In our Campaigns, mass evangelistic meetings are usually held after the believers are equipped in the Training Seminar. However, in Benin my host arranged something very different for me: street and neighborhood evangelistic rallies in three different locations. We didn’t have throngs of believers to come to support us at the meetings. Those people who just happened to be there or walking by when we set up our stage, sound system, and worship team were our audience. I’m used to seeing people (sometimes large numbers of them) gathered together to receive ministry in our Crusades. So it was an initially disconcerting experience for me…often there would be practically no one in front in front of the stage when I stood up to minister. But ultimately the Lord made it very worthwhile.
The way I got people to gather together to hear the gospel was to announce first over our powerful sound system that we would heal the sick to show people that our God was the only true God. In Luke 10:9 Jesus commanded His disciples, “…heal the sick, and tell them the the Kingdom of God is near.” After the announcement, a small crowd would gather in front of the podium, appearing as if out of nowhere (there are a lot of infirm people in Africa). The trained believers would go into action and minister healing to the sick. Some of the many who were healed would come up to testify. Now that I had the attention of the people, I would preach the gospel with great boldness. At the invitation, souls would accept Christ. Generally from what I recall, most of those who gathered for healing at the front of the stage would also accept Christ. By the end of the six-day Crusade I was confident that the Lord had shown me a different model for evangelism of this type.
The old model involves the huge and expensive Crusades held by world-class evangelists like Reinhard Bonnke. These of course will continue. But as we know there are extremely few people like Bonnke. However, there are millions upon millions of churches around the world. And they can be trained to do in the neighborhoods entrusted to them what we did in our six neighborhood meetings around the city of Cotonou, Benin. The meetings cost very little, and the ones doing the miracles are just ordinary disciples of Christ, just church members who have been trained…no special Bonnke-like gifting or resources are required!
Report from Pastor Joel Biao of World Vision, visiting from Niger
Really I was blessed with that powerful teaching. You know I didn’t attend the training [when you were with us last year] in Niger. After the training I felt stronger than ever. I told my wife that if that is the same training they had in Niamey [Niger] they should have been bolder than what I saw them be after your departure.
…As for me I was satisfied because of the training and the great miracles we saw. I was satisfied because I noticed that more than 70% of those who attended the crusades came forward to commit their lives to the Lord.
I will always quote four big miracles:
1.That young man of about 25 years who is deaf and dumb and even silly who spoke and heard clearly and became very clear in his senses.
2. That young man of about 25 or 27 years old who is a thief and who left home for 8 years. He said he could see you speaking to him in his dreams to come to Jesus. He said he would see you every time that he closed his eyes. So the following day he decided to come to the crusade and give his life to Christ. He wept a lot as he was giving his testimony. If it is for him only that God brought you to Benin, I thing there is great joy in heaven about his salvation.
3. There is again that old woman [who could barely walk] you asked me to bring for testimony that Friday. As she finished giving her testimony she walked fine back to her place. The woman belonged to a sect and said she will go and burn her white dress [from the cult of] celestial Christianism.
4. There is another man who said he would quarrel a lot and got hurt on his shoulder during a fight. So he was astonished that God healed him although he was bad, so he gave his life to Christ after all.
I quoted those four miracles because of their salvation. I know almost all those who came for healing got healed. So dear man of God I know that you have been of great blessing to this town of Cotonou.
June 2006: Follow-up Report on 2003 Benin Campaign from Pastor Joel Biao of World Vision
Dear Man of God,
I write to you regarding the follow-up I have been doing since The Elijah Challenge had the campaign in Benin in November 2003. If it were not for the…, the time in Cotonou would have been one of the most wonderful times of ministry. Anyway I continue to follow up, and some local churches are experiencing great miracles in applying the lessons learned during your time in Cotonou — “Communauté des Frères Chrétiens,” the church where you preached when you came to Cotonou and other local churches. I went to Cotonou with my team in July 2004 and in August 2005 for follow up and God did wonderful things.
Elijah Challenge Training
Friday, November 28
The believers are receiving the teaching with receptive hearts, and I believe the Lord will use them to do extraordinary things in the Crusade meetings next week. Already they have begun to apply what they have learned on their own. Among three such testimonies was the following….
