No that’s not a pic of twins conjoined at the head. It’s Melissa and Bart Shadle who are conjoined at the heart and leading the STINTers on a team in Azerbaijan.
A really cool story in Azerbaijan is that Bart has been discipling a guy named Javid who became a believer a year ago. The team last year began praying that Javid would be unable to sleep until he had allowed the Lord into his life. Bart relates, “When Javid tells the story, he often has to fight back tears. ‘One week for three or four days I could not sleep at all. The last night I crawled out of bed and just prayed to God to forgive me of my sins and let me sleep. He did it!’”
Javid did not know until much later that the team was praying that he would be unable to sleep but he received the news joyfully. His growth since then has been awesome. Just last week he led a small group on Old Testament prophecy and he and Bart are currently starting a weekly bible study with believers and seekers that he will lead.
Speaking of Old Testaments prophets (okay do I have lamest transitions or what?), this week we look at Daniel as a leader to see if we can gleam any insights. I must say Daniel is little lofty on the pedestal of leaders though he didn't actually signed up for his STINT but sort of had it forced upon him. He was a handsome, strappin’ young buck who had the capacity for all kinds of knowledge. He learned the language and literature of the New World were he served. He ate right. He led by example. He was 10 X better than the Babylonian Criss Angel or David Blaine. He was the only one who could read the handwriting on the wall. He was totally trustworthy and blameless. He served God loyally. He respected those in authority above him and kept getting promoted. He was bold and defied King’s orders when they went against God. He chilled with lions. He was a visionary who saw the future. He saw Jesus twice (7:13-14; 10:4-6). He was much loved by God.
In other words Daniel set the bar stratospherically high. The results of his ministry (and the ministry of his three “Man, this Furnace is cool” friends) were that several times word went out to the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world that God is great, He is mighty and that His kingdom is an eternal kingdom. The gospel reached multiple nations and peoples.
King Darius the Mede even declared:
"I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."
But one thing that really strikes me is that Daniel was a desperate pray-er. In fact he got thrown in the Lion’s den because instead abstaining prayer for a month, he throws open his shutters and prays publicly three times a day. He was just too busy not to pray.
In chapter 9 after he was mediating on scripture, Daniel breaks out into a desperate prayer. He shows his desperation by fasting, sitting in sackcloth and ashes and pouring his heart out to the Lord. He confesses his sin and the sin of his nation. He appeals to God’s righteousness and mercy. He asks God to turn away his anger, to hear, to look again on them with favor, to open His eyes and see the desolation, …to forgive. Daniel appeals to God to restore a place of worship so that His name – not Daniel’s name because its about Him and not about Daniel – would be glorified.
Gabriel shows up to tell Daniel that as soon as he began to pray, an answer was given, because he was highly esteemed by God. God gives Daniel a glimpse of the future day when the transgression will be complete, when sin will put to an end, when wickedness will be atoned for and when everlasting righteousness will come as the Most Holy One will be anointed.
I don’t know maybe Daniel is too perfect of a model but I think there are a few questions we can ask from his leadership lessons…
Do we lead by example?
Do we submit to and respect those in authority above us?
Are we loyal, trustworthy and innocent?
Are we humble?
Are we serious about sin?
Do we give glory to God?
Do we long for His name to be glorified among the nations? Does it grieve us that it is not so?
Do we dream of a future when one day all will see the Son of Man coming? A day when He will be given authority, glory and sovereign power and all peoples, nations and men and women of every language will worship him?