Follow up to test picture blog

Sorry for the email with the non-existing blog. I (Elizabeth) was testing something and didn’t realize it would email everyone. Sorry!

Be Brave and Prophesy

The pastors of this church and many of their members are former convicts. The pastor himself spent 15 years in jail and his wife has served two terms in prison. They are the most wonderful people and most beautiful Christians you could ever meet. Last Night (Saturday) they sang a worship song together – beautiful. Their soft hearts and gentle spirits really touched my heart. God really is honoring them and their commitment to Him.

Last night we prophesied over two of their leaders. Wow! One man is going to have an evangelistic ministry closely connected to the pastor but then as an outreach of his own ministry he will be heading into Turkey. Found out later that he use to be a drug addict and a drug dealer – had many of the authorities on the take so they would look the other way and was much feared by many and hated by many others. He was put in prison and there accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Totally transformed. A very gentle and loving man with a good prophetic gift.

This is the first conference the local church here has ever held. I am honored to be their first conference speaker. Already we are talking about further work here with them and even another visit of equal length (3.5 days) in August when in this country for an international youth camp. We meet in a place with little comfort. The chairs look like they are from an old theatre and often the room is so cold that those in attendance put their winter coats on. But, it does not bother God as He has allowed His presence to be felt and His power to be experienced at each of the four sessions so far.

Today (Sunday) in a few hours we are heading to their regular Sunday service – it goes from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (count them – 5 hours). It’s fun and this certainly allows God time to do what He wants to do. So, again I will preach on the Word and then minister to those in attendance prophetically. One team member needs to leave part way through to catch his transport home. The rest are staying to help with the ministry, come and join me tonight for a night of fellowship and food, and then tomorrow (Monday) we all head our separate ways early in the day. As I mentioned yesterday – they are a terrific group of young men who love the Lord and flow in the gifts of the Spirit.

We have had some tremendous feedback to the conferences we have been holding. People are growing spiritually and prophetically and backsliders are turning back to God and becoming passionate, once again, about Jesus. Below I have taken the liberty of posting an answer to a blog entry from our time in Kirovovgrad for those who have not already read it. It is from a young person called Nathalie…

I was there. It was really powerful. The most amazing thing that you don’t need to be specially prayed for or to be touched by a minister to get this prophetic annointing. You just suddenly start hearing God’s voice. I couldn’t fall asleep at night, I asked God a bunch of questions and he answered!!!!!!!
I came to my hometown and I believe revival is starting in my sphere of calling. I am sure I brought fire of God from Kirovograd. Thank You, Lord for Your servant Ralph who brought here in Ukraine your special prophetical annointing and taught us be brave and prophesy!

What a Day – What a Team

Yesterday was quite a day. It started with a meeting with my administrator to sort some details out regarding this visit to Ukraine. Then a quick and brisk walk through much snow to a restaurant for an early lunch with a pastor and his wife from Krasnoarmensk who travelled all this way to visit with me for several hours. They too had difficulty due to the snow storm. Their bus never arrived to pick them up and so they had to take a train which also had difficulties … they arrived an hour late for the lunch meeting after travelling all night.

Lunch was a business meeting (no personal feelowship) where after the normal pleasantries we discussed the summer camp which I had agreed to speak at. I was their speaker last year with 95 campers for the ten day camp. This year they are wanting 200 to attend and again I am speaking. We now have the dates booked and so began looking at the details of the camp and seeing what needed to change as we now look back at last year’s camp after 5 months. It was a good meeting.

We then rushed down the main “walking street / shopping district” to the very end (another good but brisk walk) and entered into the cultural center (why do they all look the same around the nation of Ukraine?) as that is where the local church we are with meets. We began a few minutes late as we ironed out some sound difficulties. After some very active worship I taught on the prophetic in the local churches emphasizing that everyone can prophesy and should as the Lord tells us we are to ernestly desire to do so. Good response but felt like we were seriously plowing uphill. Ministered to a few prophetically after the teaching. The service went a little overtime leaving less time for supper.

