Participants: Ruthie Jacobsen (Host), R. Peter Neri
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000397
00:01 How do you feel about working with people
00:03 that many classify as hopeless, totally hopeless,
00:08 and extremely, it's not easy is it?
00:12 And it requires a certain kind of thinking.
00:15 Our guest today is a pastor from Las Vegas, Nevada,
00:19 which is a city not known for its purity.
00:22 We'll be right back.
00:48 Welcome to Issues & Answers,
00:50 and today we want to focus on thinking about,
00:54 and working for, and maybe
00:56 changing our attitude toward people
00:59 who are classified as extremely difficult.
01:03 But you know, God, loves every child,
01:07 every person born on planet Earth,
01:10 we don't understand it.
01:12 Because we can classify people
01:14 and we think that some people are just out there.
01:18 But listen to what he says, in the second,
01:21 the third Chapter of the book of Psalms.
01:24 "But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,"
01:28 anyone can say that, anyone.
01:32 "You, O Lord, are a shield for me,"
01:34 because God's word has been given to this planet,
01:38 He loves everyone, and He wants us
01:41 to all to understand it and believe it.
01:44 My glory and the One who lifts up my head,
01:48 if the people that redeemed
01:50 too difficult are just out there
01:54 and were afraid to work with them, God says,
01:56 "I lift up their head, I'm gonna lift them up,
01:59 I'm gonna give them courage and hope.
02:03 I cried to the Lord with my voice,
02:05 and He heard me from His holy hill."
02:09 Let's begin with prayer.
02:12 Father in Heaven, as we come to discuss
02:16 this topic of difficult people and difficult ministry,
02:23 we just thank You that you have
02:24 such a great heart of compassion and love.
02:28 And we ask that You will bless us
02:31 on this program today and every viewer.
02:34 And give us Your thoughts, and Your attitudes,
02:36 we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
02:41 Our special guest today is Pastor Peter Neri.
02:46 Welcome. Hey, thank you, Ruthie.
02:48 Glad you came. I'm glad to be here.
02:50 Peter Neri is pastor of the
02:53 Paradise Seventh-day Adventist church
02:54 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Right.
02:57 First of all, Peter, how in the world
03:01 did you get to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada?
03:04 I was so surprised when you told me
03:07 that you were pastoring.
03:08 Because the last I heard,
03:10 you had been a call for an administrative post.
03:14 In Indiana. In Indiana.
03:16 And well, you were there as director of the ministers.
03:21 But then you had been called by another conference
03:24 I believed to be a president.
03:26 And so, I was surprised
03:27 when I heard from you, and you said,
03:30 "I'm pastor of the Paradise Church in Las Vegas, Nevada."
03:34 What happened?
03:36 Well, I'll tell you, it's an amazing story.
03:40 In fact, when Jenny and I
03:42 got to thinking about Las Vegas, Nevada,
03:45 we thought our friends will think that
03:47 we must have lost our minds.
03:50 But it was a total surprise, I was sitting on an airplane
03:56 and I was praying, which I always do
03:59 when I get on an airplane, and it was on that airplane
04:01 that the Lord spoke to my mind.
04:04 During that prayer indicating that the Paradise Church
04:09 in Las Vegas, Nevada which I honestly knew
04:13 very little about, it was where I could do
04:18 a very special ministry that I've always had a heart to do,
04:22 but I've never had the opportunity
04:24 in all the other locations that I've been in the past.
04:27 Wow, I really believe that the Lord does
04:31 prepare us for the place that He wants us to be.
04:35 In Isaiah 45:2 and 3, it says,
04:38 I will go, this is the voice of the Lord,
04:41 "I will go before you, and prepare the way,
04:44 and break down gates of brass and crash through iron bars."
04:49 And that's really what you're having to do in Las Vegas.
04:53 Yeah, it really is.
04:54 How long have you been there now?
04:55 Well, it was August, so we're talking now almost one year.
