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Ministry trip to Cape Town, 14 – 22 April 2012

Gill and I travel to beautiful Cape Town on Saturday 14 April to minister in Christian Life Church in Camps Bay. It’s one of most beautiful places in the Cape, and on the planet! I will tell them this: when we all die we’re going to Camps Bay to be with them because that is the Kingdom of God, heaven on earth!! When they die they’re going nowhere – they’re staying right where they are!!

Anyway, the church has invited me to teach the sunday services for 15 and 22 April – and other meetings during the week – on healing. We will focus on equipping ordinary Christians to minister healing in the name of Jesus by the compassionate power of the Holy Spirit. We will also meet with their leadership team and staff to further enable healing ministry in their congregation.

I’ve also been invited to teach on Sunday night (15th) on Praying the Psalms, at Grapevine Christian Fellowship in Durbanville. And I will be meeting with a Vineyard church leadership team for some consultation during the week. As if this is not enough, Gill and I have been invited to lead a quiet day of retreat, prayer and meditation in Hout Bay from 0930 – 1600 on Saturday 21 April. The New Life Vineyard in Pinelands is organizing this retreat. We return home Sunday afternoon 22 April.

So, after the disappointment of our trip to Pakistan being cancelled due to no visas being issued, we are SO looking forward to this time of ministry. Please will you pray for us that God’s power will advance the Kingdom in the lives of people and churches, for God’s glory! Thanks so much!

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Story of the Pakistan Visa!

Late yesterday afternoon (Thursday 29 March 2012), after a long wait and “assertive” discussion with a consulate representative at the Embassy, I went home without a visa. Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) had not sent through approval to Pretoria Pakistan Embassy for our visa, despite our visa application being in the Embassy for four weeks ago, and despite the inviting pastor, Sarwar Masih in Lahore, going to their Ministry of Interior with letters and copies of passports, etc. It’s rather disappointing.

We were scheduled to fly today (Friday 30 May), but have now cancelled the ministry trip, despite Sarwar Masih having done posters and organised the whole pastor’s conference, etc. Our friend and Vineyard colleague from Norway, Odd-Ivar, who planned to join us as part of the team, will arrive in Lahore on tomorrow and will participate in the conference.

I found the Pakistan Embassy a shambles of disorganization and rudeness. I had been personally three times to the Embassy and made well over ten phone calls over four weeks. Yesterday they said my passport was locked in the office of the commissioner who had left the Embassy early and no one had keys to go in and get the passport. I waited for over an hour and talked to no fewer than three people, and then made a phone call to a Pakistan official, before a senior consular official came.

He explained that Islamabad had not yet sent a reply, so the visa was not approved in time for our trip – after having our passports and application for four weeks – have you ever heard of such a thing? I expressed my strong disagreement and dissatisfaction with their process, then simply insisted in getting our passports and begin our hour and half drive home – two hours in traffic! Anyway, after further insistence on my part they managed to get our passports and I came home.

Thanks for the prayers. I am relieved its all over, but sad that my son and I will miss our ministry trip to Pakistan. And I’m sorry for Sarwar and the pastors there, but I feel relief. God’s in charge and I believe he will work this for our good. Part of the good is that I have some uninterrupted time this coming week – when I was supposed to be in Pakistan – to work on my book “Doing Spirituality – Introducing Christian Spirituality as Discipleship to Jesus and his Kingdom”. I plan to write fourteen chapters and right now I am at the end of chapter six. I’m excited to have a week to write, it’s like heaven for me!! I always think of the athlete in the movie Chariots of Fire who, when he ran, put his head back and “felt the pleasure of God”. When have uninterrupted time to write I put my head down and I feel the pleasure of God – it’s one of the things I was made for!

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Pakistan Ministry Trip and Visa

Hello friends! This Friday morning (30 March 2012) my son and I are scheduled to fly to Lahore, Pakistan to do a pastor’s training conference and some church meetings, returning on 8 April. The snag is our visa has not yet been approved!! I submitted it over three weeks ago and there has been a hold up! So please pray as we try to get permission from the Ministry of Interior in Pakistan. We need to hear by Thursday or else we will have to call it off. Thanks so much and God bless!

