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Article written for the Multiply Network.
In late November and early December last year, a group of youth from the Jesus Fellowship went to Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, in India. They visited Berachah Children’s Home, a ministry led by pastor Kiran Paul that houses and helps 180 children. The Home is supported by the Multiply Network.
Honor Hunter was really impacted by being in India for the first time. “When we arrived I was really tired but I was amazed how beautiful it was,” she says. “It felt like a completely different world. Rice fields and really bright blue birds. The people from Berachah were so welcoming. Kiran Paul, the pastor, was sick in meningitis but still came to the airport to greet us.
“They have hardly anything so they put God first, not possessions. When the children prayed and were so emotional and desperate. Over here, kids don’t get too involved with God. Wealth is too much of a distraction for us. But in India they go through horrible things and they see that God is love and that they need him as an anchor point.” (more…)
Who needs buildings when you have homes? Here’s a video I made where I describe why I’m such a passionate promoter for house churches. The seven reasons are the following;
1. They’re biblical – Acts 2:46, 1 Cor 16:19, Col 4:15 and other passages tell us that the early Christians met in homes. The earliest archeologically discovered church, the Dura Europos church, was a house church. In fact, church buildings where people didn’t eat and sleep wasn’t constructed until the late third and early fourth century.
2. They’re utilized – again, people actually eat and sleep there. Most church auditoriums – the big room with a lot of pews – stands empty for the most part of the week. Homes, in contrast, are usually used daily.
3. They’re small – and this is a good thing! 1 Cor 14:26 tells us that everyone attending a church meeting should contribute with something. When was the last time you’ve experienced that? Frankly, you need a small group to have such a wonderful spiritual interaction. (more…)
The Bible describes how the early Christians were able to speak new existing languages when the Holy Spirit baptized them. There are reports of this happening in modern times as well.
J.W. Hutchins was baptised by the Holy Spirit at the Asuza Street revival in Los Angeles in 1906, and when she spoke in tongues a man who had been a missionary to Uganda exclaimed that she spoke the Luganda language. She also heard the external, audible voice of God telling her to go to Africa, so she became a missionary.
My pastor Hans Sundberg experienced something similar when he was evangelizing on the streets of Uppsala, Sweden, in the 70’s. He was debating with a man from Iran who believed in Bahá’í, when his friend Maria came and prayed for him silently. She prayed louder and louder, and Hans realized that she was praying in tongues. The Iranian man dropped his jaw and stared at Maria, understanding every word. She was speaking in Farsi about Jesus, although she didn’t know farsi.
In 2011, Hans was visiting Nepal to teach at a Bible school run by Touching Asia. During a prayer session before class, a man at the front spoke loudly in tongues. Afterwards, another student came to him and asked him some questions, and everyone became really excited. hans asked them what was going on, and they explained that there are over 20 languages in Nepal, and when the man had spoken in tongues he had been unknowingly prophesying to the other man in his own language, that wasn’t spoken by so many, about a coming revival to his village. (more…)
One of my favourite Pentecostal saints of all times is Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), Indian activist, evangelist and holy roller. Over a hundred years before Malala she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and discriminated. Born in a Brahmite family in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study in an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hinduist texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial since she lacked a penis, but her father encouraged her as she learned more and more about society, religion and activism.
In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. There she was saved. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”
As she returned to her home country, she bought a piece of land outside Pune and started a Christian social community for young widows called Mukti, Sanskrit for Liberation. She also helped people who were orphaned, disabled or homeless, and when a famine hit India in 1896, Ramabai rescued over a thousand people and brought many if them to the Mukti mission.
There are three things that basically all Christian youths I know of here in Sweden are aware of: Hillsong music, Shane Claiborne’s books, and Darren Wilson’s F-movie trilogy: Finger of God, Furious Love and Father of Lights. These charismatic documentaries are extremely popular among the kids I hang around with, I have seen them all and love them. Finger of God focused on amazing miracles like manna appearing from thin air and dead people being raised, Furious Love focused on exorcism and bringing the love of God to the darkest places, and Father of Lights focused on the heart and nature of the heavenly Father and how His supernatural actions bring people to faith in Him. Two days ago, Darren Wilson released a new documentary in the same style and format: Holy Ghost.
The concept is simple: no script, no plans, just going wherever the Spirit leads. Wilson and his team travels to the Mormons in Salt Lake City, the Hindus in Varenasi and the wealthy in Monte Carlo to see what the Holy Spirit will do. Without spoiling too much, I can reveal that you will witness some really crazy stuff – countless salvations, healings and prophetic foretellings. One of my favourite moments was when two street healing evangelists recieved tons of words of knowledge about a guy in Salt Lake City – sharp, specific bits of information concerning his problems – and he got healed from a ten-year-old injury as well!
