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.
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.
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…
Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a church I’ve been in close relationship with for well over 30 years. Not a big church – to be honest, I love smaller churches, always have – in Addlestone, Surrey. I had a couple of friends with me, as I knew they’d both have things to contribute to the meeting – and they did: Thanney was over from Northern Ireland to stay with me, and do any ‘decorating repairs to the flat/apartment as you can’t even leave a nail hole where you’ve put a picture up! – and another great friend who is prophetic has words of knowledge, is very discerning… It was truly a lovely time!
Thanney spoke early in my ‘slot’ about miracles he’d seen in Cali, Colombia – on his first visit which was primarily to build (he’s a builder, strangely enough!!) – and wanted to SEE a miracle and ended up seeing God use him to do many! Him telling his own stories is so much more effective than me telling someone else’s testimonies – and it raised faith a lot! The elderly blind lady (born blind) with top-to-toe osteoarthritis getting her sight and complete freedom from her pain, a lovely young couple who’d not been able to have children for many years finding they were expecting almost immediately…. We prayed for a good number of people, and God wonderfully healed the arthritic shoulders of a lovely Sri Lankan bother, Pinto: a growing and painful hernia for a young man Josh, an avid and excellent competiton swimmer, for whom the hernia was very painful – the pain went, and the hernia shrank almost totally: a number of others healed too, but perhaps the most exciting was for a young mum (I’ll withhold her name) whose home was afflicted and tormented by occultic spirits, causing a lot of fear in her children, abnormally fearful nightmares for them, and general negative disruption to the whole family. Richard, the pastor, suggested that the kids write Psalm 4:8 out and stick it beside their beds (they’re like 3 and 4 years old 🙂 ) – and they slept unbroken nights and they kept speaking it out until they went to sleep…. one of the kids is going to be dedicated, and mum said the whole atmosphere in the home had changed. The kids were even up and dressed and ready for school on Monday which never happens.
It’s so wonderful when God changes the atmosphere, and especially brings peace to kids…. I’m sure there’ll be more positive stories from that one as the days go by!
From the same meeting, I had this email from a lovely Nigerian brother, James:
- Hi Paul,
Greetings. Just wanted to say hi and to appreciate what I believe is a God-ordained contact between my family and you plus your team partners ‘Ron’ (my apology if I got the name wrong)(Thanney!) today at the Kings Church.
Thanks for blessing our hearts with the wonderful and inspiring testimonies that Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forevermore.
May the Lord continue to prosper His good work through your ministry.
Kind regards ,
THANK YOU, JESUS!!!
I try to take one day at a time. Looking ahead often makes me feel overwhelmed. I can’t look at tomorrow’s challenges with today’s grace. But I remind myself that all the grace I need for tomorrow will be given to me WHEN I GET THERE. Jesus put it like this,“ “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Jesus just has a way with words doesn’t he?
In recent weeks/months – probably the last 18 months since I wasn’t able to walk from January to November last year, I’ve taken this verse ‘on board’ more than ever before. I managed, with help, to get to preach, including going to Colombia – all the way in a wheelchair (apart from the flights!!). I’m eternally very very grateful to God for the lovely brother, Robert Miller, who prayed for me to be able to walk again, at the end of October 2018 – in the months leading up to that each day certainly did have enough trouble of its own! When you live alone and can’t walk, until that hits you, you just don’t think what massive limitations drop on you – everything from getting a glass of water (or mug of coffee :)! to getting food to going to the bathroom to going shopping (I can’t) – I’ve never been so thankful for being able to shop online as I have during this past 18 months! It did help a great deal not eating for long stretches as I lost a lot of weight! – and as soon as mobility returned, God made it clear that I should move.
For me, it’s been a privilege to know just WHY God called me here, even though my time here is nearly ended: to be honest, it’s a great relief, as it’s been a constant spiritual battle, so much so that the enemy’s attack (in the ‘form’ of the Jezebel spirit – yes, its very, very real!) – not only on those God sent me here for but also on me, has been the most intense I’ve ever experienced in my 40-odd years of ministry. I’m looking forward very much much to where God is moving me to next, though humanly I can’t afford another move! God seems to be moving ahead of me with a potential miracle, but of course, until a miracle happens, you can’t ‘predict’ it or budget for it!
