Below is an e-mail from Michael Schembre, a young man who used to be a member of Rockport Baptist Church. Please pray for him as he shares his heart and prepares to make a return trip to Mexico. This is the first of what I hope will be many posts from people who have been to Mexico and who are preparing. Also, please be in prayer that the Lord would supply the finances for Michael for this February.
Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,
Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,
After prayer and consideration, I feel that God has led me to write this letter first, in response to what Christ has recently done in and through me, and also because I feel that I simply can not contain the joy that is in my soul and the fire that God The Almighty has lit within me. I first want to say to anyone who will be receiving this email who has prayed for my soul recently or in the past, thank you so very much, for I know that much of what Christ has recently done in my life has been in response to prayer, and I am eternally grateful to all of have cared enough about me to lift my name up in prayer with concern for my soul.
After praying about what I should include in this letter, I feel led to share a little background to sort of set the stage. I first moved away from home this past summer (summer of 07). When I first moved away, if I'm honest I was mainly just excited to get away from my Christian parents so I would be finally be free to do some partying without the stress of trying to hide it from my loving parents. So that is exactly what I did for the first part of the summer. I partied and put my head down and ran away from Christ as fast as I could. I was living with my brother (whom God in his providence had saved the winter before) and some other roomates. My relationship with him was very wierd, because he didn't want to judge me, but yet God had changed his life so we had little in common. Since my brother had been saved he had started going to Karis Community Church in , (and since had joined the worship band playing the piano) The last thing that I wanted to do was go to church. I had spent my whole life in church, Sunday after Sunday, and this was my one time to get a break from it. But because of the guilt that I felt (mainly due to my brother urging me to go), towards the middle of the summer I started going with him. Every single Sunday I went, there would be a moment during the worship service when I would feel God pricking at my heart, and every single Sunday, by the end of the worship service, I would be an absolute snotty, teary mess, completely broken down and at the end of myself. If I'm honest with myself, I would lie in bed dreading the next day, knowing that God was going to break me down once again. I began to experience a very scary and heavy presence every single time I stepped into that church, and I knew exactly what was going to happen the next day in church. One night during the summer, after time and time again of God bringing me to the end of myself, and me continuing to run, and then repeating the same process again and again, something amazing happened. I was sitting in my room and thinking, and God spoke mightily to my soul. I knew at that moment if I did not "get off the fence" and commit to Christ, He was going to cut me off forever. I felt it was my last chance, and I knew that I must stop living a lie, and look to Christ.
God began to work in my life, and used the leaders of Karis to guide me through the very hard time that I was going through. I began playing the violin with my brother in the worship band, and soon began to become more and more deeply involved with the people of Karis. Things were really starting to turn around, and God was starting to work in me. But of course, as all Christians know, there was and is still much trial to come. When college started, a whole new wealth of temptation presented itself to me, and me being the week feeble man that I am, began to let satan convince me that my freshmen year at college would only come once, and I needed to take advantage of it. I began to fall right back into the same trap that I had fell into time and time again, and my walk with God began to suffer. The leaders at Karis new that something was up, and they, as well as many people from back home, I know were in prayer for my soul. Just as is going to happen many many times in my walk with Christ, God once again had to bring me to the end of myself. My first semester was pretty shaky at college, as I was struggling with resisting the wealth of temptation that college presented and staying involved and faithful with the church that I had joined. When I came home for break, I was still greatly struggling with following God, and trying to escape a past of seeking man's approval. Many people from home and at Baptist Church (the curuch I was at before college where my dad is the worship pastor) had very encouraging words for me, and God used many people to help me and give me wisdom through a controversial time in my life and I am very grateful for my Christian friends back home.
