Ray Booth – Resurrection In Progress

A great man 

On Monday, it was Dr Martin Luther King day – for my American friends it was a time to reflect on the legacy of a great man. It was also the day, here in Sheffield we said goodbye to our good friend Ray Booth who recently passed – also a great man.   I listened to the service broadcast from the local church where Ray and I were both members together for many years. (I was not able to attend due to lockdown) and I listened to his wife, Jean, his family, his children and grandchildren all talk and give thanks about a man that I also knew but nothing like as well as they did.

I felt encouraged

What struck me was how often the word ‘ an encourager’ was used.

I remember this myself, many years ago when I felt completely useless for anything. I was just recovering from a minor breakdown, at the end of a tough time in the junior leadership of the church we were in. In reality,  I should not have been left in that tough position for so long, but at the end of that I was exhausted and I had lost hope.

In the middle of that, Ray asked me to travel with him on a trip to Denmark. I’ll leave the full details out for today – but the trip, Ray’s encouragement of me as a person, and the circumstances of that trip moved me from feeling useless to useful, and opened up a door to some major parts of what I now do in the church.

In that trip, he introduced me to Frank and Elisabeth, and soon after Kim and Sus. – great friends and a great church. It’s true to stay that Livets Kilde was pivotal and primary in Merle and I understanding our ministry and purpose. Frank and the team there encouraged me in hearing God and seeing that as something I was called to, gave me space, encouraged me to start writing books, did my first ever translation of a book into another language… I could go on.

One of Ray’s daughters – I think – in the service quoted Maya Angelou :

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Ray made me feel useful again. He gave me hope in that trip that all was not lost for me.

A Voice of Wisdom for 25 years

I realised as I listened – that whilst I didn’t spend a lot of time with Ray, compared to others – there were several critical moments where Ray’s advice changed my life.

“a wise man listens to advice”,

Proverbe 12:15

In Proverbs 12:15, it says “a wise man listens to advice”, and I always sought Ray’s advice when having to plot some of myself and Merle’s ‘big moves’ in life, such as :

  • Starting my business
  • Changing leadership roles in church
  • Joining Meadowhead Christian Fellowship
  • Expanding my travelling to what it is now
  • Helping to found Wellspring Church Sheffield
  • Becoming part of the team here at The Well

For all of these – and other – major events – I consulted and listened to Ray for over 25 years. Let me just briefly mention one story. Once, I was struggling on a leadership team and wondering what to do with my life and my ministry. I wanted to serve but didn’t fit in. I’ve learnt now to see that fitting in is just a way of being driven by man’s praise – God has made me unique for a reason- but then I didn’t understand that. I felt pulled in so many directions. At that time Ray gave me the best piece of advice I think I have ever received, which I have used myself as advice many many times – even this week 20 years later on a coaching call with an executive at BP I used the story below and I was thanked for the ‘wonderful story and advice’ – Ray’s ‘wonderful story and advice’….

Where are the solid floorboards?

He talked about the time he would renovate a house, the first thing he would do when he looked around at the mess and see all the things that were wrong, was to look for the solid floorboards you could stand on. From there you could build more floorboards and then get to most of the places in the house.

“Ian”, he said, “in your current situation what are the rock-solid floorboards that you have that you can stand on?”

Ray Booth

I knew the answer to this question – it was the house of the Lord had just allowed Merle and me to buy. As I thought about this ‘solid floorboard’, I found it easy to make the decision to move churches and start a long association with Meadowhead Christian Fellowship and Jonathan Dunning the leader there. We stayed at MCF for 13 years and our children grew up in that lovely church.

Thankful

I am incredibly thankful for the open door Ray, along with Jean gave us, and the encouragement of Merle and myself, when others didn’t. With so little of his time, he made such a big impact in my life and wonder how many others can say the same – probably thousands?   It is no hyperbole to say that like Dr King, Ray leaves behind a huge legacy for us all to be thankful for. We pray for Jean and the family.  

Please pray for David

My friend, co-worker and Pastor of Life Changing Church, Uganda has just messaged me with information that he has been diagnosed with Covid in his home. He has struggled to throw off what he thought was tiphod only to be diagnosed today.

I am full of emotions. I guess I am honestly concerned for my close brother. I am also sure he is in our Father’s loving arms.

I will write more tomorrow, but wanted to ask all our friends and family to pray for a loving friend and father, whom I believe is significant in God’s plans for his country.

A preview chapter from my new book, ‘How to live a Prophetic LIfestyle’

The Lord will always hold you close – that’s HIS way – no matter how YOU feel about it

Ian

“Sprit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.”‘

Hillsong

I sat shaking on the beach looking at the waves in front of me. I could feel my heart beating – even in my ears. My adrenaline was still coursing through my veins. I was in shock. I started the regular breathing needed to calm my body down. I had just experienced the worst five minutes of my life. I had threatened the safety of my five years old son through my stupidity and I was about to have the strongest personal encounter with God I would ever experience. 