I thought I’d worked out where my new home would be, but God hi-jacked my thinking – as he often has over the years! – and I’ve learned in 40-50 years that to argue with him is fruitless! I had a number of options in my mind, but discounted a couple because of ‘geography’ (like distance from airports, accessibility to the rest of the U.K. etc., a big consideration for me), and guess where it seems that God is taking me??! It looks as though I’m heading for the ‘land of my fathers’ – and in reality the birthplace of my wonderful dad, Wales – so I’m already 50% Welsh – and interestingly, I’m told to a town that was never touched by the Welsh revival and that threw John Wesley out when he went to preach there! – Welshpool (the first 5 letters are a bit of a giveaway as to where it is!).
Why Welshpool? Well, why not? It’s close to England, close to Snowdonia. I’ve been there a few times to speak, at their lovely ‘Filling Station’ meetings, and that because of very long time friends Jonathan and Kathryn, who’ve been there about 17 years, but we spent a long time together in Worthing in the late 80’s & 90’s, and Kathryn and I have a shared unbelievable miracle in that she was the driver of the car in the well-document car-crash in 1994 when her Metro was crushed between the two 38 ton trucks….Where God REALLY got me I think, is in the fact that what they – and others who have become good friends are establishing there is a fellowship of spirit-filled believers based on an Acts 2 style of church who love and care not only for each other, but others in their area, praying and seeing God change lives. It’s simple, straightforward, and very Biblical. Jonathan clinched it when he messaged me the other day with this –
- Fantastic- I hadn’t said this to you but several years ago when I used to pray with Hazel and Richard interceding for the town and area I had a thought – a God thought- I said to Hazel- it would be great if my friend Paul could come here – and you did with the filling stations- but I think there was more to it than that😀😀
To know that for several years friends have been praying for what now seems to be happening is SO wonderfully affirming, and confirmatory by God. I’ve longed for many years to be in a ‘church’ that is a community of love and care, which is SO attractive to people who are not-yet-Christians, If ever the world – including the UK – needed love and care, it’s now. Back in the 1970’s I was in a church (that began as a youth group!) that grew and grew into a wonderful caring church because the leaders, the lovely Brian & Penny Hill, LIVED love and care, and we were in and out of their home and each others’ homes constantly. A church in Hailsham in the late 70’s and 80’s was like that, too. Love and care breeds love and care. A homegroup and youth group I had the privilege of leading from about 1985 was a bit like that, with the folk often arriving 2 hours before the meeting ‘started’ (though when they arrived, that was ‘church’ starting!).
Without love and care being the foundation of a group of people – or in our individual lives with friends – you don’t have church, and all the modern ‘buzz’ words like ‘apostolic kingdom church’ mean nothing when love isn’t the base foundation. Of course the infamous James Jones began ‘well’ – as a charismatic Assemblies of God pastor who was a ‘control’ freak (one of the key characteristics of the Jezebel spirit) whose control ended up with more than 900 people committing suicide in Guyana, and murder of those who went to expose him. I think Jesus made love the essential foundation, making it abundantly clear numerous times in the gospels, and he didn’t even establish a church, leaving behind him a community of people who loved and cared. Yes, there ARE apostles, but I think we’ve ‘bandied’ titles around too easily in the last 30 years: the legendary Tony Campolo – Doctor of theology, sociology, University professor and so much more – preaches ‘Do you want titles, or testimonies?’ I know without a doubt what I want – TESTIMONIES!! We’ve become obsessed with titles, along with the ‘importance’ of ‘our’ church – and most of the people claiming titles for themselves are not what they call themselves! I heard of one church recently where one of the leaders said their church was an apostolic kingdom church, but if you want to love and care for people, and be loved and cared for by the people, it’s the wrong place. I’d have to say to that person they don’t HAVE a church, they have a ‘buzzword’ club, I pray that it isn’t heading for ‘Guyana’ status…. 🙁 . ‘They’ll know you’re my disciples by the way you LOVE one another’ someone very famous once said!!
When I saw this quote from the lovely Derek Prince recently, I was just going to re-post it on Facebook, but it carries a very powerful message for the church today, so in my own amateurish theological understanding, I felt I wanted to write a post here instead.
For me, the church should be a place of safety, love, care, protection – as well as a place for corporate worship, communion, prayer, and teaching. A place where – out of care and love, the desire and passion to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’ comes. I grew up in a ‘hymn-prayer-preach sandwich sort of church, until going to a youth group at another church about 20 miles away in the late 1960’s. My friend Andy and I felt that God was leading us there, well, there were a large number of lovely-looking single girls our age (!!!), whereas where we lived (then – no name mentioned!) it was best described as ‘God’s Waiting room’ or ‘a cemetery with lights’. (I think it’s changed a bit in the last 50 years!).
