Hello everyone! After a brief…hmmm…okay, not so brief hiatus, we are going to try to do a much better job this year keeping up with our blog. The days pass quickly and the travel and ministry opportunities fill every waking moment but we also know that many friends and supporters of this ministry love to hear from us.
As we begin our 46th year in full time ministry, (whew) we are even more aware of God’s goodness and His faithfulness in our lives. We absolutely love serving the Lord together and as He opens more and more doors of opportunity, we step right through them with joy and faith and love. It’s humbling to travel the world, meet the most wonderful people and realize that we have the privilege everyday of doing what most people only dream of. We are constantly reminded that it is not our doing, but it is HIS work in us and through us to build the Kingdom of God that keeps us going year after year. So, we hope to share each week or two some of the amazing things we get to enjoy and hope that you will follow us, pray for us and share our blog with your friends and family.
Two weeks ago, we were down in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in a city called Weslaco TX. Pastor Marvin and Melissa Caldera pastor Pave The Way Church and though it’s just a few years old, they have a great group of folks that love the Lord and love revival. People were changed, healed and delivered in His presence and we believe God has great things in their future. Thank you dear friends for hosting us and blessing us.
This past weekend, we were in Bellevue WA to join New Hope International Church and our dear friends Pastors Varun and Da Laohaprasit in weekend services. What an amazing church these guys have. They absolutely love revival and Pastor Lao has been faithful to contend for revival for his church and international ministry for many years. Early Monday morning, we boarded the EVA Airlines plane bound for Bangkok Thailand to join Pastor Lao for revival meetings in Bangkok and Chiangrai, a city in one of the northern provinces. The meetings in Bangkok begin this coming weekend (more about these later) but the Chiangrai meetings just finished and were more than mere words can express. The hunger of the Thai people all over this nation never ceases to amaze us. In a predominately Buddhist nation, the Fire of God is shining brighter and brighter. Pastor Lao comes several times a year and the crowds have grown larger and larger. We are so honored and humbled to join him and the team here to be a part of what God is doing through Ps Lao and his ministry. The picture below is of the altar call Wednesday night. To God be the Glory! As you can see, God is at work all over the world. Follow us as we share more of the great things God is doing! Chat soon!
Well, after quite a while of strange issues with our blog, we are back! Technology can be awesome and challenging–all at the same time. So, watch for updates and notes as we are now back up to speed and will be writing of the good things God is doing at Worshipworks Ministries and Cruse Institute!
We certainly hope you are getting a chance to enjoy the holiday season. While it can be hectic and fast paced, we have to make HIM the priority. I’m reminded of the scripture from Isaiah 9;6 that says,
“For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[a] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
It is our prayer that you may know His Peace this holiday season and throughout the following year.
Blessings, Ps Joe and Becky
What a great start to 2014 for Worshipworks Ministries! We have officially launched CRUSE INSTITUTE FOR THE ARTS ONLINE! (www.cruseinstitute.org) There are some great young students that have enrolled from here in the US as well as Brazil and Thailand. And the good news is, we have extended this semester’s deadline until Friday evening, January 24th!
Some of the music courses include: Piano, Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Sight Singing and Ear Training, Contemporary Theory, Technical Production, Worship Lab 1A/B and others.
Some of the Bible courses include: Essential Elements of Worship, Biblical Finances, Principles of Leadership, The Anointing, and others.
The instructors this year are some of the finest young worship leaders and a few old ones as well! CIFTA is truly blessed and grateful!
The Friday deadline might be too quick but it’s not too early to be thinking about the fall semester. And remember—whether students want to take a full load in preparation for the music/bible degree, or just need to add to their skills, ALL COURSES ARE ONLY USD $99 + registration fee and the cost of books.
As you can well imagine, there’s been a scurry of activity here since the middle of November in preparation for the opening of the school. The Lord blessed us to be able to be here in Austin during the holidays but the travel schedule for Worshipworks is already in full swing.
