OCE Report: Berlin, Germany

God put Germany on my heart early.  I began taking German as a foreign language in junior high and continued through high school and a bit in university (actually speaking German remains a challenge for me Confused smile).  I’ve been drawn to Germany ever since.  It’s not always been with an overtly "spiritual" context either.  It’s mostly the culture and the geography that have somehow been attractive to me (though I know now that culture and geography are both VERY spiritual).  I would have said it was just an "interest" to me when I was young.  Now I’d say that it was God who gave me an attraction to this country, it’s culture and it’s people.  Consequently, I’ve been really blessed in that:

  • When God called us to France, He had us do our initial YWAM training (DTS) in Hainichen, Germany
  • Then, after several years of preparation and transition, He placed us in our current home in Alsace just 30 minutes from the German border. 
  • I’ve had the pleasure of regularly tasting German culture and connecting with German people while attending seminars and conferences in Germany. 
  • Two of our children even spent their high school years just across the Rhine river from us in Germany at Black Forest Academy.

As intercession for Europe has interested me for a while now, a couple years back when Operation Capitals of Europe (an intercession initiative to travel to each European capital and pray for the government and its leaders and to be a catalyst for ongoing intercession in each capital) began, I began to think about which capitals I’d like to connect with.  One of the key ones for me was certainly Berlin!

So, as I write I’m on a day-long train trip across Germany back to France after having participated in the OCE initiative in Berlin. This was a very rich time.  Here are some of my impressions.


2012-Oct-16

Berlin Television TowerI arrived after a cramped EasyJet flight from Basel-Mulhouse on a Tuesday afternoon.  I met up with another YWAMer from England and together we negotiated the public transport from Berlin’s Schönefeld airport on the far south side of the city to the S-Bahn station at Alexanderplatz.  Then a bit of urban orienteering on foot from Alexanderplatz for the last kilometer  to the Jerusalem Gemeinde in the center of the city where we would be convening until Saturday.  Getting off the train at Alexanderplatz, one is greeted with the site of the famous television tower, dating from Cold War East Berlin days, that dominates the Berlin skyline a bit like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We had arrived during the period of time when Berlin was celebrating its 775th anniversary. As such many of the landmarks were lit up each night with changing colors and laser light shows on their facades. The TV-tower was a beautiful red-violet that we saw each night as we returned to our accommodations.

Jerusalem Gemeinde - ground floor on the rightThe Jerusalem Gemeinde is a small church, amazingly and strategically located right on the Spree river that bisects Berlin. Their location puts them in the heart of modern Berlin and with respect to Berlin’s ancient history they are located in the very cradle of the city’s origins.  Their name comes from their strong connection with Israel where they run a prayer house (the Father’s House) on the Mount of Olives.  They also run a prayer house in another location in Berlin.  Their pastor, Andreas Bauer, is warm, welcoming, bilingual and well-connected! I would say that they were an ideal choice as the host church for the OCE intercession initiative.  Obviously God knows how to connect His people together!

Having been on a couple of previous OCE trips and also being connected with some of its organizers, arriving in the church it was good to see some familiar faces!  These trips are a wonderful way to build rich relationships in the Body of Christ as you reinforce existing friendships and create new ones each time – all in the context of worship and prayer in the service of a local expression of His Body.

Our evening was one of introductions (new friends!), worship (led by a wonderful long-time German resident from New Zealand who could quickly usher a group of eager worshippers into God’s presence) and a welcome from the OCE leaders of this trip (Jacky und Angela Krättli) and the pastor of Jerusalem Gemeinde to help orient us to the structure of the week.  The presence of God and relationship form a fabulous foundation for any sort of outreach and this evening was no exception.


2012-Oct-17

Spiritual History

As is usually the case in an OCE trip, we received excellent presentations on the spiritual history of Berlin.  This is done to help outsiders coming in to pray to have more insight into the specific anointings and callings of a city and the resulting spiritual struggles that the city has experienced.  In a capital city both the redemptive anointing given by God for the city and the perversion of this anointing by the enemy are magnified and amplified for the nation and, in an "international city" such as Berlin, the influence extends outside its national borders as well – in Berlin’s case, especially for Europe.

A "spiritual history overview" is a way of looking at events in history with the discernment of the Holy Spirit to understand spiritual forces behind certain events and spiritual effects of certain events. Seen over time, these reveal patterns that show us God’s original "redemptive" intentions for a given place/people and how Satan has used deep wounding in the lives of people as the result of sin to harden and twist hearts and distort the image of God.  This discovery is done by both looking at present societal problems in a place and trying to find historical roots as well as studying history while allowing God to highlight specific moments that were key turning points.

Kudos to those who presented to us the spiritual history of Berlin.  775 years of history in this place is enormous and really impossible to fully distill in our short time.  Consequently, I can assume that what we covered only scratched the surface of spiritual dynamics of Berlin, but also that it was just what God wanted our small band of intercessors to engage with on this trip.  They did an excellent job of researching and presenting some key points of history to help us connect what we see today in Berlin to the origins found in history.  My distillation is, of course, even more concentrated than theirs.

Key Points

For me, the key points that I took away were:

  • Berlin and Germany are called to exercise authority – to rule
  • Berlin is called to exercise this authority with a father heart and a servant heart

I believe these two are the most important, or foundational calls which Berlin has.  After that are other important gifts/callings:

  • Berlin has a gift to teach
  • Berlin has a gift of creativity
  • Berlin has calling as a city of refuge/welcome

The "Father Wound"

When we look at the history of Berlin and Germany in the first half of the last century it is relatively easy to see that the personification of an "abusive father" fits fairly well.  This is fatherly influence, responsibility and authority perverted by Satan.  One can see that in Hitler, who was at one point a real "father figure" for Germany after World War One but who obviously exercised that authority in a perverted, controlling and abusive way.  This kind of abuse of authority distorts the image of God as Father and fosters rebellion against authority of all kinds.

Farther back in Germany’s history, however, we were introduced to a key case of an abusive father whose wounded son opened the door to one of Berlin’s biggest challenges today – homosexuality.  I quote from one of the excellent documents we received about Berlin’s spiritual history: 

Frederick II (the Great) (1712-1786), prepared the way for homosexuality in Berlin. He  was raised by a brutal, tyrannical father with extreme harshness and many beatings. In 1730 Crown Prince Frederick  attempted to flee from his father during a trip to southern Germany.  After he was caught, the king demanded the  death sentence for his son. Through the intervention of the emperor and the Prussian judges, the sentence was lessened to incarceration in Küstrin. In order to make an example, the king had Frederick’s friend and helper, Hermann von Katte, put to death before his eyes. Following Frederick’s submission under the will of his father and an imposed marriage in 1733, Frederick was of course deeply traumatized.  

This wounding through his father (thus no example of fatherhood and no example of God as Father) led to Frederick’s rebellion against God. In many ways, he opened the spiritual gate to the Enlightenment, humanism, and philosophies which turned against God. He was a homosexual.

