After having eight different ‘homes’ in the last ten months, including 2½ complete home moves, my body isn’t quite sure where it’s at, and has felt a little weary, to say the least, especially as I’m now past the ‘halfway’ stage in my 60’s (I’m 66 for those interested!). Age has no fear for me, but I am aware of certain limitations that come with it – I think it was Spike Milligan who said ‘At my age you never go past a toilet!’ – as well as my well-documented mobility limitations. I’m in another temporary home right now, thanks to lovely friends willing to have this nomad in their house, having just activated the 50% Welsh part of my birth heritage and come ‘home’, while I wait to see what God does for a permanent home here. Dad was such an amazing man (you’ll probably say I’m biased but he was), so I’m so happy to be in the land of his birth, even if three hours north of where he came from, Penarth…
The physical effects of all of those moves, and especially the impact on me physically in occult-central house in Montgomery, have been greater than I realised, but last Sunday, with my lovely friend Jonathan, found the energy to go down south to a meeting where my great friend, Ian Andrews, was speaking. Ian – along with God, of course! – is a major reason why my life took a huge turn in 1983, when he (and a few others) prayed for me. Ian’s been perhaps the major healing pioneer in the church in the UK (and many other places) for the best part of 6 decades: it was in 1983, not knowing why I had a driving passion to go, that I managed to get in to an ‘invitation-only’ healing conference where Ian was the speaker. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Ian blew me away with his humility, not an ‘all guns blazing’ tv-type healing evangelist, but a man of immense authority, faith, and power.
When I got to the conference I wished with everything in me that I hadn’t gone, as most of the other 50 were the charismatic leaders of the time (people like Roger Forster, Terry Virgo, Clive Calver, Graham Kendrick, Rob White, Gerald Coates, and an assembly of the famous!). So 49 – plus me! Being a good shy insecure Englishman, I sat at the back in the corner, behind someone tall. Ian began by asking a few questions – everyone here is a leader/in ministry? Everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit? Everyone speaks in tongue? Yes, Ian…all leaders, ministers, filled with the Spirit, speak in tongues… then ‘Everyone speaks in tongues publicly?’ – a spirit of fear hit the room and hands went up. ‘Er, no…’. Ian then pointed to a little geezer at the back in the corner – moi! – and said ‘speak in tongues for us now!’.
In the next few moments I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone as much as I hated Ian then! All these famous people he could have chosen… my mouth went dry, tasted like I imagine a cat litter tray tastes first thing in the morning, and my lips stuck together… then much to my amazement a few ridiculous-sounding words fell out of my mouth as I though ‘You idiot, Bennison, you’ve made a fool of yourself in front of all these superstars. To be honest. with hindsight I reckon they were just relieved he hadn’t picked them! As the last word fell out of my litter tray, a guy at the front burst into tears. God had given him the interpretation – which Biblically should always happen with a public tongue – and God had answered an issue in his life he’d been praying for an answer to for a very long time. My ghast was totally flabbered…
What Ian shared over the next 3-4 days totally changed my life, and I knew why I’d had the desperation to get to the conference. After it, Ian prayed for me, and the die was cast. A passion to bless people through the power of the Holy Spirit with absolutely no clue of how, when, or even why, coming from a background of quite (very?) sick people…
It was 3-4 years before it unfolded into reality, following other words from God, about travelling to the four corners of the earth to preach the gospel and see the sick healed. The wife of very dear friends has an almost unbelievable prognosis hanging over her right now, and I contacted Ian, whose friendship has meant so much to me in these 36 years, to ask if he’d pray for her. He’s one end of the country, she’s another – but last Sunday he just HAPPENED to be speaking a few miles away from the family, and so I wanted to be there when the hook-up happened – with just a slight (!) selfish motive in getting him to pray for my knees…. There’s certainly an improvement in mobility, but I’ll never ever give up believing for total wholeness, and nor will I ever give up ‘going and doing’ what God’s called me to do. I’ve had a bit of a lull due to the moves, but am back in harness again very soon, which I can’t wait for.
My mind is telling me I need a break – other than through exhaustion – in 40+ years of being in ministry, I’ve never had a sabbatical (some ministers seem to have a fair few!), but I have thought a short holiday in the sun would do my body the world of good, but holidaying on your own isn’t a great deal of ‘fun’, and it’s not something that’s in my budget 🙁 – I’d need to hire a car, too, as mobility would be an issue without one. My legs don’t, sadly, do trains and buses as they usually entail a lot of walking! I listen to other people involved ministry and they seem to have friends all over the world who offer them holiday homes. Apart from one good friend in Scotland and another in Surrey, I don’t know anyone with places I could beg to stay at!