The Youth Group, led by a wonderful couple – Brian & Penny Hill – opened their home to a large – and growing – number of young people a number of times in the week (think: teenagers/nice home/damage/stuff spilled!), and were almost always available if we needed to talk. I even played squash regularly with Brian. I owe so much of who I am and what I do to Brian and Penny, and people they brought in to teach us, help us, equip us, and send us ‘out’ – like Clive and Ruth Calver, Graham Kendrick, Ishmael, Gerald Coates. I went from being a churchian to a full-blown Holy Spirit filled Christian very quickly. The love, care, and commitment of Brian and Penny – I look back now – and see it was almost legendary, as so many churches are focused on size, reputation, The youth group ‘grew’ into a thriving church – not huge, but then I really prefer small churches, as you can get to know and love people, and get to be known and loved. It was a group in unity, diverse in the people in it but with a tremendous love from and for Brian & Penny which filtered down to us as individuals. If you were hurting, you’d get help: if you were sick, you’d get prayer (I was healed there of a spinal birth defect – a hole in my spine where there shouldn’t have been a hole, resulting in constant life-long (about 20 years at that stage) back-ache. Somehow managed to play rugby through my teens (from 11, actually, to about 21, to a reasonable standard). Through Clive Calver, a man named George Tarleton came to the fellowship, prayed for me, could see my back was out of line, and in seconds it was healed. A visit to the hospital for x-rays/scans showed no hole there. And this was before healing was ‘famous’! I’d already been healed of being celiac. This would have been about 1974, and the big nationwide charismatic renewal happened a couple of years later.
For me, I’d give a great deal and go a long way, to be in an Acts 2:42ff church like that was. For me, the priority of church is to love and be loved, care and be cared for, and to serve. Relationships have always been a major ‘must’ for me, and many of my friendships go back well over 30+ years, some many more years than that. Quite a few of my current friends on Facebook (and yes, we’re in touch, not just a number!) were in that church.
- John 17:21-23 – The Passion Translation, says this:
- I pray for them all to be joined together as one[a] even as you and I, Father, are joined together as one. I pray for them to become one with us so that the world will recognize that you sent me. For the very glory you have given to me I have given them so that they will be joined together as one and experience the same unity that we enjoy. You live fully in me and now I live fully in them so that they will experience perfect unity, and the world will be convinced that you have sent me, for they will see that you love each one of them with the same passionate love that you have for me.
God, I pray that Jesus’s prayer will be answered…. Church, in my non-academic understanding of theology, is a place that should first and foremost should be like Acts 2:42ff…. Where people go and are loved, cared for accepted, where ‘devotion to communion and prayer’ were the PRIORITY (if I remember, Jesus said at the last supper ‘do this EVERY time you meet, in memory of me’ so if we don’t do it we’re disobeying his request and relegating him to a place of less importance, right?) – because of the way they ‘did’ church, they saw signs and wonders and were filled with awe…. When anyone had a need it was met by the others, including selling property and possessions to do it – do our properties and possessions possess us rather than we possess them? Is our future security more important than someone else’s need NOW? Or do we trust the God who provides for ALL of our needs to help someone in need today? Because of the way church was then, they had favour with ALL the people and the kingdom grew because they loved each other as more were saved every day…
Jesus said in John 13:35: (NIV) “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I’m so grateful that my whole life was coloured by Brian & Penny Hill, Clive and Ruth Calver, and Graham Kendrick, in those amazing years around the 70’s. Thank you, all of you – but especially to you, Brian (Penny went to enjoy the great Youth Group with Jesus a few years ago) – for loving us, despite all the frustrations you must have gone through – into a place where Jesus and each other were the central focus of our lives. I know, that 50 years on, Jesus still IS the central focus of my life, and for that, through you, I am eternally grateful.
Since what has turned out to be a temporary move to North Kent (the owner of my flat has decided to sell it, and my initial tenancy was only for 6 months anyway), I’m on the road again in another sense! I’m asking God where he wants me to move to (with a degree of urgency in my voice!) – I’ve begun to see the fulfillment of what was prophesied over me last year that there would be an advance and increase in what God does. As always with those things, which is a privilege, honouring, and challenging, comes a backlash from the enemy.
Since being here, I’ve never, in 40 years in serving God, experienced ‘enemy onslaught’ like recent months: from unbelievable pain in my knees: to betrayal: to theft: being on the receiving end of curses from ‘friends’ (do any of you know what being wounded by ‘friendly fire’ feels like?) to loss of possessions: and spiritual attack like I’ve never known. I’m thrilled with what I’ve seen God do, and – this may sound to some of you – the blessing of having someone with me on a ministry trip who said ‘I saw how much it cost you to do what you do physically (as well as spiritually) today’.
