MEET AGNES Part 3

BLOG 55 September 18, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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Agnes Sanford had an unusual ability to read people. Extremely intelligent, she was also highly creative. For entertainment and a game, she and Edith Drury would have conversations at the supper table about the “Fanta-folk” as Agnes called them. These imaginary people went on many kinds of adventures with Edith and Agnes creating them through their conversations back and forth. Her inventive mind proved to be extremely important in her ministry.

Agnes sensed I had a need. I had been adopted as a child and had developed a number of problems that came from trying to fit into the world I grew up in. Agnes understood this and suggested we pray about the struggle. She told me to close my eyes and envision myself as a child at a time when I might have had difficulties.

Leaning back in the chair, I let my mind drift as she continued talking and guiding my imagination. Soon a ten-year-old Robert Wise appeared in my meditation and was standing on the edge of a pitch-black school playground that I often had to cross after dark. I was always frightened by that vast expanse and would run as hard as I could to get to the other side when it was dark. As Agnes talked, I realized a huge bundle was on my back, making me bend over. I was a troubled little boy.

Agnes asked me to pray for Jesus to come and help me. She suggested I create an image in my mind. Using my imagination, I soon was surprised that Jesus began walking out of the darkness toward me. My meditation took on an independence of its own. Jesus reached out and touched the burden on my back. The bundle instantly disappeared!

The effect was so dramatic that I rose up in my chair and broke the contemplation. I suddenly discovered that I felt much lighter and could breathe more deeply and fully than I had ever done before. Later I realized the bundle had been a symbol of issues and experiences that had haunted me through the years. The problems were gone. The struggle and depression had vanished. The transformation of my memories had been a divine intervention. I was released.

This encounter was my introduction to the “Healing of Memories” ministry that was to prove important in my own work. I realized Jesus Christ was the same yesterday, today, and always. He could heal the past as easily as the present.

By the way, if you haven’t picked up a copy of my latest book, now’s the time.

The Revised and Expanded edition… WHEN THERE IS NO MIRACLE Kregel Publications

MEET AGNES Part 2

BLOG 54 September 11, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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            We have been exploring the ministry of one of the most interesting persons that I have ever met. Agnes Sanford’s extraordinary gifts of grace and ministry blessed me personally as well as challenged my thinking about divine intervention. Having been born to a missionary family in China, Agnes grew up with a sensitivity to suffering and need.

The first time I came to Agnes’s home in Monrovia, California, Edith Drury opened the door and ushered me in. Edith believed she had been called of God to shepherd Agnes in her later years after Ted died. She could be a fierce soul to get passed if she didn’t like you. Fortunately, Edith and I got along well.

She ushered me into the living room where Agnes sat reading a book.

“Hello,” I said. “Thank you for taking time to talk with me.”

“Oh, Robert! Do come in and sit down.”

“I wanted to talk with you about your work with healing prayer. I’m concerned to know more about praying for sick people.”

“Excellent,’” Agnes repeated. “We can certainly talk about that subject.”

We conversed easily and she rambled awhile about her life. Her pastor at the local Episcopal Church was Morton Kelsey who was to become internationally known for his writing. At that moment, little did I realize that I would in time become Morton’s bishop. We were simply talking, sharing our journeys, and eating sweet rolls.

After talking for awhile, Agnes walked out on the veranda. Monrovia is set in the foothills above Los Angeles and her house was on a steep mountainside. Standing with a piece of bread in her hand, she seemed oblivious when a bird flew down and landed on her wrist. The bird pecked off a piece of bread and then flew off. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“I thought I saw a bird land on you,” I said.

“Oh yes,” she said casually. “They do that you know. I’ve never seen that bird before.”

That experience was my introduction to the unusual relationship Agnes had with nature. Dogs, birds, snakes, animals loved her and she developed an extraordinary capacity to pray for the earth and wind.

When Agnes came back inside, she sensed I had a need. I had been adopted as a child and had developed a number of problems that came from trying to fit into the world I grew up in. Agnes understood this and suggested we pray about the struggle. She told me to close my eyes and envision myself as a child at a time when I might have had difficulties.

Next week, I will tell you how she profoundly touched my life.

By the way, if you haven’t picked up a copy of my latest book, now’s the time.