To continue in the spiritual history on this theme:

On May 15, 1897 a homosexual doctor in Charlottenburg, Magnus Hirschfeld, founded the "Scientific Humanitarian Committee (Whk) with the goal of getting rid of paragraph 175 of the German penal code. He attempted to research homosexuality "scientifically" and founded the theory of the "third gender". Thus through the gate of Berlin, seemingly "scientific" sexual research began, which was aimed in a specific direction: to legalize homosexuality and establish the possibility of a third gender. Thus the path began, and today Berlin is still a leader in this area. The work of this institute was definitely successful starting what today would be called lobbying on the political level. 

In the 1920’s homosexuals were drawn to Berlin and its "freedom".  Here they and others could live out their sexuality relatively freely. Many artists were homosexual. In the 1920’s there were already dance halls for men. 

In 1933 everything changed instantly. The Nazis fought against these "deformities", sharpened paragraph 175, and founded the Third Reich’s Centre for Fighting against Homosexuality and Abortion". Homosexuals were incarcerated, deported to concentration camps, and murdered. Hirschfeld’s works were burned on the Bebelplatz. 

The student revolts in 1968 (a rebellion of the sons against the fathers), which began in Berlin, also brought change for the homosexuals. Leftist political homosexual groups were formed. Paragraph 175 was abolished in 1969. Films were made in which statements were made such as, "It’s not the homosexual who is perverse, but rather the situation in which he lives."

Humility and Pride

In the evening we had a speaker from Poland who would share with us an amazing story Thursday and Friday evenings of how God has used prophetic intercessors at the very highest levels of Polish government to demonstrate to leaders that it is God who raises up and brings down authorities in a land, leaving man no reason to boast but simply to humbly serve while in positions of leadership.  To underline, however, that those in places of prophetic intercession are no different in their need to serve with humility, he shared with us a deeply personal message about pride and humility in the place of exercising our spiritual authority.


2012-Oct-18

Prayer walks

Schloß Bellevue - German President's PalaceThere were four different prayer walks that had been proposed to us by email before the beginning of this trip.  Two had to do with local government and the general history of Berlin and two had to do with the issue of homosexuality in Berlin.  Before arriving, I had planned on the prayer walk concerning the local government and was very interested in it.  I’d not given any real thought to either of two walks concerning homosexuality.  As is the case in most intercession initiatives, the vast majority of the people involved were women. As we began to hear about the calling of Berlin to reflect God’s Father heart and the abuse of authority that had opened the doors to homosexuality, and of the importation from America of many aspects of the homosexual culture, I really felt convicted that even though I didn’t WANT to go on the prayer walks concerning homosexuality, that it WAS, in fact my place as a man, as a father and as an American.  In so doing, I would come with the ability to identify more closely with the sin that had opened the doors to the influence of homosexuality in Berlin. As we were finishing one of the worship times, I really felt like it was a time where God was mourning the loss of the chance for the young men snared in homosexuality to become fathers.  In the world wars a generation of fathers was nearly wiped out, leaving a void still felt today in Europe.  With the spread of homosexuality another generation of fathers is being "killed off" by the enemy.

The ReichstagOur particular walk focused on three of the monuments to homosexuality in Berlin and their proximity to other important structures in Berlin.  Our path started with the Schloß Bellevue where the German President has his office.  President Gauck has fairly recently come into office and is the third president in fairly quick succession following two previous "failed" presidencies.  The two previous presidents were both attacked mercilessly by the media and both resigned after a relatively short period of time in office.  Though his personal life is somewhat "fractured" (he is estranged from his wife and lives with another woman), he once was a pastor and has accepted the challenge of taking responsibility in a challenging political and social climate.  We were able to pray that he would be a "father" and a "pastor" to this nation, exercising authority with integrity and humility.

Brandenburg GateWe moved on to two monuments to Magnus Hirschfeld (see quotes above).  The first one is a set of two plaques that have been erected in a place near to Schloß Bellevue with an eye to constructing a larger, more permanent monument.  Here we prayed that the advancement towards the seat of authority would be stopped and would, in fact, retreat.  This monument was just next to the river Spree and at this very spot, all the tourist boats turn around in a wide spot in the river.  We prayed for a shift in the direction of this movement that it would turn around and retreat in the opposite direction and that the other monument would not be built on this site.  The second monument to Hirschfeld is on the opposite side of the river and specifically refers to the crackdown by the Nazis of all homosexual activity.  Here we prayed about the abuse of authority that creates deep wounds, opening the doors to the enemy to sow division and rebellion into the society.

Holocaust MemorialThen we walked/prayed past the Chancellor’s office, the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate before arriving at the last monument. This is a monument to the homosexuals that were exterminated by the Nazis.  This monument is just across the street from the Holocaust Memorial.  The Holocaust Memorial is a very unique and powerful area.  It is rows upon rows of large concrete blocks of varying heights that one can walk among.  (see my Berlin gallery for more photos) The homosexual memorial across the street is interesting in that it is a single block, about twice the size of the largest on in the Holocaust Memorial.  It’s symmetry is slightly skewed.  On one end is a small window/portal into which you can look. On the inside is a film loop that shows alternately, men kissing men and women kissing women.  Again we saw the placement of this monument as strategic, across the street from the Holocaust memorial.  Here we were also able to pray about the abuse of authority and also that each monument would be isolated from the other – so as to not create a more influential "whole" as a series.  Already they form the three points of a triangle and we believe that their physical placement, one related to the others, is not a spiritual accident.


2012-Oct-19

Prayer for government

On Friday morning we heard from a pastor from Tübingen about praying for the government and government leaders.  This pastor and his church practice what they preach.  Some years ago, their church acquired an apartment in Berlin, some 7 hours drive from Tübingen, that they use only for bringing prayer teams on a regular basis to the capital city.  As he spoke, we could see his commitment to the responsibility to pray for the government – regardless of one’s agreement with the policies of any particular politician.  He spoke of how the Lord supernaturally showed him Germany’s Chancellor (a previous one) with whom he did not agree, through the eyes of Jesus.  A compassion was immediately placed in his heart and he realized at that moment that the Lord was calling him to be the Chancellor’s "spiritual bodyguard."  We heard later from one of the members of the German parliament (with whom some of our group were privileged to meet) of the ENORMOUS pressures put on these politicians; how they are literally scheduled to be in three places at once and must consequently have discernment at all times to know where to go and what to do.  We gained more understanding about how much these men and women need our regular, on-going prayer as they navigate the pressures put on them by their office.

Part of the German Foreign Affairs complex - designed by HitlerIn the afternoon we split up into three groups.  One prayed in the Reichstag dome – a impressive glass enclosed structure that sits above the plenary session hall on the top of the Reichstag. Another group was the group which was able to meet with the aforementioned parliament member. The group that I was in prayed at the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  We were able to sit at a café in the huge atrium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, split into to groups of 3-4, and "innocently" sip our coffees and pray as we had no official invitation to be there.  Afterwards we were  walked around the enormous complex of two large buildings (one of which was designed by Hitler and used as the Nazi’s finance ministry during that era. While walking around, we witnessed the departure of a Japanese delegation and the changing of the flags from Japan to the next nation that would be visiting.  One could really see the "international connecting" that went on in that building.

