Jose Luis, Aida, and Jose Luis Jr., – one of the most special astonishing miracles I’ve EVER had the privilege of being involved in… 6 years ago today, in Cali, Colombia (Kids hospital Club Noel) when Junior was just a few months old, had the opportunity to pray something I’d never ever prayed for: he was born with NO fontanelles and NO sutures in his skull, which meant of course, that his cranium was solid, with no room or flexibility for his brain to grow. His future was more than bleak, to say the least – brain damaged, severely handicapped physically, more than likely dead very young. Dad had brought his skull x-rays to another brain surgeon – my long-time friend Doctora Dunia Patricia Quiroga, who told him to get the x-rays ‘prayed over by the Englishman in the waiting area’ of the kid’s hospital, and then to bring Junior to the hospital to be scanned by her…three hours later (maximum, I reckon), Dunia called me. Jose Luis Jr had all the necessary fontanelles and sutures in his skull for a perfectly normal life…. God is SO incredibly amazing, powerful, creative, merciful, kind….you name the adjective! Oh yes, and Mum and dad both gave their lives to Jesus …..
It was fantastic to be able to hand over such an amazing building to the lovely church, El Abrigo, and it’s Foundation, in Cali, last Sunday evening. It was also a thrill to be able to stream it live, on the internet, and an edited and enhanced version of the video will be available soon, which I’ll put here, on my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com Paul Bennison), and on Facebook and Instagram. If you weren’t able to see it or missed the abundance of messages I sent out to say it was going to be streamed (!), the ‘speeches’ – Hendrik (Hein) Hoere, Thanney Pyper, Johnny Mawhinney, and me, were filmed on my phone, and the speeches paint a good picture of the whole project.
Before the speeches, and before the meeting, a 360-degree film was taken by Johnny, and that’s here: https://www.facebook.com/jrm.301/posts/10155810370058149
and here is the unedited talking-bit of the evening, after some lovely worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTVqLuiBpM4
When, on a constant basis, you experience God’s promises happening, and doing so much more ‘behind the scenes’ in order to fulfil them, it’s an indescribable privilege to be at the sharp end of seeing God do incredible deeds. With a team of not-so-fit people – Thanney a hand short (broken left hand), Johnny a prolapsed disc and trapped sciatic nerve – the kid’s foundation building accelerated away to completion with three hands among the team who were building: Dennis not so long ago had a hip replacement, Cathy with an under-active thyroid, and yours truly – two days before we flew out, I couldn’t walk, and had to think twice about meeting up with Thanney at Starbucks half a mile away! Simon, who came for the last week, seemed to be the only one who was complete!
Thanney’s said that he’d never have got that building completed in the UK and that with all the frustrations of trying to get materials and contracted workmen to arrive when expected in Colombia! – in the same time-frame as it was completed in El Vallado, Cali… actual building time well less than 8 weeks. And if you’ve seen it, you’ll see how amazing it looks…. God multiplied the work of three hands and a crocked back – and, in fact, improved Johnny’s back visibly significantly. He stretched money, time, patience, ‘negotiated’ deals with local companies that would never normally happen in Colombia…. like the air conditioning company suggesting that they’d reduce the cost of two units by 1,400,000 pesos (£400, $500, 450 euros) and instead of 16BTU units, supplying 24BTU units – much more appropriate in a building that size but Thanney had insulated the place so that 16BTU would have been ok…. it was a real blessing.
Money stretched, though we ended up a bit short of our £55,000 budget, when the final bills came in, Thanney and Johnny worked like trojans, frequently – more than frequently! – up and down a narrow somewhat precarious steel staircase on the outside of the building, carrying tons of rubble, and bearing in mind Johnny’s back, that was a miracle.
Countless miracles and healings in churches, quite a few documented in earlier blogs, posts on Facebook… covered everything from the ‘ordinary’ to terminal illness, wonderful responses from churches, new relationships and connections made – even after 21 years of going to Cali – listening again to the incredible miracle testimony of the pastor of the church, El Vive, Dario, who should have died three years ago, but is very much alive after being prayed for….
