“You don’t leave racism at the door (of a church), you leave it at the altar.” Rev. Johnny King NO LIMITS CONFERENCE Sacramento, CA.
As astonishing as it was to observe the basic, stark way of outdoor cooking, and serving to the hundreds of UAW delegates in Nairobi, was the lovely, caring, presentation of meals to speakers and other guests. Table clothes were changed for each meal. Later we would see the linen pieces hanging on fences to dry.
These beautiful tents were rented. Used for ladies sessions during the day, at night they became sleeping places for many of the delegates. Junior Aston showed us how to eat this Kenya food called Ugali. It is customary in one’s home to serve the mixture in one large bowl into which everyone dips their hands and pulls off a piece. The process calls for taking one’s thumb to make an indentation, then “sopping” up the sauces that have been cooked with the meat and vegetables. I learned the trick quickly, and quite enjoyed it. The food was tasty; lots of stewed meat with delicious sauces. Pictured below is goat meat we were served. I liked it.
Her name is Carol. She is the national secretary of the Ladies Department, and she kind of took me under her wing. She is the one who in the first service gently pushed me into a group of ladies who were dancing in worship to African music. (I did my best, but in some videos I have seen, I look rather stiff and uncoordinated!) Once, in a moment of affection, she picked me straight up off the floor. Later I walked up behind her as we headed to the tents, touched her on the arm and acted as though I would lift her. She smiled at me and said in her beautiful accent, “You cannot move a mountain.” I truly love her. Hope to see her again some day.
Here in the United States before our trip to Africa I had only briefly met both Pamela and Bishop Ngota Aston, but I certainly came to know them better during those days we stayed on their church compound, and to admire their ambition, their godly ways, and their accomplishments. I salute them today.
If I understand correctly, it was through his burden that he met with Apostolic leaders across Africa, and that in 2014 the Apostolic Union of the World was founded. He became the leader of the organization whose purpose is to facilitate evangelizing Africa with the Apostolic message. The conference we attended was the third such meeting.
His wife is beautiful, hospitable, a great speaker, singer, and musician. She was reared in a very challenging environment, but by the grace of God has risen from its depth to a place of prominence in Africa, and has attained an excellent education.
The compound is impressive. I was stunned to learn that they have only been in that location for seven years. It is completely fenced, boasting numerous structures with a 24-hour guard at the gate. Encompassed in the wide acreage are the sanctuary, the building I have mentioned in which we stayed, school facilities, and a few other out-buildings. Monies from outside Africa have been supplied and appreciated, but I noted in some of their material that one of their goals is less reliance on foreign aid; instead the development of financial independence
Both the impressive grounds and the buildings are kept in pristine condition. Workers were painting just hours before the beginning days of the conference.
I do not have the exact number of persons who attended the conference, but I suspect the final count to have exceeded 500. Most of these were ministers and their families, including some who had traveled as many as four days to arrive there. Several countries were represented. Although the provisions were simple, it astonished me that every delegate was accommodated on the premises. Outhouses were utilized and hundreds slept on mats on the ground. The food was cooked outside a small room on charcoal cookers; the dishes washed nearby with the assistance of a lone faucet. I highly respect my brothers and sisters in Jesus I met those few days in Kenya. Some of them, I was told, do not have enough food, and some are actively persecuted because they are Christians.
I posted the following words on my Facebook account a few days after the conference ended. Those were my sentiments then . . .as they are now.
I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw. The conference in Nairobi has ended. Forever in my ears will ring the words–Africa Must Be Saved–as I recall the hundreds of black people who swayed to the burden of their song, who fell mourning to the floor, who wept over the millions who are lost in the hills, the jungles, the cities of their beautiful continent. ……….I will never forget the mama of this beautiful baby who sat in the dirt long side a muddy road and nursed her darling child beside the table where she sold bananas and watermelons and corn . . .I will never forget leaders who taught their women not to be bitter as they asked God to give them food for their children. . . I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw.
Faces, Saturday faces, from our Southern California Ladies Conference. What a conference! Dynamite speakers, preachers and other leaders. Top-notch music. Good food, sweet women, cool men, and gorgeous babies . . . How blessed we are.
When Jerry called Pastor Bob Allen, secretary of the Arizona UPCI district, last week to inquire about hotels for the Arizona On Fire camp meeting we would be attending, Brother Allen said, “Why don’t you stay with us in our home?” Such a gracious invitation, with the added order that yes, they would be preparing dinner for us, led to our arriving here in the early evening yesterday. We had left Crestline at 9:15 . . . long ways over here to Tucson. Chloe is with us, and when we arrived, these precious people greeted us enthusiastically, and the dining room table was set like this.
