How do I begin the story of the last six weeks…? Well, those weeks have encompassed tow major trips, to Cali – which I blogged for up to a point – and Latvia. I’m now home, returned from Latvia late Friday night. Both trips were great – in very different ways: Cali, in fact, was utterly outstanding, in terms of what God did, the team I had with me, in its impact, and its transformation of all of us who were there. I’ll make a separate entry for some of the stories of miracles and healings since the last blog from Cali on 21 July. This is a ‘why I’ve been so silent’ blog, really….
It was the youngest team I’ve ever taken on a major mission: two 21 year old young ladies – Carly and Grace: a 23 year old young man, Peter: and a slightly the down-side of 30 young lady, Caroline, from France. Every one of them were quite outstanding in everything they did, and bearing in mind they’d never been to Latin America, they’d never prayed in quite the way you pray there for healing, they’d never preached (as in stood up in a church and shared what God has put on their hearts), they’d never prophesied, they’d never an instant miracle… I could go on! They did – and saw – ALL of those things, and were hungry for more increasingly as the trip went on. None of them wanted to leave, which is always my sentiment with Cali: it bites you, and you become infected with a love for the city, a love for the people, and a desperation for more and more and more from God…
If the next ‘phase’ of my ministry life – assuming God lets me live to do it! – is to take 4/5/6 people who return to their homes and churches utterly radicalised (to use a well-used current word more associated with young men returning from Syria!), then I’ll be happy…fulfilled…. if I can open doors for people like the guys I took last month, then I’d rather be a door-opener to the places where God moves than to stay at home in ‘relative’ comfort… I don’t, for one minute, believe that’s ALL God has ahed for me: I still love to preach (though I don’t have a ‘need’ to preach – people who do make me cautious!!), I love to pray for the sick, the dying, and yes, the dead; I love to prophesy, though I know I’m NOT a prophet…
This thing about titles, particularly those given to a person by them self – is a major problem for me… I believe we CAN ALL move in all the gifts, all the ministries, but Paul made in clear in ! Corinthians 13, that all can prophesy, but not all are prophets…that applies to every gift and ministry, I believe. Yes, of course there ARE prophets, teachers, etc., but do we need to call ourselves that name? No. The New Testament doesn’t have ‘Son of God’ before every mention of Jesus: it doesn’t refer to ‘Apostle’ Peter, Paul, etc. My lovely young team functioned in pretty much every gift, every ministry… and they are still Carly, Grace, Caroline, and Peter. And I’m just the ‘Jack of all trades’ Jobsworth who has a crack at everything…..I pray God will continue to let me be ‘just’ Paul, the Kingdom of Heaven jobsworth….
I’m sure you get bored with writing (as I do every newsletter!) that the last trip to Cali was the best ever: well, it was again. It was also a trip where the interventions, and the attempted interventions of the enemy were tangible and strong….
- First night: four men shot dead (so, so loud the guns) just a few yards from the apartment… 7 in all in the immediate area of the apartment, which is unheard of in that particular district of the city. Whilst you know that YOU are safe, it’s a little unnerving to be woken by gunfire….
- The awful situation I encountered the night before leaving for Cali – if i COULD write it here, you’d understand why I CAN’T write it here….
- The repercussions of that situation, that prompted me to offer NEVER to go back to Colombia again, as I was the leader of A team there during which something went so, so wrong… offering to William Castaño, perhaps the most highly regarded Bible Teacher in the country, whom I have the privilege of knowing, who organises what I and my teams do there, and the pastor of a church, telling them that I took full responsibility for what had happened… I just thank God neither of them would accept my ‘resignation’
- Our apartment wasn’t broken into: there was no sign of force, so it must have been someone with a key: but all the money of the Irish trio was stolen (and it was all the money they had to live on for their time there…
- Just after the Irish had arrived, I experienced something I don’t really want to experience again (Carly ‘blogged’ it for me on 13 July). I knew what was going on, in my head, but I also didn’t want to worry them unduly: so when it had ‘passed’ I put it down to dehydration, but I knew, and my lovely friends Lee & Katie, both doctors, both been with me to Cali, got in touch almost instantly to confirm what I’d suspected (knew??) that I’d had a T.I.A – a transient ischaemic attack, or in layman’s words, a minor stroke… thank God nothing more, since…
and on the POSITIVE side….!!
