Day 93 Journey’s End

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Day 93 Munich Germany, Journey’s End.  Someone referred to my time in Eastern Europe as a ‘holiday’. Believe me, this was not a holiday. It was 18mths in the planning, it consumed hundreds of hours of admin (by myself and my PA), I fund-raised for 12mths around NZ & Aus to cover the airfare, car hire & other expenses. I drove solo (apart from the odd Polish hitchhiker) 14,926kms in a manual Peugeot 208. I visited 13 countries and shared in 50 concerts and services. So was it a holiday? I visited the poorest countries in Europe: Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Serbia. I visited two jails and a Rehab Centre. I gave away hundreds of CDs to people who had no money to pay.. and someone who saw me in Munich in a house concert on the last night said I looked fresh & not tired (Isaiah 40.31). So, if it was not a holiday, what was it? It was the opportunity to share a gospel message in places where communism (aka atheism) has cast its pall across the generations. Many times I faced the Eastern European staunch granite face (which the Holy Spirit warned me about) but by the end of each concert or service many of these precious ones would shake my hand with tears in their eyes. Through the interpreter many would say ‘You have given voice to our pain.’  Others would say:  ‘You have shown us a way of restoration & forgiveness at the foot of the Cross of Jesus.’  Others would simply say: ‘I saw Jesus tonight..’  The most rewarding aspect of this tour has been the overwhelming feedback at most of these events, not CD sales. What a privilege to be able to share in this way, and what a joy to see the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in many hearts.. people who have been shackled by centuries of religion (Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Islam) but softened and set free by the work of the Holy Spirit.

It was in May 2014, on the eve of my ‘retirement’ from ministry, that the Lord called and said: ‘My heart is for these ones, the broken, the brokenhearted, the bullied, the discouraged, the lonely, the fearful, the lost, the burnt out, the emotionally disabled, the depressed, the suicidal, the wounded, the weary, the lost.. will you go, or will you stay home and pander to your flesh?’  I have received such grace in my own healing journey that once I heard clearly from the Lord, it was not such a big deal to go and not to stay.  I have been ‘going’ in ministry many years and so I agree with scripture that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have been mightily blessed as I have given out.

Finally, I mention at least two who were pulled back from the brink of suicide by my testimony of restoration (as I was pulled back from the brink..) I think of these and many others (whose testimony I have posted on Facebook these 3mths) who have encouraged me that yes I did hear from the Lord, yes I did get the timing right, and yes there is mighty power at the foot of the Cross to heal and bring restoration to anyone in any culture, at any time and in any generation. It is a universal message across time and space. Hallelujah!

Now we look ahead to Scandinavia in 2017….

Day 91 Chemnitz

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Day 91 Chemnitz Germany.  Chemnitz (kem-nitz) was a delight. Smaller than a big city, slower paced, post-communist historic and surrounded by some wonderful countryside. The drive from Herrnhut saw me stop every few minutes to allow my camera to breathe.. and as the tour winds down, I find myself more than ever allowing my photographer alter ego to gain the upper hand. I did a house concert on a warm Sat nite (as European Cup soccer fans cheered in the background) and with the Evangelical Free Church on the Sun morn. Both went well, altho the highlight is always the feedback afterwards from people with tears in their eyes that my testimony has touched them. It is satisfying to know that you have made a difference in people’s lives, and fulfilment of the call in some small way to be here in the first place.

Day 86-89 Herrnhut

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Day 86-89 Herrnhut Germany.  On Monday found myself in Haapsalu in the northwest corner of Estonia. So, I pointed the car downhill and began the long 4 day trek back to Germany, and the village of Herrnhut (hern-hoot) for starters. Stayed in a wonderful Christian community housed in an old hospital building. I had a sense the walls were soaked with prayer, and sure enough the community runs a House of Prayer. You can visit http://www.czherrnhut.de/jesus-haus/en/ for a closer look. Shared in song with the community in the evening and the feedback afterwards was encouraging.

