Autumn - winter 2009 

Apologies for the long gap between newsletters but these last five months have been our busiest to date!


Australia!

It is no secret that we love Australia.  This was our fifth visit in six years.

I developed a very heavy cold days before we flew out to Perth on July 31st.  We stopped for a few hours en route at Hong Kong in the middle of the swine flu panic and the airport had many men in masks checking people's temperatures for any signs of the pandemic. I was concerned lest my sneezing, coughing, slight temperature and runny nose would end up putting me in quarantine, but I was ok to travel on. Travelling while ill is no fun!

When we arrived at Ellel Springhill, some 40 minutes drive outside Perth, it took me several days before I was well enough to start work, but Ellel Directors Paul and Diane Watson looked after us well.  The weather was terrible (we wanted sun), but the farmers on the Men of God course left us in no doubt that they appreciated the rain. They said each raindrop was like a 20 cent coin falling from heaven! Northern Ireland should be very wealthy by that standard.

Father heart of God. August 7 - 9  The first weekend course was the ever popular Father heart of God. With 75 beautiful acres of landscape it is superb location.

The one session teaching based on Romans 1:20 outside in the 75 acres of bush land during the Father heart of God

 
Men of God. August 4 - 6

Only committed men come to these courses, all with a hunger to be the best for God that they can be.  The course is very male-issue orientated and very challenging. These Australian men were not found wanting when it came to taking ownership of their 'offices' of responsibility such as father, husband, son, employer/employee etc. 

 
Next we flew to Sydney on August 17, and then to the beautiful Ellel Gilbulla for two weekend seminars. Here's a beautiful rainbow that covered Gilbulla early one morning while we were there..
 

Reclaiming the ground. August 21 - 23  I had taught this subject several years ago before but only as part of a two week course sharing the teaching with Peter Horrobin and Alistair Petrie.

It was challenging to put a new nine session course together on this little understood subject.  My first set of student notes ran to 40 pages and it was quite a task to cut them back to manageable size! 

Amazingly the course was fully booked up well before the event,

Several weeks later I had this encouraging testimony emailed to me..

."One thing I have to say is that I've been listening to Reclaiming the Ground by Ken Symington. The weirdest things happened. I had a gnome that my sister brought over to our house from England. We found it one night walking back from a little English pub. After listening to 5 of the CDs and also talking to my wife, I destroyed it, repented and confessed the guilt of it being stolen and an ungodly item on our property. We've had no birds in our garden for several years, possibly since the gnome was brought over from the UK, and yet since doing it I noticed several different types of birds, magpies, cockatoos and others landing on the grass, eating and generally hanging around. I am just blown away at this whole event. If I hadn't experience it myself I wouldn't have believed it"

 

Around the campfire!  Ellel Gilbulla director Paul Ryan organised a men's hour around a campfire on Monday evening. It was an opportunity for the young men on team to ask any questions they wanted to. Some of the questions were quite challenging.  It was only afterwards, as I reflected on this event, that I realised it was an essential thing for young people seeking to grow in the Lord, but wrestling with many issues, to be able to ask questions in a safe and informal event.  Linda and I will be returning in February 2010 to work exclusively with 18-35 year olds for a week at an event called 'Quiver'
 

One of the delegates blessed me by presenting me with an imaginary 'Honorary Certificate of Australian Citizenship'!!  It read as follows..

Honorary Certificate of Australian Citizenship

Kenneth Symington

Having purchased extensive amounts of R.M Williams products, befriended and helped countless Australian citizens, and having learnt how to refer to Sulphur Crested Cockatoos as 'Cockies', I a minister for our Lord Jesus Christ, and sovereign to this nation, hereby grant this honorary Certificate of Australian Citizenship to the above named person who is an Honorary Australian Citizen on and after 24th August 2009

issued by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ in accordance with Ephesians 2:19

Signed: Damien Armstrong

Fair Dinkum True Blue Aussie Mate and Minister for our Lord Jesus Christ

 
Associated Counsellors Training Day. August 25   Some 60-70 Ellel associate counsellors gathered for a days training and the subject was 'When your faith is rocked'  This proved to be a very timely three session teaching in today's environment when Christianity is very much under continual media attack.
 
