Francine is widowed with 7 children. Life is unbelievably tough. Her ‘house’ is a hovel – actually probably quite like the stable Jesus began his life in – without a toilet, electricity, or a front door to lock and provide security. But with your help, their lives (and others) will be radically transformed this Christmas!
ICJ’s work in Murwi is about so much more than hand-outs. We’ve come alongside the poorest of the poor to journey with them out of extreme poverty. We’ve built a community centre with electricity so the kids can do their homework at night. We’ve taught them farming methodologies. We’ve given out animals to provide a livelihood. We’re building them solid basic houses.
So this Christmas, let’s get Francine in her own home. And through our various local partners, let’s provide more hope, to her and others. It may be in the form of a goat or a sewing machine, basic farming skills, attending literacy classes, schooling for children, or having access to God’s Word. It’s very practical and very impacting. Every bit helps, please give whatever you can.
The timing of my last visit to Burundi was in order to attend the strategic congress launched by Burundi Mission Alliance. It was the brainchild of Onesphore Manirakiza, so I asked him to write a report in summary. Over to you, Onesphore:
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; It will surely come; it will not delay.”
It had been always my dream to see church leaders from different churches in Burundi sit around the table discussing local and global mission. I held this dream from 1997 when God called me to be a part of such a movement which seemed so inconceivable at the time. The reality on the ground was so very different. There were many obstacles preventing it from happening. The repeated civil wars had divided the churches along ethnic lines, but also many churches had lost their commitment to unity and collaboration, instead competing and undermining each other.
I had to wait until 2017 to see the first gathering of leaders from different denominations and backgrounds celebrating the introduction of the gospel in Burundi and its impact on society. We had the opportunity to meet those (or the living descendants of those) who brought us the gospel. That was 20 years on from when I first had the dream of a mission conference. During that particular conference, missionaries to Burundi prophetically handed over the responsibility to indigenous leaders.
What had begun as an event (mission congress) gave birth to a mission movement. The following year, we had a follow-up conference during which leaders expressed the need of a platform that would host and facilitate this movement of taking the gospel from the heart of Africa to the ends of the earth. That is how the Burundi Mission Alliance was born gathering 3 denominations, 3 independent churches and 5 para-church organizations and operating through 7 task forces in order to catalyze a missional movement from Burundi to the nations.
We met again this year in another mission conference to celebrate the achievements we had made thus far and to remind each other that local churches are indispensable in mission. We had 150 delegates from different denominations, independent churches and local mission organisations.
During our plenary sessions, we had a breakthrough where you could see that people wanted to overcome the historical barriers that divided the church of Burundi and prevented it from participating in the global mission. The leaders of the Baptist Union shared with the participants how missionaries and the first Burundian leaders had worked in unity and had been able to overcome the divisions in the country and the persecution against the emerging evangelical church.
Younger delegates were moved to hear leaders of the Baptist church – just about every Baptist pastor was murdered in 1972 – affirming and thanking the leaders of the Anglican church for the role they played in protecting their churches for 7 years. The Holy Spirit used that holy moment to unite participants and heal the wounds of the past. You could sense God’s reconciling Spirit tangibly filling the room.
It is with tears of joy that I am writing these sentences.
Many of us who had been waiting for this time were convinced that the Lord was bringing to a close a dark chapter in the history of the church in Burundi and opening a new chapter of hope, unity and partnership in local and global mission.
How have we come to this momentum? The Lord has been putting together the pieces of the puzzle during the last 20 years. Simon Guillebaud came to Burundi as a missionary following in the footsteps of his ancestors back in 1999. Though his beginnings were small (working with Scripture Union), he quickly came up with a vision of empowering the body of Christ in Burundi for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). That is how Great Lakes Outreach was born. When he came back from 2 years in the USA back in 2012, he started gathering the leaders of the organisations GLO was supporting in a monthly breakfast meeting. Those meetings became a great connector that transformed former competitors into genuine co-workers.
