My apologies – it has been almost a month since I wrote here, that’s in part (a big part!) due to problems with my laptop, andthe installation of – and use of – the updated software for editing the webpage. Oh, if only I was IT savvy…. new tricks, dog, and old come to mind….
So much has happened since 20 May! Some terrific meetings – at my happy home, City Church, Plymouth, where it’s always such a blessing to visit: a terrific home group meeting in Kingsbridge, Devon, with my very long-time friends David & Sian Fenton-Jones. Needless to say, many people to pray for!
Then on to a new church for me – but with dear friends John & Ailsa Davidson, at Bridport Christian Fellowship. A coouple of meetings, Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, both very well attended, and again with many to pray for. It was wonderful to get such a warm reception from the folk there, and I’m looking forward to being back there in July.
Home to Ireland for just a few days, before heading to a field in the beautiful Cotswolds, near Worcester, in the heart of England. I’d been invited to be the speaker at the bi-annual church camp of City Church, Worcester, which was tremendous. I was a bit daunted, as their last speaker, 2 years ago, was long time friend Ken McGreavy, such an amazing Bible teacher, now with Jesus (good for him, sad for us): I told the folk that then, they’d had the ‘Waitrose’ of guest speakers, this time they were on the ‘Lidl’…. What a fantastic weekend though: somewhere, faith was imparted in a new measure: there were some lovely healings – a lady with more than 20 years history of severe back pain, who’d not normally have been able to walk after a camping weekend, healed: the husband of another lady, not a Christian (him, not her!) healed of serious back pain, with the wife healed of other problems without even being prayed for…… It was such a pleasure and privilege to be with this church for 4 days: I never take invitations lightly, or for granted, and I hope that the friendship with City Church will go long into the future.
Last Sunday, I was with the Causeway Coast Vineyard, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. This church is really quite astonishing! Led by Alan & Kathryn Scott, they generally have 2 services on a Sunday, at 10a.m. with around 500 people, and 1145 a.n. with around 200+ people. Alan & Kathryn are such a terrific couple, and they made me so welcome, organising an evening healing meeting – the first one they’ve ever had – last Sunday, too. It is from this church that the ‘healing phenomenon Healing on the Streets (HOTS) has come, headed up by dynamic Mark Marx. Kathryn Scott is a name that might ring bells for you, too – she is an immensely gifted worship leader, leading meetings and conferences worldwide, and the writer of ‘Hungry’ and ‘Believe’. Alan is just totally dynamic. Mark is hardly ever in Coleraine, as HOTS has taken off globally, and he runs training events, and helps launch HOTS, in many cities and nations.
It’s looking likely that Mark will be going to Colombia with me in November to launch HOTS there… 🙂 He wasn’t around on Sunday, but it was such a blessing to be with the church, to be part of the worship, led by Kathryn, and to have such a wonderful response from the folk in the church! Prayed for quite a few, and knew that some who didn’t get prayer would probably come back in the evening. That meeting was amazing! Alan had purposely left it ‘low key’, only really mentioning it in the morning meetings, and on a couple of earlier Sundays. He anticipated maybe 50 there for a 7p.m. start. Well – it was like revival had come! People were queueing to get in at 6.15p.m. – and by the time we began, hundreds and hundreds of extra seats had been put out – I reckoned about 350 there, gauging it on the first morning service of 500….
Dozens and dozens were healed instantly – from relatively ‘minor’ ailments (although no ailment is minor if you’ve got it…) to major trauma injuries, muscular and skeletal damage, diseases – you name it, God healed it…. it was wonderful. Having arrived at the building at 930a.m., I had a few hours ‘breather’ mid afternoon, and left at 1025p.m. that night. I am so glad I’d made the right ‘call’ – I’d got a ticket for the Odyssey Arena in Belfast to go and see two of my favourite 70’s bands – Journey (Don’t stop believing) and Foreigner (I want to know what love is) – it wasn’t even a toss-up once Alan told me about the evening meeting, and it wasn’t until I drove past the Odyssey on my way home on Monday morning that I even remembered it!
I’ve prayed with a few folk in homes, hospital etc., too, and caught up with a wee bit of cricket and the odd film on DVD before heading back to England on Friday to be in Melton Mowbray (another Vineyard church), a Full Gospel businessmen’s meeting in Bexhill, St Michael’s Church, in Eastbourne, and Old Town Community Church, in Eastbourne too.
Tuesday next week, I’m at a very posh doctor’s surgery near Mayfair, in London – not by choice, I can tell you(!), but to have my medical for my US residency visa… value your prayers at 1pm Tuesday, UK time! Truthfully, I’m not worried about it, though it’d be nice to get a clean bill of health, and I’d particularly value your prayers for God to assist with the cost – it’s outrageous, as those who live in the UK can probably imagine! And I think I have to have x-rays and a DNA test too, maybe some vaccinations – all of which are astronomic in cost…. 🙁
In 10 days, my dear Colombian/Dutch pastor friend, Hendrik, arrives in Ireland, for some preaching engagements, but I’m especially looking forward to getting him together with Mark Marx to talk about HOTS Colombia, on 30 June!
A quick update on US immigration – my file is now with the National Visa Centre, and I have a number. Might not sound much, but it’s a major advance in real terms – after over 2 years of hassle so far! It has meant, too, that I can schedule my medical, compulsory where residency is concerned, and that’s 21 June. You have to go to the doctor nominated by the US Embassy, who just happens to be in the Mayfair area of London (help!! £££££!!!!) – it’s lovely to have lost quite a bit of weight over the past 3 months before heading for that, and hopefully another stone/14 pounds/7 kilos before I get there…. and then after that the interview at the Embassy. Still some miles to travel before this resolves in terms of time, but it’ll, be a nice day when at least I can get back to the USA to see my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons, transit to other countries, and preach there!
I’d value your prayers that health will get better and better ahead of 21 June: and that the provision for all the bills associated with this next ‘phase’ will come in. I’m really praying that God will ‘see fit’ to confirm that I can keep the house in Ireland too, even when I’m back in the USA – I need to know that it’s something he wants just because I need him to provide for it!! I spend a lot of time in the UK and to have a bolt-hole where I can rest and relax in the middle of a heavy schedule, is vital. If I had, say, 5 days between engagements in the UK, I wouldn’t go back to the USA for that time, but I would go to Ireland… to my amazing friends and my home there, which are so precious to me these days!
A while since I was last ‘here’ – a very necessary complete ‘down’ time after the Colombia trip, it’s amazing how much a trip like that takes out of you. Add to that the fact that both Alan and I were not well while we were away – I’m learning to listen to my body when it tells me that it needs to stop and recharge!
I’ve been in England now for 6 days – a wonderful morning last Sunday at Bolney Village Chapel, where my friend Simon Allaby is the minister. I was at the church many years ago, and boy, has it changed! It’s had a complete re-build, and Simon and Sarah, his wife, are clearly impacting the community with their passion and enthusiasm, which is rubbing off on the church. Long time friends Gerry and Merial Page came up from Polegate, as I was relatively ‘close’ (thank you – it was SO good to see you!), and Nick & Sarah Harding – met Nick when I spoke on a YWAM school in Argentina 10 years back, and we’ve stayed great friends, and met Sarah when I spoke on her YWAM school in New Zealand 6 years ago… then they met, and married! Now they’re BOTH great friends (I looked after their chickens, you might remember, 2 years ago!!). I’m hoping, and it seems possible, that both Simon AND Nick will go to Colombia later in the year, hopefully with Mark from Coleraine… and I always hope and pray Alan will go again, too…. 🙂
It was a terrific meeting, prayed for a number of folk at the end, then had some good time with the Allabys and Hardings over a wonderful lunch (Sarah Allaby runs a catering business! 🙂 )
Then to Worthing, and a lovely – if short – devotional meeting with the staff from CPO in worthing, followed by a ‘catch-up’ with my very-long-time friend Tim Herbert, who runs a terrific ministry (www.syzygy.org.uk) which helps and supports missionaries. Tim’s an inspiration, as in ‘another life’ he was a very high-flying and successful banker, and then gave everythig up – and away – and went to work at an orphanage in Mozambique. From driving a TVR and wearing a Rolex, he slept on a verandah, with no room of his own…. oh for more people like him!
And then – two and a bit amazing days with the Rhinos…. just arrived from there now in Cornwall, to see my family. Rhinos was just amazing: we love each other to bits, laugh, cry, share, drink wine, pray for each other, prophesy over each other… and, yesterday, as we began to pray for John Pressdee, the first of us to have a sharing ‘slot’, the presence of God and the glory of God just came down and filled the room. The ‘heaviness’ of the glory of God was tangible, and none of us could speak, move, do anything…. we just sat, and enjoyed and were in awe of of the presence of Jesus with us… it was astonishing. And he stayed all day…. whew! I was so blessed, as the last to share, to have so many amazing words spoken over me…. refreshing would be an understatement!
So, to Plymouth, and the lovely City Church on Saturday, to speak there Sunday morning: on to Kingsbridge, then on to Bridport Christian Fellowship, Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning…. can’t wait!
And so, to bed on my last night here in the city that I love, Cali: it’s 0030am, Friday night/Saturday morning, and the city is alive, happy, and very, very noisy. I LOVE CALI!!!! Maybe it’ll be my next home, as long as God lets me keep Bangor, Ireland, too! I love Spanish – sounds lovely, praise and worship is lovely, though I still can’t always fit all the words in, and – faith statement here – SOON I’LL BE PREACHING IN SPANISH! Blunders getting fewer – no more ‘Is your wife ok?’ to a pastor coming out as ‘Your wife, she’s hot!’ Just the different verb to be… simples, huh?? No more ‘nuevos carreras (hips) y ‘neuvos heuvos’ for ‘neuvos huesos’ – er… close, right: but close your eyes if you’re fainthearted here – new balls, sorry, testicles, instead of new bones… well, nuevos, huevos, and huesos ARE all pretty similar! Wondefully, he got all three… his wife was very happy to attest to one of them, I’ll let you guess!!
I’ve not long been back from the church ‘Camino de Salvacion: Cristo es Rey’ – Way of Salvation: Christ is King – pastored by my friend Julian Restrepo: it’s in Agua Blanca, the ‘bad’ bit of the city some say (though I know worse!). The place was packed for a Friday meeting, a few hundred there, and the response was overwhelming. Prayed ‘en bloc’ for the vast majority, getting them to lay hands on each other, but that NEVER stops the endless stream of people wanting prayer. For some, pain went: illness disappeared: one lovely elderly lady, severely brain damaged, went away beaming from ear to ear – she also had AIDS, so seemed to really appreciate the hug and kiss on the cheek, which she reciprocated. Her next AIDS test is soon… it’ll be clear, I’m convinced.
Three more people with AIDS, all young: years ago, mid ’80’s, a lovely cockney preacher, Johnny Barr, prayed for me (from a family with inherited blood issues), for a supernatural blood transfusion. I know how different I felt THAT night, so, what better time to pray for that than in the week following Easter, for the blood of Jesus to overwhelmingly transform desperate, dying lives…. it’s amazing how from church to church the things to pray for are different: illnesses seem to ‘cluster’ in certain places – 4 with AIDS was unique for this visit, other places it has been diabetes, or asthma, or gastric issues. Prayed for a lovely little girl tonight with a cleft palate: really hope I hear the ‘end product’ of some of these prayers! It’s always good to know that the pastor is pleased, too – ‘muy contento’ according to Walter! (very pleased, in case you couldn’t work that out!).
Packing almost done: hopefully sleep will come despite the noise – the ‘Chiva’ buses – drinking and salsa dancing mobile clubs! – are out in force, huge sound systems, thumping bass, and, unless a miracle happens and I get an upgrade (if you fancy praying for that, 1130 pm flight, Air Canada, Toronto-London, 8 hours, laying flat…. mmmm!) not too much sleep if any tomorrow night either. About 31 hours including stops, but not the 6 hour time change), a few hours attempted sleep near London (I should land in London at 9pm Sunday night), then it’s to the airport at 5am to go home…
BUT – WHAT A TRIP THIS HAS BEEN!!!! Deaf, dumb, arthritis, wrecked knees, a totally destroyed leg, cancer, asthma, migraines, scoliosis, eczema, masses of allergies, back problems…. and so much more, all healed. Never made the big event, but I wouldn’t have swapped 5 minutes in front of tens of thousands to miss Monica, the deaf mute girl hear and speak on the street, to have the lady with brain and breast cancer laugh and cry all over me… and pray for a quartet of AIDS sufferers… hugged them all, what have I got to worry about? I’m more in faith to see it go than to catch it….
Even the apartment owner, Alberto (Beto) – amazingly in fact Alberto Sinisterra (wait for it….) O’Byrne (no Irish accent though!) came to the flat tonight to thank me for everything… all we’ve done is BE here, me and the wonderful bloke I inadvertently called Aslan in an earlier post… I think he so appreciates we leave it relatively spotless, and don’t cause any hassle! And it’s such a great block to stay in, listening to river rushing past, when the music fades…. Such a lovely relationship with Beto: we all really like him, who come: as I’m a constant, I feel I know him well now. He’s an ‘abogado’ (lawyer) and clearly a property owner: would 101% recommend these flats if you come here, we even got our laundry done this time, so I’m taking home one used pair of socks, boxers, and a shirt. THANK YOU JESUS!!!
I’m so glad that when God made the call to travel, he said I was never to charge for preaching, let alone praying: because of that, I, and whoever is with me, get to go to churches where people so rarely get the ‘gringo’ preachers: their gratefulness, appreciation, and kindness says it all. If I did this for the money, well, who’d miss out? Certainly me, maybe them… but pray God, that situation never happens.
Avianca Airlines, Cali to Bogota (1 hour), here I come tomorrow afternoon: Air Canada, you lovely people with full economy, and needing people to upgrade, I’m on my way to Executive First Class, Bogota – Toronto (6-7 hours), Toronto – London (8 hours)!!!! Couldn’t give flying fig for London to Belfast, as it’s only 40 minutes! Don’t forget the absurd check in times to add in – 3 hours for international flights! The passage through Bogota airport can be stressful, as they randomly choose suitcases to search at the door of the plane: it’s chaos, believe me, and I’ve been nobbled the last 3 occasions. Praying NOT tomorrow night….
Thank you so much for your prayers: Alan & I were both so aware of them, and with the physical onslaught on us, needed them so much. My knees and feet feel like a word I really mustn’t use here (not that I know it!) tonight… pray God they recover for the long way home…. it’s 115 am now, so I MUST cansado bien…. sleep well!
28 April (later)
Just a request for prayer/wisdom – I tend these days to ‘short-date’ diary bookings: used to book 2 years ahead (it was a sort of ‘security blanket’ for me, to know that my diary was full and people wanted me – I never disregard that, it is such a privilege to have people want you to preach and teach), and it was a straight-jacket. I love the flexibility now, maybe 6 months ahead maximum, but, always until the door closes, Colombia will be at least twice a year: same for Mexico… lots of bookings in the UK coming up too….
Just in the last few days, invitations to India (Orissa state, the most persecuted state I’m told, and Andrha Pradesh), Pakistan, Ghana, Kenya, and Australia have come. I’d love to do ALL of them: plus Uganda, Chile (almost a definite)… but I DO need ‘down’ time between trips a little more than I used to, I need to be ‘sensible’! (though I’d rather burn out than rust out!) – AND – maybe, just maybe, somewhere this year, I might need to find time to go back to the USA…. I know some of what I feel is right, but need God just to give the nudge, or otherwise! Bless you!!
