Miracles, Vision, Momentum

Hi everyone,

Wow, what can I even say in this newsletter to capture the beauty of everything that God has been doing?

First things first, we just released Jacob Ekelman’s testimony online as the first in our series of “Dunamis Stories.” Be sure to take a minute to watch, but have the tissues handy!

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Second, please welcome to the team Executive Producer Tommy Deuschle. Tommy is a pastor and media entrepreneur, Executive Director & Founder of CMEDIA Africa, and Co-founder of Emerging Ideas. He carries such a profound anointing on his life for strategically using media to release the Kingdom of God in culture. We are so blessed to have him on the team. Welcome, Tommy!

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There has just been a really insane string of answers-to-prayer in the last few months. As one example, I felt the Lord leading me to move up to Northern California to partner with a specific community of filmmakers and influencers. It was a pretty huge decision, so I put my name on the waiting list at a specific apartment complex, and I asked God for 3 specific things. When I talked to the Landlord in February – even though there were 15 people ahead of me on the waiting list – she basically offered me an apartment that matched the 3 things I’d asked for, and within the exact time frame I had prayed to move. It scared me to death, but I knew it was the Lord so I decided to make the leap. The day I sent in my deposit, the Landlord told me over the phone, “Just so you know, the girl that’s moving out of your place said to tell you that you prayed her right out of that apartment.” It was the confirmation I needed. A few weeks after I arrived at my new place, there was a knock on my door. It was Jeannine, the girl who’d moved out of the unit. She said, “I had to meet the person who prayed me out of this place. I wasn’t planning to move for a few months, but the Holy Spirit told me to be up and out of here in 2 weeks.” (!!!)

Since arriving here, the doors have just continued to open. There are many more similar stories; I can’t share all of them quite yet. But suffice it to say, it is just SO MUCH FUN to watch God move.

The more I have pressed into my relationship with God in private prayer time and worship – and the more I’ve been willing to take risks and step out in faith – the more I’ve gotten the chance to witness these incredible moments. I just can’t encourage you guys enough to set aside time daily to spend in his presence. A few years ago when my pastor challenged me to spend an hour in prayer and worship every morning for 3 weeks, it was a brand new step for me, but it absolutely changed my life. In my short 36 years of life I would have to say there is absolutely nothing as thrilling, terrifying, and profoundly fulfilling as hearing him speak, watching him move, and learning how to sync your spirit to what he wants to do in the world.

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Intercession Team
We are in the process of putting together an international prayer team that will keep the project covered at all times. If you’re an intercessor and would be willing to receive weekly emails and make a commitment to consistently pray for the project, shoot me an email.
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We also need additional funds to finish off the rest of the testimony videos. If you feel led to support us financially, you can make a tax-deductible donation here
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It’s been a very long and difficult journey to get to this point, and there continue to be many challenges, but it feels amazing to see all the perseverance begin to pay off.
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Love to you guys,

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Do it again

Hi guys,
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The shoot on the 18th went great. We had one minor (or rather major) hiccup, which was that Jake’s flight got cancelled first thing in the morning on the day of the shoot. (Jake has the HIV testimony that I mentioned in my last email.) We literally had a prayer team interceding behind the scenes as we were trying to find a way to get him to Pasadena in time for his interview. Two cancelled rental cars and a lot of options later, he was finally able to borrow a car and drive from Phoenix to LA. HRock Church was gracious enough to let us stay after hours so we could still get his story!
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Honestly… the day was amazing. A lot of tears. My own faith was so strengthened by these miraculous stories, and I got to catch a glimpse of the potential impact.
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The Bible speaks so many times of the power of our words. Words have the ability to “kill or give life,” to “soothe or to crush,” to “defile a person” or “bring healing,” to “set the whole course of one’s life on fire,” or “to praise our Lord and Father.” The power of a testimony—or, speaking out what God did—is that it builds faith and paves the way for God to do it again. That’s why Revelation 12 says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
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Here we have a guy who was delivered from HIV and promiscuity. A young lady completely healed from bipolar disorder and drug/ sex addiction, off all meds, off the streets, and ridiculously full of joy. A woman who was trafficked for 13 years now working as an activist and waiting for a man who will love her in covenant. A young actor who overcame a decade of porn addiction and is now happily married with four kids. That’s the dunamis power of the Gospel.
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Would you join with me in prayer that God will DO IT AGAIN?
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Rolling cameras!

