigo – seeking, hoping, longing for more in life than just the here and now, yet, hardened, skeptical, even jaded by the way life consumes you.  Thankfully, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus find what they are looking for (and so much more). That’s what my new brother in Christ, Rodrigo, did. After some long, deep, conversations (and my scribbling on a piece of paper to try to answer some of his questions), I once again watched someone turn from darkness to the light of Christ. Rodrigo found what He was looking for, but could not be found anywhere but with Jesus, the King!

This is why I keep going back to Bolivia. It’s also why I keep going wherever doors are open – in my community, in our country, and to various places throughout the world. I know that there are people who are desperate for hope, yet, have never had someone offer them the Hope of Jesus, let alone, show them how to follow Him. That’s why I go! And as I come close to completing my third month in this new season of life with NLGM, this is what I will be doing here, there and everywhere until there is NO PLACE LEFT without the gospel!

There are dozens of stories like this from this last journey to Cochabamba and then the follow up visit to LaPaz last week (if you would like to hear more, let me know and we will have coffee together). But for now, please know how thankful I am to God for each of you who pray for me, encourage me, and support me and my family financially so that we can GO MAKE DISCIPLES OF THE NATIONS. Together, we are seeing lives changed all over the world. Thank you, thank you and thank you again!

Gary

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Ask me about what God is doing in Felix’s life

P.S. – If you would like to partner with us in what God is doing throughout the world, send me an email and let’s talk. It would be a great honor to come alongside of you and partner together for the completion of the Great Commission.

Driving Lessons

Yesterday was our first day out into the streets of Cochabamba. As usual, the people we ZbU+bl01RvS9+RAjg325Sgmet were gracious and welcoming, the lunch we were served by our host church was delicious and very filling, and the views of God’s creation breathtaking and reassuring. I am thankful for all of these things and more as it was a great first day out in the harvest fields in Bolivia. But what I think I am most thankful for as I arise early this Sunday morning is a profound lesson I learned while driving with a pastor yesterday.

As one of the team leaders (and being the odd-man-out since we have three team members working in three different areas), I will be rotating between all of the teams this week. Since the vehicles that are taking us out to these areas can only accommodate 6-9 people, Pastor Edwin drove me and my interpreter to where we would be working.  And before I even got to where “the work” was to take place, God begin “working on me.”

Getting to know one another better over our 45 minute ride to Cobal, I quickly discovered I was riding with a man of God who is willing to give up everything to reach his beloved people of Bolivia.

Case in point, Pastor Edwin, his wife Lydia, and their two children Sarai and Samuel, not only serve a growing church near the business district of Cochabamba, but are seeking to make more disciples of Christ who will help start new churches all over Bolivia. Since my coleader, Ryan McFarland and his bride (and my daughter, Abigail), met with Pastor Edwin and did our initial training with him and the leaders of his church eight months ago, they have practiced the tools that they were given and are now working towards starting four additional churches on different sides of Cochabamba. Our team is working with 3 of these new works this week. Thinking about the receptivity of the people that we encountered on Day 1, I believe Pastor Edwin has done a great job of preparing the fields for this season of sowing and nurturing.

But maybe what has struck me most about the uniqueness of this man is the extent to which he is willing to go to reach people with the gospel.

Just last week, he and several in his church spent 7 nights (midnight to 6:00am) praying for the work we are doing beside them this week. Yes, I said 7 all-night-prayer-meetings, asking God to move in the hearts of people we encounter this week. And just a month ago, Pastor Edwin and his church participated in a 21-day fast, preparing themselves spiritually for this coming harvest, giving up food to cry out to God to pour out His blessings upon the people of Bolivia. Oo72iqO3TNu39eAAHOP2gg

As great as everything has been so far (trainings, travel, our team, where we are staying, food, interpreters, first day results), I am pretty sure that God wants to use Pastor Edwin’s example to change my life. And unless I am misunderstanding the whisper I believe I am hearing from God in this, I know what I need to do next – SURRENDER all that I am to my Savior and Lord, just as I heard a Pastor in Bolivia doing during a ride to Cobal.

For all who are praying for me and our team, thank you. We are seeing God change lives – Bolivians and North Americans. Please keep praying.

Gary

Changing the World!

474177-1530188737224As I head out to meet our Missionary Journey Team heading to Bolivia in less than an hour, I wanted to make sure that all who are praying for us and who support our ministry know that WE ARE CHANGING THE WORLD!  Thank you for being such a vital part of reaching the whole world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Together, we are seeing lives changed, one step at a time. THANK YOU for being a part of all of this.

God bless, and please keep praying. I willupdate as much as I can while in Bolivia.

Gary

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