This guy comes up to me at Penn Station NYC, wanting help, not knowing I'm sensing in my spirit the extent. I'm hungry, he says. Okay, I will feed you. Grab $ from pocket. Tell me your name... Tell me your story. How did you get here? Kidney failure. Two strokes. Heart attack. How old are you? 50; I stroked in my truck at UPS. I do dialysis 4 days per week for 4 hours. Wow man, that's tough. Look at my veins. Okay. Touch it right here, there's a machine in there. I feel it. But!! I get a new kidney in two days. Praise God I react. Then I say, where is your family? Another country, but they are coming for the surgery. Okay brother, I will give you 2 things: 1. The rest of my $, 2. A prayer to God for you--is that okay? Oh yes, I believe in God... Always have... Let's go over here he asks... We go... Jesus, oh Jesus, my hand on his arm, oh Jesus, your name, wash over this all now, heal him, accept the kidney please, strengthen, renew, give him a vision of the purpose of this long trial. He looks at me: yes, yes, there's a reason.... I look him in the eyes--there's a plan for you--before I walk away knowing he will be healed I give him a big old hug, then on my train...
I met up with some New Canaan Society dudes tonight. We talked about making God our focus even in the success in our careers. For a Christian man in business, it's not always clear if we're chasing our own glory or the glory of God.
After a rich conversation, I walked a few blocks to my car. A man sitting at a table outside a pizza shop said "excuse me" as I walked past him. I was inclined to ignore him and keep going but something inside me said I should stop this time.
He told me that his wife has cancer and was receiving treatment at Hahnemann hospital right next door. He said they were on hard times that they both have bachelors degrees and even health insurance but were homeless and he would love something to eat. Long story short I bought him dinner but more importantly I asked him if I could pray for him.
As I prayed for healing this man with his head down and his eyes closed seem to really be searching. When I was done, he remarked "that's exactly what I needed." He told me his wife was an atheist but that he's been reading the Bible and now she believes in Jesus and she won't eat a meal without praying. I told him to believe that Jesus Christ could heal his wife. Just as I was getting ready to walk away I noticed his t-shirt:
At that moment I realized I had stopped more for me than for this man. His shirt gave me the answer to a night of discussion about how to know if we are after the right career in life.
If I look back on my career and if I, or anyone else that knows me well, can say there's no way I could have done it on my own, that it's just too wild that God must have done it, i believe that's one way I will know I have fulfilled Gods will for my work here on Earth.
Scripture clearly promises an extraordinary life full of the Holy Spirit doing even greater things than Jesus Christ. So, if my life looks ordinary or similar to that of someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ, then something is off.
I'm not implying this means guaranteed success, in fact, in failure there is as much or more opportunity to see God working in my work. The last thing I want is someone to look at my work and see that I've strived to do the "right" things, the safe things, that I've done it myself, or find any sense I'm a self-made man.
Much could be written about Pastor Shodankeh Johnson. I'll stick to what I have personally experienced getting to know him as a colleague at Cityteam.
Shodankeh is a man of prayer. I'd heard that he wakes early in the morning to pray for an hour or more each day, and when I hosted him in my home I found that to be true. More than pray, he actually sings in a soft voice to God, I woke up to hear it.
Another time, while attending the New Canaan Society San Francisco Weekend, I had arranged for Shodankeh to share a room with a dear brother and mentor to me named Ken Churchill (I wrote about Ken here). One evening, Ken received an email from a man in Africa who was reporting that another man who is Shodankeh's colleague was imprisoned. Ken informed Shodankeh of this terrible news, only to watch him fall to the ground in prayer where he began by praising God.
