Just three days before I was due to depart for this trip to Bolivia and The USA I had a hospital appointment where they confirmed that God had done a miracle and my knee cap had completely knitted itself together. As a result they changed me from crutches to a walking stick, completely unlocked my knee brace instead of doing it a few degrees every two weeks as I was originally told and cleared me to travel. Through the trip then I just had to keep pushing through the pain barrier gradually making the knee bend more and more. So still with certain restrictions to my mobility I set off on what was to be a fantastic trip.
Bolivia was my first public ministry port of call where I was ministering for five days, each morning in The Ark, an orphanage for mainly ex-street boys and the evenings in family services in my host church. The ministry in the Ark is very close to my heart as these boys have had a start in life that no child should ever have but now there is a nucleus of around three quarters of them who are hungry for God, have hearts that want to live for God and serve Him. This visit the challenges God gave meant they had some tough decisions to make which would affect their whole lives and behaviour but their response was a big yes God do it in me. The leaders where very excited because knowing the boys so well they knew that the responses were real and honest. Several times as they responded for prayer different ones had watery eyes, which as the leader said was a big thing for them because of where they have come from. The final meeting the presence of God was so strong in the room it was electric and many of the boys testified to actually feeling His presence which touched my heart because here was God saying “I am your heavenly father, I am letting you know I am real, you are mine, I love you and am drawing close to you”.
God continued to give me words for different children in the home and church. The words for three boys in the home confirmed to the leaders what they were already feeling that those three were to be set aside and trained for leadership. One of those a boy with a particularly sweet spirit, on my first visit I felt strongly that God had him set aside for leadership in that nation. I had a real battle to share the word but when I did I found that the leader had had the same word and battle to give it that I did. He has proved his relationship and walk with God since and now God is taking him on step two. In the church at the final Sunday morning service one small boy had a lesson to teach us on not giving up when God doesn’t answer your prayers immediately. It was this boy only who God gave a word for on that occasion and I could see he was so excited. After the meeting his mother told me the whole story, for three years he has been asking God to speak a word to him and my visit has come to an end and no word, though disappointed he refused to give up asking and this year was his year and a powerful word it was too.
This year I felt that God is beginning to do something very special in Bolivia and The USA which was confirmed by pastors and leaders in those places. The devil tried to stop me getting to at least the start of the meetings in The USA, I arrived at the airport on a Tuesday to fly to Indiana to find my flight had been cancelled and the public announcement said there were no available seats on flights until Saturday or Sunday. I was number two in the line and when I got to the desk they found that God had in fact kept a seat for me and there was one seat only on the following day’s flight, one day late but I made it. At my first place the number of children attending the four day teaching event was up, normally there are around twenty but this time it was nearly double that. Up too was the hunger for God from both the regulars and new ones, they sat motionless soaking up the word like dry sponges at a desert oasis even when being taught about the wrong of good and evil coming out of the same mouth. Up was their response for prayer at the end of each meeting to have God deal with and change things in their lives, we had some amazing times of prayer at the front. The final meeting for those children was after a gap of two days and fewer children came but that was fine as it was billed as different from the other ones. We were to obey Matthew 19 v 13-14, let the children come to me….., Jesus laid His hands on them and blessed them. Every child who came had hands laid on them and received a word from God. Before closing at the end the pastor asked individuals if they remembered their word and even those who received first could tell us. I looked at their faces as they shared and they were radiant with joy, they felt special. We sent them home with their word written down so they had it in their hearts and in their hands. The other blessing there was to be able to continue the training for ministry of a twelve year old boy who is most definitely called by God for service. He is shy but more than willing because he has set his heart after God’s will for his life more than anything else.
My final place which was on the other side of the State of Indiana and it was a new and great opportunity. I have been involved for several years in a Christian school but this time of the year is school holidays. The Principal decided last November when I was there to have a three day holiday special inviting all of the children to come back in for it. Unfortunately there was a clash with three churches having their VBS (Vacation Bible School) at the same time as us but God knew and I was very happy with those He gave us. We had fifteen to twenty each day with two teaching sessions dividing the ages as it was a very big age span. I had a completely free hand to teach whatever, the presence of God was very strong in every session and the children opened their hearts to God for ministry. I was blessed by some very encouraging voluntary feedback. One mother told me her eight year old son was so excited about these meetings there was no way was he going to miss them and he has a special place in his heart for me. While I was in the school last November God gave me a word for him and because we were in school time it was not appropriate to give publically so I gave it to him in a letter after the meeting. His mother says that letter is her son’s greatest treasure above everything he has and he keeps in a very safe place. How wonderful that a young boy’s greatest treasure is a personal word from God for him. That boy also has a very clear and strong call on his life. A girl who is about the same age as the boy was there with her friend and came at the end, gave me a hug and said that she had so enjoyed the meetings and loved the teaching best.
So a little physically restricted but no way spiritually restricted trip where God was cleaning up and equipping children’s lives for His purpose. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your prayers, encouragements and support for this trip and both Barbara and I, we could no way have done what we did without you. Barbara has had her operation, there were complications and she was in hospital longer than expected but she is recovering well now.
Much Love & Much Thanks….
PS: Here is George Cooper, a key pastor friend in Indiana who co-ordinates our ministry time there in the region.