Some of you might remember the story of a miraculous deliverance from what should only have been a fatal car crash 25 years ago, when an angel pulled me out of a car that had pretty much shrunk in length by 50% – it was Ian who’d seen the angel in a meeting at the church in Sussex 36 hours earlier, and the driver was the wife of great friends who have lived here in Wales for 17 years now. Sunday, Jonathan, the husband, drove us down to Surrey – the first time he’d seen Ian since that weekend in 1994: Ian and Rosemary had been telling their hosts the ‘crash’ story and my deliverance from the wreckage that morning!
I have so much love and respect for Ian – after all his years in the ‘miracle/healing/revival’ ministry, he’s still the same humble, self-effacing man I’ve always known but you sense the power of the anointing from God that he carries. Ian has instigated so many ‘revival’ movements across the globe, most recently in Victoria, Australia, and in South Australia. It was – to us, at least, a blessing that there wasn’t a huge attendance, which meant more time for ministry – he spent good quality time with my friend’s family, and praying for these disobedient knees I have! It was lovely to see how much care and time Ian had for people – not a line of people being told ‘be healed’ and pushed over – personally I find that type of ministry offensive and dishonouring to the person being prayed for, and to God. I’d rather stay for hours, giving each individual time and care. Jesus didn’t, it seems to me, get everyone in a line, push them over and shout ‘be healed!’.
It was a joy to see Ian and Rosemary, and as it was in Gerald and Anona Coates’ church, a pleasure to see them after at least 20 years! There were others who turned up at the meeting who I knew from many years ago, including Derek Brown, who I’d not seen for about 35 years! – he used to lead a big church in Aldershot but has moved into micro-churches now, which is what I’ve come to Wales to be a part of. A wonderful blessing to have a good few hours in the car chatting to Jonathan, too.
To be ‘at home’ in the land of my own father – Wales – is lovely: it was a surprise when God made it clear that Welshpool was where he wants me purely because of the ‘geography’ for a regular Heathrow traveller and with many of the speaking engagements I get being in the southeast, but God is doing something special in Wales, with many prophetic words about the country and links to the Welsh revival…. so a month ago my flat in Kent was packed up and moved 200 miles northwest, into – for now – the garage of friends in the fellowship I’ve come here to be part of. The prayer is that God will do a miracle and provide me with something he’s promised over the last 5 years – my own home (it’d be the first home I could call ‘my own home’ since selling the last one I owned in 1983 to go to a ministry training centre) – but while waiting for that, or finding a suitable and affordable long-term rental property, I moved into an AirBnB property for the last month – to say that was ‘interesting’ would be a massive understatement!
I drove from Kent to the house, and on arrival was confronted by signs advertising most things ‘witchcraft’ – and the owners – one look at the wife and I knew that she was a witch! The house was filled with many occult books and artefacts, and the atmosphere was like I’ve never known! Some people might say ‘Why didn’t you get out?’ but I know that he who is in me is greater than he who is in any AirBnB or the world! Friends from the fellowship I’ve come here to be part of helped with covering some things up, moving books with titles like ‘Healing by Magic’, turning around statues of Buddha, covering over a native Indian ‘Dreamcatcher’…. the atmosphere changed as I and the friends here prayed, but it was still heavy…. I could have done courses in ‘Chakra Belly Dancing’ (! – don’t let your mind even go there!!), all things chakra, reiki, healing through magic…. oh yes, and a crochet course….
Monday night last week, at 4 am, unable to sleep (a problem every night in that house – I worked out that in 31 nights I slept for about 70 hours all of it very broken up) in the middle of a very wide bed, praying and listening to worship music, when I was thrown off of the bed by something unseen, landing on my knees (ooowww!!) and smashing my face on a heavy chair by the bed…. thought I’d broken my nose and lost my front teeth (I hadn’t fortunately though there was a lot of blood) but my knees are only just recovering to the pain level they normally are!
Some lovely friends have offered me a temporary home until I can either rent or miraculously get my own place, and I’ve had two nights of sleep, which has been bliss. I think I need a fair few nights before my body recovers… the Fellowship here is lovely, the folk have been so kind, helpful, generous in the amount of help they’ve given me, as the house I was in was so impractical for someone with mobility difficulties, especially the stairs! It’s a church based on Acts 2:42ff., so very different to what I left behind in Kent. It’s a delight to be with people who love and care for each other, have a massive heart for the area and the country, and God is moving some key people to the town which is just confirming some of the prophetic words that He’s spoken in recent months. It’s a thrill that God considers me able to be a part of what he’s going to do here, and to find that some of the folk in the Fellowship have been praying for 4-5 years that I’d come here. Now for the healing of the knees….
