Ntcheu

•November 27, 2016 • 6 Comments

ntcheuDuring my recent trip to Malawi, we visited  the city of Ntcheu for the purposes of hosting a crusade. Having been raised Lutheran, the concept of open air preaching followed by an altar call is still a relatively novice idea for me. Fortunately, my brother in Christ, Bishop Chonzi, has helped me understand that true evangelism is not about scaring people with hell-fire and brimstone, but all about listening to the Holy Spirit and revealing the heart of God for His people with every ounce of passion He has placed inside of me!

This particular evening, we would be conducting the crusade under a large tent, supported by steel poles. Musical instruments, several speakers and three microphones were being powered by a generator located outside the tent, and, because it would soon be dark, two light fixtures had been wired to the poles of the tent so as to provide a bit of light as the night went on.

Soon I began to notice random flashes of light outside of the tent as streaks of cloud to cloud lightening lit up the sky…

I leaned over to the Bishop and said, “Steel poles, bare wires, and a microphone in my hand during a lightning storm; What could possibly go wrong?”

All he said was, “God is in control. Now get up there.”

There are times when I have an idea where the message is going to go, and times when I don’t, but all of the time, God is faithful! This particular evening I felt an energy level I had not felt before. I could tell the people in the crowd felt it too. It was as if the air became very thick. I could just feel the love of God pouring out all over His people! Many, many hands were raised in response to this outpouring of love.

People began to come forward for prayer. The first person in line was a man who clearly had issues with his eyes. His right eye was bloodshot and his left eye was swollen shut. As I placed my hand on his head to pray, the presence of God overtook him and he fell, face first, to the ground!

I released him to Jesus and moved on to pray for others. Soon, the man got up and began talking excitedly. I could see he was able to open both of his eyes as all of the swelling was gone. The man called the interpreter over and told him he could see clearly, but still felt like there were small stones in his eyes. I put my had on him to pray a second time when, once again, the presence of God came over him and he fell, face first, to the ground. This time, I waited for him to get up.

God is love. And it is God’s heart that everyone knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, how much He loves them! When the man got up, his eyes were perfectly clear and there was no pain! God had healed him completely! I asked, and the man agreed to tell his story.

It turns out that this man was one of our pastors from  neighboring village. He had gotten sand in his eyes the week before and had been using eye drops to try to flush the sand out. Unfortunately, his eyes had become infected. The pastor had been to the hospital that very morning, but they were unable to help; giving him a piece of cotton to help wipe the drainage, hoping the sand would work its way out on its own. God had done what the doctors couldn’t!

Following a time of praise for God’s goodness, Bishop Chonzi began to lead the closing prayer. As he was praying, a very dishevelled man came limping in from outside of the tent. He stood right in front of everyone and demanded prayer. The Bishop motioned for me to come forward. Both he and I could smell the alcohol coming off the man’s breath as he continued to talk.

He had been outside and heard the pastor’s testimony. Having drank for so long, his eyesight was nearly gone. He could barely see us standing right in front of him. He wanted his full eyesight back.

I asked Bishop Chonzi if the man knew Jesus. He did not. The Bishop introduced the man to Jesus and we both made sure that he knew, if anything happened to him, it would be Jesus who did it, not the “white woman.”

I put my hand on the man and began to pray. Before I finished my first sentence, he grinned a toothless grin from ear to ear, grabbed he microphone out of the Bishop’s hand pointed to the crowd and yelled, “I see you people! I see all of you!”

Great cheers went up as we once aging broke into songs of praise for our amazing Healer! We sang and danced until a rising wind storm forced us all to leave.

The next day, we returned to Ntcheu. An even greater crowd joined us than the day before. On look at the second row of chairs was all I needed to see both the pastor and the man from town in attendance. They stayed the entire day, listening to the teachings, dancing, praising God and coming forward for more prayer. When I prayed for the man from town, I noticed there was no  alcohol on his breath. God took this opportunity to heal the rest of his body as well!

