By Daniel Barker / Dean
It was the eleventh hour, and God was still silent.
In March of 2007, we received word that the church where CBI was renting a classroom needed the space we were using to expand their ministry. While this came as no surprise because we sensed God was preparing us to find a new location, I began to feel the weight of responsibility. Our fall semester was set to begin on September 4, 2007. In looking for a new home for CBI, we wanted to honor God so Shuling and I started praying for Him to direct us.
Months had passed and God was silent. I really felt the pressure when we started receiving phone calls from students in July and August inquiring about our new location. I told them we were still discerning. Prospective students also called and I had to explain that we were in the process of finding a new meeting place.
There was one location that I fell in love with when I saw it. I visualized us meeting there. It was a Christian school in a quiet place, and it had a chapel that we could possibly use for graduation ceremonies. I asked the Lord whether this was the place for us. He was silent. I tried to contact the Dean of the school, but after playing email and phone tag I gave up. As we reached August I became more anxious. It was the eleventh hour, and God was still silent on this issue.
Finally, on the morning of August 31st, four days before our first class, God spoke clearly to me. The first thing He said was “Do you trust me?” I responded, “Yes”. Then the Lord asked me a heart searching question, “Why are you embarrassed?” I answered, “What do you mean?” He piercingly exposed my thoughts and said “You are concerned about how you look”. I reflected and realized that He was right. I felt in my heart that as the students called and I explained that we were still seeking God’s guidance, each time I hung up the phone I imagined what my students were thinking; “He doesn’t know how to get things done.” Or, “He doesn’t know what He is doing.” The Lord said to me clearly, “I have already provided a place for you. It is the Pentecostal Deliverance Temple (PDT).” I asked the Lord, “Will you go with me?” He said “My glory will be there.” God had finally spoken and I felt His peace. On the same morning that the Lord had spoken to me, Shuling said that the Lord showed her He had prepared PDT for CBI.
But, I had other problems. Although Pastor Ivory who is one of our students had said months ago that we could meet at PDT, I wondered if he changed his mind. What if we have difficulty contacting our students? We only had four days before classes commenced. I learned that when the Lord speaks to you, you will be tested to see if you will trust Him.
It was Friday night before school started. I went to speak with Pastor Ivory to see if we could meet at his church. He was elated! He praised God that his prayers were answered. He surprisingly gave me the key to the church immediately. I proceeded to contact the students, and the majority of them had no problems finding our new location. Even the students that we were unable to reach found us. Everything fell right into place.
I thank God for His guidance. The church where we are meeting now is a storefront located a few miles from our previous location. We sense God’s presence there, and we have much freedom in the Spirit. I am glad that we waited for God’s guidance because there is no doubt in my mind that this is the place that He has for us.
God also has given me confirmations. One of our students, who is a deacon at the Pentecostal Deliverance Temple, said God had showed him two years ago that we would eventually be teaching at PDT. Another graduate of CBI who offered her church told me later, “The Holy Spirit had revealed to her that we would be meeting at the Pentecostal Deliverance Temple.” I have learned that even when God is silent at the eleventh hour, we must keep seeking His face. He will guide you through and you will not be disappointed. To God be the Glory!
By Shuling Barker / Associate Dean
When Chicago Bible Institute was incorporated in June, 2005, a lot of people were wondering how could we survive and how could we make it? My husband Daniel and I wondered, too. The only thing we knew for sure was that God’s promises were still good for us – His presence, His protection and His provision (see Digest One, “Seeking God’s Guidance” by A. Daniel Barker Jr.).
Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” By God’s grace, in our first fiscal year (June 2005-July 2006) we were able to raise $40,000. In our second fiscal year (July 2006-June 2007), we were unable to meet our $80,000 fundraising goal, but through God’s help we were able to raise $48,000. We knew clearly unless God gave us a miracle, CBI would soon run out of funds.
I did CBI’s income and expense balance late at night on September 24, 2007. I told Daniel that I had good news and bad news for him. The good news was we STILL had $5,440. The bad news was we ONLY had $5,440. When I was considering not cashing our pay checks the next morning, the Lord spoke to me through the Scripture, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim. 5:18). I was reassured that God would supply our needs. I went ahead and cashed our pay checks the next day. Amazingly, the balance was still around five thousand dollars. That was like the widow’s oil that didn’t run out (cf. 2 Kings 4:1-7). We asked the students to pray with us. If CBI’s existence was the work of the flesh, let the Lord shut it down. If it was God’s will, may He provide and enlarge its tent.
On October 14, after I taught Adult Sunday School at a Taiwanese Church, one of the church leaders handed me his personal support for CBI, a check for $5,000. When I was leaving, the Treasure of the church gave me another check for CBI in the amount of $1,000 from a church coworker. I was surprised that God used them to bless CBI. I was moved and encouraged by their generosity.
I got a phone call from a CBI donor on October 19, 2007 that he was going to cut a check. He asked, “Which address is safer? The home address or the P.O. Box one?” I answered either is fine. A few days later we got his check of $20,000 for CBI. I knew it was God because he had already given a donation for this year. Yet he gave again. It was a miracle! This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23). Praise be to God! Glorify Him!
We thank God for what He has done, for what He is doing, and for what He is going to do. May everyone fear Him while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations (cf. Psalm 72:5)!
My New Name
By Famous Kevin Whitfield / Student
I have attended Sunday school on the south side of Chicago, ever since I can remember. It was there I accepted Christ. Between the ages of four and eleven, I attended a church on the west side with a neighbor. I joined the choir and attended church activities.
