Brooklyn's Having a Party
Until we came into the “Renewal,” we didn’t fully understand what the scriptures meant when they said things like “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) or “in His presence, there is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11). In May 1995 on Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I went to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship for the first time. We had seen the article about it in Charisma Magazine, and our hearts leapt with curiosity and an urgency to go there. We thought, “Could there be a place where there is a powerful flow of God’s presence, where we can be swept away by Him?”
We were so hungry and thirsty for more.
We had been pastoring in our present church in Brooklyn, New York for five years at that time and had enjoyed considerable growth for a new plant. We were “charismatic” or “Pentecostal,” and we were “pressing in” for a new anointing of the Holy Spirit. There would be services and short seasons of His presence but we were thirsty for a continuous flow. Somehow we knew there had to be more, and we wanted more. The ministry had worn us out. We felt tired and weary, and I remember thinking over and over, “I don’t know if I could do this for another 20 years. Something must be missing.” So we decided to go to Toronto.
OUR FIRST EXPOSURE TO THE PARTY
During the first service the music and the speaker were good, but we were looking for something more; and during the whole service, we sat wondering, when will the Holy Spirit show up?
After the service we were told to stand in lines in the back and around the building, and the “Ministry Team” would come and pray for us. Soon some very ordinary looking people who didn’t seem “ministerial” at all came by. Many of them were doubling over as though their stomach muscles were “crunching,” but that didn’t even bother us, because we were desperate.
They started gently praying for people. Remarkably, each person fell to the ground. When it came to our turn to receive prayer, we sensed the heavy weight or “kabod” of the presence and anointing of the Lord coming upon our heads and shoulders. It was holy. Before we knew it, we fell, too. Then we got up and went for more. This time we went to the front near the platform, and His presence was so real and so great that we just stayed and soaked although we had never heard the term “soaking.”
The next Sunday after our trip to Toronto was Pentecost according to the liturgical calendar. My husband sent a postcard to everyone on our church roll stating he was going to preach on a “A New Pentecost.” He wasn’t sure what that was at that time but he was hoping God would show him by Sunday. As Roger was praying in the sanctuary of our church on the Saturday night before Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit fell on him, and he had the urge to run around the sanctuary screaming over and over again, “Pour! Pour!”
The next morning Roger preached on the subject, “A New Pentecost.” At the close of the message, he invited the people to come forward who wanted to receive a fresh anointing in their lives. We didn’t have a ministry team in place at that time so he asked the leaders in the church to come up and pray for the people. Bodies began flying all over the place! There’s no other way to describe it. We couldn’t catch them fast enough. The power of God came down in such an extraordinary way that we were astonished yet fully rejoicing all at once. People were falling, shaking and crying from the presence of God. Then we knew that this is what we had longed for and yet didn’t know how to receive, an Acts 2 church where God is in full control.
GOD, THE CREATOR OF PARTIES
In the ensuing years we have watched God love on His children. The party we had with our Daddy that first Sunday home from Toronto was the beginning of many parties with God. He is so much fun that I wonder now why we thought He was always stern and austere.
Did you know that the Father was the inventor of parties, celebrations and feasts?
Pentecost known as the Feast of Weeks was one of three Old Testament pilgrimage festivals when individuals were to appear before the Lord with gifts and offerings from their grain harvest. This harvest festival was a time of great rejoicing and a holy assembly when no work was to be done. The day the Lord chose to pour out His Spirit on all flesh and to show Himself in a new dimension to His people was actually on a day of feasting, the feast of Pentecost in Acts 2. And that’s what He did for us on our day of celebration that year in 1995.
There are ten feasts and festivals in the Hebrew calendar that God instructed the Israelites to celebrate: the Festival of the New Moon, Festival of Trumpets, Sabbatical Year, The Year of Jubilee, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Booths, Festival of Purim, Festival of Lights and, of course, the Sabbath.
The seven feasts of ancient Israel (Leviticus 23) were joyous celebrations. Usually their feasts commemorated specific times when God reached out in power to intervene for His people or times when He had provided for them during great difficulties and adversities. Each time the whole nation celebrated together in this way. They were drawn together spiritually, and it was a great source of strength to the nation.
