Oooohhhh dar, I’ve done it again… realised that there’s been a month since writing anything here. No excuses, other than to say that, in writing my newsletter, which I guess most people who read my blog will receive, I subconsciously think I’ve ‘done my bit’ of communication, and promptly forget the blog….
Actually, writing the newsletter is quite a long, drawn out, and much-considered process – that might surprise you! Not the long ‘bit’, but the ‘much considered’ bit! I do like to spend a good deal of time trying to decide what to include in it. So, if you haven’t recieved one, and read this, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you one…
December has been a month of catching up on admin stuff, driving hundreds of miles in England both to preach and visit family, and catch up very necessarily with certain people, and then, of course, latterly, chilling out over Christmas, and utilising the time to catch up on rest after the busy-ness and intensity of Colombia.
The trek around the southern half of England is becoming increasingly regular, seeing people in the south east especially, and then preaching in Plymouth, at City Church, always one of my favourite places to visit. It’s not a large church numerically, but it has a heart, a passion, and mission bigger than most churches I know. From its core comes tremendous involvement in the Healing Rooms, Healing on the Streets, and, perhaps, most significantly, Street Pastors. If you don’t know what any of those things are, I’m sure google will help you, but one of the reasons I love this church is that almost everyone is involved in one of those three major God-driven initiatives, including a wonderful couple in their 80’s who are on the Street Pastors team – which means that they, with others, go out on Friday nights, at 10pm-4am, to help young people who ‘get into difficulties’ through alcohol, drugs, relationships, etc., or maybe all of those things… and it’s led by a couple of very dear dear friends, Jules & Olwyn, who encourage, bless, lead, train, equip – against so many difficulties, not the least of which is Jules’ very severe multiple sclerosis (20 years he’s had it, and he’s not yet 50) – which they, the whole curch, and I, believe IS BEING healed, and that we’re just waiting for the manifestation of it…
It was a great morning with them, followed by a wonderful evening with other ‘old’ friends, David & Sian, and then a visit to my sister, brother in law, and nephew, down in Cornwall. 6 beds in 6 nights, plus not far short of 1,000 miles driven, and I was looking forward to catching up with one bed for a few nights, and long lie-ins!
It seems almost impossible that we’re past Christmas now, and in less than 72 hours, we’ll be ushering in yet another new year. I have to say I’ve never quite understood the need to celebrate every new year the way some do: the milennium, yes, I’ll go with that, but for me, I’m happier celebrating every days’ arrival, knowing that God has sustained me through the previous one, and will sustain me through the new one. If you ARE one of those who loves the new year, then please let me say ‘Happy New Year’ to you: I hope and pray that, in the aftermath of David Cameron, the Prime Minister, speaking out about his Christian faith just a couple of weeks ago, talking of reclaiming Britain back as a Christian nation: and then, listening to Her Royal Highness, Quene Elizabeth, preach the gospel in her ‘live’ speech to the Commonwealth, on Christmas Day (better than many people who title themselves evangelist!), that maybe 2012 could be the dawn of seeing God move sovereignly in our lovely nation….
I won’t take up much more space here… just to say that many people ask me about the ‘USA Visagate’ saga, and how I’ve ‘coped’ with it (it’s coming up 32 months soon!): my answer is that God has done much in me, for me, and, hopefully, through me, in these ‘exile’ months, not the least of which is a ‘falling in love’ with the United Kingdom again, having had a few years in the early part of the last decade where I admit, I fell out of love with a lot of what I saw, knew, and experienced…
So, here’s to God ‘doing the stuff’ in the wonderful UK again in 2012, and, for you, in whatever country you live in! I count every country I’ve ever been to as a place I love: so God bless you, all over the world, and lets – together – see this coming year as an opportunity to bring His Kingdom to a greater number of people so that they can know him, too….
Happy New Year (and day!)!!
Read this quote from John Wimber the other day. Love it…
“God likes to put His best gifts on the lower shelves so everyone gets the chance to play..”
Man alive, what a long haul back to the UK!! Even though you know it in your head – leave Cali 2pm Tuesday, arrive Northern Ireland 10 am Thursday – it doesn’t make it feel any shorter! It was lovely being chaperoned to the airport by my wonderful friends Wilmer and Hendrik, and Wilmar’s two adorable daughters, Sofia and Sara. Apart from Walter or Dunia, I can’t think of many better people to wish you goodbye and safe journey! Amazingly, I did actually get some sleep on the Bogota – Toronto leg (I can normally never sleep on planes): it probably helped that it was the same naff selection of films and TV programmes on the way back as on the way out, and the noise-cancelling headphones, which for many years have been such a blessing now! Thank you, Bose!
No hassles this time (or going to Colombia) with Canadian Immigration (if you missed what happened, look at the blog in April!). Bizarrely, the plane from Toronto – London was the exactly the same one from Bogota – Toronto: even more bizarrely, as my luggage had been on the first leg, it failed to make the second leg! Seems to me that they could just have left it on the plane in a container marked ‘London’…. fortunately, it DID come back, about 8 hours after I did, th visit my family, though my nice new ‘Antler’ (always buy decent as theoretically they last longer!! lol!!) bag was destroyed…
So, from Tuesday afternoon, and 33 degrees C, to Thursday morning, and 9 degress C, cold wind, rain… no wonder my body sometimes wonders what on earht is going on, let alone my mind, with the time changes. It’s weird having spentnights not even under a sheet (too hot) to trying not to turn over into the cold bit of the bed, whilst snuggled in a thick winter duvet….
A couple of weeks to recover, before heading back to England to preach: then visit my family, and try to think what to do about Christmas… maybe I’ll just get in a load of logs, a few beers, a bottle or three of wine, and watch TV… sounds grand!
Thank you ALL – who have taken the time to read the Colombia wonder as it unfolded, for your love, prayers, care, and interest. I often wonder who – if anyone – actually reads this, apart from a very small handful of people who tell me they do: it was an amazing blessing to know that parts of it were read out at Mark & Scott’s church, so for me that makes it all worthwhile. IF you read it, and it blesses you, I’d love it if you’d let me know….
Now to set to and write my newsletter: and prepare for the new year, with Bolivia, Mexico, Honduras, Australia, Sweden, and Romania to fit in somewhere…
Oh, and add some stories, as I get permission, to the testimonies tab…. oh, an on the ‘Who is Paul?’ tab, I’ve added under the bit ‘What other people say…’ a wonderful ‘testimonial’ recieved today from Wilmar Gomez, the pastor of the lovely ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ church in Cali…. it made me realise that all the travelling, all the hassles, are so, so worthwhile….
21 November (later)
With a bit of time to reflect further tonight on this trip, I’ve realised it’s been a very busy time, we’ve never really seemed to stop, least of all yesterday, until quite late when we ate, but also realised that I only preached 2-3 times during the whole time…. Over the years, I’ve brought many people here to Cali, and, in those years, and in the many prior to that speaking all around the globe, one of my main goals in ministry is to effectively do myself out of a job by giving other people every opportunity to ‘do the stuff’.
Years back, in the ’80’s, I wanted to take a brilliant (then)young man to an African country… he was working as an assistant pastor to a friend, so approached my friend to ask him if he thought it would be ok…. my friend, a Christian of many years, a pastor, about my age, asked me ‘Why do you want to take him?’ My answer was that he was a brilliant bible teacher for someone so young, and a good mate. My friend replied, ‘That’s what I mean! He’s brilliant: they might think he’s better than you, and want him back and not you…’. Why, oh why, oh why do we hold so tightly onto our ‘ministries’? If they thought he was better than me (and even I knew he was!) and he would be better for the people we went to than I would, then… let him go there! I’d find somewhere else…. and for the 20 or so years since then, I have: and that (then) young man has had an amazing ministry in Africa, and elsewhere. I’m still friends with the young man (well, he’s a good bit younger than me!!), and no longer have any contact with my older friend, who has ‘fled’ from church to church pastorate in those years, with no real sign of ‘success’, whatever that means.
I have prayed many times over the past few weeks with Scott, who was 19 just a few days ago: I listen to his wisdom, passion, confidence in the God he loves and who loves him, and know that he’s going to end up doing stuff I can only ever dream of. So… why stand in his way? I can’t imagine…. I WANT people like him to be in a place when they’re 20 or so that I, nearing 60, have never been….
I’ve taken an occasional ‘cuckoo’ with me over the years, who, behind my back, have tried to get me out of the way: I’ll get out of the way if it’s God, or the people I go to, who tell me, or those I’m wholly accountable to: meantime, I want to open doors for people in whom I see things I don’t have. I’ve so appreciated Mark Marx’s ‘internship’ principle, training up Timothys: I’m 59 in 24 days, I only have another 40 years or so of doing this stuff left, so…doors open to gifted called people!
Sitting here in this very nice apartment, I feel a bit like ‘Billy No-Mates’ now, as Mark & Scott have left, so I’m in splendid isolation for 24 hours, thanks to Air Canada’s ridiculous rescheduling for a few weeks only, meaning that there are no flights out from Colombia to Canada today, even though when I booked my ticked I was on tonight’s (now non existent) flight! I can think of a million worse places to be than here, though, so it’s not all bad news….
….and looking back on the events of the past three weeks, this is a small price to pay for having had the privilege of seeing God do what ONLY God can do, but seeing it first hand with the immense blessing of Him allowing Mark, Scott, Simon, and me to be the route through which his power transformed lives. I’ve been doing this stuff for 25 years or more now (I thought a quantity of years like that was only something my grandparents used to speak of, and they were SOOO old…!): even after all these years, the thrill of praying for someone who tells you their pain has gone, their tumour has disappeared, their leg has grown, their hearing is restored, their paralysed body is tingling, or simply that their cold has gone, remains undiminshed. I never tire of seeing God move: and whilst now, my body is tired, and my eyes, my spirit wants to yell ‘thank you! thank you! thank you!’ to the God of the Universes, the creator, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and my friend… for using this thick, simple, and weak East Ender (someone born in the east part of London, for the uneducated!) to see heaven touch earth, and revolutionise the lives of individuals.
Even more, to know (from Walter and Hendrik last night) that the simple stuff I share with churches, stories I tell of God’s power, is vital, edifying, and exhortational, in a Christian culture that craves more and more and more teaching. C S Lewis once said, ‘We don’t need to be taught, we need to be reminded’ – it’s so easy to crave teaching (you just grow fat spiritually if you don’t put it to use), to crave the prophetic (what’s the point in saying ‘so and so prophesied over me’ if you don’t put the last prophetic word into action. It blows me away that the message of God is so, so simple – which is perhaps why someone like me can actually believe it works!
It’s been wonderful having Mark Marx, Simon Allaby, and Scott Lorimer here: it’s bee odd without my ‘regular’ companion here, Alan, and I’ve missed him, but those three guys (which when most Colombians say it in English comes out as ‘gays’…!!!) have been such a blessing. It was hard to say goodbye to all of them, as we’ve shared so much of seeing God move this trip, and there’s been so much laughter and fun, it’s been a tonic…
Thousands prayed for (literally – and it’s when you write sdomething like that, it’s good to have had others with me who say the same, as I know there are people who think some of what I report from here is ‘evangelastic’…): thousands healed: many committing, or re-committing, their lives to God: pastors enthused: new doors opening: churches fired up to another level: pastors who think that their churches are to small, or in too dangerous a location to ever have gringoe visitor, blessed out of their boots to have us turn up: murders seen, robberies witnessed, taxi drivers astonished when you give them a 1,500 peso tip (50pence, $0.80): market traders the same: considerable quanitites of amazing but cheap south American steak consumed (!)… Just HOW can you put a price on seeing stuff like this, in 3 short weeks? And WHY would people NOT be prepared to pay the price to not only come here to bless, but be blessed by being here?
