Stories of a good God

As mentioned in my previous post, I have felt led to step into an area of legal practise that I have been deftly avoiding since 1998.  I am a qualified Australian migration agent with an Australian law degree.  In a previous life I worked as a lawyer (solicitor in Australian legal terms) for a number of years, before giving up my legal practising certificate.  I held onto my migration agent’s registration (and therefore ability to provide Australian migration advice).

I was on the verge of letting my migration agent’s registration go when an old client, and current friend, Rev Farag, approached me and asked me many times to help him with some of his parishioners.  I said “no” many times, until I started to sense God’s desire for the work.  I soon became aware of two stern words of direction from God, who was  saying “step up” as I tried to squirm off the alter of dying to self.

And so with a brutal fear of failure, fear of inadequacy, fear of not being good enough, fear of “stuffing it all up” I did what I was told and “stepped up”.

One of the first people I was asked to help was a Syrian man, who had arrived by boat, whom had been put into a holding place offshore by Australian authorities, and who had been one of the more fortunate ones to be released into Australian society pending his refugee claims.

While he waited for his claims to be processed onshore in Australia, he had arranged for one of his brothers, one who was an Australian citizen, to sponsor his wife and 3 young girls for a protection visa (a refugee visa).  All four were waiting in an overcrowded refugee camp in Erbil, located in Northern Iraq.  They had no male protection (culturally essential), and the eldest daughter was rapidly approaching the “acceptable marrying age” of 13 years, something that made my Syrian client most distressed.

While I can’t say too much more about the case and circumstances, I can tell you that this man met someone that was a part of Rev Farag’s church community.  He was included into, and loved to such a degree that he chose to explore the Christian faith, and after some time chose to commit his life to Christ.  This was how Rev Farag came to know about his plight, and asked for my help.

After meeting with him it was decided that I would be best served to take his statement, and to provide it to the Department of Home Affairs in support of his wife and children’s case.  He had representation for his own case, and I did not want to interfere with what was being done for him, even though he earnestly asked me to at the time.

It was at a meeting with him that I met another brother, one who had also fled Syria by boat, years prior.  A brother whose case had been processed “onshore” in one of our detention centres, and who had been granted protection, and with it, Permanent Residency.  Note: that does not happen any more.

His brother was somewhat younger than my client.  He was a gentle person, well read, and had done his best to make a life in Australia, working hard in what I think may have been various low skilled jobs. We finished what was a long a tedious process of taking a statement from my client – essentially obtaining my client’s “life story”. We were all tired after hours of clarification, explanation and for the brother, hours and hours of translation.

At the end of it all, I summed up in the way I always do with my refugee clients, and said that getting a protection visa was like winning the lottery, and that they should pray for the case.  My client nodded enthusiastically in agreement, but his brother looked at me and said, after everything he had seen, everything he had experienced, he did not believe in any God, he was an atheist, he was not a Muslim, he had no interest in a God that demanded people believe in Him and do such terrible things to others, that would allow such terrible things to occur, and the sadness and bitterness of what he had been through, what his country had been through, was clearly evident in the anguish that flashed across his face.

I looked at him and said I understood why he would feel that way.  I said I would be tempted to feel the same way. I also said that the God I believed in was a good God.  The God I believed in did not condone violence.  I said that the God I believed in was and is greatly grieved by how we treat each other, that what had happened in Syria, in Iraq, was not His will, but that He had also given us free will.  That He loved us so much, that He did not force us to believe in Him, for that would not be freely given love but manipulation and control.  I said that my God loved us so very much that He sent HIs one and only son to die on the cross so that we could choose to believe or not, but He wanted us to come to Him.  I said that the God I believed in gave the freedom to choose to believe or not to believe, but He wanted us to know Him, so He desired us to believe.  He loved us so much that he died on the Cross for us to be free to choose.  That we were to respect and honour those that did not choose to believe, and to love them regardless, but we were not to force or manipulate them into believing what we believed.  I said that I believed that my God’s heart breaks as He witnesses the cruelty in so many places around the world.

To be honest, I can’t quite communicate what came out of my mouth, but as I spoke and told him about my God, and His love, and how He provided freedom to choose to love Him, my client’s brother’s face softened, and he quietly looked at me and said:

“I would like to believe in a God like that, He sounds too good to be true”

I said to him that I understood that he had been through so much.  I said I understood why he would want to reject God for the pain and suffering and injustice.  I also said that it was a matter of eternal life and death as to whether or not he chose to believe and that it was a matter of great importance for him to explore thoroughly, as his brother had, what I said.  He said he would like to do that, and asked if I would give him something to read, he said he liked to read and think.  So I promised to send him a copy of “A Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel for him to read, telling him that he could also seek out more information from Rev Farag and I encouraged him to do so. (Note: culturally he needed a man to lead him, not a woman.  I believe we need to be culturally sensitive to those we reach out to in the name of Christ see 1 Cor 9:19-23).

