I’m so grateful to God that in less than 30 hours time, I’ll celebrate an anniversary – of God sustaining this once very shy and insecure East End of London boy (still shy and somewhat insecure, if I’m honest) through 40 years of ministry, From when I was born until I was six, I was very ill, seemed the docs couldn’t get to the bottom of what it was (all sorts of diseases, including leukaemia), other than to advise mum and dad to move out of the London environment, to the coast. I spent a lot of my first six years in and out of Whipps Cross Hospital, which wasn’t a lot of fun!
It was years before I realised the sacrifice that they made for me: dad had a good job as an accountant with Leyton Council: but to keep me alive and get me well, the moved to a village close to Eastbourne (East Dean), I was diagnosed as celiac, and for some years, mum had to make a lot of my food as there weren’t ‘gluten-free’ sections in supermarkets in the late 1950’s- early1960’s. All my friend’s parents were ‘warned’ what I could and couldn’t eat if I went to their house for tea: until one day, when I was about 13, I was fed sausages, beans, and chips (mum obviously hadn’t got to that friend’s parents!) – and I didn’t die or wasn’t even ill. So I ‘forgot’ to tell mum, until, after about six visits and the same meal, I thought I’d better tell her! It seems, after being tested at the hospital, I was no longer celiac. Was that the beginning of God’s plan for my life – being healed in 1965, when healing was even whispered in church? I was also born with a small hole in my spine, a millimetre away from being spina bifida I was told: when I was 18, after a lifetime up until then of severe back problems (though I still managed to play rugby and football (proper football, soccer for American readers, not your sort of corrupted rugby!), God healed me through a man – George Tarleton – the first time any of us in our youth group had seen ‘leg-lengthening!). Maybe it’s no surprise after two massive healings I’ve ended up in this life of 40 years that I’ve ended up praying for the sick! Most of my family were sick with a variety of diseases, unusual ones, too, like acromegaly and Sjogren’s disease. Dad died when I was 12: wrongly diagnosed and treated when he could have lived with the right diagnosis. I loved dad dearly, and his death had a massive emotional and psychological effect on me.
So did being caned (yes, really!) four times a day for four years at junior school simply for being left-handed! So by 18, I was sort of a wreck, but quite good at Rugby: couldn’t go to University as mum couldn’t afford it as a single parent, so I worked in a bank (boring…dreadful!) for 9½ years. I’d got saved at 18 through the discerning and irresistible ministry of Clive Calver, and the desire to work alongside was great, but not greater than a regular salary and a pretty good career opening up in front of me! I argued with God for 5 years before realising that it was a pointless exercise, and worked for Youth for Christ for four years.
When I finally gave in, God said very clearly, ‘Trust me, for your home, security, and income’. Sounds easy when you read it: not so easy in reality! To go from a salary to no salary overnight, when you’ve got a family and mortgage, was er…. interesting! Three weeks after starting this new life, the engine on my delightful Austin Maxi – changing gear was lie trying to stir congealed porridge with a bent straw! – blew up (was it the worst car ever made – along with the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro?), when my job involved covering a lot of East Sussex. Thank you, God, thank you very much! BUT – a wonderful Brethren Evangelist heard from God and heard about my plight. He battled with God for a week, before finally giving in – and giving me his nearly new Chrysler Alpine – so I’d survived a month salary-less, wasn’t starving, AND got a new car. God was proving that his words were true.
A lot of people say to me that they’d love to do what I do. I tell them, ‘Do it! Why wait? But be prepared for the cost’. My job, career, and salary had gone, but what God did through the local Youth for Christ was wonderful. Then came the biggest shock. ‘Go to Roffey Place Ministry Training Centre. The whole family’. I asked God why: though I knew, just didn’t want to: and asked God how he was going to pay for it. ‘I’m not, you are’ was his answer. How? I had no money, no savings, no income – and Roffey wasn’t cheap for 5 of us. Well, the answer was easy, to God, it seemed! ‘Sell the house!’ People told me I was mad to even consider it, to keep the house and rent it out for a year so we had something to come back to.
One of the major things I’ve learned about God is that once you’ve made the initial leap of faith, there IS NO GOING BACK! The house went up for sale 3 days before Christmas – the worst possible time to sell, but Roffey’s course began on 7 January. Estate Agents said they’d put it on the market in February, so I put a small-ad in the local freebie give-away newspaper. The house was sold by 8 a.m. the morning the paper came out! Arrgghh! I was hoping for a ‘stay of execution’ but God repeated ‘Trust me for your home, your security, and your income’. About 6 weeks from the end of the Roffey course, God seemed to be struggling with providing a home for the end of the course, so I tried to help him out and began house hunting. Another thing I’ve learned is that God doesn’t need my help! We ended up with my mum for some weeks, when, ‘out of the blue’, God provided a home through a lovely businessman near Worthing. It was an amazing house, about four times the size of what we’d sold, for six months, and then rent-free…. We were there six years, then the same man offered another house, even bigger, for four years, just down the road. Then came the house next door to that one – a beautiful house with manicured gardens! God keeps his promises through people who are willing to respond to him, to people who are willing to respond to him.
