I have been fortunate to receive invitations to “The Gathering” and equally privileged to sing and share the excitement and joy God placed in my heart. The accommodations, food, and staff at The Cove are first-class, and the sweet setting – nestled in the majesty of the mountains – leaves you in awe of our Creator when you gaze at the palate and splendor that surrounds you. There is without question an anointing on this retreat: You enter knowing you love God and leave knowing you have been in His presence since you arrived. The unfamiliar faces somehow quickly transform into a feeling of brothers and sisters, and the Holy Spirit’s power and presence pours over you. For me every time is an awesome, overwhelming experience – I connect with strangers who love the Lord, I learn more about the love of God, and most importantly, replenish my soul.
"The Gathering is a time of warm fellowship where old and new friends share their annoitned talents and testimonies in a series of sessions resulting in a strengthening of faith and spiritual revival. The Cove itself provides a nourishing environment for spiritual renewal as it is a peaceful place where The Holy Spirit can be felt just by stepping on the grounds."
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."
We can't do what we do without God guiding her every step. Our desire is to be known as a "ministry team" being used by God to make a difference everywhere He leads.
There aren't adequate words to describe the events that took place in our hearts and lives.
We were invited several months ago to come and sing at the "Hope for the Nation" at the Billy Graham Association at The Cove.
From the sound check on Friday night through Sunday morning worship at the Chatlos Chapel; God poured into us.
We went to minister and bless others and we came out blessed and overflowing!
"This gathering was designed to connect lives with like purposes, callings and love for the Lord, to empower each other for daily work of ministry with ongoing encouragement."
We were in the midst of pastors, missionaries, film and music producers, Grammy nominated music artists, renowned coaches, authors... on and on the list goes.
There was no agenda. God just poured out His love and Grace and poured into all of us.
All I know to tell you is that we are bragging on God. Not on New Hope.
As I sat in this room with these people I was overwhelmed at first, that we were there. Secondly, because it dawned on me that God is not a respecter of persons. We are all the same in His eyes. He loves us all the same. It doesn't matter what our socioeconomic status is. He loves all of us!
So Coach... my word is "encourage." God help Me (Faye) to be a blessing and an encourager to the hurting, to the lost, to your children. A light... your light in this world.
Jerry, One of the Gathering Family
July 3rd, 2017. A beautiful day on Holden Beach, if you don't count the rain we sat in for 1/2 an hour. But then again, it was beautiful too. It actually felt awesome in fact because it was hot. Just another gift from Heaven that we usually take for granted. Anyway, we were just sitting there, Tammy, Savannah, and myself, along with our visitors, my sister Janine and my brother-in-law, my brother in Christ, my mentor, and later on this day who would come to be known as "the bird whisperer", Jerry. For some of you who don't know, Jerry lost one of his legs in a motorcycle accident a few years ago. His other leg was broken and badly damaged also. He suffered some brain damage amongst other bumps and bruises as well. Jerry was in a coma for some time and the doctors did not give him much of a chance of living. But God had other plans for Jerry. Jerry was the recipient of a great gift following his "wake up call" from God. I've heard Jerry say time and again that he has never felt unfortunate for this to have happened to him. Most people would feel bitter about their circumstance, most would feel bitter toward God for "allowing" this to happen to them. But not Jerry. Jerry was unconscious to the world around him, but he was totally awakened in God's Presence! God told Jerry that he was going to extend His Grace and Mercy one last time...you see, God had been dealing with Jerry for a long time and Jerry was running from God. Sooooo, God says, "Well, he can't run on one leg!". Nah, God didn't say that, but God did know how much of Jerry's leg to allow Satan to have. You see, Jerry's leg was amputated just below his knee. God had to leave that because that's where he was bringing him, to his knees. Today, Jerry is a Blood Bought Child of God who serves his church as Head Usher, who serves his employer as a walking, talking example of what they do there for people who require prosthetics, who serves his household and his family as the spiritual leader, who serves me as not only my brother, but also as my friend who sticks closer than a brother.
So, for those of you who didn't know Jerry, now you do. I can get back to my story now. Anyway, we were all five sitting there just basking in the beauty of the day that God had blessed us with when Jerry decided that he wanted to go for a walk. He and I struck out down the beach, picking up shells as we walked and talking about different things that God had placed on his heart as we so often do. After about probably 3 or 4 hundred yards, we turned to go back. We were walking along talking and I noticed a pelican just floating in the sea, really close to the shore. Jerry had noticed him too and as we approached closer, Jerry realized that the bird was hung in fishing line and a young man was holding the line, standing in the shore. The young man and his father had been wading in the water watching the bird floating towards them when the line brushed up against one of them. The older man began pulling the line in and wrapping it around in a lasso fashion until he had at least a couple hundred feet of line in his hand. His son was holding the line tight while allowing a little slack so as not to hurt the bird. He exclaimed that he tried to get close to the bird to try and get him loose, but that the bird just kept popping his beak at him, trying to bite as he was afraid that someone was going to hurt him. Jerry looked at me and said "I think I need to help him". I said, "Jerry, you'd better leave that bird alone, he may attack you and you'll have a hard time getting away from him in the sand and water". What happened next was unbelievable unless you were there, unless you could have seen and heard what was going on. Jerry doesn't even remember this, but he looked at me and he said, " The Holy Spirit told me to release that bird". Just as The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus when John baptized Him, I saw The Holy Spirit descend upon Jerry! He began to glow and he took the line from the young man as he walked by him and toward the bird in the water. Jerry began drawing the line towards him and as he and the pelican got closer, Jerry placed the line in his right hand, extended his left hand towards the bird and began speaking in tongues. Everyone who had gathered around, approximately a group of 20 people or so, were amazed at what they heard, some, you could tell, had no idea what was going on before them. The pelican was in much distress and began lunging toward Jerry and popping his beak wildly as if he were going to do his best to take off his arm. Anyone else under their own power would have, at the very least, been spooked enough to drop the line and run. Once again, Jerry couldn't run anymore, especially while his good foot along with his prosthetic were becoming deeper and deeper in the sand with each crashing wave.
