Thursday, November 23, 2006

This Is What I See

I know the last few blogs have sounded like I'm not sure we're supposed to BE in Harrsiburg, but that's not what I'm getting at. The main issue for me, is "What are we supposed to be DOING in Harrisburg?"

To explain the reason for the impasse, I must deal with the prophetic words that mentioned Philadelphia as a place of ministry for us. I must deal with the 30-year vision of a production facility in St. Louis. I must deal with the apostolic calling to establish many churches, training and sending out pastors.

Also to to answer that, I must go back to what the Lord continues to show me over and over again. The one thing that HE brings to my heart is the one thing that I have shunned to even talk about because I didn't want to be perceived as being some big shot, know it all, self proclaimed producer.

What I see, is a Production House. That's all I've ever seen. Even when we were in the building, I tried to set it up to look like the set in a television studio.

I can fully describe what I see. The TV Production studio is set up with a sofa and love seat. I see tables and chairs with a backdrop that looks like we're in the living room of a home. I see, off to the side, a second stage area for a live band. I see an audience set up like what you might see on the Oprah show, ovation seating that rises up on tiers with the front row at eye level of the stage and rising up a few rows until you reach the back.

From the TV production set, I see Carol and me teaching with Power Point and video clips. I see question and answer sessions. I see guest, like my pastor, being interviewed and teaching. I see seminars and wokshops. I see musical guest and comedians. I see all of it being taped to be aired on local cable TV, internet streaming video, and distributued by DVD's.

The facility also has other studios within it: animation studio, music and video editng suites and a computer graphics lab. Then there are the many floors that provide video and table games, a computer lab, a coffee house and a library.

I don't know if you can call it a church that has a production house or a production house that host a church. I just know that, that's what I see. The reasons I've struggled the last few weeks with the true direction of the Lord for Fruitful Life is because the more I try to pursue establishing a church, the more this picture comes up into my spirit.

Almost 30 years ago, God gave our oversseer a vision. Part of that vision involved a multi-media center in St. Louis. The Lord spoke forth the names, "Chris and Carol" when HE showed him that part of the vision. I have carried this in my spirit ever since he told us about that vision. Also, when we were commissioned and released in May 2004, the prophet mentioned Philadelphia several times. So with all these visions and words of knowledge, I need the wisdom to know what portion of the vision we are supposed to do in Harrisburg.

SO the question is, do we establish the production house in Harrsiburg, or should we be establishing a church in Harrisburg? Is it both or is neither one of these a part of the purpose for being in Harrsiburg? Is it something completely different like establishing a cable TV broadcast, just to help unite the church community in this region.

According to the Word just brought forth from our Bishop, we are to invest in the place where God has us. I believe that means God wants us to sow into the lives of the precious people we meet with each week in our home. I believe that it also means we are to sow into the works of other pastors and leaders in Harrisburg. That's all we can do anyway because we have nothing else to offer at this season.

I'm receiving training on my job to be an internet steaming video producer. I'm beginning to believe that our main purpose for being in Harrisburg was for training, education and preparation for the next level of our calling. We can still provide ministry to people while we are here, but it may never have been meant to be the place to acquire a facilty or operate from a public building. If it is, GOD will have to open those doors. We will not push or drive the church congregation for those things.

One thing we know for sure; the ministry in our home is very affective. We know for sure, to continue with that. God has even sent confirmation through my mother's dream concerning this. That's why I said that of all the things we have to consider and work through, I know we are to go forth with the in-house aspect of our work in Harrisburg.

"No, you didn't miss God"

Carol and I just received the most wonderful letter from one of our dear daughters. We've known her and her husband since , well let's just say before they were married. We know and love all three of their daughters and we cannot imagine our lives with out this family in it.

We had a true set up encounter meeting and conversation during our recent trip to Saint Louis. We had a serious reconnection, reconcilation and restoration of our relationship. I've been writing some very soul searching logs lately and this note came from our daughter in the midst of all I've been feeling. She had no idea and yet she wrote the following:

Pastor Chris and Carol


Even when the picture that is painted before us looks so like we don’t, we actually have already won.

