I’ve just returned from three weeks in the Philippines and I’m shaking off jet lag and culture shock like a dog climbing out of the pond. I’m suddenly delighted with the tiniest things: sheets that caress, rather than scratch, my cheek (ok…sheets and all other linens in general, rough or smooth); water, actually inside a house, cascading from a faucet at the mere turn of a lever; refrigeration in any form; toilet paper hanging on a wall holder rather than wadded up in my waist pack…
Every American should be required, every few years, to visit a third world country. Gratitude is a valuable and rarely sighted commodity in this most magnificently blessed of all countries.
Where I’ve just been, people who own one change of clothes, live in a bamboo and thatch shack raised off the jungle floor by a few feet, and do not have enough food in their house to feed their family for the next meal, regularly invited us into their single room and offered to share whatever they had. Amid laughter and kindness they exhibited joy. They were so happy someone cared enough to stop by and visit, much less offer to pray and share the Word of God.
Last year I spent most of the entire month-long sojourn holding training courses in churches and Bible Training Centers. We did a few crusades, and we visited jails and the prison, but our activities were still focused amid “church” groups.
This year our plan was very different. We spent half a day in each location training local pastors and leaders about outreach, establishing the validity of the mandate to “go and…” Our focus was to go out into the highways and byways and pray for people so God could introduce Himself to them. Because our primary goal was prayer, I spent some time teaching the five-step healing prayer format to every group.
For two weeks we and our indigenous teams went from village to village with the goal of talking to and/or praying for every person living there. We targeted remote locations that were still close enough to one of our church plants so that a local pastor could stay in touch with those who wanted or needed additional help.
Someone asked me about the biggest miracle I saw while there. I love it when tumors dissolve, cataracts disappear, and major diseases heal. But for me, this trip, what astounded me most was God’s consistent and dependable faithfulness; the way He showed up, over and over again. There was not a single time that we prayed for someone with a fever, raging or low-grade, that his or her body didn’t cool within 30 seconds.
Fever not just leaving but the body cooling several degrees in mere seconds!! THAT is a miracle! It’s not naturally possible. After a few days I got excited every time we found someone with fever, which was often. I knew they were about to encounter the living God! What an incredible privilege…watching the dullness in their eyes fade and the life spark return in a matter of mere moments…feeling their skin cool beneath my hand as I prayed.
That will give you some boldness!
In the training courses, attended by as few as 15 and as many as 50, I always demonstrated after I taught. I asked for anyone currently in pain, any kind of pain, to come up for prayer. It’s a five step method. But I never, and I am completely serious, got past step three. Never, not once, whether I prayed or a student prayed, did God fail to remove the pain. We prayed for headache, backache, hurt knees, swollen feet, stomach ache, hip pain, and chest pain. God removed the pain every time. It sounds like I’m exaggerating but that’s what happened. The absolute confidence we developed as our God, who changes not, removed every pain and cooled every fever is something I cannot communicate. It was if He was proving to us that as we went out in obedience to His mandate He would accompany us. After such experiences in class every single person, old or young, was eager to get out there and pray for somebody, anybody.
At the end of the day our teams regrouped and the stories were incredible. For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of this trip was that most of the healings, deliverances, and salvations were accomplished by students and pastors who had never previously prayed for anyone outside their church; many had never before prayed for anyone to be healed. They were ecstatic! God answered their prayers! Watching their enthusiasm brought me to tears over and over again. Not only did the people for whom they prayed experience God, but they had a God encounter and they would never be the same.
I keep hearing that we are in a time of harvest and I have to agree. Others over the decades and centuries have poured their lives into various continents and people groups, often without seeing the results of their labors. We are harvesting the fruit of their work without any sacrifice of our own. We live in an awesome time. Our call is to go and make disciples, teaching them to do and obey everything Jesus taught. Let’s not waste this opportunity to make a difference for the Kingdom.
Whether it’s next door or around the world, let us go and do and expect God to perform His word in many magnificent and mighty ways.
(photo courtesy of stockami.com)