A Surprise Ending

Pictured is a group of leaders from a ministry in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan that has connections in most of the major cities of this nation. The young man on the right of the picture is the leader. His name is Almaz. I first met him last February in Turkey and promised to connect with him when next in Kazakhstan. So, a last minute schedule change allowed me to meet with his leadership team for three hours which included questions and answers, prophetic ministry to each and every one of them and a fun supper of loud fellowship. A great way to end a busy day of meetings as well as a busy 2 weeks of ministry.

Some in this group come from a Baptist background and the group’s ministry is associated with the Presbyterian Church in this area. They don’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit actually working today. But, they had so many questions and we attempted to answer them all briefly. However, we did mention that we would need to be with them for two or three days to lay a proper foundation for the gifts and a correct understanding of how they function and work both within the church and as an evangelistic tool. They agree that during my spring 2014 trip to Kazakhstan they would speak for two days of my schedule and would bring their 20+ leaders together to learn and grow in the supernatural side of the ministry.

So, with that settled and as many questions answered as time allowed we then prophesied ver all of them one at a time. Good words. Super future that Jesus has for them individually and as a group. Then we had supper together – full of great fellowship, terrific food, lots of loud laughter and ending in prayer for healing for several of the leaders.

As well, Almaz and I discussed a joint trip into Uzbekistan in the spring or early summer of 2014 and I told him it was a go. it too is a former nation of the USSR and one that God has called me to minister in. He and I had discussed this briefly when in Turkey last February. it is now in ‘nail the dates down’ stage. Please pray.

As you read this I will be somewhere halfway between Germany and Canada if the weather is good and the flights connect. Still several connections to make. Please continue to pray. Many thanks for your part in this ministry.

A Few Personal Comments

Please allow me a few personal comments. I am sitting in the Village of Arna in Kazakhstan while writing this. It is the end of 2.5 weeks of travel and ministry. This is a village of 800 with a powerful church where God is worshipped. And, as I sat and listened to the second worship service of the day – the second of three – I was washed over by a wave of thanksgiving. I simply sat and thanked God for calling me and allowing me the honour and privilege to serve Him in many nations of the earth every day.

It is not always easy. The travel can be a real burden and the older I get the harder it is on me. The places where I stay are, most often, not comfortable. There is often a lack of personal space and definitely a lack of personal time. The hours are long and very demanding. People are so excited to see the supernatural operating that they will stay for days just to receive a touch from God through this ministry. There are a minimum three and a maximum five services a day – this trip the school for leaders saw 6 sessions a day. So, it is not always easy or comfortable or relaxing.

However, I am in church services daily worshipping God in many places and in many languages. I go to church daily when on these trips – as many as five or six times daily. And, in many of these services there is worship and prayer times. I get to hear teachings which are always a serious blessing. And, I am allowed to teach – always a serious blessing to me personally. I sit in God’s manifest presence for hours every day. I watch God’s power touch lives in serious ways every service. I have the honour and privilege to serve the living God and be with His people every day. Even when home I teach every day of the week – publicly – and in mentoring times with leaders I am working with. I get to teach God’s Word to God’s people. Again, an honour.

In the past month I have sat in worship services preparing to teach listening to praise and worship in English, Russian, Kazakh, Armenian, and Farsi. I have ministered to people from 8 or 9 ethnic groups both by teaching as well as prophetically. I have eaten ethnic foods that I can’t pronounce containing things I don’t normally eat. In fact, at times I have no idea what it is that I am eating and don’t care to ask. I live with people who live differently, dress differently, and entertain themselves differently – yet worship the same Jesus I do and you do. Currently I am living in a place where everything is Korean including the meals, staff, and language yet I am in Kazakhstan.

Did I ever think I would be doing all this? No! In fact, even now I find it hard to really believe that I am doing this and have been for five years already. This is truly amazing for a senior citizen from a small city in a sparsely populated nation like Canada. But it is all God and I am so thankful that He has invited me to be a part of what He is doing in the nations. Seriously amazed and thankful. There’s that feeling again – that wave of thanksgiving flooding my soul and spirit once again, Join me in thanking Him for His goodness….

Full Day Ahead and Then…

We have a full day ahead – meetings with pastors (2 meetings) and then meeting with a pastor I met in Turkey who ministers here in Almaty. He will be bringing his team at 3:00p. I am sure they will be looking for prophetic ministry. We will, of course, prophesy over them in spite of this being our last day here and that we are tired. This team is then taking us to supper. Hopefully we will have time afterwards to finish packing. We head to the airport at 11;30p and begin the flights home… Almaty to Astana, then Astana to frankfurt, Germany, then Frankfurt to Calgary, and then Calgary home. If all goes as scheduled I will spend 35+ hours in transit and be home on Wednesday evening local time.

I want to thank everyone who has been praying for this trip. It has been a seriously busy time here in Kazakhstan – one of the busiest I can remember. I have made a number of new contacts which will increase the opportunities for future ministry here. The next two trips are already being planned and I am excited about all that has happened and the foundations that these past trips have laid and what can now be built upon this foundation. Your prayer have ben an important part of this trip. Thanks for being so faithful.

