Thursday, May 8

Powerful testimony of a fallen warrior.

"A man's pride shall bring him low; But he that is of a lowly spirit shall obtain honor. Proverbs 29:23 ASV."

A friend of mine, Al, is very active in ministering to the homeless in North Carolina, running a ministry called Church in the Woods. I have had his website posted to my blog for some time now, it's under the "brother's and sister's websites". Too often, we think that we have to run overseas to meet the needs of the poor, homeless, and needy while those who are easily accessible remain in the darkness.

Al is not one of those people who ignore the near-in-need. Al used to be an AP reporter and his writing/musical abilities are awesome. All used for the Kingdom, all given back to the God who gave it to him. I aspired to be half the writer he is. But Al isn't the sole focus of this posting, though he is the one who wrote the following testimony.

It is a man who became his friend, brother, and an inspiration to the world from a little town in North Carolina………..

I will let you read what Al wrote, both the personal posting on and the obit in The News & Observer.

-- Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. - John 12:24

This is both a prayer request and a praise report. I guess they usually are.

On Tuesday night, during our small group/home church/healing/prayer thing, a good friend of ours died.

Paul was an ordained Baptist minister who led a fairly large church at one time. Then he kind of fell away from God, not in a big way. Just stopped reading his Bible for four years and bobbed along, doing good works and feeling kind of empty.

God started reeling him in last year. He showed up for a homeless outreach and got plugged in with us as friends. Another couple he met there had him do their wedding. He met our autistic son, Parks, and fell in love with Jesus all over again through him.

I'm tearing up as I write this. The story keeps growing as I type, deeper and richer and wider, like the river of living waters flowing from the temple.

Paul decided to start a home group and, since he lives very close to us, we joined in. People started showing up, uninvited; always carrying a burden or brokenness that miraculously found healing and peace there in Paul's home.

The group grew to 30 people. Paul began mentoring several men, including a former drug addict who has since been adopted by the entire group as he goes through a full year of a very tough treatment program.

At God's request, Paul turned one room of his home into a prayer room. People began flocking in, again finding peace and healing in ways they had never experienced. He was in the process of turning his garage into a worship area this week (God, was it only a few days ago?)

Tuesday night's meeting was wonderful, as always. At the Lord's leading, all our songs were about love. Parks was dancing with joy in our midst. We had prayed for two people.

Then things started to get a little strange.

Paul's wife, Linda, took a call from the hospital. Paul's elderly father had fallen at his rest home, landing flat on his face and breaking his nose. He was OK, but was probably going to spend the night at the hospital.

Linda handed Paul a note with this information as he walked across the room to get anointing oil, preparing to pray for another woman.

He took the oil in his hand, turned to face us and smiled. Parks, on the other side of the room, started walking towards him, smiling and saying what sounded like the word "heal."

Then Paul said, "Jesus" and fell to his knees, his eyes focused somewhere to my right near the windows.

Then Paul fell like an axe, flat on his face.

For a moment, everyone thought he was just full of the Holy Spirit, but the fall was too abrupt. In fact, he broke his nose when he hit the ground.

I believe he died and God accepted his spirit before that final fall.

Two nurses in the group worked feverishly doing CPR while we prayed and called 911. Paramedics spent at least 30 minutes trying to revive him. Linda tried to get Parks to lay hands on Paul, but he put his hands in his lap and just smiled, as if to say, "He is complete now, how can I heal him?"

We were all rocked by the loss of Paul, even as we grew to accept the idea that God had taken him at the perfect moment, when he was fully restored to Him, surrounded by his family and friends.

And we began to realize that, in God's perfect timing; we were ready to carry on with the love Paul had planted in each of us.

I drove out to see Ricky, our friend at the drug rehab center, praying the death wouldn't derail his recovery. But where once that might have been an excuse for him to give up, now he felt a burden to carry on Paul's legacy, to one day mentor someone else.

Ricky will be one of the guys giving their testimony at Paul's memorial service.

After all the hubub, I sat down and went through some emails. The last one I got from Paul was about bringing in a speaker for a conference on Living in the Kingdom.

I chuckled, thinking, "He won't need to hear to speaker. He's living in the kingdom now."

And the rest of us?

We get back to work building the Kingdom here on earth.

Sorry this is so long. It's just pouring out. But here are the prayer requests:

For Paul's wife and children, for their peace, strength and financial resources to hold on to their home.
For Paul's young men, that they bear fruit from the love poured into them.
For our small group, that we continue to meet and grow in love.

Paul Jones
Paul Jones, a spirit-filled follower of Jesus and a guide and mentor to many area Christians, died Tuesday night during one of the many prayer meetings held at his home in Cary. Jones, 54, an ordained Baptist minister, often told the story of how he had fallen away from his calling to heal and evangelize. But in recent months his faith had been rekindled as he performed weddings, baptisms, and healing services and opened his home to anyone needing prayer.
He died of a heart attack, just as he was about to pray with a member of his Upper Room Fellowship. His last word was "Jesus". Dozens of friends were there, praying, supporting one another and sharing stories of how Paul had touched their lives and strengthened their faith.
Jones, a self-made businessman who worked with computer hardware, always found a way to provide for churches and charities as well as individuals in need.
He also was committed to expanding God's kingdom.
In fact, the day he died, Jones was sending out invitations to a conference to be held in Raleigh on Living in the Kingdom.
Now he is truly living there.
Jones is survived by his wife, Linda and children, Jason, Kristen, David and Benjamin.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that people donate to the Jones Family Memorial Fund at Hope Chapel in Apex.
Published in The News & Observer (serving Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina) on 5/8/2008.

May we all have the ability to have our lives not end but to live on in the touch we have given to another to continue the good work God has started within us. God has promoted Paul to greater things and I believe he will be one of the warriors in the front near Christ when the Army of God rides to retrieve their own who continue the battle here on Earth.

Good and faithful servant, be at rest. We shall meet upon the field of righteousness and glory with our King.

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