Friday, December 1, 2017

The Praise Report: Winter 2017

Euro Mission 2017


We recently returned from a 3-month extended mission trip to Europe where we ministered in England, France, Spain, Sweden and Norway! We experienced the Holy Spirit meeting us at every turn and were stoked to see people opening their hearts to receive Christ in the different places where we preached.

London 


We ministered at a weekend outreach in London, England, where people responded and made decisions and re-dedications for Christ, and where there was also a very powerful visitation of the presence of God. 



In fact, there were many who were filled with the Holy Spirit in a significant way, including some young kids who had also responded to the Gospel message we had shared. When they opened their hearts they were overcome with the Holy Spirit as the Lord poured out His power on them and some fell to the ground as the Lord flooded them with His presence. Some even laid on the floor inundated by God’s power, and were there receiving after being overcome by the Spirit for quite a long time. Young kids’ attention spans are always rather short, thus clearly God’s power took over as He filled them!

Saving and equipping the younger generation was a theme the Holy Spirit divinely brought up unexpectedly right from the beginning of this trip, and carried through in many other places. In fact, a taxicab that was supposed to come and get us did not show up. We called the company to find out they had somehow set up in their computer. So we contacted an Uber driver at the last minute. We were able to talk and connect with the Uber driver on the way, and as we shared with him, he began to point out how the younger generation in Europe especially needed the message of Christ. I felt what he was saying was prophetic for the service we were about to do. Then the pastor unexpectedly opened the meeting by talking about the importance of reaching the youth, as did Mercedes when she shared as we began to preach!

Like in many places today, secular humanism dominates in European public institutions that claim to be teaching but are instead indoctrinating. Also, there are clearly not enough vital, alive, gospel-communicating fellowships throughout Europe; this leaves a void in many young people’s lives. That void gets filled instead often by drugs, promiscuity, wanton living, cults, and on and on. A friend over there who goes to an upper-class, private, rather posh, private school, described the insanity of the rampant drug use, and wanton living, that goes on even there. Thus, it is imperative that the Gospel of the Kingdom be preached, shared, and communicated in all ways possible. The future generations must be reached if we want to have a future. 


Both of us preaching and sharing at an evangelistic outreach at Ark of God Church
in London, Patrick also got to share some too!

It is the Gospel of the Kingdom that is necessary in this day, the Gospel that has power to save, heal, and deliver from darkness! Those reached must also be filled with the Spirit! The power of God is a necessity with all the evil around these days. The pastor closed by stating what a blessed moment we had witnessed, as it isn’t so common to see young kids like this get so powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit. Praise God! The Lord poured out His power in a remarkable way and we had about 10 people open their hearts to Christ and many including kids get powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit as we ministered in London!


Praying for young kids in London who got
powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit.

We also had a historic moment in London, one of several on this trip. When Princess Diana died 20 years ago, we happened to walk, somehow, right into her memorial in Paris with all the activities going on. Just randomly, having taken a wrong turn, we came upon all the flowers and cards grieving her untimely passing. We just happened to be in London on this trip exactly 20 years after she died. There were many events carried out in her memory in the UK while we were there. It reminded us of how fast time goes by and how fragile and quickly life passes, whether one is a princess or a pauper, thus “we must do the work of the Kingdom while it is yet day.” (John 9:4)

France 


We then ministered in the Loire Valley of France. We spoke in Neuillé-Pont-Pierre and in Tours, at different meetings and services as well as a prayer meeting. We were speaking and teaching on the Reformation in preparation for an event the churches we worked with there were having celebrating the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. Yes, a Reformation event in France of all places! The Reformation did touch France back in the day but serious persecution limited its impact.


With friends in France and the posters for the Reformation Event.

We shared about Martin Luther’s powerful conversion to Christ and awakening to the grace and mercy of God. Luther had run into desperation and exasperation with rituals and penance as a Catholic priest; however, revelation of Christ’s full payment for sin on the cross came to him as he read Paul’s letter to the Romans. 

The timing was strategic, especially with their upcoming event, as most there were not familiar with the story of Luther’s conversion. We communicated further how the subject can be used as a way to share the Gospel with others as a tool for evangelism, especially with those who may have a bit of religious background but don’t know Christ as their personal savior, as is common in France. The event itself was an outreach, so it was important to equip those involved with how to share the Gospel in conjunction with the event.

Speaking of evangelism, we had about 8 people altogether come to Christ in the various meetings we did while there, which also included ministering at an African church. A young guy from Kosovo, as well as a young French guy, were amongst those who opened their hearts to Christ, having been impacted by the Holy Spirit as there was a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit at some of the meetings.

In fact, there were a couple of believers from South Africa who were of French Reformed (Huguenot) background, who were there specifically to pray for the meetings. They came up all the way from South Africa to intercede in prayer. They communicated to us personally after one of the main meetings we did on Sunday morning: the way the Lord moved, bringing some to salvation, as well as pouring out His Spirit, filling and empowering and refreshing many there, was exactly what they were interceding for! One of the sisters helping lead one of the churches told us how encouraged and strengthened she was by all the Lord did!

We were glad to see the Lord move in this way in a place that needs the Gospel so much. We were talking and praying with some friends on the way out of town whose kids told us how hard it is there in France as one often feels very isolated as a believer. Praise God for the comfort and encouragement the Holy Spirit brings!

Spain 


We ministered in the region of Catalonia, Spain. It was nice to minister in Spain again since we haven’t been there for some time. We actually connected through some friends who pastor a church in Colorado where we ministered at earlier this year. The new co-pastor and his wife were previously doing mission work in Catalonia and were so blessed by our ministry—the wife got powerfully ministered to when we prayed and prophesied over her— that they invited us to come to minister in Catalonia next time we traveled to Europe.


