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November 14, 2010

Fire falls

I woke up feeling absolutely whacked. I’m not going to be able to manage with so little sleep for long. I long for my bed in Heilbronn. I took a shower but it didn’t feel good. The frog didn’t reappear, though. Lars said he’d gone to get his friends. I didn’t think that was very funny. Anyway, I always croak when he goes into the bathroom. He doesn’t think it’s funny.

Today was the day when fire was supposed to fall. D-day for hell. The day started on a very promising note from Reinhard during the morning meeting. To be honest, I don’t remember what he preached about. But the penny dropped and I understood what it means to believe. Yesterday we had a theological discussion in a small group about something that I think is unimportant. But one sentence stood out: “I have to understand before I can believe.” The scales fell off my eyes as I realised that this is absolute nonsense. I can believe Jesus if he tells me something, whether I understand or not. Slowly the consequences became clear. I have always been proud of my clever little brain and of understanding so much. That’s an obstacle. It feels strange to trust Jesus like a child. My “I want to be an adult” mind rebels. I realise, though, that there is great power in trusting Jesus like that.

At the Fire Conference Peter van den Berg preached first. He spoke about Elijah and Elisha and about how the younger of the two (I always get their two names mixed up) stuck at it right to the end. He wanted the power of God. We should also stick unswervingly to Jesus and ask for his Spirit.

Then … showdown: Thomas had said something earlier about holy chaos but everything was still very orderly. The church pastors were asked to go forward. Hundreds streamed forward. Amazingly, back home just a handful of people would be standing at the front. But here there is a church on every street corner.

Daniel was going to pray for them with the laying-on of hands. Then the pastors were to go through the rows and lay hands on the others. Like foxes with burning tails running through a cornfield. After Daniel had prayed for them, they were all to shout “Hallelujah” and praise God loudly. I wondered what was going to happen. He prayed. Ten thousand people shouted “Hallelujah”. Deafening. My eyes were closed and I saw what looked like a mighty fire coming from heaven and then dividing and then lots of little fires hovering over the people. I opened my eyes and just saw the sun passing a couple of clouds. I was a bit disappointed. I closed my eyes again and saw a burning field and a wind driving the fire forwards. Then I saw a city in the grip of a mighty earthquake. Ah well, perhaps it was all my imagination but it was cool and encouraging anyway.

The Daniel stepped down from the platform and laid his hands on the pastors. Holy chaos broke out. The people rushed at him; they all wanted him to lay hands on them – now! It was too rough for me and I stepped back a little. People fell over and some shook but most stood with their hands raised and praised God. I felt an incredible joy welling up within me; I almost had to snort noiselessly with laughter. It was all I could do to keep myself under control. However, as I write these lines one day later, I can still sense that joy. Even if it is severely dampened by fatigue. It was a really great experience.

Back at the hotel, I wrote in my diary. I am starting to think more and more of home. I feel as if I am in “Lord of the Rings”. I was there at the major battle and have seen great things. Soon it will be time to go home and to fight in my own environment. That’s something that Lars and I spent the rest of the day talking about. We talked about what, of all that we have seen, we can implement back home on a small scale. We still have a few unsettled matters to clear up. It’s good to have so much time to talk and to experience everything here together. After lunch, some of the group went to a market in the city. Not me, though – I really needed to get some sleep. But it wasn’t as easy as that; so many things were going through my mind. I switched on the air conditioning, which amazingly also made noises, but two hours later it was warmer than ever.

5.15 pm On our way to the Great Gospel Campaign. There was a real hustle and bustle in the city. The closer we got to our destination, the worse the traffic became. Most of all, I did not understand why so many cars and motorcycles were coming towards us. They all ought to have been driving in the same direction as us. Then I realised that the motorcycles coming towards us only had a driver and those travelling in the other direction carried a lot of people.

As we arrived, we saw a young man wearing a T-shirt with the words “Real men fight on their knees”. Good slogan; have to remember that.

The praise time was great again; I clapped along enthusiastically. I couldn’t join in the singing, though; my Yoruba isn’t good enough for that. Daniel preached again – about Jesus and Zacchaeus. He referred directly to the people’s problems and then gave an altar call. It is difficult to say how many people were converted as the people here have the very un-German habit of everyone waving. But that’s no bad thing, and 275,000 people prayed a prayer of commitment. The exact number of the completed decision cards first had to be counted. My faith was strengthened immensely about relations between Christians and non-Christians in a city.

Amulets and fetishes were again burned in an old oil drum. It was great but did not have the same impact on me as yesterday. After the altar call and a brief explanation by Reinhard, he prayed for all believers on the field to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. The same procedure as this morning. The people shouted “Hallelujah” so loud that the powerful 13-metre-tall loudspeaker towers no longer had any hope of making sounds heard. I joined in shouting Hallelujah but couldn’t hear myself. It was great to pray like that. I had my eyes closed and saw Jesus with a crown on a huge throne up above the city.

Daniel prayed again for the sick. Later in the bus we found out that the woman who had travelled with us from Germany had had her eyes healed. She had worn glasses with 4 dioptres and can now see clearly without them. It was a while before we in the bus realised what had happened. Her husband said that God can also heal white people in black Africa.

Back at the hotel, the frog was sitting with a friend on the vertical tiles. Lars found them there and I admit that after what he said this morning, I couldn’t help gloating a bit. We now have two frogs in two empty plastic water bottles.

I feel really homesick and long to see my little family again. I’d love to put my arms round my wife and son. It’s a moment or two before I can calm down. I ask Jesus to be close to us all and to make sure that it isn’t too bad for my little son. I’m really longing to see them at Frankfurt Airport again.

(Follow Stephan in German)

About the Author

Stephan Mittelstädt

The 2010 European winner. He is a student with ICI and studies Evangelism. He is a member of the Pentecostal church in Heilbronn.

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