Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Jamaica Experience

Going to Jamaica was an unexpected surprise. Imagine travelling to a tropical paradise and getting the opportunity to set up a beautiful prayer room! Two of my favorite things to do! But I really had limited time to prepare so I didn’t even have time to get excited! I arrived from a cold Tennessee winter to beautiful hot sunshine, blue skies and fluffy clouds and while waiting at the airport for three hours to be picked up I set my internal clock to the relaxed ‘Island Time’. I was to stay with the family of Pr Robert Vassell which was delightful, his lovely wife Judith cooked the most exquisite Jamaican food – I fell in love with yams, breadfruit, boiled bananas, potato pudding, Akee, and Surrill.

I also had fun helping Julia set up for her sister Judeque’s sweet 16th birthday party. I went with the pastor to a church high up on a mountain and watched him preach for two hours, it was so much fun. He is an incredible preacher and the audience and choir (all wearing matching hats) was getting just as excited as he was. That is how to do church!

I wondered why I was locked inside so much and was told that Jamaica was too dangerous to go for a walk! Everyday I would longingly watch the cruise ships come into the beach until one day I had the opportunity to go with a mission group from the UK to Negril Beach where the water really did feel like liquid Sunshine. I got to see some local art, culture and Rastafarians and enjoy God’s beautiful creation.

Setting up the prayer room for the West Jamaican Conference Camp Meeting was rather challenging but soon it was transformed into a simple and beautiful oasis of tranquility and peace. It had air conditioning which helped the atmosphere quite a bit! When sister Patricia Cole – a Jamaican prayer warrior from Orlando first asked me to go with her she warned me ‘take everything you need for the prayer room’. She was not joking! It was miraculous that we had everything we needed and with a little creativity we designed a beautiful room where people felt comfortable to pray and where God felt at home.

The room was set out as a journey through the Sanctuary. We had the laver where people washed their hands and asked God to give them clean hands and a pure heart, the candles where they invited the Holy Spirit and his fruit and gifts into their lives, and at the incense station watched the smoke of the incense rise to heaven and learned how God loves the fragrant prayers of his people. The Altar had special paper where they wrote down their prayers and placed them in the water and it disappeared to represent that God remembers our sins no more. There were some other stations that encouraged turning our Temple (churches) into Houses of Prayer. At the ‘Listening to God’ station you could take a moment to wait on God – I took little 8 year old Hakim through the prayer room and I asked him if we could spend a minute closing our eyes and listening to God and that just like Samuel God will speak to you. After a little while I asked Hakim if he had heard anything and he said “Yes, I saw God’s hand reaching down and he took mine.” Hakim spent a lot of time in the prayer room as did a lot of other children. There was a place on the ground where they could draw their prayers to Jesus. At the ‘Big Decisions’ station people could ask God the questions they had and ask for direction by tracing their footprint and writing their prayers inside it. The floor was covered in just a few days.

Another station was on ‘Identity’ and as they read Psalms 139 and looked in the mirror they could think about how God has a plan and destiny for them and how much he loves them in fact God is thinking about them every minute of every day even while they are sleeping! They could put their unique fingerprint in the journal and write a letter to God. This book was filled up very quickly.

There was a station on how Jesus was the Bread broken for us. The cross was filled with hearts as people nailed their hearts in love and commitment to Jesus. Their was a Bowl of Intercession which was filled to overflowing with hundreds of prayers reminding us that we hold each other up in prayer and how much our community needs prayer. Before you entered into the Most Holy Place there was a torn veil in the shape of a heart that you passed through – to show that the veil was not separating you from God any longer – that you now had free access to the heart of the Father. Inside was the Throne Room. Three beautiful colored glass lamps glowed to represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Inside this room you could make a crown out of silver foil and leave it as a gift of worship to God to honor him as the angels do in Revelation crying out “Worthy, Worthy is the Lord God Almighty.” Rev 4.11 says “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

The prayer room was open all day and all night 24 hours a day – the beautiful music and the lighting made it a very special place in the midst of a busy Campmeeting. Often there were lines of people waiting to get into the room. It became very popular.

One day for my morning devotional God gave me a very strange text in Numbers that caused me to ponder. 35:33 " 'Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed… Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell…

Later that day a man was shot a few hundred meters up the road from the prayer room. The blood covered the street. He was left there for quite a while and the traffic was diverted around him. I understood God to be telling me that because of this and other violent acts this land was tragically being cursed. There is a lot of darkness in this land.

So in the prayer room I put up these texts so people could cry out for God to heal their land so God would draw near. Satan can no longer hold this nation captive to evil.
2 Chron 7.13 "… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” This text is so powerful and teaches us how we need to humble ourselves, turn and pray and God will be gracious to us with his blessings. What a generous and loving God.

Several people begged for the prayer room to remain that way all the time. I would love to see more permanent prayer rooms in churches and communities around the world so people could spend time in the presence of God whenever they needed.

Some comments left at the prayer room:

“It as change my life and I pray and hope to remain this way. God is good.”

“Keep up the good work this is indeed like taking a trip to the courts of heaven.”

“In order for one to be revived you must experience the presents of God, how to do that? Visit the prayer room.”

“I love it very much.”

‘It was a wonderful experience further taught how wonderful our God is and how often we fail him.”

“It was an amazing experience for which I am grateful.”

“It was wonderful. It has really changed my life.”

“It was a wonderful and great experience. May God bless you all continually.”