Reaching into an empty barrel only to find more than enough

Sometimes we have nothing left in the tank. The sense of tiredness is real. Self care is essential, so as you read, balance the message with permission to rest.

We reach into the empty barrel believing we have nothing to give; only to find an abundant flow.

I was at kindy pick up for my 3-year-old son when I saw a mum who I had prayed for previously at a play date. She had asked why I was fasting. I explained Australia was in revival and a mighty move of God was afoot across our wonderful nation. As we spoke, she shared some of her private and very painful history, after which I prayed for her. While I prayed, she felt electricity running up her arms, and she cried, feeling His presence course through her body. She had encountered a good and loving God.

On this day, she looked tired. I asked her about this, and the tears flowed. I gently placed my hand on her shoulder and prayed, releasing peace and rest. She reported her sleep was ok, but she was not feeling refreshed from her sleep. I prayed again, asking that one hour of sleep would be as four. I hugged her, nearly crying myself, and said to call if she wanted prayer again.

With said 3-year-old in tow, I planned to head home. Instead, I ‘knew’ I needed to go to a local shopping district. It was close to Christmas, so shopping was not what I felt like doing. However, hearing the nudge, I headed to the store I felt compelled to visit.

Uncertain why I was there, I looked. Feeling exhausted, I did not believe I had anything to give.

My barrel was empty.

Wandering about, I feigned interest. I noticed a woman with a brace on her wrist.

‘Person found,’ I thought.

I approached her and asked about the brace.

She had torn tendons in her wrist and thumb, so I offered to pray. She agreed and as I prayed she felt tingles, which continued long after I finished and she completed her shopping.

I turned towards God once more, knowing I had not completed the task. I felt tired, so I argued a little, but ultimately decided I would stay.

I could not shake the feeling I had not found who or what I was there for.

A woman had watched me closely as I prayed. I was aware of her, but I had ignored the feeling. I felt her watching me again and wondered if she was stalking me through the store.

 

Crossing her path, I smiled and turned to pass politely, but she suddenly stepped forward to speak.

Earnestly she said she felt stressed. She explained the stress was because she was hosting her son’s wedding reception at her home, followed closely by Christmas.

I agreed that would be stressful.

‘Thank you,’ she said.

The exchange puzzled me. Perhaps she needed to be seen.

I wandered on with my son, but there she was again…

I was sure she was intentionally placing herself in my path.

She engaged me in further conversation.

Tired, I did not want to chat. Small talk is a gift, a gift I do not posses. I have to work at it.

I stopped the sour grapes and simply threw caution to the wind. I offered to pray.

Excited, she readily agreed. She said she saw me on the other side of the store, praying for the other woman.

‘Ah, she had been watching me,’ I thought, ‘and she wanted prayer.’

Her name was Joy, so I prayed for Joy. I prayed for Joy to be released into her destiny; for joy (the Spirit of Joy) to come upon and within her; for Joy to receive ‘joy’; and for Joy to be Joy and all that entailed. In fact, it was the season for JOY!

I also prayed for the other circumstances she had shared.

As I prayed, I looked at her.

‘You can feel that, can’t you?’

She nodded, close to tears.

When I finished, she stared at me and asked if I knew some Christians on her street in a nearby suburb.

‘Oh no, here we go,’ I thought, but then she told me their names.

They were my pastors!

She said I was just like them – she told me she had been watching them.

‘… and now she had been watching me too,’ I thought wryly.

It was clear in that moment God was on her case. It was not a coincidence I was in that store. I was there for no apparent reason other than a hunch. My pastors’ witness impacted her. She was the one God had set His heart upon and sent me. She had a hunger to encounter the God my pastors knew; the God I knew; the God she wanted to know too- the one we all called ‘Lord,’ the one we all called Jesus.

I was there for her!

I explained I had not known why I had come to the shop. Yet, it was now apparent to me I had come for her.

It was apparent that God was on her case.

I wished her well and finished up in the shop.

My barrel was empty today-but God.

Life is busy at Christmas time. Children are excited, their behaviour can challenge. People make demands; others can be unkind. We can feel our barrel is empty and we have nothing to give.

However, God’s barrel is never empty. Despite me and my circumstances, as I reached into my empty barrel, God came through and touched three women – all in the space of an hour. Each woman needed a touch of God; all for different reasons.

As long as I will stop for the one, regardless of how I feel, regardless of me, my God will move to touch a hurting world.

Today I saw His arm long enough to embrace others through me; His grace sufficient for my needs to be met and His desires fulfilled. My barrel may feel dry, but His barrel is always full – His power is ever present.

Despite me, wine will always flow.

Since this day I have discovered people are watching. I know if they watch for long enough I will disappoint them because I am mere human; but if they will see through me to Him… that will not disappoint.

I have prayed for many who have yearned for a touch from God. There have been many such occasions. In my daughter’s school, a young teacher cried when I offered to pray. She explained she had been waiting, hoping for prayer. This shocked me, because I always felt so awkward in offering. But here was a woman desperate for the moment God saw her heart’s cry. Through her tears she said she thought she was going to miss out; I assured her God saw and loved her- she would never miss out.

We may think we are at the bottom of our barrel, there is nothing more to give. But, in the empty barrel, there is always more.

Wine will flow regardless of me because…

God is Good!

 

He sees the one

A beautiful person house sat for us while we were away for the Easter break. She is dangerous to darkness because she will listen and respond. She shared the most lovely testimony after we came home, a testimony that continues to show that God is the God that sees and cares for the one.

© Andrey Kremkov on Unsplash

Easter Sunday morning she knew she was to head into St Pauls Cathedral in the city. She got herself organised and caught the train into town.

As she stood on the station, she realised she did not have a mask (masks are mandatory on public transport) so she quickly checked with the stationmaster who informed her she could jump on and risk travelling without one. Many do. She thought twice and caught the train, believing she would be late if she went back for her mask.

Arriving ‘on time’ she stood outside the church with another woman and mentioned she had forgotten her mask. The woman looked at her and promptly produced a spare. A God provided the solution.

Mask situation taken care of, she then realised with a level of frustration that she had forgotten daylight savings ended that morning – she was an hour too early.

Irritated, she considered heading off for a city jaunt. However, as she walked she kept finding herself drawn back to St Pauls Cathedral.

Go to the service she would!

© Sincerely Media on unsplash

Sitting in the large church, she estimated that there must have been approximately 2000 people in attendance. It was not the usual type of service for her, and so she was interested to know what God was up to in the moment.

She tells me she enjoyed much of the service until she heard a loud snoring emanating from a source behind her. Turning with the many others, she noted a woman about 2 rows back whose bowed head was in deep sleep.

The noise irritated many around my friend. People ‘tut tutted’ and nodded at each other while glaring at the snoring perpetrator. Yet, not a single soul got up to waken the slumbering woman, regardless that the service was being drowned out with the sound.

My friend said she watched, waiting for someone to awaken the woman gently. Sure someone would help, she watched the ushers wander past to count the crowd. Not a single person moved to wake the sleeper, to help her avoid embarrassment.

© Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Becoming certain that this was why she had been told to head into town, she argued with God.

Someone else closer would surely interrupt her…

An usher will surely come to her help…

Surely a Church full of Christians would gently engage with the woman to help her wake and avoid the shaming she might feel upon waking.