This past weekend, we were blessed to be with our dear friends, Ps Frank and Parris Bailey and the wonderful people of Victory Fellowship in Metairie, LA. They have a wonderful college, Bethesda College, and we were privileged to teach one of their ITS classes on worship—a complete 8 week course in 3 days! Pastor Joe taught the Essential Elements of Worship Class and my goodness—hungry students coupled with the powerful classes on worship and BAM–Holy Ghost showed up in a BIG WAY! And then Sunday am and pm, we just saw the Lord move in powerful demonstrations of His presence with many answering the altar call and many coming for prayer. Thank you Lord—you are always faithful!
What’s coming up? So glad you asked! The travel itinerary includes Weslaco, TX—San Diego, CA—Los Angeles, CA—Ft. Worth, TX—Summerville SC—Jacksonville, FL—Shreveport, LA—Seattle, WA and that’s just February and March!!!
You know, the Lord spoke a word to us at the end of last year about His purpose, His plan, His path and His provision for 2014 and so we will close this update with those same words to you.
The Lord reminded us that He still had a purpose for WMI to be on the earth. At times, all of us tend to question whether God still has a purpose for us but I promise you—HE DOES. We aren’t too old, too young, too rich, are too poor. God still desires to use us to forward His Kingdom in the earth. And if there is a purpose, there is also a plan, but not just any plan—A MASTER PLAN—A HEAVENLY PLAN!
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) says, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
And included in His plan is a path that we are to walk. His path for us could be a broad path or a narrow path but one thing’s for sure—it is a sure path. The Lord challenged us to get up every day and pray, “Lord, order our steps today. We desire to walk your path you’ve laid out for us.” We love Psalms 65:11—“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”.
Friends, please know you have a purpose, God has a plan, there is a path to walk and on that path, there is God’s provision!
In Genesis 22, Abraham was instructed by God to take his son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham had practiced following the Lord’s voice, building an altar and meeting God at the place of sacrifice. After years of living a lifestyle of worship, when God asked him to offer Isaac, he knew God would provide. It was a narrow path up to the place of worship but Abraham believed God. And you know the rest of the story—on that path of sacrifice, God’s provision was there!
V 13 and 14 (Amp) says, “Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering and an ascending sacrifice instead of his son! So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide. And it is said to this day, On the mount of the Lord it will be provided”.
May this year, 2014 be your greatest year as you fulfill His purpose, His plan, walk His path and find His provision—AMEN!
As we close, we must take a moment to thank those of you who have sowed sacrificial gifts to help us launch the school. We could not have done it without your generous gifts. Even though the school is up and running, it’s just the beginning. Have you ever heard of Kahn Academy? It is an online school totally funded by corporations like Microsoft and private donations. Because of the generous gifts of God’s people over the past year, we’ve been able to drop our course prices by two thirds!
Perhaps there are others who feel a stirring to be apart of raising up the next generation of worship leaders, pastors, teachers, and evangelists! Help us—we are faithful stewards and are providing quality education all around the world. Go to www.wmiglobal.org, click on contributions, and click “give to WMI”. As always, your gifts are completely tax deductible.
Until next time—many blessings!
Ps Joe and Becky Cruse
Hello dear friends–
Greetings in the powerful Name of Jesus! We are home this month finishing up the online classes for Cruse Institute for the Arts (cruseinstitute.org) launch, January 13th 2014, recording a new instrumental project (Essence Vol 2) and taking a few weeks to rest and prepare for next year.
Thank you to so many who’ve prayed for us and sowed sacrificially. This has been the greatest year in the history of the ministry—we’ve ministered to more people and seen more saved than ever before. There is much fruit that’s been credited to your heavenly bank account–TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
We want to wish all our friends and partners a very Merry Christmas and many blessings for a prosperous 2014!
Joe and Becky Cruse
PS Take a moment and check out our impromptu greeting from our last international meeting this past November in Sao Luis Brazil.
