So many of the stories we hear about God’s miracles occur in distant lands or happened years in the past. That’s all well and good, but what is God doing today? Miracle Invasion: Amazing true stories of the Holy Spirit’s gifts at work today (Broadstreet Pub Group LLC, 2018) answers that question in dramatic fashion.
If you’ve ever wondered, like Gideon did, “If the Lord is with us…where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about?” (Judges 6:13), Dean Merrill’s latest book may be exactly what you need.
This is not an over-the-top account of a single supernatural event that occurred in one person’s life. Rather, this is a collection of “everyday” miracles (can we call them that?)—God at work in the lives of ordinary people: healings, words of knowledge, deliverance, abundant provision, and more. Each story underscores a simple truth: the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still at work. Today.
The stories come from many places, but Merrill drew on experiences within the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for a couple of them. This excerpt is from Miracle Invasion by Dean Merrill and is used by permission.
Lest anyone think that spiritual gifts flow only through pastors, evangelists, and super-saints, consider the cases of two different youth groups—one in western Canada, the other in central United States—that illustrate what the Spirit can do through “just teenagers.”
The Rolling Prayer Meeting
Fort McMurray, Alberta, sits far up in the northern forests—another 435 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Edmonton, the provincial capital. But it’s no sleepy outpost; it’s the throbbing center of the Athabasca oil sands, where some 2 million barrels of petroleum are extracted every day—much of it headed to the U.S.
Outside of town, however, it’s a long drive through the vast stretches of pine and spruce and birch trees to other population centers. That explains why McMurray Gospel Assembly’s youth group ended up chartering a coach bus a few years back to go to a winter weekend retreat at a sister church in Fort Saint John, British Columbia—eleven hours away. They would roll out well before sunrise on a Friday morning, arrive in time for the evening kickoff, have Saturday meetings, stay through the host church’s two Sunday morning services, and then begin the long trek back east again, not getting home until around midnight.
Paul Vallee, youth pastor at the time, had worked hard to sign up forty-some young people for the trip, plus half a dozen adults. He couldn’t quite convince one sixteen-year-old named Kelsey [pseudonym], however. “I really wish I could go,” she said wistfully, “but every time I take a long trip, it seems I get one of my migraine headaches. And once they start, they just kill me for three days or even four. I can’t risk it.”
The youth pastor thought about the fact that she had gone forward in the church more than once to be anointed with oil and prayed for. Still, her pounding pain and nausea kept coming back. Now he could only say to the girl, “Well, we’ll just have to trust God about that.”
Her girlfriends did some arm-twisting about the retreat, to the point that she finally caved in to their pleading. She happily boarded the bus that early morning with the rest.
However, about an hour and a half down Provincial Highway 63, sure enough … someone came up the aisle to where Paul and his wife, Patty, were sitting in the front row. “Kelsey’s having problems,” the person said. Paul went back to find the girl in excruciating pain. Her eyes had rolled back in their sockets as she gripped her head with both hands. She softly moaned. Concerned teens on all sides leaned up on their knees to see what was unfolding.
Now what? Pastor Paul knew they were still more than an hour from the nearest gas station where her parents could be called (in this pre-cellphone era) to come pick her up. Her suffering was intensifying by the minute. There had to be a better solution.
“Listen up, everybody,” he said suddenly. “She told me this might happen. But we’re going to pray. We’re going to believe God for a miracle.” He then began to lead out in prayer, with the teenagers joining in fervent pleas for divine intervention. From the front to the back, the chorus swelled: “Oh, God, help Kelsey! Please stop this terrible headache! We believe you can do this.” For the next twenty minutes, the bus became a rolling prayer meeting.
In time, the girl’s body seemed to relax slightly from its earlier tension. She slumped back into her seat as the voices subsided, although kids kept praying quietly around her. Paul returned to his seat up front.
It was not long afterward when there was a tap on his shoulder. He looked up, surprised, to see Kelsey herself with a calm demeanor. “This is a miracle, Pastor Paul,” she uttered. “This has never happened in my life!”
She went on to explain: “Once these migraines start, they run their course. But … but … I’m better!” The entire bus broke out in rejoicing and thanks.