We stood to say goodbye and as I did I offered to pray for him.

He agreed, and so I laid my hand on his arm and as I prayed he looked at me in astonishment and said:

“I feel heat, it’s hot, I feel all hot”

And he looked hot – he had started to sweat.

That is God” I said.  “That is the Holy Spirit.  That is God letting you know that He is real, and that he is inviting you on a journey to find Him.  He is pursuing you because He loves you”.

And with that I again promised to send him a book, encouraged him to search out the truth of who Jesus was and is, I affirmed that God is Good, as I quietly said goodbye.

 

To follow is a UNHCR video about a refugee from Syria who fled his home, and who was granted asylum in Serbia.  These people, who we fear so much, are people, with dreams, aspirations, joys and fears, they have lives, families, homes they have left, even pets they adore, and they have people they love …  See UNHCR video

1 Cor 9:19-23Though I am free of obligation to anyone, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), to win those under the law. To those without the law I became like one without the law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some.

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

In recent years I have felt a call from God to return to a something I once did in 1996-1998.  To be honest I have judiciously avoided ever getting involved again, purely because it’s a tough industry for anyone that cares.

I have a background in law.  As a young lawyer, I was transferred to the immigration department at the firm I worked in, I was registered as an Australian migration agent (in addition to my law qualifications) and I was sent to Port Hedland (read middle of nowhere, amazing outback mining town on the far northern coast of Western Australia – pigeons are red from the red, red dust, huge road trains hammering up the highways, and huge salt mountains from local salt farms that shone to my right each time I drove from the little airport to the small township as a very green, young, “stars in my eyes” lawyer).

Port Hedland at the time was the location of one of the many Government run detention centres that Australia had for illegal migrants that had entered Australia by boat (read refugees that had no visa to enter the country, hence “illegal migrants”, that had been tricked by people smugglers to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get a berth in a dangerous boat to Australia).  These people were better known as “boat people” back then, and it was these types of people that have suffered terribly at the hands of Australian governments (from both sides of politics).  They are known by many names, but they are known more  correctly as human beings that are frightened, traumatised and whose dreams have been smashed and that are seeking to be recognised as “refugees” so that they may be granted a protection visa, because they need protection due to a fear of persecution in their country of origin.

I was completely thrown in the deep end.  During that time I worked and represented Chinese nationals, Algerians and Iraqis (who were then escaping the Gulf War recriminations of Saddam Hussein from the 1991 war).  The Afghanistanis came later, after I left in 1998. I primarily represented Iraqis at the time (many doctors and other types of professionals) who had escaped the ravages of persecution due to their religious beliefs, their cultural affiliations, and their family associations.

The work was tough emotionally, and I was mocked by my co-workers that I wore my heart on my sleeve, to which I responded that I would rather have someone like me represent me if I were a client, then someone like my co-workers, who were looking to meet budgets and many of whom simply did not care (I worked for a private firm that was contracted to provide legal assistance back then).

I left the law firm in early 1998, not long after my father died, when I realised that the ladder was against the wrong wall, and I went into private practise and did some corporate consulting instead, which pretty much finished up in 2002.  I had my first child in 2003, my second in 2007 through out which I did a little, but not much, immigration work from an office at home – throwing my energies into caring full time for our two poppets, learning and growing in my love of Jesus – it was a choice of love over money at the time, and a decision to intentionally invest into the next generation, and into my faith.

Well, that is a long explanation to now move on to say that a couple of years ago I was frustrated.  I felt that there were no freedom for me to fully express my gifts, to serve freely.  I was serving faithfully within the capacity that I was permitted to serve – I was leading a prayer team that met and prayed for the church once a fortnight, I often interceded privately for leaders, and others, I would stop for people on the street as I felt led, I was mentoring one or two people privately at the time and walking with them into their call, I served in kids church, I played in the worship team, but there was no freedom to fully step into prophetic words etc that I had held close for a long time – in fact every door of ministry was shut, sealed and secured, and I was in the throws of walking through what may be described as the dark night of the soul, and I could not see anyway that any of the prophetic words spoken over me by recognised international prophetic voices would ever come to pass – I still don’t see how, but I am more at peace with that one now.