Hello dear friends and partners,
Wanted to take a moment and remind you of a scripture that means so much to us—
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way”. Luke 4:23 NLT
What a privilege it’s been to travel the world another year finding such worshipers! These days, as the political and financial climates continue to change worldwide, people that know their God are pressing in like never before. True worshipers—not just church attenders but true worshipers! What a blessing it is week after week to meet with churches, large and small, hungry for the true worship spoken of here in Luke. How important it is, in these last days, to keep the heavenly perspective ever before us. It’s so easy to get our eyes off of eternity and get all caught up in the daily grind. But true worshipers know how important it is to keep the main thing the main thing. Looking unto Jesus…that is what true worshipers do!
We trust you are looking unto Jesus today! He is Good, He is Just, He is Holy, He is Righteous, and He is Love! Don’t put your eyes on men—put your eyes on Jesus! Men fail but Jesus never fails. Worship keeps us magnifying His Lordship and minimizing our puny problems. Worship might not always change your circumstances but worship can change the atmosphere! Just like Paul and Silas in prison—I’d say they had an atmosphere change and it did change their circumstances and the jailor’s entire house was saved! The POWER of worship—we’ve seen over 30,000 lives changed this year in an atmosphere charged with the praises of God’s people.
As another year draws to a close, we can’t help but give our God praise for the amazing things He’s done in us and through us this year! We have literally traveled the globe and seen more people saved, healed, set free and delivered than ever in the history of Worshipworks Ministries, Intl. To God be ALL the Glory!
Speaking of travel, our last international trip this year is November 15-18, as we return to Sao Luis, Brazil for a National Worship Conference with Igreja Bautista Angelim and are believing God that thousands of lives are changed for eternity.
And along with all the travel, we’ve been busy uploading content (along with the other teachers) for the launch of the online school, Cruse Institute for the Arts, www.cruseinstitute.org that will begin January 12, 2014. If you’ve not had a chance to check out the new website, go check it out! And if you know young men and women looking to get their degree in Music Ministry with a two-year Associates in Theology, or perhaps just want to take a music course or two, help us spread the word! We are using industry standard software for the online classes and webinars and believe the Lord has given us a key to make this available to many people around the world!
We’ve taken a step of faith this year and are taking the month of December off from traveling to finish final preparations for the school launch in January. The first half of 2014 is quickly filling up. Trips to Africa and Asia are already on the calendar. Also, we are working on recording a couple of new music CDs and several new teaching series are in the works.
Friends, we really do covet your prayers as we close out the year and prepare for 2014. We want to take a moment and thank many of you that have sowed sacrificially into WMI this year. Without your generous gifts, we could not have done all that God has allowed us to do. The harvest is really yours as you’ve partnered with us. We trust the Lord that we have been faithful stewards and believe heaven will record just that!
Perhaps there are folks reading this blog that the Lord is speaking to about sowing seed to help us finish strong. Absolutely no pressure— just always want to give people an opportunity to sow if the Lord speaks to them.
Simply go to our main website, WMIGlobal www.wmiglobal.org, click on “contributions” and click “give to WMI”. Your contributions are secure and as always, tax deductible. Remember, it’s not the amount—it’s the heart behind it! Thank you in advance for your generosity.
In closing, we thought we should share a few testimonies that came to us this year.
“Just letting you know – I have been receiving messages from people living all over the world who were watching the services via live streaming. They say even though they are so far away, they instantly felt God’s presence. I am seeing one major theme on their face book posts: “I remain confident in this, I will see the goodness of the Lord.” Hope you are having a great flight and that you feel the joy of what you brought to so many people this weekend.” From Pastor Bev Sumrall—Cathedral of Praise—Manila Philippines
“The God is Great CD is still one of the greatest recordings ever! Since we met in London with RHB, it has blessed and encouraged us on the mission field”–Thank you! From Dick Flores–Amsterdam & now 7 Years in Costa del Sol, Spain
“I was just at the Sunday evening service at Victory Fellowship and let me just say God used you guys to touch me in an amazing way! Words can’t describe how your music lifted my spirit. I was in a rut, a bit of a depression, but when you started singing that song about setting our hope on God cause He is the everlasting God, my spirit was awakened again. I GOT MY SONG BACK. Thank you for everything you do! Joe, the way you sing is awesome! It’s like when you sing, everyone has to participate in joining in, like it’s so powerful we just had to start singing with you! There was a fragrance that was moving around the room that night. And when I first smelled it I began to laugh uncontrollably! It was such a sweet fragrance. I believe God was pleased with your worship! Thank you so much for blessing me! I left changed and I have a new song in my heart that I just can’t stop singing! ” I will remain confident in this, I will see the goodness of the Lord”! From J.S. Mareaux, LA Blessings to you all! Ps Joe and Becky
What a busy but blessed summer it’s been! We have crisscrossed these United States since returning from Africa and have seen the Lord do “abundantly above all we could dare ask or think! Here’s a few exciting things that have been going on since last time—
In August, we celebrated our parents, Joe and Nancy Cruse’s 60th wedding anniversary with a big family (and I do mean big family!) worship concert. What a powerful time it was to see the generations stand and proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of God through song and spoken word. The night of worship was held in their church, Fellowship of Ft. Bend in Rosenberg TX and many friends, family, and industry people attended to pay tribute to our mom and dad. What a legacy!
