While eating lunch around a small restaurant table in Phoenix during the national conference, I began to share with close friends a dream that my wife Nancy had six months earlier. As I started to speak I was shocked and embarrassed by an unanticipated wave of emotion that both flooded my eyes and choked my words. Just minutes before I had been hilariously laughing about who knows what. But in that moment the presence of the Spirit came unannounced, yet was clearly evident to everyone at the table. It was crazy and I could hardly get through the retelling of Nancy’s dream.
Roy Conwell, Steve Fish and Glenn Schroder have been close friends of mine since the earliest days of the Vineyard. Actually we’ve been more than friends; we’ve been comrades in a quest to build churches and a movement we’ve believed in and sacrificed for. At one point, we worked together to build our region and at other times we co-labored on outreaches in the developing world. Throughout the years we have built a rich relationship of trust. Although we have never used the terminology before, in truth we have become spiritual brothers. As I shared with these guys, I suddenly realized that Nancy’s dream has special meaning and feeling for people like us who have loved the Vineyard and all it has stood for these past thirty years. I guess that is something to be emotional about.
Back to the dream that happened last fall. Nancy woke early one morning and shared that she’d had a significant dream. In her dream she was sitting at our dining room table having tea with an English woman and an Asian woman. As they fellowshipped together the English woman’s nose began to bleed causing Nancy to hand her a tissue and pray for her. At that point the woman looked up at Nancy and said, “I have a word for your husband; go tell him that the brothers are coming.” At that point the two of them joined together and started praying for the Asian woman. All three women began to shake as the Holy Spirit fell upon them.
About a month after her dream Nancy and I were in England teaching a leadership conference. During those few days we made some new friendships and rekindled old ones. Up to that time I had little idea what her dream meant, but during an evening ministry time I felt prompted by the Spirit to share it with the Vineyard couples who were present. Without going into great detail I’ll attempt to share the heart of what transpired.
As we prayed for one another many experienced a deep sense of brotherhood that God was imparting among Vineyard leaders even beyond those present in the room that night. I personally believed God was about to build something new between the UK leadership and the USA churches. One long time Vineyard pastor who was present confessed he had always looked to the American Vineyards for leadership and had never felt like a brother or peer. Some shared that they had known the USA Vineyards had been struggling as a whole and yet because of these feeling never offered counsel or ministry as a true brother might. The bloody nose of the English woman signified to them the struggle many English churches had experienced but that out of their struggle they understood pain and wanted to help not just by ministering to the American Vineyards, but ministering more effectively with them into the world (i.e. the Asian woman).
For me the message that the “brothers are coming” is a great encouragement that goes deeper than simply the UK and America. For me it is something deep God wants to do worldwide. I believe God wants to take the Vineyard into a new season where he is going to draw like-hearted, like-minded leaders throughout our movement together for a common cause. I believe he wants to move us from an association or organization to something more organic and lasting. He wants us to fall in love and join arms in a great quest. I believe he wants to build us not simply into a relational community, but a purposeful fellowship; a genuine brotherhood.
I already see it happening even as I felt it happen with Roy, Steve, Glenn and myself that day around the table in Phoenix. I know that throughout the movement and around the world God is doing this deeper more purposeful work in many of our leaders, both men and women. He is calling us to a common cause. He has tested us as a people over the course of time and through trials of many kinds. For many it has provided relationships of authentic trust and care. We have rejected the politics of organizational government, choosing instead to relate not because we have to but because we honestly want to. We truly like one another, and the connection is contagious.
“The brothers are coming” – this is the juncture I find myself at in this journey called ministry… it is the cry of my heart!