Update on Mike

Mike Fechner:

My wife recently posted a blog about our recent weeks with the diagnosis. I’m so thankful for all the prayers and support from the body of Christ. God Bless.

Originally posted on lfechner:

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Our battle against Satan’s fiery darts is not yet done.  Since June, we have known that there are a few cancer spot in Mike’s lungs. We chose to forego treatment because there really wasn’t a promising treatment available. It was time to trust in our Jehovah Rapha for complete healing. 

Two months ago, Mike started developing some symptoms that we thought were caused by bronchitis and sleep deprivation caused by continual coughing.  After treatment, the symptoms remained and gradually worsened.  One day Mike actually passed out and ended up in ER. 

A few days later, a friend who is an MD called to check on Mike. After I described all of his symptoms and changes in behavior, he offered to have scans done at his facility. I am so thankful for that because I don’t think Mike would have returned to the cancer hospital to have them done. The…

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A Step of Faith

Today we cancelled our doctor’s appointments and scans.

There is a sweet peace in my heart as we rest completely in the arms of our Loving Jesus. We have prayed much for God’s heart and have sensed His call to step out on this course of action for a season. We continue to stand on His promise that “by His stripes I am healed!”

Fechner FamilyPlease join me in prayer that my body will soon realize the full manifestation of this healing that I believe is mine in Christ Jesus! It is risking nothing to trust God for everything! He is my all-in-all and it is only God who has miraculously sustained my body through the 53 months following my initial prognosis of 8–18 months. Even the doctors who profess no faith of their own have admitted that it is by prayer and faith that I continue to live. And I know that God has honored the prayers of the righteous to heal me supernaturally.

Each doctor who reviews my scans agrees that cancer has returned, but they also add that in 30 years of practice, they have never seen lung cancer progress so slowly. They say my body is fighting the disease; I know that it is God—and God alone—who heals and who gives life.

I am believing that this latest appearance of cancer will be completely removed as a further sign of my healing. The Word the Lord continues to resonate within my heart as His Spirit continually directs my mind to the example of the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment and the power of God surging into her body. She departed with His assurance: It is well.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on my medical treatment and we have done all that we have sensed the Lord was leading us to do. And we are grateful for all of our incredible doctors and medical teams and their ministry to me and my family. God has used their knowledge and expertise in my healing thus far. This journey has led us though brain surgery, lung surgery, gamma-knife therapy, proton radiation, oral chemo, traditional chemotherapy, even a special immune treatment from Germany. Our prayer now is that God will receive the glory and that His Kingdom will be expanded by our simple step of faith. Once again, we seek to be obedient to God’s voice, to simply reach out, touch Jesus’ garment, and believe!

HISBB Taking the 'Hood - 2We have already seen the Lord expand his kingdom greatly though these 53 months with the expansion of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders in Dallas, and the spread of this movement to new cities in the United States and abroad. Restoration Community Church Dallas was planted one year ago and then officially launched a few months ago. Souls are coming to Christ and disciples are now making more disciples. Chemo Church and a vibrant prayer ministry now prays for healing and hope in the name of Jesus. We are currently working on a book to share the many miracles of God in this season and to bring Him greater glory.

RCCD 2As I continue this journey in God’s grace, and I witness His favor on H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, I live each day as if it were a month, and each month as if it were a year!

Do today what the Lord is leading you to do. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. My greatest prayer through this journey has been for the awakening of God’s church for the lost and the least. And God is answering that prayer! The Lord has revealed clearly that your fervent prayers sustain me, not merely for my own good, but to proclaim the Gospel and advance His Kingdom. For the past four-and-one-half years, the Lord has given me a personal anthem, and it has become my guiding principle:

Pray by faith the word of God

in the power of the Holy Spirit

and trust in the Sovereignty of God!

With that in mind, we have begun a monthly prayer meeting. On the first Tuesday of each month, beginning at 7:00 pm, we will gather to pray. If there is a need deep within your heart—a wayward child, an illness, a great financial crisis, or a burden you simply need to bring to Jesus—please come.

rccddotRestoration Community Church Dallas
2075 West Commerce
Dallas, Texas 75208 (map)

We will be praying for all who are gathered together. We will, together, approach the Great Physician, touch the hem of His garment, and depart as restored disciples!