What started only 30 minutes before as great fun had teetered so near to disaster I felt physically sick. My five yrs old son, Joshua was running back to his Mum and little brother to tell of the great fun we had just had in the water, but I was trying to hide my emotions, hide the shaking in my arms and legs, hide the terror I had felt. 

It was a beautiful day in Cornwall, UK where we staying on holiday. We had decided as a family to go to one of the wonderful nearby beaches for a day trip. This beach was particularly popular. A perfect cove with wonderful bright green and blue colours, seaside smells and regular crashing waves. Sea, Sand and Sounds.

You could close your eyes and breath in creation. 

On one edge were some rocks to watch out for. In low tide you could see them, but when the tide was high they were hidden just under to surface and they were jagged. I pad no attention to them as we started – they would mean everything to me later. 

After settling in on the very crowded beach, Joshua, asked to play in the water. In the UK it’s considered good parenting and safety to make sure your children can swim a little, so Joshua had had some swimming lessons since a baby and was perfectly confident. The confidence of every 5 year old boy when he has his Dad next to him. 

It was a lovely warm day. Hundreds of people were on the beach. I took Joshua out into the water to splash and play.

After a while Joshua wanted to go deeper into the water and bounce in the waves. It was a very flat beach so I decided to put little Joshua on my shoulders and walk out into the rolling waves for some fun. Joshua was holding onto one finger of each of my hands with his entire little hands. I can remember even now – 20 years later the wonderful heat, the reassuring waves and Joshua’s giggles of delight at of the waves which cane about every 20 seconds

We settled on a depth that meant as each waves approached I would say ‘Oh no – here comes  a big big wave!” and I would then jump in the air with Joshua on my shoulders as the wave arrived to stop the water rushing over us. I would even bend my knees before each wave came to add to the excitement. We did this for about 10 minutes, with Joshua calling out ‘Deeper, deeper!” with each wave. Slowly – each wave –  to get more of a thrill I stepped deeper.

It was idyllic and great fun – little did I know what was about to unfold.

I realised that with each wave, I had slowly, inadvertently,  moved more and more towards the rocks that were at the left side of the bay. I decided we would have to start ‘hopping’ deliberately away from the rocks as we jumped with each wave.

Having seen how near the jagged rocks had become, I then looked out to sea.

Suddenly I saw a huge wave coming towards us. this wave was not like the others – it was so high, it would engulf me and Joshua who was sitting on my shoulders, we would be pushed off our feet and be out of control.
All parents know this feeling – the terror of emotions that fill you when you realise that your child is not safe.

We were trapped – a parent’s carelessness. I only had seconds to think. My instinct was to protect Joshua. 

I realised that the best way to ensure Joshua was safe was to put him in the water wrapped in my arms and shield him from the wave. If we fell over – if we lost control and hit  the rocks – I would use my body to shield his – I would be hit first. 

I couldn’t do that whilst Joshua was holding my two index fingers in his little hands, so I had to do something that in the surface would have alarmed Joshua. I broke Joshua’s grips on my fingers so I was ready to hold him. Just as the wave hit us, I shouted, “Hold your breath”, grabbed his mid area and pushed him down under the water but wrapped in my arms. I pushed away from the rocks as much as I could.

The wave hit us.

Everything went into slow motion for a few seconds. The power of the wave hit me quite hard and knocked my breath out. I had curled up into a ball and it felt like the wave turned me over so my head was near the sea floor and rocks. I was still holding Joshua very tightly, but he was pushing and struggling to get away and get some air.

I didn’t mind if I got injured – I prayed to the Lord –  I thought, ‘Even if I get injured – Lord, at least let me stay conscious enough to keep Joshua safe’. That’s what I was thinking, but all I say in my mind was one word ……. ‘Joshua’. 

I waited for my body to naturally rotate in the water for a few seconds and then pushed my legs out. I found the floor, and stood up. I was still out of my depth, but I changed my grip of Joshua and pushed him up in the air so he could reach air and breath. After around 29 seconds in total the wave subsided and I too started to get air.

As soon as I could, I pulled Joshua down and checked him for scars and blood – nothing. 

I turned immediately and started running as much as I could toward the shore line. It was exhausting, and after around 30 seconds we reached the shore and I put Joshua down in the shallow water and we walked out of the water into the beach and sand.

Safe.

As we sat there, three things happened. First I was full of an overwhelming urge to hug Joshua forever. After a few seconds , I started shaking and third, Joshua said, “That was FUN – let’s do it again”.


Strangely, that moment of tumbling in the sea, with my baby son wrapped tightly in my arms, that moment where time slowed down, where I had my heart cry for my son, was still not the most memorable encounter of the day. 

It was there at that moment, on the beach,  that the Lord spoke to me and gave me the most significant and most important lesson I needed for my entire life and Identity. There on a crowded beach …..

Why did you break Joshua’s grip on your hands?
Because I realised what mattered was not how strong he could hold me, but how strongly I could hold him. I am the strong one.