Once, I had set up for Shodankeh to speak at a conference, literally planning most of the details of his visit, from the time he stepped off the plane. A colleague, Eric Venable, picked him up with the intent to bring Shodankeh to the office to brief the plan and get settled in. But Shodankeh asked to be taken to Stanford University. Eric asked him if he had an appointment, to which Shodankeh replied that he did not, but he had been praying on the flight and God had directed him to go there. Off they went, and when they arrived, they began to walk around the campus, and in so doing, ran into an old friend of Eric's. As they got to talking, they learned that this friend was the secretary for a director of the Hoover Institution, a prestigious international think tank. And, she revealed, there was a new program in the works to resource international leaders just like Shodankeh! The program wasn't publicized, but she offered to provide some information if they would come to her office. Of course, they went, and despite his schedule being completely booked for the day, it turned out that the Director was in his office and took over an hour to brief Shodankeh on the program and give him all of the necessary details to apply. These kinds of divine directives, interactions, and provision are commonplace with Shodankeh and his team from Africa.
Later, when Shodankeh arrived to the office and I heard the story, I asked him how these things happen to him. He replied to me that when he travels abroad, he has a team of people, as many as 50, praying and fasting for him the entire time he is gone. I came to know that he is a man of prayer, and that his team in Africa often doesn't make a move until they have paid a high price in prayer and received direction from God.
Because of Shodankeh's love for prayer, I have put myself in position to pray with him and bring him to pray with groups of people I am a part of. Two examples, are the Legends prayer group I attend and the New Canaan Society brothers at a weekend retreat. Shodankeh has come to bless the men of Legends a couple of times and when he does there is always a thick presence of the Holy Spirit. Another time, Shodankeh joined a group of men who left the NCS weekend retreat to go to a hospital to pray for a young man who had been shot in the head. That man went on to have a miraculous healing that I documented here.
As I said, much more could be written about Shodankeh, in fact it has here and here. I also encourage you to read the book Miraculous Movements, many of the stories of which come from the work of Shodankeh and his team in Africa. Shodankeh is a man who seeks to know God and the fruits of the Holy Spirit are evident in his life, and for that he is definitely a Hands On Christian.
A short video with a powerful testimony from Pastor Shodankeh Johnson.
While attending the New Canaan Society 2013 Washington Weekend, I had a thought to invite a guy to attend with me the following year. He kept coming to invite.
I left awash in a sea of new ideas and yet the thought to invite this guy stuck with me. The conference was a year away, I wasn't even sure if I would go again, the cost is over $1,000 and I was not in a position to pay for this guy and I didn't want him to have to pay either. Finally, I wasn't so sure how he'd feel amongst 800 guys who raise their hands in worship of God while singing and tend to be very transparent in their conversations. All of these were not small details, and yet I decided to invite him anyway expecting God to work out the details if it was his will.
When I did invite him he said he was interested, so I told him not to worry about a thing, that I'd take care of it all. Knowing he was in the military I applied for him to get a scholarship. The conference planners said they'd know closer to the date if someone would pay for him. Months passed and as the conference came back around I learned that someone would pay his full fee to attend.Praise God!
So we were all set to attend together and share a room and it was going to be a great chance to get to know this guy better. The day before the conference I drove to meet him, and right away I could tell his family was beyond busy, organized chaos even. Not only did he and his wife have two young children, they both worked in high-level demanding jobs and were both getting a Masters degree at the same time. So it was understandable that they were often running at 100%.
As we drove to the conference together, I could sense that it would take time for this guy to wind down, with everything that was going on in his life. I wondered if we'd get a chance to really connect on a heart level. Even more, I could feel a sort of pull to keep him away from the conference altogether.
We arrived, had dinner together, and settled in for the night well enough, but without "breaking the ice" to deeper conversation that I desired. Even more, I knew he was getting texts that were concerning him and had him contemplating leaving the conference.
The next day something happened that changed our trajectory. We listened to Erwin McManus preach a great sermon.
When he was done, Dudley Hall stood up to transition to the next speaker. Before he did, he said he had a sense to stop and pause and give guys a chance to stand up and be ministered to if they needed it. With his invitation, the guy I was with stood up right next to me. I was caught off guard but I stood up next to him and put my arm around him. Soon a few other guys huddled around us and we prayed together. Several of us were choked up with tears.
