Mission to Lwanika

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Mission Africa – Praying for what God is doing in Lwanika to go far and wide

‘Out of sight’ can so easily be ‘out of mind’, so it is good to remind ourselves of the splendid work the Lord did recently through Mission Africa in the remote village of Lwanika. If you have not read the story of the brilliant breakthrough God has brought about there a few weeks ago please click here.

A Mission Africa team is revisiting Lwanika right now from the 20th-24th November in Africa, and I have had some thoughts about the strategic value of what God is doing in this remote village that I would love to share with you to help focus our prayers for this event.

We know that there is nothing haphazard about anything that it is Spirit led, but the earliest days of the Church were characterised by what appears from the outside to be  ‘episodic’ mission work. Part of the fruit of God’s encounter with the anointed leaders in Antioch as they prayed and fasted in His presence was that the Lord God showed them a clear strategy for the development of His Church by appointing Paul and Barnabas to be pioneer missionaries, with Antioch serving as a resource basis for the region. It was, in a sense, the first steps towards many such strategic initiatives that would, in time, bring millions and even billions into the Kingdom.

Let’s pray afresh for Terry Charlton, Steve Trint and Daniel Kato as they exercise overall leadership of Mission Africa’s work – but can we perhaps also pray that something in and from what God has done in Lwanika will play a special role in future missionary developments? Is it too daring to pray that Lwanika may serve in some ‘Antioch’ capacity for the region?

Let’s pray for leaders of calibre, and unity of vision to enable and empower people to reach out effectively.

At the same time, let’s keep the shield of faith raised high. A major factor in the success of the recent mission lay in the local Muslim government chairman actively encouraging Muslims to hear the gospel. It was inevitable that there would be ‘comeback’ from this, as and when his support became known in wider circles. May the very real opposition not deter the work of God from going forward.

Father, although some new converts are already being beaten and persecuted for their faith, may nothing happen that will close hearts the hearts and doors that You have so wonderfully opened. May the opposition serve rather to strengthen them to carry Your Word and Your work forward – and for many new ventures to develop as a result.

Let’s also pray for the criminal gang who were converted, who have run away out of fear of being arrested. May they be of those who heed Paul’s teaching that ‘Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.’ (Eph. 4:28)

Lord, we pray for each one converted in that gang to not be lost to You, but rather to become in due time a leader in their own right – and living proof of Your power to change lives.

Send a fresh wave of Your Sprit, not least so that the good things You have been doing in that village will reach far beyond the immediate confines of the village,make Lwanika a blessing to the region beyond. Keep pride of sudden success far from each leader’s heart; may a truly humble spirit rest upon each one to carry forward the work of Christ with grace and power. May they serve eagerly together, and be prepared to pay whatever cost is required as true servants and soldiers of Christ. Develop Your work in this place, we pray, and take it from one degree of glory to another. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Remember those in prison

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Political decisions are important because they will ultimately affect our lives profoundly – but what happens in the depths of people’s hearts is still more important. Let’s be sure not to forget those who are in prison and facing interrogation and great deprivations.

The writer to the Hebrew Christians reminds us to remember and “Identify with those who are in prison as though you were there suffering with them, and those who are mistreated as if you could feel their pain.” (Heb. 13:3 TPT). The Aramaic can be translated “as if you were people who wear their bodies” (vulnerable to their pain). What a powerful concept.

A recent judgement sent Christian pastors to prison in Iran for “spreading propaganda against the regime.” In an ominous move, it is written into the verdict that for Christians to claim that Jesus is Lord, and that the Bible is their final authority, can be perceived as an attack against Islam.

The word of God is continuing to spread powerfully in Iran through the courageous witness of believers, but the cost remains very high.

We used to pray in infant school ‘for those in peril on the sea.’ This is a prayer for all who are currently detained for their faith, or who are being pursued by people with violence and vengeance in their hearts for no ‘crime’ other than that of loving the Saviour of the world, who gives freedom in this world and the next.

Join in this prayer that the power of God may surround and strengthen each one by the power of His Spirit.

Concerning the first piece of music that I wrote recently for two cellos, when Sally Mowbray first heard it she felt that it spoke of deep mourning- but that the light was still able to shine through. For that reason the picture she chose to accompany this is of darker clouds but with the sun shining through, bringing a sheen to the pebbles below.

The music is played for us by Corinne Frost, to whom I dedicated the piece.

Praise God for those who are attempting to free western prisoners who are being unjustly held in countries such as Iran, but let’s remember and “Identify with those who are in prison as though you were there suffering with them, and those who are mistreated as if you could feel their pain.” (Heb. 13:3 TPT). The Aramaic of that verse in Hebrews 13 can be translated “as if you were people who wear their bodies” (vulnerable to their pain).

We used to pray in infant school ‘for those in peril on the sea.’ This is a prayer for all who are currently detained for their faith, or who are being pursued by people with violence and vengeance in their hearts for no ‘crime’ other than that of loving the Saviour of the world, who gives freedom in this world and the next.

Jesus You call Your people to endure in faith. Be with every single person who is currently detained for their faith, some of whom will be being interrogated even as we pray. May they remain clear headed and strong under the pressure.

