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South Fellowship Church

Guest Speaker Dr. Jeff Brodsky of JOY International

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we looked for the statue of liberty

I did the first one I’m looking no anyway alex is slowly becoming a very very good friend we meet on a regular basis and as I do with tom and I love it here love the people you have been such an incredible blessing to join international uh more than maybe some of you even know but it’s been incred it’s amazing all that we have been able to accomplish because of the support that we receive from this church not only on a regular monthly basis is a missionary organization for you but beyond that with a new curriculum that we’re developing and the amount that the church here has given we couldn’t have done it without you so and I’m going to I’ll share that with you in a bit so I want to get rolling with this because this is this is only the second time that I’ve ever done this message I spent a lot of hours literally more than 100 hours trying to put together a new message based on the 12 years that I’ve lived barefoot which I’m going to share with you in a bit but anyway these are two of my granddaughters it’s leah and emma and the reason I have this up there is because wait I need to take a I need to take a look and look okay he’s just so young he wouldn’t it wouldn’t

okay there’s no children in here

where okay that changes things all right um I’m very cautious when I’m speaking if there’s even one child in the room it’ll change the way I share uh so even with one I’m very very sensitive to the things that I speak and I will not compromise when it comes to that so as adults you will have to read between the lines of what I’m saying to have a clear understanding of what I’m talking about joy internationals devoted to the rescue restoration reintegration and prevention of children teens young women and even boys and men that are trafficked and sold into a certain trade I don’t think I have to paint a picture for what that means when they are sold into brothels and places like that so and when I say joy international I started it just a few years ago 1981 we are now in our 41st year I I know it I know I don’t look near even you probably think I started it from birth but so why do I do this work why would I devote my life to rescuing these children teens and by the way when I say children for many many years I have I went deep undercover this was before I was barefoot I went deep undercover in india thailand cambodia belize um

so many you’ll see the number of countries I’ve personally been to 77 countries I travel quite a bit and when I say that we rescue children from brothels I have personally been in brothels where there were children as young as four years old there is no worse crime perpetrated against a child since the dawn of creation nobody can convince me of it I could share stories with you that would you would not believe some of the things the depth of depravity that goes on in our world today knows no bounds you cannot imagine things that I can’t even share publicly even if there wasn’t a child in here because of how how heinous and how nefarious some of these things are and what they do to these children I am going to share one thing about something that I learned in uganda but I’ll cover it briefly

so I do this work because I was reading the red that’s what I call it this was many years ago I was reading the red I came across this verse the least of these Jesus speak I read in the red is when I read the words of Jesus you know that um but I when I saw that I’m I’m someone that is a nut for finding out the truth um and when I saw that I thought okay wait what do you mean the least of these who’s that why weren’t you more specific and I did a search for years on who the least of these were I went uh to africa children of biafra I was in india uh working uh to look to minister in leper colonies I thought man can’t get any lower than this what happened with their lives and one thing after another until I found human trafficking and what was happening to these children my search ended this is me this is to me God spoke to me that these were the least of these for me I even wrote a book about it titled the least of these which challenges you to search for the least of these in your life Jesus came to set the captives free the spirit of the lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners in recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed and the captives free I have one goal when I rescue these girls most of them stop believing in God years ago they would plead with God to set them free from their bondage and after pleading for maybe days weeks months years they give up all belief in God I believe that God has called me to be a fivefold ministry evangelist who’s going to tell a child in a brothel

having to service 10 to 15 men a day every day seven days a week until they’re no longer desirable and they’re tossed in the street like trash if they haven’t already killed themselves or died from exposure or disease or being beaten to death because they didn’t perform properly

when I see one of these girls rescued

and put into a safe house and come to an understanding that it wasn’t God that did this and you see them have their lives turned around then you see them during a praise and worship service worshiping God with such passion that’s it for me that’s the end result that I look for

boy that would have been good to have on this tom I have a video of dozens and dozens of girls worshiping God all that were rescued that’d be good to have on this this is in the philippines this should not be happening to any child

it’s always about the one there’s 27 million you think that slavery ended in 1865 with the emancipation proclamation

there are more slaves today by the millions than there were back then back then they were in the hundreds of thousands today there’s 27 million three to four hundred thousand in america

excuse me two to three hundred thousand here in our own country

slavery did not end in 1865 it was just made illegal

so my barefoot journey july 19 2010 today’s june 26 2022 that’s 4 360 days now if you calculate it in three weeks that’ll be 12 years when I say totally barefoot yep totally barefoot I haven’t had a shoe or a sock on my feet not not even cheating in my own house when I’m alone I have not had a shoe or sock on my feet in almost 12 years july 19 2010 I was at a garbage dump this garbage dump this was in phnom penh cambodia this circle here is there’s a child up there uh that’s why I circled that they look for fresh food they live in the dunk they live there they’ll actually burrow holes in the bottom and live inside the garbage when the dump trucks come they’ll converge on it maybe they’ll get a half piece eating a chicken or a banana or an apple or something but they live in the dump I was there with a group working with joyce

