‘Make haste to GIBRALTAR’

GIBRALTAR ?

GIBRALTAR. ?

Having taken hundreds of pilgrims to the Holy Land of Israel, in the course of thirty years and sixty pilgrimages, one of the merriest , most musical and most prayerful were, probably , the group from Gibraltar in March 1987

Receiving pilgrim ‘ shells’ and (scrumptious chocolates) from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Although I had instructed my Gibraltarian ‘ Knights of the Holy Sepuchre’ to leave their Ceremonial Attire at home, as ours was a ‘simple’ pilgrimage, within seconds of entering the residence of the Latin Patriarch, they were marched off to the Wardrobe Room, by an Arab acolyte, and dressed up accordingly for the occasion, and we had to stifle our smiles !

How was it that I had been asked, by Keith and Tina Kirkby, in Gibraltar, to take a group of Gibraltarians on pilgrimage to Israel ?

It all began in 1982 during my quiet time of prayer, when I was daft enough to ask the good Lord if he wanted me to go to China. Having spent five weeks following the cherry blossom around Japan the previous year, I was ready and willing for the Great Wall.

Being a beginner at listening prayer, and needing to have a pen in my hand to jot down the thoughts which came into my head in case I forgot them, I jotted;

“Not China but Gibraltar is where I would place you in my name and in my strength. I would have your feet upon that Rock. I would have you pray my prayer of peace in that place where many fears lie dormant, where many eyes shall turn. Make haste. I will provide.”

On asking for a confirmation for this unexpected word, I wrote “Read your paper carefully’ and Jeremiah 11;5 which was ‘ listen to my voice, I told them, carry out all my orders, then you will be my people and I will be your God, to confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, that I would give them a land where milk and honey flow – as it still does today’

None of which made sense to me. I had not noticed anything in my Newspaper about Gibraltar, and, in the haste to get there, didn’t have time to browse the papers, and about ‘giving the Land’ was obscure

One of the things I had learned, from writing down the thoughts that came to me in prayer, was the absolute need to ask for discernment from people wiser and more experienced than myself. (The only time I acted, impulsively, on my own discernment alone, I lost a hundred pounds on a horse, the name of which I thought was given to me in prayer !)

When, the year before, the prophecy to go to Japan had taken me by surprise, I contacted my wise and very experienced Pentecostal friend, Sister Ruth Heflin, in Jerusalem, who advised and directed me.

Fortunately, in Chichester, I was a member of a mature Prayer Group who prayerfully helped me to discern. When I shared the word about Gibraltar, one of the group, a Baptist Minister, telephoned later that day, to say his wife, Shirley , had offered to accompany me and would arrange for us to stay with their naval friends on the Rock. ‘I will provide’ was already being fulfilled.

It was Tuesday and we discovered that flights to Gibraltar left and returned on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, we were on the next Thursday flight out of England, booked to return the following Tuesday, Well, I had written “make haste“, hadn’t I ?

Still having no idea why we were flying to the Rock of Gibraltar, we enjoyed the flight and especially the joyful antics of the hundreds of gavotting dolphins below us in the bright blue Mediterranean waters, before we landed on the ‘ Main Street/cum/Runway’ of the tiny airport of sunny Gibraltar.

In the centre of the street stood the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned, dedicated in 1462.

After a warm welcome from our hosts, we strolled down Main Street bedazzled by the colourful silks and leathers and cameras spilling out of the many shops and stalls on the Main Street and the exotic smells of Morrocan food from the many restaurants on the street. Our first stop of course , was the beautiful cathedral ,to pray a prayer of thanks- giving for our safe arrival and question WHY?

Next door to the cathedral was its tiny shop selling candles, cards etc. into which we dived and, after paying for our purchases we chatted to the friendly lady behind the counter. As we where leaving I spontaneastly enquired if there was such a thing as a Prayer Group on the Rock.

“Oh yes , a huge one. meets in the Community Centre across the way.”

“When does it meet?”

“Every Wednesday.”

 As this was Thursday and we were leaving the following Tuesday, I had scarcely muttered ‘damn it’, when she said,

“Oh wait a minute, this week, because something else is going on in the Community Centre, this Wednesday, they have moved the prayer meeting to tonight.”

