My apologies to anyone who has missed my blogs for a couple of weeks – apologies to both of you! ;-). One of the many things God has wanted me to learn in recent months and years, is this amazing thing called ‘rest’: I’ve said here before, I’m sure, that I didn’t really know what real rest was, I certainly had an inability to do it, thinking that it was a couple of days of only doing stuff at home before heading off again.
God beat me up over that one! I’ve had to ask him to teach me how to rest, showing me that it’s much more than sitting down for five minutes, pausing a dvd to go and do something else, returning to the dvd for 10 minutes before doing something else. You probably all know this, it’s only me – but having begun to learn the resting process, and its benefits, I have to say, I’ve never felt better in myself for many, many years. What’s more, every trip has been better and better, as I don’t begin it exhausted…. my greatest concern, as a life-long poor sleeper, was that, if I couldn’t sleep when I was so, so tired, how on earth would I sleep if I wasn’t tired. I’ve slept better this past year than at any time in my life.
So these few days, coming back from a busy, wonderful, whistle-stop tour of south east England, I’ve managed to keep pretty much ‘sacrosanct’…. My little study/office is upstairs, but of course with wi-fi, you can take your gadgets anywhere. I’ve learned to leave everything upstairs, so that when my phone rings, or Outlook makes a noise to say there’s new emails, I can’t hear it…. it’s wonderful! My landline phone is downstairs, but there’s this wonderful ‘filter’ called caller display and answering machines, my great mate Colin Enticknap often rings, and says, ‘So it seems the drawbridge is up again!’.
In England, I preached a few times – all really, really lovely meetings, and then I did something I should have done many times over the years, and intend to repeat it a few times a year now, as it was such a blessing. That was to start to visit people whom I know pray for me often: without them, I’d be completely powerless, and to visit people who support me, so that it isn’t just ‘newsletter & blog’ information for all of them. It gave me a chance to pray with them, too, and I was blessed out of my boots by everyone I saw. I’ll be doing it again, so if you didn’t see me last week, and would love a ‘catch-up’, send me an email, or a Facebook private message (not the profile/news feed!!), and I’ll sort something out with you. Guess the next trip will be the south and south-west, as logistically it’s difficult to go from Devon to Kent to Cornwall!!. Last week was also a lot of driving – I did over 1200 miles, but it was so worth it.
Some of the people I’d sort of allocated an amount of time I thought they’d a) want to see me for, b) only have time for, in a busy diary, and c) have other things crop up that would possibly shorten any longer time. Some, for whom I’d thought an hour/hour and a half – turned into 6-7 hours, so I think they were happy I was there!!
So, from Friday June 13, it was people…. lovely, long-time (30 years) friend Mary Long: it was Mary, and her recently gone to be his dad husband Denys, who were so wonderful during – and in the 29 years since – my time at a ministry training school, which is where we meet. Mary is just short of 90: one of those ‘breed’ of intercessors it is getting harder and harder to find. Then to Eastbourne, Addlestone, Bolney, Worthing, Maidstone, Pembury, Tonbridge, Cornwall, West Hoathly, Crawley, Worthing again, Eastbourne again, and back to Addlestone, where I leave my ‘England’ car, to fly back back on the first flight Tuesday morning.
It was – for me, and I hope the people there! – lovely to speak at King’s Church, Addlestone, led by my lovely friends Richard and Louise Fox. I’ve been involved with them since around 1986: it blows my mind to think I’ve known the church 28 years, and they STILL want me back! :). A few came forward to ask for prayer for healing: Mike Tricker, who got saved THROUGH Facebook after conversations with my my friend Hugh Southon (all you ‘anti social network people take note!! – I’ve prayed, in writing, for people on Facebook and Skype, and they’ve been healed), had only been a Christian 5 weeks. Deaf in one ear, only 40% hearing in the other, began a process of healing (we all want to se the instant miracle, but God doesn’t always do it that way) that will continue: here’s what he wrote to me:
- Paul since our prayer I think my ear has got a bit better and my thinking a about it a 100 times better
Clear thinking, and a measure of healing have got to be worthwhile! A lady, Marjorie, had long-time chronic back pain from half way down her back to her pelvis. I think at first she was reticent to say it had gone in case it came back(!), but later on, she told me the pain had gone completely.
