½Just before Christmas, I spoke at a couple of Full Gospel Christian Businessmen’s Fellowship meetings (Christmas Dinner included!!) – one in Craigavon, the other at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast. Quite a few people wanted prayer for – primarily – healing, and some had to leave before I had chance to pray for them.
One was a lovely man, Paul, who contacted me within a few days to ask if we could meet up for him to receive prayer. Costa Coffee is fast becoming a ‘holy slot’ – there’s a good ‘feel’ about the Costa very close to my home – not quite the ‘open heaven’ of Cali(!) – but God’s healed a few people there. Yesterday evening, Paul and I met up there for our third time together. He’s had a ‘tough’ life, suffers a lot of anxiety and depression, and for many months, has had a pretty drastic blood pressure – 185/190 0ver 110/115. He has been on medication for a long time, but when his BP rose to those ‘danger’ numbers. his doctor put him on some real heavy-duty pills, that almost zombified him, without reducing the numbers….
We had a lovely time together yesterday – 2½ hours – a very real sense of Jesus sitting with us drinking his latte with vanilla :). Paul has been to his doctor this morning and has just called me. The excitement in his voice said a lot! His blood pressure this morning is 140/80 – as my medical knowledge is concerned, just at the ‘top’ of a normal range….. it’ll have such a huge effect on his body – energy, breathing, sleeping, on many of his organs…..
The prayer against the anxiety, depression, stress began an immediate change in his emotions and appearance…. how does Jesus do it? It’s just incredible how HIS blood has such mind-blowing impact on our bodies…. Thank you, Jesus, for what you’ve done – and what you’ll continue to do in Paul through today, and over the next few days. I’d said to Paul before we prayed that what had affected him for maybe 40 years, Jesus would ‘jettison’ it at such a speed. It seems he’s answering that, too…..
During the course of any month, I pray for hundreds of people. Perhaps because of what God has blessed me to do, I get hundreds of requests from people through social media, email, text messages etc., to pray for them. I’ve pasted below a ‘Ransomed Heart’ post from John Eldredge (the ‘Wild at Heart’ man), which pretty much sums up where I’d be at! I can’t promise to pray long-term for people – I’d not have time to do anything else! – Some of you may find this a bit ‘brutal’ but sometimes, I won’t offer to pray for people as I’m doing it so much as part of my ‘job’ (perhaps I should say ‘ministry’! but it IS my job) it would be like asking someone who works 10 hours a day at their ‘day’ job, to spend their evenings or days off doing their job unpaid for you…. not that I’ve ever charged, but you get what I mean. I will sometimes pray in a private message, or a text message, phone, or ‘on the spot’ with someone…. I hope that this doesn’t offend people who ask for prayer (many of them I don’t even know!), but perhaps John’s explanation will help….
Sure, I’ll Pray For You
I’ve come to the place where I have had to stop telling people, “I’ll pray for you.”
I simply know that despite my good intentions—and these promises are almost always spoken with good intent—I know that nine times out of ten I just don’t remember to follow through. Not until maybe a week or two later, and then I feel guilty that I forgot. I don’t like promising something I probably won’t live up to. You know how these stories go: someone you care about tells you of their pain, need, or struggle, and you respond with, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that; I’ll pray for you.” But then, most of the time, we never do. If all the prayers that were promised were actually prayed, this would be a different world by now.
So instead of promising future prayer, what I try to do nowadays is stop, right there in the moment, and pray. Right then and there. It’s funny how many Christians this actually throws off guard. “You mean, right now?” “Yes—absolutely. Let’s pray.” In the restaurant, in the car, on the plane, wherever. If it’s a text or e-mail request, I’ll start praying as I type my response, typing out a prayer for them right then and there. Not only does it help me follow through, but it helps them to agree right along with what I have prayed, and agreement is mighty powerful as we know.
John Eldredge, Ransomed Heart daily blog
It’s amazing, too, how many people think that because it’s ‘prayer’ it doesn’t cost time, emotion, energy, petrol, car running costs, car servicing, so it’s something that should be done for nothing, however many miles and hours it takes! Outside of meetings, everyone I pray for healing is prayed for in their own homes, or in the hometown in someone else’s home. Some people DO slip me a gift, for which I’m very, very grateful.
It’s not just praying for individuals, there’s often the same problem with churches and meetings. Some years ago, I was with a friend, a pastor on the south coast of England, who did a weekend of meetings in central Scotland, a round trip drive of over 1000 miles. It was a weekend of meetings, Friday evening, three Saturday, two Sunday: and as we left, the treasurer (I guess) gave him what many ministers refer to as the ‘dreaded brown envelope’, and in it was….. £0.37 pence! Ok, petrol was a little cheaper then, maybe £1.00 a gallon: the AA and Inland Revenue (then) designated the mileage costs at about 0.45 pence a mile, so the car ‘gift’ alone should have been around £500.
