MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 2

BLOG 77 March 19, 2018

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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.

Last week, I introduced you to John. Here’s the rest of that story.
“Sir,” John said. “I’m going to put my hands on your back. Let’s pray together.”
John made it sound as simple as opening a refrigerator door.

The man closed his eyes, quivered for a few moments, and started sinking to the floor. John kept praying and knelt beside him. The man’s legs straightened and with his eyes closed, he appeared completely relaxed. John stood up.

“We’ll leave him there for a while. When he’s ready he’ll stand up. He’s healed. Now let’s go on to the next person.”

The crowd stared, not sure of how to respond. I raised up to see what was happening. John moved on to another need. I watched in fascination. For approximately twenty minutes, the fellow on the floor didn’t move before he got up and returned to his seat. After the meeting I talked with him. He was healed.

After that evening, I began studying Wimber’s approach to ministry. I knew that he had worked with Dr. Donald McGavran and Dr. Peter Wagner at Fuller Seminary and been a church growth consultant. George Eldon Ladd’s writing on the Kingdom of God had steered John toward an expectancy that the power and authority of God was meant for the contemporary world. Francis McNutt’s Healing had heightened his expectation that recovery through prayer was possible. Each of these experiences were building blocks for what was to become a power ministry.

John had begun to attend a mainline denominational congregation. After the service, he would ask the minister when they did “the stuff.” The pastor would blink and ask what he meant. “You know,” John would reply. “Like in the Bible –water into wine –healing – miracles. “Oh, we don’t do that. We just talk about it.” John wanted more than talk, much more.

One evening John flew into Detroit and was stranded because of bad weather. He got a room for the night and stumbled in feeling ill, exhausted and spiritually bankrupt. After getting ready for bed, he knelt down and read Psalm 61. “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer,” the scripture said. “Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I am.” At that moment, he felt the Holy Spirit speaking to his heart.

“John, I’ve seen your ministry. Now, I want to show you mine.”
John began to weep. Later, he reflected that this was a turning point in his relationship with God. Once he began to use the authority that the Holy Spirit had imparted to him, miracles followed. The ministry of the Father had begun.

John would have told you that your brokenness can be the key to spiritual breakthrough. When you’ve reached the end of your rope, you’ve reached the place where God can pull you up – not let you down!

 

THE MAN WHO PLANTED MORE CHURCHES THAN ANYONE IN HISTORY

BLOG 76 March 12, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE Followers of this blog know that Robert L. Wise has traveled across many states collecting stories of miracles and divine interventions that confront the contemporary secular mind. Read and see what you think.

John Wimber was truly a secular man. He grew up in a home with no religious influence and considered himself a fourth generation pagan. His father had abandoned the family when John was a child. John once said of the Bible, “I didn’t even know God had a book out.” The first time he was in a church, John thought the ushers were bouncers with flowers in their lapels. He viewed the liturgy of the day as a menu.

John could play 20 instruments and was a first class musician who at one time had been part of the Righteous Brothers band. With a good tenor voice, he had been involved in a number of jazz groups. If there ever was a guy who grew up outside of any kind of theistic group, it was John. Involved with miracles? No way!

When I met John, the Vineyard movement was in the infancy stage. I didn’t know much about him except that he had an exceptional ability to bring divine interventions. Peter Wagner, another personal friend, had a hand in suggesting that John should start planting churches with his new type of worship experience. Jettisoning the usual format of traditional Sunday School and standard Sunday Morning Worship, John touched a nerve with people who didn’t go to church. Across the country they began flocking to his Vineyards. Today in the United States over 1,500 congregations are Vineyard Fellowships.

The evening as I listened to John teach that the miracles in the Bible weren’t for the past, he explained they were intended to happen today. John taught how Christians could receive the gifts the Apostle Paul described in I Corinthians 12:4-11 (knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues). As he described that these miraculous gifts could be imparted to any Christian, he insisted everyone in the room should receive an expression of the Holy Spirit’s gifting. Strange talk for a 4th generation pagan.

Abruptly, John stopped. “Let’s have a clinic,” he said. “I will show you what I mean.”

John bowed his head in silent prayer as the crowd waited in anticipation. He looked up. “Anyone here with a back problem?” A hand went up in the back of the room.

“Ah!” John said. “Please come forward.”

The man walked to the front.

“Now,” John began. “I always begin by listening to what the Lord tells me he wants done. That’s how I start.”

