First South Florida Men's Retreat/Advance (September 5-6-7)
Report on the first South Florida Men's Retreat/Advance by Milt Thomas:
The event was held about an hour north of Miami, Florida at a Christian Camp Ground. The weather was not what we would have desired; a tropical storm crossed Florida on Friday night and Saturday, however, Father had some very pleasant surprises in store for us.
Friday evening, after dinner, we gathered for praise and worship and sharing. A musical trio, from Cuba, were unable to obtain visas to come, but God had an equally capable and dedicated Brother who played, sang, and led in powerful worship. Our speakers, led by Brother Humberto Aguello, of Nicaragua, had missed their flight so we went on with the Holly Spirit in charge. Not once, all weekend, were we able to follow any set agenda. The Holy Spirit was in complete control at all times. Well, our speakers arrived about 20 minutes to eleven p.m. and Humberto spoke briefly, then gave an invitation for ministry. At least ten men received the baptism in the Holy Spirit Friday evening. The meeting went on until after midnight. No one wanted to leave. We had professional translation equipment from Global Equipment Network, (same as at the World Convention), and a professional translator from Asuncion, Paraguay, so everyone was able to be involved and participate. For once, the Spanish speaking people outnumbered the English speaking people, probably 4 to 1, so we English speakers experienced what it's like to be translated to!
Saturday a.m., after a great buffet breakfast, we explained what was meant by a "Retreat/Advance", and the Holy Spirit again took over. We had advertised that we would not beg for money and that just two offerings would be received all weekend; One for the International Office and one for this Weekends' meetings expenses. We did receive the International offering Saturday morning and its on it's way. Praise To Father God!
At this point I feel I should mention a brother--Edgord Gonzalez, who arrived in time for breakfast on Saturday morning after having driven all night--leaving Mobile, Alabama after work Friday evening--over 16 hours driving time--to be there Saturday morning. He said, "God told me to be here." He received greatly from the Lord as a result of his obedience. Sunday afternoon, when things finally wound down, he asked me to pray with him for a safe trip back to Mobile Alabama, again so he could be at work on Monday morning. That is real dedication, I believe!
Humberto spoke of how, in Nicaragua, the men go after "one man at a time", and of how they have now reached almost half of the entire population for Jesus, and now have built over 400 chapters, many with 80 or more out to each meeting!
Also in the Saturday morning meeting it was explained what Father had shown me in Anaheim over 4 years ago, that this (F.G.B.M.F.I./F.I.H.N.E.C.) was His True United Nations. Men who had originated from other countries were asked to stand and state what country they were from. Much to our surprise, men were present from Chile and Argentina to Canada--over 14 countries represented in all; truly, a mini World Convention!
Saturday p.m. the weather was terrible and a vicious storm knocked out the electricity to thousands of places in the area. We had no lights, and no air conditioning, so the doors were opened to let in some light, but of course, the intense heat and humidity rolled in as well. Our workshops had been scheduled for that p.m., but again, the Holy Spirit was in charge. The keyboard player, with no electricity, uncovered a piano there, and a lively Praise and Worship time began. Some men began giving testimonies, and eventually, several stated that they had things they wanted to confess and get out in the open. One after another unburdened his heart and gained freedom and deliverance. Daniel Caamano said, as we took a few minutes out on the porch for fresh air, "You know what? I believe God will get the electricity back on as soon as this is over. I believe God is using this power outage for His Glory!" Sure enough, a few minutes after the last confession/testimony, about 4:15 p.m., the electricity came back on.
Saturday evening, Voice Editor, Bob Armstrong, told of his recent trip to Nicaragua, and had a special message for the Nicaraguan men present.
The workshops were re-scheduled for Saturday evening, and Brother Dave Leggett, of the F.G.B.M.F.I./JUVIO Strategic Alliance, gave a lively presentation of JUVIO. We were to have a break following the presentation, but Dave said he believed the Holy Spirit had other plans and asked men to come forward and receive from God a financial breakthrough for which they had been praying. He would instruct them to raise their hands toward Heaven, concentrate on their need, then visualize God super-abundantly meeting that need. He would then say something like "There It Is," and although he never touched any man nor would he let catchers touch them while standing, every one went down at the Anointing Power of the Holy Spirit. All across the front of the small auditorium, men fell in the Holy Spirit of God.