Time passed: three years in the USA living in a house purchased by that same businessman so I could live in it, rent-free. After the USA, came nine years in Northern Ireland – not rent free – but God provided enough for that, and I’d been travelling the world, based on nine prophetic words, praying for the sick, for 30+ years. I argued with eight of those prophecies, before giving in, with me still trying to help God out by telling him I’d go anywhere except Africa or India. I also thought it would take him a while to sort out locations for me as I knew no one overseas, as my family was very parochially English! Within 12 hours, I’d had six invitations to go to other countries – the first one being Ghana…. thank you, God, thank you very much! God provided the fare despite my arguments: and reluctantly I went – and fell in love with Ghana very quickly. I went 22 times in 11 years….
So, here I am today – still in the ministry: with prophetic words that are saying there’s going to be a significant increase in what God does in 2019. 109 countries, many of them many times – Colombia (my first love) 89 times, Mexico 30, France over 100, many African nations from Egypt and Tunisia to Zimbabwe and Mozambique (how I love Zimbabwe!), thousands of healings, countless miracles, including three people raised from the dead, a leg growing from nothing to a foot in no time at all in India, a ‘vertically changed’ (is it not p.c. to say ‘dwarf’ these days?) double in height (though a great man, James Maloney, was far more ‘responsible’ for that one, but I was there, praying!) – I could go on and on…. it’s been a mind-blowing ‘journey’ of millions of miles and seeing God in action. Seeing people I take with me released into ministries they never dreamed they could ‘do’… I love that as much as anything! Social projects for street kids to the very elderly completed… God has certainly kept his word.
And now, after 13 years away, I’m moving back to England, to be with a church that I know will ‘feed’ me – and hopefully use me – Eastgate, Gravesend, Kent: with another leap of faith coming next week, with hugely increased rent (150%), council tax (300%), water bills (free in Ireland), etc., but God’s been faithful so far, I pray he’ll keep being even MORE faithful! The cost? Job, career, pension, home ownership went, family, comfort, and much more…. but would I swap it? Not for all the tea in China!! But God did speak nearly 4 years ago, that I’d have my own home again….but that’s unimportant compared to seeing God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Here’s to the next 40 years…..
Just back from a really lovely fun-filled yet powerful service at City Church, Worcester – I’ve been a number of times in the past to preach here, but today was just a ‘punter’. I felt welcomed like an old friend and was almost immediately greeted by a lady who told me that when I last preached at the church, I prayed for her and she was healed – she was in a rush somewhere so didn’t get the chance to ask what! Afterwards, I was asked to pray with a lovely lady in extreme pain – from a badly failed knee-replacement surgery (another reason not to have had it done!) last year, in considerably more pain than before the prosthetic was fitted. I’m not sure I’ve prayed for the ‘healing’ of a prosthetic – but all her pain and inflammation went, and she could stand without pain for the first time since the surgery.
A lovely young lady I’d prayed with previously told me she’d been healed of anorexia and raynaud’s syndrome: today she asked for prayer as she’d got a problem with one leg being shorter than the other – sometimes a back or hip issue, but not always – and her orthotics specialist was in church this morning, too. Five minutes before being prayed for, the orthotic specialist had measured her hips, and they were about an inch out, as was the alignment of her knees….we watched as they equalised, and her mum confirmed that her walking up stairs had changed. The specialist confirmed that her hips and knees were now in line….. God’s so amazing, isn’t he?
Prayed for a great young man who was born with three teeth missing: the orthodontists won’t do implants unless there were six missing, only do a ‘bridge’ – not as expensive as implants but still, in the UK, as with all dentistry, expensive, so I prayed for three new teeth to be supernaturally created. They weren’t – instantly – but watch this space!