So, I prayed what I now know to be a dangerous prayer – “God I love you, and I want to serve you, but I do not see where I am free to fully serve, give me something, show me what you would have me do” (or something along those lines).

Within days Rev Farag called.  Rev Farag (and his family) were clients over a five plus year process of getting them permanent residency.  He (and his family) are now friends.  He is an Egyptian Anglican Priest (who became a Christian years ago as a teenager) and who has led churches and orphanages for the deaf in Egypt, who has worked in outreach into Jordan, and Upper Egypt, and who to this day continues to lead churches, outreaches into Egypt and now into Australia, who speaks and travels and has completed peace keeping courses and who is a world recognised expert on teaching teachers of the deaf in Arabic communities, and who is heading up a team to translate the Bible into Arabic sign, for Arabic deaf people to hear the Good News of Jesus).  It took more than five years to help him obtain permanent residency, during which time his daughter was being kept at home due to kidnapping attempts and they were dealing with attacks on the road and at their offices etc.  With his case I found myself back in somewhat familiar territory of people in danger, at risk, who beg for help, and for whom I felt responsible.  I knew I had to stay the line for his case, I felt God on it, but after his case (which on the surface had looked like a basic case) I did not want to do any such work again, ever!

Well, back to the call from Rev Farag.

Rev Farag calls and says “B, I need your help, I need you to see some of my people, I need someone I can trust”.

At first I said “no”.  I explained that I was no longer practising in immigration law (I had decided that I was not going to take immigration work any more, it was too hard balancing the case loads with the responsibilities of full time at home parenting, which had turned into parenting of two ballet children at the elite level (the result of another dangerous prayer).  It was too much to manage, together with the various health issues I had been dealing with, and that I was still overcoming, and to be honest I didn’t want to be a lawyer, or to work as an immigration agent any more. I had turned my back on that, and was waiting for what God had in store for me.

Rev Farag did not let up.  He said “just see one”, so I agreed to see one – he said it was a spouse visa case so I thought what could it hurt?  I still had a valid migration registration, I could give an advice and help one.

I saw one, gave an advice for a couple of ours for free, discouraged them from proceeding with what they wanted to do with me, but they insisted (in fact begged me to do the work) and so I helped them at radically discounted rates, and left it at that.

I then got another call from Rev Farag: “B we need your help I need someone I can trust”

I sad “no”.

He persisted and said “just see one”.

I reneged feeling God on it, and I arrived in town where I was meeting him and this one in town, and there were three desperate people – all refugee cases, or a variation on the theme. I had been tricked!

I heard them out and gave a basic advice to each.

One was a Syrian (“boat arrival”), who had just recently given his heart to Jesus, and whose wife and 3 young daughters were in a huge refugee camp; the second was an Iraqi Catholic nun whose family overseas had survived a church massacre, and other horrors after the 2003 war on Iraq, whose family had fled ISIS as ISIS invaded northern Iraq, and one was a woman who was being tricked by a man who she had fallen in love with – that was the easy case to advise – the others I desperately wanted to avoid.

I went home and battled with God.

I knew I had to take the cases, but I struggled.  I said “God I love you, but I don’t want to do this” He said that He wanted me to “step up …” in fact He was quite firm, whenever I argued he’d say “step up” and not much more.

Regardless, I argued some more – “the laws have dramatically changed, I haven’t worked in this field for 20 years, there are other people so much more skilled than me…”

All I heard was “step up”.

I said “why me” I don’t want to do this – remembering my prayer and wishing I had never prayed it, and He explained quietly that I would pray for them, I would pray for the clients, that others would not do that, and that it was time for me to “step up”.

So I did …

I had nightmares to start with – blood dripping down walls, my children attacked by ISIS, threats against my safety, running from crumbling buildings war torn and bloody – dreams such as those haunted my nights, and I would wake heart racing, seek God, try to discern whether it was a demonic attack, or whether it was a God dream of warning, I would have to calm myself, and remind myself that if God was calling me to this, and I believed He was, so then I would be ok, I would be able to handle the cases.  I had to bring my thoughts under the authority of Jesus Christ.

The anxiety was extreme.  The law had dramatically changed.  I had to sit through and read numerous accounts of extreme terror and cruelty, take statements from traumatised people that took hours, learn the law as fast as I could. I even had to watch a video from Baghdad News of one of my clients walking out of a church massacre, as one of only a few that had survived the attack.  The scene was filled with dismembered bodies of Christians whose only “crime” was that they had dared to attend church and worship. I was at sea. I would freeze in fear not knowing what to do, and each time I would seek God, He would simply say quietly: “just do the next thing you know to do and I would feel a gentle leading”, and so I would, “just do the next thing”, all the time my heart racing as I told my mind and body to be still and know that he is God.