It’s a delight to be here and will be an increasing delight when I’ve learned to pronounce some of the place names (I can manage Welshpool!! – but not in Welsh – see if you can from the picture below!)), and when I can finally settle into what will be home. I look back and realise that I haven’t really had ‘home’ for many years – yes, I’ve lived in flats and houses, but none that I’d truly look forward to going ‘home’ to. So I’m praying that this will be a place to call home truly, and be part of what God is doing in Wales, as well as continuing to travel to many of the places I’ve been to in the past.
I don’t know if any of you have watched ‘The Kindness Diaries’ on Netflix, but it’s amazing. Leon Logothetis is a man who, when young, was bullied and life was tough, and decided that the opposite of being selfish and being bullied – kindness – was going to be his goal in life, looking for kindness and, with certain people who showed him kindness, he rewarded them with whatever they needed.
I’m watching his journey from Alaska to Argentina, in a 50-year old VW Beetle, with NO money on him, needing help/accommodation/mechanics – and finding that, even in our selfish ‘me-me-me I want more money’ world, there ARE kind people who’ll help when you’re in trouble.
In the episode I’ve just watched, he was offered a good meal and a bed for the night in the home of a young woman and her fiancé, she was a refugee from from the Dominican Republic, and her life is given to helping others, but her dream to help thousands more is limited by resources. She wants to ‘stop the traffik’ of young girls, provide fresh water supplies for millions in many countries (and she specifically mentioned Ghana where I guess her roots are historically). Leon’s just told her he’ll arrange funding for her to go wherever she wants in the world to do it…
She’s crying, he’s ‘leaking’, I’m weeping…
Those who know me know that my passion has never been to ‘make it big’ as a preacher but to go to places where no one else who’s goal is money, will ever go. This is a series of programmes I’ll watch over and over again, as it’s my heart to love and care for people, pray for their healing, and do whatever I or my team’s can do practically for them.
Over the years that’s included water pumps for villages to have fresh water, homes for street kids in dangerous and war- torn countries, but it build homes for families and pastors, build (not flashy huge) churches in heathen villages…
You can imagine I’m loving this programme, and dreaming that one day I’ll meet Leon… And praying that God will give me the healed legs to do it a bit easier than I can right now…
I’d encourage to watch ‘The kindness diaries’. It’s uplifting and a blessing.
I’ve been asked why there are not so many miracle stories in the blog and on Facebook recently. and I ‘sense’ the assumption is that not much is happening. That couldn’t be further from the truth, to be honest! A lot of what I DO post here and on Facebook are things that are ‘reportable’ and that I have asked people’s permission to post. An even ‘bigger’ side of what I do involves people with issues and situations that are NOT for public ‘consumption’ – personal /church/ family issues which, thank God, he deals with – but if those issues related to YOU, say, you wouldn’t WANT them put out for public viewing, even if no names are mentioned it’s often possible for other people to identify those concerned.
It’s a fine line to walk when you’re dealing with people’s lives, especially when it comes to any form of abuse – whether that’s actual, physical, sexual, or spiritual abuse, and those issues are NOT for general publication! The last few months – apart from blogs where I’ve been out preaching and can report what God has done through the people I’ve taken with me, and through me, where healing is concerned. Healing isn’t just physical, though: is very necessary when the issues have been destructive through emotional, often even worse when it’s spiritual, and devastating when it’s physical.
I believe that God told me – and it was confirmed by a number of other prophetic friends and advisors, that as well as the things that I have been doing. the move to England (and now Wales) was going to involve a whole new raft of things that God was opening up for me – things I’ve been involved with in the past but not to the extent that I was going to see, and that there’d be a whole host of new things – ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’ sort of time.
That’s certainly been the case since moving back across the Irish Sea, and countless hours of listening, talking, advising, ‘pulling’ on experiences I have had over the past 40 years as they’re still relevant today, have certainly filled and occupied time, and – Praise the Lord – seen real fruit in people’s lives.
I was going to do a blog about my sadness of the catastrophic ‘demise’ of the ‘Jesus Army’ in Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire: but it’s been well-documented in ‘Christianity’ magazine this month, and tragically, is so serious that it’s featured on the BBC News, too: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48447066 – it bears comparison with ‘Operation Yew Tree’ (Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, et al), and when a church issue causes the police to launch a similar operation – ‘Operation Lifeboat’ – you KNOW we’re moving into an era in history that brings the latter part of Scripture into vivid perspecitve. Hundreds of people have filed complaints about spiritual, personal, sexual, and physical abuse against the Jesus Army, which began as a perfectly normal Baptist Church in 1969, with an ‘Apostolic Social (Kingdom)’ charismatic vision, but it grew to a point where the leadership took over control of people’s lives, similar to Jonestown (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown) when 918 people (including over 300 children) were ‘told’ by Jim Jones, the former charismatic Apostolic Church pastor, to drink cyanide, and they all died. Six men from Bugbrooke/Jesus Army have already been sentenced to prison.
