Reviving The Church to Touch The World
My wife, Eva, and I have had our own business for thirty years which grew from one store into a chain of women's clothing stores in Norway. In the autumn of 2001, a process began that gradually pulled my heart out of it. In November of that same year, we decided to sell our share of all the 53 stores of which I was the manager. For seven years the Lord had been profoundly affecting our lives through both the Toronto and Pensacola outpourings in North America.
We began to realize that the Lord had other plans for us and we told Him that we were willing to go anywhere at any cost.
Many people found it very strange since our clothing business was one of the most successful in Norway.
THEN TRAGEDY CAME
In the beginning of May 2002, I was attending one of my last board meetings, when I received a phone call from a leader of Youth With A Mission. Our youngest son, Per Arne, had been in a tragic car accident in Thailand. He had been with friends from that base on his way to a refugee camp near the border to Burma when he hit another car head-on. He was in a coma, was paralyzed from the neck down and his brain was severely damaged. He could hardly breathe and he was far out in the bush, several hours away from Bangkok, without any access to an ambulance or oxygen.
We were in deep shock as our friends drove us to the airport within an hour of hearing the news. As we faced a twenty hour flight, our minds were barraged with anxious thoughts which we tried desperately to combat with prayers. Were we supposed to have more pain?
Eva and I had lost our first son, and then fifteen years ago, we almost lost our second son, Tor Erik. The doctor had given up on him, but he was miraculously healed. And now death stood ready to take our third son.
During the flight we received progressively dismal reports on Per Arne's condition through the captain. Toward the end of the flight a written message came from the cockpit. Per Arne's eyes had rolled back in his head which indicated that he was dying. Per Arne was being taken to Bangkok, a six hour trip in an ordinary car, traveling on crude roads, and he had no emergency oxygen.
During the Easter season that had just passed, the Lord had asked me whether I was willing to sacrifice our two sons to the fire, like Abraham had done with Isaac. I was not able to answer that question at Easter time, but now I felt I just had to answer yes, whatever it would cost me. After that, Rob Critchley's song, "What a Faithful God" flowed through my thoughts. I remembered that Rob had received that song from the Lord when his son died.
When we came to the hospital in Bangkok, Per Arne had just arrived there. Incredibly, he had survived the long journey, but he only breathed twice a minute. A very skilled brain surgeon just happened to be at that hospital when Per Arne arrived and we learned from him that the blow to his head had been so hard that all the connections between the different parts of his brain were broken and that his brain was haemorrhaging in several places. He had also been without oxygen for twenty-four hours and if he should ever come out of the coma, he would never be the same person.
We would never get our son back.
They also told us that it had been a long time before anyone rescued him from the car wreck. Instead, while he was lying there unconscious for several hours on a concrete floor, they robbed him of all valuables. They had even taken his shoes. After that they threw him on the bed of a steel truck, where they had left him for dead for several hours without any treatment.
Per Arne was 22 years old, on fire for the Lord and had spent one year in YWAM in America. He was one of the best snowboarders in Norway and was in top physical shape.
Shortly after the accident, text messages and e-mails spread quickly around the world. Thousands of people, from more than 14 countries and from all denominations, united as an army crying out to the Lord, so we had hope that anything was possible.
From that moment on, we had daily contact with the leaders of the prayer networks and gave them updated reports on the situation. In return we received prophetic messages and words of encouragement that we presented to our son in faith. Although the situation did not improve in the next few weeks, but grew worse, their prayers sustained us.
Many times after a few hours sleep I would wake up with a song of worship on my lips, songs like, "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord," "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Let Your Glory Fall." I knew that praise and worship was a key to Per Arne's recovery. We bought a CD-player and played worship CD's night and day in his room at the hospital. I often wandered around the bed praising the Lord with my hands raised, thinking often of Moses, who received strength when his hands were lifted. It also gave me strength.
Almost every Sunday for the last two years my wife had seen three large angels in our church. Eva had never before been one given to such visions, but she knew they were an angel of peace, an angel of encouragement and a warring angel. The Sunday before the accident, Eva saw that there were only two of them. The warring angel was gone. When we arrived in Bangkok, the third angel was standing by Per Arne's head, and it remained there for the rest of our stay. The powerful presence of the Lord filled the hospital room.
Every day I wrote down all the information we received from the doctors in a diary. There were no positive signs, but we still thanked the Lord for the doctors and their honesty. We also wrote down all the prophecies we received through our friends around the world. God gave us the faith to believe that the Lord, who is so much greater than any earthly doctor, was able to raise Per Arne from the bed.
THE CHURCH IN A COMA?
