Today is Giving Tuesday, a movement where people give to a cause they’re passionate about and inspire others to take action.
I’m not sure if you’d consider the ministry God has called me to be something worthy of support, but I’m so grateful to those who do give to the work of preaching the gospel, seeing many, many sick people healed, encouraging and releasing others into ministries they never dreamed they could or would have, the provision of beautiful purpose-built homes for street kids in Colombia to keep them out of the hands of narco-traffickers, and the provision of a hospital wing in West Africa, multiple numbers of toilets in bush villages in Africa and so much more.
This year, for quite valid reasons, I’ve lost (for me, at least) considerable monthly support (so far in 2019 it’s well over £300 a month, £200 quite recently). and because of more recent mobility limitations, a good number of ministry opportunities where I might have received an offering – which are infinitely more valuable than you’d imagine!
If you feel ‘giving Tuesday’ is something that might inspire you to see me fully back in harness in 2020. I’d be grateful! Message me if you would!
My great friend Lee, computer and medical genius, has managed to get me to a page I can do something with (and I mostly recognise!) so a post I just put on Facebook I can repost here what I put on FB – would really value your prayers right now as I’m aware that there are things God has up ahead that the enemy doesn’t like, and I feel as though I’ve been bludgeoned by incessant attacks….
There have been so many demonic, witchcraft, and satanic attacks this year I couldn’t even begin to list them – but last weeks I thought I’d pulled a muscle in my left thigh – I won’t go into great detail, but my thigh began to swell – and is currently 10 cms bigger than my right thigh and 10 cms bigger than it should be… then my shin started to deepen in colour, and I’ve been diagnosed now with Deep Vein Thrombosis, and a return of Cellulitis (had it last year in Colombia) – the doctor at the hospital; and nurse at the Medical Centre have said that both could kill me (heart attack/sepsis) – so after stabbing myself in my gut for a few days last week I’m now on double-dose anti-coagulants for the DVT and double dose antibiotics for the cellulitis. Back at the docs tomorrow and Friday, and I doubt you can imagine a hugely swollen(whole) leg now has impacted to an already osteoarthritic knee – the pain is excruciating (fortunately I have a high pain threshold) and not being able to bend my leg really doesn’t help mobility!
I’m in pretty severe pain with the DVT but trusting that the anti-coagulents will have an effect pretty soon. My shin looks like someone has put it in a woodworker’s vice and planed all the skin off!
Would really appreciate your prayers! Thank you and bless you!
2 Corinthians 4: 8 ff
8: we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9: persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10: always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11: For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12: So death works in us, but life in you. 13: But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14: knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
An update on the last post here – I’m so, so grateful for the responses I’ve had from a good number of people to the huge and varied onslaught that was suddenly unleashed at me 10 days ago. The scriptures above have been reassuring – I know that in part what ‘hit’ me is what Jesus said – ‘you WILL have trouble’. That means that somewhere along the way the enemy has wanted to stamp his foot on who am I, what I do, and while I’d love to say that I could – from the start of the battering – say what Paul wrote in Corinthians. I know that I WAS crushed, in despair, and – being totally honest here, feeling that God was sitting on his hands with gaffer tape over his mouth… I’d like to say I won’t – haven’t – stayed there, but as soon as you get your head above the parapet again, you’re open to further attack…
I’m very much aware, as I wrote in a Facebook post, that some of what has blitzed me has come from a small number of jealous christian people (small ‘c’ on purpose) who in their jealousy have (and I know who they are) cursed me, literally: and while no weapon formed against us – me – will prosper, the Bible doesn’t say it won’t AFFECT you – just that it won’t last. If nothing ever affected us, why did Jesus say what he did in John 16:33? When in recent months news has spread about a ‘big name’ worship leader walking away from his ministry, church, and faith: a young pastor is California of a ‘thriving’ church committing suicide: a mega-church teaching pastor whose books influenced generations of young people admitting he was wrong and again, walking away from his church, faith, withdrawing all those books from publication – then there are clearly plenty of times when the weapons of the enemy – often directed, aimed, and fired by other believers – DO prosper and sometimes debilitate and damage us so much that we can’t fight back.