That was over two years ago.

I am still doing the work.  I still feel overwhelmed.  I cry when the refusals come.

I don’t have a huge number of cases, I don’t have the resources, but I have enough to be overwhelmed at times.

I held the nun as she sobbed, telling me (as the first person she told) that her mother had died in Turkey of breast cancer the night before, and that she had not seen her before she had died – her mother had been refused a visa three times prior to me taking on the case.

I had a client who was very upset with the news that his family had been refused help, who stood up and looked like he was going to get violent with me (some think I am the magic, even though I tell them I am not, I always explain that it takes prayer, diligence and a great deal a favour against the odds to be granted a protection visa).  Rev Farag was thankfully there as interpreter on that occasion stood and talked him down, as I made myself very small at the table.  As I did, I had a flash back to a time I was threatened by a client years back in a locked interview room, my hand on the hidden emergency buzzer, that he would have me killed if he did not get a visa.

I had cried when this man’s case was refused.  I called and told him and we met. He was furious with me at the meeting, and I was the blamed for it’s failure, when in fact there had been circumstances well beyond my control at play.

I sat at that moment and reminded myself that God had asked me to step up.

I have taken on more cases – they just come.  I tell them I have no magic, I have no contacts or special relationships, there are no guarantees, but I do pray.  They are all sad.  They are all desperate.  Some want me to act, even after I disillusion them, others say they had through I was a guarantee, and they go to the agent that will promise them the world.

I am now working at times with a play group leader from another church who works with refugees in a country town church.  She’s overwhelmed at times too.  I am a point of reference for her, for which she is grateful, a legal min in her corner to work things through and to refer people to if required.

Not many cases have been successful to date.  It is much like throwing the fishing line in again and again in the hope that a fish will just jump into the boat, such is the numbers.  It’s statistically worse than lottery odds – but God says keep going.

The refusals – I sit and cry before I call and tell them the news.  They know I care.

I resubmit …

The wins are AMAZING! Often the clients have no idea just how amazing a win is …

Many professionals don’t do the work because it is too depressing.  You mainly get refusals – and that is not fun!

I know my job is to prepare their statements, make sure the forms are completed well, and make sure everything has been told that should be told … and pray.

The cases I take are families who are here, that have loved ones waiting for years overseas.  The families here sponsor them to come.  Generally their loved ones have had a number of refusals before they come to me for help, so there are often no other visa pathways available to them. I have a well qualified single female Iraqi teacher, a young talented male graphic designer (who cant leave because his mother and two younger brothers need his protection in Turkey); I have a family that are the last generation of multiple generations to carry the secrets of how to weave fine beautiful textiles from scratch (from sheep or goat to finished product) – many of these people can trace their heritage right back as being original inhabitants of the lands that Jonah visited (now the current northern Iraq area) and may be related to some of the oldest Christian heritage we have (evidence of which was sadly destroyed by ISIS as they went through Northern Iraq).

To be honest, I have felt other stirrings about my destiny, and I have started stepping out into various other prophetic words in obedience as I have felt led.  I have no idea how that will play out.  I had hoped that maybe this time, this season of refugees would come to an end, but recently, at a conference where Heidi Baker was speaking, I felt I heard Him say again as I was overshadowed by Him, “refugees” and so I know the season has not ended … and I do not know where it will lead.

I have had a few refusals recently.  I will prepare the paper work to resubmit. One I am hoping to get in through a sponsored refugee visa – but he needs a job offer (that is my graphic designer) and even if he gets a job offer, I then need to work out how to raise about $40,000 for the family … it’s a “new” idea being offered by our government – let desperate people find a job offer and we may give them a visa if they pay for everything … as I started the process I threw the responsibility to God saying “well you work it out”, and to be honest Heidi Baker’s testimonies encourage me that God can and will do amazing things if I just keep at it for the one in front of me …

I don’t know where any of this will go – I just know to keep on stepping up and “do the next thing I know to do” and the rest is God’s work, and I trust and hope and choose to believe (because at times I do struggle given all they have been through) that He will take care of them, and their cases, even if they are refused, because …

God IS Good!

