SIGNS, WONDERS, & CHURCH GROWTH

john-wimber
John Wimber, founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches

After visiting the Vineyard on Sunday evenings for a few months, I signed up to attend a seminary class with John Wimber, called “Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth”. The class met on Monday nights from 7:00pm until 9:30pm.

On the first night of class, John did a good job of introducing the idea that the healing ministry of Jesus was more than just a demonstration that Jesus was fully God, it was ALSO an expression of his love for people and one of the important signs of God’s Kingdom that opened the hearts of people to enter the Kingdom.

Suddenly, at 9:00pm John closed his notes and announced we were going to have “Clinic time”.  All the students looked at each other in confusion, “What’s clinic time?”  John explained, “We’ve been talking about the works of God that Jesus did in the gospels, and now we are going to invite Jesus to do the works of God here by his Holy Spirit.”

“Let’s pray and ask God what he wants to do here tonight,” and with that John bowed his head and began to pray while we all just stared at him, not knowing what to expect.  After four or five minutes of silence, he said, “Amen!  I believe there is a young man here tonight who just today was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  I believe your name is Tom.”

Suddenly, a few rows in front of where I was sitting, a student I knew named Tom blurted out, “How did you know that?  No one here knows that.  I haven’t even called my wife and told her yet.”

John graciously smiled and explained, “While we were praying, the Holy Spirit spoke to me the details I’ve shared with you.  I believe he has done this to build all of our faith.  Can I pray for you for healing?”

Tom walked forward and affirmed that he had been diagnosed that day with Parkinson’s.  John asked if it would be alright for him to pray for Tom’s healing.  He then instructed us to please keep our eyes open to see what God would do.  This was not only the first time I had ever heard anyone say God had spoken to them, it was also the first time that it seemed very possible that in fact, GOD HAD SPOKEN TO THEM!  I had no idea what would happen next.

John began to pray, calmly in a normal voice, “Father, I thank you for speaking to us and for your healing presence.  Holy Spirit rest upon Tom, and begin to heal him. ”  As we waited in silence, suddenly there were all sorts of visible indications that Tom was being touched by the God.  He shook intensely under the power of the Holy Spirit for about 10 minutes, as John prayed over him.”

I’m sure if anyone would have taken a picture, they would have seen me sitting with my mouth wide open in shock.  I had never seen anything like this.  God was in fact powerfully touching our friend Tom.  Over the next few weeks we heard positive results of his improvement.

What had happened?  God had spoken to his people and invited them to participate in the powerful works of the Kingdom.  By asking God to speak to him, and then his being willing to risk responding in faith and obedience to what he was hearing , John demonstrated for us the present day working of Jesus continuing his ministy of healing.

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