Praying as the Holy Spirit fills people at a workshop in Barcelona, Spain.

We were blessed to experience the Holy Spirit moving in a powerful way as we first ministered in the cities of Tarragona and Reus, and then after a short break, in the famous city of Barcelona. We were teaching at several workshops on the empowering of the Holy Spirit and how to operate in the gifts of the Spirit.


There was a receptive attitude amongst those who came to all the meetings we did to what we were teaching as well as to the work of the Holy Spirit. We experienced many getting filled with the Holy Spirit and equipped as the Spirit of God was poured out as we ministered and taught with many powerful manifestations of His presence, along with about 7 people altogether in the different meetings who opened their hearts to Christ.



Preaching as Mercedes interprets in Barcelona, Spain.

We also had some who received healing, amongst them a gentleman who regained lost sensation in his hand after praying for him. The pastors and their wives also expressed how encouraged and blessed they were. One of the pastors said publicly that these meetings we did were a line of demarcation and that he saw there would be a difference in his congregation and fellowship after these meetings where the Lord had so poured out His presence!

Holy Ghost Surfing Divine Appointments


We had a nice little break by the warm Mediterranean, in between ministering in Barcelona and Tarragona and Reus, where we enjoyed a few days on the beach. It was a necessary break in the middle of this long trip packed with lots of ministry. 

There were actually a few small waves that looked like they could be fun for a longboard or SUP if we could rent one or something. I checked out three different beach places that normally would rent equipment like that, but they all said it was past the season and had already stored that type of equipment away elsewhere. 

I was praying on what to do when Patrick and I were taking a little stroll on the boardwalk and a woman was walking a dog in front of us. I just felt led by the Holy Spirit to talk to her, completely out of the blue. I came up and started talking to her and it turned out after a few moments speaking Spanish that she spoke good English. I asked if she knew a place that might still rent surfboards or SUP’s anywhere in the area. She said everything was past the season for renting stuff, but, she knew the one guy in the area that could possibly rig us up with something to use.

She actually called him right then, and after some conversation we arranged to pick up an SUP the next day. Even though we had only met him on the phone he just let us take the board and didn’t even ask for an ID or a credit card deposit. We were stoked to have an SUP for a couple days, which turned out to be the right thing for the small waves there.

After a couple days of refreshing in the sun and surf—it was actually the only warm weather we had the whole trip—we returned the SUP to the guy. I felt led to share with him how I had prayed and then met his friend and that him providing the board was an answer to prayer. I witnessed to him and we were stoked to be able to share Christ's love with him and plant the seeds of the Gospel to a very receptive heart, and also nice to get a little refreshing on the SUP via divine appointment!

Turbulent Times in Spain 


We were in Barcelona during the Independence Referendum, which has been much in the news this year. The Spanish government had declared the Referendum illegal, and sent in the Guardia Civil (Federal Police), as well as local police being out everywhere. We were actually preaching in the center of the city the day it was all happening, right next to all the referendum activities. In fact, the pastor happened to turn on the news that Sunday morning before we ministered. The broadcaster warned to stay away from areas where voting and protests were going on. Some violence had already broken out in different places along with many protesters out and about, chanting and picketing and stuff.

It definitely brought some concern to our hearts, but as I took a moment to pray, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking peace and saying not to worry. Lo and behold, we ministered and people got saved, healed, and filled, and we had a blessed time in spite of all the craziness going on right around us everywhere outdoors. God gave us peace and blessings in the midst of the storm at every turn all around us. In fact, we actually went out and walked 8 miles around town checking out all the sights and activity after ministering and being treated to an awesome lunch by the pastor! 

God blessed us with peace, protection, and grace by the Holy Spirit. It was a unique and historic moment to be there and we are praying whatever the outcome of all this that more openness to the Gospel will result as part of everything being so shaken up. It was actually after a significant shake up that revival broke out in Argentina years back. 

This ended up being another unique and historic moment on the trip!

Sweden


As we ministered in Sweden we experienced the Lord moving powerfully in the different places we preached. We were ministering in the region of Skåne, which is by the North Sea in the South, as well as in the region of Småland on the Baltic coast. While in Skåne in the south of Sweden, we ministered in the cities of Hässleholm, Örkeljunga, and Trelleborg.


Mercedes speaking at New Life Church in Hassleholm, Sweden.

The presence of the Lord was manifest in the meetings we did and we got a lot of response as many shared how filled and renewed they were by what the Lord did in them as we ministered. One sister shared how encouraged and renewed she was by the way the Lord touched and filled her as we ministered. We were stoked to see the daughter (who is just 15 years old) of the family hosting us in Skåne get powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit and then join us in every meeting praying for others! 

We also got a very positive response from some of the leaders. In fact there were some who got powerfully filled themselves and others who had been part of the Jesus People Revival and were very encouraged as well as touched and renewed as we shared about that topic. They were very insistent that the ministry we are doing is so needed there, and we must keep coming back. We saw many people, young and old, get filled with the Holy Spirit and there were also some who opened their hearts to Christ. 


We also ministered as well in the region of Småland, on the East coast of Sweden along the Baltic Sea, in the town of Gamleby. A young lady came and told us before we even began ministering, how impacting and life changing our ministry was to her the last time we were there when she was at one of our meetings. We also had a couple people open their hearts to Christ there as well, some who had Muslim backgrounds.


Posters for our speaking engagement at Citykyrkan in Örkeljunga,
Sweden. We didn't know they'd be all over town. We even went
for Chinese food and one was there. Lol!