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Report on Pastor’s & Leader’s Prayer Retreat

I was privileged to lead a pastors and leaders retreat from 25 to 27 January, 2012. My Vineyard colleagues in the NECSA region asked me to lead the retreat on “Entering the New Year – Praying the Psalms”. What an honor for me to do that! We had 32 people in attendance. See the photos of some of the heavy dudes who came!

I gave 5 meditation inputs with handouts for personal reflection, journalling and prayer. I dealt with issues like how we enter and plan the new year, how to deal with busyness and “the tyranny of the urgent”, and above all, how to make prayer a practical priority to keep our own hearts soft and fragrant as a garden for the Lord. We are first and foremost personal followers of Jesus, working on our own spiritual formation, as leaders of God’s people. Then our primary task as spiritual leaders is the spiritual formation of our people – by inducting and guiding them in the basic practices required for spiritual growth and health. That was the overall focus of the retreat.

We kept silence for the morning and afternoon sessions to best engage in our meditation times, and then the late afternoons and evenings were for relaxation, interaction, sharing and fun! The feedback from those who attended was good – God evidently met with many in meaningful and significant ways!

I am happy to post a disk of the 5 talks (in MP3 format) with the notes and meditation sheets, so that you can set aside time and do the retreat yourself where you are. The talks and notes are self-explanatory; they will guide you through the retreat step by step. All I ask is for you to pay my costs (the disk and postage, etc) by electronic transfer or direct bank deposit. If you email me I will give you all the details.

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Update on Repentance Paper re SA situation

I’m reminded that I did not comment further on the repentance paper that my colleague and I wrote for a possible process in regard to the South African situation. We drafted the paper (see below), but it’s still in process of discussion and decision making with a group of church leaders. However, they have agreed that we publicize what we have written so far. Any later changes or papers will come online as and when they’re finalized.

A Kairos Moment: A Call to Confession & Repentance

“You have planted wickedness and have reaped evil,

You have eaten the fruit of deception and corruption.

Plough up your fallow ground,

Sow righteousness and reap mercy,

For it is time to seek the Lord

Until he comes and rains righteousness on you”

The words of the prophet Hosea (10:12-13) ring true in our ears in South Africa today. We have sown greed and reaped lies. We have said, “It is our time to eat!” But we are eating the fruit of deception and corruption. Where is righteousness and mercy? Where is justice for all? We have reached a kairos moment: It is time to face what is happening and turn to God by ploughing up our hard hearts with confession, repentance and action, to save our nation. God may then come and rain righteousness – the reign of justice – on our land.

Greek kairos means “a time” of impending disaster and/or opportunity for God’s intervention – a miraculous turn around for good. It can go either way depending on how we respond. Carry on as normal? Or intervene? We have reached a “tipping point” of decay due to the corruption of character in leadership and in ordinary South Africans. The way of the leaders is the way of people. We are indeed a corrupt nation! Unless we repent – intervene for a radical turn around – we will come under God’s judgement. Violent social unrest will overtake us all.

The Signs of The Times

Archbishop Desmond Tutu held a press conference on 4th October 2011 in regard to the Dalai Lama visa debacle. With prophetic fury he rebuked the ruling party as “arrogant and disgraceful… worse than the Apartheid government.” It marked a symbolic turning point in the Church–State relationship in particular, and in South Africa in general. As concerned Christian pastors and leaders we stand with Tutu and say, “Watch out! Watch out! I warn you, watch out!”

This prophetic outburst was not the isolated ranting of an old man as some have said. It came after a sustained period of constant revelations of corruption at high levels in government and all sectors of society – with deceptive cover-ups and arrogant denials. This has all but broken the good faith and morale of ordinary citizens. So much good has been done in our new democracy, but it’s fast unraveling. The miracle of 1994, built on the high moral ground and sacrifice of the Nelson Mandelas and Desmond Tutus and others, seems like a distant dream. How have we become so sinfully arrogant and corrupt so quickly?