Hi friends! I’m so excited to share that on March 18, we’ll officially roll cameras on the documentary portion of the “Your Love Is Strong” project. This first set of interviews will feature people who have amazing stories of breakthrough and healing in the area of relationships and sexuality: people who overcame porn addiction, overcame shame, had their marriage restored, decided to wait for marriage, escaped a life of sexual slavery, etc.

Today was Tech Scout day, so Elizabeth and I met up with cinematographers Aaron & Winston Tao at the location to plan shots and lighting. Whenever we get close to shooting day, I start to get a little bit giddy. I’m only barely restraining myself from using insane quantities of exclamation points and ALLCAPS in this email. :p You’re welcome.
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We’re filming at the beautiful Ambassador Auditorium at HRock Church in Pasadena, and will be capturing several powerful stories, including:

Jake Ekelman, who was living a promiscuous lifestyle while touring nationally as a bass player with various rock and metal bands. Jake started showing symptoms of HIV and tested positive in an initial screening, causing him to spiral into a place of such anxiety and depression that he almost took his own life. That same weekend, a friend invited him to church and he gave his life to Christ and was baptized. He also made a commitment that whatever came, he would honor God in his sexual choices. When he went back in for another screening, he tested negative, and every subsequent test revealed that he was HIV free. Jake is now in Bible school studying to be a Pastor. He’s head over heels in love with the God who restored his entire being, and is 100% committed to waiting for his wife.

Margarita was forced into a life of prostitution at age 15 and remained a sexual slave for 13 years. Finally, at age 28, she fought her way out of a car and ran for her life. She says God saved her life in multiple situations and helped her escape. Margarita’s dream is now to help rehabilitate women who were trafficked, and she’s also committed to saving sex for its safest possible context: a committed, covenant relationship.

Chris Ackerman was a successful model/ actor by his early twenties, booking campaigns with Versace and Levi, and starring in the movie Elektra next to Jennifer Garner. He was living with a girlfriend in LA when he first developed a curiosity about Christ and prayed for the first time in his life. Shortly thereafter, in the middle of sleeping with his girlfriend, something in his spirit screamed “Stop!” Having never picked up a Bible or heard a word about traditional purity values, he said to his girlfriend, “I know this is gonna sound crazy but I don’t think we can do this until we’re married.” From that day he took sex off the table in his dating relationships, and is now happily married with 4 beautiful kids.

That’s just a sampling! We’ll be editing these stories into a series of short testimonies called the “Dunamis Stories” which will be made freely available online for churches and ministries. The interviews will also be used in a full-length documentary down the road. The goal is to bring clarity and truth to topics that have been swept under the rug for decades; topics that have brought great controversy, confusion and pain within church communities for far too long. We’ll bypass the political and religious rhetoric typical of these conversations, debunk narratives that skew toward shame (on the conservative side) or permissiveness (on the progressive side), and instead present clear wisdom that comes from the heart of a loving Father; wisdom that leads to abundant life and healthy relationships. We’re committed to creating resources that will forever revolutionize the way the church teaches about sex, dating, and marriage.

A huge shout out to the ministries that have sponsored this first set of interviews: NAD Women’s Ministries, Frank Wilson Ministries, Good to Go Media, New Dawn Christian Village, and H Rock Church. Please pray for us on the 18th!

