new testament christianity
Living a Life of Miracles
By Paul Strand
CBN.com -- REDDING, California - We're used to hearing about miracles and healings coming out of those massive Christian gatherings overseas, and we're used to big names like Benny Hinn and Reinhardt Bonnke being involved with such divine acts.
But it appears the miraculous is now breaking out here in North America, and it comes with a growing belief that just about any Christian can be used if he or she wants.
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Much of this heat for healing and miracles is emanating out of such places as Randy Clark's Global Awakening ministry, headquartered near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Bill Johnson's Bethel Church in Redding, California.
Johnson's been preaching much of the doctrine surrounding this recent move of the miraculous. He says Jesus revealed how it's all about bringing the Kingdom of Heaven right to earth.
Johnson said, "Deliverance and healing took place whenever He talked about the kingdom. And then He told us to pray 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Then it started hitting me there's no cancer in heaven, there're no tumors there, there's no blindness, there's no deafness, there're no lame limbs in heaven."
Johnson and his congregation radically altered their thinking and began to believe God wanted to literally bring His disease-free, miracle-filled heavenly kingdom down to earth. And then the miracles began to flow.
Cancerous tumors would fall off bodies, broken limbs would stitch right back up, and new body parts appeared to replace missing ones, like on a woman Bethel team members were praying for.
"And she was actually missing this part of her lower jaw. I forget how it happened, but some sort of an accident or something, and the Lord actually created that jaw," said Johnson.
The people of Bethel Church have certainly become used to seeing miracles inside the four walls of their sanctuary, and that is one way they've tied into the power of heaven.
But maybe what's more interesting is all the miracles have happened here in Redding, California, Bethel's home base, as the church has decided it has to let the Lord burst out of the church walls.
Outreach pastor Chris Overstreet goes to Redding parks and local hang-outs with Bethel members all the time -- feeding the poor, making friends and seeing frequent moves of God.
"This one person, he was on crutches,” Overstreet remembered. “They prayed for him, and he walked away without his crutches."
Bethel's become rather famous for its members who are out doing their daily business when, all of a sudden, God uses them to bring healing to people. It’s happened all over Redding.
A young man from Bethel was suddenly impressed one day to begin praying for healings at a local store, and he announced it over the intercom.
"He says, 'If you want prayer, meet me at cash register number 10,’” Johnson said. “And this crowd gathered. And a woman got a new hip. She was in an electric wheelchair-cart kind of thing. He prays for her -- she gets up and walks in front of the crowd. It's like Bible days. The crowd is stunned by what's happening."
So many people have been healed at the local mall, out-of-towners have asked Johnson if they can go along with Bethel's mall outreach team.
Johnson said, "'Mall outreach? We don't have a mall outreach.' They said, 'Yeah, you know, the stories where all the people get healed.' 'Oh yeah. Well, we don't have a mall outreach. We just have people who shop.'"
Over the last 10 years, the healings and holy happenings have numbered into the thousands.
"I finally hired a church historian just to record the miracles," Johnson said.
Bethel church historian Vanessa Chandler has her work cut out for her when Bethel teams go to minister in other towns.
She said, "They have anywhere from usually 200 to 500 miracles that happen in one weekend."
One of Bethel's biggest fans is Randy Clark, the evangelist who was speaking at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship when the revival known as the Toronto Blessing burst forth in the mid-1990s.
Clark and Johnson do numerous conferences together, but he also heads up something called Global Awakening, which is where many people have their first run-in with the supernatural.
Clark and those who work with him regularly take teams of dozens of Christians - most of them just average, everyday folks – overseas, to show God's power in countries like Brazil and India.
"The other day we were praying for this dude who had like a really swollen knee,” said some Christian youth ministering in Brazil, “and we saw it, like, go down...so it was like, really cool."
Another youth said, "You get to learn a lot, and you see tons of healings every day."
"We had 200 blind last year get healed on our trips,” said Clark.
The believers inevitably return with dozens of stories of how God used them, and ready to reproduce such miraculous works here in North America.
Tony McCleave of Wilmington, Delaware recalled, "A two-year-old girl who'd never been able to walk -- we prayed for her and she was able to walk for the first time in her life."
Just last December, Nancy Nickels of Michigan was praying for a Brazilian girl who had one eye going to the right and the other to the left.
Nickels said, "This nerve is dying and these nerves are dying, and when they're totally dead, she'll be totally blind...her eyes will rotate to the back of her head. So I just asked the Lord to touch here and here, and immediately the eyes straightened right up, and that was it."
"I said, 'Let me see your eyes.' And her eyes were perfectly straight the next night," Nickels said.
McCleave has been on five Global Awakening trips, where's he been joined by hundreds of Christians who've never before experienced the power of God.
"But God uses them to perform all types of miracles,” McCleave said, “and it's just a matter of making a decision to go, because that's the faith that's required: just make that decision to go, and then God will honor that and bless whatever you put your hand to."
Gail Deming of Red Creek, New York said, "I really just went to Brazil pleading with God that I could even see a miracle. I never dreamt that I'd be part of miracles.”
But both she and husband Bob took part in many, including one where Bob prayed for a woman who'd been deaf in one ear for 26 years.
Bob said, "Immediately her ear was opened; she was leaping and crying and praising God."
Gail vividly remembers the miracle when she prayed for a woman with a lump in her breast -- "...a lump…that disappeared under my hand," Gail said.
A team leader in Brazil with a newly healed woman, said, "She had a deviation of the spine, and she couldn't make this move at all. Now she's doing it...no pain!"
And the leader described a newly healed man, "Jose just got healed of a tumor. (Jose rubs his abdomen to show where it was.) It slowly went away. We just kept praying, and he said it's 100-percent gone!"
And now such believers are bringing the anointing home. Erick Monastra interns for Global Awakening.
"One girl I prayed for...it was actually in New Jersey...she had MS, and she had like, pain or tingling down her legs," said Monastra.
Monastra said, "So I just prayed for her real quick and asked her to stomp her legs, and as soon as she stomped her legs, she was completely healed."
All these saints say that God's ready to use any Christian who's willing to step out in faith and be used.
"Ya know, the Bible says to do it,” said Monastra, “and not many people go out because they don't believe it's for today. But if you understand that the Bible says that and you just go out and do it, you'd be surprised at the product that comes back. Like, that God just completely heals."
Clark says Jesus' commission to us was clear --"Heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead..."
Now, he says, it's time to get busy doing it. Overstreet says it's exactly what God wants.
"He is passionately in love with you and He wants to use you,” said Overstreet. “He wants to use all the believers to openly display His love and His power, so His kingdom can come and His will can be done on earth as it is in heaven."
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Paul Strand is the Washington D.C. Sr. Correspondent for CBN News. He has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.
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