The Revised and Expanded edition
WHEN THERE IS NO MIRACLE
Kregel Publications

 

MEET AGNES

BLOG 53 September 4, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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I not only knew Agnes Sanford, but taught in her School of Pastoral Care. During that time, I became acquainted with Dr. Harry Goldsmith whose healing and emotional restoration laid the foundation for the healing of the memories ministry that had a worldwide impact. Harry experienced the reality of Agnes’s prayers both physically and emotionally. My time with Agnes opened similar doors that lead to my own emotional healing.

While Agnes has been gone from this world for three and a half decades, her quest for the miraculous remains highly instructive. She has much to tell us about we can access the miraculous realm. While her personal orientation was unusual, her devotion to discovering the pathway to prayers for healing remains anyone can follow.

When Agnes began struggling to understand how healing can occur, she was virtually alone in her search. On the West Coast, Dr. Robert Bell and Dr. John Gaynor had begun healing ministries with important results. At one time the Emmanuel Movement in Boston had been involved in prayer work, but that past was gone. Agnes worked against the tide with many churches remaining negative about her ideas. Agnes refused to step back from her experiments with prayer and its impact.

Agnes Mary White Sanford came out of a world that is now gone. Her father Hugh Watt White and mother Augusta were Presbyterian ministers and missionaries in Hsuchoufu, China back in the days when the Western Church world saw that far off land as a place of mystery and romantic intrigue. The Chinese were considered primitive and ripe for the Christian message. Missionaries lived in compounds and worked to share a simple gospel story. Agnes’s early life absorbed the Chinese culture and she thought she would always live in China. Agnes taught English in the Wu dialect as well as Mandarin that she grew up speaking.

When she married Ted (Edgar L.) Sanford in the Episcopal Church Mission in Changshu, she assumed they would remain in China, but such was not to be. The Communist revolution swept away the world of American missionaries. Still, what she experienced in those earliest years shaped a unique perspective when she came to America.

The Sanford’s accepted a call to Moorestown, New Jersey where Ted became the village priest. The relocation brought a considerable adjustment for Agnes, but she kept struggling with one idea. Her missionary parents accepted the dispensational idea that healing ministry ended with the apostles and Agnes had seen so much suffering in China that she set out to explore if that was actually true. She wanted to learn how to pray for the sick and bring recovery as was described in the Bible. Her conclusion was that the Holy Spirit had never stopped caring about the painful struggles of God’s people. Agnes became a healer.

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Seven

BLOG 52 August 28, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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We have been exploring the multi-faceted ministry of divine interventions that occur in the work of Bishops Mike and Beth Owen. We are now in a position to draw some conclusions that might be of help.

Interestingly enough, both Leslie Draper and Michael Owen experienced the angelic dimension at young ages. In my conversations with a number of people, I have observed that often young children have spiritual experiences. Before society could impose its own value system on the young, their naïveté allowed an openness that equipped children to see with the eyes of innocents. Mike accepted Christ at the age of eight-years.

The natural tendency of many people is to write off their childhood encounter as being nothing more than a “Winnie the Pooh” adventure when it wasn’t. Digging back into the past can help some people get in touch with that divine avenue they once walked down.

As one follows the history of this couple, it is obvious that they moved through several denominations. Their experience and faith evolved. While people change situations everyday, this is generally not the case in the religious world. However, in the 34 years Michael and Beth have been in the ministry, the larger church setting also radically changed. Mainline denominations became sideline groups. Evangelicals often evolved through the Charismatic Movement and wound up in a sacramental setting. Radical changes occurred every decade.

In the Owens’ case, they attempted to stay open to the Holy Spirit as well as grow in their understanding of how the Christian faith expanded Their openness to variation and modification led them into a greater appreciation of how the Holy Spirit continues to work in people’s lives. While it would be jarring for many people to expect the Holy Spirit to take them to an entirely new realm of experience, the Owens would say that’s the best place to encounter the miraculous.

Beth’s development in the Roman Catholic Church led her into the sacramental life. Through these experiences, she naturally lived in a world of symbols. In time, Michael came to do the same.

The symbolic power of the sacraments is that they bring believers into the spiritual realm where contact with the divine is possible. Holy Communion, also called the is an example. While meanings vary with different denominations, Mike and Beth became part of a church that believes in the real Presence of Christ in the bread and wine. In other words, participants expect to actually experience Jesus Christ through these moments of worship.

