July - December 2011
This was our ninth visit to Australia since 2002. It is no secret that we love this country and its people.
We left Northern Ireland on July 25th and flew Belfast to London to Singapore to Perth. There was supposed to be a break at Singapore but our flight was so late landing that we had to run through the airport to catch the onward flight in time. We were almost the last passengers to board.  It was not the most refreshing journey!!

Our first week was spent at Ellel Springhill some 40 minutes drive outside Perth.

Ellel Director Paul Watson and I spent a morning meeting Patricia Lavater, Western Australia's Citizen of the year 2008 and founder of The Esther House Foundation in Perth, spending time talking to her and many of the girls going through their programme which aims to see girls set free from drug and alcoholic abuse, sexual and emotional violence, self harming, eating disorders, depression etc.  This will be helpful for advising on similar programmes being planned in Northern Ireland.

Paul Watson also introduced me to 'Shed happens' a programme where men from a broad range of backgrounds come to an evening factory setting where there are oil can fires and barbeque to start the evening off, then moving into the factory to hear testimonies from various men. 


Their mottos are 'Male by birth BUT man by choice' and  'Every Bloke's a champion'

Towards the end of the evening Paul was asked to speak about the work of Ellel and then Paul interviewed me regarding the new book 'Loved like never before'  I was very very impressed with this event.

July 29th - 31st  The weekend teaching course was entitled 'Moving on with God' and is for those who feel that they have become stuck at a certain point in their walk with God. The teaching is challenging, but very fruitful.

On Wednesday August 3rd we flew to Sydney to begin two weeks at Ellel Ministries at Gilbulla.

The first weekend seminar was called 'Raising Faith. Overcoming strongholds'  This was a course I had wanted to do for some time as I am often dismayed at the diminishing levels of faith in God's Word and faithfulness, and the ease with which believers give the enemy legal rights into their lives, the lives of their families and their places of worship.  It was encouraging to see the teaching room virtually packed to capacity.

Last year someone very kindly gave Linda and I two vouchers to climb the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It was too late to use them last year so we were able to use them this year, and what an experience it was.

With nearly 1,400 steps involved it was a substantial but delightful experience.

We got to spend a long time at the top and the views over Sydney and the harbour were breathtaking!

(Thank you Damien!)


Mid week I did a morning teaching to Ellel counsellors on how to minister into Father heart of God issues.

Linda and I also had the privilege of presenting certificates and praying for each delegate who had just completed an extensive modular training course in prayer ministry.

The following weekend I taught on the Father heart of God - the ninth time at this centre over an eight year period. Yet again for this subject the teaching hall was almost packed to capacity  The hunger for this truth seems to be undiminished and it was good to have the teaching + available in book form to build on the weekend. Indeed both Ellel in Perth and at Gilbulla had to get second deliveries from the suppliers to meet the demand.

One of my favourite Father Heart of God sessions is the one where we walk through God's creation outside and stop at various points along the way for ten minute teaching sessions.

Unknown soldier

Thanks to our good friends John and Ilona Small, Linda and I had a wonderful few days break, first staying overnight at Australia's capital city Canberra where we spent half a day at their National War Museum, being especially impacted by the grave of the unknown soldier (left) Then we spent a couple of nights at their beautiful farm way out in the bush. It rained hard but that allowed us to dress up as real Aussies! (right)

A real treat was to sit in on a local bull sale!

 Real Aussies!

Linda and I had planned to stay for four weeks with our daughter and her family, but during our stay I noticed that I was becoming breathless. The local doctor was very helpful and it was decided that we should fly home one week earlier as the condition was not improving greatly. We eased the journey home by stopping overnight at Singapore, but parts of the journey home were proving difficult. The assumption was that my heart condition had deteriorated.

Within days of getting home my breathlessness was so poor that we decided to go to the hospital. The normal waiting time at the Accident and Emergency point is approximately five hours (though it was on the radio this week that one man waited twenty-one hours) However just before we reached the hospital my 'heart-nurse' contacted me on the mobile phone and when I told her that I was on my way to A&E she moved into action! She met us at the door and already had a hospital bed, an ECG and an X-ray waiting for me. (Thank-you Lord!)

