Uganda 2015 – Arrival, Friends and Storms

Well, this is the first day of our visit to the lovely country of Uganda. If you are new to what we do, we thought today we would tell the story of why we come and who we work with.

Ian picks up the story.

Around 4 years ago, I attended a weekend conference in Grange over Sands in the UK and met a Pastor from a church in Uganda, called David Katende. There were around 100 people there, but David and I connected. I had seen him a few days before in Sheffield, in the company of a good friend, Debbie Plura.

I wasn’t going to go to the conference – I had a commitment for the Sunday at church, but I felt the Lord tell me to go. Once there, David and I sat next to each other in the evening meeting led by Gill Gifford.

When it was time to pray, we prayed for each other and I felt that a warmth and friendship would develop between us. The following day over lunch we talked some more, and David invited me to Uganda. I had already heard the Lord say, “When David invites you to go to Uganda, say Yes,” so I said Yes. At that time we both had no idea what that would mean or how we would become friends, co-workers and brothers in the things of God.

Just to be clear – this is not from an organisation at all – just a godly connection of two people.

That first visit was wild and strange. I had no idea what to expect and who I would meet, where I would stay and (most importantly) what the toilets would be like. I had no idea what David wanted me to do and who I would meet.

I went on an Adventure of service.

Since then David and I have been together in all sorts of places, in both the UK and Uganda, and continue to grow in Friendship and Love. David has stayed with us in the UK, and I have stayed with him in Uganda. With this trip our wives meet for the first time, which is very exciting!

Today I arrived for my 4th visit, and perhaps the most important, since it includes my wife Merle for the first time. This is the first year we have felt it was OK for us both to leave the house and boys for a long period.

With one boy away at uni and the other in upper sixth, we decided that it was safe to come. Matthew is a very good boy – well behaved and trustworthy. So we sent the dog to stay with friends, and along with visits from our cleaner, my wife’s sister and some non-Christian friends, we left for another Big Adventure.

This trip would be a little different. On previous trips, most days were taken up with lots of travel and preaching and praying, hoping to serve God well and bring some of God’s love, passion and encouragement to places we visit.

I would usually get a few days’ rest at the end to pray and reflect, then come home.

On this  trip we had many more days to spend at the church compound with David and Family, and they had planned several tourist visits that they hoped Merle would like.

David is away in Nigeria for a few days – this was arranged at short notice – so we were met by his family, wife Flavia and children Rebecca, Jachobed and Moses.

We arrived late at night, to the worst storms I have ever seen. Terrible lightning and thunder. I knew that this meant electricity would be intermittent for several days across the city, but I had gotten used to that on previous visits. Flavia explained that the floods are always seen as a blessing from God: “Ian, you have arrived with God’s blessing!”

It made me realise that perspective is everything in life, isn’t it? How you see things – what spiritual glasses you wear – how you allow God to show you a different view – is crucial to becoming “a person after God’s heart” (like King David).

merle and ian-final

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A prophetic dream for Sheffield