I’ve had the privilege of standing with friends in their own spiritual onslaught and seeing them come through it following a similar battle I fought a few decades back. For many years I’ve known about, and done battle with, a particular spirit – Jezebel – and these months have been a constant battle against her. You remember she wanted to destroy Elijah after his amazing miracle and faith on Mount Carmel. You may be among those who think this sort of stuff doesn’t happen today, that it’s all a bit freaky: I want to tell you it’s very real! Friday was a very REAL day I can tell you!
About 15 years ago, in North Dakota, I lived a little in the fulfilment of a dream! I’ve always wanted to go across the United States in a Winnebago or American Eagle motorhome: I was in a 60 feet long American Eagle, incredible vehicle, living my dream if only in the Dakotas! It was fabulous! After an amazing meeting the night before, I woke next morning totally paralysed down my left side. The evening before a young man, William, had been miraculously healed, he was born with his feet splayed at right angles to his legs, and the ‘shame’ of not being able to do sport – especially in the USA – had caused him to have acute eczema. His mum turned out to be a witch, and cursed me for praying and for healing her son – bizarre or what??!! The Pastor I was with, Jim Samuelson, with whom I was on a preaching ‘road trip’ in the Dakotas, took me to the local hospital, where I was xrayed, blood tested, and scanned within a very short time. The doctors said that I’d had a number of TIAs (transient ischemic attacks – mini-strokes): the local pastors prayed for me after I was told I’d be hospitalised for a while, and Jim phoned ahead to a church we were heading for to get them to pray, where they two amazing men of God speaking, Bill Johnson and Bobby Conner, who prayed for me too: two hours later I walked out of the hospital to go and preach that afternoon having not been able to move for about 4 hours after I woke up. It was a wonderful feeling to arrive at the church and have Bill and Bobby lead a verbal and clapped thank you to God for a miracle….
Something very similar happened in Colombia about 5 years ago, after a wonderful day of miracles in a hospital: the Irish and French team I had with me thought I was mucking about when I couldn’t walk straight, was talking gobbledegook (some people think I do that all the time!!), then realised it was serious, prayed for me, and it went……
Yesterday, I was talking with a friend, having gone through a particularly tough series of ‘attacks’, and seen God do some lovely things, when I realised I’d started speaking odd, couldn’t make my mouth work properly one side, heard myself talking about someone cooking me a leg of lamb (!!dream on!!) and could see on my friend’s face utter astonishment… Another TIA had struck – I’m absolutely convinced it was Jezebel-instigated. Being told you look weird by people with you is odd (but don’t I always?) It lasted about 15 minutes, then I ‘heard’ my own spirit speak out loud and with total clarity, commanding Jezebel to get off of me in Jesus’s name, out of my flat/apartment, leave these friends alone, in a totally lucid voice, and she went… It was a weird few minutes to say the least… But we have total authority over such attacks because of Jesus and his victory over evil and the enemy… We don’t realise the authority and power that we ALL have – when Paul wrote of Jesus in Colossians 1:15ff – he said in verse 19 that ‘God was pleased to put all of his fulness into Jesus’ In John 20:21, when Jesus is just about to go back to be with his Father, he said ‘and as the Father sent me, so I send you’…. In John 14:12 Jesus said we’d do what he’d do and GREATER things than He did. Do we REALLY believe these verses? I know that I do, and want to believe them more and more as the years roll on.
I’m so grateful for people who intercede for me, and pray for the things I do. I covet more intercessors! One lovely lady in Scotland, Pamela, messaged me today and said “I draw a line around you that can no longer be invaded by your enemy and enemies. Angels are guarding you and your life can no longer be threatened. I also pray rejection off of you and all effects of the traumas you have been through throughout your entire life. Be healed in this area too. New things are ahead. A new ministry. Not a different one but a newness in your healing ministry. I believe the Lord is going to open your eyes to deeper things that will help you to see into people’s circumstances in a way you haven’t before and this will bring about more healings. More significant healings. Miracles.” Bless you, Pamela… I didn’t have chance to let anyone know while it was happening Friday, but I do know that there are people, in many nations – for which I thank God – who pray for me. THE BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD!!!! (And what an amazing song THAT is that we don’t sing anymore!! – bless you for writing it, Jamie Owens-Collins!!).