One More Sleep
Tomorrow I board a plane here in my city – fly to Calgary, Alberta where I will have lunch. Then at supper time I will board another plane and fly to Munich, Germany. There I will have breakfast which will really be supper. Then quickly on another flight to Moscow, Russia where I will have supper which is really breakfast. My internal clock will be a bit confused by the jet lag and the 9 hours dofference in time. It is even worse coming home but that is another story.
When going overseas to minister a person has to be really flexible. This morning I found out that our living accomodations in Moscow are no longer available and so we are looking for another place to stay. That’s okay – someone is working on it and I don’t arrive until Wednesday evening their time. Things will work out somehow. Meanwhile there is much to occupy myself with here – packing for 20 days (always pack for an extra 2 days in case flights don’t connect, or the weather changes and grounds you), locating materials to teach while there, banking… the list is up to 15 items (I wrote the list while traveling yesterday to minister in two places … driving allows for thinking and planning time).
Meanwhile – we have added another staff member to Ralph Howe Ministries – someone to help us with translating manuals and teaching materials. It has been a long search to find someone who is trustworthy, will do a good job, is willing and able to fit into the way we work, and someone who is not only a good translator but who my administrator can work with as he will be managing the work load and delegating what needs to be done. So, our budget continues to increase -as does my faith to believe for the needed monthly income.
13 years ago I prayed and ask the Lord to open the doors of the nation of Belarus to my ministry. It is not an easy nation for non-Russian speaking people to enter – especially if you are born again and are going to preach the gospel and minister salvation. This summer I ministered to two young people – a young man and a young woman. Both seriously committed and talented believers – leaders already. As they were leaving the camp a little earlier than most others I spoke with them to find out that they were brother and sister, they were from Belarus and that their father was a pastor. I briefly mentioned my prayer about ministering in their nation. The invitation to do so came in by email on Thursday of last week. I answered it and, of course, agreed to go. Dates are being negotiated. We have orgainized dates that I am available to minister overseas right through to January, 2012 and already we are booking into the end of 2010 before the year has even begun.
We have learned how to get connected while in Eastern Europe. We managed emails and internet the last time – with an investment in a new and better phone. It took several trips into the city near where we were ministering to get the right settings in the laptop computer – but we were successful. This means I don’t come home to the pressure of 300+ emails (15 a day that need to be answered – the rest, delete). This is good as often I am 50 to 100 behind when I leave for one of these trips and take them with me to answer while sitting in airports.
I am working hard at sorting out priorities and time frames and delegating so that I can manage all that seems to arrive on my desk and on my heart. Has not been easy. It is an ongoing struggle – and struggle is the right word. However, I have a new laptop (last week’s focus in the spare time) as the old one was fried and no longer holding a charge. So, we will need to program this new and faster one to do the email thing once I arrive in Moscow. The other hopeful thing is that I traded up to a new Blackberry and with a Sim card (which I purchased) I am told it too will now work in Eastern Europe – pulling in my emails. So, it is hopeful I will be able to stay in touch and current and communicate with others while away.
I am believing that we we will be able to iron out any glitches in the technology very quickly upon arrival so that I can post the daily blogs I always write while away… and then, if you want to, you can stay up-to-date with what is happening with us and through us (and to us, at times) and pray for us if so led to do so by the Holy Spirit. Please pray for strength (spiritual and physical) and wisdom and that many, many lives will be permanently impacted by the 15 days of ministry (services 3 times a day, every day). We want nothing except that God would be glorified and the Kingdom advanced in the country of Russia and the country of Georgia. Thanks.
Just one more sleep – and then it is on the road again…
Moscow, Russia – Day One
I am in the city of Moscow – population 18 million. Well, I am in the edge of the city of Moscow. Tomorrow we are going to tour the Kremlin and Red Square if the weather holds (they are forecasting rain) but this morning it is 5C and sunny. We (my interpreter and myself) have had a nice long (and chilly) walk just to review our plans for the coming days and to get some exercise as we both had long days yesterday. My flight into Moscow was almost 2 hours late and his was almost 4 hours late. Another long coffee! I was met by my host pastor who does not speak English and another brother who spoke some English – so we had something to drink and had fun working at communicating while waiting the two extra hours for Miroslav.
It took an hour of driving to arrive where we are staying … and we barely entered this huge city. Amazing, 18 million people in one city. We are staying in a Roman Catholic retreat house (where the school and most events are being held) and have a room to myself and thus some privacy. This helps when it comes to a personal devotional life while on the road as this gives me opportunity to rise early to pray and read the Word of God (and blog). It is now just going on 6:30 a.m. on October 2). So, unpacked and arranged my things, had a shower (felt great) and headed for bed. 2:00 a.m. on Thursday morning after being on the road since 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Knew it was going to be a long day. Gee! You would think I had done this before.
Up and out for a walk and even located a small market where we were able to buy some fruit to supplement my diet and another small store that sold Diet Coke (Coke Light). Successful outing and a great but brisk walk. Then into a business meeting looking both at the next two weeks (I know, boring stuff – but absolutely necessary when doing what we are doing as things change somewhat rapidly when ministering ‘on the road’. And, some working out of details for several other upcoming trips – November to Kazakhstan (2 locations and a team of four apostles) and January to Ukraine (4 locations and a team that has yet to be established).
Due to the traffic here our host and his wife (Theodor and Julie) were an hour late for our first meeting with them. However, that allowed a number of emails in the still existing but no smaller email backlog to be accomplished. We had a great “who are you” or “get to know your hosts” meeting which started with me asking a lot of questions through my interpreter and then them asking a lot of questions about various things happening in their ministry and their local church. A good – better than good, excellent two and a half hours. Then, we were joined by 8 of their leadership team from their local church and I taught for about 40 minutes. I had come prepared to do whatever the Holy Spirit wanted. However, I ended up sharing on something I had not planned to talk on and only wish now that it had been taped as it would make a great sermon… it was a supernatural time.
