After another period of silence (!), at last – a blog! These past days have been a time where I’ve had to let my right knee recover 🙁 – it probably didn’t sound much when I blogged that a child on the ferry had kicked my right ankle sideways, but if you’ve got duff knees, or if you’re a medic, you’ll know that even the slightest tweak can be pretty damaging. It’s still very painful, but I’m looking at getting back on the road again in the very near future.
Why ‘Celebration Day’? January 18th, 1979, was the day of my last-ever salary payment, so it’s 36 years ago today I could last expect money to be in my account. The people who keep up to date with my goings on will know that the last 2-3 months have been a time where, I know, God has been testing me – once again – in the area of finance: I never mind when God wants me to work out if I’m in a comfort zone: it becomes a bit of a problem because, in my experience, the enemy rides on the back of what you’re going through and does his utmost to make it worse. But – 36 years is – to me at least – an amazing testimony to God’s goodness, his fulfilled promises, and his commitment to every one of us. Here’s to the next 36 years!!
It’s been right to be at home: it’s strange, but it’s easier to live on ‘nothing’ – or very, very little – at home, than it is when you’re away. I timed my return home to coincide with having Christmas in the warm, as I already had oil for the central heating, and a pile of dry logs in the garage! And – two or three days after I got home – Boxing Day here in the U.K. – the temperature plummeted in Romania, one night ‘peaking’ at -38 Celsius! That’s ‘don’t expose your nose and fingers’ cold, real frostbite temperature. It’s my plan to go back to Romania in a couple of weeks, if God provides: then I’m doing some speaking in England and Scotland towards the end of February and into March, prior to heading to Colombia right at the end of March.
It’s a significant time in Romania, especially as I do seem to get involved with young people: and they’ve just had a change of President. Why would those two things be significant? Well, the under 25’s are the first generation that never lived under or during the reign of the evil dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Their revolution began on December 16th, and ended, effectively, with the ‘execution’ (were he and his wife really executed? Who knows?) on Christmas Day, 1989. I arrived with a gang of guys and six trucks on February 4th, 1990, so have pretty much been involved with the nation since it’s ‘freedom’. The significance of the change of President is immeasurable. Every predecessor of the new leader was, like Ceausescu, corrupt, and ended up very, very rich. The new man, Klaus Ioahannis, is Romanian-German, and, I understand, a born again Christian, a Lutheran: his mandate is, among many other things, to rid Romania of its ‘corrupt’ reputation. He’ll do it. As Mayor of the city I’m based in when I’m there, now, Sibiu, he transformed it from a typical Romanian city – grey, and somewhat bleak, into one that was the European City of Culture in 2007.
I believe that the young people, together with a Christian President, can change the nation. So I’m really excited for a country that I love: a country I’ve been to 130 times now, and seen God do some lovely things, but have always longed for a ‘Colombia’ experience to the story of my visits there. I feel God’s told me that I should spend more time there each visit than previously – I’d often go for a ‘long weekend’ – Thursday to Monday, as, compared to some of the distances I go, to go to Romania is like an afternoon ride out in the car (well, plane!!). I long to be see God fulfil the promise, ‘Ask of me and I WILL give you the nations as an inheritance’ for Romania.
I’d value your prayers as I begin my 37th year of ministry, and living, trusting God for pretty much everything. One thing God has spoken to me, and through godly friends too, is that I should ‘make my needs known’ – believe me, I hate doing that, it’s been something I’ve baulked at for all of the 36 years that have passed – as the ‘church’ did in Acts 2. It’s a real dilemma – or has been, and I’ve chosen to walk on through it and ignore it – as there are many who tell me to share my needs, and others, who, when I do, tell me I’m not trusting God anymore… If you’re in the second group, then in future ignore the end of my newsletters! If you’re in the first group, it might help you to know how to pray. My immediate need is to see the enemy get his fists out of my finances (here’s an example! – I’ve been in this house for 5½ years now: in 2014, I was pretty much in Romania from mid-September to late December, so a whole ‘quarter’ for utilities bills. I had the biggest electricity bill I’ve had in my time here, and I wasn’t here. If it didn’t involve a ‘battle’, it’d be quite funny!). Because of my knees still being in their pre-healed state (!!), I really could do with a car there, that’s why I drove last time, and will drive next time. But it is a long way – from here in Northern Ireland to Sibiu, it’s about 2,000 miles each way. I’d better not tell you how quickly I drove there last time, as you might not speak to me again! The mitigating circumstances though are the ‘no speed limit’ autobahns in Germany and Austria! Taxis are notorious for ‘ripping off’ foreigners: public transport in general a real ‘challenge’ when you don’t speak the language, and it seems I’m going to be involved in other cities, too: and, of course, they drive on the ‘wrong’ side there (we drive on the right of the car, so it’s right, surely??!).
Thank you for your love, prayers, support, and encouragement. I appreciate it and value it more than you’ll ever know. God’s also hinted that I should do more newsletters a year than my usual two: only one last year in fact, as it tends to be long, and regular communication will be better, and I’ll use the blog as always when things are worth writing about other than what I had for dinner!