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As always, the WordPress “stats monkeys” has produced a summary of the past blog year that you can find here. I thank God that the blog is growing and pray that He will lead me and others to inspire more and more people to become radical, charismatic Jesus hippies, combining miracles with evangelism and activism.
Here’s the top five viewed posts during 2014:
1. The Kundalini Myth. This post was actually written in 2013, but people keeps finding it on Google, and it’s the most commented post on this blog as well as the most viewed one. Many Christians believe in Andrew Strom’s claim that large parts of the charismatic movement are influenced by the Hindu kundalini sect, but thankfully many are also questioning this ridiculous claim, and I hope that my blog post has convinced some that Strom’s Kundalini warning is a myth.
2. Compelled by Love Movie Review. This amazing documentary on the lives of Heidi and Rolland Baker and their ministry Iris Global was released in January, and although the audience may be somewhat limited thousands have found my movie review through Google. Maybe I should do some reviews more often? 🙂
3. Pope Francis: “The Charismatic Movement is Necessary”. I’ve written about Francis a couple of times, and even though I don’t agree with Catholic doctrine on several spots I think his passion for evangelism, poverty reduction, peacemaking and Spiritual gifts is absolutely awesome, since I’m also passionate about evangelism, poverty reduction, peacemaking and Spiritual gifts. In this post I highlighted his positive words about the charismatic movement in his famous meeting with journalists on the pope plane from Rio back to Rome, and the post sparked some controversy but also excitement. (more…)
Heidi Baker is one of the countless ones who have seen Jesus. It’s the most beautiful and holy of prophetic visions, and since we should eagerly desire the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14:1), we should all pray that we see Jesus in this life. All who believe will see Him face to face in Heaven, but it is not impossible to see Him even if this life. In fact, I myself have seen Him.
As I told you in my last blog post, I started to doubt quite quickly after I became a believer. One evening, I kneeled down in my room, praying that I would see God, that He would show Himself to me. I haven’t read the Old Testament warnings that seeing the Lord will result in sudden death (Ex 19:21), so I prayed passionately about this for over 20 minutes. And the great thing with Jesus is that He made it possible to see God, since He is God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”, He said (John 14:9). And because of His resurrection to eternal life, it is possible for anyone to see Him just like Ananias or John did (Acts 9, Rev 1).
So next day in school, I was tired and rested my head on a table in the corridor. As I closed my eyes, I saw Jesus’ silhouette in front if me. “Woaw! What was that?!” I thought, opening my eyes. Later that evening as I went to bed, I closed my eyes and I saw the same picture. It was a classic depiction of Christ, similar to this one. And the crazy part is that this continued for over a year. Every time I closed my eyes and rested I saw Jesus, independently of what I was thinking about.
Some years later, in 2010, the Lord gave me an incredible gift of prayer. I prayed thousands of prayers every day, and I could have a constant conversation with God inside my head for hours. After checking off a long prayer list, I was lying on my bed worshipping, and then the whole atmosphere of the room changed. It was filled with a holy presence, that’s the best way I can describe it. From above, a picture resembling an orthodox icon came down towards me, depicting Jesus. However, He was not a picture – He was alive. He had brown eyes, a brown beard and a blue robe, similar to this icon.
In the essay I study how three church leaders view miracles: Surprise Sithole, charismatic apostolic leader in southern Africa, K.G. Hammar, archbishop emeritus of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, and pope Francis. I’ve already presented to you the miracles of Surprise Sithole and pope Francis’ view on miracles on this blog. The viewpoint of K.G. Hammar, however, is radically different – he doesn’t believe that miracles in the traditional, supernatural sense exists. I have tried to identify what arguments each church leader uses to defend their viewpoint, and then I analyze whether these arguments are reasonable and sound.
