Hope, help and healing in the marketplace in Perth
by David Sibley
About 100 years ago the Saudis were fighting against the Kuwaits in the “Battle of the Red Fort”. The Kuwaiti casualties were taken to the only hospital available, a Christian mission run by two American doctors. The Kuwaiti Emir was so grateful for the care and compassion shown to his people that he permanently set aside the American Hospital grounds so that the Christians would have a place to meet and serve. Today, in the middle of a Muslim country, the site of the old American Missionary Hospital is home to a thriving expatriate Christian community made up of foreign workers from around the world including many African and Asian countries: Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines.
In 2003 I found myself attending this church the Evangelical Church of Kuwait in the English service of 500 people. It was very different from anything I had known before – like what I had read about in the New Testament Book of Acts. People of many languages, colour and culture were harmoniously gathered together worshiping and praying with great love and joy – what splendour, what love!
Only a few weeks before I had come to Kuwait a broken man who had lost all hope for living, having lost everything I valued through divorce. My children now lived far away in Perth, Australia, my savings from a long and successful career gone along with many of my friends. Tired, with no hope for restoration, I was in great need and desperate for help.
The first glimpse of hope appeared when I walked through the gates of this church because I saw the joy and hope on the faces of the people there, many of whom where overcoming difficulties far greater than my own. They were suffering injustice but they were victorious.
On a lonely night in December, the Lord spoke to me and told me I would be restored. As I turned back to God, miracles began to happen in my life. Over the next few years so many promises from God were fulfilled I could hardly contain my excitement. The first was a new marriage to a beautiful Christian wife. Next my company transferred me back to Perth, Australia in 2006 to live near my children again.
Restored and working in Perth, I would often go to enjoy the quite solitude of the Wesley Church during lunch to pray. I was acutely aware that others needed to know what I experienced so I began to pray fervently that the Lord would fill these empty churches in the city and touch people like I had seen Him do in Kuwait. I imagined Christians working in the city coming together during lunch to worship, share testimonies and pray, that these relationships would stretch out to the suburban churches, and that the denominational walls that divided us would come down. I prayed that in unity, our prayers would heal people, heal this city and change the world! I shared this vision with others and many were supportive. But nothing happened! After a time I became discouraged and stopped pushing hard, but this thing the Lord had burned in my heart would not go away.
Over many years I have observed that often, when the Lord does a great work, the enemy comes in quickly to kill, steal and destroy. During the next few years I endured many discouragements, faced many close calls on my own life and the lives of my family, but during the most difficult times the Lord never allowed me to completely lose heart. In fact he provided several key blessings that gave me the strength and hope to continue.
In June, 2006, I had a rapturous dream from the Lord that spoke of the future in which I saw myself protected as troubles passed me by. When things seemed most threatening, I found myself caught up into heaven in a rainbow whirlwind full of emerald green eyes. I awoke from that experience encouraged with a peace and assurance that still fills me today.
Sure enough, everything started to change after this. One day I once again sat alone in the Wesley Church when a young drug addict entered and approached me asking for prayer. There was something familiar in his desperation and understanding that God was going to bless him in spite of his desperate circumstance. I placed my hand on his shoulder and prayed for his healing and blessing as the Holy Spirit spoke assurance to me. I made a plan to meet him the next day, but it rained and I did not see him again for several days. One week later, I was rushing out of the church, already late to work when he walked past. I stood there dumbfounded, gazing at his most unusual jacket, covered with the eyes of the dream whirlwind in my dream vision. As I hurried back to work I knew it was time to try again.
Starting from that day, Perth Prayer began to come together. I had only a small amount of faith the Lord was going to bring this about and am still amazed how quickly Christian leaders joined together. God had also prepared many brethren to share this vision. Note*Wisnu Widjanarko, a colleague from Indonesia, helped set things in motion. Prior, he had been working in the UK and his two children were suffering from a skin disease the doctors could not heal. … Continue reading
The use of the convenient venue at Wesley church was also prepared by God. Note## We needed a place to meet but were initially rebuffed when we contacted the Wesley Church to use their facilities. But we persevered under the wise council of several mature Christians and … Continue reading
As we look to the future I reflect on another encouraging dream the Lord had given me in 2006 that would impact my hope for Perth Prayer. In that dream I was sitting before a large bonfire with dark black smoke billowing upwards, violently churning into a threatening tornado. Standing before the monstrous apparition I felt afraid and could only pray as the smoke vanished and only a white-hot fire remained. I began to unfurl a giant banner that was lifted up by the rapidly rising heat and as I continued in prayer the banner unfurled continuing upwards to a great height revealing Jesus, with his arms spread open wide. At its zenith He came to life, turned and looked at me. One day praying with the Perth Prayer group in 2009 inside the small Wesley Chapel I looked up and, for the first time, noticed the stained glass window overhead of Jesus with his arms opened wide over the city of Perth. We had been praying together there for several months and He was right there, praying over us and directing our paths. I am assured Jesus is coming to Perth with His arms opened wide bringing together people from many countries and denominations to serve together and change this city from the inside, at its very heart.