We spoke at a youth meeting where we shared some Holy Ghost stories in hopes of getting some of the youth filled with the Spirit. It started a little slow as they just kind of stood there staring off when we first started praying for them, but then after some time, out of nowhere, the Holy Spirit just swept in and started powerfully filling a group of them. They began to lift their hands and tears streamed down some of their faces as they prayed over one another and gave words of encouragement over each other. Some new believers with Muslim backgrounds who just recently came to Christ, joined in for the first time and began to pray for one another too, including the guy who had just accepted Christ earlier on in the meeting. 

The Holy Spirit continued to pour out for at least another hour, long after many had gone home. An old friend named Jan who had been radically saved in the Jesus People days, noting the powerful change in the atmosphere in the room that had taken place when the Holy Spirit swept in, looked up in the middle of it all and said, “This is a miracle!” We knew it was a special moment as the Lord poured His Spirit over many who had never experienced His power like this before!

A young guy who had been filled and touched in those meetings shared: How, as a result of the Lord empowering him, he had begun to share the Gospel with others. In fact, he began sharing with a rather tough guy in town who was way more open than he suspected he would be, and would continue to reach out to him. He also was evangelizing on a bus and prayed for a lady who got healed which opened a door to tell her about Jesus.  This is huge deal for someone in Sweden to step out like that as it is a very shy culture, but the Holy Spirit can transcend, and this is why we ourselves come to minister in God’s power that others may be equipped to be witnesses!


Denmark is just across the border from Sweden and we had a few free days before heading on. So we hopped over the border and saw a few sights in Denmark and even got a few cold water waves. Wow, surfing in Denmark was pretty unique; in fact some Scandinavian surfer friends had just gone to the exact same spot right before us and it was completely flat without a wave to be seen. So the Lord gave us another little miracle to provide a little refreshing before moving on to even more ministry in Scandinavia!

Norway


We ministered in Norway, in the south of the country, in the town of Mandal, as well as doing a youth meeting in the city of Kristiansand. Norway has beautiful scenery at every turn and we also had great fellowship with old friends. We had some very blessed meetings with the presence of the Lord moving powerfully amongst us.


Preaching to the youth in Familiekirken Mandal in Norway,
showing them the old Jesus People "One way" sign.

In fact, right from the very first meeting, which was a special midweek meeting they set up, the Lord poured out His Spirit in a very powerful and remarkable way. That first night went quite long as the Lord poured out His power long into night with powerful manifestations of His presence!

In one of the youth meetings in Mandal, the Holy Spirit then swept in with surprising power, late in the meeting. We had shared and prayed for people and even had a couple people open their hearts to Christ. But then late in the meeting when everything was seemingly wrapping up, the Holy Spirit just descended all of a sudden in power on a group of young teen girls, who began just praying and hugging each other and giving prophetic words to one another. 

The Lord touched them so deeply for such a long time that a puddle of tears gathered around their feet, the Youth Group leader pointed out that it looked like pearls that had fallen down from heaven! You know how significant it is what God was doing when young people ignore a tasty pizza waiting for them that had been prepared, and instead keep basking under the waterfall of the Holy Spirit for a good hour instead, all while the pizza gets eaten by others and gets cold! Hallelujah!!!


Holy Ghost afterglow in Norway. The Spirit of God came upon these girls
at the end of the meeting and extended things another glorious hour!

e were blessed to do a service with an Eritrean immigrant church in Mandal, where we saw a powerful move of the Spirit, which led to some getting radically filled with the Holy Spirit and also some getting deliverance as well!

We were stoked to be able to preach on Martin Luther and the Reformation on their Sunday services, two days before the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, while there are in Mandal, Norway. Many of the older generation were very thankful to hear the story and were touched by it and refreshed, and many young people had never heard the story at all and were blessed by it as well. We closed by sharing about how Martin Luther emphasized the importance of being filled the Holy Spirit, and prayed for many that were filled with the Holy Spirit that day. It was an awesome time in Norway!

Germany and the Anniversary of the Reformation


We flew to Germany just in time for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
October 31st, Reformation Day, was a pretty extraordinary day to be right there where it all began, in Wittenberg, Germany! 

The little town ended up being packed with people from all over the world for the celebration of this very momentous event. We ended up having to stay in another town because everything had been booked up far in advance with all the people visiting for the big event.


Scenes from the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in Wittenberg, Germany,
including the leader of Germany who showed up to pay homage to the country's
indebtedness to Martin Luther and the Protest Reformation.

We were stoked to find out the place we were staying had bikes to rent at a very reasonable price. We figured the 35 mi (56 km) round trip adventure would be good exercise after so many planes, trains, and automobiles on this trip. 

So we got up early on the 31st and started biking towards Wittenberg. We passed through some quaint little German towns and farms and enjoyed taking in the sights; however, it seemed like every last store and place of business we passed was closed. We found out later that October 31st had been declared a national holiday for all of Germany for the first time in its history.

Then, as we were getting closer to Wittenberg, a huge group of black cars and police with a helicopter hovering overhead, passed by us. We hadn’t known that the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, would be heading into the Reformation City for a special service. Because we were on bikes we got a unique view of all this as we rode in.

It was a blessed time to be there and we had lots of divine appointments with many different people whom we shared with and prayed for as we were equipped to share quotes from Luther and the Bible about the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit! 

There were many special events going on, including many special museum exhibitions, as well as a sound and light show, and a huge panorama exhibition on Luther and the town of Wittenberg by a well-known artist. There was also a big musical play about Luther in Berlin which was broadcast nationwide and actually quoted many Bible verses throughout!  

It was quite a unique moment for sure and we believe the Lord was using this occasion to plant many seeds in people’s lives about the Gospel as well as draw many to Himself!

