The Days Leading up to the Trip
Lars came earlier this week to stay in my spare room because of a conference in Milan. Actually, I had been asked months ago to host several of their leaders, but Lars turned out to be the only one from the conference that was staying with me. This would be convenient for us because after the conference ended, we were going on another Operation Capitals of Europe (OCE) trip, flying out of town together.
Although Lars was the only one from the conference staying with me, he was not the only person staying in my house. The last day of the conference I found Lars in the kitchen prophesying over Daniele, the other person in my house (see A Day in the Life of a Missionary). All three of us were encouraged by this early morning encounter.
Then early Friday morning Lars and I went to the airport and boarded our flight to Cyprus. We were met by Hilda, a missionary to Cyprus. As she drove, Hilda explained to us that she had arranged lodging with a woman from her church, and she took us to her house. When we arrived at Winnie’s house, we could see that Winnie was well-off. The garden was beautifully kept, as was the house. The rest of our group stayed the night with a friend that lives near the airport, so it was just Lars and me staying the first night with Winnie.
Despite not having much experience with hosting people, Winnie proved herself to be a fantastic hostess. Usually on these trips we are used to making do with a sandwich, overcooked pasta, fast food, or perhaps a big pot of soup. But Winnie prepared us a truly elegant dinner of salmon fillets with steamed asparagus and new potatoes. I felt very pampered, indeed.
Saturday morning we met the rest of our team at the hosting church, not far from Winnie’s house. Hilda set up the prayer room with a prophetic centerpiece: a map on the coffee table, covered by almond blossoms and a decorative lamp. Pastor Craig came to meet us and join us in our first prayers at the church. He apologized that he would not be able to join us in prayer walking, but explained that he had guests that had come from Israel. Besides worshiping and seeking guidance, we also prayed for Craig before he left us to return to his house guests. Then we strategized about where and how to pray in the old city.
The northern part of this island nation was invaded by Turkey in 1974, and has been occupied ever since. But recently, people from both sides of the occupation border have been getting together and protesting. Nicosia is the last divided capital in Europe. In fact, it is the only divided capital city in the world. Division and the Turkish intrusion and occupation forces were to be major prayer points. And with this in mind, before going to the old city to prayer walk, Hilda had someone she wanted us to meet.
At first sight, I thought that we were there to pray for some kind of healing for Gus, who told us that he is 88 years old. Gus is a key person in the peace process. He has both Greek Cypriot and Turkish blood. His surname is Turkish, but he grew up in Cyprus. Because of his background and family, Gus is trusted by both sides. And since Gus doesn’t work for either side, he is in the best possible position to bring about the peace process. Best of all, Gus is a born-again believer. After hearing his story, we prayed and prophesied over Gus. Specifically it was prophesied that Gus will live to see reunification. We prayed for angelic agents to intervene where human or angelic agents with bad intent might interfere with the peace process. It was clear that our visit encouraged Gus very much.
Next we went to the Ledra Museum Observatory on the eleventh floor of the Shacolas Tower. On the way, we passed through the Paphos Gate of the old city and prayed there. There remain three of the original city gates, so we have determined to pray at each of them. We placed an almond blossom at the gate as a prophetic act. At the Tower we divided into teams and prayed into each of the four compass directions, with particular focus on the occupied north. The ticket seller came to speak to our group, and we shared that we are praying for her country. We asked for her prayer requests, and at the top of her list, what she said first was a Solution, meaning reunification. We also prayed for her, personally, and it was easy to see that she was moved by the tears in her eyes.
After lunch we crossed the checkpoint into the occupied northern part of the city, locally called Lefkosia. Almost immediately after we all got through the checkpoint, we heard whistles. The whistles got louder and soon we could also hear chanting. That’s when we realized that there was a demonstration marching toward us. The front line of marchers held a homemade banner proclaiming in Turkish, English, and Greek: “Demilitarised (sp) Nicosia.” Others held Cypriot flags. The demonstrators (composed of Northern and Southern Cypriots) passed us and stopped just short of the checkpoint. There they were met by perhaps two dozen armed police. Then the demonstrators turned on a boombox and took turns breakdancing to the music. I rejoiced inwardly because this is exactly how most demonstrations work in Italy, too: protest becomes party. What could the police do? They just watched. So we watched and prayed just a short distance away. After dancing for about ten minutes, the demonstrators quietly dispersed. I knew that this was a God set-up because if they had come ten minutes earlier or later, we would have missed them. Instead, we had front row seats to this peaceful demonstration to reunify Cyprus.