“What time?” I asked

Shirley and I were there on the dot. Already the large hall was throbbing with music and crowds of people where flooding in, eager to join in the lively worship songs in Spanish and English. It was great to hear the familiar chorus’s and quickly learn the beautiful Spanish ones. Then after a time of Scripture and Teaching, Prayer and Intercessions, the Leader invited any visitors to make themselves known. We did, and were invited to say why we had come to Gibraltar.

So I read out the prophecy.

 “Not China but Gibraltar is where I would place you in my name and in my strength. I would have your feet upon that Rock. I would have you pray my prayer of peace in that place where many fears lie dormant, where many eyes shall turn. Make haste. I will provide.” 

For the next hour, until after midnight , we were warmly welcomed, embraced and surrounded by a large group of excited Gibraltarians asking for prayer, after all, if the Good Lord had sent us, in His Name and in His Strength ….

We quickly learned from them, what the ‘dormant fears’ and ‘ turning eyes’ were about, and why’ His Peace‘ was badly needing to ‘be prayed ‘on the Rock.

There were many blessings and healings during this unexpected time of ministry. Shirley was a great partner as, due to her Baptist training in the Bible, was better able than me, to offer the appropriate Word of Scripture throughout our prayer ministry. It was the early hours of the morning before we flopped, exhausted, into our comfy beds. Enjoying the dancing dolphins seemed like a long time ago.

It proved that the dormant fears and eyes turning towards Gibraltar from around the world, had to do with the eminent opening of the border between Spain and Gibraltar due within the next weeks.

The British overseas territory of Gibraltar has been ruled by Britain since 1713 under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. Gibraltarian are British citizens who elect their own representatives to the House of Assembly, the British Monarch appoints a Governor ( my very dear friend, Jane Broadly, whose husband, John Broadly was a much loved Deputy Governor from 1982 -1984, but we had not yet met during my trip) Gibraltar is self-governing in all areas except defence and foreign policy. It is home to a British military garrison and naval base.

The Spanish government, under Franco, closed the border in 1965, cutting off all contacts and severely restricting movements. This caused many hardships for families who were split and could not join each other, having to attempt to communicate across the locked gates. There was no air line between Spain and Gibraltar for 30 years. However , closed border also meant no entrance to drugs or illegal contraband entering Gibraltar from over the border, where much trafficking from Morocco took place.

Communicating with relatives across the closed border

In 1967 Gibraltar had a sovereignty referendum where Gibraltarians resoundedly rejected the idea of joint sovereignty with Spain.They chose to remain under British Rule,

So here we were, two very ordinary Grandmothers, in the midst of all the fears and recriminations ,where the eyes of the whole world were looking at the unfolding drama of the reopening of the border between Spain and Gibraltar. It seemed that we had been sent to pray!

The next morning I took myself off to the 7.30 Mass at a church very near our base. There are many Catholic Churches on the Rock, and , as usual, relished the liturgy and beautiful nourishment of the Eucharist. It was when I returned to my seat, thanking the Lord, that into my mind came the unexpected thoughts that I was to invite the Leaders of the large Prayer Group, whom I had only met last night, to the Conference for Leaders that we had organised in Southampton in September. One of the guest Speakers was to be Sister Rruth Heflin from Jerusalem. ‘ No problem, Lord,’ I thought,’ I will ask them.’

But the next thought seemed altogether crazy ‘ I want you to pray with the Bishop’. Bishop ? Do they even sport a Bishop on this tiny Rock ? probably not ? Never heard of a Bishop of Gibraltar ! And even if they had one how would I meet him ? Why on earth would he want to meet me ?

Feeling perplexed, and making my way out of the church, a warm hug and big happy smile met me from Albert, large man with huge moustache and merry eyes, one of the leaders from the Prayer meeting last night. “thought I’d find you here”, he said, ” we have made a schedule for you, at nine o’clock we are going to the hospital, then to visit a dying sister, then to the prison, and then at four o’clock, we have an appointment for you with our Bishop”

When my jaw dropped in amazement, he started apologising thinking I was displeased at not having been consulted, so I quickly explained it was utter surprise and not displeasure that caused my gaping countenance, and proceeded to share the thoughts I had had. His loud Alleluia,s nearly rocked St Joseph’s statue off its pedestal !

Shirley and I were wizzed around to meet and pray with all the various people, who were so warm and welcoming, especially in the prison ! Having been a prison visitor in the top security prison in Portsmouth for five years, and learning so many moving and heartbreaking lessons from the inmates, the prospect held no fears for me, but it was a new challenge for Shirley.