When the crisis broke out in 2015, those leaders were among the few in the country who could stand up and speak for peace and non-violence. What had begun as evil God turned it to be a blessing for the Burundian church. We formed CIP (Christian Initiatives for Peace) through which our trust increased and led us to this missional movement.
I am so grateful to the Lord who has orchestrated all these things. I honour my dear friend and colleague Simon for having laid down his life as a worker for the renewal of the Burundian Church. May the Lord bless all the people who responded to Simon’s call for help from his first step in Burundi until now. God used them to fuel this vision and catalyze the transformation in Burundi. What was a dream twenty years ago is now a vision and has many leaders to accomplish it. Praise the Lord!
There are a few reasons why Innocent is the skinniest healthy guy I know. His stories are nuts. Read on…
He realised as a young man that he had the gift of healing. On one occasion, he prayed for a hunchback who had been bent over for 18 years. The man immediately straightened up, and piled him high with avocadoes in gratitude!
Another time, he was leading one of our Harvest Initiatives outreach teams, and they were taking a lunch break after the Sunday service. Two non-verbal (the currently PC term, I gather, for someone who can’t speak) girls asked him to pray for their healing. He left his team members eating, led the two girls into a room, and said to God: “Lord, even if I have to stay here three days, I won’t give up praying until you heal them!” Actually, within ten minutes they’d started crying audibly, and were indeed completely healed. He took them to the choir practice, and said: “Hey, I’ve got you two new choir members!” The head chorister said: “Don’t mess us around, we know those girls are mute!” Innocent turned to the girls: “Did you hear what he said? Anything you want to tell him?” They opened their mouths and started singing a worship song! Three of the choir members fell to their knees whilst others gasped and burst into tears! The two hadn’t said a word in over a decade.
However, he says it comes at a cost. He fasts two days a week, and sometimes for much longer. “It’s tiring digging deep in the Spirit and seeking God’s face, there is a real battle going on. And I come from a relatively well-off family. My Mum and sisters are fat (fat is good in the culture, not an insult at all!). I’m the skinny one. When I used to go into the bush on my evangelistic outings, I ate rubbish and had lots of stomach issues. They don’t believe in Jesus, and so don’t understand why I’m willing to suffer so much. Once they said to me, ‘You’re so skinny, we’re going to tie you up so you don’t go back upcountry!’”
He gets no encouragement or support from home. He’s getting married to Khelia on the 20th November, and his salary is only $60/month, which is ridiculous considering the amazing work he’s doing in raising up young school kids as leaders to fulfil their potential. The family has said: “Well, if you want to go ahead with the wedding, we’re not helping you, let’s see your God provide!” Indeed, He will.
Purpose Discovery is the name of the organisation Innocent started. It’s all about helping young people discover and embrace their purpose in life. His vision is that of an emerging generation on fire for God transforming their communities through their respective spheres of influence – sounds good to me – which is why we’re backing him as one of our new key strategic leaders.
Greetings from Burundi! There is so much good to report from my short visit (49 meetings and counting so far after seven days), but I thought I’d just share a couple of beautiful encounters to stir your faith. GLO’s motto is ‘Transforming Burundi and Beyond’, and I love how stories from Burundi encourage you in the ‘Beyond’ around the world, wherever you are as you read this. Here goes, as posted on facebook:
I met with Abdoul today. He’s a brave man.
He used to be in charge of 15 mosques, and prided himself in zealously winning Christians over to Islam. He did regular public debates, and became troubled by vivid dreams of Jesus calling him. As he studied the Koran and the Bible, he was struck how the Koran talked of guiding ‘in the right way’ (Surat 1:6) whilst Jesus said ‘I am the Way’ (John 14:6). It was so costly when he decided to follow the Way. He lost everything, was kicked out of his community, and survived a grenade attack and a machete-wielding mob of Muslims angry at his apostasy. But he wouldn’t flee. He’s carried on living humbly, boldly and consistently. He’s been offered $20k to return to Islam, as well as a house, but he’s adamant that nothing can woo him, as he struggles to provide for his family on the $100/month we give him. He’s written a resource used in many churches, and is fearless in living out and sharing the freedom and joy he has found in Jesus. Again, as with so many of my brothers and sisters out here, I am challenged and struck to the core by their willingness to suffer for their faith.