We’ve been working hard to get Cruse Institute for the Arts ready to open its doors online. The original launch date was set for this August but we’ve pushed it to January 13, 2014. We are still loading content and working out a few bugs in the software to be ready to go. At this writing, we are running a few classes in a soft start status to make sure that everything is ready for the big launch in January. Can you help us spread the word? If you know of anyone looking to further their education experience as anointed worshippers or worship leaders or proclaimers of the gospel, send them to our website, www.cruseinstituteonline.org Whether they are interested in pursuing a degree or just want to take a few classes for personal enrichment, they will be blessed by what is available and with the ever growing information technology, online learning is certainly a viable option these days.
In September, we joined Pastors Jody and Vanessa Cruse for the official launch of their church, Compassion Church, www.mycompassionchurch.com here on the southwest side of Austin. We are very proud of our children. They are doing an amazing job and have a great team of folks around them. If you are ever in the Austin area or know of someone in this area looking for a church, send them our way! The legacy lives on………
Worshipworks Ministries International is preparing for some international travel this fall. October 3-14, we leave for Bangkok Thailand, Chiang Rai, Thailand and Manila Philippines. We will be doing worship conferences, ministers and leaders conferences, nightly revival meetings as well as weekend services. It’s been several years since we’ve been in Asia so we are really looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones as well.
In November, we return to Sao Luis Brazil for a national worship conference hosted by IBA-Igreja Batista do Angelim and dear friends, Pastors Rose and Joaquim Aranha. We were there this past April and what an awesome church these guys have! They are expecting 15,000-20,000 for the November conference. Thank you Lord for this wonderful opportunity.
Well—that’s a quick update! We really do covet your prayers for this last part of the year. We are grateful for all God has done through the years, but we truly believe our best and most fruitful days are still ahead of us!
In our quiet time this morning, we were meditating on Psalms 40:3-5 and v16 —look at this!
3 He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.
4 Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.
5 O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.
And then verse 16 closes that chapter with—
16May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”
Friends, our mouths are full of praise for our God–He is a faithful God! We are praying for those of you today who stand with us daily in prayer and provision! May you see and experience God’s wonders, plans, and deeds in your lives today.
As always, we want you to know, there is never any pressure but if the Lord leads you to partner with us, you may go to www.wmiglobal.org, click on “contributions” and click “give to WMI”. Your contributions are secure and as always, tax deductible and will enable us to make these trips coming up. Your seed will go with us to Asia and Brazil!
Friends—keep us in your prayers. We love you all and if we are in your area—come see us! There’s nothing like the presence of the Lord!
Joe and Becky Cruse
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! Even though we are in Southern Africa at this writing, we had the chance to see a few of your pictures from your 4th of July celebrations and though we were sad to miss out, it was great to see people coming together to honor our great nation.
We even had a little chance last night, after the evening service, to go out and share a few fireworks with some other Americans here and sing the national anthem! What fun! Yes—there’s a lot wrong with our nation but there’s a lot right about it as well and there are a remnant of people that love God and appreciate the sacrifice of those that have given their lives to secure our liberties and freedoms.
