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Tag Archives: Healing
Earlier this year my friend Faith Totushek explained on Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice why she is a Holy Spirit Activist – or as I like to call it, a charismactivist:
“From beginning to end, we see an amazing God who longs for the world and the people he created to flourish and find life. And time and time again, this God seeks to partner with us as his agents. And he empowers this people with his presence through the Holy Spirit giving gifts, insight, truth, endurance—whatever is needed to accomplish the purposes displayed in the Bible.”
In other words, God doesn’t leave us alone with the big task of loving people and promote life and happiness. He partners with us by bestowing His Spirit upon us. Peter writes: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10). Serving people is one of the main purposes of God’s gifts of grace, or charismata as they are known in Greek.
One of many Biblical examples of this can be found in the last chapter of the book of Acts. Paul is a prisoner of the Roman empire and his guards are taking him to Rome so that he can speak to the emperor. Their ship is wrecked on an island, probably Malta, and God miraculously saves Paul’s life after he is bitten by a poisonous snake. Not only that, God miraculously gives other people life as well through the hands of Paul: (more…)
As the Holy Spirit filled and renewed a small Baptist church in Bugbrooke, central England, during the mid-1970’s, many miracles occurred. When I visited the Jesus Army last year, Huw Lewis told me and my friends Hillevi and Emil about some healings that he saw, including a man whose sight was restored when he was baptized. He also shared his reaction to seeing a demon being cast out the first time and how the whole church was stunned by the presence of the Lord:
This footage is from my upcoming documentary Everything in Common. It was originally planned to be released last year, but I’ve been busy with book writing and finishing my studies. Now I have time to finish the documentary though, the first live screening will be here in Sweden on a conference that I’m co-organizing on Christian community life in April. I hope to to be able to publish it on YouTube shortly afterwards, there are some music licensing stuff that I need to deal with.
The documentary is about the community of goods that is being practiced at the Jesus Army: how it works, how it impacts people’s lives and what other churches can learn from it. Here’s an epic teaser trailer for the film:
The Jesus Fellowship Church, a.k.a. Jesus Army, was born out of a mighty work of the Holy Spirit through a small Baptist chapel in Bugbrooke, central England, during the late 60’s and early 70’s. The Holy Spirit loves to do miracles, and so the book Fire in Our Hearts by Simon Cooper and Mike Farrant that describes the history of the Jesus Fellowship records multiple miracles.
During a charismatic meeting on a Saturday evening in the chapel, one boy suddenly took his glasses off and exclaimed that he could see perfectly all of a sudden. A lady was healed of a deformed hand and a man’s gums were healed. A man called Mick had been mainlining a lot and had several ulcerations and scars all across his arms. When he emerged from the water during his baptism, all the marks were gone!
A woman called Carol once stood up at a meeting and declared prophetically “Mim is going to get baptised in the Spirit – tonight!” She was referring to her friend and the very same evening Mim was indeed spiritually baptised and started to speak in tongues. Carol’s dormitory was invaded by beetles, so she said “I rebuke you beetles in the name of Jesus!” – and they vanished. (more…)
Charismactivist apostle of love Heidi Baker recently visited Sid Roth’s show It’s Supernatural, where she shared testimonies about what God has done in her life and among the poor of Mozambique. The following testimony just gripped my heart, it can be heard from 11:30 onwards in the video:
Every Monday, in Mozambique, I visit my village. It’s just my local village, I like to keep it real – we have 3500 children in our school from there so I like to see their families. And I just sit and hold he poor, spending time loving them…
And on my way back from visiting a mama named Tina, I saw this little, old woman. And she was really poor, you know, her clothes were shredded, and a strange thing was that she was sitting in the sun. And I thought: “Why is this woman sitting in the sun in Mozambique?” It’s hot! At least she should be in the shade.