Be too with those who are being interrogated pursued by people with a spirit of ill will and vengeance in their hearts.

By the power of Your outstretched hand grant strength dispel fear and bring Your focused power.

Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say when you are delivered into the hands of persecutors – for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it will not be You speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (From Matthew 10)

Grant supernatural wisdom as well as strength. Protect others by Your mercy as a result of information extracted during interrogations.

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next,(Matt. 10:23) Let people know when that moment comes that they must depart in haste, even as You were with Mary and Joseph in Egypt and rescued Saul from Damascus.

Surround those who have been detained in the past and who are suffering in mind as well as in their bodies as a result of the stresses and strains they endured during their incarceration. Deliver them in body mind and spirit – especially those who are well aware that they could well be rearrested at a moment’s notice.

Let the power of Your mercy brood this day over those in extreme need: whether in Iran India; Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, North Korea or China, or wherever else the Spirit of God leads you now in prayer.

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Some Brexit Thoughts

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(i) Justin Coldstream

At around the time of the referendum, I had a sense that a Leave result was very likely. It almost felt like a spiritual earthquake taking place!  On the night before the vote, our church home group was treated to the most spectacular rainbow over Poole harbour – truly memorable and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. I took this to be a reassurance from God that He was watching over us for our good. But since then, we have been plunged into a crucible of pain and confusion over Brexit. The promises seem to have been all but forgotten, whether the [often dubious] ones made by the Leave campaign, or the spiritual promises that I along with many others believe that we received. Continue reading

On Retreat in Majorca

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But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)

I am deeply grateful for the recent opportunity to spend a week in a friend’s house in Pollenca, in north east Majorca. I asked some friends to pray along the lines of the old advertisement for Mars Bars: that I would know when to work, rest and pray. The Lord really did answer that, beautifully!

The Lord was delightfully at work each day, despite torrential storms for the first few of them. The split second I arrived in Pollenca, the heavens opened with a force I have never experienced before, obliging me to huddle beneath the bus-stand as ankle-deep water swept along the pavement. Just minutes later all approach roads into the town were cut off, and I would have been stuck. These rains, however, were just a ‘PS’ to the cataclysmic outpouring that swept many cars and people straight out to sea just a few days before. This short You tube gives a small flavour of the unprecedented destruction that afflicted the east coast of Majorca.

So much in Spain’s past has been buried, from the atrocities of the Inquisition and its highly public burnings, (the auto da fés) to the largely unaddressed legacy of the Civil War that so cruelly afflicted the nation and its islands. It was from Puerto Pollenca, just down the road from where I was staying, that the planes took off for their infamous raids on defenceless Barcelona.

One couldn’t help wondering: How must it have felt to be a pilot bombing their local capital? And what did the people of Barcelona feel about the pilots who dispensed death from the skies?

The Lord knows how these atrocities have impacted on the spiritual soul of the Spanish people. Despite the seeming calm and sweetness of the place, the stain of these unprovoked massacres has seeped deep down, leaving a very deep wound in the Spanish psyche. May the Lord Jesus cleanse, redeem and heal the unseen residues of this bitter past, and the still deep tensions over the matter of Catalonian independence. Speak life and truth to Spain, Catalonia and the islands, Lord Jesus, and raise up those who will own Your name in Spain, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands!

I had no car this time, so confined my explorations to what I could do within my sun-fuelled walking range. After a simple climb up the 365 Calvary steps, it was up to the Monastery which sits astride a high hill (at 336 metres, let’s call it a mountain!) directly overlooking the beautiful town of Pollenca, which Sister Flor and another sister founded way back in the late 14th century.

To my great satisfaction, I managed the long haul up the steep zigzag trails to the Puig de Santuari, where there is both a chapel and a surprisingly cheap restaurant, given that all ingredients have to be brought up by motor bike. My sense of achievement was very great!

I also loved following a footpath that led straight from my front door into the Val de Colonya: a really glorious mountain walk that may not have quite exceeded the 1000 foot mark but which felt really up high. What riches God has placed in Europe! My prayer continues as it has been for some years now: Lord raise up prophetic voices to make You known in secular Spain and Catalonia, and on these Balearic Islands. See our former sendout.

The only downside to an otherwise perfect week were over a dozen mosquito bites. The pesky attack formations of fleet-winged mozzies came keening in below radar detection levels, taking care to avoid walls and window sills where they would have been sitting targets. Lemon juice and antihistamine creams helped, but a pill when I got back to Malvern brought the best relief!

In his delightful poem, ‘To Autumn,’ Keats speaks of ‘small gnats mourning in a wailful choir’. I must confess that I have yet to detect the specific value of midges and mosquitoes in the grand scheme of things, but fast-response birds doubtless feast on them.

There was one other ‘snare,’ in the sense that I missed a rather important nudge on the last night. Feeling hungry and heading out to a fast food bar, the thought went through my mind, “Are you sure you want to do this?” But I let my hunger determine my reply. The next day, returning home, predictably as the consequence for ignoring the nudge, I had a not very pleasant tummy upset. The Lord was ultra-gracious about the timing and the circumstances but it was an unpleasantness I could have avoided had I heeded the warning.