Luther is often called the "accidental revolutionary" because of the amazing chain of events that were set in motion by this then unknown monk in a little insignificant town who was touched by the Holy Spirit as he read the truth of the Gospel in the Scriptures. That truth reverberated throughout the land and even crossed the sea with those early Pilgrims coming to the New World, a place that would later be called the United States of America!

Being in Wittenberg was a blessing capstone to an already very blessed trip. We praise God for everything he did on this journey!!!  Read more on Grace Notes.

Thanksgiving 


We hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving! We have a blog that we just put out on Thanksgiving, the early colonies, and the Reformation. If you would like to read it you can find it at http://gwmgracenotes.blogspot.com/2017/11/thanksgiving-blessings.html.

Thank You


We praise God for your prayers and support! It helps us to be out there on the road, preaching the Gospel and bringing the Kingdom into emerging mission fields like Europe!

Many blessings!
Bryan, Mercedes 
and Patrick Marleaux

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Blessings: The Connection of the Reformation to the Early American Colonies

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and as Thanksgiving rolls around, we're taking a moment to look back and see the role the Reformation played in the early origins of America. It was quite a large one, in fact, as The History Channel so pointedly declared on a program about this event: “Without the Protestant Reformation there would be no America.” Quite a statement, so let’s take a look at some of the background:

Though it took some time, the Protestant Reformation eventually began to spread into England during the 16th century. Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses had hit the nail on the head among the European population regarding the abuses of the Catholic Church, and an outcry and demand for reform began to spread to many places.

As a desire for a return to New Testament-based Christianity crossed the Channel into England, Cambridge University began to be known as “The Little Wittenberg” because topics like Luther, the New Testament, and teaching on grace and faith, were so commonly being discussed there.

Amongst those converted to Christ during this time was a Catholic priest named William Tyndale who would, like Luther, champion reform and go on to translate the New Testament into a language that people could actually read (the Catholic Church had said, on pain of death, that the Bible was only to be in Latin, a long dead language even then). Tyndale himself transferred from Oxford to Cambridge because of the openness to reform there. He would end up giving his life for his endeavor of translating the Bible into English and was martyred.

Diverse Protestant groups arose in England including a revival movement called the Puritans. The name did not imply they were trying to be purer than others but rather they sought a return to the pure teaching of the New Testament and sought to purify the Church of unbiblical teachings and papal abuses.

Puritans held to the same basic evangelical core beliefs of most reformed believers: Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, the only mediator between God and man; the same fundamental New Testament belief that had brought Luther to his conversion after reading the New Testament.

The Puritans, however, also taught that Christ must dwell in, and fill the heart of the believer, mere acquiescence to a doctrinal statement wasn’t sufficient. Christ must dwell in our hearts for mere head knowledge doesn’t replace that living relationship. They thus sought to walk with Christ and were amongst what you could call the first Protestant mystics.

Puritans and their name, however, have been mostly misrepresented; for example:

They were not prudish, dourly dressed prigs, but were actually known to embrace the fashion of the times, and in the colonies often dressed very colorfully.

Also, contrary to popular thought, they were not uptight killjoys who preached against sex, but actually were the first Protestant group to openly espouse that the sexual union between man and wife is a gift of God to be enjoyed with pleasure. They disdained the false concept from Catholicism that sexual union in marriage was only for procreation and a sin if you enjoyed it. Sex, between a married man and woman, was a gift from God to be enjoyed in the bonds of matrimony. They typically had hordes of children as a result.

Furthermore, they despised the Catholic notion that celibacy was some kind of higher calling or that one was more holy by being celibate rather than being married. Christ’s blood alone cleanses us from sin, and makes anyone who believes on Him holy before the Father, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, by grace through faith alone! Nothing more and nothing less! (Rom 3:21, Eph 2:8-10, Heb 10:10)

England felt less tolerant to the Puritans as time went on and a group of them sought to find freedom to worship as they saw fit and departed for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower in 1620.

Once across the sea, they dedicated their new colony “to the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith” in their compact when they reached the shores of Plymouth, even before disembarking the ship and stepping foot on the new world, setting down roots that are clearly Christian!

Historian Latourette says that the Protestant movements that came to early America sought to incorporate Luther’s Protestant teaching on the priesthood of all believers into the basic ethic of life—equality for all—something that had been completely foreign in old feudal Europe, and foreign to the elitism that was intrinsic in heirarchical Catholic religious system .

This concept of human equality before God that Luther drew from the New Testament became a concept in the later American Constitution: “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Historian Sydney Ahlstrom estimates that 70% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Puritan stock.

We were blessed to visit the Puritan church where Benjamin Franklin himself was baptized, while in Boston on a trip a little while ago. It caused us to reflect on such a historical place, looking around there and at the Boston Common, where massive crowds would gather during the revival in the early colonies to hear the preaching of George Whitfield. Benjamin Franklin himself was fascinated by this phenomenon and measured the crowds at approximately 25,000 people who came out to these revival meetings!

Another Historical Moment


We also had another very historical moment just recently in Germany:

October 31st, 2017 was the 500-Year Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. We were blessed to be in Wittenberg, Germany, for the quincentennial celebration.

The little town ended up being packed with people from all over the world for the celebration of this very momentous event. We ended up having to stay in another town because everything had been booked up far in advance with all the people visiting for the big event.

We were stoked to find out the place we were staying had bikes to rent at a very reasonable price. We figured the 35 mi (56 km) round trip adventure would be good exercise after so many planes, trains, and automobiles on this trip.

So we got up early on the 31st and started biking towards Wittenberg. We passed through some quaint little German towns and farms and enjoyed taking in the sights; however, it seemed like every last store and place of business we passed was closed. We found out later that Oct 31st had been declared a national holiday for all of Germany for the first time in its history.

