Category: 2024 Trips

Netherlands

We stepped off the plane on a chilly Wednesday morning in the Netherlands. Despite the cold, windy weather, so unlike sunny South Africa, trees adorned with pink and white blossoms stood tall against the grey sky, their beauty accentuated by rows of yellow daffodils and the occasional bold tulip. The air was filled with the sweet smells of blossoms, a promise that springtime was around the corner.

Leiden, a town steeped in history, has a unique story. When Brother Daniel Anz and his family arrived here a couple of months ago, they discovered their accommodations were across the street from the home of philosopher Baruch Spinoza from the 1600s—a man ahead of his times with his avant-garde enlightenment speculations. He was expelled from the Amsterdam Synagogue. He believed that the Bible was a human creation and that reality was monolithic, with God essentially identical to the universe. According to Spinoza, ethics and morals were not inherent in creation but were merely human inventions. He believed that the ultimate goal in life was to pursue one’s own desires and interests. His ideas were considered controversial, and for over a century, people refrained from openly discussing his writings or even acknowledging reading them. Nonetheless, his influence was far-reaching and pivotal in bringing about today’s utterly secular society, where God is relegated to the realm of fantasy.

Leiden was also the temporary home of the English Separatists, known commonly as the Pilgrims, who fled England in search of religious freedom. The town’s multicultural atmosphere of tolerance made the religious zealots fear they were losing the battle against assimilation into the surrounding culture. This drove them to leave Europe and confront the challenges of the New World to establish the first community settlement in present-day Massachusetts.

So, Holland served historically as a refuge for dissidents and refugees, including Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal, Anabaptists, apostate philosophers, and dissidents who challenged the established order in religion, philosophy, and politics, generally in a more secular direction. Hundreds of years later, here on the outskirts of this same town, a group of seekers assembled in a former chapel originally part of a now-abandoned Air Force base. Christians from Italy, France, Cameroon, India, Belgium, and around the Netherlands gathered to seek answers for their churches and families. God’s grace has met us in each of these gatherings. 

Brother Asi and Brother Dan opened the conference with the call and promise of Nehemiah. In their first two seminars, the brothers exposed the church’s utter spiritual dilapidation in Europe juxtaposed against the promise of a restored spiritual temple. Indeed, the similarities between the ravaged state of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time and the church’s desolation in this land are abundant. Its “walls” have been torn down, its “gates” burned with fire, and the glory of God—formerly shining from faithful saints like the Ten Booms—has wholly departed. Yet the kingdom of heaven is being preached once again for those who are dissatisfied with their powerlessness. To those who sit in darkness, a light has dawned. 

The next day, brothers Daniel, Asi, and Dan led a joint-session discussion on the essence of the Gospel and how we can follow it through repentance, immersion in Jesus’ name, and in the Holy Spirit. The gathering included members from different backgrounds like local leaders and followers of the “Last Reformation,” Dutch Reformed Church members who had never experienced the Spirit, Pentecostals, Anglicans, and new believers who had never read the Bible. Despite the diversity, the opening discussion provided a sufficient framework to start incorporating the specifics and move together toward a unified direction. After lunch, the brothers assumed the Q&A format that allowed folks to ask every conceivable question for the remainder of the afternoon. One gentleman disagreed with our discourse on gender-specific hair patterns. He paid close attention as Brother Asi presented our church’s teachings on the subject, but he countered with his own argument. The brothers responded patiently, but he remained unconvinced. Later on, he repeated his argument privately. Although he didn’t totally agree with the discussion, he was starting to open his heart to the clear scriptural implications he was encountering.

Saturday evening began with glorious praise as the worship leaders exalted the goodness and power of God in song. Many broken lights poorly lit the old building, but the glory of God shone brighter and brighter from the very first notes to the end. Members of the body from the US began sharing concise words of direction and encouragement, one building upon the other until there was a growing sense of momentous faith. Brother Daniel recounted the faith of the Pilgrims. Determined to surpass the limitations of the old world, they embarked on a treacherous four-month journey on a sailing vessel, where even standing upright in the hold was impossible. Despite dangers, sickness, and death at sea, they prevailed—only to lose half their numbers in the first year, but they refused to accept the status quo in Europe, which they believed would lead to spiritual death. 

Brother Asi shared a faith-building message, emphasizing that our perspective limits us to seeing only what seems possible within our own experiences. But God’s word crashes into our plausibility structures with a new reality that demands a leap of faith. He recounted the story of Elijah and the end of a three-year drought. Following a victorious confrontation with the prophets of Baal, Elijah told King Ahab that he could hear the sound of an abundance of rain (but only through ears of faith). While Ahab celebrated, Elijah prayed; he had to fight for the miracle in his ears. Despite repeated reports from his servant that no rain was in sight, Elijah persisted—until the seventh time, when a small cloud appeared, prompting Elijah to warn Ahab of the impending rain. Empowered by indomitable faith, Elijah, who had already spent the day in intense spiritual warfare, outran Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel. 

“Europe,” Brother Asi said, “already has a cloud the size of a man’s hand in the sky. But if we listen with ears of faith, we can hear the sound of an abundance of rain. If we act with the faith and determination of Elijah, that which seems small—no larger than a man’s fist—will grow into a storm of grace, revival, and renewal. This will end the drought and give birth to God’s purpose on a whole new level in this place.”