Surprise Sithole is a strong believer in miracles, basing this on his miraculous experiences and a literal reading of the Bible. K.G. Hammar does not believe that miracles happen, based on science, his metaphorical Bible reading and non-supernaturalist experiences. Pope Francis believes, like Sithole, in miracles both as Biblical and contemporary events, and like Hammar, he believes that science confirms his view. He interprets the Bible both literally and metaphorically, and his experience and church tradition confirm his supernaturalist belief.
As you probably know by now, I’m writing a thesis in systematic theology about miracles. A week ago I presented to you my research on how pope Francis views miracles, and now I like to share what Surprise Sithole, pastoral director for Iris Global in southern Africa, thinks about the miraculous. Enjoy!
Surprise Sithole was born in the late 1960’s into an animist family in the small village of Cachote in Mozambique. In his biography Voice in the Night, he writes:
“From the time I was born, my parents hoped I would follow the family tradition and become a witch doctor. […] My childhood was full of strange spiritual experiences and spiritual oppression. This was the only life I knew. […] Did my parents have heal power, or were they charlatans? The answer is both. Much of what they did was trickery, pure and simple. But I also know that they sincerely believed in the spirits, and I saw many strange events for which I have no other explanation than the supernatural. More than once, I found myself floating above the floor as I tried to sleep at night.”
Sithole claims to have heard the voice of God at the age of 15. This voice told him to leave his village, and after wandering in the jungle for two weeks he met a Christian man, Mr. Lukas, who took care of him and taught him how to be a Christian. Lukas said that God had given him a dream where he foresaw Sithole’s arrival. Soon, they received the news of that Sithole’s family had been poisoned back in Cochete. Surprise was the only survivor.
Sithole writes that he then became a missionary, travelling mostly by foot in Mozambique in Malawi to preach the Gospel. He says that on the island of Chikusi, he started to preach in a language he had never studied – Chichewa. People on the island were converting to Christianity when they saw this, Sithole writes, since they knew that he didn’t know the language naturally. He also claims that he still speaks Chichewa, and that his first bible was written in that language.
I live to get updates from Iris Global’s YouTube channel. As I’ve written before, Iris combines development assistance and poverty reduction with evangelism and the power of signs and wonders. Just like Jesus and the apostles, that is. This video is from an outreach they made in Unidade, Mozambique. What they do is that they show the Jesus film to the local villagers, they preach the Gospel, they pray that the blind will see and that the deaf will hear, and they help the poor. People are saved, healed and empowered.
My Facebook friend Rosalyne Field is one of Iris’ long term missionaries in Mozambique. She’s posted the wonderful pictures I share with you here, and she often share the joy of spreading the Kingdom in the bush-bush:
Earlier this year, Iris Global in Mozambique reported about the devestating floods that struck Mozambique, leaving hundreds of thousands of poor people in big need. Iris has been working hard ever since to rebuild homes and helping local communities develop, while they are also praying for the sick, preaching the Gospel and even raising the dead. Recently, they publiched a video showing the movement’s leader Heidi Baker buying a bed for a widow called Louisa, whose house has been destroyed in the floods:
Iris Global is the best missionary organization I know of – they combine evangelism, poverty reduction and the power of the Holy Spirit, all soaked in worship and passion for Jesus. Last weekend they did an outreach in the “bush bush” (i.e. very rural place) of Mozambique to share the love of God – and it was truly a success. I follow Heidi Baker, the leader of Iris, closely on Facebook and found that she posted these amazing pictures:
“Pointing out scripture to a village chief and his mother. They both came to Jesus that day…..”
“Baptizing people in the ocean this afternoon near a remote village that never had a gospel witness before today…”
A lot of Christian activists detach themselves from the Bible, evangelicalism and a devoted life to God. I know of so many Christians that used to be passionate about Jesus, then after they started working for peace and justice, they started to question their faith and it grew colder. I even know of some becoming atheists. I fear that Christian activism is one of the main secularizing movements in the church today.
