As I sit and write this news update, I realise that today, Thanksgiving, is being celebrated in the USA. As life begins to turn into a frenzied state of shopping, preparation and organisation for Christmas it is always a healthy reminder that we have so much to be grateful for in 2018. As this year is in its closing stages, I am sure it has been a time for many blessings mixed with some challenges too.
As I look back at 2018, I have realised this year more than ever that LIFE is not a monorail but a journey of twin tracks. In this season of Thanksgiving, celebrating with family and Christmas – it is a time of mixture for many of us. There is the joy of dreams fulfilled, answers to prayer evidenced and our hope being substantiated. This year we have personally celebrated as our niece got married, rejoiced when our kitchen was refurbished and loved the many stories of people being healed, having babies and living life with fresh hope. We have had many opportunities to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. But we have also had to confront personal health issues, practical harassments – including a computer with our whole world crashing just 2 days before a trip – plus the challenges of helping parents as they get older. Like for you too, I’m sure, this year has had tears too. But I suddenly began to realise these seasons are not separate. Life does not have a PERFECT time when it is only joy and laughter. No, every season of life is tapestried with both joy and tears, hope and disappointment. Life is a journey of TWIN TRACKS and we need to learn to laugh with those who laugh while at the same time crying with those who hurt. We need to recognise this tension in our own lives and then, as we come and give thanks for 2018, we will find a new expression of gratitude. We will be able to recognise that in the midst of every season of difficulty there was also a twin track of goodness. This year we will have all lived through the times of sweet and sour – the circumstances that trigger great joy and those filled with sorrow. Life is never just tough – there is always the window of hope with good news even in the midst of hardship!
Gordon and I have finally returned to Oxford after a protracted time of travel and ministry. Every place has its fond memories of love, friendship and God encounters. It has been a wonderful season of deepening relationships and watching God bless people as we minister. Dibley, our dog, was delighted to come home and walk his patch. On the first night home, he hauled himself up our steep stairs to lie at the foot of our bed, a heroic effort for a 13-year-old Labrador with stiff hips! So, I did not have the heart to send him back downstairs as sleeping in our bedroom usually breaks the rules! But we are glad to be back on English soil and sleeping in our own bed.
November was a month of ministry in the USA for Gordon and I. We based ourselves In San Antonio during the week with my Mum and Dad, and travelled to various churches at the weekends. We visited Reach Church, Bentonville, AK, Harvest Christian Center, Turlock, CA, finally visiting Trinity Church, Cedar Hills, Dallas, TX. Every place had a story of encounter and it is always so good to know God is with you. In Bentonville on the Saturday night God gave me a prophetic word for a man. He was new to church and had never seen this or received a word from God in this manner before. He had just lost his job on the Friday and his wife had been in a car wreck but even though he was depressed, he had decided to come to church and God spoke deeply into his situation. He cried and just kept thanking God for the word of hope – he was shaken to the core. I love it when God speaks and rescues souls!
After several challenging flights recently, it was good to arrive home easily on the 15th November and begin to tackle the mail and administration. Somehow most of the piles of work have begun to disappear as we have processed the various tasks. We are excited to now begin planning for our JANUARY LEGACY DAY here in Oxford. If you haven’t yet booked your place, please do so on our website. We hope you can join us. It will be a time of impartation and vision for 2019!
However, even with plenty of administration calling in the office, I have still been preaching and speaking. I was in Birmingham and spoke at a Women’s Breakfast at St Johns, Harbourne, and then in Manchester with the Message at their prayer day. I had such a sense as I spoke that we are getting ready for a new season of mission in the UK and even in this season of shut and open doors we need to keep our perspective and pioneering heart alert. I loved being with the Message Trust and am always inspired by their heart for the poor, marginalised and broken. Finally, this weekend Gordon and I will be in Brecon, Wales, speaking at the Elim church. I think many of these messages are on the websites of the relevant churches for download so do listen and be encouraged!
While Gordon and I have travelled and been busy in the nations, Helen has been speaking, connecting and planning here in the UK too. She was able to preach at various events including the Women’s Bible Study Conference’s 60th Anniversary in Torquay, Devon, the local church here in Oxford as well as a Filling Station meeting down in Ashburnham, Sussex. Alongside the preaching, we have been aware of a shift in the focus of Heartcry’s ministry in the UK. There is no doubt that this is a season of huge transition and change for Britain and we sense that there is a need for prophetic and apostolic leadership to help pioneer and birth this new movement and prepare the Church to find its voice and place in the new season. To that end, much of this coming month will see us spending more time with key national prophetic leaders in London as well as in other parts of the UK. These will be private consultations and gatherings with the aim of strategically planning and praying for 2019 and beyond and setting in motion the new direction and course that the Church must take in the UK and Europe. The time commitment needed for these meetings will be significant so our schedules do not have as much public preaching but we will nevertheless be on the road for much of December. We would value your prayer for us as we join others in offering prophetic leadership in these critical days. Out of these times of seeking God together, we know that we will be given new mandates for writing projects and that these times will also inform our teaching and preaching. As ever, thank you for your partnership and also your financial support which enables us to do all this!
Would you consider giving a year end gift to help us complete the building work on the church and second refuge centre in Moldova? See the progress by clicking here! Over this Christmas season we have set a generosity goal of $10,000 for the next stage of this Moldova journey. If you would like to be part of this journey of generosity, please give via the donation button below. Thank you for your partnership!
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We wish you all a very happy Christmas season! With all our love and appreciation,
Rachel Hickson and Helen Azer.