When something precious happens it becomes a day you always remember – seeing a deer, a glorious sunset, hearing words that change your life forever, meeting someone you know will always be a friend, discovering a talented artist. My day at the Release Conference on Thursday 20th May 2010 was a day packed with all these wonderful treasures and more.
My son had been ill for a full month and any hope of getting to the Release 2010 Conference had evaporated. At the last moment his health improved enough, not only for him to get to school but to go away to camp, leaving me suddenly free of any commitments.
I felt God say “You could go on Thursday.” The thing is, it was such a quiet suggestion it didn’t fully register. To lessen my disappointment while my son was ill I had accepted that I wouldn’t be able to go. I kept quiet about it and decided it was pointless getting my hopes up. But God had other plans and a visiting speaker at church told me that I had the gift of prophecy and to listen to that still small voice – that God speaks to me. I realised that what I’d heard wasn’t a command or directive from God, but a gentle assurance that my heart had been heard and that God was making a way for me to go. I needed to follow what I had heard.
Thursday morning the SatNav didn’t like the postcode for Colston Hall so I programmed it with the only car park in Bristol I know and set off. The first clue that it was sending me elsewhere was on the motorway. Surprised and in the fast lane I had to decide quick. The rush hour traffic had started to build up on the motorway so I was grateful to escape it.
Beyond Bristol Airport, heading deeper into the countryside, it finally dawned on me that the Sat Nav was sending me the wrong way. I turned a corner and there was a small and delicate deer walking gently down through a field. A little further on I found a place to stop and reprogrammed the Sat Nav, which sent me past the deer again on the way back. My detour was only 10 minutes away from where I needed to be, the car park turned out to be right on the doorstep of Colston Hall, plus I’d avoided being stuck in any rush hour traffic. I’m sure God caused the glitch in the SatNav!
Although late, I managed to get a ticket and found one of the only spare seats in the packed hall. The worship leader had a beautiful voice and was so sensitive to God’s leading. Then the inspiring Bill Johnson spoke , followed by Mark Stibbe, who I hadn’t come across before. I fell in love with Mark’s wonderful humour and compassion that day! If you’ve not come across him before, I highly recommend going to hear him speak if you have the opportunity.
Over lunch I discovered why God wanted me there on that particular day – in that particular seat. The lady sitting next to me invited me out to lunch and when she asked me what I do, I talked about the magazine and website, and how I’d felt God prompting me to do them despite my lack of experience. It had taken a year or so of God repeating the vision before I finally sat down to do it. She seemed quite taken aback. She shared that she was very reluctant to do what she felt God had called her to, but that it was something that He seemed very persistent about. She felt very encouraged by my testimony and that God was again encouraging her to do what He’d asked of her.
As we walked back to the Conference I shared with her that I really felt I needed to know how to work from a place of rest, because work on the website was sometimes draining rather than rewarding. At the start of Mark’s session after lunch, he declared that he was going to share with us about how to work from a place of rest. Needless to say, he had my full attention at that point!
Mark spoke about how Wesley’s faith and life was transformed when he attended a Moravian service and heard these words: ”For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 We are the children of God, not slaves. The work we do is not from a place of slavery, but out of love for our Father in Heaven, as His children, whom He has embraced and adopted as His own. Mark went on to prophesy that the spirit of slavery be broken over Bristol and be replaced with the spirit of freedom, the revelation of being adopted as the children of God. He went on to say that there is to be a new move of the spirit, not experienced before, starting in Bristol, a gateway city, and spreading throughout the SouthWest, specifically including Cornwall.
Next came the Healing On The Streets (HOTS) session. We were taken over to St Stephen’s and as we approached the church seemed to just pop with energy. The people inside were singing and dancing in the aisles and some were even on the pews, full of the joy of the Lord! The minister, although quite enamoured by this lively expression of worship, felt he ought to point out that the church is normally a place for those seeking quieter comtemplation!
From there we could choose between:
- Healing On The Streets (where we go out into the city and pray for individuals who want healing)
- Treasure Hunting (where we listen to God for clues about where He wants us to go, then go out and find the treasure He’s given us)
- Walking with the cross (with Lyndsay Hamon from Cornwall, who carries a massive cross and has conversations with people about the cross and why he’s carrying it)
- Rent A Crowd (for the charismatic Dom and a few others who were going to play worship songs and preach in the city centre)
I wanted to see healing on the streets so we wandered down to the Quay and as a group knelt down to pray. It had been an overcast and grey day, but as soon as we knelt down in front of all the shoppers and passers-by to pray, the sun broke through and at that moment began the glorious sunny weather that we’ve had over the past few weeks.
I paired up with the lovely Sue from Portsmouth and we prayed with one member of the public, who seemed pleased to be approached. She didn’t need any healing but asked if the realtionship between her husband and daughter could be restored. We did hear about one person who was prayed for, blind from birth, whose sight was restored.
We then prayed for each other. Mark Stibbe had earlier asked people from Bristol to lay hands on and pray for those from other cities, to pass on the anointing of God’s freedom. Both Sue and myself both desperately want God to bless our cities, so in the warm sunshine on Bristol Quay we prayed a blessing on each other for Portsmouth and for Cornwall.
As we left we passed some guys giving out free bibles. We applauded a busker with an amazing voice, singing “Love, love, love” by the Beatles. As I walked away from the Quay he started playing a beautiful worship song. The freedom to share the gospel was all over the Quay in Bristol that glorious afternoon. As I drove home to Cornwall that evening the clouds cleared before me, producing the most beautiful sunsets. I felt like God was going ahead of me with His promise for Cornwall.