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.
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!
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.
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.