Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. NKJV
I live in a quiet suburb in Hermanus, South Africa. Through serving our local homeless community, I met a precious lady, about my age (60ish). A low-key friendship developed between us over the past two years. She started sharing some personal issues and lately she asked if I would pray for her. I realised that a regular meeting time around the Word would certainly encourage her and be of great benefit, but I didn't feel free to just suggest it - so I prayed about it! I felt the Lord say that He was already busy and that I needed to wait! Exciting, isn't it!! I didn't have long to wait ...
About two months ago she invited me for a coffee date. We had hardly sat down when she popped the question: would I be willing to lead a Bible study with her and some friends? She was the surprised one when I immediately said "YES" with a broad smile! She was quite overcome when I told her how the Lord had already put the desire in my heart and that He had put the desire in her heart and so we were both sure that we were in the Lord's will with this venture!! Awesome, isn't it!!
As I prayed about it I know the Lord put Jan Whitmore's book "Sow what!" on my heart as the book to use for this Bible study meeting. I was so excited and especially when the books arrived the day before our first meeting. Isn't God just precious in all His ways! Such a testimony of His leading us! We have had the first three meetings already - what an incredible blessing!!
The Lord is using the material in Jan's book with such powerful effect! Many questions and issues come to light and can be spoken about around the topic of learning to be aware of and train our SPIRITUAL senses and to understand that it is the Word taking root in our hearts that will bring the change. The Lord has already brought so many things to the surface shedding new light and deeper understanding with life-changing effect on them! It's such a humbling exciting joy to watch the Lord at work through this book!
A significant key was the questions at the end of chapter one. Even though we all felt quite vulnerable about sharing on that level, it really challenged us to take a good hard look at where we really are spiritually and of course what we plan to do about it. The two ladies (we are only three) both declared that they've never experienced something like this before and that they are so very glad that we started the group and that they are looking forward to doing the rest of the book!!
Thank you, Jan, for your obedience in writing the book!! We are so very grateful for this incredibly powerful tool the Lord has placed in our hands to help us grow spiritually in such a practical way!! May the Lord bless you abundantly, Jan, and I KNOW for sure that anyone who reads this book and/or uses it as Jan intended for a life group, will be amazed at what God can and will do! The Holy Spirit does ALL the work - just be available for Him to work through you!! Much love and blessings in His Name. Maritha Esterhuizen Hermnus, South Africa
Gordey Eframov was travelling home in his Lada Niva in south eastern Ukraine when he suddenly found the ground vanishing underneath him. He said, “Because of the rain, traffic was going slowly and then when the car in front of me stopped I put on the brakes and slowed down. Then I suddenly got a sinking feeling and before I knew it, I was disappearing into the road. The car tipped onto its side and muddy waters started to flood in through the air vents and door.” Police said the broken drain had been leaking rainwater into the soil underneath the road, washing away the foundations and causing it to collapse when the car paused above. Police spokesperson said, “It was an accident waiting to happen. As long as the cars were moving fast over the top, it bore the weight, but once a motorist stopped, it was too much and it gave way.
“What happened there? The ground just gave way under my feet.”
“I didn’t see that coming.”
On the one-hand, Gordey Eframov did not see the sinkhole coming, yet, on the other-hand the choice “not to maintain” the road meant that disaster was simply waiting to happen. The ground opened up, not primarily because of the traffic or external circumstances, but because of the lack of investment in the sub-terrain. The government spent its money elsewhere. Scientists say sinkholes occur when underground resources gradually dry up, causing the surface to lose its underlying support. Everything caves in – forming an ugly pit.
What a prophetic picture for our time. It calls to mind God’s warning in the book of Jeremiah:
'For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV).
God in His great love offers absolutely everything – “everything for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3). Amazing love, acceptance, fellowship, friendship, provision, protection, strength, power, wisdom, understanding, ability, nourishment and much more – but we, His people, often prefer to go it alone, by our own ability and resources, with so little prayer-reference to the Lord. Providing for ourselves, we “do life” our way. Sime times we even boast, “I’m independent and that’s the way I want it!” It ends in disaster – sinkholes are being prepared, not by God, but by our own choices. God’s heart weeps for the adultery of His people.