Why did you wrap him in your arms?
To reassure him and protect him from the rocks. I would hit first – he was safe

Why did you tell him to hold his breath?
Because I could see what was coming and I needed to prepare him for what to do

Why did you want to hug him forever?
To show him how much I really loved him and that that love was the most important thing in the world to me

Now, instead of you holding Joshua, picture me holding you. I am your Father….. I will always hold on to you. I will always protect you. No matter how tightly you hold on to me, When it looks like I break your grip of me, it’s only because I want to hold you. I can hold on to you much better than you can hold on to me, Ian Sometime when you struggle, and feel I’m not giving you freedom, it’s because I am protecting you. Even if you can’t see it – I can see it. All I ever want to do is hug you and watch you grow.

That was fifteen years ago, and I honestly can look back at that day, as the day my feelings towards my Spiritual Father, and my view of our relationship was completely settled. I have sometimes struggled with other relationships in my life, but not with this one.

Last year, as I wandered around a market in Africa looking for a present for my wife, I was recognised from a nearby conference I was speaking at, and a crowd started to form round me asking for healing prayer. The first lady was pleading for prayer for her ovarian cancer. The crowd and situation was nearly overwhelming. As I prepared to pray, the Lord reminded me of that day and the waves, and I felt wrapped in his arms….
I’m not telling you that story to point at me, but to show that inside me, all things point to him and knowing your sonship is everything.

As I finish this first chapter, can I challenge you? At some time in your life, you and the Lord need to settle your relationship and identity in a way that is fundamental and foundational.

It becomes something in you that is as certain to you as breathing.  That doesn’t meant you don’t have ups and downs, doubt, occasional fear, but at no time in these, have I questioned who my father is and who I am. As one of my friends says…


“You need to now WHO you are (your identity) and WHOSE you are (his identity)
 

Prayer : Lord, Help me to see that you always keep me safe. Even when I think you’ve let go – really you are about to hold me stronger

Asbergers Dad

Our eldest son was diagnosed with a form of autism called High-Function Asperger’s when he was 11. Without going into a thorough history of Aspergers and where the phrase comes from, people with Aspergers tend to be seen as odd and have difficulties understanding common communication. They don’t understand facial expressions and sometimes come across as excessive in their behaviour and clumsy in how they do things. Forgetful, perhaps – or, more accurately, lost in a world where things like ‘keys’ are not that important. 🙂 Certain social conventions are missing, and they either never have these, or ‘tack them on’ through training later in life.

Another example – non-Aspergers people (Aspergers call these people ‘neuro-typical’) develop the ability to understand facial expressions when they are around four or five years old. However – if you have Asperger’s, you don’t ever acquire this naturally, but you can get software in which Daniel Radcliffe shows you around 50 facial expressions, and you can – over time, and with an algorithm – learn to recognise what each facial expression means.

The High-Function form of Asperger’s means that as well as having your ‘brain wired differently’, you are also very bright. This intelligence means that you can hide some of the characteristics of how your brain is wired differently through training and always thinking twice before you do anything. It’s a bit like always speaking in a foreign language – you are doing a lot of things with your brain at the same time to appear ‘normal’, and this can tire you out.

I guess some people have always been like this – now we have a label to describe it.

When Joshua was diagnosed, we cried, but we have come to see that Joshua is quite a unique and a very, very gifted person.

He had difficult times at school because people did not understand him and how he was different, but the more he specialises in life, the less important the ‘differences from normal’ become, and the ‘brilliant extreme’ that he is becomes more valuable. Now he is a Grantham Scholar and currently working on a PhD in extreme climate change.

This article however, is not about Joshua. It’s more about me – his dad – and people who judge.

When Joshua was diagnosed, the people at the hospital pointed out that Joshua would go on to be very successful in a niche field in which he would probably become an expert. He would have some close friends, but they would be hard to make. In fact, said the Doctors, just like his dad, who also is High-Function Asperger’s.

Up until that time, I did not know that I was also a High-Function Asperger, but as we researched this for Joshua , I realised more and more the truth of this, and although I can do a lot of things like other ‘neuro-typical’ people, some things still defeat me. Not because I don’t try, but because I can’t ever do them – my brain is not wired that way. You might as well tell a man with a limp to walk straight. The problem with Aspergers is. the ‘limp’ is inside the brain – so many do not realise it is there at all, and never make any adjustments for it.

Let’s talk about language – which is actually very important. But to talk about language, I need to digress into history. Let’s go back 200 years to the time when a certain section of society was persecuted for being different. I am talking about people who were left-handed. These days we see left-handedness as just an attribute of a person, but a few hundred years ago, it was not seen as that. It was seen as a sign of evil. There are many stories of people, alive even now, who had left-handedness beaten out of them when they were children. They ‘suffered’ from left-handedness. We look back and think that is terrible, that the loving church of Jesus would never do that, but actually the church was no different from any other section of society, and many Christians at the time quoted ‘the right handed mess of God’

Now let’s turn back to Aspergers – and for this next bit I have to thank Joshua for explaining this to me.