and we were feeding them a bowl of rice with pieces of chicken in it and I was standing there on the side watching uh probably about a dozen or so of them eating and I noticed they were all barefoot two of them had some old flip-flops on but all the rest were all barefoot well when I went back to my room that night I took off my shoes and socks and

as I was taking them off I felt I was talking to God about my experience that day I talked to him all the time and as I was talking with him I felt that he was impressing on me to live barefoot in solidarity with impoverished and trafficked children and I know when God is speaking to me as you’ll see in a minute and I’m thinking what what you want it was almost like an abraham moment where I thought I was gonna fall on the floor laughing um you want me to do what you want me to live barefoot and I felt that he was impressing on me to live barefoot for one year and I thought how can I do that I live at 9 000 feet elevation in bailey colorado what would I do in the winter I travel extensively I’ve been to 77 countries I was in uganda last week uh not last week about a month and a half ago I was in alaska just two weeks ago I traveled quite a bit I thought what would I do in the winter so I felt God’s showing me that he would take care of me as long as I wasn’t foolish like being in alaska in the winter last year when it was 19 below zero and yes I walked around in 19 below zero weather I’ve learned how to be cautious and when my feet have reached their limit it’s actually worse walking on hot pavement in a place like indio or wherever it may be and the the hot pavements really are painful but no com I do not compromise

well anyway um I come home come out of the airport my wife is waiting by the car and she sees me walking up she said I’m wearing your shoes so I told her what happened she said what do you mean you’re going to live barefoot what are you going to do in the winter I said I’ll get cold feet I said no seriously hon what are you going to do in the winter I said I will seriously get cold feet said what about the snow I said it’ll get even colder in the snow I’ll be yeah so well anyway God gave me the perfect wife she’s out there by my table and uh when it snows she insists on doing this I told her she doesn’t have to but she does she’ll sweep a path to the car she’ll turn on the engine turn on the heater put a towel on the floorboard thank you God for gail um he gave me the perfect wife for me she’s such an incredible blessing well one year of course all my friends family they thought I was out of my mind and

one year passed july 19 2011 this grandpa that looks like santa claus was the happiest man on earth I thought oh my gosh I actually went a full year barefoot I wake up somewhere between 1 30 to 2 30 in the morning every day seven days a week no alarm clock that’s just when this brain just all of a sudden starts acting up well I had I had put a pair of white socks on my ottoman in front of my couch I woke up went to the couch I thought I just wanted to feel those socks on my feet I put my this is what happened you can choose to believe this or not this is what happened I put my left foot on the ottoman I took the sock put it on my toes went to pull it on my foot and it was as if there was a tug of war I could not get the socks past my toes as much as I pulled it was like some force was pulling the other way and I’m thinking what the heck so

so I just cried out I said God what do you want from me I just went for a whole year

and that still small voice spoke to me in a way that only God could these are the words that I heard verbatim he only had to say it once

keep going

those children are still out there

that was enough for me I

waited for my wife my wife woke up that morning and comes out she looks over my shoulder and said oh I thought you would have had your socks on by now what happened so I said well

I told her what I told her what happened and she said what are you going to do she said I said I’m going to keep going she said for how long I said until one of three things happened God speaks to me and tells me it’s time the last child is rescued

or I’m dead I said as long as my going barefoot will motivate even one person a year to action in a way that could help me to rescue even one more child a year he said I’ll go barefoot for the rest of my life and now 12 years later

when people ask me why are you barefoot I tell them just one word I’m barefoot for one word obedience

because I believe on july 19th 2010 God asked me to I’ll say well why would God ask you to do that I don’t know you’d have to ask him I just know what I heard and I had two choices it’s either yes when God asks you to do something you have just two choices yes or no the word maybe should be taken out of the dictionary it’s a non-word maybe is another way of saying no think about it uh would you do this for me well maybe so you’re saying no because if you’re not saying yes and it’s no and even the scriptures tell us let your yes be yes and you know be no you notice there’s no and let your maybe be maybe so it’s either yes or no and I said yes

to obey because people tell me all the time the reason I put this verse up here over the last 12 years you can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard how sacrificial my life is the self-sacrifice and how noble and how altruistic and how wonderful it is what I’m doing tom you think I like being barefoot you think that because I’ve been barefoot for the last 12 years that I’ve embraced the barefoot lifestyle you think because there’s thousands of barefooters all over the world that see me as their guru that I’ve been enjoy and have embraced the barefoot lifestyle I can assure you I have not I

I hate being barefoot I do you can’t imagine that the snide remarks

the dirty looks people talking behind your back

you cannot imagine

try it I dare you I challenge you one day 24 hours you wake up one day no shoes no socks until you wake up the next day no matter what you have to do bank restaurant supermarket I don’t care what you have to do driving all of it I dare you and you’ll see what I’ve experienced for 4 360 days

