Delron and Peggy were invited to Kigali, Rwanda, to teach at the Authentic Kingdom University – a college that was recently opened through the ministry of their friend Dr. Paul Gitwaza. Delron taught for a week from his Passion for the Harvest book as part of the missions curriculum at the school. While he was busy with his classes, Peggy was teaching her Pulling Down Strongholds class to a different group of students. Delron was also privileged to preach at Zion Temple – Dr. Gitwaza’s church – in a service that was also broadcast on the ministry’s television and radio stations. His topic for the message was “Knowing God.” Peggy was also honored to lead a women’s conference at Zion Temple in which she taught from her Women for the Harvest book and encouraged the women to take their places in ministry and evangelism. When she invited those who wanted to come forward for prayer to find their place of ministry and be anointed to fulfill it, nearly two hundred women responded. This result was especially exciting since women were not allowed to take active roles in the ministry when we first visited Rwanda some fifteen years ago!
I visited the African nation of Rwanda specifically to connect with Pastor Paul Gitwaza, an old friend who is one of the most influential Christian leaders in the country. He has a major church in Kigali with branches all around the country and literally around the world – including other African nations, Europe, Canada, and the US.
When he invited me to preach in his midweek service, I immediately felt impressed to share about David and Goliath – joking that his high pulpit, built specifically to accommodate his extra-tall stature – made me feel like tiny David. Pastor Paul later shared with me that the message was especially appropriate for his people who – even though most of them are characteristically tall – feel spiritually small. The service was broadcast on television and radio, causing the message to reach far beyond the walls of the church building. In fact, I got an email the very next morning from a pastor in Kenya who saw it. He must have googled me to get my email address in order to follow up on the ministry of the night. [Read more…]
Not long after Delron returned from his first trip to Kenya, Sister Bobbie Jean Merck–a woman who is greatly used in the ministry of the prophet–spoke to us with a word that the Holy Spirit had showed her. She said that the thing that had been in his heart for several years was ready to dawn; that its full day had finally come. She said that the desire he had to minister in the nations of the world was to become a reality. In fact, she continued to say that there were at least fifteen nations waiting for him to publish the good news there and that when the invitations started to come in, he would have to organize the schedule in order to go to all the places that would be begging me to come. A month later, Elf Eckman from Sweden grabbed hold of Delron and said that he felt the Lord saying that it was now time for his faithfulness in the Kingdom to be rewarded and that what God had in store for him was going to be even bigger than he had ever imagined. These messages were indeed prophetic; before long, he and Peggy headed out to Africa to fulfill some of those calls to nations begging for the gospel.
It was true that Delron really had to organize his schedule to fit in all the places they needed to visit. They were originally scheduled to minister in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Then the itinerary expanded to include Rwanda as a result of a desperate call begging Delron to speak at a conference in their capital city. When they first started making plans to go, Peggy and Delron were faced with some serious scheduling problems; there were no tickets available for the dates they needed to travel, and the only ones which could be confirmed would make them stay almost a week longer than they could possibly arrange to be away. It looked like a great time to let the Lord prove that it was really His desire for them to go, so they “set out a fleece” that the arrangements would work out if it was really God’s will for them to go. The next morning, they received a call from the travel agent saying that tickets were available on the exact dates we wanted to fly. In addition, they just happened to have the very best connections they have ever had in international travel with no long layovers in intermediate cities. The next hurdle was, of course, money to pay for the trip. As they have always experienced, the Lord proved that if it is His will, it will also be His bill. Just one example of how He provided came on the day they had to pay the travel agent; one dear little eighty-something-year-old lady called Delron and said that she wanted to bring him some money rather than mailing.
The history of Africa is often violent; this is especially true of Rwanda. In less than one hundred days, more than one million helpless souls fell victim to the butchers’ swords as the Hutu tribe of Rwanda executed violent genocide against their Tutsi tribal countrymen. The world reeled in shock and amazement as the reports flooded in of husbands slaughtering their own wives and children simply because they were caught up in the frenzy of the ethnic cleansing. We gasped in awe as we heard that medical clinics had been invaded and the patients massacred in their very hospital beds. These were unthinkable atrocities, but they were reality! When the carnage finally came to an end, the world looked on with wonder asking as did Ezekiel of old, “Can these bones live again?” Just as the Word of the Lord came in response to the prophet’s query, the same answer echoes today to the war-ravaged nation of Rwanda, “Prophesy to the bones.” In these days of restoration, God has raised up a prophet to speak to the bones of his devastated nation.
What has happened was prophetic. Jesus had said that the last days would be marked by ethnic groups rising against ethnic groups (Matthew 24:7). But what was to follow was also prophetic. Peter’s Pentecost sermon echoed the prophet Joel in the promise that the last days would also be marked by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). Just two years since Pastor Paul Gitwazi opened Zion Temple in the capitol city of Kigali, the church is exploding with more than five thousand members including many of the government and civic leaders of the nation. Certainly God has raised up the scattered bones and brought life to the nation. When Delron was invited to visit Rwanda as a speaker at Pastor Paul’s Africa Arise convention, he had no way of anticipating how God is truly restoring and healing the nation. Everywhere there is building, reconstruction, and expansion. Yet the physical renovation seems to genuinely be a manifestation of the spiritual revival that is happening with the people. As thousands flooded into the great tabernacle and entered into exuberant praise, it was hard to imagine that these were the same ones who had so recently endured the unthinkable bloodshed, loss of family and friends, and devastation of their social and economic infrastructure. As they flocked to the altar by the hundreds in response to a simple invitation to receive Christ, it was apparent that they are keenly aware that only through Christ can they have real hope for the future. Truly God is not only beautifully restoring all that was lost and healing all the wounds of war, He is building the nation back stronger than it ever was or dreamed that it would be.
