News from the Fresno Retreat: Our Master Gardener
by Cat Young
Over a hundred people gathered from as far away as Ontario, Canada and New York State to attend the two-day MPC Spiritual Retreat in Fresno, California at the end of March. For many of those present, it was the first time they had ever been introduced to Leanne Payne’s writings and teaching. It was water to a thirsty church.
I felt a deep stillness come over the room as Sarah opened the retreat with the teaching on the Holiness of God, and it seemed to me everyone was leaning forward, drinking it in with parched souls. After decades of confused teaching it was a relief to be reminded who God truly is, and He himself confirmed the message with a palpable sense of His presence.
The power of what He was doing became apparent by the first break. Three separate women ran up to me, hugging me, sharing stories of how God was already opening their ears, speaking to their hearts. Each of them had received messages having something to do with rocks.
The first lady saw a triangle made of stones, representing the Trinity. One particular stone at the top of the triangle stood out very clearly to her in her imagination. Later she found a stone exactly like the one in her vision in the courtyard. She joyfully picked it up and now keeps it at home.
Another one received a word from the Lord about her hobby of rock collecting, which her psychiatrist had labeled as a symptom of bipolar disorder. The Lord affirmed the hobby as a practice of His presence and told her it’s one more place “where dirt meets grace”, a theme he had begun speaking to her in the days leading up to the retreat.
The third was given an image of a doorway which represented the way to her heart, and it was completely blocked with stones. She was told that together, she and the Lord would name each stone and then remove it.
The three of them shared their “rock” stories with one another and found a unity of fellowship in them. All this happened in the first two hours of the retreat.
Despite the many challenges we faced surrounding our worship team, we were blessed with an amazing fullness of sound thanks to the combined skills of John Cannon with local musicians Tony Manjarrez on guitar and Brenda Myers on percussion. Tony later said of John, “There’s a touch on that man’s life. I’m not an organ man—I walk out of churches when I hear an organ—but when he touched that instrument I felt like I was being lifted heavenward!” Both he and Brenda truly enjoyed John’s joy-filled presence and hearty laugh.
We had around twenty attending who are involved in the fields of mental health and counseling, and each of these were deeply encouraged as they began to see an integration between their faith and their training and calling. One young woman asked if the team would pray for all the counselors, and Sarah, Anjie and Sill graciously led them in prayers for wisdom, discernment and equipping for their ministries, as well as for their own personal growth. These will soon be regularly gathering via Zoom to continue reading Leanne’s works and begin applying the truths in them to their counseling work.
Bishop Eric Menees was at first impressed, and then profoundly moved by what he experienced at the retreat. He gave a glowing endorsement to his clergy, testifying to the sound theology of the teachings and the testimonies of Sarah, Tommy, Sill, Anjie and Melanie, naming them a blessing to all in attendance. Later, at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, he made an appeal to the clergy to join him in attending the Wheaton school this July, saying, “it will truly change your life.”
In the aftermath of the retreat, I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of the seeds planted begin to bear fruit. Some of the most colorful fruit has come about in one of the women I referred to above. The teaching on forgiveness gave her a bit of drama as the Lord apparently cemented her bottom to the floor of the sanctuary until she was ready to forgive the birth mother who had twice rejected her. Days later, the Spirit led her to write four pages of people and actions to forgive, to weep over them, and then to burn them. Then he led her to create some wonderful paintings with the ashes. The change in her countenance has brought strangers to her, asking her what “that glow” about her is. She answers, with great passion, it’s the power of God in forgiveness! As an added bonus, she has enjoyed a remission of her dystonia since the retreat.
One thing I’ve noticed at each MPC event I’ve attended: there’s something about the renunciation and forgiveness of sin which opens us all to the unifying work of the Holy Spirit. By the end of the retreat Saturday evening, it seemed everyone was a little in love with each other, and it was simply an outcome of people releasing their stuff to the Lord. Once God has a straight path to each heart, he brings us all together. I’ve also noticed after each MPC event that sometimes fruit springs up right away, and other times weeds start surfacing that those who attended never knew were there, allowing the disciple to present those weeds to the Lord for redemption. Please pray for all these tender shoots, that the Spirit will continue to water what he’s planted. Pray especially that the latter people will be granted the will to face into what the Lord is showing them, and will continue on the path of healing.