God answered our prayers today at the Joburg GLS. We had cloudy skies but the weather was perfect in every way - it was neither warm nor cold! Yea God, you are awesome and you bless us way beyond any prayer we could ever think to pray! ...Within an hour of arrival registration was set up and then 300 volunteers gathered in volunteer central for their final briefing and prayer. There was air of peace and calm among them as they gathered in their serving teams then dispersed to receive our guests. Registration flowed smoothly and happy delegates began gathering in the church foyer waiting to run for the best seats.
Right from the start the delegates engaged fully and responded exuberantly with the Choir Planet opening and the worship set which followed. It was awesome to see 1800 leaders openly responding to God in worship and praise as they prepared their hearts for the sessions of the day. Bill Hybels' talk and the song designed especially for it in the first session created an atmosphere of surrender among the delegates to receive heart surgery from the Holy Spirit. During the song 20 dancers appeared in the room with red umbrella's symbolizing the blood of Christ cleansing us and forgiving us while on the screens a scene of pouring rain depicting refreshing and renewal and revival as a response to the message. There was a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit as delegates allowed themselves to be drenched by the images of pouring rain and then seeing the red umbrella's (the blood of Christ) available to cover them and release them. It was a powerful moment.
What an anointed day. Praise God. There were equally incredible days in the UK and New Zealand as well. Check back here tomorrow for updates from those sites.
Smiling volunteers greeted guests as they exited for their tea break. Gary Hamel's session opened with a video clip about the pace of change in our world. Immediately the audience responded to Gary's message. Our facilitator Gary Rivas then challenged them to evaluate things that they have been doing the same old same old for the past 3 years and then discuss it together with the pastor and their team. What a challenge which they responded to as the room was abuzz with discussions which continued into lunch time.
Jessica Jackley provided a refreshingly disarming message to which our delegates could not help but be inspired & motivated to make a difference. Of course they absolutely loved Andrew Rugasira, a fellow African, who was next and they clapped and cheered and verbalized their approval of his exceptionally excellent message and challenge concerning Aid vs Trade. And still the spirit of gentleness, peace, calm and surrender continued to grow after each message as God prepared them for the final session of the day by Wess Stafford.
This was the part of the day which took everyone's breath away as delegates responded at the end of the day by taking communion and forgiving those who had trespassed against them and by nailing their hurts, burdens and names of those they needed to forgive to 3 wooden crosses positioned around the auditorium. We watched mesmerized and humbled as hundreds of people queued to take their burdens and nail them to the crosses, began to pray in small groups for those who were sobbing and crying before God. The atmosphere was quiet as the Holy Spirit worked. Delegates who left the room did so almost like ghosts as they showed respect toward those who remained to do business with God. The sound of hammers hitting nails were audible and they sent shivers down the spine as hurting people nailed their hurts to the crosses. These ministry moments lasted for 40 minutes as people knelt at the crosses, comforted one another, took communion together as couples, and prayed together.
It took our breath away to watch as God healed, delivered and forgave His children. What a Mighty God we serve who is always faithful to do what He promises if we will simply surrender... And so we are doubly expectant of what God is going to do tomorrow...