The rise of the Internet is without doubt the most revolutionary development of the last 25 years. It has radically changed our lives. But has the internet also influenced the Church?
Recently Heidi Campbell, professor of digital religion at Texas A&M University, came up with a new book: ‘Digital Creatives and the Rethinking of Religious Authority’. It’s about how the rise of the internet is also changing the way we think about the church – the ecclesiology – and how missionary internet pioneers see and shape this.
I’ve known Heidi Campbell from the early years of the internet, so when she approached me in 2013 for an interview to give my perspective on this as a ‘religious digital creative’, it led to a contribution to the book. I’m making this available in a pdf.
The internet has given ordinary people (the ‘laity’) considerably more influence.
In other words: the internet has empowered people. It touches many areas of our lives, but I now limit myself to the impact on faith and the church:
Everyone who wishes to do so has the opportunity online to nurture and shape their own spirituality, to become a creator or influencer, and to connect with others in communities and on platforms, completely outside the scope of their own church.
To faith communities and church leaders, the internet provides an infrastructure and tools to make church fully interactive and participatory, and to extend its missionary reach far beyond the physical sphere of the church building.
This is fundamentally revolutionary. For the Church today, the Internet can be what the printing press was for the Church in the Reformation. A game-changer.
The internet encourages the church to function as a relational network. To start thinking decentrally (‘bottom-up’) about the church instead of centrally (‘top-down’), as polyculture instead of monoculture.
The internet helps us to see the church as a network, a decentralized movement and a co-creative project.
I have expressed this idea in my seminars on missionary innovation as follows:
“Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has done more for the mission of the Church than the entire Church growth movement put together. Because we are now rediscovering the power of decentralized movements”.
The simple church movement, which states that you can be the Body of Christ in all sorts of places, in all kinds of forms, in the middle of everyday life, and that these groups best develop ‘organically’, is an example of this.
At a time when I blogged a lot about ’emerging church’ (2002-2007) there was another digital pioneer, Tim Bednar, who published a paper with the somewhat provocative title ‘We Know More Than Our Pastors. Why Bloggers Are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church’. Although blogging has been partly overtaken by vlogs, podcasts and social media, I consider this work to be a classic if you want to understand how the internet influences ecclesiology. You can simply extend the lines of thought.
A generation that grew up with the internet makes different demands on the church.
Bednar expresses this as follows:
“We expect a co-creative church in which we can not only participate fully, but which we can help to shape in all aspects”.
Say a digital priesthood of all believers.
There’s still a lot to be said about this, but I promised to keep my mails short and concise. To deepen your understanding, I invite you to read the two publications I have linked to.
If you want to discuss in-depth what this means for your congregation or organization, book an innovation consultation.
* I know of no other book like this one that provides rapid-fire, easy-to-read, factual literary snapshots of virtually every well-known revival since Pentecost. … I felt like I had grasped the overall picture of revival for the first time” ~ C Peter Wagner
Same 2020 text now as Revival Fires with Chapter 7: Twenty-first Century Revivals
* Amazing by Jo Swan: Full of true accounts of what happens to whole towns and cities when God’s people humble themselves, pray, and the Holy Spirit rushed through with his transforming power. Loved every minute of these stories. ~ Jo Swan
Bible StoryPictures & Models Bible Story Pictures & Models – PDF Amazon edition An activity book with 58 pictures and models for children and parents or teachers to enjoy.
* Bible Story Pictures & Models stands out above the rest, looks and sounds original, fun and very inspirational … Your illustrations and models are all terrific for them to color and create. It is all very well done and inviting for your targeted young readers. ~ Ellery Alouette.
* The Queen’s Christmas & Easter Messages is an appealing, highly unusual and very creative anthology. ~ Alison Sherrington
* I haven’t seen anyone else draw the events of these years together in this way before. Using the Queen’s speeches not only ties in the unfolding events of our time but reveals a deep spiritual glue that provides a fascinating and intimate insight into the personal life of our Queen. A fascinating read. ~ Rev Philip Waugh
* A new and innovative approach to the Christmas Story and its clear message of peace and goodwill to all. It is a rewarding experience to read it from cover to cover. ~ Don Hill
* What an amazing collection! This has so many wonderful Christmas messages and is a great addition to any family during the holiday season. ~ Jenny & Benny
* This is a remarkable work and something quite unique that I’ve not come across before (and believe me I’ve seen most ideas). There is a huge appetite for devotional type books and I’m sure that this one will appeal to many people. ~ Russ Burg
* One of the most interesting devotionals ever! As a huge fan of all things Narnia, I am so grateful for this deeper aspect of the truths in C.S. Lewis’ stories. Geoff Waugh did a great job in crafting such a book as this. What a wonderful addition to any collection, and an inspiration to know Jesus more deeply. ~ Belinda S.
* You can read the Narnia tales as just good stories, but CS Lewis wanted people to see more. This book will help you see the many links with Jesus, the Lion of Judah. Use this to enhance your wonder and love of Christ. ~ Rev Dr John Olley
* Best companion work I know of. … Either for a young person who is interested in exploring more, or as a resource on a pastor’s desk, it is an invaluable companion to the original series. ~ Amazon Customer
* This is a great companion when you read, and is a stand-alone teaching on the depths of teaching that C.S. Lewis weaves into Aslan’s character. Definitely worth your time. ~ Steve Loopstra
* Looking for a great book to help you meditate on the wonder of Jesus in all his richness and grandeur and love? Geoff Waugh has helpfully and thoughtfully brought together wide-ranging biblical passages (not just a string of references for you to look up!), arranged in clearly titled sections (this book is a combination of his smaller books, The Lion of Judah nos. 1-6). Read this book prayerfully and you will not be the same! Then share it with others. ~ Dr John Olley.
* This book is full of information, biblical information. I have learned so much from it and what I wasn’t able to keep in my head, I had my handy highlighter, so I could go back to it and find it. It is a book of multiple books and it’s not that big, but it’s filled with so many facts and details. If you want to learn more from the Bible, this is the book to read. ~ A. Aldridge.
Hundreds of ideas for Christian groups with a wealth of activities, studies, prayers, and resources for groups of all ages. Contents are: Ideas for integrated Bible studies; Ideas for Bible studies and prayers; Ideas for church activities – devotional, educational, creative, serving, social, sporting; Ideas for all ages together; Ideas for building relationships.
