This morning, it was a very real privilege to go to a home-church, on what was, during the awful days of Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’, a ‘difficult’ estate, and in many ways still is: and to hear just how a vision and a dream from God, motivated one man initially, and now many more, to bring change to the whole community. It’s been 15 years in the making: and it seems that last week, much happened that will now jettison the church forward in transforming that community.
Some lovely people there: but the reality, I guess, is that if you told any one of them that they’d ‘worship’ in the same meeting as the others, they’d have done rather more than tell you that you are mad, as they were on opposite sides of the battle….. How God can change people!!! It’s wonderful. Part of the reason I was there is because the original visionary, who was once deeply involved in the troubles, was at the meeting I spoke at a few weeks ago, in St Hilda’s church, where I told the story of how God has opened doors in Cali into favelas and cartels….
It was a joy to be with them: prayed for a few people, I have no intention of mentioning any names(!), and for one man, with COPD, I really believe that in the morning he’ll wake up breathing like he’s not breathed in a long time. One couple, who totally thrilled my heart and spirit, are sensing that God’s telling them to sell up, and be ready to move: with no thought of not being ‘willing’ to part with the things that many people crave for, like their house…. I guess when you’ve seen one side of a very radical lifestyle, jumping into God’s radical lifestyle is somewhat easier, but in the UK, home ownership is like the holy grail to many. One of the reasons people, especially Africans, grasp the immense truth and freedom of God’s supernatural, as they grew up with witch doctors, wizards, and the like, who DO have power, but nothing compared to God’s power.
After the meeting ended, the husband of this couple had a word from God for me, one that confirmed what I believe is my future…. there’s an old Irish folk song, made famous by The Dubliners and The Pogues, ‘Wild Rover’. It was only those two words that were relevant, as he said that God is equipping me to keep on – and on – being a wild rover. Man, does that excite me!! Wilder, and more roving than ever, is my prayer…. and going into places that others might fear to go, and seeing increasingly the sort of stuff in process with my friend Dario, in Colombia. Perhaps I’ll change my name to Wild Rover….or rename my website ‘wildrover.com’!
It’s wonderful to receive prophetic words: but there’s something even more powerful receiving them from people who don’t know you….. 20-30 years ago, I was always ‘desperate’ to be prophesied over. I remember one meeting, I think it was in the Guildhall, Guildford, in England: I have no recollection of what my desperation to hear from God was: I just remember being on the front row, nice and prominent, with anticipation rising as the person speaking began to prophesy: he went along the front row, seemed to have a word for everyone, including the person on my left…. I could hardly wait for his word to be over with, and….. he missed me out, and prophesied over the person on my right hand side. I only remember feeling devastated, and that God had forgotten me. He hadn’t, of course…. 🙂
Some of you might remember the lovely Charles Slagle, who used to come to the UK a lot in the ’80’s. Charles had a unique way (among many unique ways!) of getting people wearing a certain colour to stand up, and he’d prophesy over all of them. In the ‘early’ meetings, hearing Charles, I NEVER had the right colour on. It got to a point where I must have looked like Joseph, in his technicolour dreamcoat…. I wore every colour imaginable, including multi-coloured socks and boxers. And I STILL never had the right colour…
Then, one evening, when I wasn’t expecting – and didn’t think I needed – a prophetic word. I got one. One that, then, I patently didn’t want! It was that I was going to be a missionary, travelling the globe, praying for the sick. I come from a somewhat ‘parochial’ family – generations of them – and I really DIDN’T want to hear that. Eight more prophecies, in 6 weeks, all saying the same thing, finally had me caving in, telling God, though, that I’d only do it for a year, and NEVER to Africa or India…. history, if ever I wrote an autobiography, would show that within 12 hours of saying ‘yes’ – as it was clear that God wasn’t going to shut-up – I’d got an invitation to Ghana…..the rest, as the say, is history….
So, to get one when you’re not expecting one, is wonderful: especially as some people keep reminding me that I’m only 3½ years short of receiving an old-age pension. You’ll laugh, but when I left the bank I worked for for 9½ years, my pension ‘pot’ was the princely sum of £520 a year. I wondered, even back then, in 1979, just what I do with that £10 a week….! A pension buy-out from the bank made it look a little healthier – until the recession. My £520 a year is now £39 a year. Got any suggestions as to what I can splash out my 75 pence a week on??!! So, to spend the rest of my days as a Wild Rover is a great blessing: and, as I had no doubt it WAS a word from God, it means that my knees have a much better future to look forward to, than they’ve had over the last 9-10 years! The rest of the ‘Wild Rover’ song is irrelevant: the reason why it came up today, is because in the 1982 World Cup, Northern Ireland had played, and won a key match – Gerry Armstrong got a good goal – their team, and remember that this was the HEIGHT of the troubles, was from both sides of the religious divide, and apparently, after the match, Armstrong played the song with the whole team singing. Unity in the middle of violence…. not dissimilar to some parts of Cali….
In fact, last Sunday, in Crawley Elim church, I received a prophetic word from Christine, the daughter of Laura, who was so radically blitzed by God in the evening meeting. Her word was equally encouraging: Phil, their pastor, had preached recently about ‘Pillars’ – leaders/ministers/government officials/teachers, in Kingdom ministry whatever their ‘job description’:
- people in a responsible position for potential change. I felt a nudge to be sure to pray for Paul before he started praying for the masses, to remind him that he is a pillar, I really felt God wanted to encourage him and do some ‘pillar maintenance’!
I’d never met Christine until she came with her mum, for Laura to be prayed for. I’m totally up for pillar maintenance from God! (It was definitely pillar, and not pillock, any of you who think I might have got it wrong!). I know a few pillocks of the church….Adrian Plass writes wonderfully in one of his books about them!
Truthfully, I have no plans – or desire – to retire: and another 35 years like the 35 I’ve had, and am still in, will be wonderful!
Thank you, all you lovely people who were there this morning, and welcomed the little bloke with the very obvious accent like an old friend…..