I could go through the programme for the trip all over again – fantastic churches, wonderful pastors, amazing people – if there’s a more friendly, all-embracing, nation of loving people, I haven’t found one. And to have the privilege of being blessed by people who live in such poverty is a blessing from God: and to try and bless them, well, it’s such a blessing. We took one pastor and his family out for a meal – this would be a couple in their late 30’s maybe early 40’s – to the steak restaurant (it’s cheap – to us – there) – and to have said to you, ‘Thank you, Paul, we’ve NEVER had a meal like this in our lives, never eaten steak before’ – a couple who can’t afford less than 40 pence for very ordinary but good yoghurt for their son….
God has wonderful ways of fulfilling your dreams, too, as Thanney has discovered with the foundation, and for Dennis, who ‘struggles’ normally with hot temperatures, going to Cali (normally 35C in the afternoons, and rarely less than 22C at 4 in the morning, was a step of faith – and God gave him the coolest two weeks I’ve ever experienced in the city!
Now, I’m already working on teams and final dates for Cali teams for 2018: it’s the sort of place that’s like a magnet, and for me, the moment I leave, I can feel it pulling me back again!
An incredible 3 weeks, a great team – Dennis, Cathy, Thanney, Johnny, Simon, y yo… so much achieved, practically and spiritually – the construction finished, hundreds of healings, salvation, miracles, blessing…
For me, a little bitter-sweet, as, once again, another piece of my heart is left here in Cali: if home is where your heart is, then I’m going back to Northern Ireland and leaving home behind! I must say, though, that I look forward to my recliner and football on TV! Cali truly has bitten big ‘chunks’ out of me over 21 years and almost 90 visits – I think I even saw my hat laying in an apartment near Wilmar, so that must be near my home! Lol!
We’re ‘killing time’ now waiting to go to the airport for the long-haul home: in an hour, we’ll be collected, in 4 hours we’ll be on our way to (oh joy again!) a good few hours in Bogota airport. Thankfully, it’s a new airport – 10 years ago, 4-5 hours there was far more of a nightmare option than it is today! London Tuesday afternoon around 2.30 pm… then on to Belfast, and home around 9.30 pm UK time. Luggage loaded with Juan Valdez Coffee, Cafe Quindio, and Oma Coffee, so plenty of caffeine for weeks to come to remember this trip by.
To all of my little team – a massive ‘thank you’ for all that you have done here, and all that you have meant to the folk here. You’re all a blessing to me, I’m only sorry that I slow you down when you’re rushing for the steaks at Lenos & Carbon, the old knees not quite as quick as they once were! Dennis and Cathy – you were a blessing way beyond anything you think you might have achieved here. Such a delight to have you BOTH with me…. ANY TIME. Thanney – what can I say? The vision, the dream, the goal fulfilled: you did it, mate! AND you got your miracles of healing too…. Johnny – in less than 3 months we’ve gone from ‘hello’ through a 3 hour brekkie at the Pit Stop to miracles – in your own body, the blessing of being part of the ‘new ‘ foundation, to miracles in the bodies of many other people. Oh, yes, and a really great friendship, too, now WAY beyond hello…. Simon – 6th time in 7 years, your preaching is such blessing, YOU are such a blessing, and your humour very nearly rivalled that of Dennis’s humour!
And Jesus – you’ve been here all the way with us, blessing us with your power to bless others, blessing us with strength, doing what only you can do, and keeping us safe in the ‘wonderful’ Cali traffic… thank you, Jesus. Where on earth would I be without you?
So… it’s done and dusted! The construction is finished, it looks fantastic, and now it’s in the ownership and care of the lovely folk at Mision El Abrigo church, and their Foundation. We have no way of knowing, I don’t think, how many people watched online yesterday – it seems from comments and posts on Facebook and other social media, that there quite a lot – to Thanney, especially, it meant the world, a time when he could genuinely say that a God-given vision reached fulfilment, and will bring generations of blessing to countless kids, as well as those who begin to pass through it as a church. It was such a joy to share in the handing over, and comments that were made about Thanney, Johnny, and the others, who have worked tirelessly, were all well-deserved.
Thanney was very naturally a happy and ‘proud’ – in the right sense of the word – man, last night: I was too, for him and Johnny, Orlando, and so many others who have worked tirelessly.
I’m indescribably grateful to all who have responded to my mass of letters, messages, posts, appeals… and given incredibly to this poverty-stricken barrio in Cali a building worthy of the poor, that they could never have had were it not for you. With the expenses of last night, things like giving a gift to my dear friends who did the filming/streaming, and other incidentals, we handed over the building just about £1200 short of our budget. Not bad, out of £55,000: from my own point of view, it’d be a real blessing to see the Lord sort that last bit out, too!
