At critical moments in my life God has brought key books to my attention, and an urgency in my spirit has compelled me to read them. Some have been, quite literally, life-changing, life-enabling and life directing.
Lance Lambert’s book ‘Jacob I Have Loved’ is the latest in a long list of priceless books which God has used in this way. The theme of the book is ‘The Power of God to Transform a Human Life’, as seen in the life of Jacob (Sovereign World, 2007). The book has been on my shelves, unread, for fifteen years. I have passed that shelf many times each day, for at least 5000 days!
But, just before Christmas, the title on the spine inexplicably grabbed my attention. And as I pulled the book off the shelf, I knew that God wanted me to read it – not just sometime – but now! I finished it this morning. It is a totally brilliant, and very readable, exposition of how God can meet with us in our brokenness and then, in our wrestling with Him, lift our eyes from the pain and enable us to step into an unknown future, not trusting in any human resource to try and ‘fix it’, but in God alone. As a result of his wrestling, Jacob limped for the rest of his days, but his limp was an ever-present reminder that it is only the presence and power of God that can enable our future destiny in Him (See Genesis 32:22-32).
Jabbok Valley Experience
Having left behind half a lifetime of service with Laban, it was in the solitariness of the Jabbok valley that Jacob encountered God, and his future walk with God was ordained and determined. For me, it was after half a lifetime’s service with Ellel Ministries, as Founder and International Director, that I experienced something unimaginable, as the new International Director and Executive Leadership decided to close down the vital work at Pierrepont and sell the property.
As a result, I have been through my own Jabbok valley experience. But, in it all, I have known the ever present help of the Lord, Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. A ‘Jabbok valley experience’ is God’s way of purposefully pushing us into the new and fresh ground that He has been preparing for us. As we enter 2024, I am aware that through the valley God has been at work in my life, and others God has sent and placed around me, and has lifted my eyes to a new future in a post-Ellel Ministries era.
A Sea of Opportunity
The miracle-working God, who has so faithfully led me all these years, has not changed, and with Him I can still “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . . forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead” (Phil 3:12-23). With Him, a sea of uncertainty can become a sea of opportunity. That has been my experience as, through the latter half of 2023, different leaders of former Ellel Centres around the world began to share how God was also leading them into a new day of vision and purpose. The Lord had His way of leading and directing each of their steps.
Following prayer, counsel and a clear invitation I, along with Fiona and Jill Southern are now moving forward, with other leaders no longer within Ellel Ministries, to establishing a relational network of like-minded ministries, both in the UK and globally, which will provide room for growth whilst being steeped in and committed to the spiritual DNA of the original founding vision. Whilst much is unclear, I can unequivocally give thanks to God for what I see happening and discern that the Gospel will be further extended in a way only the Lord can direct, as perhaps happened with Paul and Barnabas (see Acts 15:36-41).
It is a great privilege to move forward together with these leaders, at their request, into a new sphere of service which will use the calling, gifting and experience God has placed within me to encourage them into this new era for their ministries, as part of a new charitable company to be called Gates of Hope International.
Into the Unknown
Fiona and I cannot any longer be responsible for running centres, but we are able to inspire and encourage those who can. So, for us, this is not only the beginning of a New Year, but also a new, unexpected and unplanned for, season of life, with a new calling and a new destiny. We cannot ignore such cries for help. As I climb out of my personal ‘Jabbok valley’ and step once again into the unknown, I have been made very conscious of the fact that God doesn’t consider the date on our birth certificate to be a limiting factor!
And I am also reminded of what I wrote in my last blog:
“this is a time when we must be ready and work. For, as Jesus said, “as long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me, Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). There will be things that we once took for granted, which will be swept away under unprecedented moves of God’s Spirit, bringing about re-alignments in the Kingdom of God which will be strategic for His purposes in the days to come. A remnant church is rising to the call of God.”
In his first Christmas/New Year message of the Second World War, King George the Sixth quoted the words of Minnie Haskins to his people:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day.
And so it is with a huge sense of excitement, expectation and, yes, some trepidation that we have placed our hands firmly into the hands of God, and are once again setting out into the unknown! As we look towards the light breaking upon those hills, I can already see how God is opening new gates of hope across the nations. And we are trusting that “Gates of Hope International” will be used of Him to play a part in preparing and equipping the people of God to serve Him and play a part in helping the remnant church rise to its feet – more about this in future blogs. There are exciting and challenging days ahead!
Within the next few days more information about Gates of Hope International will be made available on a new Gates of Hope International website: www.gatesofhopeinternational.com and also on my personal website at www.peterhorrobin.com.
Copyright © Peter Horrobin 2024.
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