But when it came time to visit the Bishop I felt a bit nervous. Shirley didn’t come , but several of the Prayer Group Team did including Albert and Freddy who kept telling me what a wonderful Bishop, Edward Rapalo was.

 

After being shown into the sitting room of the very modest house, by Sr Frances, his Irish housekeeper, also a member of the Charismatic prayer group, ( who , with Tina Kirkby, were to become my dearest, life long friends,) the Bishop entered.

Before I had time to figure out whether the protocol was to bow, curtsy or kiss his ring, I found myself being embraced in a friendly hug by a gentle man, with the kindest brown eyes, smiling into mine. Protocol had flown out of the window!.

He indicated that we sit in the two chairs across the room, the rest of the group stayed on the sofa by the door. When he asked me to pray over him, I was surprised and muttered something to the effect that it was rather for him to pray over me, not the other way round. His humble response was that if I had come in prayer to pray for Gibraltar, then he wanted to receive some of that prayer.

A rapid S.O.S to the heavens, in the Spirit, to ask how on earth to pray for this holy Bishop. To my horror, what came into my mind immediately, were the words, “the ring is round your finger, but not yet round your heart,” It would be an understatement to say that I was embarrassed ! I prayed earnestly for the floor to open up and swallow me immediately. As I told the Lord I couldn’t possibly do so and that I did not think he was being very kind to ask me, the bishop saw my confusion and told me to speak up. Hoping none of the others would hear, I softly told the Bishop the words, “the ring is round your finger, but not yet round your heart.”

He wept.

His tears brought the others over to console and assure him of how much they loved him and what a good Bishop he was and is, in a mixture of noisy Spanish and English , spilling copious tears of empathy, even though they hadn’t heard my words. Sr Frances handed him a white handkerchief to dry his tears.

Having done so, he took my hand in his and sadly said, “Child, only God could have told you those words. Only God knows how much I don’t want to be a Bishop. I was so happy as a Parish priest. I have not accepted the office of Bishop in my heart and I struggle to do so, constantly.”

This induced another noisy, emotional reaction from from his Gibraltarian flock who wanted to assure him of their love and affection and appreciation.

We all prayed with him and for him, we witnessed his humble prayer of acceptance of the office God had placed upon his shoulders, as he placed his Episcopal ring round his heart.

Within a year and a half, he was dead.

Could that be part of the reason I was told to ‘make haste’ ?

Happily I was to have many more meetings with Bishop Rapello before he went home to God. We became such good friends and on future visits to Gibraltar was honoured to join him for Mass in his tiny Oratory in the house.

The next few days were packed full of visits, not only for prayer ministry, but to explore the colourful Rock and it’s many fascinating aspects. One place in particular was the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe by the Lighthouse, at Europa Point.

 MADONNA AND CHILD c.1462 THIS ORIGINAL IMAGE WAS BROUGHT BACK TO THE SHRINE, AFTER A LAPSE OF 264 YEARS, IN 1968

Little did I dream that one day, a future prophecy would be hanging on the wall of the museum of the shrine and on a postage stamp.

Shrine of our Lady of Europe and historical Museum

Below is an envelope sent to my friend , Fr Tony Pennicot, with the prophecy given in October, when I was invited to return to Gibraltar to lead a retreat. The whole prophecy hangs in the Museum.

The days passed like lightening and in no time we were heading home on the Tuesday return flight. Not without five, completed application forms,( sent from Michael, in haste, from the Bible School,) for the Southampton Conference in September. and with a large new group of dear friends, who already had become family. and who flooded me with invitations to return to Gibraltar soon.

To say that our annual Charismatic conference was enlivened by the contingency from Gibraltar would be an understatement. Two hundred or more Christians who were deeply committed to the Lord Jesus would always be a joyful and prayerful gathering, especially when led by gifted Leaders such as Sr Ruth Heflin from Jerusalem, but having the Spanish music and spontaneous joy of the Gibralterians was am extra grace.

Sr Ruth Heflin was a very large Pentecostal Pastor. Her largesse was not only physical ( it needed to be to support a large piano accordion over her shoulders ) but included her generous heart, her love and faith in God and her prophetic gifts. She had as a young woman, ministered in China (and mastered Mandarin ), India, France and in her hometown Bible School in Ashland, Virginia, USA. She was now living with her vibrant community in Jerusalem.