Always, people ask how my life came to be this way. Many say they’d love to do what I do. YOU CAN. It just means being prepared to let go of everything – income, home, security, personal safety and comfort zones, maybe even family…. Jesus had a fair bit to say about it!
Jose Luis’ head – fontanelle, at least! – re-opening: paralysed Rodolfo tingling all over: a lifelong epileptic fit child having no fit for the first time in her 5 year life: children – and adults’ ‘arch-less’ feet developing arches on the palm of your hand: deaf ears opening: cancers disappearing…. if you read this pathetic report of mine often, it’s like reading the same thing over and over again, but it’s all to different people, and that is amazing.
And what’s more amazing to me is that, even after 15 years and 40 visits, the pastors here still want me and those I bring with me, back… so, as I pack my suitcases today to leave tomorrow, I’m already looking forward to being here in April next year, God willing. Now, just to ask God for the grace to get through the long haul home….! I leave here, the apaprtment that is, at 2 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), and I’ll be in Bangor at about 930 am Thursday…. care to join me over the next 40 hours???!!
What;s more, I’ve REALLY hammered my knees on this trip… standing, preaching, praying, walking on dreadful uneven pavements (sidewalks for the people who don’t speak proper English!!). Alan prayed for my knees before I left Ireland; Wilmar, Mark, Scott, and others have prayed for them whilst I’ve been here… yup, they’re still a bit sore, BUT… from where I sit right now, they’re healed… thank you, Jesus!
20 November (late!)
Had one more meeting this afternoon, before a brief time with local organising pastors Hendrik & Walter this evening. The meetingwas in the garage of friends’ Pilar & Diego Reyes mum’s house: yes, really, garage! – I’d thought there might be 3 or 4 there (numbers never worry me) and relatively ‘low-key’ but there about 50, spreading out into the street… and an absolute abundance of miracles and healings, instantly – hernias, wrecked knees, ankles, backs, legs shorter than the other, migraines, Samuel Reyes’ leg grew about 2.5 cms in about 3 seconds- everyone prayed for was healed, including, Mark & I were told, a grandson of the founder of the Cali Cartel, one of the Rodriguez family, after Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, the biggest ever in the world (for the uninformed, the cartels ran the cocaine trade…). Great time with my pastor friends, then a celebratory meal at Tony Romas’ Ribs restaurant just round the corner from our apartment…
20 November (afternoon)
Just an update on two great meetings this morning – Mark & Scott had a really good time at Generation of Fire, prayed for loads…. I loved being in the Shadow of the Almighty (in more ways than one!), loads responded to the challenge to break out of the safe zones, and then they prayed for the sick… countless testimonies from the front before the service ended. Going out on a high!
I’ll do a ‘summary’ here tomorrow…. if you’ve got any patience left!
A little rider to last night’s late blog…at the end of the meeting in Yumbo, Pedro, the pastor, asked if we’d go and pray for a man in his home. It’s funny, but when you’re think you’re ‘finished’ ministry praying, it’s quite hard to drum up the desire again, but Mark & I went… Rodolfo, 15 years with a broken spine (motorbike accident), lovely bloke, wonderful mum named Ema: in one of the poorest homes I’ve been in, anywhere. I really felt I should sit on the bed next to him (he’d been sleeping when we arrived, and mum had sat him up): it’s funny, but I could almost hear people from my family past whispering to me ‘Don’t sit there!’ ‘Look at those sheets!’ ‘Smell it!’… I hope one of the things in me that’s becoming more ‘Jesus-like’ over the years is compassion, and to love people wherever they are.
Rodolfo was stunned we’d go there, and as I sat with my arm round him, and we both prayed (me translating for Mark – quantum leap this trip for me!), the transformation that came over him was lovely: peace, joy,he said some of his pain went down, and then, confirmed by Dr Dunia (who deals in this stuff day in day out!) tingling started to come back to his right side. Dunia said that would be the first sign of motor function returning. It increased, and we left him and mum, we believe, with new hope for the future….
19 November (late!)
So, the sun shone….! And it was really hot…. Plaza Caicedo is a lovely palm-tree fringed park area in the middle of Cali, but the overpowering first realisation is that is probably used as the street people’s loo… 🙁 (it stank!). However, a good little group of dedicated (but some a little scared!) Christians knelt to pray ahead of waiting for the throngs to mass for prayer…. It was non-stop praying for 2.5 hours, they (it’s a HOTS principle that the local church people do the praying) prayed for dozens and dozens as Healing on the Streets hit Cali for the first time. Many were healed – Wilmar Gomez, one of the pastors involved enterned on my facebook page ‘many miracles, many healed’ Many of those involved were not only on the streets for the first time, but praying for healing for the first time. The banner looked good, the flow of people wanting prayer continuous, and the pastors deciding that this needs to happen every week, and during the week too…. Mark felt his ‘mission’ here had been fulfilled in getting the church – or at least, some from some churches, outside of the walls, and into the place where Jesus would have been.
A brief respite as we waited for Walter to come at 5.30 pm to take us to Yumbo Baptist Church, pastroed by good friend Pedro, President of ASMICEV, the pastors association here in Cali. The brief respite could have been a good bit longer, if we weren’t ready and ‘dressed’ for church, as he didn’t come! He did, however, send Dunia for us, albeit 75 minutes late, which is a ‘lateness’ I still find hard to get my head around after 15 years here! It wasn’t Dunia’s fault, by the way….
Great meeting though, deafeningly loud music, but Mark spoke well, and quite a few responded for healing. There were a good number of testimonies, from the front, straight away, including a lady with extreme pain in both legs and right arm with no pain anymore; an older man who knew that his dicky ticker from a heart attack years before had been healed, a lovely young lady named Theresa, who had such nasal congestion for a long time, she hadn’t been I were rather relieved that the thick mucous she told us about didn’t put in an appearance on exit… 🙂
And so, to really what is the last day, Sunday: Mark & Scott leave tomorrow, and preach at Generation of Fire Church, and I’m at Shadow of the Almighty Church, Wilmar, Hendrik, and Teija’s church. Then we have a small meeting with Pilar & Diego Reyes at their new church in the south of the city at 4 pm, and reckon we might go for some well earned refreshment at the lovely French bar/cafe of the road to celebrate later on!
Wow….! That’s becoming a much overused word on this trip…at the hospital this morning – Nueva EPS (I have no idea what it means other than ‘New’, but it used to be the Social Security hospital)… a good number of people were healed in the waiting room again: it’s such a privilege to be able to pray with them. One lady, with extreme pain from badly done replacement knee surgery(another good reason for me not to have had mine done last year!) was healed immediately, and all the resultant pain from additional strain on the other knee (tell me about it!) and her hips, just went…. she walked out without waiting to see thr doctor. Lots of others healed but the best bit…
…was that the Assistant Director of the hospital, Lucy, came down to thank us for being there, and asked us to go to another waiting room upstairs…at the time, we were overrun with people in the downstairs waiting room, and I said that, if we had time, we would. Later on, she came and asked again, so Mark and local pastor Willmar Gomez went: to find the room full of doctors, nurses, secretaries, admin staff, all wanting prayer. Anytime I/we are back in the city, we have an open door to that chain of hospitals! It seems that, this time more than ever, word is actually getting around the hospitals, and though we can’t do anything about it this trip, the ‘big’ hospital, Hospital Departamental, or University Hospital, has reopened to us, as some senior officials have heard whats going on at the others…and it is likely the prisons will be open again to me, too! Yeah!!
We had lunch with wonderful pastor William Castano, who has opened a myriad other churches up to me and whoever’s with me, too…. Healing OnThe Streets tomorrow…. we went downtown to tell our market seller friends to come along…. as they need healing, and their stall is only a few hundred yards away from where we’ll be.
A meeting at Walter’s church tonight saw a good few people healed, including a lady so, so tormented by spirits, telling Scott and me that they didn’t want to come out of her…. happy to say, they did…!
18 November (afternoon)
Sadly, just waiting for the taxi to come to whisk Simon off back into the arms of his family… happy for him, but we’ll miss him, he’s been a fantastic bloke to have on a team.
We arrived at Nueva EPS hospital this morning, having managed easily to get a taxi on ‘no car’ day in Cali (3.5 million people here, no cars: we thought the taxis would be choc-a-bloc!)…. the taxi driver we got was totally insane! We reckon there was some Italian in him somewhere, as he had ‘that’ accent, was totally expressive with his hands (whilst driving!), all over the road, never more than one hand on the wheel, and, most of the time, with his head turned 90 degrees looking at me as we talked! We were all laughing hysterically, which, I suppose, is where ‘die laughing’ must have originated!! Such a blast – and so fast!!
Waiting for us, on the wall outside, were Jose Luis, Aida, and Jose Luis Jnr: they’d come especially to see us, to thank us (what did WE do… only prayed: none of us can do the miracle Junior had yesterday!)…. it was such a wonderful way to arrive, tears, laughter, hugs, cuddles with Junior…. soon a queue had formed OUTSIDE the hospital, and people were coming from their houses around and opposite the hospital to get us to pray for them… healing on the streets impromptu! What a joy it was to share in their happiness, the son who would have been massively deformed in his head, and severely brain damaged… totally and utterly ‘miracled’ by an astonishing God….
People were coming from houses opposite and all around the hospital for prayer: it was really quite a revival scenario, and just mind-blowing!
So many people healed in the waiting room, too: Aura – migraines (she had one, it went) and severe back pain; Milena – colitis, migraines, and (visibly) set free from witchcraft oppression; Carmen KNEW she was healed of her epilepsy; a lovely oldr lady, can’t remember her name, with dementia, but healed of all body pain…. the hospital officer, directing people to the right section of the hospital, was, again, first sending people to us to be prayed for! Some patients, after being seen by Dr Dunia, were being sent by her to us, with a ‘prescription’ list of their infirmities, so we could pray. Others, we prayed for first, then Dunia told us that most had been immediately healed….
You know, it’s almost impossible to write this stuff knowing how to communicate just how it FEELS to us to be here, and the immensity of the amazing presence of God, and his power, as life after life gets changed at a time when most people (who see Dunia, as a brain surgeon, anyway) are in fear for next week, not just their lives…
Also, today, had a message from my dear friend Graham in Worcester, with reports of more miracles there!! So, thank you God, it’s still happening in the UK…. a lady with ovarian cysts – healed: a girl with non-Hodgkins lymphoma (a horrible strain of cancer, if you don’t know), recently had a scan after 2 months chemo. Three large tumours all gone including one fist sized one on her heart. Doctors very surprised!
So… hospital Nueva EPS (another one!!) tomorrow… lunch with another key pastor… then a night prayer vigil at my friend Walter’s church… closely followed by Healing on the Streets on Saturday…. the pressure of this city, and sometimes the programme, is relentless (we were ‘relieved’ to hear tonight’s meeting has been cancelled, as it’s ‘no car’ day)… 4 more days of relentless-ness… and countless miracles…. please Lord!!