Of course, it is with pain I’m writing this. As you can tell from my blog title, I’m a Christian activist myself. For over five years I’ve been telling fellow Christians to love their enemies, share all they have with the poor, end oppression and care for the creation. I am very critical to the lack of activism within evangelicalism, but I’m convinced that it isn’t because they read the Bible too much or take Jesus too seriously – on the contrary, they ignore large parts of God’s Word even though they claim to believe in it. Much like the pharisees in the time of the gospels.
If we do take Jesus and the Bible seriously, we’ll sell everything we have and give the money to the poor (Mk 10:21). We’ll never fight back but turn the other cheek(Mt 5:40-48). We’ll give to everyone that asks us (Lk 6:30). And not only that, we’ll heal the sick and raise the dead (Mt 10:8), prophesy and speak in tongues (Acts 2:6-21) and preach the Gospel to the whole world (Mt 28:18-20). If you follow Jesus, you can’t separate peace and justice from miracles, evangelism, Bible study or prayer. It’s all connected.
I quickly mentioned in my last blog post thousands of people have lost their homes and income in Mozambique due to flooding. My spiritual hero Heidi Baker and her organization Iris Global is in the midst of the action, having parts of their own property destroyed as well as seeing their poor friends losing Everything. Heidi writes on Facebook:
My friend Francisco is one of many whose home has been completely flooded due to the torrential rains here in the Northern province. We were able to help relocate him to stay in one of our churches and share in the perfect love of Jesus. Thank you for praying. We love you so much and so appreciate your support and prayers.
Iris volontueer Ali Morgan shares some unbelievable images that depicts the devastation in northern Mozambique. She writes:
These are photos from many of us missionaries here in Pemba over the last few days. It has been heartbreaking to see the poorest of the poor loosing the little they own. Watching the Mamas run through the villages with water well above their waist and their mattresses on their heads with babies drenched on their backs and no escape. Please keep praying for all of us in the floods. Many lives have been lost, roads destroyed, electrictiy doesn’t exist, houses washed away, cars going into rivers and not coming back up… and now our base walls have started falling into the river. Rumors have it that a cyclone is coming our way next. Commanding that one to stop in Jesus name! Pray for all of us at Iris and our friends and neighbors in the villages.
Two types of rains are pouring over the nation of Mozambique right now – the sweet rain of revival, since God is saving, healing, raising and restoring thousands of lives through Iris Global, but also the devestating rains of flooding, that are destroying people’s homes, food and income. Iris is sending out a desperate plee for help, so please pray for them and give them something if you can. God bless you!
Charismatics like myself love to talk about revival. Revival is usually defined as an “awakening” of the church, when it goes back to it’s original state. If the church doesn’t look like the book of Acts – where a lot of miracles happened, thousands were saved and Christians were living a holy, passionate life – it’s basically sleeping and needs to be revived.
Half a year ago, a girl from Switzerland contacted me via this blog and said that she wanted to visit Sweden “and the revival there”. We were honored and welcomed her, but we gently said that it would be wrong to say that it’s a revival in Sweden. Even when a lot of people do get healed here and many are saved when we prophesy for them, revival is the wrong word, at least yet. Revival is something more, revival is community transformation.
During the Welsh revival in the beginning of the 20th century, the prisons, bars and stadiums were emptied a like – everyone were storming the churches to seek God. Norwegian revivalist Hans Nielsen Hauge transformed his country not just spiritually but also socially and economically, so that one of Europe’s poorest nations started to flourish. And Mozambique is right now totally transformed by the Iris revival, that brings thousands of children out of poverty and plant thousands of churches in the power of healing and miracles.
This is the fifth and final part of my God vs Poverty series.
Once we start praying and working for a better world, there is a risk of struggling in our own strength and power. And since everyone are sinners (Romans 3:10-18), the human way lined with failures, accidents, discouragement and fatigue. The Bible says that through the power of God, we are able to more than in our own force (Philippians 4:13). And that can sometimes be a little bit more dramatic than getting some extra energy as by an invisible vitamin kick. Sometimes, it means walking on water or raising the dead.