And I said “What’s your name?” in our local dialect. And she answered me back and said: “I have no name.” And I was undone by that. I thought, how can anyone on earth not be given a name? (more…)
I’ve been enjoying Samaa Habib’s autobiographical book Face to Face with Jesus as I did research for my upcoming book Charismactivism last month. Samaa is from a Muslim country that used to be ruled by Soviet and that has experienced some horrible civil wars, and she opened her heart to the Gospel as a Christian ministry showed the Jesus film to the war torn public. She was amazed and told her father: ”He cannot be just a prophet, he must be more than that! He is alive. Mohammad’s skeleton is still buried in Mecca. Jesus is my super hero!” Her father didn’t agree of course, but tolerated the young girl’s enthusiasm.
She eventually went to a church service and gave her life completely to the Lord together with two of her sisters. Now, her father was enraged. After she had confessed that she will not live without Jesus, he abused and tortured her, strangling her until she fainted. She later escaped her family’s house through a window and fled to the church.
As time went by, more people in Samaa’s family were saved. Her mother was healed from a heart problem and encountered Jesus in a dream. This made the father tolerate Christianity a bit more, even if he still was in severe disagreement.
One day as Samaa was worshipping in church, a bomb exploded right next to her and she died instantly. She saw Heaven and Jesus, and He said that she could either be with Him or return to earth to lead more people to Him. She chose the latter, and woke up blind and deformed as she was taken to hospital. Her brain was visible and her appearance was a mess. (more…)
Elijah Stephens who is in charge of the upcoming documentary on medically verified healings has written a blog post on Think Theology where he debunks some common myths about miracles, like that people don’t see many miracles today, that educated people don’t believe in miracles and that skeptics won’t change their mind when they are presented with miracle evidence. It’s a very good read, and it reminded me of something that I’ve been pondering for some time: why do so many people in the minority world believe that miracles don’t happen?
I’ve been there, I grew up as a non-Christian and didn’t believe in miracles. Historical miracles like in the Bible were fairy tales to me, and if somebody said that a person had been miraculously healed I would have mocked them and argued that there is a “natural” explanation. I was fascinated by ghosts though, and mediums… the logic wasn’t strong with this one.
Now, I realize that to say “science has disproven the existence of miracles” doesn’t make any sense. There are thousands of medically verified healings, such as the ones documented by World Christian Doctors Network and Craig Keener’s excellent work Miracles. These events, which take place after prayer, are scientifically inexplicable.
Elijah Stephens from Redding, California is a former Vineyard Pastor with the ambition to make a documentary about evidence for miraculous healings. The film’s working title is Prayer Movie, and in a recently released video Stephens describes the project idea as following:
In the video you can spot professor Candy Gunther Brown who has written Testing Prayer: Science and Healing dealig with this very issue, as well as Craig Keener who has documented several medically verified healings in his big book Miracles. Heidi och Rolland Baker along with Randy Clark will also be a part of the film.
While the documentation of inexplicable events is far from new, films on this topic are quite rare other than looking at specific, individual cases. Stephens give some really compelling arguments on his website for why Christians should welcome evidence to support miraculous claims rather than brushing it off as a sign of weak faith or as a way to test God. He refers to how Johsua commanded the Israelites to put stones in the middle of Jordan so that their grandkids can be reminded of the miracle God did there (Josh 4:4-7).
If you want to support the project you can donate to Stephens’ Kickstarter. If the target isn’t met you wont have to give your money away. I myself am very excited for this movie and will pray and give for it to become a reality!
The Jesus movement in the 1970’s impacted Sweden quite a lot. Lonnie Frisbee and other American Jesus hippies visited the country, multiple communities called “Jesus houses” sprung up, and Jesus people were evangelizing in the streets and parks. People like Ylva Eggehorn, Stefan Swärd and Ulla Österjö-Jansson arranged Jesus conferences and Jesus marches – no wonder they were called Jesus freaks.
