I have been COMPLETELY remiss in not sharing one of the coolest thing in my life with you guys!
I'll give the details later. . .but you know me. . I have to share the whole story :-) Hey, if you didn't want the whole story, you wouldn't read MY blog!
In May, my friend Jess invited me to join her for the national day of prayer for the Foster system. I assumed it was a day of prayer and fasting and so that is what I did. I LOVED this day. I realized for the first time how helpful it was to have a physical reminder to pray. These kids were on my heart all day b/c I just couldn't forget. . my stomach kept reminding me! In fact, I enjoyed the day so much and felt so much more aligned with God's heart that I began to feel a call to do the same for the Uganda program. I talked to Amy and Jena and they both did too. We began to dedicate Wednesdays to pray for HopeChest as an organization and specifically the Uganda program.
Soon, Feed the Forgotten began. . .during this time we felt like God was calling us to step up our fasting even more. For me, it was a call to fast 2 meals a day during the time the campaign went on. It was such a powerful time for me. I have told you before.. but I've never been a faster. I think I'd done it a few times in the past. . .and I felt like I understood its purpose, but I hadn't participated in it! In fact, in scripture when I read about fasting. . I just substituted "worship activity" in there. This time around. . I was LOVING it. It felt so intimate to spend the day with Jesus. I felt so aware of the needs of the hungry and so reminded to pray. And we watched God move in big ways!
In fact, He KEPT moving in big ways on Wednesdays after Feed was over. Soon, Jena Amy and I were calling each other to do a corporate time of prayer on Wednesdays and we were looking expectantly for what miracle He was going to do in our lives, at HopeChest or in Uganda that week. I even told Jena.. I think I'm obsessed with fasting! I was blown away by how close I felt to the Lord and how much He was acting and we were getting to watch!
At the same time, I had come across Isaiah 58 a number of times in books. I decided to post it here and ask you guys if anyone wanted to memorize it with me. I knew that memorizing scripture was something I wanted to incorporate more into my life and this seemed like a cool place to start.
Here's the thing. . I never even connected that God was teaching me ABOUT fasting while leading me to memorize scripture that was about fasting... . yeah, go ahead think about how dumb I am!
So, one day I am talking to Jena about how much I LOVE fasting and praying together on Wednesdays. I am just gushing.. why don't more people do this? and WHY is God answering us in such crazy amazing ways? Her answer? "Hey Bran, we ARE memorizing Isaiah 58 together.. why don't you open it up and see what it says about God's heart" I did. .and we read together with increasing excitement what God says is "the fast He has chosen". Isaiah 58 showed us so clearly that the things that God had laid on our hearts to fast for were directly in line with HIS heart! No wonder He was moving in big ways! We began to ask ourselves how we could involved others. We wanted to blog about it and create a blog badge and everything. .but were hesitant b/c we didn't want to fast publicly in a wrong way like God's Word warns so strongly about!
I couldn't keep this excitement in (shocker!) and that afternoon I told my friend, Sam Henry, about what I was learning. He and his wife, Wendi, are starting an amazing organization that is committed to the concepts found in Isaiah 58, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, etc. I shared what I was learning with Sam and suggested that maybe he and Wendi would like to join us on Wednesdays for prayer. The next morning, I woke up to Sam tweeting (a social network called Twitter) all about Isaiah 58 and what he was learning. Within minutes, we both received tweets from Jason Kovacs of the Abba Fund saying "I'm emailing you RIGHT NOW. I can't believe what you guys are talking about here!" Within moments I had an email from Jason saying how God had been working in his heart about Isaiah 58. He attached a document that he had written with his ideas to start an Isaiah 58 Project. . get this "Calling Christians across the world to unite in prayer by giving one day a week for prayer and fasting for the poor, hungry and oppressed" Seriously?! I called him immediately. . basically freaking out! I told him that this was EXACTLY what Jena, Amy and I were doing and we wanted to see the same thing happen!
Jason, Sam and I talked and decided we needed to start spreading the word and letting others in on the fun :-) I called Bob and Vince at HopeChest and told them our story and they immediately said they wanted "in" on the Wednesday movement. In fact, in just a day or 2 there were over a dozen people who wanted to join us. I told them that we would collect prayer requests and I would email them out now that there were more ministries involved. We came up with a name "iFast58" and began to just share with our own circles what was going on. . we talked about it on Twitter and FB but none of us even really blogged about it a ton. We just talked about it on Wednesdays as we learned and grew together.
I guess the long story short (um, yeah, I know this isn't short) is that now there are over 65 people across the country joining us on Wednesdays to memorize Isaiah 58 and to pray and fast for the poor, hungry and oppressed throughout the world and for the people that serve them!!! This includes 10 different organizations and the people that lead them! I'm so excited about that part b/c I feel like you can read Isaiah 58 and judge others. . thinking "yeah, church.. true fasting is taking care of the poor" and if you are involved in that you can check it off your list. This movement (I guess that's what I'll call it) is for us to go deeper into the heart of God. We kind of use the song "Inside Out" as our theme song. It says "Let Justice and Praise become our embrace" and that's our goal. Fasting is about saying no to myself so I can say yes to Jesus. It's about allowing myself to hunger so that I can turn my thoughts towards HIM to be filled and to turn my thoughts towards interceding for others.
If you'd like to join us. . .we'd love to have you! Now, the organizations send me their prayer requests and on Tuesday nights I email them out to everyone who I know is participating. We have a website in the works and soon you'll be able to subscribe right there so I won't have to email everyone! We also have a conference call time of prayer on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 am EST for anyone who wants to pray together! We are seeing God move in big ways. . but even more than crazy outward miracles, we are joining together as a community to seek God's face. You should read the twitter conversations that take place. . there is more scripture mentioned that day as we FEAST on His word than any other day. We actually look forward to our day of no food. . b/c we know we will meet HIM in a new and fresh way. Just leave me a comment with your email addy if you'd like to join us. . .I promise you'll be changed in the process "From the Inside Out" and you'll get to be a small part of what He is doing throughout the world to "loose the chains of injustice" and "set the oppressed free" (Is. 58)