Thank you all for loving me. Thank you all for interceding for me, my family, and the ministry of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders and Restoration Community Church Dallas! Your believing prayers continue to be our lifeline to our Lord, our Healer, our King, Jesus.

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Church Restoration

HISBB Community FellowshipJesus promised His followers, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mat. 25:40). When we first committed to obeying this straightforward command of the Lord, we had no plans to establish churches. We began the work of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders as an extension of the church, to bring the gospel in tangible form to the inner city, to simply serve the lost and the least.

We began by walking through urban communities in South Dallas, praying over every inch, calling upon God to restore lives destroyed by poverty, drugs, sex trafficking, and crime. We joined with residents who had been praying for their communities and started holding Bible studies. We didn’t know what we were doing at the time, but a movement of God began to form around this group of believers. Before long, drug dealers and thieves started coming to faith in Christ, and materialistic millionaires started pursuing the Kingdom of God first. And, most amazing of all, they started working together to restore these impoverished, forgotten neighborhoods.

HISBB Taking the 'Hood - 1As this movement of God began to take shape, we gave it the name, H.I.S. (Hope in Salvation) BridgeBuilders, because we saw bridges being built between formerly divided segments of the church. Furthermore, we recognized the opportunity for development in four realms of need: health, education, economic, and spiritual. And the effect was simply amazing. We watched as God restored individuals, and then families. Households were being built with whole families being restored by God’s faithfulness.

Von Minor 1In time, as families flourished in their growing relationship with Christ, people in their urban community started calling me Pastor Mike. I reluctantly accepted the title as a term of respect and thought nothing more of it. Looking back, I now see the precursors of a divine plan I never considered. Meanwhile, Von Minor joined our H.I.S. BridgeBuilders team as the director of spiritual development. He had grown up in the neighborhood we serve, graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and ministered as the youth pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship before joining us.

The work of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders continued in South Dallas and informal Bible study groups grew strong. Eventually, we began hearing the community ask when we would establish a church in their neighborhood. At first, we dismissed the idea as it had always been our intention to partner with churches rather than plant new fellowships. Besides, I RCCD Before-Afterdidn’t feel qualified; I was not seminary-trained. But then Von began sharing with me his burden to plant a church in Bonton South Dallas. As I listened to him talk, I found that we shared a similar vision. I just never saw myself in the role of pastor.

Earlier this year, Restoration Community Church Dallas began meeting in a renovated steel warehouse at the Economic Development Center. And on August 18th, 2013, we officially launched as a new church. Since our first meeting, over 500 people have experienced RCCDallas for the first time. From that, we have seen 41 baptisms, and have a membership of 223 people (115 families). Through the faithfulness of those that have given The Lord has allowed us to sacrificially sow $15,000 into local and international ministries.

RCCD 1st BaptismThis new fellowship of believers continues to thrive and I love the unique blend of influences. White, black, and Latino members love and support one another. A white former businessman from Plano (me) shares a pulpit with an African-American, seminary-trained pastor from the ’hood. A wonderful mixture of musical flavors gives our worship a sound unlike anything I’ve heard before, and I know it’s beautiful in God’s ears! Our church is a little slice of what worship in heaven will look like—a unified diversity of race, culture, education, and economics.

We started out to simply make disciples; we never intended to plant churches. Looking back, however, we shouldn’t be surprised that disciples would eventually form a community of belief . . . a church. Obey God’s command to make disciples (Mat. 28:19–20) and churches will form. It’s inevitable. That’s the heavenly model!

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The Buffalo Miracle

I don’t usually think of myself as a “Southern boy,” but like many in Texas, I harbored a fair amount of misgivings about the Northeast, especially the state of New York. That is, until God’s providence brought a church planter from Buffalo to meet with Jarrett Stephens, the teaching pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church.

The Hood in Buffalo 2Dan Trippie arrived in Plano with a vision to take the gospel to his community. During his meeting with Jarrett and the Prestonwood church planting team, Dan described how he had drawn a circle around his house, and that a large portion of this circle included Buffalo’s severely impoverished East Side. When the steel industry collapsed in Buffalo, this community suffered more than most, falling prey to hopelessness, unemployment, drugs, vice, and violent crime. Dan felt a strong sense of responsibility to minister among Buffalo’s poorest.