This book offers a huge range of activities, arranged according to group activities. It provides a wide range of activities for many different kinds of groups. The first section, Ideas for Integrated Bible Studies, gives you four group studies on each of the themes or topics.
* Five Stars: I really enjoyed this book. It helped me to understand more about what I have been going through. ~ James Bird
Jesus on Dying Regrets– Blog Jesus on Dying Regrets – PDF Advice about the top 5 regrets of the dying Gift Edition in colour This small book explores Jesus’ advice about the top 5 regrets of dying patients. Those regrets are transformed into these positives: 1 Be true – “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” 2 Work wise – “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” 3 Express feelings – “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” 4 Stay connected – ” I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” 5 Be happier – “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
* I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all. … Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work but also writing a book about it all. ~ Barbara Vickridge
* I am enjoying these Journals a lot! Read about things that the Bible talks about, but they are happening in our day and age around the world. Some of the journal pages I skip over, but not many. The people of our day are being the army of our God and His work is advancing. Let us be encouraged and pray that God helps others bring glory to God and that we ourselves follow God’s directions in our own lives to let God shine thru us. Talk about getting a lot for your money! ~ Deborah Mares
Bob and Jill Densley, friends of mine, worked with the United Nations in Nepal and they loved to help pastors and leaders there. That’s how they met and supported the fiery young evangelist pastor Raju Sundas. We visited them many times in the 1990s and spoke at pastors and leaders meetings in Kathmandu, in West Nepal and in East Nepal, hosted by Raju. Some of those pastors walked for two or three days across the high ranges just to attend the meetings.
Their churches, led by Hosanna Church, are saturated in prayer. I prayed in their “Power House”, the upstairs prayer rooms of their church in Kathmandu. Those small upper rooms were open 24 hours a day and many people went there to fast and pray, sometimes for many days. Since then, Hosanna Church and its ministry has exploded and planted so many churches across Nepal, developed schools, vocational training, Bible Schools, and huge welfare ministries to the needy.
We saw God’s Spirit move beautifully and powerfully in those early meetings. Many were filled with the Spirit and healed. I heard a young man from one of their church bands praying eloquently in beautiful English – but he cannot speak English. They pray for one another with strong faith, expecting God to save, heal, deliver and anoint them.
The dedication of those Christians impressed me. Most of them had been imprisoned for their faith many times. One young pastor conducted a Christian wedding which infuriated relatives so they complained to the police and he spent a month in prison for disturbing the peace. Our host had been severely beaten while in prison. Two young evangelists were shot to death when we were there. They had returned from Bible College in India and were accused of spying. God gives those Christians amazing peace and joy amid the persecution, just as in the Book of The Acts.
We were greatly blessed to see the zeal, faith and perseverance of Raju and his team as we shared ministry in Hosanna Church in Kathmandu as well as with them in conferences in West and East Nepal. Their faith opened the way for God to move in power among them all as He poured out his Spirit, especially on leaders, pastors and on their people.
Raju and team
Pastor Raju Sundras (Photo), our host for our visits, tells about our visit there at Easter 2000.
Greetings in the name of our Almighty God Jesus Christ from the land of Himalayas! The Lord continues to do great things in this land, we have not much to do but to praise Him and thank Him for every good gift raining on us from Him and only Him.
It was a great blessing from the Lord to send us a team from Australia mid-April. The fellowship, the Word from God, the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ flourishing from our Australian brothers and sisters, the awesome presence of the Lord throughout the rushing schedule of conferences, trips, and visits, overwhelmingly expressed the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards this nation. During the short stay of about two weeks with the team of eight people we had the privilege to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit through them in several occasions. …
Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act. About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God. Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence. Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.
Pastors and leaders conference
On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love. One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength. For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.
Some 60 evangelists declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be fully fledged in His service. In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area. While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly. After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.
Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!” She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!
Roadside fellowship and ministry
We held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu. Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. We showed the Transformation video. All committed themselves for constant prayer to bring transformation to their cities too by God’s power.
Hundreds of ideas for Christian groups with a wealth of activities, studies, prayers and resources for groups of all ages. Contents are: Ideas for integrated Bible studies; Ideas for Bible studies and prayers; Ideas for church activities – devotional, educational, creative, serving, social, sporting; Ideas for all ages together; Ideas for building relationships.
This book offers a huge range of activities, arranged according to group activities. It provides a wide range of activities for many different kinds of groups. The first section, Ideas for Integrated Bible Studies, gives you four group studies on each of the themes or topics.
How to use this book
Ideas for integrated Bibles studies The Great Experiment
Finding New Life
Living New Life
Great Chapters – Old Testament
Great Chapters – New Testament
Ideas for Bible studies and prayers Bible passages
Bible study methods
Bible reading and relationship building
Bible readings and prayers
Ideas for church activities Program emphases: Devotional, Educational, Creative, Serving, Social, Sporting
Witness and Sharing Weekend
Gifts Check List
Ideas for all ages together Activities involving young children and others
Activities involving older children and others
Family and church family questionnaires
Useful teaching activities
ABC of resource ideas
Simulation activities. Simulation Game: Build my Church
Ideas for building relationships Deep – ideas and attitudes
Deeper – ideals and values
Deepest – ideologies and commitments
What is your main love language?
This book is available in Paperback (print & colour) and as digital eBooks (Kindle and PDF).
See details, contents, photos, and reviews of renewal and revival books on Amazon
India: The largest churches in the world are grassroots movements
Korean Pastor Yonggi Cho was long known as the pastor of the largest church in the world. But things have changed. Grassroots church planting movements are growing with a speed and vigor that most would find hard to believe.
What would you say if you learn that with 800,000 members the ‘pastor’ of one of the largest churches in the world lives in North India? Beginning with just 12 people in 1994, Randeep Mathews’ house-church based movement started even before he was a Christian.
Randeep started in one of the most hostile environments you can imagine, the city of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesdh (India) in the Himalayas. It soon grew to 3,000, then 30,000 followers of Christ in what was once called ‘the graveyard of missions’ because of its historic resistance to the imported gospel from the West. They have now (Aug 2019) reached already 800,000 members in North India (300,000 of that in Himachal) and are poised to grow to 3 million in Himachal Pradesh alone.