In my hometown of Uppsala, a theology student called Hans Sundberg were impacted by the Jesus movement and started to evangelize. Once, he was sharing the Gospel in the street together with some Christian friends, when an Iranian man who believed in Baha’i started to argue with them. Hans argued back, and their discussion went into sort of a stalemate until Hans’ friend Maria started to speak loudly in tongues. Hans was initially a bit embarrassed (after all, the Bible says that nonbelievers will think that we are lunatics if they hear us speak in tongues (which it is right about)), but he then realized that the Iranian man understood everything Maria said. She was speaking farsi, about how Jesus is the only way to God and salvation. Hans saw prophetically how an arrow came out from Maria’s mouth and gently hit the heart of the Iranian man with peace and eternal life.
Meanwhile, a small Swedish town called Surahammar (which means grumpy hammer) was struck with a youth revival as the Jesus movement came to town. Youths from the local Pentecostal church gathered daily in a bakery to pray, study the Word and then hit the streets to evangelize and heal the sick. One of the kids involved in the revival was Simon Ådahl, who after refusing military service due to theological reasons became a musician and, eventually, a prophetic evangelist. You can read more about him here. (more…)
We have this wonderful little missions organization in Sweden called Go Out Mission, which regularly organizes evangelistic campaigns in Africa and Asia. The following report is from one of their local leaders, Oury Sow, who shares about a campaign they recently had in Guinea-Bissau, where the lame walked, the blind saw and Muslim leaders gave their lives to Christ. Here’s his report, translated to English:
First, we had the opportunity to hold a campaign in a small town inside the country. Already at the first evening there was about 1,500 people gathered during the sermon, and during prayer it increased to about 2500 people. 300 responded to salvation when I made the call, and after we prayed for the sick was three people who had the courage to come up to the stage to testify. A Muslim man from Gambia contacted me after the meeting and told me that he had come to Guinea-Bissau in order to get money, but now he said: “I have found Jesus instead and I feel so rich!”
The campaign continued to grow; many children were there early and were quick to the scene to respond to the invitation. A little girl who was now five years old had been born both deaf and dumb, but after prayer she both heard and she spoke her first words in life! What joy for the mother to hear her daughter say her name. What a Jesus we have! One woman who came to the first meeting had had problems with bleeding for 32 years, but after prayer the night before, she had gone home and all the bleeding had stopped! The woman and her husband were so thankful to God.
The third evening there was over 3000 people on site who heard a clear Gospel. The atmosphere then exploded when a 15-year-old girl who was unable to walk since birth, suddenly stands up, causing such a joy chaos that we had to let go of control and could not give testimonies from the stage. The girl’s mother fell to the ground in fear of God and people danced completely wild with joy just everywhere!
In May 1976, a 16-year-old girl called Heidi was kneeling at the altar of a small Pentecostal church at a Choctaw reservation site in Mississippi. She had been saved just two months earlier, and now she was astounded as she suddenly saw a white light coming over her while she heard a voice, audibly, that said “I am calling you to be a minister and a missionary. You are to go to Africa, Asia and England.”
Heidi married Rolland Baker, grandson to the great missionary H.A. Baker, and God took them on an amazing adventure across the world. Today they live in Mozambique and help thousands of orphaned children, planting thousands of churches and witnessing amazing miracles such as blind people seeing, deaf people hearing and dead people coming back to life. I’ve made a video about them and their organization Iris Global which you can watch below:
Heidi and Rolland have inspired me so much in my vision to combine miracles, evangelism and social justice, and I pray that they will continue to make an impact in Mozambique and all across the world for the glory of God.
I witnessed my first exorcism five years ago. A friend who belonged to my church – a very gentle, humorous and smart person – started to act extremely weird during worship; shouting and shaking uncontrollably. The other church members quickly started to pray, and as they brought Michael, who previously had told me that he had a lot of experience when it comes to deliverance, I knew things were serious.
It was pretty terrifying of course, realizing that something else may be controlling my friend’s body. I was even more upset when Michael failed to cast out the demons that day. Their filthy activities continued for several weeks when we met for worship, until they finally were driven away by prayer and the Word of God.