Then, as we were getting closer to Wittenberg, a huge group of black cars and police with a helicopter hovering overhead, passed by us. We hadn’t known that the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, would be heading into the Reformation city for a special service. Because we were on bikes we got a unique view of all this as we rode in.



It was a blessed time to be there and we had lots of divine appointments with many different people whom we shared with and prayed for as we were equipped to share quotes from Luther and the Bible about the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit!

There were many special events going on, including many special museum exhibitions, as well as a sound and light show, and a huge panorama exhibition on Luther and the town of Wittenberg by a well-known artist. There was also a big musical play about Luther in Berlin which was broadcast nationwide and actually quoted many Bible verses throughout!

It was quite a unique moment for sure and we believe the Lord was using this occasion to plant many seeds in people’s lives about the Gospel as well as draw many to Himself!

Historical Reflection


Luther is often called the "accidental revolutionary" because of the amazing chain of events that were set in motion by this then unknown monk in a little insignificant town who was touched by the Holy Spirit as he read the truth of the Gospel in the Scriptures. That truth reverberated throughout the land and even crossed the sea with those early Pilgrims coming to the New World, a place that would later be called the United States of America.

For further study:

Monday, October 30, 2017

500th Anniversary of the Reformation

We are in Wittenberg, Germany for the 500 Year Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. We’ve just come from ministering in other parts of Europe: England, France, Spain, and lastly in Scandinavia, where we experienced some powerful visitations of the Holy Spirit in Sweden and Norway!

We’ll have a full update on all that a bit later on, but this being a unique occasion, and feeling a bit surreal that we are here in Wittenberg at the moment, I’ve been reflecting on the first time we came here and how the Lord intervened to make it happen. It speaks to me of how the Lord brought us here then and now, and of the importance of the message that is at the center the Reformation.

So here is how the Lord worked to bring us here to Wittenberg the very first time:

We were in Germany years back, staying at a friend of Mercedes in a little German town with a German family.

The family we were staying with asked one day if there was any thing or any place in particular we would like to see in the area.

Without knowing where it was in relation to where we were staying, I just blurted out that we would like to go and visit Wittenberg since it was the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation.

Their faces dropped and they said very strongly, “Well, that is very far from here, and we are really busy so that would just not be possible.” They went on: “You must understand that that is in the former GDR (Communist East Germany), which is a very long way from here.”

Previous to this, I had been personally studying about Martin Luther and the Reformation and was really touched by Martin Luther’s story and powerful conversion to forgiveness and freedom in Jesus Christ.

Earlier in the trip I had sensed that the Lord might be saying that we would visit Wittenberg. However, when they said it was impossible I was a bit perplexed but thought there still could be a way.

Meanwhile, the Lord had opened a door in a local Lutheran Church for me to speak to the youth group. I shared about Martin Luther’s conversion, which come to find out most Lutherans usually know very little about:

I shared how Luther as a Catholic monk had struggled with religious rituals and dead works like penance—which is actually an attempt to pay for one’s own sin prescribed by the Catholic Church (which of course goes against what the New Testament teaches). Luther became frustrated because he knew inside himself that his human efforts always fell short. He would also fast long hours on end, ruining his health. He would also constantly go to confession; but no matter how many long, long, hours he spent confessing every last sin he could remember that he had ever done, he would always think of more later and have to confess those now too—Luther was merely following the prescribed teaching of the Catholic Church then and now—in Catholicism every last sin must be remembered and confessed in order to be forgiven. In Catholicism if you died with unconfessed sin, even those you can’t remember, you would be eternally condemned.

The chief priest in his monastery was getting exhausted from the extremely long hours Luther was spending confessing his sins. In fact, he got so upset that he burst out at him on one occasion: “Why don’t you go out and commit some real sins and come back when you actually have something to confess.”

Luther, however, was merely being sincere and following the prescribed way of Catholicism. Most other priests usually would just get disillusioned and end up just going through the motions in a cavalier way, as Luther saw in many places, especially in Rome when he travelled there on one occasion.

The chief priest of Luther’s monastery named Staupitz had grown so tired of him he finally thought of a way to get him out of his hair, and sent him away from the monastery to study the Scriptures. This was not then nor now the practice of the Catholic priests, however Staupitz just wanted to occupy him with something else.

Luther was thrown into the Bible, basically against his own will, which of course was God working to have him find the truth.

Luther began to wrestle with the New Testament teaching in Paul’s epistles of justification and grace until he saw the connection: Jesus took on our sin at the cross and justifies us by grace when we look to Him as our savior by faith—not looking to ourselves or our own works—and through faith in Christ, God credits Christ’s very own righteousness to us. Luther had been trying to pay for sin himself but now saw that Jesus had paid the price for our sins on the cross at Calvary!

As he finally understood this, the Holy Spirit came upon him and illuminated this revelation. In his own words Luther says he was born again in that moment. He now understood that God loved him and sent His Son to die for him that he might freely have eternal life.

After this conversion to Christ and His amazing grace, Luther would take his stand on the Word of God in opposition to manmade teachings in Catholicism.

He couldn’t just look the other way as his church laid heavy unbiblical burdens on mens backs just like the Pharisees did in Jesus time.

On October 31st, 1517, he posted the Ninety-five Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. Luther simply wished to debate other Catholic leaders regarding errant unbiblical practices. Some students, however, grabbed the Theses and reprinted them over and over and began to distribute them in many places. A concerted Ja wohl! of agreement with Luther rang throughout the land, and before he knew it, Luther was at the center of a conflagration and the Protestant Reformation had began its birth.


The people in the youth group in Germany I shared with were stoked to hear the story, and after some prayer for them, we hung out and talked late into the night.