As Germany has a "Father" anointing as a nation, its impact and influence on the world stage, especially in Europe, is significant.  Chancellor Merkel might get the most air-time and ink, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his office put the face of Germany into clear relief on a daily basis in countries around the world. Whether it be the role of gatekeeper of individual visas, foreign trade agreements, the official voice of German foreign policy or the promotion of cultural exchanges, Germany’s role in the world has an impact.  We were able to pray that the Foreign Affairs Minister would, again, show the Father’s heart in the way he presented Germany to the world.  We prayed that Germany’s stand as friend of Israel would not only be firm/unwavering for Germany as an individual nation, but also that Germany would serve as an example, in particular to other European nations and in particular with respect to the vote in November at the United Nations about the Palestinian’s request for "observer status".

Beautiful building left unbombed between modern structuresWe were privileged during this week to connect with Germans who have lived their whole life in Berlin and love their city and take their watchman and priestly responsibility very seriously.  One of these was an 80-year-old spry man by the name of Wolfgang.  Wolfgang was 8-10 years old as Berlin was bombed during World War II.  He remembers the hand-to-hand combat in the streets between the German and Russian forces and he lived in East Berlin during the years of the Cold War.  He told me that what he sees now with respect to coordinated and united prayer for the city of Berlin is unprecedented. There was really a sense during our week there that "now" is the time for Berlin.

After our time of prayer was over, we had a few free hours in the afternoon before the evening teaching session.  After a loooooonnnng wait for a bus (thank you Lord for the fabulous, sunny, "open heaven" weather that we experienced in Berlin), I was able to return to the Holocaust Memorial and walk slowly through it taking photos in some incredible autumn afternoon light.  We ended the day with a time of worship and sharing from the different groups and then we commissioned the OCE team that is travelling to Moscow.


2012-Oct-20

Sachsenhausen

Sachsenhausen concentration campSaturday, our last full day was filled with one principal focus, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp just north of Berlin.  As we were already staying in the northern suburbs of Berlin at Gnadenhaus (a wonderful Christian guest house), we were able to catch a bit more sleep before being taken by the pastor of Jerusalem Gemeinde to Sachsenhausen.  Sachsenhausen was a strategic camp in the German network.  It was built close to Berlin to be used as the "mother camp" where camp architecture and methods (including extermination) where developed and "perfected."  It was also where the other camps were administered from and where the camp staff was trained. Rudolph Hess lived in the town next to this camp.

Our twice daily trip on the Berlin subwayThe pastor shared with us that though foreign missionaries and intercessors come to Germany all the time with the same message: "You are forgiven.  Put down the past.  Take off your mantel of shame.  Move forward." etc., the truth is that the horrors of the concentration camps have yet to be fully dealt with spiritually.  Their church has made it a regular practice to come to Sachsenhausen (the pastor also lives in the northern suburbs of Berlin) for different occasion to simply pray and worship.  He told us that while in places such as Auschwitz and Treblinka, the local towns have incorporated this part of their history into who they are – not trying to distance themselves from it but to help facilitate the healing – the town where Sachsenhausen is located however, does not openly try to engage with it.  One new vision is, that as there was a network of camps, that there would be a corresponding network of prayer houses at the towns where all the camps were located to establish life where death was once established.

We did not see much of the camp itself, but we went into one of the remaining barracks that has been converted into a meeting room for different presentations on the camp site and we simply worshipped and took communion there. We then went to the former administration building of the network of camps (currently in use for local Brandenburg state administration) where we did an prophetic act.  We took a length of about 250 meters of red nylon cord and went around the building with it.  (it was good to do this on Saturday, but we still had to explain our bizarre activity to one person in the building!) We then proclaimed the blood of Jesus via this red cord around the building in an act of cleansing and to cut off the negative influences that once spread from Sachsenhausen to the other camps.

We then returned to downtown Berlin just in time for the Jerusalem Gemeinde’s weekly service, Saturday at 4pm.  As we had used their facility the whole week and connected with a handful of people from this church, it was good to "meet" the rest of the congregation and worship with them.  Finally, grabbing a great Kebab on the way back (thank you Edith!), we took the train back to Gnadenhaus to pack and sleep.


Berlin - a city of peaceMy trip home begins here!2012-Oct-21

Up early for a beautiful, calm day-long trip on the train from Berlin to Mulhouse.  Thrilled to pass through the German countryside for several hours and to reconnect with my family at the end!

Trier, Germany

Ok Geography Scouts…Quick! Where’s Trier, Germany!?

Yeah…I didn’t know either.

In fact, before May (2007), I’d never even heard of it. That’s when our friends Rusty and Janet Richards from PRAY BIG in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (read more about some of their ministry focus here: https://anabaptistreconciliation.org/index.html) were in Guebwiller, France to participate in a weekend with Martin Scott at our church. During this weekend, they told us about a worship initiative that they had a heart to undertake in Trier, Germany the 5-13 September.

Trier is the little red dot!It seems that Trier, a city of 100,000 near the border of Luxembourg in western Germany (now you know!) is having a celebration this year to mark a very significant anniversary.

Ok History Wonks…Quick! What happened in 307AD!?

Yeah…I didn’t know that either.

Constantine307AD, a year after Constantine was declared by his troops Emperor of the Roman Empire in York, England, he began his reign…in Rome, right? No…apparently, he was declared “Augustus” in Trier, Germany, where his father had ruled and he set up his residence there for 10 years. Who was actually in charge of the Roman Empire at that time was apparently somewhat in question!

Ok, so much for moldy history and small cities in Germany…so why are we worshiping there anyway?

Well, this same Constantine, while living and ruling in Trier, was engaged in an internal power struggle in the Roman Empire with Caesar Maxentius. In 312AD, before the battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine saw a vision of a cross in the sky (in the sun, depending upon the account of the story) and heard a voice that said “in this sign you will conquer.” The rest is, as we know and say, history…Constantine painted crosses on his soldier’s shields and won the battle; attributed the victory to God’s blessing on his enterprise, and perhaps most significantly, subsequently turned the tables of the relationship between the State and this young movement called Christianity. Up until this time, Christians had been horribly persecuted, but Constantine’s change of fortunes put an end to that. Christianity became the favored religious practice of the State and Christians went from being persecuted outcasts to favored citizens with influence. Most of history has credited Constantine with the spread of Christianity in Europe and, of course after that, the world.