Brother Asi invited those seeking prayer to come forward. Nearly a quarter of the attendees filed to the front for prayer. Two individuals from France were filled with the Spirit, and many others made pivotal commitments.

On Sunday, we held our final meeting, rich in worship, sharing, and exhortation. Brother Bob Timmermans passionately spoke about his dedication to serving the Lord in the Netherlands in any capacity possible. Tony, our Finnish brother, explained his loneliness in Finland while striving to maintain his faith. He and his son have committed to eschewing worldly influences. With fervent emotion, he declared, “If I am the last man standing, I will uphold the standard for my family! Regardless of how you respond to this week’s message, I value it deeply and am eager to contribute to the work God will initiate in Finland.” Many echoed his sentiments of devotion and belief.

At this same time, a man who was formerly a house church leader and previously critical of certain discussions experienced a transformative dream on Saturday night. Convinced by the dream that he was mistaken and that the Texan group was the answer to his prayers, he apologized to Brother Yosef and plans to attend our Texas conference in May.

Please keep these earnest individuals in your prayers. Many face isolation and are still searching for God’s definitive plan for their unity. In numerous European countries, the legal constraints on homeschooling and alternative child-rearing practices pose significant obstacles. Yet, despite these challenges, the oppressive gloom of winter seems to be giving way to the promise of spring and the prospect of new beginnings. May this season of renewal flourish and yield abundant fruit. May God build His church—yes, even in Europe!

—Judah

SouthAfrica

We arrived in the Netherlands yesterday after a week in South Africa, my first visit to the community there. 

What an eye-opening and wonderful visit we had! South Africa is truly beautiful, but not in an ostentatious way. There’s something very earthy and familiar about it. I felt as if I had visited the coast of New Zealand, the Hill Country in Texas, the Dales of Scotland, the red-rock canyons of Utah and the Colorado mountains all in one drive.

The community’s little farm demonstrates their efforts to truly live the vision God has given us in Texas. Driving up and seeing the sign for “Heritage Bakery“ with Sister Lulu’s smiling face while holding sourdough bread truly warmed my heart! The grounds were orderly, and they served us a delicious lunch at their bakery/café. There’s something so incredible about seeing all the familiar aspects of our community life done with a South African flavor—handmade crafts, homemade food, small-scale agriculture, simple dress, even the word of God in the meetings, spoken with that lovely South African accent!

The first meeting we attended was on Thursday night, the day after we arrived. 

As we descended the hill toward the bakery (where the meeting was held), I could hear the robust worship spilling from the windows, and it sounded like home, like the presence of God. Following several powerful worship songs, Brother George Klingensmith (visiting from the Montana community) opened the meeting by sharing about a butterfly he saw in their gardens. That day was incredibly windy (reminiscent of Montana) and the butterfly was flying directly into the wind. Brother George said that the butterfly wasn’t making rapid progress; at times, it even seemed to be stationary against the wind. But little by little, it made its way resolutely across the garden and disappeared into the trees. He compared the purpose of God to that delicate butterfly flying into the face of the wind. 

It was such a powerful image, accurately depicting my feeling of visiting this community. As tiny, delicate and fragile as it appeared, you could nonetheless feel the maturity and indomitable strength of the church triumphant, built by the hand of the Lord. Their devotion and loyalty to the vision and purpose God has given us is truly a powerful force against the winds of this world. 

The whole meeting was incredible—no lulls, just the anointed word of God moving rapidly from member to member, speaking grace into all of our hearts in various forms.

Brother Dan ministered about being “framed by the word of God.” He talked about how when we say that someone has been framed, we are saying they’ve been set up to be entrapped by someone else’s agenda. But if we will come to God and allow Him to frame us, to place us inside His purpose and perspective, it can change everything. When we approach God by framing what He wants to do with our perspectives and agendas, we distort the purpose of God, and nothing fits together. 

Brother Asi shared about Roger Bannister and how he broke the four-minute mile. People had been trying to break that limit for centuries, and no one could do it, but as soon as Bannister broke the record, a new precedent was set.  People started doing it everywhere. He reminded everyone of the story of how Brother Jared’s faith in New Zealand initially sparked Brother Rowan’s faith. Then, the story of Brother Rowan’s faith and obedience inspired the brothers in Israel, creating a chain reaction of faith-filled steps. He shared how the South African community and every community of faith can set new precedents for miraculous moves of God all over the world. New communities can step into the kingdom of God because someone will “break the four-minute mile.” 

Many times during our visit, I thought how much I wished my dad could’ve seen such a vibrant community on the other end of the earth. It would have been a dream come true for him. But I think that, in some way, he does see it. The sense of incredible unity with us and the vision God has given us felt like a link to eternity. I witnessed the unity everywhere—between the members, in the quality and quantity of their crafts, gardening, child training, and worship. Of course, like all of us, they’re on a journey, and there are many steps ahead of them, but they truly have made themselves one with us and the purpose of God. And in that unity is power. 

We had the privilege of meeting many wonderful new members there for the first time. It reminded me of a time years ago when I met a cousin of mine for the first time as an adult. I went to the airport to pick her up, nervous that I would not recognize this woman whom I’d never met in such a crowd of people. However, when she was about 25 yards away, I saw a woman coming toward me, and I recognized myself in her features! Her gait, her smile—even something about her spirit was familiar. We both grinned simultaneously and knew we’d spotted each other—that DNA running through every blood cell recognized family. 