A pastor went home after the training yesterday and found his wife praying with a sister who had recently had a miscarriage. The water in the bag in her womb, however, would not be released; there was pain and discomfort. The maternity hospital had told her the only recourse would be a surgical operation to remove the water. After his wife finished praying with her, the pastor had her lay hands on herself while with authority he commanded the water to come out in the name of Jesus. Not two minutes later the sister said she had to go to the bathroom. While there she let out a scream and rushed out. She exclaimed that the water from the bag had come out! And the pain was completely gone! Later she returned to the hospital for an examination. The nurse who examined her could not understand what had happened. The sister told her how the Lord had healed her through her pastor. The nurse told her she was going to church with her on Sunday.
Sunday Service in Eglise Evangelique Universelle
I have finished the three-day training yesterday. Although I felt it was satisfactory and knew that the believers had received the teaching, I had seen better results in terms of actual miraculous healings during the training sessions. Last year in Togo (West Africa), for example, when conducting the teaching in a village, scores of people were healed very quickly and impressively as local believers laid hands on them. Even a blind woman was healed during the training. The local physical conditions here in Cotonou—heat, dust, vehicle pollution, generally very dismal surroundings—did not help my morale.
But today I had an opportunity to preach in a large church called the Universal Evangelical Church. (What an experience….the African evangelicals worship the Lord a bit differently from their American evangelical counterparts!) I was only given 40 minutes, which included the translation, so I had to move quickly. I decided I was going to train them during that time.
I told them that miracles of healing confirm that Jesus is the Son of God (John 10.36-37), and that often Jesus performed the miracles by giving commands to the diseases and demons. He had given His disciples authority to minister healing to the sick in the same way that He did as they proclaimed the Kingdom of God (Luke 9.1-2, 6; Luke 10:1,2,9). Then I told the people we would ask Jesus to heal the sick at that very moment to show that He is the only way to the Father.
When I asked how many people needed physical healing in the service, it seemed to me that every person in the church raised their hand! After we prayed, I told the people to lay hands on themselves and, repeating after me, to command any diseases to be healed and any demons to go in Jesus’ name. They did this was great gusto, boldness and authority, even though I don’t think they had ever done this before in this conservative evangelical church.
Sister Eula Washington, co-Pastor of an African-American church in Houston, recently wrote me while I was here: In this country [America] people frown on the boldness….but my brothers and sisters in Africa need it because that’s all they know….force!!!!!!!!!!”
I think Sister Eula knows what she’s talking about, because when I asked how many people were healed at that very moment, many scores of hands instantly went up! We had just enough time remaining for just three of those people healed to come up to the front to testify publicly even though so many had been healed. The people all rejoiced at the Lord’s goodness! At the very end of the service, many, many people prayed to ask Jesus to be their Savior.
December 1, 2003
We met in Lenin Plaza, which is in the middle of a busy intersection where seven streets converge from different directions like the spokes of a wheel. A traffic circle at the center forms the perimeter of the Plaza. It reminded me of our early days when we would just set up shop in a main intersection in downtown Los Angeles and let loose the gospel with our bullhorn. The difference was our worship team and our powerful speakers which could be heard for blocks around. There were no seats provided; by-standers, passers-by, and whoever happened to be drawn to the lights and music were our audience.
Since this was our first meeting and since support from local churches was limited due to our “new” method of evangelism, attendance (as seen from the podium at least) was much less than what we are accustomed to. But when I announced that the Lord would be healing the sick to show that His kingdom was near, people with infirmities suddenly appeared from nowhere in front of the podium….by my estimate, between one hundred and two hundred people. I told them that the miracles of healing would show them that “the Kingdom of God is near to you tonight.”
I instructed the trained believers to come and minister healing for these at the front. Within a few minutes, people began to come up to the podium to testify of their healings….men, women, children. The first person, a woman, told us at length she had been unable to walk because of pain that had strangely moved about in her legs. The Lord had healed her as a believer ministered to her! After her were several more testimonies of healings. When I felt I really had the crowd’s attention, I stopped receiving testimonies and began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I told them they had just seen a dramatic demonstration that the kingdom of God was near (Luke 10:9). But in order to enter the kingdom of God, they had to believe in Jesus Christ.
After preaching about the demoniac of the Gadarenes, I challenged them to accept Christ. As far as I could see, most if not all of those who had come forward for physical healing also accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior! They raised their hands and came forward with eagerness and no hesitation. The pastors and ministers saw how simple it was to bring souls into God’s Kingdom, and I am certain some will be preaching the gospel this way in the future. Miraculous healings are a powerful and scriptural way to get people to listen to the gospel. (Recall the ministry of the evangelist Philip in Samaria in Acts 8.)