In the afternoon, a very well dressed gentleman approached Bishop Chonzi, looking for CDs of my preaching. After a good chuckle, we informed him there were none. The man looked truly disappointed. It seems he was a former government official who was very well-traveled.

“I have been all over this country and have heard many different preachers in many different churches, but never have I heard such powerful and encouraging messages on the Love of God and on the Kingdom! Malawi needs this!”

The official went on to say that while his wife attended a nearby Seventh Day Adventist church, he refused to attend anywhere. Now, however, following all that they had seen and heard, they both decided to join Hosanna Bible Church International of Ntcheu. In addition, the official began to talk about their frequent visits to his wife’s home village in Mozambique. He told the Bishop that this message was exactly what was needed there and invited HBCI to plant a church in that community as well!

Following another full day of God’s goodness, miracles, and love, we left the people of Ntcheu in the very capable hands of the local HBCI pastors. We were not disappointed. A report came in on Sunday afternoon to say 60  additional people showed up for the Sunday morning service; including the former government official, his wife, and the man from town. All were warmly received!

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. – Zechariah 4:6

 

 

Ellen’s Story

•May 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Ellen and her son Ellen's testimony

Walking along a path through a nearby village, Ellen stopped to listen to the music. For some reason, she felt drawn to the group of people gathered under the tent.

“Imagine my surprise,” recounts Ellen, “when I saw a white woman preaching! She was telling the story of the Prodigal Son, but focusing mostly on the love of the Father. I know she was preaching to the whole group, but I felt as though she was speaking directly to me!”

Ellen continued to describe what was happening in her heart.

“As I listened, I began to understand who I was for the first time. I was not a servant or a slave, but the daughter of God. I heard that as a loving Father, I could count on God to provide for me!”

This revelation pierced Ellen directly through her heart. Some time ago, Ellen’s husband (like so many other men in Malawi) had moved to South Africa in hopes of finding a good job in order to send support home to Ellen and the kids. Unfortunately, the support never came and Ellen’s husband had stopped communicating with her altogether.

“I thought he had abandoned us. So, I didn’t know what to do. I needed to find a way to provide for myself and my family. I began to have adulterous affairs, hoping that would be the answer, but it wasn’t. After listening to the message, I knew in my heart that I could count on my Father God to provide for me and that I didn’t have to commit adultery to try to get my needs met.”

Ellen came forward to repent and ask for forgiveness during the prayer time following the message. Not only did she receive the forgiveness she was seeking, but she received freedom from several other things as well!

“After what happened, I felt so good that I went and brought my son back to the gathering for the evening meeting. The white woman was speaking again. This time it was about Jesus inviting us to come home to Father God. I thought about it and realized that even though I considered myself a Christian, I had never really given my life to Jesus. So, when it came time to pray, both my son and I asked Jesus to come into our hearts.”

During the ministry time that followed, Ellen brought her son to me for prayer. He had an open, weeping sore about 3 inches in diameter on his right leg, surrounded by smaller ones that looked the same. Although I did not know their story at this time, I felt led to pray for freedom and an encounter with the love of God as a father, in addition to physical healing for the boy’s leg.

The next morning, Ellen attended the church service under the tent, hosted by Hosanna Bible Church International, and shared her testimony.

“After leaving the tent last night, I received a phone call. It was from my husband in South Africa! This was the first time we had spoken since he left. He had called to tell me that he loved me, he had found a job, and was sending money home!” I could hardly believe my ears! I went to bed knowing God really was my Father and really would provide for me. Then, this morning, as I was getting ready to come to this service, another amazing thing happened. My son showed me his leg. The large wound was completely covered with new skin and the smaller ones were gone! I have taken him to every doctor and clinic I could find and no one has ever been able to help. But God healed him overnight!”

There was much rejoicing and celebration that morning as Ellen was welcomed “home” in her Father’s house!

– with JOY!

Cheryl

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15:22-24

 

…and we danced!