Last night at Greenhill Methodist Church, Neil Grant told a story of a friend who felt the need to shout “Wake Up” at an angel. It reminded me of a dream I had last year about our city. It was exciting to hear stories of other people who had similar experiences and words about waking up. When I had the dream I did not have any blogs or ways of sharing it – so I thought I would share it now
In the dream I saw the city of Sheffield like a map, from above. The city was in darkness. I could see that all over the city were these little lights. Almost like sparks going off. They would flare up for a few seconds, then die down. Flashes of light. I looked a little closer and saw that these lights were in buildings. Sometimes the lights were as big or bigger than the buildings. Sometimes the buildings were big, like towers, but the sparks were small.
I realised that the buildings were churches in Sheffield and the light represented the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of saints. I could see that some big buildings had little of the real presence of the Spirit, and this made me sad. The Lord said to me, “In some of the churches, my people are more interested in arguing than desiring my presence. In some, they are so proud of how big they are, I can’t get in. It’s not how big they are – it’s how proud they are. I oppose the proud.”
Then he said, “Watch how I am coming,” and I saw what looked like a wave of energy rising up from between the cracks in the ground. It started to rise up. As it did, the small sparks that earlier had been going on, then off, instead of going off, started to grow and spread across the city – almost fuelled by the energy. Instead of going out, these little sparks started to grow and grow. And as they grew, they started to meet each other. Whilst I saw this happen slowly so I could understand, I sensed in the Lord that it happened very quickly. I felt the Lord say, “Transformation happens slowly and then suddenly – I am waking up my church.” I said, “Lord, wake me up inside – bring me back to life.” As I said these words, I felt that I was one of the sparks that was being energised by God.
The Lord took me back up in the air and I could see that the city was no longer dark, but light. The light came from the ground up, and the whole map could not be seen, for the land was overtaken by brightness. The only thing I could see were towers that still were not covered in brightness. Then I felt the Lord say, “This is how it will be when my wave comes; I won’t choose one church over another. I have no favourites – I will come to all.”
As the dream finished I heard myself say again, “Lord, wake me up inside – bring me back to life.”
Have you had similar dreams or words that are the same? For Sheffield or for your own city? If so, please post a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
Ian
Ian lives and works in Sheffield, with his wife, Merle, his sons and a dog, and worships at Meadowhead Christian Fellowship. He is a christian author and blogs at ianbanner.com. To keep in touch with what Ian and Merle are doing click here

Apple vs Android – Battery life

So I was on the train travelling to London for business, and I sat at a table to do some work. So did three other people.
They all had iPhone 5s. I had my Samsung Note 4.

There were two power sockets between the four of us. I sat and watched as all three iPhone users got out their chargers and started negotiating who should use the power sockets. I think they knew each other. This was early in the morning, and they already knew they would run out of power.

“I have the longest day and don’t know when I will be able to charge again.”

“I only have 87% percent battery now – that won’t last.”

“You have one of those charging bricks you can use later…”

“The battery on this phone is old now. I could do with an upgrade but I still have four months before I can.”

After all this was settled we started talking.

Did I use an iPhone? I went into my standard pitch ….

No – I use a Note 4…

– Look how good the screen is.
– It has a built-in pen for notes that isn’t pretending to be my finger.
– Look, I can put a micro SD card in and watch any films I want. No worry about memory capacity or getting the files onto my phone.
– If it runs out of power, I can switch to my spare battery, which is in my pocket and cost me £11.00 from Amazon.
– If the main battery wears out I just buy a new one.
– If the battery gets too low I can switch to ultra power mode. I currently have 86% battery. In ultra power mode that would last me 11 days. I can still make calls, send texts, and use the Internet, Facebook and WhatsApp.
– Also, have you tried wireless charging yet?

There are many things in my life that I haven’t sorted, but I have sorted out my phone. 🙂

Then I got the usual questions

– How much does that cost?
– Tell me about that ultra power saving mode again. Really – 11 days?

Why do people buy a phone that can’t really last an entire day before needing charging?

Sorry, no poll specified.

RIP Terry Langlsey … ‘a wonderful man who led a wonderful life’

Slide1Plans changed and Merle and I were able to attend the funeral yesterday of a wonderful friend and close neighbour, Terry Langsley. Funerals are usually such sad affairs, unless Jesus is involved. Then they can be very different…

Terry lived a full life, and in his last years, he had a form of illness that lasted three years. It left him coming back to his house at Easter knowing he was on his way home to heaven. When I saw in the funeral programme that a letter written from Terry was going to be read out, I wondered what I would write to be read out if the circumstances were so for me? I suspect I would express my deep love for my direct family, thank the right people and give everyone some advice!

These were not Terry’s last words, more his final words – his farewell words. The words that really mattered to him.

Dear Family and Friends,

I am no longer with you but a few words to say that I am with the risen Lord Jesus as he promised I would be. He alone has power over death since he alone conquered this last enemy. To follow him and obey him is to enter this certainty. To live without him, ignore or reject him is to spend one’s whole existence as if playing trivial pursuits, however worthy we may feel our pursuit to be. As Lord and creator of the universe with its expanding galaxies, he demands our allegiance, and every knee must bow to him at judgement time. Let me urge you to consider his mighty power to bring you into the free gift of eternal and fulfilling life right now.

