Joe Powers Said "Yes"!
38 years ago, when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior I had little idea how my life would change. In the following weeks as I thought about this new life, I realized that I hadn’t informed God of my “conditions” (how hysterical is that!). There really was only one: I would not be doing any Mission work. There would be no trips to underdeveloped or impoverished parts of the world, no eating strange foods, no sleeping on the ground, etc.
Fast forward to 2013 – God was about to encourage me to say ‘YES’. A dear brother in Christ was U.S. Field Director for the Mission Organization: Peace and Hope Trust. We had financially supported the ministry for years and I was sensing that God was asking me to step up in my walk (that still small voice). The field director of the mission had mentioned a number of times that he would like me to join a team, and I knew I must not ignore that still small voice for too long.
So I said ‘YES’ and in July of 2013 joined a team for two weeks in the rain forest of Northeast Nicaragua. This area, called the Moskito Coast, is known for extreme poverty, high infant mortality rate, challenging climate conditions, and a severe shortage of clean water. After flying in to Managua, a 5-hour bus trip through the mountains, and a 7-hour boat trip up the Rio Grande de Matagalpa river I found myself in the remote village of Makantakita, a three hour boat ride from electricity, running water, or sewage.
I felt like I had obeyed God in reaching Makantakia, but during the first night there, while walking back to my tent after dinner, I found myself saying out loud ‘Joe, what were you thinking?’
God reminded me that I had said ‘YES’, so I made the decision to yield to the Holy Spirit and follow and obey emotionally as much as I had physically in joining the trip. Then everything changed. It is impossible to describe how blessed I was on that trip. By yielding and obeying, I had no time to question or worry. At the end of the second week, we had built a boat landing and stairs to reach one of the villages with the steepest approach, and four cement rain water collection tanks. I was amazed at how fast the time had passed and how much joy I experienced on that trip.
It was on this trip that I first learned of Netcast church. A member of the team had started attending Netcast and encouraged us to give it a try. How amazing is our God? I’m in the jungle in Nicaragua and I learn of a great church in my home town. When the next mission trip was announced, I said ‘YES’ once again and joined the 2014 team for another blessed, spirit led adventure. There I was reminded of Netcast again.
After the 2014 trip, my wife Jayne and I decided it was time to get back into a church family after some time away. Based on the recommendation of my mission teammate, we decided to try Netcast first. We attended Netcast one Sunday in March and knew that we had found a new spiritual home.
Once we were settled, and having worked in Children’s Ministry before, I met with Sara Hester to understand the service needs of Netcast at that time, and in November said ‘YES’ to teaching the 4th and 5th grade children, an age group I did not have experience with. The blessings I have experienced working in this ministry, though – learning the value of honesty, seeing the faith of a child in action, hearing from parents about their child’s growth at home – feel countless.
One Sunday while talking with Zak Stevens, who I had met working in Children’s Ministry, Zak mentioned that he was trying to recruit more volunteers for the Netcast Youth Ministry, and asked that I consider joining as well. Of course, I was all set having become established in the Children’s Ministry. I was comfortable in how I was serving God and the church.
But God had more plans for me if I would say ‘YES’. I wrestled with this one a bit, never having done any organized ministry to older youth, but in April of 2016, I said ‘YES’ and started assisting Austin Bentson with the High School youth. Working with these amazing and Godly young people has been enlightening, rewarding, educational, and challenging. These young people truly reflect how wonderful our God is, and it is a blessing to watch them retain Holy Spirit taught lessons.
Saying ‘YES’ involves yielding to and obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit, and in my life (though it may seem daunting up front) I have found that this takes very little effort. When the Holy Spirit is the leader, encourager, guide, and supplier of power, if your ‘YES’ is truly ‘YES’ then it is out of your hands. Fear, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of rejection become inconsequential. You are so caught up in the wonder of the adventure that there is no time for the flesh. Amazingly, when I say ‘YES’ it is no longer about me. It is about an unconditional loving, generous, committed Lord God.