Hello again from the ends of the earth!
Well, so much has been happening and I have barely had a chance to update my blog lately. All I can say at the moment however is that I’m blessed to be alive to post this update. I learned a valuable lesson this past Friday. That lesson was to never go surfing in overhead waves alone. We had some free time Friday after prayer room and I decided to go surfing. It was a cloudy day so nobody wanted to go to the beach with me which was weird to me since as a Florida boy I always want to go to the beach! So I decided to paddle out alone. The waves were about 8-10 feet and it was way more than I was used to. I tried to duck dive under a wave that had already broken but didn’t get down far enough and it thrashed me around like a dog does a rag doll. This happened three times and I really thought I was going to drown. It is by the sheer mercy of God that I am alive today.
The Lord began speaking to me that night about my experience. I know that He has given me a voice in this generation and on Friday the enemy tried to shut my mouth. He, of course, was unsuccessful and I am even more emboldened now to speak the words of God. Thank you all for your prayers of protection, they really work.
I had a chance to audition as a singer and musician at THOP about a week and a half ago and was approved to sing and play guitar. I led my first devotional set on Friday and it went super well. I’m really looking forward to playing and singing during this externship and improving musically. There is plenty of room here for us all to have a shot at getting on some teams and stretching our boundary lines a little bit. The Lord has been giving us all first hand experience of what it’s like to be the house of prayer. It’s a much different feeling being the ones who really keep the fire burning. The movement happening here in Tauranga really depends on us. If we don’t show up one morning the fire goes out. It’s a much different feeling than being in a huge environment of prayer where your presence isn’t really that noticed.
There’s a group coming here tomorrow who will be here for 2 weeks who do a traveling evangelism school called Circuit Riders. They are committed to see revival reach the nations of the earth by training and equipping ones with willing hearts for world evangelization. I have heard of many people who have gone through this 2 week intensive who have come out changed and on fire for the gospel. So, needless to say, I’m pretty excited.
The Awaken Internship also starts tomorrow and we externs are joining the internship staff. We will be spending the remainder of our time here leading the interns. We will be living with them and pouring into them as much as we can. This will definitely be a wonderful season of growth for myself and the rest of the team.
It feels like our externship is finally getting started now. I’ll be posting more detailed updates as we get into our work here. Thank you again to everyone for keeping us in your prayers and sowing into this season financially. This would not be possible without you!
From the ends of the earth,
Greetings from the ends of the earth! The current time here in New Zealand is 8:27 AM, September 18, 2012. Today is the second official day of our externship. I arrived in Tauranga on Sunday at 7:30 PM Which would have been 1:30 am Sunday for all my Florida friends. Things are going relatively smoothly so far. Jet-lag isn’t so bad. Mornings feel like mornings, but the strange part is that early evening feels like 2:00 in the morning so I’m able to get to sleep without a problem. I’m sure I will be in the swing of things in the second week of my externship.
All of the people here at THOP have such a genuine love for Jesus. The first thing I noticed coming here is their faithfulness to stand in the place of prayer no matter what it takes. They have all been caught with the vision of biblical prayer and will do whatever they have to do to keep it going. Most of the people in the THOP community work jobs and only work enough for them to survive and the rest of their time is given to the house of prayer. They have such a hunger for God and faith to believe that He wants to visit their city. It’s a little different not having the prayer room open 24/7 and a little refreshing. Almost everyone comes to the prayer room for the 10am intercession sets and they are jealous for their time in the prayer room. They don’t take the prayer room for granted because it is only open in the morning for a short period of time.
There seems to be a central theme that I have noticed in the prayer room here, and that theme is the worthiness of Jesus. That is what sustains them. They have been caught with the vision that the Man who sits on the throne is worthy of their time and effort. I saw this most when I went to the 6 AM prayer set yesterday morning. Nobody is required to go to the 6 am set and nobody leads worship. The set is run by a worship playlist playing random songs with revival as their theme. The set is attended mainly by those who are going into work at 8 am and have woken up early before a full day’s work just to spend time filling the bowls of heaven with their intercession. They have given up their energy to sit in a room and ask God to visit their community. The 6am set had a total of 16 people including their sound engineer, HOP director Aaron Walsh, and two of us externs.
Aaron was the first person I heard pray on the microphone at THOP. He prayed from Malachi 1:11. The Lord reminded me of all the words He had spoken to our team concerning Malachi 1:11 and how He desires that His name would be lifted high from the place where the sun rises. Just to remind everyone, New Zealand is in the very first time zone. The sun rises here first every day. That is the vision of this externship: to lift the name of Jesus high in this place, from the rising of the sun.
After the prayer room the team and I went on a tour of Tauranga with a man named Steve Hanson. He took us to Mount Maunganui and we walked up. That was quite a workout! We walked up and had an amazing view of the city of Tauranga. When we made it to the top there was a rainbow that stretched all the way from the harbor to the ocean. I will post a picture below at the end of this blog.
I’m still just getting used to everything in New Zealand. There will be plenty of time for all that though being here for 3 months and all. I have been learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road which has been messing with me. It’s much different but still easier than I thought it would be.
Thank you again for everyone who is praying for us and for all those who sowed in financially to make this externship possible. I will update everyone again later this week.
This is the team at the top of Mount Maunganui. That’s David Rich in the back, Allee Shepherd, me and Meghan Tuck in the middle, and Elisabeth Montague in the front.
Hey everyone! I wanted to just post a short blog to update you on what’s going on.
Well it’s down to the wire and the countdown is t-minus 6 days! It’s indeed crunch time as we all get prepared to make this next journey with the Lord. I have been in contact with the people at THOP and they are all ready and anxious for us to arrive. It’s sort of surreal still at this moment and my mind is not completely convinced that this is actually happening!
Please pray for the team as we prepare to make this trip. Ask the Lord for quick minds for all of us. There is a lot of preparation to go through and it’s easy to forget things. Also pray for peace as we make this transition.
Thank you so much to everyone who sowed into this season financially and to all who have committed to pray! I will update you once I arrive in New Zealand!
This is the team altogether (minus the older couple on the couch, they are the parents of the director of the house of prayer in Tauranga).
In the back from left to right: Gabriel Russ (me), Meghan Tuck, David Rich
Front from left to right: Allee Shephard, Elisabeth Montague