Highlights from Lagos

I have probably started four blogs so far trying to encapsulate the experiences of being in Lagos, Nigeria for Reinhard Bonnke’s Farewell Crusade, and I just don’t know where to start. Many of you gave towards my trip, and I want to say “Thank you thank you thank you!” from the bottom of my heart! This trip was a step into promises God gave me as a young girl, and I relished every minute! So, for you, I will write my personal highlights, and later I will publish the blogs regarding the event overall. Grab a snack and open your heart to the Holy Spirit as you read!

Since the first day I saw a televised snippet of a Reinhard Bonnke crusade in Africa, I have not been able to get the images out of my head—-thousands and thousands of precious people hungry to know God, standing for hours in crusades after having walked hours or days, receiving Jesus and being transformed and full of joy and expectation of the new life God gave them and the life hereafter. I was twelve or thirteen when I saw my first bit of a crusade on Christian television. From that day, and for all these years since, I have prayed for Africa. Nigeria was one of those countries I prayed for since my teen years. My earnest desire was to go one day.

Just touching down into Lagos, and exiting the airplane, my heart began to burst. Tears welled up in my eyes. What an amazing God! He was giving me the gift of seeing the people for whom I had prayed for so many years. I got to stand on Nigerian soil, smell Nigerian air, and look into the eyes of a people God gave me a love for, yet I had never met. He is such a generous God!! This trip was a gift!

Then there were the crowds–just like the ones burned into my mind, and the ones I have watched via YouTube– and I was standing among them in the hot Nigerian sun waiting to hear the simple, yet powerful Gospel being preached by the ministry team of Christ for All Nations. I worshiped and danced with the locals as we praised God on the soggy, sand-covered crusade grounds. I bowed my face into that same soil as I heard the 600k+ voices singing “Agnus Dei” and we all declared “Worthy is the Lamb”! It was a Revelation chapters 4 and 5 scene. Then came the preaching of the Gospel. The simple message, that we have all sinned and become separated from God, but that God wanted to bridge that gap we created, and He did so by sending His Son, Jesus to pay the penalty of our sin–through death on a cross, and through His death, His shed blood, and His resurrection, we are free from the bondage of sin if we receive Jesus’ payment for our sin. The door to the heart of God swung wide open for us, and now we are adopted as sons and daughters, with a promise of life forever with God–never to have a moment without Him. Even knowing how the message goes, I couldn’t wait to hear the ending! The invitation! God didn’t give His invitation just to the rich, or powerful, the good, or the lovely. He invited all of us! He died for all of us!! I would stand in the presence of thousands of people who would hear the Gospel and for the first time in their life give their hearts to God and be set free from the torments of sin, and the fear of evil, the guilt and shame of their mistakes. They would instead receive hope, deliverance, healing, and a brand new life. It was a joyous occasion every day of the crusade!

Then there was the moment I knew I was there for.  Daniel Kolenda was preaching on the Blood of Jesus. He began to break the curses of witchcraft, of superstition, of diseases, and illness, of sin, and things began happening. Wandering to the front of the crowd, and standing in front of the stage came a young woman, possessed by demons, thrashing and yelling as Daniel continued to pray and declare victory. My heart went out to her immediately. I felt God tell me to “go and love her like a mother and set her free”. Christ for all Nations trains pastors and local leaders to do the ministry in the crusades, so I hesitated to make a move so as to not interrupt protocol. It wasn’t long before a crowd gathered around this young woman, and many began praying for her and casting the demons out. She fell to the ground, and many cloistered around her for quite a long time. It looked like there was already plenty of prayer ministry, and no space for me to enter the group, so I waited. A half hour passed, and the woman was still thrashing and screaming as the last of the demons tried desperately to keep their home in her. I noticed there were only three people gathered around her then, and I noticed that the young woman was tired as she sat in the wet sand, being puppeted by the demons inside of her. I heard God again, “go, love her like a mother, and set her free.” So I rushed to the woman’s side. I first picked up her hand and held it in mine and began to stroke it.

“It’s okay, Baby, God is setting you free. You can let this thing go, it doesn’t belong to you.” I said. Others were still praying for her and commanding the devils out, and I moved in closer and put my arms around her and hugged her close. I stroked her hair and kissed her forehead, and began to speak peace to her body. She was still wrestling the demons inside and began to choke. She grabbed my hand and put it on her throat saying, “They are choking me!” I and the others around her took authority over the demons attempting to choke her, and I layed her head against my chest and told her to rest. She began to vomit, and she pulled away to spit on the ground. When she was done, I pulled her in close again, stroked her hair, and loved her.  It was just a few minutes more, and she was totally free. Peace overtook her body, her eyes no longer held a wild gaze, but were tender and full of gratitude for what Jesus had just done for her. I felt a love her as if she were my own daughter, and I held her and kissed her head.

