Kevin Pate, a member of a Vineyard ministry team, reported in April 1998 on their visit to Mexico City with Pastor Wes Campbell, including a weekend mountain retreat with 18,000 Mexicans.
The most amazing time of my life
The week and a half that we spent in Mexico City ministering to the people there I would have to say was the most amazing time of my life. I know that is a pretty dramatic statement but I hope that you will understand as you read the rest of this account. But first a little background.
Monte Maria’s history
The following history is as best as I understand from what was shared with us while we were there: The church that we went down to help out is called Monte Maria. The history of the church is quite interesting.
Back in about 1979 a Catholic priest in Mexico City by the name of Father Gilberto was at a point in his life where he was very dry and seeking God intensely. One time in prayer he was overcome by the presence of God and started weeping greatly for the lost and hurting of the world. This weeping continued on for a year! During this time as he would perform mass, interesting things would happen – people who were in the congregation as normal were healed of a variety of sicknesses and infirmities. News of this sort travels quickly and soon people were bringing their sick relatives and friends to the church and many of them became healed too.
Unfortunately, some people in the church and surrounding area complained about the increased number of poor people tromping through their neighborhood and church (riffraff they felt) and soon Father Gilberto was told by the higher-ups at his diocese that he was no longer welcome at that church. So, Father Gilberto went down to the local city dump and started to perform mass there and minister to the poor. There was in essence a city of poor people at the dump because this was the only place where many of them could live (they were very poor!) and could get stuff to survive on (food scraps, clothes, etc.). The healings continued and many came to belief in Jesus Christ as their savior.
Simple church building
So many people came to Father Gilberto for ministry that he then started another church in Mexico City. I believe that he bought a dump (obviously he could get it cheap!), cleaned it up, and constructed a church. The church building is a very simple concrete structure — basically just concrete walls and floor, and sheet metal roof with insulation (to keep it from being an oven in the summer), folding chairs for the folks to sit on, and simple platform at the front. The air conditioning is a bunch of open windows. This church building holds about 3,000 people. There is also an outdoor area that can seat 5,000 people – the outdoor part is used for Sunday morning services because the building is no longer large enough to hold everyone.
The prayer mountain
Monte Maria has also planted about 12 other churches in the Mexico City area; each church plant has about 100-200 people. Monte Maria has home groups during the week to help the people bond together, get discipled, and minister to each other. More recently they also received 293 acres of land outside the city in a mountainous area (donation from someone) – they call this “The Mountain”. They use this for monthly (7 times per year) meetings where people from all over Mexico City and surrounding area gather for a time of worship, listening to preaching, and to receive prayer ministry. The truly poorest of the poor come to this. Many of them band together and chip in a few pesos each and rent a bus to get there. They camp out in a variety of ways – in tents, under tarps, or just sleep under the stars. The weekend we were there, there were about 20,000 people at the Mountain; in the past there has been as many as 50,000 people.
Father Gilberto has now changed his name to Pastor Aurellio Gomez since the Catholic church has told him he can no longer minister in the Catholic church. Pastor Aurellio has taken a very strong stand on preaching against idolatry (which permeates portions of the Catholic church) and this has not be popular amongst the Catholic leadership in Mexico. Pastor Aurellio has been very much a proponent of church reform and ministry to the poor but with this frequently comes much criticism from the establishment.
Wesley Campbell and team
A couple of years ago, Wes Campbell travelled down to Mexico to see what God was doing down there. Wes was the pastor of a Vineyard church in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Back in 1984 his church was strongly touched by God and has been in moving powerfully since then. Wes promised God that if this same sort of touch would come to the church in general around the world, he would do everything he could to fan the flames of renewal and revival. Wes and his wife Stacey met Father Gilberto and found a very hungry Mexican people who were in the midst of revival – many thousands of people being reached with the gospel, many being healed of all sorts of infirmities, and many set free from the power of the demonic enemy. Father Gilberto invited Wes and Stacey to come back with a ministry team to help out at their monthly gathering meeting at the Mountain and to help out at meetings at their church in Mexico City. The ministry team that was assembled was about 30 people from Westside Vineyard in Tigard, Oregon (including Arlan Askew the senior pastor), 5 from the Albany Oregon Vineyard, and 5 from the San Diego California Vineyard.
Prior to going on the trip, I shared with some friends here that I hoped to be able to see and experience first-hand what I have heard was going on down there and elsewhere in the world. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and many people are reached with the gospel of Christ. Well, I am not exaggerating when I can now say that we indeed did see and experience first-hand all of this! As the Mexicans would shout – “Gloria a Dios!” (Glory to God!). And the best part was that we got to participate in what God was doing in the people – we were the prayer ministry team who were privileged to be able to pray for people for these types of healings and lead them to the Lord!
