Spiritual warfare prevents an epidemic: a story

Mozambique, in the year 2000.

 Photo Credit: babasteve (Creative Commons)

Half the country is under water because of massive flooding. We are working with Rolland and Heidi Baker doing medical relief work. (Tony and Rolland went to school together, so when news of the floods come, it’s a natural reaction to go help.) A team consisting of the two of us with about 10 young people including our two teenagers have arrived by land rover at an inaccessible refugee camp in the middle of nowhere. It’s late afternoon.

A man in ragged clothes addresses us.

“I’m the Red Cross worker. I’ve seen three cases of cholera today.”

We ask him to describe the symptoms. It certainly sounds like cholera. The nature of an epidemic is three cases today, twenty tomorrow, and a hundred the day after that. And we are responsible for the health, not only this team of young people, but the refugees in the camp. Neither of us has ever seen a case of cholera.

The man offers to take us to his Red Cross tent. “It’s just over there,” he says.

After about 10 minutes walking, we come to the camp’s water supply. It’s a hole in the ground filled with muddy water. People are dipping plastic containers into it and drinking it. We are horrified. No wonder everyone has intestinal problems. Another thirty minutes of weaving through makeshift huts brings us to his army style tent. He has one cot, a plastic bucket filled with water from the well and a box of packets of rehydration fluid. Not a dressing, an aspirin or an antibiotic or antimalarial in sight.

Arriving back at our own tents, we ponder what to do. It’s clearly a dangerous situation. We have a limited supply of drugs we’ve brought with us–certainly not enough to cope with a cholera epidemic.

We remember a story from the Old Testament. The story comes in Numbers 16 and is the story of Korah’s rebellion. After the rebellion, the people get angry with God for destroying Korah and his allies, and God sends a plague. But Moses tells Aaron to take a censer filled with burning coals out among the people , standing between the living and the dead and so the plague stopped.

We send our team out to pray over the tents in the camp. They are to pray to stop the plague of cholera. Using spiritual weapons, we stand in faith for the health of the camp. This isn’t a pleading with God, “Please God, don’t let people catch cholera.” This is claiming protection in Jesus’ name, using the authority he has won for us to stand against the powers of darkness.

We don’t see a single case of cholera during the two to three days we are there.

I remember clearly our last evening there. We are cooking supper over a gas burner. As dusk falls, a line of women comes dancing towards us, singing praise songs in that hauntingly beautiful harmony that is so typically African. They have become Christians during our time with them.  A church has started in this camp. Rolland and Heidi will send one of their trained pastors to help them.

Spiritual warfare has prevented an epidemic.

What other areas does spiritual warfare address?

 

The church moves west (part 3)

One of the most outstanding church planting movements of our time is going on in India. Victor Choudhrie has written a book, Greet the Church in Your House detailing the principles behind this movement. It will come out as a Kindle book in September. This post is the final part (first part starts here) of a section from the foreword I have written for the book.

Photo credit: peasap (Creative Commons)

The influence of the church continues its march back to Jerusalem. The Muslim nations are just beginning to see their own extraordinary moves of the Holy Spirit as sheikhs, imams and even whole mosques are finding freedom through becoming followers of Isa, Jesus the Christ.

An interesting point: the speed of what God is doing is increasing exponentially. What took centuries in times past now takes decades. What took decades is now happening in a few short years. If the present rate of growth continues, India has the poential to become a Christian nation.

The march of Christianity around the globe has almost gone full circle, each wave of recovered truth building upon the last. The tide continues to advance. What will happen next? I believe that even as the world grows darker, we will see a harvest of historic proportions, this time covering the whole world. But if we are to experience the kind of growth we have longed and prayed for, we need to adopt the principles that the Holy Spirit has already revealed through the waves of church history.

God’s view of time

The church has become accustomed to measuring success by the world’s standards–not just in terms of numbers but in terms of speed. In our Western world we expect fast and instant. Think microwave dinners, air travel, Internet.

I think God views time differently.

Photo credit: Gilderic Photography (Creative Commons)

A story comes to mind; the story of James O. Fraser, chronicled by his daughter Eileen Crossman in the missionary classic, Mountain Rain.

James Fraser was a British missionary who went to Yunnan Province with the China Inland Mission in 1910. He loved to hike and climb, and it was on hiking trips into the Himalayas that he came across the Lisu people, a tribal group living high in the mountains of China, Myanmar, Thailand and India. He felt an immediate affection for them. His initial contact with them  was successful because he willingly adopted their lifestyle, staying with them in their huts, eating their food, sleeping on the ground. But nothing of any substance developed from this.

