A SMALL CHURCH’S MIRACLE

A church of 450 people in Las Vegas, NV affects the lives of over 100,000 people for Christ. Saturday August 9, 2014 I opened the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper and there is a full page article about our sister church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church. They are interviewing senior pastor Kevin Oder about their growth and the outreach of their church. On special occasions, their attendance will exceed 15,000. Pastor Oder states that: “Rather than luring churchgoers away from other congregations, we were trying to go after people who weren’t going to church at all. And that is still the heartbeat of our church.”

Since I started writing blogs in 2009, I have never felt more led than to retell the story about the miracles that have occurred, over the years, at Central Christian Church. I do not know how to tell it without relating it through what I witnessed. I have been blessed to see my bi-weekly blogs being picked up by Goggle and others and being read by people from many different countries world-wide. This blog, hopefully, is to encourage those who have not heard the story previously.

In 1974, I was transferred to Las Vegas. This was my ninth transfer and as a result I have been a member of twelve different small churches. In 1981, things were not going well in our church, at that time, and I felt led to visit others church in order to make a change. Two of my friends were going to Central Christian Church. I attended and it resulted in my family transferring and attending.

After about three months, I believed it was the most traditional and legalistic church I had become a part in. They were good at telling people what they couldn’t do and had placed God in a box. I thought about returning to the denominational church that we had left and my wife had been a member all of her life. I happened to pick up a magazine about churches around America. It shared a story of a small women’s Bible group on the East Coast that prayed for a spiritual revival in America. It spread across America in the 1800’s to become one of the biggest spiritual out breaks in America ever. It was like the Holy Spirit was telling me: “This is going to happen in this church. This is where you need to stay.” No one would ever expect a spiritual revival to come out of Sin City. As a result, people will know that there is a God. If it can happen in Las Vegas, God can make it happen anywhere.

In 1983, I was elected to the church board and we continually prayed for a vision from God as to what He wanted our church to become and to do. He wanted us to concentrate on seeking those who were not going to a church and most had never attended, regularly, anywhere before. It was apparent God wanted us to make a difference in the lives of Las Vegas people who were working in an “Anything Goes, city”. God loves everyone and many were lost and had never heard the Gospel preached. How could they be saved unless Christians cared and reached out to them in love. This became the mission of our church. If we were called as missionaries to a foreign country, how would we reach the unchurched? Las Vegas became our mission field and we, as a church, changed completely to a church geared to reach the lost as Canyon Ridge church had stated in the newspaper article.

Our church was rapidly growing and many were attending from the other side of town. We decided to bring in a minster to plant a church in northwest Las Vegas. We wanted that person to spend time at Central and learn what we were doing so that church would do likewise. We selected Mike Breaux and in 1993 the second church was established and later became Canyon Ridge. A few years later Canyon Ridge and Central sponsored another church in 2000, The Crossing, in the southwest part of Las Vegas and Shane Philip as their senior pastor. On special occasions, attendance in the three churches plus satellite churches will be approximately 70,000. When you count the 50,000 conversions that Central Christian Church alone has had over the years, plus those attending all of the churches and satellites that were sponsored by that small church of 450, you come up with a figure of over 100,000 lives have been affected for Christ since that little church started its outreach program.

John 7:24 – “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Genesis 18:14(a) – “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” John 13:35 – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I Thessalonians 5:17 – “pray continually” I John 5:14 – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” John 14:23 – 26 – “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”

I spent 20 years on Central’s church board. I could write pages of impossible situations, such as not having the money to relocate and yet seeing God making it all happen. But I want to write about what God wants to do in the lives of each of us. The Bible repeatedly tells us God loves us and wants what is best for us. He tells us if we have enough faith we can move mountains and I have seen Him moving mountains for a small church in Las Vegas from the very beginning. Personally, God has taken care of every need I have had. He has blessed my family beyond anything I would ever have expected. It is not because of anything we have done, other than allow God to increase our faith exponentially by seeing what He has done for our church and its members.

We have seen miraculous healing of individuals. We have seen those with addictions have a radical change in their lifestyle and become a new person. We have witnessed people from a sinful city and all walks of life and immorality; make a commitment to serve Christ, as Lord. Faith comes from hearing and reading the Word. It takes faith in Christ and belief that we have been forgiven that makes us a new person. However, it is a process. There is more to living a Christian life than just being saved. We must allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives. We must give up being boss and let Christ become our Lord and allow Him to challenge us to a new way of living. It is then we can start accepting that the promises God has given in Scripture will apply to us. God does tell us He will meet our needs. He will—just believe!

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