Saturday, March 22, 2014

‘You need to realize how much you have a Father who loves you!’

It’s amazing how the Lord turn days, lives and circumstances to His glory!
Today, for example, a friend asked me to coffee and brought another friend who had just driven across the country all the way from Newfoundland. This 2nd friend told me he had met Erica + me before, briefly at a conference a few years ago.
We sat down together, and he began sharing an amazing story with me that I would now like to share with you.
He was not really sure why he’d driven back to Abbotsford, but as he spoke, he said this purpose was growing clearer.
On October 5th, he awoke from a dream. In this dream, he had seen a line of people entering heaven. A young girl, he thought about 12 years old, left the line, came and stood right in front of him, pointed directly in his face and said,
‘You need to realize how much you have a Father who loves you!’
He added that he inherently knew this wasn’t a young girl, however; somehow he had the sense she was really an older woman, especially from her thick, combed-back hair.
Later that day, his wife showed him the FB story about Erica’s disappearance on the same day and when he saw her accompanying photo, he realized the girl in his dream had been Erica!
As he related his story, I felt a strong witness this was from the Lord for 2 reasons:
1st: he knew this specific item of Erica’s thick hair. This had always been one of her personal pet peeves: her hair was so thick she always said she couldn’t do anything with it!
2nd: her words about The Father’s love were the same words we use in expressing the central message of our Father’s Heart seminar we’ve been teaching for the last few years: ‘You’ve got a Father who loves you!’
He could not have known these details just through his own intuition, so this greatly encouraged me.
Somehow the Lord had driven this man all the way across Canada to affirm something in my heart.
Our ministry yet carries on, even though Erica is no longer with me.
She was preaching even while she was in line to enter heaven. She never gave up!
My new friend and I talked further, prayed together, and when we went outside, another fellow approached us.
I didn’t recognize him at all; however, my new Newfie friend did.
But almost immediately, this fellow turned to me, exclaimed, ‘You’re Henry, Erica’s husband!’ and proceeded to tell me how profoundly he’d been touched by her funeral service: ‘I felt I’d been in the most wonderful spiritual encounter ever!’
‘Oh, you were there at the funeral?’ I replied.
And he then related to me how a mutual friend of ours, who now lives in Alberta, had tried to get him to meet us months before, but Erica disappeared before this could come about. Turned out this mutual friend had flown out from Alberta and brought this fellow with her to the funeral.
Again… just an added touch of how strongly the Lord wants me to know how He has used Erica’s life even in death, and her funeral to touch hearts, even of people we don’t even know.
On my walk back uphill, I stopped where they’d finally discovered Erica’s body New Year’s Day.
So close, yet so far.
The sun came out, it grew warmer! Spring was in the air and I felt the Lord healing more in my life and family. Somehow He orchestrated these ‘chance’ meetings and brought me together with these new friends to affirm my heart that none of this has been wasted, to no avail, or in vain.
His Hand is redeeming even now: new glory through the pain and suffering.
And as if I needed more confirmation, as I continued walking, an eagle appeared above me. For me, another sign of His Presence, circling and soaring, leading me home.

If you are interested in more on The Father’s Heart: we have a 4-CD set that was recorded last year.
It focuses on how Jesus essentially came to reveal The Father, bring many sons and daughters to life, heal the father wound and break off the orphan mentality so evident in this generation (John 14).
Together, Erica + I and members of our family share how the Lord brought healing to our own lives, marriage, relationships and ministry through this vital message.
These are available for a donation.
Please contact me personally through a FB message or email:
Simple gospel Answers to life’s contradictory Questions:
‘I’m a child of God’ + ‘I have a Father who loves me!’
Discover your eagles’ wings and mount up above those problems trying to overwhelm you.
I know it’s true: the Lord has lifted me through these last 6 months.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

‘I have set an open door before you, and what I have opened, no man can shut!'