My friend prayed someone closer would help.

Not a soul moved.

Compassion flooding her, my friend got up, walked back the 2 rows, and sat quietly next to the woman. Once seated, she whispered to the woman who woke with a start. My friend told her gently that she had been snoring, that she was not there to condone, but to sit by her side. The woman did not look at her and said nothing. My friend continued to sit by her side.

As a trained nurse, she recognised the woman was suffering with some form of mental illness. She had perhaps had too much sleeping tablet the night before; whatever the cause, she did not know that she had been making such a noise.

The beautiful thing was that once awake, the woman fully engaged with the entire service. She sang at the top of her voice and listened with intent. God was clearly engaging her heart.

Who knows the outcome of that single act of inconvenient obedience!

© Ben Eaton on Unsplash

My friend sat, now understanding why she had gone to the service.

God knew.

God had seen this woman.

A kind-hearted Father wanted a lone woman to hear, engage and most importantly be protected from the shame that would follow had she realised what she was doing.

God had seen and sent my friend on an inconvenient journey because…

God is Good!

The God who sees (part 2)

© Sam Manns
God gave me kisses on Thursday. I had been flat, I needed encouragement.
He is the God who sees…

The next day, I saw a great friend. You know the type: encouraging, positive, loves your quirkiness and knows you well enough to brush the dirt away gently to reveal the gold while calling you higher. Community matters!

Home again, I sorted daughter responsibilities, and felt to take our dog for a quick walk. Her life long buddy died recently, and she is more needy these days.

As I walked I thought about two random moments from years ago. Both these moments involved drunk guys. Andrew had stopped for them. One was a homeless man whom Andrew took shopping – he had cried tears in delight as Andrew ‘just happened’ to pick up his favourite foods and load up the trolley. The other man wept in the dark as Andrew sat by his side in the local football stadium, talking about his broken marriage.

These ‘random’ memories should have pointed me to what would happen next – but I was none the wiser.

As I walked into the local footy oval, I saw a man to my left. At his feet was a wine box, with a couple of bottles of champagne.

© Michael Odelberth

He averted his gaze. I sensed sensed his shame and as I did my heart went out to him. His despair and sadness was tangible. With a nudge to acknowledge him as I walked past, I smiled gently.

‘Hello,’ I said.

A quiet ‘hello’ came back.

I continued to walk, and I ‘saw’ in my mind’s eye a picture of me sitting next to him on the park bench, talking.

I never choose to sit down next to drunk men at parks.

I prayed instead.

The image in my mind stuck.

‘I will stop for him and sit if you like. Just let me know if I stop on my first or second lap.’

As I came near to where he sat, he got up.

‘Oh, he’s leaving,’ I thought, ‘missed it.’

However, to my surprise, he merely shifted along to the next park bench. Some men had been working on the turf, so I reasoned he was perhaps uncomfortable. He seemed a gentle soul. He later told me he had become too hot in the sun.

His shift of seating made it difficult to join him, so as I walked close to the boundary fence instead and said, ‘Are you ok?’

‘No, I’m not, I’m actually really struggling,’ he replied.

His vulnerability was raw.

© Alicja Gancarz

‘Wow, that must be tough. Do you want to talk about it?’ I asked.

He did, and he started talking.

After a little while, I mentioned I was a Christian. I explained I had felt prompted to come over to see if he was ok. Note: I have great local non-Christian friends who would have done the same.

I told him about the picture I had of us sitting and chatting. He said that sounded nice.

We sat side by side on the park bench. I listened some more. He spoke. I prayed for him. He wept.

I told Him about the God who sees him, who loved him right as he was. I spoke briefly of my messes…

I told him God did not judge the drinking, the pain, the mess, the self medicating; instead, I explained, God adored him. I responded to a comment that God did not judge him, that Jesus had dealt with all that, but then I said I was not there to preach.

I repeated God loved him so much and merely hated the drink because it hurt him. I also said that God sees and hates the hurt that he was trying to stifle, and like a good Father wants to see him set free in order to have a wonderful life.

© Jen Theodore

As I prayed, I saw a picture of a little boy. The boy was so full of joy and excitement about football that his eyes shone with delight. Speaking to the broken dream in his heart, I prayed for the boy who had played football and cricket at the very oval we sat beside.

I told him he could not be any more loved than he was right now, just as he was. He shared his struggles to believe in a God that could ‘allow’ such pain in the world. I told him he had good questions, and I responded by telling him of my own struggles with faith when faced with the brutality my refugee clients had survived.

We kept talking, he wept, he drank, and my dog sat patiently by my side.

Eventually he said how much my saying ‘hello’ had meant to him.

It was a tiny, yet significant, act of kindness.

I shared how God prompted me to sit by his side, and how I had prayed for him as I walked all around the oval.

‘Really?’ he said…

© Natasha Ivanchikhina

I said simply, ‘He is the God who sees, He loves you, He cares’ and I thought of my encounter the day before.

He is the God who sees…

Eventually I stood, I needed to leave. I had to return home to help my mother, whose sister (my aunt) had just died. Promising to leave Andrew’s number at the reception of his accommodation, I said we would love to see him for a coffee. Drunk or not, it was ok; he was welcome just to catch up.

He said he would like that.

I felt the urge to give him a hug; but ignored it the first time. Feeling it again, I offered him a hug. He immediately responded ‘yes’ and threw his arms around me in a way that he was desperate for love. He was hungry for the acceptance that only human warmth can provide. As I hugged him, I hoped he felt the Father’s heart. I could feel his basic human need to be seen and to be loved.

I hope he calls for a cuppa.

I also hope he can kick the addiction and step into his inheritance. I had prayed a future I saw.

He has kicked the habit before. I believe he will again.

Yet, even if he can’t, he knows there is a God who loves him, right where he is at. He knows there is a God who sent a random female stranger to sit and talk on a park bench for an hour.

Yesterday, God gave me kisses…

He was the God who sees…

Today God gave him kisses…

He IS the God that sees…

I hope and trust that this man at the park tasted to see that…

God is Good!

© Suhash Villuri

Treasures in Darkness… Christmas Shopping with Jesus

We had a few hours on a Saturday to do child free Christmas shopping before going to a movie. With our list in hand, we did not know that Jesus had His own Christmas shopping list for us to do too…!

I was in the ‘ladies’ when I found the first on His list. God told me to pray for someone outside my cubicle. Side note: Yes, He talks to me everywhere.

‘She has been a great blessing to others for many, many years, I want you to bless her’.

As I washed my hands, I looked at ‘her’ in the mirror.

She was an elderly woman waiting for her granddaughter. I introduced myself and stated that that I believed she had been a great blessing to many people over the years. I then asked if I could pray a blessing over her. She looked surprised but agreed.

Her name was Joy.

She was the second Joy I had prayed for that week and I mentally noted the ‘coincidence.’

