In 1921 David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa, to what was then called the Belgian Congo. This missionary couple met up with the Ericksons, another young Scandinavian couple, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to set out from the main mission station to take the gospel to the village of N’dolera, a remote area.
This was a huge step of faith.
There, they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to build their own mud huts half a mile up the slope.
They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. Their only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week.
Svea Flood—a tiny woman only four feet, eight inches tall—decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And she succeeded!
Meanwhile, malaria struck one member of the little missionary band after another. In time, the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station.
David and Svea Flood remained near N’dolera to carry on alone.
Then, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina. The delivery was exhausting. Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria so the birthing process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She died only 17 days after Aina was born.
Something snapped Inside David Flood at that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his 27-year-old wife, and then went back down the mountain with his children to the mission station.
Giving baby Aina to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life!”
With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God Himself.
Within eight months, both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. Baby Aina was then turned over to another American missionary family who changed her Swedish name to “Aggie”. Eventually they took her back to the United States at age three.
This family loved Aggie. Afraid that if they tried to return to Africa some legal obstacle might separate her from them, they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. That is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota.
As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. There she met and married Dewey Hurst.
Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time, her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.
One day she found a Swedish religious magazine in their mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she couldn’t read the words, but as she turned the pages, a photo suddenly stopped her cold.
There, in a primitive setting, was a grave with a white cross—and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD.
Aggie got in her car and drove straight to a college faculty member whom she knew could translate the article.
“What does this article say?”
The teacher shared a summary of the story.
“It is about missionaries who went to N’dolera, Africa, long ago. A baby was born. The young mother died. One little African boy was led to Jesus before that. After the whites had all left, the boy all grown up finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. He gradually won all his students to Christ and the children led their parents to Him. Even the chief became a follower of Jesus! Today there are six hundred believers in that village, all because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.”
Aggie was elated!
For the Hursts’ 25th wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden.
Aggie sought out her birth father.
David Flood was an old man now. He had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God! God took everything from me!”
After an emotional reunion with her half-brothers and half-sister, Aggie brought up the subject of her longing to see her father. They hesitated….
“You can talk to him, but he’s very ill now. You need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.”
Aggie walked into the squalid apartment, which had liquor bottles strewn everywhere, and slowly approached her 73-year-old father lying in a rumpled bed.
“Papa,” she said tentatively.
He turned and began to cry.
“I never meant to give you away!”
“It’s all right, Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms.
“God took good care of me.”
Her father instantly stiffened and his tears stopped.
“God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.”
He turned his face back to the wall.
Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted.
“Papa, I’ve got a marvelous story to tell you!”
“You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus! The one seed you planted in his heart kept growing and growing! Today there are 600 people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life!”
“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you or abandoned us.”
The old father turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed.
He slowly began to talk.
And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many years. Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. A few weeks after Aggie and her husband returned to America, David Flood died.
And a few years later….
Aggie and her husband were attending an evangelism conference in London, England, when a report was given from Zaire (the former Belgian Congo).
The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the Gospel’s spread in his nation.
Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood.
“Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words being translated into English.
“Svea Flood led me to Jesus Christ! I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day, your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.”
He embraced Aggie for a long time, sobbing.
“You must come to Zaire! Your mother is the most famous and honored person in our history.”
When Aggie and her husband went to N’dolera, they were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. Aggie even met the man who had been hired by her father to carry her down the mountain in a hammock-cradle.
Then the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s tomb with a white cross bearing her name. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks to God.
Later that day, in the church, the boy turned pastor read….
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5.
Siberia: The light of Christ in the darkness of Winter
Elena is a field worker with Operation Mobilisation. In the year 2000 she moved to Arctic Russia to share the gospel with the Nenets people by translating the Bible in their language.
The Nenets are indigenous reindeer herders living in Northern Siberia, including the Yamal Peninsula. ‘Yamal’ means ‘The End of the Earth’. Out on the tundra, locals travel by snowmobile or reindeer sled. To reach particularly remote villages, it takes two to four hours by helicopter from Salekhard, the main city in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (district). The Yamal Peninsula is home to more reindeer than people and winter lasts nine months. “It’s very cold; minus 40°C can be pleasant for a walk if there is no wind,” Elena jokes.
The Nenets minority group has a population of around 45,000 people. Half of them live in Russian-speaking villages, while the other half are nomadic reindeer herders who live on the tundra and speak the Nenets language. Translating the Bible has been a complicated process, but today four books of the New Testament are in print, while others are in progress. OM East also published and illustrated two Bible storybooks.
‘Then I understood the meaning of light’
“I moved to Arctic Russia during December, the darkest month,” Elena recalled. “One day when I was testing translations, the electricity suddenly cut out. We sat without light all day. It was dark! Then I understood the meaning of light.” For Elena this experience of the Arctic winter darkness is a picture of life without Jesus Christ. Her desire is for the Nenets to know Jesus as the light of the world.
“I want every Nenets child to have a Bible,” she says. Over the past years she has distributed thousands of Bible storybooks. Wherever she came, the children took more interest in these Bible storybooks than in the chocolate she brought.
Their nomadic lifestyle makes it difficult for the reindeer herders to carry a collection of Christian literature. “They don’t have extra things – just the minimum,” Elena explains. “They have one pot, one kettle, and they don’t need a freezer!” However, they do have mobile phones. Her solution is to develop publications into applications so they can be stored on mobile phones, also allowing individuals to listen to the text. OM East plans to help provide these resources digitally.
The Warmest Tent on Earth – Pitching in the Siberian Arctic Winter
About 16 years ago, Elena met Neko, a Nenets woman who invited her to visit two family members on the tundra. Elena tested a translation by reading some Scripture verses to their hosts. They reacted strongly by walking out, leaving her alone in the tent. Jesus’ teaching had touched a nerve. But Neko changed, and the next time they met she had decided to be baptised and insisted on giving Elena a tithe to print Mark’s Gospel.
Elena prays for a revival among the Nenets. Today there are around 200 known Nenets believers, representing a small percentage of the population. The indigenous people group believes in numerous gods. For many, the reindeer are their life, their source of food, clothes, transport and shelter. Elena longs for the Nenets to acknowledge their Creator as their true provider and life-giver.
Prayer focus – Give praise to God who is light. Give thanks that He speaks through His Word. Pray the Nenets will put their trust in Jesus and receive His salvation. Pray for wisdom as Elena helps make God’s truth available. Pray that believers grow strong in their faith.
God’s leading through an unusual dream and a miraculous meeting led to evangelizing a hidden tribe in the Philippines.
By Mark Ellis —
In 2013 Caleb Byerly woke up with a start and began to furiously write in his journal everything he saw in a rather unusual dream. For the previous five years, the small-town North Carolina resident had been engaged in mission outreach to indigenous people and tribal areas in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
“In the dream, I was standing on top of this mountain. I was looking out across the mountain, and I saw a tribe of people,” he told The Unseen Story. Caleb and his wife, Gladys, live in Moravian Falls, a town of 1400 in the foothills of the Brushy Mountains.
He had never seen the tribe before, so he asked, “What tribe are you? What people are you?”
“We’re the Tinananon tribe,” they replied. Caleb had never heard of this people group and he began to carefully observe their actions in his dream.
A tribal chief walked forward carrying a musical instrument. Caleb happens to be an instrument maker by profession, so his eyes “zoomed in” to study the distinctive design of an instrument unlike anything he had ever seen before.
It had 30 strings going all the way around the top of a golden bowl, from the outside, crisscrossing in the middle of the instrument. “I suddenly got a full download of everything about this instrument, what dimensions the instrument was, what material it was made out of, even like how it was tuned and how it was played. After that, I kind of zoomed back out.