Meeting our South African community for the first time, I immediately felt that same resonance with our shared spiritual DNA. I not only felt as if it connected us across the globe, I felt connected to eternity, to the dreams my dad had for communities everywhere, the dreams of Abraham, the dreams of God. I felt connected to the past and the future. What a dream come true is the community in South Africa!

We left with a sense that this little “city on a hill” is a light destined to become so bright that it shines out to many places across the “dark continent,” bringing faith and hope to many hearts for the glory of God. 

—Sister Amanda Lancaster

India

We had a meeting with couples from Brother Solomon’s church yesterday. He is the pastor of four congregations located within two and a half hours of Coimbatore. Not all of the members of his congregation could make it, still we met with nearly 100 adults. 

We met in a hotel conference room with a group of people we had not met before, which made the atmosphere a bit awkward at first. Most of the people in the church do not speak much English, which added another layer of difficulty to connecting with them. However, at the beginning of the meeting, we felt God’s grace moving, and the group slowly began to relax as we started speaking. Brother Solomon had asked us to talk about repentance because many couples in his church were struggling in their relationships. We began by sharing about repentance, forgiveness, and the fact that we cannot forgive others unless we’ve been forgiven ourselves. As we shared biblical examples and personal experiences, we felt the witness of God’s Spirit palpably, but it was hard to determine their level of understanding.

During the Q&A session we held after lunch, most of the questions were posed by the hosting ministers, Solomon and Isaac. Although they were good questions and we felt The Lord anointing our answers it was difficult to grasp their impact because of the language barrier. This made it difficult to determine their connection to the session, both during and after the event.

Later that evening, we had dinner with Solomon, Isaac and their wives. They began by assuring us that the message we shared had definitely connected with the people. They then began to ask us questions about baptism and communion. Both of these brothers are eager to learn and repeatedly expressed that they desire to be baptized in Jesus’ Name.

That evening, Brother Isaac told us, “There isn’t anything I’m unwilling to change. If it will bring me closer to Jesus, I want it”.  Brother Solomon echoed this by saying, “They are no barriers, we feel God and we see the fruit and we are ready to learn. How we’ve done it before doesn’t matter; all that matters is the fruit; we will change anything to have the fruit that you all have”. 

The wives of both of these brothers are completely supportive of their husbands. They are a remarkable group of people who work seamlessly together despite their individual talents and gifts. There is no trace of competition or ego between them, only a sense of love and unity that is truly inspiring. I have never seen two brothers with such remarkable unity outside of our community. I believe that these men will play an instrumental role in the work of God here in India.

Today was our last day in Coimbatore. We met with one of Brother Solomon’s congregations, and he informed us that he had canceled the usual church program. He completely opened the meeting, allowing us to take as much or as little time as we wanted. Both Brother Solomon and Isaac were burdened for their people to come to a new level of repentance and for those seeking the Spirit to receive it.

We arrived at the basement of what appeared to be a parking garage at 8:30 in the morning. The temperature was already in the 80s and there was no air conditioning. The room was small, with concrete walls, ceiling, and floor. A couple of old ceiling fans attempted to circulate the limited oxygen in the room. There were a few flimsy plastic chairs for the adults while the children and many of the women sat on mats at the front of the room. Nearly 100 people crammed into the space, many from the day before and everyone from our community.

Due to the previous day’s response, or rather the lack of it, I was uncertain about how we would feel. However, as soon as they began to worship, we could feel God’s presence in the room. Even though we could only comprehend the word “Hallelujah,” we could feel ourselves being united with them in praise.  

Brother Solomon gave us the floor, and Brother Teb began the meeting by sharing his testimony. His story resonated with the audience, and we could sense something stirring in the Spirit. After Brother Teb finished, we discussed Peter’s life before conversion. Despite following Jesus, performing miracles, and even walking on water, there was still something lacking in him. It wasn’t until he denied the Lord and was confronted with his lack of love that he was able to be honest with Jesus. It was only then that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, which enabled him to conquer his fears and become the person God intended him to be all along.

We then shared about believing from the heart, how it’s not something we agree to in our minds but rather something we experience. To illustrate this point, we used the story of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful, who demonstrated his healing not by showing off his newly restored legs but by walking and leaping into the temple, proving to all around him that he had truly been healed.

When we had finished speaking, we invited anyone seeking repentance or the infilling of the Spirit to come to the front of the room. There was a small 6×10 foot clear space for this purpose. As soon as we made the invitation, one man leapt up, followed by another, and then almost the entire room surged forward and fell on their knees. It was impossible for us to reach everyone as people were crying out to God. Their vulnerability to God’s Spirit moves me to tears, even as I write this account. Ten people prayed through to the Spirit for the first time, and many others received a fresh anointing or took significant steps in their spiritual journey.

As we were concluding the prayer session, Brother Solomon, who is also an excellent worship leader, began to sing. The lyrics of his song translate to, “When the presence of God begins to move, I will not be downcast, but I will be joyful!” As the joy of the Lord intensified, we cleared the remaining chairs and joined in dancing and celebrating.

