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Cheryl McGrath lives with her husband, Peter, in Coffs Harbour, Australia.  They have four grown children and one grandchild.  Cheryl and the team from Great South Land Ministries minister at local, national and international levels as the Holy Spirit directs.   Their vision is to see God's people equipped, matured and sent forth in the fullness of Jesus Christ. 

Cheryl has been an inspiration to those of us at GWTW, particularly through her writing in Bread for the Bride, a subscription list which she sends worldwide.  She writes forcefully and well.  You can read her outstanding article Uncovering the Covering Doctrine on our website.  For more great articles see their website at www.greatsouthland.org.   You can contact Cheryl at  southland@greatsouthland.org.   
Testimony of Cheryl McGrath

Don't you love the way God has of making some of His vessels into living trophies of His own wisdom and grace?  I often feel my life is an ongoing demonstration of 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, which says: "No, for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.  And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are, so that no mortal man should (have pretense for glorying and) boast in the presence of God." (Amplified Bible).  Well, in all honesty, I can't think of any other reason why He would choose me to experience many of the things He's allowed me to do together with Him!  It's been an exhilarating, sometimes painful, often lonely, and always unpredictable journey so far.  Let me share some of it with you!

From my earliest childhood, I can't remember a day in my life when I wasn't aware there was a God and that He was profoundly interested in me.  Neither of my parents and none of my relatives that I know of were born-again Christians.  My heritage is a mixture of English Protestantism and Italian/Irish Catholicism, which made any discussion on religion in our family out of the question.  A close aunt apparently took pity on my lack of religious education and enrolled me along with my cousins in a Baptist Sunday School when I was about seven or eight.  The Baptists did well in confirming my secret suspicion there was a God; and from that time on, I began to carry on regular conversations with Him - albeit mostly one way as I remember!  It wasn't until I was around twelve or thirteen I heard the gospel for the first time in a way I could understand, thanks to the mother of a close friend.  Now I knew for sure what I'd always suspected - He was after me, always had been, and I had a choice to make.  As I was contemplating these things, a deep revelation of Jesus taking my place on the Cross was given to me; and I surrendered my life to Him. 

What do you do when you are thirteen years old, born again, and the only one in your family following Jesus?  Well, you do the best you can I guess, and you learn to pray - a lot!  I now thank God for those early, difficult years of my Christian walk because it was during that time a strong foundation of prayer was laid in my life.  Having no one else to talk intimately with about so many of the questions in my mind, many times I would slip out of the house after dinner to sit alone with God under the stars and pour out my heart to Him.  Forty years later, I often still slip away from family and friends to do that same thing!

My denominational history has been another interesting aspect of my journey.  At various times in my life I have found myself fellowshipping (or at least trying to) among Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Pentecostals and Charismatics.  In the early seventies, a friend introduced me to the Pentecostal movement.  I experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spent the following twenty years in various Pentecostal denominations, predominantly Assemblies of God.  In the early nineties, the Lord placed me with the Charismatics; but told me it was "for a season only." Then, after thirty-five years and several scars, the Lord called me out of denominationalism, and I'm now involved in the house church movement.

Now, at the age of 55, as I look back over forty plus years of being moulded into the image of Christ, I can only shake my head and marvel at His unlimited grace and patience with me.  I have been so stubborn, and He has been abundantly patient.  I have been so fearful, and He has been deeply understanding.  I have been so fickle, and He has been so consistent.  I have not believed in myself, but He has always believed in me.  In hindsight, I can see that throughout my entire life He has been striving to bring me to a place of freedom in Him that I had no idea even existed when I gave Him my life at that tender age of thirteen. 

For more years than I can remember, I was taught and believed an erroneous understanding of the Biblical principal of submission.  Many times during those years the Lord was calling me to take up leadership among His people, but to do so would have been contrary to the doctrine of the "submission of women" in which I had been so deeply immersed, especially among the Pentecostals.  I was an abdicator.

