After a wonderful time back in Australia we have completed our first two weeks back here in Redding. It felt strangely familiar returning to the city, house and car we had left just 15 weeks earlier. Our transition time from arriving at the airport to school starting was 72 hours so the familiarity served us well. We suffered minimal jet lag which was aided by enjoying some warmth of the latter end of the Californian summer and a few swims at Whiskeytown Lake plus catching up with some old friends. Missing summer once is regretful but to miss our second Australian summer in a row is only abated by the glory we experience in this place.
The opening bar of worship holds a roar. It is not necessarily the volume that catches our attention, although Bethel is not a quiet experience. Rather the sound contains an atmosphere of passion, revival and fervour. There is no warm up – rather people are immediately ready to worship God.
One of the best maxims we have picked up already is that we worship for two reasons. Firstly, God is worthy of it. He is more than enough to receive our praise and honour. But nor is He someone who just created humanity to worship Him like some needy deity looking for recognition or glory. Rather He is a God who is unswerving on positioning His creation to become like Him. So secondly worship positions His people for transformation. This duality maintains passion and fervour amongst the believers here. God is always honoured and yet alongside this value is a tension that the body must become more like Him. That is why we must be passionate worshippers so we become more like Him.
The start of BSSM has been amazing. The sessions already have been extremely inspiration and powerful. Our electives have been chosen for the first trimester and we are really going after key growth in the empowering aspect of God’s grace.
Our hope is that whatever sector of society we find ourself in upon our return, we carry more of God’s presence that atmospheres of hopelessness, sickness and fear dissipate immediately.
We have been allocated a revival group pastor who has been in ministry over 20 years. In fact he was a Lutheran pastor for 17 years leading a large congregation before he came to Bethel. He is passionate to position to be filled with the measure of the fullness of God this year (Eph 3:18-19). We consider this a divine setup with our pursuit for the same thing.
Our hope is to minister in the local Shasta Regional Hospital. God has highlighted an opportunity to move our passion for arts and healing to be used outside of the church and into the community, especially targeting mental health. This will be a fascinating year and we are excited for what we will experience and grow through this activation.
Craig attended the Healing Rooms recently and saw a woman arrive who had only discovered the ministry at Bethel after watching some movies on Netflix. After some diagnosis, Craig realised they were the Holy Spirit series and it had built her faith to believe for a miracle for her ailing health. She arrived not really knowing what to expect but was expectant for God to show up. That He certainly did. Her hearing was very poor. In fact with her aids in she was unable to hear well from 50 cm away in a crowded room. We prayed for her and the power of God fell upon her body. She removed her hearing aids and started to share something had happened to her hearing. I began testing her range by moving to where we started – 50cm. No problems. 1 m away. Clear. 2 metres away. Still clear. This was an amazing experience to see someone arrive significantly impaired in hearing to leave with greater clarity without aids than when they arrived. We release this testimony over anyone experiencing hearing loss. May God’s grace renew your hearing now in Jesus name. Read this again and test it out. We are expectant to hear testimonies returning with similar experiences of improvement.
Starting school again in new years has been a journey for the girls as the new classes have brought new faces. We appreciate your prayers as the girls make new relationships with friends. Certainly the last few days have been productive with us running into families from the Hunter Region. One, in fact, is here from Singleton. It is always fun hearing how someone describes where they are from doubting that you have even heard of such a place. But alas we have and their daughters are of a similar age to ours. We are constantly amazed at how adaptable the three girls are and feel blessed they are on this journey with us so favourably.
The days since we have arrived have been hot. The mornings are stunning. Then as the midday sun arrives the heat intensifies dramatically. 4-5pm is peak heat time. So swimming at Whiskeytown has been refreshing. We have discovered the location of a natural rockslide which we have yet to experience but keen to explore in the coming weeks. The varied outdoor activities make living 3 hours inland from the ocean fun and exciting.
Another fun activity is the cycle trails here in Redding. Craig has joined up with a pastor from Norway and rides around the trails. One of the painful but fun climbs is called Heart rate Hill where one is able to in fact test your fitness and health through measuring your heart rate through exertion. The climb is not Alpe D’huez, but certainly accelerates fatigue as you continue to climb its tortuous inclination towards the summit area for several minutes.
The weeks ahead start to build in intensity now so we look forward to sharing more highlights soon. To conclude here is one amazing maxim we have discovered so far:
- When you lose consciousness of the God of the impossible you are stuck with what you can do.
May you never lose a focus of growing in your awareness of how God is moving in impossible situations wherever you may be serving Him.
Until next time.
Blessings C, M, B, E, J.