John Wimber Power Evangelism quote [Chapter 3 Power Evangelism]
It was the end of a long day of ministry and I was exhausted. I had just completed a teaching conference in Chicago and was flying off to another speaking engagement in New York. I was looking forward to the plane ride as a chance to relax for a few hours before plunging back into teaching. But it was not to be the quiet, uneventful trip I had hoped for.
Shortly after takeoff, I pushed back the reclining seat and readjusted the seat belt, preparing to relax. My eyes wandered around the cabin, not looking at anything in particular. Seated across the aisle from me was a middle-aged man, a business man, to judge from his appearance, but there was nothing unusual or noteworthy about him. But in the split second that my eyes happened to be cast in his direction, I saw something that startled me.
Written across his face in very clear and distinct letters I thought I saw the word “adultery.” I blinked, rubbed my eyes, and looked again. It was still there. “Adultery.” I was seeing it not with my eyes, but in my mind’s eye. No one else on the plane, I am sure, saw it. It was the Spirit of God communicating to me. The fact that it was a spiritual phenomenon made it no less real.
By now the man had become aware that I was looking at him (“gaping at him” might be a more accurate description).
“What do you want?” he snapped.
As he spoke, a woman’s name came clearly to mind. This was more familiar to me; I had become accustomed to the Holy Spirit bringing things to my awareness through these kinds of promptings.
Somewhat nervously, I leaned across the aisle and asked, “Does the name Jane [not her real name] mean anything to you?”
His face turned ashen. “We’ve got to talk,” he stammered.
The plane we were on was a jumbo jet, the kind with a small upstairs cocktail lounge. As I followed him up the stairs to the lounge, I sensed the Spirit speaking to me yet again. “Tell him if he doesn’t turn from his adultery, I’m going to take him.”
Terrific. All I had wanted was a nice, peaceful plane ride to New York. Now here I was, sitting in an airplane cocktail lounge with a man I had never seen before, whose name I didn’t even know, about to tell him God was going to take his life if he didn’t stop his affair with some woman.
We sat down in strained silence. He looked at me suspiciously for a moment, then asked, “Who told you that name?”
God told me,” I blurted out. I was too rattled to think of a way to ease into the topic more gracefully.
“God told you?” He almost shouted the question, he was so shocked by what I had said.
“Yes,” I answered, taking a deep breath. “He also told me to tell you … that unless you turn from this adulterous relationship, he is going to take your life.”
I braced myself for what I was sure would be an angry, defensive reaction, but to my relief the instant I spoke to him, his defensiveness crumbled and his heart melted. In a choked, desperate voice he asked me, “What should I do?”
At last I was back on familiar ground. I explained to him what it meant to repent and trust Christ and invited him to pray with me. With hands folded and heads bowed, I began to lead him in a quiet prayer. “Oh God …”
That was as far as I got. The conviction of sin that had built up inside him seemed virtually to explode. Bursting into tears, he cried out, “O God, I’m so sorry” and launched into the most heartrending repentance I had ever heard.
It was impossible, in such cramped quarters, to keep hidden what was happening. Before long everyone in the cocktail lounge was intimately acquainted with this man’s past sinfulness and present contrition. The flight attendants were even weeping right along with him.
When he finished praying and regained his composure, we talked for a while about what had happened to him.
“The reason I was so upset when you first mentioned that name to me,” he explained, “was that my wife was sitting in the seat right next to me. I didn’t want her to hear.”
I knew he wasn’t going to like what I said to him next.
“You’re going to have to tell her.”
“I am?” he responded weakly. “When?”
“Better do it right now,” I said gently.
The prospect of confessing to his wife was, understandably, somewhat intimidating, but he could see there was no other way. So again I followed him, down the stairs and back to our seats.
I couldn’t hear the conversation over the noise of the plane, but I could see his wife’s stunned reaction, not only to his confession of infidelity, but also to his account of how the stranger sitting across the aisle had been sent by God to warn him of the consequences of his sin. Eyes wide with amazement (and probably terror!), she stared first at her husband, then at me, then back at her husband, then back at me, as the amazing story unfolded. In the end the man led his wife to accept Christ, right there on the airplane.
There was little time to talk when we got off the airplane in New York. They didn’t own a Bible, so I gave them mine. Then we went our separate ways.
Jürgen Liias talk 03/20/2008
Jürgen Liias talk 03/12/1998