In the clip above, John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement, shares how he led a couple to Christ on an airplane thanks to the gift of prophecy. God told John that the man was cheating on his wife, John said to the man that he has to repent because of this, the man realized that John only could know this if God had spoken to him, and thus he got saved and led his wife to the Lord as well – after telling her the painful truth about his sinful behaviour.
These sorts of events happened from time to time in John’s life. Jack Deere shares in his book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit another event when John’s prophetic gift manifested quite dramatically (at a time when Jack himself was very sceptical towards the Charismatic movement):
[Wimber asked] the Holy Spirit to come, and then he was silent. So was the audience.
About a full minute later, he looked up and said, “O.K. I think I know what the Lord wants to do tonight. He has given me some words of knowledge for healing.”
Presumably that meant that God was communicating to Wimber that he would heal certain people in the audience that night. I had never been in a service like that, and I didn’t know what to make of it.
Wimber said that God wanted to heal people with back pain. Quite a few people came down to the front of the church to be prayed for by teams of church members rather than by Wimber himself. After a few minutes he said, “There is a woman here who has severe back pain, but you haven’t come forward yet. Come forward; I think the Lord will heal you right now.”
When I heard these words I thought, That is incredible. By now my study of Scripture had led me to believe that God would speak to us in order to give us warnings, guidance, and directions, but I had never seen anyone outside of Scripture get something so specific from God.
But no one came forward.
I thought, Poor John Wimber. He was doing so well when he was just talking about the kingdom. If he hadn’t tried this clinic stuff, this meeting would have been a success tonight. I felt embarrassed for him and also disappointed.
Wimber did nit seem to share my embarrassment or disappointment. He announced a second fact about this woman. He said, “You went to the doctor several days ago, you have had this pain for years. Please come forward.”
This was one of the most incredible things I had ever heard. It was like one of the prophetic narratives of the Old Testament.
But no woman got up and came forward. Now the tension was mounting significantly in the room.
Wimber seemed to be praying for a few seconds. Then he looked up at the audience and said, “Your name is Margaret.” Then, with a grandfatherly smile, he added, “Now Margaret, you get up and come up here right now.” About halfway down the center section, next to the aisle, Margaret got up and began to walk rather sheepishly toward the front.
I thought that this was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. This was just how the apostle Paul said it should happen. There was awe and conviction in the room. But before Margaret made it down ti the front of the church, a wave of scepticism and disgust came over me. I said to myself, What if he paid her to do this. What if she’s Margaret on Thursday night here in Fort Worth, Texas, and then on Saturday night in some other city she is Mabel MacClutchbut, walking down ti the front of the church carrying an envelope with two malignant tumors she coughed up? And I said to myself, I don’t believe this is true.
At about the same time I had begun to doubt this whole process, the man sitting next to me, whom I had known for fifteen years and who was also in my church, exclaimed, “That’s Margaret my sister-in-law!”
Mike Pinkston’s sister-in-law, Margaret Pinkston, went down to the front of the church that evening after being called out specifically by John Wimber. And when several adults prayed for her, she was healed of a condition she had had for years. I knew that family, and I knew there was nothing fake about that healing. This really was a graphic illustration of New Testament church life.
Praise God! There are many more examples of this in John’s life. An appendix in his famous book Power Healing includes a text by social anthropologist David C. Lewis who studied a conference in Sheffield 1985 which was arranged by Vineyard. He wrote it independently of Wimber and the Vineyard, but included several things he could not explain. For example these words by Wimber:
“Someone with broken ribs – you fell down on snow or ice last winter and the ribs haven’t healed completely. The left foot slipped. All your left side hurts… (pause)…It was in February this year on ice slush – you hit hard on the ground… (longer pause)… Your name is George.”