The Holy Spirit Rocks the Boat
"This is an extravagant ship! We serve a God who wants to bless us in extravagant ways.”
Carol Arnott’s words proved to be prophetic as the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship The Navigator of the Seas embarked and cruised into the ocean. Throughout every aspect of Catch the Wave 2005, God revealed His lavish heart to the more than 1,000 participants who came from places such as Norway and Rwanda.
The Navigator of the Seas proved to be a luxurious setting for Toronto’s first conference at sea. It is equipped with state of the art facilities and a highly professional staff committed to serving the needs of its guests. On board this 14-storey, 138,000-ton, sophisticated cruise liner, we could fill our days with ice-skating, miniature golf, simulated golf, a nicely equipped fitness center and rock climbing 200 feet over the sea.
If we were allergic to exercise, we could lounge by one of the pools or relax on one of the hot tubs. In the evening, dining options included an elegant three-level dining room, the 50’s-style Johnny Rockets, The Chops Grille for prime cuts, Petrofina for Italian specialties.
It seemed that there were 1,000 ways to have fun on this ship. According to one conference participant named Larry from Iowa, “It is wonderful and refreshing to vacation with people who are on the same team!” The cruise was a perfect time to enhance Christian fellowship and renew old friendships while we developed new ones.
The ship made port stops in San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau. Each port stop afforded panoramic views of the scenery for which the Caribbean islands are famous: lush, tropical foliage covering mountains jutting against a deep blue sky while the turquoise Caribbean Sea lapped at the shores of the white sandy beaches. During our days in port, we were able to take advantage of numerous shore excursions that included sightseeing tours of the islands and shopping the exotic Caribbean markets, to swimming with dolphins or regatta racing.
THE FLOATING REVIVAL
Not only did we experience a five-star vacation, but long before it was over The Navigator of the Seas became a floating revival, which spread renewal and the presence of God to many people from various nations of the earth.
But what’s new about that? When the Lord Jesus was on earth, he spent many hours with his disciples teaching and performing miracles by the Sea of Galilee. It is clear from scripture that the Lord Jesus loved the ambience of the sea and chose that as a location for healing and refreshing the multitudes as well as for His own personal seasons of rest.
During the conference sessions which were held on board ship, we sometimes couldn’t tell whether the Holy Spirit was rocking the boat or whether it was the ocean itself.
However, as one pastor’s wife accurately observed, “God made the ocean waves as well!” So whether it was the Holy Spirit’s power or just the Caribbean waves gently rocking the ship back and forth, God was behind both of them and we enjoyed them, but especially the thousands of wonderful ways the Holy Spirit chose to manifest His presence among us.
The speakers for Catch the Wave included Joseph Garlington, Rolland and Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson and John and Carol Arnott. Lindell Cooley and Eric Terlizzi led anointed times of worship in which the Lord’s sweet presence would fill the room.
On Sunday morning, John Arnott gave a gospel message in a church service that was open to all guests on the ship. As John invited people to give their lives to the Lord, over a dozen vacationers gave their hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus.
In another session, Joseph Garlington encouraged the conference to ask the Lord for favor in this season of favor. “When it is raining, ask for rain!” (Zechariah 10:1). Heidi Baker gave a message on the subject of surrender declaring that God wants to take the “no” out of us so that there is no “no” left, only “yes.”
Bill Johnson said, “While the church is waiting for a command from God, God is waiting to hear the dream of the church.” He then challenged participants that God wants co-partners with Him. There are times when God simply provides solutions. But then there are occasions when He is inviting His children to contend with Him in order to bring prophetic promises into present situations. Rolland Baker extended a stirring call to return to the simplicity of devotion to the Lord.
During the evening hours, conference registrants and some passengers who were outside our group were able to “soak under the stars” to live worship music on the upper deck.
Many documented physical healings occurred during the seven-day cruise as well, including over 60 people who testified to receiving physical healing in their bodies during just one of the optional sessions led by Bill Johnson.
This was in addition to the dozens of people who were healed during other corporate gatherings and those healed during the course of each day as the River splashed out of the conference sessions.
The Holy Spirit did not restrict Himself to moving within the limitations of the conference sessions.
The Navigator of the Seas hosted over 3,100 vacationers and over 1,100 crewmembers from many nations of the earth. Only a third of the guests on the boat were registered with the conference. One speaker stated that those who came on a cruise for a vacation did not realize that they had a date with destiny. They just thought they were on another cruise.
Individuals who came for a relaxing cruise left with a relationship with Christ!
There were occasions when cruise guests would innocently ride the elevators from one floor to the next only to encounter the Holy Spirit lurking within. The elevator doors would open on another level to display a pile of passengers on the floor laughing because they had been touched by the presence of the Lord. One group of teenagers who had been openly mocking the Spirit’s manifestations surrendered their hearts to the Lord after an elevator ride!
On the first night of the cruise, one of the conference participants went to an evening church service unrelated to the conference which was conducted for the staff of the ship. Upon arriving, the staff leader called upon him to lead the service.
When he invited the Holy Spirit to come, He did so, enabling the staff of the cruise line to experience the presence of the Lord. So powerful was that service that those in charge of the staff’s church service extended another invitation for the Catch the Wave participants to organize and conduct fire tunnels for the entire cruise staff later in the week. The Holy Spirit moved in power showing His love for the men and women who staffed the ship.
On the final night of the conference, the Holy Spirit moved mightily on people causing them to experience fresh encounters with the Lord. Once again, the Holy Spirit would not confine Himself to the assigned meeting room. As He spread the blessing outside the room, non-conference guests were looking down from the balcony in amazement at what was occurring. They began to comment in ways similar to the passage in Acts 2:12-13 after the initial outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.
“So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’"
Bewildered passengers on the ship remarked, “What in the world are they doing?” As they would point to someone receiving a touch from the Lord, others would laugh and question, “What is that?”
A few angrily retorted, “That just is not right! God touches me all the time and I do not act like that!”
Yet others would declare, “I don’t understand all of that, but I want whatever they have!”
Once again, onlookers amazed, perplexed and were mocking what the Holy Spirit was doing in people. When the Holy Spirit moves, human response has not changed much in 2,000 years.
The River of God splashed out onto the shore as well. The first port was San Juan, Puerto Rico. John and Carol Arnott conducted a one-night crusade “to bring the River to Puerto Rico." This outreach became a highlight of the cruise for many, according to John Arnott. Dozens of people responded to the Gospel invitation at the end of the crusade.
There were some who chose to use the days at ports as ministry opportunities. For example in Nassau, one group opted to forego tourist activies to go prayer walking. The Holy Spirit faithfully led them from one site to the next marking their day with divine appointments.
Terrina from Texas excitedly reported, "It was so cool to see how the Holy Spirit showed us exactly where to go." God opened doors for them to pray with people who needed the blessing of the River. The extravagent blessing of God followed those involved with this conference everywhere they went.
Everywhere the River flows, it brings abundant life and blessing. God does not suffer from impoverished thinking. He loves to richley lavish blessing upon His children. The Father does not just bless in small portions because He is concerned that He might run out of resources. He does so extravagantly because of His infinite love. The Catch The Wave conference clearly affirmed that we serve a God loves to bless!