This is by far not the only story, there are many more. A close friend of Randeep is Rodrick Gilbert in Delhi who demonstrates that this also works in a megacity. Rodrick reports about 700,000 members in 58,000 house churches. When only 18 years of age, another man started such a movement in Gujarat and Rajastan, North India, just ten years ago. It now has seen 150,000 new members in 11,200 house churches.
Source: Wolfgang Simson
Indonesia: How a mother found her lost son through a prophetic word
These Jesus followers could plant one house church each month in their kitchen.
On a visit to Indonesia German missiologist Wolfgang Simson taught a group of Jesus followers an important insight: “In the Kingdom of God people share a revolutionary lifestyle with each other.”
He elaborated: “Number one: eating as the central element of meeting. Number two: truly sharing, koinonia, so that by the end of the day there is neither rich or poor.” Simson illustrated this with Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler, and the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19. “A rich person is someone who has a surplus and fails to share. As a result his money turns against him. No longer does he have the money, but the money has him, and that is a trap. In this respect the New Testament is different from the Old Testament; Jesus really brought in a revolutionary new perspective. In his view you can be a rich person or a Kingdom citizen, but not both. It’s part of the Kingdom lifestyle that no-one is needy.”
“The third thing,” he explained, “is that they exposed themselves to apostolic teaching, which is equipping people to go out and become a virus of God into this world to plant churches, plant the presence of Christ, start cell groups of the Kingdom into enemy territory that will implode the enemy’s movements. And that’s already happening. Even terrorists are coming to Christ, and become the most ardent church planters in the Kingdom of God.”
“The fourth and last thing is to pray,” Simson said. “We send messages to God and God sends messages to us. It’s called prophecy. So when you have people over to your premises, the question is not if you should prophesy over them, but what you should prophesy. After all, we are called to share a word of the Lord with them.”
How that teaching worked out, he discovered one year later when he revisited Indonesia. He was invited by a Chinese family in Jakarta for lunch. They had taken four months to digest his teaching, as it was so different from church as they had known it. But then they decided to simply apply the lessons and see what would happen. They opened up their house, prepared a buffet, and invited strangers to come under the pretense: ‘We had a wedding planned, but the bridegroom is late. [pun intended] So we have food over and invite you to help us finish it.’
The first person to arrive was a lady. The prophets in the group immediately received a word for her: ‘This is the word from the Lord: you have lost your son.’ The lady started to cry, broke down and said: ‘This is true! Eight years ago I lost my son Dave in the market in Jakarta, never to find him again. He was four years old and since that time I’m like a mad mother searching for her son.’ The prophets assured her: ‘Today God answered your prayer. If you go to the National Monument in Jakarta, you will find your son under a big tree.’
She didn’t know what to think of this, but hopped on a bus straight to the National Monument. When looking around for a boy who had to be 12 years old by now, she found a boy who looked that age and asked: ‘Dave?’ ‘Mum?!’ They found each other!
Merdeka Square in Jakarta with the National Monument
When she came back to the house church and shared her story, this good news spread like a virus. Since that day these Chinese Jesus followers could plant one house church each month in their kitchen. Their kitchen became a church planting center. “How did that happen?” Simson asked rhetorically. “In the Kingdom – open up your house, open up your kitchen, open up your fridge.”
Source: Wolfgang Simson
Source: Joel News International, #1141, September 24, 201
This may come as a surprise to many, but Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country in the world. Tens of thousands of Muslims are abandoning their faith and are beginning to follow Jesus.
Experts say the ongoing political crisis and economic challenges are fueling widespread anger against the regime. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is promising to resolve the country’s economic, social and political problems after days of protests gripped the Islamic nation last month. At least 21 people died in clashes with police, and over 1,000 were arrested.
Mike Ansari says political turmoil is creating unique opportunities to share the love of Christ. “Many Iranian Christians have turned to us asking what it is they need to do,” Ansari wrote in an email. Ansari is the president of Heart4Iran Ministries, which is bringing 86 different ministries together with the goal of serving and blessing the people of Iran. He says with all the negative news about Iran, it is easy to miss the big and often untold story of what is really happening inside the Islamic nation. “God is at work in Iran. Jesus is building His church, the Spirit is transforming lives and the gospel is on the move.”
Today 4 satellite TV channels are broadcasting continuous Christian broadcasting into Iran.
Mohabat TV is the media arm of Heart4Iran Ministries. In 2006, Mohabat TV became the first 24-hour Farsi Christian satellite TV channel to beam gospel programs into Iran. Today, it is one of 4 satellite TV channels broadcasting continuous Christian programming. “Christian satellite TV broadcasts into Iran have played a vital role in the success of the underground house church movement,” Ansari wrote. “The significance of media strategy is that it by-passes security measures set by the government and reaches the people of Iran through their TV set or on their smart devices. According to World Mission, the house church movement in Iran is one of the fastest-growing churches in the world. It is the lifeline of Christianity inside this country.”
Recently 20 Iranians, many of whom accepted Christ watching Mohabat TV, traveled to an undisclosed location to get baptized. CBN News was granted exclusive access to the celebrations.
Recently 20 Iranians, many of whom accepted Christ watching Mohabat TV, traveled to an undisclosed location to get baptized. CBN News was granted exclusive access to the celebrations.
Ansari, an Iranian by birth, sat down with CBN News correspondent George Thomas for an exclusive look at the church inside Iran.
Why is the house church movement in Iran growing so fast?
“The church is growing because the people of Iran are disillusioned with Islam and they are looking for answers to life. They are not finding answers in the traditional forms of state religion or the faith of their ancestors. They are looking for new answers, they are not happy and satisfied where they are spiritually. It seems that a large number of these people are actually having dreams and visions about a shining man dressed in white far before we are out there telling them about Jesus.”
Is there a specific area of Iranian society that Jesus is touching more than others?
“The demographic that is responding to the gospel the most is the younger generation, who are very tech-savvy. These are people, anywhere from 18 to 30 years of age. They are online, they are following the world’s pop culture, they are very much plugged in and they are looking for answers. They want to belong to a larger purpose and meaning in life, and they are finding that in Jesus.”
The 1979 Islamic Revolution was supposed to usher in this great Islamic revival. Did that ever materialize?
