Grace and Peace Tour – Part 4

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Review of Our 2016 Grace and Peace Tour – Part 4

Php 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last week we were leaving our family in South Africa, on our way to see one brother in Ghana. We had previously planned to go to Cameroon. We have a brother in Cameroon named Marvin Acha, to whom I have been writing and who has been asking many questions on the body e-mails. The Lord did not see fit to let us go to Cameroon, but Marvin did tell me that he had a friend in Ghana named Jeffrey Tsanjoh. We were given to meet Jeffrey first. Jeffrey is a tall muscular young man with a winning smile. His enthusiasm is infectious.

While we were sitting with Jeffrey in the hotel lounge, another man approached our table sporting a very large smile and introducing himself as Ato (pronounced Otto) Barnes. Like Nicholas Ondari in Nairobi, Kenya, Ato has been reading and listening to the studies and reading the FAQs on for ten years, and had come out of a large church in Accra, Ghana, bringing dozens of people with him. As the straitness of the narrow way became apparent to them, just like Gideon, Ato’s army got smaller and smaller until there were just 12 to 15 people left who were interested in continued fellowship with those who have the mind of Christ.

After about an hour of fellowship Ato told us he had to get back to work. He told us he wanted to come back the next afternoon to pick us up and take us to a room in the Canadian Embassy where he worked. There we were to meet several more people who were still studying with Ato. It was a week day so it was not possible for all of them to come to be with us.

There were two more brothers of whom we had never heard of before who came to the hotel the next morning. It turned out that these two young men had been introduced to by Angela Martinez via facebook. What an incredible gift from Angela to tell them that I was coming to Ghana. They actually borrowed money to come to our hotel and spend the day with us. While speaking with them it became clear very soon they did not have a grasp yet of the sovereignty of God, of God’s omnipresence, or of what and where heaven is. It turned out they were both still attending the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I soon became compelled to inform them that so-called ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ were, in reality, Jehovah’s false witnesses. After speaking with these two young men for several hours, I came very close to bringing our conversation to an end, when the younger one, Abraham, put his hand on my wrist and assured me he really was attempting to understand what I was telling him. He had made the statement, “Heaven is pure, and there is no evil or defilement in heaven.” That gave me yet another opportunity to turn over to Hebrews 9:23 and demonstrate the fallacy of the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was at that point that it all began to come together for Abraham. I was so encouraged to hear from Angela today that Abraham had communicated with her that he and Noah, his brother, had stopped attending the Jehovah Witnesses, Kingdom Hall meeting because of what they are learning on the website.

We told Abraham and Noah about the meeting to take place that evening and asked if they would be interested in coming along. They were quite eager to do so, and having cleared their day to spend it with us, joined us for lunch and continued fellowship with us the rest of the afternoon. Ato came to pick us up in the evening and was pleased to learn there would be two more added to the number. We had use of a nice meeting room at the embassy and several people in Ato’s fellowship group trickled in. Besides the young brothers and us, there were two other gentlemen, Ato’s secretary, his daughter and his wife, along with Jeffrey and his wife, and they were all very hungry and very grateful for the word.

We were greeted very warmly, and I talked for over an hour and a half delivering my message and answering their questions which once again revolved around the millennium and the lake of fire. While I spoke of the destruction of our old man and his kingdom, the whole point of doing so is to encourage us all to take heart and “lift up [our] heads for [our] redemption draws near”.

Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

For those with the ears of the old man, our message is a dire message of gloom, doom and destruction, but for those whose ears have been opened to the good news Christ brought to this world, that very doom and destruction are the necessary birth pains of the new man:

Joh 16:19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?
Joh 16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
Joh 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
Joh 16:22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Here is the principle upon which the good news of the kingdom of God is built:

Joh 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Joh 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
Joh 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
Joh 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

That has been our message to our brothers and sisters around the world, and those who are given eyes that see and ears that hear are encouraged to know that “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified”, and they have all lifted up their heads because they know their redemption is drawing near:

Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Luk 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
Luk 21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
Luk 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Luk 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
Luk 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Luk 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

The body of Christ in Ghana seemed very grateful to hear that their persecutions, their trials and tribulations were working eternal life within them:

Mar 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
Mar 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

There was a distinct weather change arriving in Ghana from South Africa. Its proximity to the equator ensures it is hot. But the warmth and eagerness to learn God’s word and seek His will is evident in all those we met there in Ghana.

