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Getting through customs and immigration in Moscow are quite an ordeal. It literally took a full 2 hours to work through the various security systems. At one check-station, a very pleasant looking woman greeted me with a big smile and started working on my paperwork. Then she seemed to encounter some type of problem. She made some sort of apologetic gesture and then started to talk rapidly in Russian to the woman who shared the booth with her. Then she opened the door and called out to her supervisor rapidly in Russian. The supervisor came to the booth, accompanied by two military men who were carrying guns. They had some sort of conversation where they were speaking very rapidly. I began to wonder what was wrong. The woman motioned at me with her head and the supervisor looked at me. The two men with guns also looked at me.
Well, I am no idiot -- about this time I decided it might be a good idea to pray now. I had no idea what the problem was, but I did not feel particularly comfortable about all this attention. So I started having a quick discussion with the Lord. He told me not to worry, that nothing was wrong.
"What do you mean nothing is wrong??" I looked at the two military men with guns standing near me.
"Don't worry Teresa. You are not in any type of danger."
"Ok Lord. All the same, I was wondering if You would mind watching over me right now and keeping me safe. Maybe you could spare an angel or two and resolve whatever this 'situation' is."
The supervisor left rapidly. The woman in the booth motioned me to wait, a sheepish smile on her face. The police men with the guns remained stationed on either side of the booth, eyeing me.
I kept praying the whole time I was waiting. About 10 to 15 people went through the stations on both sides of me while I stood waiting in my station. I began to wonder if they were going to drag me to some back room somewhere. I wondered if I'd accidentally broken some law that I did not even know existed. I wondered if the Lord had really told me that everything was OK of if that had just been my imagination.
Eventually, the supervisor returned, carrying a little stamp machine. The woman in the booth took it and looked very relieved. The military men laughed and moved on. The woman stamped my passport and smiled apologetically for the delay. I guess the big "problem" had been that her visa stamp machine broke and she needed a new one so she could do the paperwork. I thanked her "spla-see-bah" and left that checkpoint station rapidly.
"See," the Lord seemed to be grinning at me. "I told you that you were not in any type of danger!"
When I got to the plane, there was another "problem." Apparently something was wrong with my boarding pass and they wanted to send me all the way back to the ticket booth to get it straightened out. I showed her my tickets as proof that I really did belong on this flight -- which was supposed to leave any minute now. She went and got someone who spoke English. That woman explained that there had been a problem with my boarding pass, but since I had the ticket, I could use it as a substitute boarding pass and let me on the plane. Then I went to my seat -- in the last row of the plane and far away from the rest of the group. I felt a little frustrated -- Lord, how come I'm separated from the group? I'd rather be with them. But I started chatting with the folks next to me and began to think that perhaps the Lord put me here to witness to them.
Just as it got to a point where the conversation was turning to the gospel, a man came up and said that I was in his seat. He showed me his boarding pass with this seat number on it. I showed him my boarding pass which also had this seat number on it. Then a stewardess came by and untangled the whole thing. I had two flights home -- one from Moscow to New York and the other from New York to San Francisco. They had accidentally given me the seat assignment for my second flight on the boarding pass to my first flight. The stewardess helped me move to the correct seat-- right next to Kathleen! It was such a delight to see a friendly and familiar face and Kathleen greeted me by handing me a cookie. The seat I had left had been in the center section way in the back of the plane. Now I had been moved up to the front of the plane and had a window seat on an emergency aisle -- which meant lots of extra leg room. It was one of the nicest seats on the plane -- aside from business-class or first-class, that is.
After takeoff, Steve Phillips came by to follow up on an earlier discussion. Randy had told me to ask Steve about "prophetic evangelism" and Steve came by to tell Kathleen and myself about it. I will try to recount some of what Steve shared, but I don't think I can tell it nearly as well as Steve can:
The gist of prophetic evangelism is that we start by getting full of the Lord (like having a renewal service) and then we take it to the streets when we are full and overflowing. But we don't just take it to the streets, we ask God to show us where to take it. We ask Him to lead us to people who's hearts He has already prepared. Then, once He gets us there, we ask the Lord to show us precisely what He is doing in this person and how we can cooperate with Him. We determine what the Holy Spirit is doing and we participate with Him -- no less and no more. Steve says that it is important to realize that the Holy Spirit is not always taking a person to the point of conversion on each encounter. He may simply be moving them a step closer to that point. So Steve emphasized that we are NOT to measure our success in witnessing by counting conversions but by finding exactly what the Holy Spirit is doing and how we are to do it with Him. We can also ask the Lord to give us insight into the people He has led us to, maybe even a word of knowledge or two. We can have faith to pray for an unsaved person's needs or for healing or whatever -- and have faith that God will show up in power to back up His words as He uses us to speak forth His words.