The idea of spiritual presence suggests a supernatural order. How Christ is present is beyond human understanding and a mystery. This expression of faith takes one into the world from which miracles come. Mike and Beth believe Holy Communion helps one discover this realm.

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part 6

BLOG 51 August 14, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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            For the last five weeks, we’ve been exploring the ministry of a spiritually gifted couple. Mike and Beth Owen along with their two children, ministered first in a Baptist setting and then moved into the Vineyard Ministry when it initially began. During their work with the Vineyard, Mike and Beth received important gifts from the Holy Spirit. Prophetic insight helped to propel significant Vineyard growth in Oklahoma City. Mike also began to experience a healing ministry.

During a conference in Monterrey, Mexico, Mike was working with local citizens who were “the poorest of the poor but the richest in faith.” During an evening service with robust singing and praise, an elderly woman was led forward for prayer assisted by two young people. She was blind. A group of ministers assembled around Mike and they all began to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to restore her sight.

As he prayed, Mike felt like he was being transported from Monterrey into a page out of the New Testament. While he was internally experiencing that ancient scene, the old woman began to cry.

Ya veo!” the woman sobbed. “Ya veo!

“She sees,” the minister next to Mike whispered.

Over and over again, the woman gave thanks and praise to Jesus Christ for healing her. As the service ended, she rushed out into the streets to tell everyone that she had received this wonderful healing. Her sight was restored.

As the evening ended, the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 rang in Mike’s ears. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel … the recovery of sight to the blind.” A gift of healing had become part of his ministry.

The divine interventions and miracles have not stopped.

What can we learn?

Since the Western World is living in an age that considers empirical data to be supreme, some of Mike and Beth’s accounts may sound over the top. The prevailing world view of the modern world rides on scientific data and demonstrable facts. Obviously, some of the foregoing does not fit the mold. So, what do we do?

I’d suggest we change our world view.

If we are to understand miracles and learn how to live with divine interventions, we need to make a paradigm shift. We must recognize that the transcendent dimension won’t fit in a test tube or calculate on a computer. God’s world must be encountered in God’s terms. The failure to face up to this reality will keep the door shut that must be opened in order have some insight into divine interruptions. Mike and Beth grew up with the door open. They can teach us a number of things about the doors we often keep closed.

By the way, there will be no blog next week. I’ll be in Alaska near the Arctic Circle, hiking through Denali National Park. I’ll finish the summer in one of the most beautiful and restful places in the world.  See you again on August 28!

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Five

BLOG 50 August 7, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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            While Mike and Beth were pastoring a church, much of Beth’s time was given to pastoral care. A young woman came for counseling because she and her husband had not been able to conceive a child. She was coming to the end of her rope and beginning to believe it would never happen. Despair had settled in. Let’s return to a story from the July 12 Blog.

After anointing her with consecrated oil, Beth laid her hands on the woman’s head and prayed. Much like the story from I Samuel 1:11-20 when Hannah came to Shiloh to pray for a child, the young woman earnestly pleaded for God to work. Beth had an unusual feeling that as she interceded, she sensed the woman would conceive.

Nine months later, a beautiful baby was born. During the next few years, the couple had more children. The family was convinced that the turning point came during those earlier moments of prayer. Always hesitant to share this story because of how it might be received by other parents seeking a child, Beth believes the anointing, laying on of hands, and prayer provided a special encounter with grace as the Lord of life brought forth new life. After the child was born, Beth celebrated the baptism of this child.

The gift of life had been given and consecrated.

New life came in a different form for Mike. In 1983, as he was preparing for the morning Easter service, he knelt down at the church’s altar rail to thank God for the resurrection of Jesus and for the impartation of new life to His people for over 2,000 years. He was praising God for setting believers free from fear when he had a distinct sense of someone standing with him.

Mike looked up and on the other side of the rail the risen Christ stood with his hands extended. Mike stared in astonishment. The Christ said, “I am alive forever.” Mike’s heart pounded as he stared at the figure that was clearly there and yet transparent. As he watched, the figure of Jesus faded.

The encounter burned a new level of conviction into his mind. A higher degree of assurance had been established. A monumental landmark gave birth to a new boldness in proclaiming enduring hope. He had seen a miracle.

Beth initiated a divine response; Mike received a direct intervention. Two forms of heaven touching earth. Pay attention. The Holy Spirit is still at work.

