From the material to the miraculous in faith
[notice]Alf James writes about the important topic of faith and Christian living — and talks to Karoo Mighty Men Conference (KMMC) committee members about their amazing, ongoing, faith journey and the faith theme for KMMC 2016.[/notice]
Faith is critical to our Christian walk. It is the faith we live by on a day-to-day basis that determines the state of our hearts and whether we are acting in God’s will or our own.
Faith defines how we live and even affects how we die; it provides direction, meaning and the ability to overcome tribulation in our lives, “for whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” 1John 5:4.
Our Christian faith calls for trust, obedience, surrender and endurance and is directly-related to Lord Jesus Christ: “For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).
Hebrews 12: 1-2 clearly states our call to faith “. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . .”.
Essential part of our Christian walk
Yes, faith is an essential part of our Christian walk — 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that “we walk by faith, and not by sight, while Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is by grace we have been saved through faith”.
Romans 1: 16-17 emphasises faith’s part in our Christian lives: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . . For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written ‘The just shall live by faith,’ ”.
Furthermore, our very relationship with our Holy Father is completely dependent on our faith for “. . . without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11: 6).
Our faith is so important to our Christian walk that the Apostle Paul spends much time in his epistles stressing that we are only granted the righteousness of God by His grace via the redemption that is in Christ Jesus through faith and not from deeds of the law.
Faith is God’s gift to us and by extending faith through our thoughts, words and deeds we are able to share it with others and give it back to our Holy Father.
Faith is the envelope in which every request to God should be placed, according to ‘God Calling’ by Two Listeners.
To walk in faith is one of the most important lessons the organising committee of Karoo Mighty Men Conference (KMMC) has learned through hosting the event, according to Jannie Moolman, KMMC co-ordinator. This is not surprising given that the conference venue had no water, ablutions, roads, electricity, sanitation, or lights to begin with, added to which the organising committee had no equipment, material or finances, nor did they know how many men to prepare for.
Indeed, the need of the organising committee to walk in faith is perfectly expressed in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
Jannie says the committee members’ biggest lesson in faith has been that self-reliance and trying to achieve through their own efforts is counter-productive.
Learning to rely on God
“We have found that the more we take ourselves out of the KMMC equation and rely on God, the more He acts supernaturally.
“For example, during the first two conferences in 2011 and 2012 the organising committee felt it necessary to ask those attending to pay an entrance fee to help cover costs, because the event is extremely expensive to present.
“Yet, despite the entrance fee, we still had difficulties covering the financial requirements.
“However, after the committee decided to walk in faith in God’s provision and not ask an entrance fee in 2013, thereby making it possible for all to attend, no matter their financial circumstances, God has worked miraculously; He has provided excess, allowing us to sow into the Kingdom,” says Jannie.
The KMMC organising committee’s experience regarding whether or not to charge an entrance fee testifies to how there is a strong element of surrender to our faith in our Holy Father, an acknowledgement that in our own effort and understanding we can do little-or-nothing of Kingdom worth.
Our challenge is to give up our self-centred independence and rely on His leadership of our lives — walking obediently in faith takes us out of our will and into God’s will, from the material into the miraculous, from the natural into the supernatural.
Walking in faith has not only been key to the provision of finances for KMMC each year, but also to the growth in attendance from around 3 000 people in 2011 to 30 000 people in 2015.
Jannie says a fundamental element of the growth of the organising committee’s faith has been prayer. He says from the first KMMC in 2011, the organising committee has laid a foundation of prayer in everything it has done by first committing all decisions concerning the conference to the Lord in prayer.
Faith and prayer
This close relationship between faith and prayer is emphasised by Kathryn Kuhlman in her book ‘I Believe in Miracles’.
“The greatest power that God has given to men and women is the power of prayer, but always remember, God has established the law of Prayer and Faith. Prayer is conscious of the need, while faith supplies it,” says Kuhlman.
“Prayer never obtains anything from God unless faith is present; and again, faith never receives anything from God unless prayer makes a petition. Prayer and faith work harmoniously together – both are necessary in their distinct functions, but are quite different in their nature,” she adds.
Kuhlman says it is only through prayer that the soul can establish communion with its Creator, and it is only through faith that spiritual victories are won.
“Prayer knocks at the door of grace, while faith opens it,” she emphasises.
