From time to time we receive news from good friends sharing their lives and happenings. We ask their permission to post them believing such news is of interest to many others and also serves as a connecting bridge between mutual friends.
Here is Mary Tay , a longtime family friend. She was Hon.Secretary of the very active Christian fellowship in University of Malaysia during her undergraduate days .
She holds a Ph.D in Linguistics and gives training to various cross cultural Christian mission organisations.
Below is her newsletter which records her trip to Israel to the Global Gathering in Jerusalem which has been going on for 20 years.
The Global Gathering in Jerusalem
(7-11 Nov 2016)
What I personally learnt
By Dr Mary W.J.Tay
How God prepared me
On 27 October, at one of my regular meetings with my spiritual director, she read 1 Peter 3:8-12 to me several times and asked me to listen to what the Lord was saying to me. The words which came back to me again and again in the ensuing weeks whenever I meditated on this passage were UNITY OF SPIRIT and HUMBLENESS OF MIND. So I prepared myself to meet God in Israel with ‘unity of spirit’ (to be one with the Holy Spirit and my brothers and sisters at the Gathering to be humble in all situations). There was quite a bit happening at the Global Gathering that was uncomfortable for me (I am a relative newcomer to these Gatherings, having attended only one other in Singapore last year, although they have been going for about 20 years now), but the Lord reminded me again and again to keep the unity in the bond of peace. A heart of humility also helped tremendously as I sought to process some things but still could not fully understand. I remember a comment made by someone about the charismatic renewal which swept through the Anglican church in the 1970’s. The Holy Spirit did what He needed to do without getting the Bishop’s permission. And aren’t we glad about that!
Distinctives of the Gathering
Aim to flow in the Spirit
Different expressions of worship – song, instrument, dance, art, speaking
Emphasis on family
Wedding after wedding, covenant after covenant
Why I went
To the gathering:
It was about intercession and I am an intercessor. There would be a lot of worship in Hebrew and I cannot have enough of this as it deeply impacts my spirit in a way that no other language does. There is also the desire to be in Israel at least once a year (only been twice, in 2004 and 2013) to stay current in teaching Hebrew. Also to see for myself in order to understand what God is doing in Israel among Jews and Arabs today.
Meeting of East and West
Most of my life has been about this. At NUS, the English Department, where I taught and was acting head for a couple of years, was like a mini United Nations. When I left NUS and became a missionary with OMF, I spent 10 years bringing East and West together. I spent time with Western missionaries in Asia, connecting them with Asian language teachers. Some of the teachers at universities in China accepted Christ as a result of the witness of these missionaries.
China was the largest delegation at the Global gathering. The Chinese came in full force (about a third of the total number (1,500 Chinese among 4,500 participants), some had financial problems raising the money they needed to fly all the way to Israel, but miracles happened and they came. China is very close to my heart as it was my mission field for many years. I have 10 godchildren from China, for several years I ran alpha courses for young Chinese intellectuals. I wanted to see for myself what has become of the BTJ (Back to Jerusalem) movement, something I was so sceptical about decades ago. I had real doubts about the vision as I told myself, “They have absolutely no cross-cultural training, they are not such great language learners, they treat their own ‘minorities’ so poorly. How can they ever make it all the way to Jerusalem?” I had to do a lot of repentance as I realised how prejudiced I was towards people without my kind of training.
Seven (7) key words sum up what the Lord deposited into my life at the Gathering.
Our focus was on God and we felt a very strong sense of His presence. We felt one in the spirit and one in the Body of Christ. We had a common desire to crown Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords and anticipated his coming again with celebration, wedding after wedding, and covenant after covenant among the nations. There was a Worship team made up mainly of talented young people from many nations, same with dance team. They sang and danced in the Spirit and their oneness was truly amazing. Nothing was choreographed or rehearsed beforehand. There was no competition for time or attention (everything just flowed beautifully because it was led by the Holy Spirit), nobody tried to out-smart or out-sing or out-play another. It was a beautiful thing to be part of. At the opening session, after 2 hours of continuous worship, the worship in song and dance ended. David Damien had gone to the stage with the Chinese interpreter to speak but the presence of the Lord was so strong, they both just knelt there, lost in wonder, love and praise! Such worship was truly a foretaste of heaven.
The Richness of Worship came from Different Languages.
It just flowed from one language to another. This was not the experience of Tower of Babel which ended with confusion but of Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost. We began with a Hebrew song, “Hine ma tov umanaim” which in English means, “How good it is when brothers dwell together in unity”. That set the tone for all the worship. Whether we understood the language or not, all worshiped together. Nobody switched off when it was not their language but everyone continued to worship.
The richness also came from different expressions of worship – a variety of musical instruments, good voices, graceful and beautiful dancing, gifted artists who had received visions and responding to God through their art, children and young people bringing energy and vibrancy to the worship, older mothers and fathers also participating in a less vigorous but nonetheless involved way.
