You may already know that Gracie and I have stepped into a new dimension of our ministry: praying more for individuals and groups here at our home-based retreat center New Earth Refuge and teaching (¼ time) here in the US and around the world. We continue to share a position directing and pastoring Tierra Nueva. At Tierra Nueva, here at New Earth Refuge and in our travels we find ourselves inviting people into the ministry of Jesus, praying for healing and empowerment and equipping people to announce the Kingdom of God.
It’s feeling more and more like we are preparing people for something new and expanding. A renewal movement appears to be underway. We are certainly seeing more and more healing, conversions and other signs of God’s presence among immigrants, inmates and also in the churches. A friend recently sent me a prophetic word spoken by British revivalist Smith Wigglesworth in 1947. While it was about England, it seems to apply to here too. He prophesied then that in the next few decades there would be two moves of the Spirit characterized by “a restoration of the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit” and people “moving out of historic churches to plant new ones.” He saw a third larger move combining word and Spirit as following. I quote:
“When the new church phase is on the wane, there will be evidence in the churches of something that has not been seen before: a coming together of those with an emphasis on the word and those with an emphasis on the Spirit. When the word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest move of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed, the world has ever seen. It will mark the beginning of a revival that will eclipse anything that has been witnessed within these shores, even the Wesleyan and Welsh revivals of former years. The outpouring of God’s Spirit will flow over from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, and from there, will begin a missionary move to the ends of the earth.”
Gracie and I are seeing more and more groups and individuals that have focused primarily on Scripture cross-pollinating with those who have focused on Spirit (and vice versa) in ways we have not seen in our lifetimes. During a November 2007 trip to France I led Bible studies and a retreat for word-focused Scripture Union International’s European workers in Alsace and French Reformed pastors in Paris. In both places there was a lot of spiritual hunger (see trip reports on my blog (http://www.bobekblad.blogspot.com and the forthcoming article on Word and Spirit in Catalyst at http://bobekblad.com/publicationsnews.html).
Many individuals and churches everywhere also are feeling called to reach out to the poor and marginalized—a third essential chord. Word, Spirit and ministry among the poor are coming together like never before. People in North America and Europe are longing to see action. Yet fruitfulness in ministry is only possible as we are rooted and grounded in God’s loving Presence, pursued in worship, Bible study, contemplative prayer and service.
On a mid-December 2007 trip to Colorado Gracie and I ministered in a church in the Aspen area that faces huge ministry challenges. The Aspen area has one of the highest per capita undocumented worker populations in the United States. These people serve as construction workers, dish washers and gardeners for people of extreme wealth. We taught and preached on Jesus’ ministry of announcing the Kingdom of God to the poor to an enthusiastic group, and ended with a healing service where the Holy Spirit really came to heal and bless people.
Right here in Northwest Washington we also see signs of a movement of the Holy Spirit. Increasing groups and individuals come to us for prayer. We are aiming to complete our two bunk houses and meeting room to meet the growing demand for one-on-one prayer, retreats and courses.
We are deeply encouraged by people’s support for both our new calling and for the construction of our larger prayer, teaching and hospitality building. The structure is now complete, with windows, doors, siding, roof and decking. We currently need $50,000 for floors, insulation, electrical, sheet rock, kitchen and other finish work so we can begin hosting people. Eventually we will need another $150,000 to pay back a loan that has helped us build everything up to this point. Please prayerfully consider whether you feel called to help us complete the building. We welcome you to visit us, see the progress and receive prayer yourself.
Tax-deductible contributions can be given online through PayPal on my website (http://bobekblad.com/donate.html) or mailed directly to New Earth Refuge, P.O. Box 410, Burlington, WA 98233.
We value your prayers for the following international commitments happening in the next five months.
- February 16 I leave for nine days of outreach with Tierra Nueva in Honduras followed by two days speaking at Lubbock Christian University.
- Speaking engagements increase beginning in March once my new book A New Christian Manifesto: Pledging Allegiance to the Kingdom of God, (Westminster John Knox: Louisville, 2008) comes out in late February.
- In April I will be the keynote speaker at the Scripture Engagement Roundtable of the Forum of Bible Agencies International in Amsterdam. I will then spend four days speaking in Paris as the French edition of Reading the Bible with the Damned (Lire la bible avec les parias) comes out in late March.
- In June I will be heading to Pemba, Mozambique for two weeks to teach Mozambican pastors and mission students in Iris Ministries Holy Given Missions School, accompanied by my 13-year-old daughter Anna. This will be my third time working to train pastors in Mozambique—where revival is outpacing training in an amazing move of God’s Spirit.
May God richly bless you this Lent as you remember and celebrate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to save this broken, beloved world.
Yours in Christ,