Off and Running

Sunday was my first day here in this city. And we have hit the road running. Arriving at 11:00a after a 2+ hour drive it was straight into the morning service video-linked into three other areas of the building as the numbers were too large for the sanctuary. Then a lunch with the elders and their wives. Following this we switched buildings (another church uses their building in the late afternoon) and had a leaders meeting for three and a half hours – with about 50+ leaders present.
At both of the meetings I taught and prophesied.

In the morning service I was able to prophesy over Elijah and called him out as a “prophet-in-training.” He was also in the afternoon leaders meeting learning to prophesy. It is good to see young people stepping up and becoming involved.

After the second session I headed out to eat with two young men I called out as apostles almost two years ago and who live and minister in the area. Great to touch base, clear up a matter or two, and begin with a fresh slate. It was a seriously enjoyable night.

Tuesday (today) is filled with meetings – a leaders meeting (50+ people) from 10:00 to 2:00. This is followed by lunch from 2:00 to 4:00 during which time I am answering questions that the three elders of the church have. Then a bit of a walk and rest before the 6:00 to 9:00 public service which will include teaching and the prophetic (fairly routine).

I think the later evening is free and that would be good as it will be shower and head to the airport. Sleep will continue to be in short supply. I need to check in at 1:00a on Wednesday morning and then face 33 hours of flights and airports. Please continue to pray for all aspects of the trip as it quickly draws to a close … All going well I will be home late Wednesday night.

There will be no “apostolic trip” blog on Wednesday … regular blogs missing this week due to internet issues will be up again on Friday….

City of Nizhniy Tagil

I am in the city of Nizhniy Tagil, population 500,000. This is my second day here in a local church having ministered at two Sunday services… this city is 2 hours from Yekenterinburg where I ministered for 4 days and where God touched a lot of lives.

The trip is winding down. This is day 15 for me – I have today and tomorrow to minister and then a very long day to fly home. I finish ministering early evening on Tuesday and then drive from Nizhniy Tagil to Yekenterinburg. There I can have a shower and change to clean clothes. By 1:00a on Wednesday (same night in other words) I am at the airport for a 3:00a flight to Germany, Calgary and home…. If connections work and weather holds. It looks like it will be good weather.

These last days in Russia have been more than good. Outside of the 7 hours of daily services I have met with a pastor from Karaganda, Kazakhstan who drove 1,500 Km to be here for two days returning over night to do Sunday services. I have met with several other pastors from local churches in the areas where I have been ministering. And, did a good amount of talking to the apostle I work with in Kyrgyzstan who is here planting the church where I worked for the first four days in Russia.

My host pastor in Armenia is also in Russia ministering. We have been communicating and we are praying about the possibility of me returning there as early as August to be the teacher at one of their camps.

As well, things are well in motion to begin a Ralph Howe Ministries web site in both Armenian and Farsi (Language of Iran).

Add to that an invitation to teach in a new school opening in Yekenterinburg, Russia – set up to help youth discover themselves and who they are in Christ; a number of invites into churches where I have not worked before; an invitation to go to Karaganda, Kazakhstan; and hopefully a return visit to the churches I have become acquainted with on this trip – the calendar could fill up rather quickly. This ministry now has a dozen offers to come and minister that need to be negotiated and then scheduled… So, as one apostolic trip winds down others are being planned.

Please pray … for all those who are in attendance today and tomorrow in the services in Nizhniy Tagil. And, for strength and wisdom for me as I near the end of the trip and am weary… Thanks for being a vital part of all that is happening here through your prayers and financial support.

Picture: Young man who was so hungry for a word from God – and got one!

Mother’s Day – Nizhniy Tagil, Russia

Well, they don’t celebrate a “Mother’s Day” in these eastern European nations. In March they celebrate a women’s day – for all women and not just mothers. But not a Mother’s Day as in North America. Today I drove from Yekenterinburg where I have been ministering since Wednesday to the city of Nizhniy Tagil where I will minister until after supper Tuesday. Then I return here and head to the airport for a 1:00a Wednesday check-in to begin the long trip home across 10 time zones.

Being Mother’s Day in North America I have posted a picture from the other night when I was given a few hours to myself. Shared lots of tea with this beautiful lady who has seen and experienced so much. She is 91 years old, in great health, sharp, up-to-date with things happening in the world and her nation, and she possesses a great sense of humour that creates a twinkle in her eyes. A delightful several hours as we munched on some special chocolates that she was so kind to share with me and my interpreter. What a treat in the middle of week two of ministering here overseas.

