I've just returned from my trip to Yalta in Ukraine. I thought it would be good to feed back some reflections on my time away. Yalta Prayer Base is led by a great couple called Kostya & Vika Belyev. They have an incredible vision to develop YPB as a "City of Refuge" - a place where worship and intercession goes up 24 hours a day, seven days a week and changes the spiritual atmosphere of their region. They also have a vision to plant Houses of Prayer throughout Ukraine and beyond. They are a pioneer apostolic centre and it's been a privilege to be part of the unfolding of their vision.
You will find a number of references to people's names, here's who they are:
Michael Ball, Lizzie Bhatia, Tsitsi Danga, Cathy Taylor, Alice Anderson & Adam Walsh
Olga (translator - amazing!), Sveta (worship leader - amazing!)
As I stood up to speak, the Lord said to pray for people who had pain - about 30-40 people stood and I asked the team to go and pray for them. After a few minutes, many of the people said that their pain had completely gone - others said 50% or 90%. We prayed for quite a long time and some carried on praying after I began to speak.
I spoke about the dream of the angels from the pool then spoke about the incident at the Pool of Bethesda.
In the ministry time, we prayed for a release of healing anointing and people come forward to receive as they responded to the manifestation of the Spirit on their bodies.
I spoke about Mary of Bethany and Extravagant Devotion to Jesus - intimacy basically.
I asked people to come forward who felt the Lord was speaking to them about a “Mary of Bethany” calling - sitting at his feet, listening to his word and living a life of extravagant devotion to Jesus (breaking the jar of perfume). About 40-50 people came forward - most of whom were people already connected to Yalta Prayer Base - and there was a powerful manifestation of the HS - people on the floor, laughter, people all over the place. This went on for quite a while and people just wanted to stay in the presence of Jesus.
Then we gave people the opportunity to receive prayer for healing and many responded.
I spoke about Matthew 18 and the things that undermine our spiritual authority - especially that issues in people’s lives can affect our ability to experience the presence of Jesus, agree in prayer and ‘binding & loosing’ (bringing heaven down to earth) - referred back to Matthew 16 and the fact that Jesus said he would build his church (briefly touched on what ‘Ekklesia’ means)
Then I felt the Lord said I should speak to them about giving and breaking the spirit of poverty - after a few minutes I thought “Why am I talking about this, how is it relevant to the rest of what I’m saying?)
Vika told me afterwards that they had been praying on Saturday about the finances for the next stage of the development and really felt the Lord said that they should set an example because he wanted the people to give - so the challenge had to go out. The problem was that none of them wanted to be the one to speak about giving! They were blown away by the fact that the Lord spoke about it through me even though I wasn’t aware of what had happened the day before.
The ministry again focused on healing - I shared some words of knowledge and then asked people to respond. Again, about 30 people responded and the team did a good job of praying for them.
One word I had was about someone with a scar on the right side of their lower abdomen - maybe from surgery. One lady responded and was pointing down to where I had pointed. Apparently, Olga had translated it as and “appendix scar”, even though I hadn’t said that. This lady asked if she could talk to me and Olga after lunch. She said she doesn’t have an appendix scar, but what she was saying was that sometimes she feels like an appendix - not much use and a bit of an inconvenience. She said she found it hard because “I just pray”. I told her that ‘just’ and ‘pray’ should never appear in the same sentence and she just sobbed as we prayed for her. She said she knew that this was her calling, but found it hard when she had been so active when she had a ‘proper job’.
I spoke about priesthood and David’s call to be a priest (ministry to the Lord) before a king (ministry to the people). Also that the Great Commandment comes way before the Great Commission and that we have no right to throw ourselves into ‘activity’ if it doesn’t spring out of being in God’s presence.
In the ministry time I encouraged people to stand in the presence of the Lord and let him speak to them. This went on for ages and people really stayed in the presence as the team went round and prayed for them.
In the afternoon my phone rang and the number was +88888888 - eight eights. I decided not to answer it because it didn’t seem like a real number. I thought no more about it. Here's a photo of it from my phone:
Michael led worship, Sveta played keyboard and Lizzie sang. Worship went on for nearly two hours and it was really powerful. As I got up to speak, I was really conscious of the weight of God’s presence at the front. I was overwhelmed and I felt like if I spoke I would interrupt what God was doing. So I just stood there for about 10 minutes. The more I stood silent, the more heavy the presence of the Lord felt - then I started to cry - first just tears running down my face, then actually crying. I actually felt scared of saying anything and eventually I got down on the floor on my face - when I looked around Olga was also on the floor and people all over the room were kneeling or just sitting - many of them crying too.
Vika came over and asked what I thought we should do and I said, “nothing yet” - I still felt that to say or do anything would break the moment.
Then I remembered the missed call - 8x8 - 8 being new beginnings - maybe 8 8’s meant the Lord was really saying that this was a major turning point for the Yalta Prayer Base - that nothing was going to be the same again and that it was now OK to speak and tell people about the missed phone call.
Vika also said she thought two angels had come as well.
I asked Kostya & Vika to come forward so we could minister to them first - that was a powerful ministry time. Then I asked for all the people who live on the base to come forward (there are about 16 people) so we prayed for them. Then I asked for people who don’t live on the base, but who see themselves as part of the Yalta Prayer Base to come forward and there were about 50 in all.
This led into a powerful, very noisy ministry time with people all over the place - shaking, falling over, laughing, crying etc. Some time into this I saw Tsitsi sitting on the front row shaking and crying - I felt that a spirit of intercession had come upon her so I asked her to come forward and pray - that brought things up a notch or two! I videoed her praying!
Then Lizzie came up to play keyboard and sing (I had asked her beforehand to do this) - Sveta joined her to sing in Russian and later Michael went up and played guitar. This went on for ages (probably until about 10:30pm) - people just didn't want to leave. Lizzie did really well and I thanked her afterwards.
Towards the end, I just went to the back, sat down and prayed. Quite a number of people came over and laid hands on me and prayed. I just felt overwhelmed by what God was doing.
On Tuesday morning over breakfast, the team shared their reflections on the evening - most had never really experienced anything like it and felt overwhelmed. One of the team said he has never been in a situation where there has been consistently so much verifiable healings taking place.
I spoke from Ezekiel 47 about the river running from the Temple - starting ankle deep, then knee deep, then waist deep - finally “in over your head”! I suggested that all of the stages that the ‘faceless man’ was beckoning Ezekiel forward to had great significance - from ankle deep (beginning of salvation), to knee deep (a call to prayer), to waist deep (a call to intimacy). The concept of being “in over your head” or being “swept off your feet” implies that the only way in is through falling in love with Jesus. Also, that when someone is in water which is over their head and their feet can’t touch the bottom, all you can see is the head! We have often venerated the church rather than the head of the church (Jesus) and that has to change for us to go deeper into the things of God
Jesus is also in the process of dealing with control issues in the church (when you’re in that kind of deep water, you’re out of control!) and the ‘political spirit’ that often has the church in its grip.
In the ministry time I encouraged people to ‘get into the river’! Practically the whole group came forward and soaked in the presence of God - the team went round and blessed what God was doing and we got back into worship.