I was in the heart ward for six days where they discovered that my heart had been unable to provide the power to remove my daily fluid intake, and as a result I had slowly been building up fluid over many months. When an intravenous diuretic was put in place I lost four kilos in fluid weight in three days!! 

The time in hospital sorted out my breathing difficulties, but the days at home afterwards were proving difficult because I had zero energy for even the most minor household duties. I realized then that this was probably the way that the doctors had expected me to be because of my heart condition.

Several days out of hospital I hit rock bottom, energy wise, and cried out to Jesus that unless He granted me life I could not continue in ministry since even a few moments of work exhausted me. Suddenly He answered my cry and within two hours I was out walking briskly through a hilly forest walk, and from that moment on my energy levels have been the best that I have known for several years.

So God's faithfulness rolls on. His patience with me is not yet exhausted. The vision is still alive and well.

As a result of this health issue which is being careful monitored for a while, I have postponed planned trips to Sweden Germany and Holland, but plan to meet Irish commitments.

Thank you for all your prayers, texts and emails during this somewhat stressful time!

The new book continues to do well.  Sovereign world wrote in the Ellel August/September Newsletter " We have received amazing feedback on Ken Symington's book 'Loved like never before' It has been out for only a few weeks yet this book is profoundly touching people's lives"  In the Ellel October/November Newsletter "We have been thrilled with the response to Ken Symington's book 'Loved like never before' which is clearly meeting a profound need deep in people's hearts who have never known what love truly is"

The www.goodbookstall.org.uk web site - which reviews new Christian books for Christian bookstores - gave the book a terrific review.  It now has six reviews on Amazon (and Kindle version) and I know of three Pastors who have already used it to teach from.  I have received so many word of mouth testimonies plus texts and emails from friends who know of people whose lives are being radically transformed by the book. (You can read all the reviews here)

Koorong are Australia's largest suppliers of Christian books with large stores spread throughout the continent. They had ordered the book before it was published - even before it had a cover designed!  I was delighted to see it on page 3 of their latest 31 page book catalogue.

My first step back into ministry after hospital was in early October when myself and several members of the Cri team travelled to the South of Ireland to dedicate and 'spiritually cleanse' a new property that Lifeline Addiction Centre was about to move into.  It is a beautiful house close to the sea, smaller than the previous house, but easier and less expensive to heat. It can house twelve men at any time. On the upper floor there is a huge room, perfect for our regular teaching and ministry days or weekends, with an excellent B&B just 50 metres away.  We look forward to teaching and ministering in this new centre in the coming weeks and months.

October 8th we did our first ever teaching and ministry day at the beautiful and dynamic Willowfield Parish Church in East Belfast. We had a team of fourteen with us and all were needed at the end for ministry.

This one day seminar kicks off a short season for us in their 'Autumn Tuesday' calendar at the church, with teaching / ministry engagements on November 22nd and 29th and December 6th.

The garden crew

As our garden has matured, and so have I, its annual demands are now beyond me, but on Wednesday November 1st, the men in the CRi team descended on our home armed with chain saws, pruning shears, rakes and ladders, and over the next 5 hours they brought all our tall hedges (many of them over ten feet tall ) back under control and at the end of the day dumped a HUGE amount of branches and leaves. The garden pond, well overgrown since the herons ate the goldfish several years ago, needed a major overhaul and deepening as a lady had given us seven Koi carp from her late husband's pond and they are so beautiful that the pond was re-awakened for another tour of duty!    Thank you one and all.  I deeply appreciate your love, your faithfulness and your friendship.

Myself, Davy, Walter, John and Colin.  (Simon had to leave at lunchtime so is not in the pic)

November 11-12th I was the speaker at Green Pastures 'God's creativity in you' weekend.  I was also running a photography class during the Saturday afternoon. The event was a great success and the testimonies were good, but the best bit for me came as we cleared up at the end of the event.  A lady approached me and told me that she had been a Christian for 11 years but had only recently been able to have a relationship with her heavenly Father.  For seven of those years she had been unable to say The Lord's prayer because it began with the words 'Our Father.."  The family Pastor of the church gave her a set of the Father heart of God CD's and she said it completely changed her life from that point on. Her understanding of her Heavenly Father was completely changed and now she loved Him!  Wow!!