The Ukraine chose not to invest in vital maintenance to infrastructure, and for a long time they got away with it. The road looked “fit for purpose” and held up. However, one day it collapsed and neglect was exposed.
What lies in the sub-terrain of our Christian hearts? Paul says,
“Let each one take heed how he builds. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:9-15 NKJV).
Is there recovery from sinkholes? Yes, there is a recovery fully provided for by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. What love! When disaster strikes, He waits for the invitation to step in to rescue, recover and rebuild our lives, from the inside out. Attentively, He brings us to healing repentance, which marks the beginning of a strong and purposeful recovery. God never abandons, ridicules or laughs at the demise of His people – He is always the Rescuer, the Redeemer, the Restorer.
Acknowledge brokenness. God will come swiftly to help.
Sinkhole-prayers tend to be quite short and desperate: “Help!" or “O God!”
2. Acknowledge, without reserve and defence, how and when you have forsaken God.
Diminishing spiritual vibrancy always leads to spiritual hardening. Truth is we have placed family, friends, pursuits and things ahead of a love-relationship with Jesus. We may kick and scream saying, “I’ve not forsaken God. It was not my fault. I meant no harm. Nobody else was hurt.” However, do not be hasty. What really lies in our hearts is often well hidden, even from us. More often than not, we are far too busy with other things to notice spiritual erosion—the gradual spiritual cooling and seemingly harmless compromise don’t even hit a conscious level.
Take time to assess the damage, letting God and Godly friends provide the insight, wisdom and counsel needed to make the good recovery.
In moving on too quickly, we miss God’s voice in the crisis. What is He saying? What is His counsel? Diarise time alone with the Lord. Step away from the family, friends and the crowds. Step away from responsibility and enter your “closet”, giving Him time to speak personally. Some other priorities will need to shift to honour Him in this process!
4. Be prepared to allow God to dismantle and remove the broken cisterns before rebuilding.
Come to the place where confession of sin is specific, not merely general. Repentance is deep when we feel the weight and contamination of our sin! First, we have sinned against God – and that is serious. True repentance is soaked in tears, not smiles. What was the cause of the sinkhole? The most common is sexual sin, selfishness, self-sufficiency, self-reliance and self-opinion. God desires dependence upon Him, not independence from Him.
In rebuilding, He will provide a new “cistern”, or to use another Biblical analogy, “wineskin” (Luke 5: 38) that can store and preserve the pure and living water of God – the Holy Spirit.
5. Set new priorities and choose your friends carefully.
Start over, making God top priority. Set a guard on time with Him. Learn to be diligent in seeking the Lord, not casual (Hebrews 11:6). Develop intimacy in worship and prayer (Psalm 95: 6-11). Study the Word of God (Colossians 3:16), letting it shape and govern life. Let His voice be your guiding voice (Psalm 19: 4-11). Carefully choose Christian friends who are both passionate for God and love you enough to speak truth.
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV).
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 NKJV).
What a beautiful Scripture! “Present help” means “a help that has been found to be reliable, or proven to be a reliable stronghold in the past, so that any future calamity is no reason to fear”. As we put our trust in the Lord for each step or season in our lives, we discover He is utterly reliable. He leads, provides and sometimes carries us through — even though we may not be conscious of Him doing so. He builds a strong faith deposit in us, a full memory bank of His loving-kindness, which knows no fear, whatever the future holds.
As we prepare for the ministry season ahead the Lord said, “Jan, Mintie, represent Me – be My present help”. Be strong in faith, helping others attain faith; be reliable and be faithful as I send you alongside those I love”. We pray we may be exactly that as we visit two mission workers at the WEC HQ, 26-28 September, and workers in Israel, 12 October – 10 November 2015.