Abdoul, my brother, I salute you!
Also, when preaching at a mass rally in the bush last Saturday, a demon-possessed lady threw her shoes at me from the crowd. It was even caught on film. She was led away behind the stage, prayed for by the intercessors, and delivered. Her name is Teresa. What a smile she has!
She told those praying for her how she’d been to many churches previously, asking to be set free from the voices in her head. “Those voices were telling me to be violent and abusive to people, and that’s why I came to your meeting as well.”
Now, as you can see, she has been beautifully set free (we have an extended interview with her which I’ve not included). She also had terrible problems sleep-talking and sleep-walking, and those have gone as well.
We are committed to journeying with her, helping her and her family with housing and clothing. Just wonderful!
It’s interesting to me because a (typically Western) secular materialistic worldview doesn’t have room for the idea of demon-possession. Even many Christians (through lack of experience maybe) struggle to believe that demons are real. So with the above undeniable story (unless you want to think we staged it!), it would be reframed as mental illness. Honestly, it could just have been mental illness, but it’s still a miracle!
Again, I’m trying to put myself fully in the sceptic’s shoes… apart from us staging it (surely not), then what would have given this lady the courage to completely expose herself to public ridicule and shame in front of such a crowd? And the timing could not have been precise, as she (they) chose the exact strategic moment to kick things off when I was calling the crowd to make a commitment.
For what it’s worth, I think mental health (extremely common) is very real, and demon-possession (unusual) is also very real. They are absolutely not the same. Medicines can be helpful for those suffering with mental health issues, but the secular mindset would misdiagnose demons – because it cannot accommodate them in its worldview – under the banner of mental health, and therefore prescribe medicine as a cure. But medicine helps a physical condition, not a spiritual one; medicine as a physical solution can’t effectively address a spiritual condition, if someone is indeed demonised. That is (one of) the West’s (many) blindspots.
It’s a huge area for discussion, but there’s some food for thought!
Anyway, I just thank God for precious Teresa’s miracle, and am cheering her on in her new chapter of freedom.
And lastly, King’s Conference Centre. Honestly, it’s been my biggest ministry headache over the two decades of involvement in Burundi. This second phase has taken 12 years so far. It’s nearly finished and is a massive beast. But wow! It is genuinely beautiful, and is raking in money now having re-established us as the best conference venue in the country. It is rammed almost every day, people love it, and that just means lots more profits can be ploughed back into God’s work in Burundi. Beautiful! Take a quick look here:
So many positives, so much more to share, but that’s a taster. I hope it encourages you, stirs faith, and challenges you to be all in for Jesus – that’s the gift that Burundi has given me.
Things would have looked very different if Chrissie had died when the doctors said she would.
Decades ago, she was dying and had been given six months to live. She was partially paralysed, bald, her whole body was swollen ‘like a Michelin-Man’, and she had two wrecked lungs. On her hospital bed, she heard an audible voice: “It’s time to go home; I am going to heal you!”
She was allowed out of the hospital some weekends. One weekend, back in her apartment and resting on her beanbag, she believed she was dying but then suddenly felt painful pins and needles in her head. She put her hand to her head and felt bristles on her scalp. Her hair was growing back!
She picked up her Bible, and a piece of paper fell out of it, with 1 Peter 2:24 written on it – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’.” It turns out her pastor had prayed that verse over her for 6 weeks whilst she was on a life-support machine, and he’d put it in her Bible.