The event was recorded – it will be edited and include ‘still’ pictures from the various stages of the construction, from a bare flat concrete roof, through it’s various metamorphoses to the lovely, bright, air-conditioned facility it is today. Wilmar had a vision 8 years ago of the Foundation being like a lighthouse: the fact that the new construction is on the 4th floor (3rd in UK!!), and it has good windows, and super-bright LED lighting, it is, indeed, like a lighthouse. We didn’t know of Wilmar’s vision until a few weeks ago, so it’s a real blessing to us. A church /kids foundation that is a light to the darkness of a tough barrio, El Vallado.
When the filming is edited, it’ll go on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere I can find to put it! It’ll also be available as a DVD, too.
A number of ‘important’ things fell into place today at the Foundation – the air conditioning arrived, and was 1,200,000 (£400) cheaper than we were we expecting (!) – the kitchen got fitted, when Thanney and Johnny are back I’ll fill in the other things, but we’re hoping that YOU might be pleased as we think we are going to be able to stream Sunday afternoon’s precious ‘handover’ meeting, to El Abrigo leaders, LIVE (our time 5 pm, UK time 10 pm) – as soon as I’ve talked more with my great friend, IT guru (rap artist and evangelist, too!) Edwin Vargas, I’ll be able to post details….
I think there’ll be a lot of people from here at that wonderful meeting – the culmination of a God-given dream to Thanney a year ago, finished in miraculous time, with money stretched by God beyond belief, and our own accounts taking a bit of a hit(!!) – but – IT’S HAPPENED!! – and to get the place open and functioning for the kids and the new church to be, is such an exciting moment here…
If – just if – you can help close off the financial hole, we ended up some £2500 short, which would be amazing to cover. But we’re happy just to know that loads more kids can be cared and catered for, on a daily basis, the house will be a ‘lighthouse’ to the damaged and broken lives around the foundation, a worship centre church will be established, and the Kingdom of Heaven will be planted even more visibly…. if that’s not a good investment, I’m not sure what is!
From: Simon Allaby
9 November 2014 at 21:18 · Cali, Colombia
This guy was walking with a stick until Paul Bennison prayed for him.
From Paul: there’s an even lovelier story behind this photo than just the healing… I’m really sorry I can never remember this lovely brother’s name (Simon I CAN remember!!), but 3 years ago, he came for prayer, two sticks, walking in evident pain, and with a very croaky voice. I asked him his name, and ‘did he mind if I asked how old he is?’. 82. What I can I pray for…?
He had terrible problems with walking, all forms of major motor function, in fact: his response blew me away. ‘I want God to heal my legs and my voice, so that I can begin the new ministry that he’s called me to do’. 82 years old. Needless to say, God healed him….
Inspirational, a lover of Jesus, a true disciple of God, and an absolutely beautiful man.
5 weeks today, theoretically, I can retire.I could never in a million years survive on the pension coming to me (9-10 years in a bank in the ’70’s doesn’t amount to a pot of gold!) – more like a crock of ..er…hummus!! But WHY? Why retire? Yes, sure, I have motor function issues until God heals these (currently) wrecked knees, but they’re renewable supernaturally, and I do know that God WILL renew them…and when you garner stories like this, and others on Facebook and in the blog, WHY would you retire? Moses made it to 120, sight undimmed (suggesting the rest of him was pretty healthy, I think: Abraham ‘kicked off’ his life’s mission at 80, right? Paul probably wasn’t a spring chicken when he got going….I want to do this until I drop, God willing, finances permitting (but God owns them, even if we think we own our finances!)…..
I make no apology for this post, it’s similar to one I wrote a few years ago: For many years, I had the privilege of doing some ministry alongside an awesome man of God many of you will probably ever have heard of. His name? Ken McGreavy. No bells ringing? If you were a Spring Harvest regular in the 80’s you’ll know of his amazing Bible teaching, but outside of that, Ken was very much an ‘under the radar’ man. Why?
A softly spoken, but powerful in God Yorkshireman, was called by God to ministry many years ago (he’s with his heavenly dad now, much, I believe to God’s delight – even if it’s our loss). When he was called, God asked him, ‘Ken, do you want prominence or significance?’