So what did Fraser do?

He prayed. Nothing happened. He became discouraged but he refused to give up. He set himself to pray through. He spent whole days and nights in prayer, crying out to the Lord for the salvation of these people whom God had laid on his heart.

Finally in 1916, he saw breakthrough. Scores of families came to know Christ. By 1918, the Lisu people had taken the Gospel themselves along family lines and 60,000 had been baptized. By the 1990s, the Chinese government admitted that more than 90% of the Lisu in China are Christians.

What would have happened if James Fraser had returned home in defeat after three or four years?

God’s timing is not our timing. If we are looking for instant success, we’re likely to fail. Within the simple church we look for multiplication and that starts slowly–really slowly–and takes time to gather momentum.

We can become discouraged and give up. Or we can choose to press through into everything God has laid on our hearts.

Are there times when you’ve been tempted to give up, but in pressing through, you’ve seen Jesus do things beyond your wildest dreams?

Miraculous Movements

Erich Reber, a friend of Wolfgang Simson, is a Swiss prophet with a remarkable ministry. For example, God warned him in advance of both 9/11 and the London tube bombings. In the Starfish Manifesto, written in 2008, Wolfgang writes:

In a vision in 1991, God showed him [Erich] the sequel of the last harvest. According to his vision, it will happen in four phases: first God is going to visit the eastern Block countries (Russia etc. 1991 -1993), then God is going to bring in a huge harvest in Middle and North India from 1996 onwards. The third phase will be God visiting first the soft-Islamic, then the hard-Islamic nations, and finally, as the last phase, Europe and the West. All of this seems to be coming true. What happened after the Soviet Union went out of business in 1991 is history. Since 1996, as many empirical researchers have since shown, there is an unprecedented spiritual harvest in Middle and North India. The number of newly planted house-churches has already reached several hundred thousand. Today, one of the most fascinating developments is the increasing number of Muslims finding Christ: many thousands of new churches have developed in nations like Bangladesh,Indonesia or Pakistan….

For many years, ever since being involved in an incredible move of the Holy Spirit in an Islamic country which resulted in thousands of house churches planted, I have watched what God is doing in the Muslim world with keen interest. Imagine my excitement when I was asked to endorse a copy of  Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale.

I devoured the manuscript, unable to put it down. Story after story described how God is reaching out sovereignly to transform the lives of those who are seeking him. Dreams, visions and miracles are drawing Muslims to the person of Jesus. Imams, sheikhs and even entire entire mosques are embracing a lifestyle of following Jesus. But Miraculous Movements does more than tell stories. This isn’t happening in a vacuum. The book describes the principles involved–principles that we can all use, not just to reach out within an international context, but right here at home too as we interact with our neighbors.

This book is destined to become a classic! I give it my highest recommendation.

Another wave rolls in

Arthur Wallis, a British “elder statesman” in the Kingdom wrote a fascinating foreword to a book by Frank Bartleman called Another wave rolls in: (formerly) What really happened at “Azuza Street?” The book describes from a first-hand perspective, the events at Azusa Street–the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement. In this foreword, Arthur described how the life of the early church quickly degenerated and was nearly extinguished during the Dark Ages. But then God began recovering waves of truth.

 

  • In the 15th century, the Bible was put into the hands of ordinary people (Wycliffe and Tyndale).
  • In the Reformation, through people like Luther and Calvin, the truth that salvation is by faith and not by works was recovered.
  • In the 17th century, the Congregational Movement recovered the truth of the autonomy of the local church, and the Baptists also stood on this ground while adding baptism by immersion.
  • In the 18th century God raised up Wesley and Whitfield. The Methodist movement emphasized salvation by faith as a work of the Holy Spirit, holiness, and the fact that neither ordained preachers nor sacred buildings were necessary to preach the Gospel.
  • In the 19th century, the Brethren taught that the Bible is sufficient for running the church and the priesthood of all believers. The Salvation Army looked at the social implications of the Gospel. The deeper life movement recovered the potential of a victorious Christian life through union with Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • In the 20th century, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements characterized the church.

Each of these waves of recovery built upon the previous wave, like a tide coming into the shore. The waves may break and recede, but the tide itself moves inexorably forward.