My Missions-Vacation trip to Mexico and Guatemala was going really smoothly until…
I had spent the first week with our team in Mexico City and Oaxaca, then 4 days with missionary friends in Puebla. My flight to Tapachula, a border town, had also gone well: I’d met my friends and we’d driven to Antigua, Guatemala where I stayed for the next week.
Tucked into a mountain valley, surrounded by 3 volcanoes, 1 still quite active, filled with beautiful flowers and impressive historic ruins, the entire scenario proved restful. It had been a great time, and now I felt revived, restored and ready to return to my home and family and continue life’s changes.
Monday started early: 3am and I awoke to catch a shuttle into Guatemala City from where I transferred to another bus for a 6-hour ride back to Tapachula, then flights to Mexico City and home on Tuesday. All my trip costs had been covered by love offerings and friends’ generosity along the way and now I was enjoying the final leg of my journey, gazing out my bus window at the passing Guatemalan countryside.
The only interruptions were those intermittent and inconvenient tumulos (in Guatemala), topes (in Mexico), speed-bumps (in English). Surprisingly, people actually build their own tumulos and then stand beside them, right in the middle of the road, with bowls extended, inviting contributions from passing traffic!
I felt a similar tumulo in my up-to-then smooth ride when we arrived at El Carmen, the Guatemalan border crossing.
Confusion reigned! I felt like back in Nigeria in the 80s! My bus was taking us all the way into Tapachula, but the driver advised us we had to take our own luggage off the bus and personally walk it through Mexican Customs. When I got off, all kinds of people immediately surrounded me! Taxi drivers soliciting fares – ‘No, I don’t need a
ride!’ Money-changers hollering out their competing rates of exchange – ‘No, I don’t need any!’ And everywhere, 7 + 8-year olds, who without asking, just grabbed at my suitcase, hoping to lay claim to a tip for helping me. In Nigeria, they’d asked, ‘Can I take your bag, sir?’ and meant it. They’d take it all right, and you’d
never see it again! I felt the same here, so I kept my bags close and my eyes wide open.
Surprisingly, the Customs officers asked us all to open our luggage and thoroughly checked each one. Chiapas State isn’t the most peaceful part of Mexico, so I guess they wanted to make sure we weren’t running guns or dope. I wondered: But why aren’t they checking down at the river where I’d just seen a whole bunch of contraband floating unchallenged into Mexico without any checkpoint?
I closed up my suitcases, beat off a few more would-be helpers, and continued towards the Immigration-Passport-Visa people. But there were none in sight and the
official there just waved me on by to my waiting bus. I thought it a bit peculiar that no one would actually check my passport, but in the midst of all the noise and confusion, perhaps the Mexican and Canadian governments had come to some special understanding, so we didn’t need a visa and passport stamp every time?
I loaded my bags back on the bus and took my seat. The bus drove off and I figured I’d left the confusion behind. My bus dropped me off at the city depot, I got a taxi out to the airport (such a deal! it was 1/2 the price I’d been told, so I thought I was extra blessed!) and I was there, ready for my flight, with 2 hours to spare!
Like life sometimes, my trip was going so smoothly until…
The next tope: Time to check in for my flight to Mexico City and when I gave the lady my passport, she kept thumbing through it, looking for something that was evidently not there. She asked me how I got into the country. I explained my crossing at El Carmen. She replied that I had no Mexican visa paper, but then shrugged, said this was just a domestic flight, and I could get on anyways.
Our flight flanked the sun setting in a red-gold symphony to the west, and then millions of crystalline lights twinkled their welcome to one of the world’s largest metropolises. My home-stay student and his family picked me up right when I arrived. We went out for a wonderful Mexican supper, then back to their home where I had a shower and even slept in a real bed for 3 hours. They woke me up (my second 3am rising in a row!) and kindly drove me back to the airport. I was at Terminal One in the Air Canada check-in line by 4am.
All was going so smoothly until ….
everything hit a sudden speed-bump. My ticket agent was looking through my passport and asked me where my Mexico visa paper was? I again explained how the border officers had just waved me through yesterday and expected that to be enough. But this agent did not look happy. He called over his manager, who looked at both my passport and reservation papers, which made him look even unhappier, and then told me I could not get on my flight without a proper visa paper and stamp!
I replied, ‘But it’s not my fault! The Mexican Immigration officials themselves had been negligent. They waved me into their country without a visa and now these same officials didn’t want to let me out until I’ve got their stamp?
I think I began muttering en espagnol, ‘Loco, loco!’
However, the manager did offer me a bit of hope. He gave me a stand-by boarding pass, and then said all I had to do was pass through Security and secure the necessary paper and stamp from some Immigration official who would be on the other side!
