Yesterday morning I attended the Diamond Fellowship at Bethel Church. This is their ‘seniors’ group and the first time I’ve ever been to an OAP meeting as a participant! I was asked by a lovely lady, who must have been in her late 80’s, what my impressions of Bethel Church were, and I replied that the thing that had struck me most was the sense of the presence of God. She immediately corrected me by saying it’s not a sense of God’s presence it IS God’s presence!
Looking back over the past week I have felt a greater awareness of God’s presence than I think I have ever done before. It’s not been a physical sensation in any way, I haven’t shaken, rattled or rolled (as some do), it has been a simple inner awareness that God is here and his presence is passionately pursued by the people of the church. That awareness permeated the conference I attended last week, the pre-service prayer times, the visits to the 24-7 prayer house (from where I’m writing this), my visit to the Bethel Healing Rooms, the Drum Circle time of prayer last Saturday evening, both services on Sunday, my visit to the Diamond Fellowship, the Healing Rooms training and the staff meeting I was at this morning.
When I visited the Healing Rooms the first part was what they call the POP room, standing for the Power of his Presence. For 30 mins they spoke simply of the goodness, love, grace and power of God and encouraged us to enjoy God’s presence. At the end of those 30 mins some already testified to receiving healing. We moved from there to the main sanctuary where there were lots of people to greet us, most of whom were there to pursue and express God’s presence in different ways. There were musicians singing worship songs, there were dancers (young and old), there were artists painting and drawing, there were folk worshipping and praying and amongst them were the ‘prayer servants’ offering prayer ministry. There was individual prayer for healing, but all within the context of the passionate pursuing of God’s presence.
But there is absolutely no sense of this being a ‘bless me’ culture. The importance of God’s presence is so that the city and the nations are reached with the love of Christ. On Sunday morning Bill Johnson started with saying “What’s important is what happens out there as a result of what you catch in here.” The staff meeting this morning was primarily a time of sharing stories of what God is doing. There were stories of miraculous physical healings, of God’s miraculous intervention through a student to prevent a suicide, of deep emotional healing for a lady whose son died 13 years ago aged 2, and of a recent mission led by one staff member where they had seen 40 people give their lives to Jesus.
It’s hard to summarise what I have experienced in the past week in so few words, especially as I’m still trying to process things myself, but I’ll try to post more in the coming days. Another post will follow this one which is a collection of one liners I’ve pulled out from my notes, hope they’re helpful.
Thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to be here. To Phil, Janet and our Churchwardens who have taken on extra stuff whilst I’m away. But especially to Bella whose Lenten sacrifice is allowing me to be away for this time. It’s a HUGH sacrifice for her, lots of TLC needed which is tough from the other side of the ocean!