By the following morning, she had a full head of hair, her paralysis and swollenness had gone, and her breathing was fine (indeed, she never again had an asthma attack). She returned to the hospital, and when her doctor saw her and reached out to touch her full head of hair, he fell to his knees speaking in tongues. He wasn’t even a Christian! That week, 17 hospital staff who knew what she was suffering from gave their lives to Christ in response to her evident miraculous healing!
What do you make of that?
Chrissie Chapman died a few days ago. She was a truly remarkable woman. In her death, I want to do two things: give you the opportunity to be stirred by her quite extraordinary faith journey, and contribute to her legacy.
So if you want to hear more crazy stories like the one above, why not watch to this talk or listen to it on the Inspired… Podcast via Apple Podcasts or Spotify. She gave it in 2016 and I would genuinely say it’s one of the most powerful talks I’ve ever heard.
Following her healing, Chrissie pursued a clear call to serve the Lord in Burundi. She wrote her Burundi story in ‘The Night the Angels Came’, which you can buy here.
So that’s the first thing, and it’ll bless your socks off if you listen to that talk or read her book. Now the second thing – an opportunity to contribute to her legacy:
As she joked, she was a single mother with 54 children, all from different fathers! To be clear, she wasn’t spectacularly fertile and promiscuous; rather, she’d taken in 54 precious, vulnerable lives! In turn, those infants needed schooling, so she started what is now called the King’s School in Bujumbura, which now has 714 kids in the student body.
All of the original 54 are now over 18-years-old. Several of them babysat for us and became our good friends. Some have been through university and have found jobs, but for about ten of them, their studies are still ongoing. During Chrissie’s latter years, a significant concern for her quite naturally was finding sponsors to see them all through. Yet as things stand, there is a shortfall.
In brief, would you like to honour Chrissie as she graduates to glory by helping the remaining students to finish their studies, and to contribute to the replacement of the 12-year-old(!) dying computers in the King’s School’s ICT lab, and other such needs, as the King’s School was a key part of her legacy?
This is not a GLO project per se, but our DNA is to bless transformational Kingdom initiatives in Burundi, which this most certainly is. If you do want to help, God bless you.
(If you would prefer to give in US$, please click here)
One of my favourite stories that Chrissie shared was of her encounter with an old man in a miserable displacement camp during the war. He was sat with an empty bowl in prayer. She went over to see him and asked him his story. He was in his seventies. He’d witnessed his wife and kids hacked to death, and his house burned down. He’d walked six days to get to the camp. Sat there in his stinking rags with that empty bowl… that was all he was in the whole world. Yet he was able to declare:
“I never realised that Jesus was all I needed until Jesus was all I had!”
What . A . Line!
Chrissie, we salute you! We’ll all, by God’s grace, see you again sooner or later. In the meantime, let’s live our lives to the full, making the most of it in service of the King!
Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:
You won’t have heard of Edward Kimball. This man was becoming increasingly active in church and wanted to make an impact with the youth. His constant refrain was ‘come and see’. There was one lad he saw great potential in but just wasn’t able get through to. In the end, Kimball just decided to go the shoe store where the young man worked. Kimball found him in the back of the store wrapping shoes. Nervously he put his hand on his shoulder and started sharing a brief gospel message. It was short and to the point: Christ loves you and all He asks is for you to accept that, and for you to love Him in return. With that Kimball was gone. As things turned out that young lad did accept Christ. He was D.L. Moody, who became an amazing evangelist.
Years later at one of Moody’s revivals, a man by the name of Wilbur Chapman was invited along by friends to come and see what all the fuss was about, and he accepted God’s direction for his life. Chapman also became an evangelist, preaching to thousands.