- A mass of instant miracles, a mass of wonderful healings – too many of both to a) remember, and b) report, more people receiving salvation than on any other trip, I think…certainly in recent history
- The affirmation of William Castaño, as far as me, and teams I take with me, is concerned: he is such a gracious man. William runs a Bible School for people who can’t afford to go to one of the institutional Bible Schools. He runs them ‘in-situ’, so the pastors don’t even have the cost of travelling. You finish his school with a degree every bit as good – if not better – that the conventional schools. On the way to the meeting with the pastor at the heart of the ‘saga’ mentioned, William asked me if I’d speak to the Pastor’s Bible School: if ever I needed affirmation, that was it. He was so generous in his spirit….it was a great morning, with about 25 pastors present, and I prayed for 13, all of them healed instantly, which was very kind of God!! It’s resulted in seven invitations to preach in churches I’ve never been to before…. Thank you, dear William, for your wisdom, your big – no, massive – heartedness, and your kindness, in affirming me in the best way possible, and for wanting me – still – to bring teams of great, great people to Cali….
- Some great new relationships built with pastors ‘new’ to me, which will have a roll-on effect into the future
- The opportunity, with William and Wilmar Gomez, to go to many people’s homes to pray: including some of William’s relatives, the family of a lady who is also a renowned Bible scholar – prayed for her mum earlier in the year, when sh’ed been paralysed and hadn’t walked, or even turned in bed, for months – she walked, and this time God healed her arthritis and began the healing of ulcerated varicose veins in her legs: all the other family members were healed, too.
- I’m grateful to God that in our total weakness, His strength is made perfect… during the day-times, and for every visit, church, preach, that I had to do, I felt a new anointing, a new power, freedom – call it what you will… and it WAS out of weakness, as the moment my head hit the pillow, the ‘saga’ hit me, and I couldn’t sleep (gunshots don’t help too much in that respect either!). I worked out that, over the 24 I was there, I slept for no more than 50 hours….so to get up and go, with the strength I needed, is testimony to God’s promise, that His strength is made perfect in my weakness
- To see the guys on my team around the bed of one of Ana Beiba’s ‘babies’ – an old gentleman I reckoned to be in his late 70’s – praying for God to raise him from the dead, was an extremely powerful moment(I recall – might be wrong, but think I’m right) that most if not all of them had seen a dead body: certainly never prayed for resurrection…). God spoke to Pete, and, like me on previous occasions, really didn’t want to do what God told him to do: so he kept quiet in the hope that God had got it wrong! Then God said the same thing to me, about 5 minutes later, only it wasn’t for me, it was for one of the team (and I suspected it would be Pete!) that one of us should lie next to deceased man, arm touching arm… Pete’s face when I said it was a picture(!) and he told us that God had told him to just that…BLESS HIM!!!! – he did it. As I sat and watched Pete become covered in the flies that were all over the dead man, I wondered just how many older ‘grown-ups’ would have done what Pete did that day. All God requires is obedience: and Pete obeyed. It’s not his job – nor mine – nor the team’s job – to bring a dead man back to life: we all know it’s impossible humanly, so when we obey, God honours US (amazing, eh?!) in that obedience: and whatever the outcome, the faith of ALL of us rose that day, ready for the next one…
- We all saw the dear man’s chest ventilate, and some movement in his facial muscles. I know all corpses still move, expel air, but this was MORE than that: I’ve seen enough corpses now to know the difference. He didn’t come to life there and then – my limited (only!) personal experience of the dead coming to life was after God told me I had to leave the room, then He’d do the rest. As dear Ana had already gone (to the funeral home for the funerals of four other ‘babies’), it seemed to me that God – if the man was to come back to life – would cause it to happen when Ana came home from the funerals, as a blessing un the middle of her very, very obvious grief at losing another baby…. guess I won’t know that until I’m back there in October…
