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- Shayla Raymond
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So I have a story to share about fruit, about inheritance about divine moments….Twenty years ago, when I was just 14 years old my parents dragged me kicking and screaming away from my friends to Venezuela, South America. It was the second long-term missionary venture of my life, the first being to Guatemala for 3 years of my childhood. We would spend nearly 3 years in Venezuela and as it turns out I was just as sad to leave my friends there as I was to leave the U.S. three years before.
One specific memory that stands out to me of my time there: There was some political unrest at the time, university students were protesting by burning tires in the streets during the night. The next day we had a street outreach scheduled. We went and I was supposed to dance. I was dancing in the streets that the night before had been full of protest, there were black ashes all over the road, I was literally dancing in the ashes of the political unrest of Venezuela. The crowd was responsive to our outreach and the students even made a circle around me as I danced so as to protect me from cars that might have tried to drive down the road.
Fast forward 20 years. About 6 weeks ago, unlike most times in my life, I am sitting in a church with no connection (or so I thought) to my father, or my past. Our Pastor invites someone up to share a testimony about something going on in Venezuela from a trip he just went on. The man is sharing about the tremendous unity going on in the churches in Venezuela, about a great move of God that is beginning to really flourish in Venezuela. He shared about how they were at a conference and while there they were getting wind of some awesome stuff going on in Puerto Ordaz (where we lived). Then he tells how they called this pastor, Vincent Guillarte, to ask him what is going on in Puerto Ordaz. Vincent decides to come to the conference and share with them and then declares scriptures over the whole conference over what God is starting now in Venezuela and how revival is here now in Venezuela.
There are probably a lot of details of this testimony that I am not even remembering right now because as soon as he said Vincent's name I realized this is the Vincent that I know!!!! I started freaking out and I was texting my mom to find out if that was indeed his last name, it was. Vincent is a pastor of a church in the Guyanese community living in Veneuzuela. It was a humble church where I spent many a Sunday morning sweating my patootie off while these people praised God with all their might!!
It was this same Vincent that my dad would fly down to visit after we moved, encourage and mentor during good times and bad times of his church. And here I was hearing a testimony of how mightily God was moving in Vincent and in his community….hearing how what is going on in the city of Puerto Ordaz where we had poured our lives out is making God famous in that country and now in other countries! Fruit of seeds sown! Wow! As I was listening I was floored at the realization that I was actually a part of that. That the team my family was a part of, the team my father led, had sown seeds and laid groundwork that had led to this very moment! And revival is breaking out in an entire country!
I was floored and went up to meet the man giving the testimony. As it turns out this man, Alan Winter, actually knows my father.
So then a couple weeks later, Alan and Heidi Winter bring Pastor Robert to visit Bethel Atlanta again. Pastor Robert, has decided to heed the call of God and run for President of Venezuela against Chavez, this year. He gives a powerful testimony and receives quite the encouraging response from our church cheering him on in his campaign for presidency.
At the end of the service I went over to meet pastor Robert and to pray over him in his own language and give him a word I received from Holy Spirit for him. As it turns out the other translator had to go and I ended up translating prophetic words and prayers from Bethel Atlanta folks for him for the next hour or so. When I initially met him he said he knew my father and even had my dad preach in his church when my dad last visited Venezuela. When I shared with him my prophetic word over him he said I sounded like my dad, the way my dad speaks :-). (Part of my word for him had to do with Shalom, for those who know my father and his revelation on Shalom will know why he said that).
We ended up getting invited to lunch with Robert, who I really believe will be the next president of Venezuela. Not because he looks good on paper but because when you sit and listen to all the confirmations and visitations God has given him concerning this campaign it is crazy!! One by one as people prophesied over him at Bethel he would confirm what they had said with other words given to him in the past etc.
On another occasion at the Winter's home we prayed over Robert and anointed him with oil and it was quite a heaven meets earth moment. I feel so honored to have been able to meet him, to pray with him, to be a part of a great move that God is going to do in Venezuela. All of which was just the fruit of the seeds that were planted twenty years ago. I don't even know if I have all the words to articulate how special and powerful these moments of realization, of God bringing things full circle really are.
How beautiful God works. I just thought this was a great story to share.
We can be encouraged that as we follow the Lord he really is directing our steps. We may not see the fruit in the here and now….but perhaps one day twenty years from now our children will taste and see of the good fruit grown in the soil we tilled.
Shayla Raymond, who is Jeff and Sherry