Sr Ruth Ward Heflin
Sr Ruth with Joan at The Catholic Bible School , Chichester

Many blessings flowed from the Conference in Southampton, as usual, when Sr Ruth ministered from her deep love and knowledge of Holy scripture and of our Jewish roots. She prayed over the full hall for the gift of love for the Jewish people to enter every heart. Which it certainly did in mine and remains to this day.

I was invited back to Gibraltar in October to encourage the Leaders of the prayer Groups and to teach about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It was obvious to see that one lady was not comfortable when it was her turn in the role of Leader, at the large gathering in the Community Centre, so, one evening, in a meeting parlour in the Cathedral, we met and placed a chair in front of the team and one by one the team members occupied it, while the rest were invited to say what gifts they recognised the person in the chair had received and was using to serve the community. It was a very kindly and loving exchange. When the reluctant lady sat in the chair there was an enthusiastic chorus of her gifts of prayer, hospitality, welcoming but no mention of leadership skills. On asking the group why they made her lead they responded that they didn’t want to hurt her feelings.:

Do you think you have been blessed with the gift of leadership,?’ I asked her

‘I do not’ ,she replied, ” and I assure you that I need no laxative the week before I have to lead the meeting”. So we all agreed that more discernment was needed in allocating ministry.

On the plane going back to Gibraltar I had prayed for a word to offer them, and the following came into my mind;

I would have you bring my word of forgiveness, that hearts that are stony may become tender with my love. For I would build a fortress of love upon that Rock from whence shall flow streams of living power And many shall be anointed

And many shall be drawn into the light of my love, shining forth from this place.

Look to my mother

From her arms shall you reach out to other lands, to other faiths

I am building my fortress of love

I am building new things – but first it is necessary to take away the stones I cannot use

The stones of hate and unforgiveness even now embedded in the hearts of my beloved

Give them to me my children. I will give your hearts a new strength And I will build my lighthouse of love in Gibraltar

LIGHTHOUSE ON ROCK OF GIBRALTAR

The impact of the blessings of the Southampton Conference were apparent, on this, my return visit to Gibraltar, in October 1982. The ‘Life in the Spirit Seminars’ were underway, resulting in many people making a deeper commitment to Christ, as I too, had done in 1975 in Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, changing my own faith from ‘ black and white’ to ‘ colour’. This was due to the untiring work of Fr Leo Targett who lit fires of the spirit, with the seminars, throughout the south of England, from Portsmouth to Brighton.

Therefore it was a joy for me to be invited to minister to my dear brothers and sisters on the Rock. The hospitality was outstandingly kind, and I was wined and dined lavishly and invited into many homes, after busy meetings and visits and prayer ministry during the days. My constant companion and hostess was Tina Kirkby with whom I stayed many times, both in her apartment and summer home in Spain. She was very active on the team and responsible for organising visits from other people, after my prophetic visit, including Abbot Parry OSB ,Fr Ian Petit OSB, Charles Whitehead, Briege McKenna, Fr Leo Targett and many other wonderful servants of God.

Sister Frances made sure I was free to renew my friendship with Bishop Rappelo and , as Michael and I were in the midst of setting up the Catholic Bible school in Nutbourne House, she made it obvious to the kind Bishop that we needed help with linen, and table wear. His response was immediate , “Give her whatever she needs!’ She emptied the Bishop’s cupboards and I had to buy an extra large suitcase.

The prophecy I had shared caused a great deal of soul searching and prayer, both in meetings and homes. It was taken very seriously. Many were anointed and many were drawn into the light of His love in a deeper way. Services of Repentance were held in the Cathedral and the many stones of hate and unforgiveness were acknowledged and confessed and given to the Lord. All our hearts were truly given a new strength. This prophecy was framed and given a place of honour in the Shrine of the Rock Museum.

JOAN SPEAKING TO A WONDERFULLY RECEPTIVE GROUP

The ‘streams of living power’ flowed out of the Rock of Gibraltar through, among others, the ministry of a wonderful family, the Abrines sisters Adele and Maria del Carmen, who, when the border opened, started a prayer group over the border which grew into a powerful witness of reconciliation and love. As well as entertaining me lavishly in their beautiful apartment in Pitmans Alley, they introduced me to scrumptious Spanish meals across the Border.