One dynamic sportsman chose to come and see Chapman preaching – none other than the professional baseball player Billy Sunday, who not only desired to follow Christ, but quit his career and joined Chapman in his travels. As time went on Chapman led some big outreaches with the help of Mordecai Ham, another man whose life was transformed by Christ. Soon afterwards, Mordecai found himself in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Meantime, Albert McMakin was a 24-year-old farmer who had come to faith in Christ. He was so full of enthusiasm that he filled a truck with people and took them to a meeting where Mordecai Ham was preaching. He wanted them all to come and see what was going on, and to hear about Jesus. There was a farmer friend’s son whom he especially wanted to get to the meetings, but this young man was hard to persuade. He was busy falling in and out of love with different girls and didn’t seem to be interested at all. Eventually, McMakin managed to persuade him to come by asking him to drive the truck. When they arrived, Albert’s guest decided to go in. He was spellbound and began to have thoughts he had never known before. He went back again and again until one night he went forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ. That young man, the driver of the truck, was Billy Graham. The year was 1934. The rest is history.
We can all be like McMakin and bring people to Jesus.
“…and Andrew brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:42) We don’t hear much more about Andrew except that he was always bringing people to Jesus. “Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8,9) “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.” (John 12:20-22)
Indeed we don’t hear much more about Andrew in the Bible – he was the first disciple, a fisherman from Bethsaida, and privileged to be in on the action with Jesus; and apparently, he was crucified on 30 November 60AD, by order of the Roman governor Aegeas. He was tied to an X-shaped cross in Greece, and this has been represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire, since at least 1385. He’s the patron Saint of Scotland, but also Greece, Russia and Barbados!
So we don’t have much information on him really, but Simon Peter, his brother, went on to be one of the greatest influences in the history of Christianity. We cannot all be Simon Peters, but we can all do what Andrew did – we can bring people to Jesus.
Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:
“Lord, please put salt on my lips that I might thirst more after you.”
The revival on Lewis (1949-1952) was steeped in prayer. Seven men and two old ladies had decided to pray and not stop until God visited them in a powerful way. One night, at a prayer meeting held in a barn, one of them said, “It seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” He asked God to reveal if his own hands were clean and his own heart was pure. Suddenly God’s awesome presence swept the barn. They came to see that there was a direct correlation between revival and holiness. A power was let loose that night that shook the island. A man arrived and felt compelled to go to church and get right with God. People had visions in their own homes.
Duncan Campbell had been preaching at a conference in Bangor, Northern Ireland. He was due to stand up and preach when the Lord told him to leave immediately and go to Lewis. He told the man who had invited him that he simply had to go. Arriving as soon as he could in Lewis, he found that they were all waiting for him! The stories are truly extraordinary.
Campbell shares: “Over 100 young people were at the dance in the parish hall and they weren’t thinking of God or eternity. They were there to have a good night when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. The music ceased and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They fled from the hall as a man fleeing from a plague. And they made for the church. They are now standing outside. Oh, yes – they saw lights in the church. That was a house of God and they were going to it and they went. Men and women who had gone to bed rose, dressed, and made for the church.
At another meeting, “suddenly, the power of God fell upon the congregation. Of course in Lewis and in other islands of the Hebrides, they stand to pray, they sit to sing. And now, one side of the church threw their hands up like this. Threw their heads back and you would almost declare that they were in an epileptic fit, but they were not. Oh, I can’t explain it. And the other side they slumped on top of each other. But God, the Holy Ghost moved. Those who had their hands like this stayed that way for two hours. Now you try to remain like that with your hands up for a few minutes and you will find it hard – but you would break their hands before you could take them down. Now, I can’t explain it – this is what happened. But the most remarkable thing that night was what took place in a village seven miles away from the church. There wasn’t a single person from that village in the church. Not one single person. Seven miles away, the power of God swept through the village. Swept through the village and I know it to be a fact that there wasn’t a single house in the village that hadn’t a soul saved in it.”