“After almost 40 years of the Islamic regime, the average Iranian is realizing that Islam is bankrupt and Islam is not able to answer to their social, daily lives and the dilemmas they are dealing with. Iran is facing a host of crises, from drug addiction to depression to suicide to sexually transmitted diseases to human trafficking.”
Almost 40 years into the Islamic Revolution the average Iranian is realizing that Islam is bankrupt.
How bad is persecution against those who decide to abandon Islam and embrace Christianity?
“Iran is listed in Open Doors’ top 10 of most persecuted countries. The reality of Iranian Christians is that they cannot go out on the street and share their new faith with people. They cannot celebrate anywhere publicly, and they are constantly in fear of retaliation from the authorities. Becoming a Christian in Iran, especially if you are from an Islamic background, is illegal and is punishable by the legal code in the country. This is why we want people around the world to continue lifting up the persecuted church in Iran.”
You recently commissioned an extensive survey inside the country to find out how many people are watching programs on Mohabat TV. What did the survey results show?
“We had no idea that so many Iranian youth are following our programs. It appears that roughly about 16 million Iranians within the last 12 months have viewed one or more of our programs on satellite TV and also on their mobile devices. That roughly translates to about 20 percent of Iran’s population and that is an overwhelming number.”
Mohabat TV produced a map showing all the locations Iranians are calling the show from.
How many people call in to your channel and how many have accepted Christ since you launched the network?
“It is a rough estimate that within the last 11 years we’ve been able to connect with over one million Iranians through our call center. These are people who have contacted us wanting to know more about Christianity. These are people who have either become Christians or have had dreams or visions, and wanted to find out more about Jesus. Or people who have become Christians and they want to find out how to grow in their new faith and how to be discipled or how to start a house church in the country. In 2016, our call center processed about 700 contacts per day, which resulted in about 93 decisions for Christ per day. That’s roughly about three people every hour that confessed their faith in Jesus.”
Is satellite TV still the most important evangelism tool to reach Iranians with the gospel or is social media becoming even more important?
“In 2013 and 2014 when the Iranian Green Revolution took place, we realized the importance of Twitter. That was a glimpse into what was coming. In 2017, we realized that social media has fully arrived in the Middle East, especially in a country like Iran where especially the youth are actively using social media on their mobile devices. In addition, the numbers we’ve been getting through our survey is additional validation that this is a sound strategy for ministries to start focusing on.”
Source: George Thomas, CBN
Source: Joel News International – # 1067 | January 26, 2018
Iran: Fastest-growing church has no buildings
For the last few years, researchers have credited the underground church in Iran as the fastest-growing Christian church in the world.
It has unique characteristics that defy comparison with churches in America and Europe, and in the opinion of some who know it well, the church in the West could learn by studying it.
The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth, according to ‘Sheep Among Wolves’, an outstanding two-hour documentary about the revival that has taken place inside Iran. The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.
‘The movement is predominantly led by women’
The documentary was produced by Frontier Alliance International (FAI), which supports disciple-making teams targeting the ‘unreached’ and ‘unengaged’ within the 10/40 Window. There is a mass exodus leaving Islam for Christianity within Iran, according to FAI.
“What if I told you Islam is dead?” one unidentified Iranian church leader says in the film. “Many of the ruling class still follow Islam because that’s where the high paying jobs are, but the majority of the ordinary people love God and recognize that Islam is the problem. What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini? The ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie, a deception.”
Efforts by the ayatollahs to destroy Christianity have backfired, but have served to refine and purify the church. “What persecution did was destroy the churches that were only about converts,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Converts run away from persecution, but disciples are willing to die for the Lord in persecution.”
‘What if I told you Islam is dead?’
Often a disciple-making movement begins the first moment someone comes into contact with an unbeliever. “Everything is founded on prayer. We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Jesus has gone faster than us. He has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”
Their emphasis is not planting churches; it is making disciples. “If you plant churches, you might make disciples. But if you make disciples, you will plant churches,” the Iranian church leader said. “It is obedience-based discipleship based on the authority of Scripture. Every time you read the Scripture, you must obey it. This is how people become conformed to the image of Christ and sanctified. They are not just reading the Bible for information. They are reading the Bible to get transformed.”
About 55% of the disciple-makers are women, according to the film.
Alex Rex was driving down a busy street in Adelaide, Australia, on February 15, 2016, when he suffered a massive heart attack and his heart stopped.
He slumped forward on the steering wheel, traffic stopped around him, and a woman came rushing over to his car.
“She opened the door and tried to get me out but I was in a seatbelt,” Alec recalls.
As she struggled to free him, she forgot to turn off the ignition and the car began moving forward. “The car took off and got up to about 30 miles per hour. She was still hanging on to the car.”
When she saw they were going to hit another vehicle, she let go and fell headlong to the pavement. “It was a miracle she wasn’t killed. She hit the ground and saw me hit the vehicle. She pulled herself together and ran 100 yards.”
The young woman was a corrections officer who just left her shift. When she started CPR she was certain Alec was dead.
Providentially, an ambulance was among the vehicles caught in the traffic jam. “A couple doctors raced over and started working on me. In the police report it says they resuscitated me five times. That means I died five times. They put me in the ambulance and took me to the hospital. I was dead.”
Doctors could find little reason for hope, but then Alec surprised them. “They didn’t know what to do with me. I came back to life. I was thrashing about, punching them. I came back to life. They were stunned.
“According to the MRI, my heart was badly damaged because one of the main arteries was blocked. They put a stent in there.”
The hospital also discovered pneumonia in his lungs, so they placed Alec in an induced coma following his surgery.
“My heart was so badly damaged they said to my wife there is a possibility I would have a 10 percent chance to live. If I survived, I would be a vegetable.”
But God was about to demonstrate his power in a way that would surprise the doctors. And while Alec was hovering between life and death, he was transported to a nether region beyond this world.
“In front of me was like a veil, the gates of Hell,” Alec recounts. “I was at the gates of hell, but not in hell.” Everything appeared two-dimensional to him, like he was watching a TV.
Then he heard a voice say, “Jesus I know but you I don’t.”
But to his right another voice said: I am the Lord God. I am going to heal you and make you new.
Alec recognized that Jesus was speaking to him and He could read Alec’s thoughts.
Jesus’ presence provided the light for Alec to see. “Others there couldn’t see Him or hear Him.