Just noticed a ‘freudian’ slip spelling mistake below… ‘Aslan packing to leave’ – should of course have been Alan, but maybe its a statement of who Alan is becoming… faith, power…. he’s home, and whilst I love it here, I do have a twinge of envy that he’s finished his mammoth flights, asleep in his bed… it’s always been the same, no matter how amazing a trip, you reach a point where home calls louder and louder…
Years ago, I regularly – for a while – travelled with a great mate, Nick: to show you how much Nick LOVED missions, he, his lovely wife, and 2 sons went, lock, stock, and barrel to Zambia – in the north – for 6, maybe 7 years, planted loads of churches, impacted a culture. When we travelled, he often say, ‘The day after the day after the day after tomorrow, we’ll be going home’…. when Al went, it seemed possibly that the meetings planned for the end of this week might not happen, so I even thought of changing my flights and flying home today…. but then I heard there was meeting last night, one this morning at 8am, one at 1230 pm, another tonight, and another tomorrow at 7pm…. so, sacrificially ( 😉 ) I felt I should stay on and fulfil them. Anyway, God’s done so much here, I want to maximise every opportunity – who wouldn’t?
Well, you know, sometimes, I think God has a bit of a laugh with me! Apart from tomorrow night’s meeting (it IS at a church called ‘Generation of Fire’ where I’ve been before, and it’ll be good – IF it happens!) – every other meeting HASN’T happened! No translator available last night: my friend Hendrik couldn’t ring me this morning as his phone had run out minutes, for the 8am pastors get-together: not quite sure why lunchtime didn’t happen, nor tonight…. but, you just smile, say ‘no hay problema’ (there isn’t a problem!) – so, Lord, absolutely blitz the place tomorrow night… Packing next – need a bit of blitzing after that! – then – I don’t want to think of how many hours before my lovely little house in Bangor, Monday, about 10am (leave her 2pm Saturday afternoon to achieve that!).
Thank you so much for your prayers over these 18 days: they’ve really been answered in ways it’s hard to explain. All I can say is ‘let your Kingdom be unleashed in the next 24 hours…. please, Lord’!
It’s been a good day, except for ASlan packing to leave 🙁 – I have a few more meetings to fulfil, but would, in a way, love to be going home tomorrow…. for a little while, early evening, Thursday looked a possibility, as my dear friend Walter, who organises much of what I do here, told me that the pastor who had booked Thursday and Friday evenings had cancelled…. but then those slots were filled with other churches, lunch meetings, other appointments, so I’m destined to be here until heading for Alfonso Aragon airport, Cali, on Saturday afternoon!
Still have no voice, or very little voice: a day of rest tomorrow for my voice alone is vital, especially as I’m preaching tomorrow night! We’ve also had the most wonderful thunder and lightning here this evening – rain too, the worst rains in living or historic memory in Colombia. People died in the flooding and mudslides of last Friday night, cars were washed away, and there are now over 3 million homeless in Colombia just as a result of the rains…. desperate situations.
Even though it’s not yet the ‘end’ of the trip, with Al leaving we’ve looked back – on lots of meetings, hundreds and hundreds – maybe thousands – of prayers, and hundreds miraculously healed. I do love what God is doing – deaf and dumb healed, tumours disappearing, legs straightening, new knees and hips going into place, migraines gone forever, arthritis healed, backs straightening. It’s been 32 years+ since I earned my last salary cheque with the NatWest bank: would I swap what ‘ve seen for the security of a salary and a house? Not on your life…. but it IS demanding, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I’m so, so tired, desperate for some ‘down’ time back in Ireland, but so overjoyed with God has done on this trip – SO FAR! More to come before Saturday, even if it’s a battle to think of Alan back home (Barbara, Jennifer, and Karen will be thrilled to have him back!!). I wouldn’t swap this for all the tea in China….
What an amazing weekend! After Saturday night’s fantastic meeting, with many healings (see below!), Sunday just carried on – and escalated, if anything! It’s always ‘interesting’ here how time-keeping works (or, perhaps, doesn’t!) here: we were due to be picked up at 730 am for a 7 am meeting (!!), my long-time great friend Fernando translating, due here at 730 too). The church guys, bless ’em, were here by 720, when Fernando called to say he was still at home – 40 minutes away!!
As usual, it all worked out, and Alan & I went to a church (Cruzada Cristiana) I’d not been to before, in the north of the city – Floraria, I think the area is called. The church was heaving with people, and there (theoretically) was a time restriction on us, as I was due to preach in the south of the city at 1030am… it was a glorious meeting, where the presence of God was tangible, and I think Al and I prayed for just about everything that moved, with many reported instant healings – so many people with intense pain healed, someone got new knees (thank you Lord… mine soon!), backs were healed, a spine straightened…. it was hard to leave! Pastor Alexander, whom I’d never met, was deliriously happy: and heard today, from my dear friend Diego, that a lady his wife works with was miraculously healed there, too. Thank you, Lord, for the POWER of Easter, the POWER of your Holy Spirit, and for using plonkers like me (I better not include Alan in that generalisation ;)).
We got to the next church (Iglesia Cristiana Siervos del Dios Altisimo – Church of the Servants of the Most High God) a wee bit late (we’re Colombian, aren’t we??) – and I remember instantly having been there before, a lovely young pastor named Alejandro. The worship band were in full swing, deafeningly loud, but good (hooray!) – and, dancing at the front was young lady Alan & I had prayed for there on the last visit – I think it was 2 years ago. Then, she’d just (Veronica, by the way) been in an horrific motorcycle accident, was desperate, having smashed her left leg to pieces. The doctors told her there was nothing they could do for her, other than crutches, for the rest of her life… God obviously had other plans, and she was at the front dancing, pogoing, walking perfectly normally when she stopped dancing, totally healed – with just a small white scar, about 2 inches long (5 cms) on her left kneecap….
Many were healed there, too: asthma, arthritis, cancer, sight…. it was wonderful!! I could go on, but you can imagine….
A lunch with a pastor almost entirely filled the ‘gap’ between getting away from that church, and being at the next one (Cielos Abiertos – Open Heavens)at 530pm, pastored by another acquaintance, Juan Pablo. Heaving with people, like the second service, too: we prayed for everything that moved, except a lovely dog (Simon, if you’re interested!) who appeared not to be at all ill, but still appreciated my hands laid on him, especially on his neck and under his chin… dozens prayed for, many healed – a church full of people with allergies: many spoke of knowing immediately that their allergy had gone, a lady with breast cancer was healed, so many pain-ridden bodies healed. I love my job!
Today…. a day off: lunch with long-time dear friends Hendrik and Willmar (no, not Wilma, that’s a GIRLS name!). A good steak, a luxurious ice cream from Crepes and Waffles, and wonderful company and fellowship…. Alan, who leave on Wednesday morning (4am!!!) said ‘I’ve done what I came here to do, seen what I came here to see!’. Can’t ask for more than that, I guess.
Tomorrow, maybe – Club Noel, the Kids Hospital, but that’s not confirmed yet), a good meal with Al tomorrow evening, the day with Diego…. then Alan goes. I’ve got meetings Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, before hitting the road Saturday afternoon and the long drag home. Looking forward to my lovely home in Ireland… but want to see God do lots more before I leave….
Did the angel roll away the stone so that Jesus could get out? No, he did it so that the others could see in… Jesus isn’t in here, He’s risen! Wow, what a story! If someone had written it, it would be deemed to be fiction: but it’s real, provable, true. It’s such an amazing thing to be free, to have a destiny, a purpose, and eternal security, isn’t it? Happy Easter Day, and thank you, Jesus!
An extra meeting casually ‘thrown’ into the conversation earlier by my friend Walter – so now, 8 and 10.30 am, lunch with a pastor, and another meeting at 5pm. But it’s ok, it’s a day of rest…! So glad Alan’s still here for today, I’d feel a little overwhelmed!
23 April (later)
When I first began this journey (and boy, it’s been a journey and a half!) almost 25 years ago, I believed then that God wanted me to go to places – often – that others don’t go to…. of course, people come here to Cali, but there are many parts of this city that people don’t go to, and many places foreigners wouldn’t go purely and simply because it doesn’t ‘pay’… I felt then, as I still do now, that I never wanted to be ‘famous’ (whatever that means, but I guess you can work it out). I’ve never ‘craved’ big meetings, much preferring the small places often down pot-holed muddy streets. Every now and again, a ‘big meeting offering’ in a nice first world country would be nice, but I don’t expect that’ll ever happen! Perhaps that’s why I never made it to the the huge meetings over the past two days: it’s possible it might have jettisoned me into – perhaps – TV and Radio stuff here, and whilst I have no criticism of those on TV, I personally wouldn’t want some of the sort of ministries that reach that audience. It was years before I ‘gave in’ and had a website, even: I’ve staunchly refused to set up a ministry organisation – Paul Bennison Ministries doesn’t REALLY have much of a ring to it, anyway! – as, for me at least, they become something that serves you, and that you have to serve in order to perpetuate it. There’s a -vague – possibility that a book (which I was commissioned to write a number of years ago, and did, before a problem in the publishing company meant they no longer published the sort of book I’d written!) might have a door opening for it, but I never even remember to take business cards or brochures with me, or talk about how I live, let alone sell stuff!
So, having missed the ‘Lord Mayor’s Show’ over the last 48 hours, it was back to what I prefer tonight…. smaller churches, informal, and wonderfully blessed….
A mind-blowing evening tonight – loads of people healed, including a lady who came scared (almost literally!) to death, with a ‘very dangerous’ tumour in her breast, another in her brain, awaiting imminent surgery…. prayed for her, asked her if, prior to prayer, was she able to feel the tumour: yes. Then asked after prayer… could she still feel it… after much boob-squeezing (her, not me!), she burst into tears, shouted, laughed, hugged me… it had gone…. so I know the one in her brain went, too…. much further boob-squeezing and by now quite an audience of intrigued people from the church, and she finally let me pray for someone else!A guy named Carlos was healed of arthritis and lupus, a lady with shortened arm muscles couldn’t straighten her fingers – then could: Alan had a similar report of many healed – thank you, Jesus, for the stripes that heal us, and for the other comforter, your lovely Holy Spirit, who empowers and gives faith so that this amazing stuff can happen….
I’m sure there are some of you who read this who won’t appreciate/ don’t appreciate the humour of Eddie Izzard (I happen to think he’s both funny and extremely clever, if a little ‘unusual’!!), but he once did a sketch about the phrase ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ – it was riotously funny, with him hitting on the absurdity of the phrase. Well, the best best laid plans for Alan and me – coming here over Easter to be involved in these conferences – were plans that really did echo the absurdity of that expression!
I wasn’t scheduled to speak in the Velodrome on Thursday, but I WAS due to speak at the Stadium on Thursday night, and at the Velodrome yesterday. By Thursday lunchtime, it really was as though ‘someone’ didn’t want us to be there. Alan’s cold & cough deteriorated to a point where he felt really ill, and though I wasn’t ill, it was as though an unseen hand had reached into my throat and totally removed my vocal chords. I had absolutely no voice at all yesterday, I couldn’t even communicate with Alan, let alone a cast of thousands, or even a translator… so, coming here was obviously NOT for the conferences! I rested my voice all day, and, I suspect, all night (Alan didn’t complain of me talking in my sleep through the walls!), though of course, I might have snored! My voice is sufficiently improved today to preach tonight, and hopefully for the remainder of the trip…. it’d be nice to know if there’s some ‘spiritual’ reason why what we came here for, ostensibly, hasn’t happened: suffice to say, all the other meeting so far have been fantastic, and I’m really going to ‘go for it’ over the next 6 meetings before I head my weary way home to Ireland next Saturday afternoon. This evening we’re due to be in a church in Chipe Chape, been there before, always a great response, so looking forward to it…. assuming it happens!
Well, after last night’s great meeting, we – Alan & I – were at the Velodrome at the crack of dawn for the first of the weekend’s meetings. There was a great turnout – not the 15,000 anticipated, but big, and it was great to be able to share a little (Alan too) with the crowd. My main speaking ‘slot’ is tomorrow for the Velodrome: then – I totally lost my voice…. a blessing, some might say! It meant that, as Alan felt particularly unwell with a nagging cough and a heavy cold, and with me sounding like I was an interrupted-flow of helium as my voice was breaking, there was no point in going to the Stadium tonight – no one could have heard me! I’m learning, in my advancing years, that I have to listen a bit more to my body telling things: I don’t want to say that this was an ‘attack’ – but in all my years of travelling (25 nearly), I’ve never had to cancel a meeting, and in 5 trips with me, Alan’s never even felt inclined to need to miss one…. so, I’m praying that tomorrow will see my wonderful dulcet tones restored (LOL!!!), and that I can speak in the conference, and in church tomorrow night….
It was great today, though, to meet some great people – Ricardo di Rocca, a preacher from Argentina but living in Houston, a lovely Ghanaian preacher, Edmond, Stephen Switcher, an itinerant preacher with a love for Colombia as great as mine, from North Carolina, and Marcos Barrientos, the worship leader from Mexico. Caught up with lots of other pastors and people I haven’t seen in a while, too, so it was a good day apart from my teen-angst voice breaking!
It has been a real blessing to have a couple of ‘quieter’ days, ahead of the roller-coaster that will be the next 4 days! The stadium/velodrome meetings, and quite a few churches – 5 I think between now and Sunday evening, and, of course, the lengthy meetings that will be in the velodrome. The continued sense that both Alan & I have is that there is tremendous opposition, especially in the face of having seen God do so much already. Unusually, for both of us, we’ve felt unwell (let’s leave that at…er…bathroom issues for both of us!, and a really horrible cough and bad throat for Alan). I have a sense we might end up praying with hundreds, if not thousands, over the next few days, so we’d really value your prayers for protection, strength, anointing, and grace. We have a meeting tonight, though I still have absolutely no idea where – all my dear friend Walter has put on my schedule is ‘7pm’…… and then nothing else!! The delights of being in latino-land!
It IS a great trip so far: and looking to God for it to be even more amazing as these next 4 days unfold. Monday and Tuesday next week are relatively quiet at the moment, which is a blessing after 3 meetings Sunday, then of course (sadly for me but happily for his family!) Alan goes home Wednesday, so I’ve got a truckload of meetings Wednesday to Friday all to my little self…. 🙁
If I don’t get much time to get online over the next few days, I’d love to wish you all a very blessed, powerful, triumphant, Spirit-filled Easter, and a life from Sunday living in ALL the good and power of our amazing resurrected and living Jesus.
Sometimes, when people are NOT healed instantly (I prefer to call that a miracle, anyway), they assume it isn’t going to happen. BUT that’s not true: when we give up immediately, it’s my view (and experience) that healing DOESN’T come, but often God heals slowly – to me, the very nature of the word ‘healing’ is a process. Slowly might be an hour, a day, a month – but it isn’t possible for God NOT to answer prayer….
