About Eden

Eden Children's Village was started in 1999 in Doma, Zimbabwe, Africa. Eden exists to provide holistic, quality care for orphaned children in Zimbabwe. Eden is a school, medical clinic, farm, and orphanage. Eden's mission is to share Christ's love through meeting real life, everyday needs.

Monday, November 26, 2018

God's Glory in Hurungwe

This Masowe father was healed of cataracts and an eye infection by prayer in Jesus' name!

Hi Everyone! 
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement this year. Straight Paths at Eden is blossoming and really starting to flourish. Jesus continues to bring tremendous growth and encouragement to the disciples and disciplers alike. We're seeing growth that's faster and stronger than we anticipated and expected. Please read and enjoy the recounting of Jesus' glory at Hurungwe. It's all HIS glory! We're vessels and that's all. May your hearts and spirits be encouraged to trust Him more as you read. 

Gorgeous sky's welcomed us each day. It was HOT!

God's Glory at Hurungwe
Day one, Monday the 8th of October: We left Doma around 10:30am and headed off for Hurungwe. We were anticipating a 5-7 hour trip. We weren't sure because Elijah's only ever gone there on public transportation and not in a private vehicle. We arrived in Karoi right around  12:30 and realized one of our tires was totally finished and would need to be replaced before we went out into Hurungwe. After some sketching pricing adjustments due to perceived economic capacity, we found an honest businessman who happened to have two tires that were the correct size for our car and got our totally worn out tires replaced with two, less-worn-out tires. New is a very long stretch, but they are MUCH better than what we started with! So, we were overjoyed to have leaped over our first obstacle on the journey. We got back on the road around 1:30pm and were joyful, prayerful and expectant as we left civilization and headed for "kumusha" or home area/rural area (for the Americans). About 30km/22 miles into the rough dirt roads of the most rural section of our journey we began having car trouble. It seemed we had a fuel issue, with the vehicle simply shutting off. We stopped and checked the vehicle to try and figure out what was going on. To put it simply, this vehicle has been entirely reliable since we purchased it in 2015 We've only had to do routine maintenance and suspension due to Doma's challenging terrain. So, this issue struck me as odd. Immediately, we started praying and rebuking whatever spiritual forces of darkness were in overdrive trying to keep us from getting to Hurungwe. We drove on and I got the distinct impression that there was someone, a man, working against us, actively in prayer/cursing as we were approaching. So, we had a fantastic prayer and warring session as we kept driving, thinking we had dirty fuel. When were drawing near to Elijah's family's home area, the car cut off again and, totally by His grace, we realized that one of our batteries was shifting and arching against the power steering pump. The car was setting off because of the battery contacting the power steering pump. So we tightened up the battery clamps and had no more mechanical issues! Thank you, Jesus! We arrived at Elijah's family shortly after this, passing through two rough creek beds. Joyfully, we had arrived in Hurungwe at Sabuku Tafirenyika's house and we were ready for conquest in the Spirit, bringing the name of Jesus and exalting Him in the true, unadulterated, full-potency Gospel, calling all men to glorious relationship and holiness in Christ Jesus. (End of Day 1, Part 1)

A large Shona kitchen.

We spent the entire afternoon on day one visiting with the family, setting up camp and doing all the proper greetings and meetings required by custom and culture. We welcomed several visitors over the course of the afternoon and were immediately involved in teach and sharing Jesus with all present. One after one, the visitors would come to greet and would get the greeting and a lot of really direct communication about Christ Jesus and what it means to truly follow Him. Leo and Baba Makunda did most of the sharing and teaching. Monday was a challenging day in every way. We didn't realize until later, that Satan was working on a divisive strategy amongst us and through subtle, small issues toward one another and our hosts. By evening, however, these schemes were fully visible and we realized we'd gotten "sucker-punched" to a degree and failed to catch and defeat the attempts of the Enemy to hinder the proclamation of Jesus. No matter, we repented and started working to resolidfy and get back into the war. So, that night we had a service and 4 women gave their lives to Jesus after Leo clearly shared the Gospel in detail and called for movement into the Kingdom. Interestingly, the men were very hesitant and seemingly skeptical regarding our motives and the message in general. There also seemed to be significant barriers to healing and release of the Kingdom into lives as we prayed this night. Something was "off" and we were certainly meeting opposition. Not surprising, but annoying! So, we went to sleep, gorgeous, starry sky overhead with stunning beauty of our Father drawing our hearts to His presence and supremacy over what we'd experienced so far. We were really tired and ready for a good sleep. Graciously, that's exactly what we got. (Day 1 finished, Part 2).

The four who joyfully gave their lives to Jesus, even in stinky water!

Day 2 dawned with a gorgeous, fire-red sunrise over the mountains and a silhouette of a gorgeous baobab tree. Elijah, Stanford and I went for a run and got to experience the  gift of hills that has been endowed on Hurungwe. We set to work, obeying the Spirit and killing all selfish, interpersonal conflicts that Satan had been trying build up the day before. The three of us returned for our hour of running with great joy, having danced on the devil's head and defeated a whole day of his work in less than an hour. We took baths and spent time getting ready to go on a full day of outreach. After a full-breakfast of eggs, baked beans and bread, we split up and headed out on outreach. Leo and Elijah went to "Point 4" and opportunities to preach to a group of school children and a gathering of the "Pentecost" apostolic church who had gathered for tabernacles. Baba Makunda, Stanford and myself headed out into Ward 24, the village we were visiting, to try and visit all of the 33 homes represented in the village. We only made it to 4 homes because we spent so long teaching, preaching and interacting with everyone at the houses we did visit. We joyfully conversed about faith and truly surrendering to Jesus, not just coming for blessings. At each home, we spent significant time praying and asking for healing and real help in their needs and challenges. We sat under chicken coops, on traditional benches and around trees...really anywhere we were welcomed and people were present. We found several apostolic churches, which tend to be anti-scripture and operate on "holy spirit" only. All in all, there was tremendous hunger and confusion among the people. Holy Spirit led us into really challenging and confrontational subjects and passages in the Word, but all was said and done in love. It was HOT and we were grateful to be in the shade whenever we could be wherever we went. On this second day, we prayed for two elder people, one man and one woman, both of whom appeared to have cataracts due to old age and all their years in the scorching African sun. In the instance, there was no healing...that's frustrating for me and something I often want to see change, but there was peace that we had brought Jesus, prayed in faith and that the seeds of the Gospel would germinate. We also saw a woman delivered of a demon and had a couple surrender their lives to Jesus who were openly praying to the ancestors and had left Christianity to worship in the traditional manner some years ago. The Bhakasa family would turn out to be a key piece in God's plans for our time in Hurungwe, but we were only in day 2, so we didn't know that yet. We visited houses and families, as well as preaching to Point 4, from about 10:30 am until 5/5:30pm when we staggered back to camp, joyful, HOT and sweaty. We drank lots of water, reminisced and praised Abba for an amazing day, full of victory and overcoming the flesh, the schemes of the devil and seeing Him open doors to free His children. (End of Day 2, part 1)

The "acceptable" water we baptized in on day 3...smelled like cow poop!