The next few years would result in several more visits to Gibraltar.On one occasion, Michael and I went over to minister the Seminars only to realise at the Airport in London, that I had forgotten my passport. They allowed me to travel but warned me that it was very unlikely that the Gibraltar Customs officials would allow me entry. Poor Michael didn’t touch his tasty meal in the air being so worried. In the Passport control queue I joined the line of visitors holding my Driving licence up cheerfully and assuring the serious looking Official that if he refused to let me leave Gibraltar for ever I would be delighted ! A broad smile, a warm hug from him and I was in ! Michael mopped his brow.

On one occasion Sr Ruth was invited to Speak at one of the conferences on Gibraltar. She was much appreciated and welcomed and used by the Lord to bless and heal many people.She encouraged them to come to pray with her in Jerusalem. Which was one of the reasons I was asked to take a group from Gibraltar on one of my Pilgrimages. Another reason was that several people on the rock had been following the Bible Study programmes that Michael had written on the Scriptures, for the Catholic Bible School , which were excellent.

SISTER RUTH WITH US AND FRIENDS ON THE ROCK

As usual the hospitality was always wonderful, my special friend Tina, saw to every possible need and staying with her and Keith was a delight. She welcomed all who came. One week Sr Briege McKenna and Fr Kevin and I were fed and watered for a week in her lovely home, amidst much laughter and exchange of stories of God’s surprises in our lives and ministries.

Sr Francés entertaining us at Mt Alvernia, where she worked, as well as looking after the Bishop.

On another occasion Tina invited my daughter, Margaret and I over for a short holiday during which we visited the invasion of the Chinese Terra cotta Army in the caves within the Rock

Facing the Chinese Army

Of all the rich blessings that I have received from writing down the thoughts that come into my mind during a time of prayer, and which I cannot stress enough needs to have discernment from more spiritually experienced people of prayer, being sent to the Rock of Gibraltar has certainly been on of the richest.

Mainly because the good Lord has let me know his enormous love for the people living there, Christians, Jews and Muslims. Mostly I have become aware of it through the words he has graciously dropped into my mind, usually after a time of silent contemplative prayer, which I then jot down until the time comes to share them.

I usually ask ‘is there anything you want me to say, Lord ?

In November 2002 I wrote ; ‘ YOU ARE MY ROCK. IN YOU HAVE I INVESTED MUCH TRUST, MUCH LOVE. MY LIGHT WILL TRULY RADIATE FORTH FROM MY BEACON. KNOW THAT MANY UN-MINED TREASURES REMAIN LOCKED WITHIN MY ROCK KNOW THAT JEWELS OF GREAT PRICE WAIT TO BE UN EARTHED KNOW THAT I HAVE SO MUCH MORE FOR MY BELOVED CHILDREN OF THE ROCK. EXCAVATE YOUR HEARTS MY PEOPLE. VAST ARE THE UNEXPLORED JEWELS WITHIN THE HEART OF MY ROCK WITH WHICH I SHALL FEED THE NATIONS. DIG DEEPLY MY BELOVED CHILDREN ‘

The delight and seriousness with which these prophecies were received always humbled me, especially as they invariably resulted in some action and new initiatives.

In May, 2003, I took the following words to Gibraltar …

SPEAK OF MY PEACE SPEAK OF THE JOY THAT CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE PEACE OF MY HEART BEND THE KNEES OF YOUR HEARTS MY CHILDREN. THAT I MAY LIFT YOU UP INTO THE HEAVENLIES. MEND YOUR FISHING NETS MY BELOVED FOR MANY FISH ARE LOST THROUGH THE TEARS IN YOUR NETS. BE UNITED IN FAITH. BE UNITED IN LOVE I AM THE SHEILD ABOUT YOU I AM THE LIFTER OF YOUR HEADS I WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU

Very often these words held little understanding for me, BUT THEY PIERCED THE HEARTS OF THOSE who received them. This was true in all the different countries I was sent to in the following years ; Japan, Chicago and Dakota, Russia, Albania.Alaska, India, Norway Israel, and Trinidad. So now , at the end of my long life I am trying to share , on my web site, the blessings I was given , that they may be encouraging to those who read them, realising that our Father God can do extraordinary things with very ordinary people, like me. Alleluia!

LAST CHAPTER ON HOLY ISLE OF IONA

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