So the story of Martin Shiel, from Edinburgh (see first blog 26 March, and testimonies tab) is a fantastic example of someone who has seen God unfold miraculous healing into his life…. a few weeks ago, he could hardly walk, with his right leg in a pretty serious-looking leg brace…. see the testimonies page for the ongoing update of Martin’s lovely story….
It’s one of the great anomalies of my life, for me at least, how somewhere like here, in Colombia, I can see my plans changed (without knowing they’re going to be!) in an instant, and just ‘ride’ it…. was headed for a church last night to preach, discovering no more than 2 minutes from the building that it was a youth event, which sort of changed what I had in mind to say…. allied to that, the meeting, for which Alan & I were picked up at 6.20 and had begun at 6pm (!! that’s not late in Colombia!), was pretty big numerically: and the translator hadn’t arrived by 730pm…. I wouldn’t want to risk my Spanish yet to speak publicly, but I’m sure it’s part of God’s blessing on us here that we can just relax, anyway, and feel sure it’ll all work out in the end! Normally it does….
Wonderful meeting there, at the Catedral de Viva (fairly easily translatable, but Cathedral of Life for those whose brains don’t work that way!). Found myself preaching a really motivational message, so wanting to raise the faith levels of the young people. Ended up praying a ‘blanket’ prayer for healing over all who were sick, getting them to lay their own hands on the ill bits of their bodies (if it was appropriate!)… some healings were testified, including an older Usher healed of a serious heart complaint. Wonderful!
Same church this morning (having discovered VERY late last night that the first service wasn’t happening, at 8am – there’s still a God, yeah!!!). The place was heaving with people, translator there 30 minutes EARLY this time (!!). Alan did really well, amongst other things talking about Barbara’s miracle 3 years + back: then spoke about ‘moaner’ Habakkuk seeing God’s power as he went from disillusionment to awe… Alan and I must’ve prayed for well over 100 between us, quite a few testifying to immediate freedom from pain. I love God’s (sometimes obtuse!) sense of humour, as I ended up praying for at least half a dozen people with major knee issues, some with instant relief…. just saying in my head, as I prayed for them ‘O.K Lord, just remember my knees!’ – it seems this evening that he might WELL have remembered them, as they’re the best tonight than they’ve been for a good while! Thank you, Lord!!!
Both Alan & I have felt ‘out of sorts’ since we’ve been here – nothing describable, but no appetites (good for me, I guess, but he’s thin!), I just sense it’s part of the ‘onslaught’ we’ve both experienced ahead of, and during, this trip… leading up, I hope and pray, to a blockbuster time over the next 10 days while Alan’s here, and 12 days of my being here….
Great meeting tonight – a real faith-booster, it seems, for a church already ‘up for it’! Alan spoke really well, Dunia – my long-time brain surgeon friend (keep hoping she’ll give me a transplant! – preferably with a brain similar to Brian Cox, the guy who’d probably actually HELP me to enjoy and learn physics!)- translated well – and it was a great place to feel such liberty when preaching…. it’s great when you feel you’re ‘on a roll’ and God seems to be raising faith. We prayed for quite a few people at the end, for some pain disappeared, and demeanours and attitudes changed. Gustavo, the pastor, is responsible for some of the big meetings at the end of next week, and he seems really excited by what God’s going to do then on the basis of tonight! And, what’s more, he’s a really great bloke….
Wonderful time this afternoon right in the centre of Cali, on the streets at Plaza Caicedo, with great friends/pastors Hendrik & Willmer… along with two white plastic chairs…
It wasn’t long before we got people wanting prayer, and we prayed for a good number: all of them received healing, pain going, legs ‘growing’ (that’s normally backs straightening, of course: if it’s legs growing, then I’ll get prayed for everytime as I’d love to be taller!). One lady, Marie Isabelle, with womb cancer, felt her womb on fire as I had my hand on hers on her womb, and as Willmer and I prayed… she knew she was healed…. another lady, Monica, profoundly deaf and dumb, began to feel things happening in her ears, then heard sounds, and then started making vocal noises she couldn’t previously make…. and then she was away, it was hard to say anything to her as the noises got louder and longer….
Backs were healed, and, in the close proximity to the most dangerous part of the city, God just wonderfully turned up… praying he does so tonight at the church meeting!
Last night, as Alan and I sat chatting just before crashing out for the night, an enormous explosion occurred. I tried to explain it away with possible causes, but knew – as did Alan, who, of course, knew about bombs having lived in Northern Ireland during the ‘troubles’ – that it was a bomb…. car alarms started shrieking…. but we still slept ok! Just praying no one was hurt. There are still parts of the city that the police won’t go to at night, and ther noise came from the direction of one of those neighbourhoods….
And so to church in about 90 minutes. Better think about what God might want me to say….
14 April (later!)
Really needed the relative peace of today, my body really deciding that it WAS tired after the last few days exertions…! Just great to have Alan here – his journey was rather uneventful, which must have been nice: but it IS exhausting, and he’s got here needing a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow kicks off quite busy, and then gets busier through the two weeks….
Tragedy here in Colombia today, too: I’m glad it got a mention on the BBC’s news page, as so often Colombian tragedy just doesn’t warrant recording. This has been the winter of the heaviest rains in recent history, and the rain of the past 36 hours (which caused my flight cancellation of course) caused a mud-slide today, in Manizales, sweeping a bus into a ravine (don’t forget, this is a country dominated by the Andes and the amazon), with at least 14 dead, and 6 are still missing. I’m told that local news reported that two of the bodies were swept away in such incredible waters that they were found 30 kms (about 19 miles) away from the scene. With so many people being killed in such astonishing ways in the past 15-16 months, it almost seems like’ Oh, only 14…’ – but in the past year, the rains have accounted for the deaths of over 300 here, and made 2 million homeless, facts which escape the world news… Outside the apartment where we stay, we have the Cali River, which goes through the middle of the city: it is roaring tonight, louder than I’ve ever heard it.
So many rivers, including the Cali and the Cauca, have burst their banks, and infiltrated the water filtration systems for the city, contaminating the water to such an extent that half the city has been without water for 2 days, and likely to be for much longer. Tragedy everywhere….
Wars, rumours of wars, floods, earthquakes, famines…. didn’t I read about events like this somewhere….?
Lots of people say to me ‘I’d love to do what you do…. it must be wonderful going here, there, and everywhere, seeing God do stuff’… it IS wonderful, and that’s why after 25 years, I’m still doing it. But the cost is what most people never look at, and the glamour that some people imagine in a ‘jet-set’ life-style is just non-existent most of the time. Maybe if you can travel business or first class, it’s different, but packed in what Adrian Plass once called ‘sardine class’ is a different ball-game altogether! I’m only a little short bloke, I don’t know what it must be like for him at 12 inches (30 cms) taller than me….
I came in a taxi from Cali airport to the city this morning, looking at the Andes, feeling the warmth of the climate, and with the usual rising sense of excitement that I get when I come here, and I said out loud, ‘It’s so good to be here again!’ – I really mean it: that’s the up-side. The downside had immediately preceded that feeling!
I left my lovely little home in Bangor Monday early evening, thinking about the (then, I thought) known 30 hour plus journey I’d got ahead of me. Going through Canada, because of the USA visa fiasco, adds some time on, but it’s normally trouble-free… this time, not so, being pulled in by Canadian immigration for questioning, seemed related to the fact that I’d had the little hiccup with US immigration… for a few minutes, I did wonder if I’d be able to transit, but in the end it was ok…just found it a bit odd, as Canada DOES have a Great Britain Union flag on it’s own flag… maybe it means absolutely nothing anymore to be part of what’s left of the Commonwealth!
Lost a bag in Toronto airport… bummer, pain, any other adjectives that fit… arrived in Bogota: immigration and customs a total breeze, pleasant, courteous, fast (learn some lessons here, USA, Canada, Britain…!! ) – no problem changing airports for the domestic flight to Cali. Boarded 930 pm, sat on the runway til midnight, then went back to the terminal (isn’t that just the most inappropriate word for the main building at an airport??!!??). Weather in Cali too bad to fly: massive rais, flooding – you name it. At 2am they cancelled the flight, so the prospect of trying to sleep in a cold, plastic-bucket-seated terminal was not a blessing!
Finally flew at 615am yesterday morning, arriving here in the apartment in Cali, at 9 am Wednesday, having left Ireland at (Colombia time, which IS relevant in terms of the travel time, and I had 6 hours extra to stay awake!!) at mid-day Monday. 45 hours…. glamorous? I think not! 4 hours sleep in that time, too… and airline food. If that’s your idea of glamour, then you need to get a life!
Then I discovered that I was preaching last night… what a blessing that turned out to be! It was at Casa de Dios, House of God: my lovely, very-long-time friends Norbey & Carmen Arias pastor it. Carmen has been so, so desperately ill for a couple of years or so now: times when there seems a measure of improvement, other times when it seems worse…. but it is SUCH a blessing to be around Norbey. Despite the crushing pressures he and his family have been through, he is always smiling, a true relection of the joy of the Lord being his strength. It was a terrific meeting, prayed for many, and, according to Norbey, the faith level was notched up a few more places, and that alone would make this whole trip worthwhile, if it ended here….
Saw my dear friend Walter Torres, one of the ‘itinerary organisers’ here yesterday, too: boy, is there a programme already, and only half planned to date!
TWO Stadium meetings next week – 40,000+ at each, live on TBN in the Americas, streamed live online…. pampers ready for action here! Another conference same Easter weekend, possibly 15,000 at that…. in the Coliseo, one of the stadiums, I’m told there’ll be a huge percentage of ‘Christians in Waiting’ – (the lovely Chinese description for the not yet saved!), so that really excites me, and daunts me…
Many, many churches already booked… some I don’t know the names of, but what’s already planned is on the diary page.
This – me! – is the bloke who never wanted big meetings, preferring to go to the smaller ‘backwater’ churches that others won’t go to, or the lesser known places, even dangerous places… and now…. 95,000 people maybe in one weekend! That’s a few trips’ worth of people in 3 days… 🙂
Really value your prayers, as for both Alan and me, we’re looking at a busy, hectic, but wonderful trip, that has had SO much opposition and attack on us personally in the weeks leading up to it (even the journey – which my knees didn’t appreciate too much!), that God is clearly planning something wonderful. What a privilege it is to be blessed by God to come to a place like this…. I know there are people in Scotland who’ll tell me off for writing this – 😉 – but I’m the Rodney Trotter of the preaching scene – the Plonker – but just so, so grateful that God uses the weak and foolish to overcome the strong and the wise…. I love this upside down kingdom!!
Please pray for Alan today, as he’s travelling here, arrives Cali 7pm (1 am UK time), so far his journey has been relatively uneventful, it seems…. and please pray for his family back home, as, of course, the opposition to this trip affects them, too – that’d be Barbara, Jennie, and Karen. God bless ’em outrageously while dad and husband are away….
Terrific evening in Ballymena, speaking to the three combined home groups from the Causeway Coast Vineyard, Coleraine – not a church plant, as such, but a campus. A packed living room, 20+ there, a real delight and privilege to share with such a spiritually hungry group of people. Always fun having a question time, too! Got to pray with a good number of them for healing at the end. Great night.
Packing now for Monday, and the exit from the UK for 3 weeks to my second – or is it third? – home, Cali, Colombia. Not looking too much to about 30 travelling, but excited by what God is going to do there, as always. Alan from here (Bangor) is going, too, but he doesn’t arrive in Cali until Thursday: it’s so good to be with him, as he EXPECTS to see God do miracles, and he’s such a blessing to be with.
Obviously, as it’s a Latino country, I have no idea of the itinerary right now (!!) – it’s amazing how easily a westerner can adapt to ‘not knowing’ when we live in a culture where – mostly – everything is so ordered, and planned. All I know so far is that there’s a conference over the Easter period that we’re involved in, I’m speaking at: and heard a few days back, that there’s a ‘vigil’ – remember the stadium meeting in the ‘Transformations’ dvd? – in the Stadium, and – apparently – I’m speaking at it. OOOOOOERRRR….. there are generally about 50-60,000 people there…. value your prayers!!! As soon as I know what else is in the diary for the 18 days I’m there, I’ll update the diary page, and, hopefully, keep the blog updated too…. 😉
Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m feeling more and more ‘Victor Meldrew’ over some things these days…. though I’d have to say that I’m a lot more than just Victor over this tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan. There’s enough wrecking the world at the moment – earthquakes, floods, famines, violence, war… without ‘christians’ (and I use that word reservedly and with a small ‘c’) like the men who call themselves pastors in Florida inciting hatred…. just had to write something here to express my anger – righteous, I hope – concerning men who have absolutely no understanding of the world, and certainly very little ‘handle’ on the faith they profess to have… my friend Andrew White, the amazing Vicar of Baghdad, was on TV in the States last year in tears over the initial threat to burn the Koran, stating that it would have devastating impact on the Christians living in the moslem world… many in his church have been massacred as a result of just last year’s ‘threat’ – no wonder we’re seeing now the beginning of the impact those men have had, having actually burned the Koran, the burning streamed ‘live’ on the internet two weeks ago. God help all of us who own, name, and claim the name of Jesus as Lord, Saviour, and Friend, when so much of the battle we’re facing comes from within our own ‘ranks’…. God help the families of those poor UN and civilian people massacred in the past 3 days, when one of the pastors concerned disowns any responsibility for what is happening in Afghanistan…. God, forgive us, please….
Just a quick mention that there are some more lovely testimonies under that tab from the time in Scotland. One that isn’t there was told to me by my friends Graham & Margaret in Troon: in November 2009, I was asked to pray by proxy for a man – David – in his 40’s, who was critically ill with cancer, but was still planning to go ahead with his wedding to a lovely friend of theirs, even though he had a deadline on life expectancy. Well, when I was with Graham & Margaret, it ‘just’ came up in conversation that David is totally healed (and no, not dead, which I know many Christians would say is the perfect healing, being with Jesus!), but walking-around-living-married-enjoying life healed… as is Graham, who was miraculously healed a few days before the doctors had said he would meet his maker – prayed for in October 2008, then minus a few fairly significant organs that docs had removed to try and stem the increase of cancer in his body… needless to say, he’s not minus those organs since then! God does WONDERFUL stuff…
It’s always a blessing to hear that God has really blessed someone’s life with healing! There have, actually, been a number from Scotland, but I was especially blessed to hear from Martin Shiel, from Newcraighall, Edinburgh, whose story is on the testimonies page… healing AND weight loss – more of that please, Lord!! Also, the story of Doreen, also on the testimony page…. there were a good number of testimonies over that period in Scotland, especially in the Sunday meeting a Wellspring. God’s good!!
Great privilege,, yesterday, to meet the guys who lead Causeway Coast Vineyard: it is from that church that the fantastic ‘Healing on the Streets’ has come, as well as it being a church that is seeing many saved, and exploding numerically in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. I felt very honoured to be asked to spend time with their leaders and ministry team: it was so good to meet Alan & Kathryn Scott, and Mark Marx, with whom it seems I much in common! (East End of London especially!). The connection was one of the sort I love most – Alan’s brother was at a meeting in Glasgow a couple of weeks back, and put us in contact… I love it when something doesn’t have to be worked at! Lots of people have asked me, as someone involved in healing, if I know the H.O.T.S church: but I love to wait until the connection comes naturally, in God’s time… felt so welcomed by them, and look forward to seeing where God takes this new friendship in the future. I’m down to speak there on June 12, which is, again, such a privilege….
