In the week prior to coming here to Cali, Colombia, I had the joy of speaking in Wales for the first time, at Gilgal Baptist Church, not too many miles from where my amazing dad was born, so that made it even more special, 52 years on from his transfer to heaven….
Steve & Helen, long-time friends from Kent and Surrey days, are involved in some lovely ministries – Steve in the church, Helen (and Steve, too!) in a wonderful ministry in Gulu, Uganda. The first lady I prayed for – Barbara, I think! – had (can you guess?) – yep, osteoarthritis in her knees, really badly, a lot of pin walking, couldn’t kneel, crouch, squat…. within minutes she was doing everything she couldn’t do…. thank you, God!! I can genuinely thank God for people being healed of it: I love to know that people (now hundreds, heading towards four figures) are free from the pain I experience, and love turning my pain back on the devil by seeing multiplied people set free from it. It wasn’t all ‘roses’ at that meeting though, as Steve reports:
- We had 2 1/2 healing testimonies from our regular congregation on Sunday (I say half ‘coz that person came to your meeting with pain and a bad back and left with a bad back but no pain!!) responses have been mixed!! with some not believing some of your more bizarre healing stories (especially the lady with the growing leg!!) and others taking exception to your statement that God always heals, and still others lapping up all your stories with such enthusiasm that they would have listened all night if you’d gone on …. no wait a minute, you did!! Personally I love the fact that people have been talking about it all week – Martin even preached off the back of it on Sunday morning encouraging people to use their brains and search for answers to the questions they’re asking.
I understand that reaction from people who have never heard anything like those sorts of testimonies before, but find it rather sad that in seeing people healed in front of them, like Barbara, can’t believe that God can do greater things! I’ve had people tell me that the ‘leg growing’ WASN’T someting Jesus did: I have two answers for that reaction. First, Jesus healed lepers: what does leprosy do to a person’s body? Eats it away, among many other awful things (I’ve had the ‘privilege’ of seeing and praying for lepers: it’s not a pretty sight). When Jesus told lepers that they were healed, did they go away ONLY with a nice warm, gooey feeling inside, and fingers/arms/legs/jaws/noses etc., missing? What would have been the point of them going to ‘show yourself to the Priests’ if all they could tell of was a nice internal feeling? No point at all. They went – COMPLETE – healed, whole – even the ones who never went back to thank Jesus. Second, and I choose to believe the promises in Scripture (because they are ALL ‘YES’ in Christ Jesus: 2 Corinthians 1:20), that we ‘WILL do greater things than I have done’ (said Jesus, John 14:12). I personally don’t think the leg growing story is a greater thing: it’s in the leprosy healing ‘league’ (the lady had had muscular dystrophy at birth, and her leg had withered away).
It’s sad that we’re in such a cynical, sceptical culture in the western world: if we choose never to believe that with God, nothing is impossible, then where the heck does that leave the rest of our faith? And we’ll never see anything miraculous, even if we have in front of our eyes just a few minutes later! This answers another question: ‘Why don’t we see the sorts of miracles you talk about (Paul) in the western world?’. And we know that it’s not possible for God NOT to answer prayer (Chinese pastors, living in revival and miracles, almost ‘battered’ that into me in Guanzhou in the late ’80s) – if it IS, then, goodness, what faith do we have? – it’s just that he doesn’t do it in our way, and in our time, and to our liking….and cynicism and scepticism (both massive tools of unbelief) will ensure that we never see it, as unbelief is the enemy of faith (Mark 6:5, Matt 13:58). If Jesus couldn’t do any miracles because of unbelief in people, how ever are we going to?
In Addlestone, a lady, Wendy, was healed while I was speaking (I love that!! – it’s happening more frequently these days) and she testified to it immediately! Others were healed, too, as Richard, the Pastor, reported:
- Last weekend we saw 4 people healed in our church meetings which is absolutely wonderful and we give God the praise and glory for it. At the same time Ella’s sickness did not abate at all despite being prayed for, which was a little bit of a downer!
Ella is Richard and Louise’s 11 year old daughter, who suffers from CVS. I’m still in faith that she will be healed, as are the folk I took with me, partly so that they could pray for her. The family have lived with it since Ella’s birth, and Lord, it’s about time now….