Monday, July 18, 2011

The biggest Miracle of my Life.

I had just left Orlando, Florida, after three years in full time ministry, to move to my new base of Chattanooga, TN. I remember walking the dogs one evening and sharing with God the deep ache in my heart. I made up my mind in the next three days, no matter what the cost, I was booking a flight home to see my family in Australia. It had been over a year since I last visited and I was heartsick.

The very next day, my friend Reggie, phoned me from Orlando excitedly saying "I wanted to tell you Nicki, I have been given two free tickets to Australia!" I was eager to share that I was going to Australia soon as well and he must come and visit me and my family, but he said, "No, I don't have a passport , I can't go." I was disappointed and amazed at the same time so I asked him if the lady who was offering them to him couldn't find anyone to give them to, then I would be happy to use them!

The next day the telephone rang and Mary asked if I would like the two tickets to Australia. I was shocked beyond words and cried with tears of joy. But I found out there were very strict rules for these tickets; I had to travel with another person and the tickets expired on a certain date in a few weeks. I soon found a friend to go with me then I telephoned the ticket operator and found out that I didn't have to leave so quickly, if I booked the dates before they expired I was still ok! So I ended up booking the exact dates I had planned in my heart.

Ame and I stopped in to Sydney to attend the Hillsong Conference. While in the presence of over 50,000 people singing, I felt like I was in heaven. My heart filled up and overflowed listening to such wonderful worship. What an incredible blessing!

Thomas Austin, born 7.2.1908
While I was in Sydney I stopped off to see my grandfather Thomas Austin. He was staying near to my relatives in a retirement home. At 99 and a half he was as sharp as a tack and still played the piano in his unique flamboyant way. I visited him several times but as I walked around the corner after the last visit I heard a voice speak clearly to my heart, "This is the last time you will see him." I knew who's voice this was and before the tears welled up in my eyes I ran back into his room and asked a friend to take a photo of us. I also asked if he would bless me and he did. This was a happy yet sad moment because I knew that by living so far away in the United States I was cutting myself off from many family gatherings and experiences I treasure so much. So I was able to say a final goodbye to my eccentric grandfather.

I flew to Brisbane and spent wonderful times with my family refreshing my spirit and filling up my tank with love. Three days before I was to leave for Los Angeles, I decided to visit my local church conference office to visit with some of my old youth pastors that meant so much to me growing up and were still good friends. While I was in the office Gilbert Cangy asked me to talk about my ministry of curating Prayer Rooms, at a pastors meeting, and after that he suggested I create a large Prayer Room for the conference coming up in three weeks - Move With The Power II. I told him I was leaving in three days and the ticket was so strict that I couldn't possibly change the dates. He literally put the telephone in front of me and told me to phone QANTAS and ask them. He offered to pay the cost of changing the ticket but he could not pay me for my work of building the Prayer Room.

I made the call and much to my amazement they said that I could extend my ticket if I wanted to pay $200. I was in a little bit of shock. I realized that God was opening a door yet there was one thing that was not quite right. I told Gilbert that God had been speaking to me lately about the difference between being a volunteer and being in full time ministry. He was teaching me that a worker is worthy of payment whereas a volunteer gives of their time and excess for free as a gift. My prayer ministry is full time work and there is no excess to give, because I give everything. God was telling me that to work full time for free was sinning against myself and not following Biblical standards. But Gilbert had no more budget. I listened to God and he told me to accept the offer. I wondered, "How can I work for free without mistreating myself?" I then had a brilliant idea that if I received a donation of $1000 to set up the Prayer Room, I would be getting paid after all. The pastors were very excited and I was at peace.

So I stayed another three weeks! The first week was running around setting up the prayer room. During that week my grandfather was in the hospital because of a fall. In a few days we knew that he was not going to make it and sadly he passed away. The funeral was scheduled for the last Sunday of the conference. I was so overwhelmed that God had kept me in the country just long enough to be with my family at this important time. I was able to support them and be supported. If I had gone back to the US a week before this happened there is no way I could have afforded to return. I would have been heartbroken.

The room was full of people praying.

I finished curating the beautiful Prayer Room. Our aim was to have the conference covered by continuous 24 hour prayer. Soon youth pastors and leaders were streaming in from 11 different countries for the conference. Speakers were flying in from the US. That Friday night I got up on stage and talked about the power of prayer and asked if anyone would like to pray through the night and sign up for a one hour slot. If they wanted a spot they had to come to the front and write down their name. I had people racing to the front to sign up for 2am. It was incredible. The prayer room was full most of the time with up to 12 people praying at 4am in the morning! They were blown away by how a simply decorated room could hold such a powerful presence of God. They also loved the unique prayer stations and how they found it easy to pray for long periods of time in these new and creative ways.

On Sunday I flew to Sydney for the funeral of my grandfather who almost made it to 100. I was able to be there for my family, a few in particular, who were very distraught. The funeral service was actually lots of fun and a happy celebration of his life and love for God. I remember my four year old nephew commenting at the graveside, when my brother told him Grandpa was going to be with Jesus in heaven someday soon, "but that is the wrong way!" It is beyond our comprehension, but I believe as the Bible teaches us, that death is like a deep sleep (Ecc 9:5), we await the resurrection of Jesus' second coming, which to the dead will be the very next thing they see! My grandpa will then be raised to go to heaven with Jesus!

Drawing Prayers.
On their way back to Townsville after the funeral, my brother and nephew, and father and aunt all came to experience the prayer room which was such a blessing to me. But the enormous spiritual warfare was evident as I was being picked up from the airport a tire blew out on our car, and two other leaders from the camp had to leave because of immediate family members passing away. But God won out in the end in miraculous ways. He showed his glory, he showed his love and his compassion. On the last day someone put an envelope in my hands and it contained $1000 cash. I cried as I hadn't even taken the time to pray for the money, I had just believed it would be provided.

My nephew Ethan saying 'I love you' to Jesus.
The Prayer Room was a wonderful experience for so many and the idea of 24-7 prayer and interactive Prayer Rooms spread to many more countries. I was so grateful to God for this opportunity to do more creative prayer ministry, for the free tickets and the opportunity to see my grandfather for the last time. God delayed my leaving so I would not be heartbroken. He allowed me to bless my family. He showed me that he is not only taking care of my body, my food, clothing and housing needs but he is taking care of my heart.

He knows exactly what we need in this life. He knows us inside out. We just have to trust him. Listen to him, follow him and let him hold us in his arms.

Psalm 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."

I am planning to do it all again at Move With The Power III in Brisbane, Australia on August 12-16, 2011. These international conferences only happen once every four years! If you would like to be a financial sponsor please contact me. I also need extensive prayer covering as I make the transition to move back to Australia after seven challenging yet wonderful years in full time ministry in the United States.