Of course, Steve teaches this much better than I could possibly recount to you. (In fact, maybe you should consider inviting him to come teach it at your church...)
We discussed prophetic evangelism and how it fit into the renewal and into John Wimber's concept of Power Evangelism. The whole time Steve was sharing with me, something was sparking in my spirit. They came and served dinner, so Steve had to go back to his seat. But then he came back later and told some stories of how prophetic evangelism works.
When Steve got back, he told us several stories. He shared how the Lord was wanting to reach the middle class as well as the poor and oppressed. He shared about how one time after a renewal meeting he went with a group to the mall and how the Holy Spirit attracted people to their group and gave them lots of divine coincidences to share the gospel -- and people were receptive to it because they were the ones whose hearts the Holy Spirit had been preparing. Steve tells another story that I really loved:
It seems that they were out at a hotel and he felt "led" to go to this certain little restaurant there. But someone else in the group knew this really "great" place, so they group decided to go there instead. When the got there, they found there was over a one hour wait to be seated. Steve still felt "impressed" about this other restaurant, so the group decided to go there. When then got there and were seated, the Lord spoke to some of the people in their group that He was doing a work in the waitress's heart. So Steve began playing a game with her -- he'd double her tip if she could guess what he did for a living. He would drop little playful hints. She really got into the game and even got some of her waitress friends involved. Then later Steve shared what he really did for a living (traveling around teaching Christians how to share their faith). By now she was intrigued and she had formed a bit of a friendship with this group. She shared how she'd been feeling hungry for God had and even been praying that He would somehow reveal Himself to her as she was going about her job that day. Eventually, she got so into the conversation that she took her break so that she could talk more about God with Steve and the group. It turned out that she was going through some real struggles and the Lord gave someone in the group a word of knowledge about some of it. She started crying. Steve had a couple of the women in the group take her off somewhere more privately and pray for her. Now, the woman did not actually pray to receive Christ, but she was becoming much more convinced that He exists and that He is good and that He is interested in her personally. God did something powerful in her life.
After they left the folks in Steve's group shared their disappointment that she had not accepted Jesus. But Steve explained to them why it had been a very successful time ... first, the Lord divinely led them to the restaurant and had been preparing the waitresses heart all day -- she'd actually been praying as she worked for God to reveal Himself to her. She used her break to share some deep stuff about her life with total strangers and was receptive to a demonstration of God's love by accepting ministry prayer from them. Then Steve asked the women who'd prayed with her if they'd be able to drop her a note or card asking her how she was doing and if there was anything else they could do for her. "Why Yes!" the women began to get excited, realizing how God had given them an open door into this waitress' life and that this was not a one time event, but the start of a process that the Lord was doing to woo her into the kingdom. Then someone realized that this restaurant was conveniently located for them to come to and socialize after their kinship meetings. And the waitress would be there and would be a "captive audience" so to speak. The group began to see the Lord's divine signature on the encounter and was very excited about what He was doing.
Steve shared many other stories about Holy Spirit coincidences with us. These graphically illustrated the sovereignty and awesome power of God. They also showed the key to something I'd been puzzling over for over a year and half -- how to take the renewal anointing outside of the Church walls and to the streets. As I listened to Steve, I began to experience a very deep longing for this to operate in my own life and ministry. I began to get hungrier and hungrier for what Steve was describing. Soon I found myself blocking out what Steve was saying and dropping into prayer.