After a good supper of sadza, chicken and vegetables, we headed off to cover the few hundred meters between the houses we stayed at and the meeting area. We arrived to find several men and women waiting. We had asked you all to pray for men to come to Christ, as some tension was palpable when the women came forward for prayer the night before. After a Stanford preached with me, we had an altar call and 5 men surrendered to Jesus! We were ecstatic! All men responding to Jesus, when we rarely see ANY men come to Christ! Yes, Lord, yes Lord! These men weren't playing either. One quit smoking immediately (and is still free) after chain smoking for years! We saw several more demons come and as these men committed themselves to Christ, receiving God's free gift of grace in Jesus! So, with 12 new believers needing to obey and join Jesus' death and resurrection by faith, we set up the meeting at "Bote-bote" which means something like whirlpool in Shona. After seeing much more freedom and authority in the Spirit, several healings, demons cast out and men coming to Jesus, we went to our tent around 10pm joyful, tired and ready for sleep, and another really good day of ministry. My heart was overjoyed as I laid down to rest, heart thankful and humbled at Abba's mercy. (End day 2 part 2)

Day three dawned with a gorgeous crimson sunrise over nearby mountain peaks. Elijah, Stanford and I were all in a marathon training plan and so we rose at 5:30am to go and discipline our bodies, by faith, for ongoing, increasing control of Holy Spirit's mastery of our flesh. I had seen a route on the map that led to the gorgeous Sanyati Bridge, so we set off to see if we could find the road. We ran about 5 miles through mountains and old game areas that were nearly untouched and simply stunning in beauty before we saw the bridge and got to enjoy one of those moments where Holy Spirit reminds you, "You're only seeing this because you've obeyed me and come here! If you weren't actively living for me, you never would have seen this!" It was sobering, humbling and joyful! When we returned, took a bath and ate breakfast, it was time for embarking on another exciting day of ministry. We went down to "Bote-bote" to meet for baptism, and as is very common here, we waited for a LONG time for less than half of the previously committed individuals to arrive for baptism. We joyfully baptized 5 brothers and sisters and then set off for Chembizi, a growth point (shops and a school) about 5 kilometers away, or so we were told. We walked up some really serious hills and arrived at Chembizi right around 12pm. That's lunch hour in Zimbabwe, especially in the educational sector, and we couldn't meet with the headmaster whom we were told had invited us to share Jesus at the school. So, being very very warm and thirsty, we decided to try and find some cokes, even though we didn't expect to find anything out in the middle of nowhere. Stanford wen to get candies to try and help the kids with participating in the lesson from Scripture, little did we know, Jesus had something VERY different in store for us! (End of Day 3 part 1)
Beautiful rock formations color the landscape in Hurungwe.

We straggled over to the little shops right around 12:30pm, just as the shopkeeper reluctantly came back from her lunch break to entertain some willing customers. Her name was Grace and Jesus had very specific plans in bringing us to her shop. We joyfully found some soft drinks at lower prices than the cities. Buying a few, we conversed lightly with Grace and fellow shopkeeper, asking about their faith and getting the usual responses. We went outside to sit on some benches and the shopkeepers, after getting the shop fully reopened, came to ask us what we were doing, where we came from and what our endgame really was! We joyfully began was turned into a 3 hour conversation about Jesus' goodness, forgiveness and genuine discipleship, as opposed to the common form of Christianity in Zimbabwe today. As we conversed, two men came and joined the conversation. 3 hours later we set off to find "good water" to baptize these wonderful souls in Christ Jesus! We were assured water was "1.5km" away. Well, after we walked 4-5 km up and down hills, we finally arrived at the "good water." Amazingly, we were met by an individual who said, "You cannot baptize here. We pray to our ancestors and this water would be contaminated if you baptize here." The reason this is amazing is that we didn't inform anyone of our presence there, of our intention to baptize, nor did we call ahead to warn anyone. Somehow, this enemy of righteousness knew why we were there and who had sent us! Not bothered, we went down river looking for any suitable water to baptize in. We found some water, but suitable might have been a stretch! The water was only knee deep, only 3 feet (1 meter) across and smelled wholesale of cow dung! The baptees were not too thrilled, but agreed, this was a vital decision for them and they didn't care how icky the water was! So, we baptized our dear brothers and sisters into Jesus right then and there. After having time to meditate, I think it was quite a nice place to leave the dead man, the body of sin and the old life...a stinky, nasty hole in the ground unfit for human consumption! Immediately after baptizing these young people, an elderly woman came up to us. She was from the Masowe church and we began having a conversation about the differences and teachings of Masowe and ourselves. Powerfully, Grace began refuting this elderly woman, with respect, but with tremendous boldness. It was powerful! Grace showed clear signs that Jesus had already set her apart for Himself and for some grander purpose than shopkeeping! We expect Grace to be a mouthpiece for Jesus at Chembizi! Indeed, we expect that soon! So, we walked the 4-5 km back to Chembizi and were about to depart for our camp, when Holy Spirit gave a very encouraging word of knowledge about Grace and for her edification. She confirmed it's accuracy and we bid a joyful goodbye. As we turned to leave, we heard the men shouting, "Aren't you going to share the Gospel with us?" Of course the answer was "yes." Though we were tired, well worn out, sweaty, dehydrated and late, Jesus died for these men and they want to hear about him! So, we went and began another round of teaching and preaching. Many were engaged and open until we got to the surrender of life to Jesus and allowing Him to be Lord of your life. At this point, after using examples of adultery and drunkenness, several of the men immediately got up and left. We actually embrace this kind of openness. Too many here in Zim pretend to love God while living in darkness. We open the choice of Jesus or not...no more half-way, half-hearted, kinda committed living under the banner of Jesus. So, the remaining men listened intently and openly said, "We haven't heard about Jesus like this before. We're not ready to make that commitment today, but when you come back next time, we want to sit and discuss this again." Joyfully, we prayed and blessed these men and began trekking back to Ward 29 for our evening meeting. (End of Day 3 part 2)

Sanyati Bridge
Sanyati River

After getting back to the camp, we enjoyed some delightful food and immediately departed for our meeting. Elijah preached an inspired and impactful sermon calling for longevity and personal commitment in following Jesus, not just leaders or when leaders are present. Then we had a time of welcoming all for prayer, for healing and deliverance. One lady whom we had prayed for each day was healed, for the first time, from the back pain she'd been fighting the entire time we were there in Hurungwe. Another man gave his life to Jesus and began manifesting demons. He opened up with us that he had some connections through the ancestral religion to his family spirits and that he had received "the holy spirit" at his apostolic church. What manifested was clearly NOT the Holy Spirit, and we set about casting that nasty imposter out. Over time, it went quiet, but wasn't fully gone. So we did some counseling and committed to continue walking with this man to see him come to true freedom and rebirth in Jesus. Another lady was set free from demonic oppression that night and several others freed, as well as one woman being visibly filled with the Holy Spirit and given the gift of tongues. It was beautiful. People were humming with excitement and joy. The service ended around 10-10:30pm and we once again plodded back to our tent and collapsed back into the sleeping bags for a much appreciated rest! (End of day 3 part 3)

