A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Archive for March, 2014

Two unlikely people in Rome

this language of the heart has special [particular] language and grammar

this language of the heart has special [particular] language and grammar

How two unlikely people ended up in Rome

When Tony Palmer came to faith 22 years ago, he had a radical conversion experience. Encountering Jesus changed everything for the young man from South Africa. Together with his wife Emilia he visited every home in his suburb, about 3,000 addresses, to share the gospel with every person.

He soon joined a seminary, then moved into full-time ministry, first working with a local church, and later with a charismatic ministry as their director for Africa. However, God had other plans and called the couple to prepare for a different mission field: Italy, and more specifically: the Roman Catholic Church in Italy.

“At that time the Evangelical churches in Italy were very legalistic, and the Catholic Church was very traditional,” Tony recalls. “We prayed: ‘Lord, if you want us to leave South Africa, the invitation has to come from the Catholic Church.’ Nobody knew about that prayer. But years later, in 2003, I got an e-mail from Rome saying: ‘Tony, we’ve seen your ministry and we’d like you to share it with the Roman Catholic charismatic renewal. Would you be willing to come to Italy?’

‘As Protestants we have been praying for the Catholic Church for years.’

There was one clause: I had to be self-funded. So I thought, quite naively: No problem! As Protestants we have been praying for the Catholic Church for years, so obviously people are gonna back me and send me. But when I sent out my letters for partners, only one couple said yes. So we put our house and car into the ministry and moved to Italy with nothing. We couldn’t even speak Italian. I’m not really a good networker, but God orchestrated many divine appointments.”

Tony and Emilia quickly discovered that it was acceptable in the Catholic Church to be Charismatic and Evangelical as well. “Jesus was all of those, you know,” says Tony. “Jesus is sacramental, he believed in signs and symbols. But he was also evangelical, he recited Scripture and stressed that you have to be born again. And he was a contemplative and a charismatic.” Then, cheeky: “How much of Jesus do you want? You only want one denomination of Jesus? Jump in, get it all!”

‘There were 450,000 of us outside, singing ‘Come, Holy Spirit’.’

Although God called him to support the charismatic renewal in the Roman Catholic Church, Tony became an Anglican priest and today serves as the abbot bishop of the Order of the Ark Community (video), an international ecumenical community around Christ, inspired by the spirituality of the Celtic Church and of St. Francis of Assisi. The Order has a retreat centre in the hills of Umbria, the area where St. Francis started his 13th century ministry, which led to a revival movement in the Catholic Church.
3Tony believes that a new revival is coming to the Roman Catholic Church. “I was at a meeting at St. Peter’s a few years ago, celebrating Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. There were 450,000 of us outside, singing ‘Come, Holy Spirit’. All Catholics, except a couple of us whom they called ‘the ecumenical delegation’. Pope Benedict publicly said to all the charismatic Catholics present: ‘You charismatics, you are the hope of the church. And you need to evangelize within before you evangelize outside.’ When I saw that, I realized: I’m giving my life to a good cause. It was not some kind of political diplomatic maneuvering of the Catholic Church to let us all become one big thing. They really wanted their people to come to faith.”

‘Who would have thought, my friend and mentor became the new pope!’

About eight years ago Tony travelled to Argentina, to work with the Catholic Church in that nation. As it was protocol to visit the residing Catholic bishop to ask his permission to work among his people, he visited Father Mario Jorge Bergoglio, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires. “He and I struck up an intimate friendship,” Tony says. “We started studying together, meeting more often, to a point where he became one of my mentors.” This was at the time that both men were involved in interdenominational reconciliation in Argentina. Bergoglio would wash the feet of the Protestant pastors, and the Charismatics would pray for the Catholic bishops to be baptized in the Spirit.

Last year, Tony received a suprising e-mail from Father Mario. “He said: ‘Tony would you please pray for me, because they called me to the conclave’. I was on the train, leaving Rome, when they announced the new pope was Mario Jorge Bergoglio. Who would have thought, my friend and mentor became the new pope! To be clear, this is not about my story, this is about history, His Story. God is doing something.”

The miracle of unity

Now my friend had become pope, I realized that our relationship was going to change. He got a new job description. I didn’t expect to have a friendship like I had before.

But just after Christmas, as I was watching television with my son, I got a phone call. To my surprise I heard: ‘Hello, this is Pope Francis.’ I said: ‘Father Mario?’ He said: ‘Yes’. I ran upstairs to my office where there was no noise and said: ‘What are you phoning me for?’ He asked: ‘When will you be in Rome next?’ I said: ‘In two weeks time. I have to visit one of my congregations.’ He said: ‘Can you come and see me? What date and time would suit you?’ I said: ‘Pope Frances, I can’t believe you just called me at home. I don’t know what to say to you.’ I honestly didn’t know. He said: ‘What do you mean?’ I said: ‘You’re the pope of the universal church, 1.2 billion people. And I’m just an Anglican clergyman doing his bit for the Kingdom.’ He said: ‘Tony, we’ve got a covenant, we’re brothers. Nothing will change that friendship.’ I was blessed. All these stories you’ve heard about Francis, picking up a hitchhiker in his popemobile, and visiting people, he hasn’t changed.