Supper was to be 4:30 to 6:00 and then the second session of the day. However, we were there to 5:00 p.m. and so supper was a bit rushed. We invited the pastor and his wife with whom we had eaten lunch to join us in the suite we are staying in for a fellowship time over supper. Another business meeting – no fellowship. Then a brisk walk back to the cultural center and the second session of the day. In this evening service I taught on the numerous definitions of prophecy I have and the purpose of the prophetic as well as how the gift of prophecy functions.

Our evening service was more anointed and the moving of the gifts was easier because when I stood after worship ended I bound the spirit of religion and the the spirit of tradition and commanded them to leave. What an amazing difference. Freedom to move in the prophetic. And what a move it was with 8 to 10 being ministered to by the team. And what a team.

The team has matured in their giftings and it is such a joy to watch them minister God’s now Word to people. They are accurate, gentle, loving, redemptive, and the Word they give is right from the heart of God. I feel like a proud father watching his kids do something they were trained to do and doing it really well. I am seriously proud of my team who have joined with us for these 6 days and the wonderful ministry they have been doing to honor the Lord Jesus. And, I am excited that I have a small part to play in their growth and maturing process. Just a small part. They are seriously great. It has been wonderful to have them with me. And, I have enjoyed every minute I have been able to spend with them.

Then back to the suite for yet another meeting that lasted until 1:00 a.m. in the morning. Imporatant things were discussed, feelings expressed, decisions made … but it was another meeting if you know what I mean. Sometimes I feel like a machine that ministers and goes to meetings and that people do not see me as human with a need to fellowship and just be a human being and not have to minister. It is good to be treated, just once in a while, as a human being and not a prophetic machine. However, today was not the day.

Highlight of the day: One of the team members asked me (because he cares) if I tire of meetings and ministry. Nice to know someone noticed and expressed their concern and care in doing so. Very encouraging and made me feel much better – even human.

Ordzhonikidze – Our Next Stop

It has been quite the day. Up early to have some quiet time in spite of the lateness of the night before. We hit some snags on our understanding of how things were being handled – what was agreed upon as the church’s responsibilities and what are our responsibilities. It took some time late into the early morning to sort out the feelings and details so that my team was coming at the things that will need to be discussed with the church leadership after I am gone from a mutual understanding and total unity. The two pots of tea were very enjoyable considering we were in our second day of major snow and we walk to and from the church.

The weather has been something else. We had two days of rain and warm weather – made a real mess of all the streets (there are few sidewalks in these cities so everyone walks on the streets). Then the temperature dropped considerably and everything froze with huge ruts and deep pools of water under a thin layer of ice. Then the snow came. Three days of it so far. The first two days were basic whiteouts and we had a real dump of snow so the city has basically ground to a halt with cars and buses stuck everywhere.

That takes us to today – the third day of the snow and it is snowing. The roads are a mess. We have a 4 hour bus ride ahead of us to the city of Ordzhonikidze. Yesterday those who left the conference in Kirovograd early to return home to Ordzhonikidze took many hours extra to get home as their bus went nose first into a ditch filled with snow and people were almost unable to dig their way out of the bus and back on to the road … I don’t mean dig the bus out – I mean dig themselves out of the bus so they could breathe and get free. The bus came out with the help of a large tractor some hours later. We were taking the same route.

Well, we had a great meeting with the pastor and his wife (apostle and prophet) of the church in Kirovograd and then shared a lunch with them. We then headed to the bus depot. The four hour ride took a little over 6 hours as I don’t think we ever got above 50 kph all the way. It was one of the worse trips I have taken in the last decade. But, the bus driver was wonderful and very careful and a terrific driver. We arrived when many trucks and cars were not as lucky.

Since arriving we have settled in to some very nice quarters – three here and three team members in another place a few blocks away. I have had a meeting with the pastor and his wife – both former drug addicts and both have spent time in jail – and come to know them better. As well, we discussed the weekend (3 days – 5 sessions) and tried to sort out where they think we should start teaching. We have a list of topics we worked out over a month in advance but sometimes things change and we recognize that the maturity level and knowledge level is not quite what the leaders think it is. So, have a fairly good idea of what they want and what they are expecting. In the morning I will pray, seek the Lord, sort through the papers and take what I believe I will need to teach during the day.