Recently however, in the Nightwatch For Europe, Roger Mitchell had this to say about the vision of Constantine:

The famous story of Constantine’s conversion is very significant because it exposes the heart of the difference between the kingdom of God and empire. Constantine saw a cross in the sky and heard a voice telling him “In this sign you shall conquer”. But he did not understand it in Christian terms. Jesus said “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The way of life in the kingdom of God is to give yourself in love for others like Jesus did. What a difference it might have made to the history of the world if Constantine had received his vision in those terms! But instead he took it to mean that faith in the Christian God and the support of the Christian church would make him a successful emperor in military and economic terms. His subsequent success and his protection of the church were interpreted as the blessing of God. As a result imperial sovereignty was increasingly seen to be God’s way of rulership, and the appropriate shape for authority both within church and society.

Rusty and Janet with DavidAnd in the words of Rusty Richards:

So when I read that Trier was planning this big celebration, I realized that it was in reality a season dedicated to worshiping the empire spirit. I asked the Lord to let me go there during this time to establish an altar of worship to the True God. It is not my intention to engage enemy spirits. I simply want to come to this place in the spirit of worship to Jesus. This in itself is probably very confrontational. There is an enormous shift happening in the world right now. It is a critical time in history. There are clashes of kingdoms and empires in the natural and in the spiritual. I want to take my place in advancing the Kingdom of God.

So the team’s desire in this trip was simply to establish an altar of worship in Trier. Using the principle that worship establishes the authority and rulership of that which is worshiped, we simply want to re-establish God as the authority in Trier by worshiping Him (See Psalm 22:3 for a Godly example and many ungodly examples among the nations elsewhere in the Old Testament). Many more things are to come, but this was s trip for re-laying foundations…in a place where many of the foundations of Western culture as we know it today were layed nearly 2000 years ago. (For more history of Trier, including some references dating to over 2000 years ago, see this link: https://www.tricon.homepage.t-online.de/5080.htm)

While it is possible to drop down in a parachute and worship God anywhere, God has usually already established people in different geographical locations. Working with the local Body of Christ is really crucial so that what is deposited by a visiting team is nurtured and so that the visiting team better understands the realities of the locality. In truth, “the team” is always those who are visiting and those who are already established there working hand-in-hand to hear what God is saying and to do it. I’d venture to say that any other model of ministry probably lacks a fullness that God intends.

The church in Trier - in the basement!Pastor Mike and ClaudiaWe were exceedingly blessed by the connection with a church in Trier called “Gemeinde des Lebendigen Gottes“, which means Church of the Living God. They are an example of a God who is alive and active in Trier. Their church is very multi-cultural, led by a multi-cultural pastoral couple, Mike and Claudia Williams, an anglophone African from Ghana and a German, respectively. They have a heart to serve the outcasts of the city and consequently the outcasts have come in, drawn by concrete demonstrations of Jesus’ love. In accepting them just as they are, for example those who are weighed down with sickness, mental illness, demon possession, or those who are recent immigrants from other countries that may not even speak German yet (17 nations are represented in this church), this church of a couple hundred really has their hands full and must lean daily on the Lord for provision and wisdom. The Lord made this connection and the church, rather than simply letting us use a room and leaving us to “do our thing” has wanted to be deeply involved and serve the visiting team all the time we were there. The majority of the team was housed in host families from the church and they provided us 3 meals a day, prepared by a wonderful team of Chinese that are part of the fellowship. The worship times were often conducted by groups composed of church members and the visiting team…playing together for the first time, of course, and having a wonderful time in the Lord singing in German, French and English.

The BLACK GATE in TrierIn the last couple of years, intercession and worship ministry trips have largely been something that I’ve done alone or done with my daughter Rachel. Recently, Angela and I have purposed to make ministry trips occasions, where as much as possible, we engage together as a couple. Not having done that in a while, we are definitely a bit rusty at it and there are challenges in how we approach and see such events differently, but these are great catalysts for discussion and prayer. There are also financial and logistical challenges involved.

It was a step of faith to go…for Angela because of concerns with how she might be feeling physically…for me because of the logistics of caring for our children while we were gone were not as “neat and tidy” as I would have liked. But God rewarded that step with a time that was rich in worship and relationship…between us and with others…and lots of little special blessings from our loving Heavenly Father (sweet fellowship as a couple, a wonderful bed to sleep in, increased facility in speaking German, deep worship times, easy travel, kids were fine at home, etc.) to let us know that we were firmly in His hands and walking in His ways.

The crowded market place in TrierWhile we went by ourselves as a couple, there were 7 others from our church in Guebwiller, 12 in all from France, 3 from Belgium and 9 from the US during our time there and some more to come after we left. It was a joy to work together in worshiping the living God in the Church of the Living God, to get to know new people, to see more connections for the future that cross the Atlantic and the French-German borders (my two big desires!).

Much more I could say about the significance of Trier and our time there, but I’ve droned on enough here. If you’re in the neighborhood, sometime, Trier is worth a visit, but while there think about what God wants to do there and run to your Heavenly Father to pull it from the heavenly realm into the earthly reality so that “His glory covers the earth as the waters cover the seas!

Reweaving Franco-Swiss Alliances

I know it’s been a LONG time since the last entry but the blog’s not dead…just on the back-burner with a busy season of life.

Included in this busy season was my participation, along with my daughter Rachel, in the 2nd week of a two-week prayer walk, undertaken by the intercessors of our church (and others) between Saint-Louis, France (in Alsace, just north of the city of Basel, Switzerland), through Switzerland to Geneva, and on out into France…all the way to Lyon, France. The part that Rachel and I walked was from Lausanne, Switzerland to Lyon, France. Here’s my report…sorry for its length! ;c)

You can read about the general purpose of the walk at our church’s web site here. Also a more detailed document of some of the historical reasons for this specific prayer-walk can be found at our church’s web site here. A Google Maps view of the route can be found here.

We drove down from Alsace early on the morning of Friday, July 20th to Lausanne where we met up with others from Switzerland and elsewhere in France to hopefully begin walking around 9am.

Lausanne was where the walkers who did the first week of the prayer walk had ended 2 days prior, and apparently it had been difficult to enter into Lausanne and stay together as a group. We had a bit of the same difficulty in walking out of Lausanne towards Geneva.

The van I drove most of the time in the relay walkingAt this point, it’s important to understand a bit of the daily logistics of such a walk. To accomplish a walk from Basel to Lyon in two weeks, one needs to cover about 40-50 kilometers a day. If each person had to walk that, it would only be athletes that could participate on such a walk…and we’re far from that! On this walk we had people from their teens to their 70’s participating on this walk, and only a handful were in tip-top shape.

Some walkers finishing a 2 kilometre relaySo how is this accomplished? We walk in “relay-style.” In our case we had between 11 and 13 people walking and we had 3 cars traveling with the walkers. We would send out a couple of walkers and a car would travel on about 2 kilometers and stop and send out a few more walkers. In the meantime the other cars would leap-frog the car and walkers and send out other walkers and wait for the walkers that had been sent out behind them to complete their two kilometers. So we had at any one point in time, 2 to 3 sections of 2 kilometers each being walked and prayed for simultaneously. The distance on a map can seem great but this relay-style walking makes it fly by.