 

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Four

BLOG 49 July 31, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

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            Alcoholism is a disease for which there are significant medical treatments. At the same time, some forms of the addiction become a vehicle for evil. Alcoholism is not the only problem that is both a medical problem as well as the tool for evil intrusion. Often at the root of the problem are experiences that have created guilt or anxiety that the victims use alcohol to cover. In the last blog, I reported how the Bishops Mike and Beth Owen encountered evil and began a ministry of defeating the demonic invasion that has swept across this country. Here’s another example from their experience.

Mike’s father called about him and Beth ministering to a fellow worker whose addiction to alcohol was destroying the man’s life and pushing him to contemplate suicide. After picking up a friend who had experienced a miraculous recovery from addiction before entering the ministry, they went to the man’s house. Their friend was always soft spoken.

The curtains were drawn and the unkempt house was cold, and dark. A stale heaviness hung in the air, making the room smell like a dilapidated bar. An evil aura seemed to hover around the house. When the door opened, the blurry-eyed man stood there extremely drunk. At once, he dropped to his knees and grabbed the Owens’ friends around the legs.
“Christ forgive me,” the drunk sobbed. “Have mercy on me.”

In contrast to what they expected, Mike’s friend shouted with sternness, “Come out of him you spirit of addiction and you spirit of alcoholism!” The minister kept demanding release to break the hold Evil had on the drunk.

“Do you want to relinquish your life into the hands of Christ?”

“Yes!” he cried. “Oh, yes!”

“Be set free!” the minister exclaimed.

The drunk stopped sobbing and abruptly stood up. The awful odor and stench of alcohol seemed to float away from the room. His face cleared and brightness returned to his eyes. Peacefulness settled around him. In a matter of minutes, he had gone from complete intoxication to sobriety and a countenance of contentment.

The possession by Evil had been broken.

Whether the release would be considered a miracle or not, it was certainly a divine intervention. In these incidents, Mike and Beth realized that they were growing in their ability to minister with empowerment. Their ability to enter into the realm of the miraculous was increasing.

In the days ahead, they would be a formidable foe of evil. Their path is not unique. Anyone can decide to stand against evil and learn how to become a vehicle for divine intervention.

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Three

BLOG 48 July 24, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!

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Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world?

Read and you’ll find new insights.

Halloween appears to be the only time the contemporary world pauses to believe in evil and the possibility of a devil working near us. The rest of the time we write off Satan as a figment of the imagination of the ancients. Unfortunately, that mentality misses how divine interventions are important to keep us on the right track. Here’s what happened in the Owen family.

Michael and Beth understand psychological disorders and do everything possible to avoid evil. At the same time, they know that Evil can be an all-absorbing force in people’s lives. During a trip to Muskogee, Oklahoma, they encountered a demonstration of the reality in everyday life.

They had just entered a fast food restaurant and were in line to order. Beth noticed a woman who looked like a gypsy sitting several tables away. Six or seven large cups of water were on the table in front of her. The woman kept staring down at the table and appeared uncomfortable. In a whisper, Beth conveyed almost silently to Mike what she had seen.

“Take a look when you get a chance,” Beth murmured.

“I heard you!” the woman shouted. “It’s not nice to talk about people like that!”

Beth’s first thought was that there was no way the woman could have heard her. Mike turned around with a tray in hand. People in the restaurant started looking at them.

“You and your kind are an abomination and a damnation to me!” the gypsy woman shouted. “You are of the light and I am of the darkness.”

As she continued to yell, the Owens backed away, unsure of what the woman might do next. Violence could follow. The restaurant crowd was starting to freak out. Mike and Beth had the distinct feeling the voice was somehow coming from beyond the woman. Once outside the restaurant, they determined she was not following them. The encounter with the woman became a turning point in their understanding of spiritual warfare.

Following this encounter, they began receiving telephone calls from people both inside and outside of their church seeking help in their struggle with evil. Calls have continued to this day and have opened the door for helping frightened people recover their direction and purpose in life. The encounter with the woman opened a new way for ministry that followed with divine interventions.

Most of my previous blogs have covered renewals of various varieties while Mike and Beth’s experience dealt with the negative dimension. Is the dark side real? Absolutely. However, you too can depend on divine interventions for your own success in overcoming evil.