Now under the new covenant, the New Testament church is also drawn together spiritually and becomes a great source of strength as a holy nation (1Peter 2:9) as we celebrate in our churches each week. We sing of the mighty deeds and power of our God. We rejoice in His presence. Paul says in Philippians 4:4 to “rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” We hear testimony of what the Lord has done and the word of God expounded which helps us to understand how to receive more and to give more away.
WHEN SOME DON’T WANT TO COME
When we came into the River, not all media reports were positive. Some radio shows and articles were attacking the move of God in Toronto. We had wonderful people who were our friends but who listened to the people on the radio. They rose up against us and caused a sizeable exodus from our church. We were devastated. These were people we loved, some of whom we had known for years. How could they not embrace these refreshing waters pouring over our souls week after week? Who would not want this?
We were now in the River, and we had a choice to make.
Would we go deeper or go back to the shore? In our hearts we knew there really was no question. We had to go deeper to experience all God had for us. We couldn’t bear the thought of standing on the shore line just looking at the River, knowing its refreshing but not entering in.
Shortly after all this happened, I went to a Catch the Fire Conference with our worship leader, Nancy, who had fully embraced the renewal from the start. John Arnott was speaking in the first session about growing up in a church where the Holy Spirit was not embraced but spoken against. He asked us to repent on behalf of our denominations who may have unintentionally grieved the Holy Spirit.
In the church in which I grew up, they didn’t speak of the Holy Spirit one way or another. He just wasn’t spoken about much, so I thought He was irrelevant to me. As John spoke, the Holy Spirit spoke to me that our present church had also grieved Him when some of our people spoke against the renewal as it broke out. I felt that I needed to repent on their behalf and ours as well so that the visitation would become a habitation of God in our church. I cried as I asked God to forgive us. I promised Him that we would never as a church Body hurt the Holy Spirit again and that we desperately wanted Him to take up residence in our sanctuary of worship in Brooklyn, New York.
When I returned home and shared with my husband what had happened, we decided to send another letter of repentance to all those who had left. We had done that when it first happened but thought we should do it again in the light of this new revelation. We asked for their forgiveness for failing to explain things properly and for not pastoring this new outpouring correctly. We’ve since had several people who had left apologize to us, and some of the people have even returned and are now in the River. The party continues as we rejoice and embrace them.
THE PARTY OVERFLOWS
The River is running through the streets of Brooklyn now. Ezekiel 47:1 speaks of the River whose waters flow out the Temple doors. I believe this means that we must give this party away. Since the party began for us, our whole perspective on evangelism has changed. Now we pray for healing and soak people in prayer until His presence comes upon them. We do this in city parks where we set up “Prayer Stations” along the avenues. Our Alpha course is exploding with the presence of God as hungry people come in to find out who Jesus really is. After the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11, 2001, sixty people came to our Alpha course.
Many got saved and filled with His Spirit as God brought life out of death and turned mourning into dancing.
City vision has also exploded in us, too. Roger was asked to coordinate the March for Jesus for Brooklyn. The first year we had fifty churches involved and four thousand people came together for a celebration which included a time of racial and ethnic reconciliation. Arab Christians repented to Jewish Christians and Jews repented to Arabs. Caucasians repented to African Americans and African Americans repented to white Americans, Asians to Hispanics and Hispanics to Asians. We all sang “Break Dividing Walls” and took communion together in an awesome display of genuine unity. I guess you could say, God’s kids were partying together.
Last year before Brooklyn’s March for Jesus, we trained 200 Ministry Team members from 35 different churches to minister healing at the rally following the march. We had heard Roger Sapp’s teaching at the Healing Conference at TACF in November of 2001 and applied it. We were amazed to see hundreds of people healed at the march on June 1, 2002.
Recently Roger launched “Partners for Revival Network” with about forty- five pastors on July 1, 2002. My husband also hosts a monthly Pastors Prayer Breakfast, and together with these wonderful pastors, we intercede and cry out for revival all over New York City. The Big Apple is ripe for it, and we need your prayers.
Since then, we’ve brought about 200 people from our church to Toronto. Roger has brought up groups of pastors to the Pastors’ Conferences. We’ve been privileged to have guests from TACF to minister to our congregation and to keep the fire lit. The Bible says to give honor to whom honor is due. We do honor you, TACF, and we sincerely pray, “Keep Coming, Holy Spirit.”
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