As I said, we had a bit of difficulty walking out of Lausanne. There is a sort of “rhythm” that is necessary to walk in together as a team. Without it, this relay style of walking can get confusing. People alternate between driving and walking. Both drivers and walkers need to have some idea of the route if they come to a crossroads. Not every walker can drive. One has to be aware of who is walking where so as to have a driver for every car, etc., etc. Some people are naturally more aware and alert about logistical details. In our international team, not everyone was a native French speaker so language could definitely become an issue.

As we started out, I was definitely confused as to where each car was and was with an older, somewhat fearful French lady who was driving her niece’s car and I was waiting until I could wear my knee brace (left in a different car) before I started to walk. We managed to get out of Lausanne and on a fairly direct route to Geneva, but not without some stress about getting lost, etc.

While waiting for some walkers at one point in Lausanne, I noticed a small flock of sheep in a small field in the middle of an urban neighborhood. They were peacefully eating while nearby traffic and commuter trains zoomed by. As I reflected on the world-renowned wrist-watch industry of Switzerland, I felt God was saying that the Swiss have a gift for the “rhythm of life” that is able to tightly integrate the beauty of creation with the necessities of human life and that He wanted that rhythm to be learned by other nations too. When I did walk later that day, I was beating on my small doumbek drum and walking by myself. God reminded me again about rhythm and about a teaching that I’d recently heard about the redemptive gifts of a territory (Plumbline Ministries…download/listen to teachings here). It was at this point that I realized that in some respects we had started out our walk “out of step” with the land of Switzerland and its “rhythm.” We were ostensibly walking to honor Switzerland, but we were dishonoring it at a fundamental level. Later, one of our team members was filling up their car with gas at a Swiss service station and joked with the cashier in asking if gas was free for foreigners. The cashier said that foreigners in Switzerland were a pest and they should get out! In the first week, the team had heard about how France had historically not kept her promises to Switzerland. We had, indeed, struck a nerve.

We were a team of 2 Americans, 1 German, a bunch of French and 2 people from Switzerland (one of whom was actually a Flemish Belgian and the other born in Colombia and adopted by a couple in Switzerland). So, we were not a very “Swiss” team and our manner of walking had not taken into account a Swiss rhythm of life. We had come in a bit too “French”, I think. Consequently we were walking out of step with the gifting of the land of Switzerland and felt the dissonance and confusion in our team. When we purposed to really honor Switzerland and not try to “push” too hard, a rhythm was found in the relay walking.

Very strange and eerie flags on the bridge of Mont Blanc in GenevaThe 2nd day we walked into Geneva and were privileged to have some former members of our church, who have since moved away, walk with us. It was a father and a son, and the father works with a ministry that is frequently in Switzerland. In addition to frequently being in Geneva, he was also helpful in helping us better understand the issue of money and the Swiss. While many are aware of the abuses of money in private Swiss bank accounts, this brother pointed out to us that the idea that the Swiss have a big problem with money is really false. He said that the Swiss are among the most generous in the world. Regularly, between a French meeting and a Swiss meeting, his ministry can expect to see an offering that is twice the size in Switzerland than in France. Of course all good gifts and talents can be twisted by the enemy for his devices, but as we walked into this very rich city of Geneva, we were able to bless the gift that Switzerland has of generosity and call forth the riches of this nation to be used for God’s glory. We also desire that the gifting for managing money that Switzerland has be taught to other nations as well.

The famous fountain in lake GenevaDue to the difficulty of driving in a large city and our desire to visit and pray in several places in Geneva, we parked the cars at a parking garage and set out on foot. This proved to be physically a problem for me and my knee. If I’d have stopped walking at the point where we entered Geneva then I might have been able to go on the next day. As it was, the extra walking and being on my feet in Geneva pushed my knee too far. The rest of the walk I was a designated driver. More on that later.

Going to pray at the College of John CalvinIn Geneva are several of the major historical points of the Protestant Reformation. We visited the College of John Calvin and prayed there. We felt that there was a touchstone of the Reformation where faith and education came together. Unfortunately that rich spiritual well has been largely stopped up. We prayed there for the releasing of those roots of faith in the training up of the young generations. After that we walked to the “Wall of the Reformers” in one of the city parks. This is an impressive monument to some of the major figures in the Reformation. I say some, because we noticed that there was a distinction of “rank” in where/how certain figures were represented. Notably, you have John Calvin, William Farel, Theodore de Beze, and John Knox in the center and very much larger than life! In my “reformation ignorance”, I’d never heard of Theodore de Beze and I knew that John Knox’s greatest impact was in Scotland, not Switzerland. Of interest was that Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, were not represented on the wall, but with a simple large block of stone off to the left and right.

What we saw in this was the divisions that were rife in the Reformation and the prevailing sentiment that “our brand” of Christianity was better than “yours.” This oneupmanship of the Reformation led to many cruel persecutions within the Body of Christ, notably with respect to the Anabaptist movement.

While praying at this monument, one of the young ladies in our group asked the question about the role of women in the Reformation. This was an opportunity to repent for the suppression of women in Protestant Reformation (and indeed in the Body of Christ as a whole) and to again pray for a new reformation in the Body of Christ in which “there is neither male nor female.”

After this we walked back to where we’d come into the city and sent new walkers on. Thinking I’d have it easier, I chose to go back to the cars in the parking garage. Well, that garage was a good distance away. All that walking in Geneva really took its toll on my knee. It was visibly swollen that night and as far as walking went, that was it for me for the rest of the week.

This was unfortunate from the standpoint of having a weak and sometimes painful knee, but God has a way of using things in ways we can’t foresee. The leader of our walk had received from the Lord several times that this walk would be done “in weakness.” That is to say that we would notice the need to rely on the Lord because our own capacities would be lacking. Well, he told me that he felt more spiritually weak than he had in a long time. Three of us had knee problems throughout. I felt weak physically after some of the longer car rides at the beginning and ending of certain days.

All this really drove me to keep pounding on the door of heaven and that’s a good place to be. God likes that sort of persistence and recognized need for Him. Additionally, my time as “designated driver” allowed me time to talk to one of our walkers, a German guy whom none of us knew before the walk. I think this was valuable for him, but also for me. He was (is) in the middle of a huge life transition and much about the walk was a challenge to him. His background is not charismatic and much of how the walk was carried out most definitely was with the freedom of expression of the Holy Spirit! He can understand French pretty well, but all-French-all-the-time was certainly a challenge for him. He could do English much better. As I said, he didn’t know anyone on the walk. He’s simply a German guy with a heart for France and a sense that God was asking him to do this walk.

All of this meant that he had a lot of questions and a lot to get off his chest. So, with a wide mixture of English, German and French, we had many a good discussion. I, for one, am thrilled to see more German-French connections out there!

At the end of 2 days, we walked out of Switzerland into France. We had one day that was in fairly rural, and very beautiful country as it is near the French Alps.