Oftentimes, the two DON’T go together. If you’d known Ken, you’d have known his answer. It was a no-brainer. SIGNIFICANCE. And Ken became a massively significant man in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, mentoring people, discipling people, teaching them keys of the Kingdom, ministering to them at the deepest point of need, with his wonderful, self-effacing style, and amazing smile allied to his soft Leeds accent…. some of the most effective ministries in the UK had Ken ‘on board’ to advise, encourage, help with direction – and so much more. I think it’d be true to say that NGM, in Bristol have, in some measure, achieved the awesome levels of effectiveness that they have, in part because of Ken’s input.
I meet many people who are in ministry in many countries, during the course of a year. And over the last 40 years. So many want prominence, to be on TV, to have a ‘shop’ on their website marketing their ministry. I’m not sure Ken ever DID have a website: and you certainly won’t find shelves full of books in Christian bookshops written by him.
Jesus NEVER called us to prominence, success (in the world’s terms) – but to give a cup of cold water in his name, to visit people in prison, to look after the widow and the fatherless…. I’m frequently under ‘pressure’ to write books, sell cd’s of me preaching (you’d need to be a masochist to listen to this voice!). I can’t. I truly can’t. I have no desire for prominence, no desire for ‘big’ platforms, just little groups like we were with last night, about 15, in a poor district of Cali: and God was there, big time.
What do YOU want? PROMINENCE? or SIGNIFICANCE? Thank you, Ken, for your legacy, and thank you that your significance is now lauded in the best place possible – alongside the Lord your God who delights in you….
A great weekend began the already-‘blogged’ Ulster Fry healthy nutritious breakfast, shared with the Gomez family, was a day of getting odd jobs done, and dear Cathy, going back to England tonight, was making sure that all us young men were organised with our laundry…. what a blessing she’s been! Later on, we had a terrific evening with Wilmar, Marlene, and Sara, going to their local – very good – pizza restaurant, Pizzamania, then back to their house for a few hours chilling out. It was needed, as Thanney and Johnny were physically exhausted, Cathy hadn’t been well, of course, and I was still trying to get my knees to come into line with God’s promises, as well as tying up the ends of all the meetings, what people had shared, bringing it all as a word to whatever church we’d been in, and – of course – praying for people.
Sundays are often the least restful day for people in ministry – even if there appears to be a gap between meetings, that gap is invariably filled up with praying for people (not a complaint – an honour), as ‘evening’ meetings often start at 5 p.m. there’s lunch to be had – sustenance is vital as praying for people for an extended time is totally exhausting! – and by the time you’ve negotiated people and Cali traffic, AND eaten lunch, it’s time to brave the traffic again to get to the church….
…..but Sundays are invariably wonderful, and yesterday was no exception. In the morning, at Wilmar & Marlene’s church, Mision El Abrigo, they have some wonderful musicians: not a huge church numerically, but about 4 different worship bands they can call on, and all of them worshippers – much more important than being good musicians, but when the two go together, it’s tremndous. It was a really meeting, the worship was inspirational, uplifting, and in awe of God. Each of the guys spoke really well again, some of the people even understood Dennis’s sense of humour…. ;).
It genuinely has been a lovely blessing to see how what each of the team have shared, in every situation, has tied in with what the others have been given by God. The was no collusion, it ‘just happened’…. Yesterday morning, the church all got around US – to pray for us, as it was in MAI, in March, where my knees were healed for 3 months following prayer from them, until the stairs decided to give way under me at home! Praying for Thanney’s hand, Johnny’s prolapsed disc and sciatic nerve pain, for Dennis and Cathy more just for blessing and re-filling, as they head home, and for me. It was lovely: so many affirming words. Then we prayed for a number of people of each, and again, rather than a long list of who had what and what went, suffice to say that many were released from pain, a lady with a ‘floating’ meniscus (it shouldn’t float!) in her knee, with a lot of pain, had all her pain go…. Having had 3 months pain-free walking March to June, I’m in great faith that God – having showed me that he wants to do it then – is doing it again.