One of our more retiring, gentle members of our group, called P, has been moved more and more by Holy Spirit to step out and pray for those around him as he goes.  He was the person who stopped and gave all he had in his wallet to a busker in this earlier story here and he was the person who was prompted to pray for a girl at Nandos in this story here

Our church recently hosted carols for Christmas.  He noticed a guy sitting outside in the warmth of the evening and he felt a prompting, which he is becoming more accustomed to recognise now, and he went over and quietly chatted to this person.  This act of stepping out for P is huge, as I said he is a gentle giant … gentle and mighty!

He also told me another recent God is Good story this last Sunday … where he found treasure at the tip.

P said he felt he was meant to drop some trash off at the tip on his way to work.  He headed off and unknowingly headed towards a complete God set up.

He said he stood in the line at the counter to pay, and a young girl looked at him and said something like “you look like your an older man, a father, a husband, will you please give me some advice about something?”

P was a little taken aback but said “sure” and the girl proceeded to show him a picture saved on her phone screen of the Superman actor in costume.  She said ” my partner doesn’t like me having this as my screen saver, he thinks it’s wrong and is really upset, what do you think?”  She apparently had been taking a poll with people as they came to the counter.

P looked at her and asked her a few questions (wise, gentle mighty giant).  He asked her why she thought her partner would not like it.  He explained that his wife had been through a tough divorce before meeting and marrying P and she would not like it if P had a photo of another woman (even dressed up in costume) on his phone, that it would be odd to do something like that.  He then asked the girl whether her partner may feel rejected, or had gone through anything to make him feel rejected, and she said yes that he had been through a nasty breakup/divorce.  P then suggested she reflect on that, and  the light started to dawn.

He then said to this girl, would you like me to pray for you (he did this while the line got longer behind him with people waiting to pay (bold, wise, mighty, gentle giant).  She said that she would love that, and so he prayed for her.

P had trash to drop at the tip.

God had treasure for P to find.

Because P is becoming more attuned to the voice of God as he goes about his day, he is finding the treasure hidden for him, and he is loving that treasure as God directs, and as he does, he is showing the world around him that they are loved, they are valuable and that …

God is Good!

So we’ve been learning in our group called Sitting at the feet of the Father that first our identity comes from God, and from that place all life flows.  We learn (and practice) how to sit and be with the Father, and in that place we learn how much we are loved, that we are created for greatness, and from the place of identity in God we then live out the reality of that relationship.  That means many things.  One of the things it means is that our heart starts to beat in time with the Kingdom of Heaven – we see others around us, and as we become more bold, and skilled up at how to communicate with others, we respond to His heart for them, and we desire to hear His heart and step out to give it a go.

Well a couple of the group have been stepping out …

One feisty group member was at Chadstone shopping centre. When she was first saved she used to step out all the time, but she was considered odd, she was ostracised.  Sad really, given that she was walking in the footsteps of Jesus.  Now, some 20 years later, she felt she had lost her mojo … or so she thought.

Well, she was having a quick snack in the food hall while a man with a badly disfigured body and facial features was trying to eat a hamburger.  She could not stop looking at him, and said that to be honest she was somewhat repulsed by how he looked, but even so she could not stop looking at him.  She then watched as he tried to eat his hamburger and felt God tell her to pray for him.  She argued, but eventually, deciding that the disfigurement must have been due to some illness, she obeyed.

She went over, said hello and asked if she could pray for him.  He agreed, explaining that he had a condition that is in the natural incurable called scleroderma, but he said she could pray for me.  She told him that God heals, that God loved him, and wanted him well, and she prayed for him.  Her sense of repulsion left, and she saw him as God saw him, as the compassion came upon her.

Later that day, she texted me:

Thanks for encouragement today… made me think of that girl you showed us on video that was quite ‘difficult’ to look at [see link here she’s amazing!]. This guy today was similar- took me awhile to realise he had some major disease/problem … The images of scleroderma are disgusting ( looked it up when I got home) his was obviously severe bad teeth and gums sunken eyes gangrenous fingers that couldn’t open. His name was Wayne if u feel to pray for him. I’ve read lots of prophecies about the first fruits of revival being the unlovely and unwanted….  Thank goodness God doesn’t give up on any of us.  

She caught the wind of the Holy Spirit and prayed … and is still praying for Wayne!

A second person from the group said that he had been out at Nandos.  He was tired, and wanted to get home.  He said he was just “people watching” as he waited for his meal.  He is a quiet, gentle, kind reserved man who loves Jesus and has a heart for others.  He is also a mighty man in the Spirit, but he is only just starting to capture that truth :-).   He said that he was just standing there at Nandos when a couple walked into the store and it was like everything went dark and a spot light was shone on the girl.  God clearly said “pray for her” and our friend hesitated, fearing that he was an older man and it would be creepy of him to approach a young girl with her boyfriend … so he didn’t …

I call that a WIN!

