Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Most Exciting Place to Be...

I’m pretty confident that Burundi will be the most exciting place in the world to be for the first two weeks of August – and I would love to be there, but can’t because I’m doing the Bible Readings at New Wine Newark for the coming week. Anyway, why is it going to be so amazing?

Firstly, Andrew Palau (son of Luis) and his team are doing a big citywide evangelistic festival during the first week. Please pray for that. They have managed to mobilize many of the different key groups to work together, which is no mean feat, and so we are hoping to see much lasting fruit.

Secondly, our annual outreach campaign is taking place.  Picture 600 young people gathering this Sunday - the anticipation, the buzz, the adrenaline. They will be commissioned and sent up into the bush to 35 different areas in teams to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, get their heads kicked in (hopefully not too many, which is why I’d love you to pray), and a whole lot more. Muslims will see the power of God in Jesus' name and turn to Him as Saviour. Witchdoctors will bow the knee and burn their charms publicly, which will lead to whole villages turning to Christ.  Marriages will be restored, and so much more. I’m confident to say all this because it happened like that last year, and the year before, and the year before. We guestimate that maybe 30,000 people will come to Christ in one-on-one coherent exchanges. And yes, we are committed to following up and discipling those people.

Onesphore, the pioneer leader of the movement Harvest for Christ, is so grateful for our prayer backing, so please do pray – daily if you can – for the first two weeks of August. (the one year I didn’t get you all to pray, they experienced more persecution and obstacles, so your prayers are crucial!). Please feel free to forward this link to others – the more the merrier!

Let’s do it! Thanks for sharing the journey. I’ll feedback in due course.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ordinary Heroes...

I’m just flying back from a hectic several days speaking at Summer Madness in Belfast, Causeway Coast Vineyard in Coleraine, and Urban Soul in Dublin. Not everyone would enjoy this lifestyle, but I love traveling, speaking, meeting new interesting people, and seeing lives changed.

There are lots of people doing fantastic things far removed from any limelight. Youth workers are some of my ‘ordinary heroes’. They are invariably very gifted and could have gone into all sorts of more lucrative careers. But they aren’t motivated by money. They want more. They are about seeing lives changed. And that needs to be done with young people before they get stuck in their thinking and settled in their respectability and tameness. So these youth workers often get paid a pittance, but they love the truth enough to live it. God bless them. I’ve met a whole load of them over the last week. Keep firing, guys, the reward is both now and later…

A bonus highlight was managing to fit in speaking at Causeway Coast Vineyard in Coleraine, and hooking up with my mate Mark Marx of Healing on the Streets (HOTS). Alan and Kathryn Scott are the leaders, and as with all good leaders they’ve drawn together a superb team. The authorities love them because they are so ‘out there’ in the community. For example, when the political temperature rises during marching season, youth worker Neil Young and his gang are asked by the police to stand between rival communities and give out lollipops to diffuse the tension. They are trusted. They’ve earned the right. Brilliant.

I preached there a few times, and saw Alan in action. Healing is at the heart of who they are. He was leading the service and shared stories of two healings that week. One little boy was due to have surgery for a hole on his heart. He was prayed for, and when he went in, they opened him up and the hole had gone! Mark had prayed for a lady registered blind from birth, and she had regained her sight (not perfectly, but she could now see people and objects). May that continue to be a weekly experience, and not just in a few isolated churches. Alan said at one point the Lord wanted to heal someone of scoliosis. Nobody responded. ‘Come on, whoever it is, put your hand up.’ No response. ‘The Lord’s told me he wants to heal you. Who is it?’ And only then at the third time of asking did a shy lady pipe up and share that she had indeed been touched and healed as Alan had prayed over the congregation.

We only had a few hours together, but it was a great time. Alan, Mark, Neil, Greg, Mags, John, the list goes on. Just ordinary people, but among my ordinary heroes, because they and I serve an extraordinary God…

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Adventure Begins...

I wrote this a few days ago, but had to do a first post before this one really, to introduce myself. Anyways, here goes:

Pentecost Sunday, 12th June – So this is a great day to begin the epic training schedule on. I will be doing thousands of miles in the coming nine months, culminating in 35 days of sheer determination and hopefully success in our goal to cycle from Los Angeles to Charleston, and in the process raise stackloads of money for God’s work in Burundi.