The first weekend we were there we went to the Mountain. When we got there we were very warmly welcomed by the people. After a bit of orientation, we got to work… praying for people. There were literally thousands of people ready and waiting for prayer — lined up desiring a touch from God. It was a staggering feeling. But we all just plunged in and started praying for them one at a time, knowing that it wasn’t just a crowd, but it was individuals who deserved individual attention because God loves each of them equally. So one by one we ministered and started to see an awesome move of the Holy Spirit.
Nearly everyone we prayed for was visibly touched in some way – overcome by the power or presence of God and couldn’t stand anymore, touched by a physical healing, or even some deep touch in their emotions and spirit evidenced by tears streaming down their face. Young and old, men and women, almost all were touched! It was astounding to me to see so many people so touched by the Holy Spirit! It had to be partially due to their great hunger for God. These are the poorest of the poor and really don’t have any other options. They are too poor to be able to seek a doctor for their sicknesses and infirmities; God is their only hope.
It certainly wasn’t due to any great faith that most of us had – I was rather nervous going into the trip. It was really God’s work. Essentially all of us were able to pray for all types of problems in the people’s lives – blindness, deafness, lameness, and countless other problems. In many, many cases we were able to see immediate improvement and in many cases complete healing of the people. We had some translators available to help us communicate with the people while we were praying for them which helped immensely. At other times we had to wing it on our own without a translator.
The meetings at the Mountain started at about mid-day Saturday and lasted until late Sunday afternoon with only a two or three hour break in the middle of the night Saturday night to Sunday morning. We prayed for the people during the worship and prayer ministry time, but did not pray during the preaching time since the people needed to focus on that. Wes preached about the revival occurring all over the world, and more specifically about what God was doing in their midst there in Mexico. Arlan preached about receiving the Father’s love, intimacy with God, our relationship with God made possible by Jesus Christ and his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, and how this relationship/intimacy is the most important thing that we must seek. Everything else in our life and ministry will flow from that.
Healing and deliverance
During the week we were also able to minister at three days of meetings at their church. These meetings were more focused on teaching and training, receiving God’s love, intimacy and relationship with him, moving in the prophetic gifts relative to ministering to people, and praying for healing for each other. In the evenings we sometimes had opportunity to gather together as a team and share what experiences we had during the ministry times during the day. The following is a short listing of some of the testimonies that I was able to write down. There were many more that I didn’t write down or hear, and of course there was much more that God did that we don’t even know about:
— Woman had ears healed (was hearing a fuzz or static that was interfering with her hearing), after praying for her she could hear clearly; in addition, a pain she was having in her chest was gone too.
— Lame man who had pain in his legs healed and could walk without any pain. This was kind of a humorous incident. After praying for a while, the pain in his legs was gone and the man just sat in his chair happy that the pain was gone. The person doing the praying then reminded the man that he might now be able to walk. The person looked surprised since he had been confined for so long in his chair that he hadn’t even thought to try walking. He did and was overjoyed to find that he could indeed now walk!
— Another person in a wheel chair walked. The person had suffered an embolism 3 years earlier and was paralyzed on one side of the body. While being prayed for, the paralyzed leg and arm started shaking significantly – the power of God was evident! After a while the person was able to get up out of the wheelchair and walk.
— A man who had cataracts (obvious by clouding in the lens of the eyes) was prayed for. Gradually the clouding disappeared and the man ended up being able to see clearly.
— A woman had a tumor on one side of her body that could be felt from the outside was healed — no more tumor detected.
— A little boy who was blind in one eye, after prayer began to see, then sneezed three times and could see perfectly.
— A young boy who was controlled by a demonic spirit (thrashed about quite a bit), the demon finally acknowledged its name was the “god of hatred”, the boy finally denounced the demon, accepted Jesus into His life, and was delivered and filled with the Holy Spirit.
— More deliverances of people bound by demons.
— Woman with paralysis on one side, limped seriously, couldn’t speak, arm wouldn’t work. Interviewing determined the woman had very poor self-esteem (because of the stroke). After spiritual counselling and prayer for healing, she was overcome by the presence of God and went down on the concrete. After a little while the woman started screaming with joy, leapt up and found that the paralysis was gone and she could speak clearly.
— Woman’s eyes healed to perfect seeing.
— Woman’s knees that were in severe pain, couldn’t walk well at all. After prayer felt heat in her knees, then was able to get up and walk without pain, and even was able to jump up and down. She was very excited about this since she wanted to be able to dance during worship. What joy on her face!
— A woman with hurting feet was improved.
— A woman with hurt shoulder was healed, could move it all ways without pain.