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Blessings,
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Meet the Visionary Team

Hi friends! It’s been awhile, but God continues to bless in extravagant ways throughout the development of Your Love Is Strong. We’re taking the proper time to lay the right foundation for the project, because we’re not interested in simply “making a movie” so much as using a major motion picture event to catalyze a powerful movement within the Body of Christ. The goal is to bring great healing to marriages, families, church communities and individuals across the country—and empower churches to develop intentionally healthy communication and culture surrounding the subject of sexuality and purity. I want to introduce you to the team whose wisdom, counsel, and genius ideas are helping shape the project. 🙂 Meet…

 

steve arterburnSTEVE ARTERBURN

Steve is the author of Every Man’s Battle and host of New Life Live, America’s #1 Christian Counseling radio program. On air, Steve and guest hosts Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend, and Dr. Jill Hubbard address issues concerning spiritual, emotional, and relational health.
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CAITLIN & COLE ZICK
Caitlin and Cole currently serve as directors of Moral Revolution in Redding, California. They are passionate about seeing the church thrive in every area of life. In a generation overwhelmed by conflicting messages about love, lust and relationships, Moral Revolution is a company of radicals helping to define healthy sexuality. They promote a culture of love, honor, respect and freedom by providing resources that equip and empower society to live in wholeness.
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PASTOR MICHAEL B. KELLY
Currently the Senior Pastor at Mt. Rubidoux Church, Pastor Kelly has the honor of leading an amazing community of believers in Riverside, California. He’s travelled the globe preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has been honored with the MLK Trail Blazer Award for Spiritual Leadership, and Outstanding Success in Effective Evangelism.
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TERRY BENEDICT
Terry is most well-known for co-producing Hacksaw Ridge, a film about Medal of Honor winner Desmond Doss, who refused to carry a weapon in WWII. Hacksaw was nominated for six Academy Awards, and is based on Benedict’s documentary, The Conscientious Objector. Terry has been an invaluable source of mentorship and counsel throughout the development of Your Love Is Strong. 
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MARY BERNAL
A criminal defense attorney by trade, Mary is also a deliverance minister through Restoring the Foundations, an integrated approach to Biblical healing that brings deep and lasting freedom. Having seen the Lord deliver so many people from depression, addiction, shame, demonic oppression and even bipolar disorder, Mary believes that no one needs to stay in bondage. Her passion is to see people radically set free through the miraculous healing power of Jesus Christ.
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PASTORS ERWIN & JOANNE GUEVARA
Erwin and Joanne have been in full-time ministry for over 21 years. They met in youth ministry and have been married for 20 years. The Lord has used them in the role of youth pastors, evangelists and preachers as their journey in Christ has taken them from Florida to L.A. As the Senior Pastors at New Dawn Christian Village, their dream is to see true revival explode in Los Angeles. 
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PASTOR BRYAN SANDS
The Senior Pastor at Kaimuki Christian Church in Honolulu, Bryan recently authored the book Everyones Loves Sex, So Why Wait? Moving beyond the tired “Don’t have sex until marriage because the Bible says so” rhetoric, Everyone Loves Sex uncovers what psychology and sociology reveal—and the results may surprise you. Rather than casting judgment or condemnation, Bryan’s powerful ministry casts a vision for abundant and radical life.
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It’s such a blessing to have each one of these revolutionaries on the team. Please keep their respective ministries and the project in your prayers, and stay tuned for more updates!

Blessings,

 

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Casting Out Demons

Hi friends,

Thanks for your continued prayers and support for the project. I’ve been working on building strategic partnerships and have had some really wonderful meetings in the past couple months. More news to come soon. For now I want to share a crazy experience I had recently.
Last month I was at a conference in Anaheim and ended up staying at the Convention Center till 1am with a group of people ministering to a guy who was manifesting a demon. This was my first time seeing anything so extreme, so it was an experience to remember to say the least. The guy’s name was Brandon and he was probably in his mid-20s. He was sitting next to me during the evening service and it was very easy to tell something was off. First of all he had cuts on every square inch of his legs and arms. Mostly scars, but some of them were still scabbing over. He had matted blonde hair and hollow eyes, and the one time I turned to say something to him, it was clear something was off.

At the end of the service, a couple people gathered to figure out what was going on with him. One lady discerned that there might be something demonic at play, and she started commanding it to come out of him. Brandon immediately leaned forward in his chair and basically passed out.

