MEET AGNES Part 6

BLOG 58 October 16, 2015 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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Going against the grain of what she had been taught growing up in a missionary compound, Agnes Sanford’s experiments with prayer opened doors that had been closed in Protestant circles for centuries. She attempted expressions of faith that others had declared impossible. Her story teaches the value of persistence.

In the midst of her own struggles with depression, Agnes used illness as an opportunity for growth. Where many retreated into seclusion, Agnes continually tried to pray in different ways. When the intercession didn’t work the first time, she tried a new direction. The result was not only her own healing, but insights that have brought countless numbers to wholeness. Before you write off her stories as examples of what isn’t possible for you, rethink how trial and error brought Agnes to discoveries that have changed how many view prayer today.

Praise is one form of saying thank you for what the Creator has done for us. Worship is affirming that our Creator is here and we recognize His presence in our world. During her adolescent years in China, Agnes learned to experience the Holy Spirit everywhere. She did not worship nature, but blessed the name of the One who created all things.

On one of her walks, she encountered the timelessness of creation. She found herself absorbed into a oneness with all creatures. The indescribable presence of God swept over her. The ever-living creativity of the uncreated Creator filled her life and she worshipped with ecstatic joy. Agnes believed that from our side, contact with the Holy Spirit begins with worship. Seeking the will of God is primary in the quest for divine intervention.

When you are struggling with some need, why not shift gears and while worshipping the Father, ask about what He wants? This new focus might put you on a more productive course.

Agnes found a new way of understanding Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” Her insight led to the discovery that the healing touch of Christ is not bound by wristwatches or computers. The past can be touched by grace as surely as a miracle can occur in the present moment.

Agnes would instruct us to set aside all parameters that might bind what God can do. The work of the Holy Spirit is unlimited. We can believe in and work with that insight. Few of us are acquainted with the idea of working in a dimension that is beyond time, but God’s world and Word certainly is.

Allow yourself to step into a new paradigm.

MEET AGNES Part 5

BLOG 57 October 2, 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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Many people came to see Agnes through the years, but not everyone was restored in some dramatic way. Some people went home the way they came. I wondered how she knew what to pray for with these people. Agnes had an answer.

Before she prayed for someone, Agnes listened to hear the mind of God. What intentions did he have for the specific person in need? If she felt healing was not possible at that moment, Agnes blessed the person. When she got a green light, she interceded for the specific need.

If you didn’t know Agnes, you’d think that her praying about the wind, earth, and sky was off the scale. But she prayed for hurricanes, against wild fires, and for the rain to start and stop because she believed it was the will of God for humanity to do so. Once during a conference in Southern California with people seated outside, the rain started to hit. She looked up and said, “I’ve got five more minutes then you can start. Please wait.” The rain stopped. When she finished, Agnes looked up again and said “Okay, you can start now.” It did. The crowd stared. The issue was the will of God.

The same was true for dying. I knew that her husbandTed Sanford had a powerful, pleasant dream about dying that occurred five days before his death. Agnes had suggested it might be prophetic of what was to come. When the end came, it was just as Ted had dreamed. Neither Agnes nor Ted were afraid of death as they lived in the light of the resurrection. When Edith Drury called to tell me that Agnes had died, the same amazing dimension had been there.

Agnes came out of her bedroom one morning and told Edith that she believed the Lord was calling her to fly. Could Edith see if a glider might be found to take them for a ride? As she always did, Edith accepted the unusual request in stride and stared calling local airports. A week later, Agnes came out as she always did with an adjusted request.

“I think I got it wrong,” she said.
“Really?” Edith answered.
“Yes. I don’t believe I’m suppose to fly in an airplane. I think it’s time for me to go. I believe I should die.”
“Are you certain? I mean – well, after all –”
“I think so. Please call the women in our prayer group to come over and pray for me. I think I’m suppose to leave on Sunday.”
Edith shrugged. “I’ll do what you tell me. Yes, I’ll call them right now.”

On Sunday, the small group of people gathered around Agnes’s bed and began to pray for her release. In a short time, she was gone. Agnes died on February 21, 1982, the day celebrated in many churches as the Feast of the Transformation. It certainly was hers.

NEXT WEEK I’LL BE TRAVELING SO-NO BLOG NEXT WEEK. BUT HANG ON  — A SURPRISE IS COMING!

MEET AGNES Part 4

BLOG 56 September 25, 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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The healing of the memories ministry began with Agnes Sanford. Practicing her prayer experiments while making the hospital rounds during World War II, she encountered a displaced twenty-year old Jewish boy who struggled because shrapnel destroyed a two-inch piece of bone in his thigh, causing osteomyelitis. Hunks of his femur had been blown away as the war raged near his village. After two years of hospitalization, there had been no improvement, but Agnes prayed. Harry was saved from an amputation, and the bone was restored.

The young man was so moved that he vowed to tell everyone in the world about what had happened. In turn, Agnes gave Harry a New Testament. When Agnes asked him what he thought of the Jesus he was reading about, he replied, “I wondered who the other one was? When I’m doing my prayers, I often feel that I am not alone.”

As Harry developed spiritually, he recognized that he had emotional issues that also needed healing. When he became angry, he might hurl a typewriter or scream in rage. The The Holy Spirit revealed that the problem was not Harry the twenty-year old man, but the little ten-year Harry still living inside the grown man.

As Agnes meditated on Harry’s problem, she remembered the scripture promised Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Perhaps, time might be transcended and the child of Harry’s past could be healed. Agnes began to intercede for Harry’s childhood even back to the days of his being a baby in the cradle. She prayed fervently for his release from hurt and anger.

In the Sunday worship service in her church, there was always a time of confession when the worshippers expressed their personal needs in prayer. These moments of prayer were followed by the clergy offering a prayer of absolution and asking the heavenly Father to wipe the slate clean so the congregation could start over again. She began bringing Harry spiritually to the time of confession and asking for a divine absolution.

Shortly after these prayers of intercession, Harry wrote, “What are you doing? All of a sudden I feel just ridiculously happy from morning until night.” The Holy Spirit had brought liberation. Agnes had learned how to pray about difficult memories and bring recovery from those often nearly forgotten experiences.

As Agnes prayed for healing the past, she always imagined the person actually being restored and asked the person being prayed for to do the same. Images seemed to bring connection that allowed divine interventions to follow. When the injury was caused by someone else, forgiveness brought liberation.

Why could recovery in some people linger for years before the person was set free? Her answer was that God has given us free will and He doesn’t violate His own principles. The Holy Spirit waits for our invitation before His healing work begins.

 

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!