He heard, he saw, he just had not been given the skill set to give it a go, so I explained how he, as a man, could manage that situation better, and he happily saw there was a way forward next time.  That was my failure as a teacher, as the group leader, that I had not skilled him in how to stop and talk to a complete stranger.  The mere act he was even contemplating it I think is fantastic, amazing and so very encouraging!

While he felt badly about the “miss” I still said it was a win!  And a group of us at church prayed for the girl who was called Belle (he heard her name called out) and we asked that God would please send another.  I said to our friend that half the battle was to get people to see beyond their own needs and see the world through the lens of Jesus, see the need, and then learn how to step out … but I also explained that it takes practise, just as learning to ride a bike takes practise.

Every attempt is a win.  Noticing one that God highlights is a win. Learning to hear and to acknowledge God’s prompting for people is a win.

While I have prayed for thousands over the years, there are so many I have missed.  Many that were highlighted that I did not stop for.  In those times, God did not condemn.  There were times I felt His intense sadness when I didn’t stop, but He never condemned me, and I have learnt.

God is a loving Father and He delights that we try, that we listen … hearing Him is a step in the right direction, being aware of others and God’s heart for them is a step in the right direction, seeing and judging but still being open to pray for the one is a step in the right direction … and then later being so full of compassion as the judgement falls away that you then ask others to keep praying for the one, is a step in the right direction … every step forward into listening and obeying is a step in the right direction.  If we keep listening, keep spending time with Him, keep learning, keep humble and keep pressing into Him, we will reach the world, one encounter at a time because …

God is Good!

So, when have you felt His heart to stop for the one?

How was that for you?

Did you stop and try?

Or were you a little overwhelmed?

Either way – it’s a win … and we get better at this as we keep listening and keep being willing to “give it a go” because God is Good!

 

 

Well … what can I say but – God is Good!

As previously mentioned, we are running a group called “Sitting at the Feet of the Father”.  It’s all about hearing from God for ourselves and for others.  It’s about identity first, and then going and doing His will for us from that place of being fully loved, and full of His love.

Last Tuesday night we discussed Words of Knowledge and as we did I felt God prompt me to do an activation with the group, in other words, stop talking about it and DO it.

I actually prefer to stop for people as I go – no lists.  I find the idea of doing a list of words of knowledge from God and looking for a treasure (the person to whom they apply) a bit challenging … I could get it wrong people! Yes – I am a reformed perfectionist and can suffer from performance anxiety. But I knew if I was leading the group to do them, then I needed to do the exercise too.

We all sat quietly and asked God for words about people, me included.

The first part of my list was:

red cardigan

blue bag

Cindy

Mentone (a suburb near us)

Monday

Out walking on streets, sunshine

And I saw a picture of a local barbers shop located on a corner

It’s Monday here in Australia.  So this morning, remembering my list (which I have been carrying around with me) I asked God about timing of my walk in Mentone in the sunshine (and yes people it is sunny today – although cold).

I felt Him say to drop my son at school, go home do a few chores and then head out at 10am.  I want you all to know – I am crazy busy and under the pump with work (that is a whole new God is Good story but crazy stretching testimony), a mother in hospital and many children commitments, and today, my husband is interstate for work, so it’s all on me today.  Did I have time – no!  Did I want to find the treasure – yes!  I had a time frame and I knew that I may miss the treasure and it would be on me if I missed it if I was not obedient.

I headed out a little late.  I could feel His desire for me to be out on the streets, and I hurried to get out.  I looked up and down, asking Him as I went where to go.  I had a picture when I got the words of knowledge – that I would see her outside a particular barber shop.  I knew I was late for the “appointment”, so I listened, having apologised to Him for my being late.

I looked up and down the street … checking bag colours, checking cardigan colours … I followed a woman with a blue bag who was wearing a coat – I needed to see if she had a red cardigan … she didn’t and I didn’t get a positive “go for it” in my spirit with her even though she didn’t completely fill the list.

