The excitement of another opportunity to preach the glad tidings and to reach out to the lost caused me to awake before even my 4 a.m. alarm went off. This is what I was born for – and I could not wait to get there and prepare for the great privilege of preaching.
The Lord was good to us and so, after a 30 minute delay in take-off, we arrived in Brazzaville. The follow-on connection was tight, so how would this slight delay affect things. Well, on arrival, we were met at the steps of the plane by a VIP car, which whisked us off to a lounge to wait while our documents were processed. In moments, we were handed boarding cards and told that our luggage was already transferred! Then we were driven back to the plane. Wow, how God takes care of His own.
We arrived in Dolisi, and then drove some three to four hours through very, very dusty roads. At times, the dust so thick that it was hard to see, and several times, the Lord protected us in wonderful ways from the oncoming traffic. As we approached Sibiti, we saw large areas that had been burned by bush fires. They were just wide-open, burnt out, black spaces – but, with new life and fresh green breaking through…
“O Lord”, I thought “Let the Fire of the Holy Spirit consume all the chaff, and let new life spring forth”.
On arrival, Roger Kokkone, our organiser, had gathered a dozen or so pastors who welcomed us and we had a short time of prayer together. Where would I stay? I was not sure what the accommodation would be like, yet was prepared for anything. However, the Lord had already undertaken for us; a business lady had hired a comfortable room in the best hotel in town! Not only that, but Papa Dominique, an excellent chef, had now retired in Sibiti, and it was a great joy to see him again. What a wonderful servant of a man he is. Although we cannot communicate properly, as he speaks very little English – his smile and hand shake communicate everything.
At 8 o’clock in the morning came the reminder that this is a very Catholic area as the church bell of a dead religion called its followers to a service.
People going in and coming out the same as they went in – or rather, worse off, because now that they have appeased their consciences by ‘doing their duty’, they can enjoy another week of sin!
I woke up early mainly because of the time difference, and began to pray for the services today. I can tell that something is going to happen, and am expecting a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit.
The Sunday service went well. I preached on Luke 3:16, in which John the Baptist denoted that he was not worthy to loose the sandal strap, signifying humility, without which we cannot have the fire. The presence of God was tangible in the service. A lady later testified how she had come to the meeting feeling weak and sick and felt the power of God bring strength to her. A man who had a history of kidney problems said he felt a fire burn in his kidneys, and that he now felt relief from the pain that he had been experiencing.
Oh how I desire for more of the fire of God in every service. Is it that we need more fire or do we need to give more of ourselves? Jesus often withdrew to pray. He got up early, long before sunrise, to pray. He sometimes prayed all night. Oh I think I comprehend; as I give myself more to Him in prayer, I am sure that I am going to see more. Jesus saw and was moved with compassion. He heard and was moved with compassion. Prayer will make me far more sensitive to the needs of the people; it will give me a greater ability to see and perceive the needs and hear the cries. When did I last spend all night in prayer … I have I know but not recently … I felt greatly challenged to begin to live a deeper life of prayer; to fellowship with my heavenly Father and hear what He wants to say; to hear the cries and see the tears of the world in which I live – instead of hardness, sensitivity; instead of aloofness, compassion.
Mura and the team were erecting the platform and sound tower. That afternoon, I received a call that the generator trailer had a damaged wheel. I did not really understand what they meant. I thought it was simply a flat tyre, but when I saw it, I was amazed to see that the metal wheel rim had cracked and shattered and come apart. The wheel was totally destroyed! This was the point when someone said, “The road is bad you know!” I guess it must be! God graced us, and the team were able to find a suitable wheel that would fit on an old vehicle and the owner agreed to sell it. We were back on the road again.
Preparations continue and we are making good progress. A fresh coat of paint was applied to the stage. But alas, the generator wheel did not fit, so we are still looking for one in Madingou. In the morning, I went to the Governor of Sibiti for a formal introduction. He warmly welcomed us, and in return, I gave him a formal invitation to the meetings. We do hope that he is able to come.
I received a box of water as a gift from the Colonel of the district and an invitation to his house.
My heart goes out to the multitudes of people. I have to constantly keep in mind that I am representing Jesus here. I have come in His name, with His words and His power. I must be ready at all times to pour out ministry to the people with whom God brings me in contact.
Roger Kokonne had done an excellent job getting the equipment here, but unfortunately, he was not told that some of the smaller boxes were kept in the Pastor’s house, and these had been left back in Bouansa. By now, they have been two days on the road coming to us, and last night, they arrived at the river, but it was too late to get the ferry across. We trust that they will arrive this morning.
My phone alarm somehow activated at 4 a.m., but I did not mind. I was able to get up and have a wonderful time of prayer. I walked to the field and walked around it just praying in the Spirit asking the Lord to give us Sibiti for Him.
Identification with Christ Jesus – includes seeing the people as He sees them. Some are helpless and scattered like sheep without a Shepherd. Others are hurting and cast down; bruised and broken; sick and afflicted. Think of the cries going up to the throne of God just where you live. God has put you there to meet the needs. He is relying on your mouth to speak comfort – your hands to touch the sick – God needs people through whom He can touch the world! This thought struck me – I am here amongst a myriad of needs – O Lord, give me Your word today – guide my steps today – whoever I meet touch them through me. I see and I hear – and compassion moves me to step out in faith – to cry out in intercession.
There is not time to get bored! People who get bored have not learnt the secret of giving their lives for others. They have not discovered that they are His hands, His feet and His mouth. They have not discovered the joy of seeing a life touched, changed and restored as the Lord reaches out through my hands, my mouth, my life touching others.
