November 14, 2010

Under an open heaven

Today we were allowed to have a lie-in … until 8 am. All the same, the night wasn’t particularly great. Beneath our window a group of football fans celebrated until 3 in the morning. When the alarm rang, I had nonetheless had a pretty good rest. Taking a shower doesn’t bother me any more. I’ll still be happy when I don’t have to see or use the hotel room any more.

I enjoyed breakfast and the African morning in the open air on a white plastic chair in the tent belonging to the “God’s favor rental” company – Africans don’t have any sense of pain.

10 am Prayer meeting with our group of visitors, the CfaN team and, of course, Reinhard and Daniel. The praise and worship was short but intense. But what else could we expect among the people here and after what we have experienced with God in the past few days. I enjoyed the time. Reinhard preached. I can only remember one sentence: “If you are immune to the praises of people, you won’t be bothered by criticism either.” Very wise.

Then Daniel preached on John 1 – Jesus calls Nathanael. Daniel is totally enthusiastic about Jesus and the Bible. He told us that Jesus is everywhere in the OT. That really interested me. He said that Jesus was the manna and the spring in the desert, the ladder up to heaven and even the angel of the Lord. A real revelation for me. That makes the OT really exciting and not just a collection of stories. We are being taught by two great theologians; I wish I had that kind of depth. At the end, they held a time of blessing with the laying-on of hands. A long queue formed, with me right at the end. I wish I had more authority when preaching and that people’s lives would be changed as a result. Ahead of me, some people fell over during the prayer, shook or started to weep. Nothing much happened to me. But I noted that I was filled again by that deep joy and that I wanted to talk about the life-changing love of Jesus. I hope that feeling stays; I prayed that it does.

There was a smooth transition to lunch, then back to the hotel. Afternoon nap – as always – but today is the last time. Like the meeting tonight. On the way there, there was even more going on than usual. But somehow we made it to our parking space behind the stage. Today the winners were allowed to sit on the stage again – me, too. It was really great to be able to see everything during the first and last meetings from up there. Incredible masses of people were pouring onto the field. There were 400,000 of them – more than twice as many as on the first evening. There were dark clouds over the platform but during the praise time, the sun’s rays broke through the clouds and made a wonderful picture. Heaven was open over the outwardly so poor city.

Daniel preached on Romans 8, verses 1 and 2, a difficult text. But he took such striking and simple examples that even the smallest child could understand. Now and again he looked behind him and winked at us in the back row. It suddenly struck me how simple and exciting it can be to trust in Jesus.

So often, I have been all tensed up when I was preaching or praying because I wanted to force something to happen. It was a real strain and didn’t achieve much. But if I trust in Jesus, that he keeps his promises, everything becomes so much easier and probably that is when it will work. I am filled with a lovely sense of relaxation.

Two more oil drums with amulets were set on fire. From the stage I was able to take a good photo. When prayer was made for the sick, it started to pour with rain. The only people running round like crazy were the technicians. I was wet through but stayed put on my seat. The others didn’t move either and the 400,000 shouted “Amen” as usual. Signs and wonders took place again. During the testimonies we unfortunately had to leave the stage so that we could make a quick getaway. This time we had to leave particularly quickly so that we could be on the road before the others and not get stuck in a traffic jam.

I took another look around. The field was full to overflowing; orange floodlights lit up the people still standing in the trees and on the walls on the edge of the field. I will certainly never forget that sight and I’m going to miss these lovely people until we meet again in heaven.

Once we were on the bus Reinhard began to bless the people as promised. I expected a short prayer of blessing out of the OT or something like that. But his blessing was very specific: “I bless you with good, tasty food on your table. In the name of Jesus.”

The crowd roared “Amen” and rejoiced. He blessed them with good pregnancies, orderly families, Christian marriage partners, good grades for the schoolchildren and for the parents to be able to pay the school fees. And a lot, lot more. He even blessed them with wealth and twice their business turnover. That started to get difficult for me. But our bus driver, who had opened his window, was praying with the rest and was deeply moved. I would like to experience Jesus so tangibly in my life again. But some of the blessings left me a bit doubtful. I’ll have to think about it again tomorrow. We missed the right moment to leave and were stuck in an absolutely chaotic traffic jam. The black people waved at us cheerfully and we waved back. It’s nice to be with them, although slowly I’m really looking forward to being back home.

We packed our cases, cleaned our shoes, which were red with dust, and I set the two frogs free in some bushes – a long way from our hotel room. Just five hours’ sleep and then we’re off back home

(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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