That’s why I’m grateful for the messages I’ve received, and the prayers of a number of people. Much of the onslaught recently has come from a very dysfunctional family situation, which for obvious reasons I can’t go into in a public blog. Those who know me well know my family situation – and a number of things have come into my line of vision that I knew nothing about that are devastating and emotionally incredibly distressing. A massive ‘revelation’ that totally blitzed me. Please – if you pray for me – pray for my family. It’s many years now since I saw my children – now 40, 39, and 37 – and I so want to believe that the story of the Prodigal Father is my story.
If you would also pray for something I’ve mentioned before – having had a ‘mobility-limited’ year, I seem to have fallen off of the ‘radar’ of a lot of people who previously asked me to minister in their churches and situations. My love for people, sharing a lifetime of testimonies, encouraging people to believe that miracles and healing can become a part of their life, and, of course, praying for people to be healed myself, is who I am… Being in constant pain 24/7 with osteoarthritis in both knees (not realistically replaceable through surgery) for some 25 years has heightened my passion to see everyone vI meet released from pain as I know how wearying, tiring, and – sometimes – demoralising it can be. If you’ve followed my escapades over the last 40 years – may be the last 10 more because of this blog – you’ll know that God has graciously used me to see tens of thousands of people healed of just about every type of sickness, disease, and pain, and to see – only because of God’s power – a few people raised from the dead.
My life for 41 years now has been dedicated to following God’s call on my life, and yes, it has cost me – everything. But God told me it would be worth it, and that I was never to ‘charge’ – ‘Freely you have received, freely give’ someone famous(!) once said, and while I’m unspeakably in debt to the few regular supporters I have, offerings and gifts from churches and groups are an essential part of ‘survival’ and funding overseas trips, where my passion is well documented.
Right now, I desperately need a permanent home – it’s 36 years since selling the last house I ‘owned’ (mortgaged!) – and God has assured me that a home will be mine again in the near future. It would be wonderful to have somewhere that I can crash out, and also have people to stay from time to time. Humanly – financially – it isn’t possible as I’m pretty unmortgageable at almost 67 years old, though I have no plans to retire even with the pain limitations my knees try and inflict on me – I think I fall outside of the category ‘first-time buyer’ at my age!
I’m just emerging – I hope – from the battering of the past two weeks: I know that God is the restorer of my soul, and I look to him to restore it more – and provide ‘the table for me in the presence of my enemies’.
If enemy attack is a yardstick by which you can measure whether or not you’re doing, or have done, something right, then I think it would be fair to say that my move to Welshpool, Powys, is right… I’m not sure there has been another time in my life – certainly not in the (nearly) 41 years of ministry – where the onslaught has been so intense and constant! I came here (after a pretty hard few months in Kent one way or another) early in July. I won’t go over those early in ‘occult and witchcraft central’ cottage in Montgomery as they’ve been blogged, but just these past few weeks – especially this PAST week – have been an onslaught…
While I’m ‘waiting’ for God to open the way for my permanent home, I’ve been staying in a village about 3 miles outside of Welshpool. Much of what I’ve done – and do – ministry-wise has been organised via mobile phone contact, which is a godsend for a travelling minister. I checked out online before I came here what the mobile coverage was like on O2 (I wish to high heaven I’d not switched to them 17 months ago after 22 years with another service provider!) and their site says ‘good coverage outdoors and indoors’. If you want a word of advice, are moving, and need your mobile phone, DON’T believe the lies they put on their sites! Since coming to Wales I’ve had NO signal in either of the two places I’ve resided in for 4 months – I have to drive 6 miles round trip to get a signal on O2!! No one can call me, and I can’t call out! It partly explains why invitations have decreased!
