The Elijah Challenge hosted by Light of Africa missionaries Butch & Janet Berner
During our final evangelistic evening rally in the town of Livingstone, I issued an Elijah-like challenge to any practitioners, dabblers, or sympathizers of witchcraft present at the meeting. I proposed that they call on the name of their spirits to heal the infirm at the meeting, and we followers of Jesus Christ would do likewise. The one who answered “by fire” to heal the sick would be the true God. There were no takers; no one dared to come forward to take up the challenge. And so I went ahead and asked the Lord to reveal His power. When the trained believers laid hands on the sick who came to the front, the miracles happened fast and furious (although not all were healed). When after the testimonies I challenged the people to renounce witchcraft and the fear of witchcraft, they all responded eagerly with one voice.
Healing the sick in Christ’s name at open-air rally to prove that the Lord is the true God: “The restoration of the spirit of Elijah to the Church”
On this trip to Zambia the Lord gave His Church victory over the enemy strongholds of witchcraft, ancestral spirits, and animism. The power behind these forces could simply not match the power which the Lord manifested in healing the sick through His disciples. People flocked to the name of Jesus Christ. The churches which were trained now have a weapon with which they can engage this formidable foe in battle. Finally, churches in Africa are standing up to the spirit of witchcraft. We are in the end times.
“Which will you choose…Jesus or witchcraft?”: Powerful miracles at meeting in the village of Sekute, Zambia help Africans to choose Jesus
Witchcraft and consulting witch doctors is one of the primary threads of the fabric of African culture, and even many believers have not been delivered from this practice. They will accept the “white man’s religion” for the forgiveness of sins, but when they have a problem like disease or demons they will go to that which they know has “real” power. Another very common practice is receiving a “blessing” from the spirit of a departed ancestor held at a special ceremony. My host in Zambia, missionary Butch Berner, told me that once he arrived at the church in Sekute village for a service to find no one there—all the people were elsewhere attending a “blessing” ceremony.
The only way to deliver African believers from this bondage is through a demonstration, for once, of the far superior power of the name of Jesus.
Before I stood up to speak at the morning meeting, the Lord had told me that he wanted to heal someone with an elbow problem. So at the pulpit I immediately announced that the Lord was going to demonstrate His superiority over witchcraft by healing someone with such an infirmity. A woman who had suffered from a stroke came forward. Not only she could not bend her elbow, she suffered also from some paralysis on the right side of her body as well. I laid my hands on her and in the name of Jesus Christ commanded her to be healed while rebuking any curses over her. As I ministered, her paralyzed arm began to rise and descend in a strange fashion. I told her to bend her paralyzed elbow and she promptly obeyed, bringing her arm all the way to her chest with a thud. At my prompting she did it a few more times. Then I took her hand and told her to walk. She walked back and forth at the front briskly without any trace of a limp from the stroke. Praise the Lord!
I asked the people if witchcraft and ancestral blessings could do such a miracle. They said no. Then I ministered mass healing in Jesus’ name, and about six people came to the front to testify that they had been healed of their infirmities. One elderly man said that his poor eyesight had been restored. After this demonstration of Jesus’ power, I challenged the people—both believers and non-believers alike—to renounce witchcraft, ancestral blessings, sexually immorality and to put their faith in Jesus Christ alone. After some prodding, the entire assembly stood up to repent and turn to Jesus. I led them in a sinners’ prayer.
