Raising the Dead

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Signs and wonders in Mozambique.

I remember years ago when Heidi and I were preparing for another trip to the mission field. A pastor friend asked us, “So, what is your mission strategy going to be this time?”

Half-seriously I answered, “Well, we’ll start by raising the dead!” I wasn’t entirely joking. My friend and best man at our wedding, Mel Tari, had been used by Jesus to raise the dead in the Indonesian revival, and I had talked with him a lot about it. Actually, I had by this time known about half-a-dozen people who had been raised from the dead in Indonesia, Australia, Fiji, and even in the United States! My grandfather, who saw great revival as a missionary in China, collected resurrection testimonies that I read with huge interest when I was a little boy. I had no doubt that Jesus could and did still raise the dead just as in Bible times.

Heidi’s and my time at Catch The Fire, Toronto in the early days of the renewal greatly increased our expectations in our own ministry. How incredibly encouraging it was to see so many people directly touched by the power of God night after night. I was overwhelmed by the love of God, and knew that there was no limit to what He would do for us if we loved Him the way He wanted to be loved. In 1997, Randy Clark prophesied that Jesus was giving us the nation of Mozambique, and after days and days of visions and revelations received while she soaked on the floor of Catch The Fire, Toronto, Heidi was fired with fresh faith and supernatural initiative.

"If the Holy Spirit could pour out so much supernatural joy and bring new life into so many sad and defeated hearts, we knew he could certainly raise the dead physically."

We had lived by faith and experienced miracles of various kinds since we started ministering together in 1980, and we were always looking for continuations of revivals we had tasted in Indonesia and China. Toronto was a huge boost. If the Holy Spirit could pour out so much supernatural joy and bring new life into so many sad and defeated hearts, we knew he could certainly raise the dead physically. The love of God simply brings the realization that “all things are possible” and that the Spirit is given “without measure” to those who believe!

From Toronto Back To Africa

Heidi and I returned to Africa to continue with our children’s center for orphaned and abandoned street children that we had started in Mozambique’s capital of Maputo. But by then, local pastors had taken great interest in what the Holy Spirit was doing among our children. They wanted to learn and participate too, and so we started a Bible school.

"These pastors and their people possessed only their mud huts, dirt floors and the clothes on their backs, but in their hearts they also had a rare, but pure and intense hunger for God."

Early in 1998, I traveled north for the first time to visit and encourage a handful of churches started by our Mozambican friend and amazing man of God, Surpresa Sithole. With Surpresa I covered thousands of miles in the bush by 4WD truck preaching in the poorest environment I had ever known. These pastors and their people possessed only their mud huts, dirt floors and the clothes on their backs, but in their hearts they also had a rare, but pure and intense hunger for God. We brought twelve of these pastors down to our first Bible school session in Maputo.

We began teaching the absolute basics of the Christian life and faith: God’s revelation of Himself in Word and Spirit, the difference between the Old and New Testaments, law and grace, the divinity of Jesus, salvation by faith, how to recognize a cult, the Trinity, gifts of the Spirit. And of course we taught about worship, soaking in His presence, getting filled up to overflowing, floating and swimming deep in the River. Our pastors averaged only a third-grade education and could barely read the Bible haltingly. Our school was just a converted children’s dorm, bare and basic. We got used to heat, dirt and mosquitoes. The place was nothing impressive to look at, but the pastors drank in everything we gave them.

Resurrection Miracles Begin

Two of these pastors, Rego and Joni, were especially fervent and fiery. Heidi prophesied to them in particular one day that they would raise the dead. She told them to start praying for every dead person they saw, and when they returned home, that’s just what they did. Right away they saw resurrections. Rego prayed for a little 3 1/2-year-old girl who had died of malaria, and Jesus brought her to life.

"For three hours Joni prayed over her dead body, and then she began to move and returned to life."