18 November (2.30am – see last entry heading!)
Amazing day…. Club Noel childrens hospital in the morning, a whole waiting room and corridor of desperate parents/relatives, and desperately sick kids… so much gratitude for our just being there, to care, to love… prayer works…! Jose Luis, 4 months, with cranial sysnosyntosis (yeah, me too!) – seems that the fontanelle closes too quickly (should take 2 years), deforming the head, and preventing the brain from growing, so mental and physical handicap (at best, death at worst) on a grand scale. Jose Luis, scanned today, his cranium is open again…. his dad was sobbing…
A man with atrophied organs – shrinking, rotting, killing him – has his organs growing again (scan evidence). Scott prayed for a lady we heard new of today, last Sunday: for 20 years, she’s had no menstrual cycle, desperate for children, but obviously unable to have any. Her cycle began, Sunday…. I’m sort of feeling apologetic, as this blog just seems to get better and better, as each trip to Colombia does the same… I sound like a stuck record! I could just go on and on…
Loads prayed for today, some immediate healings, legs grew tonight after Simon preached (sadly, his last night with us) very well: many responded for recommitment to Jesus, and healing… great church, one I love going to and preaching in – Generacion de Fuego / Generation of Fire – pastored by the lovely Julio. Many testimonies to come from there, Mark & Scott are back there Sunday….
Lunch with the family of Pastor Luis Salas: wonderful time of deeping friendship with him, a key man in the growing of the kingdom of God, especially in Agua Blanca. Later, with Hendrik and Walter to plan Saturday’s Healing on the Streets blitz in Plaza de Caicedo, scene of street miracles there in April when Alan was with me, and we were with Hendrik & Willmar. Nueva EPS hospital again tomorrow, it’s a ‘no car’ day in Cali, only taxis, so getting there could be interesting!
What a trip it has been: 5 days left for Mark & Scott, 6 for me… c’mon God!
16 November (3.15 am – can’t sleep!)
The end of this amazing trip to Cali is now in sight – sadly, Simon leaves Thursday afternoon to return home, Mark & Scott go Monday, and me Tuesday…. it always seems that at this point ‘silly season’ kicks in as the world and his wife want to see us/meet us/go to their church! Fortunately, Tuesday was realtively laid back, with a fantastic visit to Nueva EPS gospital (a different site to last weeks’ hospital – back there Thursday). We prayed with dozens in the waiting room, adn the were some instant healings, and a lot of response…. a lady named Dina, with arthritis in her right knee and a wrecked left knee (sounds familiar? – same as me!!) was healed instantly, and of chronic spinal problems and the associated pain… one man got healed, leg lengthened, and told the receptionists he was ok now and went home… people are so amazingly blessed that we go there: I guess it IS kind of unusual, but it all seems so natural to me now, especially as Dunia announces to everyone waiting that we’re there to see God heal them!
After the hospital, and ahead of silly season, I took the opportunity of taking the guys to the biggest and best supermaket for coffee purchases/choice, then to the lovely craft shop, La Calenita, for stuff for them to take home, then downtown to get some other things Mark wanted, grab a juice drink at Manuel’s stall…. then eat at the amazing Simon Parilla thatched roof steak house. True suffering for the kingdom….
At Club Noel later today, the kids hospital, where Dunia has been steadily getting stories back from after last weeks’ visit, hopefully many more tomorrow from last week, and new ones from this week…. then various meetings with key pastors, and a meeting at the church, Generation of Fire, in the evening. Nueva EPS Thursday morning…
Oh, and mission accomplished, Alan & Barbara, at La Calenita…. 🙂
I don’t really know where to begin to describe today…. it was another national holiday, but Hendrik had asked if we’d go and pray with a businessman friend of his. Mark Marx’s phrase for the trip (and show’s he’s ‘learned’ Colombia quickly!) is ‘expect the unexpected’. Where we went was TOTALLY unexpected.
A long drive into the depths of Agua Blanca, to the area Alfonso Bonilla Aragon, absurdly the name of the airport, but couldn’t have been further removed from an airport if it tried – I can’t imagine many of the people in this district have enough to live on, let alone relate to an airport.
‘The Foundation & Home for the Abandoned Elderly’, in a small backstreet, run by aldy – Anabeiva – who, when she looked at you and smiled, it was Jesus looking at you and smiling. Apparently, we were the first gringoes to go there: it’s an mazing small house, but packed – literally – with aged, infirm people who literally have been discarded by family, friends, hospitals: there’s no real social services here. Anabeiva is a most wonderful lady: and it’s so humbling to have someone in tears of gratitude because you’re there, when really it should be – and in fact, is – the other way round. It was so poor, but immaculately clean, with a whole bunch of mostly incredibly infirm and desperately sick people. All four of us were wrecked, and wen I asked if we could pray for Anabeiva, and then the residents, she burst into tears and knelt, and hugged me all the time I was praying for her and speaking what I believe were God’s words for her. Abandoned elderly – unbelieveable. No money, few possessions to run the ministry, Anabeiva has all the residents happy, cared for, and, most importantly, loved. The place is alive with the Presence and Love of God, and we were all wrecked.
We didn’t really want to leave, and all day, there’s been a sense amongst our little team that God opened the window of something special he has his hand on, and allowed us to see it. Mark summed it up on his Facebook page – there are some places hidden deep in the heart of God. This is one of them. If had money, I know where put some: in Anabeiva’s pocket. This ministry has shaken me to my core….
The rest of the day we celebrated Scott’s 19th birthday, mostly eating and drinking, and seeing one of the worst films any of us have ever seen – Jack & Jill. If you’re thinking about it, don’t bother! Mark had to wake me up twice as I was snoring quite loud….
Early-ish tomorrow, another new hosital – a different part of Nueva EPS, so more praying for desperate souls and destroyed bodies. In all, 4 hospitals occupy the mornings of this final week here – including Club Noel, the kids’ place, where we KNOW there are going to be more testimonies…
Well…. we were down for a number of meetings today, according to the original schedule (!!): Mark was down to speak in Agua Blanca, at 8am, then 10 am in Yumbo, and tonight at a night vigil in the mountains…. Simon was going to El Abrigo, Hendrik’s church (actually, dear friend Willmar is pastor now, as Hendrik is in a much more Apostolic role), at 10 am, and then with me to Cordoba/Retiro – an unkonwn (to me) area of Agua Blanca this evening. I was scheduled to speak at my long-time friends Jairo & Claudia Lozano’s church in La Rivera, quite a long way north in the city, at 9 am.
Friday, we were told that Yumbo and La Rivera were cancelled: that’s not unusual here, pastors sometimes just head off somewhere else without warning! So, Mark & Scott hit the road at 750 am, somewhat late to get to Agua Blanca, but that’s not unusual here either! I went with Simon to Willmar’s church, and, sitting waiting for the meeting to begin, Walter called to ask where I was…. not where I apparently should have been! La Rivera WASN’T cancelled, so at 10.10 I headed off for the 30-40 minute drive to the church for it’s 9 am start… 🙂
We all had GREAT mornings…. many saved in Agua Blanca, Simon prayed for loads of people, as did I. We were all pretty whacked out by the time we got back together, and Simon and I were due to head off to Cordoba for a 5pm start. Mark & Scott were due to be picked up at 7pm for the trip to the vigil in the mountains… ours went without a hitch, the service was lengthened by the vast numbers wanting prayer, and we finally got back to the apartment at about 915pm – to find Mark & Scott still waiting for Walter…. seems that the translator had decided he wasn’t translating, so finally, with Mark already tucked up (?? to hot for that!) in bed, Walter arrived at gone 10 pm to take them! Bless ’em, Simon and Scott willingly went, and they’re there now as I’m writing…
The meeting in Cordoba was absolutely amazing. Simon preached – I’ve hardly preached this trip, as it’s always my greatest desire to give the guys with me the opportunities, and I told a few of the wonderful stories of the past few days before I introduced him. The deluge of people for ministry was sort of unexpected, but dozens and dozens were healed: legs grew to the same length – one lady, Blanca, getting on in years, had chronic back pain, and xrays from hospital to show that her left leg was at least 5 cms longer than the right. Sat her on a chair on the platform, and the whole gathered throng watched as the leg grew out. Another lady, did the same thing with. Pain went, scoliosis healed, sight restored, hearing restored, an ‘in progress’ migraine (regular occurrence for this lady) went, a young lad got arches in his feet, majorly blocked sinuses were cleared (pretty sight!!), arthritic hands healed, osteo parosis pain disappearing, a lady’s knees were healed (again, thank you Lord! there are a couple here, too… 🙂 ). One lady lost all pain in her feet (mostly caused by overweight), and ‘felt’ her metabolism engage as I prayed for her… The pastor’s aunt was healed…For the first time in 30 years, prayed for someone with syphilis… not an immediate way of knowing if he was healed! Simon had a great time praying for people, too – loads and loads healed, many testifying there and then… thank you, Lord!!!
As Simon & I were leaving Cordoba/Retiro in our little Hyundai taxi, Jhon, the translator said ‘I want to honour you two guys’… ‘Why, Jhon?’…. without doubt this is the most dangerous area of the city….’ Relieved laughter from Simon…!!!
12 November (later)
God certainly did the stuff…. this one meeting, in a tiny church in the district of the city known as Simon Bolivar, would have made the whole trip worthwhile… I’ve nver been to Simon Bolivar before, and brain surgeon Dunia was driving/ translating for us…. Walter with us too: they told us that this district has the highest concentration of drug cartels in the city, and is the ‘centre’ where most of the ‘Siccarios’ are… if you (unlikely, I know!) saw Sky TV’s ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’, he did a whole programme on them. If you want someone murdered, that’s where you go to find someone to do it, for at most $100 (£60): two – normally young – men on a motorbike, with a shotgun… immense poverty despite the cartels, it’s on the far side of Calvario, which, until tonight, had been amongst the worst and most dangerous places I’ve ever been. We learned from the pastors that we were the first foreigners to preach – or even be – there. What a privilege! The wife said that she’d never dreamed when we met her last week that we’d ever go to their small, dangerous, church….
Recognised the lady pastor – husband and wife Hernan & Aida lead the church – known simply as ‘John 3:3’ (No one can see the Kingdom unless he is born again) from the ‘Fire Extinguisher’ Health and Safety meeting (!) last week. Prayed for her then, for severe scoliosis, and an large un-diagosed lump on her shoulder/chest…. she told the church once we’d arrived that she’d been to the hospital since, for x-rays and scans: no lump, scoliosis healed, perfectly normal spine!! So much for knocking the Health and Safety evening…. 🙁 . Simon preached really well from Acts 1, then we must collectively have prayed for all the people there. Aida was totally ‘blitzed’ by God as Scott & I prayed for her, others were healed…. then, as we werre leaving, Dunia told us that their son, Hernan 3rd, was paralysed down his left side, the pastors too shy to ask for prayer for him: ooohhhh my…. his left leg was a good 1 1/2-2 inches shorter than the right, too. His legs were almost instantly ‘equalised'(!!), and a radical transformation overcame him… absolutely wonderful! Thank you Jesus! We’ll hear he’s totally healed, we all know that….
