27 September 2016
Today we go to pick up the team at the airport—yes we!—Deborah is going with me. She will film their arrival and get to know them on the train ride back home.
I am so amazed at how this has all come together. That could only be God’s doing! Just a month ago, I still only had a few ideas—certainly not enough things to keep us busy for a whole week.
On the train ride from the airport, I told them all the strange story of the house:
I was just waking up one morning a couple of years ago, and I could practically feel God’s breath on my ear. He whispered: “Isaiah 5:9.”
I had no idea what Isaiah 5:9 said, so I got out of bed and went straight to my Bible.
In my hearing the Lord of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant,” (emphasis mine).
There is a house on the other side of the park from me that had been occupied by anarchist squatters. A few months prior to that day, they had been evicted in a massive police action that blocked all the streets around the house. The day that God whispered in my ear, I learned that the house was going to be sold at auction—interesting timing, right?
I told a couple of ministries about the house, but they gave up on it when they learned that ALER (the government agency in charge of housing for poor and low-income families), which owned the house, wasn’t going to sell just that one house, but 6 or 8 houses comprising much of the block. All the houses were to be sold as a unit. The first time there were no takers at the auction, and the houses were withdrawn. The second time there also were no takers. Then the third time, the houses were sold. But the sale, they had continued to stand, empty and abandoned for another two years.
Meanwhile I had seen a squatter hop over the wall of the back yard right in front of me one morning, startling me. He went to wash himself in the fountain of the park across the street. Every time I passed that house, I continued to see squatters camping out on the front porch.
I had continued to think that the house was meant for a ministry here in Milan. Then just a week ago, the Holy Spirit pointed out that it was my ear that He had whispered into, and not anyone else’s. So I started a Jericho march: seven times around the block for seven days.
They listened fascinated, even while tired from the overnight flight. Deborah suggested that we do another march around the block as a team, which we all thought was a wonderful idea. So we dropped their bags at my apartment and rested up a bit. Ketty, a prayer friend, came with us and we went to the house. We did the march together, but not so much “together.”
When we finished, we went for a gelato (ice cream), and I pointed out the offices of ALER, right across the street from where we had been marching. Ketty pointed out the meaning of some of the graffiti we had seen, which I didn’t know: ACAB. She said that it has a double meaning. Besides being the Italian name of Israel’s most evil king, Ahab, it is also an anagram for Anarchists Against (I don’t remember what, probably everything—they’re anarchists, right?). So we prayed and bound that anarchist spirit, forcing it to leave the block.
Deborah also had a surprise for us: while filming, she held the camera over the porch area where I saw the peeing spirit (see Boring Business). The camera showed someone sleeping on a mattress there. One teammate said that he had seen something pop up from the porch, and it left the house. Squatter or spirit, it’s good that he saw it leave, and consistent with my observations that every time I pass the house, the squatters leave.
[As I write this now, months later, I can tell you that the anarchists didn’t leave immediately or happily. They continued squatting on the property until the end of February (2017), when they were driven out in another massive police action (see The Neighborhood Anarchists. See also Timing too Perfect, and the following posts about my Jericho March around the house). The Italian newspaper had a story about the police action, which has since been pulled and “sanitized.” Now the anarchist group is referred to in the media as a “centro sociale,” which in Italian means a community organization. If you doubt their anarchist leanings, then check out the picture of the gun they had dangling outside of the house. How did they clean up their image so quickly after the police action (and subsequent taking over of another abandoned building)? A local told me that the son of the former mayor had “gotten permission” from daddy for his group to squat in the house. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if daddy wasn’t also involved in cleaning up their image.]
Later, after a rest, I took the team to the park where the angels had serenaded a prayer team from the US, and told them the story:
Some members of the group had brought a few items from the US to bury in the soil of Italy as a prophetic act of prayer. We found a hole that had already been dug into the hard soil. The items were placed in the hole and covered over as we prayed.
Then they asked me to anoint and pray over each of them. I did, and received words of prophecy for each, which they later told me were exactly perfect. I don’t remember what I said, but that’s what the gift of prophecy is like: since it wasn’t born in the brain, it doesn’t tend to stick there.
As we finished up and prepared to return home, we heard music overhead. On a fifth floor balcony of the building closest to where we were standing, we saw two young guys. One had a trumpet and the other a flute. They played a brief song, and we applauded wildly, crying, “Bis! Bis!” Which means Encore! Encore! They waved at us, and played again. Then a couple of cars entering the roundabout added a couple of honks. But the strange thing is that the car horns did not sound at all like car horns—they sounded musical. I got that familiar goosebumpy feeling when God has done something supernatural for you. We looked up again, but they were gone. I said, “I think those guys were really angels. Also the ones in the cars.” Everyone agreed that it was certainly possible.
As much as they enjoyed being there and seeing the angels’ balcony, they were tired. So I took them back home where we had a pizza dinner and an early bedtime. This will be a week full of adventures, and who knows? Maybe more angel visitations. God is good!