Richard, the Vicar of St Andrews Church, Furnace Green, is someone I’m appreciating more and more, even though I haven’t seen him since Wednesday! He told Simon and me a story, and I love people who tell stories ‘on themselves’… Recently, he was asked to preach at Westminster Abbey (I’m not worthy….what an honour!!), so he ‘robed up’ as the Abbey is that sort of place – implying that he didn’t normally robe-up, which I like even more! When his turn came, he just wanted to preach the gospel in his allotted time, but… the Abbey has a very high pulpit….
….and as Richard mounted the steps, he ‘walked up’ the inside of his robes, so that by the time he got to the top, he was about 4 feet tall…!!! The sort of thing I do! Years back, in a ‘barrio’ (district) of Cartagena, Colombia, name San Francisco (no resemblance AT ALL to its USA code-share city(!), I had the honour of being the first gringo to ever preach the gospel in the open air. It was in a dust-bowl of a bus/coach park, searingly hot, with a pretty strong breeze making the dust a slight problem…
A much BIGGER problem was, though, that the ‘platform’ was a very rickety, old, long flatbed truck trailer: the ‘steps’ a rising succession of the 12-bottle plastic drinks crates for stuff like Coca Cola. As it turned out, my worst fears concerning the steps (‘they won’t take my weight!) became of self-fulfilling prophecy, as I climbed them: they totally disintegrated under my feet, and I ended up, in my nice ‘smart’ button through shirt, tie, and smart dark blue chino trousers, flat on my face, with dust in every available orifice, and smothering my ‘smart’ attire. I then had to be hauled up on the trailer, which was itself as rickety as the crates.
Not knowing if anyone would turn up to this first open air evangelistic healing meeting – the first of three (turned into four, it went so well!!), I was stunned when well over 500 came the first night, over 1000 the second, 1500 the third, and probably the whole barrio for the final added-on night. Bless ’em, that first night they listened intently to the completely dust-camouflaged Brit. God was so good: about 200 gave their lives to him.
Over the four days, that number increased significantly: but on the third night, in the middle of a balmy, sun-drenched hot evening, a sudden tropical rainstorm arrived (Cartagena IS on the Caribbean!). As the ground was so hard, not only did the dust become mud, it became a lake. I was praying for healing for a Pastor’s wife, when suddenly, she fell forward as the Holy Spirit floored her, face down in the lake, with water up to her ears! Had to get help moving her, as I didn’t want the next day’s newspapers to say ‘Pastor’s wife drowns at healing meeting: visiting gringo held on suspicion of murder!’.
Back to Crawley… had a lovely note from a lady: I won’t mention her name as I haven’t asked her permission to share this with you: I spoke, for a time, on reasons why people don’t get healed. Some years back I asked God for a better answer to this regularly asked question, especially if I’ve talked about miracles, healings, and salvation, in Latin America, Africa, India, China, or wherever… God first told ME to repent: not quite the initial response I was expecting, and I thought, then, that I was up-to-date with my repentance issues! He told me so clearly, almost audibly, to repent of the unbelief I’d inherited by omission. Not being QUITE sure what that actually meant, God expanded it: repent of the unbelief inherent in you from generations of churches that had never taught about the Holy Spirit. Boy, did I repent of THAT quickly… it’s in our culture. Which is what this lovely lady wrote in her note to me:
- Thank you for all the Lord used you to say. Having lived in South America for many years, I really was blessed by the stories, but also by what you said about repenting of inherited unbelief. I am also 60, and grew up in a church that was unexpectant. I will reject that unbelief. Thank you!
I reckon most of us need to repent of what we didn’t even know was there in us: generational unbelief, from what, 7, 8, 9, 10 generations? Since I did, that day, I’ve seen an increasing number of miracles happen in the UK and Europe. Maybe it’s just coincidence? I doubt it….