Every Place Where You Set Your Foot.

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses…No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous…” – Joshua 1:3,5,6

Joshua & Belinda Christensen, Jeremy & Amy Ciaramella, and Ivan Soto all gathered in front of the UNM “Dream Style” football stadium “set their feet” and prayed passionately for the 27,600 students at UNM!

This past week we had the privilege to “spy-out the land” with our dear friends Joshua and Belinda Christensen along with their fired-up young campus intern – Ivan Soto (affectionately named Ivan “The Powerful”).  We started off the morning praying at the University of New Mexico’s football stadium!  The team mascot for UNM is the “Lobos” – or “Wolves” in English.  Jesus sent out his disciples to preach and told them – “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”  (Matt 10:16)  We are sending out the Albuquerque (ABQ) mission team to evangelize the “Lobos” of UNM!  We all placed our feet on the steps of the stadium, praying fervently together, and claimed the campus in the name of our God.

After this, we “set our [feet]” at the basketball stadium affectionately known as “The Pit.”  This stadium is reportedly the loudest in the nation during the men’s basketball games!  We shared our faith with a young woman who was working there named Brandy, who graciously took photos of “The Pit” for us.  She gave us her contact information and plans on being at the informal service this Sunday (11/5/2017) at the “Duck Pond” on UNM campus!  Then we “set our [feet]” at Albuquerque’s AAA baseball team’s “Isotope” stadium where God led us to the Director of Operations – Bobby.  He gave us an informal tour of the stadium and then gave us his contact information as he is also interested in visiting the church in the coming weeks! 

“The Pit” is the LOUDEST Basketball arena in the nation– home games are insanely loud, reaching between 118—125 decibels—that’s as loud as a jet engine at take-off!

Then we “set our [feet]” on the University of New Mexico campus!  Immediately we were confronted with the darkness prevalent on this beautiful campus.  There have been alarming rates of sexual assault on the UNM campus in recent years.  This has prompted “Sex Week” – which is the world’s attempt to offer a solution to this challenge.  One of the first things we were greeted with as we walked on this gorgeous campus was a “Free and Confidential” mobile unit for STD and pregnancy testing.  It should be noted there are seven abortion clinics located near UNM campus and over 4,600 abortions were performed in New Mexico in 2016 – many of them college-aged women.  This event has generated controversy and confusion on campus and sadly promoted promiscuity, abortion and other perversions.  The only real solution to these matters is a deep, sincere, and loving relationship with God. 

The “Isotopes” name was inspired by a “Simpson’s” episode!

The brother’s having a little fun with the “Simpson” theme!

We all reached out to Edna, who is a runner from Kenya and was running the Student Union Information Desk.  It just so happens that Edna is a nationally ranked cross country runner and will be joining them for their informal service this Sunday!  We also reached out to a young computer science student named Daniel.  He kindly gave us his contact info as well as he is also planning to come to church this Sunday! 

There are over 1 million lost souls in Albuquerque! That’s 1/2 the entire population of NM!

In Deuteronomy 34:1-3, Moses climbs up Mt. Nebo and God “showed him the whole land!”  There is always something special about “climbing up the mountain” to pray over the Promised Land – and we were grateful to do so Friday afternoon.  Joshua drove us to “Sandia (Watermelon) Crest” where together we “set our [feet]” and prayed as we gazed over Albuquerque and the surrounding cities nestled in the South Valley next to the Rio Grande.  After we said, “Amen,” we met the folks who were around us and invited them to church.  We met a couple where the husband is the Media Producer in a local mega-church.  We got their contact information and the man actually offered to donate some of their old media/production/AV equipment to help us get started!  Joshua is set to meet up with him in December to pick up some of this gear!  That night we went to Sadie’s, a local favorite and had an amazing meal together.  Of rouse, God’s promise of giving us everywhere we “set our [feet]” and we got the number of the waitress who is also a UNM student and will be coming this Sunday.  One of the two fantastic musicians (Arnold) who beautifully played and sang Flamenco-style on his guitar at our table gave his number to Joshua as he is also interested in visiting church!

At the top of Sandia Crest you can see all of Albuquerque! It was a powerful time of prayer!

Amy and I are deeply grateful for our partners in the gospel, Joshua and Belinda Christensen.  They are amazing examples of perseverance and have raised wonderful daughters who both are devoted and serious disciples in their own right.  Both Celia (18) and Gabby (14) are being great examples in raising their missions this year and also have been champions in “Bible Bowl” competitions for many years.  Joshua became a disciple in Dallas in 1993 but sadly fell away in about 5 months later that year.  In 1996, he had moved to Albuquerque and was working as a waiter.  He knew he needed to get back into church and was thinking about finding one.  While he was working one night a young woman invited him out to her church and he went with her as he had been thinking about it anyhow.  At that Sunday service, he began feeling something familiar as he heard the songs, sensed the genuine love, and felt sincere warmth in the fellowship.  By God’s clear design the sermon that morning was from Luke 15 – “The Prodigal Son.”  It broke Joshua’s heart and he openly sobbed.  Admittedly, this was a bit awkward at first…yet understandable, as he knew his God was running to him, throwing his arms around him and kissing him.  Joshua was restored to the faith three weeks later in 1996.  In 1998 he and the young woman who had invited him to church were married – as that was our dear sister Belinda.

The brothers with the University of New Mexico mascot—the Lobo, or “wolf!”

The “spies” find a perfect location for church service!

The Christensens were a part of a planting from Albuquerque to Las Cruces, a city of 101,000 people about 3.5 hours south of Albuquerque (226 miles) in 1998.  In 2005 they moved back to Albuquerque and realized our former movement drifted from commitment, discipleship, and Jesus’ dream to evangelize the nations in this generation.  Discouraged and disenchanted, in 2008 they joined a local “mainline” Church of Christ and wandered in the desert of no discipling or visionary purpose.  After some ten years, during the summer of 2016, they visited the ICC in Orange County and met Coltin Rohn.  Coltin invited Joshua to the 2016 GLC.  At the GLC he met LuJack Martinez, Tim Kernan, Nick Bordieri, Kip McKean and myself. (Jeremy Ciaramella) God moved in the Christensen’s hearts and in October of 2016 they sold their Albuquerque home, joined the Soldout Discipling Movement, and moved to Los Angeles for ministry training.  Now they are heroically set – God willing – to plant the Albuquerque International Christian Church in January of 2018!  We are witnessing a plan unfolding some 25 years in the making!

Please continue to pray for the Albuquerque Inaugural February of 2018!

We must be praying for the planting of the Albuquerque Church and for the harvest to be plentiful!  Our God promises he will give us everywhere we “set our [feet].”  We only need to have the heart of obedience and to “be strong and courageous” as God calls us to be!  This is true in Albuquerque, in Phoenix, in all the southwest, in all the United States, and “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)  Let us be grateful as we see the Holy Spirit taking this important step in evangelizing the Southwest and pray that all disciples in the Southwest will “bear much fruit, showing [ourselves] to be [Jesus’] disciples!” And to our God and Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be all the “glory!” (John 15:8)

 

JMC

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