Day 81-85 Valga

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Day 81-85, June 22nd-26th Estonia.  Oh my, what a full-on week of events, organised by a friend Kristel Altosaar. Tues was the prison visit then birthday house concert. Weds was the Valga Pentecostal Church. Thurs Village of Hope Rehab Centre in Laitse. Fri Rakvere Karmel Church. Sat Kunda Karmel Church. Sun morn St Marys Lutheran Church Otepää. Sun nite St Johns Lutheran Church Haapsalu.  Highlights: There was a strong anointing for the prison visit so I know lives were impacted. The birthday house concert was a wonderful warm fuzzy nite. The Rehab Centre was a total joy (wonderful ministry set in a forest, many lives transformed from life on the street, see feedback on Facebook). And Sunday morn at the Lutheran in Otepää went surprisingly well, set in a large historic wooden building with wonderful acoustics. On the way back home from one of these concerts I noticed the lone sentinel windvane in the evening light (above). I stopped and took the pic, its vanes were motionless. Made me think it’s the wind of the Holy Spirit that empowers us.. And as the tour comes to a close I think I’ve been like a lone sentinel  traveling around, empowered by the Holy Spirit.. which gives me the words to say, the boldness to stand up in front of often granite-faced Eastern Europeans, the refreshment to keep going when tired (Isaiah 40.31), protection on the road, and His leading in many different situations.  I’m just so thankful He’s brought us this far by His grace.

Day 80 Tartu

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Day 80 Tues June 21st Tartu Estonia.  This was one of the better days on tour. Sang at Tartu Prison in the afternoon (about 30 guys plus two Chaplains) and as always in prison it’s bit of a challenge to know what to say, and how to approach it, as very few are Christians. But as the guys filed in I did not feel intimidated and in fact had a quiet confidence. When I opened my mouth the Lord gave me boldness. Over the hour I shared 6 songs plus my testimony relating to life’s struggles. I had their riveted attention for the most part. At the end many of the guys shook my hand vigorously. I knew that I had impacted many.  In the evening I shared at an outdoor birthday party (see FB clip), which moved indoors when it rained. This too was a very warm group, they sang really well and gave such encouraging feedback afterwards. I stayed on in this lovely house (home of Ailar and Hele) and slept like a lamb.

Day 78 Ogre

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Day 78 Sun June 19th, Ogre Latvia.  Yes, there really is a place called Ogre (o-arg-ra) in Latvia, near Riga. Shared at the Baptist Church there before heading for Cesis (tsay-se) for an evening concert. This event was one of the more warm friendly responsive groups on tour. And such encouraging feedback afterwards, people genuinely moved, touched & blessed by the Holy Spirit.  There seems to be a stronger anointing at this stage of the tour, maybe as I become more in tune with what I see the Holy Spirit doing in many lives. It is certainly is a privilege to be on the road like this, to stay in so many wonderful places, and meet such lovely people (a great shame I haven’t photographed more of them..)

Day 73-77 Valdemarpils

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Day 73-77 June 14th-18th Valdemarpils Latvia. Spent the week at Youth With A Mission, teaching & learning on the School of Worship. Probably the smallest and quietest group of students I’ve worked with, but many blessings in store. The school leader Kaspars Everins organised concerts in local centres on every night in Talsi, Kuldiga, Saldus, Liepaja and Riga the capital.  Wow, what a smorgasbord. Some real highlights and special memories. Kaspars would start with worship in Latvian (the whole of Latvia seems to know his songs by heart) then I would do my songs with students as the band. The only low-light of the week was hitting a deer late at night after the Saldus concert. The deer escaped.. but left a lasting impression on my rental car, which will hopefully be covered by insurance. Oh, another highlight was working with one of the students Janis Kulme, a pro camerman and videographer. We shot footage to ‘In Your Presence’ at beach, lake, waterfall, hilltop, church and an archway of trees. I still struggle to watch myself on screen, but Lord willing the result will be an excellent clip.  An unexpected blessing from above.