We finally returned from being out with the youth group and entered the darkened house together very late with our friends.

However, I almost jumped out of my shoes when the light was flipped on as we entered. Our friend’s mother was sitting there on a chair waiting for us in the dark. When we flipped the light on, there she was, looking at us anxiously and waiting to talk to us.

After all of us settled down from being startled, she began to speak to us: “I have some news for you. We have decided that tomorrow you go to Wittenberg!” We were shocked! And then she went on, “But you must get up very early tomorrow since it is a long long drive from here, so now you must go to sleep!”

I was blown away…when most Germans make up their mind about something…well, that’s it. We never got an explanation as to the sudden middle-of-the-night change of heart, but I just thanked God for moving on her heart, and left in the morning thinking, “Wow! That was the Lord that intervened here for me!”

We hit the Autobahn—the famed German motorway with no speed limit—in their car early that morning. We made sure our seat belts were fastened as our friend got up to around 160 km p/hour (100 mph) and beyond pretty quickly. It was a fast way to get around.

We got to our destination in good time with the help of the Autobahn.

Wittenberg was still in a state of being repaired after years of neglect under the GDR. I was surprised how it was still all intact after the bombing of WWll and the years of neglect under the Communists.

Fortunately, Luther was a hero to almost all Germans, including those in the GDR, and nothing was really looted or destroyed, unlike other places that had been devastated in the former GDR, especially after the fall of the communist regime. 

The little town just looked like it needed a little sprucing up and some TLC (which it has received since, as we’ve seen on subsequent visits there over the years).

We were experiencing the Holy Spirit visiting us at every turn as we took in firsthand how the Lord had worked through such an unexpected figure like Luther. We were reminded of the fact that it was all about how the Holy Spirit had revealed the grace of Christ to a simple monk, a lowly miners son.

Touched by that grace deep in his heart, Martin Luther took his stand and would not be moved from it, come what may. Once he finally understood God’s love and grace, he would face the onslaught unleashed at him for defying the traditions and dead rituals of Catholicism and undermining the money changing tables of their religious system.

It was all punctuated to us by the fact that it was a miracle to have come there at all that day. I knew the Lord had intervened to bring us there, and it spoke to us of how important this story was.

The Lord was illuminating the importance of His Gospel of grace as something that must again be understood and communicated once more!

The way the Lord brought us here speaks to me, then and now, of the importance of the message that is at the center the Reformation: The grace that is found through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ alone cleanses us from all sin when we put our faith in Him and receive Him as Savior; He did the work on the cross we could never do ourselves to pay for sin. He also credits us with His very own righteousness, giving us a right standing with the Father, justifying us and giving us peace with God, hallelujah!

Useful links for further study of  the Reformation and the revivals it spawned:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Praise Report: Summer 2017

Ministry in Canada


We just returned from ministering in the city of Victoria, Canada as well as surrounding areas on Vancouver Island. We ministered at different church services as well as at some midweek and home meetings. The Lord met us in power and filled many people with the Holy Spirit, and there was healing and deliverance that took place as well.


Divine Intervention on the Way


When we were driving through Canada towards Victoria we received a call from our friend Daniel in Sweden. As we talked and shared about our upcoming ministry in Victoria, Canada, we ended up praying together on the phone. Our friend got a word and a picture of me using the guitar in upcoming meetings. Feeling it was from the Lord, I employed the guitar in some of the smaller meetings for a few worship songs to powerful effect.


Both of us sharing at the Feed the Flame event
at Salvation House in Victoria, Canada.

In fact, we were taking a walk before the meeting one evening when the wind began to blow very hard, which I keenly took notice of. That night, as I began playing the guitar and leading worship in the meeting, the Lord laid an old song on my heart about the wind of the Holy Spirit. This then led me after that to share on the verse in John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”



We did some worship in some of the midweek meetings 
after getting a word from our friend in Sweden about doing so.

A guy who had come to the meeting that night, whose background was not Spirit-filled, and who normally does not attend that particular meeting, had been studying on this and came to the realization, then and there, that the Lord was preparing him and that he needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We began to pray for him and the Holy Spirit came upon him in great power for the first time in his life and he was powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit and couldn’t continue to stand and had to be held up by others, he was so touched! He also prayed in the Spirit, receiving the gift of tongues for the first time in his life! There was a lady who also got powerfully ministered to and experienced a lot of deep healing in her heart and deliverance. She got touched again at another meeting and said, “I really didn’t think it could get any better or be more powerful after the other night, but it did tonight!”



Praying and ministering as the Holy Spirit filled, 
refreshed, delivered, and healed 
many of those who came.

At a meeting at another church, a guy from England who had experienced many recent struggles in life happened to just wander into the meeting as we ministered. Someone asked me to talk and pray with him during the ministry time. It turned out he’d recently lost his dogs and hurt his back. We talked and shared with him and he ended up praying to receive Christ with us. I had a word for him, that “he didn’t need to maintain a stiff upper lip before the Lord.” And as I spoke it, tears began to flow from his eyes and the Lord brought healing to his heart. He was very thankful that he had received the Lord and that we were willing to take the time to talk and pray with him, hallelujah! We went to lunch one afternoon with our friend Bob Brasset, who was a mutual friend of Harald Bredesen’s. Harald was one of the leaders and fathers of the Charismatic Renewal and a mentor figure to us before he passed away. We ended up sharing some Holy Ghost Surf Stories with Bob and his wife Sue and their friends and then also witnessed to the waitress. The waitress listened intently as we explained the Gospel to her and she then opened her heart to pray with us and receive Christ! Somebody in the restaurant was obviously listening in, and got blessed, for when we asked for the bill we were told someone in the restaurant had already anonymously picked up the tab for us! Wow!