Then we, of course, prophesied. Because of the length of the prophetic words (partly due to working in two languages and partly just due to how much the Lord has to say and the details the Holy Spirit apparently wants to go into) we separated the group into two. Those who are going to be attending the School that starts Sunday afternoon on one side and those unable to be at the four day school on the other side of the room. We planned to prophesy over those unable to attend the School.
Well, we managed it by 10:00 p.m. with a half hour break for supper. Five hours of prophetic ministry. God is so good. And, as we prophesied I, of course, taught some of the basics about prophecy and how to flow in this gift. The Bible does say that “we can all prophesy” and I believe that. So, I almost always teach and equip everyone showing them what to do and how to do it as we go along. It helps to keep them engaged in what is happening as well as simply being biblical – as my calling as an apostle is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4).
Just back up from a late night coffee and chocolate break with my interpreter and administrator for my office and ministry here in Eastern Europe. Just some personal time to unwind and debrief and work a little more on getting connected via phones with the outside world as neither his 2 cell phones nor my 2 cell phones connect at the moment.
More time at the computer doing more emails and then off to bed as calling it a day shortly – full day but a good first day of ministry here in Russia.
I covet your prayers.
On the Road to Russia
I am sitting in Calgary waiting my connecting flight to Frankfort, Germany and then Moscow, Russia. I arrive in Moscow after supper on Wednesday – I left my home office at 10:30 Tuesday morning. It just might be a bit of a long “day”.
Sitting in a Tim Horton’s having a coffee – a long coffee – and have managed about 20 emails of a massive backlog that has been accumulating most of the past month. It has been a busy month and a month with many things to think about and sort through here at Ralph Howe Ministries. And, when you are sorting out feelings about such a young ministry – not to mention all that God is doing both in the ministry and in my own life – it can be (and was … and still is) emotionally and spiritually exhausting.
Does not help to have a month like this immediately on the heels of being in Ukraine ministering for 18 days in August; and, just before heading to Russia and Georgia to minister for 15 days (18 in total when including travel). However, one has to trust that God knows what He is doing. If He doesn’t the world is in great trouble.
So far I have stretched one $1.65 cup of coffee over almost 3 hours. It will soon be time to move and find the gate I will be boarding at (and a washroom between here and there – not to mention a Diet Coke).
Did get a book read while on the flight between Regina and Calgary and the first few gulps of the Tim’s coffee here in the airport. Have another one all set to go on the next flight – including another 100 emails if I can manage to keep my brain in gear from Calgary to Frankfurt. I leave here at 6:00 p.m. and arrive tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 11:30 a.m. (actually 4:30 a.m. Saskatchewan time, I think). Then almost 2 hours to grab something to eat and hop the next flight (and the next book) into Moscow. I think the time difference is32 more hours – however, I do arrive at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Moscow time or 9:30 a.m. Regina time and will need either breakfast, lunch or supper … international travel does not help the body clock at all.
It is my hope that we will be able to connect to the internet in Russia and thus put daily blogs up on my site. Thanks to everyone who is praying – your prayers are greatly appreciated. And, I look forward to any comments you may want to make about what is happening during the ministry in Russia and Georgia – and will try to respond and interact as I do when home.
Still On the Road to Russia
September 30, 2009-09-30 I am in Germany. Can’t get the new laptop to connect to their “free” Wi-fi as it is doing the same as the old laptop we fried last trip – registering a t-mobile network available with excellent strength and it costs money and a credit card (over an unsecured network in a public airport) to get access. So, the emails I worked on in Calgary and on the flight here are still waiting to be sent. And, the regular day’s worth of new ones are waiting to be downloaded.
Put the new Sim card into the new Blackberry that is suppose to work on the European system. Went into “tools/options” and adjusted the settings. Nothing! So, strike two.
Took out my Ukrainian cell phone as it usually allows me to text message my contacts in Ukraine – no power as it is not chargeable in Canada due to the different power plug system – I can convert our system to their system but not their system to mine in spite of inquiring at a number of electronic shops. No one has the correct ends to the wires to allow it to plug into the power grid.
So, I sit here with no contact with the outside world and feeling very isolated. We will need to sort all of these issues out as quickly as possible when I arrive in Moscow. I need to be able to be in touch with my family and my office.
Flight was uneventful. However, we did arrive an hour early in Frankfurt. And, there was no gate available so we sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for our proper time of arrival. So much for international travel … It is now 12:15 p.m. here in Germany or 4:00 a.m. body time – no sleep on the flight although I did read half of another excellent (and lengthy) book. Most passengers seem able to sleep on these overseas flights – I am not one of the lucky ones.
I have found the next boarding gate – it is not the one advertised on the board for this flight. Gee, same thing as on my last trip when I arrived in this airport – maybe it is time that the Star Alliance partnership here in Germany managed their flights and passenger flow a little better … but, that is not the half of it. We were to board an hour ago and there is still no plane…
I Am Overwhelmed
I am overwhelmed at the need and the hungry … the need to hear God and the hunger for more of God.
We have been working from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily and so I have not had an opportunity to write and post blogs every day. In fact, I have literally not had time for anything but ministry and the building of relationships here that will enable further ministry in the coming months and years. I am overwhelmed at the need but also at the hunger for God’s Word – both teaching and the prophetic. They are simply and deeply in love with Jesus and want what He wants with no limitations and no “ifs, ands or buts”. It is a pleasure and a joy to minister to the people here.