Please be praying for Sunday through Tuesday’s ministry in Nizhniy Tagil and for safe travel – road travel back to the airport in Yekenterinburg and flights through Frankfurt, Germany and Calgary, Alberta. Please pray for strength and continued wisdom as I minister in the remaining few days of this visit to Eastern Europe. Your prayers are greatly appreciated.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Thirty-One

Apostles have a godly jealousy over the saints of God.

“I feel a divine jealousy for you…” 2 Corinthians 11:2a

Divine jealousy flows through apostolic ministry. They will defend and fight against anything and anyone that comes to corrupt the saints. This especially includes false teachers, false prophets and false apostles. This is like a protective jealousy that parents have for their children, or husbands have for their wives.

Apostles have a desire to present the Church as a chaste virgin to Christ. Paul goes on to write, “…for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you a pure virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2b)

This godly jealousy is a part of the spirit of the Father. Apostolic ministry protects the flock against wolves (false ministries) that come in to devour and take advantage of God’s people.

Apostolic ministry is especially hard on false ministries.

They guard and protect the Church against their influence and thus often have to speak publicly about teachings and teachers who are teaching wrong doctrine and who are deceiving the saints through their ministries. As a result, apostles can come across critical and negative where they should be seen as concerned and corrective.

Regardless of how they are viewed as a result of their actions – apostles have a godly jealousy over the saints of God and will do whatever it takes to protect the sheep from wolves and dogs.

Time Is Moving Quickly

Time is going so quickly. It is already Saturday and the 13th day since I left home. It will soon be time to head back to Canada and the various ministries that need to be accomplished there.

It is turning out to be a powerful time of ministry here in Yekenterinburg, Russia as I work with a young church showing them how to build apostolically and prophetically. So often we build a church on a pastoral model and that simply is not biblical in the least. The early church was apostolic (sent out) and prophetic (walking in supernatural power) not pastoral. The Lord is calling us back to the original model with improvements, of course, as we have 2,000+ years of experience to draw on – even if the majority of that experience simply teaches us what not to do. It is so good to be with hungry people and young leaders who want to build with Jesus the Church He designed, planned and is building. It is better than good – it is exciting.

Of course, things will not change simply because of a few days of teaching. However, if we can plant the seeds of God’s Word and His divine plan into the hearts of the leaders then water those seeds both in prayer and during future visits – the Kingdom will expand and there will be another local church working in a powerful way to impact the non-believers as they build biblically.

As an apostle it is always exciting to work with people who want to change and grow and walk in the plans and purpose of God for their lives, their leadership, and their church. It is dynamic to be working with a group who don’t want to be comfortable and safe but what are pushing forward in faith because inside there is this “divine discontent” that is motivating them to explore different, and for them, new ways to ‘do church.’

Please pray for those gathered that much will change in their hearts and much information along with new ideas will be planted in their minds … seeds that the Holy Spirit can water so that much fruit will be seen and many will come to know the truth that will set them free.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Thirty

Apostles have both the calling and the ability to dispute and persuade

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the Kingdom of God. Acts 19:8

A serious part of the anointing on apostolic ministry is to refute and destroy arguments against the truth. This ability and power to dispute and persuade is always front and center in the ministry of apostles as they “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3b). This anointing actually draws apostles into these disputes just as the anointing attracts them to conflict in the local church.

The Berkeley translation of Acts 19:8 says, “persuasively discussing”. This is an ability to penetrate and break through ignorance and strongholds such as opinions as well as spiritual opposition that prevent men from receiving and walking in the truth.

Men need to be persuaded concerning the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom and salvation. Others need to come to know and receive Healing and deliverance. Still others need teaching on the Holy Spirit and the mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit and the power of God.

The art or practice of disputation or controversy is called polemics. This is the branch of theology dealing with ecclesiastical disputation and controversy (Webster). Polemic preaching and discussion will destroy arguments that are used against the truth. This is the grace upon the apostles giving them the ability to dispute and persuade.

Friday in Russia

I am into my third day ministering in Russia and it has been more than good – it has been great. A lot of young people who are leaders in the church plant that I am working with as well as others from various churches in the area… hungry, open, and wanting to go with God.