A nice place to eat lunch en routeOur 4th day was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, we had to leave our first lodging where we’d spent 3 nights because we were walking too far away from it. The last two nights would be spent in Lyon. So, instead of simply taking 3 cars, we had to take 4 cars and all our overnight baggage as well. We had to walk of course too on this day. This was difficult because we didn’t have that many drivers and we had to make sure that we kept moving both walkers and cars in this leap-frog, relay fashion. Logistically, fairly difficult. Additionally, we transitioned from walking in the middle of nature to beginning to walk in the outskirts of Lyon…civilization. I saw the whole day a real day of transition. Kind of like a moving day where one has to really work hard to get the last things packed and moving all the things from one place to another is never easy. God often has us in such transitions as He positions us to work for His Kingdom where He wants us.

Our route...and part of our lunch!After the 4th day we were tired from “moving” and coming to a “sleeping-on-a-church-floor-with-no-showers-either” situation. The break of the 5th day was different, however. The 4th day had been sort of a breakthrough and the 5th day (5, the number of grace) would see the Lord graciously making a way where the way seemed difficult or impossible.

First off, we had to drive another hour in the morning to start walking. I dreaded this for the sake of my knee as the longer car rides were painful. This morning, however, we had some music cranked up to very loud levels in the car (Toby Mac’s Portable Sounds and X-treme Disciples with prayers by Lou Engle and Stacey Campbell.) When we arrived, we were ready and my knee was not in pain!

Then when we got to Lyon, our walking/driving connection became difficult because of one-way roads and multi-lane expressways. At one point, I was leading the caravan of 3 cars and had pulled off on an expressway before diving into downtown Lyon. We needed to make it to a certain downtown parking garage underground from a huge central pedestrian plaza. We determined by cell-phone with the walkers that they would need to go from where they were all the way on foot (longer than a normal walking stretch in our prayer walk) and we would need to find our way to this place downtown as there was no practical way to continue the walking relay with the cars. None of us really knew the way and our maps had gaps in them. I was leading the 3 cars. I let the other drivers know that we were simply heading for “Lyon centre” on the signs and once down there, we’d be looking for signs for the plaza. Other than that, we’d all have to be alert to stay together but if separated, we’d all simply try and find our way there.

The last car of the three was driven by someone who is some what “nervous/fearful” and it didn’t have much pickup either. The traffic was crazy and I only saw openings that could support about 2 cars that could really “get up and go”. So, I picked a gap and the first two cars “got up and went!” I prayed hard for the ladies in the last car but lamented that they would be on their own. Lo and behold, however, after 5 minutes of following “Lyon centre” signs, there they were! They had prayed and God made a supernatural gap for them! In our car was a recently graduated geography major. So, as soon as we were in “Lyon centre” I simply handed her my one-page photocopied map and she guided us (all three cars!) directly to where we needed to go! The walkers made it soon thereafter with lots of strength. Even in leaving Lyon to go back to the church in the suburbs, all three cars stayed together!

That night at the church, a gathering of intercessors in Lyon had been planned and it was “our service.” I’d not really known about this ahead of time, and the worship leading fell on my shoulders. I didn’t have a guitar with me so I asked about borrowing one but it was too late to get an acoustic/electric borrowed. At the church there happened to be an electric guitar (I’ve never really played electric guitar), but no strap and I didn’t have any music with me either (I’m usually glued to my lead sheets!). So, I sat down with the electric guitar and went through their overheads to see what songs I knew that they knew also. God provided a good set and I proceeded to make sure I remembered the chords for the songs. There was drumset at the church and some keyboards and a djembe. No one played keys so we had an electric guitar, drums, djembe and another girl singing…actually all ladies except me on the makeshift worship team!

Back to our German friend, and his traditional background… This meeting would be with a bunch of crazy intercessors and for music would be electric guitar and drums. He is a classically trained organ player and told me that in general, he found that modern worship music gave him the sense of “artificial joy.” This evening would probably be a challenge for him!

What was a great joy was to see him at the end of the evening, swaying, singing and waving a banner with gusto! He was able to put aside some pre-conceived notions of “form” and “structure” and simply worship God honestly in the form/structure that presented itself. What a blessing to see!

(I think I’m ready to go out and buy an electric guitar too…that was fun!)

The amphitheatre of the "Trois Gauls"Our tiny band of intercessorsThe next day, we went and prayed with a Lyon intercessor at a Roman amphitheater in Lyon where in 177 AD the first martyrs in France were killed. In this same amphitheater (which seated 20,000) was the site of annual governmental meetings of the Gaul nations. So this was a place of shedding of innocent blood and of human power wielded. Indeed it shows some of the foundations of the city that need to be dealt with. This was the last thing we did for the walk before heading home.

The Lord was good and faithful throughout the walk. While walking, one lady saw some tiny ducklings swimming in a lake. They were small and insignificant but the wake that they created was huge behind them. We feel the same…

The meaning in the angel’s message…

It’s been a while since my last entry (typical amateur blogging ‘blah blah’). I’m blessed that in this entry I don’t have to do the work, because it would be still even longer between entries if I didn’t have this great fodder for reflection! I’m still busy!

At any rate…

I participate in a weekly “watch” of prayer an intercession whereby the participants, using a guided set of notes sent out each week by email, spend an hour of prayer a week sometime between 9pm and 6am. It’s called the Nightwatch. If you want more information, you can find it here. The notes are prepared by a team in the UK led by Roger Mitchell.

For the Christmas week, the Nightwatch contained a meditation by Roger and his wife Sue about the advent of Jesus that I found to resonate deeply. Because of that I asked their permission to share it more widely. Obviously it’s a bit late (early?) for Christmas but I believe that the depth of Jesus’ Advent, as also the depth of His Cross or Resurrection, has no limits…other than what we put on it. I’m leaving it in its “prayer-guideline” format and encourage you to perhaps read it/meditate on it using those guidelines. Enjoy…;c)

WELCOME TO THIS CHRISTMAS NIGHT WATCH FOR EUROPE

Last week Sue and I had the opportunity to speak at a Christmas event on the shepherds encounter with the angel.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.'” (Luke 2:10-12)

We were hugely impacted by the last sentence and the nature of the sign. This week we will reflect and pray over the angels words and the implications of the sign the shepherds were given.

1. TAKE 15 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE ANGEL’S FIRST WORDS TO THE SHEPHERDS

Declare these words over your family, street, workplace, town, city, region, nation and expression of church you are part of:

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people”

Notice that the first words of the angel to the shepherds were ‘do not be afraid’. Repent of and repudiate any fear or anxiety that is disturbing you at this time. Note too that the good news is of great joy for all people. Take time to thank God that the good news really is for all, without exception. Specifically thank God that it is for the ethnic minorities, immigrant groups and social, religious or political opponents of our Christian viewpoint being careful to bless each group by name before the Lord and his holy angels. Finally declare the angel’s words over your neighbouring nations as well as Romania and Bulgaria that will be joining the EU in the New Year.