Let me say this. If you guys hadn't came to Saint Louis this past weekend we would have been in the same place in the same state of mind.

God knew that you would be where you were at that particular time, when you told us how you got the money to come and how long it took for them to find you or get in touch with you. God already knew.

Robert and I like to say he plans your future at the end. You have already won. We just have to walk it out.

This is really awesome. You are there in PA for a reason. God is forging Carol’s relatives and giving other people another chance to embrace him and, o my God, he is using the most realest people in the world in that place.

Yes, it is only for a season. No you didn't miss God.

Robert and I were at church yesterday and he started laughing and saying I’m in the same exact seat I was in over ten years ago. The enemy would try to make it look as if all of the places that we have been were in vain or just a waste of time. I leaned over and told Robert that this time we are different. The things that we have learned, we will have the opportunity to teach others, at Metro. We will be able to help with the vision of the house and to see things come to pass.

So. Yes even when it don't seem as though we heard God, the act of obedience said I'll go where you want me to go and I'll do what you want me to do.

I personally did not want to come back to STL over 5 years ago. It seems mean, but I didn't. I was comfortable where I was. Even though my mom was ill, that was her problem. "Also, on a side note we didn't know that you felt the way you did when we came back and we really do apologize. It wasn't toward you all at all. We just were dealing with issues."

But out of obedience,

When I look at my children, reading in bible study at your mom's house, it was worth it!

When I look at us coming to church and we all are being embraced and my kids feel a since of belonging, it was worth it!

Thank you for everything. Thank you for being there when no one else was there. Thanks for being the mom and dad that we didn't have. Thanks for sowing seeds into our lives and allowing us to be us. Thanks for putting us on your email list so that we can keep up with current events like you coming to town.

Robert and I are fully engaged and others may say what ever, it aint about that. We all have a job to do and that job is to serve God with everything in us in spite of all of our insecurities and hang ups.

We love you. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Shawn Parrish

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


One thing I'm learning through all of this is to just follow the Lord. I've gone from being so sure that I understood what various prophetic words, dreams, and even the commissioning exhortations meant, to only being sure of one thing, and that is, “I must follow the presence and peace of the Lord.”

I look back through my journals, e-mails, and web-logs and I sounded so sure and confident two years ago. I thought I knew exactly what to do and how to do it. Now I'm just sure of one thing. I know HE is faithful. I know to follow the direction HE is giving me. I'm trying to stop jumping ahead of HIM and assuming I know what HIS directions will lead up to.

I can go all the way back to the first dream the Lord ever gave me about Harrisburg and it was about me being inside of a gigantic prison/ maze. The people inside of the prison were not even looking to get out. They were partying and having a good time. As soon as I realized that it was a prison, I started looking for the way out. The very moment I started looking for the way out, a very evil, sinister presence was immediately aware and on alert. It knew that someone wanted to get out. I walked around in the maze trying to find the way out (without looking like I was trying to get out), but there were only dead ends. I looked up and I saw an opening in the ceiling of this massive place, which was bigger than a sporting event arena. The only way I could get out was to climb up along the prison bars of the thousands of cells inside this place. Slowly and carefully I climbed up and out of the place and even that climb was tricky and treacherous because I had to do it without drawing attention to myself.

Once I got out, I looked back and I recalled, by memory, the path or trek I had taken along the bars to get out. I knew I could tell or even show others how to get out.

Today I realize that I assumed a lot about what that dream meant. I also realized that I never asked the Lord, just who I should go after, if I attempted to go back in and show others the way. Now I know you have to find those who are ready and willing to get out. Only God can orchestrate that. Many have come across our path, but very few have been willing and ready to get out of their prison. Maybe the purpose of that dream was to show us what things would be like for us in Harrisburg. I took it mean it was our mission, purpose and assignment, rather than a word of knowledge and a word of wisdom for a season and place we would one day experience.

Then there’s the powerful dream that GOD gave me regarding rescuing HIS church from a prison/ tower of religion. In that dream, there was a one-year season of preparation before being released into that assignment. I think I’m in that season of preparation right now.