"Lord," I said, "This is what I've been looking for all this time. Please don't tease me with it! Please Lord, impart this into me too! Don't show me that it exists and then keep it from me. Give me this type of anointing too -- an anointing to be Your witness in the power of the renewal anointing. I want to discern exactly what Your Holy Spirit is doing in people's lives and to be led to the ones who You have prepared. Please Lord, start giving me those Holy Spirit coincidences. Start doing this in my life!" I could feel His presence coming on me as I prayed. This was too important to let go of. I wanted so desperately what I was hearing about. I wanted to become effective in winning the lost. What could possibly be more effective than seeing in the spirit who He had prepared and working with those instead of wasting time on those whose hearts the Holy Spirit was not moving on at the moment. Oh, how I longed for that discernment to see what He was doing and to be led to the ones who He was doing it on at the moment.
"God," I prayed silently, "This is SO important. Please let me participate too! Lord, don't just dangle this in front of my eyes -- give it to me! Please Lord, impart this into me."
About then, Steve suddenly stopped talking to Kathleen and put his hand on top of my head. He started praying for me -- an impartation type of prayer. (Talk about God giving a quick response to our petitions!) Anyhow, there are not words to describe what happened inside of me as this occurred. A part of me felt very alive -- it was in a total different way than any thing I have experienced in the renewal before, but His presence and His power were very real. There was no outward manifestations, but I could really sense some sort of impartation coming into me. It was as if the Lord had said, "Ok, you asked for it -- here it is. Empowerment for prophetic evangelism. Now you can go be My witness with greater power and authority." It was as though fireworks were going off inside of me and each firework made me feel more alive in Him as it exploded. His presence and His power and His passion for the lost became even more real to me. Steve stopped praying for me, but the Lord continued to move on me.
After a while the intensity lessened and I opened my eyes. Kathleen welcomed me back and told me that I'd been "out under the power" for about 15 or 20 minutes. A movie had started that I really wanted to see. But I really wanted to pursue this with the Lord some more. So I was torn on what to do, until the Lord told me to watch the movie and He'd talk to me when it was over. The movie was called "Sabrina" and was a delightful fairy-tale type of romance. In the movie, Sabrina's dad was wise and good and loved her very much. As I watched this movie, I could just feel the Father's love for me -- it was actually a very spiritual experience. I could feel the warmth of His presence over me as I watched the movie. After it ended, I dropped back into prayer.
I could feel the Lord's presence on me and was deep in fellowship with Him. All of the sudden, someone was shaking my shoulder and asking, "Are you OK?"
I opened my eyes to see one of the stewardesses bending over me -- watching me with concern.
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Ok, good. It's just that I saw you shaking and I wanted to make sure that you weren't having some type of attack." She left.
I turned to Kathleen and asked her if I'd been shaking under the power. Kathleen said I'd been shaking a little bit. I guess the stewardess saw that and was concerned. Suddenly, I felt very embarrassed. I had not meant to make any type of scene, I was just praying and enjoying the Lord's presence on me. I got up to go hunt up Robert or Steve or someone to ask them what I should do -- but they were all busy talking. So I wandered to the back of the plane. The stewardess who'd checked on me was standing there. I knew I should say something to her, but I had no idea what to say. So I breathed a quick prayer and then went up to her.
I found myself thanking her for watching out for me and explained that there were 21 of us on this flight who had just been on a religious trip to Moscow. I shared a little of what God had done at the Catch The Fire conference and then I shared how sometimes we shake when we pray and the Lord comes to meet with us. Well, she was very interested to talk about prayer, feeling that don't have to be in church to pray. As the conversation continued, it came out that her name was Ulla and she was from Sweden. Now, the Lutheran church is very big in Sweden and everyone there is a Lutheran whether or not they know God personally. As I talked to Ulla, it became clear that she did not understand the gospel and that she had no concept of a personal relationship with God. I was going to share the good news with her, but the Holy Spirit checked me on it and told me that He wanted me to pray a blessing over her instead. He wanted to demonstrate His love to her. So I asked her if I could pray a blessing over her as a "thank you" for her watching out for my safety earlier. She said that would be nice. So I asked her if there was anything specific that I could pray for, or if I should just pray a general blessing.
Then Ulla shared that she was having a heart problem and had a physical coming up. She wanted God to bless her by allowing her to pass that physical. So I asked her if it was ok to touch her while I prayed for her and Ulla said "sure."