2. TAKE 15 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE SECOND PART OF THE ANGEL’S WORD TO THE SHEPHERDS

Declare these words over your family, street, workplace, town, city, region, nation and expression of church you are part of:

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

Think about the significance of ‘the city of David.’ Some people think immediately of Jerusalem as the city of David: the centre of political power, religious worship and promised blessing. But the Lord was not born there, but instead in the place where David had himself encountered God on the margins as a shepherd boy, forgotten by his father. Reflect and pray over the implications of this for the neglected, the marginalised, and the youth today. Consider the implications that although Bethlehem was their home town, there was not even room in the inn for them, let alone with relatives. Pray for the poor, the rejected and the forgotten this Christmas time. Finally reflect over the situation in Bethlehem today, with divisions there between Jews and Palestinians. Pray about this in the light of these words of the angel to the shepherds, setting aside all bigotry and preconceived ideas about the situation.

3. TAKE 10 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE FIRST STATEMENT OF THE SIGN THE ANGEL GAVE

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby…”

I can think of three particular things about babies. They are very human, very vulnerable and very new. All true of this baby, but he was also God. Reflect and pray over what this sign means for humanity. There is humanity in God right now in heaven for ever! Don’t ever regard lightly your humanity or anyone else’s – it is glorious to be human! Reflect and pray over what this sign means about the importance of being vulnerable, subject to risk, to pain to dirt, to rejection and about our attitude to all those things in ourselves and others. Finally consider the implications that even God became new, had to do things he’d never done before. Pray for the body of Christ in Europe to be ready for this new day for the kingdom of God.

4. TAKE 10 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE SECOND STATEMENT OF THE SIGN THE ANGEL GAVE

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths…”

Reflect and pray over the awesome reality that God was bound, wrapped up tightly, powerless in our hands. Remember that this was true again at the cross and in the grave. Now that he is alive and the Lord of all, consider the way that his power is still the opposite of human power, that he does not force himself on us, that he is still a gift, even in his resurrection glory with his grave cloths discarded, still wrapped and in our hands for us to unwrap for our world. How did Mary, the Shepherds, the wise men do that? How did Mary and the apostles do it after the resurrection?

5. TAKE 10 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE THIRD STATEMENT OF THE SIGN THE ANGEL GAVE

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

What does the sign of the manger mean to you? It’s an animal feeding trough. Consider the way it speaks of the creation, the environment, the workplace, the lowest place. Reflect and pray over the significance of this being the context for the revelation of God, the kingdom of God, the appropriate location of the church and whatever more the Lord shows you. Finally ask the Lord that the fullness of this sign be expressed by the body of Christ in Europe in the coming year. Try and put this into words that describe the church being the steward of the kingdom of God in practical terms. ‘This will a sign for you: you will find the body of Christ…’

HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS!

ROGER AND TEAM

Touching History A Few More Times

I need to blog about this before it becomes ancient history!

But…I don’t think the impact of this will fade into history to be forgotten. Indeed “ancient history” and “making history” are central to this.

What is this?

Walking in beautiful Alsatian forestsWell, I blogged about it a while ago in: “Risky Business…” It’s about a 3-week intercession walk along the borders of Alsace that we (our church, intercessors in the region, intercessors from other countries) recently completed.

I personally was involved in the logistics of the walk…mainly the communication. I also walked the 3rd week of the walk along with my daughter Rachel.

There were many moments in the walk that God was speaking to individuals and to the group as the borders of Alsace were walked by groups of 5-20 people. Hopefully at our church site there will be a fuller report by those who took notes at the daily debriefing. Those would be initially in French and I’ll work at getting them translated into English.

I’ll just explain two times that were particularly noteworthy in that 3rd week of the walk.

As background, some research this past spring into the local history of Alsace and Guebwiller in particular, brought to our attention some horrible war time experiences that the people of Alsace had suffered. These were not the war time experiences that you might quickly associate with Alsace in WWI and WWII. These were from the 30 Years’ War way back in 1618-1648! Specifically during this conflict the climate of fear which developed in the Alsatian civilians was such that they did not even leave their homes to cultivate their land lest they be attacked. This led to starvation conditions and and people even exhuming human remains for food.

…hard to read…hard to write…imagine experiencing it…

A part of the invading/occupying force during the 30 Years’ War was from Sweden. During the 2nd week of the walk, the group came upon a large, old oak tree that had a marker indicating that it had been used by the Swedish during the 30 Years’ War to hang Alsatians. Hold that thought…

The Lord has His ways of orchestrating His redemptive purposes…

A few weeks before the walk, we got an email from a family from Sweden asking if they could join us during the 3rd week of the walk. They were going to be on staff at the OM Teen Street camp in Germany near that time and wanted to come a bit early and participate in the walk for a couple of days. They had heard about the walk through Martin Scott’s e-mail newsletter (read his report of the 3rd week of the walk here). We were thrilled to have them come and indeed they were a blessing but I don’t imagine that we had any idea when they first asked just how key their presence and participation would be.

They joined us Tuesday morning and walked with us all day. It was a day where we got lost (took the wrong forest road) and ended up 9kms short of our goal for the day (about 40kms/day normally). The day ended in driving rain and we felt a fair amount of spiritual resistance. We ended the day near the foot of Mont Donon where there is some overt historical occult traces (roman and celtic temple remains, sacrificial stone, etc.). That evening in the debriefing time, the wife/mother of the Swedish family, Maria, mentioned that while we walked and prayed, she had had an image of a “large tree of unrighteousness” that we were uprooting as we prayed. Vito, our leader, took that as a cue that perhaps now was the time to share with them about the oak tree that they had seen the previous week during the walk and the history of the Swedish occupation of Alsace during the 30 Years’ War.

The Swedish family was not aware of these things and we did not want to press/push any “resolution” right then and there.

BlogPic250_IMG_7371.JPGThe next morning, Wednesday, August 2nd, at the foot of Mont Donon, before we started walking, we had a time of prayer to start the day. We broke bread and poured out wine and milk and honey on the bread and prayed for the region. At the end of this time the Swedish family (the father and mother and teenage daughter) came forward and, standing for Sweden, confessed, repented of, and asked forgiveness for the occupation of Alsace and the atrocities committed by the Swedes during the 30 Years’ War. It was a powerful time of reconciliation between the Alsatians and the Swedes and facilitated the rest of the day. We started walking down to St-Marie-aux-Mines while a small group want to the top of Mont Donon.

Meanwhile, another couple who walked with us the 3rd week, Rusty and Janet, from the States, had already been all this time in St-Marie-aux-Mines searching for the perfect spot.

for what?

They had come from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with a signed declaration of repentance to bury in the ground at St-Marie-aux-Mines.

why?