All of the people we met in Ghana were a total surprise. With the exception of Jeffrey, we had no idea all the others existed. We had heard of Abraham and Noah briefly through Angela, but really didn’t think such a ‘new’ acquaintance with God’s truths would actually want to meet with us. After all, they had never heard of the IWWB fellowship. But God is dealing with these brothers, and we spent most of our hours here with them. They are eager to learn, but with many of the same misconceptions and idols we all once had. We left Ghana with many memories of the love we experienced and the new brothers and sisters we met.

The next day we flew to Senegal to meet with Adolphe Diatta. It was such a blessing to meet Adolphe after the many years corresponding with him by email and skype. (He was much taller than either of us anticipated) His English is still limited, but his understanding of the bible is fluent! He knew John McDowell, having met him years earlier. John’s aunt was the missionary whom the Lord used to introduce Adolphe to John, and it was through John that Adolphe learned of and began reading Sandi and I were told to give John and John’s mother, Judy Hodges, greetings to them in particular.

The next day we left Africa behind, but we left behind some of the most generous, sincere, grateful and excited brothers and sisters in Christ we have ever met. It was the zeal and gratitude for the Word that most impressed me. Sandi and I are grateful for the hospitality and generosity that was shown us at our every stop in Africa.

From Senegal we flew directly to New York City, where our son Austin met us at the airport. Austin, Kat and Kat’s mother kept Sandi and me well fed and entertained for the next couple of days. Kat’s mother cooks for an army, so we never went hungry.

It was a blessing from our heavenly Father to get to see our little grandson who had tripled his weight and size from when we had last seen him three months earlier. He kept us all entertained by the ease with which we could make the little man laugh with such gusto.

While telling Austin and Kat about the two groups we met in Kenya and Ghana, who have been reading and listening to the studies on the web site, and whom we did not know existed until we met them, Kat asked a rather logical question, which simply had not yet entered my mind. She said, “It makes me wonder how many other groups there are in countries you did not get to visit?”. It made me wonder the same thing. It is obvious that Christ is the one who is building His church:

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [Greek: petros – a pebble], and upon this rock [Greek: petra – a massive mountain of a rock] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Through His Father’s spirit, Christ does not need us to drag others to Himself, but it is a great blessing to be His witness to confirm His word to others.

That is what I am praying will continue in the fellowship that was enjoyed by those who came to be with us. Christ is in everyone of you and in every brother and sister we were granted to meet who are abiding in His Words. Let’s all abide in His Words and assemble ourselves together, and provoke each other to good works as we see the day approaching.

Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue [Greek: abide] in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Here is part of His Word we all need to know and abide in as the many-membered body of Christ:

Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

That is a truth we all will do well to abide in. Like the apostles:

3Jn 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

On our last day in New York, Austin and Kat gave us a tour of their part of Manhattan. It was a very educational experience which ended with dinner in a very classy Italian restaurant which our generous hosts insisted on providing for us. We are pleased to see our children are still very much in love with each other and are remaining faithful to the Lord and His Word.

The next morning we had a cab take us to the airport to go to Miami where we met our granddaughter, Alexa, who traveled with us from Miami to Trinidad to meet the body of Christ in the form of Bobby and Eileen Lynch, Kenwin Thomas, Julius St Bernard, Michael Charles, Dana MacIntosh, Wayne Seabright and Winston Willock. This time we were also granted to meet another older brother named James Burton. But I am getting ahead of myself.

By the time we picked up Alexa in the Miami airport and caught our connecting flight, it was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad. We were met at the airport by Bobby, Kenwin, Michael Charles and Winston. What a welcome and loving sight that was! We all exchanged hugs and greetings. Sandi and I introduced our master ‘Buffalo dip’ maker granddaughter to those who had not met her at the December conferences, and we were on our way to Bobby and Eileen’s home for some much needed rest.