I am overwhelmed at the variety of churches and expressions of the life of Christ I see here.
I have ministered to 300 in a service in a rented college classroom (2 services back-to-back standing room only – 250 to 300 at both services) … 20 in a home church in a new sub-division of the city… 35 in an apartment “house church” in another city (a suburb of Moscow) that is moving in the Spirit… 65 in a leadership school (mostly pastors)… 9 in a leaders meeting and, of course, many many personal meetings with pastors.
I am overwhelmed at the size of the city and the traffic – people, cars and trucks.
There are more people in the city of Moscow than in half of my nation of Canada. 18 million officially registered and an estimated 2 million living here and not registered. It is staggering to think about that many people in one place. And, as you might imagine, the needs are tremendous – the pain very evident. You have to simply focus on “the one” – thing, place, person, or situation – and work with that otherwise you are overwhelmed spiritually by “the many” and simply stand immobilized.
I am overwhelmed with what God is doing here.
God is truly at work among these wonderful people. They are open and hungry – seeking, searching, wanting and needing a serious touch from Him. They know Him and they are wanting what He wants and thus God is moving mightily among them. It is personally overwhelming to see how they absorb the teachings into their heads and heart and then instantly apply what they are learning. They are willing to try, practice, and even fail in the attempt as they apply the truths taught. They willingly volunteer to come up and help prophesy so that they can apply the truths we are teaching and so that they can learn anything practical that they need to know to move forward in hat the school here has been teaching them. A delight to a teacher of God’s Word and an apostle.
I am overwhelmed with the opportunities to minister.
Since arriving we have been invited to four or five places to minister (o I sense another trip or two in the planning) both in this nation and in several other nations of the former Soviet Union. Doors are opening and invitations are coming because those experiencing the ministry in the various places we have been ministering know that their people or region and church could seriously benefit from our format and content – from apostolic ministry and input. So, each and every day we have sat down with calendars in hand and organized further dates and trips into Russia and surrounding nations.
I am overwhelmed – God is so great and so wonderful. It is totally incomprehensible to me personally that he would use someone like me to help Him impact a nation the size of Russia. He is so great!
Today – another full day of ministry – teaching, prophecy, and personal meetings with pastors. Then pack for an early start to the airport (5:30 a.m.) to fly to our next ministry opportunity. More as time allows.
Hear the Rooster Crowing
It is early morning – I mean early – 4:00 a.m. and the rooster next door has been at it for about 30 minutes.” Morning has broken” as Cat Stevens famous song indicates. And, it has broken very early. Everyone else is asleep – all 6 of them and I am enjoying the quiet and time to myself as I sit looking out the window at a sky that is still dark but promises to be bright and sunny and clear.
We start ministering in our second location today at 11:00 a.m. Means nothing as there is a meal and a car ride between now and then so, most likely, I will begin ministering as soon as people are up and dressed. I would like to minister to the father of our host’s wife who lives here with us and is a classic and extreme alcoholic. If that opportunity arises I will certainly not hesitate to speak in to his life and share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. I am sure family members have already done so numerous times but sometimes a stranger or a visitor can accomplish what family members cannot.
Today there will be a service at 11:00 a.m. and these people are new to me (unless they have been in a conference in Ukraine with me) so I will be sharing my testimony as a way to express the goodness of God, to remind the devil right from the start of the conference that he is defeated (Revelation 12:11) and to introduce myself and the journey that I am on. Then a fast lunch … two afternoon sessions – broken up by a 30 minute coffee break. This is followed by what I consider a rather short supper break that will not allow me a short walk to plug-in and to relax and then the evening service. A series of long days is ahead of us. Sunday (in the middle of the four day school) we will be going to a neighbouring city to preach and minister and then have the rest of the day “off” (and I am aware that this does not really mean “off”).
So far no internet connection is available in our new location. There is a wireless network somewhere nearby and I can connect to it but I cannot access the internet and my emails. Hopefully the city where the conference is being held (25 Km away) will supply wireless internet or Wi-Fi as it is fondly known. Then these blogs can be sent to my personal assistant who has been posting them for me as the new laptop I am travelling with for the first time will not allow me access to my own blog site. However, both my personal assistant and my IT guy can access it with the sign-on and password … it just doesn’t like me. So, as soon as I have internet connections these last few blogs will be forwarded “from Russia with love” to Canada and posted for those around the world who are praying for this trip to be able to receive a bit of information on what is going on during this second half of this particular mission trip.
I appreciate your faithfulness in praying for our work here. Lives are being impacted and changed for all of eternity and the Lord is doing a great work equipping and releasing the people of God to walk supernaturally in His presence and power here in Russia.
We Are Learning Lessons On the Go
It has been an interesting two and a half days of ministry here in the Caucasus. We have been with people, in meetings, teaching, ministering, listening and prophesying 18 hours a day since we arrived. It has been very busy and very productive. And, we are receiving some excellent feedback both immediately here from those currently being taught and ministered to and now by email from Moscow where we taught and ministered last week.
It is early Sunday morning here – 12:30 a.m. – and we are just winding down after a very productive and tiring day. We are not having another day of “school” tomorrow as the students are all leaders and actively busy in their local churches. We come back together early Monday morning for two more days of the school.
Sunday morning – first coffee
So, we will be picked up at 10:15 a.m. today (Sunday) and driven to where I will be ministering. It is a local church and we have already prophesied over one of the young ‘20-something’ members (who has been serving those at the school by working very hard as part of the kitchen staff who are feeding 70+ people twice a day – the church seats 60) and one man in his early 30’s who attends this church. So, after I preach and before the prophetic ministry happens I will call them up to testify as this will build faith in those attending and who are not use to the prophetic.
