Power Evangelism: Ministry in the Marketplace
John and Carol Arnott, pastors of the Toronto Airport Fellowship in Canada, recently spent the day with Laurie and me here in Florida. We met them and another couple at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades and went to a nearby hotel to visit. In the dinning room, John and Carol prayed for Laurie and when they laid hands on her, she began to vibrate. Those who have been to the Toronto Revival (as in many other places) are familiar with this physical manifestation of the Holy. Sometimes when the Holy Spirit touches a person, the shaking becomes intense. This outward sign is only an indication of His inward, more important work.
Laurie’s encounter with the Holy Spirit was a significant moment for her. She had been unable to attend the Revival in Toronto--where some 4,000,000 others have experienced encounters with God. As she later explained to a friend, “I could not go to the Toronto Revival, even when Charles was preaching there, so God graciously sent the Revival to me.” And she was right. Pain immediately left her body and she walked more normally than before. Her complications began with an automobile accident in 1977. But others in the dinning room were watching as John and Carol prayed. After the shaking began, the manager came to our table and asked quietly, “Is the lady alright?” When we assured him that she was, he walked away puzzled. Had we been unable to calm his fears, he probably would have called 911.
Laurie’s same shaking-phenomenon is what gave early Quakers and Shakers their names. While it may be unfamiliar to modern Christians, it appeared consistently throughout church history. Puritans in England experienced demonstrations of shaking, falling “swooning,” as they termed it, 1555-1655, as did American congregations where Jonathan Edwards preached during the “Great Awakening.” In 1741, Samuel Johnson, the Dean of Yale University, wrote a friend in England about these strange manifestations. He said, “Even their bodies are frequently in a moment affected with the strangest convulsions and involuntary agitations and cramps, which also have sometimes happened to those who came as mere spectators.” Jonathan Edwards’ wife was among them; she was “under the power” for 17 days.
This physical “sign” was also common in the ministries of John Wesley, George Whitfield, and numerous others. At the Cane Ridge, Kentucky, Revival, in 1802, Barton W. Stone, told of standing on a log and seeing more than 500 people swept down at one time by the power of God. Some were knocked from their horses. Thousands more were laid-out for days at a time. That Revival changed the face of religion in America just as the 1741 “Great Awakening” had done in the Colonies. In my own ministry, I have seen people so shaken that they were literally thrown from their chairs.
In view of what happened to Laurie and the restaurant manager’s reaction, I want to touch on four points in this article:
1. The reality of the Holy Spirit’s demonstration in the New Testament. Acts 8:5-8.
In the New Testament era, the Holy Spirit’s manifestations were not confined to church meetings. Elymas the Sorcerer was blinded in the office of the Proconsul. Acts 13:11. Viper-bitten, Paul threw the serpent back into a bonfire as everyone looked on amazed. Acts 28:3. People were healed when Peter’s shadow touched them in the streets of Jerusalem. Acts 5:15. A fortune-telling girl was exposed and delivered from demons in public view. Acts 16:16. Ananias and Sapphira fell dead in front of startled eyes. Acts 5:1-12.
A lame man was healed in the crowded courtyard of the Temple. Acts 3:2-11. Saul of Tarsus was slammed to the ground and blinded on the Damascus Road. Acts 3:3-8. In Samaria, “demons crying with loud voices came out of many.” Acts 8:5-8. This was followed with “great joy in that city” as riotous laughter filled the streets. Acts 8:8. Handkerchiefs and aprons from Paul’s body brought healing wherever they went. Acts 19:12. Does all of it seem strange to modern Christians? Yes. In their present mind-set, modern Christians would have run from a Spirit-empowered New Testament meeting.
In contrast, believers in the first century lived in constant expectation of God’s power being displayed. “Miracles, signs, and wonders,” surrounded them and brought the accusation that they were “filling Jerusalem” with their doctrine. Acts 5:28. My question is this: Is it God’s plan to do such things in the “market place” today and should we expect them? The answer is an emphatic Yes! And the greatest challenge before the Church is to go public with displays of God’s power.
I can illustrate what I mean: Several years ago I was in the lobby of the Hampton Inn in Hixson, Tennessee, when two couples rushed up to shake my hand. The lady who touched me first instantly dropped to the floor under the power of God. Before her husband realized what was happening he too went down. Immediately, the other couple fell beside them. All four lay seemingly dead in the hotel entrance as the Holy Spirit sovereignly ministered to them. This was a market-place “sign and wonder.” I had done nothing but touch them. And please know this, the power did not come from me--it came from the Temple of the Holy Spirit inside me. Peter explained this in Acts 3:12-16.
I will never forget the expression on the face of the hotel manager, a young Hindu from India, standing on his tiptoes, peering over the counter, staring wide-eyed at the four people apparently dead on his hotel floor. Hindu or not; he knew he had witnessed the power of God. Later that day he brought his wife to my room and with urgency, said, “Will you please pray for us?!” When I laid hands on them both fell to the carpet. Before leaving the room they became born-again believers in Jesus Christ. I have seen him several times since and he has always been glowing in the joy of the Lord.