It is in times like these that we are more assured of our mission, The Great Commission, and that we strive to work, “while it is called day” to see many come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to raise up the next generation of worshippers and pastoral leaders to reach a great harvest before He returns!
To catch some of you up to speed, we’ve been working diligently to continue with the mandate God has given us in training up young worshippers and leaders for ministry. Though the Institute for the Arts campus in Austin TX was suspended in September 2011, we’ve been working constantly since that time on the implementation of an online campus that would continue with the “Excellence and the Anointing” call but would reach a broader expanse with capabilities to train anyone, anywhere in the world.
With the help of some dear friends and supporters of this ministry, we are almost ready to open the doors ONCE AGAIN. August 26th, we are launching Cruse Institute for the Arts, an online learning campus. www.cruseinstituteonline.org (it’s a whole new site–enjoy!)
Many have asked, “Is it possible to train worshippers and ministers by way of the Internet? The short answer is YES! Many of our universities in the US now offer online learning such as Berkley School of Music, Full Sail, just to name a few.
Cruse Institute for the Arts is using some of the best technology and software available, combined with the help of local affiliate churches that will oversee the practical application classes, such as Helps Ministry, Worship Lab and Creative Element Classes. Along with these, CIFTA is planning regional worship conferences throughout the year in locations feasible for travel by our students that will enable them to meet their teachers in a live setting and be a part of live worship experiences as well. Students will still receive their Bachelors in Worship Ministry with an Associates Degree in Bible upon completion of their three years of study.
CAN YOU HELP US SPREAD THE WORD? Friends we need you! If you know of young men and women looking for an opportunity to further their Christian Education or even if you don’t know of someone but can share our Twitter and Facebook posts, let’s get the word out about CIFTA! We are believing God for 100 students to begin with us. Because of our time spent in South Africa this year, we are hoping to launch the school there beginning in January 2014.
And hey– the Lord may be speaking to some of you about sponsorship or about sowing seed to help those who can’t afford the full tuition. We get requests all the time for student aid but because the need is so great, we can’t help everyone. If you would like to do so, go to www.wmiglobal.org and click on “contributions”. It would be a great blessing to be able to help those around the world who need our help.
We want to close this update with a passage of scripture from Psalms 33:10-22 NLT. May God have mercy upon these United States of America and great grace and favor upon all we put our hands to for His Kingdoms sake! Be blessed—Ps Joe and Becky Cruse
“The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.
What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people He has chosen as His inheritance.
The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From His throne He observes all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts so He understands everything they do.
The best-equipped army cannot save a king nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory— for all its strength it cannot save you.
But the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love”.
He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.
We put our hope in the Lord, for He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord for our hope is in You alone.
How are you today? It’s been a few weeks since you last heard from us—we are now home from the 10 week mission trip that took us to Brazil, Burundi, Zambia and South Africa.
Numbers are hard to collect in meetings like these but conservatively speaking we ministered to well over 150,000 people with thousands of people coming to the altar for salvation, rededication, or assurance. Many received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, were healed, set free and delivered! These numbers do not even take into consideration the nights we ministered for TBN Africa; however, tens of millions were viewing the One Voice Worship Conference and countless lives were changed. TO GOD BE THE GLORY GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!
This past week, we were blessed to minister for our dear friends, Pastors Phil and Evelyn Ward and the wonderful family @ The River of Jacksonville Church. What a powerful time in the presence of the Lord—we know many went to new levels in their worship and in their walk with the Lord.
Some of the testimonies from the meetings– A woman’s ears were opened, one young girl was healed of swimmers ear and a man was set totally free from depression. A lovely young couple, baby Christians, expressed experiencing the power of God like they never had before and believed God was doing a new work in their lives and their marriage! Again, we can never know all that the Lord does– these were testimonies given by a few folks in one of the night meetings. HALLELUJAH!
