Testimonies from Leaders School of Ministry
Amazing testimonies from this summer's Leaders School of Ministry.
The Leaders School of Ministry is a life-changing 3 week school for leaders, ministers, missionaries and their spouses. It is time to be refreshed, renewed and restored while creating a deeper intimacy with God. With incredible worship, speakers and teaching in a safe environment, it aims to equip people with keys to use for the rest of their lives, releasing them into their destiny.
Click here for more information about the Leaders School of Ministry (LSoM).
Rich DeRuiter, USA
I’m a pastor of a small community church in a conservative Calvinistic denomination (the Christian Reformed Church). My wife and I attended a Pastors and Leaders Conference at Catch The Fire in 2004 (then Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship). I had been at the end, spiritually and professionally, and was desperately thirsty for a personal encounter with the Living God. We were both deeply and radically touched by God there, impacted right down to our bones.
“There is a spirit of desperation and satisfaction in God that absolutely permeates both the school and the church.”
It was shortly after that life-changing experience that we heard about the Leaders School of Ministry and desperately wanted to come. However, the time and financial commitment seemed just too much for us, so the hope just simmered ever since. In 2010, after nearly 15 years in my present congregation, we began planning a sabbatical. We couldn’t afford it, so we applied for a grant which covered the cost of the Leaders School of Ministry along with several other major expenses for both my wife and I. In 2012 God provided us with the time and finances to make the LSoM a reality. Isn’t God good?!
What a joy it was to return to Catch the Fire, and to engage with staff, guest speakers and folks from all over the world – all eager to risk it all for whatever God wants. There is a spirit of desperation and satisfaction in God that absolutely permeates both the school and the church.
“I didn't realize God wanted me to be His son.”
One particularly helpful insight came through Barry Adams. As he talked about knowing and living in the Father’s love, he spoke of being a son to both his earthly father and his heavenly Father. The light went on in my head. Somehow, this rather obvious piece was missing, even though I had preached on sonship before. I knew God wanted to be my Father, and I wanted that too, but I didn't realize God wanted me to be His son. I had never considered what my earthly father and my heavenly Father were looking for from me, as a son. Before that insight, the Father seemed more distant than He seems now - more like "Father" and less like "Dad”. Suddenly, sonship has taken on a much deeper, more secure and personal meaning. A sense of isolation has been replaced with a genuine relationship, where my place is not only secure, but can't ever be undone.
“His scars are a testimony of His love that has set me free.”
During one soaking time, I saw myself beside a pond, laying on some grass and leaning back against Jesus. He was holding me, and I felt completely at peace with Him. One arm was around my chest, and Jesus asked me to look at His hand. So I turned His palm toward me to look at it. I could clearly see the scars from the nail prints. Immediately, I was filled with an assurance that “it is finished”. All my junk has already been dealt with and Jesus’ wounds have brought healing. Before, I felt terribly guilty that Jesus suffered for me, and ashamed that He died for me. But now I was aware that He held no resentment toward me for going to the cross, and that released me from so much shame. In fact, I felt that He was glad to do that for me, so that we could be together. His scars are a testimony of His love that has set me free. I am held by love-scarred hands; all my debts toward Him are completely paid; all that’s left to do is to love. Wow!
The prophetic material was so well connected to the Father Heart. What a breath of fresh air! Practising prophecy with other students was fun and encouraging, God spoke powerfully through them and the prophetic is being released in me with more confidence now.
As my sabbatical is now at an end, I am beginning to re-engage in ministry and it’s exciting! Though still learning to be a son, I am having a great time learning it! It is so amazing to pray and fellowship with God knowing that all my junk has already been dealt with. He doesn’t think about it anymore, so why should I?
I have had a shift in my identity. During the second week of LSoM, we were asked to “walk in the light” with our small group. I questioned, “How does telling six people about my deepest, darkest shame take it away?” In my understanding of the equation, shame plus telling others about my it would give me a double portion of shame. In all the inner healing I had gone through, I had never heard of this method.
“Instead of singing songs proclaiming that Jesus is able to take my shame away, I sing them declaring that Jesus did lift my shame off me.”
I decided to use what we had learned the week before to hear what God wanted me to do. He told me that I should share two experiences: one from two dozen years ago and another from two years ago. I was still skeptical but believed that even if sharing my shame brought on more, somehow, God could take both the past and the present shame away.