My own home is now a truly desperate need, as ‘begging’ the hospitality of friends is not easy, and I know realistically that another few weeks and I’ll need to move on: to where, God only knows if it’s not to my permanent home. When I came back from the States in 2009, I had many months in different homes, and it burned me out – I was 10 years younger then, and I’m not sure physically or mentally I could do that again. If you could pray that wherever the hold up is – where the enemy has his foot on the provision – that God would release it: I’d be eternally grateful.
Since my ‘occult house’ experience, the old knees haven’t really recovered: it’s been a joy to go to other places and pray for people with what I’ve got (chronic osteoarthritis) and see them healed (no exaggeration – thousands over the years), but I guess I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t ask God, after 25 years and thousands of prayers ‘When is it my turn, Lord?’! I’ve taken every opportunity I have had for ministry and been thrilled with what God has done, but to say I would love more would be understating it.
As I’ve wanted to explore every ‘avenue’ for off-loading what is really excruciating pain every step, as I’m living near one of the best orthopaedic hospitals in the UK, and as I’m registered with a G.P here now, the doctor got me an appointment (amazingly quickly) at Gobowen Hospital, Oswestry. I was a bit reticent as my last visit to an ortho consultant resulted in the total wrecking of my right knee, but Mr Karlakki at Gobowen, was great, he seemed to have all the time in the world (even though the waiting room was jammed) and I got into my appointment 25 minutes early. He’s the first doctor to give me real confidence that he knew the pain of osteoarthritis, and what he was talking about. Seems these days they replace knees in very quick time, with the ‘victim’ conscious throughout (just an epidural to kill off the lower half!) and that recovery is rapid. Maybe 3 months for one knee and I’d be back in harness: 6 months later, the second knee, and three months after that, all hunky-dory…
BUT then… he asked about medical history 🙁 – and I told him that 5 years ago I was hospitalised for 4 days with a major pulmonary embolism and that my family has a history of blood clotting (killed my dad in ’65) – DVT, embolisms, strokes…. and that changed his enthusiasm that he could help me – and my enthusiasm that he might – by telling me that I stood a 50-50 chance of dying in surgery, or – nearly as bad – a bleed into the prosthetic knee which would be disastrous: if I wanted to take the risk, it would be a 6-9 month recovery time with at least three months on rat poison – sorry, warfarin – no flying for trips abroad – the same 6 month gap, and then another 6-9 months recovery time. So in all, 2 years… and that long out of circulation would pretty much guarantee that – having been ‘forgotten’ for ministry opportunities after LAST year, I’d be well off the radar…
Death doesn’t seem a healthy option to me, nor blood-filled knees that mean I won’t be able to walk, so I guess I’m back where I’ve been for years in trusting God to heal my knees, it’s the only option left to me, having now concluded the surgery option! I have absolutely no plans to retire – I couldn’t even if I wanted to! – and so as age increases, I really DO need God to heal me!
In these recent weeks, for totally understandable reasons, I’ve lost two regular supporters who have had a huge change in their own circumstances – about 15% of my ‘known’ monthly income, so that’s hit me like a runaway train… I’m so grateful for those friends for their loving and sacrificial support, so I’m not ‘griping’ – just asking God what’s next!
And the last thing- the biggest sledgehammer of all – a very close personal family discovery that I won’t go into here, for obvious reasons – suffice to say that since finding out on Monday, it’s pretty much wrecked me emotionally. I’d value your prayers, even in the absence of being able to write the reason here… Some of you know my family situation, and I will write a ‘confidential’ newsletter with some further information.
Under pressure – on other fronts too – you might know the rock song by the band. Queen (much edited!):
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on the streets
Pray tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people, people on the streets
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love (people on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
I’ll never be able to not love and care for people, it’s second nature to me. And I need and love to be loved in return. God’s on our side, but when pressure gets intense, it sometimes seems that he goes quiet…!! Thankfully he doesn’t seem to go quiet when I’m praying for other people, though there are times when I feel a right hypocrite going to pray for people, limping, with a walking stick! Wounded healer…?