The Apostle Paul said near the end of his life, ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7, NIV)

The Christian life is not a sprint, but a marathon. It has three stages.

– You have to start well
– You have to press on through the middle of the race when it gets hard and people give up, and
– You have to finish well.

I think Terry is an example, like the Apostle Paul and many others, of someone who finished well. He was a man who showed many what true love and acceptance was all about. I am proud to have known him. I will be more than happy to leave the planet under the same conditions, as said by his children… “a wonderful man, who led a wonderful life”.

RIP Terry Langlsey – Resurrection in Progress.

TERRY YOUNG    TERRY TEACHER  2015-08-21 17.15.13  TERRY AND CAROLE   TERRY GRANDAD

RIP Malcom Ayton

malcolm smaller

Merle and I were privileged to attend the funeral yesterday of Malcolm Ayton. Malcolm was part of many wonderful things, but I knew him from some shared time as part of the same worship team at MCF (Meadowhead Christian Fellowship). The service and remembrance of Malcolm was simply wonderful.

What struck me was his daughter’s brilliant talk, which finished with something like, “Dad, thank you for being the role model that you were. You taught us how to live the Christian life.”

I remember thinking if that can be said of me when I go home, I’ll be happy. Lord, help me to finish as well as Malcolm and Terry.

A message to all our friends…. we are leaving Woodseats Baptist Church

way-forwardAt a meeting a few days ago with Ben Hudd (leader of WBC), Merle and I concluded that this is the right time to leave WBC.
There has been a series of prophetic words from many people, including Isobel Alum, who visited WBC earlier in the year, many of the people in the church, and other sources in the UK and beyond, that we should move on for the next level of our training in heart and character. Also, great thanks to whomever placed an anonymous letter in my daybook with some wonderfully accurate words for me, which I found at just the right time.

On top of all these prophetic words are our own words and pictures from listening for ourselves and praying to the Lord over the last few months. The debate has always been about timing.

As Ben gets on with the task of creating the new WBC, we feel the right thing to do is create the space for this and look for the next adventure for Merle and me.We have asked Ben to release us from WBC, and initially Ben wanted to do this at a Sunday morning service but quickly decided the right way would be at the next family weekend in September.

One of my favourite sayings is, “The Christian life consists of two simple things: learning to hear God clearly and developing the courage to do what he tells you” This, I think, is from Bill Hybels. It is advice we are now following.

When we left our previous church (Meadowhead Christian Fellowship), I expected to stay at WBC for many years, but I can see now that God has other plans for Merle and me. We had been at MCF for 13 years, and it was quite a wrench to leave. We have been a year at WBC, and it is less of a wrench – we feel we had only just started settling in before being called to the “departure gate”.
We have had a great year as part of the church and leave behind many great memories, including:

– our trip to Uganda together (Ben and I)
– our trip to Canada
– praying for Ben when he was very ill and unable to breathe, and seeing the breakthrough we needed
– all the wonderful stories of what God has been doing to change people and prepare them for the coming revival.

To our friends at WBC we want to say it has been a privilege and humbling experience for us to share in your journey. We are sure that God is at work at WBC and has astonishing plans for all of you – as well as for other Christians in churches across the city.
Please pray for us and for Ben.

For the Kingdom
Ian and Merle

Prophetic words for Ian and Merle

I have been asked by several over the last few months to publish the words that Merle and I have had. Whilst many are still private and some are only on scraps of paper (but these are very important!), here are the key ones that are in electronic format.

Before you read these, you should know the emotions that these words and others like these create in Merle and me. I think that if you got prophetic words like this, they would provoke similar emotions in you.

They provoke wonder – that God would care so much for us.
They provoke amazement – since they contain words that resonate and match other words we have received from different sources.
They provoke trepidation – that God has so much planned for people who are not ready or up to the job.
They provoke commitment – that it is time to get serious with God and become the person he wants you to be, a person with a heart and character that glorifies him.