People no more ‘suffer’ from Asperger’s than they ‘suffer’ from left-handedness or being white or black.

‘People are Aspergers’ is the phrase Joshua (and others who are Aspergers) ask us to use. It’s now the preferred way of describing people who are brain-wired like this.

Let’s talk about distractions.

People used to complain to me that Joshua would put them off by reading or walking around during worship and sermons. ‘How can he concentrate on the Lord whilst he is reading?’ they would say. ‘How can he be listening to the sermon?’

I would patiently explain that Joshua’s brain was wired differently from theirs, and what looks like normal behaviour in their children would be abnormal behaviour in Joshua. We should no more tell an Asperger off for distracting people by walking around in their own world than we should tell off a man with a damaged leg for limping.

By the way – if you are reading this and realise you’ve said this to me, let me just say we forgive you completely and love you completely. It doesn’t matter. Love covers all. I used to think the same as you until the hospital explained it to me, so I can’t judge.

These days. I see lots of people whose behaviour I would have judged previously, but who I can now see are ‘brain-wired differently’ and mainly need love. Love that is not a ‘social worker project’ but genuine love from one sinner to another.

Let’s talk about judging and loving

If you can see all that, let me now move on to some other things for Christians to ‘see’.

  • People who are Aspergers don’t want to be ‘healed’. To be ‘healed’ would be to remove the main essence of who they are. Would you pray to heal someone of being left-handed? Or black?
  • People who are Aspergers don’t even need to be understood better – in church, they just need to be loved and not judged. If there was ever a place where people could be loved and not judged, it should be the church of Jesus. Sadly its more usually the other way round. Jesus loves us all unconditionally – we don’t follow his example.

I guess what I want is people I spend time with not to assume they know why I do things unless they ask me and get a clear answer. I think I can be approached. I simply don’t do things for the same reasons others would do them. Don’t see me doing something and think ‘If I did that it would be attention seeking behavoir therefore that must be why he or she does it’. Why not give it a go and ask ‘Why did you do that?’

To judge Aspergers for their behaviour before asking them why they do things the way they do is, I believe, the sin that Jesus was talking about when he said, ‘Do not judge.’

Matthew 7:1–2 (NIV) : “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you

John 7:24 (NIV) : Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

I honestly believe that the church will change the world when all Christians (inc leaders) stop judging people and show love instead.

1 Cor 13:5 (NIV) : Love … keeps no record of wrong-doings.

I’m really starting to get tired of people bringing up what I did 5 years ago as though it was yesterday and not believing people can change.

For Asbergers, the challenge of fitting in at school (where you are different and judged) , becomes the challenge of fitting in at church (where you are different and judged)

Let’s talk about crowds.

I know this is hard for people who know me to believe is true, but I really don’t like crowds. Crowds are not the same as a church where I am preaching. I know how churches behave – even ones where the Holy Spirit is moving 🙂

I know how they behave and I know how I am to behave. I’ve learnt those rules and can operate in them.

Crowds are really different. I don’t know if my behaviour is good or bad. Am I loud or too quiet? Am I popping up everywhere? Am I ‘in your face’? If you are not an Asperger, you learn how to see facial feedback on this by how people react and what their emotions are – which you can face-read. If you are an Asperger, you are lost – a lone person in the crowd; a stranger in a strange land. That’s why you will see me sometimes ‘stick’ to my wife Merle at parties – She is my only protection.

I love being invited to parties (I want to be popular), but I hate going to them!

Even the ‘mill-around’ after church when people are talking to each other is a challenge. If there was a church full of Aspergers, they wouldn’t have coffee afterwards – not unless it was arranged better.

I have a friend who has a T-shirt that simply says, ‘Sorry I’m late – I didn’t want to come.’

Did you know that Asbergers are sometimes accussed of being ‘stand offish’ and at the same time also as ‘too friendly- always hanging around when not wanted – always in your face – always popping up’ – perhaps now you can understand more of. why.

Let’s talk about changing the world.

Let’s go back to that date when Joshua was diagnosed. When I talked with Dr Harpin at the hospital, I asked her for feedback on how I planned to explain all this to my 11-year-old boy. I went through how I would put it:

  • Your brain is wired differently – which is good news and bad news.
  • The good news is that you will have superpowers that no one else has, but also weaknesses that others don’t have.
  • The bad news is you will feel and behave differently from other – average – people.
  • Never call them ‘normal’ and yourself ‘not normal’. They are average and you are exceptional.
  • The bad news is that they will judge you and probably bully you for being different.
  • The good news is you are very bright, so that will help.
  • The good news is that the older you get, the more what you specialise in will matter and the less fitting in will matter.
  • The good and bad news is you will always see the world differently.

‘How does that sound?’ I asked Dr Harpin. ‘Fine,’ she said. ‘Just add….