In the few days between courses we were treated to a few days at the beach house belonging to our longstanding friends Max and Morna (worship leaders)  The area is some 4 hours from Sydney and in their winter time, almost empty of people.

The beaches were as from an advert and my biggest joy was making friends with the wildlife on their balcony in the mornings.  This is a rainbow Lorikeet, now one of the stars on the photography web site.

 
Father heart of God. August 28 - 30  Again this weekend course was fully booked.  In fact it was so full that it presented a problem when it came to ministry time!  Those who have attended this course know that the last session is where people are invited to come forward and spend time in Father God's Presence either sitting, kneeling or lying down.  With so many people there was simply no room in the hall.
Linda came up with the creative answer.  This is Australia, it is warm outside, and beautiful. Where better to spend time in God's Presence?  It worked wonderfully well. One person wrote a two page letter to me telling how she met with Father God in real terms for the first time as she sat well away from the teaching hall.  This was how she summed up her experience.
"..I love the unexpected way the Father met with me. I had a clear interaction with God the Father. It was delightful to discover that He speaks my language. I guess He would, after all, He created me! I have also noticed a difference in the weeks following the weekend. I have been reading through the Gospel of John, and noticed that all the passages I have been underlining, relate to the Father! I am suddenly hungry to know more about Him."
 
A man wrote to the Ellel Director saying.. "Ken said several times at the Father Heart of God that it may take people several weeks before they discovered a difference in their relationship with God. Once again I thought Iíve heard this too many times and gave it no credence. I guess you can understand why; but also since that weekend there has been an increasing awareness of a Fatherly protection over me, I am also sensing for the first time His overwhelming grace and kindness like Iíve never experience before. Itís all quiet supernaturally profound, Iím able to be more emotionally present to my wife, find it easier to hug and give her emotional food (if you know what I mean) itís all just the work of a Dad youíve been trying to get me to connect with for several years. Please share this with the team and Ken if you think it will bless them"
 
A month with our daughter!  Our daughter married the son of the former directors of Ellel Springhill in August 2008 and they moved to live in Australia in Spring 2009, so it was with great excitement that we flew out from Sydney on August 31st to spend a full month with them.  And what an amazing month it was!  God is so good. She has settled well into her new country and enjoyed showing us around.  Linda and I had our 30th wedding anniversary while we were there but no chance to celebrate it due to the previous month's schedule.  However God had other ideas!   Courtesy of a very generous couple who attended the The reclaiming the ground seminar Linda and I had the privilege of spending a full week at a beautiful beach house at Byron Bay, Australia's most easterly point.  To say that it is beautiful is an understatement.  It is stunningly beautiful!  We had the most relaxing wonderful week we can remember for years.  And as for a place to take photographs!!.. here are a sample from the photography web site.

 

Finally, on September 30 we flew home after two wonderful months in Australia.


Lifeline Recovery weekend October 8 - 11  For several years, accompanied by team members, I have been leading these weekends for the men coming out of serious drug addiction.  This time, because we needed a rest between countries (!) the team took the weekend without me and did brilliantly. Many have developed into very good teachers as well as prayer ministry leaders.

Here they are with some of the 'lads'

September 1 - 2  Cri team members Anne Galway, Mollie Regan and Simon Rowland had also spent two days at the Lifeline Recovery Centre outside Dundalk teaching and ministering to men who were developing in their faith.

Omagh  Ladies day. September 19
As most of the world know, the worst atrocity of the Northern Ireland troubles occurred on Saturday August 15th 1998 in the town of Omagh when 29 people died and hundreds were horribly injured physically and emotionally.  The scars are still being dealt with by the people of the area.

On September 19th CRi ministry leader Anne Galway was invited to talk to ladies of the area.  She spoke on forgiveness.  With her were team members Mollie Regan, Heather McQueen and Julie Rowland who gave testimony of how her life changed forever when she finally forgave the person who had virtually kicked her husband to death during a naval training exercise. It is an incredible story that touched many hearts and paved the way for vital ministry at the end.  We still get feedback from that event. It was mentioned favourably from the pulpit at one of the Omagh churches.

