Last Sunday evening I visited our church’s School of Kingdom Ministry which is a weekly three-hour program that trains people in supernatural ministry like healing and prophecy. As usual, the first half of the class was teaching and the second half was practice. At the end of the teaching portion of the class I spoke briefly and then the group broke into two groups for practice: half of us were to do “power evangelism” praying for strangers around town and the other half were going to help pray for people in healing rooms.
I quietly slipped out, feeling slightly guilty, and did neither. Instead, I went home to get time with my wife Vicki. It’s not that I didn’t want to do one of the practical ministry exercises; it was simply that I had done too much ministry already in the previous week. Lately I’ve been feeling like God is telling me to slow down to allow more time for relationship with him and with others.
When I got home, Vicki and I decided to walk to the Dairy Queen and get cones. A Chinese friend who lives nearby saw us as she drove by and asked us if we wanted a ride. We told her “no thanks,” that we were enjoying the gorgeous weather, and we preceded walking. She drove off in the direction of her house. As we continued walking we texted her, inviting her to get her husband and join us at DQ. She then walked to DQ from her home and got there shortly after we did, but without her American husband. When we asked her why he hadn’t come with her, she said that several weeks ago he had contracted Bell’s Palsy and that the left half of his face was paralyzed and that he didn’t want to go out in public. She also told us that her parents whom we had recently invited to our church’s Chinese ALPHA course had just received Christ as their Lord and Savior at the ALPHA Holy Spirit Day and that they were being baptized this week on Easter Sunday at the Chinese church near our neighborhood. She excitedly shared how their lives were changing and how joyful they were about what God is doing in their lives. She invited us to their baptism.
After enjoying our cones (I had a small vanilla cone dipped in chocolate), we walked with her to her house. As we neared her home we asked if we might pray for her husband, so she called him and he said that that would be great.
The effects of the Bell’s Palsy were obvious: the left side of his face drooped, he could not blink his left eye, his left dimple had disappeared, and his speech was slurred. He was discouraged. He explained that both his father and his brother had had Bell’s Palsy but for them it had gone away within two weeks. It had already been almost three weeks for him, and he had experienced no improvement whatsoever. He was afraid the condition might be permanent. He’s an insurance salesman and his in-person and phone sales were down because of how the palsy had impacted his appearance and his speech.
I sensed God’s amazing love for him as we prayed for him, inviting God’s healing power to touch him. I asked him if he sensed any change. No. He appreciated the prayer but saw no change. So we prayed again. Again, it was a nice prayer time, but there was no noticeable change in his condition. We talked a while and then prayed a third time before leaving, asking God to accelerate his healing. He thanked us, then we walked home.
On Monday afternoon, he called me excitedly telling me that he woke up that next morning and could immediately tell that some movement was restored. He could blink his eye and his left dimple was returning!
Each day this week his face has been better. I just saw him this morning at the baptism of his wife’s parents and he looks dramatically better. In fact, I had to look closely to notice a difference between the two sides of his face.
I’m glad that I was a part of this delightful series of events. I wouldn’t have gotten in on any of this if I hadn’t decided to disengage from some of my ministry activity and slow down on that Sunday evening last week.
One thing I’ve been realizing lately is that the less I do the more I get done. What I mean is that if I cram my life with too much activity it actually is counter productive and means my life and efforts have less impact. On the other hand, if I slow down and have more free time, I tend to tune in more to the people around me, and this results in more fun for me and more genuine sharing with them.
How about you? Do you need to slow down and accomplish more?