Tag Archives: Healing

South Sudan Mission Recap

The team all met up from different parts of the country at the Washington D.C. airport and made our way to Nairobi, Kenya via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We spent one night in Nairobi, then headed for the small airport which would fly us to the northern town of Lokichoggio, from which we would drive into South Sudan. This morning we were met by our Ugandan team members, Saphan and Isaac, we made it to the Loki airport without issue, then waited for a few hours on our vehicles to pick us up there.

The rain had hit throughout the night, so the roads were bad. It took us about three hours of driving to make it to the South Sudan border about 45km away. We had a few issues getting stuck in the mud, but the major issue came when we reached the border and discovered the riverbed to be full of flowing rainwater. We sent our facilitator across the river to see if the immigration office would remain open for us a bit, and believing they would, we abandoned our vehicles and the team waded across the river. Our bags came behind us in the hands of some very helpful young guys, for a price of course.

Once across it was discovered that the immigration office was not going to be as helpful as we thought, and Heart of God Africa Director, Denise Matthews had a fight on her hands to get us accepted into the country that night. After our luggage was across and Denise had won her battle, we hired new cars to take us the last hour drive to Narus, South Sudan; our home for the week.

Throughout this first night and the next morning much of the team was very discouraged, as things did not seem to be coming together according to plans and expectations. But through an intimate and powerful time of prayer, everyone’s spirit was rejuvenated and ready to reach the Taposa people with the Gospel of Christ.

Believing that the book of Joshua was setting the theme for the trip as we travelled into the unknown, and having very little idea what we were getting ourselves into – pioneer missions at it’s finest – we decided the first day we should send only a small group of people out of the compound to ‘spy out the land’.

When those of us who went to spy returned, it was only with strong confirmation that God was at work. The team greeted many of the Taposa who we had been told do not greet visitors well, and especially do not like their photos taken, yet we were greeted with smiles and waves, allowed to take many photos of and with the warriors, and one lady even threw down her pile of firewood to invite us for a drink of water. As we entered a small hut, we instead told her about the living water and she, along with a couple of other women, gave their lives to Christ.

The next day, the whole team ventured out into the village with the same results. We were greeted very warmly, as we went around telling anyone we met about the love of Christ and praying for blessings on them.

The third day we decided it would be good for us to visit the homes of the 15 members of the church, pastored by Joseph, our trip facilitator. Joseph is a Ugandan missionary to South Sudan, trained by Youth Ablaze, and has been in the country now for around a year, I believe.

As we walked past the tree under which the church meets, there was a blind man sitting in the shade. The team prayed for the man who said he could only see shadows passing him, but nothing more, and as we prayed he began to be able to see distinct shapes and colors, identifying skin color of team members and saying he could see the color of the dirt and leaves of the trees. Though there was not a complete healing in our time with him, the report came later from one of Joseph’s assistant pastors that the man was up and walking by himself around the village. The team also prayed for blessings on the homes of most of the church members, and prayed particularly for many women to be able to bear children. We are believing that next year we will see many toddlers around, confirming that God heard our prayers.

On Saturday we drove a little over an hour to another, much smaller village, called Korjip. The village elders had heard that our team was in Narus and that God was moving among us, and inviting us to come, had already determined amongst themselves to donate land for us to build a church on, as well as any other project the Lord leads us into.

We sat in a circle under a shade tree and exchanged formalities with about 40-45 people there, then I was given the opportunity to preach the Gospel. I began by asking the people, “when I say the name Jesus Christ, how many of you have heard of Him and know what I am talking about?” Out of the whole crowd, only one person raised their hand. Relating the message as best as I could in a way they would understand, there were obviously a few who walked away not wanting to hear what I was saying, but by the end of the message, between 30-35 of them accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I also told them that God was not just a God of words, but also of power, and told them how we had already seen God improve the sight of a blind man and prayed for barren women, and that we would like to pray for them as well.

