The two Scriptures that highlight Michael and Lesley’s ministry are Isaiah 58:11-12 and Jeremiah 1:9-10.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. NIV
Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” NIV
These verses were given to Michael during specific times of prayer. Initially they did not seem to make a lot of sense but over recent year Michael and Lesley have begun to see them as clear statements concerning the type of calling and ministry in which they have been functioning. (They have not developed ministry on their understanding of these verses, rather they have come to reflect on how these verses explain what they have been led into).
A key aspect of apostolic ministry is that of “laying foundations”. The Apostle Paul referred to himself as “an expert builder” who laid a strong foundation (1 Cor 3:10). A practical desire for him personally was to build where none had built before (Rom 15:20), while other apostles built where others had previously gone. For example, Barnabas was sent to Antioch to encourage the church there. The original apostles remained in Jerusalem and build on the work Jesus began. Even Paul, though his primary mission was to virgin harvest fields, took every opportunity to build even in an established area (Rom 1:11-14).
Apostles impart gifts, build up what is lacking and establish order in the church of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:11; 1 The 3:10; Cor 7:17; Tit 1:5). While the early apostles contended with building, history reveals that future apostles began as reformers. That is they had to “uproot and tear down… destroy and overthrow” before they were able to “build and plant”.
A feature of Michael’s ministry has been one of critical evaluation of the way we have “done church” and the evangelistic phenomena of “saving souls” or “making believers” against Jesus’ commission to “make disciples”. Not with an aim to question the motives of those who are building but to question the materials which we so readily accept as being valid.
If Jesus’ Church is built using faulty materials then we need to pull down before we can build. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and others found themselves challenging the status quo. They were firstly sent to “uproot and tear down” before they could build. Such work naturally encounters strong opposition but as they persevered they did in fact build.
Renovation, restoration and revolution all begin with tearing down, destroying and overthrowing before the work of building takes place. The next step is to lay foundations, that are “age old” and to rebuild the “ancient ruins” (Nehemiah is an interesting type to study).
Many wonder why we do not see the awesome power of God in the way it was revealed through the early church. Quite simply, modern Christianity is nothing like the early church in form, function or principle. IT is not enough to try to “copy” some of their activities – like cell churches, community living, evangelistic fervour – but to become in nature what Jesus birthed, genuine disciples who live the way of the cross.
Michael and Lesley have been called to such a work. To identify building material that is
“gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw” (1 Cor 3:12-13), and replace it with material of eternal substance that will stand the test of Jesus’ judgement.
As Michael and Lesley travel the world their objective is to “build up what may be lacking”; they desire to “impart spiritual gifts”; to participate in mutual encouragement; and partner with ministers to bring “glory to God and Jesus Christ” in the life of churches, ascension gift ministers and individuals.