David is an Earth Science Advisor with Chevron and the organizer of Perth Prayer
Perth Prayer is a multicultural and inter-denominational gathering of people who worship, pray and share testimonies on Tues, Wed. Fri. lunch time in the city.
Also in this issue:
|↑1||Wisnu Widjanarko, a colleague from Indonesia, helped set things in motion. Prior, he had been working in the UK and his two children were suffering from a skin disease the doctors could not heal. When Wisnu sensed that the Lord would heal his children if he would move to Perth, he did so and his children were healed in a Perth doctor’s office – not after treatment but after prayer. His thankfulness led him to start a weekly prayer group that met during the lunch hour at Chevron and it is there where I first found a group already gathered and prepared for this vision. |
The Lord had prepared so many others as well. When Jeroen Bruins was young and living in Holland he had trouble trusting people but had become a Christian when he learned that he could trust Jesus Christ. After moving to Perth his new life included spreading the Good News about Jesus in the Marketplace. As he was already busy several years starting weekly prayer groups in the city, Jeroen was the natural connection to other “Perth Prayer” groups that would participate in the birth of something new.
It was at the weekly Chevron prayer group gathering where I found another colleague, David Glenn, was also a committed Christian. I learned that he and his wife had already been involved in international ministry to families for many years, spending their vacation time teaching in different countries around the world. David and Denise blessed us in many ways.
David and Jeroen introduced me to Dr. John Yates, a former pastor and retired professor at the Tabor Theological College. In 1992 John shared that he had been praying with friends for 24 hours when he had a vision about Jesus’ place in the Marketplace and he began to diligently pursue this dream. John was committed to Perth prayer before anyone else!
Mike Mclerie was an eager early participant. Mike is a senior manager at Chevron and a committed Christian who has been leading the Reason’s to Believe Group at Riverview Church since the 1990’s. Mike’s leadership in Perth Prayer was such a blessing and he were introduced us to fellow American, Dr. Charles Slack.
85 years young, Charles’ story has been featured in the Western Australian and been a blessing to many in Perth and Perth Prayer for several decades. In his youth he taught with Dr. Albert Einstein at Princeton University where he was the youngest person to be awarded a PHD. His participation in government sponsored LSD experimentation in the 1960’s left him drug and alcohol dependant – and a promising life went bust. After immigrating to Australia in the 1980’s he found Jesus Christ and has been ministering to the drug and alcohol dependant people for many years, currently within Mainline Ministries.
As our group began to come together, pastor’s from several churches began to visit and pray with us regularly including Nick Scott of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and Paul Morrision, then of Riverview Church, who brought several others including Matt Braysher, a high level banker, who has often led our music.
During the first several months the Lord was active in gathering many to bless… 12 Korean missionaries from Sydney on their way to mission in Indonesia, an American missionary on her way to Indonesia and Pakistan, a Perth missionary who has committed his life to caring for the homeless in Northbridge and so many others since 2009. It has been a faith building experience to see prophetic words given during the first year come-to-life, right before our eyes!
|↑2||# We needed a place to meet but were initially rebuffed when we contacted the Wesley Church to use their facilities. But we persevered under the wise council of several mature Christians and continued to gather in the church once a week for prayer. After a few weeks I had a “chance” meeting with Reverend Don Dowling who now endorsed and played an active role in the beginning of Perth Prayer, first in the small, adjacent chapel, then in the larger Tranby Hall and today in the main church building at the Wesley Church. Don and I can testify to the Power of Prayer in all things and we have seen the once empty church filled for many special meetings. |
The move to the main Wesley Church building was made possible by the endorsement of the Western Australia Council of Churches; a miracle in itself resulting from prayer and eventually facilitated by Ramzy Sawiris and Reverends Don Dowling and Chris Bedding. Ramzy and Perth Prayer leader Sameh Macary had moved to Perth from Egypt and helped found a growing Egyptian Orthodox Church which had promoted him to leadership in the CCWA. This membership was a critical coincidence helping to build the trust required for the move.