The message that the Lord gave me to deliver to these hungry people was a simple one from II Corinthians 6 where Paul listed what one translation calls “a godly man’s arsenal.” Different from what we usually think of when discussing spiritual warfare, this list includes such weapons as purity, long-suffering, kindness, and sincere love–qualities that bring victory through healing and restoration. The people’s response was overwhelming, and Pastor Paul confided that it was one of the most enlightening teachings he had ever received.
“No, no…I don’t think that they understood. Maybe the interpretation wasn’t clear. We weren’t asking everyone to stand–just the ones who are responding to the altar invitation. Please ask the rest of the people to return to their seats so we can pray with the specific ones who need ministry.” But even after the translator emphasized that we were not asking everyone to stand, no one was seated. Essentially everyone in the whole room was responding to our invitation.
The scene was the African nation of Rwanda where we had been invited to minister at the great Africa Arise and Shine Conference hosted by Pastor Paul Gitwazi and Zion Temple–with over seven thousand members, the largest church in the country. At this particular session, we had addressed the Marriage and Family Workshop on using the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the home. Our message had been centered around the testimony of how our son Christopher had been delivered from drug abuse and rebellion after we began to focus in on the problem through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When we invited those who were experiencing similar difficulties in their families for prayer and almost the full group responded, we knew that we had indeed been sent to Africa with a timely message from God.
Our next teaching was to the pastors and leaders who had gathered from at least six nations (Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda) for the training at the conference. In our opening session with these men and women of God, we felt directed to encourage and refresh them rather than to start off directly with training and teaching. As we concluded the session, we invited those ministers battling discouragement to come for prayer. Again, almost the entire assembly began to press their way forward. Again, we asked the interpreter to reiterate that this was not a general call for prayer but a specific invitation for those who were especially discouraged in their work for the Lord. Again, no one returned to his seat. Again, we knew that we were on target with the message for Africa.
A following message drew as enthusiastic response as could ever be expected, though maybe not as gracious as we might have hoped for. After noting that only a handful of the delegates at the Pastors’ and Leaders’ Seminar were ladies, we felt led that it would benefit the ministries represented to be encouraged and challenged to begin to invite women into active roles in their ministries and even into church leadership. We deliberately ended the session early to allow for questions. And did we ever have questions: If God wanted women in church leadership, why didn’t He call a woman into the original twelve apostles? If you place a woman as the pastor of a church, what will she do when it is time to baptize new believers and there are big men who need to baptized? Who said that women don’t have to wear head coverings? This year you are telling us to ordain women; will you be telling us next year to ordain homosexuals? Talk about opening the proverbial can of worms–this time it was the whole barrel!
As each question was dealt with honestly and with scriptural reference, the delegates began to see that we were not there to preach an American ideology but a biblical truth: The fact that Jesus and the apostles wanted to abstain from the very appearance of evil as they traveled and lived together in close quarters would not allow them to call a woman into their company. Just because the pastor is a woman doesn’t mean that she has to be the one to personally baptize the converts. In I Corinthians 11:16, the Apostle Paul himself said that, although it was a custom for women to wear head coverings, it wasn’t a requirement. Whereas the Bible specifically condemns homosexuality, it was God Himself who said that it was not good for men to be without women–a principle which extends beyond the home into the ministry.
After reviewing the robust discussion engendered by the session, the director of the convention guaranteed us, “You’ll see a difference when you come back next year. The sessions will be full of women ministers and pastors. These men heard what you said, and they want their churches to grow so they will put your advice into practice.” We believe that these African pastors will follow the example of Dr. David Yongi Cho who found the secret which propelled his church to unprecedented dimensions when he started using the women in his church as cell leaders and associate pastors. Just as the conference theme proclaimed, the church in Africa is ready to arise and shine!
The people of Rwanda, as has been mirrored in a recent bloodbath among the same tribal groups in the neighboring country of Buruni, suffered terribly from an internal revolution in which one of their ethnic groups rose up violently with the intent of eradicating the other tribal group that populated the nation. In a three-month period of indescribable violence, over one million lives were brutally taken as the Hutus senselessly butchered their Tutsi neighbors–and even family members!
Understandably, the nation is still in the process of trying to heal the emotional wounds and scars of this great genocide. As we were sitting, waiting to be called to the podium to address the capacity assembly in the massive sanctuary, the Lord quickened a scripture to Delron’s heart–a passage which promised a time when we would no longer remember the things of the past. It was a verse that he knew must be somewhere among the prophetic writings, but he had no idea where. When he opened his Bible, the first passage his eyes fell upon was Isaiah 43:18-21:
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert… I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
Miraculously turning to the passage was a confirmation that God wanted to speak a message of hope and restoration to the wounded spirits of the nation! A thunderous roar of praise erupted from the people as he read the passage to them. Again, God had reconfirmed the theme of the conference: Africa is ready to arise from her ashes and shine with the glory of God!