Then, I am told, we will go to the pastor’s house for lunch and fellowship (spelt ‘prophetic ministry’) after the service. Then we are hoping (we are going to demand it actually) we will be dropped off where we are staying so we can have some down time and personal space for half a day. We would like to catch up on our emails and have some time to go for a walk and relax. These “schools” we run are fairly demanding and we are finding that even the coffee breaks and meal times are really work times as we have people wanting to share, asking questions, wanting to talk to us for a minute (same as “I need a prophetic word”) and so we are simply never off duty.
We still have today (Sunday) to minister and then two full days of the school left to go. Then supposedly a day off to tour the countryside (want to bet we will just happen to meet some people who, you guessed it, want a prophetic word) and then Thursday we fly to Moscow and meet with an Orthodox priest and then with his church leaders. More prophetic ministry – good thing I really like what I do. Then Friday we head for the airport (6 hours before the flight due to Moscow traffic) and then 24 hours of airports and planes before arriving home.
I am learning that we (most likely my administrator) need to be much more specific about what we require for living conditions when ministering. They wanted us to stay in people’s homes during this half of the trip (and we did for one night) which ends up meaning we are “on duty” until we are in bed. Too exhausting and does not allow for personal time and space. I have ended up renting a hotel room and paying for it myself so we could have some privacy and actually be “off duty” for a few hours out of every 24.
I am learning that we need to make a rule (and stick to it) that there will be no questions during meals and coffee breaks. That is really sad in some ways because it is the only time people get to talk with us. However, if we just keep going then my interpreter never gets a rest and is just totally exhausted by the end of the day. Not to mention that I begin to feel like a “machine” and that they are assuming I am like the Ever Ready Bunny and can just keep going and going… And, we will need to constantly repeat that rule daily.
I am learning that when you say “I don’t do counselling as I am not your pastor” they hear: “I would love to hear about your personal problems and can guarantee you a prophetic and thus instantaneous and miraculous solution to those problems”. Need to make it clear – no counselling.
I am learning that “can I speak to you for a minute sometime during the next day or two” means they want a prophetic word and if I say “yes I can do that and give you a few minutes when we can talk” that this is instantly (and always) interpreted as a promise to prophesy. This has happened several times this trip and we have had to correct the people later when they come expecting – and I feel seriously manipulated and abused and so this is something that will need to stop.
I am learning that they will let you work 20 hours a day if you want to. So, I need to declare up front my working hours and what I am willing to do. This is not something I would find hard to do as they do not pay me for these ministry times. They are trying to honour me with some money (love offering) but it has yet to cover even the cost of the flights to come to a place to minister. So, I really feel I give them their “money’s worth” and so can tell them what I am willing to do regarding hours I will work or not work.
I am learning that … I will save the other lessons for another day. Time to pray, read my Bible and find out what the Lord wants me to teach and minister on here at this local church I am going to in some nearby city this morning.
Thanks for reading and for praying. Much appreciated.
Things That I Miss
Other than missing the basic comforts of home and being in a familiar and known environment – ministry trips have their unique challenges. Of course – having to adjust to living out of a suitcase and often someone else’s home and less than “normal” accommodations and living situations (privacy, one’s own space, down time, adequate clean clothes, coffee that taste good, etc.) – should be expected as they are a built-in feature of all international and national ministry trips. And, each trip out to minister, such as this one, do offer some unique challenges of their own. So, there is never a dull moment even when one wishes there could be.
Making time for one’s own personal relationship with the Lord is always a challenge. Because you are living with others and ministering with and to others – “others” are almost always around or not far away. There can be a constant stream of people as soon as the sun hits the horizons as it did beautifully this morning here in the Caucuses (a mountain range and district in western Russia); a constant demand for conversation and interaction as you work with the hosts and planners and attendees, adjust schedules and even expectations, and handle things that have are arising from the meetings.
There is the need to review teachings and seek the Lord’s face so that you have His heart for the sessions you are about to face during the day. Then there is the meeting each morning with team members to go over the plans and direction of the day and the late night meeting with the same team to debrief, correct and adjust – as well as deal with any interpersonal relational issues that have come up – at the end of each day.
Don’t misunderstand me; this is all good but all very time consuming and personally demanding. Much of it is very “spiritual” but it is not time alone with the Lord dealing with and building up one’s own personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. This is what seems to get lost in the process…. The Lord is gracious, of course, and understands all this but it is important to make time to connect intimately with the One who supplies what is needed for the ministry to be supernatural and effective.
Often this means staying up after everyone else on the team and in the home in which you often stay has gone to bed and quiet is once again a fact of life. Of course, by then you may be too tired to keep your eyes up. You can try to “catch up” on travel days unless the person you are sitting beside on a plane with very inadequate spacing between seats and rows happens to be twice the size of every other passenger and is flowing over into your space – in fact, taking over your space. This was the reality I faced yesterday. Then there are the early mornings … and early happens here as the roosters indicate the sun will rise in a few hours by their very loud (maybe he is right outside the window) crowing (day two of mother nature’s alarm clock).
So, if staying up and focusing on the Lord seems difficult or near impossible due to human limitations (and urgent emails that have come in during the day) then the other option is to get up earlier and have your devotional time before anyone arises. Sounds good and it can actually happen on occasion. Not this morning. It is 7:00 a.m. and people are up, showering, talking, eating … and I am expected to make a showing in the next few minutes for the first unofficial meeting of the day.