Jesus said, “interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-4). Beside the culture of entitlement – now unbridled greed and brazen corruption – other dark clouds are coming together, threatening a storm that can destroy our young democracy. Crime and violent-power have become endemic. Every twenty-six seconds a so-called man rapes a woman or child. Sexual trafficking is rife. Moral values and social ethics are in serious crisis. Our liberal laws have empowered a holocaust of abortions. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is overwhelming – surely God weeps? Unresolved issues of race face us on many fronts, the result of a superficial reconciliation. Political reconciliation without meaningful social and economic reconciliation has not worked; e.g. restorative justice, reparations, land restitution, poverty and unemployment, still define themselves along racial lines.

Polarization is once again taking place. Most whites are perceived as having opted out of the project of redressing the past and building a common future, becoming critics from the sideline. Black Economic Empowerment with affirmative action, employment equity, housing for the poor, etc, has not reversed past inequalities. In many instances it has fed nepotism and greed. The poor are not empowered. They cry out for justice. The lack of service delivery because of corrupt and incompetent government officials – local and national – is leading to violent protests. The call of the ANC Youth League to appropriate land without compensation and nationalize the mines, further fuels the fires of unrealistic expectations, white fears, and social unrest.

These are some of the signs… how do we respond to this?

A Call to The Church – Especially its Leaders

As concerned Christian pastors and leaders we believe it must start with us: “It is time for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1Peter 4:17). If we take on symbols of judgment – like wearing black armbands or black clothes, even sackcloth and ashes – and mourn and weep before we come under God’s judgment, then we might avert it. We are in God’s hands; we are not at the mercy of evil. Therefore we should take up the “lament” of Jeremiah… ‘Why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn again in repentance to the LORD. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, “We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us”’  (Lamentations 3:39-42).

How can we pray for our nation, for our government, when we have not confessed and repented from our own sin? What moral authority do we have as the Church in South Africa to speak to the government and the nation? We are compromised by our own sin, by our pride and arrogance, power and lies, anger and violence, lust and immorality, greed and corruption. We mirror society. Our churches are more a copy of our nation than a model of God’s kingdom. Are we, as spiritual leaders, any better than the socio-political leaders? If we confess and repent, God will have mercy and forgive. He will come and rain righteousness on us – the reign of godly and competent leadership, of ethical and good governance as in 1Timothy 2:1-8 (and see Romans 13).

Our focus on spiritual leaders, and then on our churches, does not mean we do not share this vision of intervening in our nation with a broader forum. It’s a matter of reality and priority – the ultimate power and battle is spiritual – God is our savior and no one else, no political party or ideology, or nothing else. Having said that, we do want this kairos call with the attached document to go out to all sectors of society: religious, political, business, labour, educational, community organizations, etc, for awareness, discussion and action.

Proposed Action

If we take up one major sin with confession and repentance, it will overflow to other issues by the conviction and work of the Holy Spirit.

We call on all Church leaders and congregations of Jesus Christ to confess and turn from deception and corruption in our personal lives, in our families, in our local churches, in our places of work and in society in general.

We call on all Church leaders and members to be radical about this matter: To disclose any form of corruption they have knowingly participated in; to disclose anything they have acquired through unethical means, no matter what this may entail. We call on them to make restitution as much as it is possible – to go and confess and return what has been taken, or to bring it to the Church (that will be identified) that it may be handed over to the relevant person or authorities.

To enact this, we call on all Church leaders to gather their people for specific public services of confession, repentance, restitution and prayer. We call on the leaders and people to put on symbols of repentance as mentioned above, to mourn and weep for the sins of leadership, of the Church and the nation. We take Daniel as our model – see Daniel chapter 9. The worship service is the place to disclose any form deception and/or corruption we have participated in, and to receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

We further call on all leaders and members to courageously confront and/or report any and every act of corruption in the family, in the local church, in the work place, in government and in society in general.