‘He said: ‘OK. Let’s make a video.’’

So I went to see him last Tuesday. We had the morning together in his apartment, and I asked him: ‘So what’s the agenda, why did you call me?’ He said: ‘I have no agenda, there’s nothing to discuss.’ That’s a father, that’s a mentor. Back in Argentina we had made a covenant to work for unity in the church, and I was planning to minister at a big Evangelical conference, so I asked him: ‘Can you give the leaders a word?’ He said: ‘OK. Let’s make a video.’ So I pulled out my iPhone and we recorded it right there and then.

This is a historic moment. Father Mario is the first pope who took the name of St. Francis of Assisi who was openly charismatic and called by Jesus to rebuild to church. This is also in Pope Francis’ heart, to rebuild the church. He recognizes us as brothers and sisters and speaks to us accordingly. God is turning the hearts of the sons to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to their sons, to prepare the way of the Lord. (Malachi 4,6)

‘Christian unity is the basis of our credibility.’

In the first thousand years since Christ there was one church: the Catholic Church. The word Catholic means universal. At the end of the first millennium there was a split between the Orthodox Church in the East and the Catholic Church in the West. Then 500 years later we had Luther and his protest: the third stream in 1500 years. And today there are 33,000 denominations. I’ve come to understand that diversity is divine, it’s division that’s diabolic. Jesus said: ‘I give them the glory, so that they may be one.’ (John 17,22) It’s the presence of God that glues us together, not the doctrine. If you accept that Christ is living in me, and I accept that Christ is living in you, that’s all we need. Because God will sort out all our doctrines when we get upstairs. Therefore Christian unity is the basis of our credibility. The world will not believe until we are one.
4In 1999 the Roman Catholic church and the worldwide Lutheran Church signed an agreement that brought an end to the protest. Luther believed that we were saved by grace through faith alone, and the Catholic Church believed that we were saved by works. They put the two definitions together. On the Vatican website it now reads: ‘Justification means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.’ This brought an end to the protest of Luther. Five years later the worldwide Methodists signed the same agreement.”

‘Come on, we are brothers. Let’s give each other a hug.’

In Pope Francis’ video message, that quickly went viral on YouTube, he said the following:

“I will not speak in English or Italian, but in a more simple and authentic language, the language of the heart. It has a simple grammar, only two rules: love God above all and love others as your brother and sisters. I’m here with my brother Tony Palmer, we’ve been friends for years. He told me about your meeting and it’s a pleasure to greet you. It gives me joy that you have come together to worship Jesus Christ the only Lord, and to pray to the Father and to receive the Spirit. We can see that God is working all over the world. At the same time I feel sad about the separation between our families, due to many sins and misunderstandings throughout history. We all share the blame for that. I yearn to see this separation come to an end, and communion being restored. I yearn to embrace each other.

Scripture tells us that when Joseph’s brothers began to starve from hunger, they went to Egypt to buy food. But they found something more than food, something money couldn’t buy, they found their brother. We all have currency: cultural riches, religious riches, diverse traditions. But we have to encounter one another as brothers. We must cry together, like Joseph and his brothers, these tears of love will unite us, so we can worship Jesus together as the Lord of history.

I thank you profoundly for listening to me and allowing me to speak in the language of the heart. I also ask you a favor: please pray for me, because I need your prayers. I will pray for you too. Let’s pray that the Lord unites us all. Come on, we are brothers. Let’s give each other a spiritual hug and let God complete the work that He has begun. As the famous Italian author Mazoni once wrote, quoting a simple man: ‘I’ve never seen God begin a miracle without Him finishing it well.’ He will complete this miracle of unity. I bless you. From brother to brother I embrace you.”

A movement of 200 million born-again Catholics

In this video Tony Palmer explains the Pope’s intentions and gives background to the charismatic renewal movement in the Catholic Church. This movement now has grown to over 200 million born-again and Spirit-filled Catholic Christians throughout the world.

Source: Tony Palmer and Pope Francis

Joel News International 896-897, March 2014-03-17

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Healing Evangelism

Healing Evangelism

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).

Revival continues to explode in spite of, and in the midst of, darkness such as the brutal massacres of Christians and others in North Korea, North Africa, Syria and the Middle East.

Local

Local Australian examples of healing evangelism, for example, continue to increase.  Many churches now have ministry teams that pray for people at the end of each service.

Joel Shaw, a young pastor at Glory City Church in Brisbane leads youth in prayer healing evangelism in the streets and malls of Brisbane, along with others.  Here’s a recent example from him:

Chris

Chris Turner

“I am just on a total high from last night! After church we went down with the young adults to Kangaroo Point.  Chris Turner [youth pastor] and I were talking about all the opportunities that were all around us.  As we were walking from one location to the next we saw this big bunch of young people smoking and rabbling around.  Chris stopped and called out to them.  At first they didn’t even acknowledge that he was there.  Chris called out a second time in a louder voice “HEY GUYS!”  Their conversation died down and they started to listen.