I can’t tell you the privilege it is to pray for people and see them healed – or the process of healing begin. I’m so grateful to God that in a year of immobility and extreme pain, he still chooses to use this East End of London ‘plonker’ even when I’m not expecting it. And if he can heal a ‘failed’ prosthetic, he can heal – and is healing -my knees. Not HEALED – YET – but in the process….praying that before I move into my new home, assuming I can get the money together! – he’ll heal mine totally as my flat is on the second floor and there’s no lift/elevator! That would be the best Christmas gift I could have,,,,
I’ve realised a lot of things this year, having to spend a good deal of it immobile, not the least being what an amazing creation our bodies are, made even more amazing when parts of it stop working as my legs did. When we read in Psalm 139 that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ it has significantly more impact when a critical part, like your legs, stop moving. I’ve been so grateful to God for Robert Miller, who travelled some distance to pray for the knees of a man he didn’t know, and the next day they started working again! When I pray for people, I’ll often ask if they’ve noticed any change in their condition. Some are instantly healed, some know something’s happened but still have pain, or symptoms (I’ll always say ‘don’t say you’re healed if you’re not’ as I’ll pray again: by the same measure, as it’s not possible for God to answer prayer, as I was vehemently reminded many times in China in the ’80s by Chinese pastors, don’t say ‘it didn’t work’ because sometimes the change might be imperceptible, but there WILL be change. I am in the process of a miracle, much as I’d have loved it to be instant, I’m so, so grateful for the MEASURE of healing I’ve received so far.
I learned to listen to God more, too, which was such a blessing, read more (Bible and books), and pray more. Now, it’s great to be able to start again to put all of this into practice, though I did preach in Ireland, made a Colombia trip in a wheelchair (which took some getting used to!), and once mobile, had the privilege of speaking at a men’s conference in Dublin. Doors are opening for next year, and God has said through various prophetic words that there’s going to be an increase in impact and gifting in 2019 – now I can move again, I want to take every opportunity I can, with this wonderful created ability called ‘walking’. I’ feeling very blessed as I have a number of invitations and potential invitations for 2019 when I honestly thought that having a year where I was able to accept few invitations people would have forgotten me. If I used to come to your church until 2018, I’d love to come back, if you want me! And I have a few opportunities to go back and preach in Ireland, which is a blessing.
When you travel a lot, it’s essential to have people around you who understand – or at least try to understand – the itinerant’s needs, lifestyle, and the support that’s necessary. I’ve never been or wanted to be, a ‘lone ranger’, which is one of the reasons I love taking teams with me. So to now be going to a church that sends teams out a lot, as well as other missionaries, is a tremendous blessing. If Eastgate Church ever wanted me to be involved in that, it will be a blessing. I’ve also got together what would best be called a team of advisors (accountability group?) – I’m over the moon with the great guys who have agreed to be part it, all of them leaders or in ministry, spread across all styles of church, a wide age range, and all wonderfully in touch with God. They’ve given great advice already, and, what’s really lovely, believe in me and the vision God’s given me. Our ‘meetings’ will be by Skype (especially as one lives in the USA and is a dear friend who is never afraid to tell me if and when I’m wrong!).
Having hit 66 years old 4 days ago, and on the ‘slope’ towards 70, I’m praying that God will continue to bless and provide, as I have to trust him through my ”pension years’ as well through the last 40! I’m told that I can buy seven years of National Insurance stamps (I’ve bought one through the kindness and generosity of a group of friends in France, so six to go) for the (many!) years where I didn’t have enough to pay the stamp: and there’s no other pension hiding in the background that I can rely on.
The last couple of weeks I’ve had the delight of staying with great, long-time friend Graham Coyle, in Worcester. We first met 35 years ago, Graham and his lovely late-wife Ann’s lives intertwined with mine first at Roffey Place in 1984, and much more regularly since. Graham and his two lovely daughters, Bex and Lizzie, have very kindly asked me for Christmas, the first Christmas I’ll have not spent alone for quite a few years. So until 7th January, I’m at 15 Lilac Avenue, Worcester WR4 9QU, I hope I can remember how ‘do’ Christmas!
And, God willing, I move into a flat in Northfleet, Kent, the second week of January. It’s a mighty leap of faith for me, as I – and many others to whom I look to for advice and input, felt that the lovely Eastgate Church, in Gravesend, was where God wanted me to go. Gravesend’s proximity to London, and to Ebbsfleet International Channel Tunnel Train Station, makes that area of Kent lethally expensive rent-wise, especially compared to Northern Ireland! My rent will be 120% higher than Ireland, the council tax 300% higher than Ireland’s rates, and inNorthern Ireland, you don’t pay water rates (so much rain, I guess!!) so that’ll be on the expenses list in Kent. Living anywhere in the south-east of England is expensive – I understand that a two bedroomed flat in somehwere like Eastbourne (where I spent many of my growing up years) is about £1000 a month, so north-west Kent, with it’s ‘immediate’ accessibility to numerous motorways, four airports (five if you include Southend) with the furthest – Heathrow – only being 75 minutes away (the others being Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton): and Europe, through the tunnel or ferry, makes it ideal for an itinerant missionary.