So, tomorrow (Friday) we are working in a new city (45,000 people), with new people and a church we have never visited before and even a number of new topics all dealing with the prophetic as the topic is “Prophetic Ministry in the Local Church”. Another challenge.

I’m Amazed At What God Is Doing

Well, it is Thursday and the ministry in our first location is finished. We have held three days of a School teaching people about the gifts of God – motivational, charismatic and the five-fold ministry gifts (and other ministries). We have had 100 -150 out at most sessions and the Spirit of God has really moved and blessed God’s people.

We have had opportunity to minister to almost a dozen pastors from three nations and, of course, when you minister to and prophesy over a pastor you are also having an impact upon his people and the Church. I have been thrilled with my 8 team members who were able to join us here in Kirovograd for this ministry time – some at their own expense and several whom we have helped financially so that they could be here – to learn and to grow as well as to continue developing their relationships with me and the other team members. It has been neat to see the growth in them even over these past four days as their giftings and callings continue to develop and mature.

Of course, I have been in meetings before the services, between the services and after the services. The highlight of these many meetings was Tuesday night when after the main service we met with the youth of the local church. We had already met with the youth leadership team two nights before. The rather large room was completely full and so when my team showed us we showed “close fellowship” as we added 8 more people to an already overcrowded room. We shared and they asked questions and it became obvious rather quickly that this group of youth need help. They need to learn the basics of their faith as well as the basics of sharing their faith with others that they know. So, I asked Valarie – our youth pastor from Krasnoarmeysk – to share his experiences in reaching out to the lost youth of their city. He did an amazing job of sharing and of answering the resulting questions. He is dynamic – seriously on fire for the Lord and alive to the leading of and the power of the Holy Spirit. I was so proud of him.

The last two days it has been snowing. The two days before that it melted and rained. We have a total mess on the roads here. And, today we are getting on a bus (8 team members) and heading out to Ordzhonikidze city to minister at a two day conference on “The prophetic in the local church” and then minister on the Sunday in this small church that we are building relationships with. This will be our first visit to this city and this church although we have ministered to the pastor a number of times in other locations over the past year or more. We are hoping with the roads as they are and the fact that it is still snowing off-and-on that we actually make our destination and arrive on time.

We apologize if you have been having trouble with our blogs over the past two days – a virus was discovered on the server that we rent space on – and so we were effected by this situation. I am told it was fixed last night and everything should now be back to normal. Thanks for your patience.

Yesterday Was Amazing

Day one of the Conference in Kirovograd, Ukraine, was amazing. We had many more people than expected and many more than registered … so plans changed as we went along to accomodate the larger numbers. More team members arrived – several who decided to come and help at the last moment and phoned to see if that was okay. Isn’t God good? We have more people to minister to than expected and so God made sure we had a larger team to help do the ministry.

That’s only half the news. Yesterday morning – before I knew that the numbers would be bigger – the ministry received an on-line donation to ministry. A real blessing! So, when I heard yesterday that some of our team members borrowed funds to come and be with us to help I have been able to help them out financially. One young man – a real asset to God’s Kingdom and this team – came 8 hours by train on borrowed money, was planning not to eat for the days he was here and then simply head back on another train. He simply quietly came to serve. Total cost for the round trip train – $18.00. Total cost for the week with meals included (you can eat at the church, good food, reasonably priced) $31.00. He simply did not have it but borrowed it so he could serve … we blessed him by paying all of the expenses and then giving him a small gift as well so he could purchase a book or some piece of clothing as an added blessing. God is so good.

We taught and prophesied all day and evening. The evening service went longer than expected and so the planned 9:00p meeting with the youth was postponed until Tuesday night – same time, same station. Many lives were serious touched as God broke generational curses, healed past hurts and current, open wounds, touched the lives of those who thought God no longer cared, rescued young men who had fallen away from the Lord and, as one young English speaking team member working with us for the first time stated: “thank you for making men out of a bunch of wimps.” He has been standing in his authority and the power of God and ministering most of the day – doing things he didn’t know how to do 24 hours ago and finally doing what God has called him to do.