In this manner we are calling on the Church – all its leaders and members – to come clean and recover our integrity in the name of Jesus Christ. Perhaps God may use that in some way to intervene and save our nation.

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“Black Tuesday” – Pray for South Africa!

Opposition parties and other organizations who opposed the ANC’s proposed “Protection of Information Bill” asked everyone to wear black clothes yesterday, and called it “Black Tuesday”. And rightly so! 22 November 2011 will go down in history in South Africa as Black Tuesday.

I want to register my sadness and mourning, and my outrage and protest, at the ANC vote that passed the “Information Bill” into law in parliament yesterday. This is a major step toward unaccountable and autocratic rule. It’s a major step back to what the Apartheid government did to control information, to detain and imprison people, all in the name of “state security”. In reality it’s about increasing lack of transparency with constant cover-ups of growing corruption and abuse of power.

Personally, I have no idea how ANC members of parliament who are born again Christians can live with their conscience after voting the party line. The ANC Chief Whip Dr. Motshekga told his MPs they have to vote what the ANC wants. Shame on them!

In summary, the “Protection of Information Bill”…

  • Is a draconian law that puts a shroud over government and undermines South Africa’s hard won freedoms for an open and just democratic society.

Continue reading “Black Tuesday” – Pray for South Africa!

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Pray! Writing Repentance Paper re South Africa

Can you please pray for my colleague (Trevor Ntlhola) and myself as we draft a call to confession and repentance for the Church in South Africa?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently had a much publicised press conference at which he challenged and rebuked the ANC government, calling it arrogant and disgraceful (regarding the debacle of Dalai Lama’s visa. See it on YouTube Video ). Tutu’s ‘prophetic outburst’ has been a catalyst to draw together a number of pastors in Johannesburg who have – for a considerable time now – been deeply concerned for the way our nation is going. TEASA (The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa) hosted a meeting of these concerned Christian leaders last week to plan some kind of response.

Trevor poured out his heart, saying that we (the Church, and particularly its leaders) must publicly take up a lament for the sins of deception, corruption and arrogance, etc. The meeting mandated Trevor and I to draft a short paper, a kind of clarion call to confession and repentance, which will be used as a basis for public meetings and action – to intervene is some way in the growing corruption and polarisation in the nation.

South Africa is indeed coming to another cross-roads, another kairos moment, and the Church must rise up by kneeling before God in confession and repentance, and make its presence felt by some actions for righteousness and justice. What shape or form this will take, is in God’s hands. All we know is that some of us are fed-up, like Desmond Tutu, and we want to do something… so please pray for us as we draft this paper and for this initiative that has been started. Thanks so much!

Alexander

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Baptist Pastors Retreat – “Isaiah 58 Network”

Gill and I went to the beautiful town of George (the Southern Cape, South Africa) a Christian Guest farm called Carmel. We were invited to lead a pastor’s retreat from 24 to 27 October, for a group that call themselves the Isaiah 58 Network. They are ministers in the Baptist Union of Churches that are seeking the renewal of the Holy Spirit, not just of the ‘signs and wonders’ kind, but also in the area of social justice – hence Isaiah 58 (it’s worth reading). There were just over 50 leaders mainly from the Eastern and Western Cape.

The way into Carmel Christian Guest Farm
To Carmel guest farm

We were overwhelmed with the beauty of the place. See the photo of the view from our room. The gardens were so fragrance and full of blossoms. The food was delicious – we added a cubit to our stature! But above all, the pastors and leaders were so warm and receptive and open to the Spirit. We felt so at home. They drew the Word of God out of me like sponges soaking up water! And their sense of worship and waiting on God and receiving words from the Spirit, was such a refreshing for Gill and I. It is so amazing to me that we come to minister to them, but so often on retreats and ministry trips of this nature, we are the ones who are ministered to! We went home full of joy!