I blessed Joy knowing that she knew Joy and was familiar with the Joy of God. She teared up a little as I prayed and blessed her, and once done, she asked if I would also pray for her granddaughter. I agreed and prayed and prophesied over her granddaughter, declaring her destiny would open and unfold, that she was a pillar and a leader in the coming move of God, which I believed would be a move that came through the youth in power. Joy excitedly said she had been praying for revival for years…

My husband had been waiting patiently outside. He knew what was going on inside because people were coming out from the bathroom saying in amazement that there was “someone praying in there for people…” and pointing back to the door. Andrew knew what I was up to and laughed. I hadn’t thought about that sort of impact, but it was quite funny…

Jesus assignment done, we got a coffee and discussed our shopping…

©Haemosoo Kim unsplash

As we waited for our coffees, I popped into another store to “bag” our first item. C served me, and yes, God had me pray for her. C was a young girl (about 16) who “felt” the anointing as I prayed. I prophesied she would discover who she was and why she was in the next two years. She had said she did not know, but my gosh, she was a marvellous girl!. I headed off with my purchase and sat with my husband to finish our coffee…

I felt I had done my dash, and we headed off to a sporting store. We purchased nothing, but on our way out I walked past a very disabled girl with her parents. Strapped into her wheelchair, her arms and legs fastened down. The girl’s body was small, deformed, and she displayed no control over her head movements. I felt God’s strong desire for me to pray, but I was so intimidated by the severity of her condition. I internally argued with God as we walked away from the store, but ultimately said:

‘Ok, for You, I’m willing to do it…’ and I went back to search the shop.

I found the girl with her parents waiting at the checkout. The intensity of my nerves made it an extreme fight to approach them. I fought the extreme urge to walk away, knowing that God really wanted me to ask if I could pray for her…

Stopping in front of her chair, I asked her parents if I could pray. I desperately did not want them to feel that I felt sorry for them, but I also wanted them to know that I cared. They agreed, so I knelt and addressed their daughter, who could not talk at all.

She was dribbling and had an angry-looking rash on her face from the dampness of her dribble. Her hands were unformed, and her body was tiny. I knelt and taking her hand in mine, and I quietly introduced myself. Her parents looked weary and watched on as I prayed, and her father leant in to listen.

As I prayed, she locked her gaze on mine. believe she could clearly feel God as I prayed for her. The frantic movements slowed, and she held onto my gaze several times. I prayed for her parents too and asked God to provide solutions.

Leaving the store, I thanked the girl and parents for stopping and allowing me to pray for them. I felt wobbly and said to Andrew it must be nerves; instead he encouraged me, suggesting it was the intensity of anointing…

©Janko Ferlic on unsplash

“Ok” I thought, “big one down”, shake, shake, shake, “gosh, ok, deep breath” shake, shake, shake…

I slowly settled down as we walked through Big W, fighting the negative thoughts, the accusations of failure and the residual impact of the nerves.

As the legs stopped shaking, I could focus on our task at hand. Andrew encouraging me all the way, we successfully made further purchases.

As we left God prompted me to pray for the cashier who said to me ‘I am not a Christian’ to which I said something like ‘that doesn’t matter, I can still bless you’ which I promptly did, placing my hand on his elbow as I spoke peace over him for this season of business.

It was time for our movie, so we headed toward the theatre. To our surprise, we had calmly and easily done all our shopping.

I felt quite successful, having bagged all that we had, and I waited while Andrew put our purchases into the car. As I stood, I tried to ignore a young girl in a wheelchair. I had noticed her out of the corner of my eye. I calmly ignored the very brief, quiet prompting, preferring to hear the louder “no” that came very much on top of the whispered ‘pray for her’. The prompt was so subtle, and I wanted to get to our movie on time, so I tried to ignore her, and I literally turned my back.

I stood and argued internally, but it was no good; I knew I had to stop for this one too.

©Krists Luhaers on unsplash

Walking over to the girl’s mother, I introduced myself, asked what her daughter had done and if I could pray. The Mum’s name was ‘A’ and was also with her teenage son, who looked like he had down syndrome, but who we later found out had autism. She looked back at me and immediately said yes, that would be great.

I knelt by the young girl (she was 14 years old) and she told me a brick wall had fallen on her, crushing and breaking one leg. The damage included the growth plate, so they had to do the same with the other leg in order that the legs would grow at the same rate.

I placed my hands on her legs (after she also gave me permission) and I prayed. She felt heat. I continued to pray and prophesy, while her friends stood by our side, politely not looking.

I asked her if she had asked Jesus into her heart. She said she had, but on a prompt I said ‘let’s do it again’ and so in response she asked Jesus into her heart. I suggested she ask that He fill her up, so she did. I continued to pray and when she said “enough” (a boundary we had agreed upon before I prayed) I thanked her and looked at her mother who then thanked me.

I thought I was going to go into the movie theatre after this and time was ticking along. We had not been to a movie for years by ourselves, so it was a real treat. However, I felt to pray for her brother and so turning to the mother I asked if I could pray for him too. She again readily agreed.

The boy called “B” was 16 years old. He swayed heavily under the anointing, and I motioned to Andrew, who quickly steadied him. He was incredibly ‘open’ to God’s presence.

©Make Simon Unsplash

I felt to suggest he say, ‘Jesus, come into my heart’

He did.

I then felt to suggest to him, ‘say Jesus fill me up,’

B said ‘Jesus fill me up’, and on saying it he kept saying it, over and over, laughing and swaying heavily under the anointing.

I finished and turned to the mother, knowing I had to pray for her too.

‘Well, this is more important than being on time for the movie,’ I thought and I offered to pray.

She agreed.

As I prayed for the mother, the compassion of God came upon me and I nearly cried. She looked like she did too. I received words of knowledge about her–she was struggling (that was obviously a possibility given her two kids) she was making major decisions, and she was a single Mum.

She told me she had 3 children and had told my husband prior to me praying that she had found the recent challenges with her daughter’s injury tough. I prayed, and she quietly received; she was so very thirsty for God and drank Him in, and as I finished praying for her, I placed my arms around her and held her close for a long, long time.

I went to release my hug, but she hung on, so I hugged her some more and when I felt it was enough, I again tried to disengage, but she again hung on again. So, I continued to hold her, yet feeling quite embarrassed by now. Again I went to release her, but she continued to hang onto me quietly. I tried again, and she hung on again… so I just stood in the middle of the busy shopping centre and let her drink and cling to me for what seemed an eternity…

I gave her our church card, and I wrote my private number on it so she could call me if she felt she wanted.

As we walked away my husband said to me he believed we were there, not so much for the daughter, but for the Mother, who had been through such a tough time, for Jesus says:

‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me… streams of living water will flow from within him.’ John 7:38-39

We saw our movie, but we missed the promos. This did not bother us at all. We even had time to go to the bathroom and settle in before the movie started. God had it all timed beautifully and I am so glad that I did not rush because He had treasures in the darkness to give…

 

©Doz Gabrial unsplash

This is what the Lord says to his anointed…

‘I will go before you and will level the mountains;

I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.

I will give you the treasures of darkness,

riches stored in secret places,

so that you may know that I am the Lord,

the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:2-3 NIV

Every person I encountered was a treasure in the darkness, waiting to be discovered. Each was a treasure set out for me to discover, to find, to uncover and my footsteps ordered by a loving and knowing God. He not only blessed us with the miracle of a great time together, Christmas shopping in the Christmas rush, but He also entrusted 10 people that all needed a touch from their mighty and loving God. Ten people altered for ever more. He left those treasures out for me to find because …

God is Good.

