When God first dragged me kicking and screaming out of what had been a promising banking career in 1979, with me arguing vehemently with him for the previous 4 years, that I wouldn’t leave and go into full-time Christian ministry, there were a number of things I felt that He told me, when I finally realised he wasn’t going to shut up nagging me! ‘Trust me, for your home, security, and income. You’re never to charge preaching ‘fees’, don’t seek big ‘platforms’ (the big conferences, etc). Go to the poor, those who can’t afford the ‘fee-chargers’, and those to who the big names won’t go, because it’s non-remunerative…’ and, I’d add, not always comfortable, another reason for people not going!! God’s call to me was so clear: and Matthew 10: 7-8 is significant for me, in so many ways –
- 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
- 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
When you’ve worked for 9-10 years in ‘money’ – banking – it’s quite a tough call, to give up salary and benefits – which is why I argued with God for so long. I’d got a subsidised mortgage from 1975 (2½%, in an era where mortgages were 13-14% – yes, really!! – and to re-mortgage, which I had to do, it was ‘loaded’ by another 1.5%), cheap loans for cars, etc: and here’s God saying, ‘Quit, leave your salary behind, you’re not going to get one: yes, your mortgage will increase by 600%, but it’ll be ok…. Oh yes, and you’ll end up having massive expenses on airfares in the years ahead. Just trust me….’
Within 3 weeks of starting with Youth for Christ, my car engine blew up, with the sound of metal bits hitting the road… the only consolation was that it was a dire car! – an Austin Maxi 1750 cc (remember them? what gross brutes!!) , and getting aged – remember that wonderful ‘dung’ or ‘diahorrea’ colour that Maxis, Marinas, and Allegros were famous for? Well, that was my Maxi…. changing gear in a Maxi I always likened to stirring long-congealed rice pudding, with a seriously bent straw…
Within a week, after much frantic praying, God, through a lovely Brethren evangelist friend, gave me a less than a year old lovely Chrysler Alpine. God is no man’s debtor.
Somehow, 38 years on, it’s still happening. I don’t have a mortgage anymore – I don’t own a house! – that finally went at the end of 1983, when God said to use the equity to go through a Christian training centre for 9 months, to equip me for the next phase. Whether it DID equip me as much as I hoped, I don’t know: what I DO know is that God has been unbelievably faithful to his word to trust him, for home, security, and income.
I DO long to preach more in the United Kingdom and Europe: not because I feel that the worldwide travelling is coming to an end – just the opposite, in fact, but because I passionately want to see God do in our western world what he does in South America, Africa, India, the far east. But one of the ‘problems’ of staying under the radar, where I’ve always wanted to be – (I pray so often that I’ll NEVER want the spotlight; I actually find it hard when people do publicity about meetings I’m speaking at – especially if they’re advertised as ‘healing meetings’!) – but the ‘downside’ of that is that it’s almost impossible to get preaching invitations in the UK and Europe, because not too many people have heard of me! There are a handful of churches that I go to with some regularity, for which I’m really grateful. Unless, of course, lots of people HAVE heard of me, and just plain don’t want me…. 🙁 !!
I so want to see God break out in the ‘open heaven’ type environment that all who go with me, to Cali, recognise.
Somewhere inside I’m still the shy, insecure Cockney that I’ve always been. Every time I’m due to speak somewhere, I’m asking myself ‘What am I doing here?’, ‘Why did I say yes to this?’ – but because I know God’s told me it’s what I’d do – and he hasn’t rescinded it yet – once I start, I’m ok. But, like many people, it does me the power of good to have the sort of affirmations that I was so blessed – blown away – to receive, in Cali. I had wondered if, after, 20-21 years, I’d reached my shelf life there, my best before/use by date. I was totally humbled to have – I think – every pastor to whose church I went, all tell me, ‘this is your home, your house, please come back in July…..’ – and out of the honour I was blessed with, came the beginning of my own personal ‘knee miracle’ which is just so amazing, such an incredible blessing 🙂
I ummed-and-ahhed about posting here some of the things that were said to me in Cali, but I can’t do it. I hate ‘promoting’ me, even more I hate fund-raising for me (with a passion) though it is essential…having lost over £350 a month (a very large chunk of my regular support, I’d add) – all for good and valid reasons, 2 deaths, a redundancy, perfectly reasonable things like that. Stewardship, who are marvellous in the ministry that they have to people like me, processing support and claiming back the gift aid, suggest a minimum number of days a month to ‘support raising’ – if I’m honest, I can’t do that either! I have no problem in trying to raise support for people and projects that I’m involved with, like the current project for the street kids in Cali, and the El Abrigo Foundation, or for Dr Ana Bustos’s street kids project, Ana Beiba’s Abandoned Old People’s project, and so on.
Lots of people say they don’t support me because they’d be embarrassed – only £5 a month or so. You know something? 100 people giving £5 a month would be wonderful. I’ve got 3,500 ‘friends’ on Facebook: I have 2,000 on my own mailing list: 800+ who receive this blog by email: and, in the period of time I’ve been using this format for the blog, almost 70,000 have read it, and many say that they pass the email version on to other people. I pray that maybe 500 out of all those numbers (more than 75,000) might, just might, say that for the cost of a Costa Coffee or a Starbucks a month, they could revolutionise what I do!
I have such a passion to go to the poor: to see their lives (which make my life look grossly affluent) transformed, with practical, personal, and spiritual help, with healing, so that they don’t have to worry about not being to afford the doctor/surgery/medication. And I love that I’ve been able to facilitate a lot over the years, through the kindness of amazing people in the UK and elsewhere, like you, for dear Ana Beiba, for the El Abrigo Children’s Foundation, for the lovely Dr Ana Elisa Bustos, and others….
Should I charge for what I do? NO, most certainly not. God said no, and in 39 years, I haven’t: I’m still alive, still breathing, still travelling, and hardly anorexic! (Though in truth I don’t eat a great deal, I have the metabolism of a dying slug!!). God’s been a faithful provider, not ALWAYS when I’d like to schedule the provision, but always when he knows I need it.
If I did charge, I’d never go, because many places couldn’t even begin to afford even the accommodation, let alone the cost of getting there: so God knew where I’d be at 38-39 years ‘down the line’ when he said that I was never to charge. How on earth would people in Colombia, Romania, Africa, India, the far east, and other places (which will be back on the agenda in the coming years), ever be able to finance a trip? The airfare to Colombia alone is about 15 times what most Colombians earn in a month. I find it hard enough when, in a desperately poor church, that sometimes they want to give me the offering. I try and refuse it, but it offends them if you do. It might be the Colombian peso equivalent of £2-3. It means more to me than a lot of other gifts, I’m sure you can understand that!!
Obviously, I can’t ‘invite’ myself to other churches to speak(!!) – I wouldn’t, even if I could – my desire is to see God do what he does in other countries, and give other people opportunities to let them see that God can do more with them than they’d have ever dreamed possible….