Part 4 of our Nashville Story. We would love for you to read the blogs leading up to this one: just click on the 'Nashville' Category below!
Back in September 2019, we were so excited to finally make it to Bend, Oregon. We knew the previous summer we'd be heading to the northwestern part of the United States, and Bend was #1 on our list.
As with most of the cities we visited in our first year, we had never been to Bend, but had several confirmations that we should go there. I won't go into all those, but we were very expectant of what God was going to do.
A family we have known for over 15 years had recently moved to Bend, and another family we've had supernatural encounters with multiple times also lives there (You can read about one of those here ). We arrived in Bend, OR in the beginning of September, 2019 and spent a significant amount of time with Matthew and Tiffany Libby and their 4 kiddos.
One morning while in Bend, Mary went out for a coffee date with Tiffany (from above family) and that is where the prophetic word began to stir. Tiffany asked if there was anything significant with the month of April for us. Mary immediately thought of the miscarriages and her journey with cancer. Two of the four miscarriages happened in April and her journey with cancer began in the month of April, 2013. After hearing this, Tiffany said that she believed God was going to do something new in April to redeem all of the things the enemy had stolen from us!
Towards the end of our time in Bend, we had a night of prayer and worship with our friends, the Libbys. We took time to pray for our families and shared some prophetic words. Tiffany asked if we wrote music. Anyone that knows us well, knows we were both in bands, wrote music and led worship for many years.
I said, "Yes, although not for some time," and Tiffany continued. She talked about the song in Bambi called Little April Showers. She felt like there was a new song coming for us in April. This is how the chorus ends:
Drip, drip, drop
Little April shower
What can compare
To your beautiful sound
The prophetic word really resonated with me because I had been feeling like I would start writing music again. However, it was over 6 months until April, so I tucked it away not thinking too much about it... until October hit!
***Please read the previous two blogs for what happened last October*** So, God calls us to Nashville, also known as Music City U.S.A. Now, before you think, this guy thinks he's going to get famous!... No, I actually don't. You see, God started putting these words in my heart after Bend.
There's a new song rising, it's the song of the redeemed.
There's a new song rising, one that sets us free
There's a new song rising up in me
I love music and I believe it's very possible that music is the language of Heaven. The devil has twisted and perverted it for far too long. I know that God has written a song that is better than any song we could create. It's the song in the hearts of people that have been redeemed. He's going to make the song louder and louder in Nashville by multiplying those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
We shared the prophetic word with our friend Esther, who is joining us in Nashville. She watched the scene from the movie and pointed out that the shower starts with a drop and then becomes a torrential rain. Join with us in praying that this is coming to Nashville. A song of redeemed hearts that continues to grow louder and louder!
We have such joy, peace, and love because He has redeemed us. It's a song about Him and given by Him. In short, the new song coming to Nashville is all about HIM! No one can take credit for it, because only He could do it! Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord!!
Psalm 107:1-3 (NIV)
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, (emphasis mine)
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary
And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
...and in Revelation 5:9-10 (NKJV) it talks about the new song coming:
"And they sang a new song, saying:
'You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, (emphasis mine)
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.'"
The Kurdish people, we believe, are a key for Nashville. Someday, every tribe, tongue and nation will be worshiping God... The Kurds included. This is our heart, our mission, our purpose for the next season, however long it lasts.
I know I said we'd be sharing what we'll be doing in Nashville. I'm sure you can imagine most of the things, but I want to go in depth on the strategic plan in the next blog. We're in a war and God is doing strategic things in strategic places.
So, until next time....!
***This is Part 3 of this story... To read the beginning, scroll down or click on the Nashville tag***
We believed God was speaking, but we weren't sure. Don't you love how God confirms things? It's so beautiful!
The next day, I told my coach about east Nashville almost flippantly and he responded with, "you know there's an unreached people group in Nashville, right?"
Uh, no!! Why would I? I've been there literally about 80 hours in my entire life! Although I knew there are a few unreached people groups in America, I had no idea Nashville was on that short list of places. So, I go on the joshuaproject.org and sure enough, Nashville has a red dot (unreached people group)! -- THE KURDISH PEOPLE!
1. We had no idea
2. We've known for quite awhile that someday we'll work with primarily Muslims
4. God put a love for the Kurdish people in me (Josh) several years ago when they were helping fight ISIS. News stories of the fierce Peshmerga fighters got raised to prominence in those days, along with a group of primarily Muslim people who even have women fighters?!
6. No joke... I dressed up as a Peshmerga fighter for Halloween (I feel a little embarassed about this one!)
Ok, I'm a little dramatic... or says my wife! Nashville is a beautiful city and we are so excited to head there in March! We just never had Nashville on our radar of places we may be for an extended time.
