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I woke up very early on Wednesday morning, feeling quite alive and energetic. I should have been really tired because I did not get much sleep. Kathleen, my roommate, was starting to come down with what looked like a really bad cold and laryngitis. I tried to get ready to leave as quietly as possible so she could sleep in some.
I skipped breakfast (the breakfasts at the hotel were nothing to look forward to) and went over to the main hall about 8:30 a.m. The conference was not supposed to start until 10:00 a.m. Since I was 1.5 hours early, I did not expect to see anyone from the worship team there. Yet when I walked in, Todd was already there and was praying/interceding for the meeting. I put my stuff down on a seat and joined him.
After a few minutes of praying together, the Holy Spirit spoke to me to go lay hands on every seat in the auditorium and pray over them. There are 1000 seats in that auditorium -- no small task. But I was getting used to Him asking me to things that seemed weird to me, so I just went ahead and started obeying. Todd stayed up on the stage and continued walking in circles on the platform and praying/interceding. He was both praying for the Russian people and also asking God to manifest His presence at the meetings today in even greater measure than before.
While Todd was doing this, I began walking the aisles, starting at the back of the auditorium. I touched the back of each chair and prayed in tongues (which occasional English when the Lord showed me something specific to pray). I found myself taking authority over the room and forbidding any enemy spirits to enter here as well as praying over each seat and asking God to put His presence/anointing on those who would be sitting in them. After I'd prayed for a row or two, a very heavy anointing came over me. It felt like electricity in my hands. I found myself asking Him to pour Himself out over the people and I sensed that He wanted to do this even more strongly than I wanted Him to. I began to have a sense of the Lord's love for His Russian church as I walked the room praying and interceding over each seat. I had started at the back of the auditorium and worked my way towards the front. When I still had about 5 rows to do, some people started coming into the room. Most of them sat in the front few rows. I found that they were staring a special session for the worship leaders, where Bob was giving them the cords to the songs they'd been doing in Russian. I could not pray over the two front most rows -- approximately 100 seats, because there were so many people sitting in them. But I had prayed over all of the other seats.
The anointing was still on me so strong that I could not stand it. Todd and I both felt that we were to continue interceding, so we went out and started walking the halls around the building and praying and interceding. I felt led to go down to the ministry room and pray there as well. The Lord's presence seemed so strong that I felt like I could have reached out and touched Him. One part of my mind had me wondering why the Lord would call me to intercede when His presence was already so strongly on the place. Another part of me just enjoyed being able to intercede and pray when He was manifesting His presence so strongly. I don't really understand why He had me praying over the place that morning, but I was glad to participate with Him in whatever He was doing.
Then I went back to the stage and started praying with some members of the worship team. It was a little distracting praying while Bob was doing the workshop on cords, but the Lord's presence was there even then. I could feel His sweetness all over the room and knew that He had something special lined up for us today.
Todd came over as I was praying for someone on the team and joined me. The Lord caused some type of very powerful connection in the spirit between Todd and I. It seemed like the power/anointing when the two of us prayed together was MUCH greater than the sum of our two anointings when we prayed individually. I guess that must be what He meant by "Whenever two or three of you agree together in prayer..."
I stood in the wings over to the right side of the stage when the worship started. I knew I was supposed to be up there praying and interceding. But since God was not showing me anything specific to pray, I just decided to worship along with the team. I was standing there with my eyes closed and was lost in worship. The Lord's presence was very sweet in the room and I felt so full of His radiance.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my head on the right side halfway between the center of my head and my ear.
"Lord," I prayed, keeping my eyes closed and my hands up, "What is this? Is it a word of knowledge for a healing you want to do?"
"No, Teresa. There is a person cursing the meetings and I am showing you where they are so that you can pray and break the curses."
"Turn around and look in the direction of the pain."