When I went back to college, Christ really began to due serious work in my life. I knew that it was time to grow up, and God began to give me incomprehensible strength in resisting sin at college that I had previously struggled greatly with and that was standing in the way of spiritual growth. I began to fall more and more in love with my Christian friends at Karis church, and God was using them to disciple me, and teach me. I began to develop a heart that loved to cry out to God in prayer, and study his word. I began to focus on my school work, church, and my Christian relationships rather than on being a typical immature dumb college freshmen. I started growing more and more in my walk with Christ, so much so that I almost wasn't prepared for how much work God was going to do in such a short period of time. One thing that has caused so much growth, is God providing so much accountability for me through Karis (but more on that later). A couple weeks into this semester, I began to experience things that I have never before experienced through God's unfailing grace. I recall several days in which I would come to my dorm room after a 10:00 class, and throw my bookbag down, thinking I was maybe going to catch some sleep before my next class, and the next thing I knew I was on my face on the floor in tears crying out to God in prayer for long periods of time. I had never experienced the power of God in such a way, and I was loving every second of it. I began to depend on prayer to get me through the day, and I began to get serious about studying the word and following Christ with my whole heart. The more I let go of my pride, and committed my life up into Christs hands, the more I began to experience amazing grace. These past couple of weeks have been absolutely a turning point in my life. God has began to put many people in my path to witness to, and God continues to throw me on my face in humbleness and prayer and give me a heart that is no longer ashamed of my God or His gospel...THANK GOD THANK GOD THANK GOD. Thats all I can say right now. As I look at my life right now, and then contemplate where it could be, I am absolutely humbled and amazed. I look at my "friends" at college, seeking for joy through alcohol, sex, and themselves, and know that apart from God's unbelievable grace I would be right there with them. I am so humbled at the church God has put me in and where I am at in my relationship with my church. Just to walk you through a typical week up here at college (in regards to my church): Sunday I obviously have church where I play in the worship band and meet new awesome people seemingly every week, Wednesday we have community groups at different Church member's humble homes, where we go through a lesson, then go around confessing and praying with one another, Thursday I have worship band practice where we also confess and pray and hold each other accountable as a worship team, and then usually or Saturday I meet with my accountability partner where we go through a very serious and hard (but awesome) accountability session confessing and crying to God in repentance for our sins throughout the week, as well as discussing different ways to assist each other in areas of struggle. God obviously knew how week I am for He has been so faithful in providing accountability for me as a young Christian who needs it sooo much. How gracious is God in providing so much loving accountability for my life that has been so very beneficial to my walk with Christ, especially at a hard time like freshmen year in college? I am again humbled and amazed.
So now to the main point of this letter..(long intro huh!) As I stated, these past couple of weeks have been absolutely incredible in my life. God is revealing so many new things to me daily, and growing me in ways I could never have imagined. Just an example, today I was driving home from a Q and A session with Dr. Shriener (part of our theology weekend at Karis) and I began to pray and was trying to really comprehend the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In the blink of an eye, like scales were removed from my eyes, a revelation occurred in my soul and I began to realize like never before how in the world the sacrifice of Christ makes me counted righteous in Christ's eyes. I know it sounds basic, but I can not explain how clear it became. It sounds radical, but I can only be honest about what God is doing in my life. These types of these have been happening a lot lately, along with God putting many people in my path that I have been able to witness to and be a light to (including my roommate who last night I presented in great depth the gospel and walked him through some scripture...It was a very humbling and awesome time) and also just really giving me a needy heart for prayer. A couple of weeks ago when all of this kind of started happening, I really felt that God was preparing me for something for He was using me mightily as well as growing me more rapidly then I could really comprehend. One night I called my brother in Christ Aaron (and also my old youth pastor) and told him what God was doing and expressed that I felt that God was preparing me for something. Interestingly enough, he presented me with an oppurtunity to go on a mission trip with him to . I prayed a lot about it and God made it obvious to me that this is what He was preparing me for. God's sovereignty is truly amazing. I am not writing this letter asking for money (though if God leads you to take part in His work by giving, I will accept with humbleness and gratefulness)but rather asking for prayer that God would work mightily in in the hearts of the people there, and also to ask for prayer for God to continue to do mighty work in my life coming up to, through, and after this trip. I know that prayer has gotten me where I am, and prayer will sustain me. I have just felt so much joy in God for what He has done, I simply could not go another day without sharing God's grace in my life with other people. Thank you so much for reading this letter, and I ask sincerely for your prayers. College is still a wealth of temptation, and the devil tries to tempt me daily, but with the awesome accountability that God has provided for me, prayer, grace, and prayer from other brothers and sister in Christ (such as yourselves.. hint hint) I know that God will continue to sustain. Please keep me in your prayers, for God is doing a great work in me and I know He is going to use me mightily for His glory. I am passionate when I say I want to be a humble servant of the Most High, and I have a desire that is completely God given to be used in a way that makes me look like the nothing that I truly am, and makes God look like the everything that He truly is. What an amazing, all sufficient God.
In sincere love,
P.S. Please also keep my roomate in prayer as I know that God is using me in his life. His name is Greg. Thank you so much again.