ARABS AND JEWS: (Asher, a Messianic Jew lifted the crown high to crown King Jesus but he was supported by Samoan tribal chiefs as they carried him on their shoulders, while the Arab brothers supported his arms as he lifted the crown high).
EGYPT: (importance of Egypt in Scripture, especially Isaiah 19 – Egypt is called “my people”). Repentance by David Damien on behalf of all the Egyptians for not accepting Isaac as God’s plan of promise. Identification repentance by Egyptian mothers representing Hagar, Egyptian mother of Ishmael for running away, by Sarah, Jewish mother of Isaac for ill treating her. There was such a sweet spirit of restoration as they washed each other’s feet, and covenanted to be sisters and all the while they were witnessed by all the nations.
SOUTH PACIFIC ISLANDS: (Samoa and Hawaii). The Islanders explained the meaning of their haka dance. Before the tribal chiefs go to war, they tattoo their bodies with details of their tribe – the victories they have won, etc. so that when the chiefs meet in battle, they will not kill their own tribe. When they beat their hands on their thighs, it is to ask everyone to fall in sync, when they stick their tongue out, it is to make themselves as ugly as possible so as to frighten the enemy. They believe that they are descended from Jews and Arabs. The South Pacific is the most Christianised part of the world. The Islands could be described as the ends of the earth. If you take a globe, find Jerusalem on it and poke through the globe, it will come out at the South Pacific. Every morning and evening at the same fixed time, the tribal chiefs stop all their work and look east to pray for their older brothers (Jews and Arabs) to turn back to God. Their mothers and sisters made a beautiful carpet with red patches on it to represent the blood of Jesus which raised them from death to life, and they presented this to the people of Israel to express their commitment to enter into covenant with them. By this token, they invite their older brothers to sit on them and walk on them. They expressed deep gratitude for bringing them life. Once they were dead, now they are alive. There is a deep longing in their hearts to see the Jews and Arabs turn to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The prophetic act of Jews marrying the Arabs renewed their hope and faith.
CHINA: The Chinese church has been persecuted but has been resurrected, the vision to bring the gospel back to Jerusalem is being fulfilled. The Chinese family was a special blessing to the Gathering. On the night when the sound system failed, the Chinese were the ones who spontaneously started singing, without musical accompaniment, without microphones, “赞美主哈利路亚” “praise the Lord, hallelujah” and everyone joined in with great gusto. It was as if nothing could stop us worshipping and praising the Lord.
CHILDREN: played a big part in the Gathering. It looked like they were invited to a big Christmas party, and they could be themselves, sit on the floor, do painting, come up to the stage to dance and pray and sing. Graham Kendrick was there with his guitar and led the children in singing ‘Jesus loves me this I know” – and “Shine, Jesus, shine”. The worship team were there to encourage the children to sing in their mother tongues but most of them didn’t need encouragement. There was a healthy level of noise as the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were given space to be themselves.
WOMEN: were an integral part of the gathering. This was not one of the male dominated meetings. Mothers (both physical and spiritual) were prayed for and blessed by the men right from the beginning. David Damien’s wife welcomed everyone, rather than David himself as it is the mothers who keep the family together. There were prophetic acts done by two precious mothers – an Egyptian representing Hagar and a Jewess representing Sarah.
I learnt a lot about family. I come from a big family myself. I remember my mum teaching me when I was a little girl that my five older siblings were there before me and will always be family. Family members don’t quit through misunderstanding. Once we are family, we are always family. We wait for one another. Dinner in the father’s house only begins when everyone has arrived , especially Benjamin, the youngest who may be closest to the Father.
The presence of three generations at the meetings enriched the gathering. There were the children, the young mothers and fathers, the older mothers and fathers. There was no generation gap, no rank pulling. This present generation (those below 30) had special meetings on their own, but they have spiritual fathers and mothers walking with them. So they feel safe and loved and can be themselves. I saw one of the worship leaders just quickly checking with David Damien if it was all right before she released a prophetic word in song. The younger have also learned to submit to authority. They have to check with discernment team when they have a word or song or picture before releasing them. It wasn’t a free-for-all chaos. I was delighted to see the young people given a place of honour. When they released a prophetic act, or expressed themselves in music or art, they were encouraged by the whole body. But they knew they belonged to the family and because they felt safe, understood and loved, there was no room for rebellion and resentment. The same applied to the older generation. There was the willingness by the mothers and fathers to adapt to the ways of the younger ones. They were the first to say sorry to their children for passing on the pain that some have carried for generations. A few of the Arab mothers apologised to their children for not dealing with their own pain (Hagar in Arabic means emigrate). They tried to emigrate, thinking they knew where they were going, but all the while, the younger generation felt rootless and rejected and carried the pain passed down through the generations.