The annual Autumn Prayer Ministry school is well underway and is the largest class since the event began 8 years ago. The school runs initially for fourteen Tuesday evenings, then once a month Saturday mornings, and then occasional advanced one day classes.  Many denominations are represented here and the hunger from those attending is incredible. Probably my favourite event of the whole year!

We went as a team of eight to the Lifeline Recovery Centre in County Louth from Friday to Sunday November 25 - 27th and once again saw God do great things there.  I taught into fear and rejection and inner vows (such as "I wish I was dead") plus several other issues in their lives and each teaching was followed by ministry from the team.  One young man who had turned to heroin after the death of his father discovered the father heart of God and gave his life to Jesus, and the change in him was so immediate and so dramatic.

The Saturday evening teaching into rejection is always an important one for people who have come out of severe drug addiction. Almost all of the men had one or more friends or associates who had committed suicide, and four had five or more.

The following morning one of the men nervously asked me if he could say something from the front of the room.

He went to the front, and pointing to the rejection flip-chart (left) said that the first six things on the downward spiral had applied to him and he was going to break free from it by standing up to speak.  He had been up for most of the night preparing a two minute speech, and had been practising in the bathroom for part of that morning, terrified of the potential for rejection, but determined in God's strength to do it.

He thanked God, and those whom God was using to bring him from bondage to freedom, and it was two minutes of sheer courage.  Naturally the response from us all was great admiration and encouragement!  Well done Darren!!!

Listening to the backgrounds that these men have come from is not for the faint hearted. One man, now radically saved and free from his addictions showed me just a small part of his needle ravished body.  He had been a heroin addict for 25 years and towards the end he was spending €2000 - €4000 per day on his addiction. 

Our final mission of the year.

On December 6-7th I and six of the team made the four hour journey to Portroe in County Tipperary for a teaching and prayer ministry weekend. We have been going here for five years now. A highlight for us was when a lady came forward to tell us all about a drug addict called 'Mary'. We learnt that Mary had been taken on by Teen Challenge no less than 4 times, but was always pushing the boundaries and either leaving or being asked to leave.  The lady who was telling us about Mary brought her to Portroe for prayer ministry the last time we visited and as Mary left she said "This is it. I've got to believe who God says I am and go for it"  The transformation in her life has been remarkable and she is now working with Teen Challenge, and was featured on a recent TV programme about their ministry.  The lady's final word to us as a team was "keep doing what you're doing because it's worth it!Thank you Jesus!! 

On the Friday evening I did a two hour teaching on the subject "Is Mary the Queen of Heaven" (you can read the teaching here) The teaching was well received (even applauded!) and the next day seven people asked for ministry into this issue. On the Saturday morning I taught on the subject 'When your world is rocked' and several people requested ministry into this issue in their lives. Saturday afternoon was lighter than usual in ministry appointments and for the first time on one of these visits here we were finished by 4pm, so instead of going home on the Sunday, we left at 6:30 pm and were home late on Saturday evening.  We were greatly encouraged by the hunger for truth and greatly encouraged by the number of men attending this time.  Once again, Thank you Jesus!! 

Monday December 12th was a first in our fifteen year ministry span. Green Pastures Church in Ballymena asked the team to come for dinner as a way of saying thank-you for the work that we had done for the church during the year.

One of the most touching aspects of the evening was that those who were serving us had asked to do so as they had been so transformed by ministry they had received during the year!

Senior Pastor Jeff Wright and family Pastor Darren Pearson joined us for the evening, and it was wonderful!


Vegetable soup, choice of roast beef or Chicken with roast and mash potatoes, carrots and peas, followed by pavlova or cheesecake, and tea or coffee!

The Prayer ministry school's last evening in 2011 is December 13th, and it resumes on the first Tuesday in January

It's been a good year! Thank you Lord! Thank you team!