And from Swaziland…

Another testimony of how our training in Strategy has had a positive impact! This time, from Swaziland. Our coordinator, Mandla Bhembe wrote:

Happy to hear from  you. 

God is helping us and we meet every Wednesday with the group around Mbabane. Busy with the 60 days Study in the life of Jesus Christ. I have also met the clergy from the East Region hope classes will be starting soon by Rev Ntokozo Ndzimandze.  My phone got broken  God has provided with a new one and  hope  now communication with you will be much easier now.
Finances are still a challenge but the Lord is helping  us. When ready will be happy to invite you again for the further study  you have highlighted.
God bless you sir

Spiritual armaments…

We don’t often get feedback from our trainees, but when we do, they are always special. Like this one from Phiwa in Durban. About our most recent training in Strategy he just wrote:

The Lord is with you.

I can’t thank you enough for the spiritual armaments that you have imparted into my spirituality as well as ministry through this training.

The material is so divine to extent that I have waited for such since 2008, but I really would not put my head around to formulate anything like that, even though I knew that something is missing in the way I teach the children of God. But now with this material every thing will be so easy. I would like to read the 4 Chairs book, please advise as to how can I get it.

Thank you once again.
Yours in Christ
Phiwa Mahaye

My body broken…

The image was disturbing. A decapitated Christ – repaired, but broken nonetheless. Who could have done such a thing?

But even more disturbing were the security fences around the church…obviously vandals needed to be deterred, but the spiked fences, electrified wires, and thorny shrubbery were there to keep out the very ones who desperately needed the one Who came to give His life for the world. The Lamb of God Who died as a propitiation for our sins. Heartbreaking.

Everyone in the Durban area lives behind high walls and have all manners of security features from electric wires, to rolls of barbed wire, to cameras…and they live in fear. A friend I met for the first time in 45 years told us horror stories of car highjackings – she herself was highjacked once – break-ins, murders, thefts, and other lawless deeds that were everyday occurrences. She was obviously nervous and did not wish to stand on the pavement to say goodbye for too long…

I have brooded over these images for days now. Were these images somehow images of our lives as believers? After all, we are the Temple of the living God and if our defences are so high – for whatever reason – that no one can get close enough to catch a glimpse of the crucified yet risen Saviour we represent, what purpose do we serve in the Kingdom? What are we hiding behind?

To be sure, vandals break hearts as well as statues, and we do need to protect our church buildings as much as we need to protect our bodies…but was His body not broken to bring the world in?

We are engaged in a great work…

We are engaged in a great work…

“I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” These words of Nehemiah, addressed to those who were opposing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, have encouraged us more than once in our Kingdom work.

The enemy is so determined to defeat the work of God’s people that he will use any tactic possible. He will use people, often even God’s own people, to discourage us. He will use situations and stories to incite fear to make us reluctant to go somewhere or to speak to someone or to do something risky and yet important. This should not surprise as, as the enemy used the very same tactics with our Lord Jesus. We are also warned in the Scriptures that we are at war, not with people, but with powers and principalities of darkness in the heavenly places. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour. So, we are not ignorant of his efforts.

We find our courage and determination to press on by focussing on Jesus who who was made a little lower than the angels, who took on the form of a slave and came in the likeness of humanity, who was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin, who endured shame, humiliation, betrayal, desertion, and crucifixion…all for the joy that was set before Him…the joy of knowing that His labour was not in vain. That through His sacrificial suffering and death, many would be reconciled to God the Father through faith in Him.

 

This past week, Louise and I trained a number of potential disciple makers in the Diocese of Natal. The first two days was focussed on the first of the four modules in the LEAD Program training, Strategy. The attendees were mostly clergy and lay leaders. We were so encouraged to hear this group say that, while they have heard about discipleship for years and have even attended various courses on the subject, this was the first time they felt we had given them the tool they needed to do the work!

They were so excited about the material that they decided they want to translate it into their own language, Zulu, so that they can teach many more people how to make disciples! We will be sending them the Xhosa and English versions this week so that they can strike while the iron is still hot!

The second group was mostly made up of lay leaders. For this training we teamed up with Trevor and Estelle, our team members from Growing the Church, as it was the first time we would be teaching this material. We had heard quite a bit about Rooted in Jesus and it is used in many African countries, but we have never been trained to teach it. Estelle worked out a three day program and gave us a few sections to teach and to lead. The training is divided up into teaching sessions, workshops, and practical sessions and everyone participates. It was a lot of fun and the group really enjoyed it. At the end, each participant had an opportunity to say how the course had touched them personally and what they were going to do about it! Watch out Natal!

Once again we were reminded that we are engaged in a great work…that in spite of the many distractions, disappointments, and discouragements that the enemy hurls at us ever so often, we must be determined to press on…because we really do live for Christ and for Christ alone. Jesus faced what He faced because of the joy that was set before Him…the joy of knowing that many would come to the Father because of His labour. By His grace and His aid, we can do the same.