In Joni’s village a lady named Rosa who has six children was dying of severe cholera. As she approached death, she had a dream in which she saw Joni’s face, and also Heidi’s, and she told her husband that if she died he should call for Joni. When she died, her husband brought Joni to pray. For three hours Joni prayed over her dead body, and then she began to move and returned to life. She had been taken up to heaven and shown a brilliant light and a large gate but was told that she had to go back to earth for now. As she told her testimony to Heidi and the church, she shook and wept uncontrollably, overcome with the Lord’s goodness and power. 

Surpresa became our Mozambican national director and is a powerful encouragement everywhere he goes. Both his father and mother were witch doctors in his hometown of Morrumbala out in the bush of a remote province. When he was fifteen, the audible voice of Jesus told him to get out of his house or he would die within a week. He didn’t know anything about the cross and salvation then, but he did know that from then on his life belonged to this amazing Jesus. He fled down the road and learned later that his parents were murdered within the week. He survived out in the rough like a refugee, and eventually a pastor in Malawi explained the gospel of Jesus Christ to him.

Surpresa never looked back and has been living a life of signs and wonders ever since. He speaks fourteen languages, ten given to him supernaturally. Fasting and prayer are a way of life for him, and he sees visions regularly. But Surpresa’s most impressive quality is that he is filled with love and joy. He is virtually incapable of a negative thought, laughing easily and often in all circumstances. He still travels with me preaching all over Mozambique and surrounding countries to our churches, which now number in the thousands. 

"Several resurrections took place in heavily Moslem areas, and many Moslems have come to Jesus as a result." 

I remember when he first told me about praying for a little girl who was raised from the dead. It had happened months earlier, but Surpresa had forgotten to mention it. Our pastors are extremely understated and do not hunger for publicity. In February of 2001, Surpresa was holding a crusade in the community hall of Komatipoort, a small town on the border of Mozambique. On a Wednesday morning, the area chief came to him and said that the meetings would have to be stopped. A girl had died of malaria the night before in a nearby house and people wanted quiet so they could mourn.

Surpresa responded by going to the house and praying for the family of the little six-year-old Shansha. Her father was gone, trying to find transport to take her body to the mortuary. She was still in her bed, cold and stiff, and had begun to smell of decay. Surpresa began to pray at ten o’clock in the morning with her mother and six ladies present in her room. According to Surpresa, he didn’t know what else to do so he kept praying for the family.

“After awhile,” he said smiling, “I prayed with such power that they fell asleep on grass mats on the cement floor.” Not knowing what else to do, he kept praying. His fingers were resting on the mat beside the dead girl. Suddenly, after about another hour of prayer, the little girl grabbed Surpresa’s finger and sat up as though she had been in a deep sleep.

“I nearly jumped out of my skin!” Surpresa says.

The little girl asked for a drink, and Surpresa poured a glass of Coke for her. Surpresa had to wake up her mother and the ladies in the hut because they were still asleep. In shock, they began weeping, laughing, and jumping with joy. They ran screaming the news into the village. For the next two weeks, Surpresa said, they held meetings in that village to packed audiences and many were saved.

As far as we know, at least eight people have been raised from the dead in this revival between 2000 and 2002, and maybe fourteen since 1998. Several of these resurrections took place in heavily Moslem areas, and many Moslems have come to Jesus as a result. Surpresa and the pastors involved are absolutely shocked by God’s graciousness in allowing them to experience such power in spite of their inferiority. But they know that we as Christians live by faith, looking not at our sin and weakness, but into His face. He has given us a commission:

“As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7–8, NIV)

"Rather than waiting for the world to bring dead people into the church, the church needs to go where dead people are."

As Surpresa says, if you wait for miracles to take place, the miracles will only wait for you to move. But if you go, they will follow you. Signs and wonders are behind your back, pushing you forward so that you will experience breakthrough. Rather than waiting for the world to bring dead people into the church; the church needs to go where dead people are. All of this is waiting for you!