“This tribal chief, he took the instrument and he put it on the table. He took two small sticks, and he began to play this instrument. As he played the whole tribe started to dance and they started to worship. This kind of sound of worship just filled the place. It was as if heaven and earth just collided. After that I woke up from the dream.”
God has spoken to Caleb through dreams previously, so he meticulously recorded in his journal the name of the Tinananon tribe. He made detailed drawings of the bowl, its dimensions and materials, a wooden ring that goes around the bowl, the strings connected by wooden pegs, and the two sticks used to play the instrument.
“I feel like when God speaks to you, it’s an invitation to partner and walk with God. It’s not just God commanding you to do things or God just saying do this, do that. But it’s the Holy Spirit inviting you into some new journey that he’s calling you into, and it’s connected to you, it’s connected to your DNA and your calling. I really value that a lot. I really thought that this would be a really exciting thing to follow with the Lord.”
Caleb began to search online for any reference to a Tinananon people group but came up short. “I contacted different organizations like Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Summer Institute of Linguistics to see if they knew anything about this tribe. But everywhere I searched, I could not find that word. I tried the different spellings, but just couldn’t find anything there. So I kind of gave up on that.”
But as a professional instrument maker, he was intrigued by the idea of recreating the instrument he saw in the dream. “I’m gonna make this thing!” he decided. Even though he had not put metal and wood together in that way, he was up for the challenge.
“I got into my shop, and I just kept breaking this thing. I kept breaking things and snapping things. I could not figure out this one process. I got really frustrated. I was like, I’m just gonna put this thing to the side. I just couldn’t figure it out.
“So, I kind of gave up on the whole dream. I felt like I had done my part. I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I just kind of gave it up.”
Trip to the Philippines
About six months later, he took a mission trip to the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, an area where he had previously been involved in ministry.
“I was on a Jeepney, which is like a public transportation. There was this man that was sitting on the other side of me. I could tell this guy was staring at me. I was like, what’s this guy doing? Every time that I would look at him, he would like look away.”
Caleb knows the national language of the Philippines, Tagalog, so he spoke to the man. “As I was talking to him, it turns out that he’s a believer! So we’re chatting and then right in the middle of our conversation, I heard the Lord speak to me. It wasn’t an audible voice or anything. It was just felt.”
The Lord spoke to Caleb’s heart and said, I want you to ask that man about the Tinananon.
Inside, Caleb resisted. No, I’m not going to ask this man about the Tinananon, he thought. I’ve already tried to do all my research.
A second time the Lord nudged his heart, Ask this man about the Tinananon.
Caleb built up his courage and said meekly, “Sir, do you happen to know Tinananon?
As soon as he said he word Tinananon, the man’s eyes got really big.
He leaned in and said, “Hey, that’s my people — that’s my tribe! How do you know my people?”
Caleb was rendered speechless for a moment. “Tell me everything you know about your tribe.”
Manigos began to explain that his tribe lives in a deep mountainous region of Mindanao. “This area is a really dangerous place,” he said. “No one from outside goes to this place.” Manigos estimated his people group numbers between 70,000 and 100,000 people, scattered throughout the mountainous region in pockets.
Caleb invited Manigos to follow him to the place he was staying and showed him his journal entry with the word Tinananon.
Manigos began shaking his head, and tears streamed down his face.
He said, “Remember earlier on the bus, I kept looking at you.”
“Yes, what was that all about?”
“I kept looking at you, and the reason why is because I’ve seen you before…I just realized where I saw you, I also saw you in a dream.”
Manigos explained that was born in the Tinananon tribe. He left as a young man and went to Davao City, the largest city on the island of Mindanao, with 1.8 million people. He came to know Jesus while he lived in the city, then God called him back to his tribe through a dream.
In the dream, Manigos had gone back to evangelize his people – with Caleb! “He saw me in his dream,” Caleb said, “and I came and joined him. He and I began to minister and bring the good news of Jesus to his people.”
They were filled with wonder and awe at the way God brought them together. The two men stayed together for several days. “We all worshipped together and prayed together for a few days. Manigos invited Caleb to visit his tribe.
“Yeah, I would love to go to your tribe,” Caleb replied, “but I need to ask my wife first.” His wife, Gladys, was eight months pregnant at the time. Going on a potentially dangerous journey, immediately before the birth of their first child was a big decision they had to make.
After Caleb flew home to North Carolina, he and Gladys sought the Lord’s direction. “We felt like the Lord’s hand was on it,” he said. “And if the Lord showed this, up to this point, then He would continue to be with us. So I decided I was going to go, but I wanted to get back in the shop and try to make this instrument again.”
Caleb got very focused and asked the Holy Spirit to help him. “The Lord gave me wisdom, gave me insight on the process of what to do…with the help of the Holy Spirit and my wife, we were able to get it. I finally made this instrument!
He put the strings on it for the first time. “I tuned it up the way I heard it in the dream. I got the two little sticks. And I started to play it. It was that same sound, the same sound that I heard in the dream. And I was like, this is it. I was just really excited about it.”
Caleb bought a plane ticket and left the next day for the Philippines, taking the instrument with him.
He met a tribal friend named Ansulao and his new friend, Manigos, at the border of the mountain range closest to the tribe. “All three of us, we got on this one little motorbike. It was like 120 cc, a little motorbike.”
A large storm had passed through the steep, undeveloped mountainous area the day before. “It was really muddy, very hard to get through there. And then while we were on this motorbike, another storm came. I was trying to hold this instrument, and I couldn’t hold it to my left or my right, so I had to put it above my head.
“Imagine three people on a little motorcycle. I was holding this musical instrument above my head trying to balance.”
They came to a hanging bridge, which consisted of two ropes and primitive wood planks. They managed to get across the bridge and were going up a steep hill, when the motorbike popped its gear and went into neutral.
Suddenly they were flying backward, toward the cliff. The motorbike wheel hit a rock and all three men went flying. “Thank the Lord, we landed in this smooth, green patch of grass, just feet away from the cliff, the drop-off cliff!”
As they entered the area of the Tinananon tribal group, Caleb heard the still small voice of the Lord once more: Caleb, I want you to take the instrument to the chief.
They started asking about how to find the chief’s house, which they learned was another three and a half hours away, on the other side of the mountain.
By the time they reached the chief’s house it was almost evening. Mud covered their clothing as they approached a small wooden house and knocked on the door.
When the chief opened the door he had a shocked expression on his face – especially to see an American in this remote area.
“We are, I am coming to your tribe for the first time,” Caleb said. “I just wanted to give this as a gift to you,” he said, holding the instrument in his outstretched arms, covered by a blanket.
The chief placed the instrument on a table and took the blanket off of it. “He saw this instrument and he started staring at it. He kept looking at this instrument over and over again. He kept asking me, ‘Where did you get this instrument from?”
“Well, I just kind of made it,” Caleb replied.
“No, no, I’m serious. Where did you get this instrument from?”
“Well, if you really want to know. Last year, I had this dream. In the dream I heard the name of your tribe, the Tinananon, for the first time. I’d never heard that word before. I also saw this musical instrument in the dream. I felt like my God has given this dream to me.
“After that I met this man, Manigos, who is from your tribe, and he helped me lead me to your house today. I was able to make this instrument. I just felt like I wanted to give this instrument to you today.”
The chief continued shaking his head in disbelief, examining the instrument carefully, asking questions about it. He summoned other leaders from the Tinananon tribe and they walked around it incredulously, pointing at it, saying “Salimbaa.”
“They have their own native tongue,” Caleb notes. “And I don’t totally understand their language. So I was pretty lost about what they were talking about.”