December 2, 2003
Tonight’s meeting was absolutely lovely. Thank you for your very powerful and effectual prayers!
For the second evening we held what amounted to a “street evangelistic meeting” in the big circular plaza known as Lenin Place. Like last night, I told the people gathered there (more people than last night) that we would ask God to prove that Jesus was His Son and the only way to Heaven. We would ask Him in the name of Jesus Christ to do miraculous healings that only He alone could do. If the miracles occurred, this would be the proof of the true identify of Jesus.
I sent the trained believer-soldiers into battle to minister healing to the sick. They came out of the “firefights” with several miracles! The most notable miracle concerned a rough young man who was known around the immediate neighborhood as being completely deaf and mute as well as having an abnormally coarse demeanor. To the amazement of the people there, he came up to the platform, able to hear and speak and in his right mind. Shortly after the testimony a group of incredulous local boys streamed up to the platform to see him. Another young man testified of being healed of a hernia which would have cost him 500,000 francs to treat with surgery. There were numerous other testimonies as well.
Then I seized the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I argued from Mark 2.1-11 that the miracles proved that Jesus had the authority to forgive their sin, the sin that had plunged these souls into suffering, sickness, demon oppression, voodoo curses, and eventual torment in hell. When I asked which of them wanted to have their sins forgiven, all of them standing in front of the podium raised their hands and prayed the sinners’ prayer. Afterwards they eagerly met with counselors for follow-up.
At the end of the meeting, my translator, a brother named Theophan, spoke with me. He shared with joy that previous Crusades had cost more money, but did not bear the fruit that we had just seen. Praise the Lord for using us so graciously this evening!
December 3, 2003
Tonight we hit a speed bump!
The meeting contrasted greatly with last night’s final meeting at spacious Lenin Place. Tonight we set up in a residential, far more confined and intimate area. There was a powerful spirit of unbelief and fear present in this neighborhood, likely related to witchcraft and voodoo.
Mark 6:5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief.
When the trained believers prayed over those who had gathered at the front for healing, it was far more difficult than the two preceding nights. It was slow, and even some who were healed actually refused (most likely because of fear) to go up to the podium to testify. Some of course did go up to testify of their healing.
After the testimonies, I explained the gospel to the people, and invited them to receive Christ. Whereas at Lenin Place the response was immediate, enthusiastic (and even overwhelming), tonight a handful of people drifted to the front after a bit of prodding.
Of course the Lord gives people the free will to choose to accept or reject Christ. But perhaps the people in that area are under such a spirit of unbelief and fear that they are not able to choose freely. We have one more chance to share the gospel in this neighborhood tomorrow evening before moving on to the stadium.
December 4, 2003
From my point of view, the difference between yesterday evening and this evening was night and day. And the reason for this difference could be nothing else but serious prayer and intercession. You notched up the level of intensity as you prayed and fasted for us, and here the believers involved in the Crusade also sought the Lord earnestly. There was even powerful warfare from the podium before I got up to speak.
Tonight the ministry of healing by the believers was far quicker and more powerful than last night. Among the testimonies was an elderly woman who walked with difficulty even with the help of a cane. As believers laid hands on her, she was able to walk around the front of the podium quite normally. Another woman could not walk or do any meaningful work because of pain in her heart. She climbed up to the podium to testify she was completely healed. A younger girl said she could see clearly without her eyeglasses. And there were other miracles as well.
Then I shared from Mark 5 about how Jesus was asked to leave the area of the Gadarenes after performing the miracle of deliverance on the demoniac. I told them that the same Jesus was visiting their area as well that very moment, performing the great miracles of healing they had just witnessed. Would they ask Jesus to leave or to stay? If they asked Jesus to stay, then His Kingdom would come into their community. If they asked Jesus to leave, the kingdom of darkness would return and judgment would someday befall them.
A good number of people, similar to the number coming to Christ on the first two nights at Lenin Place, came forward to ask Jesus to stay and be their personal Savior. Especially touching was a large cluster of children, mostly young boys, who after they saw the miracles and heard the word of God, eagerly raised their hands and jumped up to accept Jesus without any reservations. Jesus loves these little ones, and I know some of them will grow up to become very powerful African servants of Christ.
One of the very influential Crusade committee members remarked that he thought the Healing Encounter training should be given to every Christian (as a tool for soul-winning). May someday every new Christian learn these things as part of his or her discipleship. How much faster could we complete the Great Commission if this were done!
