Hope you are all very blessed!!! Here's an update:
On January 3rd of this year, I traveled with several other musicians and songwriters over to Mumbai, India to share Jesus with those precious people and to song-write. We saw many, many people come to Jesus for the first time! It was incredible. I would love to share a couple life-changing stories with you from the trip:
1. I was teamed up one day with a youth pastor from TX named Garrett, and we were sharing Jesus with a handful of folks in a home in the slums. Amazingly and sadly, many of homes we went into in the slums were FAR more hospitable than homes here in the states, despite the homes being about the size of a mini-van. Such was the case with this home. Precious people. We were sharing the story of the gospel, and throughout the entire story, one lady was bawling her eyes out. We were curious, but kept sharing. Eventually, we were so eager to know what was going on, we got our translator to just stop and ask her. He asked her. She spoke back to him. He chuckles. Laughing hard. Really hard. Even MORE intrigued now, we asked our translator, "what did she say to you?". He said to me, "The woman told me that she had a dream very recently that someone was in her home talking to her about some person who lived a long time ago named Jesus Christ. That person looked just like you" We were all FLOORED. Glory be to God!!! If you are doubting it, Jesus IS still definitely alive, well, and working in the world today.
2. On a train one day heading to a ministry site, I had a conversation that I will NEVER forget. His name was Ajay and he was probably around 22 years old. He had a red dot painted on his forehead, so I asked him what it meant. He said that he put it there because He had said his prayers to God that day (Ajay is of the Hindu faith). That was an obvious open door from the LORD to begin talking about the one true God. I asked him if he has ever heard of Jesus. He said yes. I asked him what he knew about Jesus. He said, "nothing". (Brothers and sisters there are MILLIONS of others just like Ajay in the world today, and apart from knowing Jesus they will perish. We must GO!!!) So I told him The Story. I started out at creation, talked about the fall, about sin, and about Jesus being born of a virgin. Went through the whole thing. Then, I'll never forget what happened next. I told Ajay that Jesus died on a cross for his sins. He was brutally beaten and executed so that he could be forgiven. Then I told him, "but 3 days later, Jesus rose again".
I will never forget the expression on Ajay's face. You would've thought someone just told him he won the 5 million dollars and free Chick-fil-a for the rest of his life (okay, so he's probably never heard of Chick-fil-a, but I would be real excited about that)! It was the most beautiful, child-like expression of wonder and faith I have ever seen. Then he said two words I will never forget (in a very cool indian accent). Ajay said, "It's true?!?". Never in my life have I encountered a more appropriate response to the resurrection and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was AMAZED! And in that moment, as tears filled my eyes, and as religious callouses were breaking off of my heart like chains, I had the privilege of telling Ajay, "yes! it's true Ajay!!! it's true." Ajay didn't pray a "sinner's prayer" in that moment, but it sure looked like faith more than anything I have ever seen.
Brothers and sisters, who hear the gospel everyday, may we be PERPETUALLY MESMERIZED with the story of Jesus Christ. May we remind ourselves every day that IT IS TRUE. So walking the streets of Mumbai that day, the LORD gave me a song called "it's true". I hope you get to hear it soon.
So I am SUPER STOKED to tell you about this next thing. Through a series of events and things that the LORD has laid on my heart, we are going to be building an orphanage this year in the nation of India! God has given me a vision, based on James 1:27, to partner with Him in seeing 127 of these homes built across the world, Lord willing. Essentially, the vision is to create local church based and self-sustaining communities of people caring for widows caring for orphans. It is our attempt to live James 1:27. THIS SPECIFIC HOUSE, which I cannot give the exact location of due to security reasons, will be led and pastored by a precious brother in Christ named Mukesh. (I can tell you that the orphanage will be located in one of the poorest states in India.) After much prayer and research as to WHO we should partner with in building our first orphanage, the Lord connected me with Mukesh, a 29 year old pastor in India, WHO HAD BEEN GIVEN THE SAME EXACT VISION FROM GOD! It has been Mukesh's dream for so long to have a place for the hungry, poor, and crippled children of India to have a place to cared for and discipled. Now, by God's grace, his dream is becoming reality! He is a trustworthy brother and a powerful man of God. The ministry that Mukesh will have there will not only be an orphanage.....it will be a church, a school, and a home for widows....offering basic medical supplies and food for the community. A multi-purpose building is currently in the works. I AM SO STOKED!!! This place, Lord willing, is gonna turn that place UPSIDE DOWN for Jesus!! I cannot describe to you how excited I am, and how VAST the NEED is there. So many people without Jesus, without hope, without food, without health, and without homes. In the area where the orphanage will be, the gospel is virtually nonexistent. The WEALTHIEST people there do not have electricity. The homes that they live in are heaps of garbage. Children who are low in the caste system are purposefully physically deformed and mistreated. They need a home. They need Jesus. If we can reach the children with the gospel, we will reach the parents and the community. Until the multi-purpose building can be built, Mukesh and his wife are taking 5 (true) orphan children into their own home to care for them. This is a testimony to Mukesh's faith and deep burden for this place and these people.
For the time being, we are being assisted by an organization called Net India Ministries (since I have never built an orphanage before!! :). I would love for you to give toward this incredible place! The cool thing is, since the orphanage is essentially just me and mukesh, there are no overhead costs involved, so you can KNOW that all of your donation will go to this house!!! And since Net India has been so gracious to help us, you can also know that your donation will be a tax-deductable gift. In fact, you could be as specific as you like. If you would like to purchase food for the children, books, beds, toys, just tell us and we will make that happen. If you are interested in making a financial contribution, or if you have ANY questions about the orphanage, please send me and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would love to talk with you about it!!! Glory be to God!
The spring traveling has begun and it has already been wonderful and fruitful for the kingdom. Having Phil, and new additions Zach and Ben, on the road is such a blessing. They love Jesus!!! We are currently in our 3rd weekend and we have many more to come. Just last night, we saw 25 students accept Christ. We are so blessed to get to do what we do, and we hope to get to see YOU sometime this spring!
Praise the Lord, "Open Hands" has been really successful lately on Christian radio! Call your local station and request this song!!! The Lord is using it.
Lastly, I wanted to let you know about future albums. I will be going into the studio in April (Lord willing) to record another "Scripture Songs" CD, which I am very excited about (will release in may or june of this year).....and this FALL I will be heading into the studio to record another full-length, full-blown, studio album (Lord willing to be released SPRING 2011). I've been writing a lot lately, so please pray for the Lord's anointing on these songs.
Well that's all for now. I can't say thanks enough for all of your support and encouragement over the years!!! I could not do this without it. May the Lord bless you and keep you.