What’s on the horizon for WMI? So glad you asked! Sunday June 23rd @ 10:30 am and 6:30 pm, we have the privilege of doing a day of worship with all of our children, (Jody, Vanessa, Ryan, Tressa, Allison, and Austin and all the grandkids) @ Winter Haven Worship Center, Winter Haven FL. www.whwc.org with Pastors Jeff and Kim Connor. We don’t get to minister together as often as we once did. We believe this is going to be a very powerful and special time together in the presence of the Lord and on Sunday night, we are going to be praying over families. Why don’t you make plans to join us? Folks in Florida have always been a blessing to our family and we look forward to seeing so many of you that have blessed us through the years!
And the next few months promise to be just as exciting as the past few. We actually return to South Africa for 2 more weeks of ministry June 27-July 9. Two churches in Durban and Cape Town, have invited us to be apart of their winter conferences and we are believing God for an impartation of worship and the supernatural for salvation, healing and deliverance as we go. We do covet your prayers as we return to the African continent once more.
July 13th-15th, we join Pastors Parris and Frank Bailey @ Victory Fellowship in Metairie, LA for their summer worship conference and then return to City Worship Centre Kilmarnock VA with Pastors Mike and Lesley Gates July 19th-21st. They are doing a marvelous job in the Northern Neck of VA and then we get to spend a few days with our dear friends, Drs. Rodney and Adonica Howard-Browne for Summer Campmeeting July 22nd-28th.
In August, we are “full on” in final preparations for the launching of the online worship school, Cruse Institute for the Arts, www.cruseinstituteonline.org. on August 26th. This next phase of training young worshippers is going to a whole new level. The new website will launch within the next two weeks and well……..we are anticipating an explosion! We will be blitzing social media in the month of August so help us spread the word. The latest internet technology has been made available to us and the new teachers for this coming year are some of the most talented, yet most anointed we’ve ever had! We ask for your prayers as we add the finishing touches, work out the kinks and prepare to carry on with the mandate of “putting what God put in us into the hands and hearts of the next generation!”
Whewww…we just don’t let any grass grow under our feet! You know, there’s too much to do and too many lives to see changed. Will you help us? First, pray for us. It means so much to us—it’s great to get the prayer requests and the praise reports. We are going to share one praise report that came in via FB at the end of this letter. Secondly, thank you to those that continue to sow into the vision of WMI, but perhaps the Lord is speaking to you to partner with us. Those that sowed into the Africa trip—you have a harvest of blessing coming your way!!!! We can honestly say, this ministry is good and fertile ground to sow into and only heaven will record and account for the harvest but the Lord may be speaking to some of you to sow into the lives of young people regarding the school.
We have many young people, here and overseas that are asking about scholarship availabilities and at this point, we are not able to scholarship students. Also, we have quite a few more international trips on the calendar for the rest of the year– Whatever He tells you to do, do it! Of course you know there is never any pressure from us. We just always like to give people the opportunity if God speaks to them. You may go to www.wmiglobal.org click on “contributions”, and click “give to WMI. Your giving is secure and tax deductible.
Well—we better close and get this posted! Check out the testimony that came in just yesterday! It blessed us and we know it will bless you. We are praying for you and send love and blessings your way this day!–Ps Joe and Becky Cruse
“Dearest Joe and Becky–I cannot put into words how your CD’s have blessed me. They have transported me to a whole new level of Praise, Worship and Soaking. I pray that the Lord will continue to use you both, to lead His Precious Bride into the Holy of Holies. You are a blessing to the Body of Christ. Thank you for your ministry. I am looking forward to your next visit to East London, SA. God Bless you and your family. Love juliexx”
Hello Friends—Greetings in the wonderful and all powerful Name of Jesus!
We are writing to you today from a small but growing country in East Africa called Burundi. We are in the capital city, Bujumbura (about 800,000 pop) for a conference/revival with Living Church of Jesus Christ, with Pastors Edmond and Faith Kivuye. We met Pastor Edmond, back in January, through our friends–Pastors Phil and Sharon Smethurst. For many years, they told us about the church here and in our hearts, we knew that one day, we would come. In January, when he found out we would be in South Africa, Pastor Edmond extended a formal invitation to join them for conference and here we are.
