The cool wind of the dark night blustered against our faces, and most of us were wrapped up snugly with jackets, sweaters, blankets and wool hats. We were gathered up on a little hill, and so felt exposed to thewind all the more, but we felt especially secure. It was the coziest, safest spot on our main Iris base in Pemba, and all who were there didn't want to be anywhere else just then. We considered it our hiding place in Jesus because it was our new prayer house built as a gift from Bethel Church in Redding, California. Our beautiful house had a round, thatched African-style roof on wood pillars, a plain cement floor and a short wall, and then nothing but a panoramic view of Pemba and the ocean by day, and the mysteries of the stars and town lights by night. Afreshly-planted garden and winding walkways adorned our wonderfulgathering place for prayer, worship and warfare, both for a few solitarysouls or for a whole intense army of God-lovers crying out to Him withall their hearts.This night was especially intense because we were fighting back,resisting witchcraft and strengthening ourselves in the Lord after anextraordinary series 0f unusual attacks, setbacks, accidents, threats,failures and discouragement. So we called for a night of prayer andwarfare like we had never had before. We brought out our drum set andour African drums. We turned up our guitars. We danced with all ourmight, declaring the goodness of the Lord. Most of the base was there --our children, missionaries, students, Mozambican staff and visitors, andwe never felt so united, worshiping Him with one voice and heart. Withan exhilarating beat and a rich blend of voices we delivered thecontents of our hearts to all who were listening, both in this naturalworld and the spiritual world.We love our God! In the Name of His Son Jesus we resist every evilinfluence against us. We will delight in our perfect Savior, and He willdeliver us from every deadly peril. We seek His face and worship Himalone, and trade our rags of sin for His righteousness which comes byfaith. We cry for peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, poured out withoutmeasure, and every treasure that comes with the Kingdom of God. He willreveal His goodness and power, and is able protect and enhance Hisreputation in this favored haunt of demons that is Pemba and oursurrounding Province. Tears flowed freely as we delighted in Him all themore. Joy came too, as we contemplated an eternity with our perfectLover and Friend.Like many others, I lie down the concrete to soak in the Spirit and praywith even more concentration. A dozen little Mozambican children gatheraround me, lying right beside me and even on top of me. I felt warm andloved. They laid hands all over me, crying their little hearts out thatJesus would take care of and protect Mama Heidi and Papa Rolland. Theysang with their amazing African voices, and some even gave me lovingmassages and huge hugs. It was the perfect place to be.No one was in a hurry, and more arrived as the sounds of our evening ofwarfare and worship spread far across the center and beyond. In time ourwarring music turned to softer sounds of love and delight. Some lostthemselves in the Lord as they danced and spun lightly on their feet,hands raised freely to heaven. Smiles and laughter broke out too as theSpirit came closer with all His variety. It was a beautiful night, aperfect night, and no one was in any mood to leave. I realized we wouldwant to do this often, and make it a beautiful habit. But it was alsonecessary for our survival in this very occult town of Pemba we calledhome.But the night finished very differently. Don Kantel, our base director,knelt down beside me, put his face between all the little children onme, and stated simply that our entire center, along with our othercenter and Heidi's and my house, would be destroyed by a powerfultsunami in sixty minutes. A wall of water up to ninety feet high wouldcome at us at hundreds of miles an hour because of an awesome earthquake in Indonesia. The Indian Ocean's new tsunami warning system had produced a mass reaction as cities up and down the east African coast were already undergoing mass evacuation. Friends in South African watching their television news frantically began calling us. "Get the children to the highest ground you can!" they said.Quickly the children grabbed their mattresses and bags of clothes andmoved up to the top of our sloping property in the far back away fromthe ocean. Some stayed at the prayer house to pray earnestly against thetsunami. I quickly drove home to see what I could save by throwingvaluables and necessities into my red Land Rover. It looked like ourfunky little beach house that Heidi had so lovingly made into a home wasgoing to be history in minutes. I debated in the Lord how long I couldstay at the house to save