Again, I assumed many things about that dream and our purpose for being in Harrisburg, PA. It looks like GOD was identifying the place where HE would train us for that assignment to rescue HIS church. HE was not identifying the place or region from which we would operate in that mission. Even in that dream, it involved coming to grips with issues concerning Carol and her family. We are in the midst of that right now.

I know my last few entries have sounded pretty shaky and unsure, but they really aren’t. I’m just keeping an accurate journal of the true nature of our journey. I thought GOD meant one thing, but the journey with HIM has brought me to a completely different understanding. It has also taught me some very important lessons about interpretation of the commands of the Lord. Pastor Ray was always cautioning us to stop and get the understanding of what GOD meant by what HE said and to not go running with just what HE said. I used to get “A’s” in this when I was an associate pastor. It’s been “D’s” and “F’s” since we’ve been here. I’m so grateful we serve the GOD of a second chance; third and fourth chances, sometimes.

I think the Lord has used all of this to shake me from putting my confidence in anything or anyone, but HIM.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Standing In The River

Sunday night, my mother called me from St. Louis to share a dream that the Lord gave her about us. She told me that in the dream, Carol and I were leading a small group of people through a heavy, thick forest or jungle type area.

She said we led them to the bank of a river and I told everyone that we were going to cross the river and get to the other side. She said Carol and I went out into the river and stood in waist deep water and kept encouraging everyone to come on and cross the river.

Two things stood out to her in the dream: First, the water was very clear. It was so clear that she could see our feet on the floor of the river. Secondly, we stayed in the river until we were able to get everyone across. There were some who were very hesitant to cross, but we kept encouraging them until they all made it.

When she woke up from the dream she said the Lord brought to her remembrance the story of Israel, crossing the Jordan River to come into the land of promise. She said the Lord made her to know that we were in Harrisburg to bring this group of people out of bondage and into the land of promise, more specifically, into their deliverance.

She wanted to know if I thought the dream represented a literal or a spiritual land of promise, and if this was our true assignment in Harrisburg, to lead this small group of people out of the bondage they were in. She said she did not recognize the faces of the people. She only knew that she had never seen them before.

I cannot answer the questions that she asked because I honestly don’t know. I only know that what God showed her was very accurate.  We do indeed, lead small groups of people and I know we are standing in the middle of the flow of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We are trying to live what we are teaching, so that we are presenting more than lip service, but a life service.

We are no longer assuming that we were sent to build and establish a church here. What I mean by this is: I believe God sent us to Harrisburg to build people, not to build a ministry. The best part is that I'm at peace with that. We just know that we are to stand in the river and lead small groups of people out of the jungle they are familiar with, and to cross over into the land of promise.

Mom wanted to know if we are going to return to St. Louis one day. Again, I don’t know what the future holds. God’s reason for sending us to Harrisburg, PA has been manifold and a big part seems to have more to do with our personal restoration, family reconciliation and emotional healing, than anything else.

We recall that GOD called us catalyst for this community. I know from my studies in chemistry that catalysts don't always become part of the reaction that they cause. The catalyst can start a reaction, and yet not become part of the substance. I see and understand, now, that it is possible that that's all we were sent to Harrisburg to do, as far as reaching the community goes. I’m beginning to accept that possibility.

Right now, I can’t concentrate on all of those questions and scenarios. I’m just concerned about getting this first precious group of people to cross the river and come into God’s purpose for their lives.

After we complete that assignment, I don't know what comes next for us.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Waters in the Wilderness and Rivers in the Desert

Saturday night, we had a house full of young men in our basement/studio, working together on music and rap. They were all excited as they made plans to bring the new sounds to our weekly meeting. Carol and I sat down to talk with one of the young men. He attends the local community college with our son, Christopher. He said that when he walked into the house, he just suddenly felt excited. Later that
evening he said he kept hearing a word in his spirit and that word was, "Big fellowship."

He said he will invite his friends to come and be a part of this. He said he's been to homes where they tried to do this, but it was kind of boring. He felt that since we're including DVD's, video games, and music, along with some time in the word, that this would be something he'd like to attend. He stayed, long into late night hours. It was very encouraging to us. Carol looked at me and said, "So, now it begins..."