05:00 August of last year we went there.
05:04 And you have seen people lives change.
05:06 Oh, yeah. I got a beautiful church,
05:09 it's real easy, because I have
05:11 such a beautiful church full of on fire
05:15 Seventh-day Adventist Christians.
05:17 I was there and they are beautiful people.
05:19 Yeah, we had a good time, that was really a neat time.
05:22 And of course, I have to just say this really quick,
05:26 a lot of them are there because of 3ABN
05:30 which we down link there in the city.
05:33 That's great. Yeah.
05:34 That's great. So.
05:37 So, but, God has given you a special heart
05:41 for working with people who,
05:44 many would classify as too far gone.
05:49 Yeah, it really has. And I was thinking about that,
05:56 I believe the roots of that,
05:58 Ruthie, comes from the book "Desire of Ages."
06:03 I've read that a number of times.
06:07 In fact, everywhere I've always been,
06:08 I've encouraged my church members to read it,
06:11 I figure if, if I can say this,
06:14 if there is one thing that the Adventist church
06:18 with the beautiful message that we have in mission
06:21 is we need that love and compassion of Jesus.
06:25 And nothing in my mind conveys
06:27 it so gorgeously as the book, "Desire of Ages."
06:31 And don't you believe that
06:33 any denomination could say that.
06:35 I think every church needs
06:38 the love and compassion of Jesus.
06:40 Yes, that is absolutely correct.
06:42 That's the bottom-line.
06:43 In that book exposes Christ true character of love,
06:50 and compassion, and patience, and longsuffering.
06:54 So, but you're right, that goes for all churches.
06:57 And it makes you love Jesus. Yeah, oh, it does.
07:00 And it makes you love the people that He loves.
07:06 So, but, what are you doing in Las Vegas in terms of,
07:11 of reaching these difficult people, Peter?
07:13 I know that on Wednesdays you fast. Yes.
07:17 And you go to a place where you can overlook
07:23 the entire city of Las Vegas, and you just plead
07:26 with the Lord for the people of that city
07:29 who are gone, they are just--
07:34 and their consciences are seared, aren't they?
07:37 Yeah, they really are, it's amazing how the depth
07:40 to which their consciences are, at least asleep.
07:47 And we're there to awaken it, but you know,
07:50 there is a mountain there on the south side of Las Vegas,
07:55 actually Henderson is on the south side of Las Vegas,
07:58 and behind that is a mount called
08:00 Black Mountain, interesting name.
08:03 And the 3ABN tower is on Black Mountain.
08:08 And so my tech person took me
08:11 up to the mountain when I first got there.
08:15 We walked it because
08:16 we wanted to exercise, it was quite a climb.
08:19 And when we got to the tower area,
08:21 we looked over our facility there.
08:25 And I turned around and looked,
08:27 and here's the entire valley
08:29 spread out, just like a postcard.
08:34 And I suddenly realized this is my prayer spot.
08:39 And so now, every Wednesday it's a Paradise church,
08:47 day of fasting and prayer.
08:49 And we have three specific prayer times during the day,
08:52 but in the morning after the first prayer session
08:55 I go up on that mountain
08:57 and I pray over the entire city, it's incredible.
09:01 In fact, doing that I want to tell our listeners,
09:05 and doing that I have a deeper burden now for the city.
09:11 That's just what I was gonna say, Peter.
09:13 I really believe that because you have been faithful,
09:16 and the Lord himself leads you up there, and says,
09:19 "Open your eyes, Peter, I want you to see this,
09:22 this is my heart, I really care about
09:24 those people that are lost in this city."
09:27 And as a result of your faithfulness
09:31 to do what He has asked you to do,
09:33 He is giving you His heart. Yes.
09:36 His love for people that are extremely difficult to reach.
09:43 And I wondered some are scratching
09:44 their heads thinking, well, that sounds really neat,
09:47 but I wonder if that's really true.
