Co-laboring with God in Hurricane Irma! – also – Are Natural Disasters Random or Orchestrated and Controlled by God?


The world has had its share hurricanes this year: Harvey then Jose, Irma and Maria. We watched the news, feeling quite helpless, as Harvey devastated Houston. Then came Irma, wreaking havoc across the Caribbean islands and headed straight for Florida.  All during the first week of September Mary and I watched the devastation unfold across the Caribbean. As Irma neared Cuba on Thursday it became apparent that southern Florida was going to take a direct hit from this CAT 5 monster.  The news media was relentless: dire predictions of the worst possible disasters imaginable were coming to southern Florida. It was a hurricane and there’s nothing you can do about it but pray for a miracle.  Despair was in the air.

My wife Mary and I felt very agitated in our spirits as we prayed about this.  We were not the only ones agitated.  I talked to many people who were earnestly praying for Florida but we weren’t praying together.  I felt the Lord wanted many people to be praying in unison with targeted prayer about Irma. There was more to be done than hand-wringing.  Heaven had a strategy!

Hurricane Irma positioned to do a direct hit on Miami/Fort Lauderdale in South-East Florida

As we waited on the Lord what to pray May heard “3”.  I took this to mean that our mission in prayer was to ask gather saints and see Irma reduced to a CAT 3 storm before it struck mainland Florida. I felt led to explore what shuts down a hurricane and pray tactically those points.  We now had an objective and a strategy, this was turning into an adventure with God!

We posted our prayer vigil on Facebook on Friday night with a very specific strategy we felt God gave us to declare:  1.  Deep currents to come up and cool the water temperature down to 80 degrees in the Strait of Florida before Irma arrives;  2.  Send shearing winds to disrupt the eye and weaken it;  3.  Send sinking cold air to dry it out.  4. Pray for protection over lives and property.

Within 24 hours we had over 100 people (including a church in Fuji) following on my Facebook prayer chain and God began answering our prayers in measurable ways. The water temperature at the NOAA buoy at Vaca Key, FL dropped by 7 degrees in less than 48 hours – not normal for oceans unless a deep current comes up to the surface.  When Irma hit the strait near the U.S. mainland the water was 80.5 degrees – ½ degree away from our target.

The hurricane made landfall at Marco Island 1 MPH into CAT 3 range and in less than an hour it was in CAT 3 range and quickly degraded further.  The National Weather Service in Melbourne posted a map of “cold sinking air” coming in from the north into Irma’s eye. Because Irma suddenly turned inland rather than staying offshore from Naples and Tampa, the storm surge was far less than anticipated, saving lives and property. The New York Times published a headline the following day The Monster Surge That Wasn’t: Why Irma Caused Less Flooding Than Expected.”   God let us see answers us in very specific ways! (see my Facebook page for the details).

I also heard of other groups praying for very specific things as well. One church in Miami took their congregation to the beach and declared over Irma that it would not come to Miami. It did not come to Miami, it went west, came on land, and quickly died down. God was orchestrating declaration and prayer in many groups of believers.

I was in the Army for nine years and used to work in a Division Tactical Operations Center. In the Tactical Operations Center we had maps of where all the division’s battalions were scattered over our maneuver area.  Each battalion had a specific mission and they were focused on that mission.  Only the generals and commanders in the Operations Center could see how it all fit together. The Father had a plan for Irma, Jesus carried it out through His body via the Holy Spirit.  There were many others on the Father’s big battle map that I never met that were playing their role in Operation Irma.  We are the BODY of Christ, not a disjointed bunch of individuals. From Heaven we operate as a unit. When you start perceiving things that way, praying for nature to behave seems much less exotic than it appears! This isn’t about God’s man of faith and power deciding to shut down a hurricane, it’s the Body of Christ in action!

John 14:10-12, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”

Jesus doesn’t work independently of the Father – but cooperatively, abiding in Him. We are promised the same relationship with the Father.  The Father sets the initiative; the Son executes the initiative. Both His words and his miraculous works are equally effective at testifying who He is, the Savior of the world, the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God, the King of the Universe. Anyone who believes in Him will do the works He did and even greater works because He went to Father and sent the Holy Spirit to us.  

Luke 24:49, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The word clothed in the Greek is ENDUÃ, which literally means to wear like a garment. We are to be clothed with power in the Holy Spirit. This is linked directly back to the works Jesus spoke in John 14 :10-12 – the power to do the works He did, and more, through an intimate relationship with the Father and Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Everything in the Kingdom is relational and ultimately redemptive, driven by the love and compassion of the Father working through us. In these last days God is going to unveil what creation is longing to see: the revealing of the sons of God.  Creation is subject to us when our decrees and prayers are birthed from a place of understanding the heart of the Father and the purposes and authority of the Son spoken through us.

