During the 90’s there was a very strong influence on many people and churches across the world, namely the “Toronto Blessing”. We were not involved with this as God had us focused on the direction that He had given to us at that time.
It became so widespread, affecting churches and groups of all denominations, congregations, leaders, pastors and vicars alike, young and old, that I began to seek God as to whether we were missing out through not being involved. There were people that thought we were. The ‘blessing’ appeared to be an outer experience but those involved said that they were much more in touch with God and renewed in their spiritual walk and it had increased their hunger for God. I could not deny that God was doing something and He was certainly getting people’s attention and giving them a sign of His power. I had been very involved in the early days of the Charismatic renewal in the 60’s so it was not entirely new to me, but those days were on a much smaller scale as people did not travel like they do now. I did know that I did not have to be actively involved in this ‘blessing’ in order to experience the by-products as I believe that in God we live and move and have our very being. I know that trusting His life in me would bring me into all that God had and desired for me. I know that His life brings us into a day in, day out lived out life of constancy in the Holy Spirit where ‘blessing’ takes on a whole new meaning as Jesus Christ through us strives to see Himself formed in all of created beings. Do hear my heart, I am not in any way speaking out against the “Toronto Blessing” but sharing where I was on my journey at that time.
Moving on in to the new millennium, God proved yet again that we never miss out in this life of faith if we are trusting in Him for He has His times and seasons for everything in our lives.
During the summer of 2001 I was sitting at my computer one day when I received an E-mail from a total stranger who I will call Jenny. Without going into details of the E-mail I wasn’t really sure how it involved me. I replied saying, “Who are you, who do you fellowship with and how did you get my address?” Not friendly at all, in fact I was quite indignant. In that moment I heard God’s voice so clearly it caused me to take notice. I heard God say, “Keep an open mind or you might miss something.” I received a reply from Jenny stating that a ministry package was in the post. Believing that I had heard God speak I was intrigued enough to eagerly await the arrival of the package, but also to know how this person from Ohio had come by my address. I eventually found out that it had come about through Jenny’s contact with a Christian travel agent who knew a friend of mine from the States who had visited with me on a number of occasions. The problem was that my friend who is busy and travels a lot with her own ministry had forgotten to tell me.
It turned out that Jenny was a church pastor and evangelist and she had received a number of prophecies from different sources stating that she would be going to London to minister. The package duly arrived and after being touched and stirred in my spirit when listening to the tapes, I eagerly devoured the accompanying book and could not put it down, finishing it within 24 hours. The only time I have been glad to be stuck in a long traffic jam. I knew that if she was coming to London then I wanted to meet her. Having had nothing more than a word from God and a rising in her spirit, Jenny and her ministry helper, who I will call Joan, had booked on a tour to London where on arrival they were going to part from the tour group, visit some churches and see what God did in the situation. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the tour was cancelled. It was after this event that Jenny contacted the Christian travel agent. Plans had been made for them to stay in a hotel in London and she had made contact with me in the hope that I would go and meet with her giving her a contact in London. I agreed to do this and a date was fixed. This seemed quite easy and straight forward at the time but none of us knew the implications of 9/11.
Jenny and Joan were at the airport waiting for their American Airlines internal flight when the first plane flew into the twin towers in New York City. Needless to say everything was cancelled and nobody knew how long it would be before aircraft would be flying out of the States across the Atlantic again. The priority anyhow was to get stranded people home. As it happened, and obviously after much prayer, the travel agent finally found seats on a plane for about 10 days later. In view of the event money for the hotel stay had been refunded. At this point I suggested to Jenny and Joan that they forget about booking a hotel and come and stay at my house instead. They agreed in amazement as they had never stayed in the house of a stranger before.
I organised various meetings for them both in my home and at various churches that I had contact with. Our Pastor had by then listened to the tapes and the first meeting was in our own church. During ministry time I was prayed for and immediately fell to the floor. Jenny turned and said, “Look at your hands Barbara, they are covered in oil” When I eventually looked, not only was there oil but gold dust too. I had heard of people manifesting gold dust but never oil. It was not something that I had asked for or gone seeking after. I realised in a new way that we cannot put God in a box, He does what He does in spite of us. My husband Alan had the same experience that same evening at a meeting at a friend’s house. We had four meetings that Sunday and the folk at the Russian church which consisted of refugees from the old Soviet Union were really hungry for God and during ministry time they all fell down like dominoes one after the other and most began speaking in tongues. The children fell down too and I knew it was real when I witnessed a baby prayed for and saw his head just fall back on his Mothers shoulder under the power of the Spirit.
I must make it clear that we do not talk about our own personal experience generally but I do so here because it is part of my spiritual journey and was another life changing event. It is not something I can take credit for, or make happen it is down to God. It’s not something I even think about it until it happens and most often it happens during praise and worship times. On asking God why and what it was for in our own lives, for Alan it came as a sign to pray for someone and for me more of a confirmation of something that God had put on my heart, be it a word, a prophecy or to pray for someone. Many times it has just been a confirmation of a real presence of the Spirit. I am glad that I heard God and responded that day just sitting at my computer.
There were 2 incidences shortly after this that I will relate as a picture of how God used this gift. Firstly a Russian Mother asked me if I would pray for her teenage son who was rebelling against God. On agreeing I first wanted to talk to him and ask his permission and on chatting with him it became evident that his studying of science was a hindrance to him believing. I boldly asked him if it would make any difference if God gave him a sign and he said maybe. In faith I held out my hands to him and they were covered in oil and gold dust. He sank to the floor, accepted Jesus as his Saviour and was immediately baptised in the Spirit. God confirmed to me that although the inner life was the most important, outer manifestations do have their place too.
Soon after that I was having coffee in Starbucks when I noticed a family with a very sick looking little girl who looked like she had Leukaemia or something. I suddenly felt pressed to pray for her. In the middle of Starbucks, what was I thinking! Panic rose up and I said to God, “If this is what you want, then give me confirmation”. Suddenly oil appeared on my hands and I knew that there was no turning back. When I approached the Mother she was very sharp with me telling me that her daughter was very sick but I should not worry as it was not catching. I explained that that was not what I was suggesting but I wondered if I could pray for her. She wanted to know who I was and for me it felt like it was getting more difficult by the minute. I told her which church I belonged to and she became very embarrassed and said that she thought that her child would not cope with being prayed for in such a public place. She did however sound very pleased when I asked if she would like my church to pray for her daughter. The following Sunday the whole church prayed for this little girl and I saw that I had been taught another lesson. It was for me to be obedient to God’s promptings and the outcome is entirely His responsibility. I had initially been tempted to think that I had got it all wrong but who knows what seeds were sown. A life of faith is about trusting and believing and taking the next step no matter how small and insignificant it might seem at the time.
So, for the next six years we hosted this lady in our home whenever she came to the UK and organised meetings for her until the time came when I felt that we had connected her up with enough groups and churches for her to be able to make her own arrangements. As far as this story goes I will be wrapping it up and bringing you up to the present day in the next and final chapter. It has been interesting during some of the writing to realise that I have been learning all over again from my own writing. God gives us revelation and then through life experiences causes us to learn to walk in those truths. He changes us from one degree of glory to the next.