Those who know me know that when I began in ministry, God told me I was never to ‘charge’ – there are many who do, I know people who charge £3-500 for one meeting, one who charges high 4-figure fees for a day plus all expenses for bookings in the USA. I TRULY struggle with that, when Jesus made it so clear to his disciples, sent out to preach, in Matthew 10: ‘Tell the people the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, raise the dead. FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE’. I’ve never been able to work out where charging hundreds of pounds or thousands of dollars comes into ‘FREE’.
As a minister, what is it we’re going to give away? If it’s not from God, it’s not worth giving. And it’s given to ministers FREE by a God who uses us. Of course, we need to live: the labourer is worthy of his hire, but as a someone being ‘hired’ I believe it’s in the hands of the ‘hirer’ to determine what that amount is. I’ve been to places where I’ve got nothing: others where I’ve been blessed. I know that God has told me, over the years I’ve been in ministry, that he’s called me to the poor, the needy = people who can’t even afford to give £1 equivalent, though often they do. They’ll give everything that is in the offering, it might amount to a pound or two.
I heard of a situation where some folk in Norway, I think, invited a ‘well-known’ American speaker (I do know who it was but it’d be wrong to say who!), who wanted $5000 A DAY, plus tens of thousands for the team, first class airfares for 5, business class for everyone else, plus the whole floor of a five star hotel for the team. Oh, yes, and the whole of the offering. The invitees agreed – on condition that the minister/team guaranteed that 1,000 minimum would be saved a day, and a similar number healed…. needless to say, the minister declined to go!
I’ve no way of knowing how many ministers ‘live by faith’ (a phrase I really don’t like – we ALL live by faith, whether it’s trusting God for our job, for our business and the lives of those who work for us, for social security if there are issues meaning we can’t work) – but for myself God told me I wasn’t to charge, and in 39 years I haven’t. I’d love to say that it’s been easy, and there’s never been a time of stress. I’d be lying if I said that! My regular support income is way below what the ministry has cost over those 39 years – when a vast amount of it is airfares, and I – and the people I take with me – pay rent when we’re away, food – all expenses….. a trip to Colombia for 3 weeks, for instance, costs at least £3000. My great friend Thanney, who by trade is a builder, with his own business and employees/contractors he’s responsible for, does exactly what I do – pays his own way on each trip (he’s done 4 in 13 months) and therefore he doesn’t earn a penny while he’s away. In fact, he’s worse off than me on a trip, as I at least get some regular support. That’s freely giving what he’s freely received.
If you’re a church leader, and invite preachers, please, can I ask you to prepare for the invited minister, and give a gift that bears some resemblance to what it would cost you to do the same distance/job/time – and build in expenses that effectively is a ‘salary’? Sadly, the best ‘givers’ are small, poor churches: the big churches seem to have much more problem giving. The story of the Widow’s mite and the Pharisee is so relevant to ministry, just as it is to us as individual Christians.
I will rarely – never, I think, up until now, not prayed for someone who’s asked. I doubt very much that I ever will. I want to see people healed and saved!! But like John Eldredge, I can’t promise to say to you that I’ll pray every day/week for you, as I’d have a list of tens of thousands by now!!
In the mid 1970’s, I was doing pretty well in my career in the NatWest bank, even though I really didn’t like the job. I DID like the salary, the ridiculously subsidised mortgage (2 1/2% in an era when normal mortgages were 14%+ -hard to believe today, huh?).
18th January 1979: another of my ‘birthdays!’ What birthday is this one? Well, I’d ‘celebrated’ 9+ years with one of the (then) ‘big four’ banks, and after fighting God for 5 years as he wanted me to leave, and I didn’t. God wanted me in full-time ministry, which I wanted, but was terrified of losing salary and perks….
Thank you, Lord, that every promise you’ve made is yes and amen through Christ Jesus (Col 1:20), and this unknown, unqualified, unskilled man has seen your provision for 39 years.I guess it makes it my ruby wedding to God’s promises next year? 🙂
Anniversary day, January 1st! Today is the 39th anniversary of moving from banking into full-time ministry – after arguing with God for 5 years previously about making that move! I hated my job, but after 5 years of salary, a subsidised mortgage (2.5% in an era when mortgage interest was 14%), cheap car loan, pension…
I’d become locked into a comfort zone of income and money. The prospect of no salary, a 15% mortgage – an additional 1% as it was a re-mortgage – didn’t appeal to me a great deal, much as wanted to be involved in ministry!
I thought it would be short-term, like a year or two, never dreaming that a lifetime later I’d still be doing it, and with no desire to be a banker anymore….
All I can say is that the risk is worth it. There have been times when it’s been really tough, but the blessing far, far outweighs the battles.
No salary for 39 years, and I’m not even borderline anorexic(!!), I have a home (rented, not owned), a car, and food when I need it….
And in those years, I’ve had the privilege of God taking me to 110 countries, many multiple times (Romania 129, USA well over 100, Colombia 89, and many African nations multiple times, India, Mexico 30….. I’m so blessed….
Here’s to the next 39 years….
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!