From the moment we sat down, I could tell everything was different. Our conversation had a lighter quality to it. We snuck off to talk more personally. At a reception later that night, I saw this guy talking amongst a small group and when i walked over to listen in, I heard one former war veteran encouraging him to let go of some of what he had encountered at war. I knew that these were divine connections being made.
That same night, as we laid down to bed rich conversation ensued, in fact, we stayed up until after 2 in the morning talking about our faith in Jesus, questions, things that don't always make sense, our perspectives. It was amazing and I was so blessed to see our relationship open up even more.
As the conference came to a conclusion, I was full of emotion over this dear new brother, not just a friend now but someone with whom we had discussed the depths of our hearts. We worshipped the King together, made new connections, and we left feeling as though we had a few new ideas to consider. Miraculously, this guy even shared with me that he felt as though he was healed in some way over the weekend.
And yet, having gone to these things before, I knew that it can be a challenge to go back into a busy home from a "mountaintop experience" to a spouse and kids who have missed Dad. Even more I believe these reconnections can be wrought with attack from the enemy to prevent unity and progress. So I prayed that this guy would find a way to get away from his busy schedule to spend intimate time with his wife, share some of his experience, and even bring her to the mountaintop too. I asked my wife to pray the same thing, and we were astonished when just a short time later, we saw that this couple had posted online that they had found a Christian retreat center to visit in the mountains where their pets and children would be cared for so they could connect one-on-one. My wife and I were so excited about this announcement.
Going into this conference, I thought in some way that I was maybe driving some kind of progress, that I would be responsible for getting us there, diving into the heart issues, cultivating the relationship. Looking back, I can see that yes, there was a role for me to make and follow-up on the invitation, but everything was out of my control and firmly in God's hands. After the conference, the things I thought I might do to keep us connected, this guy beat me to every one! He suggested that we talk regularly to pray, he's sent me notes, small gifts, he's inquired about life even though we live in opposite sides of the country. It reminded me that God draws people to himself, the Holy Spirit teaches, my role was just to be obedient to one little piece of the puzzle to make the invitation and follow through to get us there.
I've prayed this prayer and have spoken aloud the declaration many times and have found it to be powerful. The guy who wrote it and introduced it to me said that speaking it aloud is important. For the backstory on my meeting Jack Race, click here to read more.
Maybe like me you've wondered why you don't hear about or even see people getting healed. Jesus did it, so did his disciples, so what's going on these days that's preventing it from happening around us?
I'm here to report that people are still being healed, and I know this because I am one of them!
I was surveying the room while sipping a gin and tonic at the 2013 New Canaan Society Washington Weekend. I was looking for a familiar face when a young Naval Academy Cadet stepped up to say hello. We got to talking and soon an older man walked up to say hello to the cadet. Then another cadet joined our little circle of four.
After the cadet and the older man exchanged greetings, the man looked at me and introduced himself as a healing pastor. To this I jokingly replied, "really, that's interesting, any chance God told you to heal my neck?"
The man with the cane looked at my inquisitively, and he asked me if there was something in my life that was a pain to me, maybe a soured relationship. At the time, I had been struggling to see eye to eye with a someone and so I mentioned that, feeling slightly foolish that I had made a joke.
He asked if we could pray together, right there. Sure, I said, so the man, who was now known to me as Reverand Nigel Mumford, put his hand on my shoulder and told the cadets to do the same and he began to pray.
While he prayed, he asked me a few questions, specifically about an area of sin in my life, and he asked me if I realized it was forgiven. I said yes, and he asked me to really believe that and repeat it with him. I did.
Then he asked me if I had taken a train into town, and if I was struggling with lust. I said that didn't resonate with me. He concluded his prayers, asking for healing. When he was finished, as we stood around, one of the cadets had a sheepish look on his face, and he piped up that he had taken a train to the conference, and that on the way he was talking to a woman on the train, and he had been tempted to leave to meet up with her.