- Better still was that, in April, Ana looked dreadful: her voice almost gone, lost much weight yet with a bulging stomach, her face ‘drawn’, hollow, and ‘pinched… she had been diagnosed with cancer (God healed her of a massive brain tumour my first ever visit to her 3-4 years ago). Now it had returned with a vengeance – in her oesophagus, throat, and stomach….2 months out of the 3 prognosed (is that a word??) by the oncologists, left: she felt the tumour in her throat go, instantly, and once again, began to sing spontaneous worship and praise songs to Jesus. Two weeks before I arrived (July 4), she’d been given the total ‘all-clear’ by oncolgists, including the cancer in her stomach, and she was the Ana Beiba I’ve come to love so dearly, laughing, singing, hugging (the neck hug from behind, which I got this last visit could provide the next next corpse to be raised from the dead!!
- Having the utter privilege of being able to tell Ana Beiba that a substantial amount of money had been pledged to (as I thought then) complete the building of two extra storeys on top of the house purchased last year: her grief at the loss of five babes was wonderfully mixed with joy, laughter, praying, singing, as she knew then that she could take around another 80 unwanted, abandoned old people… The cost of the building did change a bit: it needed extra strengthening, and, as is always a problem with projects in other countries, the exchange had gone against us (approximately 10% more than I originally calculated), also the cost of the materials was affected because of the exchange rate, and a further £5500 for the additional work. Her joy was uncontainable….
- I’ll doubtless cover this in the ‘healings and miracles’ blog, but in one church , that I’ve visited many times now, as the prayer time began at the end of the service, a lovely lady, Astrid, came to say thank you… thank you, because in April, she was dying with cancer, it was my joy that day to pray for her. She has subsequently been TOTALLY cleared by the medics – no cancer anywhere….thanking God with her, she then told me that it was the seventh time I’d prayed for her for cancers in different places each time (I’ve a feeling she was the ‘pechuga’ lady…if you want to know what that’s about, message me and I’ll tell you!!), and God healed her every time… she looks a picture of health now, so thank you, thank, thank you Jesus!!!!
- Meeting, through William, two great guys from the States, Latinos, who have a Bible University that William is hooking into, as well as leading a large church: Jorge and Victor. Jorge asked me a lot about what I do, so I tried in my most non-verbose style(!!) to ‘nutshell’ it: Jorge wants me at their church, and in other churches, to bring mission back on the church agenda, so this may be my ‘door’ for getting back to the USA…
- And…. it’s amazing that in the middle of so many miracles, one of the major talking points in churches I’ve been to before, was the amount of weight that I’ve lost!! I won’t go so far as to say they didn’t recognise me, but there was much astonishment, to say the least! I’m delighted, of course, as I’ve now lost a tad short of 7½ stones, just over 100 pounds for my American friends, and 46 kilos for the rest of the world!! I’ve lost the weight some young people I know weigh!!! Thank you God for that, and to my doctor friend, Joel Isaias, in Mexico City….
When the bad news hit me, it massively impacted not just my mind, but my spirit and my body too: hence the sleepless nights, and a real sense that the enemy had wanted to ‘sideline’ me, and, when not busy, I know I was in a pit of despair. I don’t want to denigrate depression, by saying I had it, but I do know that I had to fight and fight not to just ‘collapse’ into a breakdown, depression…whatever you want to call it. Hence, the silence, as for the past 6 weeks I’ve been gradually reaching the the top of the pit, and can once again think more clearly. The issue hasn’t gone away: it’s just that God – I know – has given me the weaponry to fight back, and win…..