09:49 How can I emphasize to you that this really happened?
09:55 On that mountain I no have a greater burden
09:57 that I did before for Las Vegas,
10:00 and some doors are beginning to open.
10:02 Tell us. Well, let me tell you,
10:04 I stand in the mountain and first
10:06 I would sit on the rock and I would pray.
10:09 Just a minute, what time is your first prayer service at?
10:12 Six O'clock in the morning.
10:13 Six O'clock. We go from six to seven.
10:15 Six to seven, and so people
10:16 can come by on their way to work.
10:18 On their way to work, before work,
10:20 they meet at the church and we pray.
10:21 How many people do you have there
10:23 for your six o'clock meeting?
10:24 Six O'clock and our 5:30 is the two biggest times,
10:29 because we also do it at noon.
10:31 But we have anywhere from 10 to 15
10:34 people that come at both those times.
10:36 Okay, so you meet at six o'clock in the morning.
10:38 At noon, and at 5:30 in the evening.
10:40 And 5:30 in the evening, and then that goes
10:43 for an hour till 6:30, then we start prayer meeting at 6:45.
10:48 And by the time you get there for prayer meeting.
10:50 I'm tired. You're tired,
10:52 and you haven't eaten anything all day,
10:54 but there is a spiritual energy.
10:56 Oh, there is, those prayer times,
10:59 Ruthie, are so beautiful.
11:01 You can't understand what I'm saying
11:03 until you experience it yourself.
11:06 And I encourage my church in some,
11:08 they're starting to be more less reluctant and calm,
11:11 because they are sitting, wondering.
11:13 I don't want to pray in front of anybody
11:16 and I'd be embraced what if I don't say
11:18 the right thing and it's so early in the morning.
11:21 And, but slowly but surely more are coming
11:25 and more that comes the greater the prayer is,
11:28 and people are really being blessed
11:30 and prayers are being answered.
11:31 And the people who are coming are receiving a huge blessing.
11:36 Oh, yes, they are.
11:37 And they can share that with other people.
11:40 That's beautiful, so the last thing
11:42 in the evening is your prayer meeting.
11:44 Yeah, then we have prayer meeting.
11:46 And prayer meeting is when you're suppose to pray because
11:48 it's called prayer meeting but we study,
11:51 because an hour before that we do the praying, so.
11:55 And like I said, more, more people
11:57 are coming, it's exciting.
11:58 There must be a lot of rejoicing,
12:00 because you've been praying,
12:02 you've been in the Lord's presence,
12:03 you've been upon the mountain,
12:05 and things have been happening all day.
12:08 When you fast and pray,
12:10 the Lord, meets you, when you give Him time.
12:13 It's like, it's like maybe
12:16 this isn't a good example maybe it is,
12:18 but, you know, if you have an apple,
12:22 you can easily count the seeds in an apple.
12:26 Okay, that's true.
12:27 But you could never count
12:28 the apples in a seed, isn't that right?
12:33 That's true, that's right.
12:35 And so, when the Lord, when you give God time,
12:39 and you say, Lord, come and meet with us
12:42 and just let this explode, have your own way,
12:45 do whatever you want to do through us
12:48 and in this city, He does, He's faithful.
12:51 Yeah, He is. And you know,
12:53 there is another evolution going on.
12:57 You know, again to encourage our listeners,
13:01 when we started this even I didn't know exactly
13:04 what to do for sure, but I did know this.
13:07 In Nevada, and as particularly in Las Vegas,
13:14 the economy has really hit hard,
13:16 probably if not the worse,
13:18 one of the hardest hit places in North America.
13:22 And we've had church members who have lost their jobs,
13:25 and so one of the focuses we started with is to pray
13:30 for our brothers and sisters who were struggling
13:34 with making ends meet, the fear of losing houses,
13:38 feed the kids, what are we're gonna do,
13:41 where are we gonna go.