Finally, the chief motioned to them and said, “I need to show you something.” They left his house and went down a small pathway over to another structure.
“They call the house Paluvaran, which means House of Prayer in their language. This is the place where they worship. But it’s also sort of a storehouse of all their kind of ancient articles of their tribes. They have pottery work, metalwork, weaving, all these different things that are tangible evidence that their tribe has been living and existing for hundreds of years.
“I was amazed by this place. They had all these musical instruments on the side of the wall.” As a professional instrument maker, Caleb found it fascinating, incredible.
The chief informed him there were different musical instruments for each of their gods. “They have the god of the tree, the god of the stone, god of the river. And they’re not necessarily gods, but they believe that the one true God or the Creator has sent down angels to guard these different things like the angel of the river, the angel of the stone.
“Instead of praying and worshiping directly to God, they pray and worship to these different angels; the angels would be the ones to connect them to God. And so it’s a little bit different, but it’s not completely like they believe in many different gods, they believe in the one true God.”
Caleb noticed there was one spot that was empty on the wall between the other instruments. “They said that somewhere between 100 and 150 years ago, there was a tribal war. During this war, their most valuable musical instrument that worshiped the God of all gods was taken away from them.”
In response, they lamented for a time and created a song that goes something like this:
The Salimbaa was taken away from us,
God is going to redeem it back to us one day.
“It was a prophecy. This instrument is the instrument that worships the God of all gods. They said, ‘Today, you brought the Salimbaa to us!’”
Caleb was blown away. “Oh my goodness!” he exclaimed.
After that there was a small gathering of tribal leaders. “This is it! This is the Salimbaa!” they cried. Everyone knew what it was when they saw it and heard it played.
Caleb learned the Salimbaa’s golden bowl, with strings stretching from side to side around the bowl, that the convergence in the middle is the place where the Tinananon believe the Salimbaa connects heaven and earth.
“They said that, in the last time, in the last days, God is going to be coming down from heaven, and he’s going to call all the righteous people to him. When God comes down from heaven, God is going to be riding on the inside of the Salimbaa, as if the Salimbaa was an aircraft that connects heaven and earth.”
Their name for the God above all gods is Manama. “They started praying to Manama…and they dedicated this instrument back to God.”
As a sign of special honor, the chief placed a tribal leader’s headpiece on Caleb’s shoulder. “We now consider you a chief of the Tinananon tribe,” he said. “Whatever you believe God is calling us or leading us into, we’re going to follow you.”
Reeling from the whole experience, Caleb was humbled by the gesture. They stayed with the chief, Datu Lipatuan Suhat, for three days.
“There wasn’t a lot that manifested with him giving his life to Jesus,” Caleb told God Reports. “I did pray with him a lot and prophesied over him. But after we left, we didn’t return for a few months, but during that time, within a month or two, the chief had an encounter with Jesus, and the Lord spoke to him and he wrote everything out. That is when he gave his heart to Jesus.”
On the second visit, Caleb asked Chief Suhat how he could help the tribe.
“Well, if you can help us with one thing, I want you to help us translate the Bible into our language.”
In January 2015, Caleb arranged for Translators Association of the Philippines to meet with all 50 chiefs of the Tinananon tribe.
“Some of the chiefs didn’t want the Bible to be translated and others did,” Caleb told God Reports. “There was tension in the room. None of us as foreigners felt led to speak up. The chief came up to the front and opened up the Cebuano Bible, from Genesis.”
Caleb learned the Tinananon believe that God came down and took the soil of Mindanao and put it in his hands and blew on it and that is when the first man came alive.
“We believe God made man from his breath,” Chief Suhat said, “by taking the dust of the earth and breathing on it.”
Chief Suhat proceeded to read the biblical account of the creation of man:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
Then the chief paused, set the Bible down, and said: “It’s only the first few pages, imagine what it would be to have the whole Bible translated.”
The other chiefs nodded their heads in agreement. “That’s true,” they said, and all 50 agreed to let the translators begin their project.
Chief Suhat passed away in 2015, shortly after the translation process began.
Since then, there have been four churches planted among the Tinananon. “It’s just amazing, the open doors that the chiefs have given us for this tribe,” Caleb says.
“It was mostly through Manigos,” he adds. “He could speak the language and knew the culture. He has such a heart for his people. He has a God-given call to his people.
“Last year (2019) we went and visited the tribe and he had taken this small group of people on fire for the Lord and it’s grown to hundreds of believers there now.”
Could God connect an instrument maker living in Moravian Falls, North Carolina with an unreached tribe in the Philippines through a dream?
In 1727 the Moravian Church established a continuous prayer movement that ran uninterrupted, 24 hours a day, for 100 years. Moravian missionaries were part of launching the first large-scale Protestant missionary movement, beginning in 1732.
Did God touch Caleb and Manigos in response to the Moravians’ prayers?
“I felt like the Lord had arranged everything,” Caleb says, “in such a perfect way of organizing everything, just perfect timing. It was such an amazing series of events that took place that I couldn’t take any kind of claim for it.
“The best way I could explain is I was right there in the middle of the journey with God. I felt like He was there in the moment. I was like, yeah, this is Him. This is Him, this is what He did.
Caleb and Gladys Byerly are the founders of Evergreen Missions. Their focus is to partner with God in bringing His kingdom to the Earth. Caleb and Gladys focus mostly on mentoring and discipling indigenous leaders, who will go to their own people and bring them life from Christ Jesus. To learn more, go here
Adam Fish and his wife Brooke started The Unseen Story, which features firsthand accounts that reveal the reality of God’s love. Their interview/podcast with Caleb Byerly, along with many other great stories may be found here
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.
The Chinese Communist Party has long tried to eliminate or control the Church, but without success. Take Sister Hu’s amazing story, a mother who started a house church movement after Jesus healed her son.
When Sister Hu’s son fell seriously ill with kidney disease, she visited numerous temples to seek help from the gods, but he got worse. Then a Christian at the hospital told her that if she believed in Jesus her son could be healed. Her son fully recovered and Sister Hu committed to always serve God and share the gospel with as many people as she could.
Soon, a small group of believers emerged, and the fellowship quickly outgrew the building where it met. “Over time, the Holy Spirit revealed that we should focus on two things: evangelizing the lost and training leaders,” Sister Hu said. “We formed teams with five people in each, and we targeted 18 towns with the gospel. As we approached each town we prayed, and then we would look for the poorest household to share the good news of Jesus with.”
‘Many people believed and more churches were formed’
Each team was supported by an intercession and fasting chain, which operated around the clock, with believers rotating in two-hour shifts. “We fasted for seven days before a campaign, and to this day we still gather every morning at 4:30 a.m. for prayer, even in winter when it’s minus 30 degrees outside.”
The results were remarkable. “In the first 15 towns many people believed our message, and we formed new churches in each place. The final three towns were further away, so we had to cycle over long distances to reach them. Miraculously, in one town the officials let us use the municipal loudspeaker, to ensure that everyone could hear the message. Many people believed and more churches were formed.”
‘We have seen God perform many remarkable things’
“Our meetings were always crowded. Some people who came were demon possessed, but when we prayed they were completely delivered. Others were healed from deafness and other ailments. At first, we had many sisters but only one brother on our teams. We asked God to add 100 new brothers, and after the first evangelistic campaigns, we found that was exactly the number of men who had been converted. Later, we added mercy ministries to help the sick, elderly, and orphans.”
Over the years Sister Hu’s church has grown to 40,000 believers, and they have 1,000 evangelists and pastors. “We have seen God perform many remarkable things, which have helped spread his salvation message more widely,” she said. Some towns have been so thoroughly saturated with the gospel that now over 80 percent of the people are Christians.
