First, thanks so very much to those who prayed for me. I was conscious of God’s grace not only sustaining me, but empowering me in all the ministry I did.
Vineyard pastors retreat, 10-14 May
I was honored to be invited by Costa and the National Leadership Team to lead our annual retreat. God gave me a word for the Vineyard in Matt 14:22-36. I built the retreat meditations around the idea of this text: God is calling the Vineyard, after an extended period of night struggle against the wind, to see Jesus coming to us in a new way, to leave the security of our boat and go to him, with fresh focus on and pursuit of his ruling presence. The four sessions with input and extended periods of silent meditation and corporate sharing, went exceptionally well. All the feedback was affirming and directive in that we can confidently say the Lord is calling the Vineyard to a renewed vision of him, to true intimacy with him in our first love (HIS love for us that was there at first) and to go out and catch fish (people) for him – in his love. A big weakness in Vineyard SA is lack of evangelism of unchurched people. Pray that we may be faithful in responding to what God is saying to us, that we may become truly fruitful.
Victory Church in Jeffrey’s Bay, 16-23 May
This wonderful church is led by Louis & Edna Els – part of Church of The Nations network (COTN). He asked me to preach on healing at the two Sunday services. The response to Healing Damaged Emotions, then Healing Addictions and Dark Powers, and then Physical Healing, was overwhelming. There were so many people to lay hands on for ministry that I had to ask them to come in waves! The auditorium seats 800 people, and it was packed with people standing around the edges. Such hunger for God’s Word, openness to ministry, faith to receive, sincerity of heart… what a privilege to teach and minister to them! There were many power-encounters, deliverances from demonizations, and healings. The last Sunday (on Physical Healing) had the biggest response with hundreds coming forward. We couldn’t anoint them all with oil, and I had to leave during the ministry to get to the airport on time, so I didn’t get any feedback, but I saw many powerful manifestations of God doing good stuff with needy people!
They have a Gap Year program with 140 young people – their “Bible School”. I taught them, plus many more from the congregation who came (200 or more), from Monday to Wednesday, on “How to Minister Healing in the Power of the Spirit.” Again, it was sheer joy! I was in heaven! The enthusiasm and vibrancy of the youth is inspiring. I felt myself praying often, “Lord, please give us lots of young people like this, at Following Jesus!” They were so appreciative of the teaching. We did practice times, where everyone laid hands on anything that moved – also on what didn’t move, to get it to move!! What fun!
Louis also asked me to teach 3 sessions at the Thursday and Friday “Cluster Leadership Conference”, where pastors and leaders from their network came from all over South Africa, America, Canada, Holland, England and other nations. I taught on “Leading Kingdom Churches”, explaining various paradigms that undergird how different denominations do church, leadership and ministry. The theology of the Kingdom (Jesus’ message and mission) is THE paradigm through which we ought to do church, leadership and ministry. This was my focus. Once again, the feedback and appreciation was humbling. I felt so invigorated and refreshed with the worship, and with leaders being inspired by Jesus and his Kingdom-Disciple community, and what that means for us today in how we “do Kingdom”! We also had good times of ministry to the leaders.
I found the Saturday night particularly beautiful: no formal worship or teaching, just waiting on God in a big circle of senior pastors, with bowls of water, towels, bread and wine – all available to us in ministry to one another. I felt so humbled to have my feet washed by Louis & Edna as they ministered to me tenderly and meaningfully, giving me words from God that were so encouraging and affirming. Others came to pray for me as well, all saying similar things from the Lord: Lift your vision, raise your level of expectancy, and expect God to do great things. God wants to provide for me, for the ministry he’s given me, for our church. The teachings and books God has given me must (will) go far and wide beyond the Vineyard circle of churches. It is much needed. I must NOT be small minded and conservative! I must NOT be retiring and apologetic! I must trust God, and be prepared, for big things he wants to do in the years ahead. There is a battle being fought around me. God wants to break through and triumph over the plans of the evil one, that his purposes will be fulfilled in me.
Coming back to Johannesburg was like coming down from the mount of trans-figuration to the valley of human pain and demonic attack. I do ask for continued prayer that God may be protect Gill and I, and especially Misha-Joy and Zander, our dear children: That God will protect and deliver us from evil, that his purposes and plans will triumph and be fulfilled in our lives and in our church, Following Jesus. Thank you!