Mission to the Middle East 

I first met Jan when I was serving in the Army; we were both serving members of the Armed Forces’ Christian Union (AFCU) but I didn’t really get to know her until I left the Army and joined the staff of the AFCU. Soon after, Jan moved the Flame International office out of her spare bedroom and into Havelock House, where AFCU was based. Staff of our two organisations always prayed together each morning and I soon got to know Jan well. She was not known as ‘the African Queen’ for nothing and we heard about lots of mission trips to various, mainly African, countries. Jan told me on a number of occasions that she would get me on mission one day, but I really did not feel called to go and live in a mud hut for a fortnight, and did my best to forget about mission. However, having completed various prayer ministry courses at Ellel Pierrepont, I heard that Flame had started to go to the Middle East, and Jan asked me again if I would consider going on mission. I decided to pray seriously about whether I should join the team. And so it was in April 2018 that I found myself on a flight to the Middle East, and even more amazing, found myself on another flight there in November 2018, and am hoping to return in November 2019. So what happened to change my mind so dramatically? Read on... Our base in the capital city is in the guest house attached to the church where we minister to its members. We had been invited by the pastor of the church to bring the Flame teaching. The guest house is run by a Norwegian couple, Per and Solvie. The first time we were there we heard that the guest house had been built in faith as their vision was to establish a bible school for people in the Middle East, which would teach students from the home nation and refugees around the area, equipping them to take the Gospel to their communities and, hopefully, back home once it is safe for them to return. However, there was little sign of this vision becoming a reality, but we were able to bring the Flame teaching and God’s healing to (mainly Iraqi) refugees in two evening meetings at another church in a neighbouring city before the main mission started. We had the opportunity to minister to a group of about 40 female Syrian refugees. Almost all were wearing hijabs, but despite language difficulties (there were not enough interpreters to go round), we could clearly see the Holy Spirit working in the eyes of these precious ladies and we were able to do some significant ministry as almost all of them came forward for prayer. Comments received afterwards indicated that they had understood the teaching and many of them had begun to forgive those who had hurt them.

The Wednesday evening was the main church prayer meeting. Forget a small group of perhaps 6, 10 or even 20 attendees, the church was packed! After some wonderful worship, the pastor generously gave over the majority of the rest of the evening to Jan and the team, and we were able to give some teaching and drama, followed by an opportunity to minister to whoever came forward for prayer. I was approached by one lady in a hijab who, I discovered, was a refugee from Iraq. I will call her Mary. She asked for prayer that she would get a visa to get her away to the UK or Canada. It turned out that her husband had been tortured by ISIS in Iraq. I asked her if she was able to forgive the perpetrators, but she said, “No”. I prayed for the visa anyway, but explained the significance of coming to the point of being willing to forgive her husband’s torturers. This lady subsequently came forward for more prayer and I asked her if her husband was still alive. “Yes,” she replied, “he’s here tonight.” And with that, her husband, whom I will call Steven, came up to us. It turned out that the couple had been here for work, when the situation became bad in Iraq, and Steven went home to try to find his father and brother and bring them out. In the event, he witnessed his father and brother being killed and he was tortured by ISIS and left for dead on the road. He was rescued by some friends and eventually managed to escape back to his family. In the meantime, another brother had come to London and was led to Christ by some folk in a local church. He contacted Steven and told him that he and Mary needed to go to church and find out about Jesus. Mary and Steven both gave their lives to Jesus towards the end of 2017. We were able to carry on teaching, doing drama and ministering to those who came forward for prayer for the following three nights in the guest house and it was a joy to see Mary and Steven eagerly attending each meeting. It was even more of a joy when they both went forward to hammer nails into the cross to demonstrate that they were prepared to forgive. Andy prayed for healing for Steven’s mouth and other effects of the torture and I prayed for Mary that  she would be released from fear and that the shock and trauma would be lifted off. There were numerous other folk for whom we prayed during the week and it was thrilling to see Jesus fulfilling his promises of setting captives free, healing the sick and driving out demons. Even more exciting was that he graciously used us to do his work in the lives of so many folk. So it was without hesitation that I volunteered to go back on the next mission to the same place. Returning in November at the invitation of the pastor, we found Per and Solvie in much better spirits, as they had finally been able to launch the bible school that they had felt called to run here some three years earlier. Our main ministry was to the 43 students at the Bible School, which consisted of two terms of 12 weeks, running three mornings a week, although we were also able to speak at the mid week prayer meeting and the Syrian ladies’ meeting. It was a thrill to meet Mary again, who was attending the bible school. She had clearly moved on in her faith but sadly she was now under threat of a fatwa from relatives in Iraq, following a visit from her mother and sister during the summer. She was a very frightened lady and although I was able to pray with her, she was unable to fully move free of the spirit of fear that had its grip on her. Steven was not able to attend the bible school but came bouncing up to Andy and me at the midweek prayer meeting. He said that he was a new person since our visit in May and that his mouth was completely healed. Looking at his broad grin and his eyes, which were totally lit up, the phrase that came to me was that he was truly ‘being changed from one degree of glory to another’.