Don Mounts shared about Linking Arms with the Churches and Pastors. Fire Teams were discussed also. Mr. Jim Priddy, F.G.B.M.F.I., U.S.A. Executive Vice President, gave a very knowledgeable presentation of what we should expect from our Field Representatives and National Directors. Humberto spoke briefly, and after a time of ministry, we adjourned about 11:30 p.m.
Sunday a.m. was another another eventful day. The rain had stopped, but Father's Holy Spirit continued to move among us. Humberto had some of his men from Nicaragua share powerful testimonies of God's great work in their lives, and how they now go wherever God leads them to share with others. Communion was served, and Scripture followed as in 1 Corinthians 11:23 to 28, and also in Mathew 26:26 to 29 where Jesus urged all to "Drink You All of It", referenced as partaking of all of the benefits of His death at Calvary.
The Sunday a.m. meeting ended about 1 p.m., after which we demonstrated how to use the Godmobile. During the demonstration, I happened to look across to the swimming pool and was delighted to see Daniel Caamano and Monroe Coblentz in the water, conducting a baptismal service. WOW! What a weekend! To God be all the Glory!
We had decided early in planning the Retreat/Advance, to not beg for, or pressure the men in any way, for money. We would receive the registration fees, and have only two offerings in total; one for the International, and one for the Retreat/Advance. We would believe God for all needs to be met. Well, some men didn't make it there, largely due to the inclement weather, and the electric power was out on Saturday afternoon, not a good time to receive an offering, I suppose. Besides this, with our agendas thrown out as God's Holy Spirit moved mightily, the second offering was missed entirely, even on Sunday morning. One of the Nicaraguan men, completely unaware that we had missed the offering, did suggest that if men wanted to have the gospel shared across Florida, they could have a part in it by coming forward and giving of their money so others could help spread the gospel. We were, however, left with a considerable deficit in excess funds in hand. One brother, with sincere intentions, asked if he could raise pledges to cover our shortfall. I replied, "Brother, I appreciate your willingness and sincerity, but we promised we would receive just two offerings, and believe God to meet our needs. If God is in this thing, and I believe He is, the need will be met in His way." Well, before we left the camp, the assistant manager looked Daniel and I up to have the account covered. he said he felt he should do something to compensate for the difficulties we experienced with terrible weather conditions and loss of electrical power, and proceeded to eliminate $5,000 off our bill, almost half of the total budget. Father's ways of meeting our needs are sometimes unorthodox, but effective. By the way, we did not assess a charge for the translation equipment but sowed that expense into the lives of our men in South Florida. We know we cannot out-give God! Praise His Name!
The first South Florida Men's Retreat/Advance is now history, however, the lives of men who experienced the power of God's Holy Spirit, there, will be changed forever. To Father God we give ALL the Glory!
Write-up that was sent to potential participants prior to the event:
The first South Florida Men's Retreat/Advance will be September 5-6-7, 2003, at the Gold Coast Christian Camp, near Lake Worth, Florida. This is a little more than an hour north of Miami.
We will go from dinner and a meeting Friday, September 5, then all day Saturday, and have breakfast, to our last meeting on Sunday, September 7. Total cost is $70.00 per person, all shared rooms, including meals. Professional translators and equipment will be available.
This will be an intense weekend of sharing and training, to equip us to reach our areas with FIRE TEAM intensity. Leaders and organizers of the very successful Central American Fire Team outreaches will be our main instructors. We hope to have teaching on what you should expect from your National Directors, your Field Reps., your Chapter Officers, and how to prepare yourself to take a leadership position some day.
Men: We must know what we need to do and how to do it in order to take Florida for Jesus! Already, some commitments have been received from various chapters as well as from out-of-state members. So plan now, if you wish to get ground floor training. We are limited to 150 men this year, so advise us early. Full brochures with location maps will be available soon.
Only two offerings will be received--one for the international, and one for this weekend. We believe God will meet the complete budget, by His power.