13:42 And so, we started and as we continued to pray,
13:47 our focus not only left that, but our focus began to shift
13:52 and we began to pray for people who were interests,
13:56 as well as the potential interests that we know
14:00 God know put us in Las Vegas for.
14:03 And so, you know, it's just because we did.
14:07 People who are interested or should be interested.
14:10 Or should be interested. In Him.
14:11 In Him, so it's evolved. That's great.
14:15 And the people who you were praying for
14:18 are now praying for other people.
14:19 And they're now praying for other people
14:21 and it's amazing to hear each person
14:23 praying for somebody or something
14:25 and actually pleading with God in their behalf.
14:29 Peter, I wanted to ask you, how do you think
14:34 or why do you think God laid this burden on your heart
14:38 other than reading Desire of Ages.
14:41 A lot of us read Desire of Ages,
14:43 but you have been given a special heart
14:47 of compassion for people who,
14:51 most people would say, are totally hopeless.
14:55 And afraid to work with, they don't want to be tended
14:59 by that kind of environment really.
15:02 And a lot of people don't even
15:04 like to drive down the strip in Las Vegas.
15:09 My wife for example. Yeah, because.
15:11 She said, "we're not gonna look at those pictures,
15:13 I'm not taking my boys there."
15:15 I mean, it's terrible, it's so visual
15:18 and so obvious, blatant.
15:21 The enemy is obviously trying to destroy people
15:26 with pornography that is so obvious,
15:31 and every kind of crime and vice,
15:34 and temptation that he can put out there before people.
15:41 So, but God has given you a heart.
15:43 He's given me a heart.
15:44 To care for people that a lot of people would shun,
15:48 they'd say, oh, you know,
15:49 it's easier to work with somebody that I can trust.
15:53 Because these people are so,
15:56 so used to living a life of deception.
15:59 When you're doing something,
16:01 living a lifestyle of impurity you deceived
16:05 in other things too to cover up.
16:08 And so these are not people you can trust.
16:11 No, you know, I want to start an answer to your questions,
16:16 a question with relating to you and experience
16:20 that I had with my own self when I came into contact
16:26 with that beautiful verse in Psalms,
16:28 "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
16:31 You see, I, because of my parents
16:35 I was raised in a very nice home.
16:39 I worked in a clothing store so I know how to dress,
16:44 I went to college and I got a degree,
16:47 but what no one knew was I may have looked good
16:50 on the inside but my outside but my inside was horrible.
16:56 And when the realization came to me that
16:58 God was actually speaking to me personally,
17:03 that even though if you knew me prior to my conversation,
17:06 you'd have thought I was a pretty neat person.
17:09 I knew the truth I wasn't, and God cared about me.
17:15 And I think that's where it started that text,
17:17 "What is man that thou even bother with him?"
17:22 Why are you even spending time much less dying for him?
17:25 So I think it started there.
17:28 And, you know, Peter, when we realize
17:31 how much we have been forgiven
17:34 and the Lord is so willing and able to forgive us,
17:39 and to pardon us, and to take our sins
17:41 as far as the East is from the West,
17:43 and doesn't remember them anymore.
17:45 And then he says, now forgive like that.
17:48 Yeah. Forgive.
17:50 And that is not easy, it's a process,
17:53 and it's a continual turning to him
17:56 for the strength and guidance to do that.
17:58 Right, and I think also from the beautiful numerous tapes
18:06 that we have from various speakers in our church,
18:09 I was convicted early upon my conversion.
18:12 Remember I came into this church
18:14 at 26 years of age, I had formulated
18:17 a lot of opinions and lived a lot of life to that point
18:21 and I learned about a daily devotional life.
18:28 If anything has helped me in the daily devotional life
18:33 is to remind me of my daily need of Jesus.
18:36 So that that desire to reach out
18:38 and help somebody else stays constant,
18:42 or actually it doesn't stay constant,
18:45 it grows but it's there because I don't let it die,
18:50 because I have to spend my time with the Lord.
18:53 Don't you believe, Peter, that when we are
18:56 in His presence in the morning, He change us.
19:01 You're not the same person
19:02 when you leave your prayer closet
19:04 as you were when you walked in.
19:07 That's an amazing thing, but that's true.
19:10 It is true, and as Ellen White says,
19:12 "Mind comes into contact with infinity."
19:15 My mind comes into connection
19:18 with divinity and infinity, it's just amazing.
19:25 And that's the only hope I have by the way,
19:28 that's the only reason I'm a minister too,
19:30 because as long as I do that I can be a minister, so.
19:34 So you love these people of Las Vegas,
19:38 what kind of experiences have you had
19:40 that have encouraged you that the Lord
19:42 put you there and that you're on the right track?
19:45 I'll tell you, first of all, in our church we have
19:51 a number of converts again
19:55 from my recollection most of them watching 3ABN.
19:59 Who were ex-druggies, who were prostitutes,
20:07 horrible alcoholics, who are now
20:10 deacons, deaconesses?
20:14 Probably have a lot of gamblers.
20:16 Oh, yeah, definitely, a lot of gamblers
20:18 and you know, it's funny, I don't identify with that.
20:22 Here I am in Las Vegas,
20:24 but since I never really gambled even though
20:26 I had my other vices prior to conversion.
20:30 I have a hard time connecting with that.
20:33 But I've got people in my church
20:35 that God had reached
20:37 that I thought should have been dead,
20:40 it's a miracle they're alive.
20:42 Explain. Okay.
20:44 They had gone so far in their experience
20:47 that the fact that they were able to
20:49 disentangle from the, from the huge amount
20:52 of baggage that they had encumbered themselves
20:55 with through their addictions,
20:57 and behaviors, and habits.
21:00 That they found like 3ABN on TV.
21:04 And slowly but surely they found
21:07 the power to extract themselves,
21:09 they limped or even crawled to the church.
21:13 They found friendship there from other people.
21:16 Who understood their polite and were loved
21:19 and nurtured instead of judged
21:22 and you know, look down upon.
21:25 Isn't that good? Oh, yeah, it's wonderful.
21:27 And this is what we have to have.
21:29 We have to have that and that only comes
21:32 from a real personal relationship
21:35 with Jesus Christ. That's right.
21:37 Because people who are living a lifestyle of hopelessness
21:44 have to have the genuine thing,
21:46 because they're not gonna be helped by a phony.
21:49 No, they're not.
21:51 And so these people now I hooked them up,
21:54 we find somebody who's had a similar experience.
21:57 And I go with them, and I sit there
21:59 and marvel at what they say.
22:02 Wow, because they know.
22:03 Because they know, and I'm, each time I do that I learn.
22:08 Sure. I learn more and more.
22:10 And then, Ruthie, again my heart just
22:13 ache for them more and more,
22:15 and I want to get involve more and more.
22:18 And so it's slowly evolving in this direction to where
22:22 we're now trying to actually develop a street ministry.
22:28 As you describe that Peter,
22:30 I somehow could picture in my mind
22:33 how you're in this room with these people
22:37 with one person disciplining another
22:39 and you're disciplining them both,
22:42 and you're praying for them.
22:43 And the room is full of angels.
22:46 Full of angels. Don't you believe that?
22:48 I believe that, and by the way, Ruthie,
22:50 sometimes I think they're actually mentoring me
22:53 as I listen to them minister.
22:56 You know, I'm just, it amazes me,
22:59 because their sincerity,
23:00 their commitment, their earnestness.
23:02 God really did this for me, He can do it for you.
23:06 You can be free but you gotta turn to Jesus.
23:09 And that's exactly what they need to hear.
23:13 And when somebody says, I was where you are,
23:17 I was once where you are today,
23:19 but because of the grace of God, I'm now standing.
