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It’s Saturday and I have the day off. The pastors that came to the revival meetings in Bushenyi need today to travel back home and prepare for their Sunday services. So we had 3 services yesterday instead of two. Actually, more like two and a half. I thought we were getting ready to leave after the first service and I was waiting while Peter, my host, was closing the service. Then all of a sudden, he called me up for a short message.

Surprise, surprise. But I am nothing if not ready. So I gave them my Isaiah 58 message about why your prayers and fastings are not being answered. They loved it! It was God’s answer right from the Word of God to a question they have all been wondering about.

In the evening service, I took them on a quick trip to Joel 2:23 to show them the prophesy of the coming revival. Wow were they jazzed at seeing this promise right in the Bible of a 2nd Day of Pentecost coming to their generation that would be even greater than the first one.

ThenI gave them a demonstration of how to make witnessing easy using business cards as invitations. This is the culminating point of the entire revival campaign. First recognize that your church is not in revival right now, then come to repentance for not winning souls like we are commanded, then build a fire in the church, and then go get them! Witnessing is the final step we are trying to achieve. Once they saw how easy this method was, it changed everything for them.

This campaign in Uganda is over. Each service has been on fire. They are on top of the messages. They “get it”. We have seen several miraculous healings, including two people who were blind and three that were deaf. And the closing prayers and altar calls have been overwhelming, sometimes lasting 30 to 45 minutes long. That’s a LONG time to pray at that level of intensity! They are really lit up here! And yet, something’s got to break. I have seen this kind of intensity in meeting after meeting, village after village across Africa for 16 years. If I hadn’t seen the vision of me dropping a match into the field of dry grass and watching the fire explode, I might be wondering if I had made a mistake. But I heard the voice of the Lord tell me that the field of harvest was His people in Kenya, and because it stretched across Africa from Kenya to Nigeria, that meant all of Africa was going to see this explosion of holy fire.

Revival is coming according to Joel 2:23 and Isaiah 32, with hints in several other places, and I believe it will start here in Africa. No where else have I seen the intense hunger to hear the Word of God. The question is, do they have the desperate willingness to pay the price that a true revival requires, and do I have enough steam to see it to the end? Revival is not free, and neither is it cheap.

There was another vision that the Lord reminded me of that I had almost 20 years ago. I was hammering at a great stone wall with a sledge hammer. The wall was about 10 feet tall and was dark and solid. I kept hammering and hammering until I was completely worn out, wondering if the wall would ever crack. I was about to give up when finally on my last stroke there appeared a tiny crack at the top of the stone.

I am at that point. These last few trips have completely worn me out to where I can barely climb a flight of stairs much less deliver the intensity and passion that I pour into these messages. The responses are always great wherever I go, but where, oh where, is the outbreak of the Great African Revival? When will that crack begin to splinter that great stone wall?

Maybe on this next swing.

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29

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She Ran!

It has been almost a week since I have written about this trip. It has been explosive every day, and each day I try to write, but the days are so exhausting that all I can do is put if off until tomorrow. Or the day after. And now, its a week later.

On the 2nd day at the rural town of Ruburizi, we had a parade! That’s right, a parade.

It was at the start of the 2nd service when there was a disturbance in the back of the room. People were moving out of the way and there was a banging noise coming this way. And then I saw a contingent of Ugandan Army soldiers, complete with drums, trumpets, trombones and an old beat-up tuba, marching through the crowd toward the pulpit.

Yeah, I’m a little shocked. That’s not quite the word to describe it, but you can just imagine.

They marched right up to the front and began to play a gospel song, and then led the entire congregation, 300 to 400 strong, out into the streets to march through the entire town with everyone from the church following. What a scene! I have never in my 70 years ever seen anything like it.

Obviously, we started the evening service late, but no one seemed to care. After the parade, everyone filed back into the church. As a matter of fact, we may have picked up a few strays. I don’t remember how late the services lasted, but the intensity was now set. This was not a polite, accommodating crowd; this was a loud, hands raised, hallelujah-shouting, boisterous crowd. Just the way I like it. This was about revival, parade or no parade, and these people were excited with a message that not only clearly described what revival really is, but also what must be done to get one.

I find that many Americans do not realize how well Africans understand deeply spiritual issues. They understand better than many Western preachers that revival is not free. The soft messages they get from Americans of “Come to Jesus”, “God is going to bless His people”, and Jesus Loves You” make for fine services to encourage everyone, but they will not bring real serious change. Only a true message of repentance will do that. I have heard Africans tell me so many times that Americans no longer bring the same message that they brought 50 years ago. We have slid into a kinder, gentler message of grace, love, and blessings. Sounds nice, but they know better. The message that both Jesus and John the Baptist brought is what brings the revolution that spawns any true revival.