December 1, 2003
First, the elderly woman who had been healed last night came up to share her testimony. She had gone to Crusades in the past and had been ministered to by a pastor, but still walked with difficulty even with the help of a cane. She shared how she had been healed at our Crusade. Tonight she was dancing before the Lord at the front along with other African believers!
Then I stood up and told them about how blind Bartimaeus received his sight by faith and followed Jesus. I asked the people who had the faith of Bartimaeus and wanted to be healed of infirmities. In response, a crowd quickly formed at the front. I had them cry out to “Jesus, Son of David,” just like Bartimaeus, and then directed the trained believers to minister healing to them.
Many, many people were healed. Some had been suffering continuously for years. We could only hear a few of the tesimonies before I began to share the gospel of Christ with the people. It was not enough for them to be healed like Bartimaeus, they had to follow Jesus like Bartimaeus as well!
When I gave the altar call, precious souls came forward.
Feedback from local servant of God
My translator, a servant of the Lord named Theophan, just stopped by to share about the impact of our work here. When I leave tomorrow evening, I will have spent two weeks here, missing the Thanksgiving holidays with my family. It will have been a demanding two weeks in this impoverished country known as the world’s center of voodoo. It has been spiritually, physically, and psychologically draining. You my intercessors have also invested your resources in this Campaign; you have prayed, wrestled, and may have fasted as well. Some have invested finances. I wanted to hear what Theophan had to stay.
Theophan worked with Reinhard Bonnke when he held his big meetings here in Cotonou. Brother Reinhard’s arrival here was preceded by extensive media fanfare as well as the mobilization of all the churches to attend the meetings. This was very expensive. Most of the attendees in the huge Crusade crowds were church-going believers, great miracles happened as Brother Reinhard ministered to the sick, and many souls were saved. After Brother Reinhard left, the miracles ceased.
In contrast, since most of our Campaign expenses were borne by local organizations having very little money, the publicity for our meetings was very modest. (I did pay $2,000 for the PA system used for the six nights of Crusade meetings.) We of course could not rent the big Stadium, but went into a busy public intersection, then a voodoo-infested neighborhood, and then finally to the parking lot of the big Stadium. Our “crowds” were sparse by comparison, consisting mostly of unbelievers who just happened to be there when we set up our platform and sound equipment. (That was rough.) Great miracles happened as the trained local believers ministered to the sick, and precious souls were saved as the gospel was preached to the poor. After I leave, the miracles will continue through the believers who attended the Healing Encounter. And they will teach other believers to minister in the same way.
If trained, the churches can continue holding similar Crusades in their backyards and neighborhoods. They will see similar results, for the authority to do the miracles has been restored to them. They can send trained believers door-to-door, healing the sick and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Could this be a different model of evangelism the Lord is raising up? There aren’t many Reinhard Bonnkes, but there are many, many churches and believers. And if we are to complete the Lord’s last commandment to us quickly—the Great Commission—all churches and believers must be involved.
Brother Theophan told me he appreciated how I did not come to trumpet myself or my own ministry, but to build up the local churches to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He quoted the words of John the Baptist….”I must decrease, He must increase.” He appreciated the very simplicity of the gospel message that was preached; it came forth without persuasive words of human wisdom, but rather in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. He mentioned how the sick were healed in advance so that the listeners, having seen the miracles, could pay more attention to the message of the gospel. Now Brother Theophan is going to recommend to his church denomination that I be invited to return next year in August to hold our Healing Encounter at their Annual Conference, attended by 12,000 believers.
December 6, 2003
During this evening’s final Crusade meeting held in the Stadium parking lot, the enemy did all he could to disrupt the meeting. The electricity kept going off time and time again early in the meeting, something that did not happen at all yesterday evening. In an evening meeting outside in the open air, it’s essential to have proper lighting and sound. After I went up to the podium to begin ministering, it happened again. As I was inviting the sick to come forward to receive healing prayer, both lights and sound went dead. My translator and I, by the grace of God, did not miss a beat. Brother Theophan has a strong voice that carries well, and through him I instructed the sick who had gathered in front of the
The trained believers came forward to lay hands on the sick, and the Lord began to do miracles again….this without sound and minimal lighting. People began to come up to testify, though folks farther back could probably not hear. In the middle of the testimonies the sound came back on. It was around that time that a young man stepped forward with an arresting testimony…
Sylvester is a 24-year-old man who had left home 8 years ago to become one of a legion of homeless youths known as “street kids.” They are the castaways of Cotonou society, written off and rejected as totally without hope. Sylvester spent his days stealing, drinking, and sleeping around. His relatives were nervous when he happened to be around. But he happened to be in the voodoo-infested neighborhood where we held our Crusade meeting last Wednesday, the evening we felt we hit a “speedbump.”