I had a sense that this conversation was my imagination running wild with me. But what could it possibly hurt to obey this simple direction? So I opened my eyes and turned my head in the direction of the pain. There was a person standing there not three feet from me. I was so startled that I jumped slightly. The pain instantly left.
The person was an extremely well dressed woman in her early thirties. She was standing diagonally to my right behind me and was so close I could have touched her without stepping towards her.
"Teresa," the Lord said, "This woman is cursing the meeting. I want you to break that curse through My power and authority. Do not approach the woman and do not say anything to her. Just pray silently and break the curse."
Well, my directions seemed clear enough, so I started obeying them. I sort of watched her out of the corner of my eye as I prayed. I broke the power of the curse and asked the Lord's blessings on the meeting. Now, I was praying silently -- my lips were not even moving -- so there is no way she could have possibly known what I was doing. But she gave me a very strong disapproving scowl and glared angrily at me. After a few minutes of breaking the power of the curse, I felt led to pray for the lady. I started asking God to protect her from any harm coming back on her as the power of her curse was broken and that He would break off the enemy's ability to blind her to the good news of the gospel. Just as I started to pray for her, she got an alarmed look on her face and walked very briskly towards the backstage exit door. I followed her to the door, silently praying for Jesus to reveal His truth to her. She left very rapidly.
Since I was way back there, I felt like I should pray some more. So I walked around the backstage area and asked the Lord to come increase His power and His blessing over the room. He showed me some specific things to pray and His presence was on me so heavily that I was not sure I could remain standing. After a while, the intensity to pray left me, so I went back to the wings and continued to worship.
At one point, I peeked out from the side wing curtains to look at the people worshiping the Lord. They were truly together in one accord and He was all over them. Many of them had their hands lifted and their faces upturned towards Him. His beauty and His glory were written on each face. As I looked at all those faces lost in worship, I could seen Him on each face.
"Lord," I thought, "You look so beautiful on the faces of Your people."
"Yes, Teresa," He said, "I dwell in My people and I inhabit their praises. And I manifest my beauty on them."
It was such a holy moment. His presence was so tangible. Somehow I got so lost in Him that I literally lost track of what happened during the teaching part of the meeting. I did manage to make it off of the stage and back to my seat when the worship team left the stage. But I was so aware of Him and His sweetness that I don't even think I heard Randy's teaching that morning. God's presence in the room was so tangible. I remember thinking that this must be what heaven is like.
At some point Randy started the ministry time. It as so powerful that I cannot begin to describe it. Take everything I wrote about the Tuesday morning ministry time and triple it. The anointing was so strong that it was absolutely effortless to pray under it. There was such a clarity and it was easy to see in the spirit what the Lord was doing and to do it along with Him. On Tuesday morning, I remembered thinking 'it simply cannot get better than this'. But Wednesday morning it did get better -- much better. When God's presence is among is people and their hearts are turned after Him good things happen. Very good things happen.
Luda, my interpreter, works in the mornings and shows up for the afternoon sessions. She happened to get there a bit early and came in on the tail end of ministry time. So we had lunch together. Then when the workshop started, she was asked to interpret as Robert taught on small groups.
Between the big lunch and the lack of sleep the night before, I started getting groggy during the workshop. I was sitting in the front row and Luda was keeping an eye on me. At one point I sort of dozed off for about 10 minutes. When she got off the stage, she let me know that I'd dozed off and teasingly bawled me out for it. We had dinner and then went to the Wednesday evening session.
The worship in this session was beyond anything we'd experienced before. It had been awesome all week, but the Lord's presence was so tangible on the place that my spirit simply could not contain it all. The first song was in worship and I simply had to dance to it -- so I got out of my seat (in the front row) and started to dance. Luba (Steve's interpreter) and another teenage girl also got up and started dancing right next to me shortly after I started. I was so aware of Him that I hardly noticed them. But at one point I looked over and noticed that they were doing a routine of some sort -- simple joyful moves that celebrated the Lord's presence. Another one of Luba's dance team members joined them on the other side of me and I was sandwiched in-between their team as we danced. It was sweet dancing with them. Of course I did not know their routines and I was hardly aware of them, but at one point I noticed that I was doing movements very similar to what they were doing. I suddenly felt like I was in unity with my Russian sisters.