I crept out of bed at 520am, trying unsuccessfully not to wake up Lizzie. My gear was all ready downstairs, all courtesy of my new buddy Mason Moise. Cycling is a totally new ball game for me. I’d never heard of cleats before this week, but now I know that I need to click in and out of them or I’ll fall flat on my face. That's already happened to me for the first and hopefully last time, with a few cuts and bruises - but it was more a case of bruised ego for looking such an idiot as I wiped out on the road!

Off I pedaled in the dark. With no lights, I needed all the more to stick to the pavement. 1.8miles to Isle of Palms Connector, where there’s a big extra lane that I will use regularly, 2.1m across, and I did six of those, so all in a 16.2m opening ride. Not far, but a start.

At one stage, with a brilliant emerging sunrise, I stopped off and asked a lady who was taking photos of it if she’s mind taking one of me and emailing it through. I explained that this was a momentous day for me, the first of many days of disciplined training, but I didn’t go into the real motivation for the trip – God’s work. Her name was Faith. Photo taken, I sped off at riproaringly average speed, and kicked myself that I hadn’t been more directly open with her. But thankfully she was still there on my return, so I asked her if she knew what day it was? Pentecost. And you can come in a few hours to listen to me talk if you like! She did! I saw her at church and she’d already emailed through the photo. Turns out she goes to Seacoast, where I’ve preached before a few times. It made me think I really want to maximize every opportunity that arises out of this experience to share the motivation (for Christ's Kingdom work, although I won't use those religious words!) behind what I'm doing, and not just beat around the bush.

Listening to my Ipod, David Crowder’s ‘Everything Beautiful’ filled my ears and I bellowed out my praise in the beauty of this new day. This is definitely the honeymoon. I felt fresh, this is all novel and exciting. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts before it becomes a long hard slog in due course.

So all that happened before 630a.m. I aim to get training done before the family wakes up so that it will impinge the least possible on their lives – it’ll be a challenge, but I’m committed to it.

Preached three times the same sermon at church. People of Power – Pentecost brings God’s presence, power and purpose. Can be listened to/watched on St. Andrew's website.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Entering New Territory...

Right. This is all new. I'm usually a few steps behind on these things, so am playing catch-up, but here goes:

What can you expect on this blog?

My passion is to see people step out boldly into God's purposes and see His Kingdom come; to see people come to the realization that life to the full can only be lived in personal relationship with Jesus; to see Burundi radically transformed by a new generation of costly followers of Christ; to get to the end of my life, however long He gives me, and have absolutely no regrets over not acting out His plans in my life. So there'll some of that.

I passionately love my family - the luscious Lizzie, earnest little Zac (5), kissaholic Grace (3), and disturbingly volatile Josiah (nearly 2). So there'll be some of that.

I've recently committed to cycling 3000 miles West to East coast of America, with the aim of raising $1million for our stunningly beautiful work in Central Africa, so there'll be some of that too.

And who knows what else...

But here's some recent news to kick things off:

I’m gearing up for lots of summer preaching. I returned recently from a great weekend of preaching in Bluffton. I stayed at an unknown elderly hostess’ gorgeous house, and was told she was out of town. I didn’t have a swimming costume with me so just jumped in naked. On my 22nd length, I looked up to see a very shocked lady walking towards me and asking who on earth I was!!! In the Bluff, in the buff! Our friendship went deep very quickly – indeed, I bared my all!!!

Having gone from living in the second poorest country in the world to the richest, and in an affluent community at that, I have to say I have struggled recently with living where we are. It is just so nice, people are so friendly, and we are so blessed. The community we are in is fantastic. I'm part of a great staff team at St Andrew's. Our social life is terrific. Charleston is a gorgeous part of the world. I don’t take anything for granted, but I just don’t aspire to this kind of life. I miss the rawness and challenge of being in Burundi. It's frustrating and challenging as I seek to break new ground for the expansion of our work in Africa, because here in the USA I don’t (yet) have many relationships, unlike in the UK. So an ongoing prayer is for doors to open – for a ‘tipping point’-type breakthrough that will lead to many more open doors and opportunities and greater exposure. And also that we’d hear from God how long He wants us here, and do whatever we’re told.

Family life is going well. School is over so Zac and Grace are on holiday camps for the mornings. It is hot and humid so we want to be in the pool as much as possible. They’ve had swimming lessons and can now justabout swim by themselves without drowning. Grace was in her swimsuit the other day. She clenched her lower cheeks together and said: "Look Mummy, my bottom can hug itself." Priceless! Josiah’s a snot factory and screams and laughs in equal measure, quite the handful! Lizzie and I are going great guns – it’s a nice season in our marriage.

That's it, the blogging journey has begun. See you soon!