The nation was originally settled by the country of Belgium, yet has a very strong French influence. Many wars and factions have been here, especially in the last 15-20 years. In fact, Pastor Edmond was arrested 10 years ago and accused of building his own militia. The fact of the matter—the government seized his teachings on spiritual warfare, edited out the scripture portions and accused him of setting up a private army. They threw him in jail with horrible conditions and little food or water but by God’s grace, on the 10th day, he was released. On the following Sunday, the church, about 1000 members at the time, grew by 700 in a single Sunday as people came to see the man who stood for righteousness. They were saved, filled with the spirit and joined the church the same day! Today, the building seats around 8,000 people and they are planning on building a 30, 000 seat facility in the near future. (FYI—this past Sunday, it was packed!)
The wars ceased in 2008 when a strong Christian man, His Excellency President Pierre Nkurunziza came into power. He was a former rebel leader living in the bush who hated Christians, actually kidnapping a pastor from Bujumbura. The pastor’s Bible was confiscated, and through a series of events, then rebel leader Pierre at the time, got a hold of the Bible, read it and accepted the Lord. He was so hungry for God and so willing to live for Him. He forsook all and followed the Lord. In a very short time he found great favor among the people and when time for the elections came, they asked him to serve as the country’s leader. He was voted in and sits in the highest office in the land even today. His Excellency is a mighty man—a warrior and a passionate worshipper. He attended our service this past Sunday. In fact, he brought one of the choirs from his palace (there are 3 that lead p/w 24 hrs a day 7 days a week) and spent some time leading us in worship. (The tears fall as I write even now—the anointing was powerful!) We felt as though we were seeing King David—he worshipped with total abandonment! The President’s wife is an ordained minister, a powerful teacher, and was the main speaker at the Ladies Conference here just a few weeks ago.
Living Church of Jesus Christ is quite unlike any church we’ve ever seen in Africa before. The African people definitely know how to celebrate and celebrate they do, but very few seem to understand the power of intimate and personal worship. However, this church is quite different. They love to linger in the presence of the Lord with Ps Edmond who is quite the worship leader as well. Much of the ministry here flows out of worship and the people stand long hours in the presence of the Lord, unhurried by time or obligation.
This morning, we had the privilege of leading the 6AM prayer service. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we arrived at the church to the sounds of people already in worship and prayer (probably around 750-1000 in attendance). Friends, it’s really hard to put in natural words the sights, the sounds, the feelings we’ve experienced.
Somehow, when we compare the church here with the American church—words can’t really describe. The people of Burundi really have so little of the natural things, but they are such happy, caring, giving people. The church is a bright spot for many here. It houses several schools, a clinic on the grounds, 2 fully operating hospitals in the city and multiple orphanages to care for children with no parents. When the people come to church, they worship the Lord with all their might, fellowship with the family, and love with a pureness and a sweetness that is beyond description. At this point, it is hard to write…I’m thankful to have had the privilege to see and experience for myself, this amazing place. As an emerging country, with a President that honors God, there are no limits to what God has in store for Burundi.
We have four more services before leaving on Thursday, but already, our hearts are full and we know that God brought us here…not because Burundi needed us but because we needed Burundi. We needed to experience His presence, far from the trappings and time constraints that we American’s live with. Yes, God can still move without air conditioning, kids church or nurseries, amazing sound, smoke and lights. He dwells among those who are hungry for Him and those who take time to honor Him. We are forever changed. It was worth every dime, it was worth leaving family, it was worth it all.
Thank you for those who made it possible for us to come. May the fruit of the ministry of WMI come to your account. Will we return you might ask? ABSOLUTELY! And maybe, just maybe some of you will want to come and experience a bit of heaven on earth—Burundi? Yes—Burundi. “Thank You Lord for opening the doors to come and experience your presence and your power with the beautiful family here. Only heaven and eternity will record what has transpired over these few days. Our words fall short when we think of how you’ve blessed us to worship with your people here in the continent of Africa. God, have mercy on America. Turn the hearts of our nation back to you. We trust you Lord! Our eyes are on you and our hearts are full of thanksgiving because you O Lord are worthy to receive all the glory, all the honor and all the praise”. AMEN!
Until next time—
Pastor Joe and Becky