Dunia then told us about some of the kids from Club Noel, the kids hospital (see entry for 10th!) – with pictures, on her phone. A little boy, totally paralysed with cerebral palsy – moving, responding, reacting: another with an horrendous skin condition, much much better: the epileptic child, whose life had been one long endless epileptic fit, has not had a seizure of any sort since that day…. don’t forget, this is the DOCTOR reporting this back, not one of us…. so many kids touched, yet again, it seems. We’re back there next week…
Second part of the HOTS training went very, very well this morning, pretty much the same number/froup as last night. Mark was excellent. In the healing ‘demonstration’ near the end, a few legs grew (not mine those 6 extra inches or so I’ve always wanted, though 🙁 ), and a lovely 2 1/2 year old boy, Danie, who 6 months ago totally lost the ability to walk, much to the astonishment of everyone, including medics, who haven’t known what it was, and consequently what do to do – walked, and kicked a football… a lot of clapping and cheering, and thanks to God….!!
About an hour from the end of the session, the ever-present (these days) rain returned, with a vengeance: in fact, 5 hours after the end of the session, it’s still raining, which scuppered the praying on the street: it has literally theown it down all day. I hate to think of what’s happening in the areas where massive flooding, and multiple deaths, have already occurred this week. We’re going to try and fit in a street ‘session’ midweek if we can: it’s such a shame, as everyone there was really up for it….
Heading off to a mrrting in 30 minutes, don’t know the church or the pastor’s name (nothing new there, then!!), so praying that the day will end as it began, with God doing the stuff, as John Wimber so wonderfully and theologically once put it!
So, no weird happenings on 11.11.11 – but some wonderful ones here in Cali! Tonight was the first ever ‘Healing on the Streets’ meeting in Latin America: Mark Marx spoke brilliantly, and there’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. When Mark was mid-flow talking about us being the presence of God on the streets, the son of a pastor (in the meeting) at Hendrik’s church, Mision Abrigo el Altisimo, arrived to join his dad: right outside the door of the church, he was attacked at gunpoint, robbed of his car, phone, and wallet, shots were fired…. so clearly the enemy was trying to disrupt the presence of God…. he’s so totally unsubtle, and failed miserably, though it’s sad about the guy’s car…. it’s going to be a great time tomorrow on the streets after the morning of teaching, right in the heart of the city, between the business district (people work here on Saturday! they’re so poor…) and the ‘downtown market, Plaza de Caicedo.
The morning was spent in Santillana Hospital, recently reopened as Clinica Colombia: whilst we were waiting for pastor friend Walter to arrive, and Duina, the doctor, prayed for the wife of a young couple – Angela – in the waiting room… she was in extreme pain in her back, and epileptic… after a few moments of significant ‘leg growing’ all the pain in her back went, and time will tell about the epilepsy…
Many people were deeply touched in the wards, a good number freed from pain and other illnesses, and a young man, in the hospital because he’d been shot (named Christian, only he wasn’t one!) became one….
All in all, an interesting Friday….!
First opportunity to update since Tuesday night, and just as I ‘connect’ the loudest clap of thunder ever, followed by torrential rain, explodes outside the apartment! Hoping the internet stays on this time! Thunderstorms have been threatening for some time, very humid, muggy, and overcast…
The last couple of days have been quite outstanding, even by usual Cali standards! Yesterday, after much confused latino commuication and administration problems (!) we made it to Club Noel, the childrens hospital. As always, just went down corridor after corridor of rooms containing children with life threatening/ contagious/multiple diseases. Always in the rooms, are parents, sisters, grandparents, so its a wonderful opportunity not only to pray for the kids, but hte family too.
To appreciate just WHAT it means to people, to have foreigners come into a room with sick kids, in a poor environment, you really need to be here. It blows them away, that we’d travel half way round the world, and sit with them, cry with them sometimes, bless them, and pray for healing. Many of the kids were massivley touched yesterday – an epileptic child, tormented by a long, continual seizure, shaking violently – stopped, was so at peace and rest the family thought the child had died! Thank you Lord! (The child HADN’T died, by the way…). Kids threatened by pneumonia, crippled by septic arthritis (I’m going to have to google that one) healed…. room after room… for almost 2 hours. It is SUCH a privilege, and even though it costs us an arm and a leg to get here (this time that’s true more than ever!!), it’s worth every penny, to see God heal, to feel the Presence of God fall in the midst of turmoil – be it a hospital, shop, taxi, or – dare I say it – even a church…??
Last night, Mark was on Hendrik’s new TV programme – he hates being on TV, but Hendrik said it went brilliantly, advertising, amongst story telling, the weekend ahead training people to pray on the streets…
The rest of us were back at Sunday evening’s church – I now know it ‘Communidad Dios con Nosotros’ – The Community of God with Us’. Simon preached on ‘What does the Kingdom look like?’ (and excellently he preached, too), but we started off by asking for testimonies from Sunday – loads! First up, the Pastor, Rafael – I’d prayed with him Sunday, pretty acute pain in his stomach, pains in his legs, feeling very unwell: Sunday night, no pain, Monday playing football fitter than he’s been in years. A lady, who lost a baby quite late in a pregnancy, had had major mnestural issues (like – none) for many months: her period began Sunday night. A lady with major-league blood circulation problems, and terribly long sighted – and hadn’t slept properly for years – slept, read perfectly from small print across a long distance, and her legs are totally normally now with the circulation healed! The keyboard player, a lovely young lady, major arm-break 5 years ago – the elbow joint was sticking out pf the point of her elbow, got total mobility back in her arm, and could touch her shoulder with her fingers, first time in 5 years….
Many more healed last night, too: migraines, back pain, scoliosis, no arches in feet (there are now!), depression, high blood pressure, sight problems… I sound like a ‘stuck’ record, don’t I??!!?? Right at the end, was asked to pray with a lovely young woman, probably late 20s: took a job out of desperation some years ago with an IT (Information Technology – Computers – if you don’t know!). Turned out to be…well…. a pretty perverse company, that ended up controlling her (don’t ask what she got into, please), and then SHE became a controller herself – running ‘slaves’ – she told me the term was ‘dominatrix’ – heard of it, know nothing about it. Her slaves did everything she told them, including selling their organs, for some of them it cost their lives. 3 months ago she escaped, gave her life to the Lord, but wanted prayer because she’s got people after her, suffers extreme oppression, sleeplessness…. thank you, Lord, you redeemed her: and last night, the process of healing, rest, peace, and forgiveness just washed over her…
A bit different to praying for a cold, huh? My translator was totally aghast, and said ‘You hear some incredible stuff, don’t you?……
Yes… and Jesus is bigger than all of it, for which I’m eternally grateful. And now, look forward to a meeting tonight, in Palmira, about 30 minutes north of Cali, then tomorrow morning, Santillana Hospital…..
It really does seem that God is stepping up the tempo on this trip, with more healed each day than the last, so, with 11 days to go, and only 9 gone, we’re all looking forward to it!!!
Today we were at a new (to me) hospital – Nueva EPS – just cut loose amongst the people in the waiting room, ahead of their appointments. We were there just about 2 hours, and must have prayed for well over 100 people. The man who was directing people to the right window for their appointment began directing straight towards us….! At least 90% of the people were healed instantly!
A lady in chronic pain, two walking sticks, back pain, spinal problems, terrible leg pain – was facially transformed as God swept through her body, all the pain went. She got up and walked across the room, then back: then again: and again… no pain at all! Her friend went to give her her walking sticks as they left, but she said she didn’t need them anymore. A big guy (even by my standards!), in severe pain in his ribs, abdomenn, and legs, wept… I said above, thqat to have total strangers care for them, pray with them, kneel at their feet as we pray…. just blows people out of the water. The man was healed.
A lady with a large midriff swelling – cirrhosis – in acute pain, totally pain-free, and the whole waiting room saw her (very large) swelling disappear…. A lady in chronic pain with a badly deformed right leg, had all her pain go (many of these were confirmed straight away by brain-surgeon friend Dunia) – her defored leg will follo the pain, and be healed in days….
Another lady, totally destroyed left knee, arthritic right (rang some bells for me I can tell you!) – totally healed, no pain, walking normally…. what more can I say? There were dozens and dozens…
AND…. my knees, especially the left one I wrecked by accident last year, is getting better and better. The guys with me have noticed it in the way I’m walking…. so I’m up for my knees to be totally healed by 22 November, when I begin my trek home…
It’s a reall problem in trying to remember all the stories, there are so many, but I’ll add more as they come back to each of us! And for the sceptics…dare I say cynics… there are 4 of us here, all seeing these things happen, so to exaggerate would bring our collective ‘wrath’ down on each other!
8 November (later)
Today we actually got to sit down with Walter, my long-time pastor friend, who organises quite a bit of what I – and my friends! – do whilst here… he’s been a bit like mercury this past week, and pinning him down for more than a day ahead in the programme has been nigh on impossible! So…it’s now a busy programme, with more to come, and from one ‘Healing on the Streets’ course, we now seem to have 3 – it’s taken one or two of the ‘locals’ a few days to really grasp what they have available to them here in Mark Marx…. it’s been fantastic so far, but today seemed to step up the heat somewhat more….
….which was surprising, in a way, because one of the first things we learned today was that tonight’s meeting was cancelled! BUT… we were in a taxi on our way from Palmetto Plaza, where we’d been with Walter, to ‘Centro’ (Downtown), and just ‘happened’ to pick a taxi, the driver of which we’d seen just standing on the pavement a few days ago, wearing an ‘I love the Irish’ or something like that t-shirt! Turns out he’s a Christian, named Jamilo, lovely bloke, and we talked with him about why we were in Cali – ubtil his propane gas ran out! Then we had to push the taxi to the ‘gas’ station – narrowly missing being hit by a fast-moving bus(!), and paid for his gas… he was in tears – a big (literally) strong Colombian man, in tears… prayed with him for his business, and paid our fare despite having paid for the gas…. he couldn’t believe it! He’s coming to church on Friday evening…
….in downtown, having drinks at Manuel & Martha’s stall, chatting with Julian and Lina at the next stall, buying them drinks (which blessed them, and Manuel of course!), prayed with Juliasn – again, in tears – with a large crowd gathering to watch the gringoes, who shouldn’t really (for safety reasons) have been in that part of town, praying on the streets… Lina asked where we were preaching, and they’re coming Friday, too, and probably much more during the next 2 weeks… The presence of God was so strong in the taxi, and on the street…. something explosive is beginning on this trip….. temperature’s rising, and something is being released into this city that I love so dearly….
Couldn’t write here yesterday, as we had the most amazing (really!) Andean thunderstorm – (tormenta in Spanish – great word, huh?), with the most spectacular lightning I’ve ever seen – it took out the phone lines all around us, so no internet of course… all 4 of us stood on the balcony marvelling at the storm (we’re 12 floors up, too, so a great view!), it was so powerful, so magnificent to watch and listen to, and the rain… wow…
Of course the rain has its downside – at the last count, 38 Colombians had died, and lots more missing, in mudslides in Manizales, just north of here. It’s the worst – and longest – rainy season in Colombia’s history: in Manizales, 300 tonnes of mud just consumed countless houses – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-15629486 – such tragedy.