Anne Galway

(Note: Julie's husband Simon was remarkably healed by God after many terrible years of brain damage from the incident, and has now been a prayer ministry leader with us for five years)


Hungary
Less than two weeks after leaving Australia we were arriving at Budapest for a five day teaching trip on behalf of Ellel Hungary, and my dear friend Tamas Kovacs. Our ministry prayer coordinator Mollie Regan accompanied us on this trip. 
Men of God. October 15 - 16   I taught the Men of God seminar for two evenings from 6 - 9. The two nights were videoed using two video cameras and will be shown on Hungarian cable TV on their religious channel.  The turn out was regarded as good by Hungarian standards and the feedback was very encouraging indeed.
Moving on with God. Saturday 17th  This was a full days teaching targeted at those who have been saved for some time but have become 'stuck'  The Presence of God was very real, especially during the afternoon session on 'when your faith is rocked'   Sometimes it is just wonderful to meet and savour the spirit and character of a true man of God. The father of Ellel Centre Director (Tamas) is such a man. A Pastor of great integrity. Although he cannot speak English and I certainly cannot speak Hungarian we managed to communicate well through his daughter. We have a lot in common and the bond that was established during our first visit is still as strong as ever.  On the last evening we had the privilege of dining out with the Directors of Ellel East, Otto and Sharon Bixler, and also with Sharon for lunch the next day.

CRi's 10th anniversary  Yes the team have been together for a decade of faithful service.  We had a lovely evening at a Belfast Hotel where Walter Galway was given a gift to mark his 70th birthday and Linda and I were given gifts from the team as a thank you.  Two of our longstanding co-workers from Southern Ireland came up to join us for the evening. It is the greatest privilege to lead such a team of genuine faithful people who love and serve the Lord with a passion. I could not imagine life without them.

 

Sweden and Lapland

Just eight days after arriving back from Hungary Linda and I were off to Sweden for the second visit of the year. This time we were going for two weeks. One week to be at the Ellel Sweden base at the beautiful Kaffala area and another week in Lapland in the north of Sweden.  It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable trips of the year.
 
All Ellel translators are of the highest standard which makes teaching abroad easy. First prize though I think would have to go to Ellel Sweden director Goran Andersson. We're like twins! [short video]
Father heart of God. October 29 - November 1  The courses at Kaffala start on a Thursday evening and run through to Sunday lunch time, so they are one day longer than the normal.  Although more tiring, when there is translation involved it works out well as there is time to include most of the normal content (Translation cuts the time in half)
 
During this event our attention was drawn to one particular lady, and after talking to her for an hour after the course had finished Linda and I had the great privilege of leading her to salvation.  Nothing beats that!  When we arrived home there was an email from the lady saying.."Just want to say thank you for a tough and lovely weekend. I could never dream of how free i could feel inside. thank you!!"
 
I don't know why, but I have always wanted to go to Lapland!  It was a two day drive from Kaffala (mid Sweden) to Fredreika in Lapland.  We asked Goran to stop the car and take this photo of Linda and I about to enter Lapland.
 
The first winter snow fell an hour after we arrived in Fredreika (pop: circa 250)  At 8 am the next morning we were in a winter wonderland and loving every minute of it!
Within a few hours of arriving, and following a fellowship meal, we were in personal ministry. Linda especially put in quite a lot of ministry time. I did a two hour teaching on Godly order to the small group of Christians who run the healing centre Fredreika.
 
Langviksmon (long-viks-mon)
 
After a few days later we motored back out of Lapland to a village called Langviksmon. 

Although a small, very quiet place it has superb church facilities. Again it was wonderful to hear that there would be a full house (100 people) for most of the weekend. As well as teaching Linda was involved in more personal ministry and carried a real anointing in these sessions.

I was very touched by the Pastor's heart for this area. Following a leading from the Lord he goes up to the hillside every week to blow a type of shofar over the area.

He has written to everyone in the village to advise them of what he is doing and why. 

We went with him on our last day and we were very touched by his actions.