Dan TrippieAfter hearing Dan’s heart for his city, Jarrett suggested I meet this remarkable pastor. I gave him a tour of Bonton in South Dallas and shared all that God has done to restore this community and all that He continues to do now. Before returning home, Dan asked me to pray about establishing H.I.S. BridgeBuilders in Buffalo. While no one could deny the need for this ministry in East Side, I wasn’t sure we could make the stretch. Our ministry didn’t have an abundance of resources in Dallas; even today, we sometimes struggle to make ends meet, to say nothing of expansion. I could only promise to pray and follow God’s leading.

A few months later, I traveled to visit Dan, joined by my wife, Laura, and two of our children, Grace and Jonathan. As Dan guided us around East Side, Jonathan walked with me. I was reminded of Nehemiah, who surveyed to forsaken city of Jerusalem and wept over its broken down walls. And like Nehemiah, I envisioned a restored city through God’s power. As I searched my conscience for God’s leading, I asked Jonathan, “What should we do? Should we try to minister in a city we had never even seen before?”

Restoration Church BuffaloJonathan said, simply, “God is here, Dad. We have to do it.”

That was in November 2011. Last week, Laura and I returned to Buffalo to drop off Jonathan. Eight months ago, Jon woke me at six a.m.—not usually a good idea!—to tell me that he had been praying all night and that God wants him to work in Buffalo for one year after graduation and before starting at Dallas Baptist University. When I committed to start H.I.S. BridgeBuilders in Buffalo, this was not what I had envisioned! But I could not be more proud of my son, or more pleased that God would call him to this work.

Jonathan Fechner 2While getting Jon settled, I had a chance to spend time with Dan and our representative, Chris Hammond, and I rejoiced to see what God is doing in New York. Restoration Church Buffalo has become a thriving community of several hundred believers and H.I.S. BridgeBuilders has cultivated several strong relationships among city leaders. Drug dealers and gang members are leaving the streets and coming to Christ. Pastors are meeting together and praying about how to take back their city. Several businessmen in Syracuse have seen the BridgeBuilders model at work and have begun asking how they might join this movement of God. I’m so glad we heard the call and started H.I.S. BridgeBuilders in Buffalo back in March of 2012!

As Laura and I began our journey home from Buffalo—without Jonathan—I realized how much my heart for this place had changed. God asked me to send my son to a forgotten and forsaken people to share “Hope in Salvation” and I said yes without hesitation. Frankly, I’m amazed by that. Three years ago, New York barely registered in my mind as worthy of a second thought. Now my love for this place is as the love of a father for his son!

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Like a Flame, Hope

Mike with Children of HurumaLast month (July 2013), I saw the poorest of the poor. After visiting the Huruma Slums of Nairobi, where H.I.S. BridgeBuilders ministers, I returned humbled yet encouraged. On one hand, the poverty is truly overwhelming. Children play in alleyways polluted with open sewage. Families routinely search the landfill for their next meal. On the other hand, I find in Nairobi reason for hope.

When we visited Nairobi in January of 2012, we returned to Dallas determined to seek God’s leading and to decide what role H.I.S. BridgeBuilders should play—if any—in restoring the Huruma Slum. We determined that the response of the people would be a deciding factor—would they do their part?

Huruma Discipleship GroupBefore leaving for home, we created a team of five people and issued the challenge to study the Bible and invite others to join them. Eighteen months later, we returned to find a weekly gathering of forty-five faithful disciples. Many—not all—describe themselves as former murderers, thieves, and prostitutes; all of them proclaim they have been radically transformed by the power of the gospel. Much like the gypsies of Romania they were a forgotten people. These men and women are some of the most remarkable people I have ever met. They have faith that their community—the notorious Huruma slum and its residents—can be transformed by the gospel.

In 2012, we toured the slum with two security men armed with submachine guns. Eighteen months later we walked unescorted into the arms of a family—forty-five brothers and sisters who welcomed us with a sign that read, “With Christ all things are possible.” The people of Nairobi have overwhelmingly convinced us that they will do their part and more!

Peter at the Hilton NairobiAs in Romania, the next major step involves economic development; helping the residents of the Huruma Slum gain a steady income.

After meeting with the personnel manager of a local hotel, several of our disciples from the slum were given interviews. Everyone told us the hotel management would never talk to them, but God made a way. We will continue to advocate for these men and women with local hotels and seek other corporate partners in the city, and begin an employment training process as we do in Dallas in the months ahead.