I do it out of obedience obedience is better than sacrifice I don’t consider what I’m doing sacrificial at all I’m doing it strictly out of obedience to what I believe God has told me to do or ask me to do even when it doesn’t make sense even when it appears to be the act of a fool because the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men I have to believe that God had a reason that he had a purpose for me to live barefoot I didn’t know what it was I thought it was just simply to make people aware of the traffic of human trafficking it’s gone so far beyond that first corinthians 4 10 we are fools for christ’s sake

God asking me to live totally barefoot was pretty foolish of him to do by our standards perhaps it was foolish of me for believing it was God who asked me I believe it was God and that he obviously had a reason beyond my finite understanding so how did I know it was really God

how did I know because for me to say yes to this I had to know that it was God asking me it had to be him or I would be there would be something really I would be emotionally disturbed

which there are some people that would probably know

it begins by listening for his voice

I am so sensitive to the voice of God if you if any of you ever got my first book stepping into adulthood I have a whole story just on that of years ago um when God spoke to me the first time how do you pray you think about this people praying so many different ways they’ll pray standing like this hands raised hands clasped on their knees laying in their bed sitting on their couch walking there’s so many different ways that you can pray now isn’t it interesting that when you pray I see this all the time you pray you petition God you give him all of the desires of your heart like he tells us to do in the scriptures give me the desires of your heart your heart and I will surely give it delight yourself in the lord and I will surely give you the desires of your heart but have you ever noticed people pray they petition God they ask him for so many different things and then at the end of the prayer they say in Jesus name in Jesus name amen at least me I and every brother that way and then immediately they go get a sandwich turn on the television get in their car do whatever they do whatever go to sleep but I wonder how many times we pray and we say in Jesus name amen then we get up and walk away and can you imagine God sitting up there going

didn’t you want an answer hello I was just about to answer you but you walked away it tells us in the scriptures to be still and know that I’m God it tells us to give ear to his voice when I finish praying when I’m alone and I’m praying and I’m petitioning God I then shut up and say okay I’m ready I’m ready I’m ready to hear you and then I’ll just be quiet sometimes five minutes ten minutes sometimes an hour and after a while when I feel that okay there’s nothing he has to say to me then I’ll go forward but you need to practice that learn to be sensitive to the possibility that God may want to talk to you his sheep follow him these are the words of Jesus she follow him because they know his voice God is the same yesterday today and forever does God really talk to people today yes he does it’s the same yesterday today and forever you know when he started talking to people when he created the first one from adam until today God has been speaking to people to his creation when God asks you to do something it’s important to know that it’s him speaking to you especially when he asks you to do something outrageous or in the eyes of man foolish

the foolishness of God remember is wiser than the wisdom of men there had to be no doubt there had to be absolutely no doubt that God was talking to me in order for me to go forward with this

so there was the process of elimination I had three choices just three it was either the enemy talking to me is it possible that satan was talking to me and trying to get me to do something so outrageous why would he do that there would be no reason for him to do that he’s not stupid he knows me he knows I’m going to do something like this I’m going to do it not to glorify and honor him I’m going to do it to glorify and honor God I’m going to do it to fight his evil ways why would he tell me to do something that I’m going to use as a tool to help destroy a stronghold that he has all over the world so it didn’t make sense that it was the enemy so next it would be was it myself well if it was myself saying to do this then I would be a lunatic it would I mean it really would be the act of a fool to say yeah hey I’m going to live barefoot with no purpose no vision why would I do something like that especially when I hate being barefoot so the only other option it had to be God has it been worth it has it been worth these last 12 years of me being barefoot it’s amazing how much has happened since july 19 2010 and the number of people we have been able to reach the number of hundreds of thousands of people who have heard about the plight of children being trafficked and human trafficking and how the resources that we have gained as a result and by the way I never never went barefoot with any thought whatsoever of it being used as a fundraiser it was a small group in a little town of coshocton ohio a group of youth who in my third year of being barefoot after I spoke there the youth pastor contacted me and said dr jeff you really motivated these young people they want to do a fundraiser for you they want to walk a mile barefoot called the barefoot mile I’m getting ahead of myself um is that okay I said well sure they said will you walk with us I said if you get just three thousand dollars in pledges I’ll fly back there well they went ten thousand dollars above that they raised thirteen thousand dollars at the first one the the best barefoot mile so far that’s raised the most was in alaska where they raised two hundred thousand dollars

and that started this

and joy international who have done six police trainings training anti-human trafficking and juvenile protections police throughout cambodia and tactical operations and firearms training as well as our swat team and they’ve also donated to individual cases that we’ve done the use of numbers this isn’t a statistic these are a thousand lives that have been transformed these were a thousand lives that were in some of the most brutal difficult situations and now they have an opportunity to live a life that’s completely different joy international came alongside with us and helped you train they’ve done multiple trainings with the cambodian national police and our swat team that has resulted in a real professionalism that leads to the success but not only that they’ve helped fund the raids themselves and that’s critical for us to be successful one of the biggest

factors conviction and imprisonment of the perpetrators so when I saw that this was what was happening with this

there’s currently been over 3 000 children teens and young women rescued in all of these different countries it’s been incredible when don brewster was talking about the training being critical critical to their success our director director of tactical operations in global police training has now trained all every police officer fighting human the anti-human trafficking juvenile protection police in the country of cambodia one training would cost joy international about fifteen thousand dollars well for several years we did about five a year so you can see the cost and the expense of doing those trainings we now do trainings all over the the world beyond cambodia