 There were lots of other amazing stories. Following teaching on emotional healing, one lady, Sylvia, realised that there was wounding to her spirit following a miscarriage she had suffered over 30 years previously. All the forgotten grief from the past 30 years was released and came pouring out. Jan called me over to pray with another lady, who I will call Sheila. She had been wearing a mourning scarf each day. Her 22 year old son had been killed by ISIS in a drive-by shooting outside his shop a couple of years previously. As Jesus began his deep healing of her heart and spirit, Sheila collapsed on the floor. I decided this was definitely one for Jan... The following day, Sheila brought in a wonderful cream cake for us all to share in celebration of her release from the imprisonment of her grief and the healing of her spirit. The smiles on Sheila’s and Sylvia’s faces (and the absence of the scarf!) said it all. I was also asked to pray with another lady, who I will call Jane. She was one of five or six ladies I prayed with that week who had been sexually abused, which I found a shocking number. In Jane’s case it was her brother and cousin who had abused her. She also told me that every time she prayed or sang worship songs, she could not stop crying. I prayed with Jane a number of times over two or three days. She was able to forgive her abusers and so it was possible to do some deep ministry with her. On the last day of the bible school, Jane was finally released from the spirits of shock and trauma, abuse, fear and various other spirits that were holding her captive.  Sameh, who was interpreting for me, turned to me and said, “Look at her face, it’s shining!” It was true, Jane’s countenance had totally changed. After the church service on the Sunday evening, I asked Jane how she was doing. Her smile said it all.  “Have you stopped crying?” I asked. “No,” she said, and I was quite disappointed. But then she smiled at me and said, “Now they are tears of joy!” We were also privileged to be invited to a baptism service for 13 members of the church congregation, some of whom were attending the bible school. It was a very special service. If you are being baptised in Jordan, where else would you go other than to the baptismal site where it is quite possible that Jesus was baptised? The church arranged for some coaches to take the baptismal candidates and their families as well as the elders, a good number of the congregation and the whole Flame team down to the Jordan. The church worship leader was there with his guitar and led us all in worship beside the river before each of the candidates gave their testimonies. We then walked up to a special baptismal pool for the actual baptism. We have heard of a number of folk to whom we ministered who have now managed to get visas to get to America or Canada. The first was an Egyptian couple who had been offered a placement by a church in Canada, but were unable to get away as their daughter, Miracle, who had been born in Jordan after they fled Egypt, had not got a passport. We were engaged in much prayer for them and while they were waiting they attended the Flame teaching. They finally got away the day that we left to come home. Their testimony was that they believed that the timing was God’s and they were so glad that they had been delayed as they were able to start their new lives with forgiveness rather than bitterness in their hearts. I have only room to recount a few of the stories that I was connected with personally, but these interventions by the Holy Spirit into people’s lives were multiplied across the team on each mission. All the folk we were privileged to minister to touched our hearts and we pray that they will continue to grow in their faith and walk forward in the healing that they have received from Jesus. We left in awe of all that God had done for us and for all the recipients of the Flame ministry.