Then Lord impressed on his heart, I will do what I want to bring your healing. I will show you the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then an astonishing sight met Alec. “Around me was a sea full of people,” he recounts. “I couldn’t see their faces. They were joined together in chains.”
Jesus impressed on his heart: These people call themselves Christians but they couldn’t forgive their brothers and sisters.
Jesus mentioned to Alec to pay attention to the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant and instructed him about its meaning. “I was taking this all in. He only allows you to remember what he wants you to remember. I can’t add to what he told me.”
During his near-death experience at the gates of hell, Alec says that Jesus also told him a worldwide revival is coming that will be greater than Azusa Street or the Welsh revival. There will not be anything like it, Jesus told him.
“It is not just people getting saved,” Alec adds. “It is the bride being made perfect, without spot or blemish.
The Lord communicated to him, What the world deems insignificant is what I am going to use in this revival.
Alec was in the coma for three weeks. During that time, doctors debated about whether or not to turn off his life support.
But then God breathed new life into his body. “They were going to switch off the machine,” he recounts. “God brought me back to life. It is a medical fact I was dead for 20 minutes in the hospital. My brain is now 100%.
“Praise God everything changed. I am one miracle after another.”
After Alec came out of the coma, the head ICU nurse told his wife Beth, “Your husband’s vital signs are 100%.”
The next morning Dr. Matthew Worthley, a cardiologist and professor at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, came into his room, looked at his file and said, “You were dead but you’re alive. You’re a miracle.”
Other doctors were equally amazed. “At the surgery there was a vascular heart surgeon, Dr. Raja. He shook his head and said, ‘I was there when you came back to life. I was there when they took the MRI of your heart. It was so badly damaged. I can’t understand it. There is no sign of a heart attack, no sign of any scarring. Your heart is 100%.’”
When Alex left the hospital he got a standing ovation from the nurses. “They said, ‘This is the guy who was dead and came back.’ I thanked all the nurses and doctors. There were doctors there with tears.”
While Alec is grateful to be alive, he is even more ecstatic about what God is doing. “I believe the bridegroom is coming soon — two years, five years, 10 years — I don’t know when, but it’s exciting.”
He believes God will use the current U.S. president, “as crazy as Trump seems,” in the revival. “God will use him. Impossible things are happening. The bride is going to be beautiful — her appearance, her apparel and her beauty.”
Source: God Reports, January 16, 2018
Remember this? From a chapter with stories about forgiveness. Right now, as you read this, remember to forgive fully, just as God has forgiven you.
Matthew 18:21-35 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Riverlife [formerly] Kenmore Baptist Church, Brisbane, Australia
Message Outline, October 2, 2016 (Logos Team)
“LOGOS – Faith on the Frontlines”
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Tough questions always come when least expected. They put you on the spot. They can make you sweat over your intellectual, ethical, and emotional responses to pressing problems that you know are important — wars, poverty, humanity’s origin, God’s existence, globalization, climate change, other religions, and eternal destiny. Today’s message came out of the types of experiences where people ask hard questions and you only have an opportunity to respond for perhaps a couple of minutes. What we want to look at are some of the biggest barriers to beliefs.
How can we know there is a God?
Perhaps the best short answer you can give to why you believe in God, or why you are a follower of Jesus, is your own personal testimony. You all will have reasons of your own for being Christians.
Two well know reasons for believing in God include that He provides a basis for understanding why there is a universe rather than nothing and how moral values can exist.
(1) God provides an explanation for the existence of the universe.
The first reason for thinking there is a God is that He is the best explanation for why anything exists at all. Perhaps one of the most profound and important questions of life is why is there a world and why are we in it? Why is there something rather than nothing?
The answer really comes down to two possibilities – chance or providence. The universe and humanity are either here by accident or we are here by design. The thought process in this argument can be explained with two premises and a conclusion. 1. The universe began to exist.
1. The Universe began to exist
Today if you pick up a science text you will read that the universe began to exist in an explosion called the big bang around perhaps 13 billion years ago. In that explosion you have the beginning of all matter and energy in the universe as well as space time.
2. Everything that has a beginning needs a cause.
From nothing comes nothing. No one has shown something coming out of nothing without any cause.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
So you have here evidence from science and philosophy that the beginning of the universe surely requires a cause. And that cause must be greater than the universe which means the cause is timeless, immaterial and powerful. Which is a round about way of describing God.
To learn more you can watch Dr William Lane Craig and Dr Lawrence Krause discuss the topic “Why is there something rather than nothing” that took place in Sydney in 2013.
(2) God provides an explanation for the existence of the objective moral values.
The second reason for thinking there is God is that God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values. The heart of this issue is whether moral values are objective in nature or subjective. And by objective moral values what is meant is that they exist independent of people’s opinions.
The Earths’ shape as a sphere is an objective fact and is independent of people’s opinions. Whether a person likes chocolate or vanilla ice cream as the ‘best’ flavour is a question of individual subjective preference and is dependent on a person’s opinion.
If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Many famous atheists would agree with this. Richard Dawkins has said that “in a world without God there can be no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”
Yet most people accept things like rape really are wrong but often don’t appreciate there is no good basis for believing that if they do not accept God exists.
To learn more on this you can watch or read the debate between Dr William Lane Craig and Dr Sam Harris ‘Are the foundations of moral values natural or supernatural?’
The central claim of Christianity is that God sent His son Jesus to be punished to death by crucifixion for our wrong doing. Jesus demonstrated He was divine by resurrecting from the dead and offers all people the chance at life after death.
Many people will make claims that ‘Jesus didn’t exist’ or ‘His disciples stole His body from the tomb’ or that He was taken off the cross alive. Scholars today accept though a wide range of facts about Jesus’ life regardless of their backgrounds.
Virtually all scholars regardless of their backgrounds will accept that Jesus died by crucifixion and that His disciples and others had experiences of Jesus after His death and believed He had risen from the dead.
A majority of New Testament scholars would also accept:
* that after Jesus’ burial, His tomb became empty;
* the church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed into the church’s best missionary as he genuinely believed he met a risen Jesus;
* that Jesus’ sceptical half-brother James was suddenly transformed and became a leader of the early church.
To learn more on this you can listen to or podcast a discussion between Dr Gary Habermas and Dr James Crossley from the UK radio show Unbelievable that took place on 1 August 2015.
