Committing to the Word of the Lord
by Peter Brownhill, Founder of YWAM Perth
Until what He said came to pass, the Word of the Lord tested Him. Psalm 105:19 ESV
Back in 1976, as a young 25 year old, I heard Loren Cunningham speak of God speaking to Him about assignments and guidance. I had no notion of this type of communication from God. My understanding of God speaking was only through the Bible. This idea of God speaking in real time independently of the Bible was challenging to say the least.
I remember one story Loren shared. He was driving down a freeway in Los Angeles as he heard God say to him that he was to take the noon Continental flight to Hawaii on the following day. To make a phone call in those days, he had to pull to the side of the road to a telephone booth and ring Continental Airlines to inquire if there was a Continental flight to Hawaii on the next day and if there were seats available. It turned out there was a flight but no seats – in fact, a long waiting list. The next day, Loren showed up at Continental, put himself on the end of the waiting list, but seated himself right in front of the boarding gate – since God had spoken to him so specifically. He stood firm on what God had said and waited. A man came down the entrance of the boarding tunnel and called “Mr Cunningham, would you follow me.” Loren had also asked for a window seat, which he got. He then began to wonder what assignment God had for him in Hawaii. It turned out to be the beginning of YWAM in Hawaii on a permanent basis and the seeds for the campus in Kona, Hawaii.
In Psalm 105 it says that the word of the Lord tested Joseph. This is easy to see in reading Joseph’s story as he was abandoned by his brothers, falsely accused by his boss’s wife, and forgotten in prison – but still he held onto what God had said about his dreams.
My experience of God speaking both individually to me and to a council of elders of a ministry or an objective has been with the conviction that if God said it, He will do it… but in His time and His way – and same as with Joseph, always with testing.
I was 31 years old in 1982 and on vacation with my family in Queensland. One morning as I was showering, I was in deep prayerful thought with a picture of Australia so clearly in my head. “Perth, Western Australia” was flashing as it came to my mind. I sensed God say “Go to Perth and start a YWAM work there.” Excited, I jumped out of the shower to tell my wife what I had seen and heard. Shirl and I prayed and we both felt a “yes” from God that this was right. We proceeded to process this with elders of our mission and we were commissioned in December 1985 to go west.
The language that Loren and others used for God speaking in a given direction was the Old Testament term of the “Word of the Lord.” This is what I now know I had in those years from 1982 – 1985. I had the word of the Lord to start a YWAM work in Perth, Western Australia.
The Word of the Lord is characterised by three attributes:
The first was stepping out in action toward what God said. This was where I noticed Loren would “speak out” the vision. I’ve since realised this is an important step of faith, that when God tells us something that we speak that out. Timing is important in this process. We should be careful to not be presumptuous in speaking out the Word of the Lord at the wrong time.
Survive the tests that go along with the Word of the Lord.
Thirdly is the perseverance to see the vision through to its fulfilment. To me personally this does not have to do with ‘talents’ or being professional or even having enough money. It has to do with “showing up,” day in and day out. God can build a vision around the daily faithfulness of His children.
If God has spoken to you and there is shared confirmation by others, then my prayer is that you find the right place and time to speak it out; and that by His grace you survive the tests of abandonment, being forgotten, or whatever it might be. And finally that you “stay the course” faithfully till God does what He promised.
This article was published in the
July 2016 edition of Westcoast News.