It’s always a real blessing and a privilege to be invited to speak at a church: it’s an even greater blessing and privilege to be asked back again – greater still when it’s twice in the same year, for even longer the second time! Many years ago I heard well-known speaker Gerald Coates say ‘In my ministry life, I’ve preached everywhere – ONCE!’ – and he also said ‘In ministry life, you preach everywhere twice – once on the way UP, second time on the way DOWN!’. I hope and pray that’s not my testimony after being back at the lovely church ‘The Way’ in lovely Hunstanton, Norfolk (if you’re posh, apparently, you call it Hunston!). I had a lovely Sunday speaking there earlier in the year, so it was a real joy to be asked back again, to speak a number of times over this past weekend, Friday to Sunday (with a lovely breakfast meeting included on Saturday!) and be with – now – good friends Gordon and Gill Tanner who lead the church, plus many others I began to get to know in February: and ‘old'(!!) friends Dennis and Cathy Acott and Chris Holland (also one of the leaders). I was so happy that I was able to have with me dear friends Jonathan and Helen, who contributed an enormous amount spiritually and in friendship to the weekend.
Gordon had asked me to speak around the theme of ‘Following Jesus/Walking with Jesus’ – here’s what the fellowship posted on their Facebook page yesterday, which was a lovely blessing in itself:
The Way Christian Fellowship Hunstanton
What a wonderful few days with Paul Bennison sharing a few of his many testimonies of what God has done through him on his obedient walk with the Lord.
Head to the website to hear them.
Thanks to Paul, Jonathan, and Helen for coming and sharing with us.
We had our share of healings too 😀
One of the ladies from the church, Lis, posted this with it: ‘It was a blessing to have Paul Jonathan & Helen this weekend. We received more of the LORD’S LOVE & GLORY. AMEN –
-a wonderful blessing to be there. I’d read a great quote from Jackie Pullinger-To recently: Wouldn’t it be awful to get to the end of our life only then to discover that we’d wasted it’, and so I launched in to ‘Following Jesus’ with that challenging quote. I’ll always be eternally grateful that – when we step out of our ‘comfort zones’ in obedience, in obedience to the call of Jesus, even if initially it is kicking and screaming but doing it anyway – he uses the weak to overcome the strong, and the foolish to overcome the wise. I know that I fit both of those categories – 1 Corinthians 1:27: But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong – though hopefully a little stronger now than when I started, and maybe a little more wise, too (and no longer kicking and screaming)!
God blessed a number of people through words of knowledge and encouragement from Helen and Jonathan: Helen shared her own astonishing testimony of the last few months, and Jonathan his and Kathryn’s of the last few years. (Kathryn was the now well-documented driver of the ‘angel’ car crash with me in 1994!). I think all the words of knowledge were responded to, and all WHO responded received healing from the Lord – which should be ‘par for the course’ with words of knowledge! Some people received instant healing, others a significant change in the condition (be it spiritual or emotional), and others setting out at the beginning of a process of healing. I haven’t asked permission of the friends there if I can mention their names, but all being well I will, and post them another time. Suffice to say that a lot of pain went, degeneration of some serious illnesses stopped and regeneration began, arthritis/osteoarthritis healed (maybe not unsurprisingly!!), long-time emotional hurts and issues went, and much more.
When I look back over the weekend, it was such a lovely time of the Lord’s Presence, so much of his blessing, and even after all these years, it’s still a thrill and blessing to me when people’s lives are changed, even more so because it was just a few miles down the road from Hunstanton where my dear friend Ian Andrews prayed for me in Swaffham, Norfolk, in 1983 (I’d already been in full-time Christian work for 4 years then) and I received the passion and anointing to see people healed – through a man of God who’s own healing ministry now stretches back over about 50 years. Seeing God heal people in Norfolk felt like coming full circle from that day in 1983, when I LONGED to see God heal but (if I’m honest) doubted that he could or would ever do it through me.
Than you Gordon, Gill, Christine and your team for having me back at your wonderful Fellowship: thank you, too, Dennis and Cathy for your love, friendship, kindness, and care as well as your incredible hospitality to us three waifs and strays! I hope I can say ‘I’ll be back!’ – or ‘We’ll be back’!! (And then I’ll know it wasn’t on the way down!!).