I’m going to go through these pretty quick because you can you can actually go to my website my website is very easy to remember we’re joined international just go to joy.org and you’ll see our website it’s pretty extensive with all the things that are on there and I’ll talk about these in detail about the barefoot mile walks the joy shop with things like this bracelet shirts bags and purses so many different items many other braces types of bracelets things like that all everything on the joy shop is made by the girls that have been rescued all of them are made by survivors they’d have to have a job when they come out and they have to have job training uh awareness campaigns where we train I I was just in alaska uh just several weeks ago where we did airport trainings uh and we trained in the airports there becau and all over wherever we’re invited because I don’t if you’re a set of eyes if you push a wheelchair carry luggage if you’re a gate agent if you work in a restaurant a car rental clerk whatever you do in an airport we train you with situational awareness to recognize the situation around you give you an example one man who was one of the managers for united airlines he saw something it immediately took action and as a result a nine or ten year old girl was rescued from the back of a van she was being trafficked right out of the van this is what he told the police I never would have noticed that if it wasn’t for the training I received from joy international all that makes every training that we do worth it for that one girl

I talked about the international police training advocates advocate groups you can have right here they’re teams of groups of volunteers who come alongside our partner restoration homes to strengthen and encourage their work they meet on a monthly basis to pray write notes of encouragement prepare small gifts to bless the staff and survivors christmas sponsorship is pretty self-explanatory but that’s also for survivors workers there’s so much that’s involved with the christmas sponsorship there are churches that get involved with this because it’s an incredible blessing not only to survivors and workers here in america but also overseas in places like uganda and you can again see all of this on our website uh the retreats is something that’s brand new it’s incredible what these tr retreats are doing for uh workers that these are trafficking service providers who are so abused many times the girls will physically abuse them they’ll they’ll spit on them they’ll cuss them they’ll beat them they they’re really some of the girls are really tough so sometimes these gals need training which we do self-defense training for them and then we also now have these retreats to give them a time of rest and impartation from experts in the field this we just started doing last year when I read the response of some of the gals that were ministered to I told our gal on our staff that does this I said I want to see these increased the response from these women were incred was incredible and because they’re the ones that minister to the gals that need the ministering to the survivors I really wanted to see this continue uh emergency relief fund I’m going to show you more about that resources for parents you know these predators one of the places that they that they look for teenage girls church youth groups believe it or not they train teenage boys how to pray p-r-e-y on girls in youth groups so that’s one of the areas that if you go to our website and you see the resources for parents there is a myriad there’s so much available we don’t charge for anything with that all of that is free the children’s curriculum um I’m going to show you more about that in a second the book study is just literally you could put together a small group and do a group discussion uh that has been uh developed for my book the least of these which you can get out there if you’d like um the 6-8 freedom project if it wasn’t for this church and the amount that was given we had to raise somewhere around 80 000 more than half of it was given by south fellowship and you’ll be unquestionably in the credits but besides that I cannot even begin to thank you this is a curriculum a 12-week video and workbook curriculum we were asked to do it by sunlight homeschool curriculum and it starts in september we it’s incredible this 12-week video and workbook curriculum will be teaching young people about it it was really initially based on my children’s book um why are you barefoot and now it’s been turned into this curriculum not only for uh children in elementary but we have an elementary middle and high school division for for these 12 weeks and it’s teaching them how to recognize that modern day slavery is still happening in their world today and what they can do to help fight it by becoming a modern-day abolitionist um it’s so so powerful and we’ve come to realize it’s going to have the potential of reaching anywhere from five to seven million homeschoolers here in america alone so I’ll never be able to thank south enough for what you’ve done in helping us to develop this empowering education I love this part beyond rescues this gal here anna she is now a nurse uh she is one of the gals that we’ve supported the girl next to her she is in this in this photo here she’s uh 15 she’s 15 when she was 12 she was forced to be married she’s a rescued child bride this is a whole new area that joy international has now gotten into with uh rescuing child brides and preventing child rights when she was 13 she had her first child I think her child is now four she wants to be a midwife she’s now going to school for that her sister here who fortunately is younger one year younger than her fortunately was not forced into a child marriage but she wants to be a nurse and then of course all these there’s uh 32 children here these are all girls I know that some of them may look like boys because their hair is so short but these are all girls except for the guy in the middle that looks like santa claus this gal I love her

