I recently spent 2 weeks with Africa Freedom Mission in Lion’s Den, Zimbabwe ministering to the people of that town and receiving much from the Lord as well.  As we began our travels back home, I started writing, trying to sum up in any words what took place and how it impacted me.  This short post feels sorely inadequate to describe this adventure, but this is what I feel led to release publicly. Here are my thoughts:

I’m not sure how to summarize what has happened here. There are a few things I know for sure. Personally, I’ve shed the old wineskin and have received a new wineskin. I’m ready for new wine.  You know you can’t put new wine in old wineskins (Matthew 9:17)!  I believe God wants to do and is doing a new thing in the Church (and in me).  It’s interesting that at Passion 2022, they just released a song called “New Thing.” And one of the scripture verses the Lord used to speak to me in Africa was Isaiah 43:18-19.

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;

Isaiah 43:18-19a (NKJV)

The Church is being called afresh to mission by the Holy Spirit. The Church is being called to power and authority, and intimacy.  The Bride is being called to the Bridegroom.  And the mission does not exist solely in Africa.  The mission is global.  The enemy is everywhere. The Bride is being awakened from slumber.  Church as we have known it is no longer going to suffice.  We must be salt and light in the world.  Young men and women with passion and zeal for the Lord are being equipped for the army of the Lord.  

There is more to do than we think and less time to do it in.

We, as the Church, must be refined in the Refiner’s fire.  We must lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us.  We must come out from under deception and see the bigger picture God has planned.  We cannot stay in our comfort.  We must step out with ears to hear and eyes to see what the Father is doing.  We must be willing to follow the example of Jesus, who surrendered everything and followed the Father‘s voice alone.

We must be willing to challenge the establishment of religion in our own hearts and instead receive the Kingdom that Jesus preached, which begins with repentance.  We must be renewed in our desire for revival, for repentance, for prayer, for sold-out faithfulness to the gospel.  We must be a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led people.  We must be willing to forsake our own ideas and programs so that God has room to speak direction into our lives and we have room to follow Him.  We must be willing to hear and follow His voice alone.

I saw a People here in Zimbabwe that were, on the surface, content, but underneath hardened by the mixture of religious competition and witchcraft that so permeates the culture.  In its most basic form, witchcraft is simply a means of control, driven by a spirit that is not of God.  Scripture says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23).  It’s the desire to do things my way.  It is Lucifer’s sin.  I want.  I feel.  I will.  I fear that the American church has been hardened and deceived by the same mixture.  A desire for control through religion and a competitiveness within its denominational walls.  We seem far too often occupied by wanting things our way at the expense of the unity of the Spirit.  We strive more for branding and style within the church than we do for true fellowship in the Spirit, caring for each other, serving one another, speaking into each other’s lives, and seeking to build up and edify the body through the gifts that have been given for such a purpose.

At the same time, the culture here [in Zimbabwe] is a separated culture, driven by economic class and burdened by the reality of governmental control and deep poverty.  The desire is for survival, and also for success, but a very different success than what we see in the States.  We encountered a familiar resistance to the gospel, like in the States, with people being more interested in what God can give, the things that he can bless us with, or ignoring us and even mocking us – not receiving the true heart of the gospel that frees us from sin and brings peace with God, access to His love and presence, and then His provision.

We learned that more than making people feel good, providing for a need, or even bringing hope, we are carrying a Kingdom with a King – one that is governed differently than the kingdoms of this earth through righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  While our material blessing can be a gift and resources be used for Kingdom work, it was amazing to see how much is done with very little here.  With an unemployment rate in the 90+% range, the abundance we enjoy in America was quite absent.  Once I got past this disparity, I began to see that these people are just people like us.  Their struggles are different, yet they are the same.  Sin and it’s destruction is the same – and they suffer with it just like we do.  Too, the antidote to sin is the same.  The gospel that sets free from sin and delivers from bondage is what we all need.

It all makes me wonder if we need to get back to the simplicity of the gospel, to the salvation of the cross, striving only to enter the true repentance that God requires.  We are over-saturated with good ideas and programs, and under-saturated with the deep truth of the Word of God.  And we are starved of true encounter with the Holy Spirit, the One who has clearly been given to us for these last days.  We are playing Church and the culture will not tolerate that much longer.  The Holy Spirit is not just a comforting idea that we tuck away in the cupboards of our hearts, but is a powerful Being that can move mountains and shake us out of our complacency.  Do we not have mountains that need to be moved?  Are we so lost in our apathy that we do not see the assault that has been mounted on us by the enemy?  He (the Holy Spirit) is here for something.  Let’s wake up to see what He’s doing!

“It’s time.”

This word came to us through a vision of one of the team members as we worshiped together one morning in the early part of our trip.  It became quickly clear to many of us that God wanted to transform something in each of our lives on this trip.  It was time for each of us to lay down more before the Lord, to lay ourselves on the altar, to be refined by His fire, to step into new seasons of ministry, to receive new gifts, to find new love, and to experience deep and real fellowship that we have as His chosen ones.  It has been amazing to watch the deep work of transformation that can only come by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of each team member over these past two weeks.  We’ve seen hearts, minds, and bodies healed, demons cast out, fresh revelation come, new assignments given, and giftings realized.  Truly, we as the Church cannot forsake the necessity of the Holy Spirit to do these things.  It’s time.

Back to my wineskin.  There were some things for me to lay down, some things that needed to be burned up in the Refiner’s fire, but even more so, I felt like the Lord asked me to close one door and to walk through a new one.  I feel like the Lord released me from 40 years of wilderness.  There are things ahead, the details of which I am still waiting on, that I have to do.  There is a larger assignment, even from that which I’ve already undertaken.  But I know that I am not the only one.  There are many in the Church who need to respond to the call of the Spirit, who need to wake up and hear the voice of the Bridegroom.  He is calling for more – for more intimacy, for more commitment, for more fire.  He is getting his Bride ready. 

Have you heard His voice? 

If so, don’t wait another day.  Answer like Samuel did and say “Yes, Lord. Your servant is listening.”  He will do the rest.  He is doing it.