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of heart and show us all of what we are to be in these days.  May we rightly perceive our place in your Body and believe what You have spoken about who we are in You. Let us bring the counsels of Heaven to be displayed in the earth. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. Amen!


As Hurricane Irma was approaching Florida, I found myself struggling with the issue of exactly how to pray.  I have a lot of family that still lives in central and southern Florida and I was naturally greatly concerned for their safety.  Normally I would have prayed immediately and strongly for God to steer the hurricane away from the state and out into the ocean.  But for some reason I found myself unable to pray for that to happen. As an Intercessor this should have been a no-brainer, Irma go away ! So I did the only other thing I knew to do, I asked God what was going on.  This was His reply,

“Paul, I am going to punish America for her sins, the shedding of innocent blood through abortion, immorality , and rebellion against my Word. Remember what I have told you for years, I am able to protect my people even in the midst of disaster. But, I have heard your prayer for mercy and will come after America’s wealth, possessions and prosperity, but I will spare their lives.”



My plans for the September Bridge Report was to feature an American couple who are both longstanding friends, and serving the nations with the Gospel.  However, due to this very active hurricane season, we realize that the major focus in the media and among people at large is right now on the major natural disasters that are unfolding in various parts of the world.

With major devastation caused by several hurricanes in the part of the world in which we live, then add to that picture major earthquakes in Mexico; widespread monsoon flooding in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan; and a series of wildfires blazing across the Southwest amidst record high temperatures in Arizona, Utah, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon – there is a good reason to take a pause and give some food for thought on a couple of relevant questions:

Are natural disasters random, manmade, or orchestrated and controlled by God?  If the latter is true, what response should we as believers in Jesus Christ, committed to Biblical truth, make in face of natural calamities?

These questions are also personal for us, as Steve and I just 10 days ago, experienced the outer parts of Hurricane Irma’s fury as it tore through Florida’s West Coast.  If Irma had sustained her maximum wind force of a Cat 5 and done a direct hit on the South-Eastern coastline along the populated beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the consequences of the storm and floodwater might have been loss of thousands of lives and whole communities submerged under the water of the anticipated 8-10 feet storm surge.

Hurricane Irma strengthening to a Category 5 storm!

Awaiting Irma’s arrival, we did hurricane preparations, shut down the Bridge office, then hunkered down in our home, praying and hoping the category 4 wind would not blow our house and us away, or drown us in floodwater. We were at peace, taking comfort in God’s promise of protection expressed in Psalm 121 and Psalm 91, trusting that our lives were in His hands!

As it turned out, Irma weakened, changed course toward the West, so the effect of the storm on our neighborhood was minimal with fallen trees and debris, but there was no property destruction.  For a few days, we were without electricity which kept me from preparing The Bridge Report.  Due to a backlog of postal mail and unstable service for a while, we have decided not to send out the printed copy of The Bridge Report by postal mail; rather, we are directing our followers and supporters to this  website for updates. To those who financially support The Bridge by sending your check by postal mail, you have an alternative this month: Donating your gift via PayPal on this site… please click on the button above.

We have been watching the devastation left behind from the flooding of Harvey in Houston, TX, Irma’s fury in the Caribbean, i.e. Barbuda, which has rendered the once idyllic tropical island completely uninhabitable; her ravaging of large parts of Key West, and other parts of Florida, and today’s report that Hurricane Maria has ruined large areas of Puerto Rico.  The entire island is without electricity, and preliminary reports of the damages state that 80 fishing villages along the northern coast are obliterated and left uninhabitable. This season’s hurricanes have left a trail of pain, sorrow, despair, and financial ruin.  Scores of people are suddenly finding themselves destitute! Furthermore – this hurricane season is not over, yet – there may be more to come!

Florida keys after Hurricane Irma.

The Bible clearly states that the Lord is the Creator of all things and upholds His creation by His living Word,The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1.

Both the Old and the New Testament have many examples of how the Lord used weather to communicate with His people, both for encouragement, but also chastisement.  Here are a few of the best knows passages:

  1. The world-wide flood under Noah was a clear punishment for the wickedness and corruption of the human race, …the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 6:11-12, 7:11).
  2. Job was a man righteous in God’s eyes, yet He allowed Satan to test him to the brink of death.  Job’s servant relayed this message to Job, “…your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house. And behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men and they are dead.”
  3. When Jonah was running away from God’s call, the Lord stopped Jonah, “…the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea.” (Jonah 1:4).
  4. Elijah was a prophet called to turn people’s heart back to the Lord from idolatry and worship of Baal.  Elijah prayed for rain in the midst of a severe drought, and the Lord sent the rain, “…and it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” (1. King 18:41-45).
  5. Jesus calmed the storm on the sea, Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was great calm.” (Luke 8:23-27).
  6. For the sake of the wider spreading of the Gospel, the Lord allowed the Apostle Paul to be shipwrecked by a strong wind on his way to Rome as a prisoner, but not long after there arose against it (the ship) a tempestuous wind called Euroclydon.”  (Acts 27: 6-44).