Our final morning dawned in Hurungwe and we went for another short run and enjoyed it immensely. I felt Jesus wanted us to go straight at the 4 way intersection that we encountered each morning, and that there was a specific reason for us to go that way. So, off we went for our 5 mile morning standard discipline and joyful interaction with Jesus! We didn't meet anyone who stood out as "the one" for whom we were running that direction on the way out and we were almost all the way back when we ran into "Gogo" or grandma, from our visits the day and two days before. She had cataracts and cold barely see 50 feet. We prayed and she said, "You don't actually expect me to be healed right now do you?" Of course, we actually did expect that and do, every time we pray! But, she wasn't healed right then. So, our teammates ended up going there, even though they hadn't planned to, the next day and prayed for again, receiving much the same response. Awesomely, this morning Gogo came out to meet us as we ran past. Joyfully she recounted the reality that she can SEE! She came to tell us, her eyes were much better. She was seeing across the fields and up to the mountains. Jesus had healed her and she recognized it was Him! Baba Makunda went on a follow up visit while we bathed and got ready to leave for Doma. He, too, found a man we had prayed for two days before was healed of cataracts...not a young man at all! He was overjoyed and heading to a funeral at which he promised to sing Jesus' praise for what had happened! So, we set off from our now affectionate home in Hurungwe, filled with thanks and overwhelmed at Jesus' faithfulness. We drove away from Doma to see the Sanyati Bridge and get photos, then we headed on toward Doma. Just as we reached Chembizi, Baba Makunda was reminded that we had been asked to pray for a lady right there, in one of the houses near the road. So, we turned around and went to find her. Find her we did and we sat down to pray with the family of Monica. Monica had started having headaches 3 years before when it was time to write her "O" Levels. Her face had become contorted and she could do very little work without causing these immense headaches again! So, we prayed for Monica, repeatedly and left encouraging the family with our commitment to continue interceding for Monica, asking them to join us. A week later, we heard that Monica was healed, perfectly restored and functioning again. Eden's nurse, Judy, told us her symptoms sounded like a stroke! Hallelujah, this is the first miraculous healing of a stroke we've ever seen! Now, as I write this to you, Elijah is down in Hurungwe, doing a follow up visit and joyously seeing Jesus bring many more people into the Kingdom! Pray for Hurungwe, brothers. Jesus has opened a wide door down there! We're faithfully walking through it and it's overwhelming powerful on all fronts! May the Gospel of Jesus Christ be glorious yet again in our days. May He receive fully glory, honor and praise from men, women and children genuinely surrendered and abandoned to His glory. Thanks for making it possible, brothers! Keep praying for us. We're literally doing this constantly now and we cherish your partnership in prayer! Blessings to you all!
Sharing Jesus with the group of men.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A BIG Apology!

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We want to say, "Tine urombo," or "We're sorry!" We did not intentionally fail to blog for nearly two years. We've failed to communicate several impactful and moving stories in that time. Slowly, we'll try to catch you up on some of what God's been up to for the year on furlough in 2017 and then our last 8 months back in Zimbabwe. It's been amazing and transformational and we want to you be welcomed on the journey with us! Please forgive us for letting this fall to the "back burner" for awhile, and tune back in now that we're getting back on the communication track!

Ian and Heidi

Monday, November 5, 2018

Dire Need for the Liberating Truth of God's Word

I stood about 24 inches from her face, praying for freedom from horrible dreams and demonic manifestations, grasping one of her arms with all my strength, knowing at any moment I could be thrown around quite unnaturally. We’d prayed for Loveness many times over the last several months, always for the same problems and always with the same manifestations of demonic inhabitation and control. As we prayed this time, Loveness was surrounded by 3-4 members from her “church” called “Hambakuk.” Loveness began manifesting violently, thrashing back and forth, spewing profane statements and promising to hurt us for “trying to make her leave this body.” We just kept praying, telling the spirit to leave in Jesus’ name, because Loveness, when she’s completely in her own mind, doesn’t want these spirits at all. To this point, I’m writing a very common experience in ministry here in Doma. Weekly, if not many times per week, we experience this reality of demonic possession and deliverance in Jesus’ name. This time, however, something different happened. While we were praying, Loveness’ friends from “church” began singing one of the songs from their church. Amazingly, this demon wrenched violently, got free from our hands and began vehemently dancing and reciting the words of the song, pausing only to include bold assertions that it would “never leave, because this is my home.” Eventually, Loveness was released from the trance or possessive power of the demon enough to pray and the manifestation stopped entirely. Jesus reigned victorious, again, as He always does. Hallelujah!

Lovness’ story is shared here to illustrate an increasingly common and concerning reality that we face in ministry in Doma. People are attending Bible-less churches that teach any array of doctrines and encourage the reception of the Holy Spirit as evidence of salvation (which could be defended Biblically, not by these manifestation, but by Romans 8:9 “You however are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Rom. 8:9 ESV Emphasis added) The problem comes when these churches don’t have or use the Bible as the authoritative measuring rod for determining the legitimacy and holiness of the spirits that manifest. This month we’ve seen more than 5 people manifest spirits that they think are the Holy Spirit, but come with violence and striking similarity to the inherited, ancient practice of welcoming “ancestral spirits” to communicate on behalf of the dead. To make a long, very complicated story short, there are demons masquerading as the Holy Spirit, keeping men and women in bondage to lies and needless activities that won’t ever endear someone to our Wonderful Father. Our hearts are weighed down with the deep love God has for these people, while many of them think they are walking in light, untransformed, still living in constant fear, receiving demonic spirits with joy and excitement, because any power “must be from God.” There is one common denominator between all the churches where we’re seeing these manifestations of lying spirits, they all either reject the Bible fully or refuse the presence of the Word at their meetings. Brothers and Sisters, we need  to get the Word into the hands of God’s people out and about in this region! Zimbabwe is not a Christian nation in the rural! She’s a deceived mass of very religious people, many of whom have no faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, but are following the doctrine of demons, cleverly devising generations of bondage and decay as the Gospel remains veiled, keeping these beautiful people for whom Jesus died in darkness unending. As I write this, fire burns in my stomach and makes we writhe in loving anguish to see Christ formed in Loveness and all those, just like her, who want the reality of God but have no grid of truth to test the spirits and make sure they are not being deceived! Pray for us, Christians! Join us, please, and help us get more laborers in the Harvest! We’ve got 72 farms in Doma and we’re  currently laborering intentionally in 11 of those farms! That’s too few, and yet we can’t do much, if any, more until God moves more disciples into our community. Not just baby-Christians, but men and women ready to rightly divide the Word, to radically love and obey Jesus and surrender all to Him! Pray with us, Christians! We are hungry to see breakthrough here…total transformation…a genuine revival, where the fear of God and increase of holiness meets the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but the most marked characteristic is reverence! Pray! Pray! Pray! Please don’t treat this lightly!

Even as I write this, I realize, I’m talking about a “Christian” nation according to numbers! How much more those unreached, unevangelized, unbelieving nations of the earth. Rise up, Church! Let’s get our eyes fixed on eternity and use our brief vaporous lives to make a real difference! Don’t just talk about Jesus and go to Bible studies, by all means do that too, but GO and get the lost exposed to the King and His Kingdom, in your life! Sorry for the little sermon, but it’s genuine and heartfelt! Let’s go after the reality depicted in the New Testament and see our Jesus do it all again in our time. That’s what we’re going to do here in Doma. I hope you will wherever you are when you read this. 


Thursday, May 31, 2018

An Amazing Night In Jesus

This past Monday night I had the great privilege to travel 8 miles away from the orphanage to a farm for intentional outreach and teaching about Jesus and what it means and looks like to truly be a “disciple” of Jesus as an adopted son or daughter. We were only able to leave quite late that afternoon because of an important meeting at Eden, so we arrived at the farm around 5:45pm for the 6:30 gathering. 

After arriving, we sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee and some lovely, sweet bananas with focusing prayer and seeking of Jesus before we started walking from one section of the farm to the other, where we would meet. We walked about 1 ½ miles to the next village for our meeting. The whole way there, we were praying and enjoying a gorgeous night sky, screaming the glory of our Father. The moon was full and you could see very clearly where you were walking and all our surroundings. There was tremendous peace and urgent desire, desire for every man, woman and child that we were about to meet with to truly knowJesus as the living, abiding Lord of Glory, not merely the story book figure who died for our sins, according to the record. 

The substance, the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, the ongoing experience of His life and presence in the Word of God and fellowship with Holy Spirit is so vital. Our area, and indeed Zimbabwe as a whole, is “evangelized” in the sense of hearing the story and receiving some level of communication about Christ, but genuine faith is so very rare in the rural context. Most people add Jesus to the list of potentially beneficial and protective measures that may be accessed to obtain the outcomes that are desired in life. The traditional religion that dominated our area and the nation before Christ was introduced exhibits the self-centered, self-preserving tendencies of common, fallen humanity. Thus, when Jesus was or is presented as “personal benefit” so that “you can go to Heaven,” while these things are truly present in genuine salvation, the basal interpretation of the message is extremely similar to the motivations behind the practices of ATR (African Traditional Religion). We’ve been teaching about the self-less nature of love, of faith and of following Jesus. We’ve presented Jesus as immanent help, but that this life will notbe easy, fine or smooth if you follow Him. Amazingly, as we preach embracing the cross, crucifying the flesh by the Spirit, losing your life so that you might find it and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ, people are choosing to follow Jesus without the promise of ease and comfort…they actually want Him, even with the trouble!