Then Sunday night, Carlette (our spiritual daughter from St. Louis) came over to our home and gave us a scripture the Lord put on her heart to pass on to us. It's Isaiah 43: 19-21. It speaks for itself:

"Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise."

Praise God!

Monday, November 6, 2006

Life Group

This week, in our Life Group meeting, we were able to make our first steps in some of the new strategies that we believe the Lord has impressed upon our hearts. Thursday night we went out and bought a coffee maker, some refreshments, and a ton of supplies to sustain a weekly "coffee house" setting. We're calling it the ultimate house party.

Before we're done, we want to have music videos playing, a table game area, a video game area, our mini studio, and our meeting room all available for those that come.

We had a special visit from one of our dearest sisters and friends for many years. Kim Tolliver (pictured above) dropped in on us during our Friday night meeting. It was so wonderful to see her. We stopped the meeting to hug and greet her, and then returned to the teaching. Carol and I shared, back and forth, on some of the principles for receiving personal healing and deliverance.

Kim, who visited us last year while we were still in the building, was a wonderful breath of fresh air and encouragement. We stayed up until 2:00am talking with her as she brought us up to date on some of the happenings back in Metro Christian Worship Center in St. Louis.

What was really special was the encouragement she gave us the next morning. She began by asking us how we were doing in the corporate/ government world. We swapped stories of market place ministry and I sat there realizing how timely the Lord was being with us again by sending someone who is primarily involved in the corporate world to come and speak these words of life to us. She told us that we were having a bigger impact than we realized and to just give it some time because we would eventually begin to see some change around us. And even if we didn't see it, the people who we are around everyday can no longer hold on to their sterotypes about black men, black women, pastors, Christians, etc.

Kim has no idea how timely her words were for us. Once again, in a moment in which we truly felt like quitting, God sent someone along just to let us know that He is moving on our behalf, even when we can't see it.

We're still facing some very tough financial decision like should we sale the house and move to another part of the city. The house would be perfect for the ministry that we are launching in it now, but our personal income cannot sustain it since our mortage payment leaped due to a big mortage rate increase. Another rate increase is due in about 3 months and there is just no way to keep this up. At least no way in the natural.

That's where I begin to question myself. Was the pursuit and purchase of this house just more of my blind selfish ambition and pride from two years ago? Once again, Lord, I will own up to my mistake. Just help me get my family out of this if this is not your will. I don't want to be in a house in which WE are just making it work for your purpose. We want to be in the purpose of God.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Sustained by God in the Wilderness

One of my co-workers (Deb S.) sent me an e-mail back in July to ask about Fruitful Life. She was asking because she was considering referring her teenager daughter to come. I told her about the battles we have had over the past 2 years and she responded with the following e-mail. It was astounding to me and brought much understanding about why we have had so much warfare and it gave me insight as to the kind of things that have been happening here and the affect it has had on the people of God. She writes:

"And yes, this IS a tough region. It is VERY tough up where I'm from too -- about an hour away -- way out in the country, as our church sometimes says "in the middle of nowhere" but we know that it is NOT the middle of nowhere, it is the middle of somewhere and we claim that it is the City of the Lord!

Our church isn't very big. There are many strongholds that our church encounters -- religion is one of the primary strongholds, and witchcraft is one as well. There are a lot of churches in our area, and a lot of people attend them, but the people that attend them do not necessarily know Jesus. I can say that without a shadow of a doubt because I attended church my whole life but didn't know what it meant to be saved until about 8 years ago. There's a lot of religion, but not a lot of relationship.

Actually, I got saved at a Methodist church that had started a contemporary service and the pastors in charge of that service were hired specifically for that service and were not Methodist pastors. They eventually went on to start their own nondenominational church and I followed them there. The rest of my family (including my daughter) got saved there also. Unfortunately, tragedy struck a couple of years later. The pastor's wife, suffering from anorexia, attempted suicide. Thank the Lord she was not successful and God prompted someone to go check on her.... in fact when she didn't answer the door this person went through the house, room to room (the pastor's personal residence -- they let themselves in) until they found her unconscious in bed with a suicide note and an empty bottle of pills next to her. They called the ambulance, her stomach was pumped, she spent a while in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. The church closed.