In August of last year we met a young man who was a friend of the team member who was hosting our overnight stay in Kiev, Ukraine on our way to the airport to catch our first flight home. This young American who grew up in Ukraine spoke both languages and had chosen to remain living in Ukraine after his parents returned home. That evening we shared a meal, got to know each other a bit, prophesied over his life, and fellowshipped until late into the evening. He is an apostle-in-training. He came to these meetings to watch and learn … and I called him up to help us to minister. He was the one who thanked me to taking the wimps (men who were not walking in their authority and power as believers) and making real men out of them. Highest compliment I have received in many years.

God was very evident in both the two daytime sessions, the fellowship, as well as in the evening service where over 250 people worshipped, learned and where the prophetic ministry was very powerful. I asked that any woman under the age of 35 who wanted a prophecy to raise their hands. Then I asked them all to come up. The team ministered to 18 woman … then we ministered to two young men – one of them the oldest son of the pastoral couple who head up this ministry and church. Seriously wonderful – powerful – life changing.

Of course, after every day there are the nuts-and-bolts meetings – sound issues to iron out, financial concerns to be discussed, team debriefing that needs to happen … so it was well after eleven when we left the building and headed back to where I am staying. Then time with my hosts and a hot cup of tea and something to eat … 1:00a came along very quickly.

Now time to face a whole new day – it is Tuesday morning here.

God First, Family Second and Other Nonsense

The idea that life can be divided into a neat pyramid of priorities is a myth. This idea holds that if we will simply arrange our lives according to the formula God First, family second, and ministry third, then everything will flow together smoothly. It’s a great theory, but unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.

I use to teach that “nonsense” and actually believe it. I was taught it by some very powerful and influencial people who seemed to have successful ministries. But recently I seem to be in a season of rebuilding some foundational beliefs in my life and questioning things that I once believed to be truth and thus good.

Here is my thinking … First, God isn’t a priority in life; God is life. Paul said (the Holy Spirit said and Paul spoke and Luke wrote) “In Him we live and move and have our being.” He is the very life-force within me (no I am not becoming New Age). He gives me breath and life and so God is life and not just a priority in the midst of many things that are important in my life.

I like what one pastor said about this and the verse that started this train of thought:

“I don’t prioritize breathing; I breathe so that I live. If I have to prioritize God, put God into some sort of hierarchial to-do list, I have missed the whole concept of what it means to walk with God. When the apostle Paul spoke to the Athenians on Mars Hill, he said that “in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

So, yes, I start my day in my Bible reading. I study it during the day as well – as I spend time in my study writing and researching. I read my Bible before bed (the Psalms and Proverbs). I listen for His voice in my times of stillness and pray in line with what I hear – talk to Him about what He is saying. And, I listen for His voice all day long as I go about my work and the regular activities of life because He will often send me off on an adventure where, if I am obedient and sensitive to His leading, I end up ministering to someone and touching their life with His love. Always an exciting adventure.

I have some structure to my relationship … first thing in the morning – last thing at night. Psalms and Proverbs at night and currently 1 Samuel in the morning. But I don’t then take out my priority list and place a check mark next to “God – #1 priority” as having accomplished that for the day and now it is time to move on to #2 priority and then to #3 and so on.

God is life – my life – and so He is not just an item on a list of priorities. So, I stay conscious of His presence and power all day, every day. All day long I have my spiritual ears and eyes alert to what He is saying and what He is showing me. I am ready and willing to change any of my “priorities” and plans for the day so that I can fit in with what He is doing and be where He is already actively involved and blessing.

Maybe that has always been an obvious truth to you – but, for me, it was a life-changing revelation that is still making adjustments in the way I do things on a daily basis. It will be interesting to discover what other “nonsense” I have accumlated and believed and taken as truth along the way. Ah! Another exciting adventure with the Lord.

I Arrived And Day One is Done

Thanks for your patience with the blogs. This has been my first bit of quiet and my first opportunity to write to those of you who are interested in what happens day-by-day during the mission trips that Ralph Howe Ministries sponsors overseas to Eastern Europe.

The adventure of travel: I flew out mid-morning from Regina to Calgary. Found the gate to board the overseas 10 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. They could not locate the plane. I found the gate -they could not locate the plane. This meant that we were 60 minutes late boarding – the plane finally arived – and 90 minutes late taking off. They assured me I could make the next flight from Frankfury to Kiev, Ukraine IF I ran. I ran.