Control and manipulation in a growing number of influential churches is on the increase – and the rapid rise of the Jezebel spirit (see Revelation 2:20-24) is destroying people’s lives – or attempting to destroy them – in increasing numbers. I had experience of battling that very spirit a good few years ago, it nearly destroyed me (burn out, near nervous breakdown) but thank God I survived and came out of that battle stronger. And it’s this very issue I’ve been involved in helping people with over recent months. And that help doesn’t involve a short prayer at the end of a meeting: it involves countless (very worthwhile) hours of talking, praying, explaining – and Jezebel attacks the person praying too, which is why I believe (along with 36 or so stairs at an apartment block!) that my knees have been pretty grim, as the spirit goes for your ‘weak-points’ too. Control in churches is on the rise: it’s evil it’s witchcraft, and when one of the last things God had to say to humanity in Scripture, was about Jezebel, we need to take it seriously. It’s in churches that ‘seem’ good, look good, and attractive to people with many migrating from existing churches to them….
So maybe you’ll understand why I haven’t blogged so many miracle stories: people’s LIVES are vital, as well as healing their ailments, and I’m grateful to God for what I’ve had personal experience of in order to help others in the same situation!
To say the last 18 months have been unusual would be an understatement in the extreme! To all those who think ‘living by faith’, seeing thousands healed over 35 years. travelling to lots of countries (many of which I’d never have CHOSEN to go to but fell in love with after God made it clear I’d be going!), is a wonderful life, let me put a few of the not so wonderful things into perspective for you when you try and follow the call of God obediently – and these just in the last year and a half!! (Not including, in previous years, losing my home completely 5 times, having to choose to give up the last house I owned – mortgage, but some equity! – 36 years ago in order to go to a ministry training centre for a time which the equity paid for!). If you still want to be a missionary and live by faith after this, then I’d say that God has called you!
But do you know what? I wouldn’t swap the house, equity, or anything, for what I’ve seen God do in the last 40 years, more especially the last 34 years – because He’s blown me away with what He’s done with and through this plonker from the East End of London, with where He’s taken me, with who I’ve met and become friends with all over the world (having never travelled abroad before apart from to France), what He’s given me the grace (and guts!) to eat (cow’s eyes, live flying ants, snake, cow’s lips, cat, dog…..want me to go on??!!), and now, arriving in Wales on the next ‘leg’ of my life of adventure, knowing that people of the Kingdom of Heaven have been praying that I’ll come here – for 4-5 years… I’ve not been part of too many churches in my life – most have been long-stay churches – I have to say it’s wonderful to come somewhere where the folk want me, are totally non-religious, not threatened by anyone with an existing ministry (you might be shocked at how many churches are, so they don’t want you!), and I’ve had more people visit me and help me here in 5 days than I had in the last 6 months!
Here’s the last 18 months in a nutshell(!):
- the previously documented wrecking of my right knee by an orthopaedic consultant in Belfast in January 2018, to then not being able to walk (and acute pain) for 10 months as a result,
- somehow managing a 3-4 week trip to Colombia in a wheelchair, to waking up one morning IN Colombia with my legs looking like I’d been stood in a barrel of beetroot juice all night and being diagnosed with chronic cellulitis
- some preaching – with mobility difficulties! – in Northern Ireland
- speaking at a great conference in Dublin in November and seeing God heal
- being told by other orthopaedic consultants that I might never walk again
- not being able to walk from my living to my kitchen (about 15 feet/5 metres) so not being able to eat for many of those months (but losing 120 pounds weight/8.5 stones/55 kg was a bonus)
- having the blessing of wonderful friends, Roy and Angie, from Plymouth, flying to N Ireland to spend 5 days with me to clean my house, and cook many meals I could freeze and then just stick in the oven, my not-yet-Christian neighbours in Northern Ireland frequently cooking Sunday lunch for me so often I had one meal a week(!)
