Pressing on to the best yet!
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
Heidi and I are back in Pemba after traveling since January on an intense ministry schedule that has taken us all over Asia, to Europe and across Africa. It has been a thrill to see the power of God fall on hungry believers all over the world. The Body of Christ is getting more and more desperate for God, willing to pay any price to experience His presence and companionship. There is no pleasure like walking and talking with Him, leaning on Him alone for every possible care and desire of our hearts.
How much more of Him do we want? He is able and willing to pour out His Spirit without measure. May we never lose our appetite for more righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! All these are found only in our magnificent Savior, with all the intensity and fire of the author of life Himself!
This is not the time to be hindered by doubts, divisions and politics in the church. We don’t have room for worrying about titles, positions, credits and recognition. We can’t be bothered with concerns over support and publicity. We don’t know how to engineer and program revival. We are dependent on our God like humble little children. What we have already seen and heard has raised our expectations to new heights. He is able to keep us, and finish what He began in us. We can trust Him with our hearts, our spirits, our health, anything that has to do with our well-being.
His power among us knows no limits. He baptizes us with His Spirit, and all things are possible when that happens. Deep conviction and repentance, sobs of love and gratitude, tongues and prophecy, waves of heat, purest peace and refreshment, super hunger for the Word of God, visions and visitation, revelation, healing, floods of heavenly joy, insatiable longing, wrenching intercession, singing in the Spirit, angels all around, weakness under the tangible, heavy weight of His Glory, a sense of wonder and awe at His presence…
We love His gifts, and all the touches and demonstrations of His love. They all propel us toward that ineffable goal written of by Christian mystics for centuries: union with God! “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). When fruits of character are joined by gifts of power, truly our lives reflect His glory and presence. We need His love in our hearts. We also need His anointing to accomplish anything. We need both Word and Spirit.
We are still learning to go lower still, which is the only way forward. And we are still learning to stop for the one, in the middle of a sea of need. We are still learning what it means to be a friend of God, and value fellowship with Him and each other above all else. We are not professional, high-power, efficient missionary machines. We measure the quality of our lives by the depth of our relationships. We are learning to love…
We can’t talk about all the things we saw and did, and places we went, but we can say that we sense a rising tide of desire for God that is opening the way to revival that will increasingly transform the nations of Asia. Ministry opportunity is huge. The multitudes are ready. The time is ripe for harvest. Time after time we saw crowds of the hungry and desperate surge forward to be touched and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Churches were incredibly generous to us in helping with the needs of the poor.
We were especially encouraged by churches in Singapore and Korea, with whom we have developed close relationships over the years. They were so fervent, responsive and eager to help. We also had a terrific time in Taiwan, where I spent so many years growing up in school. This is Taiwan’s hour. There is a stirring and rising up that is fresh and exciting. We took part in a major conference in the Taipei Arena that was an historic milestone for the church. May such hunger and seeking after God be met with more and more outpourings of the Spirit.
BACK TO PEMBA
We made it back in time for our monthly party on the beach for all our children with birthdays in January. Again they were thrilled to race and play, kicking soccer balls and doing flips in the sand. We celebrated with cake and Coke, and lots of presents. They love to pray and worship too, and so we are hugely grateful to Jesus for transforming and enriching their lives thoroughly in every way.
We also had time to revisit Londo, where we are pioneering ministry to a village that can only be reached by boat. Again they greeted our arrival on the beach with excited jumping, waving and laughter. Transformation has come to their isolated habitat. Now we have a school/church there, solar Bibles, a teacher, schoolbooks and pens for the children, and most importantly, a knowledge of the Lord! It was a joy to meet with them, and teach and pray with them far into the night. On the floor, in the light of one dim bulb, powered by our generator, we felt the rich presence of the Lord invade their joyous hearts. Later, drifting off to sleep in prayer on our rope bed in our very own mud-grass hut, we considered how much wealth Jesus has brought to this simple, bare, primitive village. Every child and believer here is just as important as any mega-achieving, influential personality in the West.
It was great to wake up in the morning and emerge to beautiful skies, a gorgeous ocean, and a village full of people who have become family. Simply relating to them in the Lord is the stuff of the Kingdom! They of course also need the power of God in every way, and every day, so we continue to pray for their extreme needs. In Jesus we will keep ministering to them in word and action, and also to others in our over one thousand churches among this last people group to be reached in Mozambique.
ON TO SUDAN
I made my first and very significant visit to our base in Yei, Sudan, led by our young, energetic, anointed and very happy Michele Perry, director of Iris South Sudan. Yei is not much more than a collection of dirt roads and shacks (see photos!), and the south of Sudan is barely functional, severely diminished by many years of war, but to us it is an exciting frontier that is showing what only God can do.