We were treated for a few hours on Sunday afternoon to a somewhat rushed visit to a family's wooden cabin, well hidden in the wilderness and set  beside a frozen lake. It was just as lonely a place as you could imagine, and we both fell in love with it.

We've been promised a night or two to ourselves in it if we are able to return! 

This photo shows the cabin owner (centre) and the Pastor.

There were many requests by the Pastor and others for us to return as soon as possible. We will see if that can be arranged though the coming year's calendar is already almost 100% filled. We were blessed!  

One lady emailed us a week later saying.. "I am so grateful for the message You gave us last weekend about "Father God" as our Daddy. The illustrations in films Saturday evening from the sports area were most touching. Thank You so much for those. I will never forget it"


Kilkenny DDecember 4 - 6  
These two lovely ladies, Peig (left) and Joy are responsible for bringing CRi into the South of Ireland more than a decade ago. They approached Linda and I during an Ellel conference in 1997 and pleaded with us to come to the Kilkenny area to bring 'the truth' and so began several years of CRi team visits to the area, teaching at the Club House hotel on Friday evening and ministering to many many people all day Saturday at Joy's country house. So for us all it was a very nostalgic return to 'our roots' in Ireland.
Friday evening I taught on the subject of 'Rejection' to a packed ballroom at the Club House Hotel. For some people it was their first experience of attending a Christian meeting. The Presence of God was so real right from the first worship song. Teaching ended at 10 pm with ministry conducted from the front, then with some 10-15 people staying behind for personal ministry with the team. A good night. A God night. The teaching will be available on the church web site.

Saturday was all day personal ministry. The Pastor of the Kilkenny Community Church who invited us down also made available all the holiday cottages on his farm. This meant that we had good accommodation for our team and for people who travelled from as far away as Cork, and ample rooms for the prayer ministry to take place in. People in the South who had previously received training from us became number two's to our team so that we could have five teams ministering at the same time. Even with these numbers it was easy to feel overwhelmed at times as we saw the lounge of our team cottage (left) filling up as fast as we ministered. At 3pm I had to close a door and grab a half hour sleep before continuing. I saw my 2.45 appointment at 4:15! However no one minded the wait as the fellowship was so vibrant, and much Kingdom work was done.

On Sunday morning we spent two hours with Peig and Joy catching up on life. As I talked with them it suddenly dawned on me that because of these two 'unknown' ladies initial invitation, many hundreds of lives in Southern Ireland have been touched by the gospel.


Annual prayer ministry school
Every year, starting mid October, we hold an annual prayer ministry school in the large home where we meet as a team for weekly training and fellowship. This year however I felt that we were to expand the course numerically and in quality. We took the decision to hire an outside location and include quite a few full day Saturday workshops as well as the weekly training nights.  This has become our biggest and best school yet with people willing to drive for up to two hours each way for a few hours training. The team did a wonderful job while Linda and I were travelling. This photo shows one of the all day Saturday workshops. People come from FOURTEEN towns some travelling two hours each way!
 
Ongoing work: A prayer ministry team goes to Green Pastures Church in Ballymena every Thursday to train and to minister to their rapidly growing congregation (can be up to 1000 at services) We have been doing this since the church opened some three years ago. There is also ongoing prayer ministry appointments with individuals week in and week out at our home ministry base and in team member's homes.  Plus regular team training nights which are now into their eleventh year  Not counting Linda or I, six of our team have been with us for ten years. Others between three and six years.  The oldest two are in their eighties and the youngest two in their early twenties. There is quite a spread of ages and denominations.  Without them only a fraction of the work would be achieved.
 
Future plans:  In early January I will be doing three days of teaching at a discipleship school attached to Green Pastures in Ballymena. There will also be weekends for Lifeline Recovery in January and February.  Linda and I will travel (God willing) to Australia again in February.  Plans are underway for visits to England, Sweden, Germany, Australia again and Malaysia between now and August.
 
Thankfulness: I thank God for His absolute faithfulness. I thank Linda and the family for their unwavering support and encouragement. I thank the team he has brought around me for their unflinching dedication and love. I thank those who silently support us in so many ways. You know who you are.
 

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