“The good news is people like Joshua can change the world because Joshua can see the world from the outside.”’

It reminded me of Jesus – who also sees the world from the outside.

The School of Safe and Humble Propets – coming online in 2021

Just to let you know that I am planning an online (Zoom) course next year (2021) to carry forward the school that I usually run out in Africa and elsewhere. The course will be 10 weeks for 2 hours a week only, and we will have 20 people max on the course. If you are interested please get in touch with me at ribanner@gmail.com

Resurrection In Progress – Ray Booth

A great man 

On Monday, it was Dr Martin Luther King day – for my American friends it was a time to reflect on the legacy of a great man. It was also the day, here in Sheffield we said goodbye to our good friend Ray Booth who recently passed – also a great man.
I listened to the service broadcast from the local church where Ray and I were both members together for many years. (I was not able to attend due to lockdown) and I listened to his wife, Jean, his family, his children and grandchildren all talk and give thanks about a man that I also knew but nothing like as well as they did.

I felt encouraged

What struck me was how often the word ‘ an encourager’ was used.
I remember this myself, many years ago when I felt completely useless for anything. I was just recovering from a minor breakdown, at the end of a tough time in the junior leadership of the church we were in. In reality,  I should not have been left in that tough position for so long, but at the end of that I was exhausted and I had lost hope.
In the middle of that, Ray asked me to travel with him on a trip to Denmark. I’ll leave the full details out for today – but the trip, Ray’s encouragement of me as a person, and the circumstances of that trip moved me from feeling useless to useful, and opened up a door to some major parts of what I now do in the church.
In that trip, he introduced me to Frank and Elisabeth, and soon after Kim and Sus. – great friends and a great church. It’s true to stay that Livets Kilde was pivotal and primary in Merle and I understanding our ministry and purpose. Frank and the team there encouraged me in hearing God and seeing that as something I was called to, gave me space, encouraged me to start writing books, did my first ever translation of a book into another language… I could go on.

One of Ray’s daughters – I think – in the service quoted Maya Angelou :
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Ray made me feel useful again. He gave me hope in that trip that all was not lost for me.

A Voice of Wisdom for 25 years

I realised as I listened – that whilst I didn’t spend a lot of time with Ray, compared to others – there were several critical moments where Ray’s advice changed my life. In Proverbs 12:15, it says “a wise man listens to advice”, and I always sought Ray’s advice when having to plot some of myself and Merle’s ‘big moves’ in life, such as :
  • Starting my business
  • Leaving City Church Sheffield leadership
  • Leaving City Church Sheffield,
  • Joining Meadowhead Christian Fellowship
  • Expanding my travelling to what it is now
  • Moving on from Meadowhead Christian Fellowship 15 years later
  • Helping to found Wellspring Church Sheffield
  • Moving on from Wellspring Church
  • Becoming part of the team here at The Well
For all of these major events – and others – I consulted and listened to Ray for over 25 years. Let me just briefly mention one.
Once, I was struggling on a leadership team and wondering what to do with my life and my ministry. I wanted to serve but didn’t fit in. I’ve learnt now to see that fitting in is just a way of being driven by man’s praise – God has made me unique for a reason- but then I didn’t understand that. I felt pulled in so many directions.
At that time Ray gave me the best piece of advice I think I have ever received, which I have used myself as advice many many times – even this week 20 years later on a coaching call with an executive at BP I used the story below and I was thanked for the ‘wonderful story and advice’ – Ray’s ‘wonderful story and advice’….

Where are the solid floorboards?

He talked about the time he would renovate a house, the first thing he would do when he looked around at the mess and see all the things that were wrong, was to look for the solid floorboards you could stand on. From there you could build more floorboards and then get to most of the places in the house.
“Ian”, he said, “in your current situation what are the rock-solid floorboards that you have that you can stand on?”
I knew the answer to this question – it was the house of the Lord had just allowed Merle and me to buy. As I thought about this ‘solid floorboard’, I found it easy to make the decision to move churches and start a long association with Meadowhead Christian Fellowship and Jonathan Dunning the leader there. We stayed at MCF for 13 years and our children grew up in that lovely church.

Thankful

I am incredibly thankful for the open door Ray, along with Jean gave us, and the encouragement of Merle and myself, when others didn’t. With so little of his time, he made such a big impact in my life and wonder how many others can say the same – probably thousands?
It is no hyperbole to say that like Dr King, Ray leaves behind a huge legacy for us all to be thankful for.
We pray for Jean and the family.