The film discusses the nature, character and role of the Holy Spirit, cessationism and the Western split between the Word and the Spirit (which from a Swedish perspective is quite unusual, here the split is rather between Christians who believe in both the Word and the Spirit and Christians who believe in neither), and how Christian culture and art must be less cowardly and dare to be real and wild. One of the most memorable parts of the film is when the documentary crew follows Head and Fieldy from the metal band Korn together with street healing evangelist Todd White, as they pray for people who are entering the Korn concert.
A few days ago, the Anabaptist blogging network MennoNerds, which this blog is a part of, arranged a webinar called Race, Mutuality and Anabaptist community. It was all recorded via Google Hangouts and can be watched in the video above. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join the discussion live since time here was around 2 AM, but we MennoNerds now have a chance to contribute to the conversion via our blogs, which is what I’m doing right now.
Christianity is a Middle Eastern religion and for the first 300 years, most of the important theologians (the so called “church fathers”) came from the Middle East, Northern Africa and what is now Turkey. The present churches in for example Egypt, Syria and Ethiopia have survived since the time of the apostles. But since the Western Catholic church distanced itself from and condemned the eastern and oriental churches, the experiences, stories and theology of non-white Christians became peripheral. To this very day, it is common among Western Christians to identify themselves with and be inspired by Christian streams from Western Europe: Catholicism, Anglicanism, Calvinism, Lutherism, Anabaptism, Quakerism, Methodism, Salvationism, Baptism, and so on.
It gets increasingly problematic when people of European descent expect other people to submit to these European interpretations of the teachings of Jesus when they are born again, i.e. asking them to become “Lutherans” or “Anabaptists”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Anabaptism and identify myself with the movement, and I think that people like Drew Hart does an excellent job in outlining “Anablacktivism” and interpreting the Anabaptist message about justice and peace from an African-American perspective. Truth is that all of the church streams I mentioned above are global today – Catholicism is biggest in Latin America which their Argentinian pope signifies, Anglicanism is bigger outside England and the biggest Lutheran denomination in the world is Mekane Yesus in Ethiopia.
These voices need to be recognized and influential within these church streams. Yet, we cannot get away from the fact that if you want to get to the roots of the movement, as A.O. Green likes to do, you’ll have to read what a bunch of white, European men wrote. And that’s a bit boring, isn’t it?
I have a facebook friend called Niklas Frihaven who’s really on fire for Jesus. He has a facebook page called Gang of God where he regularly posts testimonies about healing and salvation from wherever God calls him to be. This is genuine, homemade excitement about the Holy Ghost, and I’d love to share some of what he has posted:
Wonders and Miracles in India
Much happened during our two weeks in India, want to share some testimonies .
An old woman had such pain that her back, she looked like a fishhook , during prayer , she became straighter and straighter , not completely straight but still free from pain and about 10 cm longer , Thank you Jesus!
Another woman had a large painful outgrowth like a tumor on the left hip , after the first pray the pain was gone, after the second prayer while we were talking to her the outgrowth disappeared right before my eyes, Halleluja!!!
I am so thankful to God that I get to experience all this , totally me and Dina got to be there when some 550 people were completely free of pain , disease , disability and psychological distress .
The girl in the picture was a bit special miracle , her mother brought her to the church, she was mute and deaf since birth , we prayed for her , and immediately she began to hear and then she started to say her first words ever , was so beautiful to see her happiness when she said her first word, JESUS!
For several years, some very dear friends of mine in the missions organization Touching Asia has worked against trafficking and child prostitution in Nepal and India. Even though many challenges remain, they have rescued hundreds of girls from the brothels and provide them with a safe and loving home. They and their partnering organizations that they cooperate with have receieved acknowledgements from both the Nepali and Swedish government. And soon a documentary about this ministry will be released: Untouchable Children of God.
The film will show both the darkness and the light. The avarage age of a girl who is trafficked from Nepal to an Indian brothel is 13 years. There they have to receive over ten customers a day, with no chance of quiting – slavery in its clearest form. Thousands of children are living this way, and they continue to do so for years and years, banning them from any chance to get educated.
But there is hope. If you want to support Touching Asia’s ministry in Nepal, go to their website or to the website of Love Nepal. And pleae pray that they and others may receive unlimited power from the Holy Spirit to liberate even more captives and turn beauty out of ashes.
I’ve just attended our yearly church camp where I had the privilege of teaching about Jesus stories (video above). Every Sunday we share Jesus stories in my church – testimonies about what Jesus is doing in our lives. We also try to share them on our website (although it needs to be updated). And of course I love to share them on this blog as well, on the streets – everywhere really.
Even if I know of many other churches that are doing likewise, it is not the case in most of them. These neither share testimonies in their services nor on their websites. Why?
First of all, perhaps not so much is happening! Secondly, the church has not viewed it as something important, having a tradition where testimonies are absent for a long time. And finally, I’ve actually heard people arguing biblically for not sharing testimonies – they point to the fact that Jesus sometimes told people that He had healed not to tell anyone about them.