What will be the waves of the 21st century? It’s too early to answer that fully, but I believe that one of the waves is this: that God wants his people to be led by the Spirit.
  • His ordinary people will engage with him in the harvest, following the Holy Spirit as he leads them on mission with God to make disciples. It’s no longer the DL Moody’s, John Wesley’s or Billy Graham’s, extraordinarily effective though they have been, but all of us–”an army of Billy Graham’s” that will usher in the final harvest.
  • Church, too, will be in the hands of ordinary people, and therefore will become simpler and more organic, again following the Spirit’s leading. This won’t be limited to house/simple/organic church, but will increasingly be recognized across the denominations.

What other waves do you see?

Why a Brit celebrates Independence Day

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On May 23rd 2008, I became an American citizen. In a large gymnasium hastily converted into a courtroom, before a presiding judge and with all due pomp and circumstance, I pledged allegiance to my new country and was granted the rights and privileges that citizenship brings.

It was a surprisingly moving ceremony punctuated by patriotic songs and speeches about freedom. There were around 1,100 of us, from 85 different nations. The immigration officials several times spoke of the incredible stories—the hardships that some people had endured to gain the privilege of citizenship. I was sitting next to a man from Bangladesh who had not seen his wife in more than eight years in order that he could become an American citizen and have her come and join him legally. For me, coming from a nation like Britain, I take freedom and justice for granted, but many people were from oppressive regimes or situations where the rule of law has no sway, and poverty and injustice are a way of life. In becoming citizens of the US,  they are liberated.

There were several judges and even a US senator in attendance. An immigration official had to swear on our behalf that all of us had been investigated and no just cause was found whereby we might be denied citizenship, and we all had to raise our right hands and solemnly promise that there was no reason we knew of why we should not become citizens. We were then informed of the rights and privileges we would automatically have as citizens of the United States. These included such things as the right to travel under an American passport, the right to vote and so on. We were also informed of our responsibilities including the fact that any of us could be called on to fight for our country
if the occasion arose. America’s wars are now my wars.

Finally, we had to give up any loyalty that we might have had to “kings, potentates and other authorities” and swear allegiance to our new country. We pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and were all  declared to be American citizens, with a certificate to prove it. Then pandemonium broke out as the court adjourned and everyone began celebrating.

I am very proud of my British heritage. My heart is still there. But now I’m also proud to be an American.

This is the second time I have changed citizenship. I was actually born into an oppressive regime that sought to marginalize all its citizens. There was no justice; its citizens frequently lived in fear, and breaking its laws carried the death penalty. At the age of 11, I had the opportunity to change my citizenship and I appeared before a judge. This time, I could not claim that I was worthy to be granted citizenship, but Someone came and stood in my place, and my right to become a citizen of this new country was based on His righteousness rather than my own. And so in the courtroom of heaven, I relinquished my citizenship in the kingdom of darkness and became a citizen of the Kingdom of light ruled by a good, righteous and just King. However, I became more than just a citizen; I was welcomed into the royal family with all the rights and privileges, not just of citizenship, but also of sonship.

Just like becoming an American, there are also responsibilities tied up with citizenship of the Kingdom. I was born again into a nation at war. Like it or not, her wars are now my wars, and God’s Kingdom is in the process of invading the kingdom of darkness. I also have the privilege and responsibility of acting as an ambassador for this Kingdom wherever I go, and of letting others know that they can be free from the oppression of the regime they currently live under.  They too can change citizenship and come under the rule of a King who loves them and
is longing to welcome them into His Kingdom.

A dream; a story; a challenge

A dream

Two nights ago I dreamed there was a movement of Christians all over the country who had decided to pray in public.  They asked to pray in a secular context before business meetings. They prayed openly before meals asking the non-believers with them how they could pray for them. They refused to be intimidated by the current culture that in many situations, looks down on the Christian lifestyle. They weren't religious or confrontational or political. They weren't obnoxious in a "holier than thou," super-spiritual way. But they were willing to live out their faith under the public eye.

A story

When we lived in the UK and Tony (my husband) still practiced as a doctor, the General Medical Council, the licensing body for physicians in the country, sent a letter to all the family doctors. It explained that whereas up until now, a doctor had to get consent from the parent of a minor child before any kind of medical procedure, from this time on, certain situations were exempt from that. This included contraception/abortion. So a doctor had to get parental consent before operating on an ingrowing toenail, but wasn't allowed to tell the parent that their daughter wanted to go on the pill.