The Fort McMurray group had much to celebrate when they arrived at the retreat site. Paul Vallee spoke that Friday night on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God’s presence seemed especially strong in the meeting. “I was done speaking by eight-thirty or nine,” he remembers, “but kids were still at the altar at eleven-thirty, being filled with the Spirit, speaking in tongues, awash in the flow of God. Some said, ‘I don’t even know what’s happening to me’—though I thought I’d done a good job of explaining in my message! It was pretty dramatic.
“The Holy Spirit’s move was so strong throughout the weekend that when we got back onto the bus Sunday afternoon to start home, kids were still weeping as we drove. They came home and began starting their days on their knees before the Lord. Parents said to me, ‘What’s happened to my kid? I go by his room in the early morning and see a light under the door. If I knock and he says, ‘Come in,’ he’s there with his Bible open, and he’s praying!”
Some youth group members began voluntarily tossing out unhealthy media they’d collected, without any sermons on the subject. The Holy Spirit was doing his own deep, internal work in their hearts.
Soon the senior pastor asked if some of the teens might want to share their recent experience with a Sunday night audience of adults. Paul Vallee thought they might be intimidated—but when he put the question to the group, a total of thirty-two hands went up. It turned out to be one of the most memorable services the church had ever experienced.
Kelsey and her family ended up moving back east to Newfoundland but stayed in touch with their Fort McMurray friends. Several years later, her update came through: “Since that day on the bus, I’ve never had a single migraine.” God had done a permanent miracle in her body.
Dean Merrill, long-time member of the FCA, is a former magazine editor and writer best known for his award-winning collaborations with such Christian leaders as Jim Cymbala (Brooklyn Tabernacle), Wess Stafford (Compassion International), and Gracia Burnham (Philippine missionary hostage survivor).
“Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all his ways.” — James 1:8
2018 is a good time to “un-commit” to everything we are not sure or confident of.
By Tom Yerman
Throughout this year we will be faced with a variety of situations, ideas, and needs that will tug on our hearts: “Do this. Fix that. Do something!” As worthy as each of them might seem to be, over time they can accumulate…and weigh us down.
As these tasks and obligations accumulate, we can find ourselves mentally, emotionally—even spiritually—struggling over one or more of them, causing us to become bogged down. We may even find ourselves wrestling with doubt, doubt not just in what we should or should not do, but also in how we might do something.
The word doubt in James 1:6 is defined as being in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitant, or waver. In James 1:8, the person who doubts is described as being “unstable in all his ways.” The Amplified Bible adds specific detail: “in everything he thinks, feels, or decides.”
The beginning of a New Year is a good time to put aside things about which we are unsure or hesitant, trusting God for clarity and provision at the proper time.
A brother reminded me, “we can’t be totally committed to one thing if we reserve some commitment to things we are unsure of.” As we “un-commit” to everything we’re not definite about, we will find ourselves in a better position to totally commit to that about which we can be fully certain.
In other words, replace doubt about uncertain things with faith in what we know for sure. Faith must embody everything we do!
It is by faith we are saved, and it is with faith that we move forward. Faith is having a settled trust and confidence in God. It’s a practical matter that expresses itself in our daily lives—especially in the way we respond to all kinds of trials.
The stability of our faith affects the stability of our entire person, life, and ministry. As we move forward in the coming year, we must continue not only to maintain a sincere faith, but also to grow a stronger faith.
James helps us understand the importance of developing such a mature faith.
- Faith produces perseverance when it’s tested.
- Perseverance builds maturity when we let it finish its work.
- In maturity, we lack nothing spiritually.
As we strive to live a life of faith distinctively expressed (not vague or doubtless), we must establish our faith, keeping it precisely focused. Our focus must remain on that which is stable and unchanging—something we can fully rely upon, something we can love with all our heart, something we can have an undivided devotion for, and something that is always good.
Let me give some color to that word good:
- Good provides confidence.
- Good is precise, flawlessly established with truth.
- Good promotes a healthy self-image.
- Good produces high standards.
- Good points to an unmistakable path and future.
- Good is proven, limitless, the best—in other words, perfect.