A group gathered around and several of us laid hands on him, praying and commanding the spirit to come out. At one point we laid him flat across the seats. The lady strongly rebuked the demon and Brandon started coughing, and sat up like he was going to cough something out. But then he laid back down and we knew it hadn’t left him. This basically went on for the next 2 hours. He was in and out of consciousness. Sometimes his arms would thrash around, sometimes he would speak in gibberish.

Eventually the convention staff kicked us out and we had to carry him outside. We laid him on a concrete bench and continued, even though it was cold and now it was after midnight. At one point one lady looked him right in the eyes (we were trying to figure out the status of his salvation at this point), and asked, “Is Jesus Lord?” This was the most intense part of the whole night because when she asked him that, Brandon’s face contorted into an expression of total rage and defiance, and it looked like he was about to spit in her face. One of the other ladies said “You will not spit on her!” And he obeyed. But when she asked him again, “Is Jesus Lord?” the same exact expression came over his face again.

During a moment when he was somewhat lucid, someone asked, “Brandon how are you feeling?” He paused and mumbled, “…I feel like you guys really care about me.” Everyone laughed and it was a much needed moment of comic relief. Other times when he seemed to be himself, he would say, “It’s not going to leave,” and everyone assured him that it would.

Through some spiritual warfare training we remembered that demons like a fight, and sometimes the more attention and focus you give them, the more they’ll take. So we stopped all the rebuking and just started speaking over his future and declaring God’s presence on him. I asked him, “Brandon, what do you want to do with your life?” He immediately started talking about how much he wants to help people, and he came fully into his right mind and started talking and responding normally. We talked for awhile, said a final prayer, and then Brandon stood up and said, “Let’s get outta here, huh?” We all laughed again and one guy gave him a ride to the shelter where he was staying.

You’d think this experience would give me a healthy fear of the demonic, but actually I came away with such an overwhelming sense of God’s love. There was something about seeing 10 people all stay with him till 1am, praying over him, anointing his cuts with oil, covering him with their jacket when he started shivering… some of us cradling his head, others holding him up each time he would sit up to cough… some standing off to the side, singing… one guy literally carrying his limp body in his arms when they told us to leave the building… Honestly the next morning in worship I was just crying and crying because it had been such an overwhelming picture of God’s unreserved love and grace, not just for Brandon, but for me, for us.

Jesus came “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind” and to “heal all those oppressed by the devil.” Now we the church are his physical body on the earth, sent out to continue the work he did. Jesus is not another teacher or historical figure; he really has been elevated “to the place of highest honor and supreme authority” in the universe. (Eph. 1) That’s why demons tremble at the sound of his name. Jesus passed that authority on to his disciples and said “In solemn truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the miracles I have been doing.” Those of us who ministered to Brandon that night are still growing in our faith and authority, but if Jesus had been there we know the demon would have run screaming with one word.

This is really the heart behind the project—To call a whole generation to a place of greater intimacy with the Father. And we simply can’t stay in close communication with him, or exercise our spiritual authority to much effect, when we’re doing things that subvert our conscience and open doors to heartache and unhealthy spiritual ties. I believe this is they key to sexual integrity: not telling young people what they can’t and shouldn’t do. But showing them the absolutely radical life of spiritual intimacy, power, and love that is possible. 

When you realize the same Holy Spirit that lived in Peter and Paul lives in you, and that Christ wants to use your hands and feet the same way he used theirs, then there’s a reason to sacrifice, a reason to die to yourself, a reason take up your cross and live holy, whatever the cost.

Please keep “Your Love Is Strong” lifted up in prayer over the next couple months, as I continue to work to bring in the funding and launch this ministry. Also, your donations in a very tangible way facilitate trips and pay for printed materials during this stage, so if you’re in a position to support, you can make a tax-deductible donation here. So much gratitude to each and every one of you for your prayers and support! It’s been an amazing journey and it will only get better!!