Ros and I often ‘grade’ our nudges, not out of any sense of infallibility, but just to give each other an idea of how seriously we think we have heard. How would I grade that warning? Not quite an A grade, but quite possibly a straight B. Had I been more alert I should have recognised this seemingly ’impersonal’ warning as being the Lord’s voice and made alternative plans. It was precisely because that would have involved additional inconvenience that I failed to act on the nudge – and suffered as a result.

Lord, make us prompt to recognise the quiet whispers that You send rather than ploughing on regardless with our own plans and intentions!

Here are some photos of Majorca

(We’ll have some more ready soon)

Reflections on the other nations mentioned in the 1911 prophecy

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The 1911 prophecy I referred to in the article A twin pronged Call to Women to pray briefly mentioned a number of countries, rather as many of the oracles in the Old Testament frequently referred to Edom and Moab and so on.

Concerning the nations specifically mentioned in this prophecy, Italy has certainly endured a great battering of natural disasters. We will each have our own interpretation and understanding of the measure of divine displeasure we are seeing worked out in nations such as Italy. Continue reading

A twin pronged call to pray

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You may well have come across this remarkable prophecy that was given in 1911, but this article provides background detail to the word – along with details of a somewhat similar one that was given in 1986 along similar lines. No prophecy can ever represent the full picture, of course, and these are not biblical prophecies, of course, but these are important words! Continue reading

The Sovereignty of God

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There are many ways to look at world events and God’s involvement in them. At one end we find believers who basically consider that people and nations just ‘get on with things’ while God watches on, but that He can still work to bring good out of them. This point of view rather begs the question as to how and at what point the Lord chooses to intervene in order to bring about that good. At the other end of the scale are those who believe that God is directly involved in all that happens and has clear purposes and reasons in this. Continue reading

Insights into the reasons behind events

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At one point during the reign of David, the land endured famine for three successive years. A less spiritual king would have sent his biggest wagons rolling down to Egypt to stock up on grain. He might even have gone to war to procure supplies.

On an earlier occasion, David had shown himself quick to discern the hidden hand of Joab behind a request that had been presented to him. (2 Sam 14:9) Now, because the Lord had trained Him in his ways, David took time to seek the Lord, and recognised this famine as being something more than a problem of the moment, so he sought the Lord about it. What the Lord said must have come as quite a surprise. He showed him that it was the fruit of Saul breaking a promise made centuries ago concerning the Gibeonites. This was a tribe that was not a part of Israel but who were survivors of the Amorites whom the Israelites had sworn to spare. In his zeal for Israel and Judah, however, Saul had sought to annihilate them. Continue reading

Who will rise up for Me?

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Back in 1980, at a time when we were being called as a small community to deepen our life of prayer for the nations, Martin Charlesworth wrote this powerful call from Lord to rise up as intercessors for Him. With Megan singing it for us, this is a really beautiful as well as a powerful call from the Lord that you will want to hear more than once to take the words, as well as the melody, deeper into your heart.

Dipping our toes in prayer for wider matters – then going deeper!

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Ankle deep, up to our waists – then swimming freely! Extending our prayers from the particular to the wider

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you . . . (Col. 4:12-13)

Something I have found helpful over the years as a ‘way in’ to praying for ‘wider’ topics (especially I have been feeling somewhat dwarfed by the sheer size of some of them) is to start by focusing on one or two people or situations, and taking them as being ‘representative’ of a profession, community or even nation.

So if, for example, the thought of praying for education seems too big a task to contemplate – start by praying for someone you know who goes to school, or who teaches in one. As we identify with these dear ones they become our starting point, from which we move on to pray for all who – in mathematical terms – fall into their {sets of} schools, nurses businesses and so on. Suddenly, and almost without effort, we realise that we have gone from ‘ankle deep’ to waist deep and now are swimming freely in the gift of praying for education! We can do the same for the NHS, or for any big issue, organisation or even nation.

This seriously moving brief clip (from CBN.com) of Josh Kezer, who was sentenced to sixty years imprisonment for something he hadn’t done, serves as an excellent prompt to pray for those who are the innocent victims of allegations – as well as a powerful testimony of reaching out with grace to those who are not innocent!

Is it fair to expect God to answer ‘generalised’ (as opposed to personalised) prayers? I think it is. When I was at Oxford, David Watson led a major mission to the university, accompanied by a team of assistant missioners. The Lord told this group that if they were prepared to make sacrifices at night and pray, He would raise up a harvest of souls. They were faithful to that calling – and one hundred and fifty of us students  gave our lives to the Lord during that memorable week – including, quite separately, my flat mate.

That was back in 1976. Within two years at least eight of us were in ‘full time’ service for the Lord. Only the Lord knows how many have come to know Jesus over the course of these forty plus years through the witness of those who came to faith then. But behind their example lie the faithfulness of those who were prepared to toil in prayer for people they would never know by name – in this world at least. May we be ready to respond as the Spirit of prayer stirs within us.