June 18, 2017 | What a start!
What a start! Our flight Thursday night out of Pittsburgh was cancelled and when we showed up for our flight on Friday we were informed we didn’t actually have tickets for any of the flights we had been rebooked on, so we were starting from scratch and already 24 hours delayed. All members of the team had faced significant adversity during the week and had been prepared for significant spiritual warfare, but I don’t think we expected anywhere near the level of challenge we were experiencing. As we were in the middle of the confusion and chaos we received word from a friend to read the Psalms of Ascent or Pilgrim Songs beginning in Psalm 121. Where does our strength come from? God. HE is our Guardian, our Shield, who is right at our side protecting when we leave and when we return, He guards us now, He guards us always! We finally got 2 legs of our flight itinerary confirmed and off we went to JFK. We spent an overnight at the entrance of JFK waiting to check in for our flight to China and met a group of young people who shared they were on, you guessed it, a pilgrimage!
What confirmation of this word of encouragement!
In Psalm 84 it says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs” and “They go from strength to strength.” This has been such a description of our experience, we had to go through the valley of Baca a part of our pilgrim journey, a desert place designed to bring discouragement and despair, but instead, our God was a Shield and Guardian around us and we made it “a place of springs” causing us to go from “strength to strength.”
At this point in our journey half of the team has made it to Thailand for the conference and the other half of us are here in China for 24 hours awaiting our flight out tonight. We reached a point at JFK where we didn’t know if we were actually going to make it out of the States. We heard from MANY people that God was waking them up to pray for us and just as we were making a decision whether to move forward or turn back, we received confirmation from the group on the ground in Thailand waiting for us, that even if we could only be there for 3 days, it was worth it to them for us to come. We decided, YES, whatever lies ahead, we’ll go. We couldn’t even get seat assignments on our flight and the agent had been trying for a significant period of time to help us when within a minute of us saying “Yes, we will go, we will not be moved from this place until a way opens up for us,” the agent gasped and said, “the seats just opened up, all the seats on the plane, I can seat you anywhere!” On a full flight, we ended up seated all together in one row next to one another, nothing short of a miracle! This was the exact confirmation we needed that our decision to go was the right one, a decision made totally in faith, ignoring everything in us that wanted to turn back and go home.
Half of our team (Billy Bob, Simon, Andrew & Peter) led worship this morning in Thailand, we’ve seen the pictures! The rest of us (Joe, Doug, Shannon and Amy) are in Guangzhou, China, showered, fed and fully rested as the airline put us up in a hotel for the night (another miracle…we had steeled ourselves to spend the night on airport concrete!). We’re seeing breakthrough and anticipating amazing things in Thailand when we all arrive. We know who goes before us, we know who stands behind, the God-of-Angel-Armies is always by our side! Please keep praying for us and all those who traveled to be a part of the conference. They have also experienced significant adversity leading up to the conference with many experiencing illness, family emergencies, and travel conditions preventing their arrival.
Psalm 84: 5-7 (MSG) “And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool spring and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!”