The men moved to one side to pray for men and the women stayed under the tree, as it is offensive in their culture for women to touch or pray for the men. The very first man who had greeted us in the village, an elderly warrior who had walked in with use of a walking stick, was the first to come up for prayer. He told us that his knees were bad and that he wanted us to ask His new Savior to heal him. I and another team member, Paul, placed our hands on the old man’s knees and prayed. When we had finished praying I asked him, hoping-ly, to test it out. He said there was no improvement. As little discouraged at what I had got us into, I told him we should pray again (see Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus prayed twice for a healing). We put our hands back on his knees and began to pray, begging God to prove Himself with power, that these people would know we weren’t just coming with some new teaching. After a few minutes, I asked the man to try walking again. He took two steps, took of running, the leaped high in the air; completely free of knee pain. I may have been even more excited than this man was, and now we were rolling.

The next man came up with the same exact problem, and he was healed the same exact way. Prayed once, and nothing; prayed again, running and jumping.

There were so many that we all split up and I ended up praying mostly with just an interpreter  at my side. We prayed for a third man with excruciating pain in his side and lower back. Once we had prayed he was able to bend and move pain-free. Another old warrior with bad knees was in line behind this man. I prayed for him once and asked him to test it. Out of excitement at seeing his friends leaping around, he followed suit, and took of running and jumping. The problem was that he hadn’t been healed. He came limping back toward us barely able to walk, causing Denise, upon seeing his limp, to tell another lady that if this man walked out healed, she’d kiss the tree. Well…

While we were still praying for people, the village Chief arrived from a meeting he had been attending, and so we regrouped under the tree. He made a formal presentation giving us the land and asking us for help with water. As you know, we have been fundraising to drill a water well in relation to this trip, and Denise told him yes, and that we would be sending someone to test the water before we drill.

The team returned home overjoyed with what God was doing in us.

On Sunday we attended Joseph’s church under the tree. There were many new faces in attendance, and a small handful of them received Christ as their Savior in this service, after hearing the Gospel of Hope and the testimony of our team.

Then in the evening we met the church members in the central marketplace for an open-air outreach meeting. We sang and danced. Most of the team members shared their personal testimonies with all who gathered to listen, then I was again given the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. Although we could not get a formal count, in looking around I saw a group of around 30 people praying to receive Christ. It was an awesome day for the Kingdom of God.

On Monday the team again divided, some staying at the compound to pray, while others went to visit the two small hospitals in Narus. We were shown the conditions people are treated in and told of the needs they have, and had the opportunity to pray for all the patients there that day: 4-6 suspected cases of measles, one epileptic boy, one girl with malaria, and a man badly damaged in a motorcycle accident. We also prayed with the hospital staff for God’s provision and blessing on their work.

On Tuesday, our last full day in Narus, we went into the local prison – something, as we were told, that no other missionary group has ever done for them. We were met by every police officer and security guard on the force, in full uniform, and the 14 prisoners currently residing there. There were cases of theft, adultery, and one murder in the crowd. Saphan, the Heart of God Africa Prison Ministry Director from Uganda, preached the Gospel to these 13 men and 1 woman, and all of them accepted Jesus as Savior. I then had the opportunity to share my testimony of how God changed my life, and Isaac shared a word of encouragement to them on the power of God now at work in them.

The prison director confessed to us the difficulty of his job in being honest and kind while trying to rehabilitate the prisoners, and the temptation to beat or even kill some of them. I laid my hand on his shoulder (apparently something you should not do when praying for someone in uniform, but love covers a multitude of sins) and I prayed for him and all the police standing around us. As we left, many of them took a group picture with our team, though I do not have a copy at this time.

Sadly, the next day our time in South Sudan was over. We prayed one last time as a team, then loaded the cars. After a short stop in the local Commissioner’s office to tell them goodbye and pray for them, we made our way back to the Kenyan border, and on to Lokichoggio where we would spend some time in a nice little hotel to debrief as a team before the long flight home.

I can honestly say that I am overjoyed by the fruit born on this trip and am hopeful for the future there through Joseph and his church. I cannot wait to return and see how things have progressed, and how all the people saved – roughly 100 for the week – have held to the new truth they have been shown and carried it forward.

This was only our first push into the 10-40 Window, but as God continues to open doors to the unreached, we will be there to step through them. If you would like to support my evangelistic works through Heart of God, like this one and others, you can click the ‘Donate’ tab, or you can learn more about Heart of God and how you can get involved through any of our various ministries at http:www.heartofgodinternational.org.


Life in the Book of Acts – Part 3

For the last couple of weeks I have been sharing my observations of characteristics and experiences had by the Christians in the book of Acts. If you have missed them, be sure to read part 1 and part 2. And then today, to close it out, here is the final section of the book of Acts, covering chapters 21-28.

The Christians:

  • sought out other disciples while visiting new towns — 21:4,7
  • prayed together, for one another — 21:5
  • prophesied, even women — 21:9
  • were warned of danger in advance by the Holy Spirit — 21:4, 10-11
  • were ready to die for the name of Christ — 21:13
  • shared testimonies and rejoiced in stories of salvation — 21:19-20
  • took on religious vows — 21:23-26
  • caused city-wide uprisings — 21:30-36
  • used personal testimony to share the gospel — 22:1-21, 26:4-29
  • saw their testimonies rejected as false — 22:18, 22
  • were appointed by God for Christian life and ministry — 22:14-15
  • fell into trances in the Spirit — 22:17
  • utilized privileges of earthly citizenships — 22:24-29
  • were visited by Christ, post-ascension — 23:11
  • were plotted against to be murdered — 23:12-14
  • took “pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” — 24:16
  • had the ear of government leaders without exploiting it — 24:22-27
  • professed the resurrection publicly, even in court — 25:19, 26:6-8
  • were found guiltless by governing judges — 25:6, 26:31-32
  • heard the voice of Jesus – 26:14-18
  • believed the Gospel fulfilled Old Testament prophecies — 26:22-23, 28:23-24
  • made life-altering decisions that could have been viewed as mistakes if it wasn’t for God’s directing them — 26:32 in light of 23:11
  • had divine insights — 27:10-11, 31-32
  • still faced the same difficulties through life as unbelievers did — 27:13-20
  • delivered good news through divine insights — 27:22
  • were visited by angels — 27:23-24
  • were protected from physical danger by non-believers — 27:42-43
  • defied pagan superstitions — 28:4-6
  • healed non-believers — 28:8-9
  • used persecution and imprisonment testimonies to share the gospel — 28:17-22
  • welcomed all visitors, even in the midst of trials — 28:30
  • proclaimed the Kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness — 28:31

So, after reading through these three posts on life in the book of Acts, what stands out to you the most? Has anything been especially encouraging or caused you to open the Bible and see for yourself? Have I missed anything you think should be added to the list? And maybe, if there is there anything in particular that causes you to want pursue God in a deeper walk with Him or seek for a more spiritually empowered life, be sure to share those things in the comments.

Life in the Book of Acts – Part 2

Last week we began looking through the book of Acts at the characteristics that marked believers and the things they experienced as they followed the Holy Spirit in this new life, then known as “The Way.”

As I have continued in this study in my personal time, it became clear to me that two posts would not be enough to contain it all, so this week we will look at Acts 15-20, and will close out the book next week starting with Paul’s return to Jerusalem, his arrest and the journey to a Roman prison.

As I said last week, not all the things I mention here applied to all believers, and some were not repeated again in scripture. Yet it is still helpful to us to know how our God has moved among His church in the past because though times change, He remains the same.

In Acts 15-20, the Christians:

  • Were still seduced by the law — 15:1
  • Did not always agree on the application of some scriptures — 15:2,5
  • Took joy in the salvation testimony of others — 15:3
  • Submitted to apostolic authority — 15:6-11, 19-21
  • Refused to put heavy burdens on new believers/non-Jewish believers — 15:10-11
  • Believed in salvation by Grace alone — 15:11; 18:27
  • Submitted to scriptural authority — 15:15-18
  • Encouraged one another through human means (writing letters) — 15:31
  • Encouraged one another through supernatural means (prophecy) — 15:32
  • Saw ministries split over personal preferences — 15:39
  • Acted contrary to personal liberties for the sake of other’s consciences — 16:3
  • Were sometimes forbidden by God to share to gospel — 16:6-7
  • Received instruction through visions — 16:9-10; 18:9-10
  • Were committed to prayer — 16:13
  • Observed Sabbath rest — 16:13
  • Baptized new converts with water in Jesus’ name — 16:14-15; 19:5
  • Showed great hospitality — 16:15
  • Were followed around by the demonic — 16:16-18
  • Cast out demons — 16:18
  • Upset human economics — 16:18-20
  • Upset local governments — 16:20-22; 17:6-8
  • Were arrested, beaten, and jailed — 16:22-24
  • Worshipped through their trials — 16:25
  • Utilized the privileges they had in earthly citizenships — 16:36-39
  • Upset the Jewish religious leaders, and were followed around and opposed by them — 17:5,13; 18:12-13; 20;19
  • Did not always face controversy head-on — 17:10; 19:30-31
  • Proclaimed the Gospel from the Old Testament — 17:11-12; 18:5, 28
  • Were provoked to action by viewing the idolatry of others — 17:16-21
  • Utilized local culture (art, poetry, folklore) to proclaim truth — 17:23,28
  • Worked to provide for the continuation of the ministry — 18:3-4
  • Were “occupied with the Word” — 18:5
  • Did not take rejection of the Gospel personally — 18:6
  • Were encouraged by God to press on in the mission — 18:9-11
  • Took on religious vows — 18:18
  • Proclaimed the Gospel in established religious arenas — 17:1-2, 10, 19; 18:19; 19;8
  • Strengthened one another as disciples — 18:23
  • Received baptism in the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands — 19:2-6
  • Preached the Kingdom of God boldly — 19:8
  • Were spoken evil of by non-believers — 19:9
  • Spread the Gospel across Asia — 19:10
  • Performed miracles — 19:11
  • Healed and delivered people from demons through inanimate objects that had only touched the believer — 19:12
  • Were mimicked in attempts at power by non-believers — 19:13
  • Were known by name in the demonic realm (for the threat they posed) — 19:15
  • Confessed their false spirituality (witchcraft) and burned the remnants of it — 19:18-19
  • Turned people from handmade idols — 19:26
  • Threatened national idolatry — 19:27
  • Caused riots in whole cities — 19:28-41
  • Preached long sermons (too long?) — 20:7,9
  • Raised the dead — 20:9-10
  • “Served the Lord with humility and with tears” — 20:19
  • Taught the Gospel publicly — 20:20
  • Taught the Gospel in homes — 20:20
  • Expected affliction — 20:23
  • Declared the whole counsel of God — 20:27
  • Expected wolves to come from within the flock — 20:29-30
  • Tried to live like Jesus — 20:35
  • Prayed together for one another — 20:36

(Click here for Part 3)

Life in the Book of Acts – Part 1

Lately I have been spending a lot of time in the book of Acts, just making observations in my journal of the characteristics that marked believers and the things they experienced as they followed the Holy Spirit in this new life.

In this post I share my findings from the first half of the book of Acts. Not all the things I mention here applied to all believers, and some were not repeated again in scripture. Nevertheless, these things are recorded as part of our “family” history. This is the start of the story of the church.

As I share these characteristics this week and next week, I hope you are encouraged to trust more in Christ, to strive for a bolder obedience, and that your faith will increase to see Him move mightily. (Also, if in your own study of Acts, you find anything that I missed, please share it in the comments.)

Here we go.

