over the past 10 weeks of traveling and ministry, and the last ten days in
Toronto which were rather hard, I'm amazed at God's ways which are truly
higher than our ways. I'm amazed at all He has done, and I'm amazed at what
measures He goes to to make a course-direction in our lives, and to answer
many months of prayer. I'm amazed at the way He is orchestrating everything,
the way He puts every little detail together, and all to accomplish His
purposes for His kingdom, and to glorify HIMSELF in the midst of it. All we
have to do be willing vessels, ready to follow Him anywhere anytime, life a
leaf in the wind that can be blown anywhere, carried by the wind.
Looking back over the ten days in
Toronto, I now see the one significant reason why I was there, and there
might even be a second one.
It was a traumatic experience on July
10, being questioned like a criminal, videotaped, and denied entry into a
country - a country that had become my home (my crime), where my friends and
the family He has given me are. Having a cold, being tired, jetlag, after
traveling for 8 weeks and staying in 6 different places, it seemed like I
could not take that blow that came so unexpectedly - while it had always been
a real possibility.
But God had a plan, and a few e-mails
I received confirmed that there was a reason for my being there. I decided to
stay for the conference at TACF, which was the following week, wondering
whether God had something for me there. Yet, it wasn't the conference.
For months I had been asking the Lord
the question as to how exactly I would go to Mali, what it would like
practically. I didn't seem to have any clear answer, anything concrete,
that's how I scheduled the "fact-finding" trip for Oct/Nov. Yet, a
few months ago, when asking about Mali, the Lord said to me, "What are
you waiting for?" And I was recently reminded of what somebody close to
me once said, "You might be in Mali sooner than you think."
So the Lord set me up to be stranded
in Toronto to connect me with M., a missionary to Africa, and give me the
answers I had been looking for. While talking to her, with her experience of
living in Africa for over 10 years, one by one the answers came. And then...
But why, Lord, did it have to be
that dramatic? Why couldn't You have simply told me go to Toronto for a few
days and connect with M.?
Sometimes we have to go through
painful things to prevent the more painful ones. Like a parent taking his kid
to a doctor, knowing his child will be hurt, but not doing anything would ultimately
make the treatment a lot more painful. Yes, God could have simply told me to
go to Toronto. Yet, looking back, it was actually important to have that
encounter with the INS officer.
First of all, the miracle of one and
a half years ago, when I was readmitted to the US at Christmas in spite of an
expired visa, got even bigger since they should never have done that - and
that was a few months after 9/11.
Secondly, it is thanks to that
"mistake" that I was "pardoned" of having been in the States
illegally the following one and a half years, so that there are no
consequences for me or anybody. Without that "mistake", I would
have been prosecuted, my entry rights withdrawn, my records stained, and who
knows what. But God cleared me of all charges.
Thirdly, had I not gone through this,
I would have never known that my records were cleared, always wondering
whether I'd get into trouble or be denied entry, feeling the guilt for what I
never wanted and tried to remedy.
Fourthly, this was just a small
"training" session for the authorities I'll be facing later in
life, maybe for preaching the gospel where it's not well-received.
I'm thankful that the Lord's guidance
was even in that interview with the INS officer. I thank God that I asked
when and how I could enter the States, and got his reply, "tomorrow, if
you can prove you won't stay" (that was the gist of it). I probably
would not have tried again, had he not said that.
So, God's hand was in every step of
this. Even though I was quite a mess physically and emotionally at first, I
was still safe in His big arms, being carried by Him into my destiny He was
about to show the way into dramatically. I could not do anything but
surrender everything to Him - I was His, so it was up to Him where He wanted
me at what time and for how long. A year ago I learned that He was all I
needed (and had), and nothing material in this world, when my computer was
stolen. Pretty much exactly a year later I learned that He was the only place
I needed and had, and that it didn't matter where I was
It was not the conference God had me
in Toronto for. It was His birthday gift to me on my tenth birthday. On
Tuesday, July 15, I turned ten years old in the Lord - what a special day! I
had wanted to spend it with the Lord at IHOP, and was disappointed when I
couldn't. Yet the Lord had a special gift for me (isn't it usually the person
whose birthday it is who gets a gift, rather than the parent?). After 8 years
of praying, of learning, of longing to go, and preparing to do so, He opened
the door. He led me to the website, and hours after sending my e-mail to the
African school, I already had the answer with the "Macedonian
Call". On the night of my birthday, I had the answer to my HOW prayers
and the open door to walk through into my destiny - but what is so much more
significant, His destiny for Mali (well, the small part I play in it).