Had a lovely few days at home, chilling out, letting my knees recover (the guys yesterday really prayed for them so I’m looking forward to supernatural recovery now!), watching cricket (wonderful!), football (wonderful!) and rugby (not so wonderful for England last Saturday!) on TV…. and now preparing for Cali, Colombia…. just Alan and me this time, he’s such a wonderful friend I’m really looking forward to loads saved, healed, blessed, and lots of wonderful cheap Colombian steaks…
Back home in Bangor now, a great blessing! Crack of dawn start to Heathrow airport, on-time flight – until we reached Belfast, where there was thick fog…so we went round and round and round and round…. for about 75 minutes, which is a bit of a pain when you’re desperate to get home! The long drive south yesterday, via Keswick to my lovely cousin Robert, Norma, and their son Steven, was a delightful (!!) mixture… such heavy snow coming out of Edinburgh on the M8 I wondered if I’d make it yesterday, followed by sleet in the Borders, then rain in Cumbria and Lancashire…. so it took a lot longer than I’d hoped, and my left knee complained a bit by the end of the drive!
Came ‘home’ to me at the weekend, in Scotland, as I thought on the date (apart from that today would’ve been my lovely mum’s birthday, and next Tuesday a year since she went to see the Jesus she loved), and realised that yesterday was the 17th anniversary of having been pulled from a ‘fatal’ car crash by an angel, who just ‘happened’ to have turned up in a meeting in Worthing, West Sussex… won’t go into the whole story, but when you’re in a Mini Metro, having just done an enforced emergency stop behind a 38 ton twin-trailer truck, ending up literally inches (probably 6) from the rear of the truck, and you’re hit by another 38 tonner at about 40 mph (65 kph) into the back of it. a big angel comes in handy…. guess it was MORE on my mind as I was actually driven over the exact spot it happened on my way to the airport this morning!
It was actually wonderful to tell the story again over the weekend, as it is proof positive that God’s promise of ‘setting his angels charge over us that we won’t even hurt our foot against a stone’ is so, so real…. it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you SHOULD be dead, and yet you’re not, because of God’s great mercy and promises. And proof that you should give weird and wonderful words of knowledge when they come to you, as Kathryn, who was driving that day, did…(and drove brilliantly, I might add, to stop when she did – and this is a bloke talking about a woman driver!! ‘God’s told me to tell you to swivel your hips, Paul’ wasn’t quite what I was expecting to hear trapped in a tiny cocoon of a car less than a third of the length it had been, by the engine (on my lap) the boot (behind my seat), and the jagged point of the crumpled roof immediately where my head WOULD have been if the angel hadn’t pushed me forward…. bless her, she delivered the wacky word from God: and in front of – maybe – 200 people (we’d totally gridlocked the M4 Heathrow exit at 830 am on a Monday morning, so there were lots of – er – helpers around the car!) with my seatbelt still in place (it was jammed) I rose gracefully out of the car, not with a swivel (never good at that even standing upright!), but at least a small jerk (perhaps that’s me, too, a small jerk!)….
You know, as I look back on that day (which I did vividly at 530 am this morning!), I’m so grateful for a God who protects, keeps his promises, and knows his plans for me…
There’s loads more to the story, but maybe you’ll have to email and ask me for that if you haven’t heard it….!
Wonderful time here in Scotland! Even though the weather hasn’t, er, been at it’s best (! gales, rain ,snow, sleet!), it’s been a fantastic ‘season’ of meetings from west to east, a lovely time of meeting and getting to know some great people, and seeing existing friendships growing from strength to strength.
The long ‘haul’ from the south east of England, in my dear old car, went beautifully and very quickly (though of course, not once did I exceed the speed limit ;)!). It was great to see long-time friends Graham & Margaret in Troon, and to have the opportunity to speak at the Light House Church in Troon on Sunday. It was a terrific meeting, I loved it, people seemed to be blessed, and they laughed a lot, which is good for the bones anyway! Sunday evening was right in the middle of Glasgow, with Church Alive meeting at the Glasgow City Mission for the first time: prayed for countless people in the two meetings, and know that God blessed and healed folk….
Over to the outskirts of Edinburgh, to speak at a celebration meeting, Sunrise, in Tranent: lovely and relaxed meeting, with a good number there, and, what’s more, home made cakes and coffee (!!)…. some healings, including a lovely little boy, 9 months old, suffering with a nasty virus for many days, healed instantly….
Back to Glasgow, for a wonderful evening at Cathcart Baptist, with the Scotland Healing Rooms, some people healed, and just a wonderful sense of God changing lives, healing, blessing, and challenging….
And so, back to Edinburgh – Wellsprings Church, and Tranent again…. brilliant meetings in Wellsprings, with some super healings – a man named Martin, right leg in a knee brace, unable to walk upstairs properly – did just that Saturday evening, and – RAN – chasing a ball in a park on Sunday…. more healings as people felt heat and fire come on them and through them – asthma being cleaned out, depression lifting, tension and pain going from stress-filled bodies… in Tranent, people testifying to feeling God touch them, and transformation beginning….
Day ‘off’ today, but brekkie with a terrific couple, Scott & Faith Brennan, church planters, radical people, a kingdom link: last night, the same with Andrew & Gill Mitchell, this weekend with David & Maggie, who lead Wellsprings…. lunch with a man named David, who, interestingly, has a similar experience of US immigration as me (!!), out in the afternoon home visitng to pray for sick and dying people, then a meal tonight with someone else… day off… 😉
And tomorrow… back south via Keswick to see my cousin and his wife…. and then home to Ireland – woohoo!!!
And, what’s more, England beat Scotland at rugby yesterday 🙂 – now I run the gauntlet of them needing to beat Ireland, whilst I’m there, next weekend!!
Well, it was wonderful to get back to the UK after the long, long haul home from Mexico – flight delays in Mexico and in Montreal because of the weather in Canada… seemed like a ‘forever’ journey home! Landed at about 830 am, just time for a quick cup of tea, then off in my freshly-annually tested aged car to the Rhinos… just 100 miles or so drive, but after a 24 hour journey and a sleepless night on a plane from Montreal to London, that’s more demanding than it sounds!
My car had failed it’s MOT – annual test – on rear brake and a new tyre issues: not a big deal in ‘parts’ terms, but an arm and a leg in a labour terms! When my dear friend Keith went to the garage to collect it from the test, he took it for a run to make sure it was ok – and it wasn’t! This time, it was the front brakes – the disc was was warped, so new disc and pads… hmmm! So, off to Rhinos, and doing, er, let’s say 70 mph (!) on the motorway…. horrible vibration, stopped when it was safe to get out and look – the new tyre completely shredded and destroyed! Called the AA (AAA in USA!) to change it for me, and, lo and behold, 40 miles later, the spare that had been put on – completely flat and wrecked! What chance of that happening on the same wheel, I wonder???? So, two new tyres purchased… and expensive week for the ‘old girl’ in the end!!
Rhinos was terrific: so much laughter, fun, tears, wisdom, insight, declaration, prophecy…. what WOULD I do without those guys??? It was lovely, too, to see one of community staff (we meet as Rhinos in a Catholic Charismatic Community in the Cotswolds) – who came and told me that her friend, Elaine, whom I’d prayed for in September (spoke at a Celebration meeting they hold monthly there), who had been critically ill with cancer, was healed…. made punctured tyres and an MOT failure seem irrelevant!
We had a great few days together, us Rhino-boys: then, at last, it was back home to Ireland. Thank you, Lord! Went to the car…. flat tyre! Arrgghh!!! We have a lovely tyre place in Bangor, run by a wonderful Christian: I’ve prayed for his wife in the past, she’s always in a lot of pain, so I’m sure my puncture was so I could hear that she wasn’t good… but, not just a puncture, but brake issues, too! What’s this all about? I own nothing, really, just two aging cars, but it does seem that someone, somewhere, either is trying to stop me, or stop me from stopping! New brake caliper… order in….
Prayed for her Sunday at church: went back to the tyre place midweek, to discover that the OTHER brake caliper needed replacing too! But I did hear from the owner’s son that mum was much much better…. so that’s worthwhile, too! She seems pretty much healed, I’ve subsequently discovered!
Great time with Towerview Free Methodist’s men’s breakfast…. and then visits to a couple of homes to pray for very sick people…. just good to have the privilege of sharing with a bunch of men!
A few days at home, giving my knees chance to recover, and then, Thursday, over to England, to drive to Scotland for a bust 10 days here…. thankfully, my old girl in England drove beautifully the near 500 miles up here, and I’ve 36 hours before beginning a busy round of meetings…. heard last night that a man I prayed for, by proxy, 15 months ago, dying with cancer, is healed – so that’s as pretty good way to start a week of ministry here!!
I’d value your prayers for this week, as I’m shuttling to and fro across central Scotland, and have a good number of preaching engagements, and doubtless quite a few people to pray for!
And beginning, mentally, to gear up, too, for Colombia, in a few weeks… it’s always good to have the ticket booked, and even better, to know yesterday, that my great Irish mates Alan and Andrew (at least) will be with me in Cali… this time, there’ll be something different, in that there’s a conference over the Easter weekend, which I’m speaking at, and I think they’re expecting 15,000 to it….
What a thrill to go back to Puebla – to have the opportunity of strengthening friendship with the church there, Mundo de Fe:to have the privilege once again of speaking to the Leadership Team; but, more than anything, to see transformation through answered prayer last time! When I visited in September, and met German (pronounced Herman) and Issabelle (pronounced Issabelle!), the pastors. Issabelle was extremely unwell, with a major blood disorder and severe bronchial issues. She was ‘grey’ – not your usual lovely Mexican olive colour – and so underweight with ‘drawn’ facial features…. also, if you recall from the September blog, they were struggling financially, and some of Issabelle’s probable bronchial issues were exacerbated by the fact that they had a rough cement floor in their house, which produced cement dust with every movement.
Well… I ma over the moon to say that she is now completely well, healed of her blood condition, bronchitis, and looking so wonderfully healthy… I prayed for them at the time that God would prosper them in every way, finance as well as health: they now have lovely new tiles throughout their house, redecorated, and really seeing God move in their lives, family, church, and city….
German’s mum asked for prayer last night: struggling to talk , with nodules in her throat, and an inflamed and swollen thyroid – all healed by this morning’s meeting… God’s so good! I found myself saying to her last night that she’d wake up this morning with everything eased… not only eased, but healed!
The meeting with the leaders was terrific: prayed for some, met Paula again, who gave me the apple last time, and her lovely husband John… prosperity is coming to them, too: John has a position as accountant with one the world’s big 4 accountancy companies – DeLoitte’s, Paula is teaching English in a Christian school and God is really beginning to bless them, and is in the process of giving them the desire of their hearts.
There were probably 60 or more at this morning’s meeting, which Benny and I went to from another ‘sign’ that God is prospering the church…. they accommodated us at the hotel Villa Florida, a super hotel that was so, so comfortable! I can’t remember when I last visited somewhere to minister, and was put up in a hotel, let alone one as nice as this one….
There was a lovely sense of God’s presence to preach in: many responded, for commitment, for wanting to stand up and be counted for God, and for healing…. one lovely lady, with chronic arthritis is her knees and shoulders was healed – she could hardly move her arm and then, within moment had it above her head…. knees healed too (ok Lord…. thank you, but mine would appreciate that too!). Others were healed – pain disappearing, infirmities leaving… I’m looking forward to hearing that the numerous people I prayed for with diabetes have been healed…
Relationships grew… opportunities to return increased…. and now, at 1102 pm tonight, I’m going to sleep as it’s up at 530 am for the long haul home…
The airline changed the timetable: I was SUPPOSED to arrive at 830 pm tomorrow night from Toronto: but the 0130 flight (which I’d have liked to be on) now leaves at 2pm: so my flight is now 930 am from Mexico City via the dullest of airports, Montreal, and I don’t arrive until 730 am Tuesday… meaning that I have to drive after a sleepless night, about 150 miles to meet with the Rhinos…. I’d value your prayers! At least another of the Rhinos will be pretty exhausted though – Russ lands Tuesday morning from Vancouver!
Have to pay the bill for my dear old Toyota’s MOT failure, plus tax it Tuesday… value your prayers for what I still need for that! At 166,000 miles, she’s too good to throw away, and still worth (I hope!) repairing…. couldn’t live without her though!
Wow, what a meeting this morning…. Mundo de Fe, Azcapotzalco just keeps growing. The place was pretty full, the Presence of God tangible. Got people who were healed on Friday to come up and testify – that can always be a risk, giving someone a microphone (!), but a few did, and told of God’s immediate healing on Friday evening – including the lovely lad I mentioned yesterday – his name is Johan, he’d fallen, and seriously damaged his ribs – probably broken – and said that when he was prayed for, he felt fire going right through him, and all the pain went… he gave me the most wonderful hug at the end of the meeting, with a fantastic smile on his face…. mum was pretty over the moon, too!
It was one of those occasions where God just turned up, and it was so ‘easy’ to preach. Dozens responded, and people were saved and healed. What more can you want from ‘church’ huh? Even with Benny & Paty, Mimi, and others praying, we were still praying for people for about 45 minutes after the meeting. It was tremendous. I’m a bit sad that’s my last meeting with this church, unless Benny asks me for Wednesday & Friday this week! Though I am looking forward to Puebla, though not so much to the ‘aftermath’ of being there, which is being at Mexico City airport Sunday night at 10.30 pm for a 1.30 am flight back to Toronto… and then the longer haul back to London. But….Rhinos next week….!!!! And then home to Ireland – yeah!!!!
Well, a good day today , after a great night last night in the church here – today, Brighton & Hove Albion, love of my (secular!) life, won 4-2 away from home, and seem to be strolling away with the League One title… last night, in a prayer meeting here, in Mundo de Fe, Azcapotzalco, there was a good turn out (for an ‘end of week’ prayer meeting): shared a little on making choices in faith in our minds and spirits, rather than being swayed by circumstances, situations, even diagnoses… prayed for just about everyone in the meeting, and some were healed, and I know one lady, in terrible distress, found faith – and peace – in a new relationship with Jesus. One lovely young man – about 9 years, I guess – was instantly healed, as was a young lady (a bit older!!) immediately healed of a long-term throat and bronchial disorder…. a super young man, maybe 10 or 11 years, Jose – God just touched his life in such a lovely way. When he came to me, sadness and hurt were written all over him: turns out mum is a witch, and all his life she’s rejected him, never wanted him: and to see the love of God melt so much of his pain away, and a lovely smile – great word in Spanish, sonrisa! – come on his face, was so precious.
Tomorrow, the meeting in the wonderfully named Ixtapalapa, is postponed – it turns out the building the church rent is being redcorated this week! – so I’m with the Azcapotzalco church again…. don’t you just love all these names! Already, expectancy is rising in Puebla for next weekend’s meetings (apple church) – German (Herman it’s pronounced!): German has put on Facebook that an explosion of the word is going to happen! I’m there over the weekend with their leaders, so I’m really looking forward to God moving….