On the seventh night after the accident, while sitting alone and watching over him, I started to cry. I longed to have contact with him. I called his name, but he did not answer. Before the accident happened I had spent all too little time with him, since I had been occupied with the business. While I was sitting there watching him, I saw a picture, not only of him, but of the whole body of Christ lying in a coma. My heart was filled with such a deep sorrow for the Church and I couldn't understand it. I thought I had enough to worry about with my own son.
I saw the church of Christ as a fishing boat. It was old and about to sink, because it was full of holes. The boat was not able to get beyond the banks to the sea full of fish. Instead, they were fishing in shallow water and so they caught only a little. The church was asleep. I saw the Titanic and our own sons and daughters drowning in the ice water and at the same time I heard the question, "Who is willing to jump into the lifeboats and save them?"
I believe I heard an alarm bell for the Church.
We are in a rescue operation. As God was speaking to me about my relationship with my own son, He was also asking me, "Who will be the spiritual mothers and fathers of the young generation growing up today?"
Then I heard the Lord saying, "I will put a new song of worship in your mouth, an intimate worship that you have never experienced before. I also want to fill the whole earth with that new song of praise and worship, stronger than ever, but you have to say "yes" to it. Through this worship, the hosts of angels will be put into action, and they will sing together with you in one accord and you will see miracles and healings like never before. You will see the church come out of the coma, and as a confirmation, you will see your own son wake up on Whitsunday (Pentecost Sunday) morning."
I told Eva that I believed Per Arne would wake up on Whitsunday morning. The two of us chose to believe it. But on Whit Saturday his face turned blue and he was dying.
On Whitsunday, May the 19th 2002, 5 A.M. Thai time, midnight Norwegian time, Per Arne opened his eyes and looked at me for 25 minutes. The high fever dropped immediately and he was breathing normally. The doctors said it was a miracle, they had never seen anything like it. At the same time a great thunderstorm swept through Bangkok. The Spirit of God was there, and Acts 2 came alive to me.
Two months after he woke up, Per Arne was leading a Christian youth camp in Norway. Five months later, he was a snowboard-trainer in the Alps. Our precious son is exactly like he was before, with the same sense of humor, smile and intelligence and no paralysis.
THE CHURCH WILL ALSO BE REVIVED TO TOUCH THE WORLD
I believe what happened with Per Arne was a blessing and also a prophetic sign. In the days ahead of us, we are going to see the same anointing and power that was poured out on the day of Pentecost poured out in the world including the marketplace. The Church, after all, is no stranger to the marketplace. The first church was born in the marketplace of Jerusalem, not in the temple.
Jesus passed through the marketplace when carrying His cross on His way to Calvary. Jesus grew up in a family of craftsmen and He had full knowledge of business life. He performed nearly all His miracles outside the walls of the temple turning water into wine, multiplying bread and fish and even teaching Peter how to fish. We have the same anointing at our disposal in our businesses, but we must dare to jump and dare to employ it. Everything we do in our businesses must be soaked privately in an anointing of prayer and worship.
Years ago while I was studying in Germany, the Lord led me to set some goals for my business. Although I didn't have any money, I wanted to build up a nation-wide fashion business. My next goal was to hook up with the best European business network and then before the age of 55, I wanted to have more time for other things that I had in my heart. Through God's blessing and step-by-step guidance, we have reached all these goals two years before the time we'd planned. Over the years there have been many uphill struggles, but during the hard times, we focused on God and the goals He wanted us to reach.
One of the most helpful things for us was the European network, where we exchanged a lot of experience with each other as well as all the young people who were thriving in the business. It has been a great joy for me to see many of those I mentored expanding from one area to the other. Our company's young people are usually the most creative who dare to try new ways and so they were important in all the teams of our company. In all of this, the book that has given me the most knowledge on how to run a business is the Bible.
I have recently started another company called Multi-Vision Team, with the vision to build international networks, for Christian leaders in business who operate on godly standards. New, exciting multi- concepts are about to arise where church and business work closely together in the marketplace. The time has come, for us who are in a business, to see that we are already in full time ministry for the Lord. We are a holy priesthood. Many of Jesus' disciples were fishermen they had learned to go fishing where the fish are.
Now is the time for the Church of God to get out of the church buildings and meet the people where they are.
In times of war, you need young and properly trained soldiers. Today there is a whole generation of young people sitting in the stands longing to get out in the fields. They want the real thing. They want to be heard and recognized and they want to learn to function in the Church of God. No weapon is more efficient than young foot soldiers who meet the people face to face with the good news and they need spiritual mothers and fathers to stand with them and mentor them.
The Lord is going to raise up an army of worshipping young people who, together with spiritual mothers and fathers, will take the marketplace.
The whole world cries out for His presence. Let's step back and let the Lord touch His people. If we spend too much time worrying about what people think, we will miss out on the move of God. After all, it is not our Church it is His business.