****FURTHER REPORT TODAY, MONDAY!****
The owners of the cafe where we had the church breakfast on Saturday (not Christians as far as we know) – wrote to Gordon today, as we prayed for his wife who has been ill for many years with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. I prayed for her with Jonathan, Jonathan knew an angel was standing next to her which he thought was ‘my’ angel from the crash 25 years ago –
Good morning Gordon!
It was our pleasure to be of help and we would be only to happy to assist and provide if you should need us in the future.
*****has asked me to relay her thanks for your prayers and to inform you that she has had the best nights sleep in years!
Thank you, Lord! She was in a lot of pain and discomfort, and sleeplessness goes with afflictions she had – and it’s terrible, as you’ll know if you’ve ever suffered it. I have, and I’m truly grateful to God for blessing her….
A very worthwhile and enjoyable long(ish)-haul drive last weekend down to Devon, to speak at the Mid-Devon Christian Vision for Men (CVM) curry evening – my long-time friend Kevin Ball asked me to the lovely named Copplestone Methodist Church, Crediton, and it was a good evening. A good number there, Kev was a marvel in that he cooked an awesome amount of three different curries – hot, not so hot, and vegetarian (a curry without meat isn’t really a curry for me!!). Good curry, too – went for the hottest one, thoroughly enjoyable beef! Some good chats with a number of guys before the event, including a ‘blood-brother’ from Stratford, a fellow Cockney in the heart of Exmoor!!
CVM is a great ministry to men – the last few years it has expanded hugely, and for their ‘main’ event nationally – a weekend ‘in a field near Swindon’ (not hugely appealing to a dodgy-kneed non-camper like me, though!) they have in excess of 2,500 men, with many saved, and lives transformed.
Kev very honouring of our friendship, and of me, in his introduction. Not knowing most of the guys there, I thought I would hold back on some of the more ‘extreme’ testimonies I’ve seen God do, but still told a good number of the amazing things God is doing these days. I wanted to challenge the guys with ‘Wouldn’t it be awful to get to the end of your life and discover that you’d wasted it?’ – and it was more because of that theme that I prayed with a good few men – one lovely guy said to me: ‘I’ve realised that I’ve wasted my life up until now, and don’t want to waste the rest of it’ – I know a few felt that way. The joy is that once you reach that point, then you can decide not to waste the rest of what God has given you….
Just a couple of the comments from men there were a blessing –
- A great curry evening, Paul, an ordinary guy used by God to do extraordinary things. We ALL have a purpose!
- Andy Laidlaw Great night mate, thanks Paul for a splendid talk
One guy I spoke to was amazed at where God has taken me over the last forty years, the number of countries, and said ‘man, you must be loaded with money!’ – so I gently told him that wasn’t the case, that it’s 41 years on January 18, 2020, since my last ever salary cheque (and it was only half a month’s pay anyway, as I left at the end of December to go into Christian work!). That God has provided through his people, and supernaturally, blew him away even more!
Back at Kevin and Della’s home in Okehampton just in time to watch Brighton & Hove Albion thrash Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on Match of the Day – capped off a great evening!
Down to Plymouth in time for the meeting at City Church – a super church that I’ve had the joy of visiting to speak at since January 1983 (my goodness me, tempus fugit and all that – 38 years and they still let me in! I picked up the same them as Saturday evening to start with, but as I so often find, digressed (moved off at a tangent??!) talked more about some of the more ‘outrageous’ things God is doing. It was great because my wonderful friend Julian had a word of knowledge early on that resulted in healing, and as I walked into the meeting, another long-time friend told me that her back, which had given her a lot of trouble, was completely healed last time I was at the church. Always nice to get those sorts of ‘occurrences’ BEFORE you speak!
The friendship with City Church has a rather lovely history too – I met a bunch of folk from there as they were prayer-walking and doing evangelism in the ‘suffering for the Kingdom’ location of St. Tropez! – I was speaking at a Christian holiday campsite, which I had to ‘suffer’ for many years (a great improvement on a ‘field near Swindon’ I’d have to say!