To better grasp God’s purpose for allowing calamity in nature to happen, we must remember that His actions are always redemptive, although we do not fully see or understand His ways, except bits and pieces by revelation through the eyes and heart of faith!  The Scriptures present God as a loving, merciful, and forgiving Father, but He is also holy, pure, and righteous – He will not and cannot tolerate sin!  The promise stands that, “…The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7), but it is tempered by, “…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45).  We must accept both the goodness and severity of God! (Rom. 11:22).

Hurricane Maria devastating Barbuda and Puerto Rico.

In this world, we live in the tension between God’s mercy and judgement!  As Christian believers we are not guaranteed exemption from suffering, loss, and destruction of our worldly goods.  However, we have something far more precious:  HOPE and PEACE in the face of life’s difficulties. This life is not the end of our journey, thus we, “…remain confident of this: I (we) will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) God’s gift to us while here, is His presence of the Holy Spirit who will guide us and show us our the way in all circumstances!  





Corey and Angelika Booher: Making Disciples of Jesus in Poland

“Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”  Habakkuk 1:5

Today, in over 650 places worldwide, and on almost every continent, God is using what has become known as the Disciple Making Movements (DMM) or Church Planting Movements (CPM).  It brings salvation to people who have never heard the Gospel before, and brings it to places where it has long been forgotten. A disciple-making movement is characterized by a rapidly multiplying increase of indigenous churches and disciples within a group or population segment. In short, we are seeing the book of Acts lived out today, all around the world – it is exciting!

How has DMM turned out to be an amazing strategy to bring in the harvest in nations all throughout the world and specifically in Poland? By simple obedience to the Word of God – the Bible!  We read the words of Jesus, believe them, draw crucial principles and practice them. Our focus is on:

  •  Making disciples, not just converts (Matthew 28)
  • Baptizing and teaching all the disciples to baptize
  • Teaching to obey and not just listen to the Word
  • Healing the sick, casting out demons and sending others to do the same
  • Sharing the Gospel with boldness as a lifestyle everywhere
  • Finding “the people and families of peace”.
  • Intentionally working on going out and bringing the Kingdom to families, villages and towns; not pulling individuals out of their cultural contexts.

Angelika and I live and work in Warsaw, Poland, as a “movement catalyzer”. That weird terminology simply means we train believers to make disciples who make disciples, in obedience to the Word.

Corey Training Disciplers in Poland

At the same time we go and share the Gospel and search for those called “people of peace” in the New Testament. People of peace are open to hearing the Word, accept our message, and invite us into their homes. When such a “person of peace” is found, we start a simple, reproducible Bible study which develops over time into a simple house church and quickly reproduces itself as new disciples are made.

But, before we talk more about the amazing things God is doing in Poland, we should talk about the elephant in the room Why Poland?” Poland is 99.5% Roman Catholic. So, how does Poland fit the “unreached” picture?

The evangelical population of Poland is only 0.25%, which makes Poland as unreached as the Hmu people of Northern China, the Hindi of Myanmar or the Brao of Cambodia. In my 19 years in this country, I’ve come to call it “a cultural Catholicism”. The reality is, an average Pole has no understanding of the Scriptures and does not read it.  Our experience is this: if someone is searching for true faith in a living God they don’t know where to find it. Angelika is a great example: she heard the Gospel for the first time when she was 18 and got saved right away. With only 0.25% of the population being Evangelical, and of those, a very small percentage actually shares their faith.  The need for the Gospel here, and across all of Europe, is dire — but God is doing a new thing in Poland and we are very excited!

A Disciple of Jesus Teaching New Believers to Evangelize

Let me give you an example of how a disciple-making movement starts:  The other day, a wealthy business owner named George (not his real name) showed up at our door.  He had been given our contact information through a mutual friend. He came to faith six months ago and was baptized. His wife, Rachel, got saved four months ago and was baptized last week. Standing in our living room, George said, “I am a Bible-believing Christian now. I don’t want to be in a system.  I want to live out my faith. What can you do with me?”  We told him about the importance of sharing the Gospel with his friends and family and that we could teach him and his wife to be a disciple of Christ who makes disciples. He immediately caught the vision of what God could and would do through him and his wife.