“Chris said, “Have you guys seen any miracles?”  Some jeered, some were serious and others quite friendly.  Within 30 seconds there was a guy who admitted to having a knee problem, One prayer and he was instantly healed!  A girl stepped up saying that she had period pain and she was also instantly healed.

“A guy next to me started to talk to me about his elbow.  He had heaps of pain and limited movement.  By this stage it was electric.  I knew there wasn’t a chance this guy wouldn’t be healed, so I said, “Watch this!” to the other guys around me and began to pray.  I felt the presence of God go through me and he stumbled backward.  “WHAT THE @#$%!” He exclaimed, moving his arm around vigorously.  He began to jump around and continue to stream expletives in total shock that he had been healed.

“By that time I had lost track of the other miracles that were happening all around me.  Immediately another guy comes up to me and said to me something along the lines of “I need help, I have a lot of sin!”  It was because of the miracles and the presence of God he was convicted of his sin!  The loving kindness leads us to repentance.

So as I hugged the guy with the healed arm for the 5th time, I proceed to share about the price that Jesus paid for his sin.  Turns out he had been to church but was desperate to encounter the supernatural so had delved deep into witchcraft and other new age practices.  I prayed for him, and he said he was so overwhelmed by God’s presence.   …  We got his number and his address and he is coming to church on Friday.   Seriously Kingdom life is the most exciting life!  That was an opportunity we could have easily walked by.”

Global

Andrew Chee and pastors pray for the paramount chief

Andrew Chee and pastors pray for the paramount chief

During the last few years I led teams of young people from these churches on missions in the South Pacific.  Healings, deliverance and salvation increase with each visit.  Everyone prayed for in one pagan village reported their pain had gone, and for the first time ever the paramount chief asked for healing prayer for himself.  When Andrew Chee and the pastors prayed for him the pain left.  Previously he had burned a Bible given to him.  Now he is saying that a church can be built where he burned the Bible.

Last year a team saw everyone healed that they prayed for on Pentecost Island, Vanuatu.  The testimonies opened the way for more salvation, deliverance, and people being filled with the Spirit and equipped for powerful service.  That includes detecting and removing magic and witchcraft.

Grant Shaw with nurse Leah Waqa

Grant Shaw with nurse Leah Waqa

Grant Shaw, Joel’s brother and now pastor of Kingdom Culture Church in Brisbane, joined me at many revival meetings in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.  We saw God move powerfully on hundreds of people, especially at a national youth conference in the Solomon Islands.  One young man, healed at the conference, that night prayed for his mum and brother in their home and they both were healed.  He had never done that before.  We prayed with nurse Leah Waqa in Port Vila (the capital of Vanuatu) who that week had been led to pray in the hospital for a girl who had died after being hit by a truck.  Leah prayed for the girl for over half an hour of Spirit-led prayer commanding her to live.  The girl lived.

I have written more about this and the resulting transformations in South Pacific Revivals and the expanded Flashpoints of Revival.  See also “21st Century Revivals in the South Pacific”.

We live through amazing revivals globally this century.  One of the most obvious is with Iris Global, with Roland and Heidi Baker.  They write:

Joel & Candice Shaw with Roland & Heidi Baker

Joel & Candice Shaw with Roland & Heidi Baker

Iris Global (previously Iris Ministries) is a holistic ministry that we began in 1980 as we took small evangelistic street drama teams to Asia on short-term mission trips. Our emphasis was the creative presentation of the Gospel, and our ministry grew greatly. But we were so impacted by the condition of the poor that we changed direction drastically and began to stop for the one and prove the love of God by first addressing the temporal needs of the broken and humble, “the least of these.” We focused on the bottom of society rather than the top. Now, after coming to Africa and starting with street beggar children in 1995, we have seen a people movement spread across the ten provinces of Mozambique. Massive desperation for God rising out of a long history of repression, poverty and natural disasters has fueled revival, one that is sparking more fire in nations around the world. And signs and wonders are following all the way.

“What began as a ragged band of young beggars, thieves and delinquents has developed by the power of the Holy Spirit into a closely-knit national family of thousands of churches and a broad ministry encompassing Bible schools, children’s centers, church-based orphan care, primary education, medical clinics, constant evangelistic and healing outreaches, farming, well drilling and much else. Our vision in the Lord is constantly increasing.

“But most of all we proclaim Jesus. He is our salvation, our prize, our reward, our inheritance, our destination, our motivation, our joy, wisdom and sanctification — and absolutely everything else we need, now and forever. All His grace and power flow to us through the Cross and no other way. We are glad to be known as social workers and humanitarians, and to have a reputation for doing good. But all is in vain if we do not bring to the people faith in our God and Savior Jesus Christ. We want to be known by His Name, first and foremost. And we do not expect fruitfulness to come out of anything but intimacy with Him …”    (http://www.irisglobal.org).

The Light still shines.  We can live in the Light.

Or, to use another picture, we can hoist our sail of faith and catch the wind of the Spirit blowing powerfully in the earth.

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