Friday, December 29, 2017

Our Recent Wildfire Experience

We had quite the rough return after a recent three-month mission trip in Europe.

We were home just a short bit when wildfires broke out in our area. It is amazing how fast things can get heavy and crazy and throw life upside down, especially when you throw a wildfire into the mix.

Not long after we returned from Europe, Mercedes opened a window one morning and said, "I think I smell smoke." We found out that a fire had broken out in our general region; however, when we checked for some news on it, it seemed small enough and far enough away-miles up a canyon at the other end of the 76 Highway corridor-that it was probably not something to be concerned about. It didn't hit me until later that if we smell smoke this far away then the Santa Ana winds are moving exceedingly fast and are very strong.

The fire, which began small enough, soon mushroomed and doubled in size. Then as the day went on, it continued to multiply in size and came in our direction much, much faster than we expected. In fact, in just a few hours that day, it traveled a distance of about 12 miles and consumed over 4100 acres.

Patrick and I were out, having gone to take care of a few errands, and were driving on the highway when a local radio station began stressing how serious the fire situation had become in our area.

We cut things short, turned around, and headed back towards home to find out that you could see the flames raging into the sky right from a ridge a few blocks from our home. A little further down in the neighborhood from another viewpoint you could see that it was moving right in our direction. It was almost into a regional park filled with enormous amounts of dry brush and which is right down below from where we live. The newscasters were warning that being up a hill is no defense with these winds as the fire actually accelerates as it climbs upwards-heat rises! That regional park was a potential tinder box if the fire got into it. It could rage through it and send embers and flames right into the neighborhoods adjacent to it where we live.

We got home, turned on the news and the newscaster was showing a graphic map-it was what I had just been looking at and thinking about moments before while staring at the flames: the path of the fire, if the wind kept up and the firefighters couldn't stop it, is headed straight towards us and will shortly explode with embers in that park, flying into the adjacent neighborhoods. I thought to myself, Trying to stop the onward march of the flames with these 50 mph Santa Ana winds is like trying to stand on railroad tracks and stop a rushing locomotive with a trash can lid! It can only be stopped by divine intervention, not by might or human power…

As I thought about that we got a call right then from the Sheriff's department saying: "This is an evacuation warning: wildfire is headed in your direction. Prepare to evacuate!" Of course, seeing: 1. the flames headed in our direction, 2.the graphic map on the news, 3. the phone call from the Sheriff's department, we were getting quite concerned to put it mildly.

We immediately took time to pray and then afterwards began to get packed up and ready to go. What do we take and what do we leave behind? I thought. Just the stress of immediately having to decide what to pack up and what to leave behind is overwhelming. While contemplating which things do I leave behind to possibly burn to a cinder, thoughts of a former experience like this raced into my mind from the past...

Reflections from the Past

We were living in Corona Del Mar (CDM) the south end of Newport Beach, some years back, when hard blowing Santa Ana winds came up and fire broke out nearby. I had ridden my bike that day earlier into the Newport Coast area, a stretch of coast to the south of CDM with some open land and lots of dry brush. Fire was raging in the area and I watched as the surrounding brush became a torch to light up multimillion dollar homes in the Emerald Bay and Laguna Beach area.

These places had all the defensible space and things supposed to protect them, but the fire just ripped right into them. Mobile homes adjacent to Emerald Bay in El Moro Park went up like matchboxes while their propane tanks-which are designed to withstand high heat-blew up like bombs. I could hardly believe the devastation I was seeing with my own eyes. I thought, This stuff is like a steamroller, when that wind and fire get going, it just flattens whatever is in its path.

The wind switched while looking on and chatting with a reporter from a local news station, and all of a sudden, a telephone pole caught fire and crashed down right next to us with live wires sparking and making noise. We looked at each other and he said what we both knew: "Time to get out of here before the whole place goes up."

The wind and fire were now headed north. I entered Corona Del Mar on my bike into a bizarre scene: the sun had gone down and an eerie orange glow lit up the sky while people frantically ran down the streets in panic as an evacuation warning had just been given. Mercedes had already packed some things up and put them in the car when I got back, and we waited on pins and needles for further news while contemplating what else to take. Nothing was forthcoming, so I called a friend about midnight who lived in Cameo Shores at the south end of town and closest to the fire. He informed me that thankfully the wind had just subsided and the firefighters were able to keep the fire from getting out of Newport Coast and into Corona Del Mar. We thanked God and were able to get a bit of fitful sleep.

That past experience, watching those places go up in Laguna Beach and El Moro, made me think of our present situation, how crazy this could get if things don't calm down.

Back in the Present Situation

Remembering how heavy it all can get, we continued to pray seriously for the winds to die down and intermittently headed back to a viewpoint to check on what was happening. The situation was concerning, with each check the fire seemed to be getting bigger and coming closer.

