Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Believing for miracles
Eight years ago today, April 12, I was at the last day of a conference called "2003 Unity & Prayer Gathering" at New Life Worship Center in Smithfield, RI. The speakers were Mike Shea, Dutch Sheets and Bill Johnson. I went to that conference mainly because I had just heard Bill Johnson for the first time at a "Catch the Fire" conference in Virginia Beach in February. Duane went with me to that one. Bill Johnson's church, Bethel Church, is in Redding, CA. They expect the miraculous there, and they see it. Their young ministry students go to shopping malls looking for sick people to pray for, and the people they pray for are healed much of the time. In fact, a close friend of mine that I had known since I was a teenager was healed of prostate cancer when Bill Johnson prayed for him. Listening to and learning from Bill was such a faith-building experience that I couldn't wait for more, and when I learned he was going to be in Rhode Island in April, I decided to go. Duane enjoyed the Virginia Beach conference as much as I did, but for a reason that I don't remember any more, he couldn't go with me to Rhode Island.
John and Carol Arnott from Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship were the hosts of the "Catch the Fire" conference in February. TACF is where a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit began in 1994 and revival exploded into meetings that lasted for many years. Catch the Fire Toronto came to be known as a place where God was meeting with His people. Duane and I experienced some of that first-hand when we went to the Catch the Fire Conference in Virginia Beach. It was awesome. You could feel the presence of God the minute you walked into the room. I'll never forget that.
I always had something in me that caused me to believe literally the things that I read in the Bible. It was and is in my spiritual DNA to believe that way. If I saw it in the Bible, then I believed I could have it. If God did it for people back then, He would do it now. If Jesus healed when He walked this earth, then He would still heal today. And if He raised people from the dead then, He would still do that now. And to reinforce that belief in me even more, at about the same time in 2003, I had learned of a man in Nigeria who was resurrected from the dead at a meeting with Reinhard Bonnke. His wife simply would not give up believing for him to be resurrected because she felt that God had given her the promise that "women received their loved ones back again from death" as written in Hebrews 11:35. Signs, wonders and miracles are much more common in other parts of the world then they are here in our nation. I think that's because their mindset is much different than ours. They are more likely than those with Western minds to believe in the supernatural. Or maybe it's because they don't have money or doctors available like we do, so God is their first and often only source. They have to believe God for miracles.
Since about 1998, I had been going to conferences and meetings like these two I've mentioned, and to places like Calvary Pentecostal Campground in Ashland, VA. That was another place where I could feel God's presence, even as soon as I drove onto the property. Testimonies of people who had experienced God's miracle power and presence were common. I saw miracles, and so did Duane. In fact, Ashland, VA is where God touched him and revealed Himself to him in a personal way. He had had a hard time believing the things that I told him I saw there, and so I challenged him to go see for himself, and he did. I always had an insatiable desire to see more, learn more, experience more of God. The things I saw and heard at these conferences were like what I read about in the Bible. I was convinced that that was how life was supposed to be lived - as a supernatural experience, because God is a supernatural God.
So, after three days of worship, experiencing the presence of God and hearing teaching about God and faith in action today, I came home on April 12, 2003 filled with faith and expectancy, and anticipating sharing what I had experienced with friends at church the next day, Palm Sunday.