I found the gate with some difficulty – Frankfurt’s airport is not well aranged and is also under some serious construction while still being used as well … a mess, to say the least. I got there on time, before they were going to board, barely. But, again they were missing one of the key ingredients – the plane. It arrived an hour and a half late, needed to be cleaned up, staffed, refueled, etc. Well, we left 2 hours+ later than planned. I didn’t really need to run.

So, my pick-up in Kiev was kept waiting. They too had not had a great travel day. There had been very poor road conditions for over half of the 5-6 hour car trip from Kirovograd into Kiev. The roads had not improved by the time we were weaving our way home very carefully in pitch darkness (no street lights anywhere and no moon or stars to light the way.) We arrived at our destination atfter7:00p and failed to find a place in this city of 175,000 that sold Diet Coke. But, there was a warm apartment and a hot home cooked meal waiting for me at the home of Miroslav my Administrator for Eastern Europe and his wife Elena. They will both be working with me every day throughout this trip – two translators to help me communicate in the pulpit, while prophesying and praying for people as well as during meals and miscellaneous conversations throughout the day. It is like having a constant shadow that never leaves you nor forsakes you. During the meal and long afterwards I listened to their concerns about their local church and some of the issues the leadership of the church must face and deal with. So, a two hour “business meeting” after 36 hours of travel. Welcome to the ministry.

Sunday morning came early – jet lag is a serious issue when you move across 8 time zones and your body needs to adjust. Example. We flew Calgary to Frankfurt – leaving Calgary early afternoon and arriving in Frankfurt at midnight … except Frankfurt time was 6:00 a.m. Now your body wants to sleep as it is midnight but the sun is rising on the horizon because it is morning and the city has come to life. So, confusion reigns in the body clock department. It usually takes two days for the body to adjust … today is day two.

But back to day one. Morning service from 11:00a to 3:30p. Worship, offering, teaching (I taught on prayer as that is their theme or focus for the year) and then I prophesied over 6 young men whom I had spotted earlier during the hour+ of worship and knew God wanted me to speak from His heart to their heart. Before the service started – a meeting with my interpreter for the day and a meeting with the apostle and prophet who are the “senior pastors” of this church of 300. After the service – a meeting for 30 minutes with three of the men I had prophesied over as they need to connect to our team here and my mentoring and leadership. So, an opportunity to get to know them, hear their feedback about the words they had received (truly amazing), and explain what we have to offer to them and ask them to become involved.

Forty minute lunch break and then back to the church building to have a meeting with their leadership team which numbers about 30 including a youth team of 6 leaders. I had been asked to discuss the prophetic word that I had spoken over the church in August when I ministering for one day on my way to a ten day youth camp. So, I had reviewed a copy of it earlier in the week, refreshed my memory and made some notes earlier in the morning and was prepared to walk them through what they should expect, what they needed to do, and what kind of changes should they anticipate. So, I spoke for an hour (30 minutes plus translation) and then we had a questions and answers session.

At the end of the meeting – 2 1/2 hours after it began – we decided we needed to meet right away with the 6 youth leaders who had attended the leaders meeting but had said little during it. So, we went upstairs to one of the meeting rooms and met with them for 90 minutes. Very beneficial and we were able to give them some excellent advice and input and encourage them in a somewhat discouraging current situation. Then the walk back to where I am staying – in the rain. It had gone from -15C to +2C in 24 hours and it was raining.

Then a late supper, some discusion about the plans for the next day (people are arriving all night at various times being picked up by their hosts – people they will be living with – and getting some limited sleep before we start the day), and then bed.

It is now Monday morning as I wrtie this and the conference begins at 10:00a with about 100 people registered and then, when you add the local members of the host church who will come to the sessions when not working we have 150 at most sessions – and there are three sessions a day. Today, at the end of the Conference sessions I will be meeting for a second time with the leadership of the youth work as well as the youth group itself starting at 9:15p to speak to them and prophesy over them. A full day ahead which I will report on tomorrow.

Pray please – as I am still adjusting to jet lag and my body is registering tired but the real work begin in about 90 minutes…