About a year later, she left her husband for another man and they divorced. It is extremely sad what the enemy can do. And he really does go after the pastors and the churches.... those that are on fire and making a difference for God's Kingdom... the enemy will attack in many ways, and one is to try to bring division.

But HE that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.

My family then had to find another church -- we are now attending (for maybe 3 1/2 years now I think?) Their teaching is rock solid. The pastors have been pasturing there for 25 years. The church isn't very big yet, but as we mentioned earlier, it is a HARD area. Most people in our area call us "religious fanatics" and those "Bible thumpers" and stuff like that. But GLCF is full of truth and light. And I do mean a lot of truth -- and people often don't want to hear the truth. There's also a lot of darkness around.

Honestly, I haven't gotten as involved in this church as my daughter has. I think I'm carrying some fear of getting involved or some unresolved issues over everything that happened with 'My Father's House' church. Trust issues or whatever, but I'm really trying to let the Holy Spirit work in me to resolve these things. It was a tragedy at My Father's House and I were good friends with the pastor's wife, and I still can't understand why she did what she did (I mean I can, the enemy, but I can't, because she knew better and to hear her teachings she REALLY knew better).

It has just been hard for me because it was so close to me. I was so close to these people and loved them so much and I put a lot of my trust in them. I've learned to put my trust in God and not in man, but I know God wants us to work together as well, but I tend to separate myself, and sit in the corner at my new church and all that. I know that's not what God wants but it is where I am right now.Although my daughter was very hurt also, she has recovered much better than I. Sorry I was so long winded -- Have a great rest of the afternoon and evening!"

After reading this, I know that all of you have a better idea what we are dealing with in this region. I shared this with our intercessors so they will have more understanding and compassion for church leaders and members, even for those that left us and returned to St. Louis. We all under estimated the warfare we were moving in to. Bishop Raphael Green did not under estimate it, though. He was always strongly urging us to be prayerful and watchful.

Ever since our death and burial, our resurrection has seen us slowly develop new growth and strength. One can see why we are so grateful and thankful to God. From what we have heard, many new churches, like the one my co-worker described, have shut down after a couple of years. Only the grace of GOD has sustained us through the sever blows of the enemy. Those that have come to visit us from time to time (from St. Louis) like DeVata Davis, Tiffany McCreight, Kim Tolliver and Mike & Mary McCollum, can testify that GOD has sustained us, and it is indeed a miracle!

Friday, November 3, 2006

What God Calls Clean

It occurs to me that many people have a very particular image in their mind of what revival will look like in their church or community. However, when the Lord gives them a glimpse of what it will really look like, or what it will take to see it, many reject it vehemently the same way Peter rejected the word that came to him in the vision of the unclean animals that the Lord told him to slay and eat.

Many are really struggling with those things that they have been taught all of their lives that they are never to touch or even be around. Now we have God telling us to partake of things that we have always been forbidden to consume. But it’s the very things that we call unclean, that God is calling clean.

This is a real issue because the things that God has put on our heart and the people God has put on our heart are all things that are considered unclean in this region.

Now the Lord has instructed us to go for it with the weekly coffee house party strategy. So we’re going to buy supplies and have coffee, hot chocolate and refreshments ready each week. We’ll talk and get to know people. We’ll play games and music videos. We’ll rise, slay and eat what has always been considered dirty and untouchable.

Well Lord, you know the atmosphere here. We will do what you say, but if it all fails this time, we have no back up plans and no other recourse. It will definitely be time to pack it all up, sale the house and get out of here. We can’t take another round of failure. We can’t pay all of our monthly expenses even now. If it doesn’t work this time, I’m resolved to stop it all and return to St. Louis with my tail tucked between my legs. I’m willing to admit that I totally missed it. We thought it was God, but it was just our own desires and dreams gone out of control.