Who will Jesus touch today – I remain restfully available as His Hands … My tongue is the pen of a ready writer … At the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit, I act. The book of acts was written – and is still being written. Every time a believer acts there is something worthy of recording … I am listening today Lord; I am ready today Lord … Use me Lord … I am restfully available and instantly obedient. I acknowledge the headship of Christ in all my ways, and He will guide me to do what He wants for me today. But oh, too often, we feel what could the Master do through me. I am just oh so ordinary…
Listen! A Niccolo Paganini concert advertised that the master musician was coming to town. He could play and cause you to hear the whining of the wind in the hills, the trickle of the water flowing down the mountains… People flocked to hear him and, as he began the concert, to the people’s amazement a string snapped on his violin … beads of sweat began to form on his brow, then, to the utter amazement of the audience, another string snapped. With those strings limply hanging down, he continued to play in perfect tune – the music was breath-taking. Now the unthinkable happened, the third string broke, leaving just one string remaining. He placed the violin beneath his chin and played the final encore – the conductor was amazed, the audience were weeping. Niccolo Paganini, the master musician could produce music from a one stringed violin that touched the hearts of multitudes.
Do I think that Jesus Christ could produce the music of life from me, even if I am just a one string violin? It depends on the Master. Is He the one playing me as His instrument – am I yielded to Him…
Philip the evangelist was in the city of Samaria; he yielded and was sent to the desert. He was in the right place at that right time – the eunuch asked … here is water … see I can be baptised…
Peter yielded, put aside his racial prejudice and went into the house of a Gentile to preach the Gospel. Salvation came to the Gentiles.
I got up early and went to the field to pray, but was soon side-tracked with the many things weighing on my mind that still needed checking out and doing. Muraguri arrived and we were able to sort out all the technical details. Well so we thought … Moments before the meeting was due to start, Mura called and said that the mixer desk was not working. I walked over to the field and was amazed that I just knew what to do! This was surely the Holy Spirit. For some reason, I just looked for our spare power cable and plugged it in – and there we were, back in business.
Later, when I took the microphone, I preached a very clear Gospel message to close on 3,000 people. I was surprised at just how many young people were present. There was a very good response to the Word – no resistance, God had won their hearts. Hands instantly were raised confessing their sins and receiving cleansing from all unrighteousness.
The 60 or so counsellors went to work with the follow-up books – recording decisions and giving the book to as many as they could. We recorded 327 decisions for Jesus.
Seven churches with an average congregation of 80 each, are participating; I estimate roughly 500 to 700 church-goers in the entire city of Sibiti, a city with around 15,000 to 20,000 people! Although I was pleased at the harvest that the Lord had given to us, I received a stark reminder of how worldliness and a nightclub-culture had penetrated deep into Africa. A well equipped disco with powerful lights and sound equipment together with air conditioning was right here in the hotel in which I was staying. Young people, influenced by the modern culture and dressed in fashionable clothing, milled around the hotel. Yes, there is much to do in Sibiti
- Pray with me that God would strengthen His Church here. The young kids, too young to be allowed into the nightclub, were all at the field attentively listening to the Gospel. Oh, it is my hope that the Lord would get a hold of the hearts of this generation of young people.
I prayed a general prayer for the congregation – speaking and proclaiming healing over the multitude. Many people were healed of back pain, knee pain and related pains that hindered them walking. They testified how they were now pain free, and were able to bend and walk. One young man took his spectacles off and said he could read without them! We tested him, and yes he could read! Day one was a good start – we press in to take hold of that which Christ Jesus has taken hold of for us.
Thursday Day 2
The Seminar begins today. Three days of exhorting and stirring the Church of Sibiti to get active with the Great Commission. To seek and save the lost is the whole purpose of why Jesus came. Surely, we must be busy with what He came to do.
The teaching was well received in the seminar. The core group of believers are so hungry to be used by God.
Last night, quite spontaneously I began to speak about making a total surrender to Jesus. Say yes to Jesus and no to the devil. I challenged people to put their faith in Jesus Christ exclusively, and to remove any witchcraft fetishes and throw them into a huge 200-litre drum that we had standing in front of the platform. There was a great release of joy as we burned the first few that were put in. I had the pastors come down and pray for the sick with me. We also announced that the new believer’s class would begin today and then on Monday we would take those who had attended the course down to the river for water baptism. There was a handful of healings, in particular, one bedridden lady, who was suffering with typhoid fever, got up and came to the meeting – she said she felt strength flow into her and was able to stand up
The Gospel went out clearly to the young of the town. Although many stood a long way off just listening, they were still able to understand the message. It was wonderful to see how God’s powerful word is able to touch even the hardest of hearts. Some of the phrases I heard included:
I was not interested in the Gospel, but God touched my heart.
I was a prostitute, and now I want to tell you publicly that I have given my life to the Lord. No more will I continue in that lifestyle.
I never thought of Baptism, now I want to make a public declaration of my faith.
It was also wonderful to see young people filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in new tongues. One remarkable testimony of a true decision to follow Jesus was from a person who had received a large amount of money knowing that it was not above board. The Lord spoke to that person and the money was returned!
Fire Conference on the way back to Brazzaville.
I was hosted by Pastor Hermon in Nkayi for a two day fire conference. The Lord stirred up His church to “Arise and SHINE” and win the lost. Several people were healed of long time stomach problems. Carnal Christians convicted of their loose lifestyles publicly testified that they had decided to follow Jesus with all their hearts.