•December 2, 2015 • 3 Comments

During my three month visit to Malawi recently, I had the opportunity to pray over many, many people. Most of these opportunities came at the end of open air crusades. It was so much fun to watch God come with power, backing up His mighty word and demonstrating His great love for His people!

One of my favorite encounters happened in the village of Masaula. We had been ministering at a local church earlier in the day and then decided to hold an open air crusade in the middle of the town’s trading center.

The worship team played and sang, creating an inviting atmosphere for the local villagers. Pastor Yonas gave a powerful message and many (adults as well as children) raised their hands to receive Jesus that evening. Following the message, we invited anyone who was sick or just wanted a touch from God to come forward for prayer.

One of the first things Pastor Yonas and I noticed was the incessant swarm of black flies that would not leave either of us alone. We had flies in our eyes, up our noses and inside our mouths! We also noticed that these flies did not seem to be bothering anyone else. No matter – we pressed on and prayed for everyone who came forward.

One elderly woman asked me to pray for her failing eyesight and pain all over her body. I noticed she was using a walking stick to support herself while standing for prayer. I prayed. When I was through, I asked Catherine, my interpreter, if the woman had noticed anything different following the prayer. The woman said her eyesight had begun to clear somewhat. So, I reminded her that even Jesus prayed twice for a man’s eyes and asked if I could pray again. She consented.

Following the second prayer, the woman declared her eyesight to be completely restored! Praise God! I had Catherine ask her if she would be willing to testify about what God had done, but she was reluctant. Pastor Yonas heard about the healing and asked the woman if she would testify in front of the crowd, but she responded with, “maybe tomorrow.”

I was disappointed to say the least. I didn’t care if she told anyone I had prayed for her. I just wanted her to give witness to how wonderful and deep God’s love was for her! It’s this very type of witness that builds faith in other people and compels them to seek out God’s love for themselves.

As customary, the evening was beginning to come to a close with a few more songs from the worship team. Just when they began the music, I felt someone grab my hand. It was the woman whom I had prayed for! She pulled me to the front of the crowd, and with a dramatic flourish, threw away her walking stick and began to dance!IMG_0328IMG_0327

The crowd went wild! Everyone in that village knew her as an old woman who needed help getting around. But, not anymore! God had healed her entire body and this was her testimony! I had wanted her to talk about her eyes, but she had wanted to dance…and so, we danced!

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might;” – 2 Samuel 6:14a

Surprise!

•July 22, 2015 • 2 Comments

During my quiet time with God this morning, I asked Him if there was anything He wanted to tell me. I heard, “Get ready for surprises today!” I thought, “Oh yeah! Maybe I’ll get an invitation to another country, maybe I’ll get an invitation to write something new, maybe…” I really didn’t know what God had planned. Then I caught myself. I stopped trying to figure it out. What fun is a surprise if you figure it out ahead of time? So, I surrendered, “Okay God, surprise me!”

A few minutes later, I noticed something small and shiny on the bathroom floor. Honestly, my first reaction was, “I need to talk to the guys about being more diligent when cleaning up after something breaks!” I thought I was picking up a tiny shard of broken glass…

Actually, it was a diamond. A very tiny, yet very precisely cut, diamond! Now, I’ve seen the movie Finger of God where people talk about gem stones just showing up in their homes, and to be honest, I really wanted that to be what had happened. But, the truth of what this was is even more amazing than God just dropping something at random on my bathroom floor!

17 years ago (for our 15th wedding anniversary) Marty bought me a beautiful diamond anniversary ring to wrap around my original rings. Over the years, I have noticed that one or two of the accent diamonds in the anniversary ring tend to get caught on things. In fact, I’ve lost two of them and had to have them replaced. About two years ago, I lost two of them again. This time, Marty and I decided that when we could afford it, we would have the entire ring reset into a new design. Clearly the setting I currently had was not working well!

God is always faithful and a great provider, but suffice it to say, int the last two years, resetting my ring just never rose to the top of our priority list. So I have just been wearing it as is; missing diamonds and all.