Another time in a large indoor Mall, two young women recognized me and rushed up to speak. When we touched, the first one instantly dropped to the marble floor. Shoppers passing us were astonished but I explained, “Don’t worry; she is under the power of God ...” Once, at Atlanta’s Airport Westin Hotel, when Jack Taylor and Ron Phillips invited me to speak at a Baptist pastors meeting, people fell-out in the meeting room, others on the mezzanine, and one well-dressed pastor’s wife, went down the escalator, leaning over the rail above the lobby, her laughter echoing through the huge, high ceiling of the room. According to the book of Acts, she was “full of new wine.” Acts 2:13.
A few minutes later, as I accompanied them to their car, they fell-out again in an under-ground passage between the hotel and garage. Another time, I was getting into my car at a restaurant parking lot when a vehicle raced to a stop beside me. Leaving the engine running, two ladies who had heard me earlier rushed toward me saying, “Please pray for us!” When I did, the Holy Spirit knocked them to the asphalt with a jolt. God did not seem to care how it looked to others. He simply met their need there in public view.
Again, I once walked into an Applebees Restaurant, was taking my seat, when a group of young people called me across the room. They were crowded into a large circular booth and asked that I join them. When I approached, the Holy Spirit moved unexpectedly, some began shaking, others felt a wave of joy come over them and began laughing uncontrollably. A moment later several slid partway under the table while another fell from the booth to the floor. Disorderly? By human standards, Yes. By God’s standards, No. I cannot explain His reasons for such demonstrations but I know they are real.
Two years ago, I took my prayer-partners, David Rhea and Don Vinson, fishing on the Florida Keys. On our final night I called R.T. Kendall and asked him to join us for dinner at a local restaurant. During the meal, when Don questioned R.T. about his next travel-destination, R.T. despondently answered “Israel.” Numerous suicide-bombings were taking place there and he regretted having made plans to go. But--when Don and David heard the word “Israel,” the Holy Spirit hit both of them with power. Each lurched forward, shaking uncontrollably, with David holding to his chair to keep from sliding under the table. Why did it happen? The Holy Spirit spoke to them that R.T’s visit to Israel was not for the purpose he supposed. Suicide bombings were no threat. Still vibrating, Don told him prophetically, “God’s plans for your trip are much more significant than you realize.”
A few days later, in Israel, R.T. found himself witnessing personally to Yasser Arafat about Jesus Christ. That unexpected visit began a series of three opportunities for R.T. to speak to the man about his salvation. My point is this: The prophetic-revelation which came to Don and David did not take place behind closed church doors. It came in the “market place” where others were watching. Nor did it come in word only; it was accompanied with “signs and wonders.”
Once, when Jack Taylor, R.T., and I, were preaching in Houston, Texas, God gave me a warning for the Church. He said: “The radical manifestations of the Holy Spirit are going to parallel the Church’s radical unbelief.” In other words, God’s “signs” are going to become more radically obvious as the Church digresses into unbelief. People who now complain about miraculous manifestations, and ignore, ridicule, or denounce them, are going to encounter “market place” demonstrations so extreme, so challenging, so overwhelming, and undeniably real, that they will “fall on their face, worship God,” and acknowledge that God is at work. Cf. I Corinthians 14:24, 25. But we Charismatic or Pentecostal Christians need not think such demonstrations are for the “other” churches and not us.
We too are going to be stretched by the works of God. Fiercely so! Hear me carefully: Such stretching is God’s most effective way to force us into self-surrender and frantic, relentless praying. When we need answers, this is the only way they will come. The Holy Spirit’s present manifestations will seem mild by those which the public will encounter in the future. And when it happens it will have more revolutionary effect on the church than anything else we have ever experienced. In one of my recent night-time revivals, people leaving the building fell under the power of the Spirit in the church parking lot--in sleet, wind, and a cold winter rain. To them--and God--being prostrated in those bleak conditions did not matter. They were in the embrace of the all-loving, all-caring, wonderful Holy Spirit.
Such full-blown demonstrations of the Holy Spirit are coming to America’s streets. “Radical manifestations” will parallel the church’s radical unbelief. They will stop traffic, disrupt classrooms, send chaos through ball games and hospital corridors. It will be awesome, beautiful, powerful as wild-fire. “Signs, wonders, mighty deeds,” will astonish, challenge, and change, the most reserved congregation. But the end result will be wonderful. The church will return to its first century identity. Get ready. God wants you for “power evangelism” as His “market-place” minister.
CHARLES CARRIN'S ministry spans the final half of the twentieth century. He was ordained in 1949 and in his youth traveled with men who preached in the 1800's. For the first twenty-seven years of his ministry, Charles was a hyper-Calvinist Baptist pastor and Presbyterian seminarian who denied the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit. Mid-way in his ministry that abruptly changed. Personal crisis forced him to acknowledge Scriptures he had previously ignored. It was a time of intense pain and testing. The truths he saw were frightening; they had power to destroy his denominational ministry and at that point he had no hope that another, more wonderful ministry awaited him.
As a result of his submitting to God in that crisis, Charles emerged with an amazing anointing of the Holy Spirit. Today, his ministry centers upon the visible demonstration of the Spirit and imparting of His gifts. This new ministry has taken him to London's Westminster Chapel, the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, and other significant places. He, R.T. Kendall, the former, 25 year pastor at Westminster Chapel, and Jack Taylor, former Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, travel together holding "Word, Spirit, Power, Conferences."
As an evangelist/writer, Charles' articles have appeared in major Christian magazines in the United States and abroad. He travels extensively, teaching believers how to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Charles' web site is http://www.charlescarrinministries.com/.