Post Script: The shopping day was a Saturday, a few years ago now. I wrote the story up on a Tuesday, and just as I finished writing the mum rang me with the following report:

freestocks-_3Q3tsJ01nc-unsplash
©Freestocks on unsplash
  1. Her daughter stood without crutches on the Sunday;
  2. Her son lost his aggression and was much calmer. There was a change in his eyes, and they looked ‘more alert.’ He had stopped asking about his father who left the family earlier that and she said the ‘worry has lifted from his face’, he is ‘much calmer’. She told me he continues to say ‘Jesus fill me up’ and is laying hands on his mother and family friends and asking ‘can you feel that?’ and she can;
  3. The mum (A) felt much more at peace (in her home and in herself). The night before meeting us she was suicidal, and when she saw us across the shops, she stood willing us to come over. She said there was a light around both Andrew and I that she saw and wanted to be near. From that afternoon A cared for herself properly, eating 3 meals a day, and was feeling at peace.
  4. A told me she had thought about the encounter every day. She believed it was not a coincidence that we met. Just before she met us she had looked for a car park and just knew that she would find one on the middle level (where she met us) at about 1.30pm, just in time to meet us after getting her daughter out of the car with the wheelchair. She said that she had told her daughter that there would be a car park for them in that place, and there was a reason for the delay in finding one.

During our discussion on the telephone, A gave her heart to Christ. We talked at length and she shared some of her story with me. She also asked for and received the gift of tongues, feeling a ‘tingling up and down her legs’ as we prayed. She also felt the tingles over her head, as she had done earlier. Her ‘spirit spot’ burned lightly as we talked and prayed.

Post Post Script:
I kept in contact with A over Christmas and eventually arranged a coffee at my home in mid-January.

The bell rang, and on answering the door A was with her daughter who was standing. Her daughter’s name also begins with A so I will call her Little A. I stood looking at Little A and they both laughed at my shock. Little A was walking, without leg braces, without a wheelchair and without a walking stick.

After my initial shock, they came into my home where I heard the story.

©Julia Raasch unsplash

Little A had stood for the first time unaided the day after I had prayed for her. She had been told on 6th January by her physiotherapist that she would need the wheelchair, leg braces and a crutch for another 6 weeks. Yet, she was walking completely unaided on 18th January… 12 days later! At the six week mark she was back training with cadets.

Apparently she had been walking not long after being prayed for. They had gone on holidays after Christmas at a caravan park in Phillip Island. They took the wheelchair, but had not used it, and she had been walking unaided since.

So, here she was, walking well, on Wednesday 18th January, having had two broken legs and having been told she would need a wheelchair, leg braces and a walking stick for at least another 6 weeks on 6th January…!

On this visit, Little A explained that she still needed more strength in her legs. I laid hands on her legs and called strength into her thigh muscles and as I did her mother, my daughter and I noticed her knee caps moving up and down with no input from her, as if her thigh muscles were being contracted and released. She did not feel it, it just happened.

She stood and tried them out and I prayed again, and it happened again…

Her Mother and I concluded her thigh muscles must have been being strengthened supernaturally. It was the oddest thing to watch her knee caps bobbing up and down in a rapid movement!

After we finished praying and we went for a walk during which I heard more of her story.

Apparently A’s family transformed. Her son was no longer violent, she was walking in abundant favour, disputes settled supernaturally, with no effort on her part. She shared how she had told a friend who was also in a place of despair how she too could be free-she was ready to give what she had received away to others!

A said the entire journey had been remarkable, the turnaround, marvellous…

I just listened in awe, knowing that it was all a miracle, and I noted that I nearly did not stop for them because I wanted to get to the movies on time…

I wondered how many others I had simply walked past… 

How many others may have had a life transformed… had I stopped for the one…  

I am certain that there is no condemnation in Christ, but how His heart yearns for us to recognise and to step into who we truly are, to co-labour with Him in the family business.

… all creation groans…

©Clay Banks on Unsplash

Will we be bold enough to step into our inheritance and bring others with us?

Dare we to lay claim to the “treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places” (Is45:3) and set them free?

Dare we take people by the hand and say “come”?

God is breath taking in His beauty, in His kindness, in His Glory!

Dare we?

I know I must for…

God IS Good!

It’s the little things…

Community matters
© Beth Kennedy 2021

I felt the nudge to get out and go for a walk in the sunshine. There was 40 minutes before an online class started. I was a little flat, and did not feel inclined, but I recognised the nudge and so I knew to go.

Heading out, I asked which way. In my ‘wisdom’, I was sure a walk towards the beach was in order.

‘Turn right,’ I heard instead, and flashes of my local coffee shop played across my consciousness. ‘Head there, get yourself a coffee and head home.’

‘Alright’ I thought and enjoying the sunshine I did. I walked to the local that knew and loved me well.

While there, one of the junior staff members asked me how I was. In return, I asked her too.

‘Not too well’ she responded, and after enquiring further she told me her concerns, and her thoughts around the next steps she might take.

‘Give me your hand,’ I said. ‘I’m going to pray for you.’

She did, and I did.

Coffee in hand, I wished her a brilliant day, and headed home. Thinking I would head back the quick way, I checked with Him who knew…

Nope.

A clear picture emerged, and I felt a prompting to walk home past the park, essentially the way I had walked before.

Sipping my coffee, I was happily anticipating my online class. I felt sheer delight in God, and I could tangibly sense His pleasure in me and in my delight in the morning adventure. Yes, I know. It is a tad ‘Pollyanna,’ but I don’t care. We need more Pollyanna’s that delight in the little things, for they release joy as they go!

As I walked past the park, a lone koala teddy bear toy caught my gaze. He was lying face up on the footpath. I considered leaving him on a fence so the family could return to find him readily; but seeing children playing in the park, I felt to head over and check who he may belong to, even though it may well run me late for my class.

Checking with the few mums who had children and prams, I came up stumps. Readers, in Australia this means I had no success.

Noting the time and wondering if I might have just left it on the fence, yet knowing I had heard not to, I headed back to place the teddy on the fence. I took photos so I could post it on a local Facebook group and hoped that the little owner would reunite with what looked like a well loved toy.

As I finished taking the photos, I noticed in the distance a mum with a child in a pram, hurrying up the path.

Picking up the teddy, I headed towards her. A little shy face peered at me, and with an outstretched hand the little person took the precious koala from me.

Delighted, the mum said what a beautiful thing to do. I felt silly and said she would have found him, anyway.

We exchanged a few more words, and I said goodbye, wishing her well, agreeing that our local community was a lovely place to live.

I walked home logging onto my class late. I briefly wondered what it was all about. Had I missed it? Perplexed, I dismissed it, giving it no more thought.

It was not until this morning as I again headed out for a quick 20-minute walk in the late morning sunshine that it came to mind. God had reminded me I needed to buy some food for 4 hungry boys due to arrive after school, and He encouraged me to go before my class. It was on this walk I asked again what this minor interaction had been all about.

‘Community matters,’ He said.

‘Community matters?’ I responded. ‘I know community matters…’ and then the penny dropped.

Face-to-face connection is so important. I was a stay at home mum. I have also worked from home for 20-plus years. I know how important it is to get out and talk to real live human beings; to smile at people; be in the sunshine; grab a coffee on a walk; sit at a coffee shop to work where they know you and you know them. The brief interactions, the smiles, the encouraging words, and exchange of loving ideas and knowledge about life… it all matters.