The problem with that argument is that all those events have been recorded in the most-read book in the whole world, so they did indeed tell someone! The command not to tell was a temporal one. Likewise, Jesus many times forbade people to tell others that He was the Messiah, but today we shout it from the roof tops and use Christ as His surname. Our default position should always be to proclaim His Messiah-ship and His miracles. Psalms 145:4-6 says:
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
I am grateful and encouraged when I see the massive activism for women’s rights and an end to violence that is going on in India right now as a response to the horrible rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi. Having relatives from India and several Indian friends, I feel solidarity with the people and share their distress and there demand for change. However, as a follower of the non-violent Christ who taught us to love our enemies and forgive our transgressors, I feel pain when I see the demands for vengeance, punishment and execution that are frequent in the protests.
When Jesus hang upon the cross, He prayed “Father, forgive them” (Luke 22:34). This does not defend the sins of the murderers, but it brings them love and healing instead of hate and destruction. Something is severely broken in them that Jesus came to restore. He didn’t go to the holy and healthy but to the sinful and sick (Matthew 9:12). And when His Holy Spirit performs miracles among us, even the worst sinner can be completely transformed.
Christopher Alam is an international revivalist born in Pakistan who preach the gospel at big campaigns in Africa and Asia, where he has seen astonishing miracles. He shares in his great book All Things Are Possible how the Holy Spirit changed the heart of a murderer in the late 1980’s, at a campaign meeting in the Indian state of Odisha. Christopher was praying for the sick and the blind saw, the deaf heard and the lame walked – just like in the video above. The people that were gathered were shouting and praising the Lord for the amazing miracles He did.
Remember the Christian Youth Conference in Odisha, India, that my friends Joel and Steve participated in? Now, we got some video shooting from there. As you can see, the youths were desperately hungry for the Kingdom of God, and the Holy Spirit responded to their hunger. Joel, who by the way just has become co-author of this blog, was awe-struck when he came back to Sweden, and I can see why.
Joel and Steve also got the chance to interview pastor Pratap Pradhan. He is one of the regional leaders of Touching Asia, and a humble man of God. He oversees over 100 churches that they have planted over the years. They help the poor and develop communities while they heal the sick, preach the Gospel and casts out demons. In the interview, Pratap gives some examples of that:
My church Mosaik is a very small church, but we love missions! Together with the missions organization Touching Asia and local churches, we organised a youth conference in Odisha, India, October 23-25. My dear friends Joel Gabrielsson and Steve Ferris were speakers. When the conference was over, they told us that it had been completely amazing. Here are som pictures taken by Steve, as well as a letter from Joel:
“The three days were absolutely astounding and I am still amazed at the mercy of God and his goodness! Steve and I taught three days of meetings focused on God’s Love and Discipleship and together with the leaders and all the youth we worshiped and danced and praised Jesus and met his goodness.
A few days ago I wrote about preaching the Gospel in the power of signs and wonders. The fantastic movie Father of Lights contains one of the most beautiful examples of this that I’ve ever seen.
Ravi is an Indian Christian with an amazing prophetic gift. Every morning, he says, he hears the audible voice of God that gives him direction for the day. One day his mission is to find “a man with white beard, orange roab and a turban” at a specific temple. He does find a maharishi – a guru of gurus – that perfectly fits that description.
Amazingly, the maharishi says that he has seen a god he didn’t recognize in a dream that told him to go to this temple at this day to find Ravi! Ravi then easily leads this guru of gurus to the Lord, and he becomes a passionate Christian.
The film also documents how Ravi easily leads a headmaster of a big Hindu feast to Christ, and how a witchdoctor gets terrified as Ravi and the film team approaches him as he suddenly feels totally powerless.
I highly recommend you to see Father of Lights when it comes in october 2012!
For more information on Ravi’s ministry, go to kingdomfoundations.org. It turns out that not only is he experiencing truly Biblical miracles, he also has a passionate heart for the poor and oppressed:
Ravi Kandal was born in Southern India and at the age of 17 gave his life to Jesus. From that time his heart has been stirred with the message that Jesus spoke to the disciples, to seek and save the lost. He is challanged with God’s heart for the poor and the untouchables of India, widows, orphans, lepers, and any who are forgotten.
No wonder that the Lord blesses him with such fantastic miracles. Signs and wonders are to be combined with poverty reduction. That’s how the Kingdom of God works.
One of my best friends, who is called Michael (just like me) is an inspiring example of the combination of signs and wonders with peace and justice. He is a peacemaker, active in the Swedish Christian Peace Movement and a prophetic voice for nonviolence and pacifism. We have made som films advocating for an international, strong, binding trade agreement on arms, since arms are lessed regulated than for example bananas in the international trade. An example of such a film is viewed below.
While Michael thus is a passionate activist, he is also a passionate Charismatic. He prophecies, lays his hands on the sick, speak in tongues and pray for revival. He has realised that Christians should follow Jesus so that the signs that characterised Jesus’ life: miracles and care for the poor, will characterise their life. Jesus said:
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. (Mt 11:5)