"Yes," the Lord spoke to me, "I bring my people together in unity as they worship before me."
After the song ended, yet another member of their dance team came up. I moved to the other end of the stage so that they could dance together without someone who did not know their routines being in the way. From time to time I watched them across the room, their choreographed simple movements were very lovely and His beauty was written across each of their faces.
The corner that I had moved to held other delights for me. It seemed to natural to dance as an expression of worship before Him. His presence filled the room and His joy radiated from each person's face. There was a Soviet Jew who had covered her head with a giant scarf -- so large it went all the way down to her hips in back and covered both arms in front. She was making the most beautiful motions with her arms and the scarf was waving gracefully as she moved. Her dance flowed with the music and she was lost in His presence. It was incredibly beautiful to watch. At one point we became very aware of each other and started doing coordinated movements as we danced. To the casual observer, it probably looked like we had choreographed this and had practiced together. But we were just both flowing in His spirit and He was the one moving us together in unity. I remember looking into her eyes at one point -- she was looking into my eyes too -- and I could just see the radiance of the Lord in her eyes. I hope she saw the same thing in my eyes. Anyhow, there was a click in the spirit between us as we worshipped the Lord together. What a place of delight to be so united in Him as we danced. Then the Lord spoke to me again:
"Teresa, I am giving you a heart for the Soviet Jews. I am knitting your spirit together with their spirit. I have a passion for my people, the Jews. I have taken you from this ethnic heritage and I am giving you My love for them."
My eyes filled up with tears so much that I could hardly see. "Yes, Lord, give me Your heart for Your people. Use me however You would like to with them. Pour out Your Spirit and Your presence on them."
A little later a little boy -- maybe 3 years old -- came up to me and wanted to dance. So I took one of his hands and we danced together for a few minutes. His mother had come up to retrieve Him and the Lord's radiance was written all over her face. His presence was so think in the room. He was truly manifesting Himself among His people -- inhabiting their praises. The mother claimed her son and then started dancing with him.
Something in my spirit sparked as I worshipped the Lord and watched my Russian brothers and sisters worshiping Him as well. I stopped dancing and went and stood against the wall and looked over the room, watching them worship. There was a real spirit of celebration on them as they sensed His presence among them. Some were waving long narrow scarves like streamers, some were throwing their coats high the air and then catching them. Some where clapping and cheering. Others had their hands and faces uplifted and seemed lost in His presence. The Lord's beauty and His presence were written across each of their faces. I felt so privileged that He had allowed me to participate in this worship with my Russian brothers and sisters.
The worship set finally came to an end. But no one in the room was ready to stop worshiping the Lord. So they started that synchronized double clapping which meant "MORE!" The worship team, as well as everyone in the room, sensed that the Lord was NOT done with the worship either. So they started another set.
About then, I felt impressed to move into the center of my Russian brothers and sisters as we worshipped together. There was a main walk-way (fairly wide) separating the front 1/3 of the seats from the back 2/3. We had frequently used this as a ministry area and at the moment it was filled with people who were standing there worshiping the Lord. Some were dancing there, but most were just standing and worshiping. I walked into that section and found a nice little spot right behind the last set of chairs just before the aisle. I was greeted by loving smiles of those standing near me. But as the worship continued, we became so aware of His manifest presence among us that we hardly had attention for anything else. God is good and being in His presence is good. My heart just welled up with love for Him and I desired to serve and please Him with all of my heart. And I could feel His pleasure on me and on my bothers and sisters as we worshipped before Him. I was so filled with His joy that I felt like I might explode.
