I had an exceptional time of ministry in Chile, thanks to all who partnered with me by collaborating with God in prayer to bring about what HE wanted to do with the Vineyard youth leaders, pastors and churches.
There were about 75 youth leaders and 12 pastors from 18 Vineyard churches in Chile. We met for 5 days (Tuesday to Saturday) in a Catholic retreat center 200 kms South of Santiago in the foothills of the Andes mountains. A remote setting with beautiful walks in the forests and crystal clear rivers. I had three sessions per day: two for teaching and one for questions and answers (Q&A), each 50 to 60 minutes long. What pure joy to teach such open, keen, sharp and enthusiastic young adults – an impressive group of leaders filled with God – the future of the Chilean Vineyard in really good hands! In all my years of ministry travels I have seldom come across such a sense of God’s presence, such promise, hunger for God, desire to learn and grow, where God is so evidently at work in such depth.
I was asked to teach 10 sessions on the Biblical Story and Kingdom Theology. A detailed systematic exposition of the Kingdom of God had not been done with the Chilean Vineyard leadership in this manner, and I was honored to do it! The Q&A times showed they understood everything I was teaching, and more. Their questions probed many aspects of Jesus and the Kingdom. They also watched 2 DVD sessions per day of John Wimber teaching “Power Evangelism” – a privilege for me to share a conference with John – even if it was ‘Electronic Wimber’!
The worship times, all in Spanish, were simply heavenly. I had little or no clue what I was singing, but most of the time I was overwhelmed with tears at the sheer sense of God’s presence, passion, intimacy and joy. The ministry times were equally remarkable. They went on for at least an hour at a time. Whenever I said, “Come Holy Spirit…” and watched and waited to see what God was doing, things began to happen. There is an extraordinary openness and responsiveness to God. The emotional freedom and expressiveness – perhaps part of the Latino culture? – made for a glorious mess! Some simply stood, faces shining with light. Some cried and shook, while others were coughing up ‘stuff’ (spiritual powers?) that came out of them. A few young women ended up on the floor wailing and screaming as God pulled out the deeply rooted pain of rejection and abuse.
Men also responded to the Spirit and freely expressed what was happening to them. One tall young man was standing up against a wall with eyes closed and hands and face raised to heaven. I saw the Spirit of God all over him. Then I said, “Juan, God is your real father. God is a father to you as your own father was unable to be.” He began to cry. Then bent over sobbing. I said, “God is saying to you, ‘my son, my son, my son, I love you my son’…” Then he collapsed on the floor and wept and wept. His close friends ministered to him for a long time.
It’s pure heaven to see God on people in different ways, working his own good work – largely is a mystery hidden from our own eyes and understanding, more so when you don’t know the language! I’m learning to let GOD be God, and trust him for HIS compassionate work. God is more willing to touch people and do his work through us than we are willing to take the risk of saying, “Come Holy Spirit…” Whether I feel inspired or feel nothing at all (which often is the case), I simply bless what God is doing, not knowing what he’s doing! I’m learning to relax into God and follow the faintest promptings, trusting that any movement in my thoughts, or emotions, or body, is the Holy Spirit. Then as I take the risk of speaking it over the person in faith, I see things begin to happen. What an awesome privilege to work with God and his power in our human weakness!
I preached in San Miguel Vineyard in Santiago on the Sunday morning. God gave me a specific word for them from Psalm 133: Maintain the unity of the Spirit through right relationships with God and each other. Where there is relational unity God anoints with his Spirit and commands a blessing! Where there is unresolved disunity, the devil is at work, a curse! We had a great time of ministry, with good feedback as to it being the very word from God that they needed. Then a Kingdom feast followed with all their leaders, with Chilean meat and wine and all sorts of tasty food, from 12:30-18:30 – with an intense question and answer session on Jesus and his Kingdom for the entire time! I understood Jesus feasting with people and sharing stories and teachings of the Kingdom!
At 18:30 my host said, “It’s time to take Alexander across town to preach at Agape Vineyard!” The people had been worshipping since 18:30 and as I walked in at 19:10, the pastor called me up to preach!! Again, in all my tiredness and over-eating, the power of God broke out as I taught on The Love of the Father. When our buffers and restraints are down it seems God can work more freely with less interference from us! The ministry time was particularly powerful – people didn’t want to leave the building – we only got out after 23:00! One last story: I went to a young woman who was bent over a chair. Whenever I touched her she moved and moaned with pain, as if things moved under her skin. We got her laid on the floor and then I laid both my hands on her back. There was an immediate strong reaction of body convulsion, coughing and vomiting. It went on for some time till full release and rest came over her. Eventually, in debriefing with her, a interpreter-friend told me she had sensations of burning heat and power wherever I touched her body. Yet subjectively, I felt no feelings or sensations of power. I simply followed Jesus in rebuking whatever was binding her. She had a history of chronic bodily sickness and depression. She said that she didn’t know what had happened, but she felt as if her body had been renovated and set free!
Thank you Jesus, and thanks to all who pray for me when I go on ministry trips!