Now let's get to the confirmations. I'm not sure how we would operate without hearing from God. He still speaks today and He is a prophetic God. Our calling to GO (on the road back in April 2018) started with Mary feeling like we were in transition. Then came two prophetic words, one of which was scripture (Acts 13:2). Next, God speaking to me (Josh) probably the most directly He ever has. Finally, when I told my pastor, he already knew! That was just the beginning. We had many confirmations in the 4 months before we left North Dakota for the first time in 2018, and many more over the past 2 years.
So, back to Nashville. I love Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." I believe that is a promise for all believers. So, we do that, and we wait on Him.
Confirmation #1: The Sunday after I told my coach about East Nashville, we went to hear some friends who work overseas at a church conference in Rapid City, SD. They live on the other side of the world and they "happened" to be 20 miles from where we were for one day while we stayed in Keystone, SD for the month of DMM training. I think that alone was not by chance, and before we ever talked with them, I knew we were suppose to meet.
We heard them speak, and shared stories. When we were about to leave, we asked to pray with them. We prayed for them and their work, and then they prayed for us. As they prayed, Mary and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. We were both crying as our friend prayed prophetically over God calling us to a "specific Muslim group." She prayed a little longer and said, "The Kurdish people."
We were stunned! Did she just say that? We hadn't told her anything about Nashville or the Kurdish people up to that point, but here was God, using a willing vessel of His goodness. He was confirming his whisper in a profound way. They spoke some other encouraging words over us that confirmed previous prophetic words, and we left seriously in awe.
Confirmation #2: I have been reading the prophets over and over in the Word of God lately. There's so much in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah, etc. During this time, I was reading about Daniel. Was he great or what? Serving an idolatrous regime and society... with excellence? Whoever heard of such a thing?
Anyways, in my research of the Kurds (which I had started very curiously), I found that many people believe the Kurds are descendants of the Medes in the Bible. Of course, Daniel served several rulers, one being Darius the Mede. What are the chances I'm reading about the Medes, while learning our call to the Kurds of Nashville? Not high considering most of the Bible doesn't deal with them. As it turns out, Mary was also reading the book of Daniel during this same time frame.
Confirmation #3: I love dreams. Among Muslim peoples, dreams are very important. It's one of the few ways many of them believe God speaks. Sunday night we met our friends and Monday night came the dream.
I was in a small classroom and somehow I knew all 10 or so people in the room were Kurdish people. I was slowly walking around the table putting my hand on peoples' heads and saying, "Fire, fire, fire..." As I did this, a few fell over and then I woke up!
Even writing this stuff down now excites me for the future of what God is going to do. God spoke to us near the beginning of this journey about Jeremiah 30:2 - This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. I would like to write everything down from even before we left North Dakota until now, but so far we've only done bits and pieces. Writing down God's words for your life helps you remember what He has said and promised. He will not lead you astray or leave you alone.
Confirmation #4: The news! I use to hate the news. Mostly because I hated politics. I feel like politics is the opposite of the ways of Jesus. I know God calls people to work in this area of society, but it's definitely not me!!
If you do a quick search online for the first or second week of October 2019 you will find the Kurds at the top of the headlines. This people group had faded from the headlines after the defeat of ISIS several years prior, but all of the sudden, there they are. One headline read, "US pulls out of Northern Syria, exposing Kurds to potential attack." Another one said, "US ending support for Kurds in Syria will lead to genocide..." Aside from all of the politics of these events, we believe that the timing corresponded with what God was speaking to our family!
I have to say, I don't hate the news anymore. I pray that God would speak to our family all the time, and that we'd be listening... all the time. All of these confirmations came in the span of one week. It was so intense, that we almost went to Nashville at the end of October. As we prayed and listened, we new March would be the right time to head that way. So, what will we do in Nashville? Is there more to Nashville than the Kurdish people? I will answer those questions thoroughly next time!
Suprisingly, we have basically no physical history in Nashville. Besides being stranded there for 3 days, while our bus got new pulleys after they fell out of the engine, we have spent no time in Nashville. Scratch that... There was one time, 15 years ago, that Mary's parents and us took a 36 hour straight, grueling road trip to Orlando. We stopped in Nashville in the middle of the night, went to music row, and I ran down the street yelling. That is probably another story altogether, but suffice to say, I was in a band and loved music... and was probably a little delirious from the long haul by that point.
We've literally traveled over 25,000 miles on the road in our skoolie (and previously rented RV) in the last year and a half. We've almost matched that mileage in the air, in places like Turkey and Spain, but Nashville, although beautiful in many ways, did not strike a lasting impression that we would be spending a lot of time there in the future. We did believe we'd be back, but not like what we're planning now!