The people who live in this place face a lot of oppression. The culture here is oppressive, and they suffer from economic oppression. Furthermore, because they are Christians, they face even greater difficulties. Even their meeting hall can feel oppressive at times. Many members of this congregation do not have a spouse who shares their faith, and their spouses have abandoned some because of their beliefs. They face many difficult realities, but when the power of God moves, they respond with joy that spreads like wildfire! Despite the challenges, there is hope. The fire of God is already falling, and this place is ripe for a bountiful harvest.

Thank you for all of your prayers. They have supported and upheld us. Please continue to pray for our group of brothers and sisters as they grow in unity and faith with one another. Pray for those who received the Spirit today and those whom God touched; they will undoubtedly face many challenges in the days ahead. Please pray for Brothers Solomon and Isaac that God will continue to lead them and they will continue to find the grace to follow. 

With much love, 

Gabe

India

Brother Kash, Brother Teb, and I arrived in Coimbatore, India on Tuesday afternoon to spend time with our brothers and sisters here. We arrived just in time to join them for their midweek meeting. Right away, we felt a spiritual connection that superseded the newness of our relationship. The Holy Ghost was present all night, and we felt edification and encouragement flowing in all directions. After the meeting, we all shared a meal, which further helped to strengthen our bond of fellowship.

Last night, we again met with the group for a time of sharing. We opened it up for questions and discussion. This also proved to be a very edifying and spirit-filled time. 

Today, we had a meeting with Brother Titus, Muthu, Gerry, and their wives, along with two pastors from an independent spirit-filled church named Solomon and Isaac. These brothers have been visiting and connecting with our group, and they feel that God is leading them to merge with us. The meeting today focused on answering questions and discussing the next steps toward becoming one church.

We spent several hours before and after lunch sharing our hearts with one another, asking and answering questions, and feeling the Lord knitting our hearts together. Each of these brothers and sisters are incredibly humble and gentle, and their unwavering faith is truly inspiring. Their transparency and eagerness are both humbling and convicting.  

Tomorrow, at Brother Solomon’s request, we will host a morning meeting with about 45 couples. This will include all the members of our community as well as 30 couples from his congregation. He asked us to meet and have a meeting with these couples first and then minister in their Sunday morning meeting the following day.  

God is moving in this place, and the potential for what He can do here is palpable. We are filled with hope and anticipation for the future of our mission work in India!

Thank you for all your prayers! Please continue to pray for us to have the anointing of grace and wisdom for these upcoming meetings.

With love from India, 

Gabe

Egypt

Greetings!

We wanted to write and update you on how things progressed during our recent intensive ministry season in Egypt.

Minya is no small city, with over 6 million residents, and, as mentioned in my previous post, boasts some historical significance. Yet, in the upper region of Egypt, it is not a tourist destination by any means. Our ministry schedule didn’t permit any tourism in any case; we alternated between the conference hall, hotel rooms, the church and two ministers’ homes the entire time. 

Our generous hosts graciously lodged us in a refurbished Nile riverboat, now serving as a hotel with about 15 rooms. While it might not meet Western standards, it was likely the most “luxurious” accommodation in the entire city. In its prime, the vessel was probably not very impressive, but it remains adequate after 50 years of retirement. However, the plumbing was leaky, and the shower stalls were so tiny that one was tempted to soap the walls and spin around to wash. The narrow space made it all the more challenging when the hot water system oscillated between arctic blasts and scorching heat. Despite these challenges, the “C-Boat Inn” was crucial in our ministry in Minya, having an upstairs conference hall large enough to hold all our teaching sessions from Friday through Saturday. One unique feature of our accommodation was the Nile River, which flowed just one foot outside our bedroom windows. The Nile was a magnificent sight, sometimes rippling with a choppy current and at other times as still as glass. Early in the morning, steam rose from the river, and sailboats and party barges often cruised its current, creating a serene view that we will all remember. Unfortunately, bottles, diapers and flotillas of trash of every kind regularly floated by as well. 

Our primary teaching sessions occurred on Friday and Saturday, starting first thing in the morning and stretching into the afternoon, with additional evening events. The people we met here are dear—notably vibrant and expressive. The social discussions and greetings before and after meetings hummed with the chatter of many voices, affectionate hugs, kisses and hearty greetings. It was like being amidst a mixed crowd of boisterous Italians or Jewish groups; the whole place vibrated with intensity.

For many of them, “Christianity” is more of an ethnic tradition than a decision to give their life to Jesus. They’re born into it. The government does not disapprove of those who are born into Christianity and continue in the faith. However, those who choose to convert from Islam to Christianity as adults are often viewed with disdain. The problem is that many who call themselves Christians have never actually had a conversion experience; they’ve simply been brought up in the culture and milieu of the centuries-old Egyptian Christian community. Coincidentally, the Christian sector—especially the youth—strikes one as more garish, liberal and worldly than their Muslim counterparts.

We taught repentance as the prerequisite for any realistic hope for unity within the church. We taught two ways of knowing God—from the head and human knowledge or the heart, relationally.

After a full day of teachings, on Friday night, the youth (18-30) convened for a special meeting. Brother Teb gave his testimony, describing how many times he went to the altar and sought help from God but never found the abiding change that would alter the course of his life. He described the desperation, the near hopelessness at Christianity’s inability to give him the needed power to find real transformation. He then described coming to Texas for the first time, invited by a former drug buddy, and how God miraculously filled him with the Spirit and then intervened in the legal system, freeing him from the jail time and criminal record hanging over his head.