At risk of being accused of being a doom-spreader, I know I’ve blogged before at what’s going on in the world these past months… we’re only into week 5 of 2011, and already we’ve had a cyclone with ‘unprecedented’ winds in north-east Australia (200mph/300kph), the most ‘catastrophic storm ever to hit Australia’, another earthquake in Chile, the bomb in Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, a mining disaster killing more than 20 men in north east Colombia, the massacre in Arizona of the American Congresswoman’s staff and innocent bystanders, the flooding in Brazil killing over 800 and the heaviest rainfall in generations, 3 earthquakes in the UK (Cumbria, Yorkshire, Scotland), 1 million people losing their homes & displaced in Sri Lanka through flooding, a similar story in the Philippines, thousands of birds falling out the sky dead in Arkansas, USA, and 2 million dead fish washed up on the beach in Virginia, USA, – and riots, anarchy, and revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, and today, Serbia. Church, this is OUR time: this is surely the most exciting generation to be alive!
Despite that (!) it is a quiet day today, time for email catch up, and an exciting trip to Walmart, then maybe a film! And, by the way, for all people further north than me, struggling with cold, wind, and rain, it’ll be only about 28C here today…. 🙂
Well, after the cold and wet (and, I gather, snow again) of the UK, it is rather nice to be here in the high 20’s temperatures of Mexico City. It was great to have 10 days or more at home, though, and I really do miss home now, more than I’ve ever done in 24 years of this travelling life. Did I hear someone say ‘It’s your age!’…. maybe, but I so appreciate my coal/log fire on chilly evenings, and dear friends. It was a bit gruelling to get here – over to London from Belfast late Friday night, then at Heathrow Airport for 6a.m. to fly to Toronto. I’m not sure I’d recognise Heathrow departures at anything other than those crack-of-dawn times! I wanted to get to Mexico on Saturday, all in one day, so in order not to have the expense of a long layover in Toronto, which involves hotel, car, meals etc., I found myself flying London – Toronto – Montreal (I’d already flown over Montreal on my way to Toronto!) – Mexico: all in, a 23 hour travelling day, and, as usual, no sleep on the plane…. and lots of dashes through airports on dodgy knees caused by delayed flights.
I really AM grateful to God that I don’t seem to suffer jet-lag: Mexico is 6 hours behind the UK, arrived here at past 11p.m. feeling pretty grim – as you normally do after long flights with odd meals and no sleep – and by 10 a.m. was in church and ready to preach on Sunday morning. However much I think I must be used to the altitude here by now, I realise when rushing from plane to immigration & customs that I’m not: sweating profusely, panting, and doubtless rosy-cheeked….
Sunday’s service was great: my friends Benny & Paty Osorios’ church, Mundo de Fe (World of Faith) is lovely. One whole side of the ‘church’ is steel roller doors, but it gets increasingly full each time I visit. It’s such a privilege to be able to preach in churches, especially churches that seem to keep wanting back time and time again. Benny & Paty are doing a great job with the church. Sometimes, when you preach, you know it was, perhaps, at best, average: other times ok: and sometimes you really like God did something. I’m so glad it was one of those latter occasions, and an increasing privilege when many people come up to you and say ‘That was specifically for me’… then I think you KNOW God’s done something, and spoken…
Meetings with pastors in the daytime is also ‘part of the turf’, and tonight, Wednesday, I was back in the Osorio’s church to preach again. I did my bit and apologised to Mexicans on behalf of the Top Gear team (that programme is HUGE here) who became even more famous than usual because of derogatory (though joking – I hope!) comments about Mexico, Mexicans, and their food…. all the Mexicans I know are incredibly hard-working (TG had said they are lazy), and of course the food… well, it’s terrific. And, believe it or not, there’s not a cactus, or sombrero, or sleeping Mexican in a sombrero under a cactus to be seen anywhere! Loads in the desert – cactus, that is: and mostly it’s the tourists who have the sombreros, looking especially foolish at London’s airport baggage reclaims at 5.30a.m. on a cold morning, wearing one…
Sunday, after church (so about 4p.m.!) I was taken to a specialist Mexican cuisine establishment (that CAN sometimes be a bit worrying, as they eat just about every part of most animals here! – I’ve ‘done’ cow’s eye, cheek, lips, sliced brain, and other bits in the past, not all from the head end!), but it was to have pozole (think ‘pothole’ with an ‘s’ after the ‘t’ and with the ‘e’ pronounced ‘eh’!) – exploded popcorn soup, in my case, with chicken. Try finding THAT in Tescos!
It’s a bit disconcerting (increasingly over the past 5 years or so), especially for someone who, 24 years ago, would also read his sermons from notes verbatim, to have God change everything when you actually stand up to preach… I still have some notes, just in case I think I’m going disastrously, to give me something to come back to. But notes are useless when God changes the message at the last moment! I do spend a lot of time preparing (really, did I hear some of you say??!!!), and today was no exception. First it was going to be around an aspect of David: then Moses (‘What will distinguish us from all the other people of the earth?’)…. and then out came stuff about Job, and why God allows us to be under the enemy’s onslaught…. Hopefully, another sermon with Sunday’s impact, which it seemed to be, judging by comments afterwards.
I often have to laugh, being here especially, as it is such an unlikely place for a Bennison to be ‘at home’ (I really do love Mexico, especially Mexico City, and Mexicans)… a city of immense proportions numerically, constant noise, and incredible pollution. I often think that if I was blindfolded and put here without knowing where I was, I could tell you I was here by what appears in a tissue when you blow your nose… I’ll leave that there! Suffice to say that the pollution works overtime on your nasal passage! 7500 feet up in the air means walking is a little more strenuous, too, so I’m grateful that my knees have in part recovered from Saturday’s hammering in order to get here!
I find that the thin air decreases appetite, too, so there’s blessing all round! If I stayed here for 6 months, I’d look like victoria Beckham! (Well, perhaps not quite….)
So, the further down referred to yesterday is now up here…. I decided that if you’d already read yesterday’s entry, you might not read down it again to find this bit… not that it’ll change your life I’m sure!
So, it was a week of seeing ‘old’ family & friends… long lost family & friends… and it didn’t stop on the Sunday, either… Saturday night was spent in the company of ‘old’ friend Gerry Page, such a great bloke and brilliant musician, Glyn, the pastor of tomorrow’s church (Sunday, that is, not the future, though it’s that too….) and a couple of great guys from their church… in fact, it WAS church, too: and communion, with wine and biscuits, even a little cheese to assist the biscuits’ journey…. guys making a difference, working with homeless, changing their town.
Sunday… Old Town Community Church, Eastbourne: my ‘home’ town for many years – aged 6 – 26 years. Then, it was more a ‘cemetery with lights’, a place where old people went to die in comfort – and then forgot why they went there… but even then, back in the ’60’s, there were some streets not known for their glamour and middle-classness, but for their notoriety. It was into the heart of this community, some years back, that friends planted a church, in the Community Centre: and what a difference that church has made…. it’s really what church should be like: changing the community, restoring lives, rescuing and rebuilding shattered families. It was great to speak there: Glyn & Emma, who lead it since the back end of last year (veeeery long time friends Jo & Susie Marriott led it for years – 35 year long friends!) are going to take it into a whole new dimension, and it was a real privilege to be there, and to pray for loads of people afterwards. Salvation, too…. simply the best!
And…. my friend Hugh & Maureen Saunders turned up, from about 20 miles away: Hugh was the Treasurer in the – then – wonderful Youth for Christ centre I had the joy of working for, but long before that, we were friends, as I was then part of a great youth group in Heathfield, East Sussex, and Hugh & Maureen were in a church we worked closely with – 41 years we’ve been great friends, so I think THAT reunion takes the prize for the oldest friendship of the week! They both go to the gym every day…. in their 80’s…. puts me to shame with my crap knees!!
Sunday evening was onto another long-time home territory – Worthing (1984-2006), to speak at Worthing Tabernacle. Mark, the tremendous pastor there, has been a friend for years, and I have a number of great friends there. Slightly different type of church from the morning – a renowned teaching centre on the south coast for generations, a tradition Mark carries on brilliantly. So, it was up into a pulpit, probably 10 feet high… big screens behind me with me on – man, that is so disconcerting if you glance and see yourself…. I hate being in photos, let alone in full technicolour on large screens! It was a terrific evening: I invited people for prayer, then thought, for a few minutes, that no one was coming… only for a tidal wave of people to come, and I was, with much pleasure, praying for people for almost an hour and three quarters….
Monday…5.30 am, Heathrow, back home to Northern Ireland: a formula one trolley pusher with hard-sided suitcases decided my knee looked a good target 🙁 – it wasn’t so much the collision that hurt – though it did, big time – it was seeing it coming at the last second and twisting instinctively (the worst movement I could have done) to avoid it that did the damage… somewhat easier now, but I’d value your prayers for it!
And so…. last year, on January 12, for some reason I took a blank sheet of A4 paper, and just wrote ‘Haiti, Earthquake’ ultimately writing 300,000 or more dead. Why I did, then – I wasn’t sure. Hard on the heels of that came ‘Chile – earthquake – many dead, the whole city of Concepcion moved 10 cms (4 inches for US friends!) according to satellite measurement….
Through the year it went – earthquakes, floods, mud-slides, mine disasters, plane crashes – on a scale I don’t remember in my 58 years… culminating in the tragedy of Australia, or more specifically Queensland. 75% of that most beautiful state declared a ‘disaster zone’ through the flooding, that even the good old BBC said was of ‘Biblical proportions’. Wonderful that the BEEB acknowledge that the Flood happened Biblically, but not that it happened to such a glorious part of the planet in such an astonishing year. Colombia, mi tierra (my land)…had flooding, mud-slides, and death on an unprecedented scale: Mexico, also mi tierra, had violence and murders on a similar unprecedented scale… are we entering the beginning of Matthew 24, I wonder?
I took up the cudgel again this year, beginning with Australia: 18 days into the year, and I’ve almost filled one side of A4 paper with the incredible events already – Brazil (what a terrible tragedy), Sri Lanka (hundreds of thousands displaced because of the worst flooding since the Tsunami), 5000 birds falling out the sky dead in Arkansas, 2 million dead spot fish on the beach in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia: 2 earthquakes in England – Cumbria & Yorkshire: 6 inches of rain falling in a few hours in the north of the UK, the Brisbane River in Queensland, rising 6 inches in an HOUR…. well over 100 dead in a religious stampede in Kerala, India (I LOVE Kerala) – the most ‘Christian’ state in India, Tunis on fire with rioting, death, looting – and Tunisia is one of the most peaceful nations in t he Arab world… flooding on a massive scale in the Philippines… the partial destruction of a ‘peaceful’ prison in Ford, Littlehampton by rioters…
I won’t go on… but church, these are days when all hell is breaking loose, and we need to be standing up to be counted – but, thank God Paul said in Romans 5:20 that ‘where evil abounds, there grace will abound the more’… what wonderful days of opportunity for the church to become what it was created for, for us to dream – ‘dream like we’ll live forever, live like we’ll die tomorrow’ (thank you, James Dean) – and, not to stay dreaming, but to live ‘like we mean it’ (thank you, Rhino Eric Delve – his latest, excellent book).
I have so needed these days to recharge my batteries and let my knee recover, but late next week, I head to England overnight, and then a loooong day of travelling, via Canada, to Mexico City for 18 days, preaching almost as soon as I get to go to sleep, and then, later in the trip, going to the apple church…. if you want to know what that means, then have a look at the blog entry sometime late in September!
I am SO, SO grateful to God for being alive today, in this generation. I am also grateful for all the trials and tribulations that have come my way courtesy of a man in immigration in Philadelphia airport 21 months ago. I’ve learned so much in these months: including how to handle a level of pain not known before, which has certainly helped my praying for people IN pain…. nothing is wasted in God’s economy, and my friendships here in Bangor, and in other towns in Northern Ireland, are amongst the best I have EVER had….
So, bring on Mexico…. then Scotland…. then Colombia…. then England…. here I am, Satan, I’m on your case….
“If what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a meaningful story, it won’t make a life meaningful either”. Donald Miller (A million miles in a thousand years). Food for thought there…..
and yet another VERY long-time friend, Kitt Mason, sent me this… which after the ‘heaviness’ of the last few paragraphs, might make you smile:
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1930’s 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s!
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us or lived in houses made of asbestos.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds , KFC, Subway or Nandos.
Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death!
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy Toffees, Gobstoppers, Bubble Gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in but we weren’t overweight because……
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY, some of us didn’t have TV when we were young, no video/dvd films,
no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms……….WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no Lawsuits from these accidents.
Only girls had pierced ears!
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time…
We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthday.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!
Mum didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!
RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on MERIT.
Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bully’s always ruled the playground at school.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like ‘Kiora’ and ‘Blade’ and ‘Ridge’ and ‘Vanilla’.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL !
And YOU are one of them!
17 January 2011
Oooohhh…. I did it again…. almost, no, actually, a month since last writing here. My sincere apologies to all of you who read this :(. Thank you for your faithfulness and patience with me. My unofficial P.A. (no, not a sound system) has, er, politely reminded me that my blog is suffering from lack of tender loving care….
Christmas and New Year took a surprising turn for most of us, I guess, with the severity of the weather. It was impossible to drive here in NI, certainly on the less populous roads, for quite some time, so instead of going for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my great friends, the Barrs, in Aghadowey (to pronounce it, think of that wonderful pop song from many years ago, Agadoo… so, then add an ey to the end….!), I went to Marks and Spencer, and bought in my own personalised Christmas dinner, stocked up with oil, logs, and coal, and waited for Christmas night, midnight, to watch England wop the Australians at cricket :). A little hard to rejoice with that result, and the next one in Melbourne, and the one day series, because of the astonishing, traumatic, and devastating floods in Queensland. More of that further down…. many sleepless, log fuelled fire nights were spent glued to the TV until the early morning, and then bed at 7.am! I did make it to the Agadoo-doo-doo place and had a lovely belated couple of days Christmas with Drew and Valerie.
Then, over to England on New Years Day…. all was quiet (that’s a song, too, by the way!), ahead of a third visit in 13 months to Brownhill Road Baptist Church, Catford, on Sunday. I always used to worry I’d be one of those preachers who would say ‘I’ve been everywhere – once’…. thankfully, I do seem to keep getting asked back to some places! It was a lovely service, good to meet the Pastor (who’d not been there my previous two visits – he was very kind at the end, so I hopefully passed the test!). It’s a lovely church, as it’s a bit like preaching at the United Nations: I prayed, at the end, for Ghanaians, Zambians, Sri Lankans, a Jamaican (I think), and many more… ooohh, and yes, a few Brits, too!
What was even more a blessing was that my cousin, Raye, her son John, and his wife, Karen, were there. They’d come especially to see me… the last time I’d seen Raye was in 1975, so John would have been 7 then, so he’d changed a bit… my family is so small our family reunions could – in reality! – take place in most people’s downstairs loos, so it was particularly special to see them after 36 years. We had lunch together, too, which was great, and promised not to leave it another 36 years! I’d be 94 years old then…. I’m seeing Raye’s brother, Robert, and his wife Norma, all being well, in March, too: on my way back ‘dahn sarf’ (down south – it’s being back in London that does it!) from Scotland. It is ONLY 2 years since I saw them, though, on a previous trip back from Bonnie Scotland.