He had said go to the post office, so I did, continually looking for her, and looking for my other words of knowledge: a mum in blue jeans with two kids, one in a pram, who is seeking answers to questions/issues from the past; a man called Frank who worked in the trades, who has cancer (I think testicular – that may be a tough one), God wants to heal him; … my list goes on …

I walked out of the Post Office and looked into a coffee shop as I walked up the street – a woman in a head-dress in a red cardigan, but I couldn’t see her bag.  I walked up to the corner of the street again and back and looked in, and walked into the shop, trying to see her bag.  I still couldn’t see her bag so I gently interrupted her and her friend saying:

Excuse me.  I’m a Christian and I’m practising hearing from God, and I have this list (I showed it to the red cardigan woman and her friend) and I saw you had a red cardigan on … is your name Cindy? and then I saw she didn’t have a blue bag,  but she said:

My name is “Seemi” …

I thought “close enough” Cindy … Seemi …  I said explained my list (see Kevin Dedmon’s book Crossing the Chicken Line on how to get a list), and I asked could I pray for her. I found out she was from Pakistan (I assumed a Muslim because of her head scarf, but she may have been of another faith I could not be sure).

She said “yes” I could pray, so I crouched down, popped my hand on her arm gently and prayed.  As I did more information came, more words of knowledge about her so I prayed what I heard – that she was making some major decisions, that she wasn’t sure what to do, I asked God to guide her, I thanked God that He knew her and loved her, and I prayed for wisdom, great wisdom as she decided.

She looked at me and asked: How do you know all that?

I responded that I listened to God.  That we can all hear from God. I showed her my list.  I explained why I was out. That he had sent me out at 10am (although I had run late) and that He loved her enough to send me to pray for her, to let her know that He knew  her and He loved her … I asked if she had been on the street before (and mentioned where I had seen) and she said “yes”.

I had a feeling about some more details, but I felt to not share what I discerned, I felt that God wanted her privacy to be kept, that I was to just let her know that He knew she was making these decisions and that it had been a really tough time making them.  I felt the information would be too full on to disclose in that setting.  I also felt she had a child that would be impacted, so I asked if she had children.

She had a son.

I prayed for her decisions again and asked God that the peace that surpasses all knowledge and understanding would guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7), and that peace would be her guide (Col 3:15).

I asked how old her child was when I was done.  7 she said.

And so I invited her to our church movie days in the coming school holidays telling her it would be a safe environment, she could have a cup of tea or coffee, meet some people and he could be looked after for a couple of hours – she could stay or leave him she could choose.  I gave her the details, and also gave her my name and number so she could call me if she wanted.

I looked at the woman (an Australian woman) who was with her – she had teared up.

I thanked them both for letting me pray, and as I started to wind it up, she looked and said:

God loves me? She looked astounded …

I replied yes: God loves you, He knows you and He loves you very very much.

I gave her a hug and left …

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. (Is 45:3)

I found my treasure on my treasure hunt list – well one at least.  I’m looking for the others, and even if I don’t find them all, I know He will delight in the fact that I am even looking, giving it a go, because it’s not just about them out there (although that is a very significant important part of it) but it is also about me, getting closer, leaning in and hearing His heart beat …. it’s about the intimacy because He loves me too …

and He loves you …

We can all go and do, especially if we know how loved we are … and He will lead us to those that are hidden in the darkness for us because …

God is Good!

Please leave your testimonies of your successes below for us to share and be encouraged – any remember that every attempt (regardless of outcome) is a success because it’s about the journey of learning, not about the notches on our belt … it’s about our relationship with Him, and our journey as we work with Him to reconcile the world to Him, and that is purely because … God is Good!

We are currently running a connect group called “Sitting at the Feet of the Father”.  The purpose of this group is to encourage others (and ourselves) to fully step into our identity in Christ, and in doing so, not only will we lead a love filled, victorious life in Christ, but we will be blessed to be a blessing.  Being filled with God’s love cannot but overflow to those around us as we go!

Graham Cooke’s many teachings (both free resources and bought) at Brilliant Perspectives has been, well … brilliant!

Last night we wrote double-blind prophetic words for people we did not know (they were mature Christian who knew what we were doing so they were a safe place to land).  It was time to step out of the boat.  Giving lovely words to one another within the safety of the group is one thing, but to turn our gaze outwards, to others we don’t know, well that spells “R.I.S.K” which when its God directed is actually called FAITH.  We look forward to hearing about the impact of the words soon.

I have no doubt that God is good, and that He wants to speak to us more than we want to hear Him.  I also have no doubt that God is good and that He wants to speak to us about others, more than we want to hear Him.

Last Sunday, our pastor was preaching on the kindness, on the love of God.  My daughter had a friend at church, who subsequently sobbed and gave her heart to Christ.  My daughter had said that this friend was her “one” that God had highlighted to her as the one she would lead to Christ un this season (our church has a program currently called “everyone lead one”).