Well, it turns out that also way back in history, just after the 30 Years’ War, the aristocratic Ribeaupierre family in Alsace invited persecuted Swiss Anabaptists to come and farm their war-torn region around St-Marie-aux-Mines…

under one condition

They could not evangelize. They were muzzled from sharing their faith. The Swiss Anabaptists (from the Bern area), had had enough of deadly persecution and they agreed. They agreed to keep quiet and be hard workers.

In this town, there eventually came a split among the Anabaptists that had settled there. The followers of Jakob Ammann split with the the Swiss Brethren and became the Amish.

Rusty and Janet come from the heart of Amish country in the US where they are active in reconciliation ministry between the various Anabaptist streams (Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, etc.) and the Swiss Reformed church which had brutally persecuted them so long ago. Janet recently published a book entitled Unlocking our Inheritance – Spiritual Keys to Recovering the Treasures of Anabaptism. (Read about the reconciliation process and how to acquire the book at https://www.anabaptistreconciliation.org/).

Their declaration had been signed by Mennonites and Amish leaders from the Lancaster area and was a specific declaration of repentance for having accepted the agreement to stop evangelizing in order to avoid persecution and for the origins of the Amish split in the Anabaptist tradition.

This also was a powerful time of repentance and reconciliation between the Anabaptists represented by Janet and the Alsatians and even a Swiss lady from the Bern region.

The end of Wednesday was at the top of St-Marie pass were one re-enters Alsace from the interior of France. At this pass we found a military cemetery, a large “mile-marker” from the days when Alsace was German, and a large information board which mentioned many of the difficult parts of Alsace’s history tied to that very area…including issues of the Swedish in the 30 Years’ War. The Swedish family was leaving the next morning, and because we had had that time of reconciliation Wednesday morning, we could face that information about the Swedes in the 30 Years’ War Wednesday evening and know that it was dealt with and have a wonderful time of blessing and prophetic send-off for that family that became so precious to us in just 2 days!

Our time of prayer at St-Marie pass

This was truly a blessed week. Don’t get me wrong, it was physically hard at times (especially on a nearly 45-year-old body like mine!) and not always comfortable (weather, wet camping two days, etc.), but we were used by the Lord to redeem history. In all, it was rich beyond measure!!!

Risky Business…

…gotta blog about it…

…gotta say something!

I’ve had the impression in the last couple of months that God is dropping various “threads” in front of me and saying, “Make something with this.” I think my first several strands had me thinking of “braiding”. Then perhaps, “knitting”. Now, I wonder whether God might be saying, “Stop thinking about a tiny macrame plant holders and begin to think BIG!

Last weekend we had Martin Scott at our church for a weekend of intercession training and, in addition to it being a fabulous weekend in all respects, he said one thing and gave me one thing that are both stirring up “bigger thinking” for what to do with my “threads”.

  • First of all he reminded us that God says that He will give us above and beyond what we can ask or imagine. (Eph 3:20) He showed us that though God goes beyond our imagination, the size of our imagination plays a part. Imagine small...you’ll get more than small. Imagine BIG, you’ll get more than BIG! I have to say that this is not my habitual way to function. I tend to think a bit more like Gideon when he responded to the angel and said that he was a “nobody” just trying to keep from getting squashed by the enemy (Judges 6:11-23)…but of course, God had a different perspective! I believe I just might be starting to think bigger!
  • Then, I was looking at the books that Martin brought to sell. (We don’t often have a selection of books in English to peruse through around here!) I had already 4 of the 10 or so titles that he was selling. I picked up one, titled Church that WORKS that caught my eye because of the title and especially because of one of the co-authors, James Thwaites, whose books like The Church Beyond The Congregation and Renegotiating The Church Contract have been books that I’ve wanted to read for some time now (can you say, ” wish list“?). I expressed my interest in the book and he just gave it to me! What a blessing! Thanks Martin!

So now, I’m thinking like industrial textile mill! (Strangely enough, the textile industry used to be quite big in this valley!)

I’m only on the first chapter of this book, but already I’m very stirred in my spirit about how God would want to use me, in relationship with others in His Body in this area, as a concrete channel of His blessing to manifest His Kingdom here in our town, valley, region, nation and continent. When I say “concrete”, I’m thinking literally of “concrete”…buildings…buying them…working in them…housing people in them…etc. My prayer this morning as I prayer-walked our town was to be this channel…somehow! In fact the prayer walking itself is a good example of how this vision is starting to grow in me.

Thanks to Google Earth!Since we’ve been here in this town, I’ve been prayer-walking its streets with some degree of consistency. I change my route a lot, but here’s the perimeter of my town and I think it will become my route for a while.There is something about walking and praying at the same time that connects in my spirit in a big way…and, of course, I love the images that the Lord presents using Joshua and Caleb about where their foot treads, He will give them that land. For me it’s a big deal already that the Lord would give me Soultz as an inheritance. As with most of Europe, the signs of eternal life in Soultz are calcified, decayed or buried. Seeing a Soultz for Jesus would be a fabulous thing. But God didn’t say, “ask of Me and I will give you the small towns.” No, He used the word nations (with an “S“). (Psalm 2:8)

Well, for me, walking more than Soultz’s perimeter is “more than I can ask or imagine” because of my joints. After about 45 minutes of walking, my hips begin to whine and my knees and ankles don’t really stimulate me to go “above and beyond” either! But, there are three nations within spittin’ distance in this neck of the woods and God is helping me to see bigger!

Thanks to viaMichelin.com!So now there is a project on the table to prayer-walk the borders of Alsace within the next 14 months. It’s not “my project”, but I have a strong desire to be involved and I think the Lord may be asking that of me as well. This is a first-step physical connection to the spiritual reality that God is extending to us (our family) a measure of authority to establish His Kingdom here in Alsace…but as with Joshua and Caleb, this is not handed to us on a silver platter.

The French government has already told us “no” when we requested a more firmly established residency status. To me, God has said “Yes…now go and take this land.” So I want to be like Caleb, who when he was 85 took hill country (the Vosges mountains in Alsace?) from the enemy!

So, I’m “training” on my “Soultz Prayer Loop” but I want to see bigger! things!

In these Bible examples, we see faith, and I’ve heard that the late John Wimber used to say, “Faith is spelled r-i-s-k.” Again, like Gideon, I’ve never been high on the “risk-taking scale”. I can point to more than one personality-typing test that will prove to you that it’s just not me! But if it’s true that “without faith it’s impossible to please God“, well then…?

It’s clear in the Parable of the Talents that God rewards Kingdom-building risk-taking. In the “return-on-investment” category, I’d put us somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd servants. We’ve done more than bury our talents but I think that God is calling us higher. He’s not scolding, but he’s saying, “I’ve given you more than you’ve put to work for My Kingdom. Part of what I’ve given you has effectively been buried, and I’d like you to risk investing that as well.

So, now I’d like to give God all our “loaves and fishes” and see what He will do with them. This probably involves our house and my computer skills. God has been graciously leading us down this path whereby we really do need to invest everything for the sake of His Kingdom in this land, or we risk to lose that which we have managed to hold on to this long.

The Kingdom is risky business…