A closing note – the service for the Gypsies last night was a great experience. I shared my testimony (a small part of it) and then we prophesied over a number of young people. Amazing words from the Lord for them. This church is only 5 weeks old and already they are seeing 25 to 50 in attendance each week. Hopefully we will have opportunity to minister with them again. And can they ever worship… (picture is from that service – before the service started.)

Leaders But No Leadership

Every church that I work with – even the church that you attend – has leaders. We have pastors as leaders, home group leaders, worship leaders, leaders in children’s ministry and on and on the list could go. However, I notice that we have little leadership. Let me explain. We have people who are called leaders and who hold leadership positions but they really have no idea where the Church is going, what the Church is going to look like in a decade’s time, how to get where God wants us to be. They simply lead the Church working with people and programs but not really leading God’s people into the future. There is a serious shortage of visionary leadership.

Churches have pastors but no leader. Churches have leadership teams but no actual leadership. And so the Church is not moving forward into her future and is not accomplishing what God has empowered us to accomplish – win the list and make disciples in every nation. When I am planning trips overseas or in North America I ask the pastor or leader who has invited me what it is he or she wants me to teach on. Almost every time I hear “Whatever The Lord puts on your heart” or “However the Spirit leads you.” I have come to realize that these answers are a result of the leader not knowing what is needed in their local church. And, they do not know really know what God is building and so what needs to be taught to move them forward I to their future and the Church that Jesus is building. There are leaders but no real leadership.

I believe that this is a real issue in the Church today. It is as if we are leaderless because we are. However, this void that exists can really only be filled by apostles and prophets. 1 Corinthians 12:28 states that apostles and prophets are first and second int he building of the Church and must lead because they are the real leadership of the Church. They are the ones who can point into the future and set the Church in motion towards that future. They are foundational to the success of the Church and the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry of the Church.

To solve the problem of the lack of leadership in the local, regional, and national church we need to raise up apostles and prophets and welcome them as a vital and essential part of the leadership of the Church that Jesus is building. They are two key elements of a five-fold leadership team that every Church needs to embrace so that the Church can be lead into her future.

Sunday and Monday – Kazakhstan

Tremendous day here in Kazakhstan. Three services. Generally full for the first, smaller for the second as immediately after lunch. Full house and overflowing for the third…standing room in the doors in the rain only. Taught twice of the three times and ministered prophetically at all three. Tired tonight. Just finished a meeting with my team and also have been working on Facebook with our national host sorting out some small conflicts in timetables for the next two days.

Tomorrow I meet with the head of the Assemblies of God churches in kazakhstan as we work out some details that will allow me to work with the wider ministry of this denomination on my next visit. It is a matter of what type of visa I come into the country with. Paperwork, effort, and money but very doable and very wise in the long run. Will change much of what I am able to do as well as expand the impact of my ministry in this nation in 2014…

At the same meeting I will be discussing a travelling ministry his wife (one of my interpreters) is launching – teaching and singing. Se is interested in how to launch such a ministry and any pitfalls to avoid and things to watch for. I can certainly help and so agreed several days ago to meet with them, listen and offer advice. Then in the evening I am working with New Generation churches and preaching and ministering at a service they have begun for Gypsies…a new experience for me. They had planned a time with their church leaders to meet with me but have cancelled that as the leaders could not get time off work on such short notice.

Please pray for the three hour meeting during the lunch hour and the evening service. And, the team’s preparation to head home late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning – packing, sorting, and getting all the lose ends tired up for the visit. Your prayers, as always, are appreciated.

Picture: Part of the crowd at the third meting (service) today in the Village of Arna.

Sunday Has Dawned in Kazakhstan

It has been a good day. We met with the leaders of two churches who share the same apostolic leader. There was teaching, questions and answers sessions, prophetic ministry, and even a meeting with the key leader afterward the day’s event. It was a long day, the building was cold, but the people’s hearts were open and warm towards the things of The Lord.

Tonight – a brief meeting of the team to debrief and then a short time to discuss Sunday as we still have not nailed down the topic for one of the three sessions that are scheduled. The morning is a local service in a church in the village of Arna. The afternoon and evening are int he same building but will be for the leaders of the church I n Arna as well as the church in Erkin who will be coming out to join us. Again, because the apostle for both churches is the same man.

Please pray for these late night meetings and then for the services and leadership training going on all day Sunday. Most likely there will be a late night meeting after everything ends as we area till planning out our last two days here due to a number of new things being added.

Your prayers are appreciated. Thanks for supporting us by your prayers. God is honouring your prayers and moving in many neat ways here every day.

Picture: Some of the 40 leaders from 2 local churches in Almaty area

Burn the Ships

On February 19, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes set sail for Mexico with an entourage of 11 ships, 13 horses, 110 sailors, and 553 soldiers. The indigenous population upon his arrival was approximately five million. From a purely mathematical standpoint, the odds were stacked against him by a ratio of 7,541 to 1. Two previous expeditions had failed to even establish a settlement in the New World, yet Cortes conquered much of the South American continent.