But after my parents separated, I became an EMC Christian (one who attends church at Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas). Later I left God. My siblings and I chose to stay together. My older sister decided that we should stay with my father, and my mother accepted our decision. Although she did not stay with us, she was good to us. She came to visit and help us everyday.
My first husband was a drug addict, and one time we had a fight and I was hit in the eye. My glasses were broken, one of my eyes had glass in it, and my eyelid was cut in several places. The doctor couldn’t understand how my vision wasn’t damaged, but I knew it was God.
Later, I reunited with my first love who became my second husband. Because we wanted a luxurious life, we started selling drugs for quick money. Gradually, we started using drugs and we became addicted. For easy money, I sold my body, and my husband became my pimp. He also pimped other girls. One night when I was supposed to meet a man, my girlfriend asked if she could have his business because it was her birthday. I let her go, but she never came back because she was murdered that night by the customer. I knew God’s hand had protected me again.
The darkest part of my life was when my husband and I were put in prison for stealing. Since I was incarcerated, I was in great pain because of my drug cravings. I cried out to God for mercy. The Lord miraculously set me free from drug addiction. He allowed me to reestablish a relationship with Him. He opened His arms to me, and He began to work on me. He restored me to being a God-fearing Christian.
I never liked my name Kevin which means “handsome”. When I went to prison I received the name Sharon. I kept telling them that wasn’t my name but they ignored me. As my relationship with the Lord began to increase, I noticed several times that before the Lord used someone mightily, He changed their names. For example: Saul was changed to Paul, Sara to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter and…etc. I knew God was going to use me, so I asked Him about my name. He woke me up one morning and gave me my new name – “FAMOUS”, which is an acronym meaning: F- faithful, A – anointed, M – meek, O – outreaching, U – unity, S – saint.
A friend of mine at another school knew that I wanted to learn more about the Bible. Knowing that I was limited financially, she recommended Chicago Bible Institute. The former location of CBI happened to be the same church where I did HIV/STD awareness presentations. My calling is to be a vessel to those who are lost. God wants me to be a beam of hope to a special group of people. He has used me, my professional training and what I have learned at CBI to counsel and minister to drug addicts, prostitutes and the homeless – all of which I have personally experienced. Some of my clients are the same ones that I use to get high with, sold drugs to and prostituted together. May God be glorified in me and through me.
“Watered Down” the Gospel?
By Earnest James / Student
Before entering Chicago Bible Institute, the problem of sin was very dear to my heart. It was such a concern that it was the theme of my first sermon as an associate minister. Even now, I must say, I am bothered by the lack of leadership in the church concerning this issue.
What I believe we have done is traded the quality of our spiritual membership for quantity. We have “watered down” the gospel in order to keep our current membership “afloat”. We have made it easy for new members to “dive” into the “pool” of the church membership roll, without challenging people to make adjustments in their sinful lives. A true relationship with God requires adjustments. “Adjustments prepare us for obedience. We can not stay where we are and go with God” (Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God, p. 127). The problem is not unwillingness to make adjustments, but people are not being told to!
Adjustments must be made from sinfulness to righteousness. Our sinful ways must be replaced by obedience to God. We will all be held accountable for the way we live our lives, and our sin will not go unpunished. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death”. As leaders in the ministry, it is our job to teach our members about this possible outcome (cf. James 5:20).
Where do we begin? We must start by clearly defining what sin is. Sin is missing the mark. Sin is not living up to the standards set by God. We must live according to God’s commandments. To “water down” the gospel benefits no one in the end. True believers want to know what true holiness is. They want to know the truth.
You might argue that when we use the term “sin” it sounds harsh. On the contrary, without exception when the formally unchurched expressed their attraction to churches with doctrinal conviction, they never described the spirit of the churches with negative words like “harsh”, “judgmental”, or “legalistic”. When they described the ethics of the people of the church, they typically used words that can be summarized as “speaking the truth in love” (see Surprising Insights from the Formally Unchurched).
The unchurched are looking for a change. They want someone to teach them the standards of holiness and hold them accountable. Thom S. Rainer writes, “The doctrine that attracted the formally unchurched was not just any belief system, but a theology that could be best described as conservative, evangelical, and uncompromising.”
Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48 ESV). This is a command from Jesus and it’s possible through Him. We have to believe it, teach it, and stand on it. The Bible does say that “we all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), but it does not say that we all “have to” sin. Let us call “sin” sin and do as Jesus told the adulterous woman, “Go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11).
A Helpful Course
By Freda E. Bonner / Student
Having taken the Sin and Salvation course, I have learned how the world views sin today. The term is not used anymore. It is now a mistake, an error in judgment or an indiscretion on our part. This was confirmed when I listened to what others said at work, in the store and in the church. Not once did I hear anyone say outside of prayer that they had sinned. And I even heard one person say that they were not a sinner anymore.
What helped me the most was the lecture on repentance. From the time I was little, I remember hearing the word “repent”, but I never truly understood what it meant. I was always fearful of it. Maybe it was because I heard a preacher scream it at me but he never told me how to repent. I felt like it was something dreadful and almost impossible to do. But now I know “to repent” means to change your way of thinking, your mindset, your behavior and live in a way pleasing to God. For instance, I realized that I had sinned when I said I would show up but I failed to do so, or I promised to call someone and fail to do so. The problem is when we don’t keep our word, we lie. God is not pleased, and we must repent. It is important to do what is right in God’s eyes. No more excuses.