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Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8)


New Hope For A New Chapter

Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch

25 November 2005




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I watched with mixed feelings - more sadness than relief - as the last team member disappeared inside the airport, and got into our rented car one last time before it is being returned. I took Emma home and returned home myself, parking it one last time inside our compound. How I'd miss being mobile, being able to go anywhere anytime and easily. How much easier life is with a car! How much more we could accomplish!

On my way inside the house, I talked to Seybou, my guard, who has come to the Lord this past year and will be baptized on Sunday. He told me that he had tears in his eyes when Cliff left and that he'd miss everyone. Inside the house, there was now only Marie left. Not too many days ago, 6 people lived here, and a couple more were around all the time. Marie also said how much she'd miss everyone.

Yes, while relieved that the intense time is over, I'll also miss "the guys" around here. It truly was a special time, and a time where thre pressure of my responsibilities as a leader were somewhat off me; a time when people interacted with Cliff and the other 3 team members while I contented myself in the role of the interpreter (since I interpreted from morning till evening, I even continued doing so in my dreams); it was a time where I saw again how needed, how important, how powerful it is to have a "man in the house", for people to have a male role model, for my own team, the young men I'm raising up, to have seasoned men of God to look up to. They all made the most of the days they had, gleaning everything they could and just soaking it up.

When Cliff had given his last message, done his last meeting, it suddenly became calm for the first time in 3 months. There had been so much "noise" in the spirit realm, as if there was constant fighting going on around me in the invisible realm, as if the powers of darkness were constantly stabbing at me, and then suddenly it was simply quiet. It was over. So silent. Like the other team members, I've never had such warfare before. I've never been constantly sick for 2 months, one thing following another, then having the worst flu in Bamako during the campaign week, and while still recovering, suffering from a "relapse" of the issue I went to the doctor for in Paris, that weakened me while in Timbuktu. Back in Bamako, the ministry over, that issue simply disappeared, the effects of the flu are gone (except for some ear problems), and only tiredness remains.

Only just over 24 hours ago, that tiredness was not only physical, but also spiritual and emotional, as I had poured out everything I had, leaving me with nothing left but the question of how to continue. I had done the work of 3 people during the 2 months leading up to the team's visit, and then just kept going from morning till evening, serving, interpreting, taking the punches from all side as the buffer, the only one able to translate from French to English and vice verse, whether preaching or shopping, whether words of encouragement or anger, trying to smooth things, to find solutions, clear up misunderstandings. And I loved it, I gave my all, but inside my hunger for God kept increasing, my cries to God kept going up, my fear of being the one person remaining unchanged after the team's departure increasing. I was discouraged, certain expectations weren't met, and it seemed that everything would just continue the way it was before, the same struggles and frustrations with people, and maybe not even any new people added to our family. Truly, Mali is not East Africa. Cliff himself was surprised to see "so little".

Yet, while we haven't seen much, not many conversions, healings, deliverances etc., we all agreed that a lot was accomplished in the invisible realm. A foundation was laid that will prove invaluable and crucial in the future.

And then the Lord remembered me.

While I was empty and tired, getting ready to take up our regular activities with the last team member Alex gone, having accepted the fact that nothing had changed in me and that the same struggles would continue, the Lord reached out with his loving arm to touch his daughter on the last night before Alex's departure. He touched me as I cried out in desperation for more of Him; He touched me as I cried out for hope; He touched me as I cried out for faith; He touched me as I confessed all my weaknesses to Him and threw myself into His arms.

Thursday nights we have Bible School. I had asked Alex to teach last night. I was going to lead worship for half an hour before handing it to him, and he would teach for 3 hours. However, God had other plans. Instead of half an hour, worship lasted an hour and a half. While praising God, the hunger inside me grew, as well as the joy, and His presence came down on us. As we were worshiping Him, I started going into an extended time of prophetic singing that seemed to open the heavens. Alex was visibly touched deeply by the Lord, and so was I. Simeon, Paul and Marie were also there. The Lord gave me new songs, new melodies, as we were worshiping in Spirit and truth. When we finally made ourselves stop (and I was losing my voice by then), Alex started sharing what God had shown him. That God had heard my cries, and that we were to build an altar for Him, to consecrate this place, this church to Him. He turned to 2 Chronicles 6 - a passage I know well - and because of the significance of 2 Chr 7:1 in my life, I knew God Himself was speaking and I started trembling inside, moved by His presence, my voice breaking more and more because of His goodness. We anointed the floor with oil and "erected" an altar to the Lord, breaking the curses on the land and all the strongholds of the enemy, consecrating the ground and the house to the Lord. I read 2 Chr 6 and everyone of us prayed. In fact, I was so moved by then I had to speak up and tell everyone the significance of 2 Chr 7:1 (see my 10-day visitation in Oct 2001 that started with this verse - click here). Then I prayed from the bottom of my heart, consecrating everything to Him, and asking Him to come down with His consuming fire and with His glory. I was on my knees, nothing of me left, wanting only Him. Alex stretched out on the floor, and I picked up the guitar again, singing prophetically, and praying, pouring my heart out to Him. I cried out in desperation, telling God I would not, I could not, go another step without His presence, I could not continue the way it has been, that I was sick and tired of not seeing people healed, of preaching to closed hearts, of not seeing people saved, of not seeing them delivered, of not seeing them changed, of not seeing His presence and glory come down. If You don't go with us, then I won't go another step. I prayed for this Sunday, our first anniversary service and celebration, asking God to come down. And Alex confirmed that this was a new day for us, for me, for the church, that a new chapter had started. Would I dare believe it? Could I have hope again? Could it really be true this time? I threw myself into the Father's arms.

I believe last night was very significant. The Lord visited me, renewed me, restored my hope, restored my intimacy with Him, lifted my face to look at HIM alone again, and not at myself, all my weaknesses and shortcomings, neither on all the weaknesses and shortcomings of my leadership team. Alex received Isa 43:18-19 which greatly encouraged me:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Amen, Lord!

So, please pray for our big celebration this Sunday.

Also, I feel like it's time to appropriate the car God has in store for us. In summer I felt like the car was close, and I believed even then it would come before the end of the year. There were several items I prayed to have for the past two years, and I believe it's significant that the Lord released and enabled me to buy 3 of the 4 items yesterday (like a deskchair) - partly thanks to having a car to transport them home. Now there is only one item remaining on the list: the car. And our whole team feels more than ever the necessity and urgency for it, even Alex agreed it was at hand.

Now we have our official papers, being recognized by the government, and we're starting the process of requesting a plot of land. The car is becoming more and more a necessity. Even during the prophetic worship yesterday, the Lord was saying, "Is anything too difficult for Me? Is there anything impossible for Me?" NOTHING.

So, I'm expecting the impossible, I'm expecting the Lord to move and display His glory and power, to make His name great among even the Muslim community that knows we're expecting the Lord to provide this car. I don't know how the Lord will do it. A decent car costs a minimum of $20,000 (17.000 EUR).

To HIM be all the glory! To HIM be all the honor! To HIM be all the praise! He is so worthy of all our adoration! There is NONE like HIM! He is able! He is glorious! He is beautiful! He is marvelous! He is stunning! He is extravagant! And He loves me. And you. And He chooses each one of us to display His glory, in spite of all our weaknesses!

Let's fix our eyes on HIM, the author and finisher of our faith, and everything else will fall into place!

HIS alone,