The ministry of Jesus and the apostles not only included human deeds but also acts of God, things that only God can do. While they gave money to the poor (John 13:29) and they also used the miraculous gifts of the Spirit to help them. As they combined action with prayer, there was suddenly no limit to what their aid work was able to do.
For example: Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead, which besides being extremely joyful in itself saved her from economic misery (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus also did food miracles out of His compassion for the hungry (Matt. 14:13-21; 15:29-39). His healing miracles had an activist dimension as well; in Mark 10:46-52 He heals a blind beggar, who thus is rescued not only from a life in darkness but also from a life in poverty.
Wow, wow, wow. Compelled by Love is seriously one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s radical, passionate, moving, inspiring and awesome, it combines joyful happiness with serious pain and sorrow, and in the end I just sat in awe agreeing completely with Heidi Baker when she said that it’s all about Him – what this film portraits is nothing else than the life of Jesus today in one of the poorest nations in the world. It’s a film about an amazing missionary couple and their organization, yes, and for that very reason it is a film about Christ, because Christ is all they stand for in an amazing way.
The film is 100% Iris. It’s emotional. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. Some professional film makers would perhaps react to the patchwork-style; the film is chronological for only 30 minutes or so, and then holy anarachy is released with a multitude of different messages, themes and stories presented, some of which have already been published in YouTube clips. I love it! Shara Pradhan and her team simply takes the best Iris have directly from the field.
The Bethel and Iris culture (those ministries are basically “married” by now) talk a lot about honor, and this film truly wants to honor the life of Heidi and Rolland Baker. Bill Johnson is interviewed when he states that he simply knows no one who has constantly said “yes” to God the way Heidi has, and while she and Rolland are so extraordinary in that they always, continously, give everything to Him, their passion is multiplied to so many others that see that they are not superheroes but carrier of the divine presence of the Holy Spirit that are available for all of us. The film carefully emphasizes both sides of this paradox – the Bakers are amazing saints and should be recognized as such, but their gifts are not excluded to them but constantly multiplied to those who follow their example as they follow Christ. After all, it is the Mozambiqan bush pastors that have raised over 100 dead people within Iris, not the Bakers.
Today is the world premiere of Compelled by Love, a brand new documentary about Iris Global or Iris Ministries, the missionary organization founded by Heidi and Rolland Baker that is spreading revival across Mozambique, Africa and the world. The film is narrated by Reinhard Bonnke and will cover how the blind see and the deaf hear, how poverty is beaten and burdens released, and how love, power and sacrifice is transforming thousands of people as they encounter God on the missions field.
The premiere will be in Bethel Church tonight at 6 PM, US Pacific Time, and thanks to Bethel TV you will be able to watch it online from then on and three days ahead! I can really recommend you to see this, I can’s wait myself. 🙂 If you want to pre-order the film and/or host a screening, go to Compelled by Love’s website.
God has been speaking to me about the Jesus Movement the last couple of months, and I’m planning to do some deeper research of this renewal when I get the time. For you who aren’t aware of it, it sprang up mainly among saved hippies in the 60’s and 70’s and spread from the US to Europe. The Jesus People, or Jesus Freaks as they gladly called themselves, were passionate charismatics who preached the Gospel in the power of signs and wonders while many of them also were pacifist peacemakers and radical supporters of social justice – many of them practiced community of goods. In other words, it was a Holy Spirit Activism movement!
As I read and watch clips about the Jesus Movement, I get the impression of a theology that is in all ways charismatically evangelical, but expressed in a very attractive and simple way. A review of a book about the movement simply dubbed it “sweetness”. I like that! The Jesus Freaks were radical, zealous and crazy, but above all that also very sweet.
I encountered this sweetness in another context two days ago in Stockholm, Sweden. My friend had invited me to a prayer meeting that he hosted together with a travelling team from Iris Global. Iris Global is, as those of you who follow this blog should know by now, also a movement that combines signs and wonders with social justice, and these folks were no exception.