Val Lowen puts on ‘Cadillac conferences’…. conferences of high quality and anointing. Back in 1995, my wife Janice and I were invited by Val to lead a Renewal Conference in Lethbridge. As Val put it in the Winter ’95 Edition of AFR Canada, ‘God especially blessed Lethbridge through the closing worship service which saw 15 churches gather; over 600 people came to worship in unity’.
From this beginning sprang several city-wide unity services involving speakers of the calibre of Dr Jack Deere and others. ARM Canada then approached Val to co-sponsor in Lethbridge one of our seventeen ARM Canada Conferences with Bishop David & Mary Pytches from England. From this most helpful event sprung the first event New Wine Canada Festival in July ’99. I heard so many good things about New Wine ’99 that I deeply regretted not being able to attend. (New Wine http://www.new-wine.org/ in the UK has grown so much that it now draws many thousands each summer.)
When I was offered the opportunity to speak at New Wine 2000, it felt like a dream come true. With speakers like Bishop David & Mary Pytches, Dr Sam Storms, Rev Bruce Collins from the UK, Rev Charles Alexander, and Rev. Dale Lang, this was a feast not to be missed.
You can imagine my disappointment when I had to cancel out a week before the New Wine 2000 Festival. With a loved one on her deathbed, the door seemed to have closed. But God in his mercy re-opened the door in unexpected ways. When my family arrived at the New Wine Festival, we were weary and grief-stricken. Praying for others the first day felt somewhat wooden. I asked Jane Jones, the New Wine Prayer Co-ordinator, to pray for myself and my wife. As Jane prophesied accurately over us, healing tears began to flow, bringing fresh anointing for ministry and new passion for the Lord Jesus. A renewal conference is a great place to hang around when you are in grief, because no one will be put off if you find yourself weeping in the middle of worship. Perhaps one of the most reliable signs of an Anglican Church in renewal is Kleenex boxes up by the altar rail!
Along with 400 other registrants, I was again and again transported into the nearer presence of the Lord Jesus, especially during the anointed worship music led by Craig Ginn and Eddie Espinosa. My prayer night after night was ‘Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more’. Bishop David and Mary Pytches are such humble servants that they drew little attention to themselves. Instead they devoted themselves to ‘washing other people’s feet’ and releasing others in their giftings. +David wonderfully models episcopacy as servant leadership, stripped of pretentiousness and bureaucracy.
Also memorable at New Wine 2000 was a wonderful freedom in the prophetic. Rev Bruce Collins and Rev Freda Murray, both Anglican clergy from England, exercise the prophetic ministry in gentle and life-giving ways. Time and time, people were both stunned and thankful for the accuracy and clarity of the prophetic words that they received. I personally received several prophetic words that have been a tremendous encouragement to me.
The New Wine team invited me to celebrate at the closing Eucharist, an experience that bubbled with joy and vitality. It is so wonderful to lead others in worship when they are hungry for God. May God continue to use Val Lowen and the New Wine Canada Festivals to breathe new life into our desperately needy Church.
Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church, North Vancouver
Missioner, ARM Canada
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