In Acts 1-14, the Christians:

  • wait on God’s promises, especially for the baptism of the Holy Spirit — 1:4
  • receive power from the Holy Spirit in order to be Christ’s witnesses — 1:8
  • spread the Gospel beyond cultural and national boundaries — 1:8; 11:16-17, 19-21; 12:24; 13:4 to end of Acts
  • are unified together — 1:14; 4:32
  • are devoted to prayer — 1:14; 2:42
  • are filled with the Holy Spirit, both Jewish and gentile converts — 2:4; 10:44-45; 11:16-17
  • are given the ability by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues — 2:4; 10:46
  • are given the ability to prophesy, dream dreams, and receive visions by the Holy Spirit — 2:17-18; 11:27-28; 13:1-2
  • come under conviction that leads to repentance — 2:37-38
  • sit under spiritual authority (apostles and church elders) — 2:42; 14:23
  • are devoted to fellowship (church community) — 2:42
  • take the Lord’s Supper together regularly — 2:42
  • are in awe of God — 2:43
  • share all their possessions to the point that no one lacks anything — 2:44-45; 4:32-37
  • healed the sick and performed miracles in the name of Jesus (this includes both apostles and non-apostles) — 3:6,16; 4:10, 30; 6:8; 14:8-10
  • were refreshed by the presence of the Lord — 3:20
  • kept getting into trouble with the Jewish religious leaders — 4:1-3
  • feared God more than men — 4:19-20; 5:21, 29; 13:51-52
  • sought God for boldness and received it — 4:29,31
  • continued to be tempted toward sin — 5:1-3
  • still struggled with fear of men — 5:13
  • healed people simply by walking by them — 5:15-16
  • were protected and delivered by angels for God’s mission – 5:19; 12:6-11
  • caused problems for the Jewish religious leaders — 5:26
  • “filled Jerusalem with their teaching” — 5:28
  • rejoiced in suffering and persecution — 5:41-42
  • were continually making more disciples — 6:1; 14:21
  • saw Jewish religious leaders converted — 6:7
  • did not separate the Old Testament from the gospel — 7:1-53
  • were persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and killed for their faith — 8:1-3; 12:1-5; 13:50; 14:5-6, 19
  • used signs and wonders to confirm the Gospel message — 8:6; 13:12; 14:3
  • received instructions from angels — 8:26
  • received instructions from the Holy Spirit — 8:29
  • were physically “transported” from location to location by the spirit — 8:39-40
  • were known by their way of life; called people of “the way” — 9:2
  • were saved through visions of Christ — 9:5-6
  • were led through visions to lead others to Christ — 9:10-12
  • were obedient to the Lord and it was met with the miraculous — 9:10-19
  • enlightened the religiously educated by their faith in Christ — 9:22
  • were reconciled with their enemies — 9:26-28
  • used miraculous means for evangelism — 9:32-35
  • were “full of good works and charity” — 9:36; 11:29-30
  • received faith through prayer then commanded reality to follow — 9:40
  • raised the dead back to life — 9:40
  • were set up with divine appointments for evangelism by the Holy Spirit (even to the point that the lost were seeking out the Christians) — 10:1-48
  • went into trances led by the Holy Spirit — 10:10
  • saw ‘truth in action’ through visions from God — 10:10-17, 28
  • received visions that were very specific; not vague (even to the point that in some instances they confused reality for visions) — 10:30-33; (12:9)
  • always shared a “Jesus-as-the-Jewish-Messiah” apologetic — 10:34-43; 13:13-41
  • followed salvation with water baptism — 10:47-48
  • were criticized by those believers still bound to the law — 11:1-3
  • were unified through revelations of the Holy Spirit — 11:1-18
  • began to be called Christians at Antioch — 11:26
  • received miraculous answers to prayer –12:5, 12-17
  • upset the government by following God’s directions — 12:18-19
  • saw God curse and/or kill those who were against Him — 5:1-10; 12:20-23; 13:11
  • sought God through fasting alongside prayer — 13:3; 14:23
  • rebuked those who stood in the way of the Gospel — 13:9
  • were confused with gods because of God’s power in them — 14:11-13
  • refused to receive for themselves the glory due to God alone — 14:14-18
  • were followed from place to place by those antagonistic to the Gospel — 14:19

(Click here for Part 2)

The Tangible Kingdom

As I have been slowly working through the book of Matthew in my devotion time, there are certain themes that seem to recur again and again in the ministry of Jesus and the disciples – things like “the Kingdom of Heaven,” the testimony of things  seen, and the idea of bearing fruit.