I immediately thought of Agnes Sanford’s instructions to seek the will of God before preceding in prayer. John certainly did.

Hang on! More to come next week.

MEET RUTH EATON

BLOG 75 March 5, 2018 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.

With her bright red-hair and rambunctious style, Ruth Eaton was one of the most delightful persons I’ve ever known. Ruth had been a member in two churches that I pastored and was always on the go. Visiting a friend in a nursing home, 86 year-old Ruth discovered that many of these “old” people had no one left who knew anything about them or cared for them. She simply couldn’t let this be! The work she began on their behalf never stopped until Ruth died at age 93.

Ruth Eaton made it her job to find a gift for every lonely person in a nursing home in Oklahoma City. She watched for specials in the newspaper and came up with everything from women’s socks to men’s underwear. Her living room was piled high with boxes and wrapping paper for her “best buys” being prepared for delivery on Christmas Eve.

Ruth’s only daughter had died at age 44. I had the service for her and knew that the death had nearly killed Ruth. At that time, I couldn’t fully comprehend how the affect lingered for years. Only after the death of one of my sons did I realize how difficult it had been to deal with the death of a child. Ruth didn’t speak of her experience often, but it was always there.

On this particular Friday, I told my secretary not to let anyone in or any phone calls get through until I had my sermon completed. Thirty minutes later, I could hear Ruth raising a ruckus. “I don’t care what he said!” she yelled at the secretary. “I demand to speak with him NOW!” And in came Ruth.

She had been sitting on her couch wrapping presents when she began to think about her beloved daughter and wondered where she was today. At the same time, Ruth thought about her mother who had died many decades earlier. The remembrance of these two important and significant persons had been highly important to her.

Ruth abruptly had the strangest feeling. She looked down at the end of the couch and there stood her mother and daughter. Though they had been many years apart in age, they now both looked exactly the same age at about 25. Ruth stared in amazement. Mother and daughter smiled back at her, reflecting their joy at what she was doing. The three of them seemed to communicate telepathically, sharing their love and devotion.

Ruth swallowed hard and looked away. When she looked again, they were gone. For a long time, Ruth sat there in astonishment, trying to grasp what she had experienced. Whatever else Ruth might have been uncertain about, there was no question in her mind, but that she had been visited by her deceased mother and her daughter.

That’s when Ruth came to my office.

What did it all mean? Ruth was certain that her view of eternity had been assured.

Mary Eaton was truly and earth angel!

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MEET AGNES SANFORD—AGAIN!

BLOG 74 February 26, 2018 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.

I’m sharing again some of my experiences with one of the most gifted people I’ve ever known. You can find the original blogs on Agnes Sanford back in September, 2017. However, I’m repeating some encounters that I think have important value for today.

Many people came to 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 all of these people. Agnes had an answer.

Before she prayed, 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. However, she prayed about 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 Ted 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 her friend and house companion 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 started 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 supposed 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.

MEET AGNES SANFORD

BLOG 73 February 19, 2018 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.

Agnes Mary White Sanford came out of a world that no longer exists. 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.  She wrote her own story in Sealed Orders and didn’t want some anonymous person adjusting her story or taking apart her personal theology. Consequently, this chapter is not about Agnes Sanford per se, but my experience of and with her.

I not only knew Agnes, 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.

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 interaction with the heavenly Father and how 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.

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

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

“I wanted to inquire further 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 bakery roll 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. Her amazing relationship with nature plays a part in her healing work.

Next week, we’ll dig deeper.

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW

BLOG 72 February 12, 2018 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.

A number of years ago, I experienced a divine intervention that restored my health virtually overnight. At that time, I knew nothing about miracles, divine healing, or the work of the Holy Spirit. As I recovered, I set out to understand how I had experienced such an extraordinary recovery.

During my investigations of the work of the Holy Spirit, I realized that many of the concepts that involved healing could be taught just as churches taught evangelism or prayer. Not everyone got the ideas, but I observed many people recovering a ministry that they never conceived was possible. Eventually, I began traveling to congregations and teaching people how they might develop a healing ministry. Eventually, I taught in Taiwan and England.

On one of these trips I went to Holland, Michigan, a center of Old Dutch Calvinism that didn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit as a contemporary reality. I knew there would be a significant resistance to my subject matter, but I ploughed ahead. I began with a Friday night gathering and introduced the subject of healing. All through Saturday morning, I shared what I learned. As expected, the attendance was meager.

On Sunday, I held a healing service in a church that had never experienced such a thing. The attendance was even smaller, but I had expected resistance. As I always did, I invited anyone needing healing to come forward. A few people responded.

However, one couple stood out in my mind. A local university professor and his wife knelt at the front of the church and handed me a slip of paper describing the problem. He had pancreatic cancer. An incurable, deadly disease that usually takes a life within weeks or months at best.

I prayed as fervently as I knew how with the laying on of hands. Nothing spectacular happened, but I could feel what I believed was the Holy Spirit working through me. I finished, said “Amen,” and they returned to their pew. The service was over. Everyone went home and I flew away in a jet.

Six months later another professor from the same university was in my office working on an architectural project. We poured over the illustrations that he had brought in with him.

Finally, he straightened and asked if I remembered praying for the young man with pancreatic cancer. I knew what he would probably say. I was wrong.

“I saw him yesterday. He told me to tell you that the cancer is gone now. It just disappeared. He was healed.

Even though I came believing, I was still astonished. You just never know. 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Two

BLOG 71 February 5, 2018 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.

The ideas in this blog were first posted last summer, but the amazing event remains touching and are good for a second look.  During their work with the Vineyard Ministry, significant gifts from the Holy Spirit came forth for Mike and Beth. Prophetic insight helped to propel significant spiritual 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, a blind elderly woman was led forward for prayer assisted by two young people. A group of ministers assembled around Mike and all of them began to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to restore her sight.

As he interceded, 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.

Yo veo!” the woman sobbed. “Yo veo?”

“I think 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 teaching of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 rang in Mike’s ears. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel … and the recovery of sight to the blind.” In the same way a gift of healing had become part of Mike’s ministry.

The divine interventions and miracles have continued through the years for Mike and Beth as they reach out to the needs of others.

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 to hard-nosed secularists. The prevailing world view of the modern world insists 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 and Word 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 to have some insight into divine interruptions. Mike and Beth can teach us a number of things about the doors we often keep closed. They grew up with the door open.

Has the promise, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel … and the recovery of sight to the blind,” become out dated? Has the work of healing ministry stopped? Review some of these blogs and you’ll get the picture.

Miracles have never ceased!

MEET MIKE AND BETH

BLOG  70 January 29, 2018 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.

I have known Mike and Beth for 25 years. We have worked together, socialized, debated ideas, and watched their children grow up.  Much of what I report about their ministry comes from moments of personal observation. The Owens can share important insights with us. We’ll learn some new aspect of miraculous ministry.

Michael and Beth Owen are both ordained Christian Ministers and have been in full-time ministry for 34 years. Merging their highly divergent backgrounds led them through ministry in the Baptist Church, planting a Vineyard Fellowship, and finally becoming clergy in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. Along the way they discovered a ministry with divine interventions and miraculous encounters. How did such occur?

Mike’s family always stressed the importance of church and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Mike struggled with such a decision. After praying for direction about being baptized, eight-year-old Mike crawled into bed. To this day, he still labors to grasp what followed.

In the corner of the bedroom, an angel in a bright white and turquoise robe floated above the floor. Tall and larger than life, the angel stood there smiling at him. Illuminated in a glowing light, the angel conveyed personal assurance to Mike. While there was no verbal communication, the angel’s smile answered his prayers. Mike knew what he needed to do in church the next day.

Today Michael prays daily, “Dear Lord please release your Holy Angels to watch over and protect my family and me and all those we carry in our hearts.”

Beth’s first angelic encounter came when she was fifteen-years-old and her aunt Barbara was dying. The family had already felt the impact of the death of her mother’s brother as well as two sisters and now another sister stood at death’s door. After an urgent phone call, Beth and her mother rushed to the hospital. As they stepped out of the elevator door, the announcement of a “Code Red” rang down the hall. Attendants rushed passed them but they were too late.

As they were leaving the hospital, Beth and her mother were standing at the street corner when Beth looked up. To her astonishment, she saw two massive white angels hovering above them. The angels stood on each side of Barbara.

Beth exclaimed, “Look, Mom! They’ve come to take Barbara home!”

Taller than the city street light, Beth could see the massive size of their bodies, legs, and feet as they ascended vertical upward. As they disappeared out of sight, Beth knew her understanding of God’s loving care was forever changed. The comfort of an all comprehensive peace settled over them.

These early experiences caused Michael and Beth to anticipate divine interventions in their ministries. Their ministries have encompassed a number of miraculous events.

Stay tuned. More to come next week.