So, early would have to be really early. Of course, everyone is up a little earlier than normal because the water goes off shortly and will not return until just before bed so there are dishes from yesterday to do, laundry to accomplish, pots to fill as well as cleaning the bathtub after everyone showers and bathes so that they can fill it as well to enable us to flush the toilet after using it. Never mind, it is an indoor toilet and it actually has a seat. Have I died and gone to heaven? No, but I am developing some neat muscles in the top half of my legs as I journey around the former Soviet union.
Well, sounds like everyone is up and have had their shower and breakfast is about to begin. A cup of coffee would go good about now so I will close and go enjoy some time with my host’s family and hope the Lord understands that I love Him and miss our extended times together that I am usually able to get when home and able to go into my study and be with Him. However, time at home is becoming less and less as this ministry grows and so I will need to solve this problem of personal time with the Lord while travelling soon. Your prayers would be appreciated.
The Day After
It is Monday morning and it has rained most of the night but the sun is up nice and bright, the dogs are barking (normal) and the roosters are crowing (also normal). Yesterday – only because we spoke up and refused to work any longer – we were able to be back at the place we are staying by 7 p.m. That gave us the night to relax, go for a long walk (good for the soul and body) and then do some planning and scheduling for Ralph Howe Ministries before calling it a day at 1:00 a.m.
The day (Sunday) started with some paperwork before we were picked up to drive to another city. Then into a joint service of 6 or 7 churches from the network of churches our hosts co-lead under the overall leadership of an apostle whom we have now met and prophesied over. The service started at 11:00 a.m. and ended shortly after 3:00 p.m. Not a bad length for a Ukrainian worship service. I taught an encouraging word regarding those that the Lord would use to see His plans and His purpose fulfilled upon the earth. Then I was free to prophesy.
I had been asked that if I prophesied not to do long ones over people as that would not keep people focused. In the School I am leading the prophetic words take a good 30 minutes (remember they need to be translated) and sometimes much longer (they are very detailed). So, I asked the Lord what I was to do and He showed me that my normal way of prophesying is to pick up a large bolder and throw it into the lake. He then showed me that the way I should do it here (and gave me permission to do so) was to skip a small stone across the surface of the water and just touch on some of the things that I see.
So, I announced that I had been asked to do things a bit differently and that it was going to be my first attempt at it and jumped in. I prophesied over 9 or 10 people in 40 minutes (a record for me) and it was fun to do. I simply walked around in the congregation and looked and then chose. Again, a new way for me to do my work.
Feedback afterwards at a lunch/supper for the 9 pastors involved in the service (and wives) showed us that the Lord had honoured us and spoken very profoundly into the lives of these people. Their pastors were seriously excited because the words spoke directly to each person’s problems and/or issues and their current circumstances and situations. I was so pleased for the sake of the people because it was really a new way of doing things for me.
We had a great meal afterwards and just fellowshipped. We had been told that this was all it was going to be. In fact, we had been led to believe we were doing a service for one local church and it ended up being a joint service of many. We had been led to believe we were having a lunch with the local pastor and his family and it turned out to be more a supper and with 9 pastors, their wives and four missionaries. We were told it was a fellowship time and, of course, it turned in to more of a question and answer session. Then, meal over, we were suppose to head back and have the night to ourselves. That is what we asked for and were led to believe this was the plan. We found out that they wanted to have an evening to ask questions and receive prophesy. I do not like hidden agendas and being manipulated this way (that is what it feels like) and so we simply stood our ground and said “no” and that we wanted to be driven back to where we were staying. I am sure we will need to talk about it early today before the school starts.
So, a good day with a little down time afterwards which makes my team feel a bit more refreshed this morning and we can see it on their faces and we are all expressing that we are feeling more rested than we have in the last week. God is good.
Day three of the School starts in a few minutes and so will sign off and talk again tomorrow. We are on the home stretch and, by now, we are looking forward to going home. This is good.
Second to Last Day
It is Thursday here in Russia and I am sitting on the end of the bed writing. We are waiting for our ride from the “hotel” where we have been staying to our host pastor’s home for our last meeting with them. We have to check out of this place by 8:00 a.m. By Canadian standards not a great place to stay but by standards here we have done okay for living facilities. Of course, we spend 18 hours a day ministering and away from the site anyways.
After the debriefing meeting we head to the airport here in the next city to fly to Moscow where we will minister for a second time. This time we will be meeting with a Russian Orthodox priest and fellowshipping together. Than after the meal we will have a prayer meeting with his leadership team and they have asked us to prophesy over them and over his “movement”. Not sure what that is but I am sure we will find out.
He is hosting us overnight. We are being picked up the next day by a young man from a neighboring city who was seriously impacted by my prophetic ministry the first Sunday we were in the country … at a small house church we attended that morning. He simply wanted to serve and help. So, some time with him as we negotiate the traffic in the massive city of Moscow and weave our way to a 9 a.m. meeting with the pastor who hosted us or the prophetic school in this city two weeks ago. Then at noon I board a plane for Germany, switch to another flight to Toronto and then another flight to Regina. Friday will be a long day as I arrive home Friday evening after 10 p.m. but body time it will be 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. So, a 24 hours travel day ahead of me.
It has been a good – very good – two weeks. But, it is time to head home. I am tired and in need of both a physical and a spiritual rest. Just so much you can do for so long before you have to call a “time out”. It is time for a time out.
Blessings to everyone who has followed this trip via email and prayed for us here in Russia. Your prayers were answered and God has been glorified. Please continue to pray as we have a number of terrific offers to work in other areas of Russia – including one city that overlooks the nation of Japan (yes, Russia is that big).