The crusade had ended some time ago as we all sat in the sand ministering to this woman, and I had to leave to catch the bus that brought me to the crusade grounds. I had to leave. I prayed with her, blessed her, and left her to the ministry of local pastors as I headed to my bus. I cried the rest of the way to the hotel in gratitude again of the mercy and compassion of God who loves us enough to see us free, and allows a mama from Alaska to be part of His plans and purposes.

This, along with meeting people from all over the world who came to be part of this crusade filled my happy tank to the highest level, and then burst. Thank you for your prayers for me, for your encouragement, and for your generous gifts that carried me there and then safely home again. You get to share the blessings I received.

Nigeria

 

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The Weeping

All I know is that I am to run to Mercy and take as many people as I can with me.

I was only 12 or 13 years old when the couple that I regularly babysat for were called to the mission field. He was a night stocker of groceries at the local grocery chain and slept during the days, and she worked at a local bank during daytime business hours.

They lived in a modest house in my hometown, and both worked hard to make ends meet and build their new life as a now family of four. I never asked them about their “American Dreams”, but perhaps that doesn’t matter, because I instead saw what happens to a person when God gives them a dream. They weep.

Their “Call” came through an introduction to a foreign nation to a foreign people by a missionary. This missionary shared his heart. He shared his love for his people. And my friends, Steve and Andrea were gripped to the core with a knowing that those people in Thailand, were to be “their” people and they were to sell all they had and move to Thailand.

I don’t know if I’d ever seen a grown man cry like Steve cried. His 6 foot, 6 inch frame would shake and tears would fall as the love for the people God had just put on their hearts began to grow and enlarge their capacity. His wife Andrea also was so overcome by the pulling of her heart to this nation they had never lived in, and people they did not yet fully know, and she would cry as one waiting to be reuinited with her family.

They began to ask, “How long do we need to continue to remain in America when God had clearly moved our hearts to Thailand?” They cried out for Thailand in their prayers. They spent their meal times fasting and praying for this thing that God had called them to. And in doing all of this, I watched them change before my eyes.

When they sold their home and temporarily moved in to an old farm house in a remote part of the area they discovered that it was infested with insects due to its long tenure without tenants. This home gave them more opportunity to save more money towards their mission goal, and as Andrea would smash spiders in the house, and chase off garter snakes, she would say, “I’m training for Thailand!”

The “Call” of God on a person’s life begins to change them. His desires become the gloves that the hands of the one “called” fit into. His heartbeat is the One that they hear when they lay their head down on the pillow at night. His longing for His people becomes the ache and the tears that run down the faces of those who have said, “Yes, I will go.” And suddenly their everyday life seems to lose focus, and the opportunity to share in the harvest of what God is doing begins to take shape as the only life worth living.

I am in that ache.

I weep more often. I find myself wishing for more time in prayer. I feel His call on my life, and it stirs in me like nothing else can.

My whole life has revolved around ministry since I was a small child. I love the Lord. I love being in His service. I love His church (with all her messes), and I love His servants whom I have had the privilege of joining the yoke with in many countries, states, and cities. And yet…

God spoke to me last Spring and told me to clear my calendar in order to learn some things He wanted to teach me. Not fully knowing what was in store, I answered “yes”, to some events that God used to shift my heart and renew my purpose. I wrote about them in earlier blogs.

I attended “Azusa Now” in Los Angeles, California in April and joined with over 65k people in prayer and intercession for our nation. A month later, I attended Reinhard Bonnke’s School of Evangelism, and have been weeping ever since. If you’ve forgotten about how good the news is that the Gospel brings, listen to Reinhard Bonnke preach on the “Jesus and the Adulterous Woman“, and like Paul Manwaring says, “You will fall in love with the Gospel all over again.”

God is renewing His call to me to the harvest fields. To the unsaved who need to know Him, who need to hear Him and who need Mercy and Grace to meet them right where they are. So right now I am in the season of weeping as the “Call” of God becomes formed in me. As I wait for my mission to match my commission, I weep, and pray, and fast.

If you find that my eyes puddle with tears more than they used to, all I can say is “God is forming me, and breaking my heart with the things that break His.” All I know is I am to run to mercy and take as many people as I can with me.

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The “We”

Who is responsible for the condition our nation is in? The anger, vitriol, fear, and war-mongering ideas have now saturated every part of our nation’s fiber so that even our neighbors are looking over their shoulders to be sure they are not a target of the ideologies of their angry “friends”. I believe we have reached a tipping point.

Before you begin to tell me of the corrupt governments, greedy political parties, derelict leadership, and eroding values; before you offer as evidence the quotes, sound-bytes and public statements of candidates, agencies, and major corporations, would you do me a favor? Would you pause and consider these words from scripture?

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Emphasis mine)

Before you unfriend that person on Facebook who has opposite views from yours, and before you accuse others of not “being able to handle the truth”, Would you pause and pray this prayer with Daniel, and with me:

Daniel 9:1-19
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Emphasis mine)

Now together, the “we” of this nation, with the stones dropped from our hands, as Jesus writes in the sand of our generation, let’s join the “sinner” at the feet of Jesus. Let’s run to mercy.Three crosses

 

All scripture from the NIV version of the Bible