There was bold declaration of Scripture. Scripture was often interpreted prophetically by those closest to the experience described in Scripture. When a brother from Ruanda shared from Ezekiel 37 the vision of dry bones, Scripture came alive for him and us. Why? He was born in Uganda in 1975 when Idi Amin was carrying out a massacre of 1 million people. So he was literally surrounded by dry bones. Then he grew up in Ruanda which was one of the poorest nations in the world and it went through a devastating genocide. At one time, it looked like Ruanda would be wiped off the face of the earth. In 1994, Ruanda was left to die. It was abandoned by the US and the UN. But today Ruanda is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It has more women in positions of authority than in more developed countries. It is number 1 in 11 different areas. The Ruanda brother who shared the vision has experienced that what was dead has come to life. He declared prophetically over the gathering, “Your disease is not going to kill you. You are coming back to life. Breathe life – breathe the breath of God. Let the breath of God breathe life into every dry bone. Let every dry bone come alive in the name of Jesus. Those who come from persecuted places are going to be a lion, a roaring lion, to stand in front of persecution, to look the devil in the face and say, “the lion of the tribe of Judah is behind me.” This declaration was followed by the South Pacific Islanders who came up and did a dance to demonstrate, “I was dead, I was dead, but now I am alive.” The Scriptures are so powerful when we allow the breath of God to make it come alive for us.
A British woman, who is an actress, shared how she could never understand the scriptures or remember it and drifted further and further from God until one day God told her to read it the way she would memorise a script for acting. She demonstrated how she memorised Ephesians Chapter 1 as if she was talking to someone, with meaningful facial expressions, intonation, and dynamic words!
5. PROPHETIC ACTS
There were many prophetic acts during the Gathering, some of which I understood, some of which I did not. I am a teacher, not a prophet. A teacher needs to prepare before she teaches. A prophet cannot prepare beforehand. He speaks when God speaks. He keeps silent when God is silent. Anything apart from this is false prophecy. The strength of the church at Antioch came from the fact that there were prophets AND teachers, where both were recognised.
Let me share two examples of prophetic acts which I understood. On the eve of the US Presidential election, we stood as one body, together with our American brothers and sisters and raised our voices to intercede for the election. We did not pray for Trump to win. Nor did we pray for Hilary to win. We just cried out to our Father, “Father, Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven”. The Lord heard our prayers as nobody expected Trump to win. It was not a political success or failure. It was a triumph of His grace. We had stood with our American brothers and sisters against the forces of darkness to declare in faith that God’s kingdom will come to America and we believe that He heard and acted.
Another prophetic act which I was very excited to see worked out was the destiny of Egypt in these last days. There has been a lot said about Isaiah 19. “An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.” (Isaiah 19:1). I learnt a lot about the destiny of Egypt whom God calls “my people.” “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:25). It is not a coincidence that David Damien, whom the Lord called to gather the families of the nations 20 years ago to move in the flow of the Spirit is Egyptian, now resident in Canada, a medical doctor. He confessed, on behalf of all Egyptian fathers and mothers that they did not accept God’s plan for Isaac to be the son of promise. For thirteen years, everyone, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael assumed that Ishmael was the son of promise. Abraham circumcised Ishmael and blessed him, bringing him into covenant with God. Ishmael was not Hagar’s son but Sarah’s. She just borrowed Hagar’s womb. Sarai had said to Abram, “Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” The baby, Ishmael was to be Sarai’s son, not Hagar’s. When God spoke to Abraham after 13 years that the promise would come through Isaac, they felt hurt and betrayed and rejected. They did not like God’s plan. They preferred to live in the mistake. Everybody made mistakes – Abraham, Hagar, Sarah, but God had already prepared a way of redemption for the mistake.
Then a Messianic Jew, Asher Intrater released a word about the importance of Egypt in God’s plan. Hosea 11:1.” Out of Egypt I called my son”. Here is the biblical pattern: Abraham went to Egypt before he entered the promised land. Joseph went to Egypt before the descendants of Abraham could go into the promised land. Moses went to Egypt in order to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Jesus had to go to Egypt because King Herod was trying to kill him. Asher then prophetically declared a revival in Egypt such that when the Lord visits Egypt again as he did during the time of Exodus, the idols of Egypt will totter. Another Jewish brother also received a word that in the next year or two a revival could happen among the soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula when Egyptian and Israeli soldiers face one another in battle.
There was constant emphasis that we are every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every colour for the display of God’s glory. The destiny of the nations includes the tribes. This is for God to say to the principalities, “Look at my body. How beautiful they are, how they are of one heart, how they pray ‘whatever you desire, Abba, you can have it.’”
The tribes from the South Pacific, the minority groups from China, we are seeing them come into the family of nations.
JEW AND ARAB STANDING TOGETHER.
1 Cor. 13:8-9. “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”
We do not need to know everything about everything before we get involved. Blessings from God will flow into us and out through us when we seek His face in humility, simply trusting Him when we cannot understand what He is doing, believing that His plans are perfect and that He is a good, good Father.
God is calling us to a new level of faith and trust in Him and a new love for our brothers and sisters in Israel – no longer taking sides with Jew or Arab, but standing together as one Body to usher in the Kingdom, even as we pray daily and live out our prayer, “Father, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Papa, whatever your heart desires, you can have it. We lay down our lives for you and for one another.”