In the intermittent time of being left hanging again without further word from the Sheriff, I came across a book I felt led to open and read. It was one of sermons by Martin Luther. The Lord began to speak out of it to me. Luther talked about how the Holy Spirit doesn't make Christians into some super saints who don't experience difficulty, or feel stress, or worry, but rather the Holy Spirit comforts us, ministers to us, and helps us when we feel stress, anxiety, and worry. Whatever we might feel in the heart or go through in life, He is there to minister to us. We do not need to act religious or pretend that we don't feel these things sometimes in life, but rather we need to fall into the arms of Christ who helps us and holds us up by the Holy Spirit in times of trial.

As I read a bit from this book we let God minister to us, we needed His strength in this situation. I then headed out to the viewpoint for another situation update. Thank God the wind finally had subsided a bit about 3:00 AM and things calmed down some too. I came back and fell asleep on a chair, exhausted from all the stressful activity, getting just a couple of hours of fitful sleep.

Early in the morning I headed out for another check and situation update, remembering how just a few years ago in San Diego the wind and fires looked like they died down during the night, only to explode again in the early morning, with harsh winds kicking back up and the raging inferno raging on. Thankfully, back then we had been further away from the flames.

As I looked out over the ridge I thanked God the wind had stayed calmer, it was blowing some, but not raging. I was also glad as I saw the Marine's helicopters dumping water and greatly helping fight the still-burning fire.

The most immediate threat for us had subsided, but we were by no means out of the woods, as wind and burning fire kept going for days afterward. Over 1000 firefighters kept on the front lines of just this, the Lilac Fire, for days, knowing a shift back to the hard winds could change everything in a moment.

A lot of stress hits you in these times and normal life takes a back seat for a while. Having seen what kind of destruction these things can bring with my own eyes in the past, I was all too aware of how much more damage it could have done, which just adds to the overall stress of the situation.

In the middle of all this anxiety however, the Lord is there to help us. We should always remember that as God's children the Holy Spirit is there to comfort, minister to us, and strengthen us, no matter what situation or trial we may face in life. He is always there to help us, we just need to open our hearts to Him and let Him minister to us. "God works everything together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

The Lord also used Luther's words on the Holy Spirit to minister to another bit of stress: having just returned from a three-month mission trip and living on the road and regularly experiencing adventure and divine appointments and miracles is exciting…coming home to: taking out the trash, cleaning out weeds that invaded the yard, trying to fix a car where rats had climbed into the engine area and made a nest in and ate its wires, not so exciting. Missiologists have defined this stress of returning from a mission trip, regardless if it is a short or long trip, as a real thing! It has a specific name: Mission re-entry shock.

It hits people coming back from mission trips without them even realizing it. That's because it is physical: real stuff like jet lag makes you doze off at 6:00 pm and wake up at 2:00am, as well as the body needing to recover from being cramped in a tin can with 300 of your favorite friends in a miserable bus-in-the-sky for hours upon hours on end! We had over 30 hours of straight travel just getting home when you count all the connections and everything else on this return trip!

But it is more than just physical: we wrestle not against flesh and blood only, but against spiritual forces of darkness in heavenly realms. We can't forget that satanic forces attack those the Lord uses to get others saved, filled, healed, and delivered.

You do experience and feel more warfare hitting you the more people get saved, filled, healed, and delivered. It is important to remember to keep on the full armor of God lest the mood of Elijah at Horeb try and overtake us! (That is where Elijah got hit by darkness, heaviness, and spiritual warfare.)

Our old friend Lonnie Frisbee used to give us missionary advice and say: "When you're tired, hungry, worn out, upset, or exhausted, then realize you need to watch out! Because that is when the enemy will come at you hard! I tell you guys: guard your heart: I didn't, and it cost me dearly!, he explained.

The rest of his advice was to lean into Jesus and let the Holy Spirit minister to us fully-exactly what we watched Lonnie exemplify those last few years of his life, and also what Luther was talking about in the book I read during the fire!

The Lord used the wildfire to begin a process and do deeper stuff with the Holy Spirit within us. In fact, the fire just got the process going again once we were home from the trip, and we are rolling with the Holy Ghost now in the renewing process He's taking us through, something he actually began in us years ago, and is in fact, continuing to carry forth, something we all need in the Body of Christ.

After all, Jesus began His ministry with the words from the book of Isaiah about how He came to: heal the brokenhearted, set at liberty those that are bruised, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor-which means He came to proclaim grace. Stress bruises the mind and the soul and we all got to let the Lord heal us up as we live in a stress-filled world!

I heard Reinhard Bonnke say one time: "We should be people whom the Holy Spirit can minister to easily." Right on, I say to that! I encourage the same for you who have read this, as we all carry stress at times that we don't need to. We just got to give it to the Lord and let the Holy Ghost come in and minister to us and He'll lift it off, and He will even do much more glorious work if we let Him! Hallelujah!

How about this for a New Year's resolution: let Christ carry your burdens, and let the Holy Spirit fill you with His presence, all the time! Amen!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Blessings

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7

Christmas and the Manger

We were just at the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation before returning home for the holidays. It was a momentous occasion, so coming back straight from that celebration, we have a few reflections on Christmas through that perspective:

While in Wittenberg, Germany, we were taking in how Martin Luther was awed with Christ’s birth and the poignancy of the manger. He points out that, right from His birth, Jesus was reaching out, communicating that even the lowest and most humble in society may find redemption in Him.

