I’ve realised a lot of things this year, having to spend a good deal of it immobile, not the least being what an amazing creation our bodies are, made even more amazing when parts of it stop working as my legs did. When we read in Psalm 139 that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ it has significantly more impact when a critical part, like your legs, stop moving. I’ve been so grateful to God for Robert Miller, who travelled some distance to pray for the knees of a man he didn’t know, and the next day they started working again! When I pray for people, I’ll often ask if they’ve noticed any change in their condition. Some are instantly healed, some know something’s happened but still have pain, or symptoms (I’ll always say ‘don’t say you’re healed if you’re not’ as I’ll pray again: by the same measure, as it’s not possible for God to answer prayer, as I was vehemently reminded many times in China in the ’80s by Chinese pastors, don’t say ‘it didn’t work’ because sometimes the change might be imperceptible, but there WILL be change. I am in the process of a miracle, much as I’d have loved it to be instant, I’m so, so grateful for the MEASURE of healing I’ve received so far.
I learned to listen to God more, too, which was such a blessing, read more (Bible and books), and pray more. Now, it’s great to be able to start again to put all of this into practice, though I did preach in Ireland, made a Colombia trip in a wheelchair (which took some getting used to!), and once mobile, had the privilege of speaking at a men’s conference in Dublin. Doors are opening for next year, and God has said through various prophetic words that there’s going to be an increase in impact and gifting in 2019 – now I can move again, I want to take every opportunity I can, with this wonderful created ability called ‘walking’. I’ feeling very blessed as I have a number of invitations and potential invitations for 2019 when I honestly thought that having a year where I was able to accept few invitations people would have forgotten me. If I used to come to your church until 2018, I’d love to come back, if you want me! And I have a few opportunities to go back and preach in Ireland, which is a blessing.
When you travel a lot, it’s essential to have people around you who understand – or at least try to understand – the itinerant’s needs, lifestyle, and the support that’s necessary. I’ve never been or wanted to be, a ‘lone ranger’, which is one of the reasons I love taking teams with me. So to now be going to a church that sends teams out a lot, as well as other missionaries, is a tremendous blessing. If Eastgate Church ever wanted me to be involved in that, it will be a blessing. I’ve also got together what would best be called a team of advisors (accountability group?) – I’m over the moon with the great guys who have agreed to be part it, all of them leaders or in ministry, spread across all styles of church, a wide age range, and all wonderfully in touch with God. They’ve given great advice already, and, what’s really lovely, believe in me and the vision God’s given me. Our ‘meetings’ will be by Skype (especially as one lives in the USA and is a dear friend who is never afraid to tell me if and when I’m wrong!).
Having hit 66 years old 4 days ago, and on the ‘slope’ towards 70, I’m praying that God will continue to bless and provide, as I have to trust him through my ”pension years’ as well through the last 40! I’m told that I can buy seven years of National Insurance stamps (I’ve bought one through the kindness and generosity of a group of friends in France, so six to go) for the (many!) years where I didn’t have enough to pay the stamp: and there’s no other pension hiding in the background that I can rely on.
The last couple of weeks I’ve had the delight of staying with great, long-time friend Graham Coyle, in Worcester. We first met 35 years ago, Graham and his lovely late-wife Ann’s lives intertwined with mine first at Roffey Place in 1984, and much more regularly since. Graham and his two lovely daughters, Bex and Lizzie, have very kindly asked me for Christmas, the first Christmas I’ll have not spent alone for quite a few years. So until 7th January, I’m at 15 Lilac Avenue, Worcester WR4 9QU, I hope I can remember how ‘do’ Christmas!
And, God willing, I move into a flat in Northfleet, Kent, the second week of January. It’s a mighty leap of faith for me, as I – and many others to whom I look to for advice and input, felt that the lovely Eastgate Church, in Gravesend, was where God wanted me to go. Gravesend’s proximity to London, and to Ebbsfleet International Channel Tunnel Train Station, makes that area of Kent lethally expensive rent-wise, especially compared to Northern Ireland! My rent will be 120% higher than Ireland, the council tax 300% higher than Ireland’s rates, and inNorthern Ireland, you don’t pay water rates (so much rain, I guess!!) so that’ll be on the expenses list in Kent. Living anywhere in the south-east of England is expensive – I understand that a two bedroomed flat in somehwere like Eastbourne (where I spent many of my growing up years) is about £1000 a month, so north-west Kent, with it’s ‘immediate’ accessibility to numerous motorways, four airports (five if you include Southend) with the furthest – Heathrow – only being 75 minutes away (the others being Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton): and Europe, through the tunnel or ferry, makes it ideal for an itinerant missionary.
For people who live the way God’s called me to, we face something of a dilemma, where support raising is concerned. For me, I don’t find it too difficult to write, or ask, when fund-raising for projects, like the fantastic building Thanney constructed last year for the desperate, threatened, and vulnerable street kids in Cali. However, when it comes to support raising for me, I find it almost impossible. Most people say ‘If we don’t knw what you need, how do we know how to help you?’, which makes it so much easier to ask Perhaps I’m overly conscious of the few who, when I write stating those needs, tell me ‘So you’re not living by faith anymore, you’re begging’. I have to try and dismiss those as most people in ministry fundraise: and, as many of you know, I ‘suffered’ this year because of immobility and couldn’t walk, so therefore preach, and about 40% of my income comes from offerings even though I don’t charge. When you watch Christian TV, the ‘money’ appeals are endless, yet seem more acceptable to the ‘few’! So, I’m still some way short of what I need to rent – and buy things for – the flat, things that I had to leave behind in Bangor that either didn’t fit on the trailer or belonged to the landlord. Fairly important things like a fridge-freezer, two beds, a washing machine….. IF you’re in a position to help with support, and to make up the loss from offerings this year, I’d be very grateful. www.Stewardship.org.uk is brilliant, in that they reclaim the tax and pass it on to me as well (Paul Bennison Healing Ministries Worldwide, account no: 20028331), the Halifax Bank (if you don’t pay tax) 11-08-75, 00256003: or PayPal (paul@paulbennisoncom).
I’m looking forward to celebrating this wonderful creation’s legs when I move, as I’m in a second floor flat without a lift (!) so I’m asking for God’s support, too, in healing them totally before I move in January. The wonderful ‘upside’ is that it’s only 500 yards from the church. What marvellous inventions knee were by God.
I pray that you’ll have a wonderful Christmas, filled with peace and the amazing Presence of Jesus. I look forward to seeing some of you in 2019, maybe at your church if you want me!