While this cadet talked I quietly rolled my head around to see if there was any chance my neck was healed. For several years it was such a constant low pain that I just became used to it. And whenever I rolled my head in circles as my ear touched my right shoulder there was a crunching popping sound at the same spot where I felt a deep strain. I'd had it worked on by massage therapists, tried chiropractors, bought and hung on an inversion table, and more--nothing worked.
I couldn't believe it at first, by my head rolled smooth as if it was on a new set of ball bearings. I snuck off and made my way into the next room to grab a seat for dinner, rolling my head the whole way. Could it be possible? But how?
All dinner long I kept trying my neck out, in quiet disbelief. Smooth as could be. Still, like many miracles in the early days of my walk with God, I didn't see it right away as a miracle. I realize that sounds dumb to write, but I was just skeptical. And, in fact, a day or two later, the crunching came back ever so slightly. At that point, I thought that maybe I just needed to believe in God more, and I prayed and fasted to tell God that I really did believe. And the problem went away, and it has stayed away ever since.
Once it sunk in that I'd been healed, it changed me and the way I read Scripture, the way I pray, the way I believe in God. Stories of healing were received by me not with skepticism but rather an internal praise to God that it was likely true and even if it wasn't I know He is healing people all the time.
Like all things in God's Kingdom, there are no formulas, so we will never be able to go out and heal people en masse, not until Christ returns that is. But we do have the option to believe and to listen to God for promptings about how and who to heal. That alone has since led me to many other encounters with healing, which is just an incredible way to live life.
By the way, I later looked up Reverand Nigel Mumford, and sent him a note to thank him for what he did with my neck. You can follow him and his work online here: By His Wounds Ministry.
Through the Legends group in Menlo Park, I learned about a tragedy where a young man named Ben was shot in the head in San Francisco at a Halloween party. It turns out that Ben was friends with a colleague of one of the guys in the prayer group. Actually he was friends with a colleague of the host of the group, and that colleague, knowing that there was a group of men who came to pray in the office Tuesday mornings, asked the group to pray for Ben, who was in deep trouble.
I got a text while at the New Canaan Society weekend retreat in San Francisco, just a day or two after the shooting, that invited a group of guys to go to the hospital to pray for Ben. A car picked us up and off we went to pray for a young man none of us knew personally. On the way to the hospital we received a text from the colleague that Ben's condition had worsened, there was some kind of infection so that he was put into a unit we could not enter. The best we could do was pray in the hotel lobby.
And so we entered the hospital, got as close to Ben as we could in the Intensive Care Unit, and we began to pray. Pastor Shodankeh Johnson was with us--a powerful man of prayer I wrote about here--and he led us in prayer. We had prayed for five or ten minutes when a few young adults walked by us. I can't recall how the exchange happened, but we learned that among the group were the siblings and a close friend of Ben. We shared that we were praying for him, and they said they might be able to come back later to have us go in to see him.
We prayed maybe ten minutes more, and then we left and went back to the retreat. Then the amazing reports began to trickle in...
First, an email from the colleague that said,
"Great report. The initially diagnosed "highly contagious bacterial infection" somehow"came up negative" today."
Then, a few days later, a note:
"a good report re Ben this afternoon. Fluid in the lungs receding. Doctors are optimistic on his prognosis!!!"
A week or so passed, and another note:
"Thank you so much for your prayers and support!"
I am so happy right now I am literally crying. Ben is now awake and is able to move around. His voice is faint (given all the tubes he has had for the last several weeks) but he is able to comprehend and keep conversation! The power of prayers.
I cannot express how thankful, happy, and relieved I am. I have so much to be thankful for this thanksgiving.
Please pass on my thanks to your prayer group and the priest that went to the hospital.
Then, we received an update that the press was beginning to cover this miracle:
Check out the links below. It's not only us who are declaring this a miracle! Local news is also reporting on Ben's recovery.