With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.“Matthew 19:26
Before taking up the role of pastoring a local church, I was involved in an organisation that arranged for teams of lay people to conduct week-end missions at various more traditional churches.
At that stage they had two basic mission formats; one to evangelise and the other to encourage members to join church fellowship groups. On this occasion I was asked to lead the second of these missions to a church in a town just to the East of Johannesburg.
Before assembling the team and communicating with the church leadership, I prayed earnestly for the Lord’s direction. At that time the newspapers were full of the story of 39 school pupils who had drowned when their school bus plunged into a dam – trapping them onboard.
As I was praying, a vision suddenly swept into my consciousness. I was under water and the bus was right there in front of me. A boy, his longish blond hair wafting in the water, had his face pressed up against the window. The look on his face was desperate and his mouth was moving. Although I couldn’t hear him I knew he was screaming, “Help me!”.
Then as suddenly as it had come, the vision left me and I dissolved in a paroxysm of tears and grief. I realised that the Holy Spirit was showing me that the people of the church we were to minister at, did not need to be encouraged to join fellowship groups; many were drowning spiritually and in desperate need of Jesus as Saviour.
After liaising with the mission organization and recipient church it was agreed that the mission should change to the evangelistic format. When my team and I arrived in the town, a couple of months later we were full of expectation and excitement. Surely the Lord wanted to do something extraordinary!
As customary, each member of the visiting team was hosted by a family of the recipient church who provided meals, transport, and accommodation. The team leader was usually placed with a couple that were either prominent within the local church, or in need of special spiritual attention.
After the Friday night introductory session in the church hall I was introduced to my hosts, Henry and Eve (not their real names). They took me to their home and we sat in their lounge chatting for quite a while, although it was already late. As I gently probed their church backgrounds it became obvious to me that, although they were members of the church, they were not born again: they did not have a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We talked frankly about this and I explained what the Bible revealed concerning the Gospel.
They were both so open to hear that the Holy Spirit began ministering powerfully. We knelt together around their glass coffee table, joined hands, and prayed. As Henry confessed his sin and cried out to Jesus for salvation, he suddenly pitched forward under the strong anointing of the Spirit. The bowl of fruit on the table shot up into the air and there was a moment of holy surprise. He straightened up and the three of us beamed at each other with joy.
God goes before us to prepare the way; He guides and orchestrates; He creates a new spirit in those who cry out to Him; and He sustains and keeps us from spiritually drowning.
Many years have passed since then, but Henry and Eve are still passionate about their relationship with Jesus. Henry became an elder in that church and more recently both have become involved in an evangelistically orientated non-conventional church in Johannesburg.
In my next ‘What the Pastor Saw’ story I will write about what happened on the Sunday of that memorable mission.