“Jesus has been so good to us,” Sister Hu said. “He has been our best friend and He sticks closer than a brother. In recent years we have faced fresh challenges, as the government’s strict new religious policies have taken effect. We are under pressure to compromise, but we are determined to fully obey Jesus, regardless of the cost.”
When we look at the state of Christianity in the world today, we see a decidedly mixed picture. In many parts of the world, there is incredibly good news: God is authoring a season of multiplication instead of addition in many parts of the world. Across Africa and Asia, millions of people in historically unengaged people groups are now in rapidly growing Disciple Making Movements. In 2000 there were 6 such movements, today there are now 1,035! Almost all of the Pygmy peoples of Africa are seeing dramatic transformation by the Gospel of the Kingdom in the last 12 years. Hundreds of large people groups that had been Muslim for many centuries, are now seeing ordinary people making disciples that transform whole communities.
Across Africa and Asia many thousands of former Muslim clerics have left Islam to become fearless disciples of Christ. Not surprisingly, Christianity’s growth in Africa and Asia is explosive. On average, using data from The Status of Global Christianity, between 2000 to 2020, (7,300 days): Africa had 37,825 new Christ Followers every day over the last 20 years. Latin America had 16,988. Asia had 13,443. North America had 1,999. Oceania had 473 and Europe had 8. Much of the great momentum is coming from Disciple Making Movements. Christian history has seen rapid movements happen when many thousands, or millions of people in a region became Christ Followers.
We are living in a season of the greatest church growth since the 1st century! But half of the world is missing the move of God. How is it possible that the Global South Church is seeing Christian history being made while the Global North church is struggling for answers? God alone provides the increase, but why there and not here? What is it that the churches of the Global South are doing that makes so much difference? Two researchers and Disciple-Making practitioners have spent five years identifying several biblical values that Jesus modelled or mandated in his disciples, and which are embraced in the Global South but not in the Global North church. The Kingdom Unleashed was the result of that research.
1. Abundant, and Bold Prayer
In Africa, it is not unusual for churches to commit 50-100 days per year to fasting and prayer. In American churches, seasons of fasting and prayer are not the norm, and if there are prayer meetings, there may be few participants. Some studies suggest that we do not spend much time in private prayer either. It is easy for us to rely on our many resources rather than on God. As a result we lose the privilege of depending on God every day. In the Global South, people often have no choice but to rely on God to meet their needs, lacking resources to do otherwise. Their awareness of their need drives them to pray not just for their physical needs but for guidance, direction, spiritual power and breakthroughs, healings, deliverances, and identifying people to disciple.
2. Discipling to Conversion
American Evangelicals tend to think about Christianity in terms of conversion, forgiveness of sins and Eternal Life. In the Global South, they focus far less on conversion than on disciple-making. When Jesus called the Twelve, he discipled them for nearly three years before he asked them for a statement of faith, “Who do you say I am?” In other words, he discipled them to conversion rather than converting them and then discipling them. That is the model used in the Global South.
3. Obedience-Based Discipleship
Even the idea of what it means to be a disciple is different. For us, discipleship is knowledge-based. But in the Great Commission, Jesus tells us to make disciples (not converts) and teach them to obey everything he commanded. Biblical discipleship is thus obedience-based, not knowledge-based. Our sins are forgiven by faith alone, but throughout the New Testament we are told to live out our faith by obeying Jesus’ commands to love God and neighbour. So from day one in Discovery Bible Groups, people are encouraged to put into practice what they are learning. This approach results in personal transformation as well as community transformation. As people sink into Scripture, they learn that Jesus is Lord of all, and there is no area of life that is not rightfully his.
4. Empowering Ordinary People for Ministry
This changes fundamentally the way the Global South conceives of ministry. In the US, “going into the ministry” means becoming a pastor or missionary. Pastors are expected to preach, pray, visit the sick, counsel people, disciple church members, evangelize, provide direction for the church, handle or oversee administration, etc. In other words, they are responsible for just about everything the church does. But is all this really the job of pastors? Ephesians 4 tells us that pastors are to equip believers to do ministry, in other words, pastors are to be coaches and teachers, but the actual work of ministry is to be carried out by the people in the congregation, something we see in the churches in the Global South. We talk about every member ministry; they do it.
5. Make Replicating Disciples, not Converts
Members of Discovery Groups are also encouraged to tell others about what they are learning. So, even before they come to faith, they are discipled into sharing what they are learning about God. As a result, when they do come to faith, it is the most natural thing in the world to them to share it with others, to start new Discover Groups, and even to found simple churches. People like carpenters, sports coaches, taxi drivers, school teachers, custodians, farmers, and even politicians are making disciples and planting churches. In some parts of Africa, we can identify movements with more than thirty generations of churches planting churches. That is how the Gospel goes viral in these countries, leading to full-blown Disciple Making Movements (DMM).
6. Never Ending Leadership Training for All
Lay ministry is central in the Global South to finding pastors. In many western churches, to become a pastor requires years of education, a degree from a Bible college and often a Master of Divinity degree. Where Christianity is spreading rapidly, evidence of effective ministry precedes the call to be a pastor. You have to have a track record of making disciples and planting churches before you can become a pastor. Where Christianity is growing, they do things very differently from how we do them, pointing to a totally different ministry paradigm drawn from Jesus’ teaching and example. And that paradigm is based on a very different thinking about the Kingdom, the Gospel, the Church, and the ways the invisible world of the Spirit interacts with the physical world.
What would happen to the church in the west if it revised its ministry paradigms to align with what Jesus himself taught and did? What would happen if we adopted different practices like those of the churches of the Global South? It’s starting to happen: A campus minister at a large state school is reading the Word one hour a day, interceding one hour a day and listening for God’s response one hour a day 5-6 days a week. God has placed a burden on his heart for reaching guys in fraternities and God has been opening doors for him to begin training “insiders” to start Discovery Groups with their fraternity brothers who are lost. A woman in a New England church prayer walked every street in her town, over 700 miles, praying for a Kingdom movement where she lives.
Many Global South ministries are mobilizing thousands of intercessors to pray daily for the Global North churches to be restored to vitality. Some are sending workers to help Global North churches. A Discovery Bible Study in Alabama went viral and impacted multiple countries and a huge number of people. God is no respecter of persons and is the same in the west as He is in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Maybe if we don’t let our theological systems, traditions, and habits stop us from putting into practice the things Jesus taught about making disciples, we might see movements here that would make the great revivals of American history look insignificant by comparison. For more information: www.finalcommand.com and www.kingdomunleashed.org
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
There is an old saying: “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but God alone can count the apples in a seed.”
How true this is in the story you are about to read. To anyone looking on, Vatsa was just an ordinary ‘apple’. No one would have guessed that the Lord had placed the seeds within this ‘apple’ to eventually produce over 3,000 new churches!
Stop and think of that for a minute. When they cross the threshold of heaven, how many people in history will have disciples from 3,000 churches run up to them and say, “I am here because of you!” Now think of how the crowd swells when all the disciples those 3,000 churches brought with them join the throng. It becomes overwhelming! For those who choose to obey the command, “to make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-19), God doesn’t see apples, he sees orchards!
New Generations is a ministry whose passion is to mobilize disciples that make disciples, resulting in churches that plant churches. Vatsa is one of their workers in Asia.
‘Sir, are you a Christian? Will you please talk to my father?’