Fortunately, yesterday was a national holiday here – so it didn’t affect too much, as Colombians – like most latinos! – know how to siesta and fiesta! No meetings yesterday, but even in Europe on a Monday it’d be hard to find a meeting to go to! Remembering more of the healings from Sunday – a woman healed of major lung disease, not able to take deep breaths for years, just shallow panting, breathing totally normally: another pastor with kidney and colon problems felt the change happen as he was healed – a lot of colon and gastric issues here, loads healed on Sunday… as well as the astigmatsims healed, a lady – must have been in her 80’s – just looked in wonder as her glaucoma began to ‘roll back’ – she put on her glasses and couldn’t see…
Today, all being well, meetings start again, culminating this week, for Mark at least, in what we are praying will be a huge turnout for the Healing on the Streets training, and then the real life ‘putting it to the test’ in Plaza de Caicedo, right between the business district and market district…. c’mon God!!
Wow is about the only word to describe today…. parlty because lovely Simon Allaby arrived safe and sound tonight – and bless him, didn’t complain when taken straight from the aiport to a meeting! Best way to get to know Cali – turn up, go to a meeting, and then watch God at work as you rpay for countless people…
This morning, two churches, Mark & Scott at one, me at dear friend Hendrik’s church. All manner of pain went, frozen shoulder healed, rotator cuff healed, a huge number of people with gastritis healed, long term headaches (migraines, it sounded like) healed… on and on…. wonderful.
Tonight, all at one church, a flood of people forward, as legs grew, astigmatism totally wiped out in seconds (one lady quite near blind), a wrecked knee (left, like mine!) totally healed (thank you Lord, please don’t leave mone too much longer!), scoliosis healed, major back issues healed, circulation issues healed (in one lady causing almost total numbness from waist down)…. the senior pastor healed of major back and leg pain, and a digestive problem, so much pain dissappearing from people’s bodies… one young man, about 14 I guess, hadn’t been able to breathe through his nose, and therefore smell… I held my hand over his mouth as he (thankfully!!) breathed in huge intakes of air through it… then he told me he had no arches in his feet, so got him to sit, take off his shoes (that was a risk, a teenager taking off shoes he’d had on for hours! – he could, of course, now smell his own feet!!): as we took his shoes off, the arches were already forming, and Scott held ne, me the other, as we felt his feet change shape… so many others!
Prayed fro three guys – Gonzalo, Luis, and Daniel, who all wanted ministry for more blessing – all three play football for Deportivo Cali! Luis was actually Scott’s translator for much of the ministry time! Simon’s translator, a lady….turned out it wasn’t only her her first time in that church, but her first time in church – ever! Good way to start, eh, seeing and translating for miracles! She wants us now to pray for her son, who has diabetes… well, the footballers told me that Deportivo are playing America (no, not the country, their local city rivals!) on 16th… and the pastor (who is the father of Daniel, it turns out) is getting tickets for us…. YEAHHH! So many other stories from tonight… loads from Mark, Scott, and Simon – everyone prayed for was healed – and we’re back in that church on Wednesday, so will hear testimonies, and see more of God’s amazing power….
Celebrated with Simon, who was hungry after his long journey and plane food, with some typical Colombian fayre… McDonalds nuggets and chips! Er…. yum?
A sort of ‘expected’ day in Colombia, with what was planned not happening! It was good, after the last few days of busy-ness since arriving here, to have a chill-out day – I think we all needed it, especially as tomorrow is going to be a busy one, with at least 3 churches involved morning & evening, possibly more, and the arrival of my great mate Simon, who wends his way here commencing at 3.30 am UK time (so he leaves in 20 minutes!), arriving at 5.20pm here, so 10.20 pm UK time. L:ike with Mark & Scott, it’s Simon’s first time in Latin America: if he adapts to the way of life as quickly as they have, I’ll be delighted!
Really expecting a high-octane day, to precede 2 more similar weeks, tomorrow. No more Health & Safety – just pure presence of God! Sounds like my friend Dunia, the Brain Surgeon, has got quite a few hospital visits lined up: and the lovely Pastor who gets me into prisons, whom I lost touch with a couple of years ago when he had a massive heart attack, is high on my list of ‘must-contacts’ early next week…
A day of great rejoicing here in the nation at the death of Alfonso Cano, the guerilla leader. It’s going to be interesting to see if there’s any terrorist backlash to his execution…. read today that the drug war is hotting up even more (if that’s possible) in Mexico – 8 people shot dead at a volleyball game in Culiacan, a city I’ve been to many, many times in the past. Dozens massacred in churches in northern Nigeria, more deaths (how man now?) in Syria, while a Canadian Dentist buys a tooth of John Lennon (from the ’60s) for £20,000, and plans to take it on a tour of dental surgeries and dental schools…. what EVER is the world coming to? Near the end, I suspect…. I hope the tooth enjoys its tour…. 🙂
4 November (later)
Well…. what another day of tragedies – the Chinese Mining disaster, Greece teetering on the brink of destruction, an horrendous car crash on the M5 motorway in south west England – the authorities don’t know how many dead as some of the cars had totally disintegrated and burned…. and here, the FARC (revolutionary guerillas) leader killed. Oh, and – God turned up at a churches sort of ‘Health & Safety’ evening!
Mark, Scott, & I were taken to what we were told was a Pastor’s Dinner: turned out to be a demonstration of exit, evacuation, and safety signs, a show of multifarious fire extinguishers, and the relative ‘hard sell’ of what we think is some sort of Evangelical Credit Card…. 🙂 – hmmm!
There were some pastors there I hadn’t seen in a long time: as soon as the H&S section was done, we were inundated with people needing healing! It was like God arrived when the discussions about the yellow painted floor escape route signs, and more, was over….
Loads of connections – loads of invitations to many churches – and – loads of healings! Legs, arms, hands, necks, shoulders, backs, colons, peritonitis, scoliosis, sight problems – all healed! It was a blast! The last hour more than compensated for the preceding hour and three quarters!
Quite an evening, one way or another – you might even say it was the ridiculous to the sublime! Oh, and we did get dinner, but after everyone else….
When I first started coming to Colombia, my hosts – then – (been in my own rented apartments since then: it’s so necessary in this city!) were loathe to let me go out alone, as an obvious ‘gringo’ in a beautiful ‘olive-skinned’ country, because of the ‘dangers’… that included the central part of Cali, where it just heaves with people, traffic, noise, street stalls, multi-storeyed market shopping centres… well, as is fairly typical, I suppose, I broke the rules and began to head for ‘centro’.
Over the years, some of those street traders have become good friends – Martha & Manuel, for instance, who own a fruit juice stall – just the BEST juices, in water or milk that you could ever taste. No running water, no health and safety guidelines, fairly…er…low(!) hygiene. Next to their stall is a phone accessories stall: yesterday, I bought a case for my local phone there, and Mark, Scott, & I got chatting to the owners. A lovely couple… today, we were getting juiced up again – mora (raspberry) today, fresa (strawberry) yesterday – fabulous. Got chatting to the phone couple – Julian & Lina: he speaks some English, but has a quiet, gruff voice. We thought he wasn’t well: not so. Some years ago, he was pulled off his motorbike by three robbers, robbed, strangled, beaten: wrecked his spine and larynx. Offered to pray for him: he was a wee bit hesitant at first, then said yes: within moments, both he and Lina were in tears, right in the middle of the street (streets 14 and 5, the interection, if you’re interested!), and prayed specifically, too, for propsperity for their business. They were over the moon: want to go back tomorrow to see how he is…. Street prayer at its very best, eh? And lovely new friends to boot…
Tomorrow, too, apparently, we’re going to be taken to pray for a judge, in hospital – shot a few days ago, her husband (also a judge) killed, and she is under high security protection, and in a coma…. seems like a lot of guns and death so far this trip…. tjhis evening’s new to follow, if I can keep the software running!
Apparently, there were great reviews of last night’s TV broadcast – so much so that it seems that the director of the cable channel might be at Hendrik’s church on Sunday! It must be so exciting for a church like his and Teija’s , determined to get the church outside of the building, to make such an impact with their first programme.
Mark, Scott, and I were at a church new to me tonight – in the bario (district) of Agua Blanca (the poorest and potentially most dangerous area of the city) known as Antonio Narino. The Pastor wasn’t new to me though – a lovely lady named Josefina, whom I met previously in the port city of Buenaventura. The journey there was ‘interesting’ though – as it often is into the depths of that bario: streets here are all numbered, but no signs are up to tell you which one is which, so you get to where you’re heading by trial, error, and a lot of asking questions of passers-by, pointing fingers, and waving arms…. Scott came up with the quote of the trip so far, as we went round in circles for a while… ‘Isn’t Walter dribing on the wrong side of the road?’ – to which I hesitantly replied ‘It’s a one way street’… with a large volume of headlights all pointing at us!
The church was unusual – but great – if only for the fact that they met on the street OUTSIDE of the building: it proved that, when ‘foreign’ voices are heard in Agua Blanca, people tend to turn up! A small handful of people as we drove up, quite a crowd at the end when we prayed for (most of) them…. Mark spoke, and then gave a visual demonstration of God healing by seeing a lady with spondylitis healed and her legs equal each other in length….
Many visible and testified healings happened – lots of legs lengthening (one day it will be mine, as I DO want to be taller!)… prayed for a lady with severe scoliosis, in much pain, and she was healed: a herniated disc, again giving intense pain, was healed: a number of children were healed: a man with a bad heart condition – more pain! – was healed…. I think it’s fair to say that everyone who was prayed for was healed, Mark and Scott seeing God do lots of great things, too.
On our way back to the apartment, the reality of what life is still like in this city, couldn’t have been driven home more forcibly. 3-400 yards, no more, from where we’d been on the street, we saw two men who had been shot dead just moments before we got there. The presence of God and the joy of his power – and the devastation of the enemy – within yards of each other. It just makes me want to do more and more in this city, that is so dear to me.
A mile further on, Walter’s car (with us in it!) was caught in the middle of a 4,000 strong (we were told by the police) student demonstration – even at 10.30 p.m. I know a wee bit of what they’re like, having been on the campus of the largest university in Cali, Univeridad del Valle (35,000 students I’m advised) when a riot took place, and a student was shot dead, a few years back. So I’m very grateful to God for tonight for extreme reasons – healings, miracles, and protection… How do you even begin to quantify and process an evening like this one?
Well, to say yesterday was a long day would be an understatement! It began – England time – at 4.45 a.m, in order to be at Heathrow at 6 a.m – 4.45 is, of course, 11.45 LAST NIGHT Colombia time! After my ‘interesting’ experience transiting Toronto Airport, Canada, last trip to Colombia, I was a wee bit hesitant about having to do it again, but, of course, between then and now, I#ve had verbal and written apologies from Canadian Immigration State Dept, and had my letter from them with me, just in case…. this time, I was through in about 2 minutes, so that was a blessing!