The next day was Sunday, and it was full of fellowship. Everyone we knew in Trinidad showed up, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship and discussing the Word of God. I was given the opportunity to share the message I had been sharing at every stop, that we need to be living as if Christ were already here on this earth, simply because He is and even now He has been given all power in heaven and in earth, and He is at this very moment “working all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:11).

The next night Michael and his wife and family met all of us at an Indian restaurant for a bounteous Indian dinner. It was a blessing to at last meet both Michael’s and Winston’s wives, as well as Michael’s sisters and other friends of the family. Thank you so very much for such a great treat, Michael and Mrs. Charles! Sandi and I do not take such gifts to the body of Christ for granted, and we are grateful to the Lord for you.

The next day Eileen had a very rare treat in store for us all. Winston, his son and Julius, carried all of us but Dana, who had to work that day, up the side of a mountain to a preserve where the proprietor had literally dozens of hummingbird feeders drawing 14 of the 18 varieties of hummingbirds which are known to live in Trinidad and Tobago. I must say that the proprietor, an older man named Theo, while he knew nothing at all of the Creator, had made a thorough study of the Creator’s creatures known as hummingbirds. The national bird of America is the bald eagle, and the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago is the hummingbird, and if you put a space between humming and bird, Theo will be quick to correct you. While giving his talk, Theo made so many observations about the hummingbird which, as with anything in nature, reveals the necessity of an intelligent Creator. The hummingbird is the only bird in nature which can fly forward, backward, straight up, straight down, and upside down and hover. While any type, figure or shadow of the things of the spirit are nowhere near their spiritual anti-type, the clear spiritual anti-type of the hummingbird seems to be found in these verses of Ezekiel:

Eze 1:9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

Eze 1:12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

Eze 1:17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

Eze 10:11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.

Eze10:16 And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.

While again nothing like the anti-type, these brightly colored little creatures had another feature in common with these spiritual realities symbolized by four beast and four wheels which transport the throne of God and which wheels “do not turn”.

Eze 1:3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
Eze 1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
Eze 1:5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
Eze 1:6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
Eze 1:7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
Eze 1:8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

This is a description of the very throne of God which is within us. “…A brightness was about it… the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire… [with feet] like the color of burnished brass”.

The throne of God is a very colorful and bright spectacle:

Eze 1:19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
Eze 1:20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Eze 1:21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Eze 1:22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
Eze 1:23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
Eze 1:24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
Eze 1:25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
Eze 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
Eze 1:27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
Eze 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

That is how the holy spirit has chosen to describe the throne of God that is within His people:

1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

The throne of God is described as a beautiful, bright and colorful spectacle “the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain”. No creature in nature is any more brightly colored than are the various hummingbirds of Trinidad and Tobago, and they come closer than anything in nature to “turning not as they go”. Our visit to the hummingbird sanctuary included a delicious meal prepared by Theo’s wife, after which we were all given the opportunity to wander around the grounds taking pictures before we returned to Bobby and Eileen’s home. On the way down the mountain I found myself longing for all the mangoes lying along the road and in the ditches beside the road.

We were blessed by our brother Winston and his wife to have barbecued dinner in their beautiful yard. It was a memorable night of fellowship with all who came. Michael Charles and his wife and a friend of Michael Charles’ oldest daughter were all there to share in our joy. It was at Winston’s home that afternoon, before dinner that I used a very long mango harvesting pole to harvest my first two tree-ripened golden mangoes. The next day I would quench my hunger for mangoes in a way I would never have dreamed possible, as we will see.

Our next day was an excursion to the beach where I was mesmerized by a huge heap of mangoes which had been raked up off the lawn of the restaurant near the beach, and then two other huge heaps of mangoes which had been raked up off the beach itself. And yet there were mangoes all over the beach just lying there going to waste, except for the four of them which I ate on the spot! 🙂 For a person from the state of Georgia, who pays a good price for this fruit, I simply could not believe what I was seeing with my own eyes. Never in my 69 years on this earth have I ever seen so many mangoes! They were raked up in piles half way up to my knee and 6 or 8 feet in diameter. There were thousands of mangoes just raked up to rot. They were also hanging over the roads that went through the forests on which we drove to get to the beach. But that experience at the beach was just the beginning of that day.

I did tear myself away from the mangoes long enough to get into the ocean and attempt to ride the incoming waves for a couple of hours, enough to get a little bit of a sunburn. It was a lot of fun for all of us, and a very special time. Sandi and I will never forget Las Cuevas Beach, and the wonderful time we had there with our granddaughter, Alexa, with Kenwin, Wayne, Winston, Julius and Bobby and Eileen.

Not far at all from the beach is the home of our friend Scipio, who gave us such a great treat last year when we stopped by his two acre farm with vegetables, flowers and fruit trees of every sort. While the memories of the previous year were still sweet in my mind, it was as enjoyable an experience as if I had never been there before. This year Scipio was even more accommodating than he had been the year before. His wife had prepared a meal for our whole group, made from the produce of his farm, and fish which Scipio had caught himself. We had a wonderful meal in Scipio’s home before we took our tour of his farm. Scipio and Kenwin did not disappoint us as they displayed their affection for each other with their good-natured banter.

Unlike our last visit, this year we were there while the mangoes were in season, and we continued to eat our fill of both mangoes and coconuts. I took pictures of some of his mango trees with so many mangoes that you literally saw more mangoes that leaves. The ground under every tree was so covered with mangoes that you could not walk without squashing mangoes under your shoes.

Again this year Scipio cut open a coconut from his own coconut trees for every person in our party to drink the coconut water inside. Every coconut was completely full of water, and after we drank the water, he opened the coconut for us and gave us a ‘coconut husk spoon’ to scoop out the coconut meat which was still very soft and easy to scoop. We had a very educational tour of his farm, answering all of our questions and showing us trees and their fruits which I had never before seen. Mr. Scipio had promised to give Alexa a stalk of sugar cane, and had forgotten to do so, so he went back and cut Alexa a huge stalk of sugar cane to take home with her. I think Alexa shared it with Eileen and Bobby simply because it was too large to fit in the suitcase. Scipio and his wife had made many improvements on their home in the past year, and it was a joy to me for Mrs. Scipio to give me a personal tour of their home just before we all had to go back home. A parting gift was a box full of mangoes which I put into the bed of Kenwin’s son’s truck and took home with us for all to enjoy.

Our last night with Jesus Christ in Trinidad and Tobago was very memorable indeed. The Lord had scheduled it so that our brother Steve Crook could not be there for his Wednesday night study, so we were granted to open up that hour for fellowship with anyone around the world who was able to be with us that night. Sandi used Eileen’s computer to go around the room and introduce every person there to all those who were with us. It is a blessing for the whole body when we have such opportunities to share our joy with others in the body of Christ. I hope I am not imposing my own feelings of joy upon anyone, but it is a great blessing for all involved when we are given the opportunity to visit with each other in ‘the cloud’.

After our fellowship was over, Bobby and Eileen and the entire church in Trinidad and Tobago, presented Sandi and me a memorial clock with the words “Welcome Mike and Sandi, Grace and Peace Tour 2016” made in the form of the traditional Trinidad steel drum with our names inscribed along with:

Psa 133:1 A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Kenwin presented us with this beautiful gift with very touching words of gratitude for what the Lord is doing in Sandi and me which will never be forgotten.

I cannot think of better words with which to end our tour of the body of Christ all around the world. We saw almost everyone we had hoped to see, with the exception of Marvin Acha, in Cameroon. In his stead we were made aware of two whole separate groups, one in Nairobi, Kenya, and one in Accra, Ghana, which we did not know existed. We are so very grateful to our heavenly Father for placing it upon the heart of Michelle and Anthony Grace to finance tickets for this trip around the world in 95 days and others who were generous to cover our other expenses!!! God bless both of you and just know that Sandi and I and every single person at every stop we made told us to give you their gratitude for what you two did for us and for the entire body of Christ. Our God truly is a miracle-working God, and we are so very grateful that we were granted to bring our message of being sober, diligent and vigilant as we begin to see and experience the death pangs of this age, which is just around the corner for a world that actually is already seeing men’s hearts failing them for fear of what they see coming upon this earth. But for us these things only tell us that our redemption is drawing near, and we are told to lift up our heads and rejoice, and again, I say rejoice!

Next week, if the Lord wills, we will return to our studies in the book of Isaiah, which throughout just continues the message we delivered all around the globe.

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