When one day two young women came to Vatsa’s door, he expected them to ask about one of the rooms he and wife rent out to students. But these girls didn’t ask about rooms. One of them asked: “Sir, are you a Christian?” Because his town had some very anti-Christian elements, Vatsa was surprised and alarmed. “Yes, we are Christian,” he replied. She quickly got to the point. “Sir, for years my parents have been wanting to know about Jesus. Will you please talk to my father?”
She called her father who eagerly invited Vatsa to visit their village. A week later, Vatsa and his wife took the 120 kilometer (75 mile) drive and found a group of the family gathered, ready to learn about Jesus. Neighbors soon joined in, for a total of sixteen people.
It was a remarkable open door for sharing the gospel. How would they handle this? Where would it lead? In this very first encounter, Vatsa demonstrated to the family how they could make discoveries about God for themselves, right from the Bible. He read Psalm 25:8-9 – ‘Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.’
Vatsa asked: “What do you learn in this scripture about God, and what do you learn about man?” “I learn,” said the father, “that God is good, and he teaches sinners. And that man has to humble himself to learn from God.” “And what does it say to you personally?” Vatsa asked. Very quietly, the father replied: “I am a man, and I am a sinner. I need to learn from God, to become humble and to follow God’s way.”
‘We will start a Bible study right here in your home. God will teach you and lead you.’
The father was responsive, and eager to learn more, but he had questions about the next steps. “Where will we go to church?” he asked. “Who will be our pastor?” Vatsa’s answer was a surprise. “We will start a Bible study right here in your home. God will teach you and lead you to start a church with your family members and relatives.” Since that day, not only have six of the family members turned to Jesus, but two more Bible studies have started in other homes.
For those who choose to obey the command ‘to make disciples’, God doesn’t see apples – he sees orchards!
What did Vatsa do that was different?
First of all, he made the effort to visit the family in their own home. This meant taking a full day to do so. He realized the encounter was not about reaching one man or even one family, but about how this man, with such obvious fervor to know Jesus, could be an instrument of God to reach a community.
Secondly, he showed the family how they could learn about God right from the Bible and encouraged them to do that regularly. He then coached the father, through phone calls and further visits, to facilitate the family time together in the Word. Vatsa also taught him to release others to do the same thing in new groups.
“In the past,” Vatsa says, “I would not have bothered to visit this man but would have simply invited him to my church. And I never would have allowed him to become a facilitator and leader.” Since he started implementing this new way of doing ministry, Vatsa has seen 3,304 small churches started, and he’s never going back. “I have seen a great change in our achievements,” he says, “and me and my team have moved to a higher level of personal obedience to the risen Lord Jesus Christ.”
‘I’ve learned that making disciples is not about bringing people to church.’
“I’ve learned,” he adds, “that making disciples is not about bringing people to church. It’s about starting church at anybody’s home or any place. It’s about finding a man of peace and releasing him for making disciples. It’s about a lifestyle of following Jesus’ model and having Jesus’ attitude toward the lost.”
As of the end of September 2019, New Generations teams along with their partners have seen God raise up 70,921 new churches, 1,695,692 New Christ-followers, of whom, 471,813 (28%) are Muslim background. New Generations has now seen God launch 126 Disciple Making Movements (DMM) – 113 in Sub-Saharan Africa and 13 in South Asia. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a people group of eastern Congo reached the DMM threshold with 108 churches to the 9th generation!
Source: New Generations
Joel News International, # 1158, February 10, 2020
A lot of key passages and exciting developments get lost in the details of this book so I have highlighted passages in this book which bring some of those key revival passages together.
From Chapter 5 – Australia: Elcho Island (1994)
In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry, bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage.
Next morning the Galiwin’ku Community once again became the new community. The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad.
Many unplanned and unexpected things happened every time we went from camp to camp to meet with the people. The fellowship was held every night and more and more people gave their lives to Christ, and it went on and on until sometimes the fellowship meeting would end around about midnight. There was more singing, testimony, and ministry going on. People did not feel tired in the morning, but still went to work.
From Chapter 9 – Philippines (1995)
During the class seminars, my students reported on various signs and wonders that they had experienced in their churches. Many of them expected God to do the same things now as he did in the New Testament, but not all! “We don’t seem to have miracles in our church,” said one student, a part-time Baptist pastor and police inspector. “You could interview a pastor from a church that does,” I suggested.
So he interviewed a Pentecostal pastor about miraculous answers to prayer in their church. That student reported to the class how the Pentecostal church sent a team of young people to the local mental hospital for monthly meetings where they sang and witnessed and prayed for people. Over 40 patients attended their first meeting there, and they prayed for 26 personally, laying hands on them. A month later, when they returned for their next meeting, all those 26 patients had been discharged and sent home.
From Chapter 9 – Ghana (1995)
When we arrived in the mountain town of Suhum, it was dark. The torrential rain had cut off the electricity supply. The rain eased off a bit, so we gathered in the market square and prayed to God to guide us and to take over. Soon the rain ceased. The electricity came on. The host team began excitedly shouting that it was a miracle. “We will talk about this for years” they exclaimed with gleaming eyes. We had clear days all that week, although it was in the monsoon.
My interpreter that night didn’t know a lot of English. I think he preached his own sermon based on some phrases of mine he understood or guessed, and apparently he did well. When we invited people to respond and give their lives to Christ, they came from the surrounding darkness into the light. Some wandered over from the pub, smelling of beer. They kept the ministry team busy praying and arranging follow up with the local churches.
At that point I left the work to the locals who understood one another. I just moved around laying hands on people’s heads and praying for them, as did many others. People reported various touches of God in their lives. Some were healed. Later in the week an elderly man excitedly told how he had come to the meeting almost blind but now he could see.
Each day we held morning worship and teaching sessions for Christians in a church, hot under an iron roof on those clear, tropical sunny days. During the second morning I vividly ‘saw’ golden light fill the church and swallow up or remove blackness. At that point the African Christians became very noisy, vigorously celebrating and shouting praises to God. A fresh anointing seemed to fall on them just then.
From Chapter 9 – Toronto, Canada (1995)
Over 100,000 a year flocked there from all over the world for well over a decade. The wide diversity of people from different denominations and countries there impressed me. Love and respect for others filled the atmosphere and testimonies. We joined the crowds of over 1500 each morning and night, enjoyed the low-key sensitive worship (knowing very few of their songs), appreciated the balanced teaching, and received personal prayer.
Both of us appreciated the gracious, caring way people prayed for us, and others. No rush. No hype. No pressure. Whether we stood, or sat in a chair, or rested on the carpeted floor, those praying for us did so quietly with prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit. Those praying laid a hand on us gently, as led, and trusted the Lord to touch us. He did. Warmth and love permeated us. We returned to our hotel after the meetings aware of increased peace and deeper assurance of the Lord’s love and grace.
After returning to Brisbane I noticed that people I prayed for received strong touches from the Lord, most resting in the Spirit on the floor. We needed people to be ready to catch those who fell, to avoid them getting hurt (then needing extra healing prayer!). Some of them had visions of the Lord blessing them and others.
From Chapter 13 – Nepal (2000)
After praying on the bridge we approached the Chinese officials to get a permission to enter Tibet. The first official refused but the second one nodded approvingly, taking the four Australian passports from my hand as security, and let us go free of charge! This could happen only by the supernatural intervention of our Almighty God, Hallelujah! We had good prayer inside Tibet, especially on those individual shopkeepers whom I would grab and pray on without any resistance from them!
On 21 April all the eight of Australians and I had a trip to Gochadda in west Nepal and held a three days conference over there at Easter. While driving toward the destination I shared the Word with the driver of the private bus and during the inauguration of the conference he approached the altar and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. On the same day a Christian brother whose hand was partially crippled for six years was touched by the Holy Spirit and healed absolutely. He was shaking in his whole body and raising his hands, even the crippled one already healed, praising the Lord with all his strength, he glorified the Lord for his greatness, Hallelujah!