So, we arrived at the second Village and gathered in a round cooking hut (these are the traditional meeting places in the culture). The hut was about 15 feet in diameter and had a bench on one side of the house, about halfway around. The walls are mud covered poles and grass with a dirt floor and some kind of polish to make it all look really nice. We gathered at about 7pm and began with about 18-20 people including women and children. One of the young disciples immediately took initiative and welcomed everyone, sharing an encouraging word from the Word that he had been reading and meditating on that day-this is very encouraging as a disipler, watching disciples mature and begin standing up to lead and bear fruit for Jesus publically and openly without prompting! He welcomed us to sing 4 songs and prepare our hearts for prayer, worship and study and the amazing evening really took off!

As we sang the second or third song, the presence of Jesus became very tangible in the hut and singing became worship for many of us. As His presence increased in our midst, one young woman who was leading worship stopped singing and put her hands on her head in obvious discomfort. A few seconds later, she fell down on the ground holder her head and writhing in pain. Baba Makunda and I walked over and prayed for her, asking Jesus to free her and rebuke the demonic spirit from her head. It left after a short prayer, she stood back up, shook her head looking a little shocked and began singing again. In the next song, she began shaking her head again, like you’re getting dizzy or confused. Then she again put her hands up to her ears and began slumping down in pain. This time the whole gathering of believers prayed for her and, after a short manifestation and growling, that demonic spirit left too. The Holy Spirit spoke clearly while praying for her the second time, illuminating some of the areas of jurisdiction these spirits had through sinful choices that this young woman had made. Little did we know that later, after the sermon, she was going to confess exactly what the Spirit had spoken to us, but we hadn’t shared with her that He had said. 

After we prayed corporately and she was free, we felt Jesus wanted some more praise, so we worshiped for another three songs, preparing our hearts to hear from Him and to get our hearts ready to listen and obey. Holy Spirit put a clear leading on my heart to teach from Colossians 2, Ephesians 2 and a combination of Romans 6, Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5. The main thrust of the message was that we are actually seated with Christ, forgiven, freed from our sins, our debt paid, our punishment fulfilled and removed, that we are holy, blameless and above reproach to our Father. Along those lines, we focused on the reality that we often live up to whatever we believe to be true about ourselves: wicked, wretched sinners tend to live wicked, wretched and sinfully, while forgiven, repentant, redeemed, empowered disciples tend to live more along those lines. Then we discussed how we came from a culture that was led by a king and had a spirit at work within us, when we were dead in our sins and now, in Christ, we have a new King, a new Spirit and they give us a brand new, often completely different, culture to live by! Then, the Holy Spirit really ripped the meeting open.

 He spoke to me about 7 young men sitting across the hut from me. He shared some very specific sins that these young men were living in and that they were obstinate and blatantly living in hypocrisy while claiming the name of Jesus as Lord. There was no harshness, no anger, no hardness to the words, just blunt, gentle truth. Then, Holy Spirit impressed upon me to share my story, my brokenness, the hypocrisy I lived in and how He has delivered me, set me free by His Word, filled me with His Spirit and taught me to live in a new culture and by His Spirit with Jesus as my King. After the teaching, we opened the door for everyone to confess publically and have the Church pray over each one according to the needed areas of repentance, asking Jesus to strengthen and fortify each believer to walk in the Spirit and deny the desires of the flesh and walk in abundant life. 

To make an already long story shorter, 7 people (out of about 25) publically confessed to living hypocritical, sinful lives that denied the Word of God and grieved the Holy Spirit. Two women and five men were set free from demonic spirits and felt the incredible renewal of having all the weight of their sins lifted off of their shoulders as they confessed their sins, turned to Jesus and repented of the dead works that had been dominating their lives up to that point. Two young men received Jesus’ free gift of righteousness and repented that night, it was powerful. One young man manifested the strongest demon I ever remember encountering in 6 years of full-time ministry in Zimbabwe and 15 in Africa total. This young man confessed to unrepentant anger and the attempt to curse people verbally and traditionally. As we prayed for him, he fell to the ground, then immediately erupted in furious rage and physical attack, grabbing Baba Makunda and trying to spear him into the wall of the hut. Baba Makunda somehow absorbed the attack and lifted the young man up without any assistance until the other 7 men in the hut grabbed the young man to restrain him. What ensued was a 1 ½ hour battle with a raging demonic spirit in this young man. After about 45 minutes, the demon seemed to have quieted down and the young man was released from the clutches of the praying horde of men. I was standing in front of the young man and when he opened his eyes the demon wasn’t gone. I told it to “Get out of him in Jesus’ name,” and the demon snarled and lunged at me, hitting me like a rugby tackle just below my chest, in the rib cage. I caught him and felt the Holy Spirit come over me in mighty way. I met the blow and, on my tip-toes, pushed back, praying the whole time, wrestling the young man to the ground before the 7 men grabbed him again and restrained him for another 45 minutes, until he was able to cry out to Jesus himself, at which time Jesus completely freed him from the demonic spirit. In the course of the intervention Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and shared that this young man was the chosen successor to a witchdoctor, whom I believe to be his grandfather, and that the particular spirit his grandfather bears is that of the python or “shato.” This fit the strength and hissing symptoms that we were encountering as we prayed. As we walked home, Baba Makunda confirmed that he had heard the exact same thing from Holy Spirit about the demon in this young man too. 

After that long battle (nearly 2 hours), we prayed for the believers, exalted the name of Jesus and bid them to walk in the Spirit, to immerse themselves in pray, study of God’s Word and to share the glory of Jesus’ Gospel and power as displayed among us that night. We then began the 20 minute trek back to the car so we could come home. Baba Makunda and I walked together, jubilant, overjoyed at the grace of God, that men such as us, so minor in the grand scheme of things, could be used and involved in His Kingdom coming to a remote village! 

Hallelujah! Jesus is amazing! He’s worthy, believers! We experience communion with God and one another that night. When the battle raged on for the young man, we were amazed to find that the believers didn’t get tired, rather they got more passionate the longer we warred against the devil’s power over our brother. By the end, many were in tears of joy and we worshipped with great thankfulness and joy that we had seen victory for our brother. The worship and joy were incredible! Jesus is alive and powerfully working for His children! 

What’s your Jesus like? Is He living and active? Does He still look like the pages of Scripture or is He quite different? I’m overjoyed to have been graciously awakened to the need for Jesus to be alive in my life, active as He was in Scripture and history. I believe Jesus is ready and willing to reveal the enduring reality of His person and revelation in the modern day in the exact same manner that He did in Scripture. Yesterday we went to another farm, one with far less openness, and found many bound up in ATR practices and fear, only to see them amazed that we were preaching a Jesus that was actually active and present in the world, not just in heaven someday. Jesus healed 3 headaches, one stomach ache (perhaps cancer-unsure) and one woman’s damaged arm that sounded like a torn rotator cuff. He DOES still heal, and usual does it when we’re pursuing the magnification of His name among the lost! Get with lost people, tell them about Jesus and pray for them. I believe, if you’ll do that, soon you’ll have stories to tell of His immanent, active power in Holy Spirit through you as well! 