Very early on, in Matthew 4:14, after he had been tempted in the wilderness, the scriptures tell us that “from that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Now, this message sounds very familiar to the message preached by John the Baptist, except that in Jesus’ preaching ministry, the Kingdom of Heaven was never preached as a concept but as something tangible. It was demonstrated to the people through acts of divine mercy such as healings and deliverance from the demonic.

In fact, after John the Baptist had been arrested, he was hearing what was going on with Jesus and decided to find out about this man for himself:

“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.’” (Matthew 11:1-6)

John is sincerely asking the question, “Are you the coming Messiah” and Jesus response is, “What do you see me doing?”

Now, I am adamant that Christians must know and love the scriptures as the foundation for life and ministry, but my sincere fear is that too many Christians believe that preaching the Bible is the only validation needed for a ministry to be fruitful, and that when preaching from the Bible, people, including non-believers, should simply take them at their word that their teaching has authority.

While I agree that the Bible has authority and that our ministry will be held accountable to the scriptures, what we see is that Jesus didn’t send John a message highlighting all of the Old Testament passages that validated Him. Instead, His answer was to point to His many, on-earth manifestations of the Kingdom of God as His apologetic.

He even later tells his disciples, “ blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17). The thing that the prophets of old longed to see and hear was the proclamation and the signs that the Kingdom of God had come to earth.

Jesus’ entire ministry on earth was filled with example after example of this message: “the Kingdom of God is in your midst,” and then he showed them this reality in the restoration of lives, both body and soul.

And it didn’t stop with Jesus!

Jesus’ teachings to the disciples through the parables in Matthew many times consisted of analogies in which the Kingdom of God is like a tree or plant that once it has matured will be judged by the fruit it bore. Wheat is separated from the weeds by bearing good seed (Matt. 13:24-30). A good tree will always bear good fruit, and a Child of the Kingdom will bring forth Kingdom fruit (Matt 12:35).

If the Kingdom of God has come to a person through faith in Christ, then they will begin to bear fruit demonstrating that they are no longer on the same playing field  as the world.

This is why when Jesus taught the discipels how to pray, the first request made was, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Jesus was telling His disciples that to have a heart like His, their desires must be to see the reality of God’s Kingdom manifested in the world, so that the world “may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

This became practical when Jesus “called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matthew 10:1). And they did!

And it didn’t stop with the Apostles!

The Bible tells us that this same authority is carried by all believers if we will only have the faith to see God’s Kingdom come. Jesus said so Himself:

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18 ESV)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14 ESV)

I know that many people, including many who read my blog, fall into a cessationist category that believes these gifts were only for the Apostles to perform to testify to the validity of their ministry as Christianity was being birthed. However, in the world today there are too many people who still doubt our God, and His goal is still to capture their hearts.

Scripture continually testifies that the same ministry passed to the apostles has been passed to us today, and that the Holy Spirit is here to empower us to accomplish the work.

As those sent on mission with Him to reach the lost and dying world, I believe all of us need to really consider our Kingdom theology. Do we believe that is is just a concept to be embraced in our heads, or is the Kingdom something we really do believe can become tangible “on earth as it is in heaven?”

At the bare minimum, it does no harm to believe God still does the miraculous and touches people with the reality of His Kingdom today, just like He did in the book of Acts. So then, why don’t we pray for that? And just imagine for a moment the revival that might happen around us if and when He does?

The guarantee that we have is this: “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matthew 24:14). I don’t know about you, but I want to have a part in that.

Lord, do it again! Amen.