Please Don’t Listen to Me!
The other day my wife was reading to me from her devotional book something about having contentment in every circumstance. I have no idea how, but the conversation got turned somehow to listening. Now, I am not a good listener, not naturally anyways. It is the main gift in people who do it well that I recognize right away, and one I covet very much. As someone who desires greatly to be an effective listener, for Christ’s sake, I have always wanted so badly to be good at it.
God used listening to bring me back to Himself actually. God had been working on my heart for some time already when I visited some old friends in particular who were a big part of the equation for turning me radically towards Jesus at 25 years of age. This woman looked at me and listened with her ears and her eyes. I was, for that time, the center and focus of her thoughts, without judgment, and it showed clearly in her tone, posture, questions and especially her eyes. She was loving me. This is what children need. This is what people need. This is how people feel loved.
I had a pretty rough childhood. I’ll spare you the details at this time, but there were times when I didn’t know what I would eat that day, if the police were going to stumble across me for some outstanding warrant or catch me doing something again, maybe I would run into some enemy who wanted to smash my head in, or was wondering where I would sleep that day. I was constantly looking over my shoulder or just being stuck living a life in a dark sort of survival mode. Years of living this way, partying, drugs, and glorify the gangster life I saw in movies, or in people I knew, my friends or heard in rap music did not teach me to be a good listener. None of us were too concerned with that sort of thing. But I did learn to be a good self absorbed, selfishly ambitious, self glorifying sinner.
These days, in desiring to be a good listener, because I do see the power in it for ministry, I have observed people who do this well naturally and admired them very much. I have studied about listening and emphatic listening and asking open ended questions to people. I have read about How to Win Friends and Influence People and how to show sincere interest in others. I do pray God improves this in me and I am sure to some extent he has, but the life I led, the background I came out of, and all the drugs I did have made it a challenge for me. One of my downfalls I think has been trying to listen.
I realized in that conversation with my wife that I get distracted from listening when I try to listen. When thinking about listening I am listening to myself think about listening instead of actually listening. Well, so how then do I make listening go deeper than just some outward behavior modification? How can I affirm and validate people truly? How can I gain their trust? How can I show it with my tone, posture, eyes, and questions? I believe the answer is to start at the root. I simply need to really love people and truly be interested in them. It’s a matter of changing what’s going on inside of me, not what I am doing with my ears. It is not a behavior I can just put on like a jacket. It must be a lot more than skin deep. I must love people from my heart. When I stop listening and start loving, then listening will become an overflow of that love. At least I hope so.
May God help me love others better than myself.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MINISTRY
Originally I had a big update planned with a video on Modern Myths about Missions (maybe I’ll save that for next time), a video of me teaching Christology at the University, a video of my mini aquaponics garden with goldfish and garlic growing, which is an introduction level experiment for what we hope will be on a much larger scale in our ministry in the future, and a bunch of cool pictures of people and their wonderful faces. However, I am actually typing this on my day off because of a phone call I received today.
If you haven’t followed everything, which is perfectly fine, the Lord provided me with a job teaching theology to students at a Christian University. I was informed that some of the students are from different confessions so to please not be biased with my teaching like one confession is better than the other. I thought they meant Orthodox and Catholics or something like this. Well as we are now studying the deity of Christ I began discussing the Mormon’s and Jehovah’s witnesses views of Jesus and how they differed. Come to find out I have a couple LDS students, and a Muslim student as well.
Rather than begin discussing this in depth with the students, I invited them to bring some Mormon missionaries to my house and have some tea. One of them, Elena, is a great student with excellent English and lots of knowledge about the Bible. I would like to request prayer for this conversation happening at 7 PM Tuesday evening (which is 9 AM PST). Pray for the conversation and for this job at the school. Many of the students at this school are not believers at all, so this is a great place for me to be freely teaching the Gospel, meet young people, and be an example to a good amount of young people from different walks of life.
Pray for the conversation mentioned above with the LDS missionaries and the teaching job.
Pray that I would stop listening and get better at loving. Pray for a brain that’s focused.
Pray for Lera as she has been meeting with a woman named Ira who has 4 boys in an orphanage and is trying to get them out. Ukraine is sending her some money soon and she may be ablke to get her boys back with this money. However, this guy who lets her and her little baby stay in a room is pretty pushy about taking her card to check and see if her money has come yet. We are not sure she should trust this guy and tell him when her money arrives. It should be a couple thousand dollars – a lot of money for this woman!
Pray for our new English Learning Hang Out Spot (haven’t come up with a good name yet) which is starting soon, and whether we should move forward with this idea we have for a big 5 week English Extravaganza in March or April.
Pray for me and the networking I’ve been working on with other Christians in the city and the video presentation I’m trying to find time to work on for the demonstration of our vision and mission to American friends.
Pray for the relationships we are building with many different people and the one on one time we have with them. Lera is meeting with like three different girls and reading the Bible with them. Tanya, Masha, Jenny, Ira, =
Pray for the petition I put in over 2 months ago for Lera’s Green Card. We still haven’t heard anything.
Pray for the transition from International Messengers to go smoothly. We are really trusting God that all of our current financial supporters will continue with us and remember to do the switch over.
Pray for the homeless we will be meeting with again this week. One of them is an old friend we were ministering to last year who is 8 months pregnant. Another lady we just met has a child with a handicapped and the State is refusing to treat him when it is supposed to be free. They live under a flat in a basement. It is half way decent compared to what some people live in we have seen but still poor conditions for all these people. I think there is 10 or more people down there.
Pray for our pastor and friend Gorik and Bob in the southeastern U.S. raising money for a church building for our church. It is needed.
Pray Jesus uses us to make an Impact in Odessa!
I realize that is a lot of prayer to ask for but we really do need it. Things are emotionally heavy these days and my heart is very weighed down.
Thank you so much! Please write and tell me your thoughts on what I wrote above or let us know if you have any questions.
In the love of Christ with his love for the church,
Jacoby and Lera
In early October, after I returned from the U.S., my wife and I took a four day trip to the beautiful city of Lviv. Pictures of that trip (which I recommend) can be viewed here:
An important announcement for financial partners I sent out this week about mission changes in 2014 can be seen here:
Video of the new team we will be working with beginning Jan 2014:
“I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” ~ Martin Luther*place cursor on pics for a description.