Even though Jesus’s inception was supernatural and of heaven via the Holy Spirit, Jesus didn’t float in on a cloud when He came into the world, but rather, God sent forth his Son to be born of a woman like the rest of humanity.

Moreover, God chose to bring Him forth in the most humble of fashions, being born in a lowly manger next to common barnyard animals, with their hay and dung, the kind of stuff that fills a place like that.

From His very birth, Jesus reaches out to us in our humble, broken, sin-stained state, as fallen human beings in need of redemption. He meets us right down in the dung of our sin and brokenness, and when we take hold of Him, He cleanses us and brings us into forgiveness, healing, and eternal life.

Luther said that when he preached, wrote, or translated the Scriptures, he wasn’t seeking to impress doctors and lawyers with big words, even though he actually had a number of doctors and lawyers in his congregation, but rather sought to communicate simply and clearly so that even the simple ploughboy and milkmaid might understand and receive from Christ.

We were just ministering in downtown San Diego at CDO Church recently and were speaking at their five different services about Martin Luther and the Reformation, using it as a platform to communicate the Gospel. Many responded to the message that weekend and opened their hearts to Christ, as well as many who were also filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christ Reaches Out to All

As we ministered that weekend, I found myself praying for a woman who had come forward wearing a uniform from a fast food chain restaurant. She looked like she’d come over straight from her shift as the uniform was dirty and messy, covered with hamburger stains. She had responded to the Gospel message earlier, and now came forward for prayer. As I prayed for her, she slowly opened up and the Lord began to pour His love and grace over her by the Holy Spirit in a powerful way to where tears filled her eyes as she lifted her hands.

The Lord doesn’t get impressed with outward appearances, coming forward in a messy, hamburger stained, fast food uniform is exactly what the manger is meant to represent. The Lord will meet anyone who just opens their heart, right where they’re at, right where we are at, and fill us with His grace, and love, when we just say yes to Christ.

Interestingly enough, even though Luther sought to communicate so that the ploughboy might understand, there were many also in the higher echelons of society touched by the Gospel as it was communicated by Luther.

One was Johann Sebastian Bach. The town of Eisenach had been a home, at times, for both Luther and Bach. Bach, one of the greatest classical composers ever, was hugely influenced by Martin Luther even though he lived in a later period than Luther. Luther’s writing on his own conversion as well as his theology had a great impact on Bach’s life. Luther said: “I learned theology through trial, temptations, and difficulties.” Bach was touched by God through Luther’s words and subsequently used over one hundred of Luther’s texts in his music.

Christ’s message of grace goes out to all, from the lowest to the highest: whosoever will may come. Bach’s life was touched by the Gospel through Luther, and Bach’s music continues to minister, even to this day. You’ll scarcely go to a wedding (even our own :) )without hearing Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desire.

Music Unchained

Luther himself had unchained music from years of tradition. Previous to Luther, only choirs of monks sung Gregorian chants in church in Latin, and the congregation was not permitted to participate.

This was another thing Luther changed by introducing what were called originally Psalms in the vernacular, later called hymns. Luther made songs in the language of the people that were meant to be sung by the entire congregation, very much a revolutionary step at the time, and one that stuck and is practiced today in churches, fellowship meetings, Bible Studies, etc., all over the world.

One of the more famous hymns Luther wrote was A Mighty Fortress Is Our God about God our Protector amidst trial, tribulations, and spiritual battle.

Another hymn often attributed to Luther, is Away in a Manger. Luther wrote about the Incarnation extensively, and wrote a lot of music on this topic.

Our Lord is a mighty fortress who reigns in heaven and helps us amid trial and spiritual battle. He is also the gentle baby in the manger, willing to meet us right where we are in the midst of our brokenness and difficulty.

I remember one time when I was on my way to preach at a small church in Sweden, when I tripped, fell, and slid down a steep, muddy, grassy hill, as I was about to go into the service. Oh, what an unexpected wild ride that was. I was wet and covered in mud. There was no time to change, so I just went ahead and preached and ministered that way. A young lady later gave a prophetic word in the service, saying how the Lord isn’t looking at the outward appearance: being wet and muddy didn’t hinder the Holy Spirit working through our brother. The Lord isn’t like our pretentious culture that focuses so much on outward appearances. Rather, He sees the heart and meets us right where we are at and is there to comfort and minister to us whatever trial or difficulty we may find ourselves facing or “tripping” into.

Christ is always there to pick us up, minister to us, comfort us. Whosoever will can receive grace and mercy by just opening their heart.

We pray the Lord blesses you this Christmas and into the New Year, and that He fills you in a fresh way with the reality of His grace, mercy, and love!

Much love and many blessings!

Bryan, Mercedes
and Patrick Marleaux

P.S. You can check other renditions of Christmas music we've also done by clicking here.

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.


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)


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!


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!


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!


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.


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

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: