I write to you with a spirit of great joy and anticipation. May the Holy Spirit flood your atmosphere with peace and joy. I pray that your heart is compelled to the action of love - that your innermost desire would be to constantly reflect the unconditional, selfless love of Jesus Christ. May your every fear subside in His overwhelming presence. In this moment and throughout eternity, may you hear His voice more clearly than your own.
As you may know, I began a journey in 2017 - not knowing what I was getting myself into. I simply felt God urging me to, "Go." Nothing more, nothing less. He saved me from addiction, alcoholism, and suicide in 2014, and I've learned to recognize His voice in my own heart. Resisting the voice of God just isn't an option for me anymore.
After months of prayer (I'm talking fall-down-on-your-face-and-weep kind of prayers), it became abundantly clear that God was calling me into full-time ministry. If you know me, you can probably sense the smile on my face as I write this...because we both know I'm the last person on earth who would ever do ministry. But that's what God does - He takes our weakness and uses it. He calls the unqualified, because He will get the glory.
The fear of failing (whatever that means) was quickly replaced with a spirit of adventure. I began to use my Instagram platform to be a voice for Jesus, and doors began to open. Literally. People from all over the country (and world) began inviting me to speak in churches and recovery meetings, and within a couple of weeks, I had a list of 33 states to visit. So I said yes. To all of it.
This is all crazy to me, because I still vividly recall the shaky hands of alcoholism, the sudden nose bleeds from all the cocaine, the perpetual paranoia of having the cops find out about my stealing, the weight of depression, the morning tornados of anxiety and crippling hangovers, and the dark void in my soul. I remember how hard it was to fake a smile every day and pretend to be happy. My only thoughts were centered around getting blackout drunk, finding $50 for cocaine, getting with girls, and doing whatever it took to escape the reality of my spiritual condition (or lack thereof).
I vividly recall writing those suicide letters, the well of endless tears, and the empty atmosphere in my bedroom. I remember rolling out of bed, falling to my knees, and crying out for a miracle. I remember being supernaturally compelled to open my Bible and seeing Matthew 11:28-30 for the first time. I remember feeling Jesus enter that room, kneeling beside me, and touching my heart. How could I ever forget!?
This Jesus thing I talk about...it's for real. It's the only possible explanation for my sobriety today. It's the only possible explanation for the pure joy, the peace that transcends all understanding, and the visible changes in my life. Ever since that moment on September 29, 2014, I've been a different person. Nothing else compares to the moment Jesus entered my heart. And to think...all I did was give up. All I did was surrender.
That's why I write and speak to you with such humility - because I know the truth. I know the old Zack, and I know I'd be in the grave with a bullet in my skull had it not been for Jesus. I didn't do anything to become deserving of a new life. All I did was get brutally honest with God, and accept His relentless love. It's overwhelming.
In this very moment, the Holy Spirit is pumping through my veins and moving my fingers across this keyboard. It's a fire that can only be described as supernatural. It's a fire that I want so badly for you to have. That every forest and every nation would burn with such a vigorous passion - lighting up the world. The enemy will not win this war! The light of Jesus is far too bright for darkness to persist in your life.
I am taking this fire to the places nobody wants to go. Under the darkest bridges, into rehab centers, and into dead churches. It's time to wake up and experience the Love we know exists. I've spent enough time dreaming about what life would be like if I followed Jesus like a true disciple. It's time to do this.
You're receiving this letter because I want you with me. There's no way I'm gonna let my friends miss out on a party like this. Eternity is real. It's here, now. Everything we do, every choice we make, every word we say...it echoes throughout eternity. The day is coming when we'll stand together before God and give an account for our lives. I'd very much like to give a pleasing report - to use this second chance at life for something worthwhile.
This journey has been the farthest thing from easy. It has been quite revealing of my true character - how to face uncertainty. Not knowing where the next meal will come from. Not having a place to sleep. Making the choice between keeping my last five dollars, or giving it to the guy digging through the trash. How to share a hotel room with a crackhead. How to put my fears to the side and pray for hurting people. How to call on the name of Jesus in the middle of the storm. How to persevere with a smile, knowing my life will never be the same.
Seven t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, a bag of toiletries, a pickup truck, an iPhone, a MacBook (don't judge me I like Apple, ok?) and a German Shepherd. That's what I carry today. There's no home to return to, no secret bank account, no turning back. I gave my entire life to Jesus - all of it. 100%. My definition of success today is getting to pray with a stranger. It's getting to share the gift of eternal life that was so freely given to me. That's success.
After an entire year on the road, I'm currently back in Charlotte living in a free apartment that was "randomly" given to me by a stranger in a Starbucks. As much as I appreciate the gift of a (sorta) comfortable life, my heart knows where it belongs: out there on the road, shining the everlasting Light of Jesus. At the risk of sounding completely insane, I'd rather be out there struggling for Jesus than enjoying anything this world could ever offer. It's an overflowing joy, it's an adventurous peace, it's a confident hope - it's something I have to share.
On January 1, 2019 (possibly sooner - this fire is really burning), I'm planning to hit the road again. Indefinitely. Instead of doing it alone, I'm asking you to join me. The remaining parts of this letter will be as transparent and straightforward as I can possibly be. Here's how you can help:
1) The Van
It's truly a work of God that we've been able to sustain this mission with a pickup truck. I'm praying my heart out for a van. If God can save a person like me from such great depths, He can most certainly provide a van. I'm not afraid to dream big. The dream van is a Mercedes Sprinter. 4x4. Outfitted with a bed inside, fully stocked with care packages for the homeless, room for Ziva, and a rooftop tent for our homeless friends. Oh yeah, and I'm believing we can pay cash for it. Why settle for anything less than the dream in your heart!?
We've already raised a lot of money for this. Click here to pitch in. (If every friend receiving this letter pitched in just $50 - we'd be in the van tomorrow.)
2) Care Packages
It's inevitable that we cross paths with homeless people every day. Being homeless myself, I kinda have a new heart for this. If you can somehow provide things like soap, socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, water, deodorant, and gift cards, that would be such a huge help! Just let me know what city you're in, what you can put together, and we can coordinate a time to meet up on this journey. Heck, you can even join me for a day of outreach!
Email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Social Media
Say whatever you want about social media, but God's definitely using me to reach people through Instagram and Facebook. Share about this journey. Videos are the most effective way of digital storytelling. Take a sec to post something in your Insta story and invite people to follow along and pitch in!
4) A Place to Stay
Hotels are great, but sometimes I just want to hang out with a real friend. If you'd be open to letting me and Ziva crash at your apartment or house, deffffffinitely reach out. We'll be traveling the entire country - wherever the Spirit leads. No place is out of the question.
You didn't really think I'd leave that out, did ya!? It still crushes my pride to ask, but money is a big part of mission work. Thank God I'm not paying rent anymore, but I do still have bills like cell phone, insurance, and website/marketing software. There's also food and gas. Super helpful most days.
The biggest help would be monthly support. Even if it's just $5 a month, it's something I can count on. It helps ease the fear of tomorrow and allows me to be effective.
Ps: CLTIVATE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. All donations are tax-deductible!
6) Buy a Shirt or a Hat
Every purchase provides a care package. I'll be taking time each week to deliver care packages and share people's stories with you on Instagram. I've also been known to invite total strangers to coffee. It's a cool way to show love.
There's so much power in prayer and intercession. I don't want prayers for safety - I need prayers for boldness, for strength, for courage, and wisdom. This is a war on darkness, addiction, and evil. I'm willing to die for Jesus. He already knows that.
Click here to pray. Jk. It's easier than that ;)
8) Take Action
I'm simply not equipped to carry all of this. I'm not equipped to be in constant contact with thousands of different people. It really is a lot. The most helpful thing is initiative. If you have an idea, act on it. Don't even ask. Many don't have extra cash laying around - that's why it's called giving. It's called sacrifice. It's supposed to hurt a little. There are so many ways to bring new life to this mission. Start a GoFundMe campaign, get your bible study group to pitch in together, tell your pastor about this, identify a need, and fill it! I say this with such passion, I hope you don't mistake it for anything else. I refuse to do this alone!
Ok. That's my heart. Please don't forget about me. This past year has been crazy awesome, but also crazy lonely. I need you to be there for me. If you see me with no place to stay, a flat tire, or in need of encouragement, please be the one who reaches out. As your friend, I will do the same.
Thank you for being you. I'm eternally grateful that God has allowed our paths to cross. Chances are pretty solid you've already helped in some way, so thank you for that, too. It's truly a joy and an honor to be out here on this mission. Oh, and let me just say...if you feel God knocking on the door to your heart...let Him in. Say yes to the crazy dream. Take the leap of faith!!!!!!!! God wants you to be completely dependent upon His love. It's the most wonderful experience.
Jesus is everything!
-Zack and Ziva