For people who live the way God’s called me to, we face something of a dilemma, where support raising is concerned. For me, I don’t find it too difficult to write, or ask, when fund-raising for projects, like the fantastic building Thanney constructed last year for the desperate, threatened, and vulnerable street kids in Cali. However, when it comes to support raising for me, I find it almost impossible. Most people say ‘If we don’t knw what you need, how do we know how to help you?’, which makes it so much easier to ask Perhaps I’m overly conscious of the few who, when I write stating those needs, tell me ‘So you’re not living by faith anymore, you’re begging’. I have to try and dismiss those as most people in ministry fundraise: and, as many of you know, I ‘suffered’ this year because of immobility and couldn’t walk, so therefore preach, and about 40% of my income comes from offerings even though I don’t charge. When you watch Christian TV, the ‘money’ appeals are endless, yet seem more acceptable to the ‘few’! So, I’m still some way short of what I need to rent – and buy things for – the flat, things that I had to leave behind in Bangor that either didn’t fit on the trailer or belonged to the landlord. Fairly important things like a fridge-freezer, two beds, a washing machine….. IF you’re in a position to help with support, and to make up the loss from offerings this year, I’d be very grateful. www.Stewardship.org.uk is brilliant, in that they reclaim the tax and pass it on to me as well (Paul Bennison Healing Ministries Worldwide, account no: 20028331), the Halifax Bank (if you don’t pay tax) 11-08-75, 00256003: or PayPal (paul@paulbennisoncom).
I’m looking forward to celebrating this wonderful creation’s legs when I move, as I’m in a second floor flat without a lift (!) so I’m asking for God’s support, too, in healing them totally before I move in January. The wonderful ‘upside’ is that it’s only 500 yards from the church. What marvellous inventions knee were by God.
I pray that you’ll have a wonderful Christmas, filled with peace and the amazing Presence of Jesus. I look forward to seeing some of you in 2019, maybe at your church if you want me!
After moving on from Handcross and the beautiful cottage in the lovely Sussex countryside, I’m now in Worcester with my great mate, Graham, until the new year, when I hpe to move into my own home.
God willing, and continuing to provide, I move to Gravesend second week in January, which has just blown me away. Thank you, God’s people, for helping to make it possible – still some way to go, but your kindness and generosity is getting me there, to where I can kick off into ministry again in 2019 with a passion, after these 10 months of not being able to walk, and all the pain, hurt, isolation, frustration, and loneliness will pale into history as God fulfils what has been prophesied over me that there will be a huge increase in what he does through me. That excites me so much, and now I’m hooked into a church that is so mission, ministry, and healing orientated, the encouragement will be there to do it!
Joel and I got to church early, and while drinking a great vanilla latte, in the lovely cafe, Pete, the leader, came and sat at our table – and we shared our passion for France for about 30 minutes, and as we sat there, he stuck his hand on my knee and prayed for both of them!
I love, at Eastgate Church, that people just walk up to me and put their hands on my knees and pray for me: last Sunday, I walked further without limping or a walking stick than I’ve walked in a very long time. I’d gone up to ask one of the worship team – who I’ve known for years at another church, Anthony – for the words of one of the songs, words that wrecked me, so powerful…. ‘So will I’ (I’ve pasted the video link below):
and at the end, a wonderful, joy-filled man, Patrick, shared…. I had never met him, but wanted his joy (it’s been a long time since I experienced joy like he demonstrated!) so I went to him and asked him for a hug, so I could get his joy to rub off on me. I’m a great believer in impartation, and Patrick’s hug and prayer, while we hugged, was wonderful. We chatted for a while afterward: I’d guessed he was from Zimbabwe from his appearance and accent. He was. I love Zimbabwe (I feel God is going to take me back to Africa after a long break) and we talked and talked about his homeland, and I’m hoping we can do some things together in Zim, and I’d love to take him to Colombia! He’s on fire!
It seems with each visit to the church, my knees get a bit better: that’s humanly impossible with osteoarthritis! I reckon about 6 different people prayed for them on Sunday, I’m believing that total healing is on it’s way, and not too far ahead…. 🙂
With things like council tax. water rates (not paid in Northern Ireland), and other bills, I’m still asking God to provide increased support, as I lost some long-time regular support from Ireland almost the day I left, without any warning! It’s hard enough to budget when you live without a salary: even harder when people cancel without notice! I had to leave behind in Ireland my fridge freezer, and washer/tumble dryer, my desk wouldn’t go in the trailer, and the beds belonged with the house, too, so I have to buy a fair bit before I can begin to call it home! If you have any of those things ‘spare’ then please let me know!!