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? 🙂
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.
My dear friends Hernan & Aida Gonzalez, and their lovely little son, Hernan Jr, pastor the church ‘Nuevo Nacer’ (New Born/Birth) in the very dangerous barrio, Simon Bolivar, Cali. There are occasions when taxi drivers baulk at taking you there – a bit like to Retiro on Thursday night, and Ana Beiba’s home, Alfonso Aragon Bonilla. The church is right at the top of my favourites list, however, and Hernan & Aida are just incredible.
I met them at what was ‘sold’ to me as a ‘Pastor’s Dinner’ – and I was a guest. It turned out to be a churches ‘health and safety’ meeting, lasting a good 2.5 hours, with copious numbers of stick men and women drawn on walls, on the ground, signs telling you what to do in a ‘terremoto’ (or ‘tremblor, I think) – earthquake…. all in Spanish with a vocabulary I didn’t have! it was SOOOO boring, and my team and I were bored witless. Then came the time for dinner – which was in a downstairs room at the church. There were a good few pastors who knew me, and some, and wives, came and asked for prayer. Among those were Hernan & Aida, who, though I didn’t know them then, saw people getting healed, and joined the line…. After introductions, I prayed with Aida, who had – if I remember – a large painful lump at the top of her spine and on her shoulder. It went. Friendship confirmed! Downstairs for dinner, to find it had all gone. Joy oh joy….
Last night, Hernan walked – in blistering heat – about 7 kms to come to the apartment to take us to church. It IS a dangerous barrio, and not safe for gringoes (us) to be in alone. He arrived on what was probably the hottest day of the trip, we made him coffee and a cold drink, and I offered what little we had in the fridge – a yoghurt. He was thrilled (yes, really) that it was an Alpina brand, ‘my son loves these, they do him a lot of good, probiotic’… so I asked if they were they the yogs he bought for Hernan Jnr. No, they couldn’t afford them…. here, they are 7000 pesos for 5: 1400 each, thats about 30 pence UK…. I gave him the whole pack we had in the fridge, and he nearly cried….so he drank the one I’d given him separately with relish….
BUT – the good that came out of tragedy at the pastor’s dinner (no food!) was the wonderful friendship with these two beautiful people – and their son. Hernan Jr., had a raft of issues then, about 2 years old – including club feet (no chance of walking), speech difficulties, what seemed to me to be autism, and more. I always love to go back there, every visit, and over the months following, Hernan received a load of miraculous stuff from God, and is a super little lad – passionate about Jesus, lapping up every word spoken, prayer prayed and song sung. He’s always happy to see me, it seems, last night no exception. First off, though, is the delight of meeting the greeter/welcome man, Victor. Victor is built like a basketball player, lean and 2 metres 10 cm tall. I fit under his armpit, and can vouch for the effectiveness of his deodorant! His hugs are – to me – legendary, and they could go on forever. He really is a very, very special man, and we’ve become great friends over the years. Then came Sara, a darling of a little girl who excitedly told me that ‘God healed me when you prayed for me in July!!’ – I was in tears…and laughing with joy. She was laughing, hurled herself at me for a hug, and then wouldn’t let go of me for ages…
I can’t explain to you the emotions, feelings, joy, humility, astonishment (even after nearly 40 years), delight… of people coming to you, months, even years, after receiving prayer, and telling of how God healed them through you. I don’t think I’ll EVER get over it. If I do, it’ll be the day when it doesn’t happen anymore…
We had a great meeting in their church: Simon spoke really well again, on the opening verses of 1 Peter: a good response afterwards, and then the chance to pay for a few specific people for healing, including Aida, who had what sounded like shingles and a hernia. She’d been in a lot of pain, yet led the worship with incredible passion, her voice is very powerful, and it was tremendous. God took all her pain away.
As he did with others that I prayed for: and I’m sure he did with Simon’s folk. Hein, my dear friend, translated again, my first-ever translator in Cali 21 years ago. I said last night, to the church, I feel good when he translates as he’s so good at it, but bad because he’s such a good preacher, much better than me, and I always feel that his humility in translating for us is immense….
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!)…..