she made this I told her her name is anna too and I told her uh that the first time I speak after coming back from africa I would wear this shirt so this is the first time that I’m wearing it in the public but uh we’re going to have a whole mess of her things on the uh website not just things like shirts but she does shirts and dresses and handbags and purses and backpacks all like this all beautifully uh colored

that says kampala international university and you can’t see it here it’s 2022 from april and there’s a young girl her name is christine this says five and a half years it’s a five and a half year uh five and a half years with 11 semesters for a young woman who was accepted into this program it doesn’t I I can’t you can’t well here it says bachelor of medicine and uh or and then for surgery she’s going to be the first female surgeon in the entire district uh in uganda where she is her name is christine five and a half years all those semesters the total not per semester the total for all those semesters is eighteen thousand dollars for her to go to uh medical school um which by the way I am in the middle of raising that I’m actually looking for female surgeons that might want to take this on as a project but we do accept funds from men

and you don’t have to be a surgeon

I’m so excited I told her that I will come back for her graduation ceremony so now uganda now this was in uganda our recent team learned something that’s happening with children who are trafficked and severely abused by witch doctors which doctors are very real and they are probably one of the most evil people that I’ve ever met anywhere in the world who kidnapped children while they walked 11 miles every day the water system in kosese uganda went down from floods and as a result the children had to walk 11 miles five and a half miles there five and a half miles back there these were empty back they were full when one this size was full it would be 40 pounds well what we learned

when I say the depths of depravity have no bounds I’m not kidding I’m going to share something it’s very rough to hear I’ll be cautious with the way I share it because of the child that’s here but you’ll understand what I’m saying when I say it what we learned was on the path while these children were getting the water they would leave at 5 30 in the morning and not get back until after sometime afternoon they did this every day seven days a week because of the water system being down they needed the water for their homes their homes would just be a hut

they had to carry up to 40 pounds of water over 5 miles

you’ll notice they’re all they’re barefoot

the witch doctors would hire young men

they would wait for the children to go on the path they would kidnap both boys and girls

the boys they would cut off a certain body part and put that body part in a jar and sell it to businessmen who thought that if they had that body part in their homes it would give them prowess in a certain area of their life

or it would give them good fortune in their business the sick thoughts of of men today the girls they would do the same thing they would cut off a certain body part so that they would receive no pleasure and then they would sell them to men in the middle east who would have them as part of their harems or just as slaves for one thing only um when I heard this I said

what if the water project what if it was fixed they said well that would probably it would help a lot I said well how much would it cost they said seventy seven hundred dollars my director of outreach and missions was actually there it’s america right now she’s in cambodia and I contacted my director my executive director gina and I said gina I’m not waiting to do a fundraiser for this I’m not sending out a letter at least not right now I need you to send seventy seven hundred dollars to pastor allison the director of operations for drawing international there immediately immediately I want to see this water project uh fixed done as soon as possible so they did it was fixed we even received a letter from the uh ugandan parliament thanking us because it helped over a thousand families but it also did this by the way when I was there these these photos were taken when I was there uh about six weeks ago

I love this

hello

you see I’m the president of joy international come on that has to give you joy when you see something like that especially when you

especially when you know what they were going through before that was fixed the joy I received from that is indescribable

by the way when I started joy international it was a day that I was reading the red it was 1980 just before I started joy I was reading read john 15 11 Jesus speaking where he said I speak these things to you that my joy would be in you so that your joy would be complete and I found in my life if I put Jesus first other second yourself third that’s the way to experience real joy j-o-y Jesus others you here’s one simple way you can join us in the fight against child trafficking attend a barefoot mile july 23rd coming up next month now dozens of children are safe after they were rescued 82 children across the nation were rescued I remember saying to my wife that gail as long as my being barefoot will motivate even one person a year to action in a way that would help me to rescue even one more child I’ll go barefoot the rest of my life a man accused of trying to sell his four-year-old daughter on craigslist police arrested a total of six people tonight we no longer can sit by and ignore the truth about what’s happening new at five a long time soccer is now in custody tonight an anchorage man is charged with trafficking women around the state

the barefoot mile is growing in a way that I never expected it to on july 19 2010 when I uh

when I first decided to go barefoot in solidarity with uh and trafficked children I had no thought of it being used as a fundraiser it was that small church youth group in gushantin ohio that started it and from there it’s just grown and I remember just standing on the ledge there getting ready to speak and watching the crowd gather and I was fighting back the tears because to see that whole town square begin to fill up with people

taking off their shoes

I cannot tell you what it feels like to know that I’m not alone it’s when we join forces and work together and put our funds together to fight this that’s how we see success awareness is good but awareness without action is apathy if I make you aware of something and you don’t do anything about it what have I accomplished when I speak I speak to hopefully motivate people to action in a way that will help to set another child free by getting involved with the barefoot mile you can literally help set another child free with every step you take thank you