Souls repent from witchcraft and turn to Christ after witnessing miracles of healing
Then I called my team, consisting of both missionaries and local Zambians, to come to the front to minister healing to the remaining infirm people. The Lord’s power to heal was present, and about another thirty people testified of their healing. Among some of the testimonies…eyesight was restored, a tumor/growth disappeared, deaf ears were opened up, spirits of epilepsy were cast out. The Church of Jesus Christ has won the first skirmish with witchcraft and traditional spiritual practices here in Livingstone, Zambia. Bearing in mind that this may be the condition of the Church throughout much of Africa, there remains much work to do. But here the church has been equipped to defeat this enemy. May the Lord restore the Church throughout Africa in the same way. She must be equipped to fight an even more formidable foe, the spirit of Isl–m. Oil money from the north is purchasing souls for Isl–m. But like Peter in Acts the Church can say, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you…”
Report to us from Zambia Hosts Butch and Janet Berner Missionaries with Light of Africa, Zambia
“Precious (a little orphan girl in hospital) was released last Thursday after a 2 week intern at the hospital. Fact is that after prayer the first time, her “Mom” was told that she was being treated for the wrong thing and medication was changed. (Remember she was on Quinine for malaria initially?). After attending your teaching for the 3 days, Theresa, the House Parent knew the authority of the Word of God and the power over healing that she has in Jesus Christ’s name. She prayed continuously for Precious over the following days along with Brother Kevin and your prayers, and prayers from Aunt Janet. She had then been re-diagnosed with fungal meningitis. Now on new medicines, she recovered in such a short time that the doctors are wondering if the diagnosis from the lumbar puncture was accurate. She is fully recovered with no apparent side effects. I have seen and visited with her at her home and she has a completely different countenance. The power of God is moving in the orphanage as many orphans are trusting in the name of Jesus as never before because of the testimony of this healing!
Little Precious was completely healed of a life-threatening disease; Doctors are puzzled
Pastor Bruce (Methodist Church) continues to see many changes in his church as they see the power of healing continue in their own church members. They are now excited to witness to other, non-believers, regarding the same.
In the village, the one lady who gave up her “medicine (charm/fetish)” had been witnessed to for many months in the fall regarding this. She knows what it means but was convinced that something terrible would occur to her if she renounced it. Having seen her walk forward and surrender this was a HUGE event in her life. She has now declared that Jesus Christ is her Lord and Savior not only to herself and fellow church members but also to her community and in front of at least 2 known witches that were in attendance. “Saving Face” is a very strong cultural issue here. We praise God for the boldness that came into her life and the witness of Jesus Christ at work in her. As a direct result of this, many of the other women are now on Jesus’ side and saying they will stand against the evil one with her! Butch continues his teaching regarding the new model of evangelism in Katubia. One member (now saved) had a knee that had swollen to a great size…she continues to see the swelling go down and that she can walk with much less pain. She declares that it is due to the healing power of God in her life! She now knows how to minister healing for herself!
The Pastor from Sekute Village has been suffering from lack of food and unable to visit those who attended. Now aware of this situation, we are working on getting the Good News out to that community. Pray that the stronghold of witchcraft will be broken in this village.
Seeing yet another church catch on fire, Pastor Derrick, Philadelphia AOG, tells us that he is planning on doing this teaching in his church so that it will be used as an effective tool for evangelism.
Those pastors already committed to programs and not in attendance are hearing about this from those who did attend your seminar. I am certain that the opportunity for this teaching to continue will become an important part of the continuing evangelism in this area.
Fred, a friend with YWAM in this area, asked if we could come and teach it to the staff at YWAM and possibly at a church he works with in Zimbabwe.
Other memorable miracles
A deaf ear healed; many back aches disappeared, headaches gone, fevers gone, swollen joints healed, eyes that were blind (man in Katubia) testified that he could see images now that he could not before being prayed for – this was true for many folks who asked for prayer. Chest pains gone, hard masses in the stomach and on the side were gone, Jimmy, a guy trying to sell his art work at the gat confessed that he could not walk that day and had to pay a taxi so that he could come to our home. He was ministered healing by Brother Kevin and the pain was gone! He tried several times to find it but could not and stood amazed that it was truly gone; Precious’ near death experience now turned to life giving as she returned home (fully mobile in with all her mental capabilities restored!); the power in Butch & Janet’s ministry and the boldness of their witness.
The most amazing part of this seminar was that you preached the Word of God…not your opinions or stretching the truth about healing. It was not on the gift of healing but merely the power of authority of the Word of God which has been given to believers through the body of Christ. We are so very thankful that you came and shared these truths with us. We are in hopes that you will come again and teach in Zambia.