With my knees being a bit tempramental, aeroplanes are not the best ‘presecription’ for them, but again, I’m sure it was answered prayer that the 8 hour+ flight to Toronto, and the 5.5 hour flight to Bogota really presented few problems. The only real ‘glitch’ was an hours delay on the domestic flight from Bogota to Cali – really NOT what you want at the end of long transatlantic flights! – and it meant, with a long wait for the luggage to come up, that I finally arrived in Cali at 00.15 a.m – so a 24.5 hour journey :(. But…. thank you Lord – again! – I almost felt ‘fresh’ when I walked out of the airport into the early morning heat of 23 degrees celcius, and sleep didn’t come for quite a while! It was fantastic to hook up with Mark Marx, of Healing on the Streets, and Scott Lorimer, HOTS’ intern for this year, and, of course, catch up with local pastors Hendrik, Walter, Diego, and Johan, some of whom had been waiting at Cali airport for 6 hours to be there for Mark and Scott, and then yours truly, who of course arrived late! I think I’m becoming Colombian…. 🙂
Today was spent with Hendrik and Walter, going through the itinerary for the next 3 weeks, which it seems, is going to be very packed. The ‘initiation rite’ that I subject all newcomers to Cali to is a steak at Lenos & Carbon, a wonderful – and cheap – steak restaurant, and I’m thrilled to say that Mark & Scott passed with flying colours!
Tonight, Mark was with about a dozen leaders from Walter’s church, speaking, equipping, and praying for and with them – he and Scott had a great night there. I had the delight of being interviewed on the first ever LIVE TV programme broadcast by Hendrik’s church, for about 20 minutes: it went really well, though I do think I look an absolute dipstick on TV…. it was disconcerting, as we could see what we looked like on a monitor behind the cameras, and also in knowing which camera to look at… but I had on my Bishop’s purple polo shirt, so I felt suitably attired to be on the programme, which is NOT on a Christian channel, but on the secular cable channel ‘Canal C’. Everyone seemed pleased with it…
And so, we’ll find out what is happening tomorrow – tomorrow, which is par for the course for Colombia! But a good night’s sleep beckons, even if it IS 00.30 a.m here already….
Watch this space – if I can keep make the software behave to edit it! It didn’t want to behave tonight, but in the end it did, perhaps something to do with commanding it to, in the name of Jesus!!
Busy couple of weeks since the last blog – though I did get five very needed and appreciated days at home in Ireland…. this past few days, I had to be in England for what is (I hope!!) the final part of the US Visa application jigsaw, an Echo Cardiogram. Praying that it doesn’t show up anything too untoward! Sunday, it was great to go back to two churches I often try and ‘pair’ for geographical reasons, as well as liking going to them(!) – Brownhill Road Baptist, Catford, and Green Street Green Baptist, Orpington. It was wonderful to walk into Brownhill Road Sunday morning, and be met by Dave, the ‘powerpoint’ man (it was so much easier when we could just call them ‘the overhead projector guy’ – don’t really know WHAT to call them now….). Dave told me I’d prayed for him in January when I was there – he had a serious fall 18 years earlier, badly injured his hip, and had monthly physiotherapy sessions ever since, and a lot of pain. No pain at all since January, and one brief physio session in that time, too. God then proceeded to heal his knee, which kept locking – it was hot, whilst his left knee was cold…. thank you, Lord! Prayed for loads of people after the meeting, too: await similar stories to Dave’s!
Green Street Green is pastored by John & Yvonne Pressdee, and it is probably one of the least ‘religious’ churches, and most ‘free’ churches that I go to. John & Yvonne are just such good friends, great leaders, and so ‘normal’ – and real visionaries, with big plans for the future – which, bearing in mind John is 69 years old, makes them quite special in my eyes…. felt a tremendous liberty when speaking, and prayed for a load more people after the meeting, followed by a lovely glass of red wine with John whilst watching ‘Downton Abbey’ with them afterwards! Super day…. and a lovely Monday morning sitting talking with John (not just social ‘chit-chat’ – he is one of my Rhino accountability boys too!): it’s a pleasure and a privilege being with them.
A flying visit for 5 days to Romania was a good time, too: involved in some special events for long time friends – like a wedding and a baptism – and got to spend time with some good friends whilst there. A bit amazed – stunned, if I’m honest! – at the total transformation of Otopeni Airport: it’s quite futuristic! Not so many years ago, it was positively historic and quite ‘scary’ just because of poor lighting, and (occasional!) aggressive immigration officals! Very nice now!
It was also good to get to stay with Martin & Jan in Worthing, Tim & Merle in Tonbridge, and Philip & Jan in Addlestone during the 5 day stint in England. I do want to thank them – as I want to do with ALL the people who have me to stay when I’m on the road. It’s not something I take for granted: I really DO appreciate hospitality, friendship, food, wine, and maybe an occasional (non-alcoholic? I don’t think so!) beer….
Then… get ready for the crck of dawn beginning for the journey to Cali, Colombia…. which is where I’m writing from now.
On what SHOULD have been one of those simple flights – Belfast-London (3 hour wait), London – Munich (1hr 20 turnaround), Munich – Bucharest (about 2 hrs in the air) – it turned into a pig-awful day! Belfast flight late…. over an hour: Munich flight late, over an hour (and if you know MUC airport, you’ll know it was designed as a long straight route for the Marathon run – miles long) – we landed at gate H10, one ned of the terminal, with 10 minutes before Bucharest flight took off (asked for assistance ‘cos of the old knees), it wasn’t there… Bucharest took off from H46 (not even alternating gates, one each side, so past 36 – mostly vacant – gates, to the opposite end of the airport!)…. ooohhh my knees! Made it though, determined not to let them stop me…. then to cap it all, Mr Slow on the car rental desk took about an hour to process what most car rental places do in 5 minutes….
On way into city, up to a red light – blue-light ambulance behind. What would you do? Nothing coming towards you, flasher behind you…. I pulled forward to let him past so the people wouldn’t die! Then… more blue lights, pulled over by police, on the make, for crossing a red light…. good cop, bad cop – bad cop particularly unpleasant, wanted about £70. Told him he was a thief, and corrupt (all caught on CCTV outside where I was staying, wanted his name and number, and would report him… amazinlgy then, he relented…. especially when my Romanian friend advised the cop she was a law student….. so, nice short journey to Romania was….just 16 hours by the time I was horizontal! Hope the next few days are better!!!
This is my 21st consecutive year of coming here to Romania – I think it’s nearing 130 visits now (aid, reief, development, preaching, etc..): even after all these years I love it – and hate it! Some places get you like that…. I think it’s in my blood now, this country! Just can’t speak the lingo – though order McD’s or KFC seems fairly untroubled these days! But as I’m losing a truck-load of weight, they don’t feature often… 🙁
Whew! A busy few days away, and now – back in Ireland…. exhausted, drained, having ‘hammered’ my knees, and, for 48 hours at least, reaping the ‘reward’…! BUT – they are in the process of being healed, I know that….
Super morning meeting at City Church, Worcester on Sunday (after sharing in the ‘joy’ of England’s ignominious exit from the rugby world cup with a whole crowd of them Saturday, and being glad I’m half Welsh – dad – as England are out!). It was a pretty full house at the school they meet in, and, as always, lots of people to pray for. One of their leaders has sent me messages today about a couple of lovely healings – one, Lisa, no pain at all in her body since Sunday), and ‘Ben’s uncle – proxy prayer! – he was in a motorbike accident I think, been in a coma for a month, nothing the doctors could do, likely to be a cabbage if he recovered – Sunday night, woke up, and is off life-support… God’s pretty good at this stuff!
Seemed like an interminable drive back to Surrey for the flight back home Monday morning: 4 a.m. ‘get ups’ are not my favourite! – but it does mean that I’m indoors at home by 9-ish, giving me a whole extra day at home. By 11 am, I wasn’t sure I’d be mobile for much longer, but, thankfully, the old knees are recovering tonight a bit!
So, a few days to do the laundry, clean the house, unpack, re-pack, see people, and watch as much football and cricket as I can – then off to Romania Monday morning. I was asked by a good friend if I could go to Poland for him (he stood on a nail and can’t move!), but sadly, I couldn’t accept (I’ve never been there). Once upon a time, I could have done it – postpone Romania, and go elsewhere ‘east’ instead: but it was all to close between England and Colombia (1 November), and I’ve a busy weekend ahead of Colombia anyway….
Hope I’ll be hearing more testimonies in the next few days…. 🙂
More stories of healings in from last weekend, which is very, very exciting – Mark the pastor emailed within 48 hours and said there 11 more verified, I’ve had text and voice messages telling me of more, plus emails! Makes it so worthwhile, and still – after all these years (25!) – it blows me away…. So looking forward to tomrrow at City Church, Worcester, just to see God carry it on in another part of England.
Wonderful days away with the Rhinos… my accountability group – some amazing times of prayer, astonishing times of ministry, prophecy, blessing, and lots of wine! Plus fantastic accommodation, hospitality, and food at House of the Open Door, in Childswickham. It is SUCH a privilege to be part of such a fantastic group of men, to know that they love me enough to care deeply for me, and send me on my way more blessed and fired up than ever before….
Yesterday was very different for me – I was in River School, Worcester, speaking throughout the day to all the students at the school (11-16 years) – and had complete freedom to talk about the wonders that God is doing in so many places… talked with loads of the young people, prayed with them, and with staff, board, and the Headmaster! And Head was probably 45 years ago, waiting for the cane! An open door to go back there regularly, and input more of Jesus and his power in the lives of lots of hungry and fascinated young people!
More relaxing day today 🙂 even though some of it was watching England lose to France in the rugby world cup…. but my other 50% (Welsh) is rejoicing, even if sad with my adotped Ireland, as they got beaten too… 🙁
And so to church tomorrow…. long to see Jesus move in awesome power… and then – back to luverly Ireland on Monday for a week, before heading back to Romania….
Been in England 5 days now, racked up 750 miles already, and tomorrow lots more to come… a couple of days in Cornwall visiting family was lovely (our clan is very, very small now – we could probably all fit into someone’s downstairs loo if we had a reunion! – so for me it’s very necessary to see my sister, brother in law, and nephew. Straight from almost the very west of England to almost the very east – to be with the amazing guys at Loose Baptist Church, Maidstone.
Great name, huh??! Somone asked if ‘loose baptist’ might just qualify as an oxymoron… all the possibilities about loose women… the loose bowls club – fascinatingly with an Indian curry house opposite…!! Loose Womens institute… and the full time leader, Mark (who’s wife Anne was wonderfully and instantaneously healed from crippling M.E/Fibro Myalgia -she got it just a few days after their wedding some 10 years ago….) is a great mate: to say the church has moved into a new dimension would be understating it, and devaluing what God’s doing there. It’s 30 months since I was there – last time, just after the US Immigration fiasco: I know I’ve moved on since then, too, but the lightness of spirit, the open-heaven access that has grown, the expectation, and the number of people who really DO mean business with God….
Friday evening, was a lovely meeting with all the Elders & wives – it’s like a get-together of friends for me with them. The seminar on Saturday morning was (thoeretically!) 4 hours – it went on a good bit longer as a result of praying for people! A good number there – perhaps arond 100 – which is terrific for a whole Saturday morning. Some lovely healings – a wonderful young man from Afghanistan healed of pain that had been around a while (and Mark, the leader, had to ‘chase’ it around his body before the pain finally gave up! A young wife, Heidi, due for surgery on an impingement in her shoulder – extreme pain, very limited movement – ‘windmilled’ her arm instantly, no pain…. Emily (I think!) – healed of a long-term nagging ear condition… and more….