Be blessed in Jesus, Family of God! Please don’t be offended by anything I’ve written here. My only desire is to encourage you with real stories in real time that reveal the real Savior as alive today. Controversy isn’t my desire, but bring it if it must come! Feel free to ask questions if you have some!

 p.s.  Please forgive us for being SO uncommunicative on the blog. We have several encouraging and uplifting stories to share soon, we're just trying to find the time to get them published with all the needs that face us daily. Thank you for your understanding and grace. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Masowe Meeting #3

Greetings Everyone!
So sorry it's taken this long to get the update and thank you to you all for the prayers you lifted up on the night of FIND DATE when we last asked for prayer as I went to a Masowe meeting.

It was a Saturday and that is time that we always set aside for time with Jesus, unwilling to use the day for much of anything except for our children and meeting with the Almighty. As I was praying that morning, God clearly put one of our employees at Eden, Angela Katsiri, on my mind to go and pray for her. She had been suffering with really bad hip and sciatic pain. I didn't think much of it, but thought I would go before the Masowe meeting.

So, we spent the day in a sense of anticipation and asking Jesus to move in some way at the Masowe meeting to show His power and supremacy over the "spirits" that the Masowe "priests/prophets" are using. We had a really good day as a family and toward sunset I prepared to head to the meeting.

I invited and picked up two of the boys whom I am discipling at the moment and we went to pray for Angela. We entered her little house with 8 people living in it and greeted everyone. I shared with her that I had come pray for her. We prayed over her sciatic pain and it started to decrease. We prayed about 5 times and then she was completely free from pain and even ran to our car when we left!  She was so overjoyed that Jesus would come and give her the grace of relief from pain! Since that day, Angela has called me to pray with the sick twice, both instances expressing her faith that Jesus hears pray and answers. She's not ready to pray herself yet, but she's getting closer to believing that there is no special, magic power in our prayers! Her faith has grown tremendously through this experience.

While we were at Angela's house, her aunt, a very elderly woman, was there and the family asked us to pray for her, too, as she was in an accident 5 year earlier and has had leg pain and weakness in her legs ever since. There was no prognosis for improvement or change from a medical perspective. So, we prayed, and this time I asked my two discipleship boys to pray because I wanted the family to see that there was nothing special about me or my prayers, but Jesus was the one doing the healing! So, we prayed for this year old lady and God took all the pain from her legs. Then she told us she had lots of chest pain and tightness. We prayed for her chest pain and she was healed from that too! She left for her home a week later and told the boys that she had been challenged by a young man to throw her cane away the day before we prayed for her and she had said, "No, I will need the cane forever." She went home WITHOUT the cane and declaring Jesus' praise for her strength and restore health!

So, we left for the Masowe meeting extremely encouraged and uplifted by Jesus' faithfulness and kindness to us and Angela! How powerful, that He would answer our little prayers for "non-essential" healing!

We arrived a little late (9:30pm) and the Masowe were already in some kind of ritual to "cleanse" the Mudiwa family farm from "bad spirits." We arrived with the groups of men and women separated by a large fire and about 10 feet. The people were all quietly praying and singing the common Masowe songs, welcoming various spirits to come and meet with them that night. I was filled with so much joy because I felt absolutely no danger, no fear and no sense that anything at that place could do anything to us! We were filled with Jesus' Spirit and those demonic spirit knew they couldn't do anything about it! After about 15 minutes of prayer, they welcomed us and began the normal service part of the Masowe service. One of the "prophets" said he saw that God was with us in a mighty army of chariots and that all we did would prosper in His hand. We were already confident, but now their "prophet" is declaring the truth that Jesus was there to share His fame, to proclaim His name and nothing could stand in His way!

So, the service began with songs and a woman started manifesting a demon, shaking violently and knee walking up to the area near the fire so she could be prayed for. The leaders prayed for her for a few minutes and nothing was happening. I felt a stirring in my heart and motioned to one of the other leaders, saying with my hands, "Can I go pray for her?" They said yes, so I went across the way and laid my hand on her head and began to tell the demonic spirit to leave her in Jesus' name. The fire was SO hot on the women's side the my skin was literally being roasted while praying for her for the minute or so that I was there, but the spirit came out of her quickly. Jesus worked powerfully and quickly to liberate his daughter, created to know Him and embrace His love and grace. Later in the service, they called me over to pray for another woman, but I had no idea what was wrong in her life, they just asked me to pray for her. I wasn't sure what to pray, but I did pray anyway, that Jesus would be revealed to her. As the Masowe leader who was praying with her was about to leave, I noticed he was limping. I immediately felt the Spirit wanted me to pray for his healing. We returned to the men's side and this man was directly to my right. Someone started another song and I asked the man what had happened to his knee? He said he was injured playing soccer that day and was really in pain. I knelt down to pray for his knee, laid my hands on both the front and back of his knee and began to pray. As I was praying, the Spirit brought the word "meniscus" to my mind, so I prayed for complete healing and restoration of the meniscus and I felt the man's knee bounce or shake in my hands. I looked up to a very astonished face as Jesus had just confirmed His gospel and love to his man who lives in such deception and fear. He looked to a friend and told him the He had just been healed and then he started dancing with all his might all round the fire! That song lasted a long time. My heart was filled with praise because Jesus was revealing Himself to the Masowe of Doma, people that He loves and died to save!

A short time later they allowed me to preach, for 25-30 minutes with only one interruption! The Masowe don't usually do that. They will listen until they don't like something and then they will start singing. 3 songs and you are done preaching, so you gotta make your songs count! I preached the Gospel, I preached it boldly, straight forward and uncompromising and they received it well, until I said that we are not called in Christ to continue communicating with the dead (one of the backbones of Masowe faith, and African Traditional Religion). So, they sang a song to Mary, after I told them that Mary would tell them to stop praying to her if she could come back! And after that, God was finished speaking through me, so I offered Bibles so everyone could see for themselves that the Spirit of God and Word of God are not in contradiction and that we desperately need both! We left 20-25 Bible with the Masowe who were there but they notified me that they needed 40 more the next week. We are out of Bibles, having given away about 2200 in the past two years to churches and lost souls alike. Pray with us for funds to buy 1,000 Shona Bibles at $8 each!

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement in the Lord! It was a powerful time and Jesus gave us a tremendous door for witness and outreach to share His love and to live among the Masowe without being scared or weirded out by their strange customs. As we were leaving, the leader of the meeting asked us to come and pray for his wife (who wasn't at the meeting) because she had had a baby and was not lactating well to feed the baby. We went the next day and prayed, but she wasn't healed immediately. We need to follow up and see where this man is in faith and if his wife was healed. He is a person of peace and we are eager to begin studying God's Word with him and watch Christ become revealed as Lord to his heart! Please keep praying for us. God is opening doors rapidly and in powerful ways.

Please be in prayer, we have a meeting on December 7th with the leader of all Masowe in the world. I desire to sit and exalt Jesus Christ with this man. I sense he is a person who God is moving in already. Please pray with us for that meeting and the powerful work of God's Spirit in "mutumwa."

Blessings to you all!
Read the Word, believe what your Lord says, and live by the Spirit! It is SO wonderful and life-filled. Not dead, wooden or stagnant at all. God has genuinely abundant life for you in Christ Jesus. Pursue it, obey His Words and see what will happen. You'll find quickly that He's alive and still loves to do might works for His glory on the earth.

Ian Fry

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sharing Jesus with the Masowe!

This past Thursday, August 25th, I went with a team from Eden Children’s Village to the national gathering of Johane Masowe- a professing group of people that essentially believe that God sent a man named Shoniwa Gandanzara the spirit (interpreted as soul) of John the Baptist so that he would be a prophetic voice for Africa and lead people away from their sins and to God.