The more I thought and prayed about
it, the more I felt this was it, the reason for my being there, and the excitement
started growing. Everything just started falling into place - click, click,
click. More pieces of the puzzle. He had been giving me pieces, but I hadn't
had the significant ones, the corner pieces ;-)
Yes, the vision is still so much
bigger than I can handle, the task so huge I can't do it, the months ahead
daunting as my life changes yet again. Yet, what kind of vision would THAT be
if I could do it by myself... I'm absolutely incapable, but He is absolutely
capable. I don't wanna build what I can build. I want HIM to build what HE
wants to build, and I'll just follow HIM, like a little girl her almighty
ENTERING THE US JULY 20
I had told you about how I got my
ticket rescheduled free of charge. Unfortunately, they made me pay $100 for
that at the airport. I was so blessed to be able to get on the same plane as
three friends from Kansas City who had flown up for the conference. They took
the first plane in the morning, which was very early. So early that it was no
use going to bed, since we had to leave the house at 3:30 a.m. I was praying
that the early hour would be to my advantage, maybe a sleepy officer... And
all your many, many prayers were being answered every step of the way. I had
become more and more aware of how absolutely crucial it was for me to get
back to Kansas City for a few more weeks, to bring closure to that chapter of
my life and connect with a number of people (plus more). But I also knew that
whatever the outcome was gonna be, it would be God's will and doing.
Thanks so much for praying. I was
back again at the location of previous week's "trauma", yet there
was peace and a resting in HIM. I was back again in the line in front of the
INS counters, praying I would get to the right officer. It was only 5:30, so
there were fewer officers, and fewer people in line. I looked at the
officers. Last time, I had already seen from the distance how tough the lady
was I ended up with. This time, I already saw from the distance how kind and
friendly the lady was, who I had to be scrutinized by. I gave her my ticket,
passport and the visitor's card I had filled out. On the back of that card,
it asks a number of questions - have you ever been in jail, etc., and ever
been denied entry into the US. If you say yes to any of them, you're in
trouble. I wasn't sure whether to say yes or no, since the officer had
basically just sent me away as if I hadn't even tried entering. So I decided
to leave it blank and pray. How easy would it be for God to blind her eyes to
the missing x! And He did. She did not notice and ask. Nor did she ask when I
had left the US. And she didn't even ask how much money I had (which had been
a big deal last time).
Yet, she did ask questions. She asked
about school, and I ended up having to tell her that last week I had been
told by an officer the week before that I needed proofs on paper before being
able to enter, which I had collected now. Thanks to all those who have sent
faxes!!! I was lacking two significant faxes, but the Lord made sufficient
what I had. She read them, and I told her full of excitement, that I wasn't
even able to stay that long in the US any more, since I had just accepted a
job offer in Africa, and I showed her the printout of two e-mails from Mali. They
were in French, and she complained about that, but read it anyway (did she
understand? I don't know). Finally she got the stamp out, stamped the green
visitor card, stapled it into my passport, and told me I'd better make sure
I'll be out when I said I would. With trembling hands I put the faxes back
into my bag, which seemed to take ages, while I wanted to run to make sure
she wouldn't change her mind. I grabbed my bags, and continued on my way
through customs. When I joined the other three who had long gone through,
tears ran down my face. I was going home! I was really going home! (Well,
this word is politically not correct any more - officially "home"
is in Austria.)
You can probably imagine my relief
and excitement and emotional stir-up on the two flights to Kansas City. When
I got off that plane and stood at the baggage claim belt, tears started
flowing. I was really here! I was about to start three of the most previous
weeks, as I'd meet with friends and say good-bye. And then, three of my
closest friends suddenly appeared. That's when I lost it, hugging, plenty of
tears, and speechlessness because I was so moved. We then went to have lunch
at Dennis' together, which was so special. I was with my family again, I was
with like-minded people, with those who know me best, understand and love me.
