What Was the Last Thing Jesus Did On Earth?

How did you answer the question posed in the title? This past Sunday as I asked that question to a wonderful group of believers giving them a hint by stretching out my arms with palms facing the congregation to demonstrate Jesus’ powerful lasting gift to His children. The Gospel of Luke paints for us a beautiful picture of this transforming moment:

“When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51)

To be honest I haven’t thought about that passage in a long time but Sunday morning in my quiet time the Spirit brought me there to dwell, learn, and be encouraged. Now I don’t want to forget this transforming scene of Jesus with nailed scarred hands reaching out to His beloved children with eternal blessings.

Notice the response of His disciples after He blessed them:

“Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple praising God.” (Luke 24:52-53)

Their best friend, Savior/King, just left them, yet, they were overcome with worship, and heavens glorious joy and they could not stop praising God. His disciples understood the blessing and all the promises that came with it as the Father’s dearly loved children.  Jesus, the forever Heavenly High Priest, had been taken into the eternal temple to reign next to the Father and daily intercede on our behalf. Daily, the Father sees us through the perfect work of Jesus who at this very moment reaches out His hands to bless us with supernatural love.

On Sunday right after I shared this text an 8 year old girl got up to sing a song that she wrote herself. With her beautiful smile and heart gripping voice she declared that we need not be stressed or worried, even when things get tough at school because Jesus is always with her giving peace. She understood in her heart the gift of Jesus holding her tightly with hands that will never let her go.

With all the noise and negativity in our world we need to hear another message and be captivated by a greater reality depicted in Jesus’ final act on earth before taking the throne of glory. He wanted us to remember His outstretched arms and His Holy Hands resting on our heads with Heavenly blessings that can never be taken away. We need to be able to sing out as that 8 year old girl that we don’t need to be stressed or worried because of the blessing of Jesus!

Let this picture overtake your mind.  Hear these words of Jesus paraphrased from Numbers 6:22-27:

I bless you. I will keep and protect you forever with My hands. My face always sees you and smiles over you my beloved child.  My grace covers over all of your sins and gives you all the treasures of Heaven. My favor is with you as you walk through the challenges of life.  And I promise my presence will always be with you. I give you my perfect peace. Amen!

May this Heavenly blessing flow through you and may you experience the authentic love of Jesus.



Burgers, Bunny Chow, a Braai and unexpected Blessings

A change of pace blog about life in Fish Hoek, South Africa Written by Patty Spykstra

Oceans Ministries partners Mike and Dawn recently returned back to the US. I would sum up the days they spent here at the Retreat Center as Christmas in January! After all they brought along favorite foods, copies of Tim’s new book and his bankcard, peach tea for me, gifts from our kids and even Christmas cards from friends in Michigan. During the Verkaik’s stay we hosted dinners and teas and met others for a meal or a cup of coffee. We experienced some wonderful ministry opportunities, prayer times, and discussions about what may be ahead for Oceans in 2021. I suppose the time together caused this mom’s heart to miss her family.

This past year has been anything but “normal” and at times ministry in another country seems overwhelming. So when an unexpected weekend of burgers, Bunny Chow, and a braai came along my spirits were lifted. Perhaps it was the change of pace, the food, the company, or all your prayers.

So this is a glimpse into our “abnormal weekend.” Last Friday Stag Coffee Company held a well-attended Burger Night! The meal was delicious and reminded us of “home.” On Saturday, a local pastor and family invited us to join them for Bunny Chow, a Cape Malay Curry dish that delighted our senses. We smiled recalling the busy days of ministry. On Sunday, due to load shedding, the power was off from 6am-2pm, so the church hosted a “Braai Thru” with prayer, communion, an opportunity to donate food to the community and Boerie Wors to go. People were invited to drive their cars through each station, bikers and walkers came as well, so many of us ended up hanging around and enjoying the summer sunshine.

Each of the meals was so unique and special in it’s own way. I suppose we’ve all had to adjust to the “new normal” of hand sanitizing, masks, and that awkward moment of being unsure how to greet one another. I know that everyone has experienced a year of life like never before. Truly the blessings are abundant, and far out weigh “the bad” yet at times the blahs just creep in.

The busy weekend did take my mind off the disappointment that the flight our daughter and her husband had booked was now cancelled. Changing the ticket was double the original cost. We understood and recalled how the same incident occurred last year. Tim and I set our sight on the process of renewing our VISA; physicals, chest x-ray and collecting data.

A while back I had purchased a world puzzle, and now seemed like a good time to set that up as a distraction so I convinced Tim to join me as we put the world together! The next thing I knew I was searching for Qatar in the Middle East, our kids had a secured an alternative flight! I could hardly believe it!

In the mean time, while Tim and I worked on the puzzle, we talked about how quickly plans can change, how unexpected life is especially in these Covid days. Tim shared this verse as a reminder to live in the presence of the Lord.

Psalm 16:11:  “You have made known to me the path of life, You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”

This weekend brought unexpected blessings as Hunter and Anna safely arrived in Cape Town! We really don’t have a plan or a list of things to do, but no doubt we will continue to count our blessings starting with HIS presence and joy! This mom’s heart is so happy.