One of the members of our connect group, who I will call John, said he was also touched deeply by the message.  That same day, while leaving a local shopping centre, having grown in listening and obeying, he saw a busker who, in his view, wasn’t that good at busking – but God wanted John to bless the busker with everything John had in his wallet.  John argued, he resisted, he said to God “$2 is enough”.  However, God was adamant and John knew that he was to give the busker everything he had in his wallet.  John argued some more, and said “I’ll give him $2” and even went to get the change from his car, but God would not let up, so John obeyed, and gave the busker everything he had in his wallet.  John said the busker was quite overwhelmed.

I call that a “win”!

John heard from God.  He obeyed God.  He blessed a man busking, and even though he did not pray, preach, teach or even mention Jesus, I believe that John left a fragrance of Heaven, that changed the atmosphere, and that the fragrance left will stay with the busker to recognise again, it was an encounter with the generosity and love of God, for the busker, and for John.  For we do not battle “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12 NIV).  Fruit of the Spirit practised and grown is warfare in the Spirit … it shifts atmospheres and changes realities.

What is God asking you to do?

Could you pay for the next person’s coffee in the line at the coffee shop?  Just whisper the instructions to the person at the til, and feel the atmosphere shift around you.

Could you buy a homeless person some groceries?  A single mum in our group did that recently, she didn’t know if it was in direct obedience to a God prompting, she just felt to do it.  I suggested that she was listening and moving as the Spirit directed, without her even knowing it. She left the fragrance of God.

Could you leave a gift on the step of someone you know that is struggling with an emotional challenge, or that may be lonely?

What about asking God for a simple word of encouragement?  Write it down on a card, and pop it into the person’s letter box.  If that is too hard, or takes up too much time, text it, and let the person know you (and God) are thinking about them.  And if someone does come to mind – don’t forget to pray for them too!

Or could you even offer to pray for the one you walk by on the street, the one that God highlights to you as needing prayer?  Can you feel His nudge? Can you hear His gentle prompting?  He loves you with a furious love; and He loves those you walk past every day with a similarly furious love too.

I trust that as you stop and ask God who He would like to encourge, He will show you someone, and I encourage you to listen and obey, and as you do I know both you and the person will be blessed because …

God is Good!

 

 

Last week my husband and I went for a walk up to our local supermarket. It had been very hot and we were treating our children, who were at home watching a movie, to some ice cream.

As we checked out our few items at self-service, I noticed that the young girl overseeing the area had a bandage wrapped around her right hand.  I looked at her and smiled, and felt the familiar nudge from God.  I didn’t want to ignore the nudge, but I also didn’t want to force it.  The checkout kiosk closest to her had just become clear, so I made my way over to it with our items.

As we stood and checked out our items, I turned to her and motioning to her bandage I mentioned that it looked nasty and I asked her how she did it.  She responded that she had cut it deeply with a kitchen knife …

I winced in sympathy, and said to her “this may seem a little strange but, could I pray for your hand to be healed quickly?  I’m a Christian and I would love to pray for you.”

“Sure” she said and I told her my name as she told me hers and I put my hand out to take her hand gently in mine, as she, misunderstanding my gesture, went to shake my hand in greeting.

“No … sorry”, I smiled “I just want to touch your hand gently” and she nodded  leaving her hand out for me to pray, and I prayed, touching her hand gently with mine.

The sense of God swept over us and as it did I felt that she was looking for a new job.  I looked at her and asked her if this was the case and she nodded … looking a little blown away (I was pretty sure she felt the power of God too) and so I prayed for her new job, I prayed for favour and for the doors of her destiny to open, for her to find what she was created for, and that she would flourish …

Finishing up, I thanked her for allowing me to pray and wished her a brilliant day and we left.

This is a simple story, but the sense of God’s presence was powerful, and the sense of His sheer pleasure as I did as He desired was gentle and sweet.

As we walked home, neither my husband nor I mentioned anything about it.  For me anyway, it felt like a very sweet holy moment, and I nearly didn’t want to discuss it.  Eventually, about half way home  A turned to me and said “well done” and gave me a hug and he then said “did you feel the anointing on that?  It was powerful and I wondered if you felt it …”

I nodded saying I had, and I said that it had felt good to step out and pray for her in that way with such a clear leading from the Holy Spirit, with no striving, no fear, and with such a strong sense of His presence as I did what He asked …

In fact it just felt good to be out walking, doing life and stopping for the one because …

God is Good!

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