All of the young people were intrigued. Some were stirred in their hearts, and others copped the same quasi-mocking posture they’re likely accustomed to showing their teachers in school. Yet many seeds were sown, and even after some were sharply rebuked for their shallowness and mockery, they softened their hearts, feeling and expressing even more interest and longing for something real, something more. At the close of the meeting, they inundated us—as eager and effervescent as a room full of guileless toddlers. They were childlike in their sweetness and desire to connect with us. We felt our hearts wrenched by these dear young people. They’re all baptized as babies, giving them no real opportunity to CHOOSE Jesus as adults. They’ve never been evangelized, converted or likely even encountered God in any meaningful way.

As Brother Kash said, “Put these youth with some of ours for just a short period, and they’d all be receiving the Holy Spirit one after another.”

To our pleasant surprise, many of the youth, who had not attended previous meetings, joined their parents and elders the following Saturday morning for the teaching sessions. A visual anointing from God was on the teaching Saturday as one truth rocket after another landed on the reinforced bunkers of intellectual Presbyterianism, proving that God is Spirit and desires a spiritual relationship with us through expressive, exponential encounters, true, demonstrative prayer and praise. There’s just no way to hear the word of God on how to sing, worship, pray—and retain your attachment to an utterly lifeless form of godliness that denies the power thereof.

There was palpable conviction throughout the teaching. The vast majority were coming alive, their faces and body language revealing their excitement and rekindled hope for an exponential relationship with Jesus. As one would expect, there were a handful of holdouts, disgusted at the thought of true humility or vulnerable worship, clinging to their traditions behind the “that’s your way and opinion” rubric. Notwithstanding that, no sooner had the teaching wrapped up than the lead elder, Izaat, leaped to his feet and began yielding to the Spirit and demonstrably leading worship with a song that refrained, “We bow down to our great God and King.”

Around the room, including the pastor’s wife, people began cautiously raising their hands. Even more, you could see on their faces—they were feeling the presence of God.

After an intense barrage of questions and answers, the pastor rose to dismiss the meeting. Through broken translation, we could sense that, out of some nervousness and fear of alienating the stubborn, he was attempting to soften the point of conviction, assuring folks that—in addition to the praise like mighty peals of thunder and the roar of a waterfall, Revelations also depicted 30 minutes of silence in heaven. Though this might’ve been intended to reassure the fearful hearts of the “frozen chosen,” it did little to dull the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Hearts were pierced, and invisible shockwaves of hope were vibrating through the whole congregation.

Over tea, Izaat, a Presbyterian elder with multiple master’s degrees in theology, later explained his worship leading after the teaching. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I felt an anointing of the Holy Spirit come all over me. I wasn’t forcing it or even trying for it; it just came on me, and I yielded to it!“

We retired briefly to our rooms, knowing that God had transcended the circumstances, surmounted the “impossibilities,” and brought life and power to light through the gospel! We felt significantly delivered of our burden.

That evening, we were invited to supper at Izaat’s house. Before leaving our lodging, he had informed us that “the vast majority of the congregation is 100% with y’all.” He also alluded to the fact that he was more committed than others in leadership. He explained the great tension the pastor was under, pressured by an evangelical board that could remove him, challenged by unhappy members who wanted to stick with Presbyterian traditions, and inspired by the word of God he could not deny.

As about 10 of us men sat down in the living room, we confronted the issue directly. The pastor explained his predicament, expressing his commitment to us to walk in this way, develop the relationship, and lead his people in the truth he is now receiving. Yet, he also expressed his fears of alienating people, of moving too fast, or causing an unnecessary or premature rift. In response, we assured him that we sympathize with the anguish of his situation. We drew a sharp contrast between the role of a politician and that of a shepherd. The former is inherently false as the master of compromise. The latter lays down his life for the sheep, cultivating the right ear and attitude toward the word of God. We explained that we had done our part; now, it was up to him and the congregation to determine how they would respond to the word that they knew was from God. We could not and would not apologize; we had merely opened the scriptures under the grace of the Spirit’s anointing, and everyone experienced that undeniable work of grace.

After a beautiful evening hosted by Magda, Izaat’s wife, we walked back to our lodgings, accompanied by the elder and pastor. Pastor Methad hung back with me as we walked, and together, we opened our hearts and discussed the course in the future. “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” he asked. By the time we reached our hotel, there was a profound sense of unity and resolve. He could not have been more adamant in his commitment to foster the right attitude toward the word of God and the changes God was proposing to his congregation. “We want to walk with you and get to know you better. We want to continue learning. We ask you to come and come again!”

I should mention that tensions are currently high in Egypt, especially toward Americans, largely due to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many Egyptians have boycotted American-based restaurants like McDonald’s or KFC as a protest against what they perceive as America’s backing for an unjust war. The national government of Egypt assigned 15 full-time agents as a protection detail to shadow us everywhere we went. We could not step out of the hotel without men toting machine guns accompanying us. They took turns 24 hours a day, five on shift at a time, accompanying us to our taxis, following us to our destinations, waiting outside the church doors—everywhere we went, Egyptian national security was also there. We did our best to make friends; they were cordial enough, even exhibiting almost a childlike demeanor at times.