Science and faith are not in conflict and fit beautifully together, both uncovering truth sometimes in different ways and other times in overlapping ways. As science honestly probes the natural world, it encounters problems and questions which are philosophical in character and cannot be resolved scientifically.
There are many leading contemporary scientists and engineers who believe that their faith provides a framework or undergirds their scientific inquiry. Kepler famously said that science was thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Boyle, Faraday, Pascal and many others were amazing minds that transformed our world – none needed to reject their faith for scientific inquiry.
To learn more try the works of Dr John Lennox such as the book ‘God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God’ or his 2015 lecture ‘Science and the God Question Faith and Science’ on YouTube.
How can God allow so much suffering in the world?
Our answer begins with a belief that God values authentic relationship, and like any good relationship where love exists there is freedom in how we act towards one another. Rather than creating mindless robots so nothing ever goes wrong, God designed life in such a way that we can freely accept or reject His love. This gift of freedom is also something we share with one another. Haven’t we each experienced a moment where we have done the wrong thing in a relationship? Did God stop us with a lightning rod and thunderous voice? No. There was a freedom to choose because at the heart of God’s love we have choice. When asked “what’s wrong with the world today?” G K Chesterton responded, “I am”. To a greater or lesser degree (no pointing to the person next to you), we have each played a part in the suffering we see in the world. God made us to love Him, love each other and lovingly care for this world. Instead, at times we have despised God, abused each other, and vandalized our planet. In a world designed for relationship, our choices affect others. Blaming God for this is to miss our personal responsibility. Maybe a better question is “how can we allow so much suffering in the world”, but the good news is that God has not left us to suffer alone without hope.
Christianity makes sense of why our suffering is not the way it’s supposed to be. We are in a good world gone bad, a world in process of restoration. But to speak of ‘God-and-suffering’ is to miss the heart of our story, for God entered the story to set things right. The problem looks radically different when we speak of ‘God-in-Jesus-and-suffering.’ Did Jesus sit idly by and watch our pain? No. He healed the sick, set captives free and comforted those grieving. He is still doing this today. When we are in pain, smart answers don’t help. We need a wounded healer to stay by our side. So God suffers too. He enters into this mystery. Even more, He defeats death and grounds our hope that one day He will resurrect the whole cosmos and us with it to a world without suffering—no more tears, no more brokenness, just a loving embrace.
To learn more try the Unbelievable podcast ‘Why Does God allow suffering?” between Vince Vitale and Julian Baggini.
Why should I believe in a God who tells me what to do and a religion like Christianity that will restrict my freedom and fun?
True freedom is more than just the absence of constraints.
Freedom always comes with a form. A river must have its banks to flow freely and with purpose. Without them, it is a giant puddle at best, and a destructive flood at worst. Likewise, our form is in God, for whom we were created, and it is only in Him that we truly come alive.
Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have a good time; it’s that He wants us to have abundant life. He wants us to experience the fullness of His love, to enjoy the majesty of His creation, to prosper in the community that He designed for us to be part of and to reach our greatest potential.
God offers freedom from the slavery that sin traps us into. So it is only in Jesus that we have truly found life and truly found freedom.
Isn’t an ancient near eastern faith now outdated and irrelevant in this modern world?
The most important questions in life are timeless. Where did I come from? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? Where am I going? What happens when I die? Christianity now, as it has done for centuries, offers the most satisfying answers to these age old questions.
Christianity has been making itself relevant in other countless ways now, all over the world and through past history. The Church is the largest single provider of healthcare and education in the world, with an overwhelming presence in places of poverty. In some countries the Christian Church is the largest financial contributor to both non-government and government forms of education, including schools and universities.
The church provides aid all over the world through agencies like Tear Fund, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Compassion, World Vision, Samaritans Purse – feeding the poor, housing the homeless, caring for the sick, the abandoned and the destitute. At the centre of society’s values, ideas, laws and institutions is Christianity and its gospel message. Christianity is made relevant wherever Christians go transforming the world for the better.
The challenge for Christians is to continue to show Christianity relevant in the world today
Riverlife [formerly] Kenmore Baptist Church Senior Leadership Team
Dr CharlesV. Taylor wrote as a well known Australian linguist, Bible teacher, author, and Christian magazine contributor. His doctoral studies researched the Nkore-Kiga language of Uganda in Africa where he served as a missionary.
Can the leopard change his spots? This, and the question about the Ethiopian’s skin, is found, surprisingly enough, in Jeremiah 13:23. I used to think it was in Proverbs. The text is appropriate to the subject of discipleship, because the second half of the verse says literally: ‘Can you also do good, you who are discipled to do evil?’ It seems we can be under false discipleship as well as the healthy version.
The English word ‘disciple’ comes from Latin and means a learner. The corresponding Greek New Testament word mathetes comes from manthano, ‘to learn’, so it’s the same idea. In fact, even ‘mathematics’ originally meant something learned, a science.
The Hebrew word for ‘disciple’ is found only six times in the Bible. This word, limmud, is translated in the old King James Bible as ‘taught’, ‘learned’ (twice), ‘accustomed’, fused’, and ‘disciple’. Originally it meant ‘goaded’.
Do you remember how Gideon promised to ‘teach’ the men of Succoth in Judges 8:16? He taught them with thorns and briers. They were goaded into knowledge. In some such way, may not God sometimes goad us into the knowledge of the truth?
Whether you accept that or not, the idea of being a learner is associated with ‘coming into line’, or as we also say, ‘being disciplined’. That’s why the biblical reference translates limmud as ‘accustomed’ or ‘becoming used to’. In Jeremiah 13:23 the leopard can’t change his coat. He’s grown quite used to it. True, he didn’t have to be taught, but he’s marked for life.
A Christian should be marked for life. A Christian should, without being forced, stand out in the world as somebody different. Whether some sort of badge is worn or not, the world should be able to recognize the Christian, and the Christian should attract others, not to him/herself, but to Christ.
When someone is converted to Christ, the first thing should be to say so, as Romans 10:9-10 explains. All churches worthy of the name should also offer baptism of some kind or other, and the Christian can also be distinguished by ‘going to church’, which in this mobile age is unfortunately not so universal as it used to be. The home churches are wonderful, but without cover and discipleship they can give the impression that Christians are all ‘separated by a common faith’, just as many of my linguist friends used to say that Britain and the United States are ‘separated by a common language’, referring to misunderstandings that can occur from the two sorts of English.
The outsider wants to see at least some resemblance to a united front, to submission to the Gospel, to some sort of discipline and discipleship. Isaiah 54:13 says we should all be children taught (discipled) by the Lord. Jesus said that to be converted we had to become like little children.
A process of uniting Christians
So I see discipleship as a process of uniting Christians, while not making them all identical. All leopards don’t have the same spot patterns. When I lived in Ethiopia for two years I found that all Ethiopians were not the same sort of black. And if you (rightly) tell me that ancient Ethiopia is today’s Sudan, well, the same thing holds there too. God isn’t stamping us all with an identical mould. But he does want us to be basically recognizable, and truth is one and indivisible.In Isaiah 50:4 the prophet says God gave the Servant of the Lord the tongue of the learned, that is, of the discipled. With this tongue we can sustain the weary. In Isaiah 8:16 the law must be sealed up among his disciples, which seems to mean that they alone will really know the Lord’s mind.
If this is so, may it not be that it reflects the fact that the true disciple or learner from God is able to understand spiritual things which those outside just can’t understand? Isn’t it true that when a Christian speaks of things that move him/her most, outsiders are just puzzled? That’s a sure sign that a person has been born again through the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is not that the Christian lives in a sealed case, but that, living openly in the world, the Christian is sealed ‘with that Holy Spirit of promise’ (Ephesians 1:13) and so is often a mystery to friends who are not themselves learning from Jesus.
The basic idea of a disciple is one who learns along with others. It was unusual in the ancient world to find single disciples of one leader. What is more, the disciple is not the slave of his leader. He is only a learner, following an example or following some counsel. John 15:8 indicates that discipleship with Jesus is manifested by bearing fruit, by a life modelled on the disciple’s teacher, or at least on his teaching. We bear fruit by staying in the vine.
Now if a teacher has a number of disciples, it is more likely that needs will be met. One of the benefits of preaching is that in a mixed multitude, the listener cannot usually say the speaker is directing the message at him/herself alone. For this reason, a listener, and in the same way a disciple, is more likely to take to heart what is said and imitate what is done.
You might sum up discipleship as loyalty, first to Christ and then to Christian leaders that we learn from. But, as with everything else in life, loyalty must not become inflexible, or it becomes merely a new slavery. To guard against this we should look at Galatians 4:2, where Paul is telling us about tutelage.
We shouldn’t always be learning and never coming to the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Some people lean on others beyond the stage where they should become distinctive and free in themselves. We can get into bondage to people as well as to rules. So yes, be loyal to those who are over you in the faith, but let your first loyalty be to the unseen Jesus, manifested in the word of God.
As Paul even challenged Peter, who was before him in the faith, let’s all pull together and stand firm in the freedom in which Christ has made us free.
And of course, like-Paul, let’s do everything in love.
(c) 2011, 2nd edition. Reproduction allowed with copyright included in text.
In the summer of 1985 I was leading a four week Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training school for some fifty students in Holland. I had quit my job as a civil engineer and joined YWAM in 1977. A friend, and former YWAMer, Paul Piller from the Philippines, contacted me and offered to speak for a few days when he visited Holland.
I consented, although I wasn’t thrilled about his subject: healing. I knew one had to watch out for people who only wanted to talk about healing, faith, miracles, and demons.
I trusted Paul, but you never know what can happen to someone who has spent five years in the U.S. Paul had brought some others along: young fellows in T-shirts, blue jeans, and sneakers. I wondered why they had come. Were they going to sing or perform a drama?
As Paul began speaking, I relaxed. No screaming, no emotionalism. After the lecture, he and the young fellows moved around the group praying without saying much. One word stood out: ‘more’.
‘More of you Lord!’ They seemed unperturbed as certain things I was unfamiliar with started happening. Someone started weeping, others collapsed on their chairs, someone else stood shaking. After three days the place was turned upside down. People were filled with joy, received healing, delivered from demons, released from grief. I had hundreds of questions! I had tasted the new wine and I wanted more.
Paul suggested I go to a conference in Sheffield, England, led by a man named John Wimber. Off we went, with a number of YWAMers. I was ready for anything. My ‘holy frustration’ had reached a point where I was willing to let God do whatever he wanted.
I had been warned to get ready for change. God had spoken to me through the story in the second chapter of John’s Gospel – the wedding in Cana – where Jesus performed his first miracle of changing water into wine. Interestingly, the servants at the wedding were allowed to participate, because they filled the jars and took the newly transformed wine to the leader of the feast. Somewhere between the jar and the lips of that man, the water changed into wine.
The application for me of that story is that God is looking for people who want to co-operate with him in bringing this about. I had run out of wine, and now I wanted to see the Lord bring out his best vintage. I wanted God to restore my joy, and fill me with the Holy Spirit.
The conference was life-changing, even though I didn’t have any spine-tingling personal experiences or visions of ecstasy. Nevertheless God gave me a deep inner peace and an affirmation that the teaching I heard, and the ministry I was observing was from his hand.
Giving the Holy Spirit room
My wife and I and others returned home with a clear sense of purpose. Like the servants at the wedding in Cana, our part was to obediently draw out the water and faithfully carry it to others. God would change it into wine.
During the following months, I discovered how exciting life becomes when we give more room to the Holy Spirit! I tried to cultivate a greater sensitivity to God’s voice. My goal was to listen better to what he was saying, and act upon that in faith.
As John Wimber likes to point out, another way to spell faith is R-I-S-K. This new openness to the promptings of the Spirit led to some powerful times of ministry. My emphasis during individual counselling changed to less talk and more prayer. We also learned that demons are for real, but we have been given authority to drive them out (Matthew 10:8).
Though this new realm of ministry was exhilarating, we needed people from outside to help, advise, and direct us further. We invited people like Barry Kissel from the Anglican church in Chorleywood, England. He imparted to us much in the way of ministry skills.
At a certain stage in this new development I sensed the Lord said: ‘It’s time for you to begin modelling the ministry, like I did.’ After much hesitation, I announced we were going to start a training class with worship, teaching, and practical application. For the first lecture I had John Wimber on video. I led the practicum. The Holy Spirit ministered in a lovely way to a great many of the sixty who showed up. Some received comfort; others were healed. We decided to have a whole Saturday every month with those ingredients: worship, teaching, and ministry.
By word of mouth alone the group grew to about 350 after eight months. The team working with me had grown to about 30 persons. After each training day we evaluated, prayed, and discussed. I had learned the importance of multiplication. Your team can’t be big enough!
Passage to India
For the first two years of our marriage, my wife Marianne and I had worked with YWAM in Nepal, a country located between China and India, astride the Himalaya Mountains. For some time we had felt God was leading us back to that part of the world. In early 1989 we left for India with our three children. We ended up living in Bombay for almost four years. From the start I knew I was to invest myself in people. I constantly asked myself, ‘How can I give away what God has given me?’
I itinerated as a teacher in the discipleship training schools (DTS) which YWAM runs in different parts of the country. The theme that developed in my teaching was: ‘How to minister like Jesus.’ The teaching was simple, with lots of examples of how we should pray. After the lecture phase of the DTS, the students would go out for three months of outreach, usually involving evangelism and church planting. They came back with some amazing stories. For example:
The students were sent … to five different villages. At the end of two months they had established three fellowships in three different villages. Half the village where they stayed is ready to follow Jesus as Lord. Within the next three weeks 68 believers will be baptised. Despite all religious strongholds, barriers, Hindu militants and oppositions, God showed his mighty power through healings, and signs and wonders. Some people saw visions of Jesus hanging on the cross and showing them how much he loves them.
In that area the crops suffered from a disease. The farmers came and asked the team to pray to Jesus. The very next morning the people went to the field and discovered the disease had been totally wiped out. They came with great joy to confess their belief in Jesus since he had heard their prayers.
Once, while I was leading a small seminar, a local pastor named Garry walked in while I was praying for someone in front of the class. He left thinking, ‘I can do that.’
The first person he prayed for when he got home was his Hindu brother-in-law. For many years severe back pain had cost him many sleepless nights. The next day the brother-in-law returned, declaring the Lord Jesus had healed his back. He had slept through the night without waking up once.
Garry, who later became a good friend, had been having discussions with a strong Muslim about the Bible and the Koran. The argument always stopped where one would say ‘The Bible is the word of God’ and the other ‘The Koran is the word of God’. This time Garry took a different approach.
‘Can I pray for you?’ he asked, when he met the man again. Because Indians are among the most religious people on earth, this man, like almost everyone in India, was glad to receive prayer. As Garry put his hand on the man’s head and started praying the Muslim fell down and stayed on the floor for quite a while. Garry was puzzled! What next?
When the man got back on his feet, he shared what happened. While he was lying on the floor, he clearly heard a voice saying, ‘The Bible is the word of God!’ He went home with a Bible in his pocket.
Garry was on a roll. Wherever he went he prayed for people: in church, in the home groups, and especially in the streets while evangelising. In the time we worked together, several churches took root in the slums. People came mainly because they saw Jesus was more powerful than their own gods. Now Garry is going around equipping others to ‘minister like Jesus’.
‘Will this work?’
More and more I began to see the power of multiplication: invest yourself in a few people next to you and then let them go and do the same thing to others. You may never know the result until heaven, but it could be more powerful than the biggest healing crusade!
After a three week course, 25 YWAMers went back to their bases in different parts of the country. God had meet with us in special ways during those weeks, as we met together or as we went out to visit people and pray for them.
As two brothers went back to Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus, they wondered, ‘Will this work back home?’ The first time they went into a Hindu village after their return, they started to worship Jesus. They intended to start a church there. Immediately the Holy Spirit started to come on people; demons manifested and were driven out. People saw the power of God and wanted to know more, providing an excellent opening to preach the Word of God.
While walking along the bank of the Ganges River, one of the brothers began talking to a Hindu priest. After a while, the Brahman complained about his headaches. Again, being highly religious, he was willing to receive prayer, even if it was offered in the name of Jesus. Under the power of God he fell down and after he got back up, his headache was completely gone. He sure wanted to know more about this powerful God!
Respect for God
India is more a continent than a country, with almost 900 million people who speak 1,600 different languages. Patrick Johnstone, in Operation World, estimates evangelical Christians comprise one per cent of the population, but the number is growing. Two thousand people groups have not been reached with the gospel yet. India must be reached by the spiritually equipped Indian church, but for a while non-Indian partners can help train and support Indian workers.
In YWAM, we have mixed teams of Indians and foreigners who plant churches, evangelise, and minister to the poor in various ways. Hindus and Muslims have great respect for God. The Hindus have millions of gods. Most Indians, especially the poor, are open to spiritual reality, and exercise great faith, upon hearing about a loving God who sent his Son to this world. In evangelism, miracles happen quickly and open many doors to preach the gospel.
I first experienced this in Bhopal, a city where some eight years ago a gas leak at the chemical plant killed at least 2,000 people. Today many still suffer the effects: eye problems, mouth sores and breathing difficulties. With a small team we visited the site where the calamity took place.
As some people gathered, one of us shared briefly who we were and our purpose for coming. One person was prayed for and got healed. More people came who wanted prayer. Some invited us to enter their huts to see those too sick to come out. We were busy for the next two hours to bless, comfort, and encourage. Many people received physical healing, saw visions of Jesus, were blessed with peace. We left many friends in this mainly Muslim community.
Of course, the nature of kingdom warfare is ‘attack – counter-attack’. The gospel does meet with opposition. Militant Hinduism is experiencing a revival. The north of India is hostile toward the gospel and to Western influence. To make one convert there is like making a hundred in the south.
An Indian friend of mine desired to work in Bihar, a state in the north, also known as ‘the graveyard of missionaries’. He had worked with me for sometime and learned more about how to minister in power evangelism. In Bihar, near the border of Nepal, he rented a home where he invited people. He shared with them, prayed for them and taught them how to pray for others. Many were blessed, healed, delivered, and came to salvation. A small church was established.
Across the border in Nepal, the spiritual atmosphere was different. Tremendous openings existed. Within a year almost a hundred people attended the newly started church! Approximately 50 churches have been planted in India by YWAM-trained workers through power evangelism.
More than eight years have passed since the visit of Paul Piller and since the conference with John Wimber in Sheffield. I have seen thousands of people who ran out of wine partake of ‘the best wine’ as I willingly brought them what I have: just plain water.