Then we walked to St. Sophia church, which has been turned into a mosque (one of the most prominent things that we had seen from the Tower). We divided into two teams to walk around the church, praying and reclaiming it for the Kingdom of God. One team went clockwise, the other counter-clockwise.
After the church we went to the Bandabuliya Market, which is the old city market, and walked through it. The market had been shut for many years after the invasion. Now it was reopened with many stores still empty. It was a sad shadow of what it must have been in pre-occupation times. We agreed that at least they had made an effort to revive it.
Next we went to the second of the three gates, the Kyrenia Gate, where we prayed and placed another almond blossom. While we rested there, Lars took out a map and noticed something. The Turkish Cypriot Parliament and the Turkish Embassy were right across the street from one another, and they just happened to be very close to the Gate where we were. So we decided that this was a strategic place to go and pray to cut off the connection between Turkey and Northern Cyprus. As the others prayed in a group, I walked up and down the sidewalk between the two buildings, cutting the ties in the spirit.
There was a lot of traffic on the street between the Parliament Building and the Embassy. We prayed and planted another almond blossom. While we prayed the door to the Parliament had stood open. When we finished, a man came out the door, shut and locked it, and walked away. We felt that this was significant as a message to us that soon this occupation parliament would shut down to let the real Cypriot Parliament handle the ruling of a reunified Cyprus.
Yesterday, being Sunday, we attended the pre-service prayers at our host church. The prayer meeting was well-attended, and the prayer time was so good, and filled with prophetic words and visions, especially for the church’s upcoming move from their stable building into a tent. What they could take as a step backward, God keeps assuring them is actually a step forward. I believe it!
The youth led the worship, which was prophetic and very anointed. At a certain point one of the singers, a girl about fourteen years old, began to sing prophetically what was on her heart. But I could see that she was feeling shy. This might have been her first worshiping in front of the whole church. The worship leader encouraged her, and had them turn up her microphone. Then the pastor’s wife went and crouched in front of her, giving her more encouragement through smiles and gestures—and it worked! I could see this only because I was in the front row.
After announcements, the pastor called our group up, prophesied over us, and invited others to do likewise (on paper for those with picture prophecies or who felt too shy to speak a prophecy). It was very encouraging! It looked like at least one person from each family came up to give a word, either to an individual or to the whole group, even children. Then we were prayed for, blessed, and sent out for our last day of prayer walking.
We started at the Presidential Palace, praying by the exit gate. One thing that was prayed was that the puppet strings of those controlling the President behind the scenes be cut, and in fact, those strings were also seen as chains. We expect to see changes in his presidency.
Then we walked a short distance across the road to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We felt that the approach to foreign affairs was xenophobic due to the island being partly occupied. So we prayed to break off all fear and mistrust of foreigners, and that righteousness, especially with regard to refugees, become their response and way of dealing with foreigners.
After that we walked to the Parliament Building, which didn’t look at all like we had expected. The front door was an automatic-opening glass door with a smiling sun. A face on the sun is a pagan symbol for the sun god. This and other elements became part of our prayers for the Parliament of Cyprus. We poured water across the threshold as a prophetic act. And we read the several Bible passages for Cyprus. Sometimes God gives me passages, too. This time He gave me Nehemiah 5:11-12, regarding reunification:
You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil. They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.”
Then we walked to the Famagusta Gate and found there a celebration of the Congenital Heart
Disease Association’s ten year anniversary. As we began to pray, we were interrupted by a volunteer from the Heart Association who invited us inside for refreshments. We told her that we would come inside in a moment, and she was satisfied. Perhaps they were hoping for a better turnout than what they had. We prayed at the Gate, and then pouring out red wine to symbolize spilled blood. I looked up and saw a big iron hasp on the Gate. It was closed, but not fastened. So I opened the hasp of the Gate as a prophetic act.
With all its problems (occupation in the north, and the usual problems of drugs, prostitution and human trafficking, humanism, witchcraft, etc.), Cyprus was a relatively easy place to pray. That’s because there are believers here like this wonderful church. We’re flying to Malta later today. God is good!