View of the ocean from our room
This is the view from Carmel

I was asked to teach on Isaiah 58 with a focus on social transformation, healing and spirituality. The first night I shared my personal journey in following Jesus in ministry as a spiritual leader. Then over the next two days I gave five teachings on the themes just mentioned. We spent more time doing Spirit-ministry in the evening sessions, and many reported being deeply touched and cleansed and healed and empowered by God. What a privilege and honor to minister to pastors and leaders in this way. I feel so very grateful to God that I had this wonderful opportunity.

View of chapel on the hill
The lovely chapel at Carmel
Carmel chapel where the meetings were held

Here are two snippets of feedback – among others – that I got from some leaders soon after the retreat.

Alexander, I have so longed for a healthy marriage of the Word and the Spirit and am rejoicing at what the Spirit is doing in Isaiah 58. Your teaching, spirit and ministry was as rain to us all. Thank you once again.

Dear Gill and Alexander,  The more I think about the week that has just gone by the more I feel incredibly blessed to have sat under your ministry. There were four things that stood out for me and were a blessing. A lack of arrogance from both of you. SO many Christian leaders can lose touch with people. You are both so warm and humble. Secondly it was your awesome mix of knowledge and spirit. The Isaiah bunch can be a funny audience because as good Baptists they have the Word grounding but also have a desire for the work of the Spirit. Many people can be strong in one area and weak in another. You are well taught on both sides and blessed me in both ways. Thirdly your testimony challenged me hugely, your willingness to share your story and be vulnerable among a bunch of strangers. There is so much power in a testimony and it opened the ears of everyone in the room, it gave you a platform to share everything else you had to say. And finally, the partnership that you and Gill have really does speak volumes about the power of a good marriage and how it represents Christ to the world. So thank you for the time spent. I am probably not telling you anything that you don’t already know but I felt I needed to tell you that as a ‘thank you for being who you both are’ sort of mail. God Bless.

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Ministry Trip to Global School of Supernatural Ministry (GSSM), 6 – 10 Sept 2011

I didn’t send out a report after this trip because when Gill and I got back home one of my teeth became seriously infected. I’ve been through two weeks of the most terrible pain. The short story is that I had to have dental surgery to extract the tooth and to scrape the infection from the jawbone. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!! Anyway, I’m now recovering and I want to share with you our experience to thank those of you who prayed for us – God answered powerfully!

Anointing with oil
Anointing with oil

When I wrote Doing Healing, Randy Clarke from the USA wrote an endorsement for the book. He was the guy God used to start “The Toronto Blessing” in the mid 1990s. He has since left pastoral work and has started an international ministry called Global Awakening, with Schools of the Supernatural in various places, to equip followers of Jesus to do Kingdom ministry in the power of the Spirit. He sent a team to South Africa to set up a GSSM. It started in February 2011, hosted by Harvest Church in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban. Randy is on record as saying in a number of places that, in his view, Doing Healing is the best book on healing out there! What a commendation! What an honour!

Teaching
Alexander teaching

So he invited me to teach Doing Healing at GSSM SA, from the Wednesday to the Friday, about 10 hours of teaching and practice. We were hosted with such generosity and kindness – treated like royalty!! There were 12 students and 5 staff members and one or two guests who came for the lectures. What great fun! I so enjoyed having quality time to teach eager students and then to practice ministry – for them to receive and to learn ministry. I was totally in my element, realizing that working with committed disciples/students who are in a structured process of learning, is one of the best things I can do with my time and energy. There is a real sense of impartation that takes place over a few days of intense time together in worship, prayer, teaching, discussion, and ministry.

Students ministering
Students ministering

Gill thoroughly enjoyed the trip as well, also getting stuck in during ministry times. We prayed for many students with a good flow of the prophetic gifts of the Spirit – insight, knowledge, wisdom, healing, deliverance, etc. There were some really strong power encounters and manifestations of the Spirit. Gill and I came home filled with joy and gratitude to God for such an awesome privilege that we can do this for God’s people. And what lovely people we met! We are the richer for the whole experience. We say thanks to Rosanne for hosting us, and to the GSSM staff and students for an amazing time together. Perhaps the best way to communicate something of the experience is to include an email from the GSSM administrator with brief comments from the students:

Ministering the kingdom
Ministering the kingdom

Hi Alexander,

 

Here are some of the comments/testimonies our students had following your time with us!