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.
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 from Gorkha, Dhanding, Chitwan, Butwal 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!
On 25 April 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. Some cases of healing were testified. …
On 27 April we held a one day conference in Hosanna Church where the touch of the Holy Spirit was tremendous and people blessed by the Holy Spirit and his might were manifesting his power and presence in the place. While people were worshipping and praising the Lord, a prophecy came and the Lord said, “What happened to the vision given to you six years ago? You have forgotten to pray about it but I have not forgotten what I have promised to you through the vision!” I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I had seen a vision where I was taken over the highest mountains in this country with a few of my foreign friends and some of our evangelists and as we put our step on the top of the mountain it started shaking and melting and my friends and the evangelists started disappearing, then I cried out, “Lord where are my friends?” And He said open your eyes and see, and I saw all my friends and the evangelists were scattered all over the mountains and they were coming towards me with multitudes of people behind them. I started weeping and with a feeling which words cannot explain I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, I was laughing in the Spirit for the repetition of the vision which I could see again. Hallelujah!
From Chapter 14 – USA: Pensacola
I liked the spontaneous bits best. Before Friday night’s revival service some people in the singing group of over 50 people on stage began singing free harmonies without music while they waited for the sound system to work, and we all joined in. It sounded like angels harmonizing in continual worship. Wonderful. No need for words!
Later, during the service Lindel Cooley, their worship leader, led spontaneously from the keyboard without other instruments, singing the chorus of an old hymn from his youth (and mine) – ‘Love lifted me’. All the oldies joined in, and then it went on to a verse sung from memory. It moved me deeply, from my own boyhood memories, especially as I had just then been asking the Lord for a personal touch from him.
A visitor preached, calling for faith and action. Their prayer team prayed for many hundreds at the ‘altar call’ – short and sharp, but relevant and challenging. The man who prayed briefly for me spoke about national and international ministries the Lord would open for me.
From Chapter 15 – Vanuatu (2002)
By Romulo: “The speaker was the Upper Room Church pastor, Jotham Napat who is also the Director of Meteorology in Vanuatu. The night was filled with the awesome power of the Lord and we had the Upper Room church ministry who provided music with their instruments. With our typical Pacific Island setting of bush and nature all around us, we had dances, drama, testified in an open environment, letting the wind carry the message of salvation to the bushes and the darkened areas. That worked because most of those that came to the altar call were people hiding or listening in those areas.The Lord was on the road of destiny with many people that night.”
Unusual lightning hovered around the sky and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, the tropical rain pelted down on that open field.
God poured out his Spirit on many lives that night, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe. Both of them played rugby in the popular university teams and enjoyed drinking and the nightclub scene. Both changed dramatically. Many of their friends said it would not last. It did last and led them into ministry and mission.
From Chapter 16 – Vanuatu (2003)
Significant events associated with the coming of the Gospel to South Pentecost included a martyr killed and a paramount chief’s wife returning from death.
Thomas Tumtum had been an indentured worker on cane farms in Queensland, Australia. Converted there, he returned around 1901 to his village on South Pentecost with a new young disciple from a neighbouring island. They arrived when the village was tabu (taboo) because a baby had died a few days earlier, so no one was allowed into the village. Ancient tradition dictated that anyone breaking tabu must be killed, so they were going to kill Thomas, but his friend Lulkon asked Thomas to tell them to kill him instead so that Thomas could evangelize his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred Mele palm tree, he read John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them. Thomas became a pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing Churches of Christ there.
Paramount Chief Morris Bule died at 111 on 1stJuly, 2016, the son of the highest rank paramount chief on Pentecost Island. After a wife of Chief Morris’s father died and was prepared for burial, the calico cloths around her began to move. She had returned from death and they took the grave cloths of her. She sat up and told them all to leave their pagan ways and follow the Christian way. Then she lay down and died.
Chief Morris’s son, Paramount Chief Peter, had an uncle who returned from Queensland as a Christian in the early 1900s. When he was old, after many years telling them about the Gospel, one day he called all his relatives to him, shook hands in farewell with everyone, and lay down and died immediately.
From Chapter 16 – Solomon Islands (2003)
Revival began with the Spirit moving on youth and children in village churches. They had extended worship in revival songs, many visions and revelations and lives being changed with strong love for the Lord. Children and youth began meeting daily from 5pm for hours of praise, worship and testimonies. A police officer reported reduced crimes, and said former rebels were attending daily worship and prayer meetings.
Revival continued to spread throughout the region. Revival movements brought moral change and built stronger communities in villages in the Solomon Islands including these lasting developments:
1 Higher moral standards. People involved in the revival quit crime and drunkenness, and promoted good behaviour and co-operation.
2 Christians who once kept their Christianity inside churches and meetings talked more freely about their lifestyle in the community and amongst friends.
3 Revival groups, especially youth, enjoyed working together in unity and community, including a stronger emphasis on helping others in the community.
4 Families were strengthened in the revival. Parents spent more time with their youth and children to encourage and help them, often leading them in Bible reading and family prayers.
5 Many new gifts and ministries were used by more people than before, including revelations and healing. Even children received revelations or words of knowledge about hidden magic artefacts or ginger plants related to spirit power and removed them.
6 Churches grew. Many church buildings in the Marovo Lagoon were pulled down and replaced with much large buildings to fit in the crowds. Offerings and community support increased.
7 Unity. Increasingly Christians united in reconciliation for revival meetings, prayer and service to the community. …
Children received revelations about their parent’s secret sins or the location of hidden magic artefacts or stolen property. Many children had visions of Jesus during the revival meetings. Often he would be smiling when they were worshipping and loving him, or he would show sadness when they were naughty or unkind. …
At Seghe the children and youth loved to meet every afternoon in the church near the Bible College there. The man leading these meetings had been a rascal involved in the ethnic tensions but was converted in the revival. A policeman from Seghe told me that since the revival began crime has dropped. Many former young criminals were converted and joined the youth worshipping God each afternoon. Revival continued to spread throughout the region. …
We taught in morning sessions about revival and answered questions. One mother, for example, asked about the meaning of her young son’s vision of Jesus standing with one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. What a beautiful, powerful picture of Jesus’ claim that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matthew28:8), seen in a child’s vision.
From Chapter 17 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2004)
By Matthias: The deliverance ministry group left the college by boat and when they arrived at the Bungalows they prayed together. After they prayed together they divided into two groups.
There is one person in each of these two groups that has a gift from the Lord that the Holy Spirit reveals where the witchcraft powers are, such as bones from dead babies or stones. These witchcraft powers are always found in the ground outside the houses or sometimes in the houses. So when the Holy Spirit reveals to that person the right spot where the witchcraft power is, then they have to dig it up with a spade.
When they dug it out from the soil they prayed over it and bound the power of that witchcraft in the name of Jesus. Then they claimed the blood of Jesus in that place.
Something very important when joining the deliverance group is that everyone in the group must be fully committed to the Lord and must be strong in their faith because sometimes the witchcraft power can affect the ones that are not really committed and do not have faith.
After they finished the deliverance ministry they came together again and just gave praise to the Lord in singing and prayer. Then they closed with a Benediction.