In preparing a hostess gift for Sister Allen, I had made the great sacrifice of picking off the ground pine cones and acorns. 🙂 Well, I did put them in a pretty glass container, and I did give her my finest acorns; the fattest, biggest specimens, including one with a double topknot on his hat, and the other with a feather in his hat.
Gracious Sister Allen exclaimed over the little things I had prepared for her (turned out we were trading food items!) and she loved the acorns. I was so relieved at that, because although I think the acorns are adorable, I did have the thought cross my mind that she might think: “Acorns, why did she bring me acorns?” 🙂
But she loved them–I could tell she really did–and she spread them out along with her own fall decorations and with the pumpkin cups I had given her.
Brother Allen has jury duty today, so we’re all on hold until this afternoon when we will take the Allens out to dinner. Opening service of the camp is at the Conner’s church tonight. In the meantime, I’ve located a State Park just 15 minutes away from here. Think I’ll chug over there and snap a few pictures.
Cheers……have a great day!
Edgy. I live on the edge, the glorious edge, where every day I am astonished—I never take it for granted—at the beauty, the success, the hint of the hereafter that surround me. For in all areas of my life I find myself balanced on the cusp of wonder. Rising from my bed in the predawn hours of the newest day, I finagle my clothes, flip on the coffee pot, and settle into my favorite chair in the dining room with its wide windows that look across the chasm of Lake Gregory to the trees of the alpine forest that rise as a standing army on the other side. I read, think, pray, write, contemplate, cry sometimes, and frequently take on a heavy feeling of compassion and concern, and my chest compresses, and at times my heart breaks, but there is nothing I can do about that. I smile occasionally, though, at what I read, and sometimes at my own thoughts. Jerry comes and I pour his coffee, or he pours his own, and he sits in his chair . . .
“It’s just over 70 miles to Palmdale,” was the first thing I said to him this morning as he stood by the coffee pot, “but it will take us about two hours to get there.” He sweetly grunts, (his becoming fully awake is a slow process that can’t be rushed) and hugs and kisses me.
Other points of wonder around me go to political insanities which daily assault my listening ears, disappointment that my beautiful squash plants produced only gigantic yellow blossoms but no zucchini or yellow squash, and discussions with Jerry about buying some kind of screen to secure over the tubs and pots where I will again plant spring-flowering bulbs. The screen bit is in hopes of keeping the mountain critters, throughout the winter, from filling their little bellies with dinners of un-blossomed tulips, hyacinths, and allium.
Drops of anointing will splash about me during the next many hours, for we are off to Lancaster today to help celebrate with Pastor Sean Manzano and his family the 7th anniversary of the founding of Rushing Wind Worship Center.
We’re leaving early–around noon–for I want to take a little time to photograph the Mormon Rocks and the trains that are always chugging around that area. The massive rock formation is named for a group of Mormons who traveled through the Cajon Pass in covered wagons on their way from Salt Lake to southern California. We’ll get to our hotel room in time to rest a bit before the service tonight.
I live on the cusp of wonder. Tonight I will sit with life-long friends in a congregation of Apostolic believers, and we will worship and sing and listen and talk. There will be a rush of the Spirit of God, and we will clap and rejoice, and around me will settle as points of light the holy presence of God.
We’ll be tired tonight, Jerry and I, and I will lie on my bed ready to fall asleep, and as I often do, I will think of the comfort of sleep and rest. . . and will anticipate the morning, another day on the edge of wonder.
A blessing from God is that even though we are no longer full-time in the ministry, many people invite us to be a part of their churches and of their activities. It delights both Jerry and me for it lets us continue to give from the abundance of blessings that over the course of our lives we have received. For although we are much older now, God and His Work continue to be the center of our lives, and we are most fulfilled when we are engaged in His business.
Recently, Jerry was asked to teach a session during the Garrett’s leadership retreat, so on Saturday morning we drove to Big Bear Lake–actually to the YMCA camp in Fawnskin–where those dear people had included us in their schedule. We ate breakfast and lunch with their group, attended a couple of sessions, and walked about the magnificent grounds.
Brother and Sister Garrett assumed the pastorate of The Lighthouse Pentecostal church about three years ago. Building on what other men of God before them had established, they have, through hard work and spiritual dedication, made significant progress toward building a great church in Yucaipa. They may be embarrassed when they see this, but I want you to look at a couple of images I snapped during Saturday’s seminar. You are seeing examples that speak to godly leadership and to subsequent church growth–both in spiritual and material senses.
