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A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

At an “America Pray Now” prayer meeting I shared the remarkable and exciting things we have witnessed God doing in India over the last four years.  I was asked to share a bit concerning this as a testimonial for “America Pray Now” to encourage the American Church to continue to pray for revival and awakening so that we might see these same kinds of things happen here at home.

I am the senior pastor of a Baptist church in Stafford County, Virginia (near Fredericksburg) with historical ties to the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist General Association of Virginia.  Our church is unusual among Baptist churches because we have a long-standing healing and deliverance ministry (The Church Unchained: LukeNine1&2 Ministries).  This is what ultimately took us to India, although I had never planned to go there, nor had any desire to go there.  We believe that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) and that He continues to do the same things He did in the biblical record as He continues to work, by His Holy Spirit, in the Body of Christ to reach the world with the ministry of reconciliation and healing.

Although I had never planned to go to India, God had other plans for us.  I will not go into all of that here, but I will say I am so glad we answered our “Macedonian Call” to India.  We have been truly blessed.  Not only have we seen literally thousands of people healed and delivered, many of them in truly miraculous ways (the blind seeing, the deaf hearing), but we have also been reminded of what God does when a people are truly hungry and thirsty for Him.  A question which is often asked is, “Why don’t we see miracles like this happening in the United States?”  One reason is that the Western Church has largely been trained in unbelief for centuries.  There is a prevalent system of “Christian” theology in the West which explains away the powerlessness and lack of spiritual authority over the Enemy which characterizes the Church today, blaming it all on God’s plan rather than our own failure to walk in His ways.  (It could not possibly be our fault, could it?)  Shame on us.  Another reason we often do not see God move powerfully in the United States is that Americans have so many resources at our disposal we rely upon ourselves and our resources rather than our God.  Most of the people we see in India do not have easy (if any) access to medical care, for example.  They come to our meetings understanding they will not get better without a touch from Jesus, so they come wholeheartedly seeking Him and the healing and freedom that comes only from His hand.  They also come with a simple faith, EXPECTING to be healed when we pray for them, for the uncomplicated reason that they have been told this is what Jesus does (just like in the Bible).  

While there we minister to the orphans, the widows, to lepers, to pastors, and to many hundreds in churches, keeping up a physically exhausting pace as we minister in rural areas, villages, towns, and large cities in southeastern India.  We believe the Lord gave us a strategy to help the Indian believers begin to tear down the spiritual strongholds of generational idolatry in that land, and the exciting thing is that we can see it happening!  I have shared with many Indians that America has idols and false gods, too, but they just are not as obvious as the statues all over India.

With each trip we have seen increasing signs of the Church’s impact in that part of India and we have seen many healed from a variety of ailments and set free from demonic oppression, often in very obvious ways.  The last two years (2015 and 2016) were truly remarkable as we began to witness an increase of miracles of the blind receiving sight and the deaf hearing when we prayed with laying-on-of-hands.  Last year our small team prayed for over 1,700 people individually!  With the exception of literally only a handful of individuals, every one of them received instant or near-instant healing or freedom or a powerful touch from the Holy Spirit.  This year’s trip just after the New Year saw the churches less full than the previous year due to schools being on break and people traveling due to a holiday, but we still prayed for over 1,200 people with the same result.  We are very careful to make sure we have good translators when we pray so there are no false claims of healing.  I, and other team members, saw thick cataracts disappear from the eyes of those who were completely blind and the individuals then able to see.  We saw the totally deaf able to hear.  Many couples, including pastors and their wives, believe our prayers that they would conceive a child after years of childlessness resulted in the birth of children and we have rejoiced in meeting those children on return visits.

In past years we prayed for Hindus who were standing outside daytime pastors’ conferences if they wanted prayer for healing.  We saw them instantly healed by Jesus and then accept Him as Lord on the spot.  Something new happened this year which was very exciting.  There were a number of Hindu women who were in one of the churches we visited to encourage and pray for.  These women came up for healing prayer at the end of the service.  We loved them and prayed for them in Jesus’ name and every one of them was instantly healed.  They all realized Jesus healed them, and one of them accepted Him immediately.  The pastor we work with in India has told us that many Muslims and Hindus are coming to Christ because of the testimonies of the villagers we have prayed for and who have been healed.

We are excited to see what God is going to do in India when we return this coming year, but my heart longs to see this kind of move of God here in the United States. Our experiences in India encourage us to continue to pray for revival and awakening here in the USA.  Jesus is the same in India and in the United States, and I believe the Father wants to release a move of the Holy Spirit here, just as He is doing in India.

Prayer efforts like “America Pray Now” are vitally important.  The pastors and churches in the United States need to come together to pray with like-minded believers, setting aside denominational differences and any sense of competition.  We are all in this together.  Sometimes we need to be reminded it is supposed to be about the Kingdom of God, and not our own kingdoms or territories.  I commend “America Pray Now” for having a Kingdom heart and vision, and for inviting brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for the healing of our land.

 

James H. (Jim) Bethany

Senior Pastor, Richland Baptist Church

Founder and President, The Church Unchained: LukeNine1&2 Ministries

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