The stories go on: “A schoolmaster that night looking over his papers 15 miles away from this island on the mainland suddenly was gripped by the fear of God. And he said to his wife, “Wife, I don’t know what’s drawing me to Barvas, but I must go.” His wife said, “But it’s nearly 10 o’clock and you’re thinking of going to Barvas. I know what’s on your mind, I know that you are going out to drink and you are not leaving this house tonight!” That was what she said to him – he was a hard drinker. And he said to his wife, “I may be mistaken, oh, I maybe mistaken, but if I know anything at all about my own heart and mind, I say to you now that drink will never touch my lips again.” And she said to him, “Well, John, if that’s your mind, then go to Barvas.” And he got someone to take him to the ferry, someone to ferry him across, and I was conducting a meeting in a farmhouse at midnight and this schoolmaster came to the door and they made room for him and in a matter of minutes he was praising God for salvation. Now that’s miracle. I mean you cannot explain it in any other way.”
Campbell came for ten days but stayed for two years.
In 1940, Professor Edwin Orr of Wheaton University led a group of theology students to England, where they visited sites of great revivals. One location was the Epworth rectory, the part-time home of John Wesley, a famous reformer who led a spiritual renewal movement in the 1700s. As a man of prayer, Wesley interceded for revival to sweep through England, and to spread to America as well. Dr. Orr pointed out two worn places on the carpet next to Wesley’s bed, where the great reformer knelt for hours in prayer each day, crying out for revival.
As the tour concluded, the students loaded the bus. After counting them, Orr noticed one was missing. He returned to the house, and eventually located the lost student in John Wesley’s bedroom— kneeling on the worn impressions where Wesley had fervently prayed for revival. The student was repeatedly pleading, “Do it again, Lord! Do it again… And would you do it again with me.”
Placing his hand on the young man’s shoulder Orr said, “Son, it’s time to leave. Everyone’s on the bus.” The student slowly rose, and then that young man… Billy Graham… joined the rest of his class… and through him, God did it again! Why? Because Billy Graham was thirsty for God and passionate to see God bring revival, as in days past.
In Habakkuk 3:2, the prophet expressed that same longing. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day.” Like Billy Graham, his cry was: “Do it again, Lord!”
Deep inside, doesn’t your heart resonate with the same longing, that same thirst? Aren’t you tired of just reading about revival? I want to see God move powerfully— supernaturally, in our day as He did in the past. Our world is upside down. Besides COVID, racial tensions, climate disasters, we all face a plethora of personal problems. Only a move of God can save us. When we cry out, God hears us.
What would happen if we were bold enough to ask God to “Do it again?”
Let’s make a deal. How about every day we kneel in prayer as Billy Graham did; as John Wesley did; as Habakkuk did? Let’s cry out from our hearts those same words, “Do it again, Lord!” Then watch God move.
Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:
George Orwell described a wasp that “was sucking jam on my plate and I cut him in half. He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed oesophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him.” The wasp and people without Christ have much in common. Severed from their souls, but greedy and unaware, many people continue to consume life’s sweetness. Only when it’s time to fly away will they grasp their dreadful condition.
‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”’
There is a hunger deep within the human heart. The leading psychologists of recent times have all recognised this. Freud said, “People are hungry for love.” Jung said, “People are hungry for security.” Adler said, “People are hungry for significance.” Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” In other words, if you want your hunger satisfied come to me, I am the source of true love, security and significance.
Professor Joad, who was converted from atheism to Christ said, “Trying to find happiness from this world is like trying to light up a dark room by lighting a succession of matches. You strike one, it flickers for a moment, and then it goes out. But when you find Jesus Christ, it’s as though the whole room is suddenly flooded with light.”
So let’s be honest, some questions to reflect on:
Am I hungry? If yes, how hungry? Maybe even before that – Hungry for what?
Power, peace, recognition, vindication, acceptance, validation, escape, anonymity, breakthrough, hope, success? Some of those are better than others; whatever the case, they are our reality. Jesus deals with our reality. And he says come to Me, you will be filled, I will satisfy your hunger, I am the bread of life.
John Piper wrote: “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
How much do you want of God?…
…because no one has less of God than they want.
