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