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Before I left the Bible School on Saturday, I was already feeling sick. I assumed it was something I had eaten or just another intestinal parasite. Never in ten years of ministry, had I missed even a single day or class at the Bible Schools. It was all by God’s grace. Many times healing had come just as I was walking up to the pulpit. But this time was proving to be different. By Monday, I sensed something was seriously wrong. Little did I know I’d be admitted in the hospital the next day. And wouldn’t be coming back to the Bible Schools for a month. It happened with such intensity and speed, I can’t recall most of the drama. I remember sitting in a doctor’s office, and she insisted I be admitted. But I resisted and went home. I did, however, submit to the reality that we had crossed a line. I simply could not teach that week. I urgently met with two of our pastors from the Bible School…handing them my notes and asking them to take over for the week’s classes. Although I felt completely confident and peaceful with this sudden and momentous transition, they did not. They were both a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of teaching in the Bible School…and with only 24-hours notice. Both of the pastors had recently graduated with Diplomas and been “pushed out of the nest” just the month before. Both had returned to

volunteer at the Bible Schools. Now they were being thrust to the front of the room to teach 290+ Pastors and Ministry Leaders…and former classmates. One of them remarked, “Brother Paul, we have been prepared to help you. But we never imagined it would be with teaching! And all so suddenly!” As much as I tried to reassure them, it was evident they were very, very far outside of their comfort zone. It was simply too much, too fast and too serious. I remember the stunned look on their faces. I don’t remember much else. I was simply too sick to be of any help to them…or anyone. I was prepared to have my condition quickly stabilized at the hospital, and then released. Never did I imagine the long road of recovery that lay ahead…much less the permanent changes being thrust upon the Ministry. Day after long day, night after long night, a sense of being imprisoned began to build. There were precious few answers from the physicians…the cause could “not be determined”. Yet the sickness continued and the damage was escalating. The prognosis seemed to be perpetually “pending”…day was added to day, medication to medication, test to test, on and on with no end in sight. An overnight evaluation in the hospital escalated into two surgeries. I suddenly found my normal routine had down shifted from “fifth gear” to being “parked”. And the keys were taken out of my hands. Admittedly, I had my dark moments of despair. The possibility of being permanently sidelined by an illness came crashing in. “What would happen to the Bible Schools? Would the Pastors continue pressing ahead?” I had not a single answer. I was allowed no visitors except for Marcia. There were days upon days when even Marcia could not visit. I was alone in a hospital…in a foreign country…with an undiagnosed illness…with virtually no communication coming in… nor going out. A sanitized prison, and perhaps simply a prison in my mind and imagination…but a wall of unmovable circumstances all the same. I felt walled in by circumstances over which I had no control. Routines which I could not influence. Conditions I could not change. An end I could not see. And in the multitude of monotonous hours, God’s counsel and comfort came. With uncanny repetition, the same passage came from the Lord… “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much Fruit.” John 12.24


The Word burst upon my dark heart like the first sunrise after a storm. I knew that I knew…all of this was in His Hands. That it would bear Good Fruit in His eyes. And if that be the case, the walls of my “prison” suddenly transformed into the crucible of His protective care. He had His ministry in His control. He had my life in His control. He was at the healm of His ship. Now I could rest in His course. I felt like Peter in the Jerusalem prison, and how suddenly and permanently things had changed when… “a Light shone in the prison…. and his chains fell off his hands.” Acts 12.7

As sure as the angel appeared to Peter, the manifestations appeared for me. Messages from the Pastors came pouring in like glorious Light upon my soul… “All is well! Rest in the Lord! We are carrying on… great things are happening in our midst.” “We have never seen the Bible Schools run better!… Students are volunteering and cooperating like never before… God’s spirit of Love has come upon this place!” “the teaching is powerful… and the enrollment is increasing!” “God is blessing us to see His hand is upon us… what you had told us for so many years is now evident… our sufficiency is in HIM!”

As my battle continued in the flesh, my spirit soared for the Fruit that was abounding. The teaching Pastors had found they were more than ready…indeed, they had been “appointed for such a time as this”. The students were embracing the changes with an eager enthusiasm that evaporated any initial misgivings. And the attendance had increased in my absence! A missionary could not ask for more! Fast forward a few weeks…I was out of the hospital, and reasonably recovered. It was time to visit the Bible Schools. I had not missed a week. Instead, I missed nearly the entire semester! I came unannounced and quietly watched from the back. And the transformation I saw cannot be adequately expressed. The students were in rapt attention as the Kenya Pastors taught. The teachers themselves had a confidence and anointing that only the Holy Spirit can birth. Any and all fear, intimidation and anxiety had simply evaporated. The staff had put in place new procedures to enhance the administration. Surely, anyone familiar with the Ministry could see we had turned a corner. A good season had ended. A better season had blossomed. Indeed, the most accurate report I can provide was written nearly two thousand years before I was even born… “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel, so that it became evident… to all the rest… the brethren in the Lord, having become Confident… are much more Bold to speak the Word without fear.” Phil 1.12

…sometimes our prisons of darkness are the very shadow of God’s loving hand.


Contact Paul & Marcia Cowley Email:paul@disciplesupport.org marcia@disciplesupport.org Phone from USA 011-254-733-609-066 Skype: marcia.cowley Africa Mail Disciple Support Ministries P.O. Box 2318-00621, Nairobi, Kenya (please do not send packages) Contact DSM in America Disciple Support Ministries Phone: 561-901-3590

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And a Light shone in the Prison  

Disciple Support Ministries June 2012 Newsletter

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