Sunday morning, we met in the Presbyterian Church, where our brothers were able to lead worship, and Danny gave an anointed telling of his testimony, ministering from the question, “what if “—relating this to all the beautiful opportunities, transformations and miracles that he might have missed, had he not trusted God and found the grace to submit to His promptings.

After church, we had a smaller meeting with adults who peppered us with questions about raising children, what it means to be a community, where and how to draw the lines regarding technology, what it means to become vulnerable, and so forth. It felt like one of the more meaningful moments of our stay, as God helped form a fuller picture of His vision in the minds of these people.

Sunday evening, Brother Dan taught on unity in the church—avoiding truth without love and love without truth, but instead engaging in the progressive pilgrimage of an unfolding walk of faith, exhibited in the life and response of the great Apollos, who was able to be shown the “more excellent way,” and thus prove the validity of all previous steps of faith. It felt like this final message left them with a vivid framework in which to consider all that they had learned and received over this packed season.

Our goodbyes were rich with gratitude, their pleas for us to return, testimonies of how God had changed them, and a kind of warmth and connection that would indicate a longer relationship than we’ve been able to form in such a relatively short period.

Despite our weariness, we broke bread and engaged in fellowship with church members until after midnight. Izaat’s face and voice are imprinted on my heart forever. We have formed a deep connection with this man, as has marked our relationships with men of God like Jared, Rowan, and so many others. This is a brother—a bona fide servant and child of God. He loves his people, is an honored patriarch of his family, and he sees the miracle of what God has given us and is determined to bring it to Egypt. Please pray for him and the pastor. God has sown much seed, watered by His Spirit. And a great harvest can already be seen not far in the future.

Brother Howard sent me the following scripture, my heart’s prayer for our dear brothers and sisters:

“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.” (Isa. 19:19-22)

Pray for Izaat and Methad—their spouses, families and all the brothers and sisters in Egypt. Pray that God will move on many hearts to seek His Spirit until He rains righteousness upon them. Pray for protection from the religious principalities arrayed against God and His work.

This feels like a solid, fruitful labor in Egypt. We will see fruit.

After over 30 hours of travel, we reached South Africa yesterday afternoon. It’s refreshing—not only to be in this lush, picturesque land after the moonscape deserts of Egypt, but especially to see the body of Christ budding, blooming and flourishing like a tree planted by the water! I cannot restrain my emotions when I think of where we started nine years ago and what God has done to bring us to this point today. This congregation is getting ready to be a bright beacon and witness to all of Africa. The body of Christ is glorious!

We love and miss you all, and we thank you for standing in your places of service all over the world. We are one body with one heart, one purpose, one kingdom and one great King. We all feel so grateful to be extensions of your faithfulness and witness wherever we go. We would be nothing as individuals; as part of you, we are the fragrance of life to those who are being saved!

With much love,

Brother Asi

Egypt

We held our first ministry sessions here in Minya, Egypt, yesterday.

The majority of attendees are from this area. Many of them are related to one another, and their deep familial bonds are evidenced by their warmth and camaraderie towards each other. Many come from a “churched” background, and it is striking to see the same people who interact so vivaciously with one another become stoic once “church” begins. Their worship is filled with Arabic flutes, accordions, and tones unfamiliar to our Western experience, yet beautiful.

After introductions, Brother Asi spoke on repentance as the foundation for the kingdom of God. He reiterated that the church cannot be unified until each “demi-king of self” is removed from the throne and God is allowed to be king over every area of life. 

This setting reframes the whole context of often-used metaphors equating the “world” with “Egypt“ or Satan with the magicians who opposed Moses. It’s a different matter to talk about those historical events while sitting in the very context where they unfolded, among the people who still bear that name. 

Later, Brother Dan spoke about two ways of approaching God: a loving, father-to-son relationship versus analytical observation. He drew heavily from the story of Paul at the Areopagus, highlighting the wrong type of religiosity. He contrasted that with the story of the disciples on their way to Emmaus and their encounter with the Lord, marked by their hearts burning within them. Both sessions prompted a time of boisterous questions, which stand out in marked contrast to the response to worship or to the word of God.

After a break, we convened for a time of worship with a large contingent of youth ages 17-30. Brother Teb shared a moving account of his testimony, illustrating the power of God to accomplish what no degree of human effort can do. Several people testified of the impact it had on them, and it also prompted a time of questions. Although these young folks look identical to any Westerners, they are corralled by the Egyptian Islamic culture around them. Alcohol and drugs of any kind are not available in these parts (although smuggling certainly exists), so their demeanor can be misleading in that they look worldly yet have a smug self-righteousness due to their churched background and the greater Islamic influences around them. That said, they were overjoyed to meet this many foreigners and basically suffocated us in their greetings and well-wishes. You cannot help but love these people.

In a moment, our second day of ministry begins. Please continue to pray for God’s grace, anointing, and insight to pierce the strongholds of Satan and prepare the way for God’s kingdom. May it come, Lord, even now!

With love,

Judah 

Egypt

We flew yesterday from Entebbe to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and then on to Cairo, making it to our hotel just after 2 AM.

We were blessed to meet Brother Dan over breakfast this morning and review our preliminary schedule of events over the next four days here.