We closed the revival meetings on the third day. The place was packed. I guess the parade did its work and made enough of an impact to bring even more people. There must have been 500 people packed into this huge open building. It was great, as if the momentum was still building and this was the culmination.

And then, as we were done, a woman came up with problems in her legs. I got on my knees and laid hands upon her hands where the pain was and prayed. Gone. Just Ike always. She believed God, and He heard her and healed her.

And then there was another. And another. I looked up and saw a dozen or so people heading my way. Oh boy, here it comes. Normally, once the healing starts, it is like an oil that flows. You can sense it flowing (it’s hard to describe what that feels like), and once it starts flowing, everybody starts coming up to get healed. It usually means another hour or two before we will be done. But not this time. Only a couple dozen came to the front while most everyone else was heading out the back.

And then here came the blind girl, led by hand by her caretaker. Now, I have prayed over six blind people and seen each of them healed. Amazing, incredible miracles. But I have to tell you, I am still intimidated by the prospect of praying for such an monumental miracle of God. Yes, i realize it is God doing the miracle and I am just an instrument of His power, but Jesus didn’t tell us to ask the Father to do the healing; He told us to do it.

So I did what I always do — I laid hands on her eyes and I took power and dominion over all sickness, all pain, all darkness, and all blindness and I commanded the blindness to depart and claimed the healing power of God.

She just stood there. Did it work? Can you see? If not, we will pray again.

“How many fingers to I have up?”

“Three”

Bingo! She was healed! Not only did God heal her blindness, but I found out later she was also deaf, and God healed her deafness at the same time. How cool is that?

Later on, when my host, Pastor Peter, went back to the church, she ran out of the church to meet him, looking for me. No longer was she being led by the hand as she carefully stumbled over the rough ground. No, she ran!

Each time that I have seen the blind healed, I get choked up when I hear that cry, “I can see!”. It strikes me that this is what revival is all about. The church, like Lazarus, coming out of darkness into the Light of God’s Word to bring life, light, and salvation to a world that is lost in the dark.

I hope I never lose that feeling.

Rain in Rubirizi

It has been a long journey with dozens of obstacles to get here, but I have finally started the first conference of my last visit to this country. It is bittersweet. I can’t even remember all the miracles that have happened here nor all the exciting services we’ve had when the Holy Spirit would electrify the room and you would be literally swimming in the glory of God. But at the same time, it is hard to hand this commission to others who have heard the message and have taken up the challenge. But it is time.

The first set of meetings on this campaign are in Rubiriza, a small town on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. They have set me in an exclusive Safari Lodge in the midst of tourists who have come to see all the Big Five animals that are here. This place has really cool African style rooms, complete with incredibly tall thatched roofs, luxurious bathrooms, soft Master beds, and a glorious view of the park laid out along the escarpment below us. It was either this or one of those $10/night African hotels. Guess which one I chose.

I am pretty tired from traveling for three days but we still have to drive for 5 hours, then pick up the 100 Bibles we just purchased and the 300 revival books that we had printed, and then drive another hour or so to where the meetings will take place. It feels like we never stopped going, but first thing in the morning it’s showtime, so we push through to get there.

In the morning, I head to a large cement building with over a hundred souls waiting for me. And then two hundred. They keep coming. This is “arrival day”, which means people will be arriving all day long. None of them have a vehicle, so they walk, some of them for 8 to 10 hours just to get here. We saw one group riding in the back of a large dump truck heading for the church. It reminds me of the herds of animals heading for Noah’s Ark, streaming in from every direction. They are hungry and are expecting to be fed. They are desperate for revival.

As usual, services in both the morning and evening were great. I have brought this message close to 1,000 times and have seen the Lord work amongst them the same way almost every time. The Anointing will build as the Holy Ghost conviction begins to work, leading up to the climax of victory on the last day.

This is just the first day. Tomorrow it will heat up, and the third day should be explosive. Then we move on to the next conference and do it all again.

I love mornings. I usually sit outside and pray on my porch at sunrise. As the rays of morning sunlight begin to peek over the trees, they cast a golden sheen across the lawn that glistens across the lingering evening’s dew. As the morning sunlight starts pouring over the trees, it highlights the little gnats that are swarming around over the grass like a cloud of tiny pinpoints of light tumbling around in the beams of sunshine. There’s thousands of them over the whole property, but they can only be seen where the sunlight hits them and lights them up like sparkles against the dark contrast of the tress that are still hanging on to their early morning shadows.