From Isabel Allum:
Father, I thank you for this couple, Lord, and I thank you for the uniqueness of their journey. There is the word “uniqueness” in your lives. God is saying he is bringing a new set of wings on your back for the two of you for a greater identity of who you are.
There have been many that have been influenced by a spirit of rejection against you, for there has been an outside spirit of rejection standing against you and influencing other people in how they respond to you.
Many people have been unkind at different times in your journey, but I hear the Lord saying he is coming to remove the lions and tigers and the bears, for there have been many of those that have come unexpectedly. The Lord is coming now to remove them completely.
I hear the Lord saying you are going to remove the honeycomb from the lion’s mouth. You are going to enter into that place, for you are going to say, “It is well with myself – look what the Lord has done.” You have something to show for it, but they are just scars of war, but you will have spoils as well, and you will say, “This is what you have.”
Brother, I saw you writing. The Lord is saying he created a writing gift and anointing within you. Greater inspiration is going to come out of that – greater insight is coming for you.
The Lord is going to visit with you as well, for I heard the Lord say we will spend time seeking him, and there is going to be quite a reality of the atmosphere you are in that is going to cause fellowship with the Trinity coming for you in a greater way.
I heard the Lord saying that at times there has been loneliness in your heart. The Lord is saying he is coming to deal with that now, once and for all. Loneliness is going to disappear form your heart, but sometimes the enemy comes and sprinkles some of that within you. But the Lord says encouragement is coming.
Scripture says, “Even though sorrow comes in the night – a shout of Joy comes in the morning.” I heard the Lord say you are very close to that morning shout – it is about 3 o’clock in the morning now.
The Lord  is moving you further and further. For I heard the Lord saying there has been delays in your life and journey, but delay does not mean denial, and this is the amazing  thing – God has not changed his mind about you guys.
I hear the Lord saying there is going to be relocation coming for you, and he is coming to plant your tree in another field – the lord is saying his hand is upon it. He will be the one who is planting you and is re-potting you so you can grow and grow and grow without restrictions in your life.
There is a restoration of relationships coming in your lives as well – these restorations are going to manifest, but you are also going to see new relationships coming for you.
I saw a spiritual father coming into your lives. I hear the Lord saying, just like Timothy had Paul, Elisha had Elijah, God is bringing someone like that into your lives; he is going to bring a lot of healing into your hearts, and he is going to teach you how to become a Paul and an Elijah to Timothies and Elishas who will come to you seeking the same refuge, for the same support, for the same instruction.
Your journey is the the tool belt that you will create for all your tools. All the tools are from out of your journey, and you will be able to say, “Look at this tool we can use; we can use it here in this situation. Remember that experience we had then; well, now we can build this.”
And God is going to show you how to find the flowers in every wilderness.
From Toronto Prayer:
I saw a picture of you both at a shooting range. And you are both shooting, and I hear the announcer shouting, “Bullseye… bullseye,” so the Lord is helping you to do the bullseye thing in 2015. Whatever you point and minister at, it will be bullseye. All bullseye.

What that means, too, is that you are right on. You are right on your destiny, your calling, right on your privileges because you are born-again blood, saved, sanctified sons and daughters of the living God.

The Lord wants you to meditate Isaiah 43, and you have a tremendous prophetic word for 2015. Awesome. You two are so encouraged together, and you will be binding together more in mindset and heartset.

I saw you both mountain climbing, and God is giving you a mountain to take, and he brought me to Psalm 2 v 7–8. You are my son … ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance… I feel like you have been ready, and you have been YES in your spirit. A big Yes to the Lord, and you are willing to go into those hard places, and I feel that God is giving you the ground that your feet are walking on, and he is giving you the mountain. He is giving you the mountain, and the Lord wants you to know he is the one seated on the mountain. So you are able to enter into the Seat of Rest in him because he is actually on that mountain, and he is inviting you to come and be seated in that seat of rest, and he is going to give you that mountain; it is already yours.