I won’t go through a list of all the people I saw – it’d mean nothing to 99% of you! – but the opportunity to pray again for my lovely friends David & Gail, David with cancer everywhere (he’s a doctor, so it must be so much worse to know what’s going on, and to – taking God out of the equation – what happens next. I love David & Gail dearly, and I’m still praying, even more since the joy of spending more time with you than we’ve ever had! A lovely lady, Barbara, also with cancer, came to their home: and I think we’re all in faith – and believing – that she WILL be totally restored.
I spent some lovely time with Martin & Dave, Elders of The Vine Church, Maidstone: it was good to get to know them better, and Martin & I, along with my great mate Brian Louden, who’s in their church, went to pray for Will, a 9 year old with really serious Class 1 diabetes. The faith level, as we prayed, was high: and wait to see what God did, but more, what he is doing, and what he does….
Seeing my sister and brother in law, Vivien and Derek, was lovely: it’s worth the drive to almost as far as you can go in Cornwall to see them. My concerns about holiday traffic and Cornwall (notoriously famous!) were unfounded: as was my thought that it was the Glastonbury Rock Festival weekend. that WOULD have been a nightmare on the the A303!! It’s this weekend, fortunately!
On to West Sussex, to some of my best friends anywhere – Nick & Sarah Harding (the ones who named their second son Ralph Bennison Harding, last year: well, in middle
English, and in French – the verb benir – Benison means blessing…. a lovely thought, but doubtless inappropriate where I’m concerned!!). Nick had got their pastor, a great guy, Phil Johnston, to invite me to preach at their church, Crawley Elim. A wonderful church, fantastic worship, the presence of God there in bucketloads, naff preacher, but God still deigned to turn up for the ministry time…. he’s so faithful to me…. loads of people came forward for prayer. People play tricks on the pray-er, as they sit where they were until the queue’s almost gone, then come and bump it back to a large number again! Just as you think you’re almost through, you get a double blessing! I prayed for so many, three who testified in the evening to being healed (and a lot who didn’t testify!) – to be perfectly honest, there were so many I can’t remember what I prayed, and for who….. if you read this, and you were healed, can you tell me your story in a Facebook message or email, and whether or not you’d be willing to let me put it on here, and in the testimonies page, please? Nick, Sarah, Phil….if you know of anyone, let me know, would you?
The meeting had begun at 11 am, and I left the church with dear Phil, his lovely wife Elaine, and Nick, at 4.15 pm…. to be back there at 7 pm, for a specially organised and advertised healing meeting. The church was, again, pretty full, but I was blessed that some great praying friends – Sasha, Brian, Myrtle, Alex, Karla, Dave & Carol…and any I’ve missed out!… had come, so the praying ‘load’ was lightened as they, and people from the church, prayed. Many were healed, including a couple, Rod and Laura, not-yet-convinced-Christians, the mum and step dad of Christine, one of the brilliant group of people Phil has got together: her husband, Paul, is one of the worship
leaders, and had led in the morning.
I’d seen Laura from the front: boy, did she look ill, pain lines in her ‘drawn’ face, and a real fear in her eyes. She almost had to be carried to the front for prayer: and, as I asked her what her name is, and what’s wrong, a genuine fearful near-hysteria began, she was shaking like she had extreme Parkinson’s disease….I just held her hands and prayed for God’s peace and presence to impact her, and, as I began to pray, we (about 10 people around, including Paul & Christine) just watched the transformation. Here’s what Christine wrote to me this week, with her mum and step dad’s permission: (it really is quite amazing, and remember, it’s not me writing this bit, for any who think it’s been ’embellished’!! and Laura asked me not to include the swear words!!!):
- Was such a blessing to be in Gods presence, what a great eve it was. Still buzzing! So the sharing;
- Paul B firstly prayed for my Mum who has physical illness in the form of cancer and secondary issues from chemo and rheumatoid arthritis causing her much pain. More impacting than this was probably her spiritual/emotional self which has always been fragile at best, and psychotic at worst. My step dad and mum have been having marital problems for years, they almost live in separate halves of the house – mum in the bedroom never getting up and dad downstairs with his list of jobs. Needless to say it didn’t work for either of them. My step dad turned more and more to alcohol and has had repeated debt issues so the resentment between them was tangible. As they arrived at my house to come to the meeting they couldn’t be in the same room together!