Listen to me, women, if you must choose between the Lord's call on your life and the false teachings of your denomination, there is no choice!  If I could gather all the Christian women of the world into one single place at one time and give them a message it would be this: Christ died to make us free!  He came to set at liberty those who are bruised!  From the very beginning of history, womankind has borne the bruises of discrimination, blame, hatred and contempt at the hands of those who still need a "spiritual scapegoat".  Woman is not without sin, but neither is she responsible for sin being in the world!  To our shame, nowhere is this "bruising" of women more evident than in the religiously bound sections of the Christian church. 

The religious spirit seeks to crush and destroy the collective spirits of those women who are found "in Christ" because the religious spirit itself is "anti-Christ." The religious spirit is quite content to tolerate and even flatter women who willingly submit to its demand for subjection, thereby stifling and quenching whatever anointing might lie dormant and waiting in them.  However, when once the Anointing, (which is the very meaning of Christ - "anointed One") begins to be given free reign in a woman's life, those who are still bound in dead religion will do all in their power to crush that woman at any cost.  If you identify with this experience, fear not.  Long ago God Himself prophesied that the very one who wants to crush you will himself be bruised and crushed by the Offspring of the woman - Jesus Christ.  It is the Anointing that breaks every yoke.  And I believe that as the yoke of dead, Christ-less religion, is broken off the neck of women, so they will move out in His anointing to set more women free.  It is the time for women and men as well, to be healed of religion's bruises.

Mercifully, the Lord saw fit in His grace to re-arrange my life until my priorities came into His right order.  The Cross became His means of discipline and refinement.  A business venture failed leaving my husband and me in debt beyond our means.  I almost lost one of my four children to a serious drug overdose.  Another child suffered a breakdown and was left permanently, mentally ill.  My church didn't want to know me or my family.  Several other things I don't need to go into here - enough to say He used all means available to spin me around and turn me rightside up!

In 1996, the Lord led my husband and me to establish Great South Land Ministries (www.greatsouthland.org).  At that time, I started a newsletter for Australian intercessors and began teaching schools of prophetic intercession.  Having had a personal intercessory ministry to leaders for many years, I thought then that teaching and raising up prophetic intercessors would be my ministry for the remainder of my life.  Little did I understand it was my obedience and faithfulness that was being tested. 

In August 2000, I was given a prophetic vision in which I stood with Jesus in a huge and high palatial building that overlooked all the nations of the earth.  As we looked out at the nations together the Lord said to me, "What do you see?" I answered "Nations, Lord".  He said, "All these My Father has given into My Hand." I agreed, "Yes Lord, these are your inheritance." Then, turning to Me He frankly asked, "Will you help Me?"  Unsure of what He meant I simply said "Yes, Lord."

Then, He led me into a large, beautiful ballroom with an open doorway through which I could see a winding marble staircase ascending from the earth.  Women of all ages and descriptions were climbing the staircase and gathering in the huge room.  As I gazed at this multitude of women, I was amazed at their diversity.  Elderly women were nursing newborn baby girls, and every age group in-between.  Also, all nations and skin colours were present as well as many different lifestyles and backgrounds.  Some were wearing tattoos, body piercings, and other items indicating they had come out from alternative lifestyles such as witchcraft, lesbianism, and new age. 

Every kind of human female was represented in the crowd as they gathered there in the ballroom with still more coming up the stairs and through the doorway to join them.  Some of the women were sad, some were angry, some confused - but one thing I understood as I gazed at the gathering crowd, was that ALL of these women had suffered some form of abuse, be it emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual.  Then, the Lord turned again to me and, indicating the host of women, said very plainly, "All of these My Father has given into My Hand." Again I answered "Yes Lord." And then, He looked at me squarely and asked, "Will you help Me?"

Because of this vision, Women for the Nations (WFN) was established.  WFN is simply the name given to our ministry activities and outreaches to women.  Through seminars and conferences, we seek to help women understand from scripture that the Lord never intended for them to sit in silent subjection in His church, waiting in frustration for opportunity to fulfil their God-given callings.  The scriptures, when searched sincerely and factually, teach no such thing.  Our long-term vision for WFN is to help release Christian women into the full potential of their equal functions and callings to ministry and leadership within His Body, and to encourage them in their roles as His witnesses across the nations of the earth. 

