“I took a team to Murmansk to do an outreach with the brand-new Youth with a Mission base there. We arrived in Moscow the day that Yeltsin was facing the attempted coup in Red Square. It was a very exciting time to say the least.
The town that we held our meetings in was a very rough place. Our Russian YWAM leader told us that this town was the place where criminals came to hide from the law. It was, in his words, the place where you go when you have nowhere else to go. My confidence began to lag…
We met in the “culture palace”, a sort of community hall which was no palace and had no culture. The first night I spoke and failed miserably. My message was way too intellectual and frankly boring. I went to bed that night very ashamed. I told God, “I am so sorry, I was afraid to pray for the sick, so I just gave a salvation message. Please give me another chance and I will preach about Your power to heal and save!”
The next night I got up and preached about the power of God to heal and save. We prayed for the sick and I saw a blind girl healed! It rocked my world. After her mother shared about her healing, I gave an invitation for all those who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior. The whole room put up their hands! I thought I must have promised them something wonderful like a new apartment or new car or something. I could not believe that they all wanted to know God just for His sake alone. I was conditioned to the Western sales pitch that involves promising prosperity, perfect health, perfect kids and a vacation home. The response actually caught me off balance.
I stopped the invitation and started from the beginning. I explained how being a Christian was a hard life – you lose friends, family may reject you, you may lose your job or apartment etc, etc. I made it as negative as I could. Then I gave the invitation again and again, all the hands went up. I still could not understand what was happening.
I stopped and said to God, “What am I doing wrong? Why are all these people wanting to become Christians?” He dropped this thought into my mind, “Ask them how many of them have ever heard anything like this message before.” I asked them and out of over 200 people in the room only a hand-full had ever heard anything to do with the Gospel before!
I asked them to come forward to receive Jesus and the whole room came forward. There was no room in front of the stage, so I invited them up onto the large stage. They all came up. As I was explaining to them how we were going to pray to receive Jesus, I noticed three teenage boys at the back of the group. They were punching and teasing each other while I was trying to explain how to become a Christian. It actually made me angry. I imagined saying to them, “I didn’t beg you to come up here. I told you how hard it is to live as a Christian. I made it easy for you to say “no.” If you have no interest in becoming a Christian, why did you come up here?”
God gently rebuked me and said, “Forget about them, focus on the ones who are sincere.” So, I did. I finished the prayer of repentance and salvation and then I told them I would pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit so they will know they truly belong to God. I invited the Holy Spirit to come and touch them and give them evidence that God is real. People started to cry and laugh and then I noticed the three teenagers at the back.
The one in the middle was now shaking and twitching uncontrollably. His friends were trying to hold him up. He fell on the stage and continued to shake violently. This went on the whole time we prayed for the sick. Many healings occurred and then it was time to leave. The three teenagers were still caught up in the shakes. The problem was, the janitor insisted on closing the room and this kid could not stand up, let alone walk.
I watched as his friends carried him out of the building and down to the bus stop. They held him up until the bus came and when the front door opened they dropped him inside, the door closed and the bus left. I laughed.
The next night the shaker returned with more than 20 of his teenage friends. They all sat at the back and when the invitation came for salvation almost all of them came forward! I would love to know what he told his friends to get them to come to the meeting. I am sure he never mentioned my great sermon or clever illustrations, but I have no doubt he mentioned his experience with the supernatural power of God.”
Questions for discussion: Let’s talk about this…
- Do you think I was correct to tell the people I was going to pray for the Holy Spirit to give them proof that God is real? Can we trust Him to do that?
- What do you think was happening to the three teenagers at the back of the room? How could their experience be explained by psychology?
- On this trip I saw two young girls healed of blindness. I am not a “faith healer” yet I saw two healing miracles. What do you think the key was to seeing these miracles?
- Why do you think the shaking teenager was able to talk so many of his friends into coming with him to the last night of our meetings?
- Why do you think it was so hard for me to believe so many people wanted to become Christians?