To All our Friends and Supporters
I want to write and encourage you in the midst of this unprecedented season of world history. For these truly are extraordinary days. As I said in my last blog, we have never walked this way before. But nothing of what we are experiencing through the impact of the Coronavirus is a surprise to God. So, it is to Him we must look for help and understanding. David went through some very tough times in his life, and often expressed sentiments such as, “I call on the Lord in my distress and he answers me” (Psalm 120:1) and in the very next Psalm he tells us where his help really comes from, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). And we need His help now.
For, never before in history, have all the nations of the world been simultaneously brought to a stand-still by the same common enemy – a previously unknown virus, so small that no-one can see it, and from which no-one has any protection and for which there is not, as yet, any known cure. As a result, most of the nations are in lock-down, meaning that normal life has been suspended and people are confined to their homes.
The airports of the world have become parking lots for redundant aircraft. The economies of the great nations are being stretched to unimaginable limits in their attempts to control the spread of the disease and treat those who have caught it. Every day, the terrible statistics of disease and death are the substance of our news programmes. And no-one knows how long it’s going to last.
The Maker of Heaven and Earth
If we didn’t know where our help comes from, it would be easy to allow fear and panic to become the controlling forces of our lives. For our help doesn’t just come from some unknown spiritual being – it comes, as David reminds us, from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. And therein lies a problem for the nations, because the governments of the world have not only written God out of the script in terms of the laws of their lands, but they have bowed the knee to the godlessness of atheistic science, which teaches that the universe has no such thing as a Creator!
But, whether or not someone acknowledges the fact, all of us are made in the image and likeness of God our Maker; the creativity in every single one of us is simply a reflection of the creative power of Almighty God. And in every human being there is a God-shaped hole that desperately needs to be filled. I watched an interview on TV with a man who was seriously ill with the virus in hospital. As he lay there, not knowing whether he was going to live or die, he was saying “I wonder if I’ve been good enough?” He was asking the question because the virus was causing him to search for answers about life and death, to questions he hadn’t been asking before. The TV controllers must have allowed it to be screened, because he was representative of millions watching who would be asking the same question in similar circumstances.
Looking for Answers
Right now, there are hundreds of millions of people across the world who are locked away behind closed doors, many in fear of what might happen to them, but also looking for answers. And they are not just looking for an answer from the medics, who they hope will solve the virus problem, but for answers to much bigger questions about life, the meaning of life, death, the hereafter and why all this is happening. I have been surprised at the open-ness of people we have talked to. One said to me, “Is it because we have forgotten God and He is trying to get our attention?” and then added, “Do the nations need to repent?”
A simple answer to both these questions is, Yes. The nations do need to repent – in scripture repentance was always the first step towards the land being healed (2 Chronicles 7:14) and the people being restored. And yes, God will use whatever comes upon us as a means of getting our attention – as happened on numerous occasions in Scripture.
You cannot believe in Jesus, without also believing that God created everything. John’s Gospel begins by stating unequivocally that “without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:2). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about Father God’s provision for His creation (Matthew 6:25-34) and then urges people who are faced with the worries and concerns of this life, however small or great they may be, to “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” And I believe that one of the most important messages that Jesus would speak to the world in the face of today’s anxieties and fears is just that – seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.
Because man has rejected Creator God, he has also rejected the God who saves and the God who heals. We learnt how important it is to begin all our training schools and conferences on healing, by laying out the foundations of faith, which begin with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” For our Healer is, indeed, our Maker. He holds the blue-print and master plan for our lives and is the only one who can restore our inner being as the maker intended.
The world does, indeed, need to repent over this – and many other things. This is a day for salvation! For, one day soon, Jesus is coming again, at a time that no man knows. But Scripture warns, in many places, about events that will shake the world in the times before He returns in glory. Jesus told many parables to warn people to be ready and of the consequences of not being ready when He comes again.
When the world is being shaken, as at the present time, people begin to seek God again and God, in His mercy, uses times like this to cause many to repent, come to Him and find Him. Those who have ears to hear will, indeed, be listening. There is a message they need to hear. Many will turn to the Lord, and there will be a harvest for the Kingdom of God.
Salvation and Healing
In this season of desperation, our prayers must be unceasing for all caught up in the crisis, either as victims of the disease or as part of the medical teams who are striving to help the sufferers. And we need to be crying out to Him for His protection and provision. For, this is also a season of harvest and, as always, the Lord of the harvest is calling for workers to go out into his harvest field (Matthew 9:37)to bring the harvest in. That is why Ellel Ministries is about to launch a series of on-line programmes, so that we can use this season of lock-down to share the heart of God to save and heal.
I came into the work of Ellel Ministries on the back of a life-long commitment to evangelism and sharing the good news. It was part of my parental upbringing. And when we began healing retreats at Ellel Grange, thirty-three years ago, the Lord showed us that the most important healing anyone can ever receive is to be born again of the Spirit of God. It’s resurrection from the dead! It’s the beginning of an incredible journey with God our Maker. For many who were born again in this way, it was their need of healing that brought them to the Saviour – and then they discovered that their Saviour was also their healer, their deliverer and their restorer!
Countless testimonies from people who have attended Healing Retreats all over the world testify to the power of God to save, heal and restore. Their need of healing made them cry out to God for an answer. And we saw, like David describes in the Psalms, how God heard and answered their cries for help and healing. Many such stories are featured in the latest edition of our Newsletter.
It sometimes takes a crisis such as we are now going through, to make people ask the right questions. So often they can want God to heal them, for example, but they don’t want to live their lives in harmony with their Maker! Psalm 66:18 reminds us that there are times when cherishing sin in our hearts means that God isn’t able to hear our prayers. And that doesn’t always mean current sin, but often includes things from our past that have never been brought into the light. No wonder James highlighted this issue (James 5:16), when he recommended those who are sick to confess their sins as a vital part of their healing journey with God.
Prayer in the Current Crisis
Returning now to our needs in the current crisis, the opening verses of Psalm 91 remind us that to know the protection and covering of God, we need to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest in His shadow. This is the place of security and safety. When we are in tune with Him we are under His covering and there is no reason to fear. Whatever may befall us, we are in Him – both for time and for eternity, even in the face of a deadly pestilence (v3).
And as we all look to God for His answers in the face of this world crisis, it must surely be a time of preparation. A season when, in the midst of lock-down, we have an unprecedented amount of time to watch, pray and look to Him. A time to look again at our lives, face any issues that could be an obstacle to either healing or the experience of His presence with us; and a time to come back to Him, our Maker, and be under His covering. A time to seek His face.
Two ministry friends who are both now with the Lord, described their ministry as ‘evangelising the heart of the believer’. This is a season when, I believe, God not only wants to seek and to save the lost, but also wants His people to examine their hearts (1 Corinthians 11:27-30) in preparation for both receiving His healing and for a time when God’s Spirit will move in reviving power through His church and into the world. It’s vital that we are ready for when His Spirit moves and begins to draw men to Him.
May I urge you also, to spend time in prayer for the nations and the peoples of the world, that there will be many who will seek for and find the Lord, and that the church will be renewed as believers use this season to focus once again on the essential realities of their faith and prepare themselves to be workers in God’s harvest field.
And watch out for details of Ellel programmes that will soon be available free of charge on-line.