I laid my hand on her shoulder and closed my eyes (usually I pray for people with my eyes open, but felt led to close them this time). Then I started asking Him to come and reveal more of Himself and His love to her and to bless her. I started praying for healing for her heart and God showed me a picture of the heart, with a little piece that had deteriorated. So I began to ask the Lord to regenerate any part that may have deteriorated. I opened my eyes and looked at her face -- she was crying. I the Lord gave me a few words of knowledge about her physical condition and as I prayed them, she began to cry heavier and heavier, until a stead flow of tears was streaming down her face. The prayer did not take very long -- maybe 2 or 3 minutes.
Then the Lord spoke to me, "Teresa, this is all I want you to do with her. She is feeling embarrassed because she is crying. Let her go gracefully and I will continue to deal with her."
So after I finished the prayer, she looked me in the eyes and said thank you. At the same time, she was trying to wipe away the tears with her hand and it was not very effective because more kept coming. I thanked her again for letting me pray a blessing on her and also for watching out for me when she though I was having some sort of attack because I was shaking. Then I excused myself to go to the restroom. She smiled and then dove for a box of Kleenex.
I was so excited by what the Lord had done -- turning that embarrassing situation into a chance to witness/minister for Him -- that I went to hunt up Steve and tell him about it. Steve was busy in another conversation and said he'd get back to me. He did swing by later and was excited by what I had to share. Steve asked me if I'd told Randy yet and I said no. So he went and told Randy and a little later Randy came be to chat with me about it. They were excited that the Lord was giving the team members Holy Spirit coincidences to share Jesus on the flight home. Randy shared how he and some other team members were given a "divine appointment" to minister to a Christian woman who'd backslidden. She seemed to return to the Lord as they ministered to her. It was exciting to see that some of the impartation to share His Good News in His power to the team -- just like God had imparted into the Russians at the conference!
On the second flight, I got some other divine appointment opportunities to share with some professional people about God. We started by just having a normal conversation and then finding some common ground. As the conversation developed, I got chances to share what God had been doing in Moscow, including sharing my own physical healing. This impressed one fellow who'd was returning from a business trip to Austria. He had come down with a bad cough/cold when he first arrived there. I asked him if I could pray for healing for him and he said yes. So I reached across the aisle and put my hand on his shoulder and asked the Lord to come demonstrate His power and His reality by healing the man. As the flight progressed, this cough got better and better and near the end of the flight he was not coughing at all.
There was a woman sitting in the row behind him who was a tad tipsy. She was very pleasant and very fun and happy and we hit it off for a bit of a conversation. She shared some of her business trip and I mentioned I'd been on a missions trip to Moscow and I shared some of what God did there. She is an agnostic, but she got very excited hearing about what God did in Moscow -- so excited that she decided to invite herself to my Church. Now I knew she was a little tipsy, so I did not really take her very seriously about coming to my Church -- until she started asking me for detailed directions on how to get there and also for what days and times to come. If she really follows through on her self-invitation, she should end up there the Friday night that Don Pirozok is speaking/ministering there. I sure hope she really shows up. But whether or not she actually shows up at church, her view of God has been expanded to see Him as existing and as powerful and as interested in the lives of His people. That is certainly a good start towards ushering an agnostic professional person into the kingdom!
This prophetic evangelism stuff is so exciting. It is effortless and fun to work with the Holy Spirit when He is already doing things! I sure love the concept of asking God to lead us to those who's hearts He has already prepared. It sure makes it easier to work with what He is doing instead of asking Him to bless what I am doing.
Since we were sitting way in the back of the plane, I was one of the last people off. Somehow Kathleen and I got separated and I paused to wait for her. A woman came up to me and greeted me enthusiastically -- "Wow, I can't believe you live in San Francisco! How Neat! Do you recognize me without my uniform." I looked into her face, it was Ulla, the stewardess God had given me a divine appointment with on the flight from Moscow to New York. God had made such a deep impression on her that she not only remembered me, she was excited to see me. Isn't God neat!
Anyhow, I hope/pray that the Lord will unleash on to all of us who've been basking in the renewal that same passion and empowerment to win the lost that He unleashed on the Russian Church during the Catch The Fire Conference. More Lord! More of Your heart for the Lost! More discernment of what You are doing and how we might do it with You. More of Your empowerment to go forth as Your witnesses, just like You empowered the early believers in the book of Acts. More Lord!
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