Then, Saturday night, what Mark billed as a ‘Masterclass’ (oo-er!!) – with people desperate to move into healing power, and a chance to ask whatever questions they had of the master’…me!! Great evening, brilliant questions, and a lot of impartation….
Sunday… tremendous meeting, great worship, and miracles… ayoung mum (early/mid 30’s?), crippled 7 years, two walking sticks, totally crushed 3rd, 4th, 5th vertebrae, crushed two ther spinal bones, and wrecked her lower right back, the sacroiliac joint – and there was a huge lump. Crippling pain, doctors could do nothing for her, hadn’t been able to even consider walking up or down stairs for 7 years…. she did both, no pain, totally healed, walking sticks under her arm as she left the meeting! Many others healed, too… as I get stories I’ll put them here….
Last 2 days, staying with my friends the Allabys (Simon in Minister of Bolney Village Chapel, near Gatwick Airport): super time nattering with Simon, as he’s going to Colombia with me: seeing great friends Nick & Sarah Harding and their adorable miracle son, 8 week old (born 2 months early and SHOULD have died, so should Sarah…) Milo. In real terms, Milo was 2 days old yesterday… a story of so many miracles! Lunch – and a wonderful time catching up – with old mate John Perry… and NOW… RHINOS!!!! Off in a few minutes for the best 3 days of the year…
Well, I’d have to confess that I could get used to holidays…. 🙂 – especially when it’s so hot, and dry, with blue sky! Cyprus – a first visit to that lovely island – is a delight, and, whilst there, I changed colour a number of times! Fortunately, it hasn’t washed off or blown off since being back home….
Being in the sun did wonders for making pained knees, especially at 42C! I’m so grateful to my friends for making their lovely home there available, it was such a privilege to be there. The journey home was one of those ‘disaster’ journies, though: flying out from Cyprus at 3.45 a.m., a 30 minute turn around in Vienna between landing and taking off (in different terminals, too 🙁 ), and some of the benefit to my knees was lost in the dash up and down stairs in Vienna Airport. And – though I’ve been flying countless times a year for 25 years, now – there have not been many worse landings than the one coming into Belfast on the day that the hurricane force winds caused chaos throughout the UK! Form what I understand, planes have to land faster in high winds to keep the nose down: so instead of about 150 mph, it’s around 200 mph+, and I did wonder if the wings were going to touch the runway, but the pilot did a wonderful job. It’d feature in my top ten of worst landings, nonetheless…
Catching up from being away has been the order of the day since then, along with getting stuff done for upcoming trips. I’m over in England next week, to be with the Loose women (and men!) of Loose Baptist Church, Maidstone, for the last weekend of the month. It’s a terrific church, and I’m looking forward to being with them.
Then it’s on to Broadway (well, nearby) for 2 and a bit days away with the Rhinos: I can never stress enough the value of these days, the men who love and care for me, beat me up when I need it, put me back together again when I need that, too, is so vitally important to me.
From there, it’s on to Worcester, for a day at the River School, and a weekend with City Church, with whom I spent a tremendous weekend in June. It’ll be great to catch up with the folk I got to know again.
Meantime, all the stuff required by U S immigration is collated and gathered, or perhaps that should be the other way round! – but there’s really no knowing when, or even if, the day of my return there will be. So Ireland becomes more and more home….
Sometimes, there’s little feedback for many in ministry of what God has done: that’s why I love to tell stories as and when I get them. A couple of days ago, though, I got a message on Facebook from a long-time friend from Ghana, Joseph Mensah. I met Joseph, I guess, in 1988, when I spoke at a YWAM school where he was a student: he’d have been in his mid 40’s then, training to be a missionary/pastor in the Central Region of Ghana, the ‘bush’ villages. He became a very dear friend, and I visited him in his village on many occasions, staying in mud huts: I look back on those days with great blessing – especially in one of the villages, where they’d very kindly positioned the hole for the toilet (over a deep pit, covered with plywood – not really designed for people of my build, and rather precariously bouncy!) right next to a banana tree, which I discovered to be of great value in taking the weight of of leg muscles that were required for other functions… squatting was never one of my strongest fortes!
Itr was a privilege, too, to be able – then – to raise the money for Joseph to be able to buy his house in Ghana, just before his landlord was going to evict him and his family. From what I understand, they’re still in that house: Sammy, their son, is married (he was so small when I first knew them!), and their daughter about to complete her Masters degree. Joseph & Gladys are about to launch a missions Universtiy…
Two days ago, after quite a long ‘silence’, Jospeh wrote this: ‘Brother Paul, I want to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for GIVING ME HOPE IN LIFE!’ (His capitals, not mine)…. 23 years on, you have absolutely no idea what it means to me to read that: it sort of makes the whole the last 25 years worthwhile. Maybe he’s not the only one who’d say that…. I can hope! What a blessing.
I’ve been so aware, since last Friday, of people’s prayers – thank you so much if you’ve prayed for me. After the events of Thursday & Friday, 18-19 August, the visit to the US Embassy in London, by the time I got back home here to Ireland, it was 1130 pm Friday night….as I’d not slept much Wednesday night, with a very early rise to fly to England, not really slept Thursday night churning over the visit to the Embassy Friday morning, and the subsequent emotional mauling that you get with US immigration, I didn’t sleep until about 5 am Saturday morning – so a 48 hour + day. It’s hard to explain, unless you’ve been ‘through’ it, the… aggression (it’s the only word that covers it!) and dehumanising effect that immigration has on you. It’s a real battering, and to be honest, I could hardly move physically for a couple of days after I got home.
It beats me why they have to act this way: I guess (up until recently, at least) being the world’s ‘premier’ nation, they could act as they pleased. But the image they give their country is unreal.
So, now to compile further evidence – that they already have, and needn’t have asked for if they’d done their research properly! – which means more time and cost: but, the wonderful thing is that it means I don’t even have to consider quitting living in Ireland, which I love.
72 hours after the US experience, I received a 45 minute phone call from the Canadian State Department Head of Immigration, apologising profusely concerning an issue in Toronto I’d had every reason to complain about. So nice, so apologetic, so friendly. The contrast couldn’t have been more marked in such a short space of time….
Many people, very close friends and advisors, have advised me just to get away and have a holiday, which I find difficult as, living on gift support, sacrificially given, as I do, it seems unfair. But I know it’s right: and I’ve been offered the use of someone’s holiday place somewhere nice and hot – which isn’t something you could ever ‘accuse’ Northern Irealnd of being! – and so on Friday, I’m off for 10 days, trying to overcome my ‘guilt’ of enjoying myself! So if there’s another gap here, that’s why…. I’ll probably set up my visits to Mexico, Colombia, and Australia while I’m away, so at least I’ll feel I’ve done something useful….!
So many emotions racing through my mind, somehow right deep inside I’m still at peace, and just so happy to be home here in Bangor. Need to ‘hide away’ I guess for a few days, might even go away in a few days time, and just try and fathom out what this whole saga is about. Long talk on the phone yesterday with the lawyer, who a) can’t believe what has happened, and b) says they have no right to be asking some of what they’re asking… I think I’ll just leave as much of this next phase in his hands to sort out, I’ll just believe for the finance to let him do that….
The greatest sadness right now for me is that, once again, through a country that – I understand – never signed the International Human Rights agreement, I’m stopped from seeing my daughter, son in law, and grandchildren – which are my human rights in the rest of the civilised world. This is hardest for me right now… and I need time and space to get my head, emotions, heart, and spirit, in line with each other, and then move ahead…
Thank you for your prayers, your love, your messages: I’m so, so grateful for them: if I don’t respond too quickly, I hope you’ll understand. Bless you, and thank you.
Don’t really know what to write here today…. probably not a good idea to write anything, but as lots of people have been praying about the today’s ‘charade’ at the U S Embassy, I ought to say that there is no change in my status – I haven’t been finally denied entry to go back to the USA, but questions that could and should have been asked before – that didn’t seem to be relevant to the US authorities in previous submissions – came today, and was sent away to get yet more information, more facts, you name it… I’m so, so tired, it’s not a good plan to even think today, though that’s not possible. Will write more in a day or three….
Well, tomorrow morning, crack of dawn, I fly over to England from Belfast for THE interview of Friday. It’s a strange feeling: there is so much paperwork, and the US Embassy’s website makes it very clear that if you forget anything or get anything wrong, your visa application is automatically cancelled…. So the last few days have been spent poring over the same old paperwork – reams of it!, about 2.5 inches (6cms) thick! – realised today that the passport photos required on the day aren’t the same size as just about everyone else’s passport photos, so been rushing round trying to find a photographer who’d do them on the spot! My lawyer is pretty confident, but – who knows?
And – probably strangest feeling – is that this is IT. 2 1/2 years of – at times, immense stress – frustration, disappointment, different brick walls presenting themselves…. and in 48 hours, it’ll all be over. They think it’s all over – it is – then!
All that I know is that still, very deep down, is a peace that can only have come from God: but my mind tries to over-rule my spirit, especially when confronted with the reams of paper, the ‘threat’ of missing material, and the fact that it can all go wrong with a misplaced word or document! So, I’m blogging really just to ask for your prayers for Friday, that, whatever happens, God’s will WILL be done… and that, after 3 years of having been deprived of my daughter, son in law, and grandsons, in Houston, I can get back to the USA to see them. Now that WOULD be nice…. especially as it’s Katy’s birthday next week, it’d be lovely to see her as soon after it as I can!
It’s been a lovely few days back here in the summer of Northern Ireland: I’m glad I love the place and the people, as their summers don’t sell themselves too well to people like me who like Cairo! I’m not certain, but I don’t think the temperature gauge in my car here has gone above 20C (68F) since I’ve been home: and one thing is certain, there’ll never be a hosepipe ban here because of a rain shortage!
Spent a number of days catching up with people: spending a good bit of time, too, visiting people to pray with them, and – watching loads of cricket! And now, from today of course, football! I have to say that the cricket has been quite magnificent – if you don’t like cricket, then I CAN pray for you, and that last phrase won’t mean anything to you at all! Suffice to say – England rule!
Back over to England towards the end of next week – it’s the day of reckoning (!!) – my residency visa interview at the US Embassy in London! After almost 2.5 years, I guess that’s make or break day, next Friday. My ‘appointment’ is given as 8 a.m. – but I guess they tell EVERYONE to arrive at 8, so I plan to get there about 6.30 a.m. so I’m not at the back end of the queue. On a purely human level, it should be a big day: but, truth is, since I’ve been in this house in Ireland, so much in me and around me has changed immensely, and I do know that, whatever the outcome, God’s given me a peace that passes all comprehension, and I think (I hope, anyway) that I’ll take whatever they decide, as I’m absolutely convinced that God’s had his reasons for allowing this whole charade to happen, because of what he wanted to do in me…. It will, of course, be wonderful to see my family again, if and when I’m back there: and to actually have a look round the house I once called home to see what I’d made all the fuss about being deprived 28/29 months ago! I really can’t picture some of it anymore, as I’m so at home here.
I would appreciate your prayers next Thursday and Friday having said that: as it WOULD be nice, just this time, to get a pleasant US immigration person – actually, I think this is State Department now, so maybe they’re nicer! And I DO want God’s will to be done – not mine, nor some strangers sitting in an office in a huge London building….
