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The guy to the right is my friend Botros. He had been living a tough life, involved in much sh*t, but somehow he finally became drawn to the Church. One Sunday he was in the Pentecostal Church of Uppsala, but he hadn’t yet decided to follow Jesus.
Suddenly he saw a vision. The people on the platform at the front faded away and there was instead the cross of Jesus. Botros could see the Savior himself, nailed and tortured, and needless to say he was quite surprised. “I saw it as clearly as I see you now,” he told me.
While he stared at the cross, Jesus lifted his head, looked straight into the eyes of Botros and then a voice said: “For you, Botros’. Then the vision disappeared.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was for our sake. He took our sin, our punishment and our darkness upon Himself and destroyed it. He killed death by dying, so that we may receive the eternal life we do not deserve by the death He did not deserve. The Bible says:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “- Romans 5:6-8
One of my favourite authors is Jack Deere, a charismatic evangelical, pastor and teacher, who has written an excellent refutal of cessationism called Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. In the book, he shares how he encountered Paul Cain for the first time and discovered how prophetic this man of God is in a dramatic way, at a meeting they were holding in Texas, 1988:
Paul had just finished giving a wonderful message and was beginning to pray for the people in the audience. There were about 250 people there that morning. He asked the diabetics to stand. As he started to pray for the diabetics, he looked at a gray-haired lady on his right. He stared at her for a moment, having never met her (or anyone else in the audience for that matter), and then he said,
“You do not have diabetes; you have low blood sugar. The Lord heals you of that low blood sugar, now. I see a vision of you sitting in a yellow chair. You are saying, ’If I could just make it until the morning. If I could just make it until the morning.’ Your allergies torment you so badly that sometimes they keep you awake all night. The Lord heals those allergies, now. That problem with the valve on your heart—it goes now in the name of Jesus. And so does that growth on your pancreas.”
By this time there was a strong sense of the fear of the Lord in the room. People had begun to weep openly as they saw the power of the Lord being displayed and the concern of the Lord for one of his children. Paul continued looking at the woman and then he said, “The Devil has scheduled you for a nervous break- down.” When he said this the man sitting beside her, who turned out to be her husband, began to weep. He knew that his wife was very close to a nervous breakdown. Paul said, “The Lord interrupts that plan now. You will not have the breakdown.”
And then, just as suddenly as Paul had begun to speak to the woman, he stopped and said, “I think that is all the wants me to do now.” Then he sat down on the front row.
I love to follow Daniel Kolenda’s Youtube Channel. Daniel is evangelist at Christ for all Nations, successor of Reinhard Bonnke and a passionate follower of Jesus. At the channel he publishes Bible studies, mission reports as well as wonderful testimonies of God’s miracles like these:
She was deaf in both ears for 17 years. She was rejected by family members and failed in school. She felt like a prisoner in solitary confinement and wanted to take her own life.
In January of 2014, Christ for all Nations visited Titi Bongo’s city of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Hundreds of thousands gathered that week to experience the Gospel. On the second night, as evangelist Daniel Kolenda was praying for the sick, Titi began to feel an intense burning in her ears and realized one of her ears could hear.
She to the platform to testify together with her brother. Her brother told the evangelist that although one ear had been healed, the other was still deaf and asked for more prayer. Evangelist Kolenda prayed for the ear twice. The first time, nothing happened, but the second time, he began to say the name of Jesus in her deaf ear in French, “Jésus, Jésus, Jésus” Suddenly she could understand and began to repeat the name, each time it became more clear and more powerful. He asked if she could hear now. She was smiling from ear to ear. She could hear, she could speak and she was praising the name of Jésus! (more…)
This week will be a sabbatical for me, where I won’t use any internet in order to rest and write on my book. To prevent you from being bored, dear blog readers, I want to share with you this very interesting lecture by Candy Gunther Brown, Professor of religion at Indiana University, on mecially verified healings. Enjoy!
The Bible describes how the early Christians were able to speak new existing languages when the Holy Spirit baptized them. There are reports of this happening in modern times as well.
J.W. Hutchins was baptised by the Holy Spirit at the Asuza Street revival in Los Angeles in 1906, and when she spoke in tongues a man who had been a missionary to Uganda exclaimed that she spoke the Luganda language. She also heard the external, audible voice of God telling her to go to Africa, so she became a missionary.
My pastor Hans Sundberg experienced something similar when he was evangelizing on the streets of Uppsala, Sweden, in the 70’s. He was debating with a man from Iran who believed in Bahá’í, when his friend Maria came and prayed for him silently. She prayed louder and louder, and Hans realized that she was praying in tongues. The Iranian man dropped his jaw and stared at Maria, understanding every word. She was speaking in Farsi about Jesus, although she didn’t know farsi.