4 360 days equals about 104 650 hours that I’ve been barefoot I’m asking you for just one just one would you join me july 23rd and walk around in clement park around the lake just one uh less than an hour takes about 35-40 minutes I would love to have you as part of that and we still need help with volunteers you can get information at the table

that’s where it is saturday july 23rd clement park

awareness is good but this is my life mantra awareness without action is apathy if I make you aware of something and you choose to do nothing about it what have I accomplished nothing

this to me is the most beautiful sound on earth there’s no greater sound to me there’s no song there’s no music nothing more beautiful to me than this sound children shouldn’t have to cry themselves to sleep at night in pain from their abuse

and that was during one of our missions trips which by the way we’ve had people from here at south young people join us on our missions trips we have them to cambodia now to uganda to belize just to let you know these are my two books why are you barefoot for children the least of these for adults I cannot thank you enough for the privilege of sharing my heart here at south um this is a very special congregation to me very special friends here I consider you all family so thank you so much I’ll be at my table in the back if you have any questions thank you thank you from the depths of my heart for being a part a big part of the ministry of joy international you have helped to set thousands of children free from their bondage

Guest Speaker Dr. Jeff Brodsky of JOY International2022-07-14T13:42:49-06:00

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Easter Sunday2020-04-21T16:09:18-06:00

Camping Under the Clouds | Numbers 9:15-23

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Camping Under the Clouds    Numbers 9:15-23   Pastor Josh Suddath   

(1st Service)  {Manuscript–See Video for complete content}

As a young boy, I remember my dad taking me camping in the Nantahala Forest in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Now if you’re a rugged Colorado adventurer, you might turn your nose up at our itinerary for the weekend, but to me this was adventure.  A weekend with my dad in the woods.  I’d get to ask him life’s questions, we’d share some holy moments, and he’d share his heart, and maybe I’d share mine. We would make a couple meals over a fire, camp under the night sky, and then in the morning, brave the class 2 rapids of the Nantahala River, in our own personal rafts called “duckies.”  As it turns out however, we were not the only ones spending the night in the Nantahala Forest that weekend.  Word had made its way around the camp that it was very likely that an out-of-town guest had also decided to make camp in those woods that night.  Eric Rudolph, top ten on the FBI’s Most Wanted, the Olympic Park Bomber, who, as time would tell, would last for the next five years hiding out in the Kudzu-laden forests of the Nantahala, had made camp somewhere near ours.  Now I was twelve years old. This was no measurable threat.  I owned a Swiss army knife and knew how to whittle. I was not fine.  I was afraid. I didn’t deserve this!  I wondered why God and my dad had brought me to the woods to meet my demise.  I slept with both eyes open and I needed the sun to come up a little sooner than was planned for the next day.  I wanted to get the heck out of that camp, get in that raft, paddle as fast as I could, and get to where we were going.  And looking back, I think I missed out on some holy moments with my dad.

I wonder what life would’ve been like as a young Levite boy, traveling with the Israelites in the desert on the way to the Promised Land.  They were camping out.  If you have a Bible today you can turn with me to the book of Numbers 9:15.  And as we jump into this journey with the Israelites today I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite pastors, Mark Dever, of Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, DC. — “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed.” In another book he wrote:  “The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”    Whether that saying is original to him or not, I don’t know, but I know that he’s echoing the words of Paul in Romans 15:4 — For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  

Let’s look at that first verse together in Numbers 9:15 — On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it.  God is making a statement here that on the day when the people have brought what they have to set up this tabernacle, He is saying to them, by covering it with a cloud, that whatever they encounter along this journey, whatever they’re about to experience, whatever practices they engage in underneath this tent, “I am here and I am covering it.”  As we jump into this account, I want you to be reminded from that verse in Romans, whatever you walked in here with today, whatever the pace of your life was like this week, whatever spiritual practices you engaged in, or didn’t,  whatever pain you may have encountered that you didn’t see coming, you’re here and something about what we are looking at today is meant to teach us to endure and to encourage us to have hope.

The centerpiece of the camp was the tabernacle, a sanctuary, where the people of God practiced the ways of God.  Encamped immediately around the tabernacle were those God assigned to care for the structure.  They were in charge of set up and tear down, maintenance, and care of the holy things.  The tribe of Levi, and if I’m a 12-year-old Levite boy, this is my tribe.  On the outskirts of the camp were the remaining tribes of Israel, each assigned their plot of land by the Lord.  God was really clear that the Levites were to be the only ones that would go near the tabernacle.  If anyone outside of the Levite tribe ever dared go near it, they were to be put to death. I mean if I was that Levite boy, I might just have some fun with this one.  Invite that kid over from the tribe of Dan that I’m not too fond of.  Draw a few lines in the sand.  Come at me, bro!  Cross that line and see what happens. The camp is pretty special, and my family is a pretty special part of what’s happening here. Whatever face I’m projecting on the outside, I still have some questions.  What is actually happening here?  I mean what are we really doing here?  What is this tabernacle about? And aren’t we supposed to be headed somewhere awesome? And I’m watching the older people around me.  Whether they think I’m watching or not, I’m watching, and I’m learning.  How are they going about this whole thing? What are they gaining from all of these practices?  I mean we get it, you go in, you sprinkle everything with blood, you kill a few of our pets, and what gives?  I mean we get it, we go every Sunday, you sit there, you put your weekly allowance in a basket, you drink the most worthless amount of grape juice, and what gives? And sometimes the questions and the monotony of it all begins to drive us to want to take control of our own destiny and travel at our own pace along the journey.

