Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Northumberland Northwich and Warrington

Northumberland September 2013

Shirley and Joanna 

On the  evening of September 11th a team from Arise Ministries travelled to Heddon-on-the-Wall.   After reading my book From History to Hope an intercessory prayer group invited us to pray around Civil War sites in their area. The Battle of Newburn in 1640 took place between the Scottish Covenanters and Royalists soldiers under King Charles I. This battle led to the beginning of the Civil War. The Scots encamped at Heddon before taking the high ground at Newburn Church. The church was used to fire cannons from and in recent days has been the victim of an arson attack. It was here we gathered on our first morning. We were thrilled to have so many ladies from the area with us, including a Scottish lady, Joanna. As we waited outside the church, we began to pray and before too long Joanna started to weep, asking the Lord’s forgiveness for the battle that still rages between her countrymen and the English. This continued inside the church as she and others repented for using this sacred place for war. We all, including those with Scottish heritage, climbed the hill while one lady who comes from Newburn stayed at the church. There was a time of repentance and forgiveness from both sides and a real desire to see England and Scotland united. The Scots led the way as we returned to the church but this time, in a prophetic act of surrender, they knocked and waited to be invited in. This was done with enormous grace and was very moving.  We all then returned to the hill to share Communion. 
We later prayed on the land near the river where the battle took place and many lives were lost.

Vanessa reading Isaiah 61 
In the afternoon eight of us went north to Chillingham Castle. We knew this was a place Cromwell had stayed on his way to Scotland. We discovered that during the Civil War, the owner’s two sons were divided, one fought on the King’s side and lost his life in battle, while the other was a senior Parliamentarian and the third signature on the king’s death warrant. He was later beheaded. Once again we could see the division in families that this war had caused. So again we prayed for forgiveness and for this family and the land to know healing and love. We continued onto Alnwick Gardens, as the castle is another place Cromwell stayed. The gardens were beautiful and full of life, with fountains everywhere.
One of them was surrounded with oak trees, which spoke to us of Isaiah 61, especially v3 “They will be called oaks of righteousness for the display of His splendour”. We enjoyed our time there believing that this scripture will become truth for everyone.

Val, Annette and Shirley at Corbridge 
Our last day began on the bridge of the beautiful old town of Corbridge, where once again battles were fought during the Civil War. As we prayed I felt overcome with grief and tears just fell. Later I asked God what that was about and I felt Him say “I cry for my lost sons and daughters”.
We continued onto the coast at Tynemouth, where we spent time in the Castle and Priory ruins. Tynemouth Castle and Priory both have quite a story to tell, but the part of history that interested us was that the Parliamentarian Sir Arthur Haselrige (one of Cromwell's men) had taken it in a bloody battle and many of the Scottish army died. This later enabled Cromwell to use the castle on his way to and from
 Tynemouth Castle and Priory
Scotland. This was again a powerful time of repentance and healing as we stayed a while praying for the area. We worshipped in the grounds and took Communion. As we left the site, we noticed something amazing. There were rose petals on the ground at the gateway, which had not been there when we arrived. It reminded us of what God said to me years ago when I was given a picture of a rose, “All I am doing is taking away broken petals” That word was for me, but this time it was for the land.

Northwich, Cheshire August 2013

My book From History to Hope had again inspired a lady to invite us to share in a service to mark the anniversary of the final battle of the Civil War between Parliamentarian's and Royalists which took place at Winnington Bridge on 19th August. As we gathered for our day of prayer and fasting beforehand, it became obvious to us that this whole area was to play an important part in God’s healing plan. Cheshire was badly affected by the Civil War and many Irish people have since settled there. We know we have more work to do in this area. We were given the scripture Isaiah 49:8 – We believe God is making a covenant to “restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances.”

Shirley with prayer leader Stella and  Martyn
The day began in a church hall just outside Northwich where we joined in worship with leaders and representatives from all denominations, as well as five friends from Warrington. I shared how God had led us through the years and why we believed that being with them on this day was part of God’s plan. We had a time of corporate and individual repentance when I was able to repent and stand in the gap for our part in the battle and others asked forgiveness for the divisions over the years between denominations.
We believe that by doing this we came against the religious spirit that was sown into the land by Cromwell’s Puritan stance. I then had the privilege of blessing everyone by anointing them with oil and I in turn was anointed by the local Church of England Minister. Afterwards we joined together to pray for all walls that had been built between God’s people to come down. It was an amazing time of repentance and healing which finished with the blowing of the shofar.

Christians from all denomination meet together to pray
As we arrived at the Winnington Bridge area it was obvious that this was once a prosperous area that had fallen onto hard times. We gathered to share in Communion together, led by a Free Church leader from Northwich. There was a tremendous feeling of God’s presence as we shared the bread and wine. We crossed over to the bridge where a plaque commemorates this final battle. As we turned to cross back over the bridge a car passed by with the number plate *** WTC. Wholeness Through Christ is the organisation God used to heal and bless me over the years and is usually shortened to “WTC”. This was my confirmation that this was His day and was part of His plan. It is through Christ that we are healed!

Warrington, Cheshire, England March 2013

In 2011 we received an invitation to Warrington, England by an intercessory prayer group had been inspired when they read  From History to Hope.
Hands reach out in forgiveness in Warrington
Warrington is the town where in 1993 an IRA bomb exploded and two young boys lost their lives. That was something in itself, but we also discovered that Warrington is one of only three places in the country to have a statue of Cromwell. We believe Cromwell’s activity in Ireland had left a bitter memory. We believed there was a connection between the bombing and Cromwell’s legacy in Ireland, and God was connecting us with the intercessors there, and on later visits, with Civic and Church leaders.  St Patrick’s Day, 17th March 2013, was the twentieth anniversary of the bombing. I was invited to share in the service of remembrance on Sunday evening. The minister set the scene and many different groups took part including the Mayor. I felt very anxious as I walked to the microphone, but knew this was God’s timing. Once I began speaking I knew the Holy Spirit was with me as I looked out at the faces of the people acknowledging my words. I finished by saying “you have paid the ultimate price for what someone from my town had done to the Irish people. I am not saying it is the only reason, but I have heard it said that many ask “why Warrington?”. We believe that because you have this connection and the statue of Cromwell, this could be the reason. Please would you forgive us."  As I returned to my seat a lady came forward to tell me how much my words had affected her. This was repeated over and over again. Later a gentleman from the Hindu faith told me that for years he and his family have asked the question why Warrington, he went on to say that his eyes had been opened that day because he now understands. Praise God for His healing power.

Shirley Bowers,  Cllr Steve Wright, Mayor of Warrington, and Rev Stephen Kingsnorth


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