belongings and get more news. I also stood inmy office on the roof and shouted at the devil, "No! You cannot takewhat Jesus has given us here in Pemba for His work. No!"I stayed another minute to check news off our satellite Internet system,and then got a phone call from Pretoria. My friend Peter Wheeler therehad just heard the latest. When the tsunami passed the Seychelle Islandsin the middle of the Indian Ocean, it was no more than a mild high tide,and the alert was off. As it turned out, the ocean floor did not buckleso as to cause a huge tsunami, even though an earthquake of thatstrength could potentially produce such a buckle in other places. Ithought about sleeping upstairs when the high tide came at one a.m. inthe morning, but decided to trust all the reports, sleep downstairs, andnot even go out to check the tide.For one hour the fate of so much of our work in Pemba was in thebalance. No human response on the planet could have had any impact onnatural forces so great. We live fragile lives in this world, withoutthe slightest wisp of ability to contend with the power that God canunleash at any time He chooses. We have no security of any kind apartfrom our Savior. Our hearts cannot function without a safe haven, ahiding place, a solid rock, a guaranteed future -- and Jesus is allthese things and infinitely more.During that hour many of our children stood their ground in the prayerhouse and prayed. No one panicked or cried. The Holy Spirit's Presencewas thick. We simply threw ourselves on His mercy yet once more, knowing we had no future unless the King of the Universe smiled on us andshielded us as only He could.The evening ended with a kind of party out under the stars at the top ofour property. The children lay on their mattresses and played as dinnerwas cooked and brought up to them. Some of us sat on the hoods of ourtrucks, drinking Coke and hungrily feeding ourselves rice and beans. Welaughed, shouted and cried, and loved our God very, very much for beingso faithful and reliable on our behalf. For us, life without knowing Himis no life at all. So now, that crisis past us, we face the future withmore faith in Him than ever. Moving from glory to glory, we mount higheron wings like eagles until every evil power arrayed against us fallsaway and we are united with God our Savior, the Lover of our souls.
--In November I flew Heidi east from Pemba deep into our province of CaboDelgado and landed at the town of Montepuez. We left our Cessna at thebarren little airport there and continued by Land Rover over a roughdirt road until we finally reached our destination, a remote village. Wewere holding a bush conference there for our church people in theregion, and two hundred of our leading pastors were waiting eagerly forus. Men, women and children were wild with excitement. We and ourcontingent of missionaries, staff and visitors, who had come all the wayby road, pitched our tents in a dirt courtyard by mud huts. Just as thesun set we ran over to the meeting where we had the Jesus Film showing.Preaching off the back of our big flat-bed truck, Heidi again invited anentire village to Jesus. She was born for this ministry in Africa, andher golden face and voice have been crafted by the Master for this time.Our friends call her a "light bulb" for Jesus, as her light attractsmultitudes to Him all over Africa.But this conference is more significance than it looks at first. Ourpastors here have proven themselves to be heroes of the faith, and Ifelt like I was on hallowed ground. In the past this mud hut village hadthe reputation of hosting the most intense witchcraft in the province,maybe in the country. The entire village had been under the control ofwitch doctors and their attendant evil spirits since far in the past.Its people were constantly fearful and in serious bondage. But duringone morning of the conference, we stopped everything just to heartestimonies.One-by-one our hardy, weathered, lean pastors told their stories. Theysounded like the Apostle Paul, "counting their lives nothing if onlythey could complete the task given them to testify of the grace of Godin Christ Jesus." And so braving hardship, hunger, cold, wild animals,quicksand, deep rivers and crocodiles, even when they couldn't swim,they spread the Gospel to "the least of these" in all directions.Barefoot and poor, without a roadside inn or a convenience store, Godbegan to use the men just as He pleased to end the domination of evilspirits in this area. Today, this village is almost completely cleanedand free of witchcraft, and a spiritual example for villages all overthe country. Its people know the joy of the Lord and power of His hand.Every morning brings them supernatural strength from above. Thismotivates us to keep preaching, keep serving and keep believing allGod's promises so that we don't fall short and miss out.