My small group leader led me through the process as my small group listened to my stories. And now, it is gone! Instead of singing songs proclaiming that Jesus is able to take my shame away, I sing them declaring that Jesus did lift my shame off me. I thank God for bringing me to the School of Ministry and setting me free from shame.
Gunter Zimmer, Germany
This school was life-transforming. I came to Toronto for the first time in 2002 and again in 2003, but I had always desired to participate in a Leaders School. My usual excuse was "I don't have money" or "I can not get away for 3 weeks". But now I was so desperate to receive some deep healing of my heart and to get recharged. I have been a pastor for 10 years in the church where I am now and I was exhausted. I felt everybody just wanted something from me. Once, it was a joy to pray for people and to help, but I had become so empty, exhausted and dry that I felt I had nothing more that I could give to people. I knew that I needed a deep, personal encounter with Jesus and the only place where I felt totally safe and at home was Catch The Fire, Toronto. (Certainly there are other places, but for me it was very clear that the Lord wanted me to go there).
“The Lord took me from knowledge in my brain to experience in my heart, hallelujah!”
So I went to the Leaders School, taking a risk. From the first day it was an overwhelmingly good time for me. The topics were not really new to me, but this time I could completely open up and receive all the Father had for me. I could get rid of bitterness, disappointment and deep hurts in my heart. I repented at every opportunity and felt my life was clearing up more and more. Before I came to the school I felt tired and weak almost every day. But from the first day in Toronto the Lord lifted this heaviness and weakness and I became stronger and fitter than before. At the end of 3 weeks I felt 10 years younger. What made a big difference was the experience of the Father’s love and healing touch. The Lord took me from knowledge in my brain to experience in my heart, hallelujah!
“When the heart receives healing, the body follows.”
Looking back, I can truly say that the LSoM was the best time of my life. Besides all the encounters with the Lord, I greatly enjoyed the wonderful fellowship with everybody in the school and in the church. At home this positive change continues. One of my difficulties before the school was overeating, often out of frustration. During the LSoM my eating habits were readjusted and I lost 6 kilos in those 3 weeks, then at home another 8 kilos, which continues on now. This is a great relief for me. When the heart receives healing, the body follows. People around me have noticed the positive difference in my life. Ministry is joy again and I am now ready for new adventures with the Lord. Thank you Father, thank you SoM staff, thank you Catch The Fire.
Erin Adelsman, USA
He never disappoints. That is what I walked away with from the Leaders School. When I am waiting for a promise, that is an opportunity for hope. When I am hurt in a relationship, that is an opportunity to dig deeper into his love and kindness. When my expectations are not met, that is a moment for me to lift my gaze. He never disappoints, but what about me?
“I came home with this new identity that had been dormant for years. It is who I was created to be.”
When I returned home I was wholly unprepared to do so. I had spent three glorious weeks working, resting and renewing in a place that was safe and rich. Then I went home. Now what? I was totally and completely overwhelmed by how different I was. I’m not sure if people noticed an outward difference but everything had changed for me. I came home with this new identity that had been dormant for years. It is who I was created to be. I was in the process of getting back those things that I had lost or handed away. Some were little glimmers that Holy Spirit would light upon and I saw them for the first time. Others were treasures that I had long buried as a way to be safe. I had seen many of the pieces and Toronto gave me the space and place to start to dig and grow.
But now I was home. Home is a place I love which is filled with promises and many good things. But it was the same as when I had left. My habits were still the same. My family was still the same. My church was still the same. I found myself fighting to stay out of the ruts that I had dug so deep. They were familiar, comfortable and easy. I realized I had been in the driver’s seat of my life, but not really going anywhere. It was akin to the amusement rides I loved as a child where you “drive” a car, but really you were just on a track going round and round, not really in-control. Being home was like getting back in the car but for the first time really seeing what was happening. My eyes were opened.
“The further I leaned into Holy Spirit the more I realized it didn't have to be so hard.”
How do I get off the track? It requires that I trust God and use the power He has given me. It also takes grace, loads and loads of grace. I felt like I was disappointing myself and God by not being stronger. Not being able to immediately step into all these new things. Not being able to make the changes an instant reality. When I finally was able to quiet down the racing thoughts and quell the storm through rest, I realized he never disappoints. This is part of my process. I had changed the foundations, restored what was lost, and that doesn't go away. That is mine. The further I leaned into Holy Spirit the more I realized it didn't have to be so hard. When I asked him to take me off the track going nowhere, he did. It is an unbelievably good adventure, full of abounding hope and relentless joy. He never disappoints.