I was home, in a safe place, where I can just lean back and be me, even be
weak. How I am going to cherish and savor every single minute of these 3-4
And I'm starting to see more of why
it's so significant for me to be here for these weeks, besides saying
good-bye. I will let you know more as soon as I can.
The next 3-4 weeks will be spent with
meeting people, ministering at the Healing Rooms at IHOP (like today),
sorting through my stuff getting rid of much and packing what needs to be
sent to Mali. I also have to write probably my most significant paper
newsletter, plus putting down my vision for Mali and what I'm gonna do, to
inform you and anybody who's interested in supporting the Lord's work there. I
will have to find a few more partners in ministry, and am hoping for more
ministry opportunities. The Lord has been orchestrating everything in such an
amazing way, that I don't even worry in the least bit in how all the money
necessary just for the move to Mali is gonna come in. Unfortunately, I have
to buy a new ticket to Toronto, then have to pay for changing the ticket from
Toronto to Vienna, and I need a ticket from Vienna to Mali. In addition,
shipping stuff is expensive, plus I need to purchase a number of things to
take with me to Mali.
So, I have 3-4 weeks here in Kansas
City, then I'll spend about 3 weeks in Vienna, running errands, taking care
of the visa, and getting ready to leave for Mali in the first half of
September, so I have about 3 weeks in Bamako, the capital of Mali, where I'll
be living and teaching, before school starts October 1.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING IN MALI?
If you wanna take a look at the
school's website, go to http://users.skynet.be/bs974554/Biya/index.htm
The school was started in 1990 by Alassane Maiga, a school teacher who
couldn't find a job. By now, he has three schools in Bamako and one in Timbuktu
(now you know where THAT is), with over 1000 students. The school system in
Mali is very bad - only one third of women are literate, and less than half
the men. Classes usually have 100-140 students, but in this private school,
there are only about 45 students per class. The foreign languages taught in
Mali are usually English and German (French being the colonial and teaching
language). I don't really know why they'd need to learn German, but that's
what they need me to teach. It's ironic that while this is my mother tongue,
it's the language I have taught the least (English the most, then French).
Yet, while this is really exciting,
this is only the door to the country and the people. It's such a great way of
getting to know people - the students and their parents, and be a light to
many more people than you'd usually reach in that time. The vision for my
first year there is to have a small group of believers who gather regularly
by this time next year. Just heal a few people in Jesus' name and lead them
to the Lord...
Yes, I know it's not gonna be easy,
especially the first few months of adapting to my new life. But I have
learned that the Lord is all I need in terms of possessions, and
"geographically". The last two years in Kansas City He has done in
me what I still needed to fulfill my call to Mali. I now have direct access
to the Source, to the Well, having become a channel for His living water and
a carrier of His glory. And I know that I have friends like you who stand
behind me and will be there for me to encourage and pray.
I'm so thankful for each and everyone
of you - and some of you I hardly even know. I'm excited that you share this
special moment with me, this beginning of what He has prepared me for all
those years. In a few decades we'll be looking back to this historic time...
Well, I guess you can tell I'm a
visionary, always seeing the end product. The vision is so big, the things He
is about to do so awesome...
But I won't keep you any longer,
since you have taken time to read so much. One more thing:
TO THOSE IN KANSAS CITY
I want to meet with you before I
leave! Give me a call (number below) and let's arrange a time! I'll also be
at Jill Austin's conference next week.
What an awesome God we have! If He
calls us His friends, we will always know that everything will work out for
our very best, even when it doesn't look like it.
May He shower His love upon you this
Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch
10808 Fremont Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64134
Talk to me online - I'm "healing2thenations":
Your support - whether by prayer or giving - is greatly appreciated.
Bank name: BA/CA
Bank number: 12000
Account number: 509.101.468.00
Online (it will say Glory Webservices):
The fax number is (416) 398 2135 - from Austria,
please don't send it before 2 p.m. because of the time difference!!!
(your name, address, phone number)
To Whom It May Concern,
I, (your name), can personally vouch for Claudia Wintoch, that she has no
intention of staying in the US beyond October, since she will be ministering
back in Austria while preparing to move to West Africa as a missionary in
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.