In the grand scheme of life, these are such little things – but are they?

In responding to a prompt to have a quick walk in the sunshine, towards my community, rather than in isolation along the beach, I received and gave some loving interaction. I know Christians and non-Christians that are great at this. In this season we are being called to our neighbourhoods.

The Sesame Street song comes to mind that asks ‘who are the people in your neighbourhood?’

The walk blessed me. I chatted to people in my local coffee shop; I stopped to listen to a young girl with some challenges; I smiled at the people doing yoga in the park; and I nodded at a shop owner as I passed by. I stopped to chat to mums in the park, and finally, I chatted to the mum with the child that had lost the toy koala. All incidental moments; all Kingdom in design.

That interaction with the mum, while it ran me late, showed that mum, who perhaps was a little lonely, that she lived in a community that cared enough to stop for the little things, like a lost toy. A little thing to me – a huge thing in a mum’s life with a little one that needs that toy to sleep.

I looked at her and said she looked like she was doing a superb job. We exchanged a few ideas. I said it gets easier, that they end up in school in no time. And I verbally affirmed that she indeed lived in a beautiful neighbourhood. (Bill Meyer I see you!).

And, overall, it blessed me, probably more than I blessed anyone I stopped for.

It reminded me, community matters!

I know the sort of community I want to live in – and so I seek to be the change…

And so how do we create the community we want to live in?

It’s the little things that matter.

We stop for the one.

We chat, we love, and we encourage.

It is in this way that together we impact a nation, one kind act at a time… a grassroots movement…

It is the little things that matter, and God sees them all and cares for each one because…

God is good!

Just do the next thing – God is Good!

So often in our lives, futures imagined, dreams envisioned, must be laid down. It is in these moments we have a choice: do we allow God to direct our steps, even though we are all at sea, disappointed, hurt; or, do we try to control everything, and keep directing our lives where we think we should go, regardless.

A while back, I felt a stirring in my heart.  We had just changed churches, and we were still trying to find our feet.  Our old church had been big, loud, there was a weekly mosh pit I had danced and worshipped in, and people were hungry for things of the Spirit. The church we had landed in was small, intimate, and sedate, at least sedate compared to what we had been used to, but regardless, we felt it was the right fit, and we believed the church was on the cusp of revival.

I was keen to serve somewhere.  I felt an urge to start a regular prayer group, and a recently made friend and I started fortnight meetings to pray for our church, the community and beyond; but, I was still restless.

Something was stirring.

Back in the late 1990s I often travelled to Far North Western Australia, where I provided legal representation to people who were illegally entering Australia by boat. It is common to refer to these people as “boat people,” or illegal migrants (because of their status of having no visas of entry). They predominantly came from Iraq. Some came from Algeria. A few were from China. That was the mix of countries when I was working. After I finished at that law firm the Afghans came – they were tough cases.

The stories moved me, the politics of human rights law saddened me, and the other lawyers laughed at me, saying: “you wear your heart on your sleeve” (a weakness in their mind). To this I would respond, “if I was in their position I would rather someone like me representing me, then someone like you.”

I didn’t stay in refugee work for long, and I left my position as junior lawyer to start a business of my own as a corporate consultant, while providing immigration legal advice to people on the side, just to keep my toe in. I referred any refugee work – it was too emotional, and too political. That was until 10 years ago.

When my youngest was about three, I received a call from a Melbourne businessman who wanted migration advice for a Christian Egyptian family he had met while overseas. The father was an Anglican Minister. The businessman wanted to help them. It was to be a straightforward case, but once involved I realised there were very serious persecution risks at play for the family involved. Each time I went to refer the case on, each time I tried to shake myself loose, I would feel God on it – He wanted me to see it through. While the case would have qualified as a refugee case (they were being persecuted for their faith) we did not run the case as a refugee case. Instead, we needed to run the case differently (the refugee landscape had changed and was getting increasingly difficult to negotiate). It took years, but we got the family into Australia under a different visa category. This case confirmed that I didn’t want to do refugee work ever again! The responsibility, the sorrow and the desperation, the trauma…

The Egyptian family that came established the first Arabic Anglican Church in Australia. Other Arabic churches exist, but not of this denomination. And, as I write, they now lead two such churches in Victoria (one in Melbourne, the other in Geelong). They head up a vibrant, growing Christian community. All led by the beautiful family who God would not let me shake loose – people I now call friends. The family reach the Arabic world in Melbourne, and people come to Christ.

Anyway…

We had just changed churches. All my dreams, plans, hopes and vision had fallen away. I was a ballet mum in a world of ballet I never saw coming (yes God has a sense of humour) and I was in a small quiet church, albeit, earmarked for revival. I wanted to serve God, but I did not see any opportunity to do so in my passion and gifting, and so I prayed a prayer that I do not recommend, unless you are ready to just obey!

I prayed: “God, I can’t see where or how I can serve you here. I want to honour leadership. There is no favour to teach what I know, or to release what I carry, but I want to serve you, what do you want me to do, I’ll do anything you ask me to do, I just want to serve you.”

I prayed the prayer, and I thought I knew how God would answer it.

That weekend we attended the opening of the new Arabic Anglican Church, on the other side of town. We were to witness the baptisms of recent converts, and the church’s official opening.  The service was full of the Holy Spirit. The worship was wonderful – all in Arabic, with a different beat, a different feel, but God was there, and I could tangibly feel Him. It was fun.

We stayed for dinner, and as we tried to eat, the people pressed in on me.  Refugees from Syria, refugees from Iraq, all trying to get the rest of their family here. People with heart break and need. They represented the cases I avoided for years. I prayed for many, prophesied over others, and listened to their stories. They all wanted my help, for word had got around.

Heading home I said to my husband I was feeling a stirring. I confessed what I had prayed. I could not believe it – God was calling me to act for these people, and it horrified me. Yes, I felt for them, but I did not want to do their legal work for them, I didn’t want to feel their pain, hear the details, they were all so desperate. And the legal landscape had radically changed – I was underqualified… but God!

When I prayed, I had not envisioned this! When I prayed, I thought He would release me into my gifting in our church, in our local body, somewhere… anywhere. I thought He would place favour on me to minister, that I would have a green light to step up into my calling, while honouring, supporting and loving our leadership, or even maybe out into elsewhere. Anywhere where I could ignite others with a passion for God.

It was not to be.

Instead, I walked into the pain, trauma and hurt of these people.

I argued with God that others were more qualified, better trained, up to date, and professional. God just came straight back at me: “Step up.”

Every time I went to Him He would say: “step up.”

And when I argued I couldn’t do it, He just said “trust me – step up.”

I suggested I refer, that others were better than me in this area of law He just said: “yes, but they won’t pray as you will.”

And so I stepped up…

I did not know what I was doing, but each step of the way he would say:

“just do the next thing you know to do.”

When I quietened myself enough, I would know what I had to do next. The anxiety was dreadful. The stories traumatic. One day I cried my way through the reading and the videos, but each time I turned aside to talk to Him he would say again:

“Just do the next thing you know to do.”

So, in this time of change, turmoil and challenge, when our plans for 2020 seem lost in a haze of virus, lockdown, and shifting worlds. In a year that is not what we thought it would be, I encourage you to do as I am also trying to do (thankfully with friends and wise counsel by my side) and ask Him what he would have you do. Instead of looking at the entire job at hand, the surrounding trauma, the pain within you, while acknowledging that it is there, ask Him:

“What next?”