D.L.Moody was perhaps the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. The encounter he had with the Holy Spirit in New York transformed his ministry. After one service, two old ladies called Mrs Cooke and Mrs Hawkhurst approached him and told him, “You are good, but you haven’t got it… we have been praying for you… you need power!” Moody, an already well-respected minister, was unimpressed. “I need power?” asked Moody. “Why, I thought I had power!”
The ladies poured out their hearts that he might receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost and soon there grew a great hunger in his soul. “I felt I did not want to live any longer if I had not this power for service.”
There began a period of deep spiritual hunger and desperation, of six months’ pleading with God for more. “I began to cry as never before for a greater blessing from God. The hunger increased; I really felt that I did not want to live any longer. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day in the City of New York – oh! What a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say, God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.”
He was never the same again. Although his sermons and doctrine had not changed, his effectiveness in winning thousands to Christ was evidence of this new power.
Walter Lewis Wilson was an American doctor born towards the end of the nineteenth century. He was a faithful Christian who often hosted visiting missionaries to his church. One visitor from France didn’t mince words, asking him, “Who is the Holy Spirit to you?” Wilson’s answer was doctrinally correct, “One of the Persons of the Godhead… Teacher, Guide, Third Person of the Trinity.” But it was an empty and rehearsed response. His friend pushed him harder, challenging him, “You haven’t answered my question.” Wilson opened up with real candour, “He’s nothing to me. I have no contact with him and could get along without him.” There was no spiritual hunger, rather resigned acceptance of going through the motions.
The following year, Wilson listened to a sermon at church from Romans 12 on the challenge to offer his body as a living sacrifice. The preacher called out from the pulpit, “Have you noticed that this verse doesn’t tell us to Whom we should give our bodies? It’s not the Lord Jesus. He has his own body. It’s not the Father. He remains on his throne. Another has come to earth without a body. God gives you the indescribable honour of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be his dwelling place on earth.”
Wilson was struck to the core and rushed home to seek the Lord. So hungry for an encounter with the Lord. He fell on his face and pleaded with the Lord, “My Lord, I’ve treated you like a servant. When I wanted you, I called for you. Now I give you this body from my head to my feet. I give you my hands, my limbs, my eyes and lips, my brain. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. It’s your body from this moment on.”
The next morning, Wilson was working in his office when two ladies arrived, trying to sell him advertising. He immediately led them to Christ. The previous night’s surrender had enabled him to access new power from on high. From that day onwards, his life entered a new dimension of evangelistic fruitfulness. He went on to pioneer a church plant, a mission organisation, and a Bible College, as well as becoming a best-selling author.
Do you want to be entrusted with that same power from the Holy Spirit? Well, who is the Holy Spirit to you? And how hungry are you? Like the early Wilson, can you get along perfectly well without him? Or are you truly willing to offer him your body as a living sacrifice, without conditions or caveats? There’s so much more power that I want to plug into for God’s glory. But will I trust him for every aspect of my life? Will I “consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3v8)? These are big, big questions. Here’s inviting you to total surrender, to deep hunger.
The members of the Punjab Prayer Union (John ‘Praying’ Hyde amongst them), who experienced revival in their midst, signed the following declaration to become members. It was in the form of questions:
Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow-workers, and in the Church?
Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power?
Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus?
Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening?
Will you set apart one half-hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray till the awakening comes?
It’s an important question. Lots of people live under guilt and shame, which is no way to do life.
You see, we may be undeserving of God’s grace but we are certainly not unworthy. Because our worth is defined or measured by what Someone is willing to pay for us. And Jesus showed us just how valuable we are on the cross, didn’t he? He settled the matter there.
Below is the second in a series of talks given a few weeks ago at Lee Abbey.
The second one is ‘Come to Me Dirty’, which can be listened to or downloaded here.