I made it through the first step, but the second proved a seemingly impossible wall!
I did find him, but this Immigration officer spoke very ‘poco inglese’ and together with my ‘pecito espagnol’, the only thing clear was that he was not going to give me my stamp, although it was right on his desk in his hand. He was not helpful at all, but kept on talking about some faraway Gate 19 and Door 10, where they might be able to.
We were at about Gate 28 so I headed down the hallway, my carry-on bags in tow. Ten minutes later (it’s a long way between gates in this terminal!) I arrived at Gate 19 only to find a lone cleaning lady, but no Door 10 anywhere! Not even a Door 1! She spoke solo espagnol, which further frustrated my search, so I turned and ran 10 gates back to Immigration. He was quite put off with me when I told him his Door 10 didn’t exist, insisting it was just outside. So how do I get outside? Do I go back out through Security and count 10 doors to my hidden destiny?
Our language differences didn’t help communication. Another lady stepped in, but only made things worse.
I found out my flight was leaving through Gate 34, so now clutching my Stand-by boarding pass tightly and praying fervently in the Spirit, I abandoned my search for the elusive Door 10, hoping AirCanada would be more helpful.
Another 10 minutes sped past me, and when the agents showed up; the lady said she couldn’t help me, but directed me to the manager, the same dude I’d met at Check-in. This time he proved completely unhelpful, even abruptly advising me, ‘Go back to Immigration, Meester!’
Discouraged, I rushed back to this one who was not at all happy to see me again, and emphatically insisted that the invisible Door 10 held my answer. I thought perhaps I was misunderstanding Door 10 as really Gate 10, so I ran, again with my luggage, another 20-gate marathon.
But Gate 10 was empty, and there were still no doors!
Time was outrunning me. It was now 5 o’clock and I had less than an hour to find the magic door!
I ran back to the Immigration guy, pled with him, appealed to his compassion and sense of justice to just give me the stamp he held in his hand so I could go home. But he didn’t budge. In fact, he was unrelenting, even belligerent.
But then he added something new to the Door 10 mystery. It really did exist, but only opened at 7am!
‘Non bueno,’ I countered, ‘my flight leaves at 6!’
‘So rebook your flight for menana!’
Talk about Catch-22! So was I supposed to stay in this No-Man’s Land, like some Tom Hanks movie character, in this airport for 24 hours or however long? I told him this was ridiculous and they should take care of their own bureaucratic irresponsibility.
Thank God I still knew I could pray: those 88 Days did teach me something.
But I was at a loss of what and how to pray? I’d appealed to the Lord’s power and mercy, taken authority over the devil, cast down his schemes and everything that was trying to hinder my journey. But as I ran back to the AirCanada Boarding Gate, only 20 minutes remained till its departure and every minute screamed more loudly that my plane was leaving without me. Frustrating? Discouraging!
I arrived out of breath and the manager made like I was invisible, completely avoided me, walked right by me and disappeared!
That did it! Any hope I had broke and so did I! At a loss, I virtually crumpled on their counter and cried out: ‘It’s up to you, Father!’ and was reconciled to wait on His Will… whatever. 88 days’ waiting has a tendency to change one’s perspective.
The lady agent I’d first met at this gate then came over and asked why I was so upset. I told her the situation: I needed to go home – today. I poured out my heart about Erica, the last 5 months and how I needed to be with my family!
Then, without a word, she took my Standby pass, went to her computer, typed something, returned and handed me a real boarding pass.... and with a glance to see if her manager was watching? motioned me to board the aircraft!
Dazed, I started walking, down the boarding ramp, onto the plane. I felt like I was reliving Peter’s dream coming out of prison!
Amazed, at how the seemingly impossible had suddenly become so possible!
God was at work, especially in and through this woman’s compassionate heart! I’m now convinced she was an angel – there just to make a way for me!
I sat down in my seat: 12F, and pulled my seat belt tight. There were still 10 minutes till take-off and they still had 10 minutes to remove me from the plane. But I resolved that even if the Immigration guy, the Air Canada manager and a gang of Federales might all appear, they’d have to take me by force. I would not go without a fight! If need be, I would create an international incident. I was not ending up in a Mexican prison!
The 10 minutes passed. The stewardess closed the overhead compartments; the aircraft’s door was shut tight.
But…then it took another 15 minutes for our plane to finally pull away for take-off.
But in that time, I heard His Word speak in the power of His Spirit:
‘I have set an open door before you, and what I have opened, no man can shut. And what I have shut, no man can open!’
Finally we were airborne! We cleared that last tumulo/tope/speed bump.
I had my wings and my heart filled with thanksgiving and overflowed with joy!
God had made a way where there was no way.
Within 7 hours, I was home and my luggage too!
My angel had remembered to even put it on!