Kazuri Beads has offered to train our women and let us design our own custom line of beads for sale here in the United States. Women who have no other way to make a living will receive an income from jewelry we will market and sell.

Aquaponics in HurumaOur team worked alongside the residents to begin constructing an aquaponics system to generate nutritious vegetables and protein. This source of food will potentially sustain several people year-round, but it’s only a beginning. We will continue to teach residents, who will teach their neighbors. We hope to see aquaponics gardens sprouting up all around the Huruma community!

In both, Romania and Nairobi, we saw the impact of your prayers and your financial support. Like a match struck in a dark room, a spirit of hope has ignited hearts among the poorest people on earth; like a flame, hope has begun to displace despair. The people of the Huruma Slum have begun to believe, truly, that “with Christ all things are possible.”

Mike in Huruma with TeamWe want to help their hope build momentum. To do that, I ask you to prayerfully consider helping us by visiting our donation page. Any donations with “Nairobi” in the memo line will be used to expand ministries in the Huruma Slum.

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Love for the Unlovable

Jesus can be unreasonable at times. Especially when He expects me to love people who seem determined to be as unlovable as possible. Yet, leaving no room for flexibility, He says,

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” (Luke 6:32–33)

Gypsies in GalatiIn the country of Romania, there is no group of people more marginalized than the gypsies, also known as “the Roma.” They rarely have identity cards or birth certificates, making gypsies non-persons in Romanian society, which keeps them segregated and jobless, and therefore given to poverty and vice. After centuries of segregation—both official and self-imposed—it seems almost impossible to bridge the gap and help the gypsies. Even so, in a valley near Galati (pronounced gal-atz), H.I.S. BridgeBuilders ministers to these forgotten and forsaken people.

Michael Stanciu, Christian Businessman in RomaniaEarlier in July, a team from H.I.S. BridgeBuilders traveled to Romania to strengthen the ministry and encourage our staff, which consists of Bogdon Mihai and his wife. In our wildest dreams, we didn’t expect the welcome we received in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. We found the local government eager to support our ministry among the gypsies. During our presentation, one city official remarked that none of their programs were very effective in helping the gypsies. I noted that our own president acknowledged that governments cannot love people, and that’s why government programs need the church.

In the Bible, we see time and again examples of how kings and prophets accomplished great things when they worked together, and how the people suffered when they were at odds. When government and the church unite to help people, we make progress toward restoring impoverished communities.

As she and other government officials watched our video (with Romanian subtitles) of the changed lives through our ministry in Dallas, they were blessed greatly by what God is doing in our city. They marveled that former drug dealers call me “Dad” and that I feel so honored to call them my sons. This personal connection—relationships that continue to change my life—helped them see why the H.I.S. BridgeBuilders model is so effective.

From that meeting forward, we encountered people—whether pastors, government officials, corporate partners, or community leaders—ready with a yes to helping get H.I.S. BridgeBuilders established in Bucharest. The Lord has opened a wide door of opportunity for us in Romania unlike anything I have ever seen.

After concluding our presentation, a city official in Bucharest said that our vision was the perfect plan for their country.

We are currently applying for our largest grant in the history of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders. This funding by the European Economic Union will help us secure facilities and recruit training staff to begin vocational training in Bucharest. This, of course, paves the way for us to implement the other parts of the H.I.S. BridgeBuilders model, which includes spiritual development. We are in awe of God that what began nearly 20 years ago in Dallas is truly becoming a global movement for His glory!

Aquaponics Galati 2013As part of the team worked in Bucharest, the other established an aquaponics system in the Galati valley. This high-capacity, miniature garden will become a renewable food source for the community and may lead to the creation of a small business. We also explored several possibilities for economic development, which is critical to providing alternatives to illegal income.

While God has opened doors for H.I.S. BridgeBuilders in Romania, we ask you to join us in prayerful expectation that the grant to fund the ministry in Bucharest will be awarded soon. Meanwhile, the need continues in the valley of the gypsies. Our work in Bucharest will certainly help them in the long-run, but their poverty is deep and they need our help now.

Would you take a few moments right now to visit our donation page? It’s simple, quick, and completely secure. All gifts designated “Galati” in the memo line will be set aside specifically for the people in this neglected, marginalized valley. It is one way you can demonstrate your love for those who see very little of it from anyone.