The pelican made at least 4 lunges at Jerry while attempting to bite him every time until he succumbed to the voice of God spoken through Jerry. This pelican turned his beak towards the sky, laid his head on the ground and looked up at Jerry as if to say, "I give up". Jerry reached down and stroked the birds head, gently placed his hand around the back of the birds neck and began to untangle the line from the pelican's back and feet. One lady stood in amazement and dropped to her knees and asked Jerry if she could help by holding his beak. She did so as Jerry nodded "ok" to her, as God continued to speak thru him. One person screamed, "anybody got a knife", and again, someone else, "anybody got a knife or something that will cut fishing line?" Not a fisherman in sight. Normally, at least every other group on the beach has someone who is surf fishing or at least a mom who has one of everything in her bag. But not today. This wasn't going to be easy. At least another 20 feet of line was twisted and tangled all around this bird. God continued to speak thru Jerry and as the waves continued to spill up on the shore, Jerry weaved the line in and out around and about until finally, he could see the end. But at the end of the line, two four-prong hooks awaited, embedded into the hide of this pelican. At first, it appeared that now, someone needed to be screaming, "anybody got any pliers"? But just as it seemed the going was gonna get a little bit rougher, God's voice became louder. People were looking around at each other and I could hear the faint whispers of "what's he saying, what is that language he's speaking!" First hook out....second hook out,....last little bit of line unraveled from around the pelican's feet and he was free!
I can't even describe what went on after that, people cheered and clapped, but my eyes were focused on Jerry. I moved in to help him up and as he stopped talking, the sun began to peek through the clouds that had been hovering overhead and Jerry looked at me with an absence that I can only say was "ghostly....Holy Ghostly"! After getting back to our designated spot on the beach, it was then that I realized that although Jerry was there, he didn't remember much about what had just happened. I could only think back about how he must have felt that day when God gave him an ultimatum: "TURN TO ME AND GAIN THE WORLD OR GO YOUR OWN WAY AND LOSE EVERYTHING!" I know that if that bird could talk, he would have been happy that Jerry turned to God. I am.
I told Pastor Wesley that I wanted to tell him about Jerry and the Pelican and my uncle Gary, whom I had just informed of this story, said, "no, you need to preach that"! Well, I'm not a preacher, but we are all called to be ministers of the Good News, and I feel strongly that this story needs to be told. I told Pastor Wesley that I believe that when things out of the ordinary happen in front of you, things that you just don't see everyday, these things are not by accident or coincidence, they happen for a purpose, for a divine purpose. I know that without a shadow of a doubt, there was a message in this and I know that it was for me. Any other time, I would have jumped in to help my brother when I thought that he may be in danger but I was mesmerized at the situation. Although my feet were not in the water, they felt like lead, like they were buried underneath the sand and I couldn't have moved if I'd wanted to.
How many of us have been bound up with the trials and storms of this life, much like the pelican was bound in the fishing line? All of us! But it's not enough to be all twisted up and tangled to the point that you are rendered helpless, its embedded into your hide, much like the hooks were in the bird. And when someone reaches out to help, you snap and fight, almost begging to be left alone so that you can wallow and float along the dirty streams of life's rivers and oceans of issues, too afraid to accept their help because you think it will only make things worse. And when you do give in, why does it take so long for healing or relief to come, why doesn't God just snap his fingers and cut you loose? Faith. It is a "walk with God", a long stroll through this life that encounters all of the repercussions that sin has birthed since The Garden of Eden. When we accept God's Son into our hearts, we accept all of the help that we will ever need for anything that entangles us. Will you accept Him today? Will you allow Him to hold you and comfort you and give you peace? Will you allow Jesus to set you free?
Jim & Delphine
Reflections, Two Weekends
Gatherings at The Cove
Asheville, North Carolina
The Gatherings at The Cove are a
a journey of blessings…more than one could anticipate.
A journey towards God’s kingdom
greeted by welcoming smiles
reassuring, encouraging words…of those purposefully, gathered together!
Surrounded by the wondrous views of God’s creation in
His comfort, His love, His spirit is found
in the faces, the handshakes, the hugs
the testimonies, the stories, the songs of those who share.
Gifts of the Spirit.
Our hearts are touched to work harder…
to answer His call…to fulfill our purpose.
Seeing, loving, reaching out to the least of these
Praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ
loving the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul.
Prayers and heartfelt words are shared at The Gatherings…
and, hallelujah, the voices, the songs, the music…lifted up to Heaven.
Listen, listen…hear Him, see Him…
“Blessed Assurance”…”Amazing Grace”...
“When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”
“It Is Well With My Soul.”
We continue to be blessed by our time at The Gatherings!
We remember, we share with others and describe, as well as we can,
the renewing, restoring, uplifting time spent with others gathered in His name.
We are grateful to those who answered God’s call
to bring us together and to share the joy in the journey.
Thanks be to God!
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.”