The topics to be covered are two: The New Testament way to build (the structure, the functions, and the goals) and the practical release and ministry of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the every day life of the believers. It has been good and the interaction, questions, and discussions have been powerful and enlightening even to me. It is always profoundly good to see where the people are at in their understanding and the group is small enough to allow me to have these insights into their thinking and approach to Church as they now know and experience it.

Seeds are being planted and the harvest will be great as well as powerful. As God builds His Church in His way many lives will be impacted and changed forever. I am thankful to have a small part to play in that process.

Thanks for praying – please continue to do as as these meetings continue over the next few days. Prayers are being powerfully answered and I am so thankful for and appreciative of your prayers. You are a blessing to me.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Twenty-Nine

As we saw yesterday, apsotles are directly involved in spiritual warfare as they advance the cause of the Kingdom through soul winning and planting of new churches. As part of this ministry, apostles pull down strongholds.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

The word “arguments” or, as other versions translate it “imaginations,” is the Greek word logismos meaning reasoning. It refers to arguments in the minds of men which keep them from the truth. The teaching and preaching of apostles destroys and demolishes these arguments. The Twentieth Century New Testament says, “We are engaged in confuting arguments and pulling down every barrier raised against the knowledge of God.”

These arguments are called “strongholds” which apostolic ministry pulls down.

They are demonic strongholds that keep people believing lies and hinder them from receiving the truth. They are like castles and fortresses that are designed to keep the prisoner in, and the truth out.

Once these strongholds are demolished, people can then see and receive the truth. Apostolic ministry has an anointing to demolish these strongholds.

Second Day in Russia

Yesterday was a slower day and one that allowed me to have some rest and time for reflection. It also allowed me to set up my temporary office so I can do some of the work needed each day for the ministry back home ad elsewhere in the world. Accomplished answering and sorting over 200 emails in the in box over what seemed a very long afternoon although it went fast.Then, in the evening, more fellowship as my interpreter arrived and we settled down to hear the details of the next three or four days and the topics that they want me to teach and lead discussions on.

God is good. As the topic for the day (Thursday) was announced he downloaded into my heart and head some verses and a basic approach to take to jumpstart the first day of meetings and presentations/discussions. I quickly jotted it down later in the night (really early morning) and so woke to an approach to the day that takes the stress and pressure out of it. This morning I will have several hours to think through the day as there are two 3.5 hour sessions and then times to talk more personally about the subjects being presented.

There are people arriving from Kyrgyzstan today who will also be staying in the same house we are in. And, numerous leaders from other local churches who have asked to join us during these coming days of teaching and ministry. So, more than one church and nation will be impacted. This seems to be a recurring theme of the ministry. While in Armenia I believe there were 5 or 6 nations ministered to as people from those nations joined the services and events. God really is having His way in His Kingdom and Church today.

Thanks for having such a vital part in this ministry and the impact He is allowing us to have here in Russia. Your prayers and financial support allow all this to happen and undergird everything I have the honour of being involved in here in Central Asia… God bless you in a big way for your sacrifice.

Picture is of Denis who is an apostle both in Russia and Kyrgyzstan and my host for these seven days – we are working with his church plant here in Yekenterinburg.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Twenty-Eight

Apostolic Ministry is a ministry of warfare. Apostles are directly involved in expanding the Kingdom of God and planting new expressions of the Body of Christ, the local church. Therefore, they must be directly involved in the ministry of pulling down strongholds and thus combating spiritual forces that hinder and often prevent the reception of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The Bible states, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds…” 2 Corinthians 10:4

The word “warfare” is the Greek word ‘strateia’ meaning military service. Apostles are enlisted leaders in the war against the darkness and leaders of the armies of the Lord, true disciples, who are involved in seeking and saving the lost regardless of the personal cost. Apostles have counted the cost are aware of what they have been enlisted and called to do. The apostolic life is one filled with hardship and danger. Paul calls the apostolic career one of “warfare.”

Since apostles go first into new regions or territories, they encounter the resistance of demon powers first. They have the anointing to break through this resistance. Thus, there is much warfare involved in apostolic ministry. Apostles must war against tradition, ignorance, fear, and religious spirits and religious bondage.

Apostles pull down strongholds through their preaching, teaching, prophesying and miracle ministries. Demonic strongholds are shattered. Apostolic ministry is often militant.

According to Webster, militant means aggressive, and often combative, especially in support of a cause. This truly speaks volumes about the nature of true apostolic ministry.