In 2011, Hans was visiting Nepal to teach at a Bible school run by Touching Asia. During a prayer session before class, a man at the front spoke loudly in tongues. Afterwards, another student came to him and asked him some questions, and everyone became really excited. hans asked them what was going on, and they explained that there are over 20 languages in Nepal, and when the man had spoken in tongues he had been unknowingly prophesying to the other man in his own language, that wasn’t spoken by so many, about a coming revival to his village. (more…)
To be baptized with water is awesome, but to be baptized with fire is even awesomer. John the Baptist, who really knew baptism, said: “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Lk 3:16)
Who could this be? Spoiler alert: It’s Jesus. Before He levitated up to Heaven, He told His disciples:
Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:4-5, 8)
And this happened ten days later:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)
Why am I a Christian? I started to follow Jesus to be saved. Saved from what? Saved from death, destruction and suffering.
When I was fifteen, I had some very depressing thoughts about life and death. My worldview, which I shared with many of my friends, was that there was nothing after death, and that I along with all of humanity are inevitably heading for nonexistance, where it won’t be dark because we will not have eyes to see with and it will not be quiet since we will have no ears to hear with. We won’t even remember that we’ve ever lived, and in the end no one else will remember it either. Everything is pointless. It takes less than that to give you anxiety.
My Lutheran father brought me to church on April 2 2006, and I wasn’t too excited since I had been there before and literally thought that it was the most boring place on earth. But for the first time, I actually started to listen to what they were saying. The Apostles’ Creed said “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting”. Now, these were good news! I started to read the Gospels, learned that “gospel” really means good news and that it’s central message is that when we follow Jesus into the Kingdom of God, we get eternal life:
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:2)
Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death. (Jesus in John 8:51)
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, God will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7)
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:53-54)
I was thrilled, realizing this! Death will not be victorious, Jesus will be! If I believe in Him, I will be immortal. I drank deeply from the comforting words in the Bible that spoke about the eternal glorious life that Jesus promised His followers. (more…)
Biggest Christian news story of the week: The boy who came back from Heaven didn’t come back from Heaven. In fact, Alex Malarkey never left earth in the first place, he now says in a public letter:
I did not die. I did not go to heaven.
I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough.
Tyndle Publishing House stopped producing the book and deleted its facebook page and web page pretty immideately after Alex’ released his statement. All this created a lot of debate about the authencity of other books about supernatural experiences, particularly “heavenly tourism”. Once again, cessationist Christians join hand with atheists and skeptics in refuting all charismatic litterature, claiming that this shows that books like this are a fraud. And by books like this we’re obviously thinking about the other book about another boy who shares his visions of Heaven in Heaven is for Real, published the same year (2010) as The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. (more…)
One of my favourite Pentecostal saints of all times is Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), Indian activist, evangelist and holy roller. Over a hundred years before Malala she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and discriminated. Born in a Brahmite family in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study in an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hinduist texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial since she lacked a penis, but her father encouraged her as she learned more and more about society, religion and activism.
In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. There she was saved. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”
As she returned to her home country, she bought a piece of land outside Pune and started a Christian social community for young widows called Mukti, Sanskrit for Liberation. She also helped people who were orphaned, disabled or homeless, and when a famine hit India in 1896, Ramabai rescued over a thousand people and brought many if them to the Mukti mission.
In September 2003, pastor Francis Shongwe was beaten to death by a violent gang in Backdoor, South Africa. He was an usher at a youth conference, and as the gang beat and kicked him he suddenly saw his body below him, and he went to Heaven. There, he saw countless people and angels worshipping the Lord, and he was so happy. Francis comes from a very poor neighbourhood with a lot of social problems, but he realized that there would be no more hunger or need in Paradise.
Suddenly, he heard a voice, calling his name. He then woke up in the mortuary in a hospital in Nelspruit, and discovered that pastor Surprise Sithole had raised him from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit. As readers of this blog should know, this wasn’t the first time Surprise has raised a dead person.
Now, Francis actually cried and was very sad at first when he woke up, since he now was among all the troubles and poverty of the world again. However, he now realizes that because of his experience of Heaven, he preaches the Gospel about eternal life through Jesus Christ more powerfully than before.
When I visited South Africa last year, I interviewed Francis about his resurrection as you can see in the video above. I also talked to Surprise as well as several witnesses to how Francis was killed and then come back. Francis has been featured in the documentary Finger of God, and his testimony has been shared by Heidi Baker and others. I’m very grateful that I got the chance to meet him. Praise God for His resurrection!
Heidi Baker is one of the countless ones who have seen Jesus. It’s the most beautiful and holy of prophetic visions, and since we should eagerly desire the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14:1), we should all pray that we see Jesus in this life. All who believe will see Him face to face in Heaven, but it is not impossible to see Him even if this life. In fact, I myself have seen Him.
As I told you in my last blog post, I started to doubt quite quickly after I became a believer. One evening, I kneeled down in my room, praying that I would see God, that He would show Himself to me. I haven’t read the Old Testament warnings that seeing the Lord will result in sudden death (Ex 19:21), so I prayed passionately about this for over 20 minutes. And the great thing with Jesus is that He made it possible to see God, since He is God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”, He said (John 14:9). And because of His resurrection to eternal life, it is possible for anyone to see Him just like Ananias or John did (Acts 9, Rev 1).