--In August Heidi and I joined Georgian and Winnie Banov for outreaches inTurkey among poor gypsy neighborhoods. Again we found that the poor andhumble typically receive us with the great excitement, and theirChristian leaders are so hungry for more and more pursuit of revival.For this reason Eastern Europe is strongly on our hearts, and we mustreturn as much as Jesus lets us.From Turkey I joined Georgian and an Iris team for a trip to theDemocratic Republic of Congo. The nine of us entered the border by roadfrom Rwanda and spent almost a week with our Iris Congo director, JosephMushengezi. Our churches there have grown from 35 to 85 in a year, andJoseph has a fiery vision for evangelism all across Congo. God has givenhim favor with the government, both locally and nationally. He has beenprovided with a national radio program, and is in a key position toadvance the gospel radically in this nation.DRCongo has been ravaged by deadly violence and poverty for many years, and our own people are becoming refugees, suffering terribly from lack of shelter, food and medical care even as I write this. Our churches are so far mostly in the northeast corner of Congo, and at the moment there is dangerous fighting around Goma, the main city in that area. We would like to supply each pastor there with a bag of rice and beans so that they can remain to encourage the people.Our photo gallery shows pictures of our trip to Kalonge, Joseph's hometown, located in a forest and mountain area that has in the past beenthe stronghold of rebel troops. We have a simple tin-roofed church therefull of eager worshipers who know that Jesus is their only answer, theironly true and faithful lover. We bought a large piece of land on ahilltop overlooking a beautiful valley, and our vision to establish asimple conference center where we can hold revival meetings and trainpastors from all over Congo. The logistics would be such a challenge, asthe town is reachable so far only by digging our way through deep mudfor hours and hours even with a 4WD truck. Those with engineering androad-building skills are desperately needed. But we have reached theends of the earth, where many children have never seen a white person,and have no way of imagining the luxuries of life in the West. Butagain, in the most unlikely and lowly places God loves to revealHimself, and we want to press forward so that Congo will experience whatMozambique has tasted -- the Holy Spirit poured out in ever increasingmeasure. We set no limits in our work, but instead our imaginations havebeen fired by the Holy Spirit to see God's best in a nation that hastasted what Time Magazine has called "the world's deadliest war." Let usknow if in the Lord you want to participate!We bless you this Christmas, and pray that we may be of hugeencouragement to you by His grace. Your sensitive, major generosity isan ongoing miracle in our lives that brings great blessing and eternallife to the most desperate we can find. We feel so loved by Jesusthrough you!
In His great love, Rolland
--From Heidi:I have been extremely blessed by your love and prayers for Rolland andme, and for our Iris family. We are focusing on beautiful Jesus andtrusting Him for His healing power to be manifested. Rolland is stillrecovering, but he is receiving lots of healing prayer and anointed helpfrom medical doctors as well. We thank you all for your patience in thearea of communication. We are not able to respond quickly to emails.Please know we appreciate your kindness.I am thrilled to be home with all my friends and beautiful children inPemba. My heart is filled with joy seeing the fruit in this movement Godhas birthed through His Holy Spirit. Our mission school is an absolutedelight. I see the love of Jesus poured out all over this place. Thestudents' hearts have become so abandoned and surrendered to God.This sizzling hot Sunday in Cabo Delgado we worshiped in the dust andsurrendered ourselves again as a movement to feed the poor with breadfrom heaven and bread from the earth. It is time for greatermultiplication. As we release the sons and daughters into their harvestof fruitfulness, we see greater glory. As Pastor Supresa says, "The joynever ends!" I was thrilled to be able to do some of my favorite thingsthis week: baptize our new Makua and Makonde believers in the ocean,bless the missions students to live in the Ezekiel 47 river of God, andhave a huge, holy chaos Christmas party with all our gorgeouschildren!!!!! What a tremendous gift from Jesus for me to be able tocome home. There were plenty of gifts, candy and pops for all. I thankGod for the amazing people who made it all possible. Swimming with thekids and seeing aunties splashing around in our warm, turquoise ocean, Ifelt the Father's heart. He smiled on us!Thank you again for your generous support. Please don't stop praying. Weneed you. I will be going to America to spend time with Rolland and myfamily for Christmas. I pray you live deeply inside the huge heart ofJesus glory love. I thank God for the powerful gift of Jesus, who byemptying Himself for us and coming as a baby became incarnational lovemanifested on the earth.
Much love in Jesus, Heidi
Thursday, December 27, 2007
My dear friend Mama Deane sent this to me. I have printed it out and have it posted on my bulletin board above my desk. It serves as a daily reminder...
"The most creative power given to the human spirit is the power to heal the wounds of past a past it cannot change.
We do our forgiving alone inside our hearts and minds; what happens to the people we forgive depends on them.
The first person to benefit from forgiveness is the one who forgives.
Forgiveness happens in three stages: we discover the humanity of the person who wronged us; we surrender our right to get even; and we wish that person well.
Forgiveness is a journey; the deeper the wound, the longer the journey.
Forgiveness does not require us to reunite with the person who broke our trust.
We do not forgive because we are supposed to; we forgive when we are ready to be healed.
Waiting for someone to repent before we forgive is to surrender our future to the person who wronged us.
Forgiveness is not a way to avoid pain but to heal the pain.
Forgiveness is the only wait to be fair to ourselves.
Forgivers are not doormats; to forgive a person is not a signal that we are willing to put up with what he does.
Forgiveness is essential; talking about it is optional.
When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner we set free is us.
When we forgive we walk in stride with the forgiving God".