Bingo Bango Bongo!

Greetings from Malta!

Yesterday in the Rome airport I was walking by a shop and I saw a set of bongos.  The Lord said to buy the bongos.  So I went in, and without asking the price, I bought the bongos.  It turned out that they cost a lot less than I had thought they would they would.  When I told the rest of the team about the purchase, they got excited.  The dancers on the team especially got excited about the bongos, hoping that we can prayer walk/dance in the streets to the beat of bongos.

It wasn’t until later that I remembered the team leader’s teaching about the power or rhythmic drumming, hand clapping, and movement as a prayer tool.  Ha!  I couldn’t help but smile!

As we waited for boarding time, one girl asked if she could play the bongos.  I said, “Of course!” and handed them over.  She played a little while, but quietly there in the noisy airport.  I encouraged her to really give them a good thumping, but she kept playing quietly.  I think that perhaps, like me, she is not very experienced with bongos, and just wanted to try them out.

When we arrived, I couldn’t believe how pretty Malta is.  With ancient sun-bleached stone buildings, it looked very much like we were landing in the Holy Land, but with water all around.  And I guess that’s what it is, since the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked here, and the island embraced Christianity since that time.

We are 3 teams composed of many nationalities, many of whom, like me, live in a country other than their country of origin.  The 3 teams are an evangelistic team, a prayer team (which includes me!), and a dance team.  The prayer and dance teams will be working in and around the Mediterranean Regional Prayer Center here in Valletta, while the evangelistic team will be out on the streets all over the island.  The MRPC is also known as a House of Prayer, but they gave the name Malta House of Prayer to others.

The prayer and dance teams are being hosted by locals who have rented what I can only describe as a magnificent (and magnificently furnished) 3-storey villa overlooking the bay toward Valletta (the capital).  The basement and roof are also in use, giving the villa 5 working levels in all.  Last night we were welcomed with a BBQ feast and party on the roof.  As the sun set over Malta, the building facades were lit up, becoming even more beautiful, with the light twinkling off the dark water.

I brought the bongos up from my room in the basement and handed them to Celeste because of the way her face lit up when she saw them.  She played around on them a while, then when 2-year-old Jilly came over, she taught Jilly how to play, encouraging her to really pat them hard enough to produce sound.

This morning when Jilly saw the bongos, she boldly came and played them like a little expert, grinning in delight.  If it had been only for that moment, it was totally worth buying the bongos.

At the prayer house, I felt led to go out of my comfort zone and sign up for the very first overnight shift—way, way out of my comfort zone!  I am expecting God to do great things!  Go bang some bongos for the Lord and step out of your comfort zone.  You will discover what I’ve been saying all these years: God is good!  Oh yes!  God is good!

Prayer Walking in Skopje

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Greetings from Skopje, Macedonia!

After spending our first day in prayer, worship, and planning, we spent yesterday out in the city.  First we went to Mount Vodno, to pray at the Millennium Cross over the city.  The Millennium Cross is the world’s biggest cross.  But we didn’t get to see it up close because the cable cars up to it were down for repairs.  Instead we found a scenic overlook area where we could look down upon the city as we prayed for it.

Then we divided into 3 groups for prayer walks:

  1. The University, The National Theater, Art Museum
  2. The Government Buildings, The Holocaust Memorial, a missionary businessman’s businesses, and the Bridge over the River Vardar in the center of town
  3. The Methodist Church, The Orthodox Church, A Mosque, and the office of a Social Worker

I chose to go with the church group.  The Methodist Church is the oldest and largest of the evangelical churches in Skopje.  There we prayed for unity among the protestant churches and unity with the Orthodox Church.

From there we walked to the office of the Social Worker.  Kati had shared with us the day before about the struggles in the family sector.  Macedonia has many grave family issues, but few Social Workers and even less money.  In fact, the government does not hire new Social Workers when one leaves.  Instead, the work simply gets shuffled to someone else in the department—whether that person has any experience or knowledge about Social Work.  And with all this institutionalized chaos, the need continues to grow, and more and more people come in looking for help.

As I listened day before yesterday to her explanations about the system, I could see the pain on her face.  I know that if it were in her power, she would help every person who comes in for help.  She was so grateful to have us come in to pray for her.  It encouraged her very much.

From her office we went across the bridge and up the hill to the mosque on top of the highest hill in the city.  There we sat on benches outside the mosque and prayed.  Then we went back down the hill and across the river again.  By this time we had walked such a lot that I was really exhausted.  We stopped at a coffee shop owned by the pastor’s friend.  While the pastor was talking to his friend I ordered a coffee and sat down.  Then the pastor came over and said, “OK let’s go!”  I slammed down my espresso macchiato and followed him to the Parliament building, where we were meeting with the two other teams.  With some caffeine in my system, I felt revived—thank you Italy for the afternoon coffee habit that revives me!

We prayed at the Parliament Building and then went to dinner.  There had been a sort of tension when we came to Skopje, and after our day of prayer walking, the tension was released.  That made dinner a much more relaxed time.

As I looked through my pictures of the day, two of them struck me.  The first is the statue of Alexander the Great, who the Macedonians call Alexander of Macedonia.  The second is the picture of Millennium Cross as seen from the city.  The first celebrates the accomplishments of man, while the second celebrates the victory over sin, sickness, and death—something that only God could accomplish.  God is good!

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