- to being persuaded to move from Northern Ireland to Gravesend – and most ludicrously to do the move without a removal company
- giving away about half of my home in Northern Ireland as it wouldn’t fit on the trailer
- to renting a second floor (third if you’re American) flat/apartment without seeing it first, realising that there was no lift/elevator but about 36 stairs (poor knees!!) – and because of its location (about 20 minutes from London) – at a rent that made my eyes water – 3 times the rent I’d been paying in Ireland – God does have a great sense of humour! God made me aware early on that it wasn’t it a long term stay – thankfully – for all sorts of reasons, that he’d taken me there for a purpose which I’m thrilled to say has been fulfilled
- to being promised about a third of the rent difference by a ‘friend’ – the same promise every month for the 6 months I was there – and then to be told ‘You need to learn to live by faith’… hmm! He’s a guy in his forties and I’ve been living by faith for 40 years.! If I’m honest, it was hugely dishonouring and insulting! God’s wonderful though – he came up trumps every month so I didn’t have to even delay the rent 🙂
- wondering where I’d go after Gravesend (isn’t that just an awful name for a town? – I used to think that when I was a boy listening to the football results when they’d announce the ‘Southern League’ scores!)- there were a few places that seemed to be on the horizon (I DID wonder if one would be Colombia, but not this time!). Thinking it would be one place, then God hi-jacking my plans (!) and bringing me here to Wales – there are so many prophecies about Wales right now, and so much expectation, it’s exciting to be here to be a part of what God is going to do.
- renting a house through Air BnB for the next 3 weeks that is owned by the neighbours – extreme new agers, with books titled ‘Healing by Magic’ and similar – probably more occultists than new-agers!
- Most of my home is stored in a friend’s garage: and the stuff I asked the removal men to bring here for the next month or months, they mostly didn’t – including most of my clothes! If you hear on the news of a naked limping overweight walking round Wales, it might well be me….
- Then not really knowing where I’ll be staying/living after that – but I’ve been here before, and God’s always kept his promise from 40 years ago: ‘Trust me for your home, security, and income’.
So, despite the spiritual battle that was the last location, I’m really excited to be in THIS spiritual battle for a nation that has revival history – astonishing history – and the promise from God through countless people that Wales is on his agenda again….
A lovely friend from South London sent me this verse a couple of days ago – Job 36:16:
He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
That is a wonderful encouragement and blessing!
Now to let these knees recover from 36 stairs for 6 months, and there’ll be no stopping me again….
Up until 1971, I thought I was living on ‘ok’ Christian life (when I look back, a lot of my ‘Christianity’ was pretense as a teenager at school) and was an active part of a great Youth Group in Heathfield, then it moved to Mayfield, East Sussex. I thought I was doing fine: my friend Andy and I had gone to the youth group from our homes in Eastbourne, feeling that the ‘Lord was leading us there’ – when truthfully, we’d heard there were a lot of pretty girls in the group, and Eastbourne – then – was a ‘cemetery with lights’ or ‘God’s waiting room’!! It was certainly right there were a large number of pretty girls – a wonderful blessing after what seemed a shortage of them at home!
God moves in mysterious ways, though(!) – and while we both found young ladies (I think without any doubt that Andy won the lottery out of the two of us!) – our ‘purpose’ in going to that group wasn’t God’s reason for us going there. I went as ‘pretend’ Christian, but within a few months at a weekend camp, where the speaker couldn’t come because he was ill, the replacement speaker was God’s plan for my life! A young, then unknown Clive Calver, fresh out of Bible College and filled with the Holy Spirit (which in the early 70’s was almost ‘taboo’ in evangelical churches), saw straight through my pretence and I knew he could see straight through me. To be in honest, in that moment, I absolutely hated him!
A few months on, Clive was going to lead an evangelistic mission – a coffee bar mission (there, that REALLY dates it, doesn’t it!!) and was going to teach us how to start conversations with people about the Lord, and lead them into a relationship with Jesus. Then he said that he wasn’t going to teach us, he was going to show us: ‘Paul, it’s time you got saved!’ If I’d hated Clive at the camp, now I was murderous! But that night, in 1972, I gave my life to Jesus: something I’ve never regretted, needless to say. I was working in a bank at the time, and I hated it – it was boring, monotonous, and I’d ‘done’ the only job that looked interesting – the counter, dealing with customers, and counting money! I stayed in the bank as it was then a good career, 2.5% mortgage (in an era of 14% mortgages!), with a reasonable salary and good pension hundreds of years in the future… Clive wanted me to leave and join Youth for Christ, where he was, by 1975 (I think) National Director, and I knew it was what God wanted, but I didn’t for the reasons I’ve just mentioned! So I argued with God for 4 years (I’m sure no one reading this has ever argued with God over a call on their life!). So God intervened again and moved me to another branch of the bank, which I hated with a 100% passion, so I demanded another move – to an even worse branch with an unbelievably awful manager (I won’t say where or who!!) – who insisted you give him 300% of your time and effort. So I finally caved in to God, and quit at the end of 1978…. Youth for Christ it was!