We are engaged in a a great work…we cannot come down.

Poking Holes in Heavenly Places

I seem to be waking up quite a bit in the wee hours of the morning lately…and, when I do, I pray. The news here these days is filled with doom and gloom stories…murders, riots, strikes, corruption scandals, and the like…very little positive. One can almost feel the heaviness in the air.

So, quite naturally, when I woke up at 3 AM this morning, I started to pray for South Africa…and as I was praying, I saw in my mind’s eye an image of my favourite Julia Child’s Tarragon Casserole Chicken. Yes, I did check to see if I really was awake. But there it was, as clear as day…in the darkness, that is. The aluminium foil covered chicken dish, ready to go into the oven…only, it wasn’t my casserole dish…it was shaped like South Africa and it was covering South Africa. As I continued to pray I saw that each prayer pierced the foil, allowing the light of the Lord to shine through onto the dark country below. Hmm, interesting…

What on earth could this mean?

Then the Lord brought to mind a story from the book of Daniel…the prophet was praying for his people. He had learned from the book of Jeremiah that Jerusalem was to lie desolate for seventy years. Realising that this time period was coming to an end, he began to confess the sins of his people as if they were his own and to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Now, we know that Daniel was a righteous man because we are told as much a few times in the book bearing his name, but he had no problem confessing the sins of the nation collectively…so I began to do the same.

Daniel’s prayers ended with these words: “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open Your eyes and see our despair. See how Your city – the city that bears Your name – lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For Your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for Your people and Your city bear Your name.”

The interesting thing is, there was a delay…of twenty-one days! Not because God was hard of hearing or indifferent or unwilling or unable, but because the messenger sent to Daniel from God had been delayed by someone – or something – called the “spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia”. He was delayed until Michael, the Archangel, came to his rescue.

But that’s Old Testament stuff, right? Not so fast…

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that “…we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” There are unseen forces at work in the heavenly places…and they are working against us. But we are also told in several places that these forces, including their diabolical leader, have been conquered through the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus on the cross and that, if we resist him, he must flee.

So, my prayers shifted, once again, to spiritual warfare. I prayed to the Lord to send thousands of angels to do warfare against these forces of evil hovering over this country…especially the spirit of lawlessness that seems to be running rampant throughout the nation.

I prayed for the purging of wickedness from the face of this land…for the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit…for conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment…for repentance and revival. And, in my own words, I echoed the prayer of righteous Daniel…”We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!”

Prayer pokes holes in heavenly places…prayer somehow lets the light of Christ shine through. And so I am happy to be woken up in the wee hours of the morning as I know that I am dependant on the Lord…without Him…without His help…without His Holy Spirit…I am nothing and I can do nothing. I need Him…and so I pray…I plead. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer. Cast out all that is evil…all that is not from You…and bring Your peace to bear upon this country. In the victorious Name of Jesus!

Dark Curses

Dark Curses

I woke up just after midnight. When I have nights like this I pray…usually for our children and grandchildren, but often also for our ministry and the countries in which we serve.This morning, the Lord brought to mind something we witnessed about three years ago while visiting Louise’s sister. A Sangoma (traditional witchdoctor) dressed in all her diabolical regalia, was walking up and down the streets of Villiersdorp, muttering away to herself. Apparently, she had been doing this throughout the village for some time. But as I never saw her again, I forgot about her…until last night.

The weather app on our phones had predicted much needed rain. But a very strong wind was blowing, threatening to blow away the clouds. I listened to the gusts as I pondered the image the Lord had brought back to my mind…and then I made the connection.

This Sangoma was more than likely cursing the village and the farms in the valley. The drought really started about three years ago, even though the rain had been tapering off for a while prior to that.

I have lived in Africa long enough to take curses very seriously…and so I began to rebuke the curse and prayed for it to be broken in Jesus’ Name. I also confessed the sins of our people, regardless of ethnicity, as the prophets used to do in the Older Testament…and I begged the Lord for mercy and for the rain to come. As I prayed, the wind settled down and it began to rain. Softly, at first and then a bit harder. Good, penetrating rain.

It is still raining as I write. Obviously, we need weeks and months of this sort of rain before the dam shows any significant change…but this is a start, right?

I am continuing to pray against this curse…may this be the end of its power.

My reading for this morning was from 2 Chronicles 29-32…the story of Hezekiah’s reign. In chapter 32, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded and mocked the Lord God and insulted King Hezekiah. Then Hezekiah and Isaiah cried out in prayer to God in heaven and the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army.

But prior to their prayers, the King encouraged his people by saying, “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!”

Curses are serious. I will not treat them lightly. But neither will I be afraid of them as I know that He that is in me is far greater than he that is in the world. There is a spirit of lawlessness that has been unleashed upon this land…of that I am certain. But we will continue to pray against it and whatever curses have been spoken out against the Lord and His people in this country.

Pray with and for us!