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In Hardship, We Find Blessing (with Medical Update)

Where we see difficult circumstances, God sees opportunity. When we’re ready to sound the retreat, God often calls us to charge the enemy. I learned that during my last three trips abroad for H.I.S. BridgeBuilders International, each one marked by an incidence of cancer.

My trip earlier this month (July 2013) was no different.

Mike and Bogdon 1During the summer of 2009, as I prepared to visit H.I.S. BridgeBuilders in Galati, Romania, Doctors told me that stage 4 lung cancer would end my life within eighteen months. After the prayers of friends dispelled the darkness of doubt, I made that trip six months later. If I hadn’t gone, I would not have seen God’s blessing on that forgotten valley of gypsies. Pastor Bogdon, a former drug dealer and pimp, had become a worthy advocate in that impoverished urban community. He understood the BridgeBuilders model and advanced the program with determination.

If I had listened to my cancer instead of God’s voice telling us to go, I would have missed seeing this blessing.

Mike & Mama LucyIn 2012, I traveled with a team of five to Nairobi to meet a woman the newspapers call “Queen of the Slums.” Because she feeds and educates the children of the Huruma Slum, residents call her “Mama Lucy.” We wondered if God might be calling H.I.S. BridgeBuilders to minister in Nairobi. We determined to pray about God’s leading and asked two Nairobi Christians to teach the Bible in the slum.

Soon after our return, on my 51st birthday, a biopsy revealed cancer cells in my lymph nodes. A few people hinted that maybe we should postpone any involvement in Nairobi or Galati until my cancer was under control. Believing that God is in control, we pressed forward; the needs were too great and the opportunities for the gospel too compelling. And thank God we did!

David and SabinaGod used several rounds of chemotherapy and proton radiation treatments not only to eradicate cancer, but to bring people and resources to H.I.S. BridgeBuilders. A few months later, scans revealed a golf ball sized tumor in my cerebellum. After brain surgery and radiation, the cancer was gone and the ministry surged again. By the time God defeated this instance of cancer, H.I.S. BridgeBuilders had blossomed in Dallas and grew stronger in five other cities: San Antonio, Houston, Clarksburg, WV, Buffalo, NY, Chattanooga, TN. We also started hearing great reports from our two international cities.

Again, if I had listened to the voice of cancer instead of the Lord’s call forward, this movement of God we call H.I.S. BridgeBuilders would have been hindered by my unbelief. Great faith is only evidenced when we have to exercise it and not simply talk about it.

Mike at Romania Pastors ConferenceThis past spring, we felt God’s calling to revisit Galati and Nairobi, but wondered if the travel expenses could be justified. To complicate matters even further, scans revealed a small growth in my brain that is undoubtedly another instance of cancer. Rather than throw a pity party, I have come to see these recurring bouts with cancer as a signal that God is about to do something wonderful again. After much prayer, the Lord’s leading was unmistakable: “Their need is great and you must go.”

As with each journey before, God amazed us with His power. Our travel to Galati and Nairobi has shown us that we come to a season of unprecedented growth to advance His Kingdom in some of the poorest areas of the world. Over the next few days, I will share all the incredible things that God has accomplished since our return and the opportunities His is opening before us. Even in these difficult times, with cancer reappearing and our finances struggling through the summer slump, God has called us to advance, not retreat. And so we obey.

As for me, personally, I continue to receive God’s favor. My doctors tell me that the three small spots in my lungs are very slow-growing! The largest is about a third of an inch. The nurse was astonished that my blood-work is perfect. This morning (Wednesday, July 24), Gamma Knife Radiation treatment removed the single spot that showed up in my brain, and I can return to work immediately.

I continue to trust God for healing and I remain thankful for His sovereign care and your believing prayers.

You may be facing a struggle of your own. Perhaps it feels absolutely overwhelming and you’re thinking of dropping back rather than pressing forward. Before you take that first step backwards, let me encourage you to ask God what He would have you do. Don’t accept defeat just yet; consider the possibility that He might use your difficulty to demonstrate His power, deepen your faith (and those around you), and to bring you great blessing.

And while you’re thinking about God using you and your circumstances for His glory, I invite you to stand with us as we advance God’s Kingdom among the lost and the least (Matt. 25:40). Summertime always brings financial hardship, but we have learned that the needs of people never take a vacation! So, we need your help.

Your generous donation helps H.I.S. BridgeBuilders bring hope to the hopeless and to restore people, families, and urban communities here and around the world.

Help us continue this movement!

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