Sylvester heard the gospel and was convicted by the Holy Spirit. He repented of his sin and accepted Christ, but dared not to go forward publicly along with the others. After all, he was an “untouchable.” But that evening, each time he closed his eyes to sleep, he would see me as in a vision. Each time I would be calling out him to “come and testify.” He had no peace in his heart until finally he relented.
The following day he went to our meeting again, but was too ashamed to come forward. Friday he followed us to the Stadium parking lot, but could not summon the courage to step up to testify. Finally this evening he overcame his fear and shame and came up to share his testimony before the people. They were amazed at what they were hearing from this dreg of society…such things do not happen here. As he finished his testimony, Sylvester began to sob because of the life of sin he had lived after leaving home. He was so full of godly sorrow. People began to move closer to the podium just to get a look at him. They had never heard of such a thing. (Brother Murumba will take personal responsibility for his discipleship; we believe someday God will use Sylvester mightily.)
After the testimonies and the preaching of the gospel of Christ, I gave the altar call, and precious souls streamed forward to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. It was a night of great rejoicing. Satan did his best, but he was defeated again.
Report from Campaign Host Rev. Murumba Ohanete
Pastor OHANETE Murumba at C/2204 Kouhounou
Telephone: 229/386118; or 229/072213
Postal Address: 01 BP 3112, Cotonou.
The training sessions went on very well and the teachings were well received. One of the church leaders that attended the opening ceremony regretted that not all the churches were involved and promised to mobilize the churches in the CEPEB not just for the next ECOMIN, but to support AMI in its vision. That was very encouraging to me. We had 76 participants in all, some of which came from Niger and Mali.
Our only speaker, Evangelist William of The Elijah Challenge, taught participants how to minister healing, to the sick, in the name of Jesus. He pointed out that this is where the church has failed in the execution of the command of the Master. That the Lord has given His Church a powerful weapon for the purpose of the work He committed to them, but lack of knowledge, and wrong conception as to how to use this weapon has retarded if not crippled the work. This weapon, which is healing the sick and doing of miracles, is based on the authority of the believer in Christ, who now exercises the mountain-moving faith of God in the given situation, as he obeys the command to preach the Gospel. It was a down-to-earth teaching, which demystified divine healing. He constantly made it clear that it was not the gift of healings but the exercise of the authority the Lord gave to the believer who goes forth to preach the Good News.
The crusade was planned to give to the believers who took part in the training the immediate opportunity to practise what they learnt. There we saw the Lord confirming His word by the hand of many bold believers. The Evangelist just preached the Word and allowed the local believers to minister to the people. The deaf heard, the dumb spoke, weak sights were restored along side many other miracles. More important than all these miracles were the souls that were save during this period, about 128 souls. These were distributed to the churches that were around the crusade locations.
The evangelist will surely return to the United States but not with the ministry. The ministry remains with the local believers. That is the beauty of it all.
BENIN: Voodoo Capital of the World
“Gospel workers training missionaries in Benin, West Africa, told Christian Aid recently that they have experienced growing persecution from witch doctors and magicians.
Benin is the original birthplace of voodoo. It is a hotbed of diabolical activity and remains the center of voodoo for the whole world. According to missionaries’ reports, politicians from Benin and neighboring West African countries travel to this area seeking the witch doctors’ power to lead their nations. People from every walk of life come not only from other parts of Africa, but from all over the world–including Europe and the USA–to buy satanic power in Benin.
The ministry reporting this operates six schools of missions throughout the country. Its gospel workers suffer continuously from spiritual attacks. The ministry leader told Christian Aid, “Our missionaries and their children are always targets. The enemy seeks to destroy us because of the strategic evangelization programs that are bringing people out of darkness to Christ.” Witchdoctors often attack missionaries and children through sickness, trying to kill them. The attacks are continual, the warfare is intense, and the obstacles are relentless. But they give missionaries the opportunity to demonstrate the power of Jesus over the power of the devil.
This is something the people must see because it shows them they can overcome the witchcraft that controls their lives. Indeed, there is nothing else. Students at the schools of missions are persecuted not only by spiritual attacks but also by the rejection and mistreatment they experience from people around them.”