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I feel complete and whole and very blessed with so much love I receive and can now freely give
… a glorious weekend … it’s amazing how the Lord met my different needs

Living stream

Living stream at Carbis Bay

Two testimonies from a weekend in which we were once again favoured by the healing and restoring presence of Jesus! Shaming events in our lives can leave us with a legacy that overrides our God-given identity and makes us feel unwanted, unloved and irreparably damaged, resulting in negative thoughts and behaviour towards ourselves and others. But God’s promise is to restore what we have lost! This weekend we engaged with this promise, expressed by the prophet Isaiah (61:7) in the words:

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion… instead of their disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance… everlasting joy will be theirs

Some of our group

Some of our group

Not just a great promise, but one that God commits himself to, through a binding agreement (or covenant), as Isaiah goes on to say,

In my faithfulness (says God) I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them

As someone else noted at the weekend, “I will hold onto this covenant thought and this will truly be a blessing”.

Great shelter for breakfast on the beach

Great shelter for breakfast on the beach

An unexpected blessing at Sunday morning’s breakfast on the beach at Carbis Bay! For the first time in all our Encounter Weekends we were provided with a wonderful shelter – a reminder, someone remarked, of God’s protective covering over us. The weather may not have been typically warm and sunny Galilee, yet we were there! “The experience I had on the beach, with the waves coming in and going out, taking all my troubles with it …..”.

Cornwall House of Prayer

Cornwall House of Prayer

The House of Prayer is always a special place for us on our visits to St.Ives. Once more, the sweet Presence of Jesus filled the place, as we soaked in the ministry of His Holy Spirit. “At the prayer room I felt God released me from all the tough questions and confusion and disturbance within me”; “At the prayer room, God spoke to me about releasing anger and other things I’m holding onto”.

Great thanks to John and Anne for their hospitality, wonderful care and excellent food! Looking forward to the next Encounter Weekend in 2016. DO join us, whether or not you’ve been before.

Shalom at Carbis Bay

Shalom at Carbis Bay

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NH Sept15 beachA combination of God’s healing grace and Presence, liberating truth from God’s Word, sun and warmth for the bbq breakfast on the beach, warm fellowship and excellent hospitality meant we were truly blessed at our Encounter Weekend in September, at Nicholaston House. God met with us!

We thought, taught, talked and prayed about how shame affects our lives and ties us into false identities of who we are, masking or stripping away the person God created us to be. As we confronted these difficult issues, God broke through , healing years even decades of emotional and mental pain for some folk. Some experienced it at the weekend. Others realised the extent of what God had healed and the freedom He has released them into, only after they returned to their everyday routines.

Some testimonies show what God was up to!

NH Sept 15K: Straight after we did all those prayers, Jesus walked with me through my life as a child. He was with me and I saw him with me in every incident where I felt totally rejected, unaccepted, unwanted, ridiculed and unloved. There were so many of them, it becomes a state of being, so that everything is always coloured in that way…even times when it was never mean to be. But this time, as Jesus and I went through my childhood, I felt loved and accepted and it was beautiful. Jesus rewrote my whole history for me – with me – as accepted and loved, in every single moment with every member of my family and moment of my childhood. It was very lovely. … I’ve always felt like my skin was being whipped when people accused me, criticised me or said evil things against me. Now I know that I don’t have to take the whipping. Jesus took it for me. (Jesus was whipped by Pontius Pilate before being crucified. The prophet Isaiah, 600 years earlier said, “by his stripes we are healed”).

D: It has been a weekend of tears and laughter and God has done some amazing things. I’m going home feeling free and excited about what God is going to do with me next. 

H spoke of God rolling away years of isolation and bitterness and being reconnected into His love.

Others found beauty, refreshing, strengthening and fresh hope as God met with us.

Thank you to everyone who joined us and made this such a special time. Thank you to the Lord for His Presence, that made ALL the difference!

 

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Many thanks for the many expressions of support, prayers and donations you gave me, to encourage me on this challenge walk. Here’s what the experience was like. I hope you enjoy reading it!

8am    MachenSetting off

We’re off! There’s about 50 others, with Andrew and me. I’m raising sponsorship for iTeams and Andrew’s raising funds for Paul (an iTeams missionary) to open a music school for Somali refugees in Nairobi. The rate at which everyone else is going, is an early sign to us. These are seasoned, long distance walkers, who do this sort of thing regularly and know where they are going! 26.6 miles and 5700ft of climbing to go!

IMG_13708.45am    The first peak

A steady climb up 1000ft – we’ve kept up with the pace, but we’re bringing up the rear. Trying to decide if stopping to take photos is part of this walk, or not. There’s been a steady, light drizzle, so it’s already feeling pretty steamed up, inside our “breathable” waterproofs! Stop at the 362m trig point on Mynydd Machen to make some clothing adjustments, drink some water …. and when we look up, the tail end of the group has already disappeared! Well, we’re now on our own.