Now I know why Africans don’t have watches :)

This is the first update only from Ian since this update is about the trip I just finished on my own without Merle.
This was quite a week for me – I learnt a lot and made some very special friends that I think I will have forever.
The background to this visit is that last year I was invited to do a 3 day pastors conference in the centre of Kampala. This was for the network run by John Bunjio. We held it at the church in the centre of town and was hosted by the leader of that church,  Micheal Kimuli.
Between these 2 guys, they look after and are networked to most of the independent charismatic churches in Uganda. At the end of that conference we spent time laying hands on every attendee and prophesied over them. At the end of the queue was Michael and as I layed hands on him, I felt the lord clearly say, “Put yourself at this mans disposal”. So I said these words to Micheal.
A few days later he rang and over a meal – he invited me to come to his National Prayer Conference, which is held just as the school holidays break up at the end of the year just before Christmas. It runs for 6 days and typically has two to three thousand attending.
The invite was to come to several years of the conferences starting last year (2014). If you know me well you will know that last year I had a dream about 2 weeks before the conference where the Lord told me to NOT go to the 2014 conference. If you know me well you will know why it was important that I was in the UK for that week last year.
So finally I went this year (2015) with expectations high for what God would do.
To say I was not disappointed would be an understatement. I had the privilege of the leading the very first session of the conference, the ‘Launch Session’ and I knew we were going to have an amazing time, when at the end of the slot I called forward what I expected to be a few people for prayer under the title of how “God prepares people out of the limelight”. EVERYONE  came forward for prayer (well there might have been 10 people who didn’t – I guess to be accurate I should say nearly everyone came forward). There was an amazing heart for all the the Lord wanted to do.
By the time the second day finished, we were spending hours in prayer and worship and finishing at least 2 hours late – but the Lords presence was amazing/wonderful/unbelievable. I posted a FB update saying if this was Tuesday what would Saturday be like? It was then that I understood why africans don’t worry about the time!
The Lords Presence and Prayer just grew and grew every session – every day.
As well as taking 4 of the preaching slots (which was a high privilege for the first year I was there) I also was invited to give a final prophetic vision for what God wanted to do in Uganda in 2016 – which will be a very significant year. I felt so honoured and trusted by my  Lord.
We then anointed everyone with oil and a prophetic word about breakthrough in prayer and fasting for 2016 and called everyone to 2 weeks of Prayer and Fasting to start 2016. There is a huge day of prayer on the 15th Jan to mark the end of the prayer fortnight across Uganda-the church are taking over football stadiums. I must say being able to pray for all the attendees along with the other international guest breakers and Apostles  was a moment that makes me cry just thinking about it.
I met and fell in love with some more wonderful people, on top of all those that I already knew, including Micheal and his wonderful wife Sarah, their family, Barbera (who was my PA for the week – with a job to make sure I was at the right place at the right time! Not always successfully thanks to some confusion on my part!), Jean-Luc (from Canada) and Frank (from Rwanda). Just as the week finished I also met an amazing woman from CTF Canada called Perry.
On top of that, the hundreds and hundreds of people we got to pray for.
I know I will meet nearly all of these again for next years Prayer conference in 2016, which will be bigger and better.
I received an amazing amount of Love and Encouragement from all that were there, but the best comment I received was from Micheal’s wife who told me that I was different from many other UK teachers they knew, because I can ‘pray like an african for hours’. I must say this made me smile a lot. Just being told I was an Arican made my heart sing.
Please pray for us – I received many  invites to travel next year to lots of different countries for conferences and lots of confirming words about that.
Many the Lord give Merle and I wisdom and breakthrough.
Finally – I have re-written the post 4 times now to try and make sure everything points to the one and only Lord Jesus – please forgive me if I have not done a good enough job at pointing to him. He deserves the highest Praise.
Thank You
Ian

Pure and faultless religion – The Story of Forever Caring Homes

FCH familyI first Met Sarah Mbezzi in a dream. 2 years ago, I was traveling to Uganda with an invite for a conference at Life Changing Church, Lubowa, Kampala. I already had a desire to start something that would help the widows and orphans. I had not told David (Pastor at LCC) about this at all – then I had a dream just as I arrived. In the dream I saw the face of an old lady. I did not know what the dream meant but stored it in my heart.
On the second day of the conference, we were praying for everyone at the end of the second session. I had already prayed for all those who had come forward to the front and I was now working may way through the queue that stretched up the isle. I came to a huge broad shouldered man, who didn’t really look African, and he just said to me, “the Lord says WELL DONE”, and then he turned away to reveal this little old, tired little woman who was looking bewildered. 
I realised immediately that this was the woman in the dream, but in the dream she was happy. On that day she did not look happy at all. My translator Henry told me the story, that Sarah was someone who would come round and clean the church for free to say thank you for what the lord has done, but she was not well. Henry had gone to get her to come into the church from the kitchen building for prayer, she has said that she was not worthy of my prayers but Henry insisted.
Sarah and her grandchildren lived nearby in a room they shared with a goat and all the children were ill with HIV. They had lost their mother and Father in the AIDS epidemic that swept through Uganda in the years before. None of the children could read and none were attending school and they all had several behavioural difficulties in relating to the other kids. One of the children (Rashida) was very unwell.
(In the next post i’ll send you pictures of Sarah and the children from that time and since)
After  had prayed for Sarah I went to see David and arranged a package to care for them. This included a move to a new home and made sure they got the drugs they needed to keep AIDS at bay. When I first saw David about all this, he new none of my plans for Sarah, but immediately pledged his support to the project and arranged for all sort of things to happen
1. Proper medical understanding of what was going on in their bodies
2. New accommodation for the family
3. Food
4. Beds and Mattresses and nets (before they moved, they just slept on the floor in the goat hut)
David has supported this work brilliantly including covering financial commitments when I was unable to do so. I am privileged  to call David a co-worker in Christ
 
Every visit since I have met Sarah and the children and prayed for them – always we are in tears of joy for what God is doing.
 