As with the rain that came after Elijah prayed 7 times, all big things begin small. We believe that this teaching and the fire of revival has begun in this area. It may appear small right now, but the rain is coming!! Thank you, Brother B., for laying down your life in service for the Lord. May God continue to bless you and your ministry, The Elijah Challenge, as you walk in obedience of His calling.”
For His glory,
Butch & Janet Berner with Light of Africa in Zambia
FEBRUARY 22, 2005
Dearest Friends and Family,
Some of you heard about the conflict of dates we had booking the recent seminar with The Elijah Challenge. The deal with the pastors was in conflict with our meetings regarding the scheduling. Seems there was another conference going on at the same time and the pastors wanted us to re-schedule ours since theirs was already set. This was not possible. So, trusting God we forged ahead.
There were 45 in attendance the first day, 50 on the second and 55 on the last day of the training. Seventeen were pastors and the rest were lay leaders. Brother William and Brother Kevin did a marvelous job teaching and leading. Much learning about the authority of God in His word for us as believers regarding healing the sick was grasped.
Woman’s sight is restored during training as missionary Janet ministers to her
The brethren minister healing to one another during training Several miracles of healing are reported
We saw many things take place where God was healing folks through believers in the name of Jesus. I must tell you that my left knee injury that I suffered back in college (getting out of the back seat of a 2-door car and wrenched it) has pained me and plagued me, especially when it is damp or humid, for over 25 years. It doesn’t now. I have waited for the pain to return because I have become so used to it over the years but it has not. Rhoda’s knee was also healed.
During the services with Brother William and Brother Kevin, deaf ears were opened in 3 folks, many headaches and neck/back pains gone, and stomach pains and chest pains gone. One lady unable to walk without limping since we met her 3 years ago can now walk just fine.
The best news is 110 (12, 80 and about 18 respectively) gave their lives to the Lord during the 3 evening crusades. Many in the village services received salvation after seeing the healings take place. One account was a paralyzed arm a lady had that she couldn’t move at all. The arm raised up, stretched and she was able to bend her elbow for the first time since having a stroke a while back…all of this I saw with my own eyes.
One case in particular was a small 9 yr. old female orphan in the hospital who has been very ill with fungal meningitis. She is also HIV+. When we first prayed for her they had mis-diagnosed her with cerebral malaria. Her fever was pitched very high and the quinine drip was ineffective. After a lumbar puncture we prayed for her again and saw significant improvement. The new diagnosis for the child after this test was fungal meningitis. The doctor said she is not behaving the way most children with this disease behave. She is active, talking, recognizing others and her fever is all but gone. I have before and after pictures to testify to this. Her name is Precious. I believe with more prayer she will be completely healed.
I know lots of us (especially & including me) have prayed for healing for ourselves and others many times. What makes this approach completely NEW to me is using it to win the lost. Without much preaching, Brother B prays that the God of Elijah will come in power and might and heal the sick as a testimony of who He is and that through these signs and wonders non-believers will give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. The one who has the power to heal us also has the power to forgive our sins.
This may sound hokey to some of you. I believe it because I have seen it. I heard people time and again give their testimonies of healing and have seen remarkable improvement if not full healings in many. Did I mention that 2 women gave up their “juju” (necklaces attached to bewitched herbs) in front of their peers during the village meetings? What boldness to take this stand in front of your entire community!! What a powerful God we serve!!
Thank you all for your prayers…God has heard them and we are expecting this teaching to spread and for many others to come to Christ as God reveals Himself through the healing power and authority of His Word. This is not the same as the gift of healing. It is simply the authority of God’s Holy Word for the believers for evangelism. Think how this could impact the growing African Musl__m community…Hindu believing folks! We praise Him for all He has done in this area and expect much good fruit to come from it. If you want to learn more about The Elijah Challenge ministry, please visit their website at www.TheElijahChallenge.org.
For the glory of God, Butch & Janet