9.45am    Lost and an angel!

The horrible realisation hits us that we’ve descended over 70ft down the wrong way! Only way is back up! Who’s this coming back up the road? It’s David, who went even further down. He was at the front of the main group and stopped to make a note at a check point and have an oat cake. When he looked up, everyone else had disappeared! David realised later in the day that he took the wrong turn because he had set the route the wrong way round on his sat nav! We are now three … and what Andrew and I don’t realise just yet is that David’s is the Lord’s “angel” for us. Read on to find out more ….

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Awesome God!

Watching God at work is always a thrilling yet humbling experience. Several folk were healed and set free from decades of emotional and mental bondage, arising out of hurts and bad experiences of the past. The grace to forgive and the power that sets captives free was so evident from the Holy Spirit! Here were some, who were delivered of the burden of years, if not a lifetime of carrying hurts inflicted by others. And another who shed the yoke of having to prove themselves worthy. And another, released from being a slave. And others who found deep encounters with God …..

We learnt again, the simple lesson that when the Holy Spirit moves, we just have to make sure we’re not getting in his way! Also, that when we are willing, God is more than willing! The theme for the weekend was prayer as a journey – a journey of increasing openness and surrender to God, that interweaves with our life’s journey. As we thought over the implications of such a journey for our relationship to God and opened ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so it gave him the opportunity to work in our lives.

To borrow from Matt Redman:

You alone can rescue, you alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
TO YOU ALONE BELONGS THE HIGHEST PRAISE!

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Rain!

Negev desert

The Negev. Beauty in desolation.

At the end of the last Journey to Israel, we spent three days in the Negev desert in southern Israel. We’ve been there before and know it to be beautiful, hot and dry. But this time it rained! We had just finished our lunch in a canyon, when the heavens opened and we got rather wet! Our first reaction was, “Oh no! Go away! We’ve had enough of rain, back home. We’ve had it all summer. Deserts are dry places!” But our local guide’s reaction was totally different. “It’s wonderful!” he said. “Look at those beautiful storm clouds. What a blessing! Look at those streams of flowing water already forming on the desert floor.”

We were being given a living lesson about living water.

The desert is a dry and difficult place. And those who live there wait expectantly for the blessing of rain, which brings life and fruitfulness. That day, I was moved in spirit as I remembered one of God’s many similar promises in his Word, that he will provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Is43:18-21).

Once again, we are at the time of year when we can reflect with joy on the birth of our Saviour, Jesus. How wonderfully, Isaiah prophesied of him: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Light, breaking the darkness. Rain, reviving the desert. They are the same message of hope and restoration. Whatever may be the desert place or darkness we find ourselves in, if we have Christ and know him in our hearts, then we have this certain hope – that the rain will arrive and the light will dawn.

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We travelled this year, as a much smaller group (7) than usual, but it didn’t prevent the Lord from working in a BIG way! Our prayer and expectation on these Journeys is always for the Lord to surprise us with a rich encounter with himself, as folk enjoy and absorb the experience of the Land and its people and gain insight into truths of Scripture. God didn’t disappoint us.

Where Jesus had once ministered to set captives free and release prisoners from darkness, we experienced the Holy Spirit’s works of deep healing and liberation. Many return from a visit to Israel feeling that the experience has changed them in some way. For some of our group, they returned “a different person”, not only with renewed strength of commitment to Jesus, but knowing that they were healed, transformed and set free from many years of deep and even hidden pain. How good is our God!

In another fascinating facet of the Lord’s diamond for this Journey, Mary and I were able to spend some time following up with some of the folk from Shevet Achim, who had attended the August Encounter Weekend. Our time of prayer with one lady, who had been very distressed with recurring dark memories,  proved to be a connection in a mighty work God had planned for her. We couldn’t complete the ministry because of time and language (Arabic) constraints, before we had to leave. Before the evening was out, God heard her cries. We had prayed that an Arab pastor she and us know would be able to follow up with her. On her way home, she had a very timely, unplanned encounter with him and that evening she was set free from spiritual and emotional bondages that were rooted deep into her childhood. From what we hear, she was jumping and leaping and praising God! How good is our God! Who can begin to understand his ways?

We felt very much the favour of God. We would arrive at popular places to find we had them to ourselves. Sitting on the first century steps to the Temple, was very special for us all. We shared some moving times of prayer. Starting our day together in worship, by the shores of Galilee – well, there’s no other experience like it! Overall, we didn’t feel at all under any threat or danger, though the local folk did express concerns over developments in Egypt and the growing influence of militant Islamist groups, following the Arab spring.

We’ve compiled a short travelogue of different images from the Journey. It doesn’t cover everything, but if it draws you, then why not join us in November 2012!

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