And then do it…

Just do the next thing you know to do.

Then it would be: “send that email”, “write that statement”, “make that phone call”…

Little baby steps.

And once taken I sought Him again, I would breathe, pray, listen, obey…

And as you do, the pieces will fall together, the focus will come, and the peace and the joy will rest upon you because…

God is Good!

And there was rain – God is Good!

This is a friend’s testimony. It demonstrates how obedience, prayer and daring to believe can cause breakthrough for communities and areas of land. I hope this testimony is an encouragement in this time for all of us to continue to pray for breakthrough – for the rains of the Holy Spirit to come and demolish every demonic stronghold, every demonic attack, every sin, every sickness and for those rains of His Holy Spirit to flood the lands with healing, salvation, joy, peace, righteousness, and hope because … God is Good!

A, my friend, thank you for daring to take this prophetic praying journey as a woman on your own, sleeping in your car, through the centre of Australia, and for being willing to go as God led. I honour you for your bravery and sheer determination to believe that one woman, with God is a majority.

A writes:

In June 2018 I felt God ask me to take my Subaru Outback (an all wheel drive station wagon) and go outback [middle of Australia through dessert etc].

I travelled up the centre of Australia, a trip I had never done before. I slept in my car, and did my best to listen to where God wanted me to go.

This is one of the many stories on my journey.

I had stayed overnight in freezing conditions at the Orroroo Caravan Park in South Australia, so cold the water pipes had frozen over.

I left early the following morning to visit Magnetic Hill, a hill that has a magnetic attraction that is so powerful it will literally pull your car up hill. You shut off the ignition, put the car in neutral, take the hand brake off and your car moves – up hill.

When I arrived I couldn’t find any signs to show me what to do, and with no one around to ask I decided to pull over to see if I could get mobile [cell phone] reception. As I pulled over I noted that there was a dead sheep, the area was in deep drought and this was a common sight, but as I checked my phone I noticed a small amount of movement.

Grabbing my drink bottle I went through the pasture gate to investigate and found that the sheep was indeed alive, but struggling. I gave it some of my water, and fed it some hay from nearby, and spoke gently to him, reassuring I would find someone to help.

On the other side of the dirt road there was another driveway. I jumped back in my car and drove down it in the hope I would find a farmhouse or someone to help. There were big sheds and a car, but after wandering around and calling out for a while I found no one so I left a note with my mobile number on the driver’s seat of the car informing him about the sheep.

I went on my way, praying that the sheep would be ok, and as I did I found a small hand made sign telling visitors what to do in order to experience Magnetic Hill it said to put your car in neutral, let the brake off, and the car would travel uphill,

So I had fun. I went forwards a few times, and also tried it with the hill behind me so the car was taken up the hill backwards too. It was a strange experience, and it had me intrigued.

On my way out I saw a farmer, so I stopped and told him about the sheep. It turned out that it had been his car I had left the note in. He said it was his neighbour’s farm across the road but he would see to the sheep. I asked why the sheep couldn’t get up and he went on to explain that the sheep would be weak from lack of feed due to the drought.

I responded by saying, ‘okay, I will pray for rain.’

I drove on my way, relieved that the sheep would be cared for, and as I did I prayed for rain, tipping half the water in my drink bottle out the window onto the dusty road as a prophetic act.

That evening I received a text from the farmer to say he had righted the sheep and that it was going to be fine.

It was about a week later I overheard a conversation between campers saying they had just been to Magnetic Hill, and they mentioned that it had been raining while they were there – after I had prayed.

I was overjoyed that my prayer had been answered and also that I had overheard that my prayer had been answered in that conversation. I ask, what are the chances of that?

The chances of that are ‘BUT GOD’ I say.

He will not only answer your prayers for the nations, but He will also show you at times how He does answer your prayers, so that you can see that you and God are a majority because

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

‘God wins with a pair of 2’s’ (Bill Johnson).

And this is purely and simply because not only is He powerful, but …

God is also very, very Good!

“Step up” … “just do the next thing you know to do” because God is Good!

In recent years I have felt a call from God to return to a something I once did in 1996-1998.  To be honest I have judiciously avoided ever getting involved again, purely because it’s a tough industry for anyone that cares.

I have a background in law.  As a young lawyer, I was transferred to the immigration department at the firm I worked in, I was registered as an Australian migration agent (in addition to my law qualifications) and I was sent to Port Hedland (read middle of nowhere, amazing outback mining town on the far northern coast of Western Australia – pigeons are red from the red, red dust, huge road trains hammering up the highways, and huge salt mountains from local salt farms that shone to my right each time I drove from the little airport to the small township as a very green, young, “stars in my eyes” lawyer).

Port Hedland at the time was the location of one of the many Government run detention centres that Australia had for illegal migrants that had entered Australia by boat (read refugees that had no visa to enter the country, hence “illegal migrants”, that had been tricked by people smugglers to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get a berth in a dangerous boat to Australia).  These people were better known as “boat people” back then, and it was these types of people that have suffered terribly at the hands of Australian governments (from both sides of politics).  They are known by many names, but they are known more  correctly as human beings that are frightened, traumatised and whose dreams have been smashed and that are seeking to be recognised as “refugees” so that they may be granted a protection visa, because they need protection due to a fear of persecution in their country of origin.

I was completely thrown in the deep end.  During that time I worked and represented Chinese nationals, Algerians and Iraqis (who were then escaping the Gulf War recriminations of Saddam Hussein from the 1991 war).  The Afghanistanis came later, after I left in 1998. I primarily represented Iraqis at the time (many doctors and other types of professionals) who had escaped the ravages of persecution due to their religious beliefs, their cultural affiliations, and their family associations.

The work was tough emotionally, and I was mocked by my co-workers that I wore my heart on my sleeve, to which I responded that I would rather have someone like me represent me if I were a client, then someone like my co-workers, who were looking to meet budgets and many of whom simply did not care (I worked for a private firm that was contracted to provide legal assistance back then).

I left the law firm in early 1998, not long after my father died, when I realised that the ladder was against the wrong wall, and I went into private practise and did some corporate consulting instead, which pretty much finished up in 2002.  I had my first child in 2003, my second in 2007 through out which I did a little, but not much, immigration work from an office at home – throwing my energies into caring full time for our two poppets, learning and growing in my love of Jesus – it was a choice of love over money at the time, and a decision to intentionally invest into the next generation, and into my faith.

Well, that is a long explanation to now move on to say that a couple of years ago I was frustrated.  I felt that there were no freedom for me to fully express my gifts, to serve freely.  I was serving faithfully within the capacity that I was permitted to serve – I was leading a prayer team that met and prayed for the church once a fortnight, I often interceded privately for leaders, and others, I would stop for people on the street as I felt led, I was mentoring one or two people privately at the time and walking with them into their call, I served in kids church, I played in the worship team, but there was no freedom to fully step into prophetic words etc that I had held close for a long time – in fact every door of ministry was shut, sealed and secured, and I was in the throws of walking through what may be described as the dark night of the soul, and I could not see anyway that any of the prophetic words spoken over me by recognised international prophetic voices would ever come to pass – I still don’t see how, but I am more at peace with that one now.