So next day in school, I was tired and rested my head on a table in the corridor. As I closed my eyes, I saw Jesus’ silhouette in front if me. “Woaw! What was that?!” I thought, opening my eyes. Later that evening as I went to bed, I closed my eyes and I saw the same picture. It was a classic depiction of Christ, similar to this one. And the crazy part is that this continued for over a year. Every time I closed my eyes and rested I saw Jesus, independently of what I was thinking about.
Some years later, in 2010, the Lord gave me an incredible gift of prayer. I prayed thousands of prayers every day, and I could have a constant conversation with God inside my head for hours. After checking off a long prayer list, I was lying on my bed worshipping, and then the whole atmosphere of the room changed. It was filled with a holy presence, that’s the best way I can describe it. From above, a picture resembling an orthodox icon came down towards me, depicting Jesus. However, He was not a picture – He was alive. He had brown eyes, a brown beard and a blue robe, similar to this icon.
In the essay I study how three church leaders view miracles: Surprise Sithole, charismatic apostolic leader in southern Africa, K.G. Hammar, archbishop emeritus of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, and pope Francis. I’ve already presented to you the miracles of Surprise Sithole and pope Francis’ view on miracles on this blog. The viewpoint of K.G. Hammar, however, is radically different – he doesn’t believe that miracles in the traditional, supernatural sense exists. I have tried to identify what arguments each church leader uses to defend their viewpoint, and then I analyze whether these arguments are reasonable and sound.
Surprise Sithole is a strong believer in miracles, basing this on his miraculous experiences and a literal reading of the Bible. K.G. Hammar does not believe that miracles happen, based on science, his metaphorical Bible reading and non-supernaturalist experiences. Pope Francis believes, like Sithole, in miracles both as Biblical and contemporary events, and like Hammar, he believes that science confirms his view. He interprets the Bible both literally and metaphorically, and his experience and church tradition confirm his supernaturalist belief.
Happy advent! Let us as always read a Bible text that has nothing to do with Christmas, but rather is a prologue to easter:
As Jesus approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.” (Lk 19:29-34)
Jesus is not renting a donkey, nor does He ask permission to borrow it beforehand – He simply uses the miraculous gift of prophecy to foresee which donkey owner will allow him to borrow a donkey if they hear that He needs it. It makes me think of 1 Sam 9 where Samuel knows exactly where the donkeys of Saul’s father are. God keeps track of your ass! These prophetic words of knowledge are common today in the charismatic movement, where God gives you information about persons, places or donkeys. My friend Simon Adahl has experienced this countless times, so had John Wimber. Listen to this powerful testimony about words of knowledge on an airplane:
As you probably know by now, I’m writing a thesis in systematic theology about miracles. A week ago I presented to you my research on how pope Francis views miracles, and now I like to share what Surprise Sithole, pastoral director for Iris Global in southern Africa, thinks about the miraculous. Enjoy!
Surprise Sithole was born in the late 1960’s into an animist family in the small village of Cachote in Mozambique. In his biography Voice in the Night, he writes:
“From the time I was born, my parents hoped I would follow the family tradition and become a witch doctor. […] My childhood was full of strange spiritual experiences and spiritual oppression. This was the only life I knew. […] Did my parents have heal power, or were they charlatans? The answer is both. Much of what they did was trickery, pure and simple. But I also know that they sincerely believed in the spirits, and I saw many strange events for which I have no other explanation than the supernatural. More than once, I found myself floating above the floor as I tried to sleep at night.”
Sithole claims to have heard the voice of God at the age of 15. This voice told him to leave his village, and after wandering in the jungle for two weeks he met a Christian man, Mr. Lukas, who took care of him and taught him how to be a Christian. Lukas said that God had given him a dream where he foresaw Sithole’s arrival. Soon, they received the news of that Sithole’s family had been poisoned back in Cochete. Surprise was the only survivor.
Sithole writes that he then became a missionary, travelling mostly by foot in Mozambique in Malawi to preach the Gospel. He says that on the island of Chikusi, he started to preach in a language he had never studied – Chichewa. People on the island were converting to Christianity when they saw this, Sithole writes, since they knew that he didn’t know the language naturally. He also claims that he still speaks Chichewa, and that his first bible was written in that language.
I live to get updates from Iris Global’s YouTube channel. As I’ve written before, Iris combines development assistance and poverty reduction with evangelism and the power of signs and wonders. Just like Jesus and the apostles, that is. This video is from an outreach they made in Unidade, Mozambique. What they do is that they show the Jesus film to the local villagers, they preach the Gospel, they pray that the blind will see and that the deaf will hear, and they help the poor. People are saved, healed and empowered.
My Facebook friend Rosalyne Field is one of Iris’ long term missionaries in Mozambique. She’s posted the wonderful pictures I share with you here, and she often share the joy of spreading the Kingdom in the bush-bush: