Once vision and back- an unbelievable testimony of God's reality
Updated: Apr 9, 2022
Coromandel, New Zealand, Pixabay
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremia 33,3 NIV)
"On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.’ " (Zef. 3, 16 ff, NIV)
"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139,16 NIV)
My dear friends,
in the last post I wrote about my liberation from esotericism and the amazing turnaround my life took afterwards.
What happened in my life afterwards is beyond belief. I have told this story many times. But although I have often experienced God's work in my life in the following, it is truly unmatched in its message.
It begins the day I learned that my temporary contract with the welfare office would not be renewed. It was 2004, and the Hartz IV reform ( new social welfare concept) was just around the corner. A transfer was not possible, I would have needed an additional qualification, which I did not have. It was the end of September when I found out, and I was not happy. But I was even more unhappy when I heard God's unmistakable voice saying, "Don't register as unemployed. I have other plans for you."
"Uh-huh, yeah, great, God. And then what am I going to live on? If I'm wrong here, I'm in a mess up to my eyeballs. Unemployment benefits are cut off, I can't pay my rent, I can't..." God-stood firm. So I obeyed and thought to myself that the next eight weeks could somehow be bridged. After that- it would be darned, darned tight.
I had been baptized in confession (see last post) for half a year. Freshly bathed in the Rhine. After just under a year I had settled in well in my small, chaotic, real-life freaky Jesus Freaks church in Cologne. I was appreciated, first bonds of friendship developed and my passion for prayer and our teens was appreciated. In the early morning prayer at 06.30 I was often the one who provided croissants and coffee, sometimes I spent the whole night in the office of the small former corner pub we rented. Praying, blessing, laying every little matter before God. Our 24/7 prayer weeks were great. Yes, I felt comfortable. Conversions had been happening for a while, I had been listening to these prompts that came out of the blue, "Talk to her, she needs someone to listen. Invite him to the Freaks, he needs prayer." Always it was true. And so, with all the fear for my existence- I didn't go to the unemployment office but said succinctly, (while it turned my stomach inside) when asked what I was up to now, "Jesus thinks he has something for me." The reactions were always somewhere between silent, accepting nods and quiet, skeptical admiration for this courage. Me? Well: I knew what he had done before. But it doesn't take away the worry. People hate uncertainty.
Basically, I enjoyed the time off. Early morning prayer, heaven's bells (church prayer night), hanging out in the rooms, hanging out with brothers and sisters, long prayer walks- I wasn't bored. David Pierce toured, invitations came in from a former classmate I hadn't seen in a long time. Ah, one can already pass the time.
At some point in the evening the phone rang. An acquaintance from the community was on the line, and asked if I would like to come to the chicken meeting in Stuttgart. Chicken meeting, the women's meeting of Jesus Freaks International, was a weekend event for women. "Jodi Pierce is speaking there, David's wife, you just need a sleeping bag and some gas money, will you come? For some reason I feel like going there with you. I think you're supposed to go." I was surprised. We didn't have much to do with each other, and women's meetings...oh, only women?! But sure enough, I had nothing else on my mind, so I was soon in the back seat, driving through the darkness. I felt embraced and secure, strangely embraced.
The women's meeting began unspectacularly, but refreshingly. Looking back, I laugh. Safe, unsuspecting, I stumbled into one of the greatest adventures of my life.
In the evening, the seating arrangement had it that I sat next to Jodi Pierce. I tried really hard to talk to her in my then rusty English. And I didn't want to say anything. So I talked to her about the way Jesus merges the visions and messages of men and women into one. How the characteristics of women naturally complement those of men, and how something wonderful comes out of the interplay. It was the topic that fascinated me above all others at the time. Jodi was enthusiastic. A deep sympathy had broken out without my even trying. So deep that the next day she announced her 2nd Leadership School to be held in New Zealand and mentioned me. Then she added, "We only take 36 people worldwide. And the school is for leaders only."
Good. I was a year back in the safe zone. The school was unreachable far away. And 36 people on a European tour...that wasn't much. Somehow...it gave me a sting, but it was just the way it was.
Alone, it wouldn't let me go, so I sought the advice of my church leader and frequent evening companion. We sat in his shared apartment room with a beer in hand and I told him. And said myself that it was much too early for leadership.... he nodded and said: Yes, but maybe it is a hint that you should look for a bible school in Germany. Bad Gandersheim is quite good, just ask. I'm going to get another beer, hold on. "Alone in his room, I stepped to the window and felt the longing for adventure rise up in me. And suddenly I heard myself say:
"Well, watch out Jesus. Somehow this won't let me go. If you want me to go there, this is exactly what happens: this weekend I'm going to meet David Pierce. I'm going to tell him that Jodi is fine. As a blessing. And he will reply, "Yes, I know who you are, Jodi has already told me about you. We spoke on the phone this week! And he personally repeats the invitation to New Zealand, otherwise I don't believe it."
The weekend came, and with it, events rolled over. As soon as I arrived, I ended up praying for David Pierce in a church I was completely unfamiliar with. Well, I took that in stride. The first teaching was also the first performance of his I ever saw. "Sex is great, but after the wedding, of course!" Looking at the acetic, tense, pious faces, he added- "well. But you guys look like you don't even believe in sex after marriage." With that, he had me. I grinned and grinned. I had just been thinking the same thing.
In the evening, people ran up to me saying, "We need you! For the prayer team tonight, we don't have enough people!" I didn't understand the world anymore. I only KNEW the youth pastor there! And suddenly I was on the pre-prayer, prayer team...well, as you will, Lord Jesus Christ.
The next morning was the regular Sunday service. And David was jamming the assembled team together with such passion to please, please do their job as Christians that I was stunned and inwardly rejoicing. Yes! YES! Finally someone who clearly says that sitting around on Sundays and mowing the lawn in front of the family house has nothing to do with our mission.
I glowed towards him. The Holy Spirit made me glow.
After the service I swallowed. And I did what no one but the birds on the window ledge had heard: I went to David and told him his wife was fine. He certainly hadn't seen her in a while, but I had. And I wanted him to know that. He looked at me and said, "Oh, I know who you are, Jodi told me about you, we talked on the phone. She was really impressed with the weekend.
Maybe you'd like to come to our leadership school in New Zealand? "
It took me a minute or two to really understand what was happening. When I understood, the ground swayed beneath my feet. My companion and good friend grinned as I regained my color and said, "Well, I guess you're going to New Zealand." ( To this day I regret not asking for a more spectacular sign. Fire from heaven...or fried chicken. I can hardly believe it until today).
With the realization came heaps of problems. I had neither a donation circle nor parents, who could have advanced me the trip.references were not the problem, also the registration went through. But donations after testimony and mission announcement...it was sometimes 50 Euro, sometimes 100. A wage tax annual balance was still pending, another 400 Euro. No job, no unemployment benefit. It was eight weeks from acceptance to departure and the start of school.
As lovable as the freaks were, they were also permanently broke. The amount I needed? oh, 1500 euros for the school fees. 2000 euros for the flight. Plus pocket money. For three and a half...months. It was hopeless, and Steiger Germany had already been on my feet for a long time, I had to book the flight now.
I ran into the field. I had 500 euros. A shared apartment's room to pay and an English study Bible, "because God had told me so". 60 euros for a Bible! My passport. And nothing else. I whined. I screamed. I struggled. "Jesus, are you actually...I mean, school's in English, I don't have the dough for the flight, no job if it goes wrong, I'm scared! Time is running out! I was scared. It was just too unbelievable. And suddenly I burst out laughing. I saw myself ranting and arguing in front of an immensely great God who was watching with amusement. And said, "But, you know, Dad, you know all that too. I'm going home now and book some flight. With a window seat, so we can really understand each other!" How you pay for it is your business. I...can't. So I booked into the blue. 1890.00 euros. Payable...in 24 hours from booking. Account balance....oh my. Overdraft facility? No. I ran to the community. I stayed there. I prayed. On my knees. Standing up. With coffee in my hand. When I lay down, there was still an hour and a half before morning prayer. Finally, in morning prayer, I did what is called surrender. "Jesus, I never wanted to go to New Zealand. It was YOUR plan. I have everything I need here. " But disappointed...I was.
When I returned to my shared apartment, overtired and despondent, my roommate asked if I had the money for the flight. "No," I said. "Would have been weird if you got it just because you BELIEVE" she said sardonically. I slammed the door behind me and yelled at God, " Just because you believe! It has to work BECAUSE I believe, God! Either you're real or we can save all this shit here too! I need to sleep now, do your miracles while I sleep!" Yes, I was frustrated. Very. frustrated.
As soon as I was in bed, the phone rang. "Bille, can you still cancel the ticket? Cancel it.now."
"Then I have nothing left!" "Cancel it!" I cancelled and my eyes fell on the 50.00 euros I still had in pure donations. Gone...they were. The phone rang again. "Did you cancel? Good! You fly with Lauda Air, window seat, you fly on free miles. Just came in as a donation. There and back. 70,-Euro tax you have to pay. Oh, I should tell you from Jesus, the cancellation fee you have to pay yourself, because you did not trust him. And now trust! You fly to New Zealand!" In the weeks that followed, the donations piled up. The last ones came in three days before departure. A tenth was transferred to me as pocket money.
It was the most incredible time of my life. Growing up socially deprived, I had never seen such beaches. Such beauty. New Zealand is incredibly beautiful- and it smells like a fairy tale. It's not called God's own for nothing. The Lord of the Rings and Narnia were not filmed there for nothing.
For a long time I thought God was equipping me and preparing me for ministry.
One evening on the beach, I asked him why he had sent me to New Zealand. And he answered, "Because you always wished to see such beauty and never could. I wanted to show you that I could take you to the other side of the world if I wanted to. You're here because I love you."
It wiped everything away. Everything. The poverty, the deprivations, the feeling of being worth less as a child who grew up socially weak.
God brought me to New Zealand, paid for it, moved mountains, walked in front of me and broke bronze gates - simply because He wanted to please me. Because I was worth it to him. So that he could have three months with me and I could swim at the gate of Narnia for once in my life- in Coromandel.
When I talk about Jesus, I talk about this Jesus. About this God.
Did he tell me that again? That he has something for me? Oh yes. Just now I told him that he wanted this, not me. That I have everything I need right here. A little wistful and disappointed. It would have been strange if it had worked out, just because I believed in it....
I hope that someday the phone will ring while I'm trying to fall asleep, disappointed and exhausted from praying so much.
"Things never happen the same way twice, dear" (C.S. Lewis; The Chronicles of Narnia).
Oh, yeah. That's true. But it's a different story. More adventurous. Nerve-wracking. Unbelievable. The next one, you know, ended well, too. Just different. But never are his adventures ...in vain.
Bless you, Sibylle.
Oh yes: So it goes on: How to get involved with God? But only in two weeks. Until then it's break. Says he. Yes, Father. Next blog post in early February, friends. Be blessed.