We offered to meet again to teach them how to do the Bible study with their friends who are searching for God. Even though we had already been talking for hours, Rachel said, “Teach us now so we can start this week!” This is the kind of passion we love to see and are seeing more often. So, we taught them.

The following Tuesday, they invited us to their apartment where they had gathered several families from their neighborhood to study the Bible.  We led the first study to show them how, and that was the last one we led! Since then, George and Rachel have been leading the study by themselves and we have kept in contact with them to give them advice, encouragement or any other help needed.

Their excitement about their friends’ reaction to the Gospel has been exhilarating. And the best part? We have not been at the meetings!  We help, but the Holy Spirt and the Scriptures are   their most important teachers. God will multiply that group, as they teach their friends how to lead Bible study and as they, as disciples, make further disciples!

Bible study with friends at home may sound ordinary for an American, but for us seeing it happening in Poland, is so exiting! Poles never read the Bible by themselves, never pray out loud in their own words and never consider faith as something which should be lived out in everyday life outside of the Sunday mass.

We hear reports often of new groups having started. All Across Poland today, God is raising up an army of ordinary people who are obedient to the words of Jesus and dare to believe that what is written in the Bible is still true today.  As someone comes to faith, often after a miracle is done in their lives, or after study of the Word, they are immediately led back out to lead others.  They pray for healing, they baptize and do everything else which a believer is called and empowered to do! We do not make them wait to be “qualified” to be obedient to the Scriptures. We model obedience; assist them to do it themselves, watch them as they do it alone and then we move on to start the fire in new places and people groups.

Pawel Sharing his Testimony

Those new believers boldly and radically share the Gospel with their family, friends, at work, in the streets, and through social media.

Pawel is one of many examples of what we see happening in Poland. He was pursuing a career as a New Age life coach. He would travel the world to get involved in spiritual rituals. One day he watched a YouTube movie about the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. Pawel contacted a Christian friend and coworker of ours who traveled with his wife to Pawel’s town and shared the Gospel with him. That day he received Christ, confessed his sins, got baptized in water, delivered from demons and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The next day he got up and felt led by the Holy Spirit to burn all of his New Age books and material. Then, he went to the train station and began sharing the Gospel,  but returned home, discouraged at “how hard it was.”  He fell to his knees, asked God for boldness, and went back to continue sharing. He recorded his testimony and put it on social media where he gave his phone number and encouraged people to contact him.  He stated he was no longer a New Age coach,  but a follower of Jesus and could help others to become Jesus-followers, too. During the first three months of his walk with Jesus, he baptized 11 people.  Today, Pawel no longer counts how many people he baptizes, but rather counts the number of disciple-making disciples he is training all over Poland.

This is God’s story in Poland today.  We believe we are close to seeing multiple generations of house churches planted in streams all across the country.  This means that one day, we will be able to say like the Apostle Paul, that the Gospel has covered all of Poland, no part has been missed!


I met Paul and Gloria Booher and their two sons in the local church I began attend in the Fall of 1981 after I had moved from New York to Florida. Corey was then five years old. Paul had a heart for missions, and after the launch of The Bridge in 1983, he became very much part of its initial intercessory prayer group.  A few years later, the Booher family moved out of town, and we more or less lost touch with them for several decades.

Four years ago, Paul and I intersected, again, with the result that he has, once again, become an integral part of The Bridge as head of the intercessory online prayer group for our field partners abroad.  He told me that his son, Corey, now lives with his Polish wife, Angelika and their two sons in Warsaw, Poland, leading an exciting mission outreach. Their emphasis is not only on preaching the Gospel, but also on training people to be disciples of Jesus!

It is thrilling to learn that a new generation in Poland is coming to faith and demonstrating the Lordship of Christ, especially since, during the Communist era in the early eighties I crisscrossed Poland while distributing Bibles to the persecuted, underground, evangelical believers!  They were few and far between!  One sows, another waters,  but it is God who gives the growth!

I have asked Corey to share with you a report on his life and ministry in Poland.  Please mark gifts to the Boohers and their ministry 8350 Polish Workers”. 