Mostly my attention was focused on the Lord, but from time to time I would become aware of my brothers and sisters. I felt such a deep love for them and it was so special for me to be in their midst as we worshipped. I would see the Holy Spirit setting on this person or that person they worshipped. One would be lost in worship and He would reach down and they'd begin to shake mildly. Another would be lost in worship and would start to sway in His presence, their eyelids fluttering and a radiance on their faces. It was as though the Lord was walking through the crowd and personally touching each individual. The lady near me was using her scarf as a streamer and dancing before Him. There was a liberty and a beauty in that dance. The man next to me was suddenly overcome with His presence and dropped to His knees.
Then suddenly, I was overwhelmed with an incredible sense of His presence and His holiness. I wanted to fall on my face before Him, but there was not room. So I dropped to my knees and was soon in a little ball before him on my knees -- with my chest pressed against my knees and my head on the floor. I could sense Him standing there, right next to me in the beauty of His holiness and His goodness and love seemed to radiate from Him. I found myself once again offering Him total Lordship in every area of my life and presenting myself to Him as His servant. What other response could anyone possibly make to Him at that point? Then I was lost in worship again -- how could any one see Him in His beauty and glory and not want to worship Him with every ounce of their being? I could literally breathe in His sweet fragrance -- He saturated my senses as I continued to worship Him. After a while, the intensity of His presence seemed to decrease. I moved from that curled up little ball to simply kneeling and I again became aware of my brothers and sisters around me. Many were in that same little kneeling ball position I'd just been in. They were deep in worship and seemed very aware of His presence. It was like Jesus had come and literally stood in our midst and everyone in our little section of the room could not help but respond to His presence.
The intensity had lessened but His presence was still quiet tangible. I stayed in a kneeling position and continued to worship. My eyes were closed. Suddenly I had a picture of Kathleen (my roommate). She was wearing a traditional Russian dress and doing some sort of folk dance. She was dancing on a raised platform and there was a banner on it that read "She will come back to Russia." I felt that was an odd thing for the Lord to be showing me during the midst of worship, so I asked Him about it. He told me to tell her what I had seen and to tell her that He was going to bring her back here again. I wondered if I should get up and to tell her right then. He said, "No, later."
The worship was so incredible. No one wanted it to end. It went a solid hour and a half. Finally, the team ended the last song and Michael Enos came and led a corporate prayer. There were some announcements and then they had a time of sharing prophesies for Russia that the Lord had given various members of the team. It was quite a powerful time. The main gist of the prophesies is that God was raising up and equipping His Russian believers into a mighty army and that every believer -- even the women had a place in it. He was calling them and equipping them and He would be mobilizing them. They would go forth with great power and advance His kingdom. They were not just called to their own people, but also to the nations. God seemed to be giving them an invitation to rise up and they seemed to be responding to it.
After the prophesies, Randy invited the head pastors who felt a calling for a healing ministry to come up for prayer. Just head pastors or those who oversee pastors. Many came up. Then Randy called the ministry team to come up and help pray for them. As they were prayed for, some seemed to receive very quietly while visible manifestations of God's power fell on others. Soon there was a mass of bodies in the aisle way just in front of the stage. I had been up on the stage, praying for the people who were standing right in front of the stage. Suddenly the Lord called my attention to a person who was laying on the ground in front of the stage. It was as if He was saying, "Go soak that person for Me."
So I left the stage and climbed over a number of people to get to the person God was directing me to. As I climbed over people, I would stop for a few seconds and soak them and ask the Lord to come and fill them and bless what He was doing and ask for that anointing for healing and empowerment to increase in their lives. I finally made it to the person the Lord had directed me to. Just as I was about to kneel down over her, Richard grabbed me briefly and told me that this lady had some tumors and that God wanted to heal her of them. I don't know if Richard could tell I was heading for this lady or if he was simply asking me to go pray for her since I was in the vicinity. But it was good that the Lord had used Richard to give me extra information about the lady He had just sent me to pray for.