But this year was very special for us – Merle (who Sarah calls Mama) was with me. I knew the meeting  was going to be very emotional, so I arranged for it to be after the conference had finished.
We saw all the family during the church services and conference but it was not until the last day we visited Sarah at her rooms.
The children had delayed going to to the local CofE school that day when we visited and we started by giving them each a sweet and sat down in noew of the rooms.
Sarah has a room she shares with Mika, and there is another room with a bed for Moses and Rashida. There is one other room with a table in. This is where we met. You will see from the pictures in the next post that the rooms are hardly good, but you will also see the picture of where they used to sleep.
As we sat and talked, Sarah told us how everyone was doing at school and their health.
MILKA (the youngest girl)FCH family
Since we started helping Milka with schooling early, she caught up with the CofE school standard earliest, but had some behaviour problems. These have now setted down and she is now making friends and is a very happy young girl
FCH familyRASHIDA
Rashida was very ill when we met her and when she was first tested the doctors put her in a cluster of children that they didn’t have much hope for. There were 250 children in that cluster 2 years ago  – Rashida is now the only one still alive, and her latest D4 counts are perfect. This is a combination of the drugs we buy and the fact she eats consistently and has most of the balance she needs in her food. It is overwhelming to think that she has all she needs to grow and thrive at a cost of around a cup of coffee a week. I know as Sarah talked all this through it was nearly too much for Merle to take in, and lots of tears appeared in all of us.
Initially all the children had to have private tuition just to get them to the school standard – this included getting them used to regular hours for attendance and rules of life and understanding a school uniform, etc.
Rashida is a little behind the average for her class but is improving in all the subjects
FCH family
MOSES
It took a lot of work to get Moses healthy and seeing the point of going to school at all, but to see him now playing football and telling me how he wants to use the chance we have given him to work hard and help his grand mum was nice to see. He doesn’t speak any English, so most communication between us is ‘respectful nods’. We have developed a way of saying we love each other through a set of signs we do and it’s great whenever I see him that he does this, witch essentially means ‘thank you for your love’
FCH familySARAH
To say Sarah looks and behaves differently from when we first met would be an understatement. In her own words (translated) she said …..
– before our help she did not belive  she had any value and thought of herself as like other things with no value – like dogs. Every day was just survival and she tried to stay away from people because she did not think she was the same thing as them. The family lived in the barn basically and the goat was more important than she was. He eat first since his milk was needed by the owner of the barn.
– When we first started helping she was sure it was a cruel joke and we really wanted to take the children away
– now with the help of us and the help of the older ladies group she has understood how to behave and she feels loved and valuable. She has a hope for the future and thanks the Lord and prays for us every day.
IAN AND MERLE
It is difficult to describe how all this makes us feel. We feel overwhelmed that this world is so broken that so little from us can make such a change for them. We feel privileged that the Lord has allowed us to connect and give Sarah and the children hope and a future. The words of Jeremiah 39:11 come to mind.
WHAT NEXT
We continue to support Sarah and the family and would find like to do 2 things
 (1) Open up the project to other children who we could help
 (2) Buy some land to build small houses. We currently rent some rooms, but it would be far better to buy some land and build a small 2 room house. For that we need to find the right land and then build on it. The estimated project cost is around 5000GBP.
5000GBP to change someones life for ever.
I don’t usually do this, but if you can help in any way with a regular financial gift (even £10 a month would make a real difference, then please let us know by email (ribanner@gmail.com). If enough people commit to help, we can add more children to the project.
James 1:27 says : Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress
Thanks for reading this
Ian and Merle

 

James Altucher – Fabulous article

I have no idea how to link to the original article, so I have put it here for all my friends to read and enjoy.Please google James and see his fabulous writing

This Is What Happens When You Try To Do the Impossible

by James Altucher 

Daniel was tending sheep in Sudan when a bomb blew both his arms off.

When he heard the bombs in the distance he had hidden behind a tree but wrapped his arms around the tree. A bomb went off near the tree and his body was safe.

But the arms he had wrapped around the tree blew off. When he came to, he said he wished he were dead so he would not be a burden on his family. He was 12 years old.

I was ashamed to be talking to Mick Ebeling.

Here’s why: when I hear the story above about Daniel I think: that’s really sad. I think: I wish that hadn’t happened to him. I think: I’m glad it didn’t happen to me or anyone I know.