Back in Moscow
Yesterday we arrived back in Moscow. We were met at the airport by an Orthodox priest who works with a group of believers – born again and Spirit-filled. He brought along someone to help with our baggage as we took the bus from the airport to a rapid train system. The bus was a 20 minute ride – the train a 35 minute ride. That got us into the city… who knows how far in – I certainly don’t. When a city has 20 to 24 million people (depending on who you ask) who knows if there is even an area that is considered the center to the city. Then we walked with all our bags for a few blocks, got on a mini-bus and fought the traffic for another 40 minutes … arriving somewhere (who knows where we really were) 2.5 hours after getting off the plane. This is where we stayed for the night – the priest’s apartment. And what a night!
After a quick and light meal – which ended up with six eating and talking – three of them were heading out to minister for the evening so they asked if I could prophesy over them right away – like right now! I did. I was not planning to work until the evening home church meeting but never mind. Then a private conversation with the priest, away from the cook and the housekeeper – personal matters and concerns. Then a walk to exchange the Russian money we had into American as Russian money is hard to exchange once outside the country. Again, a lengthy stop in the park for the priest to speak of another personal concern and the hurt he has felt in several relationships. Ministry can be tough.
We returned to find a home full of people with worship already going on. No rest since we started the day with a business meeting, a meal and a debriefing session back in the Caucasus where we had just finished 7 days of ministry. Here we are being asked to teach and minister prophetically right away again. By the end of the evening (1:15 a.m. to be exact) I had shared some of my testimony as an introduction to myself as this was a new group who did not know me. Then, of course, they wanted me to prophesy over them. I did so – with a word (extensive) for the priest and the church (called The Way and considered a movement by those involved) and then a word for every person in the two rooms – every person. Almost 40 people were in attendance as more kept coming as some had to leave due to the subway closing for the nigh).
After almost everyone left Sergei cooked us a great supper and so at 2:00 a.m. we finished eating and talking. Pasha, a pastor and young apostle from a church we had ministered in during our February ministry trip in southern Ukraine, was also there so we had an opportunity to minister together and to then eat together before calling it a day / night and heading to bed. He had come early for a ministry opportunity simply because he had heard I would be there. It was a blessing to see him and chat with him. I will be back in his city for a joint ministry opportunity with him in January, 2010 after ministering in another city and before travelling to a third location to speak at a school that I am still writing and researching material for.
Well, bed at 2:00 and up at 5:00 as our ride came early to get us to the airport. It took over three hours to drive to the airport as we hit a number of traffic jams even at that time in the morning. Great fellowship all the way as this was a young man whom I had ministered to two Sundays before in a home church we attended and he was telling us his story and how God had given him such hope and new freedom through the word of the Lord that I had spoken over his life that day. God is so good.
Then an early lunch at the airport as we chatted (a business meeting) with the pastor who had hosted our school in Moscow when we first arrived here in this nation. Then I needed to board for my first flight. Moscow to Frankfurt. Then a few hours to wait. Frankfurt to Toronto and a few more hours to wait and then Toronto to Regina. A long day (26 or so hours) but I will be home again and that is always good.
In Moose Jaw Saturday evening and mentoring a young man before that in Regina. Then two services on Sunday … I am finalizing my two teachings as I fly right now to Toronto.
I sincerely thank everyone for your prayers before and during this trip. It has been an adventure and an experience of a lifetime. I have learned much about God, the way the Holy Spirit works, about myself and about the gift of prophecy. I am not the man who left Canada 17 days ago. God has done some marvellous work in and through me.
Fellowship of the Holy Spirit – Russian Experience
If you were to ask me what my fondest memory of my recent trip to Russia is – I would have to be honest and say it happened on my day off when I was “playing tourist” and not during any of the 40+ teaching opportunities when I ministered God’s Word through preaching, teaching and prophecy.
On our last day in the caucasus I accompanied a number of pastors and their spouses on a tour of the mountains – a 2.5 hour drive to get there with a roadside lunch of some special “pizza-type” food of one of the many people groups found in Russia. Then a few hours on ski lifts going half way up a fairly large mountain and simply enjoying God’s handiwork as the scenery was beautiful – magnificent. Then, part way back to where we were staying my team stopped with these men and women for a supper in a dense Russian forest. This is the event that had the biggest impact upon me.
The impact was not immediate – although I was aware of God doing something in me and speaking to me. However, later as I thought about the “feeling” and the events of that cool mountain evening and our meal cooked on a campfire and eaten with our fingers, I realized what I had truly experienced and then I cried for hours.
I thought we were going to tour with the two lead apostles of the network (they call them “unions”) and have a somewhat quiet day. Then I discovered that there was going to be 20+ men and women on this day long outing. This “change in plans” or “hidden plans” had happened frequently during the visit and it felt a lot like manipulation and I didn’t like these surprises being sprung on us.
The vehicle I was in was small and noisy and so the long drive was not comfortable or what you would call pleasant. However…
The mountain was wonderful – but I have seen mountains before and I am tired and this is not my idea of a “day off”. I also had the feeling this was going to end up with me being asked to prophesy over those in our party who had not yet received a prophetic word at our many meetings. I was right but simply declined stating it was a day off and I would like it to remain as such. They seemed to understand although they were disappointed, I am sure. Then the long drive back late at night.
But the forest meal …
I watched as these 20 pastors and spouses made the outdoor fire, heated water in an old fashion Russian outdoor teapot (it was really neat) out of the 1800’s. They prepared the food, cooked the meal, and did so in less than comfortable surroundings as it was in a forest without proper seats, picnic tables, etc. They worked together as a real team – each helping the other getting the many tasks accomplished and enjoyed every minute of their time together. It was a celebration.