Just to say, some great news from Australia – where I would have been now if it weren’t for the two paragraphs above! – caught up with some lovely healings just a few days a days ago from when I was at Diamond Valley Baptist Church, Diamond Valley (strangely!), Melbourne, last year…. a lady called Julie, healed of bowel cancer, and someone whose name my friend, Robert, couldn’t remember, who was healed of scoliosis…. there are some more testimonies on the testimony page if you want to look, including one I heard about not too long ago from 7 years ago! That was scoliosis, too – and a whole lot more on top!!
Once again, I’m sorry to say, posting anything here was delayed by problems with my editing software, and computer…. 🙁 – hopefully, all resolved now, so there’s a bit to catch up on!
Mid July I had a fantastic couple of days or so in Cairo – it was a little different there, in July, to an Irish summer! Bone dry (and not humid, which with high temperatures makes it unbearable), 40+ degrees (celcius, that is – about 104F), so it was just right… :). Spent time with a few people there: it was good to hear first hand the stories of this year’s turmoil there (it all kicked off again whilst I was there, but thankfully it wasn’t my fault!). I had never really met any Egyptians before, except one – a dear friend, Maged, from YWAM – and I thought he was a lovely, sweet, gentle man because he was a Christian… truth is, just about everyone I met was lovely, and very sweet natured. It was a wonderful experience, going into a souvenir-type store (I have to get a fridge magnet from somewhere!), where normally you’re hassled by the assistants to buy a rug/papyrus/model of a pyramid or whatever, to have a guy come up to me, introduce himself to me, and ask me if he could tell me about Jesus…. we sat and chatted for ages, he had his Arabic/English NIV Bible open on the desk in the shop, and – of course – I had to buy something then, didn’t I??!! Maybe it was his unique sales ploy…. hmm. No, he REALLY knew Jesus, as did his whole family.
Back to reality, the next day sitting in the queue to sell at a car boot sale, at 6.30 a.m., unable to escape the queue because of the volume of seller-traffic, and then the rains came down…. 🙁 I’d have left, except I couldn’t get out: fortunately the rain stopped, and I was able to glean a few torturous pounds out of hassling buyers! Had some stuff nicked, too, which is always frustrating and disappointing….
Straight down, on that Saturday afternoon, from Worthing to Bridport, in Dorset (this is all in the UK, foreign readers!!), for a home meetingin the evening: it was really good to catch up with a few folk whom I’d met when I was there in May, and I DO love to tell the stories of what God is doing… 🙂
Bridport Christian Fellowship on the Sunday morning was great: I even managed (almost!) to keep to time, and had a loooong line of people to pray for, which just kept getting added to… some people spoke of immediate benefit from the prayers… that’s always nice, of course, but often I find it’s a little later on the healing really begins to take impact.
Sunday evening – Maranatha Church, Exeter: a great church led by my great friend Andrew Pearkes: he’s been ill, and felt some immediate impact in his back when I prayed for him: as did I in my knees when he prayed for me! Lots of others to pray for, too: all in all, a busy but lovely day!
Then Monday, down to Weymouth: long-time friends Mike & Beverely Robinson run the Healing Rooms in Dorset, and they’d asked me to speak at a meeting of all their Healing Room volunteers (well, those who weren’t on away on holiday!). I met Mike & Beverley in Kaniki, Zambia (like you do!) about 16 years ago: our paths have only crossed very infrequently since then, but we’ve stayed in touch, and it was so, so good to catch up with them and do something with their lovely helpers. When we first met, Mike endeared himself to me immensely, and I think it’s why we get on so well… he’d just been attacked by an armed gang of bandits from over the border in the Congo: Kaniki Bible School, where they lived and worked, and where I was speaking, is about a quarter mile from the border. Mike was more infuriated NOT that he’d had a gun to him temple, that the car was stolen, and his wallet – but that the bandit had grabbed his Ralph Lauren shirt and ripped the button off! He got in the bandit’s face, and told him ‘If my wife was here, she’d kill you!’ – at which point they all fled, and Mike proceeded to look for his button…. that’s why I love him so much!
The meeting was in a wonderful house, overlooking the bays of Weymouth and Portland, where the Olympic rowing/canoeing events etc., will be next year. Really lovely time of blessing, with a number of people staying for prayer. The hosts were amazing: I have to say their names have gone right out of my head, but they’re in their 80’s, and spend their retirement running Bibles with Open Doors, in some countries where people half their age would fear to go… including to the guerilla areas of Colombia!
Drove on Tuesday to Cornwall to see my family, then back to Surrey Wednesday, and Ireland Thursday…. which is where I am now, and I’ll make this a separate section – above! How’s that for Irish logic, ‘cos you’ll already have read that before you read this….
The last few days have been a blessing, spending time with a good number of people ‘one on one’ for prayer, encouragement, healing… you name it! It’s sometime nice not to have an abundance of meetings – Jesus said it should be abundant LIFE not meetings (!) though I can tell you some churches where that’s not the case… It’s been good, too, to have a bit more time to catch up with watching cricket (what better way to spend free time??!??), especially as it’s been the very ‘fast’ form of cricket – 20/20: what’s more, my beloved Sussex are in the quarter finals of the cup! AND…. in less than 4 weeks, football begins again! Much as I love summer, and in particular light evenings, I do miss the football season!
Terry, the FGB Director, mentioned below, is still doing well from his diabetes: he laos had a major breathing issue, and long-time cough (possibly, he thinks, through asbestos dust back in the 70’s: he saw a chest specialist recently, who told him that his ‘puffing ability’ is way better than expected for a man of his age… God’s good, huh?
It’s so lovely to hear from people when God has touched their lives: I really appreciate the emails and phone calls to let me know. I’m told that there are still testimonies being shared in the Coleraine Vineyard, hope I’ll get to hear the stories!
I head back over to England on Monday, for a busy 10-11 days, quite a few meetings, and a chance to get to go and visit my sister, brother in law, and nephew before coming back to Ireland.
My plan to go to Australia in July was scuppered by the dear old US Immigration service, when I heard that my residency visa interview has been scheduled for 8 a.m. on the 19th: I can’t imagine it’s ACTUALLY at 8 a.m., guess I’ll be one of the man ‘sheep’ turning up at that time just to sit and wait…. for the interview with the person who – humanly – gets to decide my future! I’m so grateful that God is responsible for my future, not an Embassy official: and I do know that the peace God’s given me over the past weeks means that whatever is decided in London that day is irrelevant in terms of God’s destiny for my life…. I do hope and pray that God gives me the ‘green light’ to keep the house in Ireland, for the increasing number of invitations and opportunities in Britain. One of the great things, for me, is that – having been in the USA for 3 years and now here in the UK again – I’ve really seen God regenerate my love for the UK, and what he wants to do here…
Wow, so much has happened in the past couple of weeks! I was due to be in England to be best man (!) at a long-time friend’s wedding, but some weeks before the date, the wedding was postponed. By then I’d arranged a few preaching dates, which all turned out to be terrific.
It was wonderful, after – I think – a 3 year gap, to go back to the Vineyard Church, in Melton Mowbray: to see what God’s building there through Neal and Elunedd, who lead it. It was a lovely morning: and as usual, a great privilege to pray with a good number of folk.
Then it was down south, for my medical check-up with the USA Embassy’s appointed doctor. What a joy (not!) to have to go to a lush private clinic, specialising, ti seems, in visa medicals, close to the Mayfair/Park Lane area of west London. I think the cost of the medical proved that they have a few hotels in place on their property, as the landing ‘fee’ was immense! (Guess you’d have to have played the English ‘Monopoly’ game to appreciate that one!
So many people, over recent months, have been telling me that I MUST meet a guy named Jonathan Bugden: he’s the UK & European Director for Integrity Music and books: it worked out so well, as he lives in Bexhill, and I was scheduled to speak at a Full Gosepl Businessmen’s dinner in that town…. what a terrific bloke Jonathan is! So different to most people I’ve known in Christian music: such a gentle, humble man, with an amazing passion for the genuine Kingdom of God to blitz the earth. We nattered for a good 2 and a half hours, about everything – not even really talking books or music!
The dinner was great, too: about 35 people there, and my very dear, long-time friends Hugh & Maureen, there: I’ve known them for about 40 years, and that very phrase alone is quite scary, as it’s the sort of thing my grandparents used to say! I ended up praying for lots of people, including a man, right at the end, named Terry, suffering from long-term diabetes. Just sensed that God was going to heal him, and, whilst I’d never tell anyone to stop taking medication (I don’t think that’s my ‘job’ – I just pray!), I did say I believed he’d go ‘hypo’ during the next day or so – that’s what happens when you take insulin and don’t need it. Got an email from him last Saturday, telling me he’d had hypos all week! And, inviting me to speak at another dinner: turns out he’s the National Director for FGBFMI….
Then, on to Lindfield, near Haywards Heath, to speak at the annual trust get-together that supports my increasingly good friend Simon Allaby. Simon’s a very gifted evangelist/preacher, and has a big heart for overseas mission too, so it was a privilege to be invited. It was a great day, and again, had lots of opportunties to pray for people, and encourage ‘faith-raising’! All being well, Simon’s going to Colombia with me later in the year.
For many years – maybe 10 – in the late 60’s-early 70’s, I lived perhaps a mile from St. Michael & All Angel’s Church, in Eastbourne, and don’t think I ever darkened the doros of the church, certainly never preached there – until a couple of Sundays back! If I’m honest, I was expecting a dark old Anglican church with pews…. to be wonderfully surprised by seeing chairs arranged in a circle, with the most beautiful alter in the middle – and a pretty packed congregation. I only had about 15 minutes to speak (those of you who know me know that’s about when I’m getting into my stride!) – but it was terrific, loads of people responded for prayer, some testified to pain going/decreasing…. and it was a good 90 minutes after the meeting ended that I left the building! That same evening, in the packed living-room of Glyn & Emma, leaders of Old Town Community church, I was speaking again, and was still rpaying with folk after midnight….
Last Thursday, I met up with one of my best friends – a pastor from Cali, Colombia, Hendrik (he was my first ever translator there in 1997, and a growing network of churches in Colombia, Chile, soon to be Bolivia… he was visiting here in Northern Ireland, with contacts I’d given him over the years (I DO love networking!!), this time we met with Mark Marx, Director of Healing on the Streets, as he, too, is going out to Colombia with me in November, to train/equip/launch HOTS there… it’s such an exciting prospect, as you know from my eulogising that Cali, Colombia is very much an open heaven…. what an amazing time in the whole of human history, to be alive, and serving the Lord! Hendrik will be a key person for setting all this up in Cali: and he and Mark got on really well.
A small gathering at the home of friends, near Coleraine, last night, was lovely too: some visitors from England, one with cancer: lovely time with them, praying for Mike… look forward to hearing his story, as the doctors have really said there’s no more that they can do for him… and the wife of my friends, who has had a horrible ear problem (no, her ears aren’t horrible!), seems today to be healed… not only that, but they had a new arrival in their home yesterday – a 7 week old miniature schnauser – who is so gorgeous, he’d almost make want to stop travelling and have one myself….! (Only joking… 😉 )
So, some time to recharge, and watch cricket… what better way to rest and relax?? Then off in about 10 days or so time….
And, in the next few days, if you’re only my email or snail mail list, my newsletter will be winging its way to you. If you want one, and don’t normally get one, let me know!