He has given you both a willing heart.

My phone is travelling the world without me

Around Christmas this year, I was going through some of my old tech that I no longer use, and I had a Samsung Note 3 and Neo watch. I realise for many this would not be old tech, but that’s another story.

David, my good friend in Uganda usually gets these kind of devices. He knows people who can use them so I decided to send this to David. I am seeing him in June, but this was January, so off I go to the local courier office.

I put the phone, the wrist watch and a spare battery in one of the courier boxes and pay.

I let David know its going to arrive in five  working days…….  Two  weeks later David lets me know that it hasn’t arrived and it’s time for me to chase it up. (Remember this paragraph – it comes up a few times. See if you can count how many?)

I go to the shop I used to post the item, and they phone the courier. It is still in Sheffield becasue I have contravened the explosive devices act by having three batteries in the box. I have to phone the courier depot and ask them to send it back to the shop.

It is sent back to the shop for me to remove the spare battery.

I go to the shop and remove the spare battery and it gets sent again

I let David know its going to arrive in five working days…….  Two  weeks later David lets me know that it hasn’t arrived and it’s time for me to chase it up.

I ring the courier, who says that the paperwork is no longer correct. I should have got a refund and filled in another order. It comes back to the shop again.

So far the phone has been living in Sheffield for 8 weeks on its own.

When it comes back for the third time I decide to take action and reduce the cost of transport. Whilst the courier was going to charge £55 , I realised that Royal Mail could do a signed for package for only £17.00 so I decided to move to Royal Mail.

I packed the box very carefully and took it to my local post office. I filled in the forms and left happy.

I let David know its going to arrive in five  working days…….  Two  weeks later David lets me know that it hasn’t arrived and it’s time for me to chase it up.

I look the package up and find it is Uraguay .   Yes Uraguay …. (starts with the same letter I guess?)

I phone the customer service team and ask why the package is in Uraguay? They don’t know but say it isn’t in Uraguay any more – its back in Britian. It arrived in Britain 2 weeks ago and is being returned to sender (me). I ask why its not being sent to Uganda? Apparently when there is a country mispost they send it back to the sender, not move it to the correct country. Nobody I have spoken to knows why this is the case,  but that’s what they do.

How long does it take to get back to sender form Heathrow Airport in the UK? Around five days apparently, so my phone having been on an adventure to Uraguay is now lost between Heathrow and my house and if in three  weeks it doesn’t appear at the house, I can claim for a lost package.

It is now 12 weeks since I first attempted to send this to my friend.

This story is so ridiculous it makes me wonder if there is something I need to learn?

So – over to the lovely people who follow my blog – If there is a moral to this tale, what do you think it is?

That’s time well spent

Over Christmas we decided to go and have a family breakfast in a restaurant and one of my Sons was in a grumpy ‘I’ve been woken up faaaar toooo early’ mood.

So we went to breakfast which was fine, inc the vegetarian options.

One of my sons was unhappy that the breakfast had ‘waisted so much precious time’.

On the way back I said to my son,”You hardly ever get up early at weekends”, his brother said. “Yes – you lose the whole morning.”

“That is time WELL SPENT”, he said indignantly.

Made me think. If you had to give me 1 hour of your day today that was ‘well spent’ – what would it be?

What do YOU do?

Its always nice when you do something for the first time….

Today I went to a new place for breakfast with my lovely family.  A friend worked there, so we decided to go and see what it was like. Merle had always wanted to visit anyway.

Our mutual friend
introduced me to the owner, who asked me only one question, which was, “How long have you lived at your house?”. When I said, “Fifteen years”, he just said. “Wow”, then turned and said “Wow”, again to the wall.

I don’t think I have every been asked that question before (apart from on loan forms!) and it made me realise how sheltered a life I lead.

I was being introduced to someone who, of all the questions
to ask me, thought that was the most important. And he was a nice guy.

It made me think, ‘What question would you ask if you met someone for the first time?’ Apparently the Queen says, ‘What do you do?’