This was not an easy task – to feed 22 of us. We basically had what we had brought. The water supply was great – a fast flowing river with “the cleanest water in Eastern Europe” according to their reports. It could be heard throughout the evening and was a marvellous backdrop to our activities.
We sat on logs and ate our food (it was wonderful) with our fingers tearing at the meat that had been cooked, picking up food with our hands from common plates set in the center of the group… an experience. A good experience. But, that was not what I wanted to share – just background.
I watched 20 men and women – most in difficult ministry and living situations – laugh together as they worked together. They respected each other, worked as a team, there was a prayer going on over there, a story over here, a hug back there, tears flowed like the river in the background …. Then, all of a sudden, as we were seated on the cold and damp ground eating and drinking hot and strong tea the Holy Spirit showed up. We were still laughing together and eating lots of great food with our fingers, sharing and talking, listening and laughing but there was a mighty sweep of the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit that swept into the area and settled on all of us. It was as if He found out there was a party going on and decided to join us and celebrate God’s goodness at the end of 8 long days of ministry. It was majestic – awesome – incredible – overwhleming – unforgetable – powerful – emotionally moving – life-changing.
Paul states in 2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”. I experienced the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” in a whole new way – as never before.
It was – powerful. And I experienced the highlight of my trip on a day when I was doing something I would not have, in the natural, chosen to do in less than comfortable or even convenient circumstances. Yet, God honored the hearts of these men and women and the unity they work together with …
Reminds me of Psalm 133 … How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
A Blog From Russia – Missed in the Regular Posting
It has been raining all night. Now early morning here in Moscow and already the traffic noises tell me that the roads are jammed with cars as people leave early for work to “avoid the rush”. I remember my dad having to do the same years ago as I grew up in the Montreal area. Traffic here is far worse, far earlier in the day.
We are going to “play tourist” this morning and have a walking tour of Red Square and parts of the Kremlin. Not sure it will be a go yet as it is raining quite hard and we would get very wet. But it is still very early in the morning here so it may all change in the next few hours. Time will tell.
Today we meet with another pastor starting at 2:00 p.m. We are joined at 5:00 p.m. by his leadership team for a time of sharing, teaching and prophetic ministry. We hope to be back in our rooms by 11:00 p.m. tonight. Again, time will tell. Speaking of time – time for a morning shower as it is time (6:30 a.m.) to get ready for a busy day ahead and much ministry as people’s lives are touched and changed forever by the power of the living God and the supernatural gifts that He gave to His Church. I will finish this blog sometime today as time allows. Hopefully we will get connected to my main blog page as well – as that is why, only now are things being posted. This new laptop is having trouble connecting to the blogging system we use. We are now going to send them via emails to my office and my personal assistant will post them for me as they are not having issues with getting onto the administrative side of the blog programming – my own blog page’s administrative back door.
Right now the office of this “retreat center” is not open for the day yet and so our wireless connection is not functioning – so limited to only off-line activities so I can’t even send them to my home office.
End of the long day…
Well – it was cold and raining all day but we did see a number of tourist sites – including very old cathedrals (oppressive religion) and Red Square. We arrived on time for all meetings – and the evening home church meeting finally ended at 11:15 p.m. because our curfew here is 11:00 for the facilities where we live and we still had to drive here through the traffic which is bumper-to-bumper day and night. So, needless to say we broke the rules and arrived back later than we should have. Not good and we did apologize.
The home church was attended by about 20 people and after a time of sharing and fellowship we had barbequed ram for supper and some Armenian flat bread (interesting looking but can’t tell you how it tasted as it was made of wheat and thus not on my diet). Then we had a time of praise and worship and I was blessed to be allowed to teach a little bit. I shared on the need for the Church to be structured and built biblically and they were hungry and listened with both heart and head … then, of course they wanted us to prophesy. So, we did. It helped that there was another person who could interpret for us and so Miroslav could simply work with me as an apostle and prophesy right along with me and minister effective – not having to switch roles each time from translator to apostle and back again as we ministered to each individual. He has a very well developed prophetic gifting and is very accurate and effective as a prophetic minister and is growing tremendously in his gifting and calling. I am seriously proud of him.
Arrived back at our “residence” and spent an hour and a half talking about the day (debriefing) and working through our prophetic feelings and what we were sensing about the two churches we have worked with over the past two days. We decided that we need time with each of the pastors to speak into their lives and share with them things that we see about their leadership (or lack of it) and what we see about their church and their people and leaders. We have some common observations shared by both Miroslav and myself so we believe we have heard God and are amazed how similar what we have sensed and perceived really is. If they are open to our input, and I hope they are, we can help them in many major ways and help their churches to be healthier and more biblical. We will need to find time to schedule this type of sensitive meeting in an already very tight and busy schedule.
At the end of sharing and debriefing we then talked personally about his recent courses (Ralph Howe Ministries is financing his master’s degree) and then about areas he feels he needs to develop in personally to enable him to minister more effectively. I have begun to mentor him at his request and this is always the first step. We came up with a number of things he believes he needs to learn and skills he needs to grow in and I will be developing a book list and purchasing the books and other material to bring with me in November when we minister together again in Kazakhstan so that we can begin to work on these areas.
Bed at 1:30 a.m. and up at 7:00 a.m. to be ready for the new day and totally different ministry opportunities.
A Day In Transit
By 4:00 a.m. I was up and mobile moving forward to face the 5:00 a.m. traffic of Moscow where 20,000,000 people live and work. We were picked up and driven without incident (no traffic jams or accidents) although the traffic was heavy even at that hour. A coffee while we waited to go through check-in and security, good-byes to our host and driver.