I put my hand gently on her stomach and asked the Lord to increase His power and His anointing on her. Suddenly she started shaking and jerking from the stomach. It looked like someone had just attached two live wires of 220 voltage to her midsection as the Lord touched her. I could feel a heat radiating off of her stomach. The Lord seemed to be all over her. At some point Angel (Annie's 17 year old daughter) came over and joined me in praying for her. I whispered in Angel's ear what Richard had told me. We prayed together and soaked her in prayer. The Lord seemed to be doing so much on her. Then suddenly, something started happening that I was not so sure was the Lord. I won't describe the particular manifestation -- it was very intense, but then people have very intense manifestations when the Holy Spirit is on them. But something did not seem right about this. It is the first time in my life that I truly could not tell if it was the Lord or a demon manifesting on her. I have always been able to tell the difference before. I was not sure what to do, so I stopped and asked for guidance. No real clear guidance came. I has a whispered conversation with Angel, who was also experiencing some discomfort over what was happening.
So I prayed and took authority that if anything other than the Holy Spirit was operating here, it was forbidden to manifest or to torment the woman. In fact, we commanded that if there were any spirits who did not willingly bow their knee to Jesus that they must leave this woman. However, we blessed whatever the Holy Spirit wanted to do and asked Him to complete His work in her and do whatever He wanted to. The manifestation continued and I still did not feel right about it. So I asked the Lord a second time for direction. The only thing that came to my mind was the word "peace." I mentioned this to Angel and she agreed that maybe we should start praying His peace on her. So we started praying His peace on her. The manifestation lessened a little but did not stop all together.
"What next, Lord?" I asked.
"Just leave her in my care. I know what I am doing with her and will do a good job."
So I prayed that the Lord would come and be mighty on her behalf and would not allow anything but His spirit to minister to her. Then I got up. I could not go back to my seat because of the mob of bodies around it. [I later debriefed with someone else who said that frequently (but not always) there is a spirit involved when there is cancer. Their take on this was the Lord's power and presence had been all over the woman and it sort of freaked out the cancer spirit and it started to manifest too. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit continued to move on her. So I was seeing both the Lord on her and a demonic manifestation. But, of course, the Lord's power over her was much greater than the enemy's power, which is why God did not have me deal much with the spirit of cancer's manifestation. That explanation seemed to make sense to me...]
By this time Randy had started his sermon, but there were still many people out on the floor from that call for pastors being anointed for a healing ministry. I was a little shaken from not knowing what was going on with that lady. But I felt like the Lord wanted me to go soak other who were still out under His power. So I did. I knelt by one man and as I started to pray for Him, the Lord showed me exactly what He was doing on this man. Then the Lord came in power. I moved from person to person, blessing what the Lord was doing on them and asking Him to give them more. It became an incredible delight to pray for these people. I really like listening to Randy's teachings, and he was speaking on missions -- a topic of real interest to me. But there was so much anointing to pray for those who were on the ground -- out under His spirit. So I did that and hardly paid attention to the sermon. The Lord seemed to keep coming and keep filling and keep empowering and keep anointing these people. It was incredible to watch Him come and meet His children like that!
I had long since given up on getting my seat back, as some of the folks who'd been prayed for had crawled into the empty seats the ministry team had previously occupied. So I went and sat on the steps to the stage, where several others from the ministry team were sitting. I could feel the Lord's presence all over me. Suddenly some of the people from the ministry team were praying for me. (I had given my testimony to the large group at the beginning of this evening session about how the Lord had healed my neck. Now it had started to hurt a little bit again -- not seriously, but it bothered me that it should be painless for days and then start to hurt just after I gave my testimony.) I mentioned to them that my neck was starting to hurt again. They started praying for that. Again I could feel that gentle warmth against the back of my neck, and again my head started shaking rapidly from side to side. The pain was gone almost instantly. I remember hearing one of them rebuke the enemy for counter-attacking my testimony by trying to bring the old symptoms back. Something clicked in my spirit and suddenly I realized that was what was going on. Then someone thanked the Lord for the victory He had given us, and I felt much more assured in the Lord's goodness. His presence was on me for maybe 10 minutes. Then I got up and moved to the aisle, just beside the stage.