However, the KMMC organising committee’s walk in faith has not stopped at extending their faith into prayer, but also into works.
While prayer has extended the organising committee’s faith from thoughts into worship and words, their work has translated those thoughts and words into actions that have manifested their faith, by God’s grace, into the KMMC that we look forward to attending each year.
This process of faith being transformed from thoughts to words, then to works and finally into the KMMC is reflected in the experience of Cor Uys and Werner Potgieter who in 2011 were in charge of preparing the venue with campsites, showers, toilets, locations for vendors, a medical location, and facilities for disabled people.
This preparation of the venue was a tall order given that it was bare Karoo veld which had to be developed to accommodate tens of thousands of people and, as already stated, there was no water, electricity, sanitation, roads, equipment, material or money to begin with.
At the time Potgieter said: “We are completely dependent on God’s grace for the success of preparing the KMMC venue, which is more than 60 hectares in size”.
“This is an undertaking of faith in which we are completely reliant on our Holy Father to provide the conference requirements.”
One faithful step at a time
However, Potgieter, Uys and their team did not stand still and wait for money and equipment to come in; they took one faithful step at a time using the little they had.
Potgieter says the biggest lesson was to realise that God was making it all possible while they just had to make themselves available to be used by the Lord as His instruments.
Uys said God’s grace was made manifest from the very beginning.
“For example, one week before we were about to leave for Bloemfontein to buy materials with which to begin making toilets we received the provision of 250 toilets and 250 showers.
“All we had to do was to obtain the transport to fetch it all,” said Uys.
Nevertheless, the biggest challenge for Uys and Potgieter was to learn to trust and have the faith that everything would fall into place. They said the process was one of growth with regards to their own faith.
Recently, Potgieter pointed out that the process of growing and walking in faith has been ongoing as each year KMMC requires new preparation, new equipment and new facilities. Each year brings new challenges that make preparation for the conference a continuous walk in faith with God, which takes the team into deeper waters, but God is always faithful.
Given the organising committee’s continuing walk in faith and the vital place faith has in our own Christian walks, it is fitting that KMMC 2016’s theme is “Launch out into the deep waters” from Luke 5:4.
Jannie says the theme is aimed at encouraging all those who attend the conference to commit to deepening their relationship with the Lord through developing their faith in Him.
“We want to encourage men to ‘Launch out into the deep waters’ of their faith by completely surrendering to the Lord God Almighty, relying totally on Him and denying self.
“We want to encourage men to persevere in their faith walk too, as Oom Angus says, an extraordinary life as an ordinary person being an ambassador for Lord Jesus Christ, which is achievable by faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Making faith a lifestyle
“We are encouraging men to make their faith their lifestyle; to stand firm in their faith and yield their hearts to the Lord.
“KMMC is encouraging men, through their faith in Lord Jesus Christ, to ‘seize the day’, each and every day.
“Whether it be venturing into the uncertainty of the unknown when confronted with change or launching out into the deep waters of a formidable test, we are challenged to keep our focus on Jesus and trust that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us,” (Philippians 4:13) says Jannie.
In his book ‘Building Great Faith’, Harold F Weitsz, senior Pastor of Little Falls Christian Centre, says: “developing faith is our responsibility and through our commitment to the Lord and His Word, we determine our level of faith”.
“Without faith in Christ we would never have been saved; without faith for daily living, we cannot please the Father; and without faith for the future we will never experience the abundant here and now life that the Lord Jesus promised us,” says Weitsz.
“If you and I are going to live in God’s unshakable Kingdom of faith then we had better take every measure we can to ensure we develop our faith muscles,” he adds.
According to Weitsz, there is no end or limit to what the Father can do and wants to do, however, we limit Him through our negative actions and thoughts.
Change of heart
He emphasises that faith requires a change of heart: “We cannot walk by faith if we do not change the way we think”.
“We are what we think and this impacts our actions.Walking by faith is a discipline that will also equip us in many other areas of our lives.”
Finally, Weitsz informs that through the years, as he came to rely more and more on God’s Spirit for guidance and less and less on his own abilities, he was able to mature into a stronger faith-filled believer.
The KMMC organising committee invites men to join them in their faith walk and “Launch out into the deep waters” at KMMC 2016, which will take place from April 29 to May 1 on the outskirts of Middelburg in the Eastern Cape on Rusoord Farm.