Divine Appointment


I had a divine appointment at the beach shortly after our return to California from Canada. While trying to cool off from the intense So Cal (Southern California) heat and taking a walk on the pier, I noticed a young woman and the Holy Spirit moved on my heart to talk to her. Turned out she was a new believer who was in need of a touch from God at the moment; in fact she thanked me before anything even happened for just talking to her, she was so hungry for God to do something in her life. After sharing a bit about my own experience being filled with the Holy Spirit, I began to pray for her and the tears streamed greatly down her face. She was so touched she gave me a hamburger that she was taking home from a local diner where she worked. Patrick had gotten ahead of me and was waiting in the car; he was excited to hear about the divine appointment and also to be able to share a big juicy double bacon cheeseburger, hallelujah!


25 Years of Marriage!!


We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, wow! Crazy how time goes by! Twenty-five years of marriage is definitely something to celebrate!


Taking a little time to celebrate 25 years of marriage 
up in Banff and Jasper National Parks. 
Since it was Canada's 150-year anniversary itself,
we got to enter the parks for free!

One of the first things God did for man was give him a mate and create marriage. Becoming one flesh in marriage is God’s original plan before the fall. In redemption He puts the plan back into operation, but our fallen natures make it a struggle. We thus must listen to and yield to Jesus’ work and the empowering of the Holy Spirit to walk towards fulfilling that unity and oneness in marriage!




We are thankful for the grace of God sustaining us all these years, especially in these days of massive marriage wreckage everywhere. Traditional Christian marriage is hugely under attack these days and divorce rates also continue to soar. Thus, it is all the more important to take time out to celebrate God’s grace and mercy in our lives. We took a little time and left early on our recent ministry trip into Canada and went out to visit a couple of their National Parks. We were blessed to take in some of the spectacular views and get a few hikes in at Banff and Jasper National Parks, which are right next to each other with the drive between them being especially scenic. Time flies and life goes by fast so it is important to take some time to celebrate those important milestones in life! Furthermore, we see in the Bible that God commanded that His people celebrate and commemorate events that involved His hand of deliverance and blessing. For example, Passover and numerous other events were celebrated to commemorate God’s intervention in their lives.


Europe


We will be traveling to Europe again soon. We will be doing an evangelistic outreach in London, England, as well as other ministry in other countries. Europe is in the midst of a spiritual battle for the soul of the continent. What we see happening in the natural reflects the spiritual battle in the heavenly realms for the very heart and soul of the continent. This Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached in all the world! The Lord is highlighting Europe in our day! Please consider praying and giving to help us as we step out on another mission. 

Blessings and grace, 
Bryan, Mercedes, and Patrick Marleaux

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ministry Update: May 2017

We recently returned from Northern California where we ministered with the House of Prayer Salinas.



The Lord met us in power and the Holy Spirit’s presence was poured out as we ministered. We received some encouraging testimonies from our friend Dave Estrella after the meeting:

"I asked people to share about their experiences (from the night you ministered) and there was so much amazing feedback and testimonies. Most everyone said there was just such a tangible presence of the Lord, which was the biggest blessing to them. One lady, Linda, had a cool story of God healing her toe. You guys prayed for her and it was the first time she has ever experienced a physical healing and was greatly encouraged.

Jonathan and Cynthia (the Hispanic couple with the baby on the way) said they were really blessed as well…they were super encouraged. Jonathan said that what Bryan was praying over him was right on and really encouraging.

God definitely deposited something in me…[and has given me an] understanding of walking in the Spirit among other things. Last weekend opened my eyes to the fact that we really do need to be filled with the power of God. Not only that, but He wants us to be filled to overflowing. Not only that but there is no other way to truly live the Christian life than to do it from His power and not our own!!

Thank you guys for coming up. It is always such a huge blessing. Everyone at HOPS is already asking when you will be back next. Just know you have an extended family up here."

There was also a former gang member who was filled, refreshed, and renewed in his walk with the Lord. The Holy Spirit filled him and poured over him and he also began praying for others!

We have been blessed to minister over the years in some different places in that area including a Presbyterian Youth Group, a Calvary Chapel, a Foursquare Church, and various home meetings.

We actually came to minister there in Salinas via Hawaii, through a ministry trip we did some years back at Surfing The Nations (STN) in Oahu. It was while we were teaching at STN and having a ministry time and praying for different people that we ended up praying for Dave. He got filled with the Holy Spirit when we prayed for him and he experienced the love of God in a way he had never known was even possible. This is how he describes it: “Now, it’s hard for me to communicate to you what I was feeling in that moment, but I can tell you that it was the best thing ever. Nothing, absolutely nothing, no love, no feeling, no experience, no nothing ever has or ever will come close to the ecstasy and joy that I felt in that moment. It was the love of God; the love of my heavenly Father revealed through His Spirit. It was so strong that it changed me forever. I am not the same because of that one life-changing experience.”

We connected with Dave during our time ministering at STN and became good friends after that, and we’ve come up to minister in the Salinas area on a number of occasions since then.


Salinas Via Hawaii 


The story of how we ended up at Surfing the Nations (STN) is interesting itself: We were visiting at one point with Mel and Joyce Tari. Mel had been part of the Indonesian Revival and published a book about his experience called Like a Mighty Wind.

While talking on one occasion he got to thinking and said that since I liked to surf I should meet Tom Bauer who ran STN. Mel in fact called him right then on the phone to connect us.

After some introductions and a bit of conversation, Tom invited us to come and minister at STN right there on the phone. I said I liked the idea but would like to pray and get confirmation, everything had happened so fast.