Sunday evening, 2nd, saw me at my dear friends John & Yvonne Pressdee’s church, Green Street Green Baptist, Orpington. It was a terrific service, too, prayed for a good number of people, including a young man whose back and shoulder was healed instantly…. so good to spend time with John & Yvonne, too. John, of course, is a much more mature Rhino than me….
Down to Cornwall for a couple of days to see my sister, back through Wellington, Somerset, to stay overnight with my old YWAM friends, the Broom family, and caught up with, after goodness knows how many years, Tim’s brother & sister in law, Andy & Michelle…. an open invitation to where they are now was happily received – Portland, Victoria, Australia…. Tim & Suzie I met when I spoke on their YWAM school in ’96: in ’97 we went to India together: there’s nothing like a good monsoon flood in Chennai to bond you with the people you travel with! The over-abundance of frogs on that trip would have made Paul McCartney very happy.
Then to Worthing, to catch up with a number of people, including my great mate Paul, in Hove, who got saved on a trip to Colombia with me about 8 years ago.
Then to Eastbourne, Saturday, to preach Sunday: but first, to catch up with two more great couples I hadn’t seen for 15 years or more… what was it about that week that was so delightful for ‘catching up’ – and nostalgic, too? Pete & Diane, and Don & Pauline were a joy to catch up with. Don, who is 80 now, and could pass for 60, and Pauline even younger, will forever live in my memory and experience! When I first met him, in ’84, he was the first man ever to kiss me – on the cheek, I’d hasten to add. I was both blessed and shocked… for some months after that, if I saw him coming down the main shopping street, I’d duck into whatever shop was close by, in case he repeated said blessing in the street: and then I thought, why?? It’s Biblical, affirming, and a wonderful sign of friendship. Since then, I’ve kissed a few blokes… I do try and pick and choose them, though!
Actually, what I said ‘up there’ about writing about Oz ‘down here’ I’m going to leave til tomorrow… as it’s now 2 a.m. on that very tomorrow, and I need to sleep. I will talk about Sunday’s churches, too…..
Back in Northern Ireland, thinking last week that I was escaping the snow and ice of Sweden… only to have the worst snow in more than 25 years here! And boy, it’s cold, too. It’s been good to be able to ‘chill out’ (in every sense of the word!!) and watch some cricket – at 2.30 am, as it’s coming from Australia! -, though the last few days have not been good for England 🙁 …. I’m around here for Christmas, so looking forward to some relaxing days and some earlier nights until the next match been Australia and England begins on Christmas night! Then, a very busy week in England, not just with church meetings, but lots of other meetings too.
It’s unlikely that there will be much worth blogging until the new year… unless you would like me to write here the sort of things many write on Facebook and Twitter – about what meals they’re eating, when they go to the bathroom, and so on….? No, I thought not….
So, have a lovely Christmas, and a New Year – I hope and pray – in which Heaven will touch Earth…. Thank you for your interest, support, and love over the past year…
Wonderful day yesterday with ‘The House’ here in freezing cold, snowing and icy Gothenburg! Passion, vitality, creativity, hunger for God, desperation for the city/nation (especially after the terrorist bombs just a few hours earlier in Stockholm), and a bunch of people not prepared to stay at the same level in God for too long, before aspiring to the next level… it was, to be honest, quite scary to stand up and speak to such a church, after electrifying worship, but I hope and pray I did ok (they told me it was ok afterwards, so I choose to believe them!!). Afterwards, many go to the local pizza restaurant, and church continues in a rather more different vein, but important in building relationships.
I got the evangelism numbers wrong from Saturday – my apologies. It wasn’t 20. It was nearer 50! Including an 83 year old lady in a wheelchair, who became a Christian, and said ‘I’ve been waiting and looking for my whole life for this!’ How to look the end of your life in the face – with a smile and reassurance! Wonderful! There’s so many amazing young people in this church, and it was an encouragement and a blessing to hear them testify that they were scared out of their minds before approaching people in the Mall to talk about Jesus… face you fear, and do it anyway… one particularly close friend, as he’s become, Hedrik (nicknamed Henke) is a chef in the ‘tv chef’ category… only saved a few years … scared on Saturday… and led at least 14 people to Jesus….
And so, today…. down the slippery wooden steps again, and to Landvetter Airport 🙁 – though it will be nice to be home again, see friends, and watch Australia v. England on Thursday on tv! (That’s cricket, for the uninformed!).
Wow…. good day… up and down stairs, not just here (there are 108 up to the house, and beautifully icy! – I checked – some are very uneven rock, just to add to the effect). Ulf and the guys watch me going up and down somewhat cautiously, and laugh… nicely, of course! – holding on to branches, plants… but… I’ve done it! Thank you, Lord.. my knees just a wee bit (I’m becoming Irish!) sore, but the pain I’d have expected…. not there. And as though God was having a laugh… we had to park in a multi-storey car pack in Gothenburg city centre… with the lift (oh, by the way, that’s another Swedish word I know – ‘hiss’ – much better than ‘lift’, isn’t it??!!) (and no, I’m resisting the urge to say that God was taking the hiss…) wasn’t working… so down a few flights of steel fire escape stairs – OUTSIDE – in the ice…
Before you start to wonder ‘why or how or why this church here has so many totally non-religious and radical people… I’ll tell you. The church in theory is 5-6 years old: for 3-4 years, they did NOTHING but pray and fast, every weekend, and a few longer fasts, in order to hear just how and why God wanted this church to be. The moment they begin to feel ‘comfortable’ with it, they pray and fast again, because they are desperate to keep moving forward in God’s plan, and not sit back and relax. In the mall today, over 20 people gave their lives to the Lord, from ‘cold’ start conversations, in less than 2 hours….
Lovely day yesterday praying for sick people in homes, and being with the family in Boras. The Isacssons really bless me as they have such a heart for persecuted, poor, and displaced people – it’s wonderful to be finding more and more people who are dissatisfied with the sort of Christianity we’ve grown so accustomed to, and, for many people, comfortable with. For me, I felt it ‘sharpened’ me to be with so many different nationalities and faiths in one place, and it’s a real tribute to Bjorn & Maria that they have access to, and bless so many, people that most Christians would prefer not to be around…
And so today, on to Gothenburg for part 4 of my journey – to the great guys who form the group known as ‘The House’ – a more radical or fired up group of people it would be hard to find anywhere! My great buddy, Ulf Christiansson, who heads it up, is the most non-religious wonderfully spirit-filled Christian I think I know!
It was an interesting test for me! This week, Vello & Ingalill in Orebro, and last night Bjorn & Maria, prayed for these seriously ‘crocked’ knees of mine – one, the left, with an almost open invitation from hospital to call and go and have surgery for a replacement. Ulf & Else Marie live in a house with a wonderful view over a gorgeous lake on the edge of Gothenburg – but it’s high up the side of a pretty steep hill, and no road to it – just…. loads and loads of steps (I guess-timate about 100!). Up until the prayers this week, and from Alan & Barbara in Ireland – of course, we met when God miraculously healed Barbara’s accutely osteo-arthritic knees – with both my knees knackered, stairs and slopes have been particularly painful. Well, I’ve been up and down the stairs here three times already, and no pain… not only that, I think my second time ‘up’, bearing in mind they are covered in snow and ice, was the quickest I’ve ever done them! I was out of breath, but that’s par for the course for me with their steps!
I do love some of the Swedish words…. 🙂 – we went to Ulf’s neighbours this evening for glogg – pronounced, I think, glerg… mulled wine with spices, almonds, and raisins… so nice! Typical Christmas fare here… did, of course, pray over the wine before I drank it, that the alcohol content would be removed… 😉
Tomorrow, onto the streets for evangelism… that should test my Swedish vocab! Hej, glogg, tak, and Gud are about my limit…..
And so on to Boras, in the south west… been here a few times now, to friend Bjorn & Maria Isacsson. They have the most enormous hearts for the very large immigrant, asylum seeking, and refugee community in this city. Last night’s meeting here was probably the best ever: Christians, non Christians, Moslems – from Albania, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Poland – even a Colombian lady, who looked totally speechless when I spoke to her in Spanish! – were there. The meeting begins with ‘fica’ – good Brit christians would call it ‘refreshments’, but it’s more than that… a really community spirit has grown here through Bjorn & Maria, and others, including the pastor of the church where we met. It’s such a privilege to speak to such a group, many of them with the most horrific background stories of persecution, deprivation, and threat. There must have been 30 or so there: I think I ended up praying with all of them, and it is so moving to be thanked, and hugged, by – for instance – an Azerbaijani moslem couple, in tears – for praying for them… their gratitude to OUR God was so lovely… and hearts are changed. Something really powerful happened for a lovely Kosovan refugee, Igor: and others talked about intense heat in their bodies, so I’m waiting for the testimonies….
Eating lunch today, in a Thai restaurant in the city, with Maria, she got a Kosovan couple she knews – Roma moslems – to come and join us. They were lovely: wanted to hear stories from me about God healing people, astonished as they listened… then they said their daughter, in Albania, had cancer, and they were so grateful for prayer, right in the middle of a busy restaurant, for ‘proxy’ prayer for her – Ardiana – and both gave me the biggest hugs before they left. I love this stuff!
So, a bit more about the meetings in Orebro… and then on to here, Boras (pronounced Boros – there’s a little ‘o’ over the ‘a’!!).
Vello & Ingalill have started a new church, so it was a real joy to be involved with them, especially to discover I was their first ‘outside’ speaker! Vello is a prophet and a ‘seer’, Ingalill prophetic, evangelistic, and with a wonderful heart for worship. A good number came to the meetings, which are so beautifully relaxed and informal, and incredibly powerful. Like I said below, the presence of God was tangible: it was so easy to speak into an environment like that, and it was a real joy to pray with just about everyone in the meeting afterwards, for healing to asking God for the faith to live a more radical lifestyle. Saturday was the Julbord, the meal: even ended up praying for people here, too! And then Sunday, with a packed room, ther worship took off. Sometimes, worship can almost seem a drudge – a necessary yet ‘added on’ component: other times, you heaven invades earth, and it did on Sunday. Healing, challenge, commitment, faith, power…. prayed for just about everything.
On Monday, a meeting was scheduled with a Ghanain pastor who had been preaching in Lindkoping (Lind-shopping!). Eric, who translated excellently for me, had been there on Saturday night/Sunday morning translating for this pastor. I’d happened to mention that I’d been to Ghana many times on the Friday evening… I wonder what odds bookmakers would give on a meeting taking place in the middle of Sweden, in December, between a West African and a Brit – who last met nearly 19 years ago in Tema, Ghana, and had not been in touch since…? That’s what happened – as I walked into the house where this man, James Godlly, was staying, I knew that I knew him: he’d vaguely recalled my name, which is why we both agreed to meet….
In those days, I spoke at many Youth with a Mission schools on the subject of ‘Goals, Dreams, and Visions’. I’d been going to YWAM Ghana since 1988, twice a year. James had been a Discipleship School Student in a class I’d taught in 1992. Since then, he’s planted a few churches, and is about to launch a new mission ministry next year based in Ghana. He’s in Sweden preaching, prophesying, and encouraging churches (in the snow, which is a huge ‘price’ to pay when you’re West African!).
For 23 years now I’ve travelled, all over the world, spoken to a few million people, I reckon, but it’s always such a blessing when you hear – especially 19 years later – that what you taught changed someone’s life…. in my ‘Goals’ teaching, I shared a number of things you can do in order to see goals and dreams fulfilled. James told me on Monday that the list is the front page of the ‘mission document’ for his church, and the new ministry, and has been since he first began. He never dreamed he’d meet me again, and here we were, in mid-Sweden, sub-zero, in snow, 19 years on… and planning that we’d do something together in Ghana next year! How does God work these things out?? It blows my mind, it really does: even more, that little ol’ me, in beautiful West Africa, might even begin to make an impact on some else’s life and ministry….. thank you, God!
James then prophesied over Vello and Ingalill, and totally blew them out of the water, speaking out things that – up til then – had been ‘secrets’ only shared between husband and wife concerning vision and the future….
Spent the evening with Vello and Ingalill watching the dvd ‘Furious Love’ – and was totally wrecked (again!!) as I watched it – as were they….
Really got to know an astonishing couple, Konak & Vivia, from Czech Republic & Slovakia respectively, Roma background… his name is pronounced more like ‘cognac’ (which I was very happy to do!)… he’s wonderfully outrageously passionate for Jesus, amazing sense of humour (totally wild by many eastern European standards!)…. but have this sense I’ve got to know someone who is a ‘mover and shaker’, a real Kingdom builder…
The weather scuppered time schedules for getting to Sweden, but I made it after a long day, beginning at 4.15am in Ireland! The joys of travelling ministry!
Spent day one in Sweden with my dear friends Stojan and Soila Gajicki (he’s Serbian, Soila is Finnish). I know that God has joined my heart with theirs, and Sotjan is such a dear friend now. We talked and talked for hours (networking! – and, more importantly, building our friendship more and more) – some of those hours sitting in their sauna, which is a delight! I believe more and more that friendships like this – and others established here in Sweden, are going to be ‘key’ in the future. No meeting, just friendship… wonderful.
On to Orebro (pronounced Er-eb-ru) last Friday: to dear friends Vello and Ingalill Vaim – also key people! They have a new church in the city, and Friday and Sunday we had the most wonderful meetings: to say you could touch the presence of God would be an understatement. His presence was tangible: lives touched, many prayed for/prophesied over, and at least one healed… as you know, I often don’t hear about them for days/months/weeks afterwards! Saturday was a ‘Julbord’ (yool-board) – Christmas meal – many there, great food, and three lovely homeless men came whom Ingalill had invited…. such a joy to share food with them.
When I’m in Boras, later or tomorrow, I’ll tell you about a Ghanain pastor I met here yesterday…. and fill in more details!
O.K., so I’m cheating here a little, backdating this until just before coming to Sweden! After Colombia, I spent a few days in England, actually for the purpose of trying to raise some cash at a car boot sale (sort of a yard sale but filling your trunk for Americans!)… it was a joy, as sitting with about 400 sellers at 7.30 am on Ford Airfield in freezing cold wind is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning! The next day, it was a similar story in Brighton, except that it poured with rain there… so a pretty fruitless 2 days!
I really needed a few days r&r at home in Ireland after Colombia: I got that, helped by the fact that one of the greatest events on the sporting calendar began – Australia v. England at cricket, so I snuggled up at midnight each night UK time to watch England take the Aussies apart!
It was also a good time to catch up with friends, and meeting new people – maybe networking? – as well as going to a number of people’s homes to pray for some pretty sick people. Then, off to Sweden – normally to the cold, but this time leaving cold and snow behind – only to find even more cold and more snow!
So, the last day, and the long, long haul home… a few weeks ago, I had thought about being here a month, but with a busy week ahead of the trip, and another immediately after, the thought of being away from home in Ireland for 6 weeks did not seem such a blessing! I’m learning to listen to my body (about time, did I hear some of you shout!!), and I think the days of 6 weekers are over!
Alan has already gone (it’s 7 am here – he went at 6.30): In & I leave at 11.45 am. The thought layovers in Bogota and Madrid are not a great blessing right now: it’ll be 22-24 hours before any of us are back in the UK. Just praying that THIS 10 hour flight with Spanish airline Iberia has seat back TV’s so at least we can watch a few films! The one on the way out had a ‘central’ screen at the front of the cabin, so only one film (and it was dire in the extreme!), the food was awful, and a loo blocked… sort of wondering how ever this airline got into the best network and were good enough to merge with British Airways!
So, what’s been the summary of the trip? Dozens and dozens saved: hundreds (maybe 4 figures) healed: serious diseases gone (cancer, diabetes, asthma, TB, at least one healed of AIDS: incredible new contacts for the future, with Pastos Alvarro Cerna (Cathedral of Life), Pastor Candelaria (Avant), and Pasto David, who’s church in Agua Blanca I can’t recall… all want 3-4 day ‘crusades’ next time: having Hendrik on board again to bring European (he’s Dutch but been here with Teija for 25 years) organisation to the trip: Gustavo, the mover and shaker pastor on board: Walter, long time friend, increasing his sphere of connections and opening them up to me: and the kids hospital… healings, blessing, hope, grace given away there, and the spiritual wrecking of three grown men for the UK…
Why would I not want to be here? Sometimes, Latino timekeeping drives you nuts, but we do seem to have ‘cracked’ that one in the past few days: despite it, ‘stuff’ happens, and, in truth, I love the somewhat more laid back-ness of this culture than the pressure culture in many other places. I’m so glad, though, that 24 years ago, when this journey began, I asked God to deliver me of my ‘Englishness’ – the Englishman abroad couldn’t cope for long, not the Brit abroad, less still the American abroad!
So, Cali, time to say goodbye maybe until April, but the stories will live on.
Saturday afternoon – well, 5pm – we were back speaking at a church in an area of Cali with the delightful name of Chipechape (pronounced Chippy Chappy!) – sounds like a happy carpenter. The church – Casa de Oracion Rey Jesus (House of Prayer of King Jesus – sounds better in Spanish, doesn’t it??!!) is pastored by a great couple Diego & Candy: one of the great things about this trip is that, when all 3 of us – Alan, Ian, and me – have been together, we’ve all shared stuff the Lord has given us, and it always seems to fit together…. surprising, that, huh??!! Saturday was no exception, and the ‘flood’ afterwards of people for prayer was, as before, huge… the three of us were inundated for a couple of hours, but there were some amazing things reported….
Someone was healed of cancer, someone of diabetes, a man was healed of a long-time bacterial disease in the lower half of his body – untreatable for years. Migraines went, others declaring healing from asthma (many), diabetes, scoliosis… just a ‘usual’ evening in a Cali church!
Sunday, we split up, Alan & Ian going in the morning to my dear friend Hendrik’s church (El Abrigo el Altisimo – the Shadow of the Almighty): they had a tremendous morning, Hendrik telling me he hasn’t felt the presence of God in the church quite like it for a long time… in the afternoon (5pm) they were at the church’s kids’ foundation, where a few months ago a new church began, led by Jhon Jairo (no, Jhon is not spelt wrong!!) – all day, many to pray for, and I know, and have seen, both Alan and Ian move into a new dimension in what God can do and does through them…. easier to see it objectively than for them to see it in themselves!
In the morning, I was at a church called Avant, led by a propehetic lady, Candelaria, who wants to introduce me to a number of new (to me) churches across Colombia, and in other countries, incldunig Guatemala: had a most amazing time there, and it was such a blessing that the clock in the church facing me had stopped! Just seemed that God had turned on a ‘prophetic’ preaching mode for the morning (maybe because it was a church led by a prophet?) – well, in the evening too! – and had a remarkable response to an appeal for people who wanted a ‘Caleb’ spirit, to dream and move outside of their safe areas. Needless to say there was a long stream of people for healing: many said they knew they were healed – pain going, disease leaving, new arches created in a young girl’s foot (fallen arches seems to be a curse here)….
Afternoon: in very new church in San Fernando, Communidad Cristiana Cielo Abierto – sounds better in Spanish too – Chrsitian Community Open Heaven’ – I know that I’ve said in the ‘rest of the world’ many times over the years that the heavens ARE open over this city, and Colombia: they certainly were last night! I spoke (a bit!) about Habakkuk, and where it says in chapter 3 about God opening his hand where his power had been hidden – that happened last night! It was almost like I could ‘see’ God’s hand, through the open heaven, opening and releasing his power. A man with a broken arm was healed: migraines went: a huge number of people with respiratory problems – bronchitis, bronchiectisis, sinusitis, asthma – were healed…. some were saved, some set free from long-term problems (I guess some would call it ‘delivered’!), and the usual – of hearing myself say to people that certain things would happen within a day..or two..or a week… help! Glaucomas went, cataracts… it was wonderful!
Then, to cap it all, Hendrik wanted me to meet a man – I STILL only know him as Gustavo! – who was in the church where Hendrik was associate pastor during the era that the ‘Transformations’ video was made: the church of the murdered pastor, Julio Ruibal. Wow, to say Gustavo is a ‘mover and shaker’ would be an understatement!!! We ‘connected’ almost instantly, chatted until way after the mall, Palmetto Plaza, where we met, had closed… and it has opened up a whole new network of churches, meetings, and opportunities for the future. Also going to be doing a lot more with and through Hendrik in the future: I’ve always veered away from asking too much of him as his churches are growing, and I’ve introduced others to him who come here, and he organises them: but our friendship goes back a long, long way, and he reminded me of one of the early times he translated for me, in the church of another dear friend, Norbey, when Norbey’s church was on Fifth Street (La Quinta – much nicer!! I think I’m becoming more Spanish by the day!!!!). In the middle of preaching, Hendrik translating, with whole of the ‘shuttered’ front of the church up, open onto the street, we were interrupted when a man was shot right outside….
Cali’s changed a wee bit since then…. but it reminded me that my life is one I wouldn’t swap for anything! Sort of colourful, I guess….
What is it going to take for churches to realise that something astonishing is happening this year? For some reason, I began to write down the major events – traumas, tragedies, disasters etc., – at the beginning of the year, beginning with Haiti’s devastating earthquake, closely followed by Chile’s…. Haiti is still featuring, regularly in that list, with cholera killing hundreds and right now, Hurricane Tomas dropping unprecedented rains on the nation. Today… more volcanic eruptions killing dozens in Malaysia, right on the tail of the tsunami there… two plane crashes today (Cuba and India). If we’re not starting to live in Matthew 25, then when we do, that time is certainly going to be interesting…. having just watched the film ‘Furious Love’, which I’d recommend to anyone unless you’re nice and safe and secure in your comfort zone and want to stay there (sadly, a large percentage of the church, but Matthew 25 talks about that, too), then NOW is the time to GO – and simply give away the love of Jesus, who loves Haiti, Indonesia, Cuba, Pakistan, despite what judgmental Christians have said about some of these events being God’s judgment on a nation… just see the amazing Indonesian pastor in Furious Love to send that lie back to where it originated We’ve made excuses and fabricated reasons for not going for far too long…
Today, we went…. not far, but into hospital wards with kids with TB, and other contagious diseases, and saw the love of Jesus touch dozens of lives – not just the kids, but the parents, too. Prayed for one little boy, with chronic asthma, with mum in tears because his life was so at risk: prayed with mum, too: Ian said afterwards that her face changed totally in those moments, I saw it too – from hopelessness to hope, fear to faith…. why would you not want to see that? We were in the kids hospital – with parents almost begging us to pray for their children. Before you come back with the comment – as many do – ‘It’s all they’ve got’ – I want to dispel THAT excuse, too: it isn’t all they’ve got. Club Noel is a pretty good class hospital, part public part private: great doctors, like my dear friend Dunia Quiroga, who came round with us today. For those who don’t recall her, she’s one of the top brain surgeons in Latin America, lectures all over the Americas, and is so skilled it’s almost scary… but she recognises that supernatural healing is not only important, but vital.
One of her patients, a little boy with hydrocephalus and a multitude of other things, was waiting for his appointment, with scared, frightened dad and mum… the change that occurred in all 3 was astonishing…. we went in and out of wards with terminally sick and dying kids… just our BEING there changed the lives of parents of kids, because someone ‘strange’ cared…
All of us were in tears at one point or another, wrecked by what we had seen, and yet overjoyed at the privilege of being there….
And today, we had the delight (for Ian the trauma!) of being driven by a taxi driver who’d have been much more at home on a Formula One circuit! I don’t think I’ve ever been through this city so quickly!! At one point, I told him that he was a ‘buen chofer’ – great driver – at which point, he accelerated, and turned in his seat to speak to me! Ian, sitting next to him, was hoping he’d make it home to the bathroom! He was great fun….
And so, into a busy weekend…. and soon, home….
Well…. so much for foot on the accelerator yesterday!!!! Good ‘ol Latino time-keeping reared its head, and both the hospital visit (to Club Noel, the kids hospital) and the church last night were cancelled – not before we were there, though, in the case of the hospital! All being well, we’re NOW going there tomorrow….
For some obscure reason, the pastor of last night’s church said he couldn’t afford to have us: I’m not quite sure which bit of ‘there’s no charge’ he didn’t quite understand, but there you go….
If you’re film buffs, as all three of us are, or like to think we are!, to have a free evening unexpectedly, on a limited budget, the cinema’s a great place. Here, they have luxury VIP seats for less than the naff seats in the UK… we saw two films… one was good – ‘The Town’, with Ben Affleck: the other, well – a word of warning! We saw ‘The Burning Field’, with Charlize Theron: if you’re going to see it, it’s probably IS a great social comment film, but… like the glasses they hand out at the door of 3D films, we felt it only fair that the cinema provided very sharp knives at the door so you could slash your wrists, or at least a few seats with nooses over trap doors…. it was THAT entertaining! Some will say… ‘Well, it’s the price you pay for being so worldly and going to the cinema’….. Pah or other words!! We actually got the giggles in that second film…. three amigo big boys giggling in a social comment film…. It’ll probably be ‘Tinkerbelle’ dubbed in Spanish if any more meetings get cancelled!
So… we sort of waited to hear that today’s meeting might go the same way, only to discover 30 minutes after it started (when we were just being picked up!) that there were TWO meetings – both starting at 7pm, and by now it was 7.45 and we were still at the apartment! Swallowing hard, trying to throw frustration to one side, I went to one church, Alan & Ian to the other – where we all turned out to have ‘blockbuster’ meetings! The guys said there were about 70 at their meeting, in the north of the city, a church called ‘Betel’ (I’ve been there before) and, from what I hear, Alan was prophesying left right and centre, and Ian preached his heart out… ending up praying for everyone there, and seeing God do some great things… Alan seems to have ‘caught’ my disease of saying to people things like ‘by Saturday, this will have happened’… You have to find yourself in that position to know just how scary it is when you hear yourself say it and know that it has to be God as you weren’t even thinking it!! Alan jokingly said he wanted to change his flight to Saturday morning so he could go home before the outcome!
It was SUCH a good night that Ian said ‘if the trip ends tomorrow this will have been worth it!’ – but it ain’t over yet!!
I was in a church – Cathedral of Life – in the ‘rough’ part of San Fernando: never been there before, arrived over an hour after the meeting had begun, only to find that the translator wasn’t there…. that’s a mild nightmare heart-attack moment, especially as it was a biggish church (0ver 200 midweek is pretty good!)… Winston, the translator, was summoned, but I then realised that the church had dug someone else out of the congregation, Carlos (I discovered later that he was an alcoholic, so I think that’s another ‘first’, in the translation stakes!). Truthfully, he seemed very good, was easy to have next to me, and my Spanish is such now that I know when something is mistranslated, and there didn’t seem to be a problem! Duly, Winston arrived and took over, and the whole meeting was fantastic – lots of laughter, and people also breaking down in tears as I spoke on the love of God for this tremendous city, for the alcoholics, druggies, prostitutes, cartel bosses…. I preached late on for salvation, and a good number (maybe up to 20?) responded, which is such an amazing privilege. Salvation is STILL the greatest miracle of all – God bringing people from darkness to light, death to life…
Oh, and by the way, Carlos got set free from his addiction at the end of the meeting, and healed, too: his wife was healed too….
Many responded for the call to be more passionate, not only in their walk with God, but for busting out of their comfort zones (probably about 180 of the congregation) even though I warned them that they’d be making themselves an even bigger target for the enemy to attack….
And then healing… many healed! Osvaldo was kneeling at the front crying, a lad in his 20’s, in immense pain, dislocated shoulder (I could feel it, too, when I touched it)… within seconds whirling his arm like a windmill, no pain, ball and socket back in place… another dislocated shoulder healing followed (how unlikely is it to get 2 in one meeting, I wonder?). A lady with cancer, filled with fear (understandably) transformed in moments: me and my accurate prophetic words, saying to her, ‘your womb is healed’ only for her to say that that’s where the cancer had begun, and that surgeons had removed it!!! Close… better still I told her she’d get a new one… She felt the remnant cancer go…. God is so amazing….
A man with bad heart disease, palpitations, high blood pressure (Jhonny, his name), healed instantly…. others with sight being restored (not from blindness, but eye conditions)…so as you can see, just from this little snapshot, it was an amazing night!
So… hospital tomorrow…. meeting in the afternoon, and then church in the evening – we think!!!!
Arrived in Cali, Colombia, on Tuesday evening, 26th… as a ‘westerner’, one of the things hardest to get used to as a traveller is the rest of world’s wonderfully slapdash approach to times and dates! Alan and Ian from Northern Ireland are here with me: Ian & I arrived together at Cali airport, after an immensely long day – we’d checked in at Heathrow at 5am, arrived in Cali at 830 pm (but with a 6 hour time change – so the equivalent of 230 am Wednesday UK time), only to find no one there to meet us! Ian had stayed all night in Heathrow as it was, as he’d flown from Belfast Tuesday evening at 7pm…. a hastily booked taxi brought us to the apartment here, and desperately needed rest and sleep…. Alan arrived Wednesday evening, and, bless him, came straight from the airport to a church meeting!
Normally, with the above non-western theme mentioned (!) nothing is organised meeting-wise until we get here: this time, we HAD a meeting on the first night (though everything else planned for Thursday didn’t happen!!). We were at a church right in the ‘centro’ area of the city: close to the Calvario (pronounced Calbario), which is a pretty dangerous area at night for gringos… a great pastor, Julius, a good band, but boy, did the worship run a long time – an hour and 40 minutes, and the need for sleep for Ian and me was overwhelming! But, although tired, and with my knees hurting from ‘the long day’s journey into night’ the day before (that was a film title, in case you didn’t know!), I really felt an incredible freedom to preach, and didn’t even notice my knees or the tiredness. A good number of people responded for prayer, and some announced their healing, with others to follow…. by now, Alan had joined us, which made it feel ‘complete’ here!
Thursday was, er, interesting: a number of things planned, which didn’t happen, mostly cancelled pretty late on so you couldn’t actually relax and enjoy the day! It was, though, great to spend a couple of hours with my long-time friend Hendrik Hoere, and fix up a few meeting dates with him.Alan and I had a great time chatting with and prophesying over some dear friends here on Friday evening.
A terrific church in Agua Blanca followed, pastored by a couple I’d never met before – Juan Carlos and Margot Ortiz: it really was a great meeting, with Alan and Ian both sharing really good stuff, a great freedom again to preach, and many to pray for afterwards. That’s why it’s so good, amongst many other reasons, to have people like Alan and Ian here, as I’d have been there hours praying on my own!
Sunday SHOULD have been 3 services: but the translator never arrived for one of them! Another of the things you just have to grin and accept…. but it was lovely to be in my friends Norbey & Carmen Arias’s church, even if the service DID begin at 7am….wonderful meeting, all of us contributing, and some words of knowledge and prophecy that I just pray were spot on, and look forward to hearing the outcome soon…. straight on to another church in Agua Blanca, a new one to me, and a tremendous sense of God’s astonishing healing anointing, especially for a lovely lady named Veronica, who had a broken knee alongside other leg injuries, following a car crash: she knows she is healed, and I’m sure that when she woke up today it was with a new kneecap… others were healed, some very obviously, as the three amigos from the UK prayed for them.
Halloween is big here, though not as big as in Mexico, so today was a national holiday: after the loooong meetings yesterday, it was a blessing, as tomorrow we begin an accelerating run of meetings every day and evening. We went to see a film tonight – sooooo depressing (The Burning Fields) it made all three of us laugh….
My apologies (again!) for being so late to update here, but I’ve been having trouble with my update software, so I’m also cheating and updating this prior to arriving here in Cali, Colombia….
It was a really good meeting at West Church, Bangor: it started well, with a lovely lady named Liz arriving and telling me that I’d prayed for her a year ago, which I’d remembered, as she was scheduled to have (at least) one toe amputated from her foot, it might have been more…. I remember agreeing with her that this wouldn’t happen – and it didn’t, they merely removed a little dead tissue, and she is healed and walking perfectly…. another lady told me of a close friend, Eileen (I think) in Inverness: prayed for her by proxy for her cancer (if I recall she had death hanging over her imminently) and, whilst not fully healed, is still alive and enjoying life!
It was good to pray with a number of folk after the meeting, some who said that pain eased immediately, but mostly I’m sure stories will filter back later at some stage, like Liz’s!
The week following that meeting, I’d purposely kept clear, as I was heading off for England the following week… three great days with the Rhinos, still such a vital part of my diary… their love, encouragement, ministry, and prophetic input is so vital to me. Then it was down to Cornwall to visit and pray for my sister, brother in law, and nephew – and to have them pray for me. My family is really pretty small now, just Vivien and me, a couple of cousins, and an aunt… I’m not sure there’s too much more than that left now 🙁 – our family reunions – if we had them – could be held in most people’s downstairs toilets, space-wise!! Sometimes I wish we had a bigger family, if I’m honest, especially when I hear of great times together of friends’ families.
From Cornwall, to Plymouth, to stay with dear friends Julian and Olwyn, who lead City Church there: that feels like going ‘home’ to be with them and preach at the church. It was a great service Sunday morning, and such a blessing to have the privilege to preach and pray for people. The same goes for Maranatha, Exeter, where I preached Sunday evening: just a lovely response, and lots of people forward for ministry.
Then back towards London, on the Monday, for an overnighter before heading for Colombia crack of dawn Tuesday….
I’d really appreciate your prayers, as, a few years ago, I damaged my right knee whilst in Colombia: I was half way across a multi-lane road, on a red traffic light, only to find a speeding taxi (about 60 mph/100 kph!) not planning to stop (not at all unusual at red lights here though!). I felt my knee ‘pop’ as I ran, it hurt for days, but did nothing about it :(… well, it still hurts a great deal, and I compensated by using my left leg more… which now has torn ligament and cartilage in it! Also, linked to the stress of the past 20 months with US immigration, I have one or two other ailments/aches & pains which I’d dearly love to do without! Some people look at me very strangely when I tell them I’m hurting: with a ‘you shouldn’t hurt, you pray for people who do!’ sort of look (some have said it, too!): it’s my view that because it is my delight and privilege to pray for the sick that it makes me a pretty obvious target for the enemy! And much as I try to deny it, I AM getting older… If you want to know more specifically what to pray for, email me and I’ll let you know.
Wow, 10-10-10! Not too many of us will be around in 1,000 years time when this next happens – unless some very special miracles take place! And, of course, next year we get 11-11-11, and then 12-12-12, and the three in a row make this a unique era! If only we could get a hold of the uniqueness of this age in which we’re living… 2010 has been a most remarkable year, with countless major tragedies and disasters just seeming to roll one into the other. Watching the Colombian landslide on the internet, seeing the toxic lake empty its horrors into the lovely nation of Hungary, seeing the deaths in Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico, due to unprecedented rains: and yet, even as I’m writing, realising that the miners in Chile are about to be set free after 3 months… what a day of rejoicing it must be in Chile, and Wednesday, when the they estimate the first miner will make his way up that 700 metre tube.. .wow.
Tonight, Sunday, I’m speaking at West Church, Bangor: looking forward to it, and very nervous, all at the same time, but so wanting to communicate the passion of the Father for a world that in 2010 has had its foot on the ‘going to hell’ accelerator… as I’ve been preparing, all the kept coming into my head was a very old hymn I remember singing when I was young: “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able…”. When Paul wrote to Timothy, it was him who said those words in 2 Tim 1:12, and it was at the end of a statement of what the gospel is, and what we’ve been called to. So I guess that’s something around what will come out tonight – and doubtless over the next few weeks in different places! The power of suffering and sacrifice is hugely under-rated, that I’m sure: and I speak as I’m still ‘reeling’ from the ‘apple’ gift in Mexico a couple of weeks back…
But some wonderful things have happened since then, including a lovely miracle for a wonderful lady in Coleraine: victim of two aneurisms, one of which was removed surgically, the other couldn’t be as it was in too dangerous a place near her spine, she was unable to eat, and almost unable to drink, for three weeks. Had the joy of praying with her last Sunday, and when her son, David, returned from work Monday, she was tucking into a full meal, and apparently hasn’t stopped eating since… 🙂 Sidney & Carol in Limavady – well, miracle after miracle here – Sidney cut off his thumb 11 months ago, and was told by doctors that, even though they reattached it, he’d never really get any use from it, and that it might not even ‘take’ if the nerves decided not to rejoin… Sidney has virtually FULL use of his thumb, just a few nerve sensations near the tip waiting to reignite. Carol had spinal surgery some days after Sidney’s thumb ended up on his workshop floor: a mistake in surgery left her paralysed and incontinent, doctors saying she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life (she’s early 30’s I’d guess)…. also that because of her back, they could never have more children. Well, Carol is walking, not incontinent, 12 weeks pregnant, and teaching again….. God is pretty good at this stuff!!
And tonight, too, my long time friend Patricia, who with her husband Simon, have two lovely children, told the story of Oscar… who before he was 2 years old was diagnosed as so acutely autistic that he had no ‘life’ to look forward to, and would just rock backwards and forwards and make noises… well, 7 years on from being prayed for, which was a massively significant event at the time, and now 9 years old, Oscar started school this week, and is ‘above average’ in every subject according to the educationalist’s assessment last month…. wow….. Thank you, Jesus!
So, I’m now home, it was a great meeting, with Ian, Alan, and Andrew – all going to Colombia with me (well, a faith statement where Andrew’s concerned right now!) all at the meeting, and Barbara, Alan’s wonderful wife so amazingly healed almost 3 years ago now too… loads of people prayed for, and some with testimonies of healings in previous meetings that I’d not heard about! So a great time!!
Wow, that was LONG journey home…. but it is so good to get back here to Northern Ireland, however wonderful the time in Mexico was! I think I’ve reached a point in my life now where I can’t do 4, 5, or 6 weeks away anymore… 2 or 3 in more than enough!! Just to look at my own bed last night, let alone get in it, was such a pleasure….
It is such a blessing, though, when people REALLY want you back: and it seems that there are 7 or more churches that have asked me to go back to Mexico – soon – so, I’m looking at trying to get back there, maybe for 3 weeks, in January. I did wonder about 4 weeks, but the first paragraph sums that up! Of course, if I could get across to the churches of other friends in Cancun, and Playa del Carmen, two of the most wonderful beach resorts in the Caribbean, that might just tempt me to stretch it…. What an honour and a privilege it is to go to places to serve people living in such diverse and difficult places – and for them to want you back. It blows me away. It makes all the long, long hours in airports and aeroplanes so totally worth it.
The past week has been great, the huge variety of different meetings, renewals of old friendships, blessings, and many emotional pulls in various directions. When I last wrote here, was about to go to see the band Bon Jovi play as part of the birthday celebration for my great friend, Joel Luis (known as Jois) who reached the ripe old age of 30! Jois has been a great blessing to me for many years now, has he is a doctor and worries about my health, the lifestyle that affect my health, and the outcome perhaps more than I do! More about him in just a moment!
How could you not love this country?? The people are wonderful, the food is terrific, this particular city is just mind-bending, and some of the names – you’ve got to love them! Teotihuacan (pronounced ‘Tay-oh-tee-whack-an), Ixtlaxiwatl (work that one out!), Xochimilco, and, even where the church is that I’m based with – Azcapotzalco. Man, it beats Bognor, Horsham, Worthing and so on… hands down!!!!
When I first started coming to Mexico, it was to speak at Youth with a Mission training schools, and occasional church visits to speak. That organisation closed down here in Mexico City many years ago, and apart from one family Church run by my dear friends Enrique & Mimi Osorio, most of my contacts in Mexico City were lost. This visit has reignited many old friendships as well as enhancing and growing my friendship with the Osorios. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, sadly, just over a year ago, Enrique went to be with Jesus, but Benny, his second son, has risen to the task of taking the church up and on in a quite remarkable way. From one of the churches I used to regularly preach at, a number of people have gone on to start their own churches. This week I have not only caught up with some of them, but also preached alongside them. It was a real joy to catch up with Enrique Cardenas, & Alvaro & Vicky Dader: Enrique has a church way to the South of Mexico City, but over a couple of hours with him last week, the door is wide open to go and minister alongside him on my next visit. It was a delight to see him, and Alvaro & Vicky, after a gap of nine years. I spent some time on Saturday with Alvaro, which was wonderful, as that gap, too had been nine years: it was also very good for me as Alvaro does not speak English! To say I was stretched would be something of an understatement! But, we had a wonderful time together, then on Sunday had the delight of preaching in the church that he and Vicky pastor, in Polanco, one of the business districts of the city. It was a great morning: in fact it began at 10 AM, and we finally left the church to go for lunch at about 3:45 PM!
Some great contacts were made even through that church, and a friendship built with two lovely couples, one from Venezuela and the other from Honduras. Lunch was long, but good, as we got to know each other alongside the Dader family. After a hot and tiring day, perhaps to eat with my lunch one of the hottest chilies I have ever eaten, was not the best idea! The chilli concerned was Chili de Arbol, and as someone who loves chilies even I would have to say it was explosive! Little did I know that Monday evening, in the home of a pastor and his family from Puebla, I would eat even hotter chilies….
There was a fantastic meeting Saturday, the youth meeting at Mundo de Fe church, the church of the family I have known for 14 years now. It was one of those meetings where it just seemed that God spoke, and there seemed to be a tremendous sense the presence of God in their gathering. Sometimes as a preacher, you finish preaching and feel ‘that was decidedly average’: other times, you feel ‘hey, that was pretty good!’, and still other times when you feel ‘wow, God turned up there!’. Saturday’s meeting was one of those!
Yesterday, Monday, I was back in Puebla, at the leaders meeting for another Mundo de Fe (World of Faith) church. I’d met the pastor and his wife last week, and it was a privilege to be to go and speak to the leaders of their church. It was a great evening, and again it really felt the presence of God was there amongst those lovely brothers and sisters. And Puebla is in the zone where all the floods and landslides have been in recent weeks in Mexico (although there was another tragic fatal one today in Oaxaca: pray for this nation, as so much is happening here right now, it must mean that God is about to break out big time). Also in my beloved Colombia, a terrible tragic mud slide today. The world is falling apart….
I’ve been travelling now for 23 years or so. But some things continue to just wipe the floor with me emotionally: something that occurred yesterday. Herman & Issabel, the pastors of this church, are a lovely, lovely couple. The church is not big, and they are poor, but their hospitality was just unbelievable. They provided enough steak to sink a ship, and the meal was terrific. They also provided a bowl of chilies – chintila, I think it was called – even more explosive than the arbol! The hospitality and the love they gave to me was incredibly humbling, and still, even after all these years, I don’t know how to handle it…. It just blows me away.
At the end of speaking to their leaders, I had the joy of praying for most of them, for a variety of issues, including healing, and I do believe that the Spirit of God was present in their room to heal. Then came another ‘wipe the floor’ moment….. One of the leaders whom I have prayed for, came and spoke to me, and said, ‘Thank you so much for being here with us, it has been such a blessing. While you praying for me, God told me to give you everything that I have with me, so please would you accept this?’ – and she handed me an apple: no, not a computer, not an iPad (though one would be great to preach from…), not an Apple iphone…. just an apple. It felt like being given the Widow’s mite… and it wrecked me, and it beat hands-down receiving an offering of thousands of pounds or dollars or pesos (not that I ever receive such offerings!), and I’m in tears again as I write this, just as I was last night when the event occurred… It was worth coming to Mexico just for that.
You know, when I watch some programmes on Christian television, and see the slick meetings, and the big ‘fund-raising’ push, it turns my insides… there is no greater blessing than being in a place the ‘big slick’ preachers would never go, and being on the receiving end of sacrifice. The pastor even took an offering for me: you HAVE to accept it, they want to bless you because you’ve actually gone to where they are, and loved and cared about them. What more could I want from 23 years of ministry???? Somebody tell me if I’m missing something here, please?
Vivid in my memory is an event from years back: in a poverty stricken village in Mozambique, preaching to people with nothing but the little they could grow, and the pastor announcing the offering. People went forward with sugar cane, corn, cassava, yuca, wheat… put it on a blanket on the floor at the front. I remember thinking what a blessing that would be to the pastor and his family, also poverty stricken. And then he gave it all to me…. me, from my western world, a western social security system, food banks, you name it…. sometimes I just do NOT know how to handle some of this amazing stuff….
And, for all those who think a travelling ministry is glamorous or exciting, tomorrow I leave for home…. I leave the house here in Mexico City at 10 am: fly at 2pm to Toronto, wait a few hours there, fly at 1130 pm to London, arriving early Thursday afternoon, then wait a few hours, and fly to Belfast. I’ll be in my house at about 6pm Thursday, from 10 am Wednesday. Glamour? Not really. A few airmiles, yes: no sleep – almost certainly: economy airline food – oh, God, please help! – a few films/movies – yup: but…. I received the equivalent of the ‘widow’s mite’, a hatful of invitations back to places 99% of tv preachers wouldn’t go as it doesn’t pay. And, do you want to know something? I wouldn’t swap with them…. not for anything.
Jois, my lovely doctor friend, fell in love with a young lady I introduced to his family earlier this year, Rebecca, who was studying Spanish in Mexico City, from Northern Ireland… he’s so, so, so in love… and such a blessing to me… with my crocked knees, he took pity on me, and gave me a bunch of injections/shots on Sunday night (including, er, placenta!) which has already made such a difference, and he wouldn’t let me pay a cent… Who needs a tv ministry, big church invitations, business/first class flights… when all that I’ve just written happens to you when you’re prepared to go for nothing….? Answers on a postage stamp, please…. I have to stop writing, I’m crying too much….