What Cortes is reported to have done after landing is an epic tale of mystic proportions. He issued an order that turned his mission into an all-or-nothing proposition: “Burn the ships!” As he crew watched their fleet of ships burn and sink, they came to terms ith the fact that retreat was not an option. And if you can compartmentalize the moral conundrum of colonization, there is a lesson to be learned. Nine times out of ten, failure is responding to Plan B when Plan A gets to risky, too costly, or too difficult. That’s why most people are living their Plan B. They didn’t burn the ships. I prefer to be a Plan A person. Plan A people don’t have a Plan B.

1 Kings 19:21 “So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and become his servant (and eventually his successor).”

Elisha was a Plan A person . He burnt the ships. He removed any possibility of turning back to his old ways if things got too difficult, to uncomfortable, or too costly. Burning the plowing equipment meant he could not go back to his old way of life because he destroyed the time machine that would take him back. It was the end of Elisha the farmer. It was the beginning of Elisha the prophet.

What do you need to burn to remove your Plan B?

Focused Leaders Meeting

Today (Saturday – your Friday night in North America) we head out to Manna Church’s building in Almaty to hold a joint leaders meeting consisting of leaders from Manna Church and House of Life Church from Burundai. Both are under the leadership and oversight of the same apostle. These are young leaders, some of whom I have worked with before on past visits to the nation.

The team had most of a day off yesterday and so had opportunity to catch up on some details of our ministries back in Canada. As well, we were able to take a 90 minute walk into the hills and visit a number of different graveyards (I know, we are strange). And, the day ended with an evening discussion over chocolates regarding how to communicate the Gospel in today’s world and to the younger generation and thus touch lives and grow churches. That’s a day off in my mind – no prophetic and no public meetings. You can tell we are reaching the end of the trip as we are spiritually if not physically weary. Not tired, just weary. Your prayers are appreciated.

Picture: the inside of the sanctuary at Manna Church where the meetings will be held today…

Normal Seems Radical

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be My disciples ust deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

As I read that I realize that in our Christian world today that our normal is so subnormal that normal seems radical. Think about what a cross meant to those who heard these words the first time they were spoken. Think pain, agony, humiliation, torture, death… Then examine the sermons on line today that speak of comfort, security, safety, and prosperity…

The early disciples (apostles) took these comments to heart and died to self to follow Jesus as Paul writes in Romans. But, they also lived out these words in their lives proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom.

In AD 44, King Herod ordered that James the Greater be thrust through with a sword. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred. And so the bloodbath began. Luke was hung by the neck from an olive tree in Greece. Doubting Thomas was pierced with a pine spear, tortured with red-hot iron plates, and burned alive in India. In AD 54, the proconsul of Hierapolis had Philip tortured and crucified because his wife converted to Christianity while listening to Philip preach. Philip continued to preach while on the cross. Matthew was stabbed in the back in Ethiopia. Bartholomew was flogged to death in Armenia. James the Just was thrown off the southeast pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. After surviving the one-hundred-foot fall, he was clubbed to death by a mod. Simon the Zealot was crucified by a governor of Syria in AD 74. Judas Thaddeus was beaten to death with sticks in Mesopotamia. Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, was stoned to death and then beheaded. And Peter was crucified upside down at his own request. John the Beloved is the only disciple to die of natural causes, but that’s only because he survived his own execution. When a cauldron of boiling oil could not kill John, Emperor Diocletian exiled him to the island of Patmos, where he lived until his death in AD 95.

Makes what we think of “take up your cross daily” seem somewhat trivial, doesn’t it? For the original followers of Jesus and for many down through the centuries “take up your cross” meant something and was costly. I pray we may return to that form of the Christian faith.

If Jesus hung on His cross, we can certainly carry ours!

End of the Leaders School

We have just ended our regular annual three day leaders school… it was a tremendous blessing to all those who attended. We taught on leadership, prophetic evangelism, the gifts of the Spirit, and the ministry today of apostles and prophets (within the context of the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11-15). At times this meant staying up late and rising extra early to write and, at times, rewrite material so as to customize it for those here at the School. It has been a tremendous three days and the team is fairly tired.

We are approaching the end of this apostolic trip with just 5 days left. We have a busy schedule set before us with a few “blank spots.” However, experience tells me that by the time these time slots come up on the schedule they too will be filled with worthwhile meetings, services, or time with pastoral couples helping them to either move their church into it’s future or prevent it from blowing up due to internal stress and crisis.

Today I taught on the changing call on every believers life and a second 90 minute section on prophetic evangelism… Both were well received. Bob and Irene also both taught and we had our final questions and answers session. We thought yesterday’s Q and A session was powerful and insightful – today’s was even more so.

Please pray for the team as we approach another weekend and both local church leadership training as well as Sunday services and ministry. Sunday and public services are going to run into Monday and Tuesday with the last service being one focused on the Gypsie population and ending just in time to pick up our bags and head to the airport for a 1:00a check-in time Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. We are looking forward to being back in Canada. Thanks for your prayers and please continue to pray for all that is happening here in Kazakhstan with your Christian brothers and sisters who live on the exact opposite side of this planet we all call home.

Picture: Training leaders to minister in the prophetic.