It doesn’t take long before the dragonflies come. First one, then another, and soon the whole gang arrives for the feast, twisting, turning and dive bombing like tiny fighter planes in dogfights scooping up the little gnats, extinguishing the little sparkles one at a time.

This morning, however, the dragonflies had not shown up. There were gnats everywhere, but no dragonflies. I waited for the word to get out that the buffet was spread out and it was time to come and get it, but there was no response. So I prayed.

I was having one of the quiet, intimate prayer hours with the Lord. We were so close that our hearts were touching each other. I love prayer hours like that. It is not a time for contending in battle or laboring in agonizing prayer, but it is a time of quiet fellowship with your Heavenly Father. He’s right there, sitting next to you, listening to you pour out your heart in secret communion.

Since I was so close to Him at this moment, I thought I’d just ask for a little answer to prayer, “Lord, send the dragonflies.”  No big deal; just kinda for kicks, I thought it would be a neat thing to have Him answer such a small thing right while He was sitting there with me.

I waited. And waited some more.  No dragonflies.

“Lord, You there?”

Still none.  I went back to praying for a while, wondering if I did something stupid. Again.

After a while, lo and behold, what shows up but a single dragonfly. And then after 10 minutes, another one. By that time the morning mists were lifting and the day had begun. Soon they’d all be gone.

I wondered what the lesson was here. One was that, yes, God can and will answer even dumb requests like sending the dragonflies, but He doesn’t always answer right away. Sometimes the answer has to come through a process before you are ready for the answer. And sometimes it is you that needs to go through that process. He will send it when it is time. We have to wait.

But the other lesson I came away with was that God is sovereign. He is not at our command to jump through hoops and roll over for us when we call. He is God and we are at His command, not the other way around. There are rock solid promises in the Word of God, but every promise of God has conditions – nothing is free, and rarely cheap – but in the end, God is sovereign and will do as He pleases.

He did send two dragonflies, though. But he sent them in His own time, just to give me a lesson of faith and patience on a misty morning.

 

I’m sitting in the Brussels airport on my way home. This has been a hard trip. I’m not entirely sure why, but the two weeks I have spent here have felt like two months. True, the pace was intense, but it was more than that. There was an oppression in the air that weighed heavily on us that made everything harder.  I was so exhausted most of the time that I could barely manage.

But it didn’t affect the services. They were great. Each place we went to lit up like they were on fire. I would step into each meeting with a bit of apprehension because I never seemed to know what the message was going to be, and each time in less than a minute, the Holy Ghost would click on like flipping a switch, and away we would go.

Even though I was bound up in exhaustion, there was a complete freedom for the Spirit to move throughout the messages. Most of the time, I felt like I was riding a wave as the Lord shaped, molded, and turned the message in the direction He wanted it to go.

And the response was great. The pastors were rejoicing for the tangible hope for a real revival from God. They now had the blueprint for revival in their hands and they were excited. I watched as they sat on the edge of their chairs with eyes wide open, shouting their “Amen’s” every time something new was revealed to them.

It’s funny, but after having preached over a thousand messages over the last 16 years, I still feel apprehensive going into each service. It’s as if, even though God has been there every single time for me, I am still afraid that this time I will fall flat on my face.  God and I have a little running joke between us, like a little dance that we do. He will remind me as I am sitting there, that the deal we have with each other is, “You lead, and I’ll follow.”

“Yes, Lord. I know. I’m just a little scared that I’m not enough in the Spirit.

“Have I ever failed you?”

“No. I’m just afraid I’m not good enough.”

“You aren’t; I am.  I’ll lead; you follow.”

And every time, He does. He goes right around me and deals personally with the hearts of His people.

I really believe this is the way it is supposed to be done. Let God do the work. He does a much better job than we can. My job, oppression or not, is to show up

… and then get out of the way.

Stones

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17, 18)

I’d like to clarify one of the things I wrote about yesterday.

I have started doing something new in my revival meetings. I used to have healing lines where almost the whole church would line up to get prayed over. I’m not sure about the early years, but for the last 10 years, everybody that would get in line would get healed. Sometimes, they would get healed while still standing in line before I got to them. Sometimes they would get healed when they stepped inside the door of the church or under the canopy. I know because I ask them.

When I pray over someone, I first ask where the problem is, and then we pray over that spot. If it is a woman, I ask her to place her hand where the pain is and I place my hand on top of hers. If she does not get healed, we pray again. Either you believe or you don’t. If she doesn’t get healed the 2nd time, we pray again. Rarely have I ever had to go more than three times.

Once the people in the meeting see others getting healed, guess what happens. The line goes out the door, and it usually takes over an hour before we get to the end. Everybody has something they need prayed for.

