Lord, this is not fair, I ranted again and again as I watched video presentations of the early crusades of Benny Hinn in places like Phoenix Arizona, Anaheim California, Middletown Ohio and others. The then Senior Pastor of the erstwhile Orlando Christian Centre had launched his Evangelistic Healing ministry that would see him organize Miracle Crusades starting from churches and ending up in large stadia and even large open grounds in several countries. I had watched a video tape of one of his meetings at Rhema Church in Randburg, South Africa in the company of my Rhema Chapel Ilorin friends on Christmas Day 1988 and saw a flow of the Spirit God reminiscent of our experiences at Rhema under the ministry of Rev George Adegboye but certainly in greater measure. Now, almost three years later, at the home of a dear senior friend Pastor Femi Atoyebi, I found several videos and was glued to them for hours unending in the last week of May 1991.
I had become the twenty one year old pioneer pastor of Rhema Chapel, Ibadan and the church was growing fast. With over five hundred worshippers pressing into the limited spaces at the rented ‘Fadaka House’ where we worshiped, I decided to add another service from the first Sunday of June when in response to an invitation from a unit of Assemblies of God, Ikate, Lagos, I made my way to the city but chose to stay with Pastor Femi as I loved to do. Watching the crusade videos was very challenging and faith inspiring as I watched testimonies of opened deaf ears, blind eyes, tumours disappearing and lots of other great miracles. I was challenged because this was a minister of God like me and inspired because I knew there was no respect of persons with God. I pondered why God would not use me like that, hence my complaint with tears and holy anger. The heavens had set me up for a holy provocation that would shake me out of my doubts and fears, and into the risky and controversial waters of a Healing ministry. Seeing people relieved, families and friends rejoicing and the name of Jesus glorified, filled me with a desire and hunger for the same experiences. As I sought the Lord in many hours of prayer over several days, the answer eventually came through the still small inward voice of the Spirit of God through my spirit but not exactly what I expected it would be.
‘He is sensitive to my Spirit but you are not. Many times I come into your services wanting to heal and deliver the people but you will not let me as you stick to your own program’. I protested, ‘Lord , if you speak to me clearly, I will never deliberately disobey you’. The Lord showed me how I always wanted him to lead me spectacularly, whereas He wanted to communicate with me in intimate ways through my spirit. He told me that because I did not recognize His Spirit, I was not intentional about listening to Him during services and was only guided by the order of service. I began to learn from the Lord that fellowship is the key to intimacy. The more frequently two people fellowship together, the better they communicate effectively. Like I would learn from Benny Hinn’s book, ‘Good morning Holy Spirit’, the Spirit of God yearns to be a part of our every day life. While we cannot see Him nor hear Him in the flesh, ours is to talk to Him and commune with Him by Faith. When we pray in tongues as inspired by Him, it also keeps us conscious of Him and accentuates our sensitivity. Recognizing His personality as a person and His divinity as one of the Godhead will make us relate with Him not only as God but as an intimate friend and partner.
Benny Hinn, as a young 21 year old, woke up the morning after his encounter with the Holy Spirit in a Kathryn Kuhlman crusade to say ‘Good morning Holy Spirit’. Of course there is no time nor season in the spirit realm but God will come down to the our level and speak our language in order to communicate with us. I see no reason for criticism of that because many times in scripture we see descriptions of God and His ways in human terminologies. God is described as remembering Noah as if He could have forgotten him, which is impossible because of His omniscience. God is described as finding fault with the old covenant and established the new as if the new was an afterthought and not planned from the foundation of the world.
Learning intimacy with the Holy Spirit meant cultivating a new lifestyle of talking to Him, believing He was hearing me and listening to Him in various ways. This, experientially, included seeing with the eye of my spirit (often captured by the imagination also), being moved by an inward urge, strong desire or compelling force. I sense the anointing at certain times and I know He wants me to minister in a certain way or find myself saying a word or sentence again and again. Sensations of unease warn me against certain decisions while sensations of peace and joy urge me on. They all can be categorized as the INWARD WITNESS of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.16) which apparently is the primary way God leads His children.
As I began to practice that last week of May, 1991, it led to the birthing of my Healing ministry as recognized by the body of Christ today. I have rejoiced many times for the grace to yield to the Spirit of God when I have seen amazing miracles happen in people’s lives as a result of my obedience and wondered at what would have happened if I did not yield. At Assemblies of God, Ikate, I began to declare miracle healings happening as revealed to me through the aforementioned intimate ways God speaks and the results were mind blowing. Gloriously, the same thing began on my return home to Rhema Chapel, leading to an addition of hundreds of attendees to the church within a month and subsequent multiplication of the numbers within the following six months.
Teaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit became one of my favourites as I began to apply the lessons learnt to my life and the congregants followed in tow. Business people began to testify of divine direction in investments, contract acquisitions and job execution. Supernaturally, people began to prosper and experience unusual favour. Led to pray over handkerchiefs on occasion, miracles multiplied in homes and on the streets during evangelism. The results were outstanding and still are for those who continue to walk in this truth.
Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has remained in the church and yearns to be a part of our lives and endeavours. His name ‘Helper’ (paraklete or parakletos in Greek) according to Bible commentator J. N. Darby means ‘manager of one’s affairs’ in a broader sense. If only we would invite Him into the details of our lives, it would amaze us how interested He is in every one of them and how much more exciting and supernatural life can be. It might feel awkward at the beginning, but trust me, it will become habitual and effortless to talk to the Holy Spirit all the time. You might want to put reminders on your phone or paste them on the walls of your bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. All these are to help you create a new lifestyle that will become real, natural and instinctive eventually. With time, you will recognize the direction of the Spirit easily in major and minor decisions. With increased sensitivity to the Spirit, you will then live a super supernatural life.