After praying for a few days on the subject, I went out surfing one day. I was coming in from the water when I saw a group of people who looked Hawaiian doing a full luau right there on the beach. They had tiki torches, ukuleles, the whole deal. I’d never seen that in California—my uncle lived in Hawaii so I was familiar with some of the cultural stuff from surf trips over there.

As I stopped for a moment to take it in, the Holy Spirit began to fall on me and speak to me that we were to go to Hawaii and “a lot of your learning will be put to good use.”

After arranging the trip and flying over, we arrived to a much different setting than I expected at STN.

Surfing The Nations was full of people from different countries being trained in missions; I expected that. However, a lot of them attending were from Sweden at that particular time, which I didn't expect to find, especially so far away in Hawaii. We had done a lot of ministry in Sweden ourselves, and spent much time learning and working to introduce the power of God to this unique Scandinavian nation.

Also, Tom shared with us that most of the students at STN were not from Spirit-filled backgrounds, but were open. He added that since they were from low key Scandinavian descent I should “avoid oversell” with a lot Pentecostal language, which they may not be familiar with. Instead, he told me to just “go for it and pray for them and the Lord will minister with His Spirit.”

I responded that “I’ve become somewhat familiar with the lagom culture of Sweden and have had some experience with seeing some over there get powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit, so this could be right up our alley. I have a feeling it is going to be naturally supernatural!”

Our learning did end up being put to good use and we were right in the timing of God. There were a couple of Swedes at the school who were in fact Spirit-filled and had been seeing the need for the rest of the group to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As a result, they had been interceding and praying in recent weeks, asking God to send someone to minister in that regard and for the Holy Spirit to be poured out.

We taught the Bible in the morning sessions and then just moved right into a time where we said, “Let's do some of what we are reading,” and began to pray over them. Some were a bit stiff and quite unfamiliar in the beginning, but the Holy Spirit began to fill and empower and break through barriers.

Day after day more got filled and empowered. After a few days, we were having powerful outpourings where the Holy Spirit seemed to be just flooding us all with His presence. One of those students who got filled was Dave, who although had attended a Calvary Chapel his whole life, had never experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit. As we were ministering at one point, the Lord began to fill him.

Dave's Testimony 


Here is Dave's testimony about the Holy Spirit breaking in on his life from during that ministry time at STN. (The following is an edited and more concise version of a post we published in the past.)

I had joined a cool group of young hippie-like surfers (in Hawaii) who really loved Jesus. It was an organization called Surfing the Nations. I traveled the world with them and had many new experiences, but one experience in particular topped them all.

One day at Surfing the Nations, some missionaries named Bryan and Mercedes Marleaux came to speak to us in our daily morning meeting. What seemed to be a normal meeting turned in to something that was everything but normal! After they shared their message they began to pray for us. It was kind of a free-for-all. Everyone stood up and they went around praying for different people. Some people started to cry, some started to laugh, some started just moving around a little, shaking etc.

My eyes were closed and I was focused on God. If I had experienced an environment like that a few years earlier I would have just shut down, or left the room. But God had been slowly moving me out of my comfort zone.

All of a sudden I began to feel something. I knew exactly what it was, but I had never felt it so strong in my life. It was love, the love of God poured out by the Holy Spirit as Bryan and Mercedes ministered amongst us. I felt a warm loving embrace start to fill the air around me, and wrap around me, and fill my whole body. God himself tangibly wrapped His arms around me and spoke deep into my heart...

Now, it’s hard for me to communicate to you what I was feeling in that moment, but I can tell you that it was the best thing ever. Nothing, absolutely nothing, no love, no feeling, no experience, no nothing ever has or ever will come close to the ecstasy and joy that I felt in that moment. It was the love of God; the love of my heavenly Father revealed through His Spirit. It was so strong that it changed me forever. I am not the same because of that one life-changing experience.

Romans 5:5 tells us that God pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That’s what I was experiencing in that moment, and have continued to experience in moments as I just walk with Jesus.

This precious gift of experiencing God’s love is available to all believers. What’s the requirement? Just faith. You don’t have to do anything to earn it because God knows that you could never deserve it. Just stop striving, stop trying to earn God’s love through the righteous things you do and simply believe that He loves you just as you are and go to Him and ask Him to pour out His love upon you. He will not deny you!


Waves That Keep Flowing 


Patrick, our son, was also powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit when we were filming this very testimony of Dave's in Salinas. Patrick was just lying on the couch listening as we filmed this in Dave’s living room, and the power of God just suddenly came upon him and poured over him intensely. Waves of power and glory flowed over him for about an hour! He was filled and empowered with God’s love in a very awesome way! Praise the Lord!


Third Wave Anniversary


This weekend is also the 37th anniversary of the Mothers Day Outpouring when Lonnie Frisbee ministered at the then Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda and the Holy Spirit was poured out, which would later become the Anaheim Vineyard. This began what missiologist Peter Wagner calls the Third Wave Outpouring of the  Holy Spirit in the 20th Century in America (The 1st wave being the Pentecostal Revival and 2nd being the Charismatic Renewal.) We were blessed to be personally connected with two principal leaders of the 2nd and 3rd Wave Revivals, Harald Bredesen with the Charismatic Renewal and Lonnie Frisbee with the Third Wave Revival (also called the Vineyard Revival but the name can be a bit narrow as the Revival touched more than just those in the Vineyard).  The Wall Street Journal also did an article this week on how this summer will mark the 50th year anniversary of the Summer of Love when Hippies descended en masse on Haight Ashbury. Out of that wild cultural milieu was birthed the Jesus People Revival where young people all over the country began to get saved.

  • We have a blog we did on the Mothers Day Outpouring.
  • A Web page on Lonnie and the Revivals he was involved in.
  • A video on the Jesus People Revival and Mother's Day Outpouring.