His path for our lives! His presence for each day! His joy in the moment!

Ekklesia – The Church in the Market Place

A favorite place to visit while in Israel is Caesarea Philippi. It is located at the head waters of the Jordan River and is lush and beautiful; it is also where Jesus taught that His Kingdom will take over the world.

At this place Jesus asked His disciples, (Mt. 16:17-18), “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Notice Jesus glorious response:

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church (Ekklesia), and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

This is the place where Jesus chose to reveal the divine conspiracy or how the world would be transformed the world seems out of place. After all, Caesarea Philippi can be likened to Las Vegas. The city reeked of wickedness even as far back to the days when King Jeroboam set up an alternative worship sight to the temple of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day temples were dedicated to the worship of Caesar as well one for the pagan gods of the underworld, where demonic rituals were performed.

It is at THIS precise location that Jesus declares: that those who confess Jesus as the Christ, the promised Savior of the world, and follow Him as disciples will storm the darkest gates of hell and set captives free. This will be accomplished by declaring the good news by means of a crucified Savior, He would be the One to break the strongholds of satan and sin, and He would be the One raised from the dead and bring Heaven’s reign to earth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Recently I read Ekklesia written by Ed Silvoso. In the book Silvoso discusses Jesus’s choice of the word Ekklesia when referring to the church. Why not the word temple or synagogue? What is the significance of the word Ekklesia and destroying the gates of hell?  Why did Jesus choose Ekklesia, a word rich in Greek culture? It is important to note that His disciples would have clearly understood the difference in meaning of the words and their religious significance.

In those days whenever 2 or 3 Romans gathered anywhere in the world it was an official meeting of Rome. Ekklesia, was a common word used in the business marketplace. So when Jesus uses this word it is referring to 2 or 3 Christ followers gathered together, and when this occurs His presence, a powerful force, is also present, (Mt. 18:20). The point is clear: discipleship happens around the kitchen table, in the coffee shop, the workplace, the sports field, government offices, the most pagan and darkest places. Ekklesia is a call for Christ followers to take Jesus to the marketplace, wherever life happens.

Covid may have disrupted the consistent gathering of the church in a physical building, but the call for Ekklesia has not been deterred. Just as Jesus challenged His disciples at Caesarea Philippi each one of us can be apart of Ekklesia to regroup, unite, and be sent out again into the market place and crash the gates of Hell for the glory of God the Father and His victorious Son Jesus. We can bring the Ekklesia to the darkest parts of our culture.

I encourage you to take time to build relationships of love with those you come into contact. Take time to listen, enjoy a meal, fellowship and watch for an opportunity to bring His Kingdom in through healing prayer and the Gospel message.



Full Circle

As a young boy Johann Kikillus spent some wonderful holidays running around Wellwood lodge, now Oceans Retreat Center. It was to his great surprise several years later he was asked by Azusa Pacific University, new owners of Wellwood lodge, to help lead and disciple college students from America.

Johann comes from missionary roots. His relatives arrived from Germany to the Western Cape of South Africa in the 1880’s with a heart to share the gospel and plant churches. The story continues as God grabbed Johann’s heart with the same missionary passion. He states, “God zapped me!” This happened in a mud hut in Angola while leading a group of high schoolers from his church. So he left a comfortable life working in horticulture at the well known Kirstenbosch Gardens to follow in the steps of Jesus.

From there God opened doors to prison ministry, and gang ministry in one of the toughest townships in Cape Town, then 10 years ago he started Ocean View Care Center for at risk children. Ocean View Care Center became the vehicle to transform hundreds of preschoolers and APU students lives. Both  experienced God’s Kingdom in one of the most violent communities in the Southern Cape. What a God!

You can understand the disappointment that Johann felt when he heard APU was selling Wellwood and cutting back on the program.  In response to this, he decided to prayer walk around the campus, asking God to bring another ministry from the United States to experience God’s Kingdom in South Africa.

It was a beautiful, sunny February day in Michigan. I was out helping lead a retreat for a small group of men. We were preparing to spend  the next 3 hours in personal prayer. I thought I’d better quick check my emails before I headed out into the woods. And it was then and there that I received an email from Johann telling me about the sale of the retreat center and the rest is part of God’s story with Oceans.

Those barefoot feet that ran around this property as a boy became big feet (Johann is a big guy) crying out to God in prayer for a ministry to come from the US and experience what God is doing in Southern Africa. So it is fitting that Johann and Soteria Ministries teams with Oceans this year to make the love of the Father known to Fish Hoek and our surrounding communities.

I often shake my head in wonder as we gather together on Tuesdays mornings for a time of prayer with the  community, just to think of how our Father God brings things full circle. From a little boy playing on holiday to a man filled with passion for Jesus, discipleship, and US students sitting in the same building years later. Only God could do this!!!!

Keep Johann, his wife Marsha and son James in your prayers as together we bring the Kingdom to this part of South Africa. Oh and keep your eyes open, you never know how God will brings things full circle in your own life!

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out…For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. Rom. 11:33,36.