Delivering people from demons is of course a very Biblical practice. We read in the Gospels:
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. – Mark 1:23-26
Was it really just to pray and worship with their Jewish brothers, or had they something else in mind?
I had a discussion with a friend the other day about church buildings; while I think that they are unnecessary for the most part and that we should focus on planting house churches instead, he enjoyed church buildings and saw no reason to diminish their role. One of his arguments for using church buildings was that the early Christians went to the temple and synagogues. My response was that they went to the temple and synagogues to evangelise.
Perplexed, he asked “Where in the Bible do Christians evangelise in synagogues?” Well, here’s a summary.
Jesus in the Synagogues
Let’s start with Christ. Luke 4:15 says that Jesus “was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.” Later, in verse 21 of the same chapter, we read: “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'”
Why are not everybody healed when they receive prayer? Why was that person healed but not this person, even though they both believed in Jesus? Charismatics are often asked these questions, and as they are related to theodicy and the problem of evil and suffering, they take some time to answer. I have appreciated the Kingdom theology response to why not everyone are healed developed by John Wimber, which can be read in his great book Power Healing.
In this blog post I want to address a particular type of healing theodicy, where one points to the death of a loved one as an argument for the strange selectiveness of God’s healing. I have several times heard friends describe how a dear relative was very sick and they prayed and prayed, bit eventually they died. Several of those who have told me this have then said that because of this they have some problems with the healing message; some of them have been mad at God for healing others but not the one they prayed for.
Such a scenario reminds me of how Martha questioned why Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus while he was dying:
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:21-26)
One of my favourite authors is Jack Deere, a charismatic evangelical, pastor and teacher, who has written an excellent refutal of cessationism called Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. In the book, he shares how he encountered Paul Cain for the first time and discovered how prophetic this man of God is in a dramatic way, at a meeting they were holding in Texas, 1988:
Paul had just finished giving a wonderful message and was beginning to pray for the people in the audience. There were about 250 people there that morning. He asked the diabetics to stand. As he started to pray for the diabetics, he looked at a gray-haired lady on his right. He stared at her for a moment, having never met her (or anyone else in the audience for that matter), and then he said,
“You do not have diabetes; you have low blood sugar. The Lord heals you of that low blood sugar, now. I see a vision of you sitting in a yellow chair. You are saying, ’If I could just make it until the morning. If I could just make it until the morning.’ Your allergies torment you so badly that sometimes they keep you awake all night. The Lord heals those allergies, now. That problem with the valve on your heart—it goes now in the name of Jesus. And so does that growth on your pancreas.”
By this time there was a strong sense of the fear of the Lord in the room. People had begun to weep openly as they saw the power of the Lord being displayed and the concern of the Lord for one of his children. Paul continued looking at the woman and then he said, “The Devil has scheduled you for a nervous break- down.” When he said this the man sitting beside her, who turned out to be her husband, began to weep. He knew that his wife was very close to a nervous breakdown. Paul said, “The Lord interrupts that plan now. You will not have the breakdown.”
And then, just as suddenly as Paul had begun to speak to the woman, he stopped and said, “I think that is all the wants me to do now.” Then he sat down on the front row.
I attended a 48-hours prayer meeting a couple of years back in Stockholm, and during a worship session a dear friend of mine approached me, asking me to pray for her so that she may receive the same passion for the poor that the Lord has given me. I was so glad that this was what she wanted, but as I started praying I realized that it would be impossible for her to have the same passion as I have without feeling the pain and suffering of making sacrifices, knowing more about the horrible face of poverty and realizing how many it is that do not get help.
This was why I became an activist in the first place – I realized that innocent people were dying while I was playing video games and dreamt of getting a car and a house. I just prayed that God would make it impossible for my friend to close her eyes to the suffering of the poor, and that she would partake in their suffering.
I don’t know if she ever got the same passion for them as I have, at least she’s not revealing it as clearly on Facebook 🙂 But there and then I think we both realized that this was truly what was necessary for passion. When we follow Christ, a cross is always attached. As He Himself said:
“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:27, 31-33)