We set out mid-morning and headed over the disparaged roads through mountain ranges that separate our part of Zimbabwe from this area called Shinje. It took about 3 1/2 hours of plodding through the mountains and across dry river beds to get to the main roads that lead to Guruve and Shinje, where we were headed. I was very grateful for the Land Cruiser that all of our supporters helped us purchase last year. Our old van would definitely have breathed its last on this journey had we retained it! 

We arrived around 11am at the Masowe meeting and found ourselves in a matter of moments in the center of a very large gathering of white robbed followers of Johane surrounding us in camping gatherings. After parking, we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants to just below the knee, removed all watches, cell phones, musical equipment and Bibles (as per the requirements of the group “to maintain holiness" of the land and gathering-which is essential for having the desired power manifest from “god” later in the meetings). We complied, with the heart of seeking to share Jesus with lost souls, and were led to the leaders of the gathering and the sect as a whole. The Masowe are now over 1 million strong in Africa in 9 countries. So, we found ourselves sitting around on rocks and in the dirt, humbly seeking an opportunity to share Christ. 

The leaders were kind and received us warmly, though with a little skepticism. It was supposed we were there to cause trouble and we were open that we were there to learn and question what we’ve heard and experienced of Masowe tradition. Soon after this one leader looked at me and said, “So you’ve come to get the spirit?” I said, “I already have the Spirit.” To which he retorted, “Oh! You have the spirit? We will see!” The feeling was cordial, but there was obviously a competitive or adversarial tone to all of our interactions in the 31 hours we were there, which is true and honest, I suppose, as I wasn’t there to comply and agree, but to speak, share and pray for lost souls to believe. 

After about an hour the leaders decided we could stay and that we could “camp” with those from our area who had invited me in the first place. So we moved the vehicle about 100 yards to the area where they were camping and we unpacked a little and began lounging and chatting about God and theology. The leader who welcomed us shared his version of several Biblical stories and we started asking questions and seeking open doors for the Spirit to open the iron doors of deception and false teaching that are so prevalent in Masowe doctrine. This conversation, which was our first, was really good and left the 5-7 individuals that we were chatting with questions about Masowe that were unanswered and unanswerable with their traditional doctrinal stances. This was a powerful experience as the Lord was leading us to passage after passage that clearly refute so many beliefs held by these incredibly devout but deceived people. The conversation died off after about 1.5 hours, but the entire time we were sharing about Jesus and questioning the rejection of the Scriptures that characterizes Masowe faith, there were spies sent from the leaders to listen and watch to find out what we were doing and why we were there. It was enjoyable to watch person after person come and stay a “stones throw” away and pretend to speak with others while looking over every few seconds to listen and see what was happening. One man in particular had some rather dark spiritual realities written all over his face as he moved in a very strange manner and starred us down for a few minutes. It seemed the “spirit” in him was very displeased with the “Spirit” in us and was letting us know that he knew who we were with, who we belonged to and why we were there. The presence of Jesus was very strong as we share and laughed and prayed in our hearts for everyone around us to believe and be set free from the lies that will render all who were present deceived and heading to hell when they die. 

After our first conversation we ate some good sadza and kept enjoying conversation all afternoon and evening until supper time and sunset. At sunset, all the people face east and pray specific prayers before rising from their knees to fold their hand and bow three times before they can return to their meal and/or fellowship. We then sat around fires as we were “freezing” in the 40s while completely exposed. Our hearts were full, though, because we were fulfilling the purpose for which we came, to share Jesus with any, all and as many as we could! We continued that until about 7pm and then we got a few hours sleep getting ready for the Pungwe-all night prayer and party- that was coming. I was assured I would get to preach, so I found myself lying on my back on the ground in a sleeping bag filled with joy and realizing that only Jesus could say anything that would make a real impact on the lives of those whom I was sharing this time with. No human wisdom, no words, no eloquence, would do ANYTHING. Only Jesus would do and only He could do it! How wonderful to FEEL what is always true! So, I was in joyful prayer and expectant that they might let us speak in that meeting. 

After a fitful 2 hours of trying to get a little rest and stay warm, we were notified that it was time to begin the service. This all night gathering has men on one side of a huge fire and the women on the other. I found out the next day that they call this the “Alter” and that when we were gathered around the fire, we were Isaac and were being the sacrifice as we were not sleeping but seeking god. (There will be many parts of this post that make you ask questions…I cannot answer them :-) as there are no logical or clear explanations for some of the things I am sharing with you.) We sat and stood and the Masowe sang for about two hours and then the open time for teaching came. Edwin and I got a white “robe” so that we were properly clad to speak, eagerly ready to share the Word of God as clearly and quickly as we could. The Masowe start singing when they don’t like what you have to say and you only get 3 songs and you have to sit down. So, we were ready and went to the front and were ready to share. Then, the leaders said, “No, no! You must speak during the day so everyone can see your face. You will speak tomorrow.” This was fine. We humbly accepted and went back to our camp and went to sleep. It was a really good night of exhausted sleep, wrestling in prayer each time we woke, longing for everyone around us to believe and be saved!

We were woken at 5:45am to “go for prayer.” It was COLD!!! I have experienced much colder temperatures, but sleeping outside, barefoot, exposed and on rock and dirt, it was really cold. So we got up and they gathered nearly all of the swelling 5,000 person crowd to the “meeting area” where everyone positioned themselves facing the sun on our knees. The prayer time began with singing and then everyone broke out into individual prayer and our little team was praising God and praying for protection and the thwarting of every evil plan over this mass of people whom God made for Himself and not for anyone else. The sunrise was one of the best I have ever seen in color and power of vividness and I felt as though Jesus was smiling on our attempt to lift His name up for the salvation of all who would believe and be saved. Immediately proceeding from prayer the leaders shared some news and introduced me as a guest, as I was the only murungu (white person) in the group of 5,000. One leader even said, “We will hear from him later today.” We were already very skeptical that they were going to allow us to speak, because the spies were reporting what we were talking about and we were unashamedly asking questions and pressing for the questioning of traditionally held beliefs. This meeting ended at about 7:30am and we headed back to camp for breakfast and preparations for the long, main event. 

We sat round drinking tea and conversing with as many as would engage us with conversation. I had a very long conversation with one group of men and asked lots of questions that were not answerable. One of the elements of our conversation stemmed from the reality that we and the Masowe share the belief that God will condemn the unrighteous to hell. One man asked why I was there and said he expected I was there to argue. I said I wasn’t but that if I actually believe that there is only one way to Heaven and that is Jesus and Jesus only, then I MUST ask questions and seek to make sure that no-one at that gathering hadn’t heard the Good News. (In hindsight this is probably part of why I wasn’t allowed to preach). We shared a good, long conversation and ended up shaking hands as I expressed my desire to see all men come to repentance and the salvation that comes by faith in Jesus, but little if any seed met fertile soil in any of our conversations in our 31 hours there. 

Then, the main event began and a huge gathering was assembled. 5,000 people isn’t really that many, but they were all robbed up and gathered in one large circle at the center of the meeting area. They group was facing a recreation of Mt. Sinai at the top of the hill, complete with stone barrier and restrictive access, only grated to the supreme leaders. The service resembled the others with lots of songs and intermittent preaching that was broken by songs as people needed to stretch their backs or were tired of hearing what a speaker had to say. We were sitting in the sun and getting roasted, in the exact same place where we had been freezing a few hours earlier. Still, our hearts were joyful and in constant prayer, asking Jesus to PLEASE let us declare your glory, name and Gospel! As the time drew close for the opportunity that they said I would have to speak, a woman stood up and began to “prophesy” by the spirit of Gabriel (that’s what she said.) Her prophesy was essentially that a foreigner was present and was coming in to steal thousands of people from Masowe and that no foreigners can ever be allowed to speak or many will be lead ‘astray’” Amazingly, that demonic spirit was telling the truth! I am a foreigner, I was there to preach Jesus, praying that many would believe in the true Gospel and find eternal life in Him alone, and probably leaving Masowe as the truth of God’s Word liberates them from the intense and treacherous lies that are so carefully and intricately woven to catch many. From the moment she started speaking, Edwin knew they were not going to let us speak. Amazingly, we were totally at peace, though our backs and bottoms were extremely sore from so many hours sitting on a hill against the grade.