They are amazing people, and my heart rests easy when I think of them and others of their caliber in whose hands–under God–resides the future of the Apostolic Church in the earth.
(Many more pictures of this event on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shirleyb/sets/72157631772205739/
A close second to God’s people worshiping and praying together is when we have fun with each other, and last Saturday at the Doubletree brunch in Ontario was no exception. It was a blast!
The food was delicious. The atmosphere was PARTY!
The decorations were dynamite, cute as could be, yet carrying out the theme of the conference.
Newly placed as president and secretary of the department, Sisters Cupoli and Ghiloni stood with the board to honor the outgoing president, Sister Nita Hodges, presenting a cruise for her and her husband.
A little teasing ensued on the platform, and then Sister Cobb proceeded to teach us a little Jamaican worship style.
Two sweet young men were brave enough to spend every service with us; one playing the bass, the other the drums. We honored them during the brunch.
Prizes were handed out, the vendors were generous with “give-aways,” as were the speakers and singers, and finally each group was uproariously calling their table number so that they would be chosen for a gift. Choose me! Choose me! It was delightful.
Finally, there were more singing, more speaking, more praying, and more rejoicing. Then it was over, this wonderful 3rd annual ladies conference of the UPCI Southern California District.
I have proved it to be so; I am obsessed with serving Jesus Christ, and with working in His Church. I was born into an Apostolic home–to a fiery, caring preacher– spent my childhood around the godly people in the churches he pastored, married a preacher, produced children of similar mindset, and for these 53 years have been constantly involved in ministry. Never have I lived through one moment of wishing I were up to something else, nor of casting about for superior way, nor of sporting a jealous eye fixed on life in the easy, the mundane, the carnal. No, I am obsessed with Jesus Christ, His Plan, His Church: It is a magnificent obsession.
Think it not strange, this obsession of mine, for my trafficking in this, the greatest organism on the earth, has fashioned for me a life of exceptional peace and joy, of social fulfillment, and of such spiritual underpinnings and faith as to still my soul at any rare moment of stagger. This obsession with Jesus Christ has steadied my too-anxious hand, has carved a warm path for my steep and rocky tramps, has squared my judgment, and tempered my faulty positions. My obsession with Jesus Christ has infused me with anticipation of the highest degree: I anticipate meetings, where, with those of like mind and passion we worship Jesus Christ, where preachers, while fully human, are remarkably transformed into conduits through which the Holy Ghost unquestionably speaks. I anticipate Heaven and its unspeakable glories, planning to arrive there in a victorious and sweeping way, having been caught away by the power of God, either bursting from my dusty grave or being taken alive from this earth and meeting Jesus and the saints in the air!
I’m obsessed with the thought. I’ve whispered the story to many–to my children and to their’s and to their’s. We sing together of the glory that is ours, and of the greater that yet is to come. We cry at the promise, at the anointing, at the beauty of the revelation. I’m obsessed with Jesus Christ and His Church…and with His love.
After the end of the short cruise we drove to Lake Havasu, attended our Sunday service, and by 4:00 in the afternoon we had pulled our rig onto the highway and were headed to Santa Maria, CA. for the Western District camp meeting. I cannot remember a better one. It was outstanding in every way.
The preaching was phenomenal, coming from Rev. Brian Kinsey the evening preacher and Rev. James Hughes the daytime preacher, and including four preachers from the district, in addition to Rev. Mullings who preached on Monday night. I missed hearing the Wednesday morning local preacher, but I can vouch for the others as being superior. Rev. Ed Allard was the Tuesday morning preacher and in a sincere, positive manner, he challenged us as Apostolics to take a careful and honest look at ourselves. “Has our gold turned to bronze?” He clearly asked for direction from our elected leaders. It was a powerful, courageous message, that resonnated soundly with the congregation.
The teaching and preaching by Brother Hughes was profound.
One problem existed: For the first time I can remember, none of my children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren were with us at camp…until Thursday evening when in came Chris and Christina and their two youngsters.
Friends ministered to each other.
Families reveled in the presence of God.
New dedications were offered up to our God.
Family Apostolic Camps–the best meetings I have ever attended. Another one coming up in a couple of weeks in southern California: If at all possible, be there. All over the country–please, make your way to an Apostolic family camp! They’re the greatest!