Mick thinks differently. Mick flew over to the Sudan without any knowledge of arms or war or prosthetics. He got together a bunch of experts on 3D printing, prosthetics, mechanics.

He 3D printed arms for Daniel in a way that had never been done before, cheaper than prosthetics had ever been made before.

Daniel now has two prosthetic arms. He can feed himself. He can help his family again.

I spoke with Mick yesterday. I told him I was ashamed to be talking to him because I would not have thought that way.

He laughed and told me his theories on helping people. His company, “Not Impossible” ignores high stakes situations where people say “It’s impossible” and figures out how to make the situations possible.

Here’s how:

A) HELP ONE. HELP MANY. 

He used his experience with Daniel to come up with ideas on prosthetics that could help many people. He helped “Tempt”, a graffiti artist, use a machine Mick developed to create art again and communicate with people again.

Then he uses the experiences of helping one to create products that can help many.

B) BRING RIDICULOUS TO ACCESSIBLE

It was ridiculous to get cheap prosthetics to Daniel in the Sudan without any experience. And yet, just a little brainstorming with the right experts, gave Daniel arms. And now the same technology is accessible to anyone.

C) USE STORY

Intel sponsored Mick’s efforts. He went to Intel and told the story of Daniel and told the story of how he was already helping Daniel, with or without Intel, and Intel agreed to sponsor the rest of the journey.

For 5000 years or longer, humanity has driven forward with story-telling. Too many people forget that but the only way to really communicate effectively is through story.

D) EVERYONE HAS PERMISSION

Nobody gave Mick permission to help Daniel. He just did it. Nobody gave him permission to gather a bunch of experts to his house to help figure out how to create prosthetics that everyone said were impossible. He just did it.

Too often we apply for grants. Or we apply to a company. Or we apply to the government. And then we wait. And we wait. And we want that one special person to choose us.

I hate to use my own cliche, but the benefits of choosing yourself is that other people’s lives are saved while you avoid waiting for someone else to choose you.

E) “We’re already doing this”. 

Mick didn’t wait to begin. He didn’t wait for funding. He didn’t wait to figure it all out in advance before he started.

As soon as he committed to helping Daniel he immediately:

– found the experts he needed to talk to (free)

– got them all talking (mostly free)

– started brainstorming (free)

– got materials for one set of arms to be 3D printed (mostly free)

– began experimenting (mostly free)

Then he went to intel and others and said, “We’re already doing this. Are you in?”

Too many people say, “I have an idea. Now I need funding.”

Don’t do that anymore. Stop it!

Say instead, “I’m already doing this. Here’s the ten or twenty things I’ve done so far. Here’s the results. Are you in?”

F) CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF FAILURE

People think: go go go go go fail stop.

Mick redefined failure.

“We had many failures while trying to figure this out. But each failure was simply a way to show us what we should do what we could do better. Every time we failed we knew at least one thing we could do better.”

G) OPEN SOURCE YOUR SUCCESS

For everything Mick did, even though his company is for profit, he gave away for free all of the knowledge he learned.

Then other people companies could build better prosthetics, or tools for deaf people, or tools to help people with ALS communicate.

Then Mick would be able to incorporate those new technologies back into his products.

The end result: more people helped with better and better products that were being made cheaper and cheaper.

Too many people try to hold onto ideas saying, “it’s mine!”.

But ideas, and the world, get stronger when they are allowed to share and mate and grow children and the idea babies make the world better.

H) LOOK FOR THE ‘ADJACENT POSSIBLE’

When Mick started his research, he found someone who had made a mechanical hand. Not the perfect prosthetic hand. But a cheap hand that could grasp items and be functional.

He started with that and then began brainstorming with the inventor and with others about what else is possible – given that a simple mechanical hand was possible.

Never start with a blank page. Find all the things closest to what you want to be possible and use those ideas as starting points to find the next generation of possible.

I) START SMALL

Mick didn’t help a billion people have better prosthetics. He helped one person.

“If everyone would just help ONE person today then the world will be a better place tomorrow.”

In other words, if everyone reading this article would help one person today, the world will be a better place.

Always think at the end of each day, “who did I help today?”

J) STAND NEXT TO THE SMARTEST PEOPLE

Mick didn’t know anything about prosthetics. But he knew that if he brought together the man who made the cheap, mechanical hand, with experts in 3D printing, with experts in prosthetics, then something good could happen.

Even if you aren’t an expert, give yourself permission to be a producer. Produce!

After the podcast, Mick and I took a walk and I told him stuff.

“How are you dealing with that?” he asked me.

I said, “Every day I follow my own advice.

“I try to be healthy. I spend time with friends. I’m creative every day. And I look at the most difficult part of my situation every day and find things to be grateful for.

“This has been amazing for me to see it work in action for myself. I bounce back stronger every day and I feel like life is amazing.”

“You should write about that,” he said.

I will. I said, “Selfishly, I help one (me), to help many. “

He laughed at that. And we shook hands and then I went one direction and he went to save the world.