Two weeks ago, our team returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic for our first team retreat. We had scheduled to go to an event called, School of Power and Love. The focus of this conference is teaching about our identity in Christ and the outflow of power that comes from holding firm to that belief. Every day we went on outreach, which is not unusual for me, having already gone through a discipleship school myself, as well as having already launched and completed our first year of a discipleship school here in Haiti. However, the difference of these outreaches were aiming at bringing Jesus' love by asking people if they have pain or injuries and praying for healing. It was like a direct arrow being shot specifically towards the enemy so that these men and women could experience the love of God through physical healing.
As testimonies began coming in, pretty crazy things were happening; blind people seeing, legs growing longer, pain completely leaving people. The amazing part is that so many different people were testifying about how God was using them, not the one single anointed preacher, but them, the body of Christ. For some reason when it comes to these things, I'm the guy who has to see it myself to believe it. I had been asking God to use me this way, but to do it in such a way that I knew without a doubt, the person in front of me was healed.
So we went out the second day, and a guy I prayed for said his headache was healed. Well, I thought, he could just be making that up to make me feel better and not really be honest with me. The third day we went out, an old man was healed from a pain in his lower abdomen. He began jumping for joy and praising God, he seemed genuine in his expression of gratitude, in fact, he even wanted to buy everyone sodas as we were leaving to show his appreciation, but I wasn't too trusting in the translator we were with that day; something just didn't seem right, and when I invited this man to come share his testimony at the conference, the translator seemed hesitant in having him come. Could this have been a genuine encounter this old man had with the Holy Spirit? Or could this really have been a manufactured expression that was pre-planned? I still had my doubts.
So on the final day, I asked the Lord to use me to touch someone and asked again that it would be in such a way that I couldn't doubt any longer. So we went out again, this time with my oldest son, Malachi. This was his first time going on outreach during the conference, as he had been reluctant to go every other day. So now with my doubts, I'm supposed to be the encouraging one for my sons. Apparently everyone in my group was new to outreach, so I again was the veteran in this.
As we walked around a small village, one girl led us up to a house that had blaring music. Someone was having a good time at this house, so we decided to stop by and see what was going on. As we walked up the hill and the large group of people turned their attention toward us, suddenly we didn't feel welcome at all. There were probably over 30 Dominicans hanging out, relaxing and we were not invited guests and we knew it! As we decided somewhat reluctantly to move forward, we asked for the owner of the house. He came forward and it was his 60th birthday. We asked for permission to pray for him as well as asked for permission to interrupt their party to pray for others. To our surprise, they gladly said yes.
I immediately told them through our translator that we were here to pray for them and asked if anyone had physical pain in their body. A woman stepped forward and we began speaking with her. She looked in her 30's wearing a hair net. She began to tell us she has had lower back pain for the past 2 1/2 years. It had something to do with her discs. Malachi asked her how far she could bend over and she showed us, it was about halfway. Suddenly, I remembered what one of the speakers had said about “increasing the risk,” especially if you are doubting. So, I got this crazy idea to do just that. I yelled to everyone, “Hey guys, are you ready to see Jesus heal this woman! He's going to do it.” Yep, and I was thinking to myself, “God I really hope you do this.” We laid hands on her and prayed, commanding the pain to leave. After about 10 seconds we stopped and asked her to check it. She bent over, and bent over all the way! She touched the ground and stood back up, looking at us in amazement. Her eyes began to fill with tears as we asked if all the pain was gone. She said it felt better, but there was still a little pain.
We prayed again, another quick 10 second prayer and then asked her to check it, she bent over again, all the way again and touched the floor, stood up and said all the pain was gone! As she stood there, speechless, tears filling her eyes, my female translator came and hugged her for what seemed like 5 minutes while she just cried and cried. All of her friends and family stared in amazement of what just happened, they too were speechless. Afterwards, we applauded and thanked Jesus Christ for healing her and I shared a short gospel message.
Although nobody came forward that day to surrender their lives to Jesus, a woman was touched. She was touched and had a genuine encounter with the living God. She's going to have to deal with that. All other 30 people who were there have to deal with that too. How can they explain that? This friend of theirs, hurting for 2 1/2 years, now after being prayed for, it's gone, all pain gone. You can’t explain that, other than admitting the power of God came upon her. The funny thing is that I always believed that I would feel something if that ever happened through me. And I felt absolutely nothing, other than Jesus' compassion for this woman the 2nd time we prayed. But there was no lightning, no heat, no warm fuzzies, no show in the prayer, no dancing or beating or yelling at this woman, no rebuking the devil, just 2 very quick, simple prayers of authority.
This woman experienced the love of God through His power that day. And it brought glory to Jesus Christ. I experienced something too. Through all my skepticism and disbelief, not of what God could do, but that He wants to do it through me, God was faithful to my prayer. It was amazing to see this woman healed.
After that, I can't begin to ask myself how many others there are out in this world, who are waiting to experience God that way. How many are being kept in pain that the Lord wants to use us, not just the anointed few, but the Holy Spirit filled many, to bring them into an encounter with Him?
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Healing people was not the sole focus of His life, but it was a part of His lifestyle, an overflow and byproduct of His fellowship with the Father. Is it a part of ours?
"Jesus didn't heal everyone in the world while He was here, but He did heal everyone who came to Him and He did heal everyone the Father sent Him to. Jesus is our model, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead lives in us. We can't expect anything less in our lives. We can't blame the person in front of us for their lack of faith and we can't put guilt or shame on ourselves. But what we can do is cry out to God in the secret place and take risks publicly."