Would I go back? Not on your life! Was I living significantly in the bank? Not in a million years! Had I any idea when I started working for YFC in East Sussex where it would lead? Not in the slightest! I still had a house (though by now my salary had gone down the £0, no pension, and my mortgage to 15% (as it was a re-mortgage from the bank). Within about 4 weeks, my car – a wonderful(NOT!) diahrrea-coloured Austin Maxi (remember them? Remember that colour – only the dreadful Maxi, Marina, and Allegro were that colour! And as cars they were all as bad as each other!) – ‘blew up’ in Hailsham High Street, a wonderful sound of broken metal pieces hitting the road and a black river behind the car flowing down the road…. How could I do the job without a car? Well, God had that one up his sleeve, too: I was given an almost new Chrysler Alpine within a couple of weeks, which was an incredible blessing.
The desire to live a much more significant life was growing inside rapidly: you only get one life. Why spend it in insignificance? After 4 years came 9 months at a Christian Training Centre, then a move to become a homegroup leader, followed by Elder, followed by Youth Pastor at a church on the south coast (out of which came an event known as Cutting Edge, which became so big, and ‘spawned’ the wonderful worship band Delirious. Just as Cutting Edge was ‘taking off’ God hijacked me again (I so wanted to stay with Cutting Edge!) and said – ‘Hey, you, it’s to the four corners of the earth to preach, teach, and pray for the sick for you’.
I argued with God again! Didn’t want to do that – I’d never travelled, didn’t like foreign food, and didn’t have any money. A problem to God? Drat, no!! For 6 weeks and 9 prophetic words I told God he’d got the wrong person, but after the 9th, I realised God wasn’t going to shut up, so I said ‘Ok, Lord, I’ll go, anywhere except Africa or India!’. Don’t ever tell God what you don’t want to do or don’t want to go! Within 12 hours, 5 invitations – 2 to France (not such a problem as I loved baguette, cheese, and wine!), one to Hong Kong (not a problem as I love shopping and I knew HK was great for shopping, especially for gadgets! – but God was oh so sneaky on this one!), and two to Ghana (aarrgghh!). Ghana was first… thank you God, thank you very, very much!
I fell in love not just with a country but a continent, and saw wonderful things happen there, and in teaching at Youth with Mission schools, found a good number of students encouraged to go into ministry themselves planting churches in the bush region of Ghana, God’s sneaky trick with Hong Kong mostly took me into China, which I’d NEVER had agreed to if I’d known – but China changed my life forever, spending time with pastors living in revival and miracles, and meeting ex-dead people (resurrected by God with the expectation of the pastors that it had to happen as it said it in the Bible!), which grabbed me with a passion to see the same things happen wherever I went. I remember saying to God as I left China for the first time, ‘God I have to see these things happen, and I don’t care what it costs me’….
It HAS cost – a lot – not just financial, but in every other conceivable way. Would I go back? Never! When you’ve seen legs grow (from nothing to a full leg, not just popping down an inch or so!), when you’ve seen thousands and thousands healed all over the world, when you’ve seen the dead come back to life, thousands and thousands find faith in Jesus, lives transformed, churches planted, missionaries released into many parts of the world, had God provide in order to go to 111 countries (most of them multiple times – like Colombia 89, Romania 129, Mexico 35 and many more) – and when you bear in mind I come from a family that have had many serious illnesses and never liked travelling, and would prefer – probably – to die of starvation than eat rice and dal in India, or cow’s eyes and lips in Mexico, or cat and dog in China…. was so sick myself until I was six doctors didn’t think I’d live, was celiac until (much to my mum’s horror) eating sausages, beans, and chips a number of weeks in a row at a friend’s house, and when France laying on a sun-soaked beach in July would have been my ‘extreme’ travel choice, it’s been an amazing journey so far, and it’s going to get more amazing as the next years unfold…. and we can ALL do it……
Thank God he uses the foolish things of the world – and the fearful, who after kicking and screaming choose to be obedient… whoever would want to live a life of insignificance? I can genuinely say that I don’t want ‘fame’ significance, or ‘big platforms’ to preach from – just be great in the kingdom in God’s eyes, not people’s, by being the servant of all.
How many of us find ‘offence’ a hard thing to deal with? I doubt any of us find it easy – especially when you look at Matthew 24:10-12 – and betrayal, especially when it is by people you’d have considered friends – is particularly hard to deal with. I’ve been battling with that very issue in recent months – from three people – all of them betrayed me, using things in accusation or lies that they themselves have major problems with in their own lives. I know that in my life I’ve probably done the same thing to other people (though I hope never betrayal) born out of something I needed God to deal with in me. The three recent occurrences I’ve battled with are from one person I’ve known 35 years, one 20 years, and one much more recent. like in 8 years or so. But boy it hurts. Even when God’s shown you that stones being thrown at you are being hurled by people who live in glass houses…
I’ve been asking God to deal with that ‘instant’ offence that rises up without warning so that it doesn’t take root. That might sound easy, but if you’ve been betrayed or accused, it’s much easier said than done! I’ve forgiven the people concerned, believe (and feel) that I’m not carrying any offence (one was an unbelievable email from someone I’ve served for a number of years that I’m praying how to respond to as the accusations are all to do with his attitude to money giving him the right to control the beneficiary – and who’s not responded to nine ‘olive branch’ messages in 8 months). I so want to be like Jesus who, even in the middle of his crucifixion, chose not to take offence,
The marvellous compassionate preacher/teacher/writer Francis Frangipane says this:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).