As a missionary, I am always careful to remove my ring and replace it with a more simple one before I travel. About a month ago, I put my wedding ring into my jewelry box and put on my “travel” ring. This morning, I took my wedding ring out of the jewelry box and set the diamond I had found inside one of the empty places in the ring. Of course it fit perfectly!Surprise!

A tiny diamond I had lost two years ago showed up today in the middle of my bathroom floor. SURPRISE!!!

Now, if God can reveal diamonds on my floor, just for fun, just to surprise me, just to show me how much he loves me; how much more will He provide for all of my daily needs!

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

The Club

•July 13, 2015 • 2 Comments
BBQ Outreach!

BBQ Outreach!

I’ve just returned from an amazing outreach trip to Staten Island, New York! One of my favorite things was having my husband join me on this trip. He and his friends from Ally Force Ministries cooked food for several outreaches on the Holy Smoker Grill.

This past Friday, a team of 20 of us were privileged to partner with the Salvation Army and the Movement Church of Staten Island

for one of these BBQ outreaches in a very tough neighborhood. The scent of BBQ on the grill helped draw all kinds of people into the courtyard in front of the Salvation Army building. Here we were able to provide free food, cold water, and prayer ministry to everyone who came. Our only competition was the loud booming bass of the music streaming out of the club across the street.

Talking to the club owner.

Talking to the club owner.

At one point in the afternoon, promoters from the club came over to where some youth were gathering outside of the BBQ and handed out fliers. The next thing we noticed was that all of the youth followed the promoter back across the street to the club. Pastor Melissa from the Movement Church decided “enough was enough” and went across the street to talk to the owner of the club. That’s when the first miracle occurred.

Upon hearing what we were up to, the club owner offered to stop the music at 7:00 pm on a Friday Night and allow the pastors to speak to the kids from the stage! Unbelievable!

At 7:00 two pastors and a small group of prayer ministers entered the club. The lights were turned on and the kids were asked to sit down and listen. Pastor Steve gave a powerful message and then lead the group in a prayer. At that point, our team was escorted out of the club. Several of the prayer ministers were confused. They felt they had connected with some of the youth who wanted to know more; but now they were standing alone, outside of the club.

The owner made this comment, “One night a month for four hours, we let the youth in to dance. Each of these kids has paid $10 to get in here and none of them are about to leave just to see you.”

Feeling disappointed the team walked back across the street. Pastor Steve encouraged the group as to what a great move of God it was that they had access to the kids in the club in the first place and not to look down on what happened. Spirits began to lift as people processed the potential of what God might do with that brief encounter.

Kids!

Kids!

Towards the end of the outreach, the second miracle occurred. Just as the food was being put away we noticed a sea of youth streaming out of the club, rushing across the street to the outreach! Almost instantly, the yard was filled with joy! More food was served and all of the team began engaging with the youth. Many youth were prayed over. Several youth gave their lives to the Lord!

Happy, but somewhat confused, we asked what made the youth leave the club. Here is what we heard, “After you left, we started dancing again. Then something happened. There were some sort of technical difficulties causing the music to stop. After a while the owner suggested we might want to come over here for some food while they tried to fix the problem. So, here we are!”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

What Would it Take?

•June 25, 2015 • 2 Comments

Monks in MyanmarFour years ago I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Myanmar(Burma).

At that time, travel inside the country was severely restricted. Also,to identify yourself as anything but Buddhist was asking for hardship in your life. While technically it was not against the law to be a Christian, it was almost impossible to get a job, go to school, or prevent your neighbors from running you out of town when they found out.

It was against this backdrop that my friend and I traveled to a coastal town on a day pass to meet with a Burmese couple who were underground missionaries in their own country. Having been born in a tiny province where a high percentage of the population were Christian, this couple was able to relocate, within their own country, on a work visa.

Shortly after arriving in their new town, the couple began to hand out backpacks with school supplies to many of the unwanted/uncared for children in the village. These children were not orphans; just some of the many, many kids who arrived as byproducts of long dark nights without electricity.