So, I prayed what I now know to be a dangerous prayer – “God I love you, and I want to serve you, but I do not see where I am free to fully serve, give me something, show me what you would have me do” (or something along those lines).

Within days Rev Farag called.  Rev Farag (and his family) were clients over a five plus year process of getting them permanent residency.  He (and his family) are now friends.  He is an Egyptian Anglican Priest (who became a Christian years ago as a teenager) and who has led churches and orphanages for the deaf in Egypt, who has worked in outreach into Jordan, and Upper Egypt, and who to this day continues to lead churches, outreaches into Egypt and now into Australia, who speaks and travels and has completed peace keeping courses and who is a world recognised expert on teaching teachers of the deaf in Arabic communities, and who is heading up a team to translate the Bible into Arabic sign, for Arabic deaf people to hear the Good News of Jesus).  It took more than five years to help him obtain permanent residency, during which time his daughter was being kept at home due to kidnapping attempts and they were dealing with attacks on the road and at their offices etc.  With his case I found myself back in somewhat familiar territory of people in danger, at risk, who beg for help, and for whom I felt responsible.  I knew I had to stay the line for his case, I felt God on it, but after his case (which on the surface had looked like a basic case) I did not want to do any such work again, ever!

Well, back to the call from Rev Farag.

Rev Farag calls and says “B, I need your help, I need you to see some of my people, I need someone I can trust”.

At first I said “no”.  I explained that I was no longer practising in immigration law (I had decided that I was not going to take immigration work any more, it was too hard balancing the case loads with the responsibilities of full time at home parenting, which had turned into parenting of two ballet children at the elite level (the result of another dangerous prayer).  It was too much to manage, together with the various health issues I had been dealing with, and that I was still overcoming, and to be honest I didn’t want to be a lawyer, or to work as an immigration agent any more. I had turned my back on that, and was waiting for what God had in store for me.

Rev Farag did not let up.  He said “just see one”, so I agreed to see one – he said it was a spouse visa case so I thought what could it hurt?  I still had a valid migration registration, I could give an advice and help one.

I saw one, gave an advice for a couple of ours for free, discouraged them from proceeding with what they wanted to do with me, but they insisted (in fact begged me to do the work) and so I helped them at radically discounted rates, and left it at that.

I then got another call from Rev Farag: “B we need your help I need someone I can trust”

I sad “no”.

He persisted and said “just see one”.

I reneged feeling God on it, and I arrived in town where I was meeting him and this one in town, and there were three desperate people – all refugee cases, or a variation on the theme. I had been tricked!

I heard them out and gave a basic advice to each.

One was a Syrian (“boat arrival”), who had just recently given his heart to Jesus, and whose wife and 3 young daughters were in a huge refugee camp; the second was an Iraqi Catholic nun whose family overseas had survived a church massacre, and other horrors after the 2003 war on Iraq, whose family had fled ISIS as ISIS invaded northern Iraq, and one was a woman who was being tricked by a man who she had fallen in love with – that was the easy case to advise – the others I desperately wanted to avoid.

I went home and battled with God.

I knew I had to take the cases, but I struggled.  I said “God I love you, but I don’t want to do this” He said that He wanted me to “step up …” in fact He was quite firm, whenever I argued he’d say “step up” and not much more.

Regardless, I argued some more – “the laws have dramatically changed, I haven’t worked in this field for 20 years, there are other people so much more skilled than me…”

All I heard was “step up”.

I said “why me” I don’t want to do this – remembering my prayer and wishing I had never prayed it, and He explained quietly that I would pray for them, I would pray for the clients, that others would not do that, and that it was time for me to “step up”.

So I did …

I had nightmares to start with – blood dripping down walls, my children attacked by ISIS, threats against my safety, running from crumbling buildings war torn and bloody – dreams such as those haunted my nights, and I would wake heart racing, seek God, try to discern whether it was a demonic attack, or whether it was a God dream of warning, I would have to calm myself, and remind myself that if God was calling me to this, and I believed He was, so then I would be ok, I would be able to handle the cases.  I had to bring my thoughts under the authority of Jesus Christ.

The anxiety was extreme.  The law had dramatically changed.  I had to sit through and read numerous accounts of extreme terror and cruelty, take statements from traumatised people that took hours, learn the law as fast as I could. I even had to watch a video from Baghdad News of one of my clients walking out of a church massacre, as one of only a few that had survived the attack.  The scene was filled with dismembered bodies of Christians whose only “crime” was that they had dared to attend church and worship. I was at sea. I would freeze in fear not knowing what to do, and each time I would seek God, He would simply say quietly: “just do the next thing you know to do and I would feel a gentle leading”, and so I would, “just do the next thing”, all the time my heart racing as I told my mind and body to be still and know that he is God.

That was over two years ago.

I am still doing the work.  I still feel overwhelmed.  I cry when the refusals come.

I don’t have a huge number of cases, I don’t have the resources, but I have enough to be overwhelmed at times.

I held the nun as she sobbed, telling me (as the first person she told) that her mother had died in Turkey of breast cancer the night before, and that she had not seen her before she had died – her mother had been refused a visa three times prior to me taking on the case.

I had a client who was very upset with the news that his family had been refused help, who stood up and looked like he was going to get violent with me (some think I am the magic, even though I tell them I am not, I always explain that it takes prayer, diligence and a great deal a favour against the odds to be granted a protection visa).  Rev Farag was thankfully there as interpreter on that occasion stood and talked him down, as I made myself very small at the table.  As I did, I had a flash back to a time I was threatened by a client years back in a locked interview room, my hand on the hidden emergency buzzer, that he would have me killed if he did not get a visa.

I had cried when this man’s case was refused.  I called and told him and we met. He was furious with me at the meeting, and I was the blamed for it’s failure, when in fact there had been circumstances well beyond my control at play.

I sat at that moment and reminded myself that God had asked me to step up.

I have taken on more cases – they just come.  I tell them I have no magic, I have no contacts or special relationships, there are no guarantees, but I do pray.  They are all sad.  They are all desperate.  Some want me to act, even after I disillusion them, others say they had through I was a guarantee, and they go to the agent that will promise them the world.

I am now working at times with a play group leader from another church who works with refugees in a country town church.  She’s overwhelmed at times too.  I am a point of reference for her, for which she is grateful, a legal min in her corner to work things through and to refer people to if required.

Not many cases have been successful to date.  It is much like throwing the fishing line in again and again in the hope that a fish will just jump into the boat, such is the numbers.  It’s statistically worse than lottery odds – but God says keep going.

The refusals – I sit and cry before I call and tell them the news.  They know I care.

I resubmit …

The wins are AMAZING! Often the clients have no idea just how amazing a win is …

Many professionals don’t do the work because it is too depressing.  You mainly get refusals – and that is not fun!

I know my job is to prepare their statements, make sure the forms are completed well, and make sure everything has been told that should be told … and pray.

The cases I take are families who are here, that have loved ones waiting for years overseas.  The families here sponsor them to come.  Generally their loved ones have had a number of refusals before they come to me for help, so there are often no other visa pathways available to them. I have a well qualified single female Iraqi teacher, a young talented male graphic designer (who cant leave because his mother and two younger brothers need his protection in Turkey); I have a family that are the last generation of multiple generations to carry the secrets of how to weave fine beautiful textiles from scratch (from sheep or goat to finished product) – many of these people can trace their heritage right back as being original inhabitants of the lands that Jonah visited (now the current northern Iraq area) and may be related to some of the oldest Christian heritage we have (evidence of which was sadly destroyed by ISIS as they went through Northern Iraq).

