We were in the Philippines in 2016. Gathering at church after church, in out of the way places where foreigners have never been before. Here we celebrated, here we ate together, here we worshipped. We shared that it is not God who turns his back on us or holds things between him and us, but that it is us who do this. We hold things between us and God. We carry regrets and failures and condemnations as secrets in our pockets, heavy ugly rocks that weigh us down – some of us have whole sacks of rocks on our backs.

We shared that God has been waiting for us to come to the end of ourselves, to put down our self-effort, our contrived moralities, our trying harder, and our good enough. Once we do this, the Lord’s spirit swoops in to wash us, to massage our wounds, to touch our scars, to make us new. This is what we do together – we become new. We agree to healing and to wholeness from the inside out. We stop trying so hard. Because God loves us, cherishes us, sings over us, heals us, and woos us to beauty and life in Christ.

Once on the ground and in the interior of the land, some twenty of us travelled as a group to churches, schools, and small prayer gatherings, each day. And the response was the same as everywhere we’ve ever been: ‘thank you for loving us’, ‘we are missing you’, ‘we love you’, ‘when are you coming back?’, ‘you have blessed us, we have been moved by your messages, we have been so touched’, — over and over, again and again.

Our time in the country felt particularly strategic. Our first few days in the country I was reminded that God does not waste our time or energy or efforts but that he sets up directed and specific connections for his purposes in a country. Capturing Courage does not just travel anywhere for any reason, we are called to bring nations to the Lord and into the likeness of Jesus Christ and it is increasingly evident that those to whom God connects us are for these exact purposes. There are no words to explain the beauty of this particular body of Christ to whom we were welcomed.

We were able to bring printed copies of our College of Capturing Courage (as it was at that time) to the inviting pastor. And by the end of our weeks together, there was an invite to become an oversight, a denominational head over an immediate twenty churches, with upwards of sixty, all told. We said ‘no.’

Capturing Courage is an apostolic work that is not to remain in any way in any place, not organization but movement. Although it took some time to work out our response, and even though we said no to their request, we learned a lot and the fresh thinking required has informed a clearer vision of Capturing Courage throughout the years since.

Mostly, I’ll never forget being in a small village to which ‘no foreigner had ever been before’ and hearing in their own language one of the same children’s Sunday school songs that I myself had learned as a young one many years before in Canada. I was struck how God’s word and manner and way is inspired and actualized all over the world by our Holy Spirit, beyond us, far beyond us.

We give all glory and honour to our Lord Jesus Christ, to God the Father, and to Holy Spirit. Amen.

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