Breakfast was delicious and even more welcomed was the luxury of air conditioning and reliable showers at the airport hotel. The desert air is dry and crisp, a pleasant distinction from our Uganda experience.

Yet, we are keenly aware, once again, of the religious and political tensions surging like a powerful current just beneath the surface here.

No sooner had we hired our driver to take us in a van the 4-hour drive from Cairo to Minya, loaded our luggage, and clamored into our seats than we confronted the first tension. Armed, plainclothes Egyptian security began questioning and challenging our driver concerning where he was taking these foreigners. Kash got our Egyptian contact, Brother Ezaat, on the line, who began explaining our situation over the phone to the driver and authorities. It was unclear whether they wanted to track us, worried for our safety on the open road, or were simply flexing their muscles. Regardless, we prayed, and before too long, we were on the road.

As Brother Dan pointed out, Egypt redefines the meaning of ‘desert.’ As far as the eye can see, in every direction are endless stretches of sand without even a hint of vegetation. We are accustomed to calling things ‘deserts’ with much more life than can be found in this sunbaked region of the world. A full 95% of Egypt’s land is lifeless desert. For contrast, ‘desert’ makes up just 9% of Texas.

And yet, it is precisely those vast stretches of barrenness that create such stark contrast with the flourishing farmlands of the Nile Delta—a ribbon of emerald through a sea of sand. This Nile Valley farmland is mostly cultivated on a small scale, not as agribusiness. We saw countless farmers working with donkeys, often piled high with produce or supporting their cajoling owner. But even seeing these beautiful cultivated regions offers its contradictions: all along the fields is modern plastic garbage piled in the medians, creating an incongruous foreground for the fieldworkers whose traditional attire and rhythms seem indistinguishable from 2,000 years ago.

A Westerner finds other sights to be astonished at—an 18-wheeler barreling down the road, top down, with a trailer full of camels! At random intervals along the highway, we came to ‘checkpoints’ or just partial roadblocks that slowed traffic, allowing small fruit stands or hawkers of various wares to ply the passing vehicles with their goods. It’s somewhat befuddling to repeatedly see a Muslim woman, burka-clad in black from head to foot, not even showing eyes, standing out in the middle of the highway peddling cigarettes! Yes, it is a land of contradictions.

As we ventured further and further from Cairo, midway between there and our destination, the driver instructed us to cover the van windows with the attached green curtains. He explained that this was a very ‘Muslim’ area and additionally, the ‘police’ might be prone to harass us if they discovered foreigners were traveling in his van.

Kash sat shotgun, Teb directly behind him, and the rest of us tried to stay obscure behind the curtains and tinted windows. One immediately senses just how volatile this situation could become as the van grinds to a halt behind a row of cars, and drivers explain their destination and purpose to armed federal ‘thugs’ in the middle of the road. No one of us said a word; we stayed pretty still as our driver forcefully repeated the same Arabic word again and again—‘Miṣriyyīn! Miṣriyyīn!’

We all sighed in relief as the van launched back into motion, widening the distance between us and the ‘bad thugs.’ In barely understandable English, the driver explained that he told the agents we were ‘All Egyptians, all Egyptians!’ His lie—not ours.

Upon our arrival, two dear brothers from the church here in Egypt greeted us warmly. With faces beaming and hugs all around, they were saying, “Habibi, Habibi!” (“You’re Loved!”).

The pastor and his family graciously invited us over for a fantastic meal of authentic Egyptian food. There were many different kinds of cheeses, breads that would remind you of piratas, and delicious falafel. They are a wonderful group of big-hearted, childlike, and sincere Christians!

Minya is an ancient city located on the banks of the Nile in Egypt. It is the region of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s capital, the most unconventional monarch in 5000 years of Egyptian history, known for his radical shift to monotheism. 

“The Ipuwer Papyrus” is an ancient Egyptian “prophecy” which some scholars attribute to this same time period (though others date it earlier), as it depicts events shockingly similar to those found in the book of Exodus. 

The Ipuwer Papyrus:
“Behold, the river is blood, and one drinks from it.“
“All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan…”
“Behold, trees are destroyed, no fruits nor herbs are found…” 
“The land is not light…” 
“He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere” 
“It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations” 

In the days of Akhenaten, the previous Pharaoh was suddenly killed, along with his heir, leaving the throne to go to his nephew, Akhenaten. This young Pharaoh was unlike any before or after him. He believed in one God! This belief drove him to deface the faces and gods of his people throughout the land and abolish the polytheistic state bureaucracy run by the priests. The only monotheist in Egypt’s history. (“I will execute judgment on all the gods of Egypt.”)

There’s no concrete evidence, either archaeological or literary, that supports the idea of the exodus occurring during Ramesses the Second’s reign. The fact that the Bible mentions Israelites living in the ‘land of Ramesses’ doesn’t necessarily mean that they lived contemporaneously with or after Ramesses. This is because scripture often refers to regions by their contemporary names. For instance, it mentions Joseph and the Israelites living in ‘Goshen,’ but it also acknowledges that it wasn’t called that until later. Therefore, the Bible also refers to the ‘land of Rameses,’ even though it wasn’t known by that name when the Israelites were there.

