Where do I start to summarise the trip to Cali, Colombia, that ended last week….? It’s so hard to know: and I’m very aware, especially for those of you who have received (and hopefully read!) my newsletters that come out twice a year, that always I say about Cali – ‘the last trip was the best one ever!’ 52 visits to Cali, over 17-18 years, and 64 all told to Colombia, I’d quite understand if some think it’s just hype, but honestly, it isn’t. It’s one of the many reasons I love to take people with me, especially people who’ve been more than once. It’s impossible to ‘pull the wool over the eyes’ of a whole group of people who’ve been there with you, and on earlier visits.
My great friend, Chris Spark, was with me for the third time, on this trip: here’s his comment on my Facebook page on 22 April (he had to leave on the 18th, as he’s a
Maths teacher, and school started on 21st! – I wish he’d been MY maths teacher, I might have got ‘O’ level before the 5th attempt if he had – only two grade 9’s in there – the bottom fail grade!):
- Chris Spark Fantastic in every way Paul. I will always be grateful for the impact being with you in Cali has had on me. As with previous years I won’t make any rash promises about future visits, but like you, Cali and its people are in my heart forever, and I can’t imagine that it will be too long before I come asking you again if you have a space for me on your team!
Considering that the team was drawn from 5 countries (if you count me as being from Northern Ireland!) – Mexico, France, Holland, England – it took absolutely no time to ‘gel’, and it was a joy to have the biggest team I’ve taken for some years, all honouring each other, and having wonderful times in churches, and a lot of fun in between. Beny, from Mexico, was with me in Cali last Easter, but Chris apart, the others were all first-timers. When you go on a trip like that, you go earnestly wanting to bless the people you go to: what normally happens is that YOU get blessed far, far more than you could ever bless. Back in 1987, I discovered (in Hong Kong, so I couldn’t back out!) that I was taking teams and Bibles into China. My heart then, once I’d asked God to deal with the fear and the nerves, was to bless the poor, persecuted Christians in that country. When I left China for final time on that trip, I realised that I’d ‘met’ a God I didn’t even know, a God who raised the dead (I’d met two ex-dead ladies on my first visit), and came back to the UK absolutely blitzed by the God of the Chinese, for whom nothing – absolutely nothing – is impossible….
Here’s what my lovely French friends, Gerard, Elisa, and Lydie, said, when they wrote to me at the weekend:
- We did enjoy very much this time together with you. We would love to join next Easter, God willing.
Hundreds of people, literally, received instant miracles, from long-term pain going, to steel disappearing in one lady’s ankle, to deaf ears opening, to lame people walking, to nearly-blind eyes seeing perfectly, to cancers going….hundreds, maybe into 4 figures, more, saw their healing process begin, and a number receiving salvation….I won’t repeat all the stories I’ve blogged, don’t worry! – but the blogs are pretty much just what I saw God do: there were six others who have countless stories of their own….
Two MAJOR highlights, for me:
- My friend, Dario, becoming an even closer friend, and blowing me away with his saying ‘I KNOW that God IS my Father’: that’s revelation, and it’s only something you know about, or know to SAY, when you’ve encountered and given your life to Jesus…. yes, he still has his ‘businesses’, but in that culture, and having been born into that lifestyle, you can’t just STOP, until the day that you also know that God is your protector.
- Daniella, 13 years old, healed in November of asthma, a major degenerative eye condition, and chronically (from birth) flat feet…. Seeing her in her church last week, without glasses, having had no asthma attack for 5 months, and with perfectly sculptured feet, was wonderful: asking her to pray with me, for people,
something she’d never done…..among the first for prayer was small child, born with chronically flat feet (!), and saying to Daniella, ‘You pray
for this one!’, and seeing her face as she did what I did with her in November, taking the child’s shoe off of the first foot, and seeing the arches form even as the shoe came off. She erupted in tears, of amazement and shock, and again when the same thing happened with the other foot…. Then her mum, with the same eye condition, but not quite so bad as Daniella’s had been, came to us. I told her it’d be lovely if she prayed for her mum: again did what I did with her 5 months back, and mum getting her sight back instantly….
Perhaps the steel plate and screws going from Eva’s ankle should be in there, too! – oh, and Ana Beiba being healed of cancer, for the second time (November 2011, God removed a huge brain tumour, which she felt go: just as she did the tumour in her throat two weeks ago….
Amazing, astonishing, astounding, Almighty God…. who uses the weak and foolish, thankfully, as I’m both of those: and who, because of Jesus, seats us in Heavenly places, with a position, in His eyes, that will always be greater than our performance.
Thank you, Father God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit.
And thank you Gerard & Elisa Zeiltjens, Lydie, Beny Osorio, Danny Ortiz, Chris Spark…. even greater thanks to my dear friends, Rev Dr William Castaño, andPastor Wilmar Gomez, for such a great, organised programme, stress-free because of them, and additional thanks to them for trusting me, and the teams I take to Cali, to be in churches that I’d never know about. And thank you, all of you, who read, prayed, and encouraged me, and the team, over the three weeks we were there. God bless each of you, outrageously…..