— A woman with bum knees, after prayer got up very happy, joyfully hugged the person praying for her and said she could now bend her knees without pain, has not been able to do this for years.
— Woman with bulge and pain in her stomach (didn’t exactly know what it was
all about), after prayer the bulge and pain disappeared.
— Woman who was being prayed for started throwing up (a common manifestation of someone releasing a demonic spirit), continued praying for her and asking God to fill and cleanse her with His Holy Spirit, she then started weeping and then praising God. Very visibly changed.
— Many people were led to Jesus Christ and prayed to receive Him in their heart. It certainly helped having translators available to help in this communication.
It was awesome to be able to participate in what the Lord was doing. I was particularly happy to see the four teenagers who were part of the ministry team get right out there and pray for the people. And they saw and experienced every bit as dramatic move of the Spirit amongst the people they prayed for as any one else on the team! What a life-changing experience for them (and the rest of us of course)!
Life changing experience
With the extended prayer times that we had, I found that due to tiredness I would sometimes sort of lose focus on the person I was praying for and get distracted by other things and people around me. I would then look back at the person I had my hand on and found that there were tears streaming down their face – God was moving and touching them in spite of my tiredness and lack of focus. It was also neat to see the next person in the line that I was working down get visibly touched by God prior to me even getting there to pray for that person. It reminded me that it wasn’t really me who was doing the work in their life: rather it was all God.
It was astounding how the prayer lines would never end. As people would leave after being prayed for, others would step in where they were standing and ask for prayer. We’d be walking amongst the people and many would come up to us requesting prayer for themselves, or one of their family or friends. It was a joy to bless them since they were so hungry for God. We couldn’t get tired of that.
During some of the preaching sessions, Wes and Arlan asked who desired to accept the Lord Jesus Christ into their life. It was awesome to see hundreds and hundreds of hands raised and hear them pray to ask Jesus into their lives.
On the last teaching session at the church Arlan taught about praying for healing. For the ministry time, he told all the people to break up into groups of about eight people and form a circle. He then told each group to put one of the people in the centre who needed physical healing and to pray for them. He asked the prayer ministry team (us) to go around and coach and pray for them.
It was so neat teach them how to stepwise go through the healing prayer — 1. first the interview to find out what was wrong;
2. then seek God for guidance, dealing as necessary with any underlying issues such as the need to give and receive forgiveness;
3. then soaking prayer for healing;
4. after a while interviewing the person to see what was happening and whether there was improvement;
5. if there was, blessing and praising God for what he was doing and continuation of prayer for complete healing.
I just went around, coached, and blessed what each person and the Holy Spirit was doing. It was exhilarating to see essentially everyone they prayed for in the circle receive healing!
It was great to be able to tell all of them that the same Holy Spirit that is in us (the prayer ministry team) was also in them and that they could continue do this kind of ministry with each other, their families and friends, and the lost around them. It was wonderful to know that this and other teachings and anointings were truly imparted to them and that they will continue to grow after we’ve left.
One of the things that impressed us so much was the way these people worship. Mexican people have Fiesta (party!) in their blood and in church they integrate it into their worship. Once they get the worship going, you can’t help but be up and dancing along with them. Picture thousands of people dancing their heart out before God. The church didn’t have a choir. The whole church was the choir.
They had a wonderful dance/worship team which consisted of about a dozen beautifully dressed women with tambourines with streamers, and another dozen with flags and streamers. Their synchronized dance/worship was truly beautiful! It’s also the first time I saw toilet paper used as a worship aid. They would tear off a lengths of it and pass it around to everyone and they would wave it in the air as a streamer and praise God. It reminded me of a football game, but of course it was unto God! Oh, we can learn so much from their joy and worship!
Mexico City is a huge city; I believe the biggest city in the world – 27 million people. I heard that the entire metropolitan area is about 80 miles x 100 miles. The pollution is quite bad — Mexico City is at about 6,000 feet and in a mountainous basin which traps the air pollution in an inversion layer much of the year — quite a brown layer of smog over the city. The traffic and roads are also interesting — very congested and very bumpy. Hard to complain about our traffic and roads after being there!
Our visit to Mexico City was most interesting from a cultural standpoint. The food was of course a wonderful experience! I found the language barrier a fun challenge. The people of Mexico were VERY warm. They have a gift of hospitality that we have rarely encountered. After a few days with them, it was very difficult to leave them. When we were departing, some of the people gave us little gifts that in themselves one might say they had little value, but considering how poor most of the people are, were of utmost significance to us because we knew how much of a sacrifice it was for them.
For all that our God is doing in Mexico and all over the world – “Gloria a Dios!” and “Mas Senor!”
Source: Global Revival News
© Renewal Journal #13: Ministry
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