Since the Lord asked me that searching question back in August 2000, I have been privileged to minister to women in Australia, Africa and Asia.  As part of this endeavor, I have also led small bands of women on ministry and mission trips in Australia, New Zealand and Africa.  Stepping into the outworking of this vision to release women from dead religious bondage has been far from easy, but enormously worthwhile.  As the Lord opens doors, I would love to give more and more women opportunity to take part in mission trips in various nations; for I have seen women begin to discover who they are in Christ on such trips.  Watching Christian women begin to use their giftings and step into their callings in this way is a wonderful and rare privilege. 

Quite apart from our vision for raising up Women for the Nations, the Lord has also opened the way for me to become involved in mentoring and nurturing younger leaders in the Body of Christ internationally through The Nurture Network, which is another arm of Great South Land Ministries.  He has laid a deep burden on my heart to provide a spiritual nurturing ministry for those leaders in His Body, both men and women, who are in need of encouragement and spiritual parenting as laid out by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 & 8. 

As if to make up for lost time, in my fiftieth year the Lord unexpectedly began to pour out on me an anointing for psalming.  Up until that time, I had never written songs.  I am not a talented vocalist or accomplished musician.  I can play a few guitar chords and that is all.  However, beautiful words of worship began to flow through me; and as I waited on the Holy Spirit with my guitar in hand, He would also lead me into melodies.  To date, He has "downloaded" around fifty worship songs, some of which have now been recorded onto a CD which helps fund our Women for the Nations program.  Some of you who have teenage or young adult children will smile when you imagine the reaction of my four very "cool" brood when they learned their mother, at age 54, was recording a CD!  But such are the ways of the Lord!

So, at the request of my friends at GWTW, leaving out much detail, I have tried to condense my life into a few short pages for one reason only.  I believe somewhere at least one woman, and hopefully more than one, will read this testimony and be encouraged to take that final step out of fear, control and spiritual abuse into FREEDOM!

Why is it so important that women awaken and come out of the closet of dead religion?  Because Christ Jesus died to destroy the works of the enemy, and the bondage historically placed on women in the church is a work of the enemy.  It is not about being militant towards our Christian brothers and sisters who oppose our callings.  Pray for them but don't be sidetracked.  It is, however, very much about becoming militant in attitude and deed toward the demonic spirit that has kept women bound in religious cages for the best part of two thousand years.  The best and most effective way each of us can defeat that foe together with our Lord is to cease abdicating and simply allow the Holy Spirit to release us into ALL we are called to be in Christ!  Yes, you will make mistakes.  Yes, you will fall over a few times; but He who calls you will enable you to grow, to stand and to mature.

As for me, I am finally doing what I was born to do.  You may recall the verse quoted at the beginning of this testimony about God choosing the foolish to put to shame the world's wise, and the weak to confound the world's strong.  Well, that foolish and weak one is me, and I love it.  Nothing I can lay claim to makes me stand out from the crowd.  If you saw me on the street, nothing would make you look twice.  I have no outstanding talents, no Bible college degree, no stunningly attractive physical features, no oratory skills, and I can't even sing properly.  But one thing I know - when I stand in the anointing of the Holy Spirit and speak forth the Word of God, hearts are penetrated and strongholds are destroyed!  In fact, I often joke with the Lord that He couldn't have disguised me better!

This former quiet, shy and unremarkable Australian woman who abdicated her calling for half a life-time now teaches and equips leaders.  This fearful little lady who couldn't look at an aeroplane without getting physically ill, now travels to nations, teaching, mentoring, discipling, exhorting, and sharing beautiful songs given by the Holy Spirit.  If God can do that with me, let me ask then, what's YOUR excuse?  I'm not for one moment implying there isn't a cost to this emergence into freedom.  Often it's much easier not to rock the boat.  Taking up my calling and moving out on Kingdom business has cost me dearly.  But the cost of not following the Lamb wherever He goes, I believe, is far greater.  So, what do you say - will you help Him?

The journey continues!

Cheryl McGrath
Great South Land Ministries,
www.greatsouthland.org
January, 2006
 

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