To be honest, I have felt other stirrings about my destiny, and I have started stepping out into various other prophetic words in obedience as I have felt led.  I have no idea how that will play out.  I had hoped that maybe this time, this season of refugees would come to an end, but recently, at a conference where Heidi Baker was speaking, I felt I heard Him say again as I was overshadowed by Him, “refugees” and so I know the season has not ended … and I do not know where it will lead.

I have had a few refusals recently.  I will prepare the paper work to resubmit. One I am hoping to get in through a sponsored refugee visa – but he needs a job offer (that is my graphic designer) and even if he gets a job offer, I then need to work out how to raise about $40,000 for the family … it’s a “new” idea being offered by our government – let desperate people find a job offer and we may give them a visa if they pay for everything … as I started the process I threw the responsibility to God saying “well you work it out”, and to be honest Heidi Baker’s testimonies encourage me that God can and will do amazing things if I just keep at it for the one in front of me …

I don’t know where any of this will go – I just know to keep on stepping up and “do the next thing I know to do” and the rest is God’s work, and I trust and hope and choose to believe (because at times I do struggle given all they have been through) that He will take care of them, and their cases, even if they are refused, because …

God IS Good!

Treasure at the Tip – God is Good!

One of our more retiring, gentle members of our group, called P, has been moved more and more by Holy Spirit to step out and pray for those around him as he goes.  He was the person who stopped and gave all he had in his wallet to a busker in this earlier story here and he was the person who was prompted to pray for a girl at Nandos in this story here

Our church recently hosted carols for Christmas.  He noticed a guy sitting outside in the warmth of the evening and he felt a prompting, which he is becoming more accustomed to recognise now, and he went over and quietly chatted to this person.  This act of stepping out for P is huge, as I said he is a gentle giant … gentle and mighty!

He also told me another recent God is Good story this last Sunday … where he found treasure at the tip.

P said he felt he was meant to drop some trash off at the tip on his way to work.  He headed off and unknowingly headed towards a complete God set up.

He said he stood in the line at the counter to pay, and a young girl looked at him and said something like “you look like your an older man, a father, a husband, will you please give me some advice about something?”

P was a little taken aback but said “sure” and the girl proceeded to show him a picture saved on her phone screen of the Superman actor in costume.  She said ” my partner doesn’t like me having this as my screen saver, he thinks it’s wrong and is really upset, what do you think?”  She apparently had been taking a poll with people as they came to the counter.

P looked at her and asked her a few questions (wise, gentle mighty giant).  He asked her why she thought her partner would not like it.  He explained that his wife had been through a tough divorce before meeting and marrying P and she would not like it if P had a photo of another woman (even dressed up in costume) on his phone, that it would be odd to do something like that.  He then asked the girl whether her partner may feel rejected, or had gone through anything to make him feel rejected, and she said yes that he had been through a nasty breakup/divorce.  P then suggested she reflect on that, and  the light started to dawn.

He then said to this girl, would you like me to pray for you (he did this while the line got longer behind him with people waiting to pay (bold, wise, mighty, gentle giant).  She said that she would love that, and so he prayed for her.

P had trash to drop at the tip.

God had treasure for P to find.

Because P is becoming more attuned to the voice of God as he goes about his day, he is finding the treasure hidden for him, and he is loving that treasure as God directs, and as he does, he is showing the world around him that they are loved, they are valuable and that …

God is Good!

Baptism and Breakthrough – God is Good!

You may recall a story I wrote up  story about a friend of mine receiving peace after seeking prayer when she was advised that her husband, whom had been imprisoned for a serious crime against her, had been let out of jail early.  See link here for story. Well I felt it high time to update the story.

My friend “H” has plugged into our new local church.  She comes, sits, receives from God, receives prayer, at times cries and all the while she is being healed by a good God.  She has also become involved with a community who love and encourage her and she loves and encourages them back. She has brought a friend who has occasionally visited, and she has consistently pursued God, as He has pursued her.

H has two teenage girls.  While resistant to coming to church themselves, they have seen the difference and have supported their mum in attending church.  The eldest, a dancer, has received prayer, and has recently suggested that a prayer request be sent out for her little sister who has recently been quite ill.

The eldest was in a vocational ballet training school, but with the release of her father from jail and the associated trauma, she started to suffer from increasing panic attacks and anxiety. The church community prayed for H and her girls, and their various challenges.  Little by little we have seen break through after breakthrough come about in all their lives.

H’s ballet daughter found a brilliant local ballet teacher who loved and encouraged her and although the panic attacks continued around attending the vocational training school, she found someone who would encourage her and who was kind and understanding to her challenges.

The opportunity for baptisms came around, and I encouraged H to learn about baptisms and be baptised.  She committed to the weekly classes with our pastor and she went from strength to strength, looking forward to the day of her “dunking” knowing that much would wash away in the shear act of obedience to God’s word.

H’s day of baptism came, and her entire family came to celebrate the day.  A large number of us headed down to the beach (a short walk from church) and celebrated as she committed her life to Jesus in public.  Her daughters were intrigued and were happy for her.

Now recently, as a church, we have just come out of three weeks of prayer and fasting.  On a Sunday morning,  just prior to the service H told me that her ballet daughter had frozen that morning with another panic attack and had been incapable of getting up and going to a concert rehearsal at her new ballet teacher’s school.  Her daughter was exhausted and asleep at home.

The service began with the usual worship, and then an elder got up with a huge thick piece of chain in his hands, and he proceeded to talk about how Jesus had set us free.  We had all been given a little piece of chain as we had walked in, and he encouraged us to come forward and cast our chains down at the foot of the cross.  As H went forward, tears streaming,  she cast hers down and myself and another church friend gently laid our hands on her back as she cried.  We knelt, and prayed with her, for freedom from the past, the pain etc for both her and her girls, knowing that as we prayed we were standing before God in the gap for her girls.

The moment was over, and we retuned to our seats, and within minutes H turned to me, smiled and whispered that she had to go and take her daughter to the rehearsal!  Her daughter had texted that she had just got up and she wanted to go to the rehearsal – the panic and fear was gone … the chains had been cast down … FREEDOM!

H later said the timing was amazing, that it would have been as she cast the chain and we had prayed that her daughter had decided to go to the rehearsal.  H shone with the excitement knowing that she had just witnessed another miracle, that as she had cast that chain down at the foot of the cross, and she had prayed for freedom for her daughters, her eldest had received it in the form of relief from anxiety and a desire to get on with the practise session.  Apparently the day went without a hitch and her girl came home shining.  I don’t believe that she has had an anxiety attack about ballet since …

The back story to all this is that the elder is a very quiet, gentle man, not prone to prophetic acts but he had a strong sense twice that week that he needed to lead the way he did that morning with the chains.  And so, loving God more than his own comfort, he had gone and bought the chains, and done what he felt God was asking of him, and through that act of obedience, and the prayer and the holy moment that followed (for there was a real tangible sense of holiness in the air), a young girl had been set free of anxiety for the day, and she could dance once again, all because …

God is Good!