So, here we are—in a land of such history and contradictions. I think that one contradiction is simply the fact that we are out here in the middle of nowhere, preparing to spend four full days ministering to devout Christians who are needing more from God. But I suppose all redemption is a story in contrast—the irony of hope coming from despair, beauty from ashes, vibrant life from decrepit tombs of human loss. And in that sense, the driver was right: we are “all Egyptians” trying to become children of God and find our stride in this exodus of salvation. Maybe promise, miracles and power can still emerge from the murky waters of the Nile. Perhaps another contradiction is getting ready to be born—a vibrant expression of the Spirit’s power here in the barren land of Egypt. ‘Out of Egypt, I have called My son.’

Pray for us. These are going to be packed, exhausting days. We seek God’s wisdom and strength to match the message to the need, break the bread of life, and see the multiplication that only He can create.

It’s your prayers and support in the Spirit that have carried us this far—from Turkey to Israel, to Uganda, and now to Egypt. 

‘Your kingdom come; Your will be done!’

We love you all!

Asi

Uganda

Well, we are just wrapping up quite a day—our last in Uganda.

We taught at length on what it means to dethrone the tyrant of self and find freedom from the pride of certainty in our own perspective. Many of us brothers contributed by sharing testimonies, insights, and truth from the Word of God. The theme has remained consistent throughout: you’re not going to get all the grace you need directly from God alone; you’re going to have to humble yourself to receive grace in its various forms from the body.

After that, we taught extensively on becoming part of the bride of Christ through baptism, by means of the pledge of a good conscience—becoming the bondslave of Christ by losing our independent autonomy and assuming His name, identity, and very Spirit.

The back-and-forth dialogue was intense at times. The pastor who came yesterday brought an even larger contingent of his fellowship today. At one point, he leapt to his feet and asked, “I’ve been baptized in Jesus’ name already, but what must I do to be part of this kingdom community that you describe—should I be baptized again?” We feel a great deal of respect for this man; he could be a pivotal asset to this work.

We had intensive talks about marriage. The culture here necessitates that the bride and groom cannot be married until he has paid the dowry, which costs exorbitantly, and has financed an epic wedding, another fortune. Thus, people live in sin, as if married for years or even decades, waiting for the day when they can pay the dowry and afford the epic feast. Subscribing to cultural customs forces them to live in sin. We did a lot of dismantling and reasserting of God’s patterns and word.

At the end, we had a powerful baptism of five new members to this fledgling church. Two couples also took marriage vows, consecrating their unions for the first time.

Our hearts have been expanded and enriched by this experience. These are dear, lovable children of God, and there are so many more ready to take initial steps toward the kingdom. You feel the burden of the Lord as we search to know how to support, guide, and protect this fledgling work. Please pray for them. One sister, formerly resistant to the path God is leading them onto, said today that she wants to be in the next baptism, and that is a massive victory!

Emmanuel is remarkably gifted—has the decisiveness and authority of a true leader, the anointing and charisma to lead worship like you can’t imagine, and the depth of conviction to appreciate the bona fide word of life. Pray for him—that he might visit us in Waco, and that God would support and uphold him in this enormous task.

We love you all. We head out for Egypt tomorrow. We covet your continued prayers!

Uganda

It’s 7:30 AM as I watch the sunrise over Lake Victoria, feeling the hope and inspiration of God‘s grace for this small fellowship and what they can become for His glory.

Yesterday was incredibly full—one session after another. We presented the following teachings:

• The gospel of the kingdom,
• The kingdom as the power of the Spirit instituted through the church,
• Repentance as dethroning the false king of self,
• And the baptism of the Spirit as the medium through which the King reigns.

Over seven hours, God gave us the grace to make the vision plain. We answered countless questions, ranging from free grace to “demonology” and eschatology. Some in attendance included leaders from neighboring churches, such as Brother Bennett, a dear man whose heart is being knit together with this work.

After our long day of sessions, Kash met with five baptismal candidates—individuals who have been walking faithfully with Emmanuel for some time now and are approaching water baptism in Jesus’ name.

Today, we anticipate baptizing five new members, performing marriage reconsecration for a handful of couples, and continuing to teach the word, bringing the whole message of this whole life in Christ!

Thank you for your continued prayers. We feel sustained and uplifted by your love and spiritual support!

With much love,

Asi, with the whole team!

Hungary

Today, we are flying back to Hungary after a week in Sweden and Finland. In Sweden, we visited longtime friends, individuals who used to spend part of their time in Waco. We feel a very close bond with them. We also had a pleasant visit with a family, friends of Brother Yosef from the Netherlands. In Finland, we stayed with our hosts, with whom we prayed, worshiped, shared the Word, and broke bread together. We experienced tangibly throughout the weekend the reality of “wherever two or more are gathered in My Name, there I will be.” We were all encouraged.

Three different believing families visited us, interested in community life. Each family brought their unique stories and aspirations for a shared life, including the joys and challenges of raising children in such an environment. One family, living on a small farm and focusing on homeschooling, shared openly about their personal struggles, highlighting the complexities of marital life. A special effort was made to meet for further conversation, which led to a heartfelt exchange of encouragement and prayer. This emerging relationship, marked by sincerity and potential for growth, is something we anticipate will flourish.

Please keep our hosts and the new connections we’ve made in your prayers. Your support means the world to us.

Much love to everyone,

Shahar Yarden