God has a new heart for us, a heart that cannot be offended; it is an “unoffendable” heart. Beloved, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it’s not a little thing. Indeed, Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, many Christians will be so offended by the sin and lawlessness in the world that they fall away from the faith.
Listen carefully to the Lord’s warning:
“Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).
“Many” will “be offended.” The result? The love of “many” will grow cold. My prayer is that we will hear His words with holy fear.
When we allow an offense to remain and germinate in our hearts, it causes serious spiritual consequences. In the above verse Jesus named three dangerous results: betrayal, hatred and cold love. When we are offended with someone, even someone we care for, we must go to them. If we do not talk to them, we will begin to talk about them. We betray that relationship, whispering maliciously behind their back to others, exposing their weaknesses and sins.
We may mask our betrayal by saying we are just looking for advice or counsel, but when we look back, we see we have spoken negatively about the person to far too many people. Our real goal was not to get spiritual help for ourselves but to seek revenge toward the one who offended us. How is such action not a manifestation of hatred? For an offended soul, cold love, betrayal and hatred are a walk into darkness.
People don’t stumble over boulders; they stumble over stones, relatively small things. It may be that the personality of someone in authority bothers us, and soon we are offended. Or, a friend or family member fails to meet our expectations, and we take an offense into our soul. Beloved, if we will “endure to the end,” we will have to confront the things that bother us.
When Jesus warns that we need endurance, He is saying that it is easier to begin the race than finish it. Between now and the day you die, there will likely be major times of offense that you will need to overcome. You might be in such a time right now. Do not minimize the danger of harboring an offense!
No one plans on falling away; no one ever says, “Today, I think I’ll try to develop a hardened, bitter heart.” Such things enter our souls through stealth. It is only naiveté that assumes it couldn’t happen to us. I know many people who consistently become offended about one thing or another. Instead of dealing with the offense, praying about it and turning the issue over to God, they carry it in their soul until its weight disables their walk with God.
You may be doing fine today, but I guarantee you, tomorrow something will happen that will inevitably disappoint or wound you; some injustice will strike you, demanding you retaliate in the flesh. Will you find more love, and hence, continue your growth toward Christlikeness? Or will you allow that offense to consume your spiritual life?
There’s a great book by Rick Renner – ‘You can get over it: how to confront, forgive, and move on’ (https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Can-Get-Over-Confront/dp/0977945928/ref=sr_1_19?crid=1TV2IKIOW77A9&keywords=rick+renner+books&qid=1561549901&s=gateway&sprefix=rick+renner%2Caps%2C645&sr=8-19)
which is very helpful. I’m re-reading the ‘confront’ part again and asking God if I should address the issues, but feeling – even as I write – ‘that Jesus opened not his mouth’. Better, perhaps to ‘move on’ from those ‘friendships’ (‘friendly fire’ isn’t a joke – it’s exceedingly painful) – much better ones have replaced them with people who don’t have a ‘control’ agenda, whereas the others did. I cannot understand why anyone would WANT to control another person or people – when love doesn’t control, doesn’t manipulate – those things are rooted in the Jezebel Spirit, (which I mentioned a few times in recent posts here and on Facebook because her activity is stepping up big time in this era). Read Revelation 2:20 if you want to read what some churches ‘look’ like, yet who they tolerate, and God is not pleased to say the least!
If you’ve suffered from betrayal, I want to you to know there’s a way through it. Jesus knows how you feel – he experienced it – and ask him to give you the power to confront (if you need to, but in love), forgive, and move on. It doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with the person/people/church again, but you’re free as you’ve forgiven. And that’s the key.
