The government of Sri Lanka, influenced by the priests who lead the country’s majority Buddhists, is persecuting evangelical churches on this island nation. Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon when it was under British rule, is now experiencing a wave of patriotism in which things that bring to mind the colonial era are being set aside in favor of those things indigenous to Sri Lanka. The English language for one is declining in its predominance. And the Buddhists priests are riding this wave of nationalism to encourage the government to come against Christianity—the “white man’s religion” forced on them by their former colonial masters. At one time, our host pastor would bid his wife and children good-bye each morning upon leaving the house not sure if he would ever be coming home. Our visit therefore was kept highly secret, and participation in our event was limited to trusted leaders only.
Not surprisingly under such conditions, the Lord’s grace was abundant during the three days of The Elijah Challenge Training conducted at one of the larger evangelical churches in Sri Lanka. At the all-day Training yesterday for the Sinhalese- and Tamil-speaking leaders and servants of God, four hundred leaders and workers gathered in the main sanctuary of the mother church. The Lord gave us unusual wisdom to teach most effectively and the physical strength to stand all day.
Every single person ministered to during the demonstrations of healing throughout the day testified publicly that the Lord had healed them as the disciples laid hands on them and exercised the authority entrusted to them by the Lord. This included people who were deaf or had hearing loss.
Under the very vibrant leadership of their Senior Pastor, these hundreds of trained disciples will now take the gospel to the Buddhists and Hindus of this nation in the power of miraculous signs as proof that our God is the only true God and that Jesus is the only way to Him. With a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctorate from theologically-conservative Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, his ministry has planted about 100 churches around the world. He declared that after having studied teachings on healing from the most well-known healing ministers in America—among them legendary names from the past—he found The Elijah Challenge to be the best. We were very encouraged by these gracious words from a servant of God with such credentials.
The Pastor’s powerful testimony
Last March he had undergone a difficult surgical procedure on his heart. Although it turned out to be successful, he had to be careful not to overexert himself, for example, by picking up heavy objects or running. Just recently he had overexerted himself simply by opening up a stubborn twist jar which resulted in a stab of pain in his back. With the stress on his heart he felt lingering discomfort.
On the second evening of training, he came forward for ministry. By then the lingering discomfort had disappeared.
Three men came forward to lay hands on him. They rebuked the heart disease and commanded the heart to be healed in the name of Jesus Christ. Then I told him to run, something he had not done especially after his surgery in March. He took off jogging around the sanctuary. Two of his grown children who were present covered their eyes, not wanting to see what could happen to their dad.
But the pastor made it back to the front without apparent effort, and I asked him how he felt. He replied that he felt fine. For the next step I asked him to lift and hold up a heavy object for five seconds. One of the men who had just laid hands on him appeared to be a suitable candidate. The pastor picked him up in a bear hug and lifted him off his feet. I started counting “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, five thousand.” After the count he put the brother down. He turned to me and I asked him how he felt. Catching his breath and grinning he said he felt fine.
Two days later on Sunday morning he gave a testimony at the worship service. He had felt no discomfort whatsoever after being ministered to Friday evening. Normally he could only sleep four hours or so each night. But Friday night he slept well, waking up much later than usual. Saturday night he slept nearly eight hours! (Sunday night it turned out he slept just as soundly.)
The promise of John 14:12 fulfilled
That Sunday morning we preached from John 14 where Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father, and in fact one with the Father. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” He told his disciples to “believe him on the evidence of the miracles themselves” which he performed. And then he closed his words with the amazing promise: “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.”
Then we went about fulfilling this promise. We called the leaders and disciples trained on Thursday and Friday forward to minister healing to those at the service who needed physical healing. They came forward and did what they had been taught. Many were wonderfully healed, some from severe problems. One-by-one they came up to the stage to testify how the Lord had healed them, giving thanks to Him. Among those who testified was the pediatrician wife of the heart surgeon who had performed the surgery on the pastor the previous March!
At the church service the Lord had impressively displayed his healing power through His disciples to demonstrate that Jesus is the only way to the Father. We challenged he people to take the gospel to the lost outside the Church with the same power and authority.
Our host pastor was most delighted with what the Lord had done through The Elijah Challenge Training for his pastors, leaders, and workers. He plans to call the pastors of the churches in Sri Lanka together to be trained by us next year. He wrote:
“It was very valuable, Bible-based and sound teaching material. it also equipped ordinary believers to be instruments of healing, deliverance and evangelism. The terms on which you carry on your ministry are very commendable – considering the fact that you even permit others to freely download your materials; this indicates a genuine desire to advance the Kingdom cause. Your reward is great. May the Lord use you more and more.”
Feedback by a participant
“It was really an honor to be a part of your training and also the Sunday evening service [where you taught about “The Anointing Revisited“]. I would like to receive the Powerpoint presentations which you used so that I too can help share and train people in rural areas of my country. Please send the Powerpoints used in the English training and also at the Sunday services. I would be very grateful to receive them.
After your teaching and Sunday sermon it’s like I have entered into a new level. I find that I had a habit of praying while casting out devils, and also mixing prayers to the father [with issuing commands to the enemy with authority]. It was a challenge at first and somewhat of a shock to catch myself doing it, but as I continue to practice with the understanding and training I received, I can see the Lord moving much more quickly.
Thank you for this equipping insight and training. I thank the Lord who guided you and taught you to bless and be a blessing where ever you go. I pray that the Lord will open more doors for you to reach out to many churches and Christians, even the ones which are not approachable. I pray the Lord’s favour rest upon you in every place you go. God bless you!”