Oh, did I mention this was to be a day off even though we would be travelling to our next location? Well, at 6:30 a.m. in the airport parking lot we were asked to prophesy over the driver. So, we were on duty once again. We did as asked. Good word!
Then we were through security and took the opportunity to walk around knowing we would be sitting for quite some time to come. Boarded the plane – squeezed in like over-sized sardines in an undersized can. Sad and very uncomfortable and the man next to me filled half of my seat as well. Long flight!
We arrived and found out that the host pastor in Moscow was suppose to have registered us as guests when we first arrived. He did not. So, we are in quite a bit of trouble. So, our new hosts drove us all over a number of towns (50,000 people) and cities (250,000 to 500,000 people) trying to right the situation. No progress. However, we have several options in motion and both look like we will end up paying tremendous fines for the oversight of our original host. Time will tell.
Then we arrived at where we are staying for the night. It is now 2:30 p.m. and we are exhausted. We were suppose to be in a hotel so we could have some quiet and privacy. We are in a house with 4 adults and three children and numerous visitors and people coming and going. And, we are to sleep in two main rooms where the company and family seems to simply fall in whenever they want to. So much for quiet and privacy.
The talk went on (all business) until 6:00 p.m. when we ate supper (or was that lunch?) and then into the car to tour the top of the local mountain. What a magnificent view. However, once again I was asked to prophesy – this time over the city and its neighbouring suburbs… This is a day off, folks. When you can prophesy when you want to and people know it – it seems there is no such thing as a day off.
Back for more business talk planning the next few days – and it is now near 11:00 p.m. as I type this with my laptop on my knees and a dog right out the window barking very loudly (happens frequently it seems in every location). I am about to go over what I plan to teach tomorrow because we leave here early and will not see our hotel room until 11:00 p.m. tomorrow night. Then, I need to be picking out clothes for tomorrow and bed (finally) if the noise of the family dies down a bit.
Did I mention the water goes off at 10:00 p.m. and does not come back on until 6:00 a.m. and then goes off at 10:00 a.m. again… we have a narrow window to flush toilets and shave and shower. I am first in line at 6:30 which will give the water heater half an hour to heat up enough water for a quick rinse off (I hope).
Tomorrow we start a school for 60 leaders (was suppose to be 40) and it will be on prophecy (surprise) and the other gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) as well as the motivational gifts of Romans 12 and the five-fold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 – not to mention numerous other gifts and callings. By Tuesday evening when the school ends (Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday) we will have covered the basics of the gifts and focused on, as well as practiced, the prophetic. This is an equipping school on the gifts of God to the people of God and an opportunity to actually come up front and practice what they have just learned.
If this flies as well as it did the first school we have just finished – it will be rewritten and improved and then immediately translated into Russian for use as a manual for the same school as we teach it in a number of other places around the former Soviet Union. I have taught it about 40 times in Canada so it is time for the material to be translated and gain a wider audience.
Will post this as soon as we can connect again to the internet.
Good to Be Home But
I arrived home last night after many hours of airports and airplanes. Arrived safely, on time and to the welcome of some of my grown children. My wife had an operation on Thursday and has just gotten home from hospital so she was unable to come to greet me as she usually does. Bed at 1:30 a.m. and it is now 5:00 a.m. Jet lag! Really 3:00 p.m. body time. Frustrating to not be asleep when you are suppose to be – so I’m up and having a warm cup of coffee.
There are still several blogs to be posted regarding the trip – written in the last two days. My personal assistant will post them in the next 48 hours. However, as I sit here in the comfort of my own study …
I am thinking through the experience of the past 15 days of ministry and realizing how blessed I am to be able to work with the Holy Spirit in another part of the world and experience God’s Church in other nations. It is amazingly stretching and can (and should) help me to recognize many of the cultural barriers we live with that prevent the Church from really being the Church here in this nation.
I recognize that each nation is different and God’s people are different in each nation. So, I am keenly aware that I cannot compare one place to another as this simply leads to pride if we are “doing better” and is depressing if we “don’t seem to measure up”. So, I will need to switch gears and simply fit back in to a culturally different set of church services this weekend – adjusting expectations.
I realize that I have had this life-changing experience and others have not. So, I must share some of what I have experienced but not bore people with the details as they are simply not interested as they were not there. But it was life-changing and so over the next few days I will dust off my personal journal and record some of my thoughts and feelings and record what changes I sense the Lord has been making in my heart, life and ministry.
I know that I am blessed to have the team that I do who help me to do what I do in Eastern Europe. Without this dedicated team of three (we have added another half-time person to our salaried staff) I would be seriously limited in my impact and ministry. I am dependant upon them and the Lord and that is as it should be – no Lone Rangers, mutual support and accountability as well as a group whose giftings compliment each other.
It is obvious that my overall ministry is rapidly changing from “pastoring” to apostolic and I am adjusting and changing as quickly as I can to this new reality. I must admit, however, that the adjustments are not always easy and that I am having to work really hard at incorporating the changes – thinking differently, planning in new ways, involving more people in the overall ministry, working hard at grasping the reality of what is rapidly transpiring, understanding the almost toally new job description and the resulting timetable shifts I am now required to make. One of the hardest changes is learning to work “on the run” as it apprears that I will be spending less and less time in my office and study at home base. God’s grace is sufficient for all these changes but this is still not an easy season.
And, I am learning many new skills as I work more apostolically. People skills, how to work more closely with the Holy Spirit, developing my prophetic gifts (Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discerning of Spirits and Prophecy), and learning how to better serve God’s people worldwide and not just locally along with management and planning skills not to mention new technology and programming.
Never too old to change it seems.