Immediately following the “prophesy” all teaching was topped and they got out the traditional Shona bowls that the leaders had been using to pray over water (with some kind of soap or oil in it to make it smell good). It became obvious that they were either going to make people drink it or put it on everyone. Neither option seemed good to me. I leaned over to Edwin and asked him what to do. He said, “That water cannot do anything to you! He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We don’t need to run.” After Edwin’s encouragement, I was prayerfully willing to stay and felt the Spirit reminded me of Mark 16:18 “…and if they drink deadly poison it will not harm them….” So, I had peace and was ready for whatever was coming in the next few minutes. We were in intense prayer the entire time the main event was going on. You could feel the evil and that reality that this mass of people was after power and not power from Jesus! So, to prepare for splattering everyone with the water they had the entire group face the top of the mountain that resembled the presence of God on Mt. Sinai. The entire congregation fell to their knees and began praying for spirits to come upon them and manifest. Without any conscious communication, we began praying intensely against all that was taking place and for protection for ourselves from the large amount of evil that was present. The man immediately behind me started making loud guttural blurts and groans and then uttered “Johane.” The oppression we could feel got stronger the longer they prayed, but we were standing in Jesus’ name and immediately rebuked all demons that were naming themselves and were protected. Quickly the oppression left and the peace of God was powerfully upon us as we were interceding and rebuking all the evil around us.

After several miniutes, the prayer ended and then they formed a guard around the entire group so that NO ONE would leave before they were hit with the water. Each person was supposed to get hit with one drop. Humorously, we were doused three and four times each, but just our group of outsiders! I am not completely sure what they were hoping to do, besides send spirits to overpower us, but it didn’t work at all. In fact, the water felt like quite a nice relief to the scorching sun that was burning my ancestrally norse hide. It seemed there was an expected response to the water, perhaps a manifestation, because several leaders were stealing glances at us to see if anything was happening. We simply smiled and carried on. Soon after this water event, we accepted that there was no chance we were going to be allowed to share. 

So, we slipped out of the meeting and asked to speak with the leaders in private to offer them Bibles before we left. They agreed to meet us and explained that I was not allowed to preach because I hadn’t given then enough advanced warning and the program schedule had already been made. (We didn’t believe that because we had actually been invited to come share and I had specifically asked for pre clearance, but no worries!) We explained that we had no anger or hard feelings but were desirous to share truth with the entire congregation. They invited us back in October to share that truth (not really expecting they will let us share, but we will probably go anyway, knowing that they won’t!). The leaders did accept a gift of 12 Bibles for the leaders and the top leader, Mutumwa, said, “We will read what he was going to say.” This gave us joy, because it was obvious that they knew we were going to share from Scripture and they knew we were going to exalt Jesus, even if that meant standing against some traditions. 

Overall, the time was powerful and challenging. I found my heart deeply impacted by one reality that should be a constant reality for every Christian…every lost person is going to hell. Without Jesus every person will face the consequences of the wrath of God against sin and will be without defense or protection on the day of judgement. I realized how little drive there has been in my heart to share Jesus with every person, because you don’t know who’s lost! How can we say we are saved, have passed from death to life and that everyone will enter into either eternal life or eternal death in hell and do nothing, say nothing and share nothing! It is said the Spurgeon said, “If you do no yearn for the souls of lost men you can be sure you are not saved.” That wording doesn’t sit well with the postmodern world, but perhaps we’ve become a bit too comfortable, a bit too blasé and a bit too pacified by our freedom! Brothers and sisters, there are BILLIONS of people on this planet right now who ARE going to face eternal condemnation if they don’t get reborn by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus! What will you do? Don’t be silent for one more day! Don’t hold that light in you under a basket! You CANNOT! Please, please, let Jesus out of your mouth and your life constantly. Throw off all the childish, ridiculous, materialistic and temporal junk that so jumbles and overwhelms our thoughts that we cannot even think of people as people and live from electronic moment to electronic moment, rather than engaging real life. Please, get serious about your relationship with Jesus and give up your life! I have no doubt whatsoever that He will meet you with power, intimacy, love and strength to be made just like Him! That’s what the world needs…Jesus…living, active and present in and through you. So, what will it be? For me, witnessing is changed and MUST be constant, daily and intentional. Please pray with me for Mutumwa! I want to see that man get saved by Jesus! I’m also going to be engaging Masowe leaders that live around us, seeking to have Bible study with them, as they have asked for time to hear and study more. Please pray for these times as they come up in the near future. 

Brief Glossy of Masowe Terms and Beliefs:
Mutumwa - The supreme leader of the Masowe and the intermediary between men and god. They believe he is endowed with the same power as their original leader to lead by the power of the “Holy Spirit” and tell the people what God is saying. 

Holy Spirit, no Bible: The group claims to follow the Holy Spirit and have superior revelation from the Spirit, making the Bible unneccessary. They believe there are massive and critical translation errors and that this is why the Spirit supersedes the Bible and does away with its necessity. 

Johane Masowe: Shoniwa Gandanzara, the founder of the VaPostori (Apostles) religious movement. He claimed to be a svikiro or spirit medium who received the actual spirit/soul of John the Baptist from the New Testament and that Jesus sent John to make Shoniwa into the forerunner for Africa to prepare as Christ’s bride from Africa. Masowe believe that God has given different plans for each continent to receive the Gospel and that Masowe is the way that Jesus wants Africans to come to Him. This movement started in 1932 when Shoniwa had his svikiro experience. Svikiro is a key part of Shona (and many other African) traditional religious systems of communication with the spirit world. The entire Masowe church is after power and miracles, especially protection from evil spirits. 

Salvation: The answer were widely varied as to “how” someone gets saved. Basically, obey the commandments and get baptized and never leave the Masowe church. Jesus is named and will be claimed for salvation, but all prayer and seeking for experience seems devoid of His name or glorification. 

Much, much more to come as Jesus allows! Thanks for your prayers! They were powerful and effective. Jesus be with you you all, empowering you to LIVE for Him in this dark world. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Greetings from Zimbabwe friends!
As I write this post, we are in the midst of a blessed season of seeking Jesus and seeing Him come closer in tangible and discernible ways that are encouraging, stretching and uplifting. This season would be described as revival by history and the vocabulary of many believers. Another work many would use is awakening. The idea in the second word being that the hearts and or minds of believers and unbelievers are often sleeping and unaware of the reality of God’s presence and interaction around us constantly. This second term is exciting to me, especially because we live in a very dark place where Satan and his deceptions are worshipped and lauded as supremely sovereign over the realities of Zimbabwe. Also, I prefer “awakening” because “revival” requires that something had to be “vived” or living at some other point and is being re-filled with life and animation. So, I am seeing revival as a renewing of life that has already been imputed previously and awakening as both the unveiling of Christ initially and the renewed unveiling of Jesus to those who have once truly seen, tasted and lived in Messiah.