Back in the 1980’s I had the privilege (? – terrifying before I went!) of going to China for the first time, and then a number of times, ostensibly to take Bibles to a nation where there are churches of 10’s of thousands of members with ONE Bible between them. I thought about my home back in the UK ad tried to a mental count up of the number of Bibles in my house. With ‘old’ ones and newer ones, different translations, etc., I realised it was probably around 40. Watch this short video, and then read on…. (you might have to copy and paste the link into your browser – it’ll be worth the ‘effort!)…
In the video you’ll have heard about how pastors went for 13 hours by train for a three-day seminar, sitting on hard floors, no air conditioning, and the preacher/teacher spoke non-stop for 9 hours. He’d not taken enough Bibles to give everyone a copy, but in China, vast numbers of people have memorised large parts of the Bible – in some cases – ALL of it – (Samuel Lamb – or Lín Xiàn-gāo 林獻羔 to give him his Chinese name: Wang Ming Dao, the father of the House Church movement in China to name but two). I had the honour of meeting Brother Yun, too (刘振营; Liú Zhènyíng) – who is well known in the west now as the Heavenly Man. When Yun was in prison, where he fasted without food and water for 74 days, he was frequently tortured, and often put in solitary confinement as he refused to stop preaching and praying for people. If you were to read his story written long before ‘The Heavenly Man’ was published, in ‘Lilies among Thorns’, you’ll read this, in Chapter 6 (precied for space!). He was beaten with electric batons, ropes, and leather whips until his body was cut open and he had wounds everywhere. He was in intense pain. He was then put in solitary confinement for 100 days: a room a mere 12 square feet (not 12 feet square! My maths was always my worst subject at school – well, after woodwork and sciences! but I reckon that’s 4 feet by 3feet, or 1.3 metres by 1 metre maximum)). It had been closed up for a year, was very damp, and the smell of mildew was overwhelming. The room has one very dim light. He heard a bird chirping outside the cell, and asked God when he would be free like that bird. God spoke 1 Peter 2:21 to him: ‘For even hereunto were you called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in his steps’. Yun says he fell to his knees, crying out ‘Lord, I am willing, willing to follow in your footsteps.’ His hear was consumed with love, joy and peace, so he sang. He’d not read the Bible for days, his hunger for one was intense, and he prayed to the Lord for one. He had a dream in which he saw the handcuffs fall off and he was holding a Bible and reading it. Yun woke, and the handcuffs fell off….
Next morning, one of his chief persecutors pushed a Bible through the lattice window – wow, was THAT unlikely! He usually tore Bibles up, but he was giving one to Yun. ‘Yun wept with joy. He studied the Bible day and night, and in the SHORT period of 90 days left in solitary confinement, he read the entire Bible through, but memorised ALL of the Scriptures from Hebrews to Revelation, a total of 55 chapters.
I’m the first to confess that my knowledge of Scripture has a load of gaps…. I know quite a few Scriptures but please, don’t always ask me where they are! Many I DO know I learned in Children’s Church at Victoria Drive Baptist Church (later to be Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne), Sunday School, Christian Endeavour, and Covenanters, in the late 50s to the late 60’s, doing ‘Sword Drill’ – our Children’s Church leader, the lovely Alice Dowding, was an avid ‘Sword Drill’ leader – where you stood with your ‘sword’ (Bible) under your arm, a verse would be quoted, the instruction ‘DRAW’ would be given, and the first to find it would be so chuffed. Verses in books like Obadiah and Zephaniah were particularly challenging! I remember many scriptures (KJV of course, then!) – but the Chinese take it to a whole new level.
One pastor told me that in their cells, they had (generally) a filthy toilet, but each was connected to the same main sewer pipe, so they’d use their clothes to soak up the water, and then, with their heads down the pan, would preach to the person in the next cell if they weren’t saved, or recite Scriptures which they’d write down, then memorise….and so the Bible would be learned and the gospel would be preached with heads down the filthy toilet…..
Sort of puts sword drill and my own personal knowledge of the Bible into the shade somewhat…
I’ve just acquired Rolland & Heidi Baker’s new devotional book, ‘Joyful Surrender’. I love the Bakers, I love that at the base of EVERY miracle they see – and they see thousands, not just in Mozambique – is love and care for people. It’s something I’ve wanted to be the basis of the 40+ years that I’ve had the honour of serving God for: Larry Norman sang years ago Without love you ain’t nothing, you ain’t nothing without love’.
For me, the desire for ‘status’ or ‘position’ or ‘recognition’ mean nothing: I’ve always asked God to keep me from being ‘well known’ – once you are, it changes you, and changes people’s perception of how ‘accessible’ you are to them.
I’ve met the Bakers a few times – and had the privilege of serving on ministry teams where they’ve been the ministers. It reminded me that on one occasion, every time I prayed for someone (who God very graciously healed, but then he’s promised to!), Rolland (who as well as being a mighty man of God is also great fun – other things I’ve aspired to!) came up to me, with fingers together like a gun, and ‘shot’ me with the Holy Spirit, sending me flying across the room or crashing to the floor! When I asked him why he kept doing it and seemed to ‘pick me out’, he gave me one of the best answers that has stayed with me ever since: ‘Love the way you minister to people, and you’re far too much fun to leave alone!’.
He couldn’t have said anything better to me if he’d spent hours working on it!!