Canadian disciple Jim Hathaway attended The Elijah Challenge Advanced Training in February 2008. Dr. Thiagan Sinnadurai is a Malaysian dentist who organized the first Elijah Challenge Seminar in Bangsar, Malaysia in 2005.
I was at the Bible school in Alabel for the first three days. I am so thankful to the Lord for Dr. Thiagan was able to come as he was not only a blessing to the Blaan people but a great help and now my friend! He worked many, many long hours tending to the immediate needs of all that needed his help.
Pastor Tito had arranged a small truck to pick me up at the airport. I entered the back of the truck and was greeted by 12 other folks from the school. We snuggled together on our way to the Sunday service where I shared in both morning and evening services. There were two highlights of the evening service:
1] The 4 people and their families that had been practicing witchcraft, that were healed and saved from last year's crusade were at the service. They are all now baptised and regular church attendees in this new church plant, and
2] After my preaching on "leaving the world's ways and serving God," from 1 Corinthians Chapters 2-4, I had an alter call for repentance. All the leaders came up for prayer. Seemed pretty straight forward until two ladies with babies started to manifest demons. The babies were taken in the care of by another lady and then I commanded the demon out of the first lady. She collapsed on the floor crying. The second lady was a little different as she had her hands raised in the air and I thought she was praising God but I could not understand what she was saying as sometimes there was English and sometimes Tagalog and then another language. As I came closer to her the "volume" seemed to be turned up so I stood back and observed. I asked Pastor Tito if he thought she was manifesting. His thoughts were " Well she speaks English and Tagalog, but not Chinese, so I think so." Again I approached her, the "volume" again went up. I commanded the demon to hush and get out, and asked the Holy Spirit to fill her. It was just that easy. The countenance on her face and eyes had changed dramatically as she was free. I had never heard a demon talk before.
I stayed in the village of Alabel, in a two-room sort of duplex with about five other families. It was hard to tell where the village started and the farms ended as all night long the roosters crowed, cows mooed and pigs squealed. These were all different neighbours' livestock right next door. I am thankful for my ear plugs! My transportation was to ride behind Pastor Tito on his motor bike - to and from everywhere. Highlight, a western toilet in the bath house!
The next day was very fruitful. The demonstration for the Elijah Challenge course went well. Four students healed: two backs, body pain and high blood pressure. Back at the duplex the girls that were my helpers asked for prayer as Arlene was suffering from the flu and Juvilee has had a shoulder problem for four years. Both were healed instantly. Total flexibility had returned in the shoulder. Many tears!
Gays stage mock crusade next to us but accept Christ
The evening crusade was a challenge for me. There were about 300 folks in attendance at Barangay Spring. Many homosexuals and practitioners of witchcraft. This is the area where one of the Bible school students is going to plant a church. I shared the Gospel and asked those that needed healing to come forward to prove what I had shared was true. I waited and waited and waited and started to worry that no one was going to come forward because no one was coming forward! Finally one man came up. He had chest pains and he was known by all the people there. When I laid my hands on his chest there was obvious relief and he testified to the healing. Then folks started to come and all were healed.
There was a lot of mocking by the "gay" crowd on the second night. They were holding their own crusade complete with dancing and laying on of hands for the sick. One of the older students "commanded" them to stop. She was away from them and was surprised that after a few moments they did exactly that and joined into to the worship time and many accepted the Lord when the call to follow Jesus came.
All the pastors that received training and were involved in the crusades were amazed at: 1] how cheap an outreach can be. Only using regular people and 2] how much unity there was as they were from different churches. I explained to them that the Lord's strategy through the Great Commission was to achieve that. We are simply to preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons to every nation tribe and tongue. The strategy of planting churches is all part of discipling these nations and to repeat the process. Then we will see the return of Jesus. The busyness of the "job" keeps the unity because we are busy. As with a working job when there is nothing to do, the workers always start to complain. When everyone is busy, all are happy. The same in the Kingdom of God. Preaching, discipling and church planting keeps us busy.