When we first met the couple, the wife smiled and said exuberantly, “Just like in my dream!” Apparently, two years earlier she had  a dream in which God had told her two American women would visit her one day, to encourage her. She and her husband had never seen, let alone met, an American before.

We sat and visited with this couple for a bit before they introduced us to another gentleman in the room. I honestly do not remember the gentleman’s name, but his story is one I will never forget!

The gentleman was introduced to us as a former Buddhist Monk who had now given his life to Jesus and was actively, deeply involved in ministry! I was speechless – just for a moment 🙂 Then I had to ask,

“Besides the work of the Holy Spirit, what is it that would compel a Buddhist Monk, of all people, to convert to Christianity?”

He had a one word answer, “Love.”

This was not your normal Sunday School answer of “yes,” “love,” or “Jesus.” There was nothing trite in his reply. I knew there had to be a level of depth in what he was referring to. So, I asked if he would expound.

“I saw this couple handing many backpacks out to children, who were not even theirs, I wondered, ‘Why?’ They had no obligation to care for these children and caring for them would bring them no economic gain. So, I asked them. Why would you do this? They told me it was out of love.”

“Now, I was familiar with the kind of sexual attraction men and women had for each other that is called love, but not this kind of love that was selfless and giving, expecting nothing in return, that one could have for someone they did not even know. In Buddhism, we do not have this concept.”

The couple went on to share with this man for many months, explaining that this selfless love comes from God and what He did for us through Jesus.

The man continued, “The entire concept of grace (receiving a blessing you did not earn) was completely foreign to me as well. As a monk, I had been a well sought-after astrologer. If a man came to me seeking to have his chart read, i would only do it if the man could pay. No exceptions. If you cannot pay, then come back when you can. It was as simple as that. There is also no concept of grace in Buddhism.”

“So you see, I just had to find out about this great love!”

I smiled. By this time in our visit, I was the one who had been filled to overflowing with this great love. Leave it to the perfect Father to transcend political,geographical and ideological boundaries with one basic, yet profound, expression – LOVE!

We thanked the man and the couple. We prayed over them and encouraged them as best we could. But the one who came away most encouraged, was me.

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:10-12

Livilidzi

•June 2, 2015 • 4 Comments

Six Weeks.

That’s about the total amount of time I have left at home here in Minnesota before my next fun-filled mission season!

Six weeks.

That’s also the amount of time I spent in Malawi last fall.

Malawi.

A place that began as “my first mission trip” in 2008  and has grown to what I now consider “home away from home.”Livilidzi

Last November I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women in a small earthen brick church in the village of Livilidzi. This was not the first time I had been to this church. In fact I remember praying a blessing over the new little congregation a few years ago when the church was first planted. I remembered this church because of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit that I felt when I was there.

I was very excited for my return visit, but most excited to talk about what was on my heart. I could think of nothing more encouraging to share with these women (or anyone else actually) than the message of the Father’s Love. I was able to speak from my heart and from my life. i was able to share how I felt the first time I actually understood how God sees me.

A Daughter.

Not a servant, not a slave, but a daughter.

That concept not only rocked my world, but changed the lens I viewed God with. I was able to clearly see how, as my Father; every thought, every plan, every action, every idea, every motivation of His toward me was GOOD. I understood that with a Dad like that, who was completely and totally for me, who could be against me? (Romans 8:31)

After I shared with the women, the local pastor stood up, thanked me and began speaking to the women in Chichewa – the local language. Suddenly, there was great excitement in the room and many of the women began clapping and cheering. Once again, i was sensing a powerful move of the Holy Spirit albeit I wasn’t sure what it was all about. I asked for a translation of what the pastor had said and this is what i was told.

“While you were speaking to the women, a man was riding past the church on his bicycle. He stopped to listen to what you were saying and then came to find the pastor. The man told the pastor of the great pain he had in his life and said he wanted to know the love of such a great Father as this! Then the man asked the pastor to pray for him.”

Livilidzi

Holy Spirit

A Daughter

Malawi

My Heart