Here in Doma, I feel we are experiencing “awakening” because the hearts of so many have never truly come to know Jesus personally and merely have the substance of knowledge without the indwelling Spirit of Christ. This draws my heart to ponder Romans 8 where Paul equates salvation with being filled with the Holy Spirit or having the Spirit of Christ dwell in you. He says, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” vs 9b. As I let the weight of these words sink into my heart I am struck by the weight and simplicity of God’s message in this passage, namely, “If you are mine, I WILL put my Spirit in you.” and “If I have put MY Spirit in you, you are MINE!” This should come as no surprise to us, as the entirety of the New Covenant is based on removal of transgression, indwelling of God’s Spirit, creation of a new, responsive heart and relational fellowship with God for life and into eternity. (Jeremiah 31) So often I’ve allowed the Gospel, walking with Jesus and being a Christian to become so complicated, pondering the minutia of the faith in trying to discern the depths of faith in Jesus, but struggling to do so with this firm anchor of hope. The question and assurance arises from this verse, “Do you have the Spirit of Jesus Christ?” If you do, you can KNOW assuredly that you belong to God, have peace with God, are justified and are promised the power to overcome sin and live a victorious life in Jesus here and now. All of those things are impossible without the Spirit of God in you! 

Now that you and I have the Holy Spirit, shall God withhold anything necessary to conform you to the image of Jesus and create a renewed, worshipful creature out of you? The answer, according to Paul, is “NO!” “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) This is no prosperity teaching, rather this is the empowerment of powerful Gospel living and dying in the name of Jesus for all generations. God has granted all things to us required for life and godliness according to 2 Peter 1:3. The question arises in my heart, “Do you really believe this?” If you do, the evidence will be obvious, manifest and clear of any and all to see. So, as you read or ponder today, how is your faith, how is your evidence? Can you SEE that you are truly redeemed, sealed and transformed in Christ. You don’t have to wonder! I encourage all of us who truly believe to begin responding to the tremendous promise of our Father about identity, adoption, imputed righteousness, grace, and abiding love to believe like a small child again. It’s incredible to see how the Father responds to the simple, childlike faith of His kids. I pray you experience that response! Take a chance…believe all He says about you again and act upon that incredible truth. I hope this reminds or inspires you to revel in your Father's love for you. I pray that love will envelope you, establish you in the identify of adoption and cause you to live a bold and mightily empowered life for Jesus' glory among the nations!

Pondering the Depth of Struggle for a Mother

A few months ago, a baby boy, Tichakunda, was abandoned by his mother in a latrine toilet here in Doma. The police swiftly conducted and investigation, discovering who the woman was who had left the baby, finding her and bringing her to Eden for questioning and planning. The police, following legal requirements in Zimbabwe, pressed charges of criminal negligence and baby dumping. This is extremely common in Zimbabwe among “commercial sex-workers” as prostitutes are called and so, the police began proceedings quickly.

While the legal process was being enacted this woman sat at Eden’s headquarters and chatted with one of our Administrators, Mercy Stephano. Mercy, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was entirely calm and interacted with Thelma with grace and concern for her soul. In the course of conversation, Thelma shared her story. She had been married at a very young age, thirteen. The man who married her did not love her and did not stay with her. So, at 16, with 1 child, she went to Harare seeking the opportunity to find employment and a “better future.” She arrived at a high density suburb of Harare known as Epworth and proceeded to pursue employment. Such as is the way of life in a developing country with rampant unemployment and overpopulation in urban areas, she was unable to find work and found herself in a tremendously desperate situation. Initially, she had friends to stay with, but this is a short-lived reality when you don’t have anything to contribute and your friends are barely surviving as well. So, she did all she could do, and moved in with a willing man. As is common, he let her stay for “free” in terms of cash, but exacted the common and high price of sexual pleasure for her stay and food. It wouldn’t be long before she was operating in the oldest, saddest profession known to man…prostitution. When we met her, she was selling herself for the prices of $2 for “protected” sex with a condom and $5 “unprotected.” In a nation with unemployment as bad as it is in Zimbabwe right now, these are pretty high prices and equal to or above the possible earnings of a regular job for most people.

During the subsequent 10-11 years since she moved to Epworth, Tichakunda’s mother has had two more children and she came to Doma with the expressed intent of leaving Tichakunda at Eden to save him from the future that she has brought her other three children into in Harare. His mother came to Doma, having relatives about 5 miles away from the mission, expecting and hoping to be able to leave this boy and give him a better life than she can provide. At age 27, Tichakunda’s mother is HIV positive and heading quickly to full blown AIDs, impending death and entrance into the eternal element of life. Our hearts are quickened, saddened and burdened for this beautiful and desecrated daughter of the Most High God! She has no idea that she’s loved. No idea that she was created to live with Him, to delight in fellowship with Him for all eternity and that she wasn’t made to suffer. She’s been brutalized and destroyed by sin as tangibly as anyone can be and death isn’t a fearful reality for her, even with her cultural heritage which encounters the reality of death with extreme fear. Her life has been absolutely filled with abuse, damage and a failed masculinity that only stole and harmed her. How can we speak with her about a “Father” who loves her? What welcome would the “bridegroom” of Jesus Christ have for her heart? What framework could she have to believe He has been with her for her entire life? How can she believe He’s never abandoned her? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit and absolutely only by the power of the Spirit can the grace of God break into Thelma’s life to any real degree.

My heart utterly aches thinking about the manner in which the woman, created in the image of God, has been utterly destroyed by the sin in the world. I find my mind drawn to the passage that is Eden’s heartbeat…James 1:27. The passage reads, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Up to this point in the history of Eden, we’ve been primarily involved in caring for orphaned children, often helping widowed women to care for their children until they pass on and we care for their children after their demise. I found myself, in considering Thelma’s life, wondering what might have been different for this precious woman who literally believes she has no value, because of the way the world and sin in the world has treated her life. Could a difference have been made? Could she have learned a trade and provided for herself and her children without having to become a sex worker? It utterly sickens me to think of this poor woman exchanging her life for $5. While the $2 version is absolutely the same reality, the fact of agreeing to give her body to men for $5, expecting and knowing that the $5 version will be chosen by HIV infected men who desire more pleasure with no consequences to them personally. My heart aches to see this woman and others like her given hope and opportunities to allow for the possibility of a better future, one free from the sexual abuse of stained, broken and equally bankrupt men. I don’t know what God has for us to do, but I know that we, the Church of Jesus Christ, MUST strive to do something for women like this all over the world who face the reality of having no other choice. Preventing the ongoing explosion of orphaned children is probably the very best orphan care strategy. Assisting ailing mothers and families to successfully care for themselves, provide for their most basic needs and live on earth with physical hope, all while sharing of the Messiah for whom and because of whom we endeavor to do this work of grace.

Before you allow any judgmental thoughts or justifications to pass through your mind, as they come before mine also, let’s consider that circumstances actually exist in this fallen world that are not merely the result of poor choices, but the result of literally zero options to the alternative. We, as westerners, often think that people, if they chose correctly and worked hard, could make it into better situation and overcome all the odds. While that is true in many cases, let’s consider that there are actually situations where there is no alternative, no hope, no way out and no boot straps by which to pick yourself up. This is where Jesus comes in and the Church ought to follow Him. I am not sure, yet, what God would have for us to do besides sit and pray with Tichakunda’s mother and seek her welfare spiritually before she dies. However, I know that this will not do for long! How can we pray for her to be warm and well fed when that warmth will come from consensual sin and that her food will come from this debauchery and defilement. Jesus would not condone any of his followers sitting in utter luxury while another of His precious creatures surrenders her body and life to sexual immorality for survival. We MUST do something, brothers and sisters. A trade school and the opportunity to learn a viable way to survive comes to mind, but the Lord will lead to the correct action that must be taken. Please pray with us for leading and for empowerment and clear leading to whom, where and how to begin living the Gospel tangible for some of these precious women to be freed from a life of sex slavery and, ultimately, to be introduced to Jesus Christ and to find lasting freedom for eternity. 
We must be praying, attentively listening and actively pursuing any and every action Jesus would have us take to meet these precious lives with the Gospel.