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New Trailer

Hi guys, not much to report. Still in the midst of meetings and fundraising and such. Last week I had the chance to promote the film at NRB in Nashville — had a blast.

You may remember the first version of the trailer couldn’t be posted due to music licensing issues, but I’m happy to say we have a new version that is fully licensed, so you can share and spread to your heart’s content. Check it out here:

Blessings!
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Supernatural Power

I feel it in my bones, you’re about to move
I feel it in the wind, you’re about to ride in
You said that you would pour your Spirit out
You said that you would fall on sons and daughters

Hi peeps,
A couple weeks ago I finally had the chance to hear Todd White speak in person. Todd was an atheist and a drug addict for 22 years, and about to commit suicide when he had a pretty crazy encounter with God in 2004. As a baby Christian he saw someone miraculously healed from leukemia, and after that he went after the gift of healing like there was no tomorrow. He prayed for over 1000 people before he saw one single healing, but one day it happened, and now a healing happens every day of his life, everywhere he goes. Even so, he says he’s just doing what every Believer is called to do, and his passion is to “raise the bar to normal” for the body of Christ.

Anyway I finally got to hear him speak, and I knew it would be amazing but I wasn’t prepared for it to wreck me the way it did. (And by “wreck me” I mean basically cause me to crawl out of my skin with joy.) His spoke for almost 3 hours and I have listened to his talk at least 4 times since I got home, just trying to get it in my blood. Anyway I know it’s long but if you get the chance to listen, I guarantee you won’t be the same.

I can see it now, your kingdom come
I can hear it now, the sounds of heaven
You said that if we ask, we’ll receive
So we are asking for your greater measure

2017 has been a pretty rigorous year for my church family. We’ve undergone long periods of fasting and seeking God’s presence, spent 8 weeks pursuing healing and freedom from any type of bondage we personally were dealing with, and another 8 weeks studying Jesus’ ministry of supernatural healing. Last night for the very first time, after 11 months of training, we went on the streets of downtown LA in small teams, to see who the Spirit would lead us to pray for.

Let’s just acknowledge the idea of approaching a stranger to ask if they need prayer or healing is enough to make the modern Christian’s skin crawl. But we certainly didn’t do it carelessly or without preparation. And the motive was simply and plainly to love on our city. And it was incredible. I won’t even try to describe what it feels like to have the very first person you approach instantly start weeping and say “Are you guys Christians? Yes, please pray for me! One hour ago I almost died in a car accident.” And then when it’s all done, to look you in the eyes and say, “You have a healing gift, I feel the pain leaving my body.”

Why doesn’t the modern church do these things? Among the common excuses are, “God doesn’t heal like that anymore,” “Jesus only gave that authority to the 12 disciples,” “It’s not always God’s will to heal,” “That’s just pentecostalism,” “It’s not respectful to push your religion on people.”

Aren’t we just more loyal to political correctness and social customs than we are to the Word? Aren’t we just afraid of rejection, and afraid of how powerful the Holy Spirit inside us really is?

Yet Christianity isn’t just another belief system, it’s reality. And we can’t ignore what the Word plainly says — That Jesus gave his disciples “authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness,” then told them to teach everyone “everything I have commanded you.” That he extended his glory not only to the twelve/ seventy, but “also for those who will believe in me through their message.” That “whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” That “signs will accompany those who believe.” That the power in us is the “same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.”

So come and blow on through
Spirit move, we’re ready for you
Come and do what only you can do

What does any of this have to do with sexual purity? The thing is, purity isn’t just for you. It’s not just a way to bolster up your own sense of self-righteousness. “I’m 34 and still a virgin, yippy skippy!” It’s so you can host his presence. It’s so your body can be a physical temple for his Holy Spirit power — not for you, for others. There are people all around us who are hurting, depressed, addicted, suicidal, and trapped, and they need an encounter with the resurrected Christ, and we are his physical body on the earth.

“The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” Jesus went so far as to say, “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.”

I pray you are all living right smack-dab in the center of your calling!
Melody