The Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit conference at the Community of the Cross (Spring 2012) was a unique cultural and spiritual experience.
Two very different groups attended the one conference.
One included pastors and elders from North America, many of whom had no experience of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and no previous contact with PRMI.
Our second group consisted of 24 pastors and elders from Indonesia. These from an Asian cultural background are very well acquainted with the Person and the power of the Holy Spirit.
They have attended all six of the Dunamis Projects and thus have been equipped to move in the Spirit’s gifting. They are using that equipping to provide spiritual leadership in the movement of revival in Indonesia among the Reformed congregations there.
The teaching for both groups was based on the book, Growing the Church In the Power off the Holy Spirit : The Two foundations and Seven Dynamics.
Leadership for the event was provided by the Rev. Cindy Strickler from NC, and Dean of the Faculty of the Dunamis Institute, and the Rev. Paul Stokes from the UK, Academic Dean of the Dunamis Ireland.
As the week began, I was not feeling well. I had been bitten by a couple of ticks and was showing all the signs of coming down with something serious, so I taught only one section to the Americans and Canadians. Every afternoon, the energy I did have was committed to teaching the Indonesians.
In the past, Cindy, Paul and I have done most or all the teaching for Growing the Church. But this time we were very intentional in handing the teaching off to a number of other experienced teachers.
Joining the teaching team this year were the Revs. Larry Selig, Jim Tilley, Susan Fink, Frank Drake, Tom Swieringa and Denny Finnegan, all ordained pastors from Reformed and Presbyterian churches. They also led small groups where most of the hands-on work of learning to cooperate with the Holy Spirit takes place. Each of these pastors has had extensive experience in nurturing renewal in local congregations. Their role was to pass this firsthand experience on to others.
Dawn Ryswyk led us in spirit-filled worship. A team of intercessors covered us in prayer.
The Indonesians gathered for teaching in the afternoon. They were on a separate track, with translations and teaching done by Frank Drake and me. Paul joined us to teach on the Second Foundation.
The two groups gathered together for meals, worship, and each evening for prayer ministry. The very cross-cultural experience for all of us intensified Thursday evening when the Holy Spirit fell on us.
The way in which the Spirit came was entirely ordinary and appropriate for the Indonesians. On the other hand, His powerful presence represented a worldview-exploding experience for some of those from North America. We prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and anointed pastors and elders for various ministries and roles to grow the Church.
On the last day a major demonic counter-attack on our leadership threatened to spoil the good fruit we were enjoying to that point. Satan was not pleased at all with our activities.
After the event concluded for the North Americans, Frank Drake and I stayed on with the Indonesians for two more days of intensive teaching.
In debriefing with the Indonesians, we learned that they too had come under demonic attack at the same time as our leadership team. This led to our spending most of the time together dealing with the role of the demonic.
When I asked them about the greatest problems they face in their ministries in Indonesia, the first thing they named was demonic attacks against them.
These powerful attacks sometimes come through people, they explained, but most often they are experienced as direct demonic attacks. In our discussions, we learned that they are dealing with very powerful occult evil spirits that are connected to their animistic past.
In addition, they live with the hostile forces of Islam, an extremely powerful stronghold of deception in the world today. They are experiencing a level of direct spiritual warfare that most of us in UK, USA and Canada have never imagined possible, certainly well beyond our experience. It is as if they are living at a whole different spiritual bandwidth. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is making Himself manifest in yet greater ways!
What is most encouraging to me is that they find the teaching we offer in Dunamis not only helpful in providing a Biblical understanding of these things, but also extremely practical in dealing with their actual encounters with the demonic.
Most of these pastors are women! They serve congregations of all sizes, often in the hundreds to thousands of people. They are clearly anointed for leadership and are truly advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ under difficult circumstances. It is a joy to work with them. What a privilege to be called to take part in equipping them for service and ministry!
They are a great blessing to all of us in the PRMI community!