At that time, Tony led a ministry to doctors and others in the caring professions. He phoned several of them to see what they thought, and then drafted a letter to the GMC explaining that our organization represented more than 2,000 family doctors, and that if they wanted to remove their medical licenses, they could, but he would like them to know up front that the doctors he represented planned to disobey this edict.

A few weeks went by. Then they had the nicest letter in reply saying that the Council had no idea that so many doctors felt that strongly and that they were free to go with their conscience in these matters.

I often wonder what would have happened if in 1962, when prayers in the classroom was deemed unconstitutional, the Christian teachers in this country had refused to comply with the law.

A challenge

The climate in this country is becoming increasingly anti-Christian. In our institutes of higher learning, Christianity is ridiculed. The beliefs on which this country was founded are being eroded. We are only a generation away from being a post-Christian nation.

Are we willing to stand up and be counted? Are we willing to buck the trends? Are we more concerned about the Kingdom of God than our own reputations? What does it look like for us to follow Jesus in a way that is radically different and makes a radical difference?

 

Japanese monkeys and spiritual barriers

Before Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, everyone assumed it was a physical impossibility. Once he showed it could be done, it became a commonplace occurrence.

I came across a fascinating concept in a video the other day. The video is from a charismatic viewpoint, and there are some questions about the information on monkeys; however, I believe the main idea is true and very relevant to our lives today. If true (and I think you'll agree with me that there is plenty of evidence for it in Kingdom terms), it then poses some questions that have the very real potential to change the things we are willing to put our time and effort into.

Here's the video by Lance Wallnau:

The video can also be seen at this link.

We've seen this in our lifetime. For example, 15 years ago, the idea of simple/organic church was virtually unheard of. At that point, we might have been able to identify 200-300 house churches around the country. Now it is mainstream. What happended? A barrier was broken through, or in Lance's language, a veil was pierced. The pioneers took years to understand the principles and to find each other and then break through the barriers. Now anyone can walk into the fullness of the idea without having to pay the same price.

Here are some questions:

  • Are you content to stay with the status quo, or is there an area that seems impossible or out of reach that you sense the Lord is calling you to work towards?
  • Where do you see Holy Spirit at work? Do you sense a groundswell of movement? It may only be a "cloud the size of a man's hand" at present, but it is a sign of the handiwork of God.
  • What spiritual barrier do you see that's worth fighting to break through? 
  • What area is worth laying down your life for?

For me, one of the veils I'm working towards piercing is freedom for women within the church. Although there are notable exceptions, for the most part, women are relegated to lesser roles, not permitted to play a strategic part in what is going on. Even within the simple/organic church movement where there are no barriers for women, so many women are conditioned by their previous church experience that they do not step into the destiny that Jesus has for them.

I have a sense that once a few people (both men and women) break through the patriarchical attitude of the church, the floodgates will open for women to move into everything God has for them.  Then the idea that God only uses a woman when a man isn't available will seem as outdated as the concept of slavery. Men and women will co-labor, arm in arm, for the sake of the King and his Kingdom.

Multiplication tools: the bridge

Telling our story is only a bridge to an explanation of the good news of Jesus.

Bridge

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Another skill it is good to have in our toolbelt is the ability to explain the Gospel simple and concisely to a not-yet-believer. I'm not talking the Santa Claus Gospel here–invite Jesus into your life and he will give you everylasting peace and joy. I'm talking about  the real good news of the Kingdom–forgiveness of sin, the promise of relationship with God, belonging to a family, all dependent on a total surrender of our lives to the Lordship of Christ.

There are many different and good ways of explaining the Gospel–the Roman Road, the principles of the Four Spiritual Laws, and so on. All of them have their good points and also their drawbacks. They are tools. Useful ones. But have people in your church ever used them? Do they know how to use their story as a bridge to an explanation of the good news? Have they ever said to someone, "Can I explain to you what being a follower of Jesus is about?"

Suggested activity: Choose one pattern of helping someone to become a disciple. Make sure the people in your group thoroughly understand it and then have them pair up and practice explaining the Gospel to the other person in just a minute or two. Again, the other person is to stop them if either religious language is used or if there is something they think an ordinary person with no church experience might not understand.

 

Being a disciple

We in the church sometimes live as though Jesus died to give us meetings, and meetings more abundantly. 

Jesus died to give us life. Being a disciple of Jesus is not measured by how many meetings we go to–however informal they may be. It's measured by obedience to Jesus and his commands. It's demonstrated by what goes on in our everyday lives. It's lived out in what we pass on to others.

It's also about living for his Kingdom rather than for our own particular denomination, brand or structure of church.