This “something” that is always good is better described as someone—namely, Jesus Christ. He is the one person in our lives who must matter most! Spiritual progress demands his kind of love, devotion, and drive!
Jesus is certainly the only one we can always rely upon to meet our needs and know without hesitation that God is with us: God cannot deny himself; he is faithful. As we keep in step with Jesus, we will find ourselves equipped for every good work—everything we exercise our faith to do. This is why we must consciously keep our mind, our energy, and our faith in Jesus—the one whom we can be definite about.
James 1:16-18 (ESV) states, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
Every good and perfect gift is from God. In his sovereignty and will he has given us a new birth. We are the first fruits, the initial harvest, who live anticipating the redemption of creation. Jesus Christ was born to die that we might live out the why he died—with, for, and in him. Let us “hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (Jas. 2:1) as we put aside the things we are unsure of and move forward in the things we are certain about.
In him, we find the inspiration and ability to progress both inwardly and outwardly. May our steps be firm and our faith rich as we progress and grow in bringing glory to him who loves us most!
The blessing and honor and glory and power are forever his. He is the Creator of heaven and earth and our Maker, who is absolute and infinite Lord over all. He is the Almighty and All-Sufficient One who is Sovereign and King. He is our Banner, our Victory, and our Covering, the completely Self-Existing One who is the great I Am. He is God, and our advantage is in knowing: God is!
I’ve shared my heart in this writing, but I would also like to share this video, which comes from John Piper. I took a moment to sit back, close my eyes, and be refreshed in the awe of the simple but profound fact that, God is. I trust you will be refreshed by it as well.
—Tom Yerman is an FCA Pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.
*Convergence: “the converging and connecting of distinct identities, ethnicities and nations into a unified whole.”
Mark Your Calendars!
The 2018 Fellowship of Christian Assemblies International Convergence is coming May 1 to 4 to Manitoba, Canada, to be held at Winnipeg’s Radisson Hotel. Plan now to attend this international gathering, bringing together delegates from multiple nations for inspiration and challenge. A reminder to U.S. citizens: You will need a current U.S. passport to travel to Canada.
International Delegates Coming to the 2018 Convergence!
Delegates from FCA partners in South America and Africa are making plans to attend. Their participation will greatly enrich our time together as a truly international convergence of the nations! Many of these leaders from third world nations share the same DNA as the FCA churches in North America. They have vision for local churches to train, equip, and send workers, making disciples at home and abroad. It is a vision for transformation beginning in their own families, communities, and nations—and then spreading to other nations.
The international delegates are receiving letters of welcome from Winnipeg City Councilor, Scott Gillingham, and from the Hon. Scott Fielding, Minister of Families with the Manitoba Provincial Cabinet.
God Is Doing a New Thing!
The Spirit of God is rising up from within the nations, and many church leaders from third world countries have much to teach us about raising up leaders who will reproduce disciples for the next generation.
We also expect that the Winnipeg Convergence will witness the glory of the Lord arising from among the First Nations in Manitoba, right in the heart of the continent!
Winnipeg has the largest urban native population of any city in Canada, and we are blessed to have some 25 First Nations ministers licensed and ordained with the FCA in Manitoba alone—people of history and destiny, showcasing God’s kingdom authority to release grace, forgiveness and the joy of God’s presence to bring healing to our lands! The native Cree word, Manitoba, refers to the place where the Creator sits and from where he speaks! Many believe there is a prophetic mantle upon this province, flowing from the Father’s heart through the hearts of First Nation believers who have been healed of their deepest wounds.
|“Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness, come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:1-3).
“Oh sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD all the earth. Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples” (Psalm 96:1-3).
Making disciples to make disciples from all nations is global vision—a grassroots movement within every nation. We are starting in the FCA to connect nation-to-nation with a growing, locally based vision!
This movement is growing out of the depths of people’s hearts, working its way upward and outward, demonstrating that God is indeed doing a “new thing.” He had the first word in creation; he will also have the last word in history!
Don’t miss the 2018 FCA International Convergence coming to Winnipeg this spring!.For additional details and information on how to registration, click HERE.
—News item submitted by Roger Armbruster, Sr.
Pastor of Maranatha (Niverville), Manitoba