Prayed with a few folk at the end of the meeting – some felt the touch of God but no ‘dramatic’ instant healings – though I’m still in faith for Julian’s healing and will never give up praying for him. It was such a blessing that the whole church prayed for me, too – for my home here in Wales, for the restoration of my family, and for my knees to be healed. Colin, one of the leaders of the church, made a wonderful declaration about the family. It was so good, too, to be able to have a great lunch and a few hours, with Roy and Angie: the dear friends who flew to Ireland last year to help me when walking was impossible – so they cleaned the house and filled the freezer as Angie made constant meals for me over 5 days to keep me going for weeks and weeks!
And then to spend the evening with Julian and Olwyn, we haven’t really seen each other to natter to for a long, long time. Jules has M.S. – if you feel led, please remember him and Olwyn in your prayers. It was great that their daughters were there, Megan staying overnight so we caught up a few years of life too!
The journey back up the M5 was a bit of a pain as it rained most of the way, but I’m grateful for the car I have, even though it’s 11 years old now!
I was scheduled to go to Colombia with my dear friend Thanney, two weeks today, but because I’m hoping to start yet another ‘moving’ process any day now, I’ve postponed my involvement to be in Wales for when it might be possible to get into my own place. That means Thanney’s going alone, to start the process of the next BIG building project in Cali – seeing architects, planners, community leaders of the barrio we’ll be working in, and the city authorities. I’m very envious of him being there for 4 weeks, but then I’m looking forward to being totally settled here. I’m so grateful to Rob and Lucy for having me in their home while the home-hunting process happens – they’ve put up with me for 9weeks now! They’re a real blessing to me.
If any of you have had cause or need to ring me in the 13 weeks I’ve been in Wales, I’m sorry if you’ve not been able to! Phone signals in Welshpool are fine, but I’ve been in two villages a few miles out of the town, and had no phone signal from two of the major providers, O2 and EE, for all of those weeks! If you need to get in touch, emails work fine, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp are keeping me alive to the outside world!! I can pick up text and voice messages on the phone when I go into Welshpool…
One of the joys of being a Christian is knowing that I’m securely held in the loving arms of my heavenly Father – locked in his arms, in fact. His embrace is total love and acceptance, things we all need if we’re to ‘survive’ life without bitterness and rejection. There are many promises in Scripture about how much love Father God, and his wonderful Son, Jesus, have for us: and for me the loveliest worship songs are about his love – especially ‘How deep the Father’s love for us’ by the lovely Stuart Townend:
How deep the Father's love for us How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure How great the pain of searing loss The Father turns His face away As wounds which mar the Chosen One Bring many sons to glory Behold the man upon a cross My sin upon His shoulders Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice Call out among the scoffers It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished I will not boast in anything No gifts, no power, no wisdom But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom
For those of us who no longer have the privilege of having our earthly dads with us – in my case it most certainly WAS a privilege to have the dad I had – knowing Father God’s love is so incredibly special. I know I wouldn’t have survived through life without His love. In a few days time, 54 years ago, my dad went to be with his heavenly Father: Thursday, 30 September 1965, at 5.09 pm, aged only 41 years, as a result of a terrible diagnosis from his doctor and subsequent treatment for pneumonia and not a massive pulmonary embolism. I’ll be truthful and say it took me many years to forgive that doctor, it held me back from becoming a ‘full-fledged’ Christian: I was 12 years old when dad went, and while all the wonderful things that were said about him at his funeral (he was an Elder, Treasurer, and Sunday School Secretary at our – then – church) were nice to hear, they meant nothing as my dad had gone. The pastor of the church used the words spoken of Stephen, as he was martyred in the book of Acts – ‘He was a man filled with the Holy Spirit and Faith’. It was six long years before God finally cornered me, and I submitted my life totally to Him, and was wonderfully blessed to be filled with His Holy Spirit.