From Chapter 19 – Vanuatu Pentecost (2004)
By Don: The night’s worship led by the law students started off as usual with singing, then spontaneously turned into a joyful party. Then Joanna Kenilorea gave a testimony about a very sad event in her family that brought the Keniloreas back to God. She was especially eloquent in her address and when finished, Geoff found that it had been so powerful that he had no more to add that night and made an immediate altar call for prayer. Almost as one, 300 high school students, teachers and others present rose from their seats and moved out into the aisle to the front of the hall. There were a couple of slow starters, but when it became apparent that Geoff could not possibly pray for each individually, even these moved up to the back of the crowd until everybody in that room had come forward. Geoff in all his years of ministry and association with renewal ministries and revival (and that was the subject of his doctorate) had never experienced anything like it. The most remarkable thing for Helen and me was we were there and part of it in such a remote and previously unknown part of our world! It was surely a night to remember.
From Chapter 21 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2005)
Many of the older people attending these intensive teaching sessions had been involved in local revivals through many years. They understood the principles involved such as repentance, reconciliation, unity, personal and group prayer that was earnest and full of faith, and using various gifts of the Spirit. They were most familiar with words of wisdom and knowledge, discerning spirits (especially from local witchcraft), revelations, healings and deliverance.
I learned much from them, especially about the spirit world and humbly seeking God for revelation and direction. We westerners tend to jump in and organize things without really waiting patiently on God for his revelation and direction. Many westerners, including missionaries, find waiting frustrating or annoying, but local people find it normal and natural. Wait on God and move when he shows you the way. For example, you can seek the Lord about who will speak, what to say, and how to respond.We westerners often use schedules and programs instead.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
From Chapter 22 – Kenya (2005)
Before the Kibera slum church moved into their corrugated iron shed they met in a community hall. I taught leaders there, and spoke at their Sunday service with about 30 people. We gave them real bread for communion, not just symbolic cubes. The Spirit led me to give them all the bread we had, just t loaves (not five barley buns as the boy had in Scripture).
“Can I take some home to my family?” asked one young man. That’s a hard question to answer in front of 30 hungry people.
“It’s yours. You can take some of your own communion bread home if you want to,” I answered.
Everyone then took a large handful of communion bread, and most put some in their pockets to take home later. We shared real glasses of grape juice in plastic glasses, thanking the Lord for his body and blood given for us. After my return to Australia I heard that the bread apparently multiplied, as those who took some home had enough for their families to eat. Some of them were still eating it two weeks later.
From Chapter 22 – Fiji (2005)
By Jerry:While we were praying and worshipping, the Lord told me for the first ever time to take the salt water and the land and give it back to God. And I told this brother that when we offered it to God the rain is going to fall just to confirm that God hears and accepts it according to His leading.
I told him in advance while the Lord was putting it in my heart to do it… this is the first ever time and I always heard about it when people are being led… now it has happened to me… I could not even believe it.
As soon as he brought the water and I brought the soil to signify the sacrifice, I felt the mighty presence of God with us and was like numb… and the sun was really shining up in the sky with very little clouds. This rain fell slowly upon us…. I still could not believe… my cousin was astonished and could not believe it… it happened according to the way the Lord told me and I told him. It was like a made up story.
It was the blessings of God and I told the Lord that I am waiting for His own time to rebuild the walls of my village… but the Lord already told me that He wants and has chosen me to rebuild the wall of my village like Nehemiah.
From Chapter 23 – Fiji (2006) re Tanna Island
The Director of the Department of Meteorology in Vanuatu was in Fiji for a conference and I met him there again. He is also a pastor (Pastor Jotham) at Upper Room church in Port Vila where many of the law students attended.
In May 2006 he had been on mission in Tanna Island where the Lord moved strongly on young people, especially in worship and prayer. Children and youth were anointed to write and sing new songs in the local dialects. Some children asked the pastors to ordain them as missionaries – which was new for everyone. After prayer about it, they did.
Those children are strong evangelists already, telling Bible stories in pagan villages. One 9 year old boy did that, and people began giving their lives to God in his pagan village, so he became their ‘pastor’, assisted by older Christians from other villages.
From Chapter 24 – Vanuatu (2006)
At sharing time in the Upper Room service, a nurse, Leah Waqa, told how she had been recently on duty when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life – the heart monitor registered zero.
Leah was in the dispensary giving out medicines when she heard about the girl and she suddenly felt unusual boldness, so went to the girl and prayed for her, commanding her to live, in Jesus’ name. She prayed for almost an hour, mostly in tongues, and after an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered.
The revival team, including the two of us from Australia, trekked for a week into mountain villages. We literally obeyed Luke 10 – most going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five-hour climb across the island to the village of Ranwas on ridges by the sea on the eastern side. Mathias led worship, and strong moves of the Spirit touched everyone. We prayed for people many times in each meeting. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. Merilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes, using the mud. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read her small pocket Bible without glasses. So she read to us all. Meetings continued like that each night. …
Revival meetings erupted at Ponra. The Spirit just took over. Visions. Revelations. Reconciliations. Healings. People drunk in the Spirit. Many resting on the floor getting blessed in various ways. When they heard about healing through ‘mud in the eye’ at Ranwas some wanted mud packs also at Ponra!
One of the girls in the team had a vision of the village children there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, DVDs, videos, movies, magazines, and worldliness. Their lives were so clean and holy. Just pure love for the Lord, especially among the young. Youth often lead in revival.
The sound of angels singing filled the air about 3am. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name for evermore” with long, long harmonies on “forever more”. Just worship. Pure, awesome and majestic.
From Chapter 24 – Solomon Islands (2006)
Revival in the Guadalcanal Mountains had begun at the Bubunuhu Christian Community High School on Monday, July 10, 2006, on their first night back from holidays. They were filled with the Spirit and began using many spiritual gifts they had not had before. Then they took teams of students to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people, especially youth. Many gifts of the Spirit were new to them – prophecies, healings, tongues, and revelations (such as knowing where adults hid magic artefacts).
The National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west of the Solomon Islands at Choiseul Island, two hours flight from Honiara, brought over 1,000 youth together from all over the Solomon Islands.
By Grant: “Most of a thousand youth came forward. Some ran to the altar, some crying! There was an amazing outpouring of the Spirit. There were so many people, Geoff and I split up and started laying hands on as many people as we could. People were falling under the power everywhere (some testified later to having visions). There were bodies all over the field (some people landing on top of each other). Then I did a general healing prayer and asked them to put their hand on the place where they had pain. After we prayed people began to come forward sharing testimonies of how the pain had left their bodies and they were completely healed! The meeting stretched on late into the night with more healing and many more people getting deep touches.
It was one of the most amazing nights. I was deeply touched and feel like I have left a part of myself in Choiseul. God did an amazing thing that night with the young people and I really believe that he is raising up some of them to be mighty leaders in revival.”
A young man who was healed that night returned to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed immediately. He told the whole convention about that the next morning at the meeting, adding that he had never done that before.
The delegation from Kariki islands further west, returned home the following Monday.
The next night they led a meeting where the Spirit of God moved in revival. Many were filled with the Spirit, had visions, were healed, and discovered many spiritual gifts including discerning spirits and tongues. That revival has continued, and spread.
From Chapter 25 – Solomon Islands (2007)
We held revival meetings at the Theological Seminary at Seghe in the fantastic Marovo Lagoon – 70 kilometres with hundreds of tropical bush laden islands north and west of New Georgia Island. Morning teaching sessions, personal prayers in the afternoons and night revival meetings, with worship led by the students, filled an eventful week in September 2007. That was the first time the seminary held such a week, and again we prayed for so many at each meeting, students and village people. Meetings included two village revival services in the lagoon. At the first, an afternoon meeting in the framework of a large new church building, everyone came for prayer, all 100, and 30 reported on pain leaving as we prayed for healings. Then we had a long evening meeting at Patutiva village, where revival started in Easter 2003 across the Lagoon from Seghe. That meeting went from 7pm to 1.30am with about 1,000 people! We prayed personally for hundreds after the meeting ‘closed’ at 11pm. Students told me they could hear the worship and preaching on the PA across the lagoon 1k away in the still night air, so those in bed listened that way! …
The week at Taro was the fullest of the whole trip, the most tiring, and also the most powerful so far. Worship was amazing. They brought all the United Church ministers together for the week from all surrounding islands where revival is spreading and was accelerated after the youth convention near here in Choiseul the previous December, where the tsunami hit in April. Many lay people also filled the church each morning – about 200.