All that is great, but what happens when I leave? Do the promises leave with me? I believe that it is important for these people to realize that they have the same access to the Throne of God that I do, and that if they begin to take hold of the promises God has given them, they can start performing miracles. When that happens, what do you think the unsaved community around them will do? They will come. When they see that the power of God is real, that it can deliver them, it can heal them, and it can save them, then the wheels of revival will begin to turn.

So I am doing a new thing. I am making them pray over the sick themselves. I start by getting someone that has a pain or a headache to stand up. Then I look for an unlikely candidate to pray over that person. At first, many of them are looking away, or down, or hiding their eyes, hoping that I don’t call on them. But those are the ones that I’m looking for. I bring them forward and tell them to pray with authority to cast out the sickness and take power and dominion over all sickness, pain, and weakness. Pray like Elijah! And they do!

Guess what happens. That’s right. The sick are healed! And THEY did it, not the white guy from America. Then I do it again with another set of candidates. And again. You can watch the realization dawn across their faces that this power is not reserved for special people or big shots, but it is for them. God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the mighty.

There are two things that I want them to understand. One is that once the miracles start flowing, the unsaved will begin to believe in the gospel once again. Right now, they have dismissed church as something good people do, but that it has no power and is not for them. All that will change when they see and hear the power and glory restored to the church.

The other thing is even more important than that. I want them to fully realize that they can change the world. Not somebody else. Not some well-heeled preacher from the West. Not the apostle or the bishop or the big-time VIP, but them. The little people. The foolish things of the world. The fishermen at the Sea of Galilee. The little shepherd boy. The widow with two mites or an alabaster box.

Once this concept awakens in their heads and they rise to the challenge that God has placed upon them, they will be the stones that God will raise up to change, not just their community around them, but the entire world.

Stale Bread

It feels like I’ve been in a whirlwind here in Liberia. After a quick introduction on Sunday, I was launched into a fierce set of meetings, morning and night, for three days.

I am not a calm and casual preacher. I pour my heart and soul into the message the entire time I am on my feet. Actually, it is more a matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to pour like a river through me. When I am done an hour later, I am completely drained, soaked in sweat, and barely able to stand. This is how it always is for me.

After the morning service, my driver takes me back to the hotel where I collapse for a couple hours, shower, and head back for the evening session. Then back to the hotel when we are done and repeat. I’m okay, but I’m getting a little fuzzy.

But the response is great! The Spirit of the Lord connects with everyone immediately. It’s as if they are already prepped and ready with open hearts to receive everything God has for them, and He rejoices in giving to them. I rarely know what I am going to say before I get up, but as soon as I do, I can feel the Lord turn me into His message for the service. Then it is a matter of just hanging on and following the flow of the river that He pours out. For the next hour, I am in that flow and am barely aware of anything else. And then when it is done, it is done.

I am told that this is the way preachers in America used to preach back a generation or so ago. It was never a matter of preparing your message, but more a matter of preparing yourself to yield unto the leading of the Holy Ghost. Open your mouth and He will fill it. But now, Bible colleges teach our young all the methods of outline and organization to fully prepare your speech or lecture to the congregation. And if you feel lost, that’s okay because you can simply purchase your message off the internet for a small sum, complete with video, outline and bulleted points. How convenient! Maybe they also have the canned applause.

But stale bread and sour wine will never inspire hungry souls.

There’s no faking it here. The Spirit of God is moving too strongly with these people. I am continually told that they don’t like American preachers because we do not preach the same message we did 50 years ago. I have literally heard that hundreds of times. They like our money and will come to the great mega crusades because we pay their pastors to bring their churches, but the next day after they are gone, everything goes back to the way it was.

Is it a small wonder that we are seeing so many miracles here and so few in America? Yesterday, just to make a point, I had one person who was in pain stand up and another person come over to pray over her. Healed! Then I did it again. And again. Each time the healing was immediate. I can do this all across Africa, from Kenya to Liberia any day of the week.

Why is that? Maybe they just expect a miracle. Maybe they just need God more than we do. Maybe a lot of things. I honestly don’t know. I will leave it to the smart theologians to write a book on how to do healings – they’ve never done it themselves, but I’m sure they can tell us all about how its supposed to be done.

What is my point? Theology and modern religion has lost it’s heart. We’ve become institutional and programmed to the point that we have lost the art of surrender. We know too much. The Bread we bring forth is no longer fresh from the oven of the Altar. It’s stale, hard, dry and tasteless. Our wine has gone sour and is more like vinegar than the wine of the Holy Spirit. We need revival so bad that it hurts.

But we are the last to realize it.