In the afternoon, we were at a church in a very dangerous barrio – La Sirena – a church I’ve been to a good number of times now, and where – the pastor mentioned it again last night – miracles always happen when I take a team there – and the scene, actually, of two of the most amazing miracles I’ve ever been involved in in the 40 years of ministry…. the church is small, but that has never presented me with any problems – I’m not in this life for big churches, I’m in it for those who will never have foreign visitors to preach, maybe because they’re small, or desperately poor, or in a dangerous place. I sometimes try to imagine, sitting in the living room (that’s where we were last night) of the very tiny house (smaller than last time – they’ve moved, with a view to saving money in order to build their own church), with a massive sound system (!) and people packed in floor to ceiling (almost), some of the real ‘big gun, big name’ speakers of the preaching/healing world being there. I can’t! The house last night is on the side of the mountain, the hill to it probably being a ‘50%’ (1 in 2 in my understanding!), with – wait for it – speed bumps (sleeping policemen) so steep that cars rock on top of them…. I thought of preachers in ‘white suits and wigs’ going to a place where the taxi driver said to me, when I told him where we wanted to go, ‘La Sirena? Siloe – that La Sirena? You know that’s very dangerous’…. and I have to say I didn’t see any preacher who’d appear on tv or charge a fortune even considering it…. The church used to be called ‘Today is the day of your miracle’ – it’s now Centro de Fe and Esperanza (Centre of Faith and Hope).
BUT- 10 years ago, when I first went there, there were 200 in the other house: everyone was healed… including a young man, 22 years old, with – perhaps – 2/3 days to live, with full blown AIDS. I didn’t know how to pray for him, at least not without ‘platitudes’ or pity, so I just hugged him, for about 15 minutes. I swear I heard my mum whisper from 7,000 miles away ‘What ARE you doing? He’s got AIDS! You’ll catch it!’ – I don’t know about you, but I’m not in faith to CATCH what I’m praying for, I’m there to see it healed. And he was.
AND THEN – in this little church…stupendous! – a lady, in a small room off the main one, lying on a DOOR, looking as though she was deeply sleeping, or comatose, and would I pray for her… of course, which I did, nothing visible or tangible happened then, and, when everyone had been prayed for, we left. I think whoever organised that meetig must have forgotten where it was, as it was 6 years before I went back. Alcides, the pastor, when introducing me, asked where I’d been for those years: and then proceeded to tell me that the young man who’d had AIDS was very disappointed that he couldn’t be there that night to say thank you – his boss wouldn’t let him have time off of work. And the lady in the back room was equally sad she couldn’t be there – she was with her sister in Bogota…. I asked if she was the one in the coma? ‘She wasn’t in a coma: she was DEAD….’ he said…. even now, 4 years later, sitting here writing this, I just feel the absolute awe of the Lord washing all over me, tears where they were very much that night 6 years ago….. 21 years before, I’d met two ex-dead ladies in Guanzhou, China, and said to God, ‘Lord, I have to see this happen. I don’t care what it costs me, what I have to do, where I have to go: I want to do what Jesus did, and KNOW the raw power of the Holy Spirit honouring the promise of Jesus to us, his disciples’ as Paul promised in 2 Corinthians 1:20… I’d prayed for 11 dead people in those 21 years, and they’d all stayed dead…but in my spirit, faith was doing the opposite of what should naturally have happened – disappointment, failure, sadness…. my faith grew each time I prayed, and when Alcides announced that night what had happened, I was a wrecked mass of tears of joy and gratitude….
Last night, a lovely young man, about 22 (again!), I think his name is Juan: born deaf and dumb. He could lip read, so through the translator, I told him stories of similar people who’d heard and spoken, not necessarily ‘on the spot’ – though there have been those – and by the time we left, noises coming from his mouth were significant, and I’m praying that today he’ll have woken up hearing and speaking….
And people wonder why I love doing what I do…. wonder why I’m happy to live without charging fees (how much could a church like THIS give to cover the cover the cost of this trip? Nothing! In fact, Thanney, Johnny, and I gave them a gift towards their new building), living without a salary…. it’s funny, but in 5 and a half weeks, I’m 65 years old – PENSION TIME! Yippee! Or not…. my bank pension (from 1971-79) will be about £20 a month: because I’ve been on a low income, I was ‘released’ from paying tax and NI in 1991 (‘Mr Bennison doesn’t have a job, he has a hobby’, so my then accountant heard from the Inland Revenue!!). So I’m not too excited about my state pension to help me too much….
BUT ….would I swap what I’ve done for 40 years – with a long career and a big pension (and doubtless now, a fully paid off mortgage as a retired bank manager) for that career?
NOT. ON. YOUR. LIFE!!!!