- The prayers Paul and his pal prayed with mum centred around her physical healing and encouragement that the years that the enemy had taken would be restored. She, with guidance told the devil to do one (go ‘off’ somehwere, preceded by a usual word of four letters, including an ‘f’! – not in so many words 😉 ) and you could literally see her face change to relax and her body stopped physically shaking and was still. She had been sitting beside me for the previous hour with extreme stomach pain and that disappeared. She has since told me she had the best nights sleep in years!
- Paul then prayed for my step dad (while Mum practically skipped round the church) and prayed about there being no condemnation in Christ and he listened to his confessions and encouraged him to repent and let it go and he was really released from that bondage of failure.
- So we watch this space with excitement! Although both have prayed the salvation prayer before I don’t believe they were baptised in the spirit and that night I know they had a wonderful encounter with Jesus. That in itself will encourage them jointly but in the prayer and the stripping away of that root of bitterness that was entwined in them personally and in their marriage I believe that it was dug up and throw well and truly out! Hurrah.
What the enemy had spent many years destroying, God put it all back together in next to no time…. he’s so amazing. It was such a privilege to see what he did for Laura and Rod, and many others….
So, the 7pm meeting ‘ended’ at 00.15am! – but when God’s moving, time is immaterial, and for me, after a day like that, the adrenaline is still pumping….but staying at Nick & Sarah’s for a couple of nights was a real blessing, too: their two sons, Milo and Ralph, are adorable…..and another bairn is on the way in the not to distant future!
Monday, and more people – with the opportunity to pray for a lovely lady, Janie, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer. My dear friend Phillip, with whom I was having coffee with (in theory – it turned into lunch!), asked if we could pray for her. It was a wonderful time: no instant ‘it’s gone’ words from Janie, but in my spirit, I’m so sure that God is well in process healing her: sending the Holy Spirit to the ‘new body parts warehouse’ in heaven for a new pancreas for her.
With a visit to Eastbourne after that, it was then back to Addlestone to give the car a bit of breather, and me too, for a 4 am wake-up to get to Heathrow.
Thursday, I had the real joy of having lunch with Ronnie and Janece: the lady with cancer everywhere, with whom I had the privilege of praying 3 weeks ago, at St Hilda’s Church, Seymour Hill (Dunmurry). Even over that first weekend, the transformation in Janece was obvious to everyone: this week, not unrecognisable but huge changes in her face and, it seems, in her body. The major problem she has now is from a spinal surgery to remove lesions and insert titanium rods. I’m praying that God dissolves the steel, totally removes all pain, again sending the Holy Spirit to the warehouse for a new spine….
They then took me round to her mu and dad: mum home that morning from the hospice, neither of them saved, but, because of the transformation they’d seen in Janece, were happy for me to go and pray for them. That, too, was a lovely time, and I’m looking forward to hearing more and more as the story of the miracle unfolds.
Tomorrow, I’m speaking at a small home church, for people who’d never been seen dead in a church, in what would, during Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’, have been a bit of a troubled area. So looking forward to seeing what God’s going to do there!
And then – (trumpet fanfare!!) – Thursday evening, over to Heathrow, Friday….CALI, COLOMBIA!! Yeah!!!! With a great team….of the 5 going with me, the nearest in age to me is 28 years younger! – but it’s likely that my lovely friend Beny Osorio, from Mexico City, will arrive on the 15th, so the gap will then only be 24 years! It’s going to be a great trip, I know it: the enemy’s already tried to sideline Peter McAvoy, who tore his meniscus (cartilage in his knee – join the club mate!!) during the week. The doctors told him to rest it for some weeks, but they don’t know Pete…. 🙂 Nothing’s gonna stop us now…. thank you for that song, Grace Slick, and Jefferson Starship!!
Doubtless, there’ll be blogs most days, even if it’s 2 in the morning….