Todd was standing there, leaning against the wall. We both felt a spark of the Lord's power jump within us as we got near each other. The next thing I knew, someone had asked me if I'd pray for them and Todd offered to help. A few seconds later, an interpreter came up to help us. We must have prayed quietly for six or seven people while Randy preached. I really did not intend to minister during the sermon -- it just sort of happened. And the Holy Spirit seemed to be up to His elbows in this ministry. We kept praying for people and He kept showing up with incredible power. Then the interpreter asked us if we'd pray for her as well. So we did, and down she went. I felt led to stay and soak her and Todd moved of to pray for someone else.
As I soaked her, I finally got a chance to listen to Randy's sermon. He was talking about the cost of missions -- are we willing to be spent on the gospel? If God calls us to give up what is dear to us for the sake of the gospel, would we? If He calls us to lay down our lives for Him, would we? Are we willing to be sent out to the mission field. Can we say, "Lord, here I am. Spend me however You want to" to Him and really mean it? Then Randy shared two very moving stories of people who allowed themselves to be spent on the missions field so that God's kingdom could be advanced. One story that he told was the same one Wes Campbell had told back in Toronto in January of 1995 when I had counted the cost and answered the call to missions.
I remembered my own struggles that I'd gone through back then, as I listened to the story of the 30 missionary families who chose to stay in Africa during a famine. Their leader had informed them that the funding had been cut off and that they could return home if they wanted. Or the could stay without funding, which meant that they could starve to death in the severe famine. The men asked him to leave the room so they could discuss it. After a while they brought him back in and he noticed that communion elements had been set out. They said to him, "We have prayed about it and feel the Lord is telling us to stay. But we have two requests for you. 1) serve us communion and 2) if we die then come out and personally perform our funerals so that we know we will have a Christian burial." It turns out that during the next year, that leader had to make many trips out to bury them -- he performed funerals for 13 of the men and also buried 16 of their woman and children, including his own wife. She died in her front yard as she was passing out food to the needy, having starved herself to death to feed them. She died 20 minutes before he returned home from a trip to perform one of those funerals. But God used that little group of 30 missionary families to plant 500 churches and to bring many to the Lord.
I began to cry and could not stop. I was remembering my own commitment to be spent on the gospel if God so desired. I was moved by the stories of how courageously and powerfully these men and women had served the Lord unto their dying breath. I wondered if I will be able to die as well for Him when my time came. Then I looked out over the faces in the auditorium and could see the struggle on many faces as they were deciding whether or not to make a similar commitment to the Lord -- willing to be spent by Him however He needed them to be -- even if it mean laying down their lives.
Then Randy gave a very specific altar call -- asking for only those men and women under 30 years of age who felt called to foreign missions and who were willing to say, "Here I am Lord, spend me as You will. I am willing to lay down my life for You to spread Your gospel if You ask me to." I realized how in this part of the world there was a much greater likelihood that they could be asked to lay down their lives in the near future. Suddenly the struggles and commitment that I'd gone through in January of 1995 seemed shallow compared to what they must be going through. Randy asked them to stand if God was speaking to them along these lines and if their answer to Him was "Yes, Lord. Here I am. Send me. Spend me." About 100 young men and women stood to their feet.
The Lord spoke to my heart that this was what the conference was all about -- empowerment to share Jesus. He was meeting and healing and empowering His people because He loves them, but also because He wants them to become effective witnesses for Him. He wants them to go forth in His power and His authority and to speak His words with boldness. He certainly intended to bless His people and He did do that. But He also began mobilizing and equipping them to advance His kingdom.
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