Night rallies at the soccer field included the amplifiers reaching people in their houses as well. Each night I spoke and Mathias also spoke, especially challenging the youth. We prayed for hundreds, while the youth lead worship at the end of each meeting. The ministers helped but they preferred to just assist us, and people seemed to want us to pray for them. I involved the ministers in praying for people also. There was a lot of conviction and reconciliation going on.
It’s fascinating that we so often see powerful moves of God’s Spirit when all the churches and Christians unite together in worship and ministry. God blesses unity of heart and action, especially among God’s people. It always involves repentance and reconciliation.
In all these places people made strong commitments to the Lord, and healings were quick and deep. Both in Vanuatu and in the Solomon Islands the people said that they could all understand my English, even those who did not speak English, so they did not need an interpreter. Another miracle.
Saturday night was billed as a big meeting at Patuvita across the channel. This is where the revival started with children of the lagoon at Easter 2003. Geoff had previously visited this church in September 2003. The old church building has been pulled down and the foundations were being pegged out on an open ridge high above the lagoon for the new one, which will probably hold up to 1000 as the revival swells the numbers.
Again students led the worship. Most of the adults were traditional, but there were forty or so in revival ministry teams who pray for the sick, cast out spirits and evangelise. We joined the meeting by 8pm and finished at 1.30am!
Worship went for an hour. Geoff then preached for nearly an hour. In his words –
Very lively stuff. Only tiny kids went to sleep – 50 of them on pandanus leaf mats at the front. Then we prayed for people – and prayed, and prayed, and prayed and prayed, on and on and on and on! I involved the ministers (after praying for them and leaders first), and the students – and still people came for prayer – by the hundreds.
We prayed for leaders who wanted prayer first, then for their ministry teams, then for youth leaders and the youth, and then for anyone else who wanted prayer, and at about midnight Mark called all the children for prayer, so the parents woke them up and carried the babies. I guess I prayed for 30 sleeping kids in mother’s arms and for their mothers and fathers as well.
Then after midnight when the meeting “finished” about 200 remained for personal prayer, one by one. So I involved 4 students with me, and that was great on-the-job training as well as praying. We prayed about everything imaginable, including many barren wives, men whose wives were un-cooperative, women whose husbands weren’t interested, and healings galore – certainly many more than 100 healings. In every case, those with whom we prayed said that the pain was totally gone.
I doubt if I’ve ever seen so many healings, happening so quickly. At 1.30am there were still 30 people waiting for prayer, so I got desperate, and prayed for them all at once. I told them just to put their hands on the parts of their body needing healings, and I prayed for them all at once, while the students and some ministers still there laid hands on them, and I also moved quickly around to lay hands on each one.
They were all happy, and again reported healings. I wish I’d thought of that at midnight! But at least a few hundred had a chance to talk with us and be specific about their needs.
From Chapter 27 – China (2007)
I loved it there among such humble, hungry, receptive, grateful, gentle, and faith-filled believers. I was often in tears just being there, appreciating their heartfelt zeal in everything. I have rarely been so impressed anywhere. No concerts. No acting. No hype. Just bare essentials. What a big and wonderful family we belong to, and our Father is so proud of his family there, I’m sure.
I had the great honour of speaking at a house church. People arrived in ones or twos over an hour or so, and stayed for many hours. Then they left quietly in ones or twos again, just personal visitors to that host family. Food on the small kitchen table welcomed everyone, some of it brought by the visitors.
About 30 of us crowded into a simple room with very few chairs. Most sat on the thin mat coverings. They sang their own heartfelt worship songs in their own language and style, pouring out love to the Lord, sometimes with tears. The leader played a very basic guitar in a very basic way.
Everyone listened intently to the message, and gladly asked questions, all of it interpreted. There was no need for an altar call or invitation to receive prayer. Everyone wanted personal prayer. Our prayer team of three or four people prayed with each person for specific needs such as healing and with personal prophecies. That flowed strongly. I knew none of that group, but received ‘pictures’ or words of encouragement for each one, as did the others.
While prayer continued, some began slipping quietly away. Others had supper. Others stayed to worship quietly. It was a quiet night because they did not want to disturb neighbours or attract attention.
Most people in that group were new believers with no Christian background at all. They identified easily with the house churches of the New Testament, the persecution, and the miracles, because they experienced all that as well. Many unbelievers become Christians because someone prayed for their healing and the Lord healed them.
From Chapter 28 – Fiji (2008, 2009)
By Romulo (2008): “Inter-tertiary went very well at Suva Grammar School that was hosted by Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship (CF). It was an awesome two nights of fellowship with God and with one another. The Pacific Students for Christ combined worship was a huge blessings for those that attended the two nights of worship. Pastor Geoff spoke on Obedience to the Holy Spirit – this being a spark to revival and power.
“Students came in droves for prayers and the worship lit up the Grammar School skies with tears, repentance, anointing and empowerment. The worship by Fiji School of Medicine students brought us closer to intimate worship with the King. It was a Pacific gathering and each and every person there was truly blessed as young people sought a closer intimate relationship with the King. We were blessed beyond words. Thank you all for the prayers, the thoughts and the giving.”
Roneil, a Fijian Indian, added, “It was all so amazing, so amazing that words can’t describe it. For me, it was obvious that the glory of God just descended upon the people during the Inter-tertiary CF. I’ve never seen an altar call that lasted for way more than an hour. I myself just couldn’t get enough of it. It was and still is so amazing. God’s anointing is just so powerful. Hallelujah to Him Who Was, Who Is and Who is to Come.”
By Romulo (2009): Two of the memorable highlights were the washing of leaders’ feet at RCCG Samabula and the worship service on Wednesday at RCCG Kiuva village. In fact I remember picking up the pastors on Sunday morning, and seeing Pastor Geoff carrying towels. I said to myself, ‘This is going to be fun.’ And fun it was.
God was teaching the church the principles of servanthood, demonstrated not just by words but by actions. It was a moving experience as Pastor Geoff on his knees started washing feet, drying them with a towel and speaking into the lives of leaders. Powerful also was the fact that Pastor Geoff’s leading was to wash the feet of leaders.
That Sunday former PM Rabuka, who heard of the Pastor’s visit, came to church for prayer. Of course, the leading for Pastor Geoff to pray for leaders meant Rabuka would get his feet washed too. One of the acts that will be embedded forever in my mind was seeing Rabuka sit on the floor, remove his coat and wash the feet of Pastor Geoff and KY Tan. He then dried their feet with his ‘favourite’ Fiji rugby coat (he played in their national rugby team). I was blown away by this act of humility, as demonstrated by Christ on his final night with the disciples before his arrest and execution.
On Wednesday night, (their last night in Suva), we were at Kiuva village in Tailevu. The powerful and angelic worship of young people and kids in Tailevu made the atmosphere one of power with a tangible presence of the Lord in the place. We saw a glimpse of revival and the power of God at work in such a simple setting. I was blessed to witness for myself the prevalent hunger in the body as lives connected with God. In all, it is purely refreshing being in the presence of God and being touched and filled by the Holy Spirit.