Have you ever taken a long trip with a large group of people?  Maybe it’s just a family vacation or a group tour of another country, or a mission trip.  If you’ve ever experienced this, you have undoubtedly learned that people tend to want travel at their personally desired pace. Isn’t it true, though, that our desired pace is often defined by our perceived destination?  This is why people stuck in lines at customs at the Cancun airport are always so pissed off.  They are all wearing shirts that say, “Tequila on the Beach.”   Unless they are a youth pastor, in which case they are thinking very holy thoughts about their upcoming service to God on the mission field.  Not that I would know. The people of Israel have been promised a destination.  But I get the impression from what comes next in this passage that God had more for them than just a destination.  And perhaps as he’s leading them he sees that they’ve become a little too destination-minded.  Maybe so much so that they’ve forgotten about their family, and what it’s like to be present with somebody or to recognize when he’s present with them.  So the Israelites are made to travel at the pace of their God.  Maybe there are lessons God wants them to learn along the way.  Maybe He wants them to really experience His presence, to get used to what it FEELS like in the holy moments.  I wonder if that’s a question each of us ought to consider—What does it mean for us to travel at the pace of our God?

Here’s how God goes about slowing the roll of the Israelites.  Numbers 9:15–On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it.  From evening until morning, the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire.  Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lords command, the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped.  As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.  When the cloud remained over the camp for a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lords command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out.

I mean why the repetitive nature of this text?  The Israelites obeyed.  The Israelites obeyed.  They are getting really good at this pattern of obedience.  They’re getting really good at being good.  Now I’m not just a teenage Levite with weekly chores at this point. I’m a little frustrated.  I mean I’m part of the help here and you mean we’ve got to keep setting up and tearing this thing down every time the cloud moves?  Who’s controlling this thing and why can’t why can’t I access this Google Doc!

What does is mean to travel at the pace of our God?  I didn’t ask for this pace.  Can we just get where we are supposed to be going? I mean isn’t it really good?  I mean I’m stuck here in high school, but life is really going to start for me when I get out.  I’m stuck here in this job, but I have so many other passions, God, and why aren’t the doors opening for me? In my experience, I tend to get the most frustrated about the pace of my life when I get the most consumed with myself.

I was a 24-year-old living in Nashville, working in the wealth management field.  I had a back office.  I spent my time doing investment trading on the Stock Market.  I had begun to develop gifts, talents, dreams, visions, and hopes of traveling the country and getting out and speaking to people and sharing Jesus and what he was doing in my life. I remembered I called my dad one day from that office and said, “Dad, I’m doing it!  I’m going out on my own.  I’m going to buy an RV and travel the country and be an itinerant preacher.”  You know what my dad said to me?  “Put down the phone, go back to your office, do your job, and stop thinking of yourself as the next Messiah.”   It was a holy moment.  It was a hard moment, but it was a holy moment.  Teaching me to endure. And what do you do when the pace of your life isn’t what you desired?  Look for the holy moments.  And some of them may be difficult and meant to teach you to endure, and some may be encouraging and meant to give you great hope.  And the holiest of moments can be found in the simplest of moments.  They are found in what’s happening around you everyday, right now, where you are, not where you think you are going to be. Nineteenth  century poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wrote, “Earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God, but only those who see take off their shoes.”

Well eventually in Numbers 13, twelve people are sent outside the camp to explore the Promised Land, the promised destination.  And ten out of the twelve completely freak out when they get outside the camp.  The realities of life outside the camp hit them hard.  Enemies, danger, potential suffering.   Maybe camp is safer after all, under the cloud. Ten out of the twelve bring back a negative report.  Joshua and Caleb return with a positive report.   Ten out the twelve prove they haven’t really learned anything along the way.

The cloud hadn’t lifted at this point.   There wasn’t a direct command to take the land. It’s almost as if God is seeing where the people’s confidence is.  Have they learned to sense His presence?  Have they soaked up holy moments?  Or have they just become really good at obeying?  Did they get so head down in their practices, in the monotony and regularity of it all that they missed out on learning to discern his presence?  Joshua and Caleb might have learned something.  They’re trying to discern his Spirit.  They’ve paid attention to his presence and they’re trying to listen to his voice. Listen to how they say it:  The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead  us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.   IF the Lord is pleased with us.