Back Up To The Mountain Villages
On the Wednesday Pastor Elito picked me up in his tricycle to take me to Malapatan and the Blaan people. I always enjoy being with this family as we have become very close over the last few years. Immediately on my arrival I was greeted by many old friends. I went into the church where Dr. Thiagan was busy with his new staff tending to the dental needs of the Blaan people and community. I was really overwhelmed at actually seeing what I hoped to happen actually being done in this area of ministry. And the untiring work that Dr. Thiagan was doing was fantastic!
A short visit and then I was in the mountain homes. I really wanted to see the Grandpa that was healed from the stroke last year. There he was enjoying life but had two complaints. It seemed like there was still a little stiffness in his thighs. I commanded this to go and it left. Second was he could not really jump in the air like he used to. I asked his age. He is 70 years old. We discerned that maybe he was just getting on with age and this had nothing to do with his stroke.
Evening crusade was very hard. During the worship time I became very ill and had to leave to use the "facilities". I was very hot and could not concentrate. I was wanting to turn the evening over to someone else, but the Lord kept saying "Leave the results up to me". During my sharing I was really unfocused and did not think I was being very clear. I thought Dr. Thiagan was praying for me as his eyes were closed but he confessed later that he was falling asleep. Oh well. But the results were great with healings as everyone that came for healing was healed.
It was difficult to get the trained Elijah Challenge students from past years to participate in the evening crusade. None of the pastors had held their own outreaches after their training. Dr. Thiagan had discerned that they were timid and really needed to know that it is the ordinary people that God uses to do His will. He shared this with the people and called for them to repent. About 40 folks came forward and Dr. Thiagan, Pastor Elito and I laid hands on each one as they cried out to God for boldness. Almost everyone fell to the ground as the Holy Spirit moved and ministered. This proved to be valuable as in the next evening's crusade their boldness to take charge was fantastic! No one came forward for salvation as all were Christians.
We left for the next evening's crusade at 5 AM. Thirty-five people piled into a jeepney built for maybe 20 passengers. If you put an extra bench in the middle of the jeepney and have some people ride on the roof, it is actually quite easy to get 35 people on board. Not to mention all the dental gear.
The Village of Barangay Lunen
Dr. Thiagan again went to work with his staff and this area of the world was blessed by the love of God through the ministry of Dr. Thiagan. It was so very hard for us to understand what the dental need really was. I was told that decay is so extreme that many folks had probably suffered many, many years with cavities and they were just pointing out the teeth that were hurting at the moment. Simple education on the effects of sugar was given to those that were able to come.
Evening crusade was great. It turned out that this too was another church-planting situation and the Elijah Challenge course was being used to draw new believers. The boldness of the Elijah Challenge students was evident as after I shared and asked for folks to come forward for healing the team took over. I just stood back and watched proudly as the evening proceeded with not much help. The altar call was done by the students and Pastor Elito led each first time commitment to the Lord. There were 21 saved, over 30 re-commitments and about 30 healed. Many backs, shoulders etc were healed. That was what I think because Dr. Thaigan and I were really left out as all the testimonies were in Blaan. They were actually on their own. It was great!
Below are photos of Barangay Lunen, a small village of 2000 Blaan farmers about 45 minutes off the main road. The "path" we took by jeepney was a challenge, 35 people on board, and the travel time was about 1 hour.
35 passengers arrive by jeepney to Barangay Lunen,a small farming village of 2000 Blaan farmers.
Crowd for crusade
Jim preaching with over 150 in attendance
Elijah Challenge-trained students take charge of the meeting
I think the little grandma testified that she was healed---no one prayed for her or laid hands on her.
Dr. Thiagan and I are watching proudly as the TEC students are applying what they have learned with boldness.
Folks lining up to testify, all were healed that came for healing. Dr. Thiagan and I only prayed for 2 or 3 people in total, the other 25 or so were ministered to by the students
Above & below: Pastor Elito led 21 first time commitments personally to the Lord. Over 50 came forward, many backsliders.
We returned home to Malapatan after our 17-hour day. The next day was a sort of day off, except for Dr. Thiagan. He continued to be a blessing for the village and made sure that Pastor Elito's family had their dental needs taken care of. He finished this last day at approximately 8 PM!
I have learned again that God is more interested in our availability than our abilities!
In the aftermath...