23:23 Yes, and they say it, and tears come to their eyes,
23:27 tears come to my eyes, it's just amazing.
23:31 I want to share something with you
23:33 that I think it's just so powerful.
23:35 It's a song written by Rodney Griffin
23:39 and it just says what we've been talking about.
23:41 "Since the day that I surrendered
23:44 Many years have come and gone
23:46 Joy and sadness I remember
23:49 Lord, You were faithful all along.
23:52 You brought me through my lowest valley
23:56 You brought me cross the desert dry
23:59 You were my friend when I was lonely
24:02 You whispered peace and made me smile
24:06 As I survey the joy and sorrow
24:09 I find your love remains the same.
24:13 So, I will trust you for tomorrow
24:16 For You were faithful yesterday
24:20 By Your power I'm still standing
24:24 By Your grace I have been saved
24:28 By Your mercy I'm still trusting
24:31 That you will take me all the way
24:35 And then it goes back.
24:37 You brought me through my lowest valley
24:40 You brought me across the desert dry
24:42 You were my friend when I was lonely
24:45 You whispered peace and made me smile
24:48 As I survey the joy and sorrow
24:51 I find your love remains the same
24:55 So I will trust you for tomorrow
24:57 For You were faithful yesterday.
24:59 And, Peter, that's exactly
25:01 what these people need to hear.
25:02 Yeah, they do.
25:03 They need to hear somebody authentic say,
25:08 "He's faithful, and I've tested it."
25:11 And all through scripture God says, "Test Me."
25:14 Yeah, He does.
25:15 In fact, Ruthie, I just remembered
25:19 in Isaiah 50 verse 4, you know, we talked about
25:23 this text so much and this is so real
25:30 and so needed in all our lives,
25:33 and you know that one.
25:34 The Lord God has given me the tongue,
25:38 my Bible says of a disciple or in King James
25:41 the tongue of the learned, that
25:43 I may know how to sustain a weary one with a word.
25:48 He awaken me, morning by morning
25:51 He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.
25:55 Isn't that good? Yes.
25:56 And we forget that these people who are lost,
26:00 and who are out there, and in these
26:02 horrible lifestyles of darkness are weary,
26:07 they are not happy,
26:09 they are not receiving the hope,
26:11 and the happiness, and the joy,
26:13 and the fulfillment that they thought they'd find there.
26:16 They are there because the girls,
26:19 the young girls as you were telling me, are prostitutes,
26:22 many of them because of a drug habit.
26:26 And then the men, who are overseeing
26:30 and taking part of this money
26:33 are just further enslaving them.
26:36 Yeah. What a horrible life.
26:39 It is, and imagine that God has gifted us
26:42 with the message and the method to reach them,
26:46 and we're afraid or timid,
26:48 and that's where we're building to get to.
26:50 In fact, Ruthie, let me tell you something,
26:52 I want to share this with our listeners
26:56 and I want to say it just right.
26:58 Because I don't want to sound critical,
26:59 but I was on the strip the other day,
27:02 and I noticed the sign for held up
27:05 by a Christian group that says, "Repent or go to Hell."
27:11 And it really hurt me in my heart
27:15 because that's not the character of God.
27:18 And there was no one there to help them
27:20 to show them how they already feel guilty.
27:24 Well, right that you know,
27:26 when we look at Ministry of Healing 143,
27:31 Christ method alone
27:32 will reach the people, He mingled with them.
27:35 That's right. Ellen White says,
27:37 "We must give them words of encouragement."
27:40 That's right, that's right.
27:42 Well, our time is about gone, but, Peter,
27:45 you have really I hope stirred up our minds
27:49 and given us something to think about.
27:51 I hope that you and I, and all of us
27:54 will really pray for these people.
27:57 And pray that God will open doors of ministry
28:00 so that more and more can find true salvation.
28:03 Thank you for joining us, we just hope
28:06 that your life will be more and more blessed.
28:08 We'll see you next time.