  • He was naturally supernatural, real and sincere…that really spoke to my heart
  • His love and compassion just flowed
  • He demonstrated the Word with power and love
  • One of the things Alexander said that really impacted me was, “the whole of me is

the most important part of me.”

  • “The prayer over me really touched me…healed a memory from many years ago.”
  • He spoke truth into “closed” areas of my heart
  • I learned a lot about discernment too and to hear what God is saying to me

They were also encouraged by the prayers and declarations spoken over them.  The two students who received deliverance thank you for your compassion during the process.

Things during this school year have naturally been building…one teaching has built upon previous teachings and our students are seeing how their foundations are being firmed and strengthened.  Thank you and Gill both for being a part of this process.  You are both treasures 🙂

Blessings and Joy!!

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Report on Norway Ministry Trip

Thanks:  A heartfelt thanks to those who prayed for me. You have participated in a real but mystical way in what God did while I was in Norway.  One day when all is revealed you will see how your prayers partnered God – and me – in the work we all did together. Thanks for this labor of love.

Worship at the conference
Some of the conference participants

The Facts:  I gave two inputs on church government, biblical leadership and models of leaders and teams, to the Vineyard pastors who had gathered in Kristiansand. We had a great time of ministry to each leader. The weekend public conference had five meetings. I addressed 1) Understanding intimacy with God and others, 2) Intimacy in sexuality and spirituality, 3) How to build intimacy with God and others, 4) Healing blockages to intimacy, and 5) Characteristics of a mature intimacy. We had extensive Spirit ministry after each session.

Yummy snacks at the conference!
Coffee and yummy food during the break

Then I went to Larvik, three hours drive from Kristiansand. The first night I met with the broader leadership team of the Vineyard and talked through leadership issues. The next night I addressed a public meeting of the congregation on “The 10 Communications of God” – a prayer that Gill and I developed years ago and pray often (available on request!) – to develop intimacy with God. I also had the privilege of addressing pastors at an ecumenical meeting for church leaders in Larvik. It was a particular honor. I spoke on keeping our hearts soft and tender in God’s love to be authentic spiritual leaders. The danger of hurt, going through the motions, hardening of the heart, and professionalization, is ever present for pastors. One young pastor announced at the beginning of the meeting that he had resigned as the pastor of his church. He was tearful as I shared. My heart went out to him as I saw such pain in his eyes.

Leaders meeting in Larvik

Some observations:

  1. The recent massacre of young people has struck deep into the Norwegian psyche. Christians are praying it will turn people to God. I felt a hunger for God and desire for revival among the people I mixed with.
  2. The love, hospitality and appreciation of the people were overwhelming!
  3. I felt an unusual freedom in preaching and teaching God’s Word. There was authority and conviction by the Holy Spirit. People said they were liberated and healed by hearing open and honest talk about sensitive issues.
  4. The extensive ministry times were marked by a strong sense of God’s compassion, with lots of tears and manifestations of the Spirit. I’ve seldom experienced such an outpouring of love from the Father.
  5. Healing went deep in terms of unseen “inner healing”, touching serious levels of psycho-emotional, sexual and relational brokenness.
  6. Men in particular need healing from broken masculinity, and couples need to be ‘unblocked’ to restart the fountain and flow of true intimacy.
  7. I can tell of individual stories, but I’ve kept this report short. It was one of my most enjoyable ministry trips. I had an unusual sense of God’s presence in the form of love and tenderness in ministry, and freedom in teaching God’s Word.

Please pray for Gill and I as we go to Durban for me to teach at a Bible School at Harvest Church in Umhlanga Rocks, from Tuesday to Friday (6-9 Sept)…. thanks so much!