Paul writes in I Corinthians 10—I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud, and that they all passed through the sea.  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock, was Christ!    Or did they? They ate the food and drank the drink, but anybody can give a little money and enjoy some grape juice once a month.  Paul goes on to say:  Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the wilderness. Their practices of their life were lacking something.  They were good practices; in fact, they were God-ordained practices.  And they were very regular. And you and I fall into these same patterns.  At the end of this service today, you’re going to have an opportunity to take communion.  I’ve been a Christian since I was four; that’s thirty years of grape juice.   So often I’ve come to the table to do penance for the person I know I should’ve been but that I know I haven’t been.   And when you get into the practice of trying to make yourself better, it can be extremely draining.

The writer of Hebrews 9:19-28 says it this way—When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.  He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God Has commanded you to keep.”  In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies.  In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices than these.  For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.   

That was perfect will of God, South, that Christ would be sacrificed once on our behalf for our forgiveness. Later in the book of Hebrews (10:10), the writer will say—And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.   What do you do when the practices of your life are feeling desolate?  Remember that you’ve already been made holy.  When you come to the table today, don’t come to do penance for the person you should have been.  Come to remember, as Brennan Manning said, that He loves you just as you are and not as you should be, because you’re never gonna be as you should be.

Listen to what happens to the people who bring back the report at the close of Numbers 14:36—So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it—these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord.  Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua  son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.  When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly.    When you and I encounter pain that we didn’t see coming we respond in all kinds of different ways.  I’ve run the gamut of responses and you probably have too. The Israelites response is interesting to me.  They mourned bitterly, number one, and don’t miss that word bitterly.  This was a tragic moment of pain for them.  Ten of their brothers died of a plague before the Lord.  Were they killed for disobeying a command?  No.  Seemingly they were killed due to a moment of lack of trust.  This was hard to take.  We didn’t deserve this as a community.  You just sent us in to explore the land.    Here’s how they respond —- Early the next morning they went up toward the high hill country.  “We have sinned,” they said, “we will go up to the place the Lord promised.”  They repent!  They acknowledge their sin, and they turn toward the Lord.  Or do they?  But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command?  This will not succeed.  Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you.  You will be defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face you there.  Because you have turned away from the Lord, He will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.” Nevertheless, in their presumption, they went up, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp.   Neither the representation of the law to the people, Moses, or the representation of God’s presence to the people, the ark, went with them.

Is it possible that sometimes even in our perceived obedience, we are missing the point?  How often do we “obey the Lord” out of a deep sense of guilt?  We know the way forward, after all we’ve heard it our whole life.  We repent, we lean in to our morality, to our religious roots, we go and do the “right thing.”  Maybe we feel like we have to make up for something else we did.  Maybe we feel like the pain is our fault—God is punishing me.  And by running to obey the Holy One, we are running away from the Holy One.  When the pain in your life isn’t what you deserve, look for the Holy One.  Don’t be quick to run and fix it on your own terms.  It’s already been fixed.  God doesn’t want your sacrifices, He wants your heart.

If you’ve followed the Christian music world for a while, you may have heard of Steven Curtis Chapman.  The Chapmans have six kids.  When I was living in Nashville, I was attending the church where the Chapmans attended, Christ Community Church.  The Chapmans went through a tragic experience in their family.  They lost their little girl Maria—she was five years old—in a tragic car accident in their driveway.  One of their sons accidentally hit her with their vehicle.  I remember hearing the story at Christ Community—after the funeral, the family came back to their house and saw a piece of paper on the kitchen table.  It was a drawing Maria had done before she died.  The drawing was a flower with six petals—for the six kids—and one petal was colored in.  Underneath the flower there was one little word that Maria had written.  Steven said she had never written this word before.  She had written the word “see.”  It was a holy moment for the Chapman family.

In Job 42:5, Job says—My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.  Tim Keller remarked about this:  “Job never saw why he suffered.  But he saw God, and that was enough.”  When you feel like the pain in your life isn’t what you deserve, look for the Holy One and seek His heart.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, help us to see the holy moments you’ve given us and the people who are right here with us.  Help us to slow down a little bit along this journey and to pay attention to what your presence feels like.  Help us to see ourselves as you see us, when we come to this table today.  And over it all, Lord, covering all of it, help us to see You, as we encounter the unexpected and those things we didn’t see coming in our lives.  Help us to look for You and help us to find You.  In Jesus’s name.  Amen.

Camping Under the Clouds | Numbers 9:15-232021-01-17T13:44:52-07:00

We Are South | Exodus 35

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We Are South | Exodus 352019-08-26T21:21:08-06:00

The Gift of Scarcity | Nirup Alphonse

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The Gift of Scarcity | Nirup Alphonse2020-08-20T16:58:43-06:00
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