Below are a few things that I shared which if you haven’t got time to listen you could read:
As sinners, we’re all guilty, but we shouldn’t live under shame. The voice of shame will tell us that what we’ve done wrong defines us, that we are our sin, or that we are the sins of others around or before us. Guilt usually involves something we did: I did something bad; whereas shame involves who we are: I am bad. When we break God’s laws, we should feel (healthily) guilty, and then deal with the guilt. But that healthy conviction is often quickly joined by shame. And where guilt says, “You did something wrong,” shame says, “That’s why you’re no good, there’s no hope for you, flee, live in darkness, you need to hide.” Remember in the garden of Eden, at the end of Genesis 2, they were naked and felt no shame (v25), but immediately after the fall in Genesis 3 they knew they were naked and hid in shame.
Guilt’s role is to convict. Shame’s role is to condemn. Guilt’s job is to drive you towards the cross. Shame’s job is to drive you away from the cross. Shame demands that we cover up, hide our sin, and fake it. Another word for shame is disgrace. God’s antidote to shame – or disgrace – is His grace.
Paul wrote in Romans 7:24,25 “What a wretched man I man! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Johnny Lingo lived on the island of Nurabi, and he was one of the richest men in all the islands. He got that way because he was a smart trader. And Johnny Lingo was in love with Surita, who lived on the neighbouring Island of Kiriwadi.
If you were kind, you would call Surita ‘plain’.
Now on the island of Kiriwadi, they had a tradition, that when a man wanted to marry a woman, he would go to the woman’s father and bargain for the woman by offering a number of cows. The average woman on Kiriwadi went for 4 cows; the most beautiful woman on Kiriwadi had gone for 6 cows.
Sam Korad, the father of Surita, had decided he was going to ask for 2 cows for Surita, but that he would accept one.
On the day of the trading, the people of both islands gathered to watch. This was the social event of the year. And imagine their surprise when Johnny Lingo offered Sam Korad eight cows for Surita! Everyone said, “He’s mad! He’s blind! Why would a man – a smart trader – offer eight cows for a woman he could have married for one?”
Well, here’s the reason. They got married, and in 6 months Surita had become the most beautiful woman in all the islands.
She had been given value. And she blossomed.
We all have the same value in the eyes of Jesus Christ. He paid exactly the same price for you and for me as he paid for Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or Simon Peter.
You are an eight-cow saint. And so is everyone around you.
1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
A new convert approached Watchman Nee in deep anguish of soul, saying: “No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I’m losing my salvation.” Watchman Nee replied: “Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he’s a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? Not my dog. My son is my heir! And you are Jesus Christ’s heir because it is for you that He died.”
That’s the truth! So come to him today, however dirty you may feel!
The new school year is big business in the West, with supermarket aisles crammed full of uniforms, pencil cases, notepads, and more. I asked my daughter Grace to film me as I recounted one of the most moving encounters I ever experienced with a mother desperate for her children’s future:
Even a hard-working family with a modest income will struggle to shoe, clothe and supply stationery to all their children. Often, they’ll only be able to equip one or two of their children with the bare minimum. I can’t imagine having to choose between which of my kids get to carry on receiving an education…
It’s a heart-wrenching decision that parents will be making right NOW. Sadly, there will be thousands of children (particularly girls) who will not make it through the school gate this year, and if they do, they’ll be too ill-equipped or too hungry to learn. The children suffer, and so does Burundi when educational potential is not realised.
Every year I make this desperate plea because I know the transformational power of education to lift people out of poverty. During this most demanding time, GLO is committed to providing extra support to the 615 families of our hard-working GLO partners.
Please join us in giving these parents the joy of seeing ALL their children head off to school, proudly clothed in their school uniforms, backpacks loaded with pencils and books, with full stomachs and ready to learn. What a blessing!
In the happy event that we meet our goal to provide 615 families with a gift of £30 ($40), we will make sure any additional (one-off and monthly) donations are put to equally invaluable use, distributed to where the needs are the greatest.