I had someone ask me how the Annual Conference for Pure Life Ministries went this year. My response was, “When you get over eight hundred people in a room who have come from all over the country, hungry for God and eager to hear from Him, it really makes for an incredible weekend.” Hundreds of us gathered together at the Answers Center at the Ark Encounter in Kentucky this April. Many attended who had never been to a Pure Life Conference before, and many graduates and people closely connected to the ministry were there as well. The times of fellowship are always sweet with brothers and sisters who have a like-minded faith.

The theme this year was, “When Jesus Returns, What Will He Find?” based on Luke 18:8. Although the mission of Pure Life Ministries is directly connected with helping people get free from sexual sin, those who follow the ministry know that there is a deep desire in the hearts of their leadership to see the Body of Christ come into a greater degree of intimacy with the Lord through a true surrender to Him. Beyond the fact that I graduated the residential program over 10 years ago, it is this desire that connects the missions of Pure Life and Make Way Ministries together. The overall tone of this year’s conference was a calling for the people of God to turn to the Lord with their whole hearts in light of the times in which we are living.

Pastor Steve Gallagher opened the conference with a message called “The Need for Us to be Certain in Our Faith,” and followed it up with a message to the men called “Your Testimony is the Evidence of Your Faith.” He gave a call to make sure that we are walking in true faith that will carry us through the challenges that are facing the church now and in the future. He spoke about the value of our testimony and the need to both protect it and share it.

Brother Dave Leopold, from the Faith Homes in Zion, Illinois shared the next message, called “Found in Him.” One thing I appreciate about Brother Dave’s messages is that he is always calling people back to a simple faith in Jesus. There was a call to pursue intimacy with Him in our lives and encouragement to make sure that we keep our lives hidden with God in Christ.

My message was delivered on Saturday morning. Months before the conference, the Lord had been leading me on a journey to really process why it was that so many Christians in history have dealt with fierce persecution, while those of us in the West have really not experienced persecution at the same level. Having studied the persecuted church over the years, I always felt that the dichotomy between our experience and theirs was almost unfair. As I prayed about the message, the Lord led me to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They experienced the full-extent of persecution when they were thrown into a blazing furnace in Daniel 3 for not bowing down to the king’s statue. However, as I read through their story in Daniel, I realized that they had an experience in Daniel 1 that I believe prepared them to face persecution. In the early days of their time in Babylon, they had been drafted by Nebuchadnezzar to be brought through an indoctrination period along with several other young men, in order to prepare them to serve in the king’s court. Part of this process involved providing them with food from the king’s table. But the boys, along with Daniel, refused the feast in order to keep themselves separate for the Lord. In the message, I brought out the fact that because they chose to not give into the Feast, they were able to face the Furnace.

I believe that, in America, the primary attack of the enemy on the people of God has been to set a table before us, to lure us away from our faith and get us to feast on the world’s pleasures. Other cultures are facing the furnace of persecution, but we have been under a different kind of attack. However, I concluded with the same thought that all the other messages contained, that we are walking into a season of greater persecution in the world and we need to be ready.

Pastor Nate Danser from Pure Life Ministries gave the final message called “Being Prepared for the Coming King.” He spoke from the parables surrounding the main text from the theme in Luke 18. He encouraged us to trust in the faithfulness of God, even when we cannot understand what He is doing, to have a humble heart that is not lifted up in pride and to possess a childlike faith in our God.

The banquet on Saturday night brought the conference to a close. One of the features was a video detailing the testimony and ministry of Delbert and Jenny Hill. They went through the program years ago, and now have a ministry called The Covering, which is a residential home for women. The documentary showed how one life touched by Jesus has impacted so many others. The men in Pure Life’s residential program sung three songs as a choir. It is beautiful to see men who are so desperate for the Lord calling out to Him. This year, four of the Pure Life staff formed a quartet and sang along with the choir for one song. It was truly a blessed evening in the presence of the Lord.

The message that the Holy Spirit was speaking throughout the conference was the need to be prepared for what is coming. We do not need to be afraid of the future, but we do need to be “sober and vigilant” (1 Peter 5:8). None of us know how long it will be until the Lord returns, or what we need to walk through before that time. But we do see clearly that things are escalating in the world. Darkness is being unveiled in greater measure and Satan knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12). So, as the church, we need to make sure that we keep our hearts close to the Lord and that we shine His light brightly into the world around us.

I was so grateful to be a part of such a powerful weekend. Here are a few of the testimonies that came from attendees of the conference:

“I would say the presence of God did everything. It was like being before a mirror where my sins were exposed before His holiness. More than words, the presence of God did what He can only do.”“Upon coming home, I have repented to the Lord and replaced the time I spent watching television with time in His word. Just in these few days God has really given me a sense of peace when I open the word. I am beyond grateful for the Conference this year, and we are looking forward to next year!”“The conference was everything my husband and I needed to hear. … During the conference all the speakers seemed to be talking directly to us and our situation. Kathy seemed to be speaking directly to my heart. …that I need to seek God’s face and find the safety of the ark in Jesus to face trials and suffering. … Nate penetrated our hearts when he preached to trust God even when He seems unfaithful. We thank God for preparing us to endure our loss and know that He is faithful in life and even in death. Thank you, Pure life for your faithfulness.”

Thank you for your prayers and support! We know that we could not do what God has called us to do without our faithful prayer and financial partners. God is on the move!

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