APPOINTMENTS IN GERMANY
In August, the Holy Spirit prompted us to visit dear friends in north Germany. It meant a quick turnaround of just 3/4 weeks. After organising travel for the motorhome—two campsites on route in Belgium and Germany, packing the motorhome van with gifts, we headed out on God’s adventure. The first embrace, with many tears flowing, confirmed the timeliness of the weeklong visit. Day by day, He imparted new strength to those who felt isolated and low. Olga said, “I’ve seen how busy you’ve been over the years, visiting with many people, and I’ve wondered if God knows where I am”. God “knew her thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139) and called on us to go! Isn’t it special to know that God hears the cries of our hearts and sends help – He is a “present help”, utilising His willing and available children.
However, Germany had much more to it than we could see! God had a yet more expansive plan. “Out of the blue” a German missionary, serving in South Africa, contacted us on our German campsite. She came to several of the retreats we led for single missionaries, 1992 – 2014. “Can I come and see you? I’m home on leave and am close by where you are staying”. The “unplanned” visit took place in our motorhome on the campsite. What a joy! It is usual for missionaries to want time to share their burdens and needs, but this missionary wanted to come and share what God had been doing in her life as a cause of the ministry she’d received at the retreats for single missionaries. For 2 hours without a breath, she excitedly recounted the healing, transformation and spiritual growth. She wanted to say, “thank you”. God touched us very deeply. Not many return to say thank you.
Thank you so much for your prayers for the journey. We avoided five accidents by God’s grace —unforeseen delays meant we were free of trouble. In addition, because we arrived at the channel tunnel (Le Shuttle) a day earlier than booked, we met no trouble at the Calais port. The following day, the day of our original booking, all sorts of trouble broke out among the migrants trying to gain access to the UK. God takes care of us all.
PASTORAL VISITS UK
This month we meet with two mission workers at the WEC HQ west of London, 26 – 28 September 2015. Lee Choo Chun works in Asia with Healthcare Christian Fellowship. Gweno Hugh-Jones works with WEC UK. Lee Choo is participating in the HCF conference in Wales. She attended our final MET retreat, a training retreat, in the Czech Rep in May 2013. It marked the end of MET. She was one of 30 to whom we “passed on the baton” of our ministry (front left of the picture). How special to have the opportunity to meet together again, to hear how God is leading, to encourage and pray with her. Gweno, who also knows Lee Choo from the same retreat, is hosting the reunion.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.”
Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.
DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING, INDIA
This month, Jan taught at the YWAM DTS (Discipleship Training School) in India, via Skype. She is in regular contact with Chandu, to encourage the leader of the school. What a unique experience and all without an airfare!
From 12 October – 10 November 20
15, we are following up on our work among the Christian workers in Jerusalem and in the Galilee. We have an apartment in the German Colony, Jerusalem, which will be the hub of fellowship, debriefing, and one on one sharing and prayer. Ahead of time, we have asked workers to express their needs so that we can gather goods to bless each one. We are booking in two extra suitcases to take personal gifts with us. Already, English tea, Redbush tea, marmite, skin creams, soap, vitamins, cheddar cheese, and books have been requested. Can you help?
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We need finances to buy these gifts. Would you give generously into the “manna pot” to make the purchases possible?
We want to carry an offering to Jerusalem for the work of “Helping Hands”. They feed the homeless, Jew and Arab, on the streets of Jerusalem. This is a wonderful way to fulfil the command to “comfort Israel”.
PRAY FOR US
Clean hands and a pure heart to be prepared vessels of the Lord
To be led by the Holy Spirit to God’s appointments
The Dead Sea, Israel. What a Scripture of hope. When all is stripped away, what is the response of our hearts? "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation".To "joy" = "gil" in Hebrew, means "dancing for joy / spinning around with intense motion". How is that possible when things are so dire? Because God is sovereign, He is my God, and no matter what happens He will look out for me. Now that is worth spinning for!