God has asked only a few things of those of us that profess to be Christians. First, and most importantly, that we would go and tell the world about His Son, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice that He made for all of humanity. In exchange, He would give us freedom here on earth and life eternal with Him in Heaven.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says to His disciples (us) "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Second, in Matthew 10:8, Jesus commanded us to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."
Those words weren't just meant for the disciples of Jesus' time- they were meant for all of us today who profess to love and follow God.
On my recent mission trip to Colombia, I had to question whether I am really living the life that God intended for me. I'm an introverted soul and I pray for people- but ministering to dozens of people daily in Medellin, I couldn't help but feel like this was more like what my life is supposed to look like on a regular basis.
That is- praying, healing and loving the homeless and drug addicts; praying over neighborhoods; laying hands and praying for more than just two sick people in church every other Sunday afternoon, and visiting poor children in orphanages and elsewhere. As worldwide evangelist Will Hart once said, "Your ministry (Christians) in not in the church. It's to that guy under the bridge who needs a sandwich." Amen!
I've spent most of the last decade unwell, until recently, but I still have some physical challenges, so this trip was not easy for me. I slept 4-6 hours a night, and participated in activities day and night, for 10 days.
I wasn't sure I could do it, but I'm glad I did, and not just because God gave me a reality check about what it means to serve Him. He also showed me how mighty, powerful and willing He is to save and heal people by His supernatural hand.
He used me and my team members to heal many, many hundreds of people of physical and emotional problems. Many others experienced the love of Jesus, and decided to make Him Lord and Savior over their lives.
In fact, nearly everyone I prayed for who had physical pain of some kind - in the four churches we visited, as well as on the street, were completely healed of their pain. I'm talking dozens of people, and many of the 35 others on my team also saw God move in a similar way. It's amazing what God can do through those of us who are willing!.
Many others I prayed for experienced a powerful touch from the Lord, as evidenced by tears, laughing, words of gratitude or being overcome by the Spirit of God.
I prayed for many dozens of people with cancer, thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal problems, back pain, depression, spiritual oppression, and relationship problems, and I believe God healed and set many of these people free, as well. Many felt heat or tingling or electricity in the areas of their bodies where they had pain, or were literally knocked over by the Spirit of God. Complete healings from disease don't always occur just because someone feels a sensation in their body- but often, they do!
Much of our ministry time was in different churches- a large church of 8,000, where we ministered over people for several days- as well as in small churches of just 50 people. We also drove long distances to visit a few churches in small towns- some an hour and a half away from Medellin.
My favorite time of ministry, however, was when we ministered to the homeless, drug addicts, and alcoholics in a plaza in downtown Medellin that is known for being dangerous and a hangout for the "down and outs."
People sometimes fear going to this place but since we knew the presence of God was with us, we felt we were protected. One woman who ministers there on a regular basis told us stories of drug dealers that she would minister to, who would fall to their knees under the power of God and get delivered from their addictions, even when they had no intention of giving their lives to the Lord.
She also told us that some would go into churches with the intention of killing the pastors- only to be literally knocked to the ground by the Spirit of God. This woman, who has been involved in building several churches in the Amazon, has seen guerrilla fighters and the narcotraficantes (drug traffickers) be overcome by the love of God, time and again.
Perhaps the most memorable event in the plaza was when a witch got touched powerfully by God! I think my trip to Medellin would have been worth it for this event alone. This man was seated on a bench in the plaza, and according to a couple of local team members, was apparently cursing us. He was looking right at me, actually, and muttering things from afar. So in an act of boldness, I decided to approach him and ask him if he knew God.
He said No, and that he didn't believe in God. He basically blew me off and said he had done terrible things, and that he didn't care about God or eternity or much of anything. After about 15-20 minutes of conversation, I was about to give up on him, since our bus had arrived to pick us up, and I felt the Holy Spirit asking me to get him to look me in the eyes.
So I said "Look at me" and he glanced at me briefly, but mostly avoided my gaze. So I kept asking him to look at me, while we talked. Several of my team members were standing around us and praying quietly during this time. Finally, our team leader asked me to ask him one more time if he wanted prayer.
He reluctantly conceded and as he and I and our team leader laid hands on his head, the power of God hit him and he started to cry, then the Spirit knocked him over right there in the plaza. I was amazed!
I didn't have a chance to talk to him after that, since we had to leave, but I got on the bus and looked out the window, and saw the man waving at me with a smile and tears rolling down his face. I have no idea whether he will give his life to Jesus, but the experience showed me how powerful God is to touch even a witch's heart. And it had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with God in me.
Speaking of witchcraft....our team spent some time ministering in a
neighborhood where really awful things used to happen- things I don't want to even mention here.
So four of my team members, along with five Colombians from a local ministry, did a prayer walk one night through this dangerous area. The leader, Guillermo, a powerful warrior for God who has spent the past 9 years tearing down territorial spirits and principalities through prayer, and who claims to actually see demons and angels- instructed us on how to pray.
It was a bit intimidating, because before we set out, he said, "This is serious ministry. You must pay attention to the Holy Spirit as we walk this neighborhood. Don't analyze- just obey. There is no time to think, just listen to the Spirit and pray as He leads." And apparently a huge angel with a sword was walking with us. Whoa!
He told us that because of his prayers and those of others in the local ministry, the bad activities have stopped and witch's covens have been torn down- and a children's foundation has been established in the area- for children of the prostitutes, poor and drug addicts.
At the foundation, over 180 children are given a meal daily and taught about the love of Jesus Christ. The neighborhood is changing because of the local ministry, which is actually run by two Americans who came to Colombia 3 years ago to serve God.
Guillermo told us that many people in the church don't want to do the prayer walks through the dangerous neighborhoods, because they fear the evil that is there. But he said, "If they only knew the power of the Holy Spirit that is in them, they would not be afraid." God has given us all authority over evil! He then shared stories of how God had changed other neighborhoods in Medellin due to his intercession and that of others.
The prayer walk really impacted me because it gave me a greater revelation about the truth that the battle that we fight is not in the flesh or the natural realm, but in the spirit. Ephesians 6:12 says- "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
But even more, it showed me how powerful our words and prayers are- and how much God will use us to heal people, cities, states and nations- if we are willing!
My hope and prayer is to do more of what I did in Medellin in my hometown in Colorado and in Dallas, where I spend a lot of time- in short, to do the works that Jesus did, as He commanded. The spirit world is real, and higher than the natural world. And by living in the Spirit, and with a little persistence and prayer- and by not giving up- we can overcome sickness, sin, addiction, soul wounds, and other problems of the flesh and the natural world.