In the bush near Yei, Michele and her missionary friends and national helpers have built an attractive children’s village and primary school that is our leading Iris ministry in southern Sudan so far. Through faith in God they have persevered though hardships, threats and dangers of all kinds, and now have a center full of the love and presence of God. Here, as in Mozambique, needy children have been gathered into the Father’s heart, and now are filled and thrilled with the life of God. Their brilliant smiles, laughter, worship and play are a portent of the life of heaven from a child’s point of view. We keep learning how to be as humble and believing as a child…
We held a conference for Iris pastors and leaders from around southern Sudan, and any who wanted to join us in seeking the Lord together. Their eyes were opened in a fresh way to the fire and presence of the Holy Spirit, and they widened their hearts to receive all the teaching we could bring them in a few days. Ernest, broken crying out to God on the floor was combined with an upbeat taste of the joy of the Lord. Intensity, freedom and abandonment began to replace programmed order in a way they had not seen before. Knowledge of the head became knowledge of the heart… To top it off, God multiplied food when a hundred unexpected children showed up at a lunch. Everyone had plenty, and a lot was left over!
Religious legalism, restrictive tradition and doctrinal confusion have crept into traditional churches over the years, even in the bush, and nominal Christianity is often the norm. Righteousness and the purifying fire of God must overcome corruption and profiteering in the church all over Africa. By example leaders need to resist strongly and categorically the witchcraft that is so prevalent, and even mixed deceitfully into the church. In this conference we took up the challenge to pursue the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
We are proud of our Iris family in Sudan, and will count it a privilege to encourage them all the more as we pursue revival all over Africa.
POURING ON THE FIRE, LOVE AND JOY BACK IN PEMBA
Heidi was ministering with great grace, favor and the presence of the Lord in Switzerland and France while I was in Sudan. We returned to Pemba and thoroughly enjoyed ministering again to our own family here in our “hometown.” It is a rich experience to watch local Mozambican mamas with their babies and brightly-colored clothes pray their hearts out at the altar along with our missionaries, staff and many children. Jesus knows just exactly how to touch each one with what they need at the moment. We will not be satisfied until every one we encounter is saved, filled and healed!
Just yesterday we dedicated yet another new village church near us along the ocean. It was a rough ride over a very rutted dirt road in our Land Rover, but we arrived in the village to find an excited band of believers waiting eagerly for us. They were so proud of their new mud and thatch building. From the youngest to the oldest they all celebrated and praised God with bright, laughing faces. We prayed the Lord’s richest blessing on them, dedicating the building, the pastor, the people and the whole village to the service of God. This a significant breakthrough, because earlier this village was very opposed to the gospel and Heidi was stoned there. After a deaf man heard they dropped their rocks and slowly opened their hearts to the Lord Jesus. And so the family of God is growing in this whole province, one simple church at a time.
After the dedication, we all began filing down a footpath to the beach for some baptisms in the ocean. It was a brilliant African day, with dazzling cloud formations spanning deep blue sky over an even deeper blue and very warm ocean. As our faithful onlookers sang and danced on the sand, one by one our new believers waded out to Heidi and our Mozambican pastors and were baptized. With upraised arms and shouts of joy they came out of the water, consciences washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. New creatures, created in Christ Jesus for good works! Overcomers, heirs of the promises, destined for glory and eternal life! Heidi said the water was hotter than a bath, and she got stung by many little sea creatures, but it was worth it!
Our stirred and contented party returned through bushes and trees back to the village, and everyone feasted on beans and rice for lunch, hot and appetizing by now. Spiritually and physically fed, the village is ready to press on in Jesus. Remoteness and poverty will not marginalize this resting place of the Holy Spirit. May “the least of these” receive the best…
For thirty years Heidi and I have depended on God to bring us support without our pressuring anyone. And all these years we have stood amazed by His faithfulness and your sensitivity and tangible love. We thank you yet again for believing in what we are doing in God, and for continuing to give, encourage and help in every way possible, no matter what is happening or how often you hear from us.
God is expanding Iris Ministries in response to exponentially growing opportunities around the world. And we are thinking not just of evangelism, spiritual revival and child care, but also development and economic transformation. Child sponsorship, micro-investment, business startups, well drilling and so many other things are part of our larger outlook, and offer new opportunities for service. As a new website is being developed we want to present these things to you in a more accessible way. Please write for details.
Bless you for your huge encouragement! We are looking for what may be credited to your account!
Much love in Jesus,
Rolland and Heidi