God is amazing! Never, when He called us out of traditional pastoral ministry, did I think we'd end up all over the U.S. and on both sides of the Mediterranean. As I write this, I can see the "Great Sea" that was the avenue of many of Paul's journeys. It's like we jumped into Biblical history, physically and prophetically.
Back to Nashville. I didn't know that breaking down on a hot stretch of I-24 could be a good thing, but it was the beginning of God paving the way. We got taken in by a couple originally from Iowa that use to host bands and set up drums for Cornerstone Music Festival 'back in the day'. They let us stay with them for 3 days while our bus got fixed and even let us drive their pretty new Prius around.
When the $2812 bill came, it was a hard pill to swallow, but well into a year long prophetic journey with the Lord I immediately looked to the bright side of things. As I did that, I heard in my heart Deuteronomy. So, I looked up Deuteronomy 28:12 (NASB)-- not even knowing if the verse existed. Here's the gem I found:
"The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow."
I was pretty dumbfounded. Did you know that much of what looks terrible in the world's eyes is a blessing in the Kingdom of God? I could write a whole slew of blogs on this thought, but God is good and as His word says in Romans, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Now, I will be clear... I did not think this verse had anything to do with Nashville itself, only the ministry that God has called us to. However, I now believe it was one of multiple prophetic signs that God had/has a much bigger plan for Nashville.
Finally! I'll get to October. A very large turning point came for us in October 2019. After marking the 70th anniversary of the Billy Graham Crusade in LA in September of 1949 (to the spot where the tent sat... another story I'll have to tell :-), we drove to Keystone, SD for what would be the most advanced classroom training we've ever received as followers of Christ.
Nashville was nowhere on Mary's or my radar at this point. We knew God was bringing us to this little tourist town in the shadow of Mount Rushmore for something that was going to change everything. The keystone is stone that's in the top of a roman arch. It holds the whole arch together, and if removed, the whole structure crumbles.
God spoke to us in early September that this is what our keystone training would be. The last piece, so to speak, of the arch... but the most important piece, which we later found out was disciple making movements. We have talked about this already a bit, but we're going to be writing and vlogging much more on the subject.
So, the first week, the Keystone Project people asked us to pray about an unreached people group to reach. Now, we know the importance of unreached peoples. There are many countries that you will get killed for sharing the gospel. But, up until this point, God had called us to America, and so we weren't thinking much about unreached peoples.
As we were talking and praying about it over a couple days, I heard in my heart, "East Nashville." What was weird to me was that it was EAST Nashville, and of course, why was that coming into my head in the first place? Well, God speaks quietly sometimes and we began to wait and pray. It didn't take long!
The story continues soon!!
Only a few months ago I sat in our converted school bus watching the live broadcast of a funeral. As you might suspect, it wasn’t a normal funeral. It was a celebration of one of my heroes--Reinhardt Bonnke. He’d most surely argue anyone telling him he’s a hero. In fact, he said in Even Greater, "there are no great men working in God’s Kingdom. Rather, there is a great God at work in human beings who have childlike faith.”
Why is he my hero? He has a very large auto biography I could never add to, and won’t try. A short synopsis of his life would never do, but most people say something like, “The Billy Graham of Africa”, “79 documented conversions to Christianity”, etc. But, I don’t think anything you could say in a sentence could really define a life… any life, really.
One of the many reasons I look up to him is that he had vision, and it drove him relentlessly. This simple vision he said many times. It was a slogan he repeated again and again. A sort of force that drove him. A vision he would not let go. “Africa shall be saved!”
You see, he took the great commission seriously. He devoted his whole life to it. Look him up on YouTube or CFAN (Christ For All Nations) website. You will see videos of endless hundreds of thousands of people like a sea in all directions. God used this man mightily.
As I watched person after person say kind, honoring words about this man, I realized, like he did, that he was just a man. A man who took the word of God seriously. A man who followed and obeyed. A man who persevered through many trials. A man who was wholly devoted to God. That’s why I loved him and I never met him.
What does all this have to do with Nashville? Well, I know it’s been awhile since we have blogged. This is part 1 of our blogging return! OK, it might not be that exciting, but this will lead into where we are headed in March, and why.
Back to the funeral. As I watched this tribute to a man, everyone kept saying: Africa shall be saved! America shall be saved! The world shall be saved! And I shouted out, NASHVILLE shall be saved!!
Why? Well, that story starts back in October 2019, and that is where we’ll pick up next time ;-)
We're a family of six living full-time in a skoolie (aka a school bus converted into an RV). We are inviting you to join us as we live life to its fullest and empower others to do the same. Welcome to the family!