We just visited one of our most favorite places on earth, New Zealand. It is not hard to love New Zealand. Here are a few of the things I tell everyone I run into about this place that I LOVE: 1.) The people are amazing – so loving and warm 2.) The food is incredible – it is fresh and organic without the label of organic. Because there are so many farms and rural land for vegetation in New Zealand, a lot of the food you find in the grocery store is already “organic”. Does that make sense? I am a foodie so if there is good food, I am happy. 3.) The land and beaches are absolutely stunning and virtually untouched compared to California. Why? It’s because there are only around 3 million people in the whole nation and there are around 30 million sheep alone (not counting livestock). So, as you can see the land is just spectacular and the natural resources are preserved. It is an outdoorsman or woman’s dream.
Our good friends, Bryan and Katie Torwalt from Jesus Culture came with us to experience New Zealand for the first time. We arrived into Auckland after an almost 13 hour flight in economy class and had a wonderful time sightseeing, eating, and shopping in the city on Thursday. All of my favorite things wrapped up in one day. Ha!
Liberty Christian Church http://www.liberty.net.nz and Trent and Sue Hodson did an incredible job hosting us and making us feel welcome.
The conference at the church started Friday and it was called “Cultivating the Presence”, which was a theme we borrowed from a class we were helping with last fall at Bethel Church. We liked the way the class brought people into a place of hunger for the Presence of God. The more you talk about the LORD, the more He likes to come! We were praying for the same thing to happen at this conference. Boy did it ever!
The Presence of God was so wonderful and strong during this conference. There was a corporate full spectrum of emotions experienced as well – dancing, weeping, laughing, rejoicing, awe, healing, and the nation of New Zealand knows how to worship the LORD with all their mind, soul, and strength…such a sweet Presence. Outbreaks of the Holy Spirit were everywhere. One of the nights, the native New Zealanders (The Mauri people) that were attending the conference did the HAKA dance for us, which a high honor for us as visitors. We were so blessed by it.
The War haka (peruperu) were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition. Today, haka constitute an integral part of formal or official welcome ceremonies for distinguished visitors or foreign dignitaries, serving to impart a sense of the importance of the occasion.
Various actions are employed in the course of a performance, including facial contortions such as showing the whites of the eyes and the poking out of the tongue, and a wide variety of vigorous body actions such as slapping the hands against the body and stamping of the feet. As well as chanted words, a variety of cries and grunts are used. Haka may be understood as a kind of symphony in which the different parts of the body represent many instruments. The hands, arms, legs, feet, voice, eyes, tongue and the body as a whole combine to express courage, annoyance, joy or other feelings relevant to the purpose of the occasion.
One of the things I love about Bryan and Katie Torwalt is that they are always listening for the Holy Spirit during their worship sets. They will call out words of knowledge and see healings happen during the worship. Usually, no one will get healed through prayer with the laying on of hands and yet people still get healed, simply by being in the atmosphere of heaven. In fact, several years ago, their heart for this sort of thing, started their passion to write corporate worship songs. Now, their songs are being sung around the world and they continue to step out in faith for more of God everywhere they go.
Click on the Media tab to hear the interview about their Album, Here on Earth
Just like we expected, the same sort of thing broke out while they were leading worship. Words of knowledge were called out and people were healed all around the room of various long-term problems. I only remember a few since there were so many – a man’s deaf ear opened up, a woman’s rotator cuff was healed, several long-term chronic conditions were healed. It was an amazing night! Bryan and Katie had some wonderful friends, Josh & Amberlee Klinkenburg and friends join as their band for the time we were there.
We both shared their personal stories of Encountering and Cultivating the Presence in our own lives. I (Julia) led some corporate soaking prayer time in the morning and we did a question and answer session with Bryan and Katie in the afternoon. Chad spoke on hungering after the Presence of God that night. We ended it all with a “Presence tunnel” where conference goers walked through a prayer line and got prayer for more of the Presence of God. So many people got touched by God, it was amazing.
The next day, we rented a car and drove to the Bay of Plenty to do one night at the Face to Face church community in Tauranga http://face2face.org.nz. It was a wonderful night of worship with nearly 700 Kiwis gathered to worship. What fun we all had together in the Presence. My favorite part of the night was when Katie came up to the stage and started singing the song, “Break Every Chain”, by the United Pursuit Band and people were weeping and encountering God.
Then we had a few days at a beach house on the Coromandel Peninsula and then came back home! Yet again, what an amazing trip.