My dad was an amazing man: a much better man in his 41 years than I’ll ever be. I was born very, very sick, and doctors said that living in the environment and air of the east-end of London wasn’t helping. So when I was nearly 6, dad gave up an amazing job as Borough Treasurer of one of the east-end boroughs, and we moved to Sussex, where he took on running a grocer’s shop, which was menial and physically demanding by comparison. Never once in my hearing did he ever complain, but the heavy physical work took its toll, and 6 years later, this amazing – but shy and humble – man of God, gave up his life – effectively for me. I’d just got home from school, and heard what I had no idea were his last breaths from the bottom of the stairs (a family friend stopped me from going up to see him, which I dearly wanted to) – but even in those last moments when he struggled to breathe with the pulmonary embolism sucking the air out of him, dad’s last words were ‘Lord, if I’m dying, forgive me’. No fear of death, just an acknowledgment that as a man, he needed God’s forgiveness. Those words more than the breaths mean the world to me. Though I didn’t know it, God held me so close those turbulent next years as emotionally and psychologically I struggled to recover from losing him.
I empathise with all fatherless friends, for whatever reason. My prayer is that you, too, know the loving locked embrace of your heavenly Father.
But he’d laid a wonderful loving foundation in my life – representative of God’s love for him – and I’d dearly love to thank him for that. In 1983, soul singer Luther Vandross, released a wonderful song – ‘Dance with my father again’ – which encapsulates so much for me the love my dad had for me – which even though it was wonderful, doesn’t even come close to the love Father God has for me.
Father – thank you for loving me. Jesus – thank you for loving me. Dad – thank you for loving me. I’d love to sit and talk to you every day, but one day, in heaven, that will be possible….
After having eight different ‘homes’ in the last ten months, including 2½ complete home moves, my body isn’t quite sure where it’s at, and has felt a little weary, to say the least, especially as I’m now past the ‘halfway’ stage in my 60’s (I’m 66 for those interested!). Age has no fear for me, but I am aware of certain limitations that come with it – I think it was Spike Milligan who said ‘At my age you never go past a toilet!’ – as well as my well-documented mobility limitations. I’m in another temporary home right now, thanks to lovely friends willing to have this nomad in their house, having just activated the 50% Welsh part of my birth heritage and come ‘home’, while I wait to see what God does for a permanent home here. Dad was such an amazing man (you’ll probably say I’m biased but he was), so I’m so happy to be in the land of his birth, even if three hours north of where he came from, Penarth…
The physical effects of all of those moves, and especially the impact on me physically in occult-central house in Montgomery, have been greater than I realised, but last Sunday, with my lovely friend Jonathan, found the energy to go down south to a meeting where my great friend, Ian Andrews, was speaking. Ian – along with God, of course! – is a major reason why my life took a huge turn in 1983, when he (and a few others) prayed for me. Ian’s been perhaps the major healing pioneer in the church in the UK (and many other places) for the best part of 6 decades: it was in 1983, not knowing why I had a driving passion to go, that I managed to get in to an ‘invitation-only’ healing conference where Ian was the speaker. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Ian blew me away with his humility, not an ‘all guns blazing’ tv-type healing evangelist, but a man of immense authority, faith, and power.
When I got to the conference I wished with everything in me that I hadn’t gone, as most of the other 50 were the charismatic leaders of the time (people like Roger Forster, Terry Virgo, Clive Calver, Graham Kendrick, Rob White, Gerald Coates, and an assembly of the famous!). So 49 – plus me! Being a good shy insecure Englishman, I sat at the back in the corner, behind someone tall. Ian began by asking a few questions – everyone here is a leader/in ministry? Everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit? Everyone speaks in tongue? Yes, Ian…all leaders, ministers, filled with the Spirit, speak in tongues… then ‘Everyone speaks in tongues publicly?’ – a spirit of fear hit the room and hands went up. ‘Er, no…’. Ian then pointed to a little geezer at the back in the corner – moi! – and said ‘speak in tongues for us now!’.
In the next few moments I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone as much as I hated Ian then! All these famous people he could have chosen… my mouth went dry, tasted like I imagine a cat litter tray tastes first thing in the morning, and my lips stuck together… then much to my amazement a few ridiculous-sounding words fell out of my mouth as I though ‘You idiot, Bennison, you’ve made a fool of yourself in front of all these superstars. To be honest. with hindsight I reckon they were just relieved he hadn’t picked them! As the last word fell out of my litter tray, a guy at the front burst into tears. God had given him the interpretation – which Biblically should always happen with a public tongue – and God had answered an issue in his life he’d been praying for an answer to for a very long time. My ghast was totally flabbered…
What Ian shared over the next 3-4 days totally changed my life, and I knew why I’d had the desperation to get to the conference. After it, Ian prayed for me, and the die was cast. A passion to bless people through the power of the Holy Spirit with absolutely no clue of how, when, or even why, coming from a background of quite (very?) sick people…
It was 3-4 years before it unfolded into reality, following other words from God, about travelling to the four corners of the earth to preach the gospel and see the sick healed. The wife of very dear friends has an almost unbelievable prognosis hanging over her right now, and I contacted Ian, whose friendship has meant so much to me in these 36 years, to ask if he’d pray for her. He’s one end of the country, she’s another – but last Sunday he just HAPPENED to be speaking a few miles away from the family, and so I wanted to be there when the hook-up happened – with just a slight (!) selfish motive in getting him to pray for my knees…. There’s certainly an improvement in mobility, but I’ll never ever give up believing for total wholeness, and nor will I ever give up ‘going and doing’ what God’s called me to do. I’ve had a bit of a lull due to the moves, but am back in harness again very soon, which I can’t wait for.
My mind is telling me I need a break – other than through exhaustion – in 40+ years of being in ministry, I’ve never had a sabbatical (some ministers seem to have a fair few!), but I have thought a short holiday in the sun would do my body the world of good, but holidaying on your own isn’t a great deal of ‘fun’, and it’s not something that’s in my budget 🙁 – I’d need to hire a car, too, as mobility would be an issue without one. My legs don’t, sadly, do trains and buses as they usually entail a lot of walking! I listen to other people involved ministry and they seem to have friends all over the world who offer them holiday homes. Apart from one good friend in Scotland and another in Surrey, I don’t know anyone with places I could beg to stay at!
Some of you might remember the story of a miraculous deliverance from what should only have been a fatal car crash 25 years ago, when an angel pulled me out of a car that had pretty much shrunk in length by 50% – it was Ian who’d seen the angel in a meeting at the church in Sussex 36 hours earlier, and the driver was the wife of great friends who have lived here in Wales for 17 years now. Sunday, Jonathan, the husband, drove us down to Surrey – the first time he’d seen Ian since that weekend in 1994: Ian and Rosemary had been telling their hosts the ‘crash’ story and my deliverance from the wreckage that morning!
I have so much love and respect for Ian – after all his years in the ‘miracle/healing/revival’ ministry, he’s still the same humble, self-effacing man I’ve always known but you sense the power of the anointing from God that he carries. Ian has instigated so many ‘revival’ movements across the globe, most recently in Victoria, Australia, and in South Australia. It was – to us, at least, a blessing that there wasn’t a huge attendance, which meant more time for ministry – he spent good quality time with my friend’s family, and praying for these disobedient knees I have! It was lovely to see how much care and time Ian had for people – not a line of people being told ‘be healed’ and pushed over – personally I find that type of ministry offensive and dishonouring to the person being prayed for, and to God. I’d rather stay for hours, giving each individual time and care. Jesus didn’t, it seems to me, get everyone in a line, push them over and shout ‘be healed!’.
It was a joy to see Ian and Rosemary, and as it was in Gerald and Anona Coates’ church, a pleasure to see them after at least 20 years! There were others who turned up at the meeting who I knew from many years ago, including Derek Brown, who I’d not seen for about 35 years! – he used to lead a big church in Aldershot but has moved into micro-churches now, which is what I’ve come to Wales to be a part of. A wonderful blessing to have a good few hours in the car chatting to Jonathan, too.