Yermek Balykbekov — The Gospel Prospering among Ethnic Groups in Central Asia


Central Asia includes the five republics of the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan pop. 17.5 mill, Kyrgyzstan pop. 6 mill, Tajikistan pop. 8.5 mill, Turkmenistan pop. 5.4 mill, and Uzbekistan pop. 30.3 mill – a total population of almost 69 million. Afghanistan pop. 31.5 mill, is also sometimes included. Central Asia is historically tied to its nomadic, Turkish language-based peoples, of which there are 25 ethnic groups, and the Silk Road, which has acted as a crossroad for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between Europe, Western Asia, South Asia, and East Asia.  In the 3rd – 4th Centuries, the region was Christian, evangelized by Nestorian, Assyrian missionaries, but later Buddhism and Islam became the dominant religions. Today, there are less than 3% Christians in Central Asia, including the Orthodox Church. They are increasingly being discriminated against by the authorities – Uzbekistan perhaps being the most restrictive country against Christian believers.


In June, my wife and I, and our two daughters had a great opportunity, to spend our vacation in a very special way. In the middle of June, we traveled from our northern city Karaganda to Almaty, located in southern Kazakhstan, near the Chinese border.  We participated in a Turkish language speaking gathering of Pastors, (“kurultrai” in the Kazakh language), where national pastors and Christian leaders from Central Asia came together – from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tatarstan,  Turkey, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Karakalpakstan, and Christian leaders from the Uighur people.

During our gathering there were so many great and powerful testimonies that touched our hearts. Some of the pastors and church leaders have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.  They are experiencing opposition from their families, the authorities, Muslim leaders, and their neighbors.  In spite of the many trials facing the followers of Isa (Jesus Christ), there is a deep hunger for God, so,  the number of those coming to faith and learning to be disciples of Jesus, keeps growing!

A leader from one of the Central Asian countries shared his testimony.  He told us how God used persecution for His own glory. That man (let’s call him Omar) was imprisoned for 15 days for simply being a believer and being unable to pay a fine of 1.500.00 USD, which is the penalty for being a Christian and doing religious activities in this country.  While in prison, he was placed in the same cell with an inmate who had been convicted of  terrorism.

Omar shared the Gospel, not by words, but by living out his faith day by day. Although the prisoners were given only one meal a day, he always prayed for the food.  His cellmate was amazed by Omar’s daily prayers for the food and for his joyful attitude towards every situation he faced. After a while, the Muslim prisoner began asking a lot of question about Omar’s beliefs.  Just before he was released, having daily been watching Omar’s life, he came to faith in Christ, expressing he had never met a man like Omar who was so full of hope, joy and faith – he wanted that!

When Omar himself was released from jail, he was sternly warned by the authorities not to preach about Jesus. You all know how the Apostles in the Book Acts responded when they were threatened not to share their faith; they just continued to preach!  

This was one of dozens of similar testimonies I heard in this conference. It proves that Central Asian believers are becoming more mature and eager to make disciples. Many of the them are working underground, due to safety issues for the believers and their families. Supernatural healing, visions and dreams are taking place in people’s lives, which also contribute to the spreading of the Gospel among Muslims, and the growth of the Church in Central Asia. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. I also strongly believe, it is due to the work of intercessor groups who have been faithfully praying  without ceasing.

During this vacation, my family and I also had the opportunity to visit brothers and sisters in Uzbekistan. It was great to be with them and hear so many testimonies, as well as sad stories of persecution. But, it is the price of being a believer who is a Christ follower!  There is a great hunger for the Lord among Uzbek Christians and they have great courage in spreading the Gospel. One of the Karakalpak (Central Asian ethnic group) brothers said to me this: We never pray that God will stop persecutions – we pray that God will give us boldness to preach the Gospel”.  These people are heroes of faith!

Dear partners, I want to encourage you not to give up in praying for the Central Asian nations and partnering with us the way only you can! Sometimes, we don’t see the results and get discouraged, but I tell you, they are there. Praise the Lord! We are all coworkers in His Kingdom! May God bless you!

In His Field, Yermek Balykbekov, Karaganda, Kazakhstan


Those of you who have been with us throughout the years know that The Bridge has been active in supporting the Christian faith in Central Asia by partnering with a number of indigenous faith-based groups various countries  It goes  back as far as 1993, when we helped establish the first Bridge-sponsored Bible-based Leadership School with Agape Evangelical Center in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Gradually, our ministry began serving other groups and individuals in other areas. One of them is Yermek Balykbekov.

The partnership between Yermek and The Bridge began in 2004. To familiarize yourself with Yermek, his ministry, and our history together, please go to our web address on the Internet:

The hallmark of Yermek’s passion as a Pastor, is to see his Kazakh people, not only have faith in Isa (Jesus Christ), but become His disciples who reflect God’